A Review of Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eight

Datlow Best Horror EightThe Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eight
Ellen Datlow, ed.
Night Shade Books
Trade paper $15.99
ebook $14.99

Since this is a review of a horror anthology, I’m going to run with that theme and say August has come from one of the circles of Hell. Just which one, I’m not sure. I need to brush up on my Dante. I finished this book two (three?) weeks ago, and I’m just now getting a relatively quiet and uninterrupted moment when I’m not too wiped out to put coherent sentences together. (The previous post doesn’t count. A careful reading will show I wasn’t in a good mood, and I don’t write reviews when I’m cranky crankier than usual.)  The only part of the process that went the way it should was requesting the book and the quick response.  Thanks to Brianna Scharfenberg of Night Shade Books.  Delays in reading the book and posting the review are entirely mine.

Datlow is one of the most accomplished editors in the field.  I know that any project, whether reprint or original, will have a top-notch selection of stories.  That’s the case here.  Not every story was to my taste, but then I don’t expect them to.  The only anthology that will be completely to my taste will be one I’ve edited, and maybe not even then. Continue reading

Some Thoughts on HPL, on the Occasion of His Birth

LovecraftOther than the Dublin Ghost Story Festival (which I can’t afford to attend), there’s not a lot happening this weekend of any significance.  Which is fine, because there won’t be much to distract from observing HPL’s birthday today.  I intend to read something by him later, provided both the two-legged and four-legged people in the house will leave me alone.

I thought I’d mark the occasion by sharing a few thoughts.  It’s become particularly fashionable in recent years to bash the Gentleman From Providence.  While this is nothing new, it seems to have gained momentum.

When I was younger, the most common complaint I heard was that Lovecraft’s prose was too purple.  I didn’t pay that much attention to the criticism at the time because I was more into science fiction.  It was only as my interest in fantasy began to eclipse my interest in SF that I really started getting into his work.  I’ve always found his writing to be readable.  While there is some merit to the complaints about Lovecraft’s style being outdated (which to a large degree boils down to matters of taste), they’re not a deal breaker for me.  Continue reading

Still Not Dead Yet

Yes, I am alive, at least for certain definitions of life.  I’ve just been swamped with ending a term, preparing for one that’s off to a bit of a rockier start than usual, and getting a child ready to start high school in a school that has over 2,000 students.  Among other things.

Most days, I only have a few minutes of stillness and quiet (internal and external) to focus on reading/writing/blogging.  I’m hoping that will change by Labor Day, when everything should fall into a routine.

To the two people to whom I promised reviews, I finished the books over a week ago.  I will write them as soon as I can do a professional job that isn’t rushed.  I’m hoping that will be this weekend.

Is the Second Summer Term Over Yet?

Well, no, actually it’s not.  I ruin some people’s day give the final on Thursday.  I’ve got a few posts lined up, I just need to finish an anthology (one story left), and two novels (both nearly done).  Because of some things I’ll go into when I write the con report, I went to Armadillcon last weekend.  It was a late minute decision.  Since I got back, I haven’t gotten anything done in terms of blogging or writing until this evening.  My son’s summer ended last Monday when band practice started, and the week has been hectic for all of us.  Things should settle down a bit by the end of the month, and hopefully I’ll post a little more regularly.  Anyway, I haven’t died or dropped off the face of the planet (at least not entirely).

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.