Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Damned Politics

Ya know, when I started writing my St. Tommy NYPD novels, I didn't exactly think that I would be writing future events.

Take book one, Hell Spawn.

It had an offhand, casual mention of Black Lives Matter after our hero arrests a serial killer. The Serial killer is in the "right" profession and thus call out BLM,... because reasons.

There were, of course, reviewers who cringed that I even mentioned BLM.

I wonder if their thoughts on the matter would change any now?

We won't even go into what I did to the mayor, or the death cult. I just figured I would have the mayor as an idiot that concealed a truly darker side to the office. (no spoilers). But Death Cult came out only three months before NY states' Moloch bill. (I forget, does that include killing children ten days after birth?)

And, of course, I do expect social media to "fact check" my sarcasm, telling me that it wasn't called the Moloch Bill, blah blah blah.

Then de Blasio goes and shows exactly how much of a pure f***ing psychopath **he** really is. Here I thought he was just a moron and a thief. Now he wants to destroy the entire city. 

The endgame of the first trilogy is being enacted on the streets of New York city this very minute with this stupid catch and release "bail reform: nonsense

And since I wanted to get away from politics for later books, I didn't even want to touch the governor's office.

Then Cuomo goes and shows that, yes, he's a straight up f***ing mass murderer.

I mean, really guys? I mean, in 2019 I thought that my darkest dreams could not conceive of something so twisted and evil that the Democrats would not put it on their platform.

But killing off the elderly? Not even assisted suicide, or euthanasia, or any of the nice terms they like to throw around. But straight up bio-warfare the old fashioned way.

I mean, good God, last year I came out with Crusader: sex trafficking run by a succubus in conjunction with Jihadis.

This year: is there any Leftist who isn't a supporter of Epstein's client list?

The slippery slope used to be "gay marriage to pedophilia" (which took five years).

Now it's "close the churches" to "burn the churches" in five MONTHS.

I think I preferred it when I could at least imagine that they were misguided idiots instead of straight up fiends from the pit.

It used to take full on wartime propaganda to dehumanize the enemy to such a state that we perceived them as something so monstrous and alien that we didn't even blink at killing them.

Now all I have to do is listen to what comes out of their mouths.

.... This is the point where I should mention that you should vote in the Dragon Awards before this Sunday, here's My Dragon Award ballot is here and here is where you should vote. But I don't feel like doing PR today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Oh Corona

Over the fourth of July weekend, illegal fireworks went off from about twelve different sites around my home.

It was probably New Yorkers telling Mayor de Blasio to go fuck himself.

That Sunday, I went to church, where the pastor, another spineless eunuch, held a public service announcement about social distancing, and not a mass worshiping Jesus Christ.

I am sick to death of an asshole I didn't vote for, telling me how to worship. 

I'm even more pissed off about my bishops, who are more concerned about being invited to the right parties than about tending to their flocks.

With my family I joked about crowdfunding an assassination of a few mayors and a few bishops. The response was less of a laugh and more of an "I'm afraid that you'd make money."

It's gotten so bad that I've had people suggest running for public office in New York.

It's so bad, I'm considering it.

I want to violate every mask regulation on a daily basis. The only reason I don't is because the jackbooted thugs have closed down the few places I like going. For once in my life, I've gone to my nearby parks, just so I can go somewhere and flaunt the mask laws.

Mercifully, my local cops are more concerned about riots than masks. 

Speaking of Black Lives Matter, don't you like their political privileges? After months of Jews being denied the quorum required for services (a minion is ten people-- De Blasio capped gatherings at 9) and funerals and masses being denied, BLM can go riot without masks on or social distancing, and wreck whole city streets without consequence.

Talk to me again about white privilege? 

Fuck it. I'm done for right now.

While I think about it, please remember to vote in the Dragon Awards. The nominations period is up on July 19th -- this Sunday.

My Dragon Award ballot is here.

Voting is here.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Hollywood Politics

One of the things I hate about Hollywood is that they claim to be premiere artists, when they're really just garbage human beings churning out garbage films for the sake of garbage.

Then, when they realize they need money, they will make something good. Or buy rights to a comic book IP and cross their fingers. Aren't we due for another remake of the Shadow? I actually liked that one... so probably not.

But yeah, their attempts are "art" films almost never work. Unless it's Clint Eastwood's Oscar bait. 

Can we all agree that Art should have something ... true about it? In Die Hard, we have heroism in an ordinary guy who spends the movie getting cut up, shot up and beat up. In A Quiet Place, we have family. In Halloween, we have the truth of pure evil ... and that sex will deplete your situational awareness.

Recently, I looked at an old blog of mine on Hollywood's obsession with Nazis. And it occurred to me that they would go out of their way to ignore every real, contemporaneous evil in the world, rather than 
We need someone evil. 
Let's see... MS-13, Jihadis, China...
Someone involved in the slave trade!
Still MS-13, Jihadis, China...
Someone who tramps on the rights of their citizens
Okay, that's the Middle East and China.
Someone who racist and hates women.
The Middle East for sure! ... and China.
Someone with death camps!
Definitely China. 
Someone who cuts up people for actual spare parts!
Planned Parenthood... and China. 
I have it! Nazis!
    It's gotten so bad, an author I respected, Jon Land, in one of his latest Texas Ranger novels, decided that the villain of the piece was Hitler's Great Grandson... and that the one of our heroes' killed Hitler's Grandson in prison... after the OTHER hero had her father hunt down Hitler's son after escaping a Texas POW camp in 1944...

    Yes, really.

    Oh, yeah, and Hitler's Great Grandson was behind Brexit, Marie Le Pen... and a few other unbelievable bits of BS that I have since burned out of my brain.

    Then again, why should I expect any truth from Hollywood about anything? Jack Reed and William Durante were reporters who covered the Russian Revolution, and covered up every horror and atrocity committed in the name of progress. Durante got an award for COVERING UP A MAN MADE FAMINE IN UKRAINE.

    Hollywood, of course, have spun the history of both Jack Reed and William Durante into heroes, in a fiction so unrecognizable, there is more truth in Team America: World Police than Hollywood's "historical" movies. 

    Who am I kidding? There was more truth in Team America: World Police than some "documentaries."

    People wonder why I haven't reviewed many movies over the past few years. It's because of crap like this. Because Hollywood is in the pocket of scum. Not surprising, because most of them are scum -- and if they aren't scum because of what they do, they're scum because of who they protect. Funny how "everyone knew" about Harvey Weinstein, but no one said anything about him until after he was safely in jail.

    And those who aren't scum, or supporting scum by proxy, they will take billions of dollars from China, who are the Nazis of today. And if we had any justice in the world, we would have bombed the shit out of them by now.

    [Insert longwinded, deranged, murderous rant where genocide on the human race is a valid plan A, B, and C.]

    .... Anyway, I'm pissed off and cranky today, but it's Monday. What else is new? I'm going to stop now before I suggest wholesale slaughter of major cities. And get off my lawn...

    Mutter mutter....

    While I think about it, please remember to vote in the Dragon Awards. The nominations period is up on July 19th -- this Sunday.

    My Dragon Award ballot is here.

    Voting is here.

    Tuesday, July 7, 2020

    Building a Saint

    I've been going through a lot of old posts lately as I cut them up and turn them into Twitter threads. It's had some success, and there are people who have never read them before. I might get around to rewriting them here as well. Because there are a lot of things that have changed lately, and some notes I need to stress.

    But I noticed I put in a LOT of thought into creating Marco and Amanda for Honor at Stake, et al. Make them polar opposites, yet very similar. How does each one work within the world I've made for them. That sort of thing.

    I've never done that for Tommy Nolan.

    It's odd. Because I tend to put in a TON of thought into character and biography. Probably too much. My original thought of character creation was to make a character, build a whole biography, wind them up, drop them in a situation, then let them wander. 

    Every book prior to Hell Spawn was a seat of the pants affair.

    Then along came Saint Tommy. And I haven't needed to do anything for him on that scale.

    Sure, I do have more background on him in my head, but that's only come up within the last few books. And I don't even mean the books that are published yet. Book #8, Hussar, is where I have the germ of an idea for more of Tommy's background.

    When I wrote Hell Spawn, all I knew about Tommy was that he was married with a kid, he was homeschooled, and more or less educated via the Opus Dei. I mentioned that he and his wife had "family out of state." When I needed someplace to stash Mariel and the kids during Saint Tommy abroad (City of Shadows, Crusader, and Deus Vult), I invented family in Tennessee.

    That was the extent of my knowledge of Tommy's background.

    Yes, there is little bits and pieces of Tommy Nolan scattered throughout my books. A character of the same name has appeared in Honor at Stake, and in A Pius Stand, but they are officially not the same person. Silver Empire wants separate IPs. There's nothing that forbids reader headcanon.

    But even if you included his appearances in both of them, there was nothing that really added to the character. 

    Now, in part, this was done in order to keep down the cast of characters. Hell Spawn was after some reviewers were confused by the cast of The Pius Trilogy, and even the Love at First Bite series spiraled into a sizable cast.

    Obviously, if I haven't written and designed Tommy's parents, I can't have him call them for help or advice, or have subplots with them. The same with grandparents or in-laws.

    Obviously, this hasn't worked in the long run. I tried to downplay the existence of everyone else in Hell Spawn as much as was reasonable. Wouldn't want people to get confused, after all. Then again, it was a first person point of view, how confused could people get?

    Reading some of the dumber one star reviews, pretty confused. But those were 100% pure moron, so I don't feel so bad. But they weren't confused about characters. So, win!

    And yes, after a while, the cast has spiraled. Like everything else in my writing. 
    • The ME, Doctor Sinead Holland
    • Father Richard Freeman, PhD
    • Father Michael Pearson
    • Bokor Baracus (after a fashion)
    • Alex Packard
    • Jeremy
    • Lena
    • Mariel 
    • Grace
    • William Carlton
    • Texas Ranger Lloyd Lermon (wait for Hussar)
    • Pope Pius XIII
    • Aux Bishop Xavier "XO" O'Brian
    Now, all 13 of these people have not yet shown up on the page at the same time, or even in the same book. Thankfully. Yet. I don't have that planned, either, but we'll see.

    Angry Koala Gear: The Shadow #1 Goes to Second Print from Dynamite ...I will note that I've had no reviews or comments asking about Tommy's background. No one. No one cares. In fact, the only person asking for it is my wife, when I mentioned a character idea I was going to use in Hussar, but I postponed for Dark Web. Assuming that Dark Web happens as outlined.

    Park of it has been influenced by the Pulp crew I deal with online. In part because, well, we don't have anything about the Shadow's background, do we? He used to be a really bad guy, he now kills really bad guys with dual wielding forty-fives.

    There's more than a few other influences about the Shadow as well. But then, I have more than a few characters who can say yes to "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men." Tommy isn't technically one of them.

    All I've really needed from Tommy for his character has been is his acts and his works, as well as his faith. His social life is his family and his church--gun club, soup kitchen, prayer rallies, etc. In Infernal Affairs, his wife is pregnant, so they do get some alone time.
    The one thing I've had to put work into --and I've put work into it--was giving him a flaw. Well, a few flaws. He has a temper. He gets angry. He rarely gives into it, so everyone looks at him like he has three heads when he mentions it.
    His confessions are like the following.
    "Bless me father for I have sinned, it's been a week since my last confession.""Tommy, honestly, what could you have done in a week?""I cuffed a child molester. I wanted to hit him upside the head.""Did you?""No. But I was probably a little rough with the cuffs.""... Tommy? Take a breath."
    Over time, I do have things that get to him. And his anger is where demons get at him... because the only anger Tommy feels is safe is anger at himself. You can see where that can go wrong. 
    The solution to these little dark nights is reason and rationality. There was a guilt trip an editor wanted me to inflict on Tommy in book one. My solution? Directly address it as completely irrational from his perspective, because that would have required him to be omniscient.

    But hitting him where it hurts means he feels first, and thinks later. Heh heh heh.

    It's odd. I wrote Hell Spawn in late 2017 for release in late 2018, and now I've finished book 10, and I'm having trouble thinking back to what everything was like writing book one. I guess it's good I'm thinking about it while I can.

    If you haven't read Hell Spawn or any of the others yet, now's a good time to start, because the series is coming to a head.

    Or should I say that all Hell is about to break loose?

    Monday, July 6, 2020

    #PulpSpeed Ahead

    Yikes, it's been a busy couple of weeks.

    So, I've finished writing book #10 of Saint Tommy, NYPD.

    This one is called Lightbringer.

    As usual, I remain my standard subtle self.

    You have to be wondering at this point "book 10? Declan, isn't book 7 still only on your publisher website? Where's books 8 and 9?"

    Hussar and Destiny--books 8 and 9-- are still in the process of being made ready. Cover artists can only move so fast. And I dropped Hussar and Destiny on Silver Empire the same... day? The same week? I honestly don't recall.

    Why am I pushing so hard? Why not take a break?

    Because I'm too lazy to take a break. Taking a break requires energy to stop. My sin of sloth is in my work ethic. I don't have an off button. I work forty days a week. When I'm not physically at the keyboard, trust me, I'm at least thinking about work. The pressure in my skull builds when I'm not working. Either that, or I've had a three month sinus infection... or meningitis.

    Hmm. That would explain my bloody noses. I haven't started bleeding from the eyes and ears yet, so I must be doing okay.

    As I write this, Lightbringer is being looked at by the last beta reader, a woman who is easily confused if I'm not crystal clear, and who reads newspapers with a set of red and blue writing implements. 

    So that will soon be going to Silver Empire soon, right after the editor.

    Right now, the coming stories are 

    • 8) Hussar
    • 9) Destiny
    • 10) Lightbringer
    • 11) Dark Web
    • 12) Blue Saint

    As you can imagine, I'm a little tired. Exhausted. But I'm in the home stretch. I'm almost done. If I push for the next six weeks, I will be done with Saint Tommy. 

    Yes, this is the finale. How will it end? If you read Hell Spawn, you should have an idea. Heh heh heh.

    Why am I wrapping up Tommy? Unlike Arthur Conan-Doyle, I still like Tommy. Like him, I need to wrap up the character so I can move on to other projects that I've wanted to get to. In some cases, I've wanted to get to them for nearly a year now.

    And me? Burnout? Naww. It'll be fine.

    Anyway, the next three books will be in the hands of other people at the moment-- editors and artists and etc. 

    Please remember to vote in the Dragon Awards. You can vote here if you have an idea of what you're voting for.  If not, I have a ballot with some thoughts. Just remember to vote for Deus Vult in horror.

    Monday, June 29, 2020

    Review: Mel Todd's "My Luck"

    For a while now, I've been reviewing Mel Todd's SF series, the Kaylid Chronicles. Before I wrapped up that series, Mel asked if I would be interested in reading her next series, an Urban Fantasy (no romance) called "Twisted Luck" -- book one of which is My Luck. 

    I enjoyed her space opera, so of course I was going to want a free book from an author who I already enjoyed.

    My Luck's flap copy is as follows.

    I'm not a mage, but that won't stop me.
    Cori Catastrophe. They call me that sometimes, and I hate to admit it, but it isn’t wrong. Things go weird around me. Electronics die, things break, and if something odd happens, I seem to find it. Finding another dead body just made me late to work.
    Nothing will stop me from getting my degree, getting a job, and getting away from this tiny town – though leaving my best friend will hurt more than anything else. Reality seems determined to make reaching my goals impossible. The dead guy had my name in his pocket, my best friend emerges as an archmage, and my parents – well let's just say leaving them behind is one of the best parts of getting away.
    So be it. Not being a mage means I'll have to struggle to succeed. No matter how weird things get, I'll make it. I lost my brother and I'll probably lose my best friend to the world of magic. All I can do is depend on myself.
    But with my luck, that might be difficult.

    Let's start with something simple. This has the best opening routine since "The building was on fire and it wasn't my fault." I hope I don't have to explain that reference. But the opening is a dark comedy routine that I read to anyone who would listen to me.

    Once more, Mel Todd excels at world building. As is her style, she opens each chapter with a bit of history and culture around the world. This time, magic has emerged in the world in the late 1800s-- a few years after the Civil War (which, of course, leads to in-world alternate histories of what the Civil War would have looked like if magic had existed a few years earlier). Mel doesn't use it excessively--we hear about the partnership of Rasputin and Lenin, but not a lot about World Wars (okay, FDR is still an a-hole)--and it works just enough to give a flavor of the world.

    The real world building comes throughout the story. Our heroine, Cori, is getting her degrees in the most practical certifications she can--EMT, Medical Assistant, and Criminal Law--which also happen to be the best points of view from which to present slices of the world. Within the narration, some of the sections that are obviously data dumps are worthy of David Weber. Then again, one section did start with "most of the bodies I found were rarely stupid or boring." So anything after that will grab your attention.

    Again, like in Mel's last series, her world building is either brilliant, or borders on brilliant. In her world, every mage of a certain strength must be trained, and every mage is full-on drafted. She prevents this from having shades of Babylon 5's Psi-Corps by having over half the population be magical--there isn't discrimination against non-mages, but the upper brackets are surprisingly heavy in the magic set.

    I especially like the impact on culture. Facial tattoos for mages are part of fashion. The magic system recommends long hair (magic is powered by cellular matter-to-energy conversion of the mage's DNA-- eg: Okay, Winston Churchill was a Time Wizard who kept checking future timelines to win the war, which is why he was bald all the time). There are aspects of law (pay attention to the "Good Samaritan" laws). Diamonds are basis of currency, because freaking alchemists. And I even like that she hints at an origin of magic coming through rips in dimensional planes that make me want to call Doctor Strange.

    Though the "Office of Magical Oversight" being established by Lenin? A little creepy.

    The execution of Cori and the "bad luck" around her is ... entertaining. The luck that is inflicted upon her and people around her is very Rube Goldberg in nature.

    I only have one question. Are the students of George MageTech still considered rambling wrecks?

    And I am so, so happy that her description only covers the first third of the book, you have no idea. Though by that point, the reader should be clued in to one of the major aspects of the book that is only hinted at throughout--making the rest of the book interesting to watch, and the reader feels slightly superior to our narrator along the way. Part of what Mel does with this is a trick I've only seen used with Nero Wolfe novels of Rex Stout -- she gives us the answer to a major question of the book ... only the answer comes before the question. The answer is "Ronin."

    Also, in Chapter 21, Mel Todd hints at a serial killer, and never capitalizes on it. She did that with a possible shifter serial killer in Kaylid, and does so here too (here, it was a reference to a killer who had happened, and was magical. I'm starting to wonder if these are discarded plot threads at this point.)

    Once again, Mel does cops so well, I'm surprised she doesn't do any research for them. They feel very much like cops I've known. Also, some of the situations are analogous.

    The comedy is right up my alley. Then again, I laughed out loud when someone asked, "We have a serial killer?" and the immediate reply was "Please. That's an Atlanta Thing. Probably."

    Much to my surprise, this entire book is carried by character and world building. And when I say I was surprised, I mean I was 80% of the way through the novel (chapter 34) when I realized that this wasn't what you would call plot heavy. Normally, I'm very dismissive of media that is clearly more of a setup for a series than a standalone ... but this was so well executed, and so self contained, I can't really say anything against it.

    And I mean I have nothing against it. Nothing at all. Even the Kaylid Chronicles had errors sprinkled throughout--many were minor, but some just drop-kicked me out of the story. Here? Not a thing. Trust me, I was looking.

    But this felt more like the good old days, when Laurell K. Hamilton was good, and could tell a story without turning it into a hundred page orgy. Looking back, this is probably even better than early Anita Blake.

    Anyway, five stars, out of five stars. Go buy it.

    This one is a little bit too close to the wire for the Dragon Awards. Had it come out earlier so it could get a good head of steam, it would be right up there with best fantasy, neck and neck with Robert Kroese. However, book 2 will be eligible for next year -- it comes out in July. Anyway, while you wait for the book to download, I suggest making certain you've voted in the Dragon Awards this year.

    Monday, June 22, 2020

    Mel Todd's Incoming, Allies and Family

    I already started reviewing Mel Todd's Kaylid Chronicles. I made a point out of reviewing them one by one. First with No Choice, and then with Commander.

    I was going to do the same thing with Incoming, Allies and Family ... but I read them all in one big bite, so here's one review. Screw it, let's hit the fast forward button. We have a series to finish. 

    Incoming (Kaylid Chronicles Book 3) by [Mel Todd]Truthfully, one of the reasons I read the last three books in one swell foop is that the story is continuous from Incoming onward. 

    At the end of Commander, we had learned that our heroes -- Police officer McKenna Largo and company -- had been turned into shape shifters by nanotechnology, unleashed on the planet by an alien race known as the Elentrin. The plan is simple -- the Elentrin were to come, collect the "inconvenience" of the shape shifters off of our hands, take them away... mind wipe them, and reprogram them for canon fodder in their war of extermination against another alien race.

    As I've said before, these guys would be right at home with John Ringo's Darhel from the Posleen wars.

    With Incoming, the Elentrin are coming to Earth, and they want their canon fodder. And they want them now.

    Again, this one feels a bit like a John Ringo novel. It focuses a lot on how things get done. And how does one prepare for an alien invasion with a two week's notice? Guns. Lots of guns.

    Also with we change the format a little. With No Choice, and Commander, the real action takes place in the last third of the novel, kidnapping and forcing our heroes into a situation they don't want to be in. Here, yes, the action is in the last third of the book ... but this time, it's full out alien warfare.

    And yes, Incoming has all of the smart choices and intelligence observations that I've come to expect from Mel Todd.

    5/5, easy.

    Allies (Kaylid Chronicles Book 4) by [Mel Todd]Next, we have Allies.

    The Elentrin have come to earth. What was supposed to be a cakewalk for them has turned into a pitched battle. And the Elentrin are either going to win, or they're going to drop asteroids on Earth out of spite.

    But now, Earth has a new card up its sleeve -- the Drakyn, the aliens the Elentrin want to exterminate, have come to the aid of humans. The Drakyn come with intelligence and knowledge that are invaluable to winning ... if they can be in a position to use it. 

    Problem: the Drakyn don't have weapons. Or ships. Or troops....

    But the Drakyn are thinking with portals. The problem? Earth only has days to draw up and execute a plan to strike back before the asteroids hit. And, of course, our protagonists must lead the way. 

    Also, it's revealed that our heroes are Dragonborn... okay, you had to be there.

    Allies is a good, hefty chunk of action, and the emphasis on "how things get done" is spread out more evenly throughout the novel. The action breaks up these scenes. To some degree, the action carries these scenes.

    Again, 5/5. 

    Family (Kaylid Chronicles Book 5) by [Mel Todd]
    Then there's this last one, Family

    It feels very much like it should have been one of Mel's novellas-- side stories that she made for the world, exploring events outside of the view of McKenna Largo, our primary character (and, I assume, originally a first person POV narrator, but that's a guess on my part). 

    There is one thing that irks me about the entire series. Family feels unnecessary. We could have ended the series with Allies. This one is a 3/5 than a 5/5. It feels rushed, as though Family was supposed to be a novella, and it turned into a conclusion because Mel had better things to do. 

    Keep in mind the entire series (five books and four novellas) takes place in less than six months. Probably closer to four and a half. And some of the plot points in Family feels like Mel wanted to go from Point T to Point Z and rushed it. The worst part might be that one of the primary antagonists for the entire series has little to no interaction with our heroes, he's been a running threat from the shadows, and the series ends with him twirling his mustache.

    The best part of this one is, again, logistics -- this time the logistics of visiting another planet. It's a long story, and plenty of spoilers, so I won't go into too many details. Here, again, Mel Todd excels.

    Personally, I'd suggest getting the bundle, but hold off on reading Family until / if Mel ever gets around to doing a sequel series that deals with this secondary villain, then read Family and keep going. But all in all, the entire series is solid. There isn't even a misstep in the entire series, except the last book.

    And buying the five in one pack gives you a massive discount over buying the series solo, even if you don't read Family. But if you've bought it, you can give even the last part a try.

    But at the end of the day, this series is amazing. I wish I had read them when they first came out, I would have suggested at least one for a Dragon award.

    Speaking of which, please remember to vote in the Dragon Awards, and be certain to vote for Deus Vult for best horror.

    Thursday, June 18, 2020

    THE UP, UP AND AWAY: the Kevin J Anderson Superhero Bundle

    If reading is your kryptonite, Kevin J Anderson has put together a superpowered StoryBundle—thirteen books with marvelous heroes, supervillains, secret identities, mutant powers, and extraordinary gentlemen (and ladies).
    For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you're feeling generous), you'll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format.
    • Captain Nemo - The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius by Kevin J. Anderson• Cynetic Wolf by Matt Ward• Working Class Hero by James Robert Smith• Dove Season by Robin Brande• The Superhero's Test by Lucas Flint

    If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular books, plus eight more more books, for a total of thirteen!

    • Playing a Hunch by Dean Wesley Smith• Fid's Crusade by David Reiss• The Enlivening by Ashlyn Frost• Nobody's Hero by Mark Leslie• Morning Sun by Jeremy Flagg• Overlook by Jon Mollison
    • Hellbent by Tina Glasneck• Brave New World Revolution by Matt Forbeck
    This bundle is available only for a limited time . It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub, .mobi) for all books!

    It's also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

    * * * *

    Yes, I'm pimping this one because Overlook was awesome. It really is my Dragon Award pick for best SF this year. I don't think I can recommend it enough. This might have something to do with this using my own superpower (no, the bright yellow jacket doesn't always help). If you don't get the joke.... read the damn book already. :)  It really is quite good.

    And while I have you here, be sure to vote in the Dragon Awards.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2020

    Dragon Award ballot (June 2020)

    I really do enjoy Dragon season.

    I can talk about books for months on end. I technically don't need an excuse, but it helps to make me look a little less deranged. Especially when I talk about the same ones over and over again.

    And this year, I have thoughts. 

    Quite a few, really. 

    Best Sci Fi

    Overlook – Silver Empire

    Overlook by Jon Mollison.

    I enjoyed that one so much, I may have underplayed my review. It's in the link if you need a refresher over  how good that was.

    And if you haven't read it yet, Kevin J. Anderson has a Superhero bundle out TODAY with Overlook in it. So, happy hunting.

    Best Fantasy (/ Paranormal)

    Brand of the Warlock, by Robert Kroese.

    Again, another winner by Rob. Again, the review is linked.

    Best YA

    The Unbearable Heaviness of Remembering by L. Jagi Lamplighter.

    Jagi is so consistently good at this series, I will keep putting her up for Best YA until she (a) wins an award, (b) stops writing books, or until (c) the Dragons stop being handed out.

    Best Mi-SF

    That's going to go to Chris Ruocchio's Howling Dark (Sun Eater #2). 

    If Chris doesn't like it, well, he doesn't get a choice in the matter, since I don't have other slots open. 

    Best Alt History

    This Deadly Engine by Matt Ligon

    I swear, one day I'm just going to say to heck with it and get around to reviewing all of Ligon's books in one block review. But today is not that day. I'm busy on everything else.

    Best Horror 

    Deus Vult by, well, me

    Why this one and not Coven, which even Jagi says is better? 

    Because this one scared reviewers

    So, it's better for Horror.

    Also, the name. Can you get better than that? Heh.

    Though if you wanted to put Coven on the list for best fantasy, I'm not going to kvetch. :)

    Best Media Tie-In

    Thrawn: Treason (star Wars):: Zahn, Timothy

    Star Wars: Thrawn: Treason.

    I will only pimp this one Disney-related product for one reason.

    It's Zahn writing Thrawn. Full stop. Thanks.

    Best Science Fiction or Fantasy 
    TV Series, TV or Internet

    While I haven't seen all of The Witcher, what I've seen, I like. 

    And no, I'm not giving anything to Star Trek: Picard. It wasn't even up for consideration. Michael Chabon? Really?

    But frankly, I'd give points to The Witcher just for Henry Caville's performance. He's fooled some fairly perceptive people. But then again, British actors seem to be more flexible and disappear into roles better (see David Suchet)

    And, and I like The Witcher books that I've read. 

    Someone hand the Dragon Award to Henry Caville and he can put it on the shelf next to his 40K minis.

    Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

    Any thoughts? 

    Again, this is a situation where we need something, otherwise a collection of mouth breathing jerks will insist on a terrible Disney product. 

    Because if we don't come up with something, The Rise of Skywalker is going to end up with it by default.

    And a major problem is that Corona has screwed up so many releases of new material that we're starting to hurt for choices.

    Best Science Fiction or Fantasy 

    PC / Console Game

    My original assumption was that the FF 7 Remake was going to make it here... but from the reaction of a lot of fans, I'm thinking it may not make it. Heh.

    Greedfall (PS4) - PlayStation 4

    However, I've started playing Greedfall. It's an action RPG that's very much colonial Art of the Deal, with enough cultures thrown into a blender, I'd have thought it was a JRPG. I seriously recommend it. Unless this goes REALLY bad for some reason, it should be on this. And it's indie, of all things.

    Again, I've heard some good things about the latest Star Wars game. Jedi: Fallen Order, I think the name is. I'm still waiting for the price to come down.

    But I wouldn't put it on this list. Why? Because that would be rewarding bad behavior.

    No Contenders

    500x500_book_bannerThis is a collection of categories for which I got nothing. Or almost nothing. 

    Best Comic Book (the series)

    The Immortal Hulk was on this list to start with. Why? Because it's dark and atmospheric, and feels a lot like if Marvel tried doing HP Lovecraft. But, they've decided to make a character suddenly trans, out of nowhere, for no real reason that fit in the story. And it was so jarring, it's really thrown my interest in the story. It took me out of the comic. 

    Though if you want to give Immortal Hulk a quick read through at a Barnes and Noble, maybe you'll see more of what I did when I first read it.

    As for the rest .... I got nothing. So put in some of your thoughts below.

    Best Graphic Novel

    Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

    Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game 

    You can nominate for the Dragons right here. Enjoy. And please remember to tell your friends. And share this list around the internet.


    Monday, May 25, 2020

    Diversity Representation and Checkboxing

    If you don't know Otto Penzler, he is to murder mysteries what Burroughs is to the Pulp folks, or Asimov to the post Campbell SFF. He's edited more anthologies than I can count, he runs his own press and his own bookstore.

    Then there's this....


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    I think it's time for this rant.




    "Marginalized peoples."

    These are of course, synonyms for bullshit.

    If you ever get around to writing a story -- novel, a short, what have you -- and anyone, anyone tells you that you need more of X, Y, or Z "character," smack the fool in the face.

    Because the only characters you need are the ones that drive the story forward. Anyone else is a waste of time and words.

    This may be funny coming from me, because I've had people tell me I have great diversity in my novels. This is the point where I have to smile, nod, and say, "Thanks, what did you think of the book?"

    Funny thing, those who like the "diversity" don't like my books.

    But I don't even care. You may have guessed. I sincerely don't notice. It takes me five minutes to add up how many of X I may or may not have. I may have one or two lesbian characters, but I didn't ask them, and it hasn't come up, so I don't think about it. Ask me if I have any black characters, it takes me at least a few minutes to remember, oh, yeah, I have a Pope who is literally from Africa.

    Why don't I know things like this off the top of my head?

    Because they're characters, not tokens. For me, every character I have is better defined by characteristics than by anything else. 
    Granted, give me time, and I can compile checklists for people who want them. Aida Jones of the murder mysteries, who I have in my head as a taller Mariah Carey. Brian Levine, whose body type is "big black football player #4", but I remember him best as ex-Delta who knits. 

    I've got a few more characters, but I'm already bored compiling THAT list. Because I hate "checkboxing."

    I just thank God that none of my readers give a damn about that sort of thing. Thankfully, they can't, especially given how I like to subvert the cliches -- and let's face it, checkboxing is so cliche, it's painful. 

    Let's put it this way. I've been able to tell people about the cast of characters of TV shows I've never seen, just based on cliches. "Oh look, any team has to have an Asian -- probably female -- a black engineer / gadget man, someone with a disability, and maybe a token white guy."

    And we can all thank God that I don't even talk about sensitivity readers. The first fucker who goes "I'm offended" while beta reading a novel will find themselves IN the novel, and far more offended. Hell, I'm fed up with "Let's bash Christian," Dan Brown-lite novels, and I'm perfectly happy to offend someone who harps on about how X or Y is offensive.

    Hell, someone called me a white supremacist in a review because I used MS-13 as a random encounter bad guy.... because the biggest gang in the world, so big they're on a terrorist watch list, and run human trafficking operations has to be the villain "because they're not white."

    Nooo. They're the bad guys because they're bad people. And because I'm really tired of Ayran Nation gangs. Talk about cliche. I've only seen MS-13 as the villain in one novel, once -- Vince Flynn, Consent to Kill. And they were only in one scene as hired guns.

    "But what about LGBTQMOUSE and the strong waman?" What about them? To call the first a minority is an exaggeration. I've seen numbers that suggest that it may top off between 1% and 2% of the population. As for the second, one might think I've got enough in my novels -- but trust me, my "strong waman" don't work for the check boxing idiots. After all, they don't spent any time trying to deliberately show up my male characters, or be the bestest evar....

    If you are confused by the above paragraph, go watch an episode of Batwoman for the check boxing definition of "strong women" -- the women are "perfect," indestructible, without flaws, and don't need no man ... so much so, that the men in the episodes are disposable, easily replaced by any female character no matter the function. If she's part of the LGBTQMOUSE faction, the woman get extra invulnerability points.

    I'm not even going to discuss the trans movement. The public face of the trans movement seem to be so obnoxious, there's been at least one article on kicking "T" out of LGBTQ. Between mediocre men declaring themselves "trans" so they can join women's sports to batter women (see MMA), 

    So, yeah, I don't play these games. They're stupid and lead to some of the worst writing I've ever seen or heard. 

    Characters in the story have to fit the story. If Thomas Nolan wasn't married with children (both wife and kids are armed), trust me, no one would know what his sexuality was. If Sean Ryan's girlfriend wasn't an agent who brings him his client in It Was Only on Stun!, it wouldn't have come up there either. I'm not even sure it is mentioned in Set to KillWe won't go into the books with the romance subplots.

    If the story is twisted to fit the check boxing, we get CW shows and Agent Carter. And no one wants that. Just look at their ratings.

    So, write your own stories. Don't try to shoehorn anything or any one that doesn't fit in naturally. 

    You've just seen a bunch of woke idiots fire one of the biggest names in modern mystery so they can virtue signal how diverse they are, solely by judging authors by the color of their skin, and not the quality of their writing.

    Be judged by the quality of your writing, and not the BS you can jam in.