Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Black Gate reviews Helen's Daimones

 Feeling honored. Some quotes from review:
"Helen is one of the stranger heroes to feature in swords & sorcery. Is she delusional, mad, gifted? I was never quite sure — she is only a little girl — but I was never able to take my eyes off her. With a cast as strange as this novel has, Helen remains the focus throughout. Even when she’s off stage, the question of what she is doing always seems to rise to the fore."
"Too much of what’s called grimdark is little more than sex and gore splashed over a standard epic fantasy story. True horror — and at its heart, Helen’s Daimones is a horror story — unsettles, disorients, and makes you feel like the world will fall out from under your feet at any moment. Lindberg’s novel does all those things."
"There are strange territories in the wilds of swords & sorcery that have been visited successfully by only a handful of writers. They are places where, aside from some actual swords and sorcery, few of the common trappings of the genre are found. Magic may be phatasmagorical, the world — both physically and culturally — has no echoes of our own, and the hero is more likely to be a golem, a resurrected nobleman, or a little girl than an axe-swinging warrior.
Some of C.L. Moore’s Jirel stories and most of Clark Ashton Smith’s oeuvre mapped portions of these realms. In Throne of Bones, Brian McNaughton brought back a detailed study of one nation. Michael Shea and Darrell Schweitzer mapped whole continents. They’re dangerous places, permeated by darkness and decay, and the scent of death is rarely absent from the thick, curdled air.
S.E. Lindberg’s short novel, Helen’s Daimones (2017), is one such tale of this diseased stretch of the world of swords & sorcery. I can’t say this book quite attains the same heights as Shea’s Nifft the Lean or Schweitzer’s The Mask of the Sorcerer, but much of the time it comes tantalizingly close."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

2017 Holiday Card

 Behind the Scenes (BTS)

Sweetie the Cat poses
We had a few ideas that never came together this year, so we turned to the 2016 archives for this year. Yes, we actually have several cards developed over the years we keep as backup (recall the past ~19yrs or so of cards are on Seth's desk and online).  Heidi (Wife, Art Director, Boss, etc.) took the lead with the photography (as one can tell from her Instagram Page and Photography website, she leans towards capturing portraiture). The original intent last year was to have both animals featured like a sequel to the 2009 card (sans Stinky the white cat).  

The Behind The Scenes footage documents a fraction of the challenging photo-session (2min compilation produced by Erin). Even though Seth donned an "Attempting to Care" T-shirt...and Heidi had "Loads of Hope"... the desired picture of both animals together was never achieved. Shorty is shown below with the classic Bokeh effect. With a keen eye, viewers should see the split seconds used for Sweetie (card image) and Shorty (shown below). After entertaining the idea of printing both Cat and Dog cards, we decided just to make hardcopy prints of Sweetie. Erin politely covered up the audible curses with the "Sleigh Ride" song. It is fitting, since both portraits of the animals seem "calm and peaceful" even though the photoshoot was not.
Shorty the Pug, runner up model
2017 has been fun, with Seth releasing another weird fiction novel: Helen's Daimones, Erin applying for college (either for secondary education or for eMedia/script writing), and Connor growing to 6'2" (yes, Seth has a complex about that). Connor should be driving next year, eh gad!

Here's wishing everyone a safe and action-packed 2018!

2009 Holiday Card

Jan-Feb Anthology Group Read

Sword & Sorcery Goodreads Group 

Jan-Feb Annual Anthology Read



Poll
Jan-Feb 2018: Our annual Anthology groupread is approaching! Which one do you plan to read (or recommend for others)? Magazines can count too. Some examples are pre-populated, but please write-in some more!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Bone Sword- review by SE


The Bone Sword
by Walter Rhein
S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a big Walter Rhein fan, having read and reviewed his autobiographical Reckless Traveler (highly recommended story of his South American travels), and his fiction Reader of Acheron (also highly recommended, this one being more of dystopian, urban fantasy focused on a culture in which reading is prohibited). Actually, the sequel to The Reader of Acheron is slated for a 2018 release and I was anxious to read more Rhein. So, I grabbed The Bone Sword to tie me over.

The Bone Sword is classic fantasy with a coming of age story of a brother and sister (Noah and Jasmine). Their savior is the outcast warrior: Malik. This tale is simpler with less philosophical undertones than the Reader or Reckless Traveler. The "bad guys" are undeniably evil (Father Ivory in particular, though one may argue he was 50%crazy). The "good guys" are the young children with brewing, magical potential, and their fellow oppressed villagers. The only "gray" character is Malik, but despite his ability to murder and fight, he is closely aligned with the good guys and brings hope to the battle of Miscony.

The first chapter I feared was going to be cliche or overly simplistic, but Rhein quickly introduced meaningful backstory and context. A few chapters in, and I became genuinely attached to the main party. Rhein sprinkles in several very memorable scenes to ramp up the drama. A slight over reliance on rapid healing dampens several stunning sequences that had taken my breath away.

The Bone Sword is a step above a lot of fantasy. It is only #1 of a promised cycle, which is great news. For now, I eagerly await "Acheron #2/The Slaves of Erafor #2" which should emerged soon.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sponsoring Grim Tidings 105

Dyscrasia plagues the Grim Tidings Podcast #105

Thankfully there is a podcast for every subject, even dark fantasy. Rob Matheny and Philip Overby have run the Grim Tidings Podcast since May 2015. They also moderate a fun Facebook group to complement the discussions. Want to learn about contemporary authors writing dark fantasy? Listen to these guys. 

So it is natural to sponsor an episode with the recent release of Helen's Daimones! Sponsors get 30sec-1min each, during the intro; Rob reads about Helen's Daimones at minute 1:23 à 2:17.

Grim Tidings Podcast #105 Interview with R.J. Barker

#105: The British Invasion comes to an epic conclusion as we’re joined by R.J. Barker! During our expletive laden (not really) and completely serious (also not really) interview, we talk all about R.J.’s epic fantasy debut from Orbit Books titled AGE OF ASSASSINS! We discuss the appeal of assassins, what inspired R.J. to give the lead character a disability, musical influences in writing, antlers, taxidermy, badgers, and much, much … much more. We’ve also included a super cool reading from AGE OF ASSASSINS at the conclusion of the podcast as well! Find R.J. Barker online at rjbarkerblog.wordpress.com, or on Twitter @dedbutdrmng!

Thanks to this weeks' sponsors:
Past episodes you'll want to check out:
~~~
Support GTP on Patreon
Download on iTunesStitcher, or Podbean
On Twitter @GrimdarkFiction
Rob Matheny on FacebookTwitterInstagram
Philip Overby online at PhilipOverby.com, or on Twitter 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Beauty in Ruins: Fantasy Review: Helen's Daimones by S.E. Lindberg

I am honored to have Bob Milne of Beauty in Ruins Book reviews dissect Helen's Daimones.  Like weird fiction, then you should follow his blog & reviews.  



Bob Milne 2017 from Beauty in Ruins: Fantasy Review: Helen's Daimones by S.E. Lindberg



"The Dyscrasia novels by S.E. Lindberg are deep, intricate reads that hearken back to the pulp days of Lovecraft, Howard, and others. 


...What this chapter did for me was breathe real life (no pun intended) into Lord Lysis. He becomes a sympathetic character here, especially in his encounter with a tragic young woman (buried alive so many years ago), the ghosts of her children (hung for their corruption), and their army of dolls (crazy, dangerous dolls). He's still a monster, a fearfully powerful being, but he's also a personality here. As for Doctor Grave, he was already a full-fledged character, but he becomes a little more chilling here as new layers of mystery leave us to question his deeper motives.

...Helen's Daimones is weird fantasy, weirdly told, for weird readers. As the strongest of the three stories to date, it makes for a great introduction to Lindberg's world, and creates more than enough interest for a fourth entry.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

HATE - feelings good about reviews


Wanted to capture two rewarding instances for writing reviews. Apart from the occasional "helpful" review click on Amazon.com (after ~7yrs, I have 281 helpful marks on 109 book reviews;  ~50,000 reviewer ranking), there is little feedback from other customers.

1) HATE is good 

Being an avid board gamer too, I was combing board game geek for an update on CMON's HATE game.  CMON and artist Adrian Smith have been in league together for some time.  Adrian Smith's graphic novels are being adapted into a boardgame, and I was looking for an update when lo-and-behold the chat room in Board Game Geek had my review of Vol.#1 posted to explain the context of the series (link).  Of course, my credit is identified as "Amazon Reviewer" which is ok. I was thrilled my review was useful and shared.

Expect a Kickstarter from CMON on HATE in a year or so.






2) We Are All Legends

That experience reminded me of a Facebook interaction several years ago.  A few of us Sword & Sorcery aficionados were discussing Darrell Schweitzer's  We Are All Legends (click for review: it's a collection of weird adventure by a master of weird fiction).

I lamented in a comment that only two of us had reviewed the book at the time (2008, 2012).  Then Caleb chimed in to say he was the other! I did not know Caleb, and the Facebook group was rather obscure (I believe it was one dedicated to Karl Wagner). In any event, it was a rewarding moment to stumble across another reviewer! In 2015, another reviewer stepped up for this book.  Really, We Are All Legends deserves to be read (and reviewed) more.