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Interspecies is a Great Shared World Anthology

Ally Bishop, ed.
Kosa Press
ebook $0.99 until June 7, $4.99 thereafter
Print edition forthcoming

Normally I would post this review on Futures Past and Present, my science fiction blog, since Interspecies is most definitely science fiction and not fantasy.  However, I’m making an exception for a couple of reasons.  First, my friend Woelf Dietrich is a contributor, and I want the book to do well.  This blog is the one that gets the most traffic.  I’d also like to thank Woelf for sending me the review copy.  Interspecies doesn’t go on sale until the 27th, so keep your eyes peeled.  I’ll post an update here with pricing information and links when it does.

Second, Kosa Press (long “o”; I’m not sure how to get the bar over the “o”) is an interesting publishing venture, and I want to give it some exposure just on general principles. I’m a big fan of innovative publishing strategies, especially those that cut out a lot of the middle men.  The authors get more money per sale that way.  Kosa Press is a group of writers who have gotten together to publish not only their works but other writers as well.  Interspecies is their first anthology.  What’s different about this group is that some of the writers are in San Francisco, and (at least) one is in New Zealand, making this an international collaboration.

I can hear you now saying, “That’s all well and good, but what about the book?”

I’m glad you asked that. Continue reading

Dragoncon Announces the Dragon Awards

I don’t normally do two posts so close together, but I wanted to make those of you who haven’t heard aware of a new award.  Dragoncon is one of the largest sff conventions in the world.  They’ve just announced a new set of awards, called the Dragon Awards.  Unlike the Gemmell, which focuses on written fantasy (and is IMNSHO the best in the field), the Dragon Awards will award science fiction, games, comics & graphic novels, horror, alternate history, YA, and other categories.  It’s open to anyone.  You don’t have to shell out $50 just to vote.

For further information, go here.

Richard Matheson Turns 90

Richard MathesonRichard Matheson, one of the greatest fantasists of the 20th Century, entered the world 90 years ago (February 20, 1926) in Allendale, New Jersey. When we lost him (June 23, 2013), I paid tribute to him, as did many others.

Matheson is best known for scripting some of the best Twilight Zone episodes, horror movies for Roger Coran, and his novels The Shrinking Man and most especially I Am Legend.  I read that book about 35 years ago, give or take a year.  I really need to revisit it.

But it was Matheson’s short stories that really caught my attention.  He was a master of the short form, and it broke my heart that he quite writing them later in his life.  He could take an idea, usually a one with a dark twist, and punch you in the gut with it.  And you would enjoy it and want another.

There’s a tendency, which seems especially prevalent these days, for writers to drop out of print shortly after their deaths.  This is true even of writers who were considered giants in their fields while they were alive.  A number of writers come to mind:  Asimov, Heinlein, MacDonald (John D. and Ross).  These guys all have some titles in print, but good luck finding the bulk of their work in new additions.

I sincerely hope that Matheson (who is still in print) doesn’t suffer such a fate.

Tales From the Otherverse Announced Today

Tales From The Otherverse webRough Edges Press announced their next anthology earlier today.  I’m announcing it here because I’m included in it and am not above a little shameless self-promotion.  Tales From the Otherverse is an unthemed anthology of alternate history stories, meaning they don’t all deal with the same concept, such as Carthage defeating Rome or the Spanish Armada reaching England or Dewey actually defeating Truman.  I don’t know anything about the other stories (with one possible exception), but looking at the lineup, I’m humbled to be included in that group.  I’m also impressed with some of the company I’m in.  There is at least one person who hits the bestseller lists and at least one who is a multiple award nominee (multiple nominations for mulitple awards).

I said there was one possible exception to my statement that I didn’t know anything about the other stories.  I may have heard one of the authors read their story at a convention early in the year.  I know I heard one of them read a story that would fit this anthology, and I really hope it’s in here because it was awesome.  Since I don’t know the titles of any story but mine, I can’t be sure.

Anyway, setting my ego aside, I would encourage you to check this book out.  There are some top-notch authors in this anthology.  Rough Edges Press puts out some good books.  I’ll let you know when I get a publication date.

Don’t Eat From “The Goophered Grapevine”

512YQNYX3XL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“The Gophered Grapevine”
Charles W. Chesnutt

Charles W. Chesnutt was an African-American writer who published two volumes of short stories and a handful of novels in the late 1800s and early 190s. It’s his first collection that interests us here, since it consisted of “conjure” stories set in North Carolina.

The stories revolve around an elderly former slave named Uncle Julius McAdoo.  In this story, the unnamed narrator (who is white) has moved to North Carolina for his wife’s health and is looking to start a vineyard.

While visiting an old plantation that once had a thriving vineyard, he encounters an old former slave who is eating some grapes of a variety called scuppernongs.  Uncle Julius tells the narrator that he once worked on the plantation and that the man shouldn’t buy it because the vineyard had been goophered (hexed).   Continue reading

Latest Issue of Weirdbook is Now Available

Weirdbook31Weirdbook 31
Douglas Draa, ed.
160 pgs.
Wildside Press, publisher
Paperback $12, ebook $3.99 US, L 7.99 print, L 2.99 ebook UK
Amazon   Amazon UK

Before I begin this review, I’d like to thank Douglass Draa and John Betancourt for providing both electronic and print review copies.

There are 19 pieces of fiction here along with 8 poems by new and established authors. The Table of Contents is provided at the end of the review.  I’m not going to try to provide a synopsis for all of them.  Some are quite short.  I don’t want my discussion of any of the stories to be longer than the stories themselves.  So I’m going to take a different approach. Continue reading

The Aeronaut’s Windlass is Rollicking Great Fun

Aeronaut's WindlassThe Aeronaut’s Windlass
Jim Butcher
Hardcover $27.95 630 pgs.
ebook $13.99

Before I get started, I’d like to thank Roc books for providing me with the review copy.

Now, in three words, my reaction upon turning the last page of The Aeronaut’s Windlass:

I want moar!

The Aeronaut’s Windlass is the first volume in Jim Butcher’s new series, The Cinder Spires.  It’s got airship battles.  It’s got bravery and derring-do.  It’s got nefarious sneak attacks and villains you’ll love to hate.  It’s got dueling.  I like dueling.  (I think we should bring it back.  One way or another, there would be fewer a******* wandering about mucking up the place.)

In short, it was a whole heck of a lot of fun.  Here’s the setup. Continue reading

Relive the Vietnam War in Of Bone and Thunder

21412311Of Bone and Thunder
Chris Evans
Simon and Schuster
mmpb $9.99, ebook $8.99

Of Bone and Thunder is a dark, graphic, gripping military fantasy, with dragons, dwarves, and a great deal of combat. But that’s not what the book is about.

It’s about Vietnam.

That’s not any big surprise to anyone who has read the cover copy. I read somewhere that a science fiction novel deals with three times periods, the one in which it is set, the one in which it was written, and the time period that it’s actually about. I’d like to modify that, with apologies to whomever said it, to a fantasy novel deals with three worlds: the one in which it’s set, the one in which it’s written, and the one in which it’s about. This novel is about what it was like to be a soldier in the Vietnam War. Continue reading

Kuttner Unkollected: “A God Named Kroo”

$(KGrHqZ,!i4E8VDJi4qGBPHe1IuBYQ~~60_35“A God Named Kroo”
Henry Kuttner
Thrilling Wonder Stories, Winter 1944, p. 13-43

Henry Kuttner was one of the most prolific science fiction and fantasy authors who wrote for the pulps in the 1940s, although he didn’t limit himself to those genres.  The winter 1944 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories is an example.  He has three stories in this issue.  The one given top billing on cover is what we’ll look at today.  Oddly, the illustration is for a story not listed on the cover, “Venusian Nightmare” by Oscar J. Friend writing as Ford Smith.

The second story of Kuttner’s is “Trophy” as by Scott Morgan.  This wasn’t one of Kuttner’s more common pen names.  I’ll be looking at it on Futures Past and Present in a day or so.  The third story, “Swing Your Lady”, is bylined Kelvin Kent and is part of Kuttner’s Pete Manx series.  Haffner Press is going to reprint this one in a collection of Kuttner’s stories under his Kelvin Kent pseudonym, so I’ll hold off on reviewing that one.

Kroo was once a powerful, if minor, Tibetan deity.  He enjoyed worship, human sacrifices, the whole nine yards.  Now his only follower is a yak that wandered into his temple grounds one night looking for a place to graze.  As you might can guess, this isn’t going to be a serious story.  Kuttner was known for his dry and often sardonic sense of humor, and it’s on display here. Continue reading

Kuttner Unkollected

9630457No, that’s not a typo, it’s a deliberate misspelling.  It’s a weisenheimer attempt at alliteration.

About a decade ago, give or take a year, I had a little extra money from summer teaching.  So did I save the money or invest it wisely?  No, I didn’t.  I decided to try and obtain as many copies of Henry Kuttner stories that had never been reprinted at that time that I didn’t have, along with a few other unreprinted stories by people such as Eric Frank Russell.  Except for some copies of Weird Tales which were out of my price range, I managed to get most everything I didn’t have copies of.  Haffner Press has reprinted the Weird Tales material.  When pursuing a project like this, eBay is not your bank account’s friend an invaluable tool.   Continue reading