Category Archives: Uncategorized

Blogging Jirel of Joiry: “The Dark Land”

“The Dark Land” was the fourth of the Jirel of Joiry stories. It was originally published in the January 1936 issue of Weird Tales.

Of all the Jirel stories I’ve looked at so far, I found this to be the weakest. The story opens with Jirel lying unconscious and near death from a pike wound to the side. As the priest shows up to give her last rites, she disappears.

She finds herself on a platform facing a giant statue of a man. Around his head is a crown of flames. It isn’t long before the subject of the statue shows up. He appears in a swirl of light whose description sounds a lot like the transporter effects from Star Trek TOS.

The man informs her his name is Pav. He’s brought her to his kingdom of Romne. He intends for Jirel to be his queen. It’s her fiery fighting nature that’s drawn his attention. Continue reading

Announcing Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers, Vol. 2

I’ve been sitting on this for a while. The official announcement has been made, so I think I can talk about it now.

I’ve got a story in the forthcoming Road Kill Vol. 2.  You may have remembered I reviewed the first volume last year.

The launch date is October 21. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to make the launch party. It’s on the opposite side of the state.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Texas, you can drive all day and never leave the state.

Anyway, I’m very pleased and honored to have been included in this book.  I’ll post more details when I have them, such as how to get a copy for your very own.

A Look at Dark Screams, Volume 7


Dark Screams, Vol. 7
Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar, eds.
Hydra
ebook, $3.99

The Dark Screams series is one of the best horror anthologies out there.  I’d like to thank Brian James Freeman for the review copy of this volume.

The earlier volumes in this series tended to feature five stories.  This one has six, and I liked all of them. Some of the stories are reprints, but not all. The copyright page of the review edition lists four of six as having copyrights of 2017. The mix of new and reprint stories is a good format. Continue reading

Kelly Freas at 95

Frank Kelly Freas was born today, August 27, in 1922. He passed away in 2005.  Freas’s artwork graced the covers of magazines and books.  His style was unmistakeable. Some of his covers, such as “Martians Go Home”, are classics.  One of my most prized possessions is a signed print of Skylab that appeared as the cover of the June 1973 issue of Analog.

I never had the pleasure of meeting him.  There was a calendar of his art in the 1990s. I still have it. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any others that I know of.

Rather than write about him, here are some of the covers he did. These are all from my library that I could put my hands on quickly. I’d post images without the writing, but I don’t want to violate copyrights.

On Hymns and Pearls

The Hymn of the Pearl
Brian Niemeier
ebook $2.99

So my plans for the weekend have gone completely off the rails, but in a good way.  My son has spent the last week with my parents.  I drove over Friday evening to pick him up, and since it’s 3.5 hr drive, I planned on spending the night and returning home yesterday morning.  I hadn’t been here five minutes when my wife called and asked what I knew about my brother who lives out of state posting on Faceplant that they were coming to see my folks for the weekend.  Uhh…nothing.

Anyway, I’ve stayed over since I don’t often see this brother and his family.  What does that have to do with a book?  I purchased The Hymn of the Pearl yesterday morning and decided to read it while we were waiting for my brother to arrive.  Normally, it would go into the queue to be read when I got around to it.  I decided not to wait.

Good decision. Continue reading

Stanley G. Weinbaum at 115

Stanley G. Weinbaum was born on this date, April 4, in the year 1902.  He had a brief career as a science fiction writer in the mid-1930s before dying of lung cancer.  While he is to a large degree forgotten today, he still casts a long shadow over the field.

His first story was “A Martian Odyssey”, in which he introduced aliens that were truly alien and not simply bug eyed monsters.  We’ll take a look at that story in more depth at a later date.

For now, suffice to say that the impact of that tale was significant.  Weinbaum followed it up with a sequel and then went on to write about a solar system populated with interesting and unique aliens.  Weinbaum had a unique voice.  I think in part that was because the tropes of the field hadn’t solidified, some would say ossified, into the more rigid standards they are now. Continue reading

A Look at Theodore Sturgeon’s “It”

“It”
Theodore Sturgeon
First published in Unknown, August 1940

After posting the birthday tribute on Theodore Sturgeon yesterday, I downloaded a copy of his Selected Stories (after paying for it, of course).  I thought I’ve got all of them in paper and wasn’t sure which one I wanted to get an electronic copy of.  So I went with the selected stories.  Some of my favorites are missing, such as “Shottle Bop”, but this volume contains some good stuff.

Like the horror classic “It”, which even though it seems to end on an upbeat note, has one of the most chilling last lines you’ll find anywhere. Continue reading

Blogging Bran Mak Morn: “Men of the Shadows”

“Men of the Shadows”
First published in Bran Mak Morn, Dell 1969
written circa 1925-1926

The first of Howard’s tales of the Pictish king Bran Mak Morn, “Men of the Shadows” was rejected by Weird Tales in 1926.  Upon reading it, it’s easy to see why.

The story starts out strong.  Narrated by a Norseman in the Roman army, he and his companions are nearly cut down in a battle with the Picts.  Five of the Roman soldiers survive, but as they make their way back to Roman territory, they are one by one cut down until only the Norseman is left.

He’s taken captive by a group of Picts and taken before their chieftan, Bran Mak Morn.  (Bran is merely a chieftan in this story, not a king.)  None of the soldiers knew what their mission was except the commander, and he took that secret with him to his grave.  Bran introduces the soldier to his sister and tells him that a reward had been posted for whoever captured the girl and brought to a Roman merchant. Continue reading

Guest Post by Bradley P. Beaulieu

The good folks over at Ragnarok Publishing are running a Kickstarter for a new anthology featuring female protagonists, Hath No Fury, which ends in a few hours.  They asked me to help get the word out and offered suggestions that would help to do that, including possible guest posts by some of their contributors.  One of the authors with a story in the book is Bradley P. Beaulieu.  His contribution features the protagonist from his current series, The Song of the Shattered Sands.  I reviewed the first volume, Twelve Kings in Sharakai here.

So without further ado, here’s Brad:

I was recently at a convention—GenCon down in Indianapolis—and I was doing a short video interview where we got to talking about the state of the field and how quickly (or not) it changes. My basic take was that it’s a field, much like most of the entertainment industry at large, that’s pretty slow to change.

Why? Well, it’s complicated, but I think a lot of it boils down to how editors (and these days more and more, purchasing panels) decide what a publisher is (and isn’t) going to buy. For the purposes of this conversation, I’m just going to call these folks “editors”, but know that these days it’s almost never a single person that’s making the call, but rather a number of people, including sales, marketing, and other executives—especially if we’re talking about a hot author or property—but it all starts with the editors, so let’s be reductive for the time being. Continue reading