Thursday, March 23, 2017

#NationalPuppyDay? Really?



I hate cute cat pictures on the internet.

According to Twitter, it's national Puppy Day.

.... Okay. Fine. I'll take that.

I like puppies.















As I said, I'm good with dogs.

Anyway, this has been an odd little week.

Nick Cole will be on the show this Sunday. Enjoy.

Try the Love at First Bite series. We have were-Puppies.

Yes, really.

    

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Music blog: Street Fighter - Sonya Belousova

Ah, nostalgic video game music.

Enjoy.

Yes, I know it's a little lazy, but I've done six other blogs this week already. I may not even do something for the rest of the week. We'll see.

Have fun.


Some books to read this to. Try some of the below.

Love at First Bite

    

Deathstroke for Gun Control

If you know Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke-- and after Arrow season 2, how can you avoid it -- Deathstroke is a mercenary who is an almost perfect badass. 

What do I mean by almost perfect? The first time he ran into Batman, he beat him unconscious. He's also quite honorable. After beating Batman out cold, Deathstroke left him alone -- the Dark Knight wasn't the target, he was just in the way. From what we could tell, he didn't even peek under the cowl, but probably figured out who Batman is, since he's deduced the real names of almost every Robin. He's also a brilliant tactician.

Deathstroke is "almost" perfect as a badass, mostly because he's insane. This is a guy who took on most of the Justice League in Identity Crisis, nearly beat them, and flipped out after Green Arrow jammed an arrow into his empty eye socket -- which became a vendetta that concluded with nuking a city.

Deathstroke also carries enough guns to go toe-to-toe to Deadpool -- who started as a parodied version of Deathstroke.

This is Deathstroke's load out.



And in Deathstroke #11, Christopher Priest wants to use Deathstroke to talk about gun violence.

Nope. Not a joke. I can't even make this up. Yes, this really happened. Author Christopher Priest wants to use a gun-wielding mercenary with more guns this side of The Punisher, to talk about the evils of guns.

Do I even have to highlight how stupid this is?

Not to mention that this is the DCU: alien invasions drop out of the sky every five minutes. To hell with guns, how do standard citizens not have a rocket launcher in their basement, just in case of the next invasion by Apokalypse -- or however else they spelled that planet -- or attack by Amazons, or ninjas, or whatever the hell else is going on out there this moment.

It's also amusing because right now, they've made him an anti-hero. So if he's not shooting someone, he's either: 1)beating someone over the head with a six-foot long iron staff, or 2) shanking them with a katana.

Now, I can kind of appreciate Chris Priest, who is a Baptist minister, trying to use a gun heavy protagonist to explore guns.

But let's look at his execution a moment, shall we?
Priest uses a reporter to investigate rumors that the families of shooting victims have hired Deathstroke to take out the armed killers of their children. Deathstroke is mostly silent through the issue, while Chicago citizens debate whether an eye for an eye can ever be the right way to answer back to violence.
To be honest, that's not hard. Deathstroke doesn't need side kicks. Exclude first person narration or thought bubbles, it wouldn't be all that hard to make an entire issue read like a silent movie, only with screams and sound effects of the targets being wiped out.
The silence from the assassin was intentional, according to Priest. “I wanted Deathstroke to be a force of nature more,” Priest said. “I wanted to have as objective an analysis of the crisis as I’d be able to do. So I used a reporter’s voice.”
That would be fine if we were being really honest about it. Part of the tale involves an armed citizen leading to a dead child passerby.

This


Because, as we "all know," private citizens are just too stupid to own guns.

But that's a lie.

I first saw the article in the LA Times in 2001 (and I should have kept it) that cited that armed citizens stop over 20,000 crimes each year in LA. Guns stop five times more crime than they cause. In 2007, a Florida State University study revealed that private guns stop 2.5 MILLION crimes each year. So already, part of the narrative is already a problem.

.... Except every time that Deathstroke has played hero, he's been an private citizen.

And let's back up a moment to frame #2 and #3, shall we.
"I'd take Mickey Mouse with a machine gun if it'd help."
"Will it?"
"No"
Then what, may one ask, was the point? "I'd take X if it would help, but it won't."

The point was the highlight the message.

Maybe Rev. Priest -- talk about names being prophetic -- should just let the story carry the day, be completely honest, and follow the main character instead of trying to "explore" a topic that he already claims to know the answer to.

I'm sorry, every time a comic book author says, "I want to explore the issue," I hear "I have all the answers, and I'm going to shove them down your throat."  I hear that because that always seems to be the end result.

Also, in case you missed it, the reporter is Jack Ryder, "The Creeper," who is so utterly bizarre, he had the Joker looking at him like he was crazy. Because THAT'S the objective look we want.

Don't get me wrong, Deathstroke versus gang bangers in Chicago would be awesome, just to watch the crime rate spike for one weekend, and then drop for the rest of time. Because Deathstroke takes on whole countries when he feels like it, he can wipe out the gang bangers of Chicago in a weekend, if he takes his time about it. I can't imagine the fees he would charge, but it'd be worth it.

And then there's this page


Are you kidding me? "Deathstroke hasn't used any guns to off these jokers. He must be sending a message!"

Yes, the message is "I'm Deathstroke, and I'm showing off, because you're not even worth the bullets. Because I'm a super-powered bad ass with sharp objects."

Also, we're going to garrote one person, and cut off the arm of the next person with a great splash of blood .... but guns are bad.

Maybe the message Priest is really trying to send is "People are violent bastards who will used whatever's handy to murder people."

Also, that artwork...gah! Who the hell?

And then there's this.



What could have been the most powerful, most moving parts in the whole comic book, panel #2, #4, #5, is undercut by speechifying. So a black mother and her black Reverend, are being lectured by a white guy about gun violence, trying to blame "the culture," and, worse, the parents of the dead kid, for "why guns are everywhere."

I don't think I've seen something more racist in a while. The PC police throw around lines like "Whitesplaining," or "White knighting" or whatever some such idiocy. And I don't think that I have ever seen it any clearer than in this comic. Written by a black minister. What the hell?

I think I'm going to slam my head against the wall. After a while, I may even come to enjoy it.

And there's this bit of BS.



The reference to "49 Dead kids in a Florida nightclub," in case you don't remember, happened the middle of last year. It was a gay nightclub shot up by -- wait for it -- deranged Islamofascist #57. Yes, you read that correct, ladies and gentlemen, they wanted to slap a "gun violence" label on a terrorist incident. Or is is no longer terrorism when there's a gun involved? Perhaps they would have preferred napalm, or a suicide bomber.

This is everything wrong with comics now -- "No, we're not interested in a story. Let's all lecture at each other." Marvel does it, now I guess DC wants to dip their toe in the water.

At the end of the day though, I'm grateful for Priest's work. Because you have to know this idea tanked. Why? Because the very next issue goes onto a completely different story.

Dear comic books: Tell me a story. Don't lecture me and call it art. If I wanted to choke down garbage, I can walk to the nearest McDonald's and buy better garbage for cheaper than the price of this comic book.

This is described as "an unflinching look at gun violence in America." That's a lie. Because I flinched. I flinched at every lie, every half-true, every stilted line, every forced morale.

And they flinched at the truth.

For series where no one whines over guns.

Try some of the below.

Love at First Bite

    

Latest Reviews of Live and Let Bite, et al

To start with JD Cowan has an awesome review for Bite over on his website, that I think is a great review for the entire series, to heck with just one nove. You can check out his review right here.
After a surprising first entry and a rousing second, author Declan Finn's Love At First Bite series performed the task I had been certain wasn't ever going to happen: He wrote a vampire series I actually enjoy.

How did he perform this feat? Well, he did a remarkable thing. It's as crazy as it is impossible. What he did was write a story where vampires were actually vampires, the characters aren't mopey millennials or pious boomers, and the plot progresses from point A to B. Basically he wrote a story that happens to have vampires in it.

I still can't believe it.

My April 2nd guest, Jim McCoy, recently reviewed Murphy's Law of Vampire, and he really likes Mister Day. You can check out his review here.
The book sizzles. The action sequences are impressive. Finn obviously spent hours mapping out the best way to do violence to vampires and other things before writing this. He has very carefully choreographed the fighting in this book. It's impressive. Marco and company are smart and dangerous. Catalano knows that he has to out-plan his enemies and he does so well. The action is so well described that I found myself moving in my seat along with the movements in the fighting. It was exciting. I had my adrenaline going. I wanted to kick ass along with him. It's probably better that I didn't though. I'm a three hundred pound man. I would have gotten in the way.

Something I've often commented on is the need for an epic villain. Finn delivers. Given the fact that the characters in the book can't figure out what Mr. Day is, I won't spoil the fun. But he is pure, unadulterated evil for a reason. He is deadly and vicious. He has a very interesting back story. He's the kind of guy that REALLY REALLY REALLY deserves every terrible thing that happens to him. He's tough as hell and smart. This is no Cobra Commander making stupid mistakes. Day is smart and savvy. He makes chaos because that is his nature. He is cocky but he's damn near indestructible so he should be. But Day does what he does in a logical manner. I wouldn't want to take this guy on.
These are both fun. I'm happy whenever I see a review like these.

If you'd like more news-based articles, I'm not really up to it. But if you follow my Twitter feed you've noticed Brian Niemeier and Jon Del Arroz have some interesting articles. 

Brian: Tor apparently put a hit out on a novel from Castalia House. Nice going, dudes.

Jon covers Marvel's Diversity problem, then he has a follow up dissecting how his first article was reported, and he has yet ANOTHER one about the blowback from the reporting.

Oh, and the publisher of the reprint for The Pius Trilogy has launched their short story streaming service, Lyonesse. One of mine is called "Zombie Jamboree."

Anyway, you can pick up any of the books mentioned above by clicking here. And please, while you're reading, remember the Dragon.

Be well all. And good night.



    

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Another Year Shot to Hell


Yes, today's my Birthday.

Another year shot to Hell.

No, really, it's been an interesting 12 months.

I don't really wonder who I am, though. I'm Declan Finn. I'm quite happy being Declan Finn.

But looking at my life? No, I don't want "money" -- I want my books to bring in a modest salary, enough to move me out of New York, and perhaps drop me somewhere off in the Midwest. I want just enough fame to get me to that point -- but I'd rather have no one be able to ID me on the street if I can avoid it. Preferably not even people I know. I don't even care who knows my name ... but that's another joke.

What really matters? Who have I touched? More than a few. I'm responsible for at least one married couple. I've encouraged someone to start a business that they're perfectly happy with. And a few people have been given joy by my novels. I'm good with that.

Who do I want to be before I die? Just me. Everyone else is taken.

Though if you'd like to give me a birthday present that's free .... vote for me in the Dragon Awards? Or CLFA BOTY? Leave a review on a book? Buy one you haven't read yet? Any or all of the above? I'm not picky. I'm also easy to shop for.  Heh.


If you haven't already, check out some of the books below.

And if you have, please leave a review.


    

Chasing the Dragon (Award)

Time for round two, shall we?

A quick recap.....

DragonCon is one of the largest SFF conventions on the planet Earth. They now have an award.

You can see the process right here.

And this isn't a calendar year eligibility process, nor are these categories by length, but by genre.

Please remember, you can wait until the end of June to nominate various and sundry novels for the Dragons. You can vote at the end of June if you like.

I don't recommend waiting quite that long, since the Dragon award website encourages early voters.

So, vote early, vote often?

.... Nah, only if you're in Chicago.

Once more, this list will show what is eligible. It will be, in part, what's best retained in my brain, and that isn't exactly what you'd call 100% reliable.

But we're going to give it our best shot, shall we?

If there is something you see that is missing from this list, I ask that you post it in the comments.

Anyway. Item the first, there are the instructions for the nomination process.

What's eligible, exactly?
Works released between 7/1/2016 and 6/30/2017 are eligible for this year’s awards.
Once again, there's nothing about nominating whole series. Sorry.

Now, keep in mind, everyone -- THE RULES SAY YOU CAN ONLY NOMINATE ONE ITEM ONCE. That's it.

What does that mean?

For example:
Now, on with the suggestions.

Note that there will be some places that are filler. mostly because I can't remember things very well. There will be no list to guide me. I'm not using Vox Day's list, as his Rabid list is using the calendar year of 2016 for his eligibility. There are no other lists that I know of .... I don't even know if the Locus list is out there yet. (Locus? Locust? Lotus?)

Once more, I'm going to ask people to comment and make suggestions, because I honestly can't do better than this list. I'm not very happy about it. Right now, I'll take suggestions from anyone who wants to help right now.

If you want to vote right this minute, you can. I'm putting together this post so you can vote as you follow along. Click here to vote.

Best Science Fiction


Escaping Infinity: Richard Paolinelli.  I reviewed this book, and it was awesome.  This is in all likelihood, my candidate.


Timothy Zahn: Thrawn -- It will come out in April, and thus eligible. I suspect this to be the Godzilla that bigfoots the entire proceedings. Any other author on this list, if you're reading this, talk all of your readers into voting NOW, before this comes out.

God, Robot, by the Wrights, et al: Missionary robots. I interviewed the authors of this anthology last year.

Torchship Pilot, Karl Gallagher. You might recall him. I interviewed him on the show a few times. He's an awesome guy, and he should probably win on the hard SF aspect alone.

Blood of Invidia, by Tom Tinney. Vampires from space. Hemophagic aliens. Yes. Interesting, ain't it. Haven't read it yet, but I've had Tom on the show twice before. 

The Secret Kings, Brian Niemeier: Book #2 won best horror in 2016, so I suppose this is also eligible there as well, but the description looks very Space Opera. Read it and you tell me below. When I asked Brian on my radio show, he didn't have an opinion. It reads like David Weber versus Cthulhu.


Best fantasy


Murphy's Law of Vampires: Why am I putting this here if I've been jumping up and down, screaming that you can't nominate the same book in two different categories? Well, it helps that I've got several books that have come out since 2016's Dragon Awards. If you don't have anything else here, pick this one. But you probably do. Stiffest it in the comments.  I'll take all the help I can get.

Keeping the Faith, by William Lehman: Don't let the 2015 date on Amazon fool you, this came out in November of 2016,  Take a look at it. Think of it as less urban fantasy and more .... forest fantasy. Long story.

Let's also consider Jon Van Stry and his Hammer Commission, book 3, Loose Ends. I haven't read it, but it's eligible. I would have put him in horror, even he doesn't think it works.

was going to put JCW's, Iron Chamber of Memory ...but then I remembered, the Kindle edition came out in MARCH. So it's not actually eligible.  Nuts.

You'll notice that Ringo isn't here. Keep scrolling.

But if you feel obligated to vote for me in SOMETHING, and horror won't cut it, this will do.

Young Adult

Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland, by L. Jagi Lamplighter. I've only read book 1 of Jagi's series, but I've liked enough of it to conclude that I'd suggest people take a look at this before voting.

Swan Knight's Son  / Feast of the Elfs / Swan Knight's Sword by John C. Wright.   FOR THE RECORD,  I've asked, and if anyone votes for John under YA, he'd rather shoot for Swan Knight's Son

Path of Angels, Dawn Witzke. Yup, my cover artist has a book out. It's Christian dystopia road trip.

Yes, it is another long story. How'd you guess?



Best military science fiction 
or fantasy novel


Ringo, Monster Hunter Memiors: Sinners  and / or Ringo, Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge are both eligible. And they are both awesome. Also, I needed something for this section.

I don't know which one I'm going to vote for. I really don't.

There's also Cartwright's Cavaliers, which was mentioned in my circles lately.

Anyway, there's my suggestion.  I've since read Shadow of Victory by David Weber .... I don't recommend it. It's eligible, though, if you think Weber should have at least one Dragon Award.

And Timothy Zahn's last Manticore book is before the cut off date, but we'll see what he has coming out in the next five months. He might have another COBRA novel coming.

Best alternate history novel 

Harry Turtledove is the king of this genre. I'd guess that Armistice: The Hot War book 3, would take it.

However, Eric Fint has a LARGE  1632 fanbase.
They're eligible. I have yet to start the series yet, so no advice from me.

Best Apocalyptic

I hate dystopias. It's one of the reason I cowrote my own.

Codename: UnSub, by me and my coauthor, turns San Francisco into a wasteland that's being haunted by a serial killer. I can say that The Injustice Gamer really liked this one.

Cadain's Watch, the sequel to Daniella Bova's Tears of paradox, is coming out ... in March.  No idea if I'll be able to read it before voting.

I suppose I should take it as a sign of improvement that I actually had candidates last year. This year? Nada.

To steal from the CLFA list, however?

People's Republic.

Liberty Lost.

Best Horror


Live and Let Bite ... As I've said before, this is the book. This is where I'm putting my money.

Yes, I have made my case for it to win a Dragon already. As I said before, this is everything from Honor at Stake and does more. Romance? Action? The stakes? Pressed down and overflowing.

Also, as I said before, it's just logical.

Yes, I would love for this book to be registered under "Urban Fantasy," and then thank God that there isn't a Harry Dresden book out thus far this year, but aside from that ... I have demons and vampires and minions with machine guns. This is probably where I will make my stand, whether I like it or not.

Murphy's Law of Vampires ... no, this I'm not recommending, again, since there's Live and Let Bite. Murphy's is merely eligible, and that's about the extent of it.

Then again, given my luck, everyone will vote for Murphy's and ignore Bite. Which will confuse me no end.

And .... that's it. Sorry, I'm not a big fan of horror -- too much nihilism, depression, and "let's kill people who are too stupid to live."

For the record, I would like someone to tell the Dragon Awards to start an Urban Fantasy genre (also known as the "Jim Butcher award"). Perhaps a paranormal romance category?

I'm going to start skipping at this point, for reasons that will become clear. Please forgive me on this.

Best science fiction or fantasy series, TV or internet: 

Grimm is in its last season. I'll guess this would get it, just so it can get one before disappearing.

Arrow ...? Maybe.

iZombie is coming back, and it is the best Zombie show ever.

Luke Cage ... was boring. Don't do it.

Yes, Lucifer is eligible, but I wouldn't suggest it this season. Too much time spent with his mother. Yes, really.

Best science fiction or fantasy movie 

Doctor Strange

Yeah. That's about it. And I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Fantastic Beasts etc .... shouldn't get an award.

I'd rather Dr Strange than Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

Kong: Skull Island ... maybe this weekend.

Wonder Woman ... I'm hopeful.

The Mummy? God, I hope not.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter .... no, no no and HELL NO.

Spider-man: Homecoming. .. Oh, I so want to like this one, but some of the forced "diversity" for the casting makes me nervous. So does anything in the ads that doesn't focus on superheroics.

It's a coin flip until further notice.


Best PC / console game: 

I'm sure there will be people who toss up between
  • Final Fantasy XV  (Not holding my breath)
  • Titanfall 2?  Perhaps. I've heard good things about it.
  • Total War: Warhammer. I've seen some good reviews on this one.
As for the rest ... damned if I know. I'm still catching up to Rise of the Tomb Raider. And no one I know wants to give props to Mass Effect: Andromeda.

However, there are people out there who have some thoughts on the matter. The Injustice gamer can help you fill these in, if you're interested.
  • Best comic book
  • Best graphic novel  -- The Injustice Gamer has thoughts on these
  • Best science fiction or fantasy mobile game
  • Best science fiction or fantasy board game
  • Best science fiction or fantasy miniatures / collectible card / role-playing game
Enjoy.  CLICK HERE TO NOMINATE IN DRAGON AWARDS NOW, IF YOU WANT TO. But, again, you can hold off for a little later.

Feel free to post some reminders and thoughts.

No, really. Please post your thoughts and suggestions below. I need all the help I can get.

If you haven't already, check out some of the books below.

And if you have, please leave a review.