Friday, November 30, 2012

A Look at Beneath Ceaseless Skies #109

I'm trying to get caught up on periodical reading before diving back into some novels.  It's been a while since I looked at Beneath Ceaseless SkiesBCS is one of the best publications for short adventure fantasy out there.  I try to read every issue, even if I don't review all of them.  I'm a little behind right now, but I hope to get caught up during the Christmas break.

Anyway, the latest issue is live, so let's look at it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Quick Look at the Second Issue of Nightmare Magazine

I realize that November is almost over, and the new issue of Nightmare will be out in a matter of hours, at least if you have a subscription.  So I'm behind for the month.  Like you aren't?

Anyway, I wanted to take a look at the second issue since the first was a little different.  It contained four pieces of original fiction.  Starting with the current issue, Nightmare will run two original stories and two reprints. 

So let's take a quick look, shall we?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Further Thoughts on Traditional Publishers Getting into the Self-Publishing Business

In my brief post earlier today, I mentioned that Simon and Schuster has started a self-publishing division run by Author Solutions, an entity with a reputation for screwing authors.

I wanted to inflict upon you share a few further thoughts with you on the matter.  Why would a major publisher want to start a self-publishing division?  The obvious answer is money, of course.  Which makes all the noise about traditional publishers ensuring quality, curating culture, and defending literature all the more obvious as the load of horse pucky it is.

David Gaughran did an excellent job on summarizing why this venture is a bad thing for writers.  I'll not repeat what he said here.  For one thing, this isn't an echo chamber, and for another, I doubt I could say it as well as he did.

Instead, I want to speculate on how this might come back to bite Simon and Schuster in the ass, and what serious writers can do to make that happen.

A High Profile Scam Warning

I know some of you who read this blog are either indie authors or intending to be.  David Gaughran posted a warning on his site earlier this morning that I think bears repeating.  In short, Simon and Schuster has started a self-publishing arm.  But they aren't running it.  Author Solutions is.  This is an outfit to avoid like the proverbial plague.

Here's the link to David's post.  If you are an independent author or plan to be one, check it out.  He summarizes why this is a scam and provides pertinent links for those who want more detail. 

I"ll have more to say about this later.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Review of Queen of Thorns by Dave Gross

Queen of Thorns
Dave Gross
mmpb, $9.99, 432 p.
epub, $6.99

I'd not read any of the Pathfinder Tales before, so I wasn't sure what to expect with this one.  Add that this is the third novel featuring these characters, and I could have found my self at a disadvantage.

Fortunately, Dave Gross, whose work I hadn't read prior to this novel, does a good job of filling in what background details are needed as you go along.

The setup starts out fairly straightforward.  Half-elf Varian Jeggare has never met his Elven father, but at one point in his life his father sent him a gift of a red carriage.  That carriage was smashed in a previous adventure.  Now he and his bodyguard Radovan have journeyed to the Elven kingdom of Kyonin hoping to find the carriage maker and get the thing repaired.  Simple, right?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Look at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Issue 14

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #14

It's been a while since I looked at an issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (here and here), so we need to rectify that.

The current issue went live last month.  I'm a little behind on my magazine reading, but I'm catching up.  The problem is that there's so much quality short fiction being published online.

HFQ is no exception. Here's what the current issue holds.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Review of The Black God's War by Moses Siregar III

The Black God's War
Moses Siregar III
Paper $14.95
electronic: various prices, depending on where purchased
Kindle Nook Smashwords ibooks

I'd bought this novel a while back after discovering it on Ty Johnston's 2011 blog tour, but I hadn't had a chance to read it when I got an email from the author asking if I would be interested in reviewing it.  I'd like to thank Moses Siregar III for sending me a revised edition of the novel, as well as an apology since I told him this review would be done last month.  (Also thanks to Ty Johnston for his blog tour.  I discovered some new writers I'm looking forward to reading.)

Anyway, this was a compelling novel with a strong nonwestern feel to it.  I found that rather refreshing.

Here's the basic set-up (and all you're going to get from me is the set-up since there are some plot twists I don't want to spoil):

Thursday, November 15, 2012

In Which I Encounter Rogue Angel

Rogue Angel:  Magic Lantern
Alex Archer
Gold Eagle
mass market paper back $6.99
ebook $4.61 Kindle $5.39 Nook

I'd seen the Rogue Angel series around for about a year or two but until the other day, I'd never read one.  A couple of months ago, the author of this one sent me a review copy.  It was on the list to review before the end of the year, but when I ended up flying to Houston for a couple of days earlier this week, I decided to move it up.  This required me to rearrange the order in which a few books would be reviewed, but I was okay with that.  This way I could ignore shrill flight attendants who demand that "anything with an 'off' switch must be turned off, not put in airplane mode, turned off" and simply read.  If I'd had only my ereader, we'd gotten stuck on the tarmac, and I wouldn't have had anything to read at all.

But I digress. 

Except for one thing, which I'll discuss below, I enjoyed the book. 

The set up for the series is fairly simple.  It concerns one Annja Creed, who's part Indiana Jones, part Lara Croft, part Kolchak the Night Stalker, and part Duncan MacCleod (of the Clan MacCleod).  She's an archaeologist who is cohost of a tabloid TV show called Chasing History's Monsters

She also has the sword of Joan of Arc.  This is a magical sword which she can literally pull out of thin air whenever she needs it.  I want one of these!  (That's not a hint for those of you wondering what to get me for Christmas, but if  you're so inclined....  I'm just sayin'.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Outcasts by Nick Wisseman

Nick Wisseman
145 p. $7.99 paper
Amazon  B&N
$4.99 electronic
Kindle Nook Smashwords

Before I read Outcasts, I wasn't familiar with the name Nick Wisseman.  Nor was I familiar with venues where these stories first appeared, places such as Bewildering Stories.  It's a name I'm going to remember, though.  And I'm going to check Bewildeirng Stories out.  If everything they publish is this good, I'm going put that venue on my regular reading list.

When Mr. Wisseman emailed me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his book, I said yes.  I've written before that taking a chance on an unknown author is a gamble.  Sometimes it's not a gamble that pays off (and you usually won't see the results of those gambles written about here).  Other times, you hit the jackpot.  Books like this one are why I review self-published authors I've never heard of before.

Here's what you get in this collection:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In Defense of Marvin Kaye: A Review of Weird Tales # 360

Weird Tales # 360
print $7.95, various ebook formats $2.99 available here
edited by Marvin Kaye

There was a great deal of bitchin' and moanin' wailing and gnashing of teeth last year when it was announced that Marvin Kaye was buying Weird Tales and replacing editor Ann Vandermeer with himself.  The way some people carried on, you would have thought Sauron had managed to get his claws on the One Ring. 

When Kaye announced, and later retracted, his plans to publish an excerpt of the science fiction novel Save the Pearls, a book many considered to be racist, I expected to see reports of mobs marching on Kaye's location with torches and pitchforks.  Haivng read a number of Kaye's anthologies for the SFBC, and portions of others, I have great respect for him as an editor, but I have to say this was not one of his better choices.  Nor was his essay defending that choice well conceived.  I didn't bother to give this particular novel much attention; the descriptions of it, even if they were only half accurate, made it clear to me the novel was not a good thing to serialize in the magazine.

Outrage was so great that Mary Robinette Kowal subsidized Shimmer magazine so that publication would be able to pay pro rates.  Editor-in-Chief Beth Wodzinski stated on the magazine's blog that she wanted to continue in the vein Ann Vandermeer.

Why am I going into this bit of recent history?  Because the situation as I see it is this:  Expectations on Kaye to succeed are extremely high, so high that it can be argued he'll never be able to meet those expectations.  Furthermore, there are those who are waiting with sharpened knives for him to stumble, or if you prefer, stumble again after the Save the Pearls debacle. 

Well, now the first issue edited by Kaye is out, and it has the theme of The Elder Gods.  Kaye is taking the magazine back to its roots.  This was part of what caused the controversy when he replaced Vandermeer as edtior.  Many saw this as a step backwards.  It's become fashionable in some circles to bash Lovecraft for a variety of reasons, and a number of those reasons showed up in the vitriol that followed the announcement.

So, let's look at the stories, and then I'll attempt to answer the question of whether or not Kaye succeeding in getting his incarnation of The Unique Magazine off the ground. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Easie Damasco Pulls Off Another Great Adventure

Crown Thief
David Tallerman webpage  blog
Angry Robot Books
UK Print
Format: Medium Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print
Format: Regular Paperback
R.R.P.: US$7.99 CAN$8.99
Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

 I loved David Tallerman's debut novel, Giant Thief, earlier this year (reviewed here).  With the next installment in the series, Tallerman proves he's more than a flash in the pan.  Crown Thief is a fast moving, exciting adventure.

Here's the basic set-up: