Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: The Lost War

When I was sitting next to Karl Gallagher at LibertyCon, he mentioned that Torchship was about his day job (yes, he is a rocket scientist), and that The Lost War was about his hobby.
It was supposed to be a weekend of costumed fun. Instead these medieval historical reenactors are flung into a wilderness by magic they don't understand. They must struggle to survive and deal with monsters who consider them prey . . . or worse.
The Lost War by [Gallagher, Karl K.]Buckle up. This is going to be fun. This is my fantasy pick for best fantasy for the Dragon Awards this year. It is awesome, and you are going to like it. And if you don't, you're wrong.

Our main character is Newman Greenhorn -- and if you can't tell that he's a newbie at a gathering of the Society for Creative Anachronism, now you know. When his girlfriend brings him to the pagan circle on the first night, well, what's the worst that can happen?

This. This is the worst that can happen.

As the circle disbands, the entire camp has moved. The flora is different. The fauna are different. The stars are different. And there are three moons in the sky. The entire camp has been moved and the struggle to survive has begun. They need food. They need weapons. They need to know what threats are out there. And look up in the sky! It's a bird.... no, it's a plane.... crap, that's a dragon.

If you're thinking "SCA surviving in a fantasy landscape. Hmm, sounds like John Ringo's Council Wars".... that is a very superficial view of it. Let's put it this way, when I read Karl's Torchship trilogy, I said in a review "Well, if David Weber ever needs help finishing Honor Harrington, maybe he should take to Karl."

Having topped David Weber, Karl has apparently decided to top John Ringo. And I don't even mean the Council Wars. Because there is a very specific reason that Newman and the camp have been brought over to this new world. The world has a problem, and the humans are to be the pest control. Thank you, rotten, mutha-bleepin elves. (Yes, think Posleen. Only worse).

However, the plot is not what got me started on thinking about John Ringo. There is so much readable logistics in this book, it's amazing. There is a ton of effort put in on how things get done -- are the flora safe? Are the Fauna safe? The amateur astronomer who confirms, "Yes, the stars are different. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto." "Oh look, here are piles of bones, we can deduce that we aren't the only hunters out here." There are considerations about medicines, hygiene, resource consumption, resource allocation, down to "How do we make soap?" and the question of law enforcement. Karl does a great job of setting up the situation, the variations of reactions to the setting, the governing of the new world -- both official and unofficial. You can see how it feels a bit like a Ringo novel, as he's one of the few I can think of who can recreate and rebuild an entire society that completely.

Amateurs study tactics. Karl's a professional.

Also, I dare you to find someone else who will deal with fantasy parasitology, microbiology and serology.

AND EVERY LAST MINUTE OF IT WAS EASILY READABLE AND ENJOYABLE. Unlike most geniuses, Karl writes plainly and easily without dumbing it down.

The character of Newman himself is ... a lot of military guys with two brain cells to rub together. (Which seems to be most of them -- I've only met one or two I wouldn't trust to breath into a paper bag.) Down to one section of "I'm more comfortable with strangers trying to kill me in the wild than dealing with protocol for nobility. Your excellency."

It was perfect. Down to the placement of the period.

There is a lot of easy character development. At least one character became my favorite in a one-page description (look for the character of "Burnout." I suspect she is a PA).

And then human beings start developing magical powers, and we have SCA X-Men.

This leads to some interesting moments, including several instances where the characters make a deduction, follow through on the deduction, and it is apparent to the reader what is going on -- and it is AT NO POINT SPELLED OUT FOR THE READER. Because Karl figures that the reader also has two brain cells to rub together. And he's right. I didn't have to be told what was going on ... in fact, I had to double back to make certain that Karl didn't spell it out. It's great writing.

And it's so nice when a character calls out "Thalassa!" and I know what the bleep he's talking about.

I have only one problem with the book -- no chapters. The novel is more or less one continuous work. Luckily, I read quickly, so I didn't have to lose TOO much sleep.

Anyway, as I said, a great book, brilliantly executed, and I've already finished books 1 and 2 this weekend. I hope to have the sequel reviewed by tomorrow. I'm hoping there's a book 3.

Buy book 1, The Lost War, here.

It is my pick for the Dragon Awards -- to see what else I've nominated, click here.

To go straight to voting for the Dragon Awards, without looking at anyone else's thoughts.that would be here.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Review: Come, Seeling Night

What families don't have their little problems?

Paxton Lock is back, and payback can be a mutha.

Enter Come, Seeling Night.
Paxton Locke’s been in some pretty tight spaces before. This one might be the worst.

Drugged and shipped to who-knows-where on an airplane, he’s locked up by men who seem to be Feds. But they haven’t given him his phone call, and Pax isn’t sure if his cell mates are even human.

This is one cell he can’t get out of, but he’s got to find a way to escape. Mother has his girlfriend, and she wants a redo of the night she killed Paxton’s father. But this time she won’t be interrupted. Paxton’s got to find Cassie, and he’s got to stop his mother.

Or the world might end.

Apocalyptic visions from Mother’s grimoire have haunted him for years. Now she’s close to making it happen. And all Paxton can do is wait in his cell for someone to realize he’s not the bad guy.

Can Paxton escape his magical prison and stop Mother? Or will he be too late, and lose Cassie just like he lost his dad?

The third installment of the Paxton Locke series delves deeper into the meaning of love and forgiveness, while providing plenty of action, magic, and Humphreys’ signature subtle horror.

Will Mother bring about a world on fire, or a dead Earth? Can Paxton defeat her? Find out and read Come Seeling Night today!
Once again, this is a brilliantly executed plot. Even the tangential subplot that becomes a thread to be untangled in the rest of the series is nicely place. It effects the plot of this book, sets up for the next book, and we move right along.

In short, there's nothing like C4 to cut through red tape.

I'm not sure if I can add anything new to my review that isn't a spoiler. Though I will admit that the historical aspects we have revealed to us over the course of the novel are very interesting.

And if you think I mean a mention here or there, no. There are whole characters who are historical references. I think I have about or or three figured out.

But yeah, a lot of what impressed me about this book was the setup for everything to come. It almost feels like a three-book origin story.

Yeah, I know it almost feels like cheating that I'm saying so little. But everything interesting really is a spoiler... and I read the ARC for this book months ago, and I'm a bit rusty trying to catch up to my book reviews.

And damn does Paxton want to be Harry Dresden when he grows up... if he grows up. Right down to pissing off everybody he meets. And if anything ever happens to Butcher (God forbid), Humphreys can Sanderson in as replacement quite well.

And I like the punchline. Very Terry Goodkind.... except for the speeches. There are no speeches.

But Come, Seeling Night here.

This would be my Dragon Award nomination for fantasy this year -- except that Dan wants A Place Called Hope for military SFF.

Please remember to vote in the Dragon Awards.

My ballot is here.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Final Dragon Award Discussion, 2019

Dragon Con has one massive award, with thousands of people voting on it. In the second year, there were 8,000 people voting.

And now, the eligibility window has closed as of the end of June. Start marking the books that have come out since July 1st for next year.


Voting doesn't close until July 19.

That's right. Anything that comes out before the deadline of June 30th is eligible, but voting cuts off on July 19th. So if you haven't voted yet, you might want to finish off the books you have coming.

This time, the format is going to be a little different. This time, I'm going to tell you who I'm voting for, based off of books I've read and enjoyed.

The NEXT section is going to have everything and everyone I could scrape together just on a level of pure eligibility.

This second section will include books I haven't read, from people I don't even know.

It is a huge freaking list, and I would clutter up the blog post if I dealt with them as I have previous posts.  The lists of the purely eligible are so long, I considered making them a separate post entirely. But I figure having one place for my conclusions and everyone else's suggestions would make it easier on everyone.  Okay, easier on me, but moving right along....

Here we go.

Best Science Fiction Novel

I have already reviewed Heroes Fall by Morgon Newquist. You might think. Still one Hell of a solid novel, and some of the best SF I've read in years.

What is it? Superheroes. If you liked Astro City, or JMS's Rising Stars, or, hell, the MCU, you're going to want to read this one, and I think you're going to agree with me that it's pretty kickass.

And I really, really wanted to nominate Richard Paolinelli. But I haven't gotten to When the Gods Fell yet. Sorry Richard. Don't worry, I'm going to get there much, much later. Probably next year. With my luck, it'll be after the sequel comes out.

Best Fantasy Novel 
(Including Paranormal)

Karl Gallagher's The Lost War.

Wait? What? What happened to Bokerah Brumley's "Keepers of New Haven: Woe for a Faerie?

Two things happened. And I'll explain in the next section...

Okay, three things happened. One of which was I actually read Karl's book.

Best YA / Middle Grade Novel

Bokerah Brumley's "Keepers of New Haven: Woe for a Faerie."

Yes, I know. After months of talking about The King's Regret by Ligon before it was published, I'm shifting one novel, and deleting the author. WTF?

Three things happened.

1) I read Karl's book.
2) Bokerah mentioned online that this was more YA than Fantasy
3) Amazon screwed the pooch on releasing Ligon's book that I don't think it's reached a wide enough audience to gather votes.

If you have read and liked Ligon's book, I still recommend it. But right now it's a matter of timing and a matter of math.

Lucky for everyone, Jagi hasn't come out with another Rachel Griffin novel. Otherwise I'd be pushing that one like a maniac, because she's earned one for the last four novels.

Best Military SFF Novel

Daniel Humphrey's A Place For War... Still.

For the record, no, I have not yet read David Weber's Uncompromising Honor. I suspect he will not need additional support.

Imagine this is like Ringo's Black Tide Rising, only ten years after the world fell apart, during the reemergence of human civilization.

And then the shit hits the fan again.

Best Alternate History Novel

Hans Schantz's Brave and the Bold (reviewed here).

So, my vote goes to Hans.

Image result for hans gruber gif

Best Media Tie-In Novel

Thrawn: Alliance
Timothy Zahn is doing a Thrawn novel. Your argument is so invalid, it's not even funny.

Best Horror Novel

This is funny, since by the time the Dragons comes out, I will have SIX horror novels eligible.

Hell Spawn
Death Cult
Infernal Affairs
City of Shadows
Crusader (
Deus Vult (Coming soon....ish)

..... But as I argued, it's best to nominate Hell Spawn and move on. And if you disagree and would like to nominate one of the other books in another category ... okay, but I'd like you not to split the vote too too much.

Please refer here for my thoughts on the matter.

Then again, Hell Spawn has already won an award, so yeah, it's worth it. It's endorsed by the CLFA for their book of the year, and Jim McCoy, Richard Paolinelli, and Karl Gallagher have all said they're voting for it. So... yeah, not bad.

Best Comic Book

Dark Maiden #2, by Jonathan Baird.

Joan of Arc fantasy comic book.

I dare you to find me something better.

Best Graphic Novel

I may leave this one blank.

Best SFF TV Series

God Friended Me ...

Best SFF Movie


Because everyone else is going to vote Endgame.

Best SFF PC / Console Game

Spiderman, PS4, Insomniac games.

Yup. No hesitation. This was .... amazing.

As for ... Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game ....
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game....

No idea.


Best SFF Miniatures / Collectible Card 
/ Role-Playing Game....

Nathan to the rescue on this one: Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team

And if you want to vote RIGHT THIS MINUTE, without looking at anyone else's thoughts.that would be here.


HOWEVER, if you want to look below the break, LET THE DISCUSSION BEGIN!!!  BWAHAHAHAHAHA

Monday, July 8, 2019

#LibertyCon32 AAR

I've got some After Action reports for this year's LibertyCon.

One comes from my publisher. This comes complete with a video of a panel I was one.  Click here, and enjoy.

This one is from my acquaintance, Tom Tinney, who was one a panel I moderated.

As for me .... I was blitzed by driving 850 miles to get down there. Most of my interactions were social. It was great to hang out with people who, for me, exist only online the other 362 days a year. But there was Brian, and Cisca, and Amie Gibbons, and Marina Fontaine, and Dan Humphreys, and the Newquists, and His Tankness. And people I'm sure I'm forgetting.

And there are business dealings that will be announced soonish.

But most of what happened at LibertyCon, for me, is going to stay there. Hence why I posted the other AARs.

Be well, all.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Crusader (Saint Tommy, NYPD Book 5)

Crusader is here.

Still working abroad, Detective Tommy Nolan has a hot tip that leads him to Germany. Women and children are disappearing from Catholic Bavaria. The local police have their hands tied. Tommy is the last hope for answers.

Yet again, Tommy is in over his head. What starts as a sex trafficking ring turns into a terrorist conspiracy to unleash Hell on Europe. To stop it, Tommy must fight Nazi vampires, terrorists, and a swarm of succubi who want him as their next meal. Tommy has always crusaded for justice. But now he might be on his last crusade.
This one has everything.

We have Winged Hussars.
We have Jihadi Nazi vampires.
We have succubi running a sex trafficking ring.
We have the nightclub scene from John Wick (dead puppy not included).
We have telekinetic teenagers.
We have mechs versus kaiju dragons -- yes, I managed to stuff in one of those, too.

And we have a cover.

Not bad, huh.

You can get Crusader here

Thursday, June 20, 2019

500 Vampires, No Waiting

When discussing panel possibilities at LibertyCon, I kind threw a bunch of ideas into the ether.

Apparently, one of them got picked up.

So, of course, I'm moderating.
500 Vampires, No Waiting
How many vampire types are out there? Do you prefer the supernatural? The aliens? The Wesley Snipes movies? Declan Finn moderates this panel on the many varieties of Nosferatu.
  • Karen Bogen
  • David L. Burkhead
  • Declan Finn
  • Amie Gibbons
  • Louise Herring-Jones
  • Daniel Humphreys
  • Tom Tinney
With six people on the panel (not counting myself) this is going to be interesting. The 60 minute panels are closer to 50 or 55 minutes. I figure I may not have time for more than six or seven questions.

For the record, this is an evolving post. I'm going to edit it with any additional content from other members of the panel. And yes, I'm going to give the authors the questions ahead of time so they don't have to think all that hard about it.
1) Let's go down the panel and have all of our panelists introduce themselves. If you could touch a little bit on your vampire "cred," that would be great.

2) There are so many varieties of vampires out there it's almost hard to keep track. There are the supernatural vampires -- be they Bram Stoker's "zombies with fangs," as his great grand nephew Dacre Stoke put it, the vampire courts of Jim Butcher, Larry Correia's, or even Sherrilyn Kenyon and Laurell K Hamilton. Then there are the superpredators -- the Atlantian nanotechnology of Lyndsay Sands, the vampires of Blade, or even, dare I say it, vampires that sparkle. What is your own, particular spin on vampires and vampirism? Supernatural or super predator? And why did you decide to go that way?

3) What is your favorite vampire story, or vampire type, that was not created by you? What was it about the particular spin that you enjoyed?

4) In all of the vampire media that you've been exposed to, what do you find is the worst execution of vampires? Please try to avoid any answers that involve the word "sparkling."

5) What are your thoughts on totally secularizing vampires that are supernatural? Where they have all the powers and abilities of the original Dracula, and yet have no relationship with crosses?
Even at one minute per person and per question, that's at least thirty minutes... thirty-five if I add a comment or two. This doesn't even count questions from the audience.

If you have a question you want to ask any of these guys, let me know, and I'll see what I can squeeze in.

Meanwhile, if you're interested, have a glance at my own version of vampires with the Dragon award nominated series Love at First Bite.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Playlist For City of Shadows

Okay, I'm now just going to get a little lazy as far as my playlist post, because, good Lord, I have a lot of music written down.

I think I should have just made it a blog post listing all of the music

Chapter 6

  • 365
  • Inferno
  • Countdown
  • Helix
  • My Haven
  • Maximize
  • Trinity

Chapter 19
  • Winged Hussars
  • The Last Battle
  • Rourke’s Drift

Chapter 22

Covers by Minniva on YouTube.
  • Hearts on Fire,
  • To Hell and Back

Chapter 23

From the Doctor Strange soundtrack

  • End Credits
  • Strange Suite

Thor Suite (from Thor The Dark world)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review of Daniel Humphreys Night's Black Agents

Night's Black Agents (Paxton Locke Book 2) by [Humphreys, Daniel]
So, this is a fun one.

If you don't recall, a while back I reviewed Dan Humphreys first Paxton Locke novel, Fade. It was a fun variant of everything you love about Harry Dresden. Magic used in inventive ways. Much snark. Solid fight scenes. It's all in the review.

And now, we have the sequel, Night's Black Agents.  It came out last year. Though I genuinely waited for book three to be near completion before I reviewed it.

Why? We'll get to that.
Paxton got the crap kicked out of him foiling his mother’s plans.

Even that isn’t enough to keep him in one place. Mother is still on the loose after all, and there’s no telling what that evil witch is up to. With his new partner (don’t call her a sidekick!) Cassie, Paxton heads to Arizona to help an old police friend with a supernatural murder problem.

But Mother isn’t content to lay low now that she’s out of jail. She’s got a brand new coven, and she wants her grimoire back. Now. Nothing will stop her from getting her spellbook back, not even her son. Or the ancient stirring in its sleep in the Valley of the Sun.

Paxton’s faced witches, ghosts, and shadow demons, but can he handle an ancient god? With the lives of two young boys hanging in the balance, he can’t back down.
The book has two arcs. One is a subplot detailing the travails of Mother Dearest after her escape from supermax in the last novel -- as well as the hunt by Humphreys own version of the Monster Control Bureau -- only with a different mission.

Our main plot follows Paxton hot on the trail of a magical murderer. The book opens only a week after the end of Fade. (Even Harry Dresden gets more time to rest.) And it begins with "I was halfway through a stack of pancakes when the dead guy walked in the door." Probably the best opening line since "The building was on fire, but it wasn't my fault." (Yes, I hate to open with comparing it to a line from The Dresden Files, but really, it's one of the few works I can compare it to. One of the lines in the novel is literally "With the exception of magic, the only real talent I had was taking a beating." -- tell me that doesn't sound like Jim Butcher.)

We open with a random encounter ... which will become less random over time. Because this random encounter sees Paxton for what he is, and sees him as a snack.

And this is just the opening.

There are a lot of "oh crap" moments like this scattered throughout my notes. Looking at notes I made on the kindle, many of my comments even at the start of the book are "Oy." "Oh crap," "Aw f***", and "What do you mean she has groupies!?" et al. (By the way, a line for Larry Correia fans: "Forensic accounting, it seemed, was a class of sorcery all its own.")

It's even worse when Mother Dearest turns into Kilgrave from Jessica Jones, only creepier.

And all these comments are from Chapter 1. It just gets better from there.

Of course, Dan has great lines to put a backspin on tropes. As Paxton describes his world: "Sheer moments of terror followed by hours of law enforcement shouting." And there are a bunch of ... re-purposed lines from classic Star Wars (as opposed to EU novel Star Wars, as we all know, there were no other films). And all of the one-liners are fun: "an orphaned teenager with sudden-onset wizard syndrome was a fertile field for the corrupting possibility of power," or even the casual "Buddy, you're about the ninth worst thing I've seen this week."

Now, I really must compliment Dan on making an interesting federal agency to hunt black magic. These are obviously fictional feds, as the characters are colorful, interesting and entertaining. Also, to add to the humor, they're attached to ATF (or BATFE, if you want to be picky).  I guess black magic is a sort of firearm. They have their own R and D section, complete with the sort of mad tinkerers you'd expect to be working in Q's lab.

Hell, to be perfectly honest, while I tend to skip the sections on the villains (which is a mistake I made for the Honor Harrington series... oops) Humphreys manages to make these sections readable and tolerable, but more importantly, relevant to the plot as a whole. This is the point where Humphreys fits in magical mechanics in a way that doesn't make your eyes bleed. Hell, who am I kidding, he actually takes the time and effort to MAKE MAGIC MAKE SENSE. (I'm not naming names, JK). Mother turns into a little bit of a Final Fantasy villain, but it makes more sense in book 3.

Not to mention that the Mother subplot is put to great effect when the villain of the week is enough to make her nervous.

And the feds hunting Mother actually serves to tie the main arc plot very neatly back to the primary plot for the individual novel. Overall, it's a great balance of series arc and book plot.

(If the author is reading this review, I just got to this exchange
"So, what, you think this is the end of the world?"
"Maybe. Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. Fire and brimstone."
Ahem.... smartass).

And Humphreys does a great job of slow world building. Just casual references to gremlins on satellites, or magical abilities of X or Y person. 

Now here comes the boom.
So, why did I wait so long to review this? Because this ends on a cliffhanger.

Imagine the first time you ever saw The Empire Strikes Back. Now imagine if it stopped with Luke dangling in mid-air in Cloud city, Han is still frozen in carbonite, and the last we saw of the Millennium Falcon, it was being chased by TIE-fighters into the clouds.

That's what the end of this book felt like. My last note on the book is two words, and they are often favored by Samuel L. Jackson.

Don't worry. Book three is around the corner. It's coming out the last weekend in June. So if you haven't read Night's Black Agents yet, you needn't worry, you won't have to wait a year for the awesome conclusion. And yes, I've read the ARC for the novel already, and I have notes for that review as well.

Some days, it's good to be the writer. Free books happen.

Until then, if you haven't yet, you can buy Fade and Night's Black Agents here, and by the time you get to the cliffhanger, book 3 should be out. I'll update this post with the link for book 3 when it drops.

If you have gotten them, then I can also suggest Saint Tommy NYPD, which has also garnered a comparison or two to the Dresden files.

And you can check out the latest Dragon Award discussion right here.

Monday, June 17, 2019

City of Shadows review

Once again, Jim McCoy delivers a fun, entertaining review of one of my novels,

This time, City of Shadows.

This excerpt is going to be shorter than normal, otherwise, I'd be just reposting the entire article.
St. Tommy is up to his neck in trouble this time around. Things are not well in the British capital and our hero smells a rat. Or maybe something worse. What smells worse that a rat? Oh, yeah. London. London smells worse than a rat. Seriously, Tommy thinks it stinks. Oh, and without giving too much away, the title of the book fits. For the purposes of the novel, London really is a City of Shadows.
This part, however... :)
I've review a lot of Finn's work here, probably more than anyone else's. There is a reason for that: It's because no matter how good his characters are (like St. Tommy) or how evil they are (as the one in City of Shadows) they always seem to be human. Even saints aren't perfect. Even villains think they're doing the right thing. People react the way they do because they have motivations and they react accordingly. Finn doesn't forget this....
Of course, the threats in City of Shadows are both manifold and insidious. Finn features real world problems in the work. I like that. Nothing in this world works one hundred percent the way it was intended to and Finn points out some of those errors. He does not see fit to play nice either. I approve. The British government has done several things in recent years that have been damaging to their citizens. At least on this side of the Atlantic we're free to point that out. Good for him.

I would be careful of your timing while reading City of Shadows. I was having a slow day at work one day (I'm a Lyft driver) and I was parked in a parking lot reading the book on my phone because why not when my phone went off. I got stopped at a rather suspenseful part of the novel. I'm a afraid I may have found myself more interested in completing the ride and reading the next little bit than I was in continuing on with my shift afterward. This is a threat posed by every good book, but with Finn it's a stronger compulsion than with most. Don't let that stop you though. If you're not looking to get lost in a book why would you read one anyway? This one is worth your time and money. Go get it.

Click here to read the entire review.

You can pick up the entire Saint Tommy series to date right here.

And you can check out the latest Dragon Award discussion right here.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

E3 is out again. And they have new trailers, and stuff.

And they start with .... Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

I'm sorry, call me cynical, call me borderline depressed, but is it just me, or does this feel like "Hey! Let's steal concepts from the past ten years of gaming to make a game that could have felt fresh about five years ago?"

No, seriously, they're stealing from Rogue One (Forrest Whittaker), the wall-walking of Titanfall, the platforming of the current Tomb Raider franchise, all to have another "this Jedi didn't die."

And I see Microsoft's name all over it. Yup. This isn't a winner by my lights.

But it looks shiny.... is this supposed to be a system seller?

The answer is no -- it's also available on PS4.

And it's also brought to you by EA. Expect this to be 4 hours of gameplay, and 12 hours of DLC and endless hours of multiplayer.

So you don't feel deprived, here, have some gameplay footage. It'll probably be all the entertainment value you're going to get from this.  There you'l get to see that they stole finishers from the Shadow of Mordor series, too.

Rating: Buy it used from somewhere other than Gamestop.

One last note: "A jedi, this is what I've trained for"? The Jedi are supposed to be dead. Why would you train for this?

Here, have something less depressing than the last echos of a dead franchise.

Either: Take a look at a real superhero.


 Contribute to something fresh and new -- take a look at our Dragon Awards Discussion.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Dragon Awards Discussion, June 2019

The eligibility period for the Dragons is coming to a close -- but... and I feel I must stress this,

Voting doesn't close until July 19.

That's right. Anything that comes out before the deadline of June 30th is eligible, but voting cuts off on July 19th. So if you haven't voted yet, mind the date.

The last time I wrote up one of these posts, China Mike G Liar and his bots over at Vile 770 stated that I was simply nominating my friends for Dragons.... You know, because I am such good and dear friends with Timothy Zahn and David Weber. I mean yes, I'm sure it's fun to hang out with the goats on Bokerah Brumley's farm, but she's a little far from New York City for my taste. And while I like Doctor Hans Schantz, Alabama is a little out of the way for my usual commute. And I don't even know Philip Ligon. I'm not even sure I'm Facebook friends with him.

As China Mike only has Chinese bots to read his blog, I can understand why he cannot grasp the concept of a "friend," or distinguish them from "working acquaintance." After all, he has neither. Then again, the last time I scrolled through the wretched hive of scum and villainy he calls a blog, I noted that his closest correspondent lately is highly unreliable.

Though if China Mike G. Liar were interested in facts, I will merely say that I do not ONLY nominate friends -- though I will make damn certain to edit out people who have declared themselves my enemy. And Hell, if 770 trolls wanted to pitch in, I'm sure we could take their suggestions under advisement.

Anyway, let the discussion begin. And yes, I've got additional suggestions kicking around from you folks who came to play

And yes, I said discussion.

I'd like people to come on, and tell me what you want to see nominated. I've yet again already made adjustments to the list below. I haven't changed who I'm voting for yet, since something would need to blow my socks off to change my mind.

And do me a favor, huh? Before you pitch in a suggestion, READ THROUGH THE POST AND MAKE CERTAIN IT'S NOT ALREADY LISTED.

But I want to make certain that this become a DISCUSSION.

Now, again, please remember the eligibility is from the start of July 2018 to the end of June 2019.

So, let's continue.
* * * * * *  * *

Best Science Fiction Novel

I have already reviewed Heroes Fall by Morgon Newquist. You might think .... whatever you like. But this was one Hell of a solid novel, and some of the best SF I've read in years.

What is it? Superheroes. If you liked Astro City, or JMS's Rising Stars, or, hell, the MCU, you're going to want to read this one, and I think you're going to agree with me that it's pretty kickass.

Now, as was suggested last time, Richard Paolinelli has a new book out, called When the Gods Fell. I still haven't read the damn thing yet. I should do something bizarre and turn my damn kindle on.

A Facebook friend of mine, MA Rothman, has an SF book out that might be of interest.

Also, Christopher Ruocchio would like people to recall that his novel, Empire of Silence has also come out. He's a Twitter acquaintance and he seems to work for someone called.... Baen?  :)

Nathan, from the Pulp Archivist has Pop Kult Warlord, by Cole.

A Mr John Boyd suggested in my comments on the April post for Causes of Separation by Travis Corcoran. It was seconded by Karl Gallagher. So there may be some competition this year.

Someone else suggested Super-Sync by Kevin Ikenberry. Yes, this time, I found the lousy book.

Best Fantasy Novel 
(Including Paranormal)

I have not yet reviewed Bokerah Brumley's "Keepers of New Haven: Woe for a Faerie" on my blog. However, I can tell you that it has some interesting ideas and concepts.

I had considered putting one of Daniel Humphreys Paxton Locke novels up for this one (again, I got the ARC. Heh heh heh), but he was more interested in emphasizing another topic.

Also, to be honest, while I know the book is done, I don't know when it's going to be released, so there's that too.

Nathan has thrown in a suggestions for this one:  Sword of Kaigen, by M. L. Wang. I honestly cannot speak to this one, since I haven't read it yet. Then he wanted to add Sowing Dragon Teeth, by James Alderdice.

... I'll be over here, still nominating Brumley.

Karl Gallagher has sent me a copy of his book The Lost War, so I have to make time for that... again, it would help if I just turned on the damned kindle.

Best YA / Middle Grade Novel

The Kings Regret by Ligon is finally flipping out.


That only felt like forever.

Yet another review I owe just another person. Sigh. It's Steampunk YA.

Lucky for him, Jagi hasn't come out with another Rachel Griffin novel.

Nathan, however, does have another option: Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, vol. 12, by Omori...  I have looked it up and concluded that yes, this is a novel, despite the cover. Honest. I was confused there for a moment.

Nathan's comment from last post was
"decent novel, horrible title full of false advertising. Rather than the adventures of a rake, a young teen decides to be an adventurer, but has to get rescued when he gets in over his head. He crushes on his rescuer, and the puppy love drives him to become a hero worthy of fighting by her side."

Best Military SFF Novel

Daniel Humphrey's A Place For War... Yes, this is what Daniel wanted to be nominated in instead of his Night's Black Agents, so I concurred.

For the record, no, I have not yet read David Weber's Uncompromising Honor. I suspect he will not need additional support.

Nathan (and apparently Anspach and Cole) has another thought: Galaxy's Edge: Order of the Centurion.

Best Alternate History Novel

This was a tough one.

Because in addition to Hans Schantz's Brave and the Bold (reviewed here), you also have yet again another Robert Kroese Iron Dragon novel .... which I will admit, I have not read, but let's face it, Robert isn't going to start to suck at this late date, now is he?  The Iron Dragon has been seconded by a John Boyd in my comments from April's post.

So this should end well.

I think I'm going to stick with Brave and the Bold, if only because I haven't gotten to the others yet.

Nathan wants to add Rawle Nyanzi's Shining Tomorrow: Shadow Heart, which .... I don't actually think is alternate history, from the description, but I'm just plugging them in.

Best Media Tie-In Novel

Thrawn: Alliance
Timothy Zahn is doing a Thrawn novel. Your argument is so invalid, it's not even funny.

Nathan at Pulp Archivist wants to throw Realmslayer, by Guymer. It is apparently a Warhammer novel.

Best Horror Novel

This is funny, since by the time the Dragons comes out, I will have SIX horror novels eligible.

Hell Spawn
Death Cult
Infernal Affairs
City of Shadows
Crusader (Coming soon)
Deus Vult (Coming soon....ish)

..... But as I argued, it's best to nominate Hell Spawn and move on. And if you disagree and would like to nominate one of the other books in another category ... okay, but I'd like you not to split the vote too too much.

Please refer here for my thoughts on the matter.

Then again, Hell Spawn has already won an award, so yeah, it's worth it. It's endorsed by the CLFA for their book of the year, and Jim McCoy, Richard Paolinelli, and Karl Gallagher have all said they're voting for it. So... yeah, not bad.

Best Comic Book

Dark Maiden #2, by Jonathan Baird.

Joan of Arc fantasy comic book.

I dare you to find me something better.

Best Graphic Novel

Good question. Any ideas?

Nathan had one: Conan le Cimmérien - Le Colosse noir  .... I don't know why Nathan wanted it in French, but okay.

Though I'm tempted to say the comic adaptations of PD Wodehouse by Chuck Dixon, just because Jeeves and Wooser are just so much fun. And because Chuck Dixon may have been the best writer on Batman for 20 years.

Best SFF TV Series

I actually have a tossup on this one.

Okay, I had one. While I greatly enjoyed Reverie, which had some great ideas, solid executions, and generally well-done ... the series is cancelled. I shouldn't be surprised. It was a series over the summer.

So, I'm going to have to say God Friended Me ... It might actually be one of the better shows out there, with a solid character arc for everyone, even the bit players. And everything fit together brilliantly in the end.

I await the next season to screw it up, because television.

Best SFF Movie

The Meg...

No. No question. Just The Meg. Yes, I'm biased. Damn straight. I've only waited 20 flipping years for this movie. It's completely stupid and dumb fun, but that was all I really wanted.

Though wouldn't it be funny if it's The Meg vs Aquaman?

Water on water violence.

Though I await people to just tell me "Endgame."

Best SFF PC / Console Game

Spiderman, PS4, Insomniac games.

Yup. No hesitation. This was .... amazing.

As for ... Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game ....
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game....

No idea.


Best SFF Miniatures / Collectible Card 
/ Role-Playing Game....

Nathan to the rescue on this one: Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team

Other nominees.

You might remember that last year, I had at least half a dozen nominees for each category....

Nope. Not anymore.

Again, the upcoming Daniel Humphreys' Come Seeling Night is something I'd suggest in paranormal, but he wanted military.

Unknown aslo seconded "A Pale Dawn for best Military Science Fiction novel."

....So, yeah, right now, I'm out of alternate suggestions at the moment. Maybe I'm just out of authors. Heck, I would love to nominated Simon R Green for Night Fall... but it is one of his lesser works, and really dropped the ball for the finale of his magnum opus, largely by having it as a crossover with a series I truly and deeply hate.

However, author and publisher Christ Kennedy has a set of choices. I put them all in one place since he's the one who gave me the most suggestions, next to Nathan.
  • Best Science Fiction Novel – Salvage Title, Kevin Steverson
  • Best Fantasy Novel – A Tangled Fate, Jon R. Osborne
  • Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel – Black and White, Mark Wandrey (Which I cannot find to link to, so, sorry)
  • Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel – A Pale Dawn, Kennedy and Wandrey
  • Best Alternate History Novel – The World Asunder, Kacey Ezell (Again, not out, so I can't link to it)
  • Best Media Tie-In Novel – The Replicant War, Chris Kennedy
  • Best Horror Novel – Darker Nights, Eric S. Brown
  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game – Turbolance, Ryan Kennedy and Noah Bowden
  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game – The Four Horsemen: Omega War, Clarion Games
If you want to give me alternate suggestions, please be sure to leave one in the comment -- author, title, and genre category.

As of now, let the discussions begin.

And if you want to vote RIGHT THIS MINUTE, that would be here.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Marina Fontaine reviews: Hell Spawn

Over at her blog, Marina Fontaine gives Hell Spawn a resounding review.

Just some highlights. You'll have to go to her blog for more.
I view Hell Spawn, the first in Finn's Saint Tommy, NYPD series, as essentially a superhero origin story .... the climax has him performing feats which would not be out of place in the next comics-based blockbuster.

Works for me.

In other hands, the tone of the story could have turned intolerably dark
It's a gift.

[Creates] an image of a city under siege from the forces of darkness which cannot be defeated by conventional means.
I call him DiBlasio. :)

From the title and the clear Catholic orientation of the novel, one might expect numerous pauses for theological discussions and explanation, but that's not the case. The required information comes to us in pithy chunks, never interfering with the pace or the steadily building tension leading to the climax. 
I'm always happy to pull that off.

Ironically, the only time the story lagged for me is during a prolonged series of fights between Tommy and a large number of ... let's just call them the bad guys, to avoid spoilers. This probably would've worked better in a movie, where we could see and appreciate the graphic, intricately choreographed brawl rather than reading the blow-by-blow description. Perhaps having been spoiled by the fast pace of the book, I did not wish to slow down for anything, not even to enjoy seeing the hordes of baddies beat up over the span of several pages.
..... Okay, that's new.

I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here, but for now I unreservedly recommend Hell Spawn as a solid start.
The rest of the review is found here if you want it.
You can find all of the Saint Tommy books here -- to buy, or to review, if you haven't already.

And if you've gone through it all already, then please take a moment to chip in to the Dragon Awards Discussion. I post the June updates on Tuesday.

Friday, May 31, 2019

City of Shadows Playlist, Chapter 3: Sturm und Drang

Yeah, there's a lot of music for this book. This time it's all from the same piece: Within Temptation's Black Symphony.

First, the "Ouverture" -- yes, it's spelled that way.

And of course, the best part of the entire album -- The Howling.

It's something to read City of Shadows to.  Enjoy.

And if you haven't yet, please kick in a few suggestions to the Dragon Awards discussion.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Live, on LibertyCon and writing

LibertyCon 2019 schedule

LibertyCon will be hosted in Chattanooga Tennessee. This time, it will be in the local convention center. Which you'd think would happen more often. Just look at DragonCon.
Fri 02:00PM Tropes of Modern Urban Fantasy What are the most common and most unique tropes found in Urban Fantasy today. David B. Coe moderates this fascinating discussion.
(Panelists: David B. Coe / D. B. Jackson; Declan Finn; Amie Gibbons; James Hunter; David E. Pascoe; Lydia Sherrer)
After Love at First Bite and Saint Tommy NYPD, as well as having read Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, and the first 8 books of Laurell K. Hamilton (ie: before she became a porn author), I should be able to cover this one in my sleep.
Fri 05:00PM Opening Ceremonies
I don't think I need to explain this one.

Fri 08:00PM What's New from Silver Empire Publishing Russell Newquist moderates this panel on what is new from Silver Empire Publishing. (with Declan Finn; Daniel Humphreys; Morgon Newquist; Russell Newquist)
Self explanatory.
Fri 10:00PM Reading: Declan Finn & Melisa Todd Sat 02:00PM Autograph Session (Finn, Gallagher)
Then there's this.
Sat 06:00PM 500 Vampires, No Waiting 500 Vampires, No Waiting: How many vampire types are out there? Do you prefer the supernatural? The aliens? The Wesley Snipes movies? Declan Finn moderates this panel on the many varieties of Nosferatu. (Panelists: Karen Bogen; David L. Burkhead; Declan Finn; Amie Gibbons; Louise Herring-Jones; Daniel Humphreys; Tom Tinney)
So, um, oops.

When I asked to be removed from a panel at LibertyCon, I was told, "No problem. Just let me know if you have any ideas." Or something like that.

My comment was, "Why not a panel on the 500 types of vampires?"

So that happened.
Sun 10:00AM Kaffeeklatsch
Sitting around with every guest imaginable over coffee.
Sun 01:00PM The New Voices of Horror Michael H. Hanson moderates this panel on what new in the evolving genre of horror. (Panelists: Declan Finn;Valerie Hampton; Michael H. Hanson;Louise Herring-Jones)
If you want, I recommend buying copies of either My Saint Tommy NYPD series. or my Love at First Bite novels


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

On the End of the MCU

So, I saw Endgame the other day. My review pretty much matches that of John C. Wright. The strength was the acting. There was one massive plothole that comes with time travel, but it's the plothole I have with Terminator 2, and who doesn't like that movie?

All in all, that was a very nice little wrap up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What's that you say? There are still Marvel movies to come? Including another Spider-Man film?

No. This wrapped things up nicely. We can all go home now. If they insist on making more films, I've got no problem getting them used, if I even feel the need to see them.

Take a look for a moment around "phase 4" of the MCU. See if you notice anything.

  • Spider Man: Far From Home
  • Black Widow
  • Black Panther 2
  • Doctor Strange 2
  • Eternals
  • Shang-Chi
  • Guardians 3

And before you ask, no, it's not about Captain Marvel. Even the directors of Endgame hated her so much, they had Thanos punch her right out of the movie. I'm told she was on screen for 15 minutes. I think most of that time she was not speaking, or she was so covered in CGI, she looked like Tinkerbell. There is no way you can jam her into more than two of these seven films, and that's assuming anyone allows her in.

Despite all of Kevin Feige's woke spinning, every time he spins politics, he never delivers it, which is a point in his favor. So I'm not going to guess which films he wants to jam in "body positive" or L.G.B.T.Q.Q.I.A.A.P.M.O.U.S.E. "role models" in.  (If you see a "hero" called "America" expect heads to roll after the movie bombs like Hiroshima.)

I'm only concerned with those bullet points.

If you don't see it, don't worry, I have you covered.

Spider Man: Far From Home. If you remember, Homecoming was so full of woke secondary casting it was painful. Really painful. They were so unnecessary to the plot that we really only needed three actors -- Michael Keaton, Roberty Downey Jr, and Tom Holland. Almost everyone else could be replaced by a cardboard cutout. In the case of "Zendaya," I'm relatively certain she is a cardboard cutout.  I suspect Far From Home will only need Tom Holland, Sam Jackson, Jake what's-his-name, and CGI monsters. Which means that I can wait for it to be remaindered in Edward R. Hamilton, or used on Amazon.

Black Widow -- if you've seen Endgame, you know why this is a problem. If you haven't seen it yet (oh come on, even I've seen it by now) let's say that one of their selling points is WE HAVE A FEMALE DIRECTOR.  Um, that's nice. What's this FEMALE DIRECTOR done? Um ... well, that sucks. Pity that when they finally get around to making the Black Widow movie fans wanted since Avengers (if not Iron Man 2) is made by someone with fewer credentials than the creature who made the Wrinkle in Time movie.

Black Panther 2 -- I hold out no hope for this one. I suspect that one day people will realize that BP was a disjointed, tone-deaf mess that couldn't figure out what it wanted to be when it grew up. Did it want to be Game of Thrones in Africa (As in the first 30 minutes)? Did it want to be James Bond (as it was in that bit in Korea)? Did it want to focus on Wakanda versus black urban America? They should have stuck with one tone and ran with it. (And for a movie with the two "Tolkien White guys," did anyone else realize that while everyone was having a civil war, Martin Freeman was saving the world?)  And while everyone else squee-ed over battle rhinos ... yikes, that CGI was bad.

Doctor Strange 2 -- Cumberbatch might make this worth renting or buying used. The CGI might tempt me to watch it on a big screen, but they're going to have to have a trailer that blows my socks off and turns my hair white to tempt me that much. And I don't think they have the chops do to that.

Guardians 3 -- James Gunn, the director, thinks pedo jokes are funny. They're not. Check please.
  • Eternals
  • Shang-Chi
At which point, I get to break out a GIF.

Image result for gif who?

Don't worry, you're not the only one. I had to look them up, too.

Brian Niemeier is a fan of saying "Don't give money to people who hate you." I concur. I had no problem going to Endgame because the House of Mouse is going to burn itself down, courtesy of Dickhead in Chief, Bob Iger, who is so beset by scandals and criminal investigations, and downright mishandling of properties that I actually think that Endgame's success will only fuel their certitude of their own invulnerability, and thus fuel their own demise.

They killed Star Wars with The Last Jedi. And yet they're going to burn nearly... what? Half a billion dollars per movie over the next few years? (I'm guesstimating based on previous, conflicting numbers). While they got burned with Solo -- an okay film caught in the backlash from The Last Jedi -- Disney didn't learn their lesson. They're going to spend about three billion dollars on six Star Wars films over the next few years, hoping to make at least six billion dollars. However, the people behind these films (at last report) are Rian Johnson of Last Jedi and the people who dropped the ball on Game of Thrones. Say goodbye to three billion dollars, Disney.

They want to try an Avatar franchise, which will take forever to make and mountains of cash to finish. But they have so doubled down on it, they've put in an Avatar section to their theme park .... no, seriously, Disney, Avatar came out a decade ago. The prime audience for Disneyland wasn't even born at the time, and are currently spoiled with better graphics in casual video games, which are largely better written (unless they're Assassin's Creed).

Next up, the Aliens franchise!  (Guys, just stick with Aliens. The series is dead already)

The Disney model used to be reinvest profits into the company, expand, and make more money. They're still doing that, but they're doing it in such a way that is just going to screw them over. Investing in Star Wars land (yes, I know) after The Last Jedi? Investing in Avatar at the parks before there's really a market for it?

Next up: the "MCU" will get the same treatment. But the MCU is over, fellas. They got a decent sendoff. It was a miracle that it got this far anyway -- normally, conflicting personalities would destroy a franchise like this in three movies, if not sooner. It was probably a minor miracle. Robert Downey Jr. is a good guy who stood up for Mel Gibson. Most of the main actors had never been big names before they were cast. Sure, there were some attempts. Before the MCU started, I think the biggest names they had were Scarlett Johanssen and Sam Jackson.

Endgame wrapped up the MCU.
  • Everyone got a happily ever after. 
  • All of the main characters without a sequel series are done with the franchise. 
  • All of the good secondary characters are going to yet ANOTHER streaming service... and we saw how well that worked with NetFlix (Three good seasons of television out of eleven). 

So, the movies are done. But Marvel will pour in the money. Disney bought Marvel Comics, and allowed the comics to go to woke crap while the movies made money. Now that Disney is going to streaming, expect the films to go to woke crap while they focus on streaming -- and like with Star Trek Discovery, Disney won't care if it's all crap, since the membership fees will be money up front.

There is a Graham Greene story called A Hint of an Explanation, where a man tells the story of how his atheist next door neighbor wanted to run tests on a consecrated host. The narrator, who had been an altar boy, palmed the host, and nearly handed over the host for desecration, when the neighbor pushed just a little too hard, was a little too eager, and let slip his darker nature. The point of the story is that evil overreaches and screws itself over.

Now that Disney is secure in the sensation that it can do no wrong, and they have money to burn, get ready to spend the next ten years watching the money go up in flames.

Disney is overreaching.

If you want a superhero that will never go woke, I suggest


Sunday, May 26, 2019

On Ending Game of Thrones

I get this joke.
I've heard the rumor that some people are less than thrilled with the ending of Game of Thrones.

Never being a fan in the first place (of books or movies), I am hardly surprised. My chief surprise is that anyone was taken aback by the terrible ending in the first place. Every time I looked in on the series, someone else is getting raped, murdered, banging a sibling, or murdering people in large groups. In the novels, the plot ran on character death so much that a friend of mine once made a mathematical formula that calculated the next death to within five pages.

Honestly? I always felt that Game of Thrones was a Lord of the Rings snuff porn parody.

Though what makes it interesting to me is that, once again, we have a series where the writers fell short, and are disdainful of the viewer backlash.

And, unlike The Last Jedi, which sucks harder and harder the more I look at it (were I to review it today, I'd give it negative numbers), I don't think this was a matter of politics. This wasn't a matter of "we had to wrap it up or be canceled." George RR Martin wanted three more seasons to get to the ending. HBO is planning FIVE GAME OF THRONES SPINOFFS, and making money hand over fist from this.

The Game of Thrones show runners just wanted off. They had been offered a job making a Star Wars trilogy, and they figured more money could be had elsewhere.

I get this joke.
I'm told that there are over fifty million Game of Thrones fans. That's 50,000,000.

That's approximately 50,000,000 people who aren't going to see those Star Wars movies. Not counting the friends and family of those fans who will spend between now and then bitching about how badly they dropped the ball with Game of Thrones.

So, doubling down on the "screw your fans, we're outta here" aspect is ... interesting to me. I didn't think that HBO had the sort of influence that Disney does. But this is starting to reach Last Jedi level push back on both ends.

Please think back to a decade ago, when Lost wrapped up. The obsessed fans were pissed at the lackluster, disappointing ending that wrapped up exactly nothing. No plot threads were resolved. The ending needed to be explained. It was a mess.

The creators didn't really answer. They passed it off as "Oh, the fans had so many ideas in the fan forums, we didn't want to disappoint any of them with a definitive ending. So we let them make their own." It lent the appearance of being deferential while at the same time covering the fact that they had no idea where they were going, despite all the claims to the contrary. (Sorry Damon Lindelof, you never know where you're going. We know that now)

Now? The fans are pissed, and the response is no better than "If you don't like the ending, go write your own fanfiction and jerk off to it." Normally, I expect that sort of reaction from people who are motivated by politics.

Now, again, I am no fan of George RR Martin (who has personally insulted friends of mine). I am no fan of Game of Thrones.

I am actively disdainful of writers who backhand their readers / viewership.

As Brad Torgersen put it.
And never, ever blame the fans for being less than thrilled with your ending. Show patience and good humor with the scolds, and be thankful for the constructive critics among your readers who can explain why something didn't feel right, did not work for them, etc. There's learning in that exchange of ideas.
Image may contain: 2 people, text
I .... wait, really? What the Hell...?
There will be no learning here.

Though I am starting to wonder just how much of this is success going to their heads. "We have fifty million fans! We could alienate half of them and still rake in the dough."  Or "I'm a best-selling author with a book deal! I can do no wrong." These people later become shocked that yes, they can do wrong... but hey, they've made their money, they can afford to screw up, as long as they don't spend like a drunken sailor. And the show-runners of Game of Thrones can afford to mess around on Star Wars, they're playing with house money.

Or should I say... mouse money.

So the next time you see how fans are being dismissed as "entitled," maybe you should take a gander at the material they're complaining about, and consider that the writers are the ones who feel entitled. While yes, endings may be difficult, there is no excuse for doing a rush job because "I have to get onto another project."  Sheesh. This is HBO. These are the people who put TV shows on pause for several years so actors could run off and do other projects. Even if "Game of Thrones must go on," isn't that the point where you take all of the notes and outlines and hand them off to someone else?

This assumes, of course, that there was a plan. This assumes that there were notes and outlines to be handed off.

That is an assumption I'm not willing to make.