Old-School Sword and Planet with a Modern Attitude: An Excerpt from The MechMen of Canis-9

Saturday, October 20th, 2018 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

Three Against the Stars-cover-small The MechMen of Canis-9-small

The MechMen of Canis-9 is my seventh novel. I’ve always wanted to write some sort of action-packed Sword and Planet Adventure, with some planet-building involved, and that’s what I hope I’ve accomplished with this “sequel” to my Space Opera, Three Against The Stars. The Foreword below should pretty well set the stage for the excerpt that follows. I hope you enjoy it and it interests you in checking out my novel. Thank you!

This time out, Sergeants Seamus O’Hara, Claudia Akira, Fernando Cortez and a platoon of Marines are deployed to Canis-9 — Devoora, the Ocean Planet. Their mission: find seven indestructible robot warriors hidden there for seventy years. Most of the platoon survives a crash-landing but are left stranded in a hostile environment of deadly sea predators. Rescued by native Tulavi islanders, the Marines get caught up in a war between this mysterious, maritime civilization and another indigenous race, the Malvarians, who hunt and harvest the eggs of the giant kaizsu — the Sea Dragons sacred to the Tulavi. As the Marines set out to complete their mission they discover a secret known only by the Tulavi: the endangered kaizsu are the key to Devoora’s ecosystem and the future of all life on the planet.

The MechMen of Canis-9 is now available in both paperback and Kindle editions. Thank you!

Read an exclusive excerpt from The MechMen of Canis-9 here.

October Is Hammer Country: The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959)

Saturday, October 20th, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Harvey


The Man Who Could Cheat Death arrived during the fast and thrilling early days of Hammer Horror. The studio was tearing through Gothic hits from director Terence Fisher and the talented crew at the Bray soundstages: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula, The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mummy (1959), The Brides of Dracula, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960). Looking at that line-up, it’s obvious why The Man Who Could Cheat Death hasn’t made much of a lasting impression. Where’s the marquee value character or monster? Also, where’s Peter Cushing, Hammer’s headliner? He’s in all these movies except The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll … and The Man Who Could Cheat Death.

This odd-movie-out of early Hammer came about because of a production deal with Paramount. Once Hammer scored huge international hits with Frankenstein and Dracula films, the major Hollywood studios were eager to make co-financing deals and offer up their best horror properties for the Hammer treatment. But Paramount didn’t have a large catalogue of horror movies like Universal did. What they gave Hammer was a little-known 1944 film, The Man in Half Moon Street, which was an adaptation of a 1939 play by Alfred Edgar under the obvious pseudonym Barré Lyndon. The material was ghoulish enough for Hammer’s purposes: a mad-scientist tale with a touch of The Picture of Dorian Grey. Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster switched the story to Paris in 1890 to fit the studio’s Gothic style. Production was ready to roll with Fisher directing, Peter Cushing in the lead, and Christopher Lee as the main supporting part.

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Birthday Reviews: Ted Chiang’s “The Evolution of Human Science”

Saturday, October 20th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Gregory Manchess

Cover by Gregory Manchess

Ted Chiang was born on October 20, 1967.

Chiang has won the Hugo Award four times, for his novelettes “Hell Is the Absence of God” and “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” for his short story “Exhalation,” and for his novella The Lifecycle of Software Objects. Both of those novelettes also won the Nebula as did his novelette “Tower of Babylon” and his novella “Story of Your Life,” which was turned into the Hugo and Bradbury Award-winning film Arrival. “Exhalation” also won the British SF Association Award and the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire. “Story of Your Life” earned the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. He won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for “Seventy-Two Letters.” Chiang has won the Hayakawa Award for “Understand,” “Story of Your Life,” and “Seventy-Two Letters.” The Lifecycle of Software Objects won the Italia Award. “Hell Is the Absence of God won the Kurd Lasswitz Preis. Translations of his stories “Story of Your Life,” “Hell Is the Absence of God,” “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” and The Lifecycle of Software Objects won the Seiun Award. In 1992, Chiang won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

“Catching Crumbs from the Table” originally appeared in the June 1, 2000 issue of Nature. When Chiang included it in his 2002 collection Stories of Your Life and Others (later reprinted as Arrival), he changed the title of the story to “The Evolution of Human Science.” The story was translated into French for the collection La Tour de Babylone and into German by Karin Will and Michael Plogmann for the ecolltion Das wahre Wesen der Dinge. It was translated into German again in 2017 for inclusion in the March issue of Spektrum der Wissenschaft.

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In 500 Words or Less: An Advance Review of The Fall by Tracy Townsend

Friday, October 19th, 2018 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

The Nine Tracy Townsend-medium The Fall Tracy Townsend-small

The Fall (Thieves of Fate, Book 2)
by Tracy Townsend
Pyr (400 pages, $18 paperback, $9.99 eBook, Jan 15, 2019)

Let’s start with something my friend Matt Moore would call a “hand grenade” on a panel: The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie.

Why? Because it splits up our beloved characters and challenges them with new locales and crises, all while introducing brand new favorites and raising the stakes. I can still remember watching it for the first time as a kid (fine, it was on VHS) and learning back then that one of my main measures for the quality is how many times I gasp out loud at what’s happening. That sort of reaction is tough to achieve with a debut, let alone a sequel, but Lucas and his team pulled it off. And Tracy Townsend has done the same with The Fall, her follow-up to breakout novel The Nine, which I reviewed last year as my Top Book 0f 2017.

And good gods, The Fall is just as amazing. It even reminded me of Empire in a lot of ways, which may or may not have been intentional. Young Rowena Downshire is still very much the star, as she tries to find her footing in the company of Erasmus Pardon and Anselm Meteron, retired campaigners determined to keep her from realizing she’s one of nine subjects being studied by God as part of His Grand Experiment. But each of our valiant heroes gets their moments in the sun, as we learn how far they’re willing to go on the side of right. Much like Empire, The Fall expands various characters like Rowena’s mother Clara, but also adds a bunch of new faces to the mix. There’s even a Palpatine-esque shadow cast by Anselm’s father, Bishop Meteron, though he isn’t quite the Big Bad you’d expect – if he’s a villain at all.

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New Treasures: The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2018 edited by Paula Guran

Friday, October 19th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2018-smallWe’ve just about wrapped up the Best of the Year season, the summer/fall period when eight publishers and a dozen editors collaborate to produce ten volumes gathering the best short science fiction, fantasy, and horror of the year. We’ve had eight so far, from Neil Clarke, Jonathan Strahan, Gardner Dozois, Rich Horton, David Afsharirad, N.K. Jemisin and John Joseph Adams, and others.

But we’re not done yet — and in fact, this week two of my favorites landed on the same day. I’ll deal with Robert Shearman and Michael Kelly’s The Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume Five in a future post, but today I want to talk about the latest installment in Paula Guran’s long-running Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror.

This is the ninth volume in the series, which has been continuously published since 2010. While Paula has been enormously productive in the last decade, this is her sole anthology in 2018, which she laments a little in her Acknowledgments.

This is, if she’s counted correctly, the forty-fifth anthology Guran has edited. Instead of what had become the usual multiple titles per calendar year, it is the only anthology that will appear from her in 2018. That’s probably a refreshing break for most people. She’s got mixed feelings about it herself. After more than a decade of full-time editing, she now freelancing. Guran enjoys the variety but regrets the lack of a monthly paycheck.

This year’s edition includes much of the most talked-about horror and dark fantasy of the year, including Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™,” Laird Barron’s “Swift to Chase,” Priya Sharma’s “The Crow Palace,” M. Rickert’s “Everything Beautiful Is Terrifying,” Robert Shearman’s “The Swimming Pool Party,” and Stephen Graham Jones’s complete Tor.com novella Mapping the Interior, published at $10.99. Another reason why The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror is one of the best values on the shelves.

Altogether there are 26 stories in the latest volume, plus an introduction by Paula and a 7-page About the Authors section. Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Birthday Reviews: Peter H. Cannon’s “Cats, Rats, and Bertie Wooster”

Friday, October 19th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Gahan Wilson

Cover by Gahan Wilson

Peter H. Cannon was born on October 19, 1951.

Cannon’s non-fiction book H.P. Lovecraft was nominated for the 1990 Bram Stoker Award. Cannon also works as an editor for Publisher’s Weekly, handling mystery and thriller reviews. Many of Cannon’s stories are strongly based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Conan Doyle, Frank Belknap Long, and P.G. Wodehouse.

Peter H. Cannon originally published “Scream for Jeeves; Or, Cats, Rats, and Bertie Wooster” as by H.P.G. Wodecraft in the Roodmas 1990 issue of Crypt for Cthulhu, #72, edited by Robert M. Price. The story was reprinted the next month in Dagon #27 and in 1994, Cannon published it as “Cats, Rats, and Bertie Wooster” using his own name, P.H. Cannon, in his collection Scream for Jeeves: A Parody. The story also appeared in 1996 in Cannon’s The Lovecraft Papers and in 1999 in his collection Forever Azathoth and Other Horrors. In 2009, it was translated into French for inclusion in Patrick Marcel’s collection of essays Les nombreuses vies de Cthulhu which included Cannon’s story as well as a story by Kim Newman.

“Cats, Rats, and Bertie Wooster” places P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster and his butler, Jeeves, in a Lovecraftian milieu, the Exham Priory in Anchester, Wales, where the character finds himself in the 1923 story “Rats in the Walls.” Invited to the Priory by his friend Captain Edward “Tubby” Norrys, Bertie makes the acquaintance of Pop de la Poer who shares his family history with Bertie, despite Bertie’s clear indifference. The presence of rats in the walls of the priory and the discovery of ancient cellars beneath it lead, as in Lovecraft’s original story, to a later expedition into the depths, an expedition which includes many learned men as well as Bertie because De la Poer and Norrys want Jeeves to participate.

While Wodehouse’s Wooster is an incurious prig, Cannon’s Wooster takes that a step further, not only being self-involved, but actively stupid. Jeeves, on the other hand, is not just a competent butler, but an erudite, well-read, intellectual. Because the story is told from Wooster’s point of view, Cannon can allow his indifference and idiocy obviate the need to provide any real explanation for what is happening. Wooster just isn’t up to the task of related the horror that is found in Lovecraft’s original tale. The result is a parody of Lovecraft that never quite works and a parody of Wodehouse which seems to miss the mark.

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Goth Chick News: Three New Horror Stories to Chill Your October Nights

Thursday, October 18th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Dark Beneath the Ice-small The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein-small Dracul Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker-small

With our favorite month of the year nearly half over, and the last two weeks of “the season” in full swing, we here at Goth Chick News have been living on a diet of adult beverages, caffeine and Pez. From making the rounds to Chicagoland’s best haunted attractions, to hosting our biennial Halloween bash for 200 (this year’s theme was Freak Show), there has been very little time to sleep as we work to cram in every last drop of fun before November 1st.

So, normally I would bring you these three new releases one at a time. But as it’s 3 a.m. here in the Midwest and I’ve had quite a lot of espresso, you’re getting them all in one go.

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé was released in August and is the Canadian author’s first book. Technically it is considered YA, but as I didn’t know that going in, I honestly wouldn’t have guessed. Though I wouldn’t exactly bill it the way the publisher did, as “Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity,” The Dark Beneath the Ice is a terrific, creepy story that poses many questions, one of which is: can an inner demon summon the supernatural?

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Birthday Reviews: Katherine Kurtz’s “Venture in Vain”

Thursday, October 18th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Venture in Vain

Venture in Vain

Katherine Kurtz was born on October 18, 1944.

Kurtz won the coveted Balrog Award for her novel Camber the Heretic in 1982. Volumes in her Deryni series have been nominated for the British Fantasy Award, the Gandalf Award, and the Mythopoeic Award. Kurtz was one of the Guests of Honor at the 1996 World Fantasy Convention held in Schaumburg, Illinois. She has collaborated with Deborah Turner Harris on the Adept and Templar Knights series, with Robert Reginald on Codex Derynianus, with Scott MacMillan on the Knights of the Blood series and some short fiction. She has edited or co-edited anthologies of short stories set in her Deryni and Templar Knights worlds.

“Venture in Vain” was published as a chapbook, issued to commemorate Kurtz’s 2001 visit to the John M. Pfau Library at California State University at San Bernardino. Only 300 copies were printed and the story has never been reprinted. Each copy was autographed.

The Deryni cycle is a historically based fantasy series modeled after the Welsh kingdom which focuses on dynastic conflict combined with the inclusion of the race of Deryni, who have magical and psychic abilities that cause them to be feared by the humans they live among. “Venture in Vain” is set thirty-one years prior to the events of Kurtz’s original trilogy, although she has also written several volumes and short stories that are set before the story. It focuses on a group of Mearan nobility, including two princesses, who are fleeing before a Gwynedd invasion. The story opens with a brief description of the dynastic intrigues which explain why the Mearans are fighting for the man they view as their rightful prince, Judhael III, and why Gwynedd King Donal Blaine Haldane views himself as the rightful ruler of Meara.

Kurtz’s attention to detail, the creation of a multifaceted society, and her characters are what bring the Deryni novels to life and give them the feel that Kurtz is reporting on actual historical events. Within the confines of “Venture in Vain,” Kurtz doesn’t have a lot of time to provide focus to each element of her stories, so the story works best for those with prior familiarity to the world of the Deryni. She is able to explain the dynastic situation, create characters, who while not fully fleshed out do show complexity. When the Deryni Morian ap Lewys catches the fugitives, he notes that none of them are villains and they are doing what they must because that is how their roles play out for them. While Kurtz doesn’t show the complex magic that plays a role in so many of the stories, she does demonstrate the subtlety of Deryni powers when Morian questions Sir Frances and Sir Robard.

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Pickpockets and Stendhal Syndrome: First Impressions of Florence

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 | Posted by Sean McLachlan


The fortified palace of the Medici

I love being married to a scientist.

My wife was giving a seminar at Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory in Florence last week and instead of staying home and writing like I probably should have, I decided to tag along. It was my fourth time in Italy and I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Four days in Florence didn’t change that.

The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance is a visual overload of beauty, so much so that when I gave a talk yesterday on using setting in writing, I gave Florence as an example of a place that’s impossible to describe without having an intimate knowledge of it. The entire trip I suffered from Stendhal Syndrome, a condition named after the 19th century French author who fell into a swoon from all the beauty he was exposed to in Florence. It was impossible to take it all in.

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She-Ra is Now Even More She-Ra

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 | Posted by mariebilodeau


For the first time since 1985 (that’s 33 years, people), She-Ra: Princess of Power is getting a full cartoon reboot. Her twin brother and forefather, in a strange, slightly uncomfortable and incestuous link, has already received multiple reboots, some more popular than others (New Adventures, anyone?), but She-Ra hasn’t been seen since the 80s except in some toys and very dark DC storylines. Which mostly focused around her brother, of course.

This time, She-Ra is breaking free! And, from all accounts, she represents her She-Ra-ness more than ever before.

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