Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Rest of the Summer

The July 4th holiday, AKA Independence Day, is fast  approaching, which means for me that the summer is half over.  I’ve done a bit of traveling but that’s about to stop for the most part.

I’ll be teaching a class the second summer term, which starts on Tuesday.  It’s at 8:00 a.m.  That’s early, but that’s okay.  I’m tanned, I’m rested, I’m ready.  What that means is I’ll have a lot less free time on my hands.

Twelve Kings in SharakhaiCurrent projects are to finish Bradley Beaulieu’s new novel, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai.  I’ll do that in a bit and try to get the review up tomorrow night.  (Spoiler:  It’s awesome.)

I’ve not done a BAF post in a while, but I’ll start on the next book this weekend.  I’m going to try to read the short fiction that’s up for the Hugo that I’d not already read when the ballot was announced.  Ditto for the Gemmell Awards.  I won’t be able to finish everything on the Gemmell ballot before the deadline, but I’ll at least get a couple of books out of the way.

Aeronaut's WindlassI was accepted into the Ace Roc Stars program earlier this year.  What that basically means is that i get advanced copies of most of the upcoming books by either Ace or Roc.  The first batch of titles didn’t have much that interested me, but the second batch is a gold mine.  The first volume in Jim Butcher’s new series, the second Lizzie Borden novel by Cheri Priest, a couple of new fantasy novels and the first volumes in some space opera series.

In addition I”ll be trying to read as much fantasy, science fiction, and crime as possible.  I want to read as many of the Shamus Award nominees as I can.  Anyway, that’s what’s going on with reviewing and blogging.  Writing I’ll discuss in another post once i have some things in better shape.

Cthuloid Encounters

20150626_161806This past weekend my son had a dive meet in Corpus Christi.  (That was why some of my responses to comments in the last post were a little short. I was replying from my phone, something I hate.)

Anyway, afternoons were free tome.  On Friday we went to the aquarium.  The octopus, as seen in the first photo was calm and not moving when I walked up.  You can just see it in the front to the left of the red ball.

20150626_161820Every time I’ve seen an octopus in an aquarium, assuming it wasn’t hiding and I could see it at all, it was usually not moving much.  If it did move, it would be moving slowly.

Right after I walked up and took that picture, the octopus went berzerk became very active.

20150626_161911Now I’m not sure why it would react this way.  The flash on  the camera didn’t go off when I too the first picture, nor did it go off when I took the second.  You can see it pushing its head against the glass.

It sure seemed to be trying to get at me through the glass for some reason…


If You Were Stranded on a Desert Island…

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have one complete run of a pulp magazine to help you while away the hours, which one would it be?  For those of you who are anal retentive, assume that food, water, and shelter are not an issue.

Oh, and you’re alone.  I don’t want to know what type of harem you would have on a desert island.  That’s a different blog post on a different blog written by a different blogger.  The thought of what some of you people might come up with on that one frankly scares me.

For the purposes of this thought experiment, any pulp that survived after the early 1950s (I’m thinking Astounding here) when the pulp market collapsed can only be included up through 1953.  Any magazine that started in the 1950s (F&SF, Galaxy, etc.) is outside the bounds of consideration.  Here are my top ten choices: Continue reading

Manly Wade Wellman’s Kardios of Atlantis

swords against darkness“Straggler From Atlantis”
Swords Against Darkness
Andrew J. Offutt, ed.
mmpb, Zebra Books, 1977, $1.95

In the late 1970s, Manly Wade Wellman began a series of novelettes about the last survivor of Atlantis, a warrior bard named Kardios. Or at least he began publishing them in the late 1970s. In his introduction to “Straggler from Atlantis”, Adrew Offutt says that Wellman tried to publish them in the 1930s, but some other chap was writing about an Atlantean named Kull at the time and no editor was buying.

Be that at it may, the Kardios stories were published, although to the best of my knowledge, they’ve never been collected in book form. The ISFDB shows a total of five, with the first four appearing in the first four volumes of Swords Against Darkness and the final one in an anthology from DAW books with the generic title of Heroic Fantasy. Continue reading

Half a King is a Whole Lot of Fun

half a kingHalf a King
Joe Abercrombie
Del Rey
Trade Paper, $15, 346 p.

Half a King is on the shortlist for this year’s Gemmell Awards.  It has been a few years since I read Abercrombie.  (I’m still holding out for a British edition of Red Country.)  I’d forgotten just how good a writer he is.  It’s easy to see why this book is on the shortlist.

Half a King isn’t as dark as some of Abercrombie’s other books.  Still, it’s not all sunshine at light.  The book was written by the man whose Twitter handle is LordGrimDark, after all. Continue reading

Report on Howard Days, Part 2: Saturday

Things started a little later on Saturday than they did on Friday.  I slept late (or what passes for late for me), showered, went into Cross Plains, and joined some folks for breakfast.  After some good conversation, I toodled over to the pavilion and hung out there for a while.20150613_092954

The first panel (all panels where held in the library) was another great discussion.  Entitled “A Means to Freedom”, Rusty Burke led the conversation about the correspondence between Lovecraft and Howard.  The general consensus was that it was a good thing the internet wasn’t around in those days, or the two men would never have gotten any fiction written. Continue reading

Report on Howard Days, Part 1: Thursday and Friday

HDs2015 Long Banner SmallRobert E. Howard Days 2015 has come to an end.  And while I have enjoyed them all, this has probably been the one I’ve enjoyed the most.  There are a number of things that came together to make this one of the most enjoyable Howard Days for me.  The weather couldn’t have been better.  The high temperatures were in the low 90s, which means it was warm but not really hot, especially since there was a breeze and the humidity wasn’t too bad. Continue reading

I am a Man; I’m not a Bot

I couldn’t resist; the muse the Devil Vox Day my medication the Illuminati Tor Books made me write this:

I am a man; I’m not a bot,
Even though that’s what you thought.
You loudly yell that I am racist,
Such a statement has no basis.
That I discriminate by gender,
(For which your evidence is slender.)
And that word you use for “fear”,
I doubt your understanding’s clear.
But the part that’s most offensive,
and should make you apprehensive,
to neo-nazis you compare me,
and I might add, quite unfairly.
And so I’ll take my books by Tor,
And I’ll toss them out the door.

Blogging Conan: Rogues in the House

Coming of ConanThe Coming of Conan the Cimmerian
Robert E. Howard
Paperback $18
Kindle $11.84  Nook $13.99

“Rogues in the House” may have been among the earlier tales of the wandering Cimmerian that Robert E. Howard wrote, but it is one of the best.  I reread it last night to get in the mood for Howard Days, and found it to be compelling and exciting, even though I knew everything that was going to happen.

Sometimes it’s good to go back and reread something when you know all the plot twists the author is going to throw at you.  Doing so give you a greater appreciation of the author’s skill and technique.  Note:  There will be spoilers. Continue reading