Tuesday, April 30, 2013

RIP, Andrew J. Offutt

Locus is reporting that Andrew J. Offutt passed away earlier today.  No cause of death was listed.  He wrote a number of erotic novels, many of them science fiction, as well as fantasy.  Included in his fantasy works are pastiches of the Robert E. Howard characters Conan and Cormac Mac Art.

As Charles Rutledge points out in his tribute, his greatest contribution to the field was as an editor rather than an author.  He was the editor of the 5 volume Swords Against Darkness series of original sword and sorcery anthologies.  I've got all but volume 3 (with duplicates of 2 and 5).   I was considering doing a series of posts looking at each one when I track down volume 3.  That plan hasn't changed with Mr. Offutt's passing.  I've also got one or two of his novels around here somewhere I intend to read at some point.

Even though he hasn't been active in sword and sorcery circles for a number of years (at least not that I know of), we've lost one of the major players from the sword and sorcery boom from the 70s.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Gunfight at the OK Corral Like You've Never Seen it Before

The Buntline Special
Mike Resnick
Trade paper, $17.00
Kindle  Nook $11.99 (note: ebook prices may vary)

One of the legendary gunfights of the Old West took place in Tombstone, Arizona, between the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday on one side and the McLaurys and Clantons on the other.  Of course there were a number of things leading up to the gunfight and many consequences following.

Mike Resnick has taken a look at the gunfight through a steampunk fantasy lens.  It's a fascinating blend of fact, almost fact, and should have been fact shown from the point of view of Doc Holliday.

Before I go on, I have to say that for a while as I was reading I kept seeing and hearing Val Kilmer as Holliday.  You may recall he played Holliday in the 1993 film Tombstone.  Kilmer brought such a - [ We interrupt this review to bring you the following public service announcement:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A New Series by Tom Doolan

"Blood from Sand"
Tom Doolan
Short Attention Span E-Publishing
$1.25 mobi epub PDF

A beautiful assassin on the run from an evil sorcerer.  A lone warrior from a desert tribe who aids a woman in danger.  Their lives will never be the same.

If you've followed this blog for a while, you know that I've enjoyed the short fiction of Tom Doolan (reviewed here, here, here, and here).  Most of his work to date has involved orcs, but with "Blood from Sand" he goes in a different direction, adding to the current trend of Arabian Night style fantasy.

The story opens with Mazlochan and his djinn companion on patrol.  When he sees a beautiful woman being pursued by four thugs across the desert, he intervenes.

The woman is Lily, an assassin.  She's on the run from her former employer, the sorcerer El Ahmar.  By aiding her, Mazlochan runs the risk of bringing El Ahmar's wrath down upon his village.

And if you want to know any more, then buy the story and read the rest.  This is a short story, after all, and I don't want the review to be longer than the story itself.

And if you enjoy sword and sorcery, you should read it.  This is the beginning of a new series, and I'm looking forward to reading more installments.  Doolan seems to be mainly setting things up for future adventures.  This story was fairly short, but I can see the potential for longer works.

The action is well done, and the combat scenes move quickly.  Doolan's prose is smoother than I remember it being in his earlier stories, and I had no complaints about the prose there.  What I'm saying is that he's getting better, which is what any writer worth his/her salt would want to have happen.

"Blood from Sand" is only available in electronic format.  Since Doolan has published all his previous work in electronic format, he knows what he's doing.  I bought the epub version.  There were no formatting problems or typos that I noticed.  The layout was good.  The cover art has a professional appearance.  This was a good buy from the formatting perspective.  I wish some of the major publishers could achieve the same.

Short Attention Span E-Publishing is Tom Doolan's new venture, and "Blood from Sand" is his premier offering through SASE.  I had no trouble with ordering.  I placed my order one evening, and the next morning, Tom emailed me a zip file containing the story in all formats.  Here's wishing him much success with it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Return to the Empire State in The Age Atomic

The Age Atomic
Adam Christopher
Angry Robot Books
UK Print
ISBN: 9780857663139
Format: Medium Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print
ISBN: 9780857663146
Format: Large Paperback
R.R.P.: US$14.99 CAN$16.99
ISBN: 9780857663153
Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

The Age Atomic is the sequel to Adam Christopher's debut novel, Empire State (reviewed here).  Since that book was published, he's also produced a superhero novel, Seven Wonders, which has been in my TBR pile since last summer.  (The Great Move happened just after that and really threw my reading schedule off; I still haven't caught up.)

The Age Atomic continues the story begun in the first installment of this series.  When the tale opens, private investigator Rad Bradley is in the process of stumbling on a plot involving an army of robots.  If that weren't bad enough, the Skyguard has disappeared.  So has Captain Carson.  The Fissure has as well, cutting off the Empire State from New York.

And speaking of New York, a dead woman named Evelyn McHale runs a government sponsored agency called Atoms for Peace.  What she's doing is building a robot army to invade the Empire State.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Open Letter to Those Responsible

This is an open letter to those responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings and mailing ricin to Senator Wicker.

We don't know yet if the perpetrators of these two vile acts are the same or different, if a single person acted alone or a group carried out these acts.  For the purposes of this post, it doesn't matter.

Do you feel like a man,...punk?  Are you happy that you've injured or killed people who never did you any harm?  Do you get a sense of satisfaction from having killed a child?  Does it make you feel brave to attack defenseless people from hiding?

If you were really a man, you would come and fight out in the open, against opponents who have a chance of fighting back.  That's what  you would do if you were a real man, a real hero, and not the craven cur you are.
  I don't know what you hoped to accomplish by these cowardly acts, or what your motivations were.  At the moment, I don't care.  I spit on your hopes.  I spit on your motivations.

I spit on you.

You are beneath contempt.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Looking on Beauty and Death

"Look You on Beauty and Death"
James Reasoner and Livia. J. Washburn
ebook $0.99 Kindle  Nook

This just became available today.  After grading exams all day, I needed a nice diversion.  This sword and sorcery tale by a long time husband and wife team was just the ticket.

It was originally published in New Amazons, edited by Margaret Weis.  Reasoner and Washburn have touched it up and made it available again.

It's the story of Ralna, personal bodyguard to the Empress.  She's called back to the mountain village where she grew up for her younger sister Mardith's wedding.  It seems a wizard has come over the mountains, and among other things, he was to marry Mardith.  The feeling is not reciprocated.  The family needs Ralna to handle the situation.

Friday, April 12, 2013

And the Writing Fantasy Heroes Giveaway Winner Is....

...Mike Chivers, AKA Mikey_C.

Congratulations, Mike!

Please contact Jason Waltz (roguebladesentertainment@gmail.com) and give him your mailing address.

The hand of the Offspring removing the winning name from the hat.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Review of Writing Fantasy Heroes

Writing Fantasy Heroes
Jason M. Ward, ed.
Rogue Blades Entertainment
mmpb $14.99
ebook $7.99 Kindle

It's taken me longer than I anticipated to finish this book, and that's in no way a reflection on the book.  It's been one of those weeks.  For about the last two months.

Anyway, you didn't come here to for me to kvetch.  You want to know about the book.  It's a keeper.

If you're looking for a technical manual on the nuts and bolts of writing, things like basic story structure, you won't find it here.  Well, not much, anyway.  This book is designed more for the aspiring writer who is looking to hone his or her craft and take it to the next level, which preferably would involve publication, rather than the novice writer just learning to put a story together.  I read Writing Fantasy Heroes from cover to cover, albeit in pieces between other books, but I think the book's values rests in its use as a reference that one picks up and consults as needed more than as volume to read straight through..

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Writing Fantasy Heroes Giveaway Ends Tomorrow

I announced a few weeks ago that I was going to do a giveaway for Writing Fantasy Heroes.  The contest would run until I had posted a review of the book.  Well, in spite of the universe's best efforts, in the form of my job, from keeping me from getting any reading done, I've finally finished the book and written the review.  I'll post it tomorrow.  That means you have until 11:59 p.m. CDT on April 11, 2013 to enter the contest.

How do I enter, you ask.  Go to the original post and answer the following question:  What one characteristic above all others is essential for a fantasy hero and why?  Your answer could be long or short, but you have to say why that characteristic is the one you think is the most essential.

Once the contest ends, I'll put all the names in hat and draw one at random.  The winner will be announced the day after the review is posted.  Unless something unforseen happens, the review will go up tomorrow night and the winner will be announced on Friday. 

I'd like to thank everyone who has commented, whether they are entering the contest or not.  There's been some great discussion.  In fact the quality of the discussion was complimented in the comments of the post announcing Black Gate's giveaway.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Author David Farland's Son Seriously Injured

Last week, Ben Wolverton, son of author David Farland, was seriously injured in an accident.  What follows is from a friend of David Farland's family.  I'm posting this in its entirety in case anyone wants to help.  My thoughts and prayers are with the Wolverton family.

Ben Wolverton, age 16, was in a tragic long-boarding accident on Wednesday the 4th, 2013. He suffers from severe brain trauma, a cracked skull, broken pelvis and tail bone, burnt knees, bruised lungs, broken ear drums, road rash, pneumonia, and is currently in a coma. His family has no insurance.

Ben is the son of author David Farland, whose books have won multiple awards, and who is widely known as a mentor to many prominent authors, such as Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer, and Brandon Mull. Costs for Ben's treatment are expected to rise above $1,000,0000. To help raise money for Ben, we are having a book bomb (focused on Nightingale and Million Dollar Outlines) on behalf of Ben.

You can learn more about Ben's condition, or simply donate to the Wolverton family here: 

What is a Book Bomb?

For those that don’t know, a Book Bomb is an event where participants purchase a book on a specific day to support the author, or, in this case, a young person in serious need: Ben Wolverton. 

David Farland’s young adult fantasy thriller Nightingale has won seven awards, including the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival—beating out ALL books in ALL categories. It has been praised by authors such as James Dashner (The Maze Runner), Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn), and Paul Genesse (Iron Dragon series), and has received four and a half starts on Amazon. You can read reviews here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006P7SEBY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B006P7SEBY&link_code=as3&tag=davidfarnet-20

(Book Synopsis)
Some people sing at night to drive back the darkness. Others sing to summon it. . . .

Bron Jones was abandoned at birth. Thrown into foster care, he was rejected by one family after another, until he met Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognized him for what he really was—what her people call a "nightingale."

But Bron isn't ready to learn the truth. There are secrets that have been hidden from mankind for hundreds of thousands of years, secrets that should remain hidden. Some things are too dangerous to know. Bron's secret may be the most dangerous of all.

Nightingale is available as a hardcover, ebook, audio book, and enhanced novel for the iPad. 

You can purchase it on Amazon: 
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006P7SEBY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B006P7SEBY&link_code=as3&tag=davidfarnet-20 (If you buy ANYTHING else on Amazon, with or without Nightingale, through this link a small percentage will also go to David Farland. So if you have a few other books you want to read, get all of them if you can.)

Barnes and Noble: 

on the Nightingale website: 

or, you can get the enhanced version, complete with illustrations, interviews, animations, and its own soundtrack through iTunes: 

If you are a writer, you may want to consider purchasing David Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines instead. Both books are part of the book bomb. Million Dollar Outlines has been a bestseller on Amazon for over a month and is only $6.99.
(book description:)

As a bestselling author David Farland has taught dozens of writers who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).

In Million Dollar Outlines, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership, giving it the potential to become a bestseller. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors go on to prominence.

Get it on Amazon: 
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B9JYJ6W/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B00B9JYJ6W&link_code=as3&tag=davidfarnet-20 (If you buy ANYTHING else on Amazon, with or without Million Dollar outlines, through this link, a small percentage will also go to David Farland. So if you have a few other books you want to read, get all of them if you can.)

Or on Barnes and Noble: 

Read one of the 26 reviews here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B9JYJ6W/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B00B9JYJ6W&link_code=as3&tag=davidfarnet-20

Would you like to just donate money? You can do that here: 

If you can’t spare any money, but would still like to help, you can do so by telling others about Ben’s donation page, and/or this Book Bomb. Share it on facebook, twitter, pinterest, your blog—anywhere you can. We have an event page set up on facebook here:

There is also a website set up here:

Thank you!

Ben and his family greatly appreciate your support, and so do all who love and care about them.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Henry Kuttner

Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore
Henry Kuttner was born this day, April 7, in 1915.  He passed away far too young in 1958.

Kuttner got his start in Weird Tales, his first story being "The Graveyard Rats", a grisly little piece.  Other stories for WT followed, and soon he was branching out into science fiction and the shudder pulps.  Legend has it that he started using pseudonyms after writing stories that appeared in the first two issues of Marvel Science Stories, stories that almost got the magazine shut down for pornography.  Supposedly no editor would buy stories with Kuttner's byline for a while.  Mike Resnick reports in his introduction to Girls for the Slime God (in which the above mentioned stories are reprinted) that in a late 1940s poll of sf readers, two of Kuttner's pen names came in higher than his real name.  Those pen names were Lawrence O'Donnell and Lewis Padgett.  Not surprising since his best regarded stories are under those names.

Kuttner's best work was done in collaboration with his wife C. L. Moore.  The story is that Kuttner wrote her a fan letter, not realizing that "C. L." stood for "Catherine Lucille."

Kuttner wrote in a wide variety of genres, including sword and sorcery.  His tales of Elak of Atlantis (reviewed here, here, here, and here) as well as his two stories of Prince Raynor (reviewed here and here) helped fill the gap left by Robert E. Howard's death.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Further Details About Night Shade Books

Additional information about Night Shade Books has become available.

First, Night Shade co-owner Jeremy Lassen has posted an open letter at Locus Online.  In it he explains his reasons for making the deal with Skyhorse Publishing.  He does not discuss the terms of the letter sent to Night Shade authors.

Second, Michael Stackpole does discuss the terms and why he won't sign the letter in this post on his website.

I'm not going to comment at this time, other than to say that the loss of Night Shade is a nontrivial matter that will have a major impact on the field.  Some time in the next week, I'll try to put some thoughts together in a coherent manner.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Manuscript of Robert E. Howard's "A Witch Shall be Born" up for Auction

A manuscript copy of Robert E. Howard's Conan adventure "A Witch Shall be Born" will be auctioned off next week.  The details are here.  If you were wondering what to get me for Christmas...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Night Shade Books is Being Bought

Editor Jeremy Lassen is reporting via Twitter that Night Shade Books is being bought by a larger publisher.  Authors with Night Shade are being contacted.  Lassen's words were "being bought" not "being sold", which I think is an interesting distinction.  No word of the sale is one the Night Shade homepage as yet.

I'm sure more details will emerge over the next few days/weeks/months.  I only hope the authors currently with Night Shade come through the process relatively unscathed.  I say "relatively" because this has got to be a nerve wracking experience.  Hopefully no one's books will be orphaned by the new owners.  Somehow I'm not gonna hold my breath.  Regardless, Adventures Fantastic wishes all the Night Shade authors the best when the dust settles.

I'll update as more details become available.

UPDATE:   Jeff VanderMeer has posted on his Facebook page a partial copy of a letter he has received about the sale.  It doesn't look particularly promising.  A transcript of what he posted is below; errors are on the part of author of the letter.  VanderMeer says in the comments that he's been advised not to sign, as have several other authors he doesn't name.


April 1, 2013

Howard Morhain Litery Agency, Inc.

Dear Jeff & Ann Vandermeer,
Provided that a sufficient number of Night Shade authors agree to certain changes to their contracts with Night Shade, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. and Start Publishing, LLC have agreed to acquire all Night Shade Books assets. To be clear, this is an acquisition of assets, not a purchase of the company as a whole. The revenue received from the sale would go towards paying off the debts of the company. If you sign below, and a sufficient number of other Night Shade authors and other creditors also agree to these terms, you will receive full payment to bring all royalties and overdue advances current.

Your payment would be in the amount of $0.00.

By signing this letter, you agree that:


I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not entirely sure about this, but it sounds like the publisher is sacrificing the authors and their works on the altar of the publisher's debts.   I really hope I'm wrong.  If there's a Night Shade title you've been wanting, you might go ahead a get it now.  No telling how much longer they're going to be in print.  I should probably get caught on reading Eclipse Online this weekend.