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A Paean to the Outsider: A Review of Neither Beg Nor Yield, edited by Jason M. Waltz

A Paean to the Outsider: A Review of Neither Beg Nor Yield, edited by Jason M. Waltz

Neither Beg Nor Yield (Rogue Blades Entertainment, April 2024)

I can’t say if Jason M. Waltz and his Rogue Blades Entertainment’s swansong is the largest collection of Sword & Sorcery ever published, but it’s damn close.

It’s also the most metal. From this over-the-top, blood-splash cover featuring an axe headed toward the reader’s face to the powerful black & white line art that runs throughout. there’s a Savage Sword of Conan-meets-Heavy Metal vibe to the layout that tells you exactly the feel of the prose within.

With all respect to my friend Dave Ritzlin at DMR Books (and the most metal *publisher* of S&S), who literally launched his press by bringing S&S-loving metalhead musicians together to create anthologies of tales, I don’t mean erudite, I can tell you the difference between symphonic metal, thrash metal, Viking metal, dark metal, and the White Christ help us, Troll Metal (which I just learned a few months ago is actually a thing): I mean working out with your buddies in your dad’s garage gym with the Judas Priest-cranked between rewatches on VHS of Conan (the Barbarian, we don’t talk about the sequel), and Beastmaster, or cackling to yourself while working on your killer dungeon to spring on your friends at Friday night’s game with Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden wailing metal.

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The Future of Iraq, According to the Country’s Science Fiction Authors

The Future of Iraq, According to the Country’s Science Fiction Authors

1907297246With all the grim news coming out of Iraq, it’s easy to think the country has no future. That’s wrong, of course, because being one of the oldest countries in the world, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

But what will that future look like? To answer that question, UK publisher Comma Press has released Iraq +100, an anthology of Iraqi writers imagining the future of their nation. As the blurb says:

Iraq + 100 poses a question to ten Iraqi writers: what might your country look like in the year 2103 – a century after the disastrous American- and British-led invasion, and 87 years down the line from its current, nightmarish battle for survival? How might the effects of that one intervention reach across a century of repercussions, and shape the lives of ordinary Iraqi citizens, or influence its economy, culture, or politics? Might Iraq have finally escaped the cycle of invasion and violence triggered by 2003 and, if so, what would a new, free Iraq look like?

Covering a range of approaches – from science fiction, to allegory, to magic realism – these stories use the blank canvas of the future to explore the nation’s hopes and fears in equal measure. Along the way a new aesthetic for the ‘Iraqi fantastical’ begins to emerge: thus we meet time-travelling angels, technophobic dictators, talking statues, macabre museum-worlds, even hovering tiger-droids, and all the time buoyed by a dark, inventive humour that, in itself, offers hope.

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