A New “Year’s Best” Debuts

years best SFThe Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume One
Neil Clarke
Night Shade Books
Trade Paper $17.99
Ebook $12.99

So, you may ask, what am I doing reviewing a science fiction anthology on a fantasy blog, especially when I have an entire blog devoted to science fiction?

I said, “You may ask”.

Thank you.  I thought you’d never ask.

Well, a couple of months ago, a review copy arrived in the mail.  (Thank you, Briana Scharfenberg of Night Shade.)  This is Clarke’s first time to edit a year’s best anthology.  He’s been the editor for years of Clarkesworld magazine, so he’s got the experience to tackle this type of a project.

Now, I’ve bought most of the annual retrospectives that claim to contain the best stories of the year for a long while.  I’ve started many of them, but I usually don’t finish them.  Too many other things vying for my attention, and I rarely read anthologies or collections straight through.  There’s usually some novelus interruptus going on at some point.  Or would that be anthologous interruptus?  Anyway, I decided to give this year’s batch (or many of them, at least) a try.

Because this is the first volume of Clarke’s series, and because this blog gets a lot more traffic than any of my others, I decided to review it here, where more people will see it.  See.  That’s reasonable explanation, isn’t it?

Anyway, on to the review.  The questions you’re most wanting to ask is are the stories any good?  Does this volume actually contain the best stories published in the past year?

Continue reading

Warriors of the Wild Lands Kickstarter is Live!

Jim Cornelius, who is the chief scout over at Frontier Partisans, has just launched a Kickstarter for a nonfiction book, Warriors of the Wild Lands.  This is a nonfiction collection of biographical essays on scouts, adventures, and pioneers who made a lasting impact on the frontier.  In the book you’ll find heroes and villains and some who are a mix of both.

Anyone interested in heroic fiction or history will want to check this one out.  I suspect to a large degree I’m preaching to the choir here because I know a lot of the folks who read this blog also read Jim’s.  If you’re not familiar with Frontier Partisans, you should.  It’s one of the blogs I read regularly.  I may not comment on every post, but there are very I don’t read (usually because I’m on the road).  If you’re a writer, Frontier Partisans is a great place to find story ideas.  I know, because one of Jim’s posts served as the inspiration for one of my published stories.

I’ve been looking forward to this book and have already pledged the Kickstarter.

Well, why are you still hanging around here?  Go pledge!

Roy G. Krenkel Was Born 98 Years Ago

krenkel earthscoreI’m trying to get ready to start the second summer term, so this is going to be short.  But I wanted to point out that today was Roy G. Krenkel’s 98th birthday.  Krenkel is best remembered today for his work with early comics giants such as Al Williamson and paperback covers for Ace, DAW, and Lancer.

Krenkel was a friend of Frank Frazetta, of whom Frazetta said, “I met Roy Krenkel back in 1949 or 1950, and he has never ceased to be a constant source of inspiration to me—a truly conscientious artist who will not tolerate incompetence.”

krenkel kullMuch of Krenkel’s best remembered work was for fantasy adventure, particularly Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard.  Edgar Rice Burroughs grandson Danton Burroughs considered him to be one of the great ERB illustrators.  krenkle-thuvia

Two Stories From “Tales From the Otherverse” Nominated for the Sidewise Award

Tales From The Otherverse webJames Reasoner announced earlier today that two of the stories from his anthology Tales From the Otherverse have been nominated for the Sidewise Award.  I had the privilege of having a story accepted for that anthology, and no, mine isn’t one of the nominees.

The stories are “The Hero of Deadwood” by James Reasoner, and “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” by Bill Crider.  If you haven’t read them, you should.  They’re both top notch.  The entire anthology is.  (I’m speaking of the other stories; modesty prevents me fromo commenting on my own work.)  And that’s not just my opinion.  Tales From the Otherverse was the only publication to have more than one story on the short list.  So congratulations to James and Bill on their fine work and congratulations to James on editing such a outstanding anthology.

Details about the Sidewise Awards can be found here.  The winners will be announced at this year’s Worldcon, MidAmeriCon II, this August.

Gemmell Awards Shortlist

The shortlist for the Gemmell Awards was announced earlier today:

The Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel

The Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer

The Ravenheart Award for Best Fantasy Cover Art

  • Kerem Beyit for the cover of The Dread Wyrm by Miles Cameron (Gollancz)
  • Jason Chan for the cover of The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence (Harper Voyager)
  • Larry Elmore & Carol Russo Design for the cover of Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia (Baen)
  • Raymond Swanland for the cover of Archaon: Lord of Chaos by Rob Sanders (Black Library)
  • Paul Young for the cover of Ruin by John Gwynne (Pan Macmillan)

The winners will be announced September 24, 2016 at Fantasycon, held at the Grand Hotel and the Royal in Scarborough UK.  Voting closes at midnight GMT on Friday, August 19.

As usual, most of the Legend nominees, the exception being Son of the Black Sword, are in series I’ve either not read or am not current on.  I’ve only heard of two of the Morningstar Nominees, The Traitor Baru Cormorant, which I know from reviews will not be my flagon of ale, and The Vagrant, which looks interesting.  I’ll try to read at least one or two of the nominees, but the way the summer is going, I may be sitting out this year’s awards simply because I won’t have time to read enough nominees to cast an informed ballot.

Announcing Rocket’s Red Glare

I got permission a few minutes ago to announce I’m going to be in another anthology from Rough Edges Press.  This one is a space opera anthology entitled Rocket’s Red Glare.  James Reasoner is the editor.  The release date hasn’t been set yet, but it will be out sometime later this year.  I don’t have a cover image to post yet; as soon as I do, I’ll post it here.  I’ve seen a couple of different preliminary covers, and they all looked awesome.

Rough Edges Press is the publisher of Weird Menace Volumes 1 and 2 and Tales From the Otherverse.  If you’ve read them, you know James puts together some good anthologies.

I don’t know anything about the other stories.  My story kept growing, and James said he thought I should write more in this universe.  I’m going to be working out a future history.  My story has two segments that take place over a century apart.  There are a lot of events before, between, and after that I can fill in.  This could be a lot of fun.

Enter The City of Pillars

City of Pillars 1000x1600The City of Pillars
Joshua P. Simon
Paperback $11.99
ebook $2.99

I’d like to thank Joshua P. Simon for the review copy of The City of Pillars as well as his patience. I should have read the book and gotten the review up sooner.

The City of Pillars is the second volume of The Epic of Andrasta and Rondel.  You can read the review of the first volume, The Cult of Sutek, here.

The story takes place not long after the events of the previous book, approximately a year later if my memory isn’t failing me.  It opens with the pair trying to steal a flute from a museum.  Things don’t go well at all.  Instead of the flute, they’re set up and wanted for a number of killings they aren’t guilty of. Continue reading

The Latest From Heroic Fantasy Quarterly

timthumb.php (2)The latest issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (#28) has been out for a little while.  I’m playing catch up after traveling for a great deal of the past month, so apologies for this being a little late.

As I stated the last time I reviewed HFQ, there were two serials in the previous issue that I would deal with here.  There are also two poems (by Mary Soon Lee and David Sklar) and two more short stories in the current issue.  Let’s deal with the short stories first. Continue reading

Report on Howard Days 2016

Howard House 2016Yes, I know this year’s Howard Days was nearly 2 weeks ago, but we left for New Mexico on family vacation right after I got back.  (Other than no AC in the car when the temperature was 105F, we had a great time.)  I’m playing catch-up catch up on blogging.

Howard Days has grown, something that was emphasized since this year marked the 30th anniversary of the first Howard Days.  While things officially don’t start until Friday, people are showing up on Wednesday evenings.  Space is becoming a consideration, with events this year moved from the library to the high school auditorium or the Senior Center across the street from the library.  There were a number of new attendees, which is always a healthy thing for an event, and I’m not referring the 10,000 or so mosquitoes that showed up. Continue reading

Fall Under the Spell of The Conjurers

the conjurersThe Conjurers
David Wade
Deadlock Publishing
Kindle $3.99

I’d like to thank David Wade for sending me the review copy of The Conjurers.  I quite enjoyed it.

There are some writers who can tell a good story but whose prose is rather flat.  Other writers can string pretty words together but aren’t really storytellers.  David Wade doesn’t fall into either category.  The man not only tells a gripping tale, he does so with an elegance of language that’s several cuts above what you find in your typical fantasy novel.

The Conjurers is a tale of sorcery in 14th century Europe.  In Ireland, Eamon and his younger sister are pursued by brigands under the control of a local sorceress, Shairshee.  In Genoa, Teresa suspects her older brother has been killed by the magician to whom he’s apprenticed and sets out to seek the truth.

All three of the young people are fated to experience hardship and the loss of family members before they discover their true heritage. Continue reading