Monthly Archives: August 2015

Lizzie Borden vs. C’thulhu, Round 2

ChapelwoodChapelwood: The Borden Dispatches
Cheri Priest
Roc Books, 434 pgs.
Paperback $16.00, ebook $9.99, audio $29.99

It’s been decades since the events in Maplecroft.  Lizzie Borden lives a quiet, reclusive life alone in her mansion.  But she keeps up with events in the outside world through magazines, journals, and newspapers that arrive via the US Postal Service.

So when she starts reading reports of a serial axe murderer terrorizing Birmingham, Alabama, it gets her attention.  (Turns out he’s one of the good guys.  Really.)  Especially when she starts to see other references to Birmingham, references about a dark cult that meets in an old church out in the woods at a place called Chapelwood.

Then she gets a telephone call from her old friend, Inspector Simon Wolf.  He’s in Birmingham investigating the death of a friend, a priest who was gunned down on the steps of his church in broad daylight.  Before he died, the priest had written Wolf, asking for his assistance.

Wolf thinks all of the events in Birmingham are related.  And he wants Lizzie’s help.  It looks like Lizzie is going to get to swing her axe one more time.

Continue reading

Frm Crcl Jrk t Clstr Fck

See what I did with the title of this post?  No, it’s not a typo.  Nor have I been drinking.  It’s called disemvoweling.  Clever, isn’t it?

No.  No, it’s not clever at all.  In fact, it’s pretty juvenile.  But it’s a favorite tactic of some people when they don’t agree with comments on their blog posts.  I guess it’s supposed to make the person doing the disemvoweling look smart or something.  Mostly it makes them look they’re afraid to engage in a conversation.

Many of the same people who engage in this practice are some of the same ones who’ve been having a hissy fit for the last six months over the Hugo Awards.  Which should tell you all you need to know about the maturity level of disemvoweling.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, just fell off a turnip truck, or have a life, here’s a quick recap.  This is of course my interpretation.  It’s going to be long, so consider yourself warned. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Toni Weisskopf

Hi, Toni.

You don’t know me.  We’ve only met a few times at conventions, and not in the last few years.  I’ve always enjoyed a convention where you were in attendance.  And not just because of the free books you handed out.  You were never anything less than open, friendly, encouraging, and generous with your time.

I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy since the 1970s and Baen Books since the company was founded. Continue reading

H. P. Lovecraft Turns 125 Today

LovecraftOne of the greatest writers of weird fiction, some would the greatest, was born on August 20th, 1890.  I am, of course, talking about H. P. Lovecraft.  It’s also my mother-in-law’s birthday (Hi, June.), but we won’t go there.  It’s just coincidence.

There will be a number of tributes posted today.  I’m going to take a slightly different approach here.  I first encountered Lovecraft in an anthology I read in the seventh grade.  The story was “The Doom That Came to Sarnath.”*  I never really took an interest in the Mythos stories in my teens and twenties.  Only in my thirties and forties did I start delving into the stories Lovecraft is most known for.

I’ve had conversations with more than one person in which they said as they’ve grown older, they find Lovecraft more and more unreadable.  In general, they are talking about his prose.

Curiously, I find the opposite.  Maybe I’m reading different stories.  There are a number of major stories I haven’t read yet, but I don’t have a problem with Lovecraft’s prose most of the time.  It’s an old fashioned style, much more lush that what is standard today.  Maybe I read too much Dickens in school or something, but I don’t have a huge problem with it.  I appreciate his work more with each new story of his I read. Continue reading

Congratulations to the Gemmell Award Winners

words of radianceThe winners of the 2015 David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy were announced last weekend.  The winners are:

RAVENHEART AWARD (Best cover art) Sam Green for Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)

MORNINGSTAR AWARD (Best debut) The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Stavely (Pan Macmillan/Tor UK)

LEGEND AWARD (Best novel) Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)

Adventures Fantastic would like to offer heartiest congratulations the winners.

Visiting The House of Shattered Wings

House of Shattered WingsThe House of Shattered Wings
Aliette de Bodard
Roc Books
Hardcover $26.95
ebook $11.43

One of the nice things about receiving review copies is that I often end up reading things I wouldn’t otherwise read but find that I enjoy. Case in point, Aliette de Bodard’s new novel that was released in the US today, The House of Shattered Wings. (I’d like to very much thank Roc Books for the review copy.)

I’ve read some of de Bodard’s short fiction. I’d found it a bit slow moving for my taste, and so I was a little hesitant about reading this novel. (I’ve not read her earlier novels.) In addition, the premise of fallen angels isn’t one that holds much appeal for me. But I decided I would give it an honest try.

I’m glad I did. While I did find the pacing to be somewhat slow at times, especially in the first half of the book, overall I enjoyed the novel. Here’s the setup. Continue reading

Guest Post: Discovering Lovecraft by Paul McNamee

Keith here.  What follows is a guest post by Paul McNamee.  Normally I wouldn’t intrude but I wanted to include a link to Paul’s blog.  Now here’s Paul.

(First, thanks to Keith for the guest spot on Adventures Fantastic.

I am here promoting the new anthology, A LONELY & CURIOUS COUNTRY: Tales from the Lands of Lovecraft. The book is currently available in print from Amazon, and we all hope an ebook is soon to follow.)

Honestly, I don’t remember exactly when or which Lovecraft book I read first. It was the “old days,” the latter half of the 1980s. I was in college. I was interested in horror – mostly by way of Stephen King. And I still had an interest in fantasy – mostly by way of J.R.R. Tolkien.

There was no world wide web. In those days, I never knew what books were coming out. I would wander – mostly in the scifi/fantasy section of the bookstore. I would grab what jumped off the shelf at me.

The Del Rey editions of Lovecraft’s work were appearing on the shelves. The Michael Whelan art certainly caught my eye.

I believe it was THE DOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH first. It collected tales that were more dark fantasy. But there was enough horror there to pique my interest in that vein, too.

I probably read another volume, possibly THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH. Again, it was slanted more toward the fantastic but contained horror tales as well.

But shortly thereafter, I read THE LURKING FEAR.
Continue reading

Why Did the Chicken Footed House Cross the Road?

chicken feetWhen Chicken Feet Cross the Highway
Alma T. C. Boykin
ebook only $0.99

The title of this post may sound like a joke, but when Alexander Zolnerovich saw the house with chicken feet cross the interstate while he was stuck in a Denver traffic jam, he didn’t find anything funny about it.

The poor guy, an Army sergeant, is on his way to visit his grandmother in Colorado.  He’s not looking to tangle with one of the worst characters from Russian folklore.  But when he gets to his grandmother’s house and finds it deserted, he realizes he doesn’t have much choice.

I found this to be an entertaining short story.  Boykin knows Russian folklore, and it shows in the story’s structure.  I don’t know much Russian folklore myself, but I know enough to follow most of the references here.

A modern, and less capable writer, would have a soldier come storming in, guns blazing, to rescue to the old woman.  Not so here.  Alex takes his time, listens to his grandmother’s cat (Ivan the Purrable), uses his wits, and basically enters a Russian folktale, where he ends up doing chores for Baba Yaga.  Only he doesn’t do them exactly as he’s told.  This was in many ways the most enjoyable part of the story.  In many folktales and fairy tales, the flow of time isn’t…I guess you could say isn’t linear.  Simple tasks take hours.  Events that should take great amounts of time pass quickly.  Something like that happens in the second part of the story.  It added a deliciously weird tone to things.

This is the first work by Boykin that I’ve read.  She  has a number of books out, and based on internal clues, I suspect this isn’t the first tale of Alex Zolnerovich.

Oh, and to answer to the question, why did the chicken footed house cross the road?  You’ll have to read the story to find out.

Dark Screams Vol. 4 Available Today

Dark Screams 4Dark Screams Vol. 4
Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar, ed.
Hydra, a Division of Random House
ebook only, $2.99

I’d like once again to thank Brian James Freeman for putting me on his list of reviewers for eARCs of the Dark Screams series.  These quarterly anthologies are turning out to be among the most consistent and enjoyable anthology series on the market.

Each volume contains five different stories by five different authors.  The contents vary  in style and theme, as well as subgenre of horror.  They are a great way to sample new authors without shelling out the cash for an entire book or to simplyl enjoy a new story by an old favorite.  And at $2.99 each, Dark Screams is one of the best values on the horror market.

Here’s what the current volume contains: Continue reading

Computer Hiatus

Last weekend my computer at home started to refuse to boot completely, and if it did, it ran incredibly slowly.  Frankly, I’m surprised it’s lasted as long as it has.  I’ve had it for at least 12 years, and the OP is so old that it won’t support the latest versions of some major software packages, such as JAVA.  I was hoping it would hold out until Christmas.  Ah, well.  It’s been one of those weeks.

Anyway, I’ll be getting a new computer sometime in the next week (I hope), but I’m not going to rush out and buy any old thing.  My wife and I will discuss what will best suit our needs and shop carefully.  In addition to the computer, I’m going to have to replace a window in my car, plus I’ve had AC work done in the last week, so cash flow isn’t exactly what I expected it would be.  I may wait a week or two and see if I can find a good back to school sale.

What this means is I won’t be blogging much until the new computer is in place.  It’s too tedious to try to type much in from my phone.  The summer term ends this week, with my final exam scheduled for Thursday, so having a few free minutes at work isn’t likely.  As a result, things might be a bit quite around here for a little while.