Monthly Archives: March 2014

Rick Hautala’s Indian Summer

hautala06Indian Summer
Rick Hautala
Cemetery Dance
signed limited edition hardcover $40

It’s only been within the last year or two that I’ve really become acquainted with Rick Hautala’s work. The fact that we lost him last year really irks me, because I know that there won’t be any more stories coming from him.

One of the things I’ve liked about Hautala’s fiction is how well he captures childhood and adolescence while telling a very grown up tale. Not all of his work is like that, but much is. Indian Summer is a perfect example. While the protagonist is a 12 year old boy, the story provided plenty of thrills and chills for the adult reader.

This short novel concerns Billy Crowell, who goes along with some of his friends to watch a forest fire late one hot October afternoon. The boys get recruited to help fight the fire, which is pretty much under control. Trying to cut around and head off a portion of the fire, Billy gets lost.

While he’s wandering in the woods, he comes upon a deer that has been butchered. Billy runs until he comes out at a run down house. The woman who lives there, whose name is Ellie Martin, lets him call his parents. By this time the sun is going down, and Billy knows he’s in trouble. But once he tells his parents whose house he’s at, they change their tune.

Before he leaves, Ellie Martin asks him to come back. Billy is scared of her, but he also is attracted to her. He soon realizes he has a crush on her.

Billy finds himself in a tight spot. He’s both frightened by and attracted to Ellie. None of the adults seem to be willing to talk about her. And Ellie is very obsessed with something she believes lives in the woods… Continue reading

A Brief Report on ConDFW XIII

ConDFW XIII was held over the weekend of February 21-23, 2014.  The author GoH was Kevin J. Anderson, and the artist GoH was Alain Viesca.

Yes, I realize I’m a little late in getting this post up.  It’s been hectic. Continue reading

RIP, Lucius Shephard (1947-2014)

lucius shepardLucius Shephard passed away at the age of 66 on March 18, 2014.  Shephard began writing in the early 1980s.  Many of his early works near future science fiction set in a Central American war that resembled Viet Nam, something that was a real possibility at the time.  I remember reading some of his early stories in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  In recent years his movie reviews have graced the pages of that magazine.

Shephard wrote at all lengths, but in my opinion his strengths were at the novella length.  Over the course of his career he won the Nebula for “R&R”, the Hugo for “Barnacle Bill the Spacer”, and the Shirley Jackson Award for “Vacancy”.   I always found his style to be densely written, but his stories were worth the work they required.

The Best of Lucius ShepardShephard attended at least one Armadillocon in Austin in the early 00’s.  I had the privilege of meeting him.  He was very open and approachable, always willing to chat with fans.  I was disappointed that he didn’t attend some of the later Armadillocons.

The Best of Lucius Shephard is available in ebook format and contains many of his best known works.

A Fundraiser You Should be Aware of…

…so you can skip it and make a donation directly to the authors if you want to help.

Norilana Books, a sole proprietorship, went belly up a few years ago.  The owner, Vera Nazarian, suffered some horrendous personal tragedies.  I feel for her about those; what she went through I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  Unfortunately, she had the bad judgment (at best) to use business funds, specifically money owed authors, for her personal expenses.  These debts to the authors were, from what I understand, not declared on her bankruptcy in 2012.  By her own admission, this has not changed, although the authors may have given their okay.  This isn’t clear, at least not to me.

She has now started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the money to pay at least some of these authors.  She owes them over $19k.  (The fundraiser is for more because IndieGoGo will collect fees on any monies raised.)

The Passive Voice is a site that focuses on publishing and is very author friendly.  A notice about the fundraiser went up there today.  This has started a firestorm at The Passive Voice.  Ms. Nazarian has been quite vocal in trying to justify and excuse her actions in the comments there.  Comments that have grown in the time it has taken me to type this post.  (The information I gave above is summarized from the comments at TPV.)

Passive Guy (who runs The Passive Voice) has suggested the best thing to do is to send money directly to the authors involved.  A list of (at least some of) them can be found at the bottom of this post.

This is a horrible situation, and I hope it gets resolved for the authors soon.  Ms. Nazarian’s track record with money does not make me comfortable with supporting this fundraiser.

Update: Ms. Nazarian appears to have attempted to cancel the fundraiser; IndieGoGo won’t let her:

Jon Sprunk’s Blood and Iron Hits Shelves

Blood and IronBlood and Iron
Jon Sprunk
Pyr Books
Trade paper, 424 pg., $18.00
ebook $11.99  Kindle Nook

I really enjoyed Jon Sprunk’s Shadow Saga (reviewed here, here, and here), so I was thrilled recently to learn he had a new book coming out. That book is Blood and Iron, and while it’s set in the same universe as the Shadow Saga, it’s on a different continent and doesn’t have anything to do with the previous books.

It’s also quite good. Blood and Iron is the first volume of The Book of the Black Earth. As well done as the Shadow Saga was, The Book of the Black Earth promises to be even better. Continue reading

What All I’ve Been Reading

Blood and IronI’m about a fourth of the way through Jon Sprunk’s novel Blood and Iron, which hits shelves next Tuesday.  It’s good, and I’m enjoying the direction this one is taking.

I’ve read the first chapter in the next book I’ll read for my Ballantine Adult Fantasy series for Black Gate, Lilith by George MacDonald.  This one looks like it’s going to be good.

Lastly, I read the cover story from the current issue of Analog.  “Cryptids” is an extremely well-done monster story, one of the best I’ve read in quite a while.  (Yes, I have Kaiju Rising, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.)  I posted the review at Futures Past and Present since the story is very much science fiction.  However, I think some of you would enjoy the story, so I’m mentioning it here.

Spring Break is just over a week away, and I hope to get some things out of the way then, so stay tuned.

RIP, Michael Shea

Michael-Shea-smallLocus Online is reporting that Michael Shea has died.  Shea was the World Fantasy Award winning author of Nifft the Lean and the novella “The Growlimb”.

I’ve not read Shea’s work.  I picked up some at Worldcon last fall, but most of my acquisitions from that trip are still unread.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about Shea’s fiction and have been looking forward to reading some.

John O’Neill has posted a tribute at Black Gate.

Black Gate BAF Post: The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris

The-Wood-Beyond-the-World-William-Morris-smallFor those who are interested, my latest post in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series at Black Gate went live today.  It’s about The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris.  Even though the post has only been up a few hours, it’s generated some lively discussion.  Come join the fun.

Kudzu and Snake Handling from Steve Rasnic Tem

blood_kin_250x384Blood Kin
Steve Rasnic Tem
Mass Market $9.99
ebook $6.99 Kindle

Steve Rasnic Tem has been writing horror for over thirty years now. Much of his work has been at short lengths, but from time to time he turns his hand to novels. The most recent is Blood Kin, and it’s a doozy. Don’t read it late at night if you don’t like snakes.

Michael Gibson is taking care of Sadie, his ailing grandmother, up in the mountains of Virginia. He doesn’t really want to, but his life has been one failure after another, so he’s returned home. He spends his days caring for her, watching the kudzu grow, wondering about the shack in the field down the mountain, and listening to his grandmother tell about her growing up.

As he listens to her stories of the area in the Depression, his grandmother’s memories become real to Michael. Literally. He’s transported back in time and experiences everything with her. And her memories have everything to do with that shack in the kudzu. Continue reading

Brad Beaulieu’s Lays of Anuskaya on Sale

35210630ca882ec70b25c525de775128_largeBrad Beaulieu’s Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, plus the collection Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten, are on sale in Kindle format today for $0.99 each.

Here are the links:  The Winds of Khalakovo, The Straits of Galahesh, The Flames of Shadem Kohreh, Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten and Other Stories.

This is one of the most enjoyable series I’ve come across in the last ten years or so.  It’s full of adventure, intrigue, and interesting characters doing interesting things in exotic settings.  It’s fun and exciting.  If you’ve been thinking about reading them, now’s your chance to get in on the action at a great price.  I don’t know how long the sale will last, so don’t wait too long.

My reviews of The Lays of Anuskaya are here:  The Winds of Khalakovo, The Straits of Galahesh, The Flames of Shadem Khoreh.

Thanks to Paul for the tip.