Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Quick Update on Gene Wolfe

I saw my friend Thomas Trumpinski yesterday(he wrote the guest review for MAGA 2020 and Beyond).  He was at Chambanacon over Thanksgiving weekend. It's a smaller convention in Central Illinois, and has been going for a long time. Gene Wolfe has long been in attendance at the convention.

I was told that Gene has recovered enough that he attended the convention for a time each day. He is currently residing in a rehabilitation center, and hopes to return home eventually.

I have no updates on where to send cards, but am sure he would appreciate any prayers for him.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Halloween's supremacy in spending is a measure of spiritual crisis

On Sunday, I heard on my Catholic radio station(it's local and mostly has EWTN programs), a commentator who was in shock that Halloween had passed Christmas in popularity. Not only was he in shock, but he failed to see both the reasons and the best response that Christians in general could have.

I'm going to start with looking at the reasons. First, more and more people are nones. That is not to say atheists, but rather that they posses no faith. There's also been a rise in wiccan and other pagan belief systems, including the hedonist form of Satanism(I'll not discuss the diabolic version).

How many years have teachers and parents been telling children, at least in the United States of America, "You can be anything when you grow up."?  And slowly, when they reach adulthood(not maturity), it is uncovered for the lie it is. Still, the lie is attractive, and also attractive is the occasion of celebration.

But the celebration of religious holy days and festivals is largely a foreign concept, especially when one looks at the family problems of the day. When kids start seeing all the problems of Christmas and Thanksgiving in coordination at both mom and dad's houses, and want stability instead, the concept is undermined. Yes, further than the materialistic nature Christmas has taken on more and more.

Since family has been destroyed as a concept for many, there's the attractiveness of celebration with friends. And while holy days are indeed appropriate to share in feasting, they've already been poisoned in many minds and hearts. And Halloween in the minds of the nones has nothing to do with faith, after all, it's been associated with witches and horror for ages in pop culture.

Enough discussion of the causes. Let's look at what the response should have been, and can still become.

First, We should start calling the day by it's proper name: All Hallow's Eve. Names are words of spiritual power, or Christ would not have asked the names of the demons possessing people. Also, note Adam's first job: naming everything. When you name something, and it responds, you have gained some control over it. Some may call this magic, but music and art have similar effects on the soul, that are ultimately inexplicable by "science".

The second part has some progress made already, albeit in a less widespread form than we need.  Presentation of heroes of faith. I put it that way, for two reasons. The first being that Protestants don't recognize saints as such, and the second being that there are many heroes of faith not thus honored in Catholic or Orthodox traditions.

We are seeing well written novels come out that respect faith, and "Christian" movies are starting to get the need for less insular audiences as well. Who's missing? The commentators and populizers. But I don't think it's for the same reasons quite as conservatives. Some may be due to ignorance, some due to a rejection of portrayal of sin, which is lying to ourselves. We are fallen, and have redemption only as a gift.

And I have seen many push the idea of reading only old books, and the superiority of old art, etc. But the problem there is, if they won't help with supporting the new works, the restoration they desire will never happen; art needs funding. You want to replace modern garbage with real art? Put up or shut up. Enough with the navel gazing superiority.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Injustice Anthology Review: The Good, The Bad, and the Merc

Cower not, fierce reader! Today we look over the third anthology from the Wandrey/Kennedy 4 Horsemen universe. There's of course lots of guns and lots of shooting. But you knew that, or at least you should.

Chris Kennedy opens the book with a preface, explaining why they invited so many authors to play in their world. This is followed by an Foreward by David Drake, an excellent author of the old school that writes stories and doesn't treat fans or other authors badly for having politics he disagrees with.

Argonaut by Kal Spriggs- An underequipped merc unit is deployed to what is supposed to be a cakewalk. Misinformation and bad leadership lead toward disaster. But some mercs that don't fit in elsewhere might have enough to say about that.

Shell Game by Terry Mixon- A family merc company takes some big chances to complete an impossible mission. Are they good enough at the old switcheroo?

The Last Dragon by Terry Maggert-  A story in two parts. Part one features a captured courier. Part two follows a mining operation on one inexplicable planet.

Hero of Styx by T. Allen Diaz- A story of death, the weight of command, exotic species, and betrayal.

The Beach by Philip Wohlrab- This story follows a medic with a merc unit as they attend to the horrors of the battlefield.

Velut Luna by Chris Smith- A kid gets sprung from juvie and into a contract with an employer she doesn't understand.

Keep the Home Fires Burning by Jason Cordova- A merc that wants to help his nation through his company ends up captured when things go sideways.

Vremya by Mark Wandrey- The surviving brother at the head of a mining company decides to go for the big time in the galactic resources game. Always have an astrophysicist along, gravity does very strange things.

The Last Guardsman by Stephanie Osborn- A bounty hunter is the last of his line. He's sent after a very dangerous killer, as well as the secrets he stole.

Unto the Last-Stand Fast by Robert E. Hampson- A retired merc shows back up to fight to protect the Interstellar Catholic Church and his home.

The Demon of Ki-a by Eric S. Brown- A company is hired to fight an enemy for a peaceful settlement. They find out the information they've be given is most inadequate.

Under the Skin by Marisa Wolf- A depik hunter goes after a contract that one of his clan failed.

Inked by Mark Wandrey- A MinSha tattoo artist has a crowd for a day, and an observant human merc ends up with something he didn't expect.

Angels and Aliens by Jon R. Osborne- A Protestant preacher joins a company as a contractor to help troops, but also help answer his own questions about aliens, heaven, and hell.

Life by Chris Kennedy- This is a continuation of a story from the previous anthology. Dr. Avander fights for his life both in an arena and in a lab.

Lessons by Kacey Ezell- A depik babe is taken to die in the woods. She is found by an aerial predator, and taught for a time.

There's some nice surprises here. The fact that faith plays a larger role here is nice, as is the fact that not every story is milsf. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Missed a few KS comics worth a look yesterday.

I got reminded of one in particular earlier today by Jon Del Arroz. I knew I'd only looked at one tab, the "graphic novel", and forgot there was at least one decent looking project in the "comic books" section.

Also know that Kickstarter doesn't sort by length of project, and there's been a bit of theft from and by comics creators. Please do some research on their past if you want to back, I'm not going to discuss that more here.

This is the one I forgot: Q-Ball #1: Honestly this looks really cool, I just don't like the pricing for physical. If you like martial arts books, seriously. Take a look.

Now for a more odd sf book: Gone: It looks like it could be interesting, but it is not action packed. I'd say more a conceptual mystery tale.

Deathworlds 1: billed as The Divine Comedy by way of Robinson Crusoe, I would be tempted. Again, I'm not a fan of the pricing here.

And now for the bizarre fun story

Sharks on a Train: Oh man. We got a superspy adventure, with a brain in a jar, lovely dames, and oh yeah, a GUN THAT SHOOTS SHARKS(I think). At least that's what it looks like. I will comment on these guys as project runners, as I can. They deliver. And the pricing is ok, 5 for softcover, 14 for hardcover. IF somebody has a HUGE budget and wants to do film, um yeah that's here too, for the low price of $999.  PLEASE.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Day post: Kickstarters to look at

Yeah, I know. Most people do a post about being grateful for what they have and the people around them. I saw my family last weekend, ok?

First up, is one that I'll grab eventually, but can't currently. Flash Gordon for Savage Worlds. This look like they know and love the material. And while I have no experience with Savage Worlds, the presentation so far is dead right.

Now to something more active. Mars Open: Tabletop Golf is a flicking game that goes above and around  stuff. Watch the videos for some cool action. And as a dexterity game, this will be either hot or cold for people.

Side Effects is a party game(cards) about dealing with mental illness, the treatment thereof, and the problems the treatments may give.

Commies! is another party game, this time about gaining control of the Party. Politics, deals, and backstabbing. Possibly some erasure from history as well.

Mountaineers is a 3D climbing boardgame, which claims a lot ov variability due to double sided walls and a deck our climbing routes to follow.

Now for a couple of graphic novel projects

Beasts of the Black Hand is a WWII dieselpunk book, with mysticism and moody art. Ron Marz is writing, so let that be part of your guide if you know his material.

Adventures of the 19xx, book four looks like a pulp adventure, with a focus on the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Where I talk about some of this week's comics.

And nope, I won't be talking about Doomsday Clock. Read it. Done with it. I wanna talk books I can say are worth a try.

Nope, though I'll get the "normal" book out of the way.

The Demon: Hell is Earth #1(DC):  Literally the complete opposite of the Deadman mini. No origin, just right into the story. Writing and art are solid, if not quite top tier. There's a direction and the characters are interesting. Explosions, demons, and hellfire. Plus Jason Blood acting as Etrigan's conscience. Yeah. I'll keep reading.

Onto the next least unusual.

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #2(Dark Horse): If you haven't been reading Black Hammer, you really should. The story is good. This? This is a side story in the same world, and if anything, it's better. This issue features an interview with the retired servant of an eldritch god, cthu-lou (he's a plumber by trade). Writing is awesome, character design is wonderful, and art is for the most part solid.

Ok, now for something not yet trippy.

The Villain #1 (Red Giant Entertainment): While Neal Adams has his name on the book, it's as a concept creator. The writing is good. The art is an bit of near non-descriptiveness. I'm unsure if that's intentional. By non-descriptive, I mean you get the near everyman idea of each character, even if it is clear which one the narrator is here. I'm curious, so I'll try again.

Now to the trippy books.

Doppelganger #1 (Alterna Comics): This doesn't feel like anything special until you really get towards the end. The main character is a corporate employed family man. But once the twist sets up, it really digs in fast. Art is appropriate for the slice of life story presented at first, and the writing is good. And at Alterna's buck fifty, it's a very solid read.

Imaginary Fiends #1(Vertigo): Now this is a ride. We have a great underlying idea, conceptual terror that stems from what goes wrong with the idea, and black bag investigations. This is some of what Vertigo has done really well in the past, so it makes me happy.  Like a pair of cats tossing a mouse back and forth. Yes, I want to see what paths this takes.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Casefile: Arkham: Her Blood Runs Cold

01 Publishing sent me a few books awhile back, and it turns out the first one I read isn't out yet. That's ok, I can still talk about it. Yeah, I read a digital version, and had a few moments of frustration typical of my experience with digital comics. That's a format flaw, not a flaw in the comic itself.

No matter, I can still chat about the story and art a bit.

As to the art, it's pretty good black and white art, with a lot of noir touches. Sure this could be done in full color, but even then, a limited color scheme would work better. But B&W is a good feel for this. In some ways, I almost feel the art is trying to be a touch too realistic in terms of styling, but I prefer more impressionistic touches for this type of story.

What is Casfile: Arkham? It's setup to be a series of graphic novels, all of them standalone. Why? Because too much continuity scares people. Because the pulp hero novels are that way. The stories are part noir detective, part eldritch traditions.

The writing, also is pretty good. I should mention that there is some sexual content in the book. Storywise, it fits, same as the depiction of "ancient religions".  But, neither thing fit everyone's taste in books, and some will read it, but don't want graphic novel versions for various reasons.

There's insanity, scheming, plots for power, and appeals to ancient evil. 01 put up a trailer for you to check out, it doesn't show much, but it's something:

I honestly enjoy the mix in Criminal Macabre a bit more, but this is pretty good stuff. And if you like the horror of Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, this might tickle your fancy. 01 Publishing has their motto as "No Safe Space". I can get behind that.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Comics as culture? Absolutely

How many times have we heard comics derided for being "kids' stuff", or "only comics"? But the fact is, less than a hundred years ago, comics were not only culture, they DOMINATED culture. And there's more to it than that.

But the quote prompting this came from the intro to Max Allan Collins' Seduction of the Innocent, the third of his comics and crime novels. And while the quote is false, the numbers are real:

The most popular entertainment medium of all, here in 1954. My city boasts twenty comics publishers putting out 600-something titles every month, selling eighty to one hundred million copies a week, reaching an audience larger than movies, TV, radio and magazines combined(they figure a comic book gets passed around or traded to six or more readers).

And lest you think I'm exaggerating, here's some numbers via Infogalactic on Action Comics 1, and a few later issues. Action Comics 1, had a printing of 200,000 issues. And sold out. Eventually, Action Comics would reach sales nearing 1,000,000 a month. That's one title. And over a decade before Dr. Wertham's tirade against comics.

Hey, let's see how Detective Comics did. In fact, I'll even go to post Wertham. 1960. Hmm. According to Comichron, using USPS required data(first year of requirement), Detective Comics(Batman) sold an average of 502,000 copies an issue. Not as much as say, early Action Comics, but this is still more than five times the top book from October 2017. Oh, and the best selling book that year(Uncle Scrooge) sold on average 1,040,543 copies an issue.

So if Alt*Hero and other projects do well, maybe we can reverse this tide of shrinking markets. Maybe we can open up people's imaginations better than movies do again. Maybe people will talk of heroes and romance and man's flawed nature. Maybe, but I really don't know.

Honestly, I have to wonder if the first real casualty of the culture war was comics. Stop people from reading about horrible things, so they don't fight against them. Stop tales of romance and heroism being popular, and sideline them to "kid's stuff".  Hide from the public just how horrible our worst acts are, and let people think that man is perfectible, so the anti-Christian agenda can be pushed, via "science".

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pulp adventure comics: Half Past Danger

It's been awhile since I posted one of these, and this is one of two miniseries I recently reacquainted myself with that fits the pulp bill in many ways. Yes, this series was about three or four years ago. It's so pulp in a lot of ways it hurts. Here's the blasted cover:

If that doesn't get your attention, I really don't know what will. Hmm. Ah, I'd like to not spoil it, but it's been out awhile, and I'm not going to give out all the story. Look for it. Oh, and there's a new one coming out now.

I'll take secret Nazi bases for 500.

Oh, is that not enough? I mean you've got ww2, really cool planes on a secret base. Hmm. Well, I suppose there are dinosaurs for terror.

Hmm. Yeah, there might be some good action here. Oh, we're missing something. What's that? Oh, you want to know about the guy with the sword on the cover? Well, his sword is really nice.

We've got Nazi's and ninjas, dinos and dames. Oh, I didn't show you the dame past the cover? I should fix that maybe. Couldn't find a good online pic from the original, so I had to take a picture. Excuse the bad angle and such, I'm no photographer.

Oh, no, I'm telling you why or how that guy can carry the gun like that. Nope. Gotta leave something for those that decide to read it. But yeah, this is a great fun read. I'm gonna see what I can find on the new one, because well, dinos and war comics are a good mix.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Guest Review for MAGA 2020 and Beyond

A good friend of mine was most generous and reviewed the anthology MAGA 2020 and Beyond for me. I'm in it, so I must recuse myself from a balanced review. I've made minor corrections for spelling, and deleted one sentence more functional to the publisher side of the book. But anyway, here it is:

Injustice Gamer Guest Anthology Review
By Tom Trumpinski
MAGA 2020 and Beyond

I’m lucky enough to share a coffee shop with Albert Genesson. We’ve spent hours talking politics and the craft of writing. I was surprised and delighted when he asked me to review this new anthology that contains two pieces of his work.

MAGA 2020 and Beyond is billed as examinations of optimistic futures that result from the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 election. My inherent suspicion towards message fiction slid forward, of course, from my reptile brain. After all, stories that emphasize message over substance are notorious for being a main cause of Puppy-Related Sadness.

So, can the conservative, libertarian, and alt-right produce better message fiction than the Left?
I say, “Cower Not, Fierce Reader, for the best four stories alone in the anthology are well-worth the five dollar Kindle price!” Brad R Torgerson gives us 45, a conversation piece about a secret-service agent and a time-traveler who ponder the methods by which to avoid a future hell. For action, Declan Finn gives us a rip-roaring Middle-Eastern tale, Mad Dog Moon, from his Love At First Bite universe. The anthology begins with an adorable YA story by Jon Del Arroz, Winning Is What We Do, which pits illegal alien illegal aliens versus a TrumpMecha. Jon also wins the prize for the best duplication of the President’s unique manner of speaking, which he exhibits in particularly loving fashion. Former White House Science Fellow, Arlan Andrews, Sr., gave us a fun piece about a newly-born super-patriot in M.A.G.A.I.

An ambitious project like this one inevitably ends up having down-sides. The shift in editors mid-project shows in several ways. Alfred’s essays look and feel rushed. The New Wall and Six Grandfathers seemed to suffer from inadequate editing. 

In addition, I was disappointed by the swerve into dystopia evinced by some of the authors. While they have merit, in some cases, they felt out of place in an anthology billed as optimistic. I was a bit put-off by the amount of Canada-hate in evidence. Heck, I’ve been on panels with Robert Sawyer, the Pope of Canadian Nationalism, and I still don’t dislike Canada that much. To those writers, a piece of advice—the closer your message is to the front-line of a story, the more the story suffers. Quality, first and foremost, because if our Fierce Readers put the story down unread, we’ve failed both as artists and advocates.

The weakest parts of the anthology were the essays. I’ve ended up being an off-again on-again off-again member of the CLFA because I have an inherent distrust for governmental change as a tool of freedom and progress. Ivan Throne’s and John C. Wright’s essays stayed far, far beyond the frothing level of discourse and did nothing to convince me to be optimistic using either rhetoric or dialectic.
One last note—Milo’s introduction seemed to be partially redone from the intro to Forbidden Thoughts. I’m not sure that he really knows that much about SF and Fantasy. I know he’s a big name in the movement, but I think you can do better.

 Overall Rating, Three Cups of Double-shot Cappuccino. Rating of Four Best Stories, A Rousing Five Cups!


Quite honestly, I'm quite happy getting a mixed review with an anthology of this nature. It's not for everyone, and Tom and I certainly have some different ideas and ideals in reality and fiction. It's a good time, and I'm glad to call him friend.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

7th Continent: adventure gaming at its best

I FINALLY had a chance to break out my copy of 7th Continent yesterday. I had it with, it wasn't in my plan to play it, but hey, it won't get played if it's not there. But the friend I met with had been advised we play it, so...(pics will be from BGG)

Yeah this is a really good game. As far as theme, think of it as a coop based on the choose your own adventure books. Only the game isn't one story, it has a few. And there are a lot of variables within the game. Some of this depends on action efficiency, some on timing. A lot of it depends on the cards in the action deck. Or lack thereof.

First things, though: if you haven't seen this game, it has a lot of cards. So if you order it in the future, be prepared to sort for awhile before you play. It took the two of us a couple of hours in a previous time to get the cards all sorted.  Here's one of all the cards:

Anyway, back to the game premise. You and your fellow adventurers(early 1900's) recently came back from an expedition to a newly found land. Unfortunately, you all are cursed, and have to go back to lift the curse. Each curse is tied to a specific starting point, and there's four generic curses added to the action deck as well. I'll talk about that soon.(You can start with multiple curses, but I wouldn't until you've beaten a couple first.)

The map building is very specific, as the art forms a very coherent map. After exploration actions, that is. Unexplored cards are marked with explore cards of a certain type indicated on the map.

From there, you explore and build up a map. But, you won't ever see everything. Seriously. The estimated time for all the content in the box is something along the lines of 1500 minutes. That is not for a game, that's to see EVERYTHING, requiring many games, even with the same curse. Eventually you develop a map that might look like this:

More or less. I haven't been there yet. We played for about 3.5 hours, and got off our initial island. Our action deck had run out, and then, after a little exploration and actions, the curse struck its final blow.

Now, the action deck. There's a default set of basic skill cards, plus a set of five for each character that are added to the game. The action deck is shared. Every action has a cost and a requirement for success.  Once the action deck has run out, the discard pile is shuffled and replaced in the discard tray face down to draw for each action. If at this point a curse is revealed, the game is lost. Here's the official basics video, it includes a save demonstration:

Anyway, there's a lot here, and it has an easy save mode with no need for notes or remembering what you were doing. Also, given the join/drop rules, I have to say, in a lot of ways this fills the rpg spot quite well. Exploration, puzzles, and so on.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Injustice Book Review: Praxis, by Justin Knight

Cower not, fierce reader! Today we take a look at a more practical side of science fiction: warehouse workers IN SPAAAACCCE! Honestly, there's a lot to the story and it's far more than that. But, as someone with over eight years of experience on power equipment in warehouses, it's nice to see. What do we have?

First, our warehouse workers are fairly realistic. Not all are smart, but they aren't a homogeneous group by any means. There are characters with family, devoted couples, and people just dealing with the daily struggle. The equipment junkie attitude of them being "toys" is pretty accurate from my experience.

Second, we have a redemption arc within the story. I won't go into details, per my general spoiler policy. But the fact that someone can be stuck for a long time, and come to a point where they wish to repent and change and actively do, especially after paying a price. Whereas the SocJus crowd is far more likely to simply excuse behavior and deny evil, unless of course it's in recognizing truth.

Third, there's a story of alien cops and pirates. While this may not be a SocJus trigger, the fact that the lawmen are good guys is.

Fourth, Mr. Knight gives us glimpses of family life and devotion. Not only is it respected, but aspired to by other characters.

A little bit of real criticism here: I kind of wanted to see more on adjustments to equipment required for zero and low gravity. It would be a real concern, and is almost always ignored by authors. Now, there is some mention of future equipment, as well as a little extrapolation from existing safety/security measures.

Damaged product also gets mentioned, but I saw nothing on inventory integrity. Both of these issues would be HUGE in space. Is it glamourous? Nope. Necessity rarely is. I also know that too much would get boring quick for almost all readers. How many times do you have to count to a thousand?

One small thing that is explained by the author being English is the use of "whilst" and "learnt". Though, as the workers are based out of Vancouver, I'm uncertain as to the idiomatic nature of the region. It might be more American, it might be something entirely different.

This is a fast and worthwhile read. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Deadman by Neal Adams is DOA

Neal Adams is honestly good at art. But wow did he drop the ball on this. People that don't know Deadman can't really get a grasp on him, despite there being a bit of origin story here. There's plotholes bigger than just in the Russian movie Guardians. (The movie is really fun still. This? Um, no.)

I don't know a ton about Deadman, he rarely showed up in the DC books I read. But he was  in Batman: the Brave and the Bold a few times. Yes, it's not the same, but you do get a bit of a feel for the character. But to say, a diehard Marvel Zombie?

Well, Diversity and Comics couldn't follow it:

Now, if you didn't watch, let's talk about some plotholes. They're everywhere. Jim Gordon, commissioner of Gotham PD, is a temporary ambassador for a NUCLEAR FACILITY inspection. What about all the scientists in the DCU? Where's the Atom? Where's Professor Martin Stein? Good grief, there's bad guys with better qualifications than Gordon.

Now, Neal Adams managed to do things that can only happen when the same guy does writing and art: plotholes in art and layout. It's honestly impressive when something that happened in art apparently just unhappens in the art. There's also travel bits that make no sense, when he's supposed to be able to just appear where he needs to be.

DC should just shut this down now. Get a writer to work with Adams,  his art is still good, but don't give him the writer/artist control. His Batman mini was largely deem incomprehensible, and why encourage him by giving him another one?  Not everything has to make sense right away, but enough does that the questions get asked initially and answered later.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Injustice Anthology Review: Lyonesse Volume 1

Cower not, fierce reader! Today we look at the first collection of stories from the Silver Empire subscription service Lyonesse. I'm putting up both links because I know some will want to subscribe, and some might just want to check out the anthology. Either way, I think it's a good deal. Let's take a look.

Four Funerals and a Wedding by L. Jagi Lamplighter- A woman is gifted to bring people back.

The Dreaming Wounds by Anya Ow- A woman slowly regains her ability to see those trapped between life and death.

The Dragon's Teeth by David Hallquist- An uploaded copy of a soldier is activated in dire times.

Zombie Jamborie by Declan Finn- Voodoo zombies attack New York. Private enterprise has a plan for everything.

The Artifact by Dean Abbott- A society that has enlightened itself past religion searches a planet for cultural evidence from a mysterious society far beyond them.

We Bury Our Own by Cheah Kai Wai(Ben Cheah)- Post disaster, a spiritual warrior is called to go after one of his own who went rogue.

Number 43 by Jonathan Ward- In a world of Frankenstein type science, a "servant" is sent after a former protege.

The Last Winter by A. R. Aston- An old warrior in what looks to be his end comes to an understanding of a witch woman's prophecy from years earlier.

Shini Tai by C.L. Werner- A Samurai comes across a great sumo and mystical forces set against him.

The Case of the Unicorn by Nora M. Mulligan- A detective is hired to find and return a unicorn to an elderly woman.

The Harsh Mistress by Mike Murphy- A salesman with a bad month gets a unique chance to make a sale.

St. Lucian's Star by Dawn Witzke- A woman who locates objects is hired to locate a relic, and goes along for the recovery.

A Day Without the Horned Goddess by Kieran McKiel- The daughter of a mythic being from the South gets weary of life around the Northern loch.

In Another Life by Morgon Newquist- A tale of time travel, obsession, and a sort of revenge.

Moonset by S. D. McPhail- On an alien world, the different species cooperate when a new strange tree shows up.

Mile High Murder by Declan Finn- A man with a deadly plan faces some men with their own plans. Mildly ties to A Pius Man and the Con Murder books.

Honestly, all of these stories have good stuff in them. There's a huge variety in feel and thematics, so don't worry if you don't like one. It's in many ways the type of anthology the "year's best" collections want you to think they are. 9 of 10 fell deeds

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Book launch is Wednesday for MAGA 2020... and another little bit of news.

Yeah, Wednesday launches from Superversive Press: MAGA 2020 and Beyond.  I've got an essay and a story in there. I'd like feedback from those that read it. It's got a number of folks I've reviewed here, including Jon Del Arroz, Declan Finn, Daniel Humphries, and Dawn Witzke. We have pieces by Ivan Throne and Milo Yiannopolis as well, and one story from Brad Torgersen.

We have a memslinger(Dawn) that worked very hard on some publicity stuff. Here's what she did for my story:

It's fairly fitting. Not as good as the one for kaijubushi, though(you may have seen the tweets):

In other news, I found out that Galaxy's Edge is going to be expanding. I was personally skeptical when Nick Cole and Jason Anspach announced the project, but I think they've shown they know what they're doing. Who gets to join the fun? Well, he's got some chops, though you might be used to him writing SF comedy. His current project involves space Vikings.

Yeah. I have NO CLUE how this will work out, or if it will be serious, a comedy, a side piece, or what. But given what I've read from the people involved(dunno if Jason is in on this too right now), I'll be watching. This must be what a well run franchise is like.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Prayer Request for Gene Wolfe

It is with a heavy heart I post this. Two days ago, I found out via Twitter that SFF legend Gene Wolfe is in the hospital. He has had a bad case of the flu, and had trouble keeping food down for about two weeks. It has been stated he would appreciate get well cards from friends and fans.

Here's the address if you wish to send him a card:

OSF Healthcare
800 NE GlenOak Ave
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I have read a number of his books, and like many great authors, I have more of his that I haven't read. The first science fiction convention I went to(only a couple years ago), he was a guest at, and made certain to take the time to sit at one of his panels which was part reading and part just him chatting.

He is a Catholic, and his faith came through in his discussion. Unfortunately, the religious ignorance of the audience was also apparent when he mentioned the only time he felt real fear was an encounter with a diabolist. He had to explain what that was, and then there were comments about all fundamentalism being wrong.

For those unfamiliar with the term, there are, broadly speaking, two types of Satanist. One is a hedonist that mostly doesn't want to be told what to do, might dabble in magic, but generally will leave others alone and be decent to people. The other is in full agreement with Christianity on the nature of good and evil, and actively seeks to do evil. There are stories of them in drug and human trafficking, sex slavery, and other sinister things.

At any rate, the experience of being among so called fans that were so uninformed about faith nearly made me swear off of sff conventions entirely. I still had good experiences with game cons, and it was my stumbling into independent authors and small publishers that got me to go to LibertyCon.

I wish I had taken a chance to talk with Gene at the convention. Even then, his health and strength were clearly on a downturn, though his mind was still quite active. Sadly, in many ways he and his work are being shoved aside. Here's a recent picture of books I rescued from library weeding:

The sheer cultural ignorance of librarians amazes me. But then, we know they're actively playing Social Justice. As we know:

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Injustice Anthology Review: HA!HA!HA!

Cower not, fierce reader! Today we stare villainy in the face. Sometimes it is familiar, sometimes understandable, sometimes incomprehensible. I will have to take a few stories to task, but let's take a look.

We open with a foreword by Nick Cole, drawing on his acting background and experience. He quite rightly mentions that villains are in many ways, better characters. Many comic book heroes are defined by, or rather, in contrast to, their villains.

Supervillainy 101 by Chris Pourteau- Whew. Take one part serial killer interview, one part sacrifice to a LONG term plan.

Tick Tock by Christopher J. Valin- The writing is very solid. I wish the set piece part of the story were more original: A good chunk of this is a reworking of Max Allan Collins' Batman story, "A Death in the Family".  I don't mind the copying of characters so much, but the fact that there's little to separate it, to make it unique.

Vying for Power by Greg Wilkey- The big supervillain in a city has died. Now, at the funeral, a play is made for control and power. But not everyone is what they seem to be.

Ghosts of the Flames by Hall and Beaulieu- We follow a team of scavengers in a world of heroes and villains at war. But hidden agendas and unsettled spirits have ways of unsettling things further.

Rejected by M,K, Gibson- A retired hero gives a chance to shamed heroes. The fallout of a supervilain's death has to be dealt with, and there are more layers to his organization than is readily known.

The Winter Witch by Susan Faw- Morpheus leaves the world, and one of his children has their own plans for the realm granted by their father.

Counterclockwise by Ed Gosney- A man whose power has failed him approaches his last moments due to a lack of control and judgement. Or perhaps we have a case of psychosis? Either way, the act was done, and actions have consequences.

The Gala by Morgon Newquist- Ooh, another Serenity City story. This takes place long after the one in Paragons. There's a really interesting take on the insane female sidekick here, more complex than many versions of Harley Quinn. A sinister lass indeed. Stay away from the crazy.

The Heart of a Clockwork Girl by Michael Ezell- Oh, man. A henchman goes on a mission for the evil genius that has created an artificial woman to hold him loyal. Revelations and weariness change the henchman's perspective.

Djinn 2.0 by Jessica West- An alien royal is exiled to Earth after scandal. Her redemption is to help humanity to peace.

Hacksaw's Formulation by A. J. McWain- I know nothing of the story, as it was absent from the ARC I received.

Prisoner of War by Steve Beaulieu- A war reporter under fire finds there are worse things than normal enemy soldiers to worry about. And lines can be easy to cross.

There are some standout stories in here, I particularly enjoyed Vying for Power, Rejected, and The Gala. And the volume is at least currently priced to be well worth it. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Gonna rant because Hollywood hates everything good

Oh, I know he's not as popular as The Shadow, or possibly The Phantom, and he's not the shining example of Prince Valiant. But I have to say I dig the Green Hornet. There's a great amount of history here, with multiple serials, radio shows, and a TV show. Not to mention some really cool visuals and music. Dynamite Entertainment even has done some really interesting comics, both on the traditional and on the reinvention side of things.

But what they all did right, Hollywood did wrong. Yeah, that terrible Seth Rogan film from a few years back. Even by the end of the movie, the character doesn't have a clear direction and is still a bit of a schmuck. Why? Because they think you have to tell origin stories all the time.

Amateur tip: Your hero needs to be a hero, in fact show me that fast. I can put the pieces together myself, and I don't need to see him fumbling around. Especially as a standalone film.

Guess what the old show and serials all did? Jump right in. Check it out:

The first serial(just a clip):

Here's the TV show:

Hey look, right into the story. No origin, just show us stuff moving. Instead we got mopy, directionless Rogan being unsure of himself or acting like a frat boy. Sure, the serials had an advantage of coming from the radio plays, but they went right into it as well.

And there's apparently someone wanting to bring it back again. Whether it ever sees the light of day, that's another matter. Oh, yeah, try to have a good theme song. In fact, just use the old one, it's great.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.