Tips For Homemakers: Preparing Your Garden of Victory!

Friday, March 6th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

No blog post is complete without a war time propaganda poster.

You too could look this morally superior as you plant your garden.

Are you in charge of a Barbarian horde? Did your family lay siege to a neighboring kingdom over the winter? Do you enjoy feasting on the thawed entrails of your enemy (remember to cook the meat well, first! Who knows where your enemy has been!)

Well, my heroic homemakers, spring will soon be in the air. The ground will thaw and so will the bodies of your enemies.  Birds will sing and battle cries will echo. Grass will sprout and warrior tummies will demand feeding.

The time to plan your Garden of Victory is now!  Here are some easy to follow tips and tricks to make it even easier than before, all while using existing resources.

Burn, Burn, Burn!

First, you MUST BURN THE WINTER SCARS FROM YOUR LAND! (I’m told this isn’t really a planting thing, but trust me, it’ll look cool.) Make sure your land is covered with combustible materials, like oil, dry hay or failed batches of barbarian moonshine.

TIP: Make sure you don’t set the fire too close to your home. If you didn’t destroy all neighboring tribes during the winter, add some coloring agents to keep the smoke interesting. You don’t want to start being predictable. Remember: predictable neighbors are invadable neighbors.

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Galaxy Science Fiction, July 1952: A Retro-Review

Friday, March 6th, 2015 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

Galaxy Science Fiction July 1952-smallSporting a robot miner on the cover (art by Jack Coggins), Galaxy’s July, 1952 issue invites readers inside. And it doesn’t disappoint!

“Star, Bright” by Mark Clifton — A single father observes that his four-year-old daughter, Star, has an impressive intelligence level. He doesn’t understand exactly how high it is until she begins to use telepathy.

The story has an interesting premise, but I’m not sure I liked where the story went. It seemed a bit too far-fetched at points.

“Wailing Wall” by Roger Dee — The crew of the Marco Four interacts with the colony on Sadr III. The Sadrians had been under the control of an alien race known as the Hymenops, which could explain their odd behavior. Since the crew’s landing, over a hundred people in the world’s only village have died as a result of murder or suicide.

I think the story would have been better without the initial flash-forward. Otherwise, it was a good read. Roger Dee is a pseudonym for Roger D. Aycock. The crew of the Marco Four return in “Pet Farm” (published in the February, 1954 issue of Galaxy) and “Control Group” (in the January, 1960 issue of Amazing Science Fiction Stories).

“Origin of Galactic Slang” by Edward Wellen (illustrated by David Stone) — This is a compilation of fictional anecdotes around “galactic” terms and phrases.

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a story, but I found it amusing. It’s listed in the table of contents as a “Non-Fact Article”. Wellen wrote eight such “Origins of Galactic X” articles.

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Capitalism Ascending

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

Jupiter-Ascending-Mila-KunisJupiter Ascending has gotten a great deal of attention since its release. Generally not the kind of attention most movies want, especially when they come with a price tag that eclipses the annual budgets of some nations. It has been eviscerated by critics while quickly gaining cult status and a loyal fandom. In short, everyone has an opinion on this one. And far be it from me to stay out of an argument.

I’m not going to try and convince you of the quality of Jupiter Ascending. It is indisputably gorgeous. It is also indisputably plagued with plot holes that wouldn’t make it past a Creative Writing 101 professor. It’s a love note to The Fifth Element, Flash Gordon, and Barbarella while presenting women viewers (the film’s most ardent fans at this point) with something we don’t usually get: wish fulfillment aimed at us. But in the midst of this beautiful mess is a subversive meaning that goes deeper than most critics realize. Some commentary describes the movie as having an “anti-corporate” message, and while I think that’s accurate it’s also an understatement.

Jupiter Ascending doesn’t have an anti-corporate subtext. The entire piece is a manifesto against modern corporate capitalism. That message is such an integral part of the movie that it is often the very thing that undermines the story. Let’s face it: there are two critical storytelling rules that are commonly broken by very successful artists. The first is Never Outgrow Your Editor (George, JK, I’m looking at you.) The second is Never Let the Metaphor Run the Movie. All sci-fi, and really all fiction, has meaning beyond the bare story on the page. But when the message becomes the story, things go awry. In this case, that means plot holes have been left intact to preserve the metaphor to the detriment of the overall product.

(And here comes the obligatory warning: here there be spoilers.)

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Northern Matter in Poul Anderson’s “Middle Ages” of The Broken Sword and in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 | Posted by Gabe Dybing

1971 cover art by Boris Vallejo

1971 cover art by Boris Vallejo

Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword originally was published in a different form in 1954, which is why I’m discussing it at this time and not later. It is important to note that in Anderson’s introduction to the 1971 edition, he refers to his earlier self, the writer of the 1954 version, as if that person were not himself but in fact a different writer with the very same name. Anderson’s 1971 introduction also specifically takes into account J.R.R. Tolkien and his works. Anderson asserts that, like Tolkien, he has mined the rich veins of the Northern fantasy tradition, but he claims that, unlike Tolkien, he has found riches of a slightly different hue, perhaps gems with deeper or gloomier lusters. He writes:

In our day J.R.R. Tolkien has restored the elves to something of what they formerly were, in his enchanting Ring cycle. However, he chose to make them not just beautiful and learned; they are wise, grave, honorable, kindly, embodiments of good will toward all things alive. In short, his elves belong more to the country of Gloriana than to that house in heathen Gotaland. Needless to say, there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it was necessary to Professor Tolkien’s purpose.

I was at first horribly confused by this reference to Gloriana, able to uncover at first only a post-dated work by Michael Moorcock of that title. Until I realized that Moorcock’s novel borrows from the very thing that must be Anderson’s reference – Gloriana, or the Queen of Faerie in Spenser’s The Faerie Queen (a work of whose ending I have not yet got to) who is herself an allegory of Queen Elizabeth.

What a very puzzling suggestion. Of course we know, from Tolkien’s own introduction to The Lord of the Rings, that Tolkien detests allegory, so this certainly isn’t the point of comparison that Anderson finds. So it must be Gloriana’s character, and in Spenser’s medieval reconstructionist tradition Gloriana must of necessity stand as the ideal form of every human virtue. But does this truly characterize Tolkien’s Elves? One may even become incensed when Anderson appears to make a slightly disingenuous comparison by claiming that he harks “further back” than Tolkien, to medieval Europe in which “cruelty, rapacity, and licentiousness ran free.” Um. Tolkien’s Elves lived in a vanished Earth Age, not in Spenser’s proto-Romanticist reimagined “Arthurian” England. If we’re talking in terms of scope, Tolkien’s setting might have more to do with Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age than even Anderson’s Middle Ages.

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The IX by Andrew P. Weston

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_235511s7P3HzLYAre you old enough to remember the Kirk Douglas Saturday Night Live sketch from 1980 that asked the important question: “What if Spartacus had a Piper Cub?” Well I am, and it was the first thing that popped into my head when I received a review copy of Andrew P. Weston’s new novel, The IX, from the fine people at Perseid Press. I don’t read or review much sci-fi, but they suspected, quite correctly it turns out, that this would be right up my alley.

No, modern aviation doesn’t save the famous Roman IX Legion from destruction. Instead, the IX — and a host of other soldiers from across the ages — get a chance to play with advanced weapons to stave off a massed army of energy-devouring monsters on a star far across the galaxy from Earth.

The Ardenese, a highly advanced race, rule dozens of worlds, crossing the stars in ships that rip holes in space…until they encounter an enemy they come to know only as the Horde.

First discovered on a colony world, the energy-devouring Horde manage to secrete themselves aboard Ardenese starships. One by one the colonies fall, until all that remains is the homeworld and the capital city, Rhomane.

Even protected by barriers and nearly impregnable walls, the Ardenese know they are doomed. In the end, and it is surely near, they will all die, subject to the hideous ravages of the Horde. To ensure the survival of their race, the handful of survivors turn their fates over to the Architect, a massive AI computer.

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Wanderings on Writing by Jane Lindskold: Enter to Win a Signed Copy!

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I am back! In the months since you last heard from me I started up a ebook and paperback formatting company, and we’ve formatted some very cool stuff. The coolest, I will post about here on the site (note, this is not all I will post about and I do not benefit commercially from these postings. This is all stuff I want to shout from the rooftops because of its coolness.)

First up is: Wanderings on Writing by Jane Lindskold, which is a compilation of essays about writing, plotting, storycrafting, characterization and much, much more. She is giving away a signed copy here –> a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Wanderings On Writing-small

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February 2015 Nightmare Magazine Now on Sale

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Nightmare Issue 29-smallThe February 2015 issue of Nightmare Magazine is now available. (Truthfully, issue 30 will be on sale any day now too, but I’ll get to that later.)

Nightmare is the sister publication of the highly-regarded science fiction and fantasy magazine Lightspeed. It’s an online magazine of horror and dark fantasy, with a broad focus — editor John Joseph Adams promises you’ll find all kinds of horror within, from zombie stories and haunted house tales to visceral psychological horror.

This issue has two pieces of original fiction:

“The Garden” by Karen Munro
“Descent” by and Carmen Maria Machado

As well as two reprints:

“Fishfly Season” by Halli Villegas
“Cult by Brian Evenson

There’s also the latest installment of their column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights, a showcase on thecover artist, and an interview with award-winning author Chuck Palahniuk.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: The Lords of Dus

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Dus_BasiliskThe eighties was full of epic fantasy series’ by the likes of David Eddings, Raymond Feist, Stephen R. Donaldson, Terry Brooks and Katherine Kurtz, to name a few. While many remain giants in the history of the genre, Lawrence Watt-Evans wrote a largely forgotten series: The Lords of Dus.

Watt-Evans has written quite a bit of fantasy, science fiction and horror and is probably best known for his Ethshar series. Ethshar was created as a role-playing game world and he ended up writing many novels and short stories using the setting.

Watt-Evans had flunked out of Princeton’s architectural school and had to wait a year before he could re-apply. He had heard (the possibly apocryphal story) that Larry Niven started his career by deciding to write for one year and if he sold something, continue on: if he didn’t, he’d give it up. Watt-Evans decided to do the same and wrote a slew of short stories, selling one.

He did go back to school, but he wrote a novel (The Cyborg and the Sorcerer) on a summer break and after two years of college, gave it up to make a living with the typewriter (as a writer, not a typewriter salesman).

Influenced by Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock and Lin Carter’s anthologies (Flashing Swords, anyone?), he was ready to spin a fantasy saga featuring a non-human (but less effete than a Melnibonian) hero. Thus, the race of overmen.

He wanted to write a ‘quest’ series, so he needed somebody to tell Garth what to do. He borrowed from Robert Chambers and came up with The King in Yellow (yes, people were influenced by Chambers before HBO’s True Detective). So, we had a sort of Elric meets the Labors of Hercules.

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The Son of Satan: A Gem from the Marvel of the 70s

Saturday, February 28th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Son of Satan 2

So many demons to fight.

While interviewing Associate Editor Jake Thomas of Marvel Comics for my last blog post (see Middle Child) , we also talked a bit about horror in comics and where it fits, what fans are looking for, etc. It turns out that until recently, I hadn’t gone all the way to thinking about comics as a horror medium, partly because I’d never found them scary.

Marvel Spotlight 22

Human side versus devil side plus sister thrown in for family angst, and a guy on a flaming motorcycle. Freud! Help!

The old saw is that, other than superheroes, comics chased movies and TV, so that when westerns were popular, the comic industry produced cowboy books, and when SF movies were popular, they made SF comics, etc. And the 70s of course was the era of The Exorcist, The Shining, Jaws, and so on.

Some of the grotesqueries of the 1950s drove the creation of the Comics Code, but I guess I’d looked at the post-Code books like Tomb-of-Dracula and Man-Thing and Werewolf by Night as monster books, rather than horror.

There’s only so much you can do within the code, which was part of the reason why Marvel experimented with magazine-sized black and whites in the 1970s, which, by today’s standards (ex.: Severed or Wytches, from Image) look like a tea party… the little kid play, not the political movement.

However, despite being not scary, there was a rich subtlety in some of Marvel’s spooky books, an unreliability of perception, that drew me in, as a pre-teen and teen, and probably helped form some of my tastes.

In the summer of 1981, my mother gave me four comics, one of which was Doctor Strange #43. Doctor Strange was soooo wierd, but good, knock-off Chthulhu good.

And I hunted down Doctor Strange everywhere I could find him, which led me to the Defenders, another oddball child of the 1970s.

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Fantasy Literature: That Conan Thing & The Sword of the Lady, Part 1

Friday, February 27th, 2015 | Posted by Edward Carmien

The Sword of the Lady-smallAs the treasure map says, here there be spoilers. This isn’t exactly a review, and besides this is just Part 1 of my look at The Sword of the Lady, of S. M. Stirling’s Emberverse series. As the novel begins, the CUT are determined to kill Rudi McKenzie no matter the political cost of attacking him and the leader of Iowa, a powerful post-change entity. After the attack fails (naturally), Iowa becomes a Good Guy, Rudi & Co. head off to Wisconsin, Major Graber & Co. regroup with some new allies, and the quest continues.

But enough plot. Let’s talk Robert E. Howard’s Conan. Let’s talk S. M. Stirling’s Rudi McKenzie. Let’s talk the hard-eyed desert of the real making it with the saucy romantic.

In Fantasy Literature: The Scourge of God & “I See You” I referred to Conan/Rudi as a way of highlighting how Stirling manages, in a somewhat realistic way, to portray the ultimate warrior at work. Able to reach down and tap deep bodily resources at will, in a tall, well-muscled frame, with a lifetime of martial training (from the very best instructors), and equipped with the best that can be made, Rudi is indeed like Conan himself, a practically unstoppable killing machine. Yet Stirling keeps it real, or a reasonable facsimile of real, making the danger to Rudi palpable. For example, Odin foretells Rudi shall not live so long as to see his hair go gray with age. Better yet, Rudi will die with a blade in his hand.

Conan himself could wish for no better end. Indeed, as mercenary, thief, pirate, and eventually king, Conan risked far worse during his career. Of course, when it comes to career path, Rudi McKenzie, Artos, Ard Ri of Montival, owes more to Aragorn than to Conan, but for now a comparison of how melee is portrayed serves us better than mere kingly politics.

Let us first enjoy some Conan, dug from the very roots of Sword & Sorcery (for this IS Black Gate, isn’t it?).

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