Sounds Good!

Can confirm.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Saint Tommy when I paid for the pleasure.  It’s going to be even more fun to share with you all the savage glory of a New York Cop battling the forces of hell.

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Powers of the Earth

New review up at Castalia House – this time we’re talking about the 2018 Prometheus Award winner, The Powers of the Earth.  It’s an almost kitchen-sink style Heinleinian adventure complete with AI’s, space dogs, soft-boiled political debates, and low-g combat galore.  Plus, it features the sort of slimy fake-news purveyors that could have been ripped right from, or writing, today’s headlines.

Check out my review hereAnd get your copy of the book here.

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Ravage: The Adventure (Finally) Begins

Last year, in an effort to pushback against the ensqualminating of comic book industry, I made it a point to back a number of kickstarters.  One such title earned a backing based solely on the involvement of The Legend.  The seven bucks for a single issue and spicy marketing would have put me off Ravage: Kill All Men entirely, but come on – Chuck Dixon.  After what he showed us in Alt-Hero: Avalon and Alt-Hero: Q, it’ll take more than 1960’s level titillation and a couple bucks to scare me away.

When it comes to subverted expectations, this title delivers and then some.

For example, I expected it to arrive in October.


Cheap shots aside, it’s a tight jungle adventure story that harkens back to the old serials.  The two dudebro protagonists are rough around the edges, mercenary, and ultimately just likable enough to provide a hook for the reader.  That’s not a weakness – at least not yet.  In just 24-pages Dixon, Henderson (writing), and Delgado (artist) introduce the reader to Manny and Randall in quick two-page mini-adventures then race to get them to the jungle island of warrior women, while throwing several random encounters and obstacles in their way.

That’s a lot to pack in, and if the characters seem a little two-dimensional, it’s early.  They just need a little more time to develop.  As it is, the point of this comic isn’t to learn the intricacies of the personalities of Buddy Duo #314.  It’s to vicariously experience the thrill of journeying to strange new places, fighting the good fight, and maybe meeting a few pretty ladies along the way.

And here, in spite of artwork and coloring that’s a bit muted and muddied, Ravage delivers the goods.  We live in an age when every corner of the map has been filled in, when people die trying to reach the top of Mount Everest because the lines are too long.  Finding a little nook or cranny of the globe in which to stick a lost culture means a little more effort by the writers and a little more suspension of disbelief by the reader.  Dixon and Henderson do their part, and if you can do yours, you get the sort of lost-tribe exotic locale that’s largely fallen out of fashion among the mainstream storytellers.

Dixon and Henderson don’t have time for that.  By the end of the issue Randall and Manny are stranded on the island of the lost and murderous dolls, get captured by said dolls, and as they are led to their cells, they just miss out on an expository monologue by the leader of the lost dolls.  Suffice it to say that the arrival of Team Dudebro means the women of Lost Island means that the Queen can finally implement her plans for world domination.

It’s a fun read, it’s exciting, and maybe a bit silly.  Either way, it’s nice to be reminded that you aren’t the only one around who still enjoys light hearted adventures.  The cover says, “Mature Content”, but nothing in this issue rises above the PG-13 level of titillation.  So it is with considerable satisfaction that I can report:

We wanted to let you know that “RAVAGE – The Complete Kill All Men Saga” will be for sale exclusively on Indiegogo launching on  September 15th, 2019!  We will be bundling Issues 1-5 into one 120 page Graphic Novel of high energy RAVAGE action written by Chuck Dixon! Less than 90 Days away!

That’s the most recent update from the IGG site, and come September, I’ll be there for this one.


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Cirsova – How Thaddeus Quimby the Third and I Almost Took Over the World

Bruh.  That title.

There’s a recent fad going around the midwiteratti where they crown thier snoozefest Hugo bait stories with wuh-wacky long titles that are LOL so random:

  • The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society
  • The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington
  • The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat

Just to be a few of more recent vintage.  Long titles like that are tryhard, and don’t bode well for what follows.  They really only work as a tongue in cheek introduction to a good old fashioned gag story, and thankfully that’s exactly what Gary K. Shepherd delivers.

As you can see, we get a modern day Rooster-esque command and his dimwitted palooka of a sidekick who get a fancy-dancy copy machine when it falls off the back of a space truck. Their efforts to use the thing for I’ll purposes turns into a short story that’s pretty much a set-up for the punchline.

Thaddeus speaks throughout with one of those forced colloquial tongues that a bit New Jersey and a bit Old South.  You’ll have to retrain your brain to interpret the usual dropped word endings, added apostrophes, and smashed words.  Some readers have a real problem with authors that resort to this old stand-by, but for my money it’s a great way to paint a character without actually describing him.  Thaddeus talks like a meaty, hairy thug, and you can easily visualize him as the muscle part of a two-bit crime duo.  It saves some description, and does it in an efficient manner.  The way these near-hobos act as near-royalty who just happen to be a little down on their luck adds to the ludicrous nature of the story, reinforcing that Shepherd isn’t delivering the second coming of Dune here, he’s just entertaining you with a fun read.

It’s a nice change of pace to get a light-hearted piece like this after a lot of blood and thunder of the earlier stories.  A bit of a palette cleanser before we dive back into the heat of battle.

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The Actual Roger

Peter Simeti over at Alterna Comics drew this slick little portrait of my daughter in five minutes for only a couple of bucks.  Great guy.

Me and my youngest have been reading through the The Actual Roger mini-series, and it’s a lot of fun.  The boy on the cover is the youngest super-hero, recruited by the deep state guys, he gets appointed to something of a fallen star superhero called Magnanimo.  Mags has been on the outs since his last sidekick met with a bad end, and the Actual Roger serves as his chance to make amends.  Shame it’s a chance he doesn’t really want.

The story starts off a little slow, as it establishes Roger as a regular kid who chances into super-powers.  It scores big points from me for presenting a story with no political over- or undertones.  Roger comes from a stable family who doesn’t really want him to go off superhero-ing, but recognizes they aren’t fit to raise him.  The first big bad we meet is a modern day feminist who hates Big Makeup, a literal blubber monster called the BeSHEmoth.  The government agent and CPS officer assigned to verify Roger is in good hands is…not the usual Mary Sue that teaches the Big Dang Hero a thing or two.

It’s a little too wordy for the six year old, so we skim.  It’s a little too frenetic at times, so we slow down to figure out exactly what’s happening in the panels.  A few more panels to slow down the pacing of the talk scenes really would have helped the story breathe.  As the story progresses it gets darker, too.  Learning what happened to Magnanimo’s first sidekick, and learning the nature of his super power, are presented with a heavy hand that might be a little too rough for the younger set.  We’re still waiting to see how the Issue #3 cliffhanger* resolves, but right now it doesn’t look good.

But it’s fun.  It’s light entertainment, and it’s exactly what I look for in a comic book to share with the little one.  The running gag behind the title of the series never gets old.  It also features one of the funnier panels I’ve come across in a while:

“She just tweaked my ‘tard.” Don’t you just hate it when that happens.

*No spoilers, but it’s a cliffhanger in spirit that’s the exact opposite of one in practice.

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Cirsova – The Bookhunter’s Apprentice

Sometimes you come across a story that’s perfectly fine, but just not to your tastes.  The Bookhunter’s Apprentice is one such tale.  It’s a bit of a heist tale set up when twin sorcerers do an intelligent and evil tome of lost knowledge dirty and pay the price.  The titular bookhunter shows up to rescue the grimoire and adopts a young slave-girl to aid in the endeavor.  The mystery, the characters, and the action scenes are great, and Barbara Doran manages to squeeze in a nice 80s-style training montage.

And yet it gets a big, fat “meh” from me.

Perhaps it’s the western chauvinist in me.  Maybe I’m feeling my Independence Day oats.  Whatever it is, nothing about the eastern style of fantasy, sci-fi, computer RPGs, or animation ever grabbed me by the ears and made me look.  Hopping zombies, confusing character names, cultural and historical assumptions?  All of that just sucks me out of the story.  If you’re into that foreign stuff, or eager to earn some modren cachet, you’d probably love this story.

It’s just not for me.


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Happy Independence Day!

Let’s celebrate Old Glory by talking about the glories of New Publishing.  We’d better enjoy this holiday while we can – there’s no telling how many more we’ve got left.

Specifically, we’ve got a couple of canaries in the old media’s Woke/Broke Coalmine to talk about.  If you’ve ever wondered why so much of the media pumped out of the Hollywood Sewage Plant ring so hollow, here are two tweets that tell the tale.

The serial number was off this first winner of a tweet out of compassion. It’s not nice to beat up on the mentally ill or mentally challenged like this writer, whose credits include AAA vidya titles like ME: Andromeda (aka, the one that killed the franchise).  The 61,000+ people who liked this enough to agree with this writer, on the other hand…

This hot take is so ice cold it’s hard to even know where to begin.  The mindset behind this truly crater-brained take is so alien to even midwits such as myself, that it defies the two-standard deviation communication gap.  It’s hard to imagine somebody earning a dime as a writer when she has such a limited capacity for empathy and a limited ability to crawl into the heads of other people.

If you don’t understand people, you can’t write people.

Writers write for unique reasons.  The cocktail of motivation for writing, as with every human endeavor, cannot be so succinctly broken down into a two-point scale.  Certainly sex and revenge are two possible ingredients, but if that’s all you’ve got in your writer’s cupboard, you aren’t going to be able to produce anything worthwhile.

Binary thinkers make terrible writers.  They lack all nuance, their works are repetitive, and their creativity almost nil.  The best they can do is wrap their spineless tentacles around successful intellectual properties and drag them down into the depths to drown them before floating back up to hunt for new prey.

Which segues nicely into this data point delivered straight from the mind of the man showrunning the Netflix Adaptation of the Wheel of Time:


That’s how Hollywood approaches writing.  They don’t get inside the heads of their characters.  They don’t craft a three-dimensional person placed into a complex situation and then puzzle through how that individual, with those character traits, would react to the challenges of the story they build.  Instead, they look to the outside world.  They ask, “How can I use this character to advance my interests?” or “How can I use this character to get back at my real world nemeses?”

The results are as pathetic as they are predictable.

But it makes a lot of sense.  These writers are NPCs.  They have no real internal monologue.  They lurk and observe and incorporate whatever soundbytes the hivemind tells them are fashionable this week into their programming.  They can successfully mimic real human interaction for brief stints, but they cannot lay out the internal thoughts or motivations of the characters they produce because they have no internal thoughts or motivations of their own.  It all boils down to pride and envy and wrath.

Which explains why so many of their characters behave in irrational ways.  They aren’t actual characters at all.  They are mere puppets, bludgeons shoved about on screen, whose choices are dictated by petty real world slights against the writers.  They lack consistency because the only consistent thing about them is that they serve as tools for the writers’ own egos.

Some people may find these hollow shells entertaining.  If you share the writer’s pet bugaboos about the straw orange man.  If you receive the same programming update packages as the writer.  If your part of the writers binary-thinking tribe.  If you don’t notice the complete lack of consistency because you’re content to watch for the spectacle, for the moment, for the now.  And so these kinds of writers can glide along the path of least resistance, selling nothing but revenge porn to their fellow Soma addicts.  But as with every house built on sand, eventually it all comes crumbling down.

In the case of Wheel of Time, if it’s really handled in such a ham-fisted manner, it’s a good bet that “eventually” will arrive before the end of the first season.

I write books.  Books with fully fleshed out characters who don’t always behave the way I want them to behave.  All of them are explorations of ideas, and driven by my own curiosity about people, the world, and the ultimate nature of reality.  If you’ve had enough  of cardboard characters carrying idiot balls back and forth to show those ignorant fly-over rubes a thing or two, declare your own independence by turning away from the woke-broke publishers and give one of my tales shot.  There are links above and to the right – click away, and brace yourself for some pure, unalloyed fun that won’t leave you wanting a shower when you put it down.

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Cirsova – Late to the Blurb Party

No that blog title is not a secret story only included on the copy of Cirsova provided to advertisers like me.  It’s just the subject of this blogpost and an admission that I’ve been doing it all wrong.

Throughout the whole of Volume One of Cirsova, The Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense, I studiously ignored the short blurbs written by the editor.  These short snippets of description prime the reader’s pump and whet the appetite to continue reading.  In my naivete, I thought that these were minor spoilers and un-necessary reading for those of us who already had the magazine in our sticky little fingers.  In my vanity, I rejected the editor’s decision and chose to read the stories “fresh”, the way God and the authors intended.

How wrong I was.

With Issue One of Volume Two, I’ve been making it a point to read them, and have to admit that they serve a purpose.  Reading shorts back to back to back, particularly those written by authors with drastically differing styles, there’s a constant amount of mental gear shifting required to get into the story.  Cirsova makes this the best kind of worse as well, because it freely hops genres with reckless abandon.  Author, genre, plot, characters, the reader has to get their hands around all of that, and it can be very distracting in the early stages of a story.

The short blurbs Mr. Alexander provides actually help ease the reader into each story faster and easier than a blind, headlong plunge.  The brief sketches he provides don’t spoil the journey, they just provide a bit of a map, so that the reader can better navigate the mental spaces of the reading process.  They actually shorten the process of slipping from this world into the escapist world on the page.

Mea culpa.  I’ll never skip another one again.



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The Great LibertyCon Book Sale

You’re almost out of time to catch up on an eclectic tribe of awesome!

For cheap.

With the LibertyCon Science Fiction Convention about to convene in Chattanooga, Tennessee, some attending authors and friends are offering a few of their most popular ebooks for only $0.99. For most books, the sale begins 12 am PDT Wednesday 6/26 through 12 am PDT Wednesday 7/3 on Amazon, (12 am GMT 6/26 through 12 am GMT 7/3 on  The author’s chosen start and end dates may vary – always confirm the price before you buy.

Ratburger has the whole skinny on it including links to all of the sales running through this week.  As a fan of most of these authors, I already owned a few of them, but that didn’t stop me from rounding out my collection.  It’s a real pleasure to see my own humble offering rubbing shoulders with such twenty-first century greats as Nick Cole, JDA, and Robert Kroese.

And I can preliminarily report that Sanity in particular is an amazing read.  It’s…you’ll have to wait for a full review, but the early part of the novel features an incredibly visceral stream of consciousness that grabs you by the adrenal gland and shakes you like a martini done right.  It’s a super-hero story.  Or a spy thriller.  Or a gamma wish fulfillment story?  Maybe it’s an alien adventure?  Hard to say at this juncture, but whatever the Big Reveal turns out to be, Neovictorian reveals a tremendous skill for wordcraft.

If the rest are half as good as this, my reading-dance list just got a lot longer.  Check it out, grab a title whatever genre tickles your fancy, and enjoy!

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Cirsova – Born to Storm the Citadel of Mettathok

Author D.M. Ritzlin is one of the creative minds behind the Swords of Steel collection, which is billed as “written by members of such underground heavy metal bands as Manilla Road, Bal-Sagoth, Solstice, Cauldron Born, Twisted Tower Dire, and others.”  Ritzlin certainly captures that ethos with a story of the war for a hot corner of hell that reads like the cover of a heavy metal album.

In Born to Strom the Citadel of Mettathok we have a classic example of how the voice of a story can undermine the narrative of the piece.  The heart of demon-war tale features a newborn demonling sent on his birthday to die on the parapets of the eponymous citadel.  Told from the first person point of view it features an impressively creative kickoff paragraph.

Life immediately gets worse for our plucky little cannon fodder.

As you can already see the little guy has been cursed with enough brains to understand his situation and the vocabulary to lay it out for us in excruciating and stomach churning detail.  That contrast between our bibrained hero and the usual craterbrained hordeling is a rich vein that Ritzlin taps to present a few fun moments.

Unfortunately, his iron clad refusal to shift gears and use a different voice means that the uniqueness of the narrator’s voice vanishes.  The demon-prince who summoned him, the giant guardians of Mettathok’s citadel, and our protagonist himself fight all speak with the same regal and profoundly educated patois.  As it is, it’s hard to know whether the narrator’s rhythms and word choices belong to him or to Ritzlin, and that confusion adds a bit of a drag to an otherwise uniquely creative short.

One could argue that the entire tale is told by the narrator, who becomes a bit unreliable when he paraphrases his less well-spoken encounters to us.  That’s fair.  I have to ask, how much more fun would it have been for him to signal his superior intellect by more accurately quoting his foils?  There’s a value to a consistent voice, but in this compact little story of birth, conflict, and hellish torment, a bit of variety in the speech patterns used would have really elevated the work from a quick vignette to an instant classic.


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