Author Archives: Keith West

William Hope Hodgson Turns 140

William Hope Hodgson was born 140 years ago today, on November 15, 1877.  He was killed by an artillery shell in 1918 while fighting for the British in WWI.

Hodgson wrote in a number of related genres, including science fiction, fantasy, and horror, as well as straight nautical adventure.

The novels The House on the Borderland and The Night Land are among his best known works, although they are not considered easy reading as they were deliberately written in an archaic style.

Perhaps currently the most popular of Hodgson’s works are the stories of Carnacki the Ghost-Finder.  These are slightly different than the typical occult detective story in that not all the of cases Carnacki investigates turn out to be due to supernatural causes.  Sometimes the solutions are more mundane.  To my mind, this makes them more interesting.

Carnacki is popular enough that new stories about the character are still being written.

A Belated Report on the 2017 World Fantasy Convention

The 2017 World Fantasy Convention ended a week ago as I write this.  It was in San Antonio, which is a 6 hour drive from where I live.  I got back Sunday night and returned to San Antonio Tuesday morning for another event, which is why I’m a little late in writing this report.  WFC started on Thursday and ran through Sunday, making it an excellent weekend.

I’ll give a brief overview of some of the panels I attended, then make some general statements. Continue reading

Slight Change of Plans

In addition to the book signing on Saturday, there was some other excitement in our world.  My son is in the band, and the Area marching competition was Saturday in Odessa.  It was successful.  For the first time in decades, the band from his high school is going to be competing in the state competition.  It’s just after the World Fantasy Convention, and like the WFC, it’s also in San Antonio.

Because Texas has so many high schools, only half of them are eligible to compete at the state level in any given year.  I don’t understand all the details, but it’s based on the size of the school.  From what I understand (and I may be wrong), 1A, 3A, and 5A compete one year and 2A, 4A, and 6A the next year.  Or something like that.  All I know is  that he only gets two chances to go to state while he’s in high school.

Needless to say, my wife and I will be attending.  Yes, I’m going to come home from San Antonio and return two days later.  Because I need to get a lot of work done in advance of both trips rather than one, I’m going into radio silence on the blog for a bit.  The Halloween reviews will resume in November.  I might post a short item or two while I’m at WFC.  If I don’t, then the after convention report will be delayed by about a week.

Signing at Burrowing Owl Books

Photo: Dallas Bell

So yesterday I headed to Canyon, TX, for a signing at Burrowing Owl Books.  I’d like to thank the proprietor, Dallas Bell, for hosting the event.  I had a great time.  Burrowing Owl Books is a welcoming, cozy place.  I wish it weren’t so far away; it’s the sort of place I would hang out in on a regular basis.  They have a great selection of new and used books; I intend to return when I can spend more time.  The selection of regional books looks especially interesting.

The signing was for Road Kill Volume 2Summer Baker was the other author in attendance.  That’s her on the left in the picture below.  The crusty looking guy next to her is me, in case you were wondering.

Summer Baker (l.) and Your Intrepid Blogger (r.) Photo: Dallas Bell

We were sitting at a table just inside the door.  There had been a hard freeze the night before, but the afternoon had warmed up nicely and the door to the shop was open.  Business was brisk, and the first hour flew by.  While we didn’t sell out, most of the books were gone by the time we were done.  Summer and I signed a some stock for the store.  I don’t know if Burrowing Owl does mail order, but you can contact them and ask.

Summer and I had not met before.  We had a chance to chat a bit during the second hour when things slowed down some.  I found her to be a charming and interesting young lady who is very serious about her writing.  She’s a member of a rather large writer’s group.  If I understood her correctly, this was her first professional sale.  I don’t expect it will be her last.

Everyone seemed pleased with the signing and thought it was a success.  I’d like to thank Dallas again for hosting us.  I had a wonderful time.  If you’re in the area, do stop in.  Burrowing Owl Books is on the square in Canyon.  The square is a groovy place with a great coffee shop (I stopped by before driving home) and a tavern (if I hadn’t been driving) along with some shops I’m sure my wife will want to visit.

 

Fiction River Asks Us to Feel the Fear

Fiction River: Feel the Fear
Mark Leslie, ed.
Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, series ed.
WMG Publishing
Ebook $6.99
Trade Paper $15.99

If you’ve hung around this blog for long, you will probably recognize the name of the anthology magazine Fiction River.  It’s been a while since I reviewed one of the issues.  (No, I won’t look up how long; it will just depress me.)  I’ve dipped into them (I have a subscription), but I’ve not managed to finish any.  That statement shouldn’t be taken as a reflection on the quality on the contents but on my available time.

Anyway, I couldn’t resist reading the current issue given the theme.  (All issues of Fiction River have a theme.)  Editor Mark Leslie has put together a top-notch anthology.

The stories contained herein aren’t all stories of a fantastic nature.  Some are, and those tended to be the ones I liked the most.  Every story deals with fear in its many forms.  Some didn’t work for me, because the things the author dealt with don’t scare.  Spiders for example.  I’m not scared of them.  Snakes, on the other hand.  That’s not to say the stories weren’t well written and even effective.  Just that those particular fears are not ones I share with the authors.

Here’s a look at some of my favorites. Continue reading

Rogue Blades Entertainment is Back!

Rogue Blades Entertainment published some great anthologies but went on hiatus a few years ago.  See my reviews here.  Other than Writing Fantasy Heroes (reviewed here), we’ve not heard much from RBE.

Well, I’m glad to say the silence has been broken.  One of the projects RBE was working on before it went on hiatus was a challenge anthology.  The premise was simple writers were to write a story around both a piece of cover art and a theme.  Kind of like the habit some editors had of commissioning stories based on a finished piece of cover art. Authors contributed their work, which was evaluated blind by a panel of judges.  The top ten stories were selected.

The first Challenge anthology, entitled Discovery, is now available.  The ebook edition is on sale for $5.00.   The print edition will be available within a couple of weeks for $11.00.  I had bought a bundle from RBE, sort of a preorder, but I don’t recall if there are any titles left or if I’ve gotten them all.  No matter.  I’ve bought the electronic version.  Readers of this blog will see some familiar names on the ToC.  (No, I’m not one of them.)

And a personal note to Jason M. Waltz, the publisher of RBE:  It’s good to have you back, brother.  You’ve been missed.  I hope you’re around for a long time, and I wish you all the best.

A Look at Halloween Carnival Volume Two

Halloween Carnival Volume Two
Brian James Freeman, ed.
Hydra
ebook only $2.99

I’d like to thank Brian James Freeman for the review copy of Halloween Carnival Volume Two.  As anyone who has read many of Mr. Freeman’s anthology will know, he puts together a good set of stories.

This is the second of five Halloween themed anthologies, each released on a Tuesday, with the final volume becoming available on Halloween. You can read my review of the first volume here.  I’ll attempt to review as many as possible by then.

Here’s a quick survey of the contents of this volume: Continue reading

When Alice Walks, Alice Stalks

Alice Walks
Michael Aronovitz
Cemetery Dance
ebook $4.99

Alice Walks is one of the best ghost stories I’ve read in quite a while. I bought a few weeks ago and managed to read it last week.

Mikey Fitzsimmons’s father used to be a respected English teacher until a scandal cost him his career. Now he’s the caretaker at the cemetery.  One winter night, Mikey steals his father’s keys and sneaks into the maintenance shed with a couple of friends to smoke a little pot. The conversation turns to Alice Arthur, a girl their age who drowned the previous summer.

Alice is buried in the same cemetery Mikey’s father works for.  Due to a problem with a new embalming process, her coffin is currently sitting open in her mausoleum.  Mikey makes up a story about Alice’s ghost.  One thing leads to another, and the soon the boys are sneaking into her crypt.  After all, what’s a little teenage grave desecration?  Continue reading

A Look at Halloween Carnival Volume One

Halloween Carnival, Volume One
Brian James Freeman, ed.
Hydra
ebook only $2.99

I’d like to thank Bryan James Freeman for the review copy of Halloween Carnival, Volume One.  This is the first of five volumes.  It was published on October 3 of this year (2017).  The remaining volumes will be published a week apart.  As of this writing the third volume dropped yesterday.  I hope to be able to read and review all of them before Halloween.

If the packing on the book reminds you of the Dark Screams series, that shouldn’t be surprising.  They from the same publisher and have the same editor. If you’ve read any of that series, then you know they are going to contain some quality fiction.

Here’s what you get with this volume. Continue reading