Rogue Blades Presents: Out There in the Wilds with Robert E. Howard

Friday, February 21st, 2020 | Posted by Ty Johnston

Howard changed my lifePublisher Rogue Blades Foundation recently announced the upcoming release of the book Robert E. Howard Changed My Life. Below is an excerpt from author Joe R. Lansdale’s essay for the book.

You can feel so lonely, out there in the wilds.

Oh, I had my parents’ support. They were great. But it isn’t quite the same. I wanted to know other writers, meet an editor or publisher. As for an agent, I thought they worked for the CIA.

I knew this, though.

I loved books, and I wanted to write them, and I had figured out when I saw names on comic books, Bob Kane and Gardner Fox, that real people came up with this stuff, but I was told, by someone who didn’t know his butt from a hole in the ground, that everyone who wrote comics, or novels, or stories, lived in New York or Los Angeles.

I had never been to either.

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Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Good News in Three Acts

Friday, February 21st, 2020 | Posted by Adrian Simmons


Act I — A Year In Review

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly punches well above its weight in the Tangent Online 2019 Recommended Reading List with SEVEN stories. Don’t want to search through their list? I got ya!

Then, Stars” by Michael Meyerhofer (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #41, 8/19)
Echo of the Siren” by Richard Zwicker (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #42, 11/19)
A Stone’s Throw” by Howard Andrew Jones, (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #40, 5/19)
Trail of Ashes” by Caleb Williams (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #40, 5/19)
The Song of Black Mountain” by Darrell Schweitzer (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #40, 5/19)
Demons from the Deep” by Adrian Cole (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #40, 5/19)
The Gatekeeper” by Marlane Quade Cook (Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #39, 2/19)

Now, some of you with good memories may be saying to yourself “Well sure, Simmons, #40 was the special 10-year anniversary issue. You brought in big guns and it is no surprise that the likes of Howard Andrew Jones, or Darrell Schweitzer, or Adrian Cole should end up on the recommended list.” First off, you’re welcome. Secondly, hats off to Caleb Williams who not only stood in that august company, but stood out!

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Goth Chick News Reviews: The Sun Down Motel

Thursday, February 20th, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Sun Down Motel-smallEver since Psycho, there has been something distinctly creepy about motels. You know the ones. Originally built along highways as a respite for weary cross-country travelers, the name literally comes from “motor hotel.” They were usually long, one-story building consisting of side-by-side rooms with doors that opened out into the parking lot, enabling guests of the time to sleep pretty much beside their beloved vehicles.

They’ve also been the location for a whole lot of up-to-no-good. Besides being the preferred location for extramarital shenanigans, they’ve been the site of murders (Psycho, Vacancy and Motel Hell), serious mental breakdowns (Identity and Insane) and all manner of general badness (Bad Times at the El Royale).

These days you can still find motels, though for the most part they look like perfect location shots for any one of the aforementioned films. And with some rare exceptions, any one you come across isn’t going to be a preferred place to spend the night.

Which is why my latest listen from has made me late for my day job, three days running. I cannot audibly ‘put it down.’

The Sun Down Motel, written by Simone St. James (Broken Girls) and performed on the audio book by Brittany Pressley and Kirsten Potter, is set both in 1982 and 2017. It tells the story of Viv, who disappears from her night job at The Sun Down in 1982 after doing a bit of poking around in some local, unsolved murders. In 2017 her niece Carly follows in her footsteps, to see if she can uncover what happened to her.

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When Six Americans Defeat an Invading Army: Robert A. Heinlein’s Sixth Column

Thursday, February 20th, 2020 | Posted by Mark R. Kelly


Sixth Column by Robert A. Heinlein. First Edition:
Gnome Press, 1949. Cover by Edd Cartier

Sixth Column
by Robert A. Heinlein (Gnome Press, 1949, 256 pages, $2.50 in hardcover; serialized earlier in Astounding Science Fiction, January-March 1941)

Sixth Column was the earliest novel-length work by Robert A. Heinlein, though it was serialized in Astounding magazine (Jan, Feb, and March 1941, under the pseudonym Anson MacDonald) and not published in book form until 1949, by which time three or four other Heinlein novels had been published as books (Rocket Ship Galileo (1947), Beyond This Horizon (1948), Space Cadet (1948), and perhaps Red Planet, also 1949).

First published in hardcover by Gnome Press under the magazine title Sixth Column (adding the subtitle “A Science Fiction Novel of Strange Intrigue”) it was reprinted for many years in paperback by Signet under the blander title The Day After Tomorrow (a 7th printing with a Gene Szafran cover is shown below, along with the 2012 Baen edition I’ve read for this review). The book isn’t long; 174 pages in the Baen edition, 144 with Signet’s tinier print.

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Stories That Work: “Log Entry” by Kevin J. Anderson, and “Sweetly the Dragon Dreams” by David Farland

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 | Posted by James Van Pelt

The War of the Worlds 1953 poster-small When Worlds Collide poster-small This Island Earth poster-small

Space-based science fiction drew me into reading hard when I started. The fact that my dad was an aeronautical engineer who worked at Martin Marietta, designing the first rockets in America’s space program, probably helped. Copies of Sky and Telescope were scattered about the house, and Dad’s amateur astronomy often became a part of dinner conversation. He ground his own mirror for a reflecting telescope he built and mounted in the backyard, and several times he invited my class at the elementary school over for hot chocolate and star gazing.

Tom Corbett, Robert Heinlein’s Space Cadet, and E.E. Doc Smith’s Skylark of Space started my fascination with space travel. When I was young I thought “space fiction” and “science fiction” were interchangeable terms. Hooray for Buck Rogers and Forbidden Planet, War of the Worlds, When Worlds Collide, and, especially, This Island Earth.

However, science fiction contains way more than space-based stories even as it continues to tell them in film in Star Wars, The Expanse, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, and others.

Still, what is a reader to do when looking for short, space-based science fiction? Analog almost always features a space story or two, as do the other major magazines. But what if you want to mainline the stuff? What if you just want to strap into a ship and blast to the stars?

What if you want to feed your inner twelve-year-old space jockey?

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Untangling Twisted Timelines: Now Then and Everywhen by Rysa Walker

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 | Posted by CAITLIN MCALLISTER

Now, Then, and Everywhen-small Now, Then, and Everywhen - back-small

Now Then and Everywhen
By Rysa Walker
47North (528 pages, $14.95 paperback/$4.99 digital, April 1, 2020)

I’m a sucker for a good time travel story, so when the opportunity came up to read an advance copy of Now Then and Everywhen I jumped (sadly just to my couch, not to a different timeline). I haven’t read Rysa Walker’s earlier CHRONOS novels, so I had zero expectations or previous knowledge of the universe. Now Then and Everywhen will entice readers that have read Ms. Walker’s earlier work, as this novel explains CHRONOS origins, but you don’t need to be familiar with the previous books in the series as this one examines CHRONOS through a new historical lens.

We begin in the year 2136 with Madison Grace, a grad student in Maryland who discovers a small disk that lights up at her touch buried in her grandmother’s overgrown garden. Suddenly she finds herself off the coast of what turns out to be 1906 Florida. She makes the jump back to her own time and begins to research the strange ties that her family seems to have to the time travel organization called CHRONOS. More than a century later, in 2304, Tyson Reyes is researching the civil rights movement. He’s a historian working for CHRONOS and he’s undercover in 1965, working to understand the intricacies of a historical moment.

Tyson and Madi notice odd occurrences as they begin to cross each other’s timelines. Then, a massive time shift drastically changes both of their home timelines. Millions of lives have been erased and historical moments like the assassination of Dr. King have changed. The two time travelers believe it to be the fault of the other… until they meet and realize there are other, darker forces at play. The two team up to set things straight.

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Captured at Capricon: The Lucky Devil Series by Megan Mackie

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Finder of the Lucky Devil-small The Saint of Liars-small

I spent last weekend at Capricon 40, a long-running and very friendly science fiction convention here in Chicago with interesting panels, delightful readings, and a great Dealers Room. One of the highlights of the Dealers Room (besides the jewelry vendors, where I spent a small fortune on gifts for Alice to make up for missing Valentine’s Day) was the Bad Grammar Theater booth manned by Chicago authors Brendan Detzner, K.M. Herkes, R.J. Howell, and Megan Mackie. Bad Grammar is a reading series featuring local authors, and the books they had on display looked darn enticing. I ended up buying a whopping 8 titles  at that booth alone.

Truthfully, I bought a lot of books at the convention — including an overflowing box from Greg Ketter of Dreamhaven Books — and I hope to cover the most interesting titles here over the next few weeks. But the one that leaped into my hands when I finally settled in my big green chair was The Finder of the Lucky Devil, the self-published novel by Megan Mackie, and the opening novel in her Lucky Devil series. It’s got an intriguing premise, and that beautiful cover doesn’t hurt any.

The Finder of the Lucky Devil is an urban fantasy… of sorts. Yes, it’s a fantasy. But it’s also set in a dystopian future Chicago ruled by corporations. I did my homework before digging in, and found it’s been well reviewed at Windy City Reviews and Good Reads, where it enjoys a rating of 4.08 and comments like “a fun read with some heart stopping moments… a fresh urban detective-style fantasy with wizards, fairies, corporate spies, shapeshifters, and even a mermaid dog stylist” (from Rebekah). Here’s a look at the back cover of Lucky Devil and its sequel The Saint of Liars, plus a snippet from one of my favorite reviews.

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Call for Backers! Artist Elizabeth Leggett Discusses Her Illustrations for DreamForge Magazine, and More!

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 | Posted by Emily Mah

BethFP-PPD-16-2002In the second of two interviews supporting DreamForge’s Year Two Kickstarter Campaign I had the privilege of interviewing Hugo Award winning artist, Elizabeth Leggett, who has provided several illustrations for DreamForge.

She has also illustrated for magazines such as Lightspeedand art directed, Women Destroy Fantasy and Queers Destroy Science Fiction. But I’ll let Elizabeth and her gorgeous art speak for themselves.

Emily Mah: You’ve illustrated several stories for DreamForge, that I’m aware of. How many have you done for them and what were the stories?

Elizabeth Leggett: I have been profoundly lucky. DreamForge has found some of the most talented writers and they have let me play in their sandbox through illustration.  The first two pieces I did for them was for Lauren Teffeau’s short story, “Sing! And Remember.”  The first was the cover image and the second was a black and white design.

My next contract was for David Weber’s story, “A Certain Talent.”  This one is close to my heart because I was not only allowed to illustrate the main character, but also conceptualize Jim Moore (Jane Lindskold’s husband) as the power player!  Next, I needed to leave my comfort zone and illustrate Jennifer Donohue’s story, “The Fundamentals of Search and Rescue.”  Good heavens. wreckage sites are a challenge to draw!

My last illustration for last year was for John Jos Miller, “The Ghost of a Smile.”

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Future Treasures: The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Monday, February 17th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories-small The Hidden Girl and Other Stories-back-small

Jacket design by Richard Yoo

It good to see a few mainstream publishers still producing collections. The Hidden Girl and Other Stories is Ken Liu’s second, and his second with Saga Press. It follows 2016’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, which was nominated for a World Fantasy Award and won the Locus Award for Best Collection, and about which Amal El-Mohtar wrote, “I have never been so moved by a collection of short fiction. I was at times afraid to read more.”

There’s fine reviews of the new collection at Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, but the most insightful reviewer I’ve found is Paul Di Filippo at Locus Online, who compares Liu to Philip K. Dick, Zelazny, and Heinlein.

“The Reborn” shows us an Earth conquered by aliens who impose their own brand of mutable personalities on humans who resist them. A kind of PKD vibe of surreal memory games pervades the creepy piece…. A wave of Zelaznyian SF-fabulism overcame me as I read “Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard,” which blends shape-changing with the lives of the “midden miners,” poor citizens scavenging the remnants of our era… “The Hidden Girl” is the first pure fantasy in this volume, set in a kind of Asian neverland evocative of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. A young girl, trained as an assassin, is forced to acknowledge a higher oath… There’s a faint flavor of Podkayne of Mars inherent in “The Message,” which finds an archaeologist father and his sulky, willful teen daughter marooned on a planet amidst alien ruins.

Here’s the book description.

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: The Careworn Cuff – Part Three (The Greenstreet Chronicles)

Monday, February 17th, 2020 | Posted by Bob Byrne

And it’s the final installment in our three-part adaptation of “The Careworn Cuff,” from the old Nero Wolfe radio show staring Sidney Greenstreet. It’s not going to make much sense of you don’t read Part One, and Part Two, first.

The Careworn Cuff – Part Three (of Three)

Chapter Five 

Nero Wolfe TrainI was back at my desk as Wolfe related what I had missed. It seemed that the brownstone had been pretty busy while I was taking Miss Spencer to her temporary lodgings. Wolfe was nearly as good as me at reporting, though, not surprisingly, he tended towards lazy. I had told him to give it all to me.

“So, I awoke to a noise. It was not the front door.”

Wolfe – “Archie?”

Intruder – “No, not Archie.”

“A man moved to the office doorway. I cannot say that I was surprised at who it was.”

Wolfe – “Ah, our impatient and nonmusical friend. I did not hear the bell. You must have come in through a window. I hope you didn’t break anything.”

Wolfe – “How are you Mister…not Porter, of course.”

Intruder – Where’s the girl?”

Wolfe – “That question is beginning to bore me. I don’t know.”

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