Thursday, January 17, 2019

Music Blog: ATTACK ON TITAN - Full English Opening 1

I was originally going to give this SOB the time of day months ago on the blog. I had even scheduled a music blog a week.

Then, as is the habit of the Californian soyboy, the little bitch decided to block me on Twitter because we had a conversation on guns and I kept trumping him with, oh, facts. And he started the conversation by saying that since I supported the second amendment, I was responsible for any shooting.

So you won't see him on this blog that often. Though I used to listen to his stuff on a loop for 8 hours a day. I got Spotify because I wanted to make sure creators like him got money they wouldn't get from YouTube. Then he personally insulted me, and now it's amazing how many flaws I catch in his singing.

However, the song for Attack on Titan is so awesome, I'll grant him this one appearance. Though expect a lot more Minniva coming in soon enough.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Heroes Fall: Heroes United Book 1

People keep trying to give us "realistic superheroes."

 I think the trend may have started with "Watchmen," which frankly told me more of what was in the soul of Alan Moore than said anything about the superhero genre. A better example (I'm told) is Kurt Busiek's Astro City, which addresses themes such as a man who becomes a superhero to find redemption, or even the legalities of X-Ray vision and super senses.
Here's the successor.

For those of you who long for the days when comic books were actually entertaining, and the most angst you were subjected to was the occasional Spider Man nervous breakdown, welcome to Heroes Fall, Serenity City, book 1, by Morgon Newquist.

We open with The Rampage, a mission where Superman, Batman and .... Iron Fist, I guess.... goes horribly, horribly wrong. One is murdered, the other goes mad, and only one is left standing.

Sounds like fun ... except this isn't a comic book crossover. This is Morgon's new world of heroes and villains. The heroes are Achilles, Pendragon and Banshee. And an epic battle of massive destruction throughout the city 
He wanted to be a good man. Instead he became a hero.
Twenty years ago, Serenity City's great Triumvirate of heroes - Achilles, the Banshee, and Pendragon - maintained a golden age of peace and prosperity. Then, in an instant, it all went wrong. The city's mightiest champion, Achilles, lost his mind during a showdown with the enigmatic supervillain Thanatos and went on a rampage across the city, leaving the Banshee dead and a swath of destruction in his wake before Pendragon could stop him.

Today, as Achilles rots in solitary confinement, Victoria Westerdale investigates a new mystery. Why are young and forgotten heroes disappearing off the streets? Why doesn't anybody else care? And how is it tied in to those infamous events that brought the city's greatest heroes to ruin?

And what's going to happen to them all after Achilles escapes?

The first of a new wave of superhero novels! Coming soon:
  • Hollow City from Dragon Award nominee Kai Wai Cheah
  • The Phoenix Ring from Jon Mollison
  • Gemini Man from J.D. Cowan
  • Atlantean Archons from Richard W Watts
So, yeah, this one was fun. It starts strong, introducing plenty of side characters (even throwaway characters) effortlessly. It was a Hell of a way to open.

Despite the amount of time the blurb spent on the setup, 90% of the story focuses on Victory Westerdale. She doesn't want to be a superhero, just a simple, straightforward hero who saves people and goes back to the daily nine to five. Victory's powers are like Jessica Jones, if the latter weren't a raving bitch. It's mostly a mystery set in a new and improved Astro City. And I can't say a whole heck of a lot without spoiling it, so I won't.

I like the breakdown of the superhero class structure. No, we're not going into class warfare here, merely a practical approach to superheroes. DC and Marvel comics are truly unrealistic -- that only one superhero (Booster Gold, IIRC) -- seems to be offered or has desires for fame and notoriety. In the world of Serenity City, everyone wants to climb the hero totem pole. It's a competitive culture for the next brand endorsement, coming with a good paycheck. And there are some of those heroes who are Iron Man narcissistic and some who are simply saving people and heroing, and taking cash because they'll take all the help they can get. Of course, this environment means that no one really teams up, but considering how many times the JSA and the JLA have broken up, is anyone surprised when heroes can't get along?

The villain of the piece ... there are two. They're both fairly well developed, though one has barely any screen time. If you're wondering how that happens, it's largely because of the quality of the "evil plan." One is a narrative underdog, and the other is a cunning master manipulator. One comes off as David Tennant's Kilgrave, and the other is trying to do "good" for noble reasons, but has all the skills and talents of Richard III, or the MCU's Civil War villain. It's a bit of a train wreck, with a moral quandary that had only one solution.

At the end of the day, fans of the superhero genre should recognize the occasional tip of the hat to everything from The Dark Knight to Astro City to Green Hornet. That would be a spoiler if you could get the permutations right. We have Alfred with superpowers. A character named Ash who I suspect could be played by Bruce Campbell. A healer hero named Panacea (yes, really). A hero lawyer with the ability to cloud men's minds. And oh dear me, we're going to have a realistic portrayl of what it would be like as a superhero, only none of this grim and gritty Alan Moore BS? Be still my heart. 

Also acknowledging that Batman basically has a superpower. Long story. But the description of the bat cave here will have you playing the Danny Elfman score from the Batman film in head.

Of course, Morgon gets her martial arts right. If she didn't, I think everyone who knows her would worry. And she does a good job of playing superhero chess -- how does Y superhero use X powers against Z and Z's powers. Even the execution of powers are well thought out.

Also, Morgon has a degree in Latin, so expect a ton of quotes and references from ... everyone. Peter Pan, The Aenid, The Illiad, The Odyssey, Greek myth, Roman myth, a few other myths. I do so enjoy it when the authors I read actively read other people .... and steal from them. It warms my heart. You get little bits like "He is Lancelot, not Arthur. Byt even Lancelot is better than Mordred."

And the moral of the story, as it usually is in classical mythology -- Pride kills.

Just get Heroes Fall: Heroes Unleashed Book 1, today. If you like superheroes, you'll enjoy it. If you like "literature," you'll enjoy it. Or fight scenes. Or action pieces. Or mysteries. Or Scifi. Or Fantasy.

Yeah. It's just plain fun.

While you're at Amazon picking up a copy of Heroes Fall, here, have some more superhero novels.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Spider-Man: Far from Home trailer

Just when I was wondering what I would post about today, they came out with a new Marvel Trailer.

This is literally the first trailer, and surprisingly, it looks good. Someone should tell it to the people who made the first Captain Marvel trailer. Me? Cynical? Naw.

Anyway, this looks like fun. More importantly, it looks like Sony is treating Peter Parker's friends as disposable as they should be. Tranquilizing Ned is a good start. Though I still refuse to credit ... that as MJ. Though at least someone taught Miss Resting Bitch Face how to smile. Though I'd still like to hit her with a 2x4. As I understand it, tormenting someone you have a crush on is something that happens in grammar school, not high school.

Let's break this down a bit.

Opening: Aunt May seems to have gotten used to her nephew being a superhero. She's gotten even more used to Tony Stark's Happy Hogan. I guess it's good to be a producer.

:30 -- Peter Parker's European vacation. I'm not sure how you work that into bringing along a collection of high schoolers on a vacation that's worth tens of thousands of dollars.... unless of course it's a Tony Stark endowment. Given what happens next, it wouldn't surprise me.

1:12 -- Sam muthaf***ing Jackson as Nick muthaf***ing Fury. Yee haw. Given everything that has happened to Tony Stark, it's good to retire him from this franchise. Also, Peter Parker needs adult supervision, and Tony doesn't really qualify.

1:24 -- And Fury is already stealing this movie. Please, let Ned swallow his tongue. He's annoying as hell.

1:29 -- whoever is doing the music for this trailer is turning the classic 60s Spider Man theme into something that almost sounds epic. Who knew? Props to this fellow.

1:36 -- Spider Man becomes London Has Fallen. I approve.

1:38 -- the bad guys for this film are "elementals." Sorry, all I can think is "So, someone re-purposed Sandman and Hydroman?"

1:53 -- The Spiderman Noir suit? Interesting choice. Though considering how dark the back story on that costume design is, I'm not expecting they'll call it that.

2:03 -- Mysterio? Why's he in this film? As a ... hero? Considering the background on Mysterio, I'm going to wonder if he's the bad guy, and all of the other villains are simply one mass illusion on his part. It would explain why a character whose biggest abilities were splashy special effects is fighting elemental Kaiju.

2:25 -- oh, look, they've decided to make the character called Flash Thompson a fan of Spider Man and a dick to Peter Parker. Now if they just made him a six-foot blond athlete dickhead instead of a preppy Indian midget, they might come close to recognizable to readers of the comic books.

Until the reviews for Far From Home comes out, (proving it's safe to watch) here, have some action packed novels that aren't made for the PC crowd.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Comic Book Fatigue

This is sort of depressing. Because I think I found the true source of this "comic book media fatigue" everyone keeps predicting. Because it's not Marvel films.

It's Television.

The projects coming out in 2019 are uninspiring.

"Deadly Class".... who? 
Huh? What? What's a Rick Remender? And if we're doing Assassin training, why isn't is a Terry Pratchett novel? (never heard of the founding comic)

"The Boys" by .... Garth Ennis.
Because that'll end well. "We're going to be edgy and undermine corrupt superheroes." Yeah, sure. (never heard of the founding comic)

Umbrella Academic.
It's about dysfunctional superheroes. Because that works every time they do the Fantastic Four. (Again, I've never heard of the founding comic)

Doom Patrol, starring Cyborg.
Finally, something I'm very vaguely aware of. A spinoff of the streaming Titans project.... which turned me off with every commercial.

Young Justice: Outsiders. 
I know this one! It's a cartoon! It was even fun at times.... aaaannnndddd it's also on streaming, so screw you, WB.

Watchmen on HBO
.... using an "alternate timeline from the comic." So, I'm guessing MORE sex, nudity and rape. Produced by Damon Lindelof, meaning it will be even MORE unsatisfying and suicide inducing than the comic or the movie.

On Epix (a channel I never heard of), as the people who brought you Gotham bring you the origin story of Batman's Alfred. His sidekick will be Thomas Wayne.
.... Are you flipping kidding me?

"Swamp Thing" ...
This will be taken largely from the "Anatomy Lesson" issue of Alan Moore's run. Again, streaming service.

"Star Girl" ....
They're doing Star Girl, because screw James Robinson and his run on Starman, that's why. At least this one is co-created with Geoff Johns. Which may mean it MIGHT not suck

Sigh. Yeah, they've green lit a pilot. Which, given what little I've seen of Gotham in Elseworlds, means that they're going do to Batwoman what they did to Supergirl -- ie: reskin all of the male counterpart's villains as either female, or "patriarchy." (Seriously, they had Nora Fries running around using Victor's freeze ray. How does this make any sense?) Also, I'm still on the fence about Ruby Rose's ability to act. I've seen her in three different roles, and I want a "learn to emote" switch somewhere.

Here, have some interesting superhero works.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Jim McCoy Reviews Death Cult

I will not deprive you of the fun that is the review of Death Cult by Jim McCoy over on his blog.

I will however, give you a few samples if you don't want to start on his blog.
Ladies and Gentleman (and you in the back) I present to you a plot synopsis of Declan Finn's Latest Book, Death Cult.

Dude, don't
He did?
That sounds like it hurt.
That had to have hurt
Them again
I'm not sure that's physically possible
I KNOW that's NOT physically possible
The End!
I don't know about you, but I found that funny as heck. Jim pretty much as the most entertaining reviews on a blog, so you read them for fun as much as you would the book.

For example
In Hell Spawn Saint Tommy fought a demon. It was ugly. There was lots of fighting and many people died to death. It was quite horrifying. I loved the book, but I was a bit worried. Don't get me wrong. Finn is a good author. But when you're writing Christian fiction and you go up against a demon, what comes next? 
.... I'm going to have to skip down the line of the review, otherwise I'm just going to be copying and pasting the whole review.
Finn has built his world very well. We're treated to some old friends and some new acquaintances and they all fit together nicely. I really like it when a book stays true to the universe it is written in. Death Cult does so nicely. The internal logic is consistent, the characters stay true to their own motivations. I don't mean that the book is predictable because it's not. There is, however, a difference between logical and predictable and Finn has found his groove here.
Yeah. This paragraph made me happy on a number of levels.

Trust me, I'm always worried about book two... don't even ask me why. I have no problem writing it, though I always look at it and say, "I didn't make this predictable, did I? This went fast enough, didn't it?"

I'm going to stop citing the review, and just tell you to go and read it. It's highly entertaining.

And of course, once you do that, you can buy Hell Spawn and Death Cult.  And if you have already done that, well then, you can go leave a review. Wouldn't that be fun?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Catholic Reads declares Honor at Stake one of the best books of 2018

The headline pretty much says it all.
Declan Finn is proving himself to be the go-to guy for the campy fun adventure book that is just smart enough to completely subvert your expectations in ways that never fail to delight.

One of the strongest features of the novel and one of the most Catholic is how it establishes a sense of reality by a great balance of sincerity and dramatic irony. Finn has a way of making things look one way, and then revealing things to be exactly the opposite. It reminds me of Jesus saying he came to turn the world upside-down, and in a way, Finn seeks to do just that for Brooklyn via the lenses of vampire romance action horror (with light sci-fi and espionage elements). I loved its masterful use of dramatic irony and it’s a great portrayal of a young masculine perspective.

This book was also a nominee for the Dragon Award, a feat in and of itself for Indie & Catholic book
Just wait until they read Hell Spawn.

If you haven't read Honor at Stake yet, now would be a good time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Castalia House reviews Hell Spawn

Over at Castalia House, Jon Mollison reviewed Hell Spawn.
Played entirely straight, the result is an urban fantasy for people who don’t like urban fantasy. Instead of the usual kitchen sink approach as seen in the “Iron Druid” series and countless magic-girl of the week series, Finn steeps the universe of Saint Tommy entirely in a Catholic worldview where Earth represents a battleground between heaven and hell. Though the dual nature of the conflict – good versus evil – lacks the political complexity of the kitchen sink approach, it also grounds the novel with a unified system that carries with it the weight of two thousand years of refining, evolution, and tradition. There are real rules to what can be done and how things operate, and that grounding in a single understanding of the rules of the game allows the action to proceed at a faster clip, and with considerably higher stakes than most examples of the genre.
Considering how popular Iron Druid is, I'll take that review.
Which is not to say that this is a book for Catholics only. The matter of fact presentation of the faith that lies at the core of this work never veers into preachiness or ham fisted apologia. Hand wave away the protagonist’s explanations for his powers – most of the supporting characters do – and you’re still left with a gritty tale of a serial killer targeting a cop. Head-canon the supernatural abilities into a secular expression of natural law, and you’re left with a dark superhero tale that makes the nineties grimdark culture seem tame by comparison.
I ...  yeah. I cop to it. This went dark. But it's nice to see that Mollison finds I did it well.
One word of warning on that note – and Declan Finn’s unflinching willingness to show the nature and effects of evil, this novel goes into some ark places where even the most bloody-minded Hollywood producers fear to tread. The setting being New York City, the usual political theater enters the investigation
I don't know why, this part just pleases me.
Declan writes with an economy of words that packs a lot of impact into this relatively short novel. Never quite dipping down into the close-mouthed unwillingness to describe even the most recurring characters or locales, he nonetheless manages to present just enough information to keep things visually stimulating without dragging the action down.

Be well.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What's going on with my writing?

So, I'm sure that people are wondering what the heck has been going on with my writing lately.

Lord knows, some of my reviews have questioned it.

Why are my books suddenly getting such a strong political thread?

The Saint Tommy series has been a horror story since book one, ever since the demon claimed his first victim ... assuming that it wasn't during the fight in the precinct.

Can anyone think of something horrible and terrifying doesn't have a connection to a political movement? Hell, I can do a laundry list of human atrocities that are all connected to politics. At the end of the day, if anyone actually put together a list of all wars on the planet, you'll find that some variation on politics is like the top 5 to 10 reasons. (The Irrational Atheist, and I may be stretching the term "politics" to it's broadest, but nowhere near the breaking point).

Then again, we've entered into a strange political climate in which using MS-13 as a source of disposable thugs is considered a "political" choice. So I'm not sure if there's anything left that isn't political.

"Your hero uses guns? You must be a gun nut." .... Thomas Nolan is a cop.

And what did John Wick use? Hair dryers? Is Keanu Reeves an NRA spokesman now?

How about Liam Neeson in the Taken series?

How about every 80s action hero who casually used machine guns in everything?

Strangely enough, some of the reviews are treating this like my most political novel.


All I can think is "Wow. never read the Pius books."

Though on the other hand, politics really is getting to be a real horror show.

Riots seem to be a viable form of "free speech."

Trash a city, you're "protesting."

Murder over a dozen people? It's racist to discuss it.

Apparently, it's even political and ranting to even MENTION some topics.

Sigh. Pardon me while I bang my head against a wall.

So, yes, while my writing has become slightly more political .... that's because it's been horror, and the most horrid thing I've seen lately is political news. Why? Because I'm a philosopher and a historian by training. And the crap in the news sets my Aquinas senses tingling as well as my Herodotus senses. Imagine That Hideous Strength only applied to real life. If you don't know that novel, you should.

But don't worry, after Death Cult, the politics dies down by a ton. Mainly because everyone is too busy getting shot at.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Help, I'm a writer and I can't stop

Welcome back and happy New Year to everyone.

You may have noticed lately that the blog has gone strange. What used to be a wall-to-wall, daily blog has become a "whenever I feel like it" blog. I didn't plan it that way, and I apologize. Had I known I was going to fall into some ... interesting habits, I would have planned ahead and solicited additional help from the pool of authors I know for guest posts.

But I couldn't think of it that much. I was a little busy pumping out a book that's due in February. A book that I should have started in November, but I dropped the ball.

As you know from a previous post, Russell at Silver Empire likes to have me write up and send in outlines of my books before I start writing them.

This time, I thought I sent book 4, City of Shadows, in with book 3, Infernal Affairs. Instead, I put it off to do finishing touches on it, and completely forgot to send it in as one package.

And, as noted, City of Shadows is due out in February. Which means that once I do the remaining 20,000 words, it has to go to Silver Empire, through the editor (Jagi) and then to formatting and pre-order.

So, once I plow through books 4 and 5, I can relax a little for 6. After #6, there is a new series coming out, a space opera I've been working on for years, so all that's needed is editing on the first three, and some rewrites on most of the others. Thus, I may actually be able to relax and do a few blogs here and there that have NOTHING TO DO WITH MY BOOKS.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to the time when my posts stop looking like marketing.

But, as the title implies, I've been working so much, there's little room in my brain for anything other than work. So if you're getting sick of my "here's my book, here's how I wrote the book, these are my thought processes as I write the book, and here are some chapters, and oh wait look there's another book coming out in four weeks I should probably talk about that a minute-and-I-should-probably-slow-down-but-I-can'-t-because-my-brain-is-geared-to-work-all-the-time-and-I-suffer-from-depression-if-I-don't..."

If you ever wonder what my advice is for people who WANT to write novels for fun and profit, it's simple. DON'T. Because you don't want to rewire your brain like this. If you HAVE TO write novels ... it's too late for you, embrace the suck / fun / joy.

Maybe I should start posting screen shots from my video game du jour. You know, that stuff I do in order to turn off my brain.

Either way, I intend to do better .... sometime soon.

Good God I miss my mind.

Anyway, so you could see what I'm dumping most of my brain power on... here: