Monthly Archives: November 2013

Team Robot Blogger Awards

photo12_110308-225x300Angry Robot Books has created an award for bloggers.  I’m not sure if it’s limited to members of the Robot Army, but it’s called the Team Robot Blogger Award.  It encompasses the imprints Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry, and Exhibit A.  There is also an Author’s Choice Award given to a blogger who didn’t make the shortlist for the Team Robot Blogger Award.

The winners are Kristen at My Bookish Ways (Team Robot Blogger Award) and Josh at Just a Guy That Likes to Read (Author’s Choice Award).

There were 12 blogs on the short list.  In addition to My Bookish Ways, the other nominees were A Fantastical Librarian, Bibliosanctum, Curiosity Killed the Bookworm, Fantasy Faction, Jet Black Ink, My Shelf Confessions, Popcorn Reads, Shots Blog, The Founding Fields,  Oh, yeah, and,…um, yours truly, Adventures Fantastic.

Congratulations to the winners and all the nominees.  The winners get the cool trophy shown above, and the winners and everyone on the short list will receive three free books.  I’d like to thank Angry Robot Books for the nomination as well as the prize.  It was a surprise and an honor to be nominated.

All three imprints are having a 50% off Black Friday sale, BTW.  Click the links above for some great reading at a great price.

Happy Thanksgiving

Free HD WallpapersHappy Thanksgiving to everyone in the States or around the world who is observing the holiday.

Among the things I’m thankful for are all the people who follow this blog or my others, as well as everyone who reads my posts at Amazing Stories or Black Gate.  It’s nice having a platform to share my thoughts and engage in discussions about sword and sorcery, fantasy in general, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery and noir, and history.  Even if I haven’t had time this semester to post as much as I’d hoped.

I hope all of you have a great day, whether you’re celebrating the holiday or not.

Fifty Years on the Glory Road

Glory RoadGlory Road
Robert A. Heinlein

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Robert Heinlein’s novel Glory Road. It’s the closest thing to heroic fantasy he ever wrote, although by the end of the book it’s clear that science fantasy is a better (but not entirely accurate) label.

This wasn’t the first Heinlein I ever read. That would be Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. (I’m planning on reading the Heinlein juveniles in the order they were written and writing about them at Futures Past and Present next year.) I’d read a number of the juveniles by the time I read Glory Road.

Nor was it the first adult novel by Heinlein I read. I’d read Sixth Column in paperback, plus the omnibus A Heinlein Trio from the Science Fiction Book Club containing The Puppet Masters, Double Star, and The Door into Summer. I probably had read Universe by that time, although my memory isn’t clear on that one.

What Glory Road was, however, was the first adult Heinlein I read that actually had adult content. And by adult content, I mean sexual content. I was 14 or 15 at the time I read it. It was something of a shock, since nothing I’d read by him was that sexual in nature, or if it was, either I was too naive to pick up on it or it didn’t make enough of an impression that I remembered it. Continue reading

I’m Now Blogging for Black Gate

Beyond the Fields We KnowI mentioned this here recently, but now it’s official.  My first post for Black Gate went up this afternoon.  I’m looking at the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.  The first post was an overview, giving a little historical context and laying out what I’m going to be doing.  The following posts will be reviews of the individual titles in the series.  You can read my post here.

I’d like to thank John O’Neill for giving me the opportunity to blog for Black Gate, which is one of the top websites for fantasy.

Not Wanting to Leave Megalopolis


Leaving Megalopolis by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore

Leaving Megalopolis
Gail Simone & Jim Calafiore
Painfully Normal Productions
hardcover $19.99

This is a graphic novel that was funded through Kickstarter, and my copy arrived in the mail today. It was a weird day, and I ended up with some time on my hands at odd moments. So I read the thing cover to cover. (Well, all right, not the whole thing. I’m still looking for my name in the three pages of really fine print listing the supporters.)

This is a superhero story for grownups, where the heroes aren’t heroes anymore. Something has happened to turn all the superheroes in Megalopolis (“The Safest City Anywhere”) into crazed killers.

The story concerns a group of survivors, led by a woman named Mina. They are trying to survive long enough to escape from the city, not realizing that escape is pretty near impossible. Not only are the former heroes hunting them, the other denizens of the city are as well. Some groups have taken to sacrificing people to keep the heroes from killing them. It’s all for one, that one being oneself. I was disappointed when I got to the end. Not that there was anything wrong with the end.  It’s just that it was the end.

Gail Simone’s writing and Jim Calafiore’s art are top notch. I’ve not kept up with comics the way I did when I was younger, so I’ve not encountered their work before. I’ll be looking for more of it. For one thing, I’m pretty sure there will be more installments concerning Megalopolis. Not all questions are answered. The ending is something of a cliff-hanger. And there’s that numeral “1” printed on the spine. That was my first clue.


Your intrepid blogger proudly displaying his copy.

When I pledged the Kickstarter, I was under the impression this was a self-contained graphic novel. I can live with the discovery that it’s not. I just hope I don’t have to wait too long to read the next installment.  The backup story written and drawn by Jim Calafiore was a nice addition.

This is not a comic for children. There’s a bit of sex, more than a bit of adult language, and quite a bit of violence. Not to mention blood.   The themes and Nina’s backstory deal with serious issues, such as spousal abuse and sacrificing someone else, even someone you love, to save your own skin.  Rather than being heavy handed, these themes are naturally worked into the story.  The young Mina’s love of a raccoon in the flashbacks show us the wounded child learning that the world isn’t a fair place   The panel with her sobbing and saying she doesn’t “want to be anymore” is heart wrenching.

This was money well spent. I’m glad I supported the Kickstarter and will support more from this team.  There will be a trade edition, but I don’t know the details about that.  I do know the Simone and Calafiore were going to hold off on the electronic edition until after they had shipped all the print editions.  Look for it when it becomes available.

In Which I Discuss Thor (and his Deplorable Taste in Women)

thor the dark world posterSo I took my son to see Thor: The Dark World over the weekend.  He really liked it.  I mostly really liked it.

The basic plot is that before there was light, the universe was in darkness and inhabited by the Dark Elves.  In an epic battle between Odin’s father and the Dark Elves, Malekith, the leader of the Dark Elves sacrifices most of his people in an attempt to use aether, a primordial substance.  The aether is lost, and the Dark Elves are defeated, with Malekith (incorrectly) believed to be dead.

The story jumps to the present day, where Jane Foster is pining for Thor, who is in Asgard.  Meanwhile Malekith is preparing to make a comeback.  The Nine Worlds are aligning, which is allowing travel between the worlds.  (Don’t ask, it really doesn’t make any sense when you think about it.  Just like the scene with Eric Selvig streaking at Stonehenge makes no sense.)


Jaimie Alexander as Sif

Jane falls through one of the passages and is contaminated by aether.  So she travels with Thor to Asgard, which comes under attack by Malekith.  This leads to a sequence of chases and subterfuges that drive the second half of the movie.  The character of Loki is well used, and his relationship with Thor is one of the strong parts of the movie.

There are some great visual effects.  The movie isn’t so much a superhero tale as it is science fantasy.  And reasonably well done science fantasy at that.  The cast works well for the most part.  Renee Russo shows she can handle a sword quite well.  I think she’s been in the wrong movies.


Dude, really. Look over your shoulder.
You can do better.

The only real problem I had with the show was Thor’s love life.  The filmmakers went out of their way to indicate that Sif is interested in Thor.  Yet he chooses Jane Foster.  The former is a kick-butt warrior woman, while the latter barely rises to the level of a damsel in distress, one who only takes an active, as opposed to passive, role in events near the end.  Sticking stakes in the ground is hardly exciting, even if they are high tech stakes designed to prevent the end of the world.

Yes, I realize the story is probably following the basic story arc in the comics.  I say “probably” because of the Marvel movies of recent years, Thor is the only one I never read.  If there had been any real chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, maybe I could have bought it.  I just didn’t see any sparks there.  In the few scenes between Sif and Thor, there was plenty of chemistry between Jaimie Alexander and Chris Hemsworth.  Personally, I think he should have chosen her.  I certainly would have.  She can more than handle herself in a fight.  Thor wouldn’t have to constantly be running off to save her.


My kind of independent woman

These gripes aside, I was surprised at how good Thor: The Dark World turned out.  The Marvel adaptations are setting a high standard for superhero movies.  I hope DC can come close.  Given how underwhelmed I was with Man of Steel, I’m not holding out much hope, especially with Ben Affleck cast as Batman.

Congratulations to the Winners of the David Gemmell Awards

The winners of the 2013 David Gemmell Awards have been announced at a ceremony at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, England.  They are

Didier Graffet and Dave Senior for the cover of Red Country by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)

John Gwynne for Malice (Pan MacMillan)

Brent Weeks for The Blinding Knife (Orbit)

Adventures Fantastic would like to congratulate all the nominees and especially the winners.  A complete list of the nominees can be found at the David Gemmell Awards site.  There’s a separate menu for each award.

I decided not to include this announcement in the previous post, since the British Fantasy and World Fantasy Awards are more general genre awards, while the Gemmell Awards are focused on heroic fantasy.  I certainly cover other types of fantasy here, but heroic fantasy and sword and sorcery are the main focus of this site.

I think the Gemmell Awards are an important award, and one that is necessary to the field.  I’m more interested in the winners of this award than I am of any other award with the possible exception of the Shamus Awards, which I look at on my detective and noir blog, Gumshoes, Gats, and Gams.  I’ve seen some snide comments about the Gemmell Awards online from some of the more literary minded members of the field.  I’ll have more to say about awards in general in another post, including that attitude.  After I’ve finished sharpening my knives.

For now, let me again offer my congratulations to the winners and nominees and say Thank You to the DGLA Steering Group for making these awards possible.

Congratulations to the World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards

Winners of the British Fantasy Awards and the World Fantasy Awards were announced over the weekend at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, England.  Adventures Fantastic would like to congratulate all the nominees, and especially  the winners.

The winners of the British Fantasy Award, awarded by the British Fantasy Society, include

Best Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award)
Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)

Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award)
Last Days, Adam Nevill (Macmillan)

Best Novella
The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine, John Llewellyn Probert (Spectral)

Best Short Story
“Shark! Shark!”, Ray Cluley (Black Static #29)

Best Collection
Remember Why You Fear Me, Robert Shearman (ChiZine)

Best Anthology:
Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane, Jonathan Oliver, ed. (Solaris)

A complete list of winners can be found at the British Fantasy Society site, and a complete list of nominees in all categories can be found at the 2013 British Fantasy Awards page.

The winners of the World Fantasy Awards are:

Life Achievement:
Susan Cooper
Tanith Lee

Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson (Grove; Corvus)

“Let Maps to Others”, K.J. Parker (Subterranean Summer ’12)

Short Story:
“The Telling”, Gregory Norman Bossert (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 11/29/12)

Postscripts #28/#29: Exotic Gothic 4, Danel Olson, ed. (PS Publishing)

Where Furnaces Burn, Joel Lane (PS Publishing)

Vincent Chong

Special Award Professional:
Lucia Graves for the translation of The Prisoner of Heaven (Weidenfeld & Nicholson; Harper) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Special Award Non-Professional:
S.T. Joshi for Unutterable Horror: A History of Supernatural Fiction, Volumes 1 & 2 (PS Publishing)

The complete list of nominees can be found at the World Fantasy Awards page.

Saxon’s Bane is a Harrowing Visit to the English Countryside

saxons_bane_250x384Saxon’s Bane
Geoffrey Gudgion
Solaris Books
mass market US $7.99 CAN $9.99
ebook $6.99 Kindle Nook

I’d intended to have this posted by Halloween, but dayjobbery derailed me. It’s a perfect Halloween read, but don’t let the fact that the holiday is past stop you. It’s worth the time. I’d like to thank Micheal Molcher for providing me with the review copy. He sent it at the end of the summer, and I apologize for taking so long to read it. Like I said, it looked like a good read for the Halloween season, but I didn’t finish it in time.

Very much in the tradition of The Wicker Man, Saxon’s Bane is the story of Fergus, who is injured in a car wreck outside the village of Allingley. His coworker Kate is driving, and before he’s rescued, Fergus sees a Saxon warrior stroking Kate’s hair. Clare is an archaeologist called in to excavate a man found in a drained mill pond. Or more specifically a Saxon who was murdered and buried in a bog.

After he finally gets out of the hospital, Fergus discovers that his life has changed and he can’t go back to his high pressure sales job. It’s more than survivor’s guilt over Kate’s death. He returns to Allingley, where he gets a job at a stable, hoping to continue healing. Clare, on the other hand, has begun to have disturbing dreams about the man she’s studying. Vivid dreams that become nightmares as the events of each dream move closer to the Saxon’s death.

Fergus and Clare don’t realize they have a deeper connection to the events of the past, and that those events are impacting the present.

I’ve been a fan of British television, mainly comedies and science fiction, for years. And while I haven’t had time to watch much in recent years, this book reminded me of why I enjoyed some of the shows I did. Saxon’s Bane made me want to live in a close knit British village. Just not this one.

Gudgion assembles a diverse cast of characters, from the vicar of the local church to the pagan who runs the stables to the leader of the Satanic cult that’s targeted the local church. He builds the menace and dread slowly, then when you think you know what’s going to happen, he goes in a different direction. He also manages to make even the minor characters unique individuals.

The dream/flashback scenes are well done and ultimately properly bloody, and Gudgion gives enough technical data on the history, customs, and language of the Saxons without overwhelming the reader with the amount of research he’s done. I’d love to see his try his hand at historical fantasy.

I really enjoyed Saxon’s Bane. For a first novel (I think it’s a first novel), it’s more polished and smooth than you would expect. Gudgion shows the potential to be a writer to watch. I intend to read his next book.


I’ve added a page for NaNoWriMo 2013.  You can find the link at the menu up top.  Rather than bore the people who read this blog with regular updates, I’m going to place updates and the occasional excerpt there.  That way if anyone is interested in reading about the experience, you can find it there.  I will post at least once a week (hopefully more often), but I don’t think it will be the same day every week.  I’ve got too much traveling to do to be that consistent.