Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Just when you thought life couldn't get any stranger...

The trump anthology is coming.

Nope, not even slightly joking here.

As you can see, the title is MAGA: 2020 and Beyond, from Superversive Press. It's mostly scifi / fantasy, with some essays thrown in. 

It's due out on November 8, 2017.

Personally, I think this works on multiple levels of strange. All of the stories in here reflect a positive future brought about merely by Trump being elected. Though from what I can see, they range from semi-serious breakdowns of Trump's stated policies leading to a utopia, to stories where one of Trump's cabinet is a werewolf. So, yeah, I would say there's a bit of satire in there.

Frankly, if you're interested in something other than the standard "TRUMP IS TEH EVIL AND TEH STUPID AND TEH CRIMINALZ MASTERMIND" chanting from the media and various and sundry celebrities ... or if you're interested in an over-the-top comedy about how utterly brilliant and golden the future will be because of the Great Pumpkin President, then yeah, I think this will work for you either way.

So, we have a foreword by Milo Yiannopoulos, author of Dangerous,

We have a short story by best-selling author Brad Torgersen.

We have the usual thought-provoking essays by John C. Wright.

We have founder Andrew Torba.

The flap copy is...

Generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment - this was the time - when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.

This was the moment we elected Donald J. Trump as President of the United States of America.
MAGA 2020 & Beyond tells the tales of a prosperous future where evil is defeated, the border wall is built, society has righted itself, space exploration is common and world peace has been attained. These aren’t just fantastical stories of a far-fetched future, they are stories of a future that can be obtained.

Lead Editor: Scott Rhinehart

Cover by: Dawn Witzke

Forward by: Milo Yiannopoulos

Essays by: John C. Wright and Andrew Torba

Authors include:

Best-Seller Brad Torgersen

Dragon Award Nominees
Jon Del Arroz
Declan Finn
Marina Fontaine
Daniel Humphreys
L. Jagi Lamplighter

Paul Alan Piatt
Arlan Andrews Sr.
Tamara Wilhite
Sandor Novak
Monalisa Foster
Elaine Arias
Chris Donahue
Justin Robinson
Richard B. Atkinson III
Scott Rinehart
Christine Chase
Dawn Witzke
Scott Bell

And you can preorder it right here.



So, book one of my epic thriller trilogy, A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller, will be only $0.99 from this minute, until 11AM Eastern on Wenesday, October 4.

For those of you who don't recall what A Pius Man is about, the flap copy reads as follows.

Murder in the Vatican!

As the head of Vatican security, Giovanni Figlia must protect a new, African Pope who courts controversy every other day. The Pope’s latest project is to make Pius XII, “Hitler’s Pope,” a saint. Things haven’t gotten better since the Pope employed American mercenary Sean Ryan.

Then a body fell onto the Vatican doorstep.

Mercenaries, spies, beautiful women, international intrigue and ancient secrets – The Pius Trilogy has it all!
I won't be pretentious and say that this is my masterpiece. If I knew what I was doing, it probably would have capped a 12-novel series, and included everyone from Merle Kraft (from Love at First Bite) and almost everyone in the cast would have appeared in other novels as bit players. But it does have a love story, a spy story, an action adventure novel, a murder mystery, a techno-thriller, geopolitical war gaming, and the cast of the Lord of the Rings... Okay, that last part is a bit of an exaggeration.  Though one of my goals was go make it look like every Catholic conspiracy cliche ever... and then take them and turn them on their head.

I remember once doing an entire blog post where I was debating whether or not A Pius Man was pulpy. Jon del Arroz replied with "Dude, you had a bomb on page 5. Of course it's pulp."

Heh. Okay then.

Though as I look at the page for Pius, I see that people who viewed it also viewed: Forbidden Thoughts, and Carnage and Culture. Heh. That's some ... interesting company to be in.

Anyway, the book is up from now until October 4th for only $0.99.  If you were waiting for a price drop, this is your chance.

APM will be on sale for $0.99 through Wednesday, October 4.

NEW TV Review: The Orville

My standard policy on TV shows is to give them three episodes... unless they do something to really drop the ball, and / or piss me off.

The Orville has had three episodes.

So, what do I think?

I have no idea.

Really, I don't know what to do with this one. I think I like it. Then they do something strange and off-putting.

The Orville opens with Ed Mercer (played by writer / producer Seth MacFarlane) walking in on his wife (played by Agent of SHIELD's Adrienne Palicki) with an alien in their bed. Given the writer, I expected a gag. A joke. Something over the top and insane...

Mercer turns around, gets in his vehicle, and flies off. It strikes me as being fairly realistic.

The next scene is a year later. Mercer's career has been derailed ever since his wife cheated on him. But, hey, they've got an expanding fleet, they need captains, here's your ship, don't screw it up.

Then his ex-wife becomes his second in command. (Does that makes her his Ex-O? .... Yes, I'm sorry. But the joke was right there)

I was expecting it to be a variation on Ringo's A Ship Called Francis. But ... nope.

Granted, we have a lot of strangeness. Junior security officer Alara (Halston Sage) is this tiny little slip of a thing ... from a heavy gravity world, so she hits above her weight class. There's an all-male species, a racist cyberman, and a sarcastic chief medical officer who might be out of the McCoy school of medicine (played by 24 and Deep Space 9's Penny Johnson Gerald). And a drunk pilot.

We get halfway through the first episode, and it looks like simple set up, and ha ha, this is going to be funny / awkward... Then their first mission, a milk run, turns into a running shootout. Talk about narrative whiplash. We have some funny humor (including an alien that looks like Schlock), one awkward moment that I don't think is supposed to be funny, and then we're in the middle of a run and gun?

The solution to the action bits are actually quite well executed, as well as entertaining, and, dare I say it, even intelligent.

End of episode one, we get the sense that we might have a cliche that I don't see too often: "Your ex still loves you."

Episode two just opens with one of the most awkward sequences I've seen in a while... and then it becomes an actual episode in the first five minutes. I'm sorry, we're going to go straight into the plot? Huh? The resulting episode involved a junior officer having to take over the bridge, and do the captain's job. It's mostly a straight-faced episode. Things that could be played for laughs, aren't. The plot of the episode is Rod Serling (People are the Same All Over). The solution is both innovative and hilarious.

I will give the acting a lot of credit here. The drunken pilot is played relatively straight -- he's not a fall down drunk, or doing a drunken "Hic!" every few minutes. Palicki has decided she wants a career, and Agents of SHIELD didn't provide nearly enough acting range for her.

Then there's episode 3, the Transgender episode. Which is the one that surprised me. The all-male species crewman has ... a daughter. Immediately, he demands the procedure to swap her gender. The doctor says "Hell no." The Captain says, "I'm not ordering the doctor to do anything." When said crewman calls for a ship from his homeworld, the Captain is pissed for the chain of command being violated.

There is some discussion about trans issues, but while they don't smother your face in what stance the show wants you to take, it's very clear that the show has a side. The solution is ... very Babylon 5. Captain Kirk can show X species that their culture is wrong, but that doesn't mean X will be happy and thank him over it.

I was surprised. Seriously, what do they want to do with this show?

The biggest drawback to this show is the ... humor, I think. I honestly don't know if they're supposed to be funny bits of business, or just awkward. Almost all three episodes have had this awkward moment in there that is so narratively jarring, it's hard to get a firm grasp of what this show wants to be when it grows up. The only time we even have a solid musical cue is when they have an action sequence. For that, I will give the music department props.

This show has a lot of promise, and a lot of potential to grow... But it's a scifi show on Fox, so before we hold out too much hope, let's see if it lasts long enough to find its footing.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A review of Torchship, by Karl Gallagher

I'm behind in my reviewing. 

You know why? Because everything is digital, and I prefer hard copy. (Sorry Marina. With any luck, I'll have The Product reviewed before 2017 is over).

Because I've had a lot dumped on me.

Because this was my month off, and this was the month that every anthology and novel that's up for editing has decided to pick this month to have a chat. (Tales of Once and Future King? Check. MAGA? Check.)

So, yeah, I'm a little slow.

Imagine, if you will, a Firefly that did not suck.... and that it is written by David Weber, before Weber's world became Game of Starships with 500 characters you can't remember. 
A captain who’ll take any job if there’s enough money in it.

A pilot with an agenda of her own.

And a mechanic with an eye on the pilot.

The crew of the Fives Full are just trying to make enough money to keep themselves in the black while avoiding the attention of a government so paranoid it’s repealed Moore’s Law. They’re not looking for adventure in the stars . . . but they’re not going to back down just because something got in their way.
We cover five missions / stories, but they all build on each other. The opening deals with a bunch of tourists ... which turns into a cat and mouse chase among asteroids, a shoot out, and some additional SCIENCE! 

Events that take place during #1 lead to the next mission with Terraformers ... called "Kitty Chow." Yes, really. Trust me, you won't see this coming.

"Kitty Chow" leads to several bits of business in the next arc of stories, with Pilgrims, the Treasure of the Sierra Madre .... IN SPACE ... and then Hitchhikers. How do you have hitchhikers in space? Heh heh heh.

There are several interludes that take place in between the missions of the torch ship in question, and they both add to the narrative, and provides some exposition. This is important, since there is little in the way of exposition here. There is just enough data here to get you through the story, but nothing else. "The Fusion worlds" are paranoid about technology, because the AIs revolted. Why did the AI revolt? No idea. We don't need to know. We just need to know that they dislike humans. 

But dang, this was fun. Granted, we don't have the scene-chewing, over the top characters from Firefly, but we also don't have their angsty BS. The crew of the Fives Full are ... generally well-adjusted individuals. The story doesn't leave you wanting, but it does leave you with a desire to know more about the world, and what happens next to our heroes.

On the one hand, I would say that this is hard SF -- our heroes plot courses with slide rules, we have terraforming (right now, it's mostly done by Israel), AIs, genetic engineering and using elements for fuel. I think the only thing that isn't merely an extension of current technology is translating through space via various and sundry portals. But this man has planets listed with their gravity well intensity. Who does that? Answer: an MIT grad with an engineering degree.

However, to say that this is hard SF would be terribly mislabeling it. Much of hard SF is so techy, you'd be hard pressed to find character or culture among the people and places. Here? Here, there is something for everybody. There are multiple systems of government, from an auctionocracy (yes, they auction off seats, it's half the tax income for the year) to representative government, et al. The cultures are clear, and unique, and varied all over the place. It's a wonderful array of stuff here, and it's obvious that Karl has put in plenty of time contemplating ... everything. 

One problem I have with this particular novel: why are they broken up into short stories instead of chapters? It reads continuously. Also, the opening few pages (less than five) are disorienting. They do feed into the story, and any confusion from the opening is resolved by the end, so no worries there. It may make it a little difficult for some people to get into the novel initially. Don't worry about it, just push through the first five page (okay, more like page 5, 6, and 7) and you're good.

Is it Superversive? Hell yes. That's the easy part. Is it Pulpy? Well, that's according. You see, there's a romance going on here, a spy story, a thought problem story, with multiple types of adversaries -- the ever present man versus nature of hard vacuum, man versus man, man versus self, and man versus society. 

Anyway, I'd recommend it. I'm going to work on the sequel next. But while I do that, read through Torchship now.

Arresting Merlin in Tales of the Once and Future King

When I started working on my short story for Tales of the Once and Future King, I decided to use one particular factoid I first heard in an episode of Babylon 5 called A Late Delivery from Avalon: Some Arthur myths say that Merlin aged backwards. He knew the future by remembering the future.

If that were the case, it makes sense that Merlin would have to age backwards at a rate of speed so slow that no one would visibly notice.

So how long would it take for Merlin to hit childhood?

Better yet, if Merlin survived into the post-Arthurian world, how would he spend his time?

To answer the first question, I ignored the math. It was just easier to make Merlin 10 years old in 2016.

As for how he would spend his time? That's even easier: he'd be fighting whatever supernatural creatures just happen to pop up. It would be easiest to hide out in big population centers. I happen to live in New York City, so the setting was easy enough.

So, why not have Merlin try to kill a fae Mayor of New York with a wrought iron flamingo?

Yes, really.

While it was tempting to begin with attempted assault with a deadly flamingo, I wanted to jump forward to the police station where Merlin is being processed. Because while assault with a deadly flamingo is entertaining, I want to see how a simple uniformed officer tries to fill out that police report. Hilarity ensues.

Yes, it really is as funny as you think it would be.

Arresting Merlin is just one of the collection in Tales of the Once and Future King.

You can purchase it for preorder today.


Monday, September 25, 2017

ANNOUNCEMENT: Tales of the Once and Future King Anthology is here

Okay, to be perfectly technical, the anthology Tales of the Once and Future King is only available for preorder. And, as of this exact minute, only available as a Kindle.

Yeah. I know. Don't look at me, I'm not in charge of this one.

As you may recall, the editor of this project is Anthony Marchetta, the co-editor of God, Robot, from last year. In fact, if you recall, this project was first announced on my podcast, The Catholic Geek.

Like God, Robot, this is yet another compilation book. It's got a frame tale that links all of the short stories together.

But Anthony wants to promise more.

When Anthony put together his own package on Tales of the Once and Future King anthology, over at Superversive's blog, he listed it as the following
Prepare yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. We are just a short two weeks away from the release of “Tales of the Once and Future King”, published by Superversive Press and edited by Anthony Marchetta (me), with assistant editor Mariel Marchetta contributing.

So what is “Tales”? Is it an anthology?

Well, yes and no.

Is it a novel?

Yes and no.

Tales is something different. Tales of the Once and Future King is both.

The main story is a post-apocalyptic fairy tale, and it is a full story – more than a simple excuse to fit other stories in between it, like what is seen in God, Robot or the original “I, Robot” that was its inspiration. It has action, romance, knights, vampires, banished kings and fair maidens locked in towers. It’s all there.

But in between it are the stories. And not just one or two. There are eighteen stories from the same number of authors, and they are not just stuck there, but integrated into the main plot. And not just one type of story either. We have your traditional medieval fantasies, yes, but there’s also steampunk, and Lovecraftian fiction, and stories set in the modern day, and stories in space, ranging from a child’s reading level all the way up to young adult.

Tales of the Once and Future King is a book with…everything. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Enjoy the show
.... Okay, I'm not entirely certain how helpful all of that is.

Over at Amazon, we have the write up.
It is said that King Arthur will return in Britain's hour of greatest need.
That time is coming.

Four travelers, searching for the Pendragon, are quickly embroiled in a plot to rescue the beloved of a banished forest lord. And while they concoct their desperate plan a Bard, the new Taliesin, regales them with stories: Tales of Knights, yes, but also tales of robots and vampires, music and monsters, airships and armies - tales to inspire heroism and hope. And when all seems lost, perhaps these tales will be their salvation.

This book is an anthology.
This book is a novel.
This book is a romance
This book is science fiction
This book is a fantasy

This is Tales of the Once and Future King
Sigh. Yeah, that doesn't help much either.

I'll discuss my own contribution to this insanity later on. I also hope to have a radio show about it on Sunday. We'll see how well that turns out.

But look at this list of authors.
  • L. Jagi Lamplighter
  • Anthony Marchetta
  • Mariel Marchetta
  • Morgon Newquist
  • Declan Finn
  • Peter Nealen
  • Bokerah Brumley
  • Matthew P. Schmidt 
  • Jonathan Shipley  
  • Mandy Nachampassack-Maloney 
  • Katharina Daue 
And about 8 other people who aren't even on this list. Or listed on the author page. Which is odd, but whatever.

Tales of the Once and Future King goes life on Saturday. And can be pre-ordered now.

As for my story? Well, let's just say it's called "Arresting Merlin."

Heh heh heh.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

DragonCon 2017: The Logic of Magic

A panel on developing magic systems, with Jim Butcher, Kathryn Hinds, Faith Hunter, and Elizabeth Moon.

Yeah, sorry about the audio on this one. Turn the volume up to maximum, and concentrate real hard. Otherwise, you may not be able to hear anything.

Again, I didn't do this video, so I have no control over how it turned out. Though I'm going to have to listen to this one later. I couldn't get into this one for love or money.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

DragonCon 2017: Keeping the Peace: Liaison Characters in UF

Whether striving to improve communication & relations between supernatural & human communities, or between different groups within the supernatural world, our panelists’ characters often find themselves in the position of peacemaker.

Panelists: Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Delilah S. Dawson, Kim Harrison, Nancy Holzner, Faith Hunter.

This is another one I couldn't get into. Because, again, the hall was WWWAAAYYYY too small for Jim Butcher ALONE, nevermind all of the other authors.

And the audio is a little finicky at times. The farther away you get from the camera, the less you can hear people. Even with headphones, you might want to edge the volume higher and higher. That's all.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Catholic Geek: DragonCon Report

The Catholic Geek: DragonCon Report 09/17 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:

Declan Finn (Love at First Bite) reports on the Dragon Awards, and the latest news about Monster Hunter International, Harry Dresden spin-offs, Jim Butcher tales, and some words from the late, great Jerry Pournelle.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Review of Death Note (Anime)

After encountering the trailer for the Death Note for Netflix, I looked up the general premise. Then I looked up a video on YouTube.

Then I ended up binging the whole bloody show.

A Shinigami (A Japanese god of Death) named Ryuk is bored. His world is a mess, a disaster. On a lark, for something to do, he takes his death note--a black notebook that will kill anyone whose name is written down in it--and throws it down to Earth, just to see what happens.

Enter Light.

Light Yagami is about to graduate high school. The son of a police officer, he finds the world grim, unchanging, and ... boring.

And then he finds this little black notebook. The Death Note comes with instructions, written in by Ryuk.

Light reads the rules of the death note, and first tests it out on a hostage taker, and then a rapist in progress... and five days later, he has filled the Death Note with hundreds of names. When Ryuk comes to him to elaborate on the death note, Light declares that "I will happily sacrifice my soul to make a better world." But Ryuk explains that, no, the Death Note will not come with selling his soul, but "merely" forfeiting his place in Heaven or Hell. With that bit of new information, Light's mission becomes all about him becoming a god, out to start the creation a new world, free of criminals.

There's little buildup to Light's declaration. It's just that sudden.

But we have a show to start, and all of this is episode 1.

After the first thousand dead criminals, it becomes obvious to all that it is the work of a mass murderer, and he is labeled "Kira" -- killer.

Over time, we see that Light is possibly one of the most evil SOBs I think I've ever seen outside of Sauron. Seriously, there's not one person near him he doesn't manipulate. He drives at least one person to suicide without using the death note. At least one person he spent 30 minutes of screen time with (IE: who knows how much in-story time with) and gets to know them, connect with them, realize what a good and loving person they are ... and then kills them, because there's a possibility that they know something that might expose him. Friends? What's a friend? Allies? An ally is just a tool, a pawn, for his own convenience. Light needs no one. Light cares for no one but himself. Even his family seem to be of value to him only as an extension of Light's own ego, and there are points in the plot where even they seem to be expendable.

At the end of the day, Light is charming and suave, and I have read blood-sucking vampires written by Ringo and Correia that have more humanity than this guy.

But good God, it is hard to tell which of these people are scarier.  Light wants to be a god, and reshape the world where only "hardworking good people" exist. Light jumps onto this bandwagon fairly quickly. He goes from killing criminals, to killing cops investigating him, to ultimately deciding with one person "You have defied me, the new god! For that alone, you will die."

Image result for misa death noteThen there's Light's girlfriend, Misa.

Yes, his girlfriend.

On the surface, Misa is every anime blonde cliche made manifest. She is bright, she is perky. She is outgoing ... and she might be more evil than Light is. She possesses her own death note, and is a fan of "Kira." Because that's what every mass murdering serial killer needs -- a groupie.

Bute when Misa gets going, the bodies start dropping all over the place.

While Light, at the very least, makes certain the ascertain guilt or innocence of criminals who drop dead--or cops coming after him directly-- Misa's quite happy to off anyone who even expresses disapproval of "Kira."

While Misa comes off as a ditzy blonde, I don't think there's a single person in this entire series who classifies as stupid. We won't even go into some of the various and sundry oddballs, nut jobs, and seemingly "normal" people who join Light's team. Though it is amusing to have Light deal with girl trouble at some particularly perilous points in the story. It almost gives you hope that he's human. Don't worry, those moments don't last long.

Then we meet L, the detective in charge of hunting Kira.

L is the Holmes brothers, Nero Wolfe, and a stack of eccentricities rolled into one. There is an awful lot of thought put into this character, as well as the various and sundry back and forth between L and Light that would make for a great Columbo episode. Heck, there's even a tennis match here that Alfred Hitchcock would love. The tennis matches here are interesting-- but only one of them is literal. Watching the various and sundry thought processes of L and Light ping ponging back and forth between each other is particularly entertaining.

One of the things that makes Death Note particularly tragic is that, at one point, Light has to give up the death note. Without the notebook, he loses every and all memory of being Kira. During this time, we see that Light is actually not a bad guy. He's particularly bright, and possibly on par with or smarter than L. Like Aquinas put it, the corruption of the best leads to the creation of the worst -- and Light is one of the worst.

And that's before Light starts to truly spiral out of control

The animation is largely smooth and fluid. The artwork is creative and beautiful. The faces are unusually well defined for anime. The music is great and atmospheric, and borrows from Gregorian chant.

Overall, I was surprised at how easily I was sucked into this series. There is little of the hysterics that usually mark anime, and the characters are largely rich, well-developed people, with a host of strengths and foibles. Light is possibly the best murdering psychopath since Hannibal Lecter. And yes, I have read Dexter. Light makes Dexter look almost shallow in comparison, and I enjoyed those books.

All in all, I recommend it. It's currently on Netflix.

Friday, September 15, 2017

DragonCon 2017: Magnificent Men of Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The top men of our genres discuss their careers & offer advice to new writers. Panelists: Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Peter David, and Larry Niven.

Yes, this has audio ... it's audio only.

Sorry, again, this isn't mine, so no, I can't fix any problems that arise. I just find the stuff, and hope you enjoy it.

Enjoy, all.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

DragonCon 2017: From the Beginning: The Evolution of the Urban Fantasy Protagonist

The authors on our panel have played vital roles in the advancement of the Urban Fantasy genre. We’ll discuss how their seminal characters have developed & changed over time, all while continuing to influence the field.

Panelists: Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Laurel K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Skim this one. Why? I think you'll see why, after a while. I have never seen Jim Butcher go passive aggressive before, but when he says, "I think Joss Whedon has something to do with Urban Fantasy. Just a little," he sounds just a might put out.

Best lines

BUtcher: "Laurell writes Hammer villians, Harry Dresden is a magical Spencer for Hire. We take archetypes of different genres and use them. Genre is just a publisher's problem."

Pat Briggs: College writing progessors can rip books apart, they can't put them together.
Kenyon: I was kicked out of a writing track as being too disruptive.
Briggs: I got a C on a story that ended up in a NY Times bestselling anthology.

Butcher will also be doing a Goodman Grey Spinoff, as well as one for Maggie Dresden. Yes, really.

Fun fun fun.

DragonCon 2017: Monster Hunter Files

Focused on the upcoming anthology of stories set in the world of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International! Panelists: Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Faith Hunter, Jonathan Maberry, Jody Lynn Nye.

This is one I actually got to see, unlike many of the videos I'll be posting. However, as I noted before, the video is not mine. How can you tell? It's got film quality.

One of the authors was a last minute addition, since Kelly Lockhart had not written for this anthology, so Larry acted as moderator, and they slipped in ... Quincy? I think that's his name.

Anyway, if you're waiting for the next Monster Hunter Book, and can't wait for the Anthology, may I suggest...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

DragonCon 2017: Jim Butcher Solo Panel

So, I'm back from DragonCon. I live. BWAHAHAHAAHA

And no, I don't have a Dragon Award. But are we really surprised? More on that on my radio show on Sunday.

But now, the important stuff: Jim Butcher!

Yes, even though the writers track threatened to throw out people who recorded the event, that doesn't stop ANYBODY at DragonCon. Okay, it stopped me, but I didn't feel like putting in the effort, only to have it duplicated by people with better recording devices.

Hell, there are even some panels this year I'll be able to see only BECAUSE people uploaded them to YouTube.

This presentation with Jim Butcher will have very little that's new for long time readers of the blog. However, there are still fun tidbits, including Jim Butcher as Alexander Hamilton, and the story of how he defeated a Witch Doctor's curse, and foiled an extortion racket when he was only ... 12.... ish.

Just enjoy.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Chapter 5: The Maw

The last chapter I'm posting for the book.


Purchase the book here.

Chapter 5: The Maw

An ax hit the door, only to get a clang as metal struck metal.
Marco grinned. “This is my room. I had certain…modifications…made after Nuala. Merle spent time on them while I was in the hospital. I think ahead.
The windows exploded as two people swung into the room. They landed on a rug, which disappeared out from under them as they fell through the floor, onto spikes in the room below.
The fake Yana’s eyes narrowed. “But you couldn’t have—”
Marco circled around the image, grinning like a death’s head. “We were counting on someone coming for me, and assumed we’d be spied on. Had you been smarter, you’d have seen that Merlin Kraft had a team of government contractors turn this into a kill zone.”
The door fell in, and it was followed by a dozen men, all of whom were armed with knives. Two of them had axes. They swarmed, taking up positions all around the room as Marco backed against the window, keeping the bed between him and them.
You have just been suckered.”
Marco smiled at them a moment longer, then gave them a wave with his fingers before he leaped back, and hit the windowsill. The impact caused him to flip backwards and out the window, grabbing the rappelling rope along the way.
As he controlled his descent with one hand, he pulled out a cell phone with the other and hit autodial 1.
The number was that of a beeper in his room, attached to a detonator… which was connect to large quantities of explosives under the floorboards.
Marco hit the ground before the fire burned away the rappelling cable. Imagine what would have happened had they tried me in the chem lab.
Yana” stood there, where the floor used to be, saying, “I hate him.”
The image stood gleaming and translucent in the night air, amid the debris and flaming wreckage where his room used to be.
Marco dove into the bushes, grabbing his gym bag filled with weapons. There wasn’t exactly anything he could do besides run very fast. Someone had to have heard that blast, though.
Marco heard something and glanced left across the great lawn of the campus. More minions were coming out from behind the building…how many, he couldn’t tell.
Well, this is bad.
Marco kept running, wondering why no one else had come out of the woodwork—security guards, students, that sort of thing. Thankfully, these are human minions, and not vampires, otherwise, I’d be food by now.
Marco slowed as he saw more shapes coming out of the dark ahead of him. They weren’t demonic-looking, so they were still killable. He drew two knives from his sleeves. He glanced back over his shoulder at the minions closing behind him.
This could be bad.
You killed my brother, da?” asked a deep voice.
Marco glanced over his other shoulder. It was a large vampire, back-lit by the fire of his dying room, easily 6’5”, perhaps even taller.
He looked even uglier than Mikhail the Bear.
The first shot slammed into the vampire’s head, and Marco expected his skull to explode into a million pieces. Instead, the vampire tottered a little. The bullet passing through the other side as though it cut through the brain and bone without actually punching a hole through it.
Well, that’s not good.
Marco did the math, and knew he was screwed. The sniper in place could wipe out the minions, but not the vampire. As far as his chances on taking out the target, knives couldn’t be thrown faster than a vampire could move, and he couldn’t grab another weapon fast enough without being rushed and crushed. There was only one option left…
Marco dropped the bag of weapons, and ran for the woods of Golden Gate Park.
Our Father, who art in Heaven…
The vampire’s laughter followed him, and the vamp was about to follow as well, when Marco whirled in mid-step and hurled a knife at his own bag.
The impact set off the nitroglycerin within. The nitroglycerin had been packed around a shell of wooden stakes, as well as knives. The contents became deadly shrapnel, killing minions all around, and turning the vampire into a pincushion without turning him to dust, driving him off his feet.
At least it’s winter break. No one else will be horribly murdered.
He dashed across the empty street, wondering exactly where everyone else in the area had gone—Answer, it’s a college area.
The park was within sight. There were enough trees in there to count simply as woods.
A minion leaped out from behind a tree, and Marco dove under the line of fire, and grabbed the gun with both hands. One hand clamped down around the muzzle, and the other around the back of the gun. He locked his arms straight above his head, and stood, raising the muzzle of the gun, and bending it back against the minion’s wrist. In the moment of surprise, he twisted the firearm out of the minion’s hands, jammed it under his chin, and pulled the trigger.
Marco was off and running before the body fell. He dashed for the tree line.
When he bowled over a pedestrian who came out of nowhere, he was about to apologize when he saw that she had a knife. “Damn it.”
The woman slashed for his ankles. He hopped over the knife and came down on the woman’s arm, shattering it. He shot her in the head, bent down and scooped down to grab her dagger.
Thanks. Needed this.”
As he straightened, a sharp noise cut the air. Marco barely raised his arm in time to block the coming blade. The dagger hit the gun, taking it out of his hand.
A newcomer, a large, wrestler-like attacker stood before him, and slashed again, this time backhanded. Someone came prepared. Marco leaned back, away from the slash, then pushed forward and jabbed his stake into the killer’s throat. Marco snatched his attacker’s knife away, then nodded at him.
Two metal daggers. Nice exchange rate.
He turned as another came for him, gun held high. Marco threw himself to one side, hurling the knife for the minion’s face—the knife missed and slammed into his chest, point first. The attacker fell forward as Marco swept up the gun in his right hand.
Marco caught motion out of the corner of his left eye, and he swung the left blade up in a backhand. His blade met the attacker’s wrist, opening the fingers holding the knife. At the same time, Marco’s right hand came up with the gun, and punched the minion in the throat with the muzzle. Then he fired.
Marco slid the blade away in the small of his back. His right hand scooped up the fallen knife as he charged deeper into the woods.
Come on, pal, you’ve taken out thousand-year-old vampires, you can take these twerps.
Marco tripped over a rock in time to avoid being decapitated. He thrust his knife at an ax-wielding minion, going right into his stomach as he fell. Marco landed on his shoulder and rolled, hurling the knife from his back out into the darkness. A figure toppled over, and he hoped he didn’t kill a pedestrian. Marco rolled back, grabbed the ax in his free hand, and rolled to his feet.
A knife wielder jumped in front of him, and Marco promptly slammed the butt of the ax into his face like a hammer-fist, then spun in order to give him the ax blade first. The knife man crumpled, showering blood on the way down.
Marco gunned down the next three minions who charged him, but missed the others. They grabbed his elbows and lifted him off the ground, one pulling away the gun.
Marco struggled a moment, but the lock was too strong on both ends. Unnaturally strong. Full blooded minions. Crap. I’m screwed.
Marco dropped the ax and threw his arms out to either side of him; while that wouldn’t shake them, it released the squirt guns in his sleeves. He fired into their faces, and they fell back in pain. He drew both squirt guns down upon the next minion charging in front of him, still firing.
The minions howled in pain as the hydrofluoric acid burned away their faces. They melted like theyd seen the business end of Spielberg's Ark of the Covenant.
Marco shook the squirt guns clear of any droplets and tucked the weapons away, grabbing the knives and the gun from the ground.
He straightened…ten more minions were in front of him, and he was certain that he didn’t have enough bullets.
How many losers can one vampire get to volunteer at a time?
Marco hurled one knife at them as he brought up the gun. The first three fell back as he shot them squarely in the head. The rest dodged with preternatural speed.
Come on, Merle, save my life.
Something slammed him, hard. He dropped the gun without resistance. He looked at his shoulder, only to find that he was bleeding. He flexed his hand and saw flash lights he knew werent there. His whole arm wasnt responding properly. There was movement, but it hurt like a bear.
Ah, damn.”
Marco slowly turned, only to have his knees buckle. He fell with his back to the tree, sliding to the ground.
A minion stood over him, gun in hand.
Marco snarled, and threw out his arm, throwing the squirt gun into his hand. “Die.”
His hand convulsed around the handle, spraying the minion over and over until it fell back, choking and gasping. He waited until it fell all the way back, and down to the ground before he stopped.
The vampire hunter checked the level of acid. He was out. I’m screwed.
Marco slowly pushed off the ground, onto his feet.
You really don’t know when to quit, do you?” said the Yana image standing before him. He could see the scenery right through the flat contours of Yanas lookalike image. Where was the vampire sending it from?
He straightened. “That’s something we have in common. Don’t you ever shut up?”
Yana” smiled. “I wasn’t prepared for your little bomb, but this will do for now. I have nothing but time on my hands.”
You don’t have actual hands… not in this form.”
An oversight.” It smiled. “On your part,” she added as even more men drifted all around “her,” converging on Marco. “These are my hands, and they’ll do quite well to shred you.”
He grimaced as he looked at the others. Let me think about this. I have one arm, my non-dominant one, outnumbered by ten to one, easily. “Right. Let’s do this.”
Marco grabbed a pen from his pocket with his left hand. With one quick move he broke left and rammed the pen into the nearest minion’s eye and into the brain. With a glance over his shoulder, he spotted another one coming for him. His right leg snapped out in a mule-kick, hitting that one in the throat.
With a ferocious growl, two minions had their heads cut off with the single silver swipe of a sword, and the sword ended up embedded in the sides of two others, pinning them to a tree before something leaped through the projected image and slammed into even more minions, slashing them mercilessly.
The cavalry had arrived.

Friday, September 1, 2017


..... That's all.


Yes, really. Vote by midnight tonight, if you haven't already. If you've registered, the ballot is in your in box. Be well.

Obviously, I'm not going to post a whole heck of a lot in the next few days. So, sorry about that. But I started this week with four posts. So, not bad, eh?

Please remember, Good to the Last Drop is up and running, the fourth book of the Love at first Bite series.