Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wagner's Conan Pastiche - The Road of Kings

Conan: Road of KingsConan: Road of Kings by Karl Edward Wagner
S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wagner's pastiches are highly recommended. A groupread from the Sword & Sorcery group in Goodreads led me to this. In short, the milieu was true to Hyborbian Age as discussed above. Also, it followed Conan's development from buccaneer to potential king well; this would serve as a great prequel to REH"s only novel length Conan story The Hour of the Dragon.

Karl Edward Wagner was a dark fantasy hero, taking editing and writing very seriously. His expertise in adventure horror led him to develop the Sword & Sorcery amoral hero Kane (Gods in Darkness: The Complete Novels of Kane), which is legendary stuff. He also paid homage to Robert E. Howard by writing two pastiches: one for REH's hero Bran Mak Morn called Bran Mak Morn: Legion From The Shadows (a sequel to the Worms of the Earth short) and one for Conan called Conan: The Road of Kings. In both cases, Wagner took care to represent REH's Hyborian Age/milieu well while extending the canon slightly.

KEW ensured that Hyborian Age's historic cataclysms affected current life. The same events that sank Atlantis also covered the city of Kordova, the central local of this this book. The still inhabitable, underground city called the Pit and the drowned Kalenius's Tomb are not passive backdrops of history ... but affect the future of the land. The Pit was a great idea, only partially realized. Imagine manor houses and streets at the base of a grand canyon. There were many instances of fiery riots, but the consequences (like excess smoke/oxygen deprivation... and a lack of visibility were not demonstrated). "The Road of Kings" was written in 1979, before the popular Arnold movie that began with the oft quoted below (paraphrased from REH’s opening to Phoenix in the Sword).

“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars—Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen- eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."—The Nemedian Chronicles -Phoenix in the sword 1932 REH

“Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure! - Wizard from Conan the Barbarian Movie 1982”
Conan: The Road of Kings delivers everything one would want in a pastiche. REH's voice: even though REH wrote in short story form for Conan, this novel still read similarly. It's pace was uber-fast and the fight scene's grim. The milieu was true to Hyborbian Age as discussed above. Also, it followed Conan's development from buccaneer to potential king well; this would serve as a great prequel to REH"s only novel length Conan story The Hour of the Dragon. It was also true to the Sword and Sorcery genre that spawned from REH: Callidos's Stygian Necromancy and controlling of the golem-esque Final Guard worked well for the "sorcery", and plenty of melee satisfied the "sword" aspect.

Illustrations by Tim Kirk start out nicely grim (i.e., execution charms and souvenirs , i.e., hands and heads that amplify the story) but then quickly turn into a sparse picture book glossary for armor and weapons (halberds, swords, etc. that don;t add much to the story). Keeping this from a 5-star is the Climax and Ending. The story arc was well designed but the delivery fell a little flat; the last chapter felt rushed and would have been better served drawn out. That said, Conan: The Road of Kings was a great fast read that will satisfy cravings for more Conan...but will only leave you wanting even another helping!

Gods in Darkness The Complete Novels of Kane by Karl Edward Wagner Bran Mak Morn Legion From The Shadows (Bran Mak Morn) by Karl Edward Wagner Conan The Road of Kings by Karl Edward Wagner

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Pax Masculina - Scamehorn's dark short film spurns misogyny with steampunk madness!

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently attending another annual meeting of IASR. It's a great group of folks interested in soap technology, but many of us are artists too! Professor John Scamehorn has been writing and producing his own dark sci-fi short film called Pax Masculina.  The best way to advertise this is to share the abstracts from IMDB and Facebook...oh those and the trailer! Keep an eye out for this as it grows from an independent endeavor into a full feature film (one day hopefully).


Talking soap and ... movie production with Professor Scamehorn!

IMDB: In the United States in 2010, a misogynistic, totalitarian regime has created a century of peace and prosperity - the Pax Masculina. The Womans Resistance movement violently opposed the government as they fight for equality...

FB: "A religious leader known as the Prophet claims to speak directly to God and becomes dictator of the United States in 1910. The prophet defines a society where women have few rights and are expected to be dutiful wives and mothers. Uninhibited by the interference of women, the resultant government leads to a hundred years of peace and prosperity, known as the Pax Masculina. The movie takes place in 2010 when the Womans Resistance Movement has become very violent in its opposition to the misogynistic regime in their fight for equality. They use assassinations and bombings to create terror and kill without mercy. These women wear steampunk themed uniforms. Seduction and murder of policemen and government officials is a common tactic. The government induces its own terror with televised executions of captured soldiers. This film raises questions about how high a price is freedom worth when the alternative is a stable, comfortable society and illustrates the eternal tension between the sexes.'


 Genre
Science Fiction, Steam Punk, Live Action Short, Short Film, Independent Film
About
In the US in 2010, a misogynistic, totalitarian regime has created a century of peace and prosperity but are opposed by the Womans Resistance Movement.
Plot Outline
The prophet and his descendants have created a social system along the lines of the Old Testament or Victorian England in that women are treated like property. They are told by their fathers who to marry, influenced in large part by the dowry provided. The society is economically successful and no wars have been fought for a century. This utopian paradise is disrupted by a violent opposition group known as the Womans Resistance Movement whose soldiers wear sexy steampunk themed uniforms, designed for combat and seduction. Both sides are ruthless as the women kill police without hesitation or mercy. The regime televise public hangings of captured soldiers, viewed as entertainment by all citizens.The fundamental conflict between men and women is illustrated by this film.
Starring
Rebecca Bartlett
Will Gardner
Kharissa Edmond
Stephen Goodman
Alex Harris
Written By
John Scamehorn
Screenplay By
John Scamehorn


Produced By
John Scamehorn via Scamehorn Productions LLC


Norman OK - Tom and his Dragon



For the last several years I have made an annual trip to Norman OK to attend a consortium on surfactants (IASR). I've been lucky to sneak a snack in with local friend and author Tom Barzcak. He also writes surreal dark fantasy, and is an artist too. This round we took turns speed-drawing as we talked. I drew a portrait of Tom with a shadowy dragon perched on his shoulders and he drew my lead protagonist, the skeletal warrior Lysis! Woo-hoo fan art of Dyscrasia Fiction!

We both contribute to Perseid Press's Heroika and Heroes in Hell series. Always enjoy discussing art and writing with Tom. Below is table of contents of my posts on his work and a great interview about his inspirations. 





Nov 21, 2015 ... Last year I took the opportunity to track down Tom Barczak whom I interviewed in 2014 and happens to live there. He has a similar poetic/dark ...
www.selindberg.com
Jun 12, 2014 ... Tom Barczak Interview. This continues the interviews of weird/speculative fiction authors on the themes of Art & Beauty in Fiction. Tom Barczak ...
www.selindberg.com
May 9, 2014 ... Veil of the Dragon by Tom Barczak S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars “…all seemed like a ghost that he could scarcely remember…” There is a lot to like in ...
www.selindberg.com
Aug 19, 2016 ... Awakening Evarun by Tom Barczak S.E. rating: 5 of 5 stars. Thaumaturgy is associated with deep incantation of magic, and Tom Barczak is an ...
www.selind

Brackett's Sword of Rhiannon- Review by S.E.

The Sword of RhiannonThe Sword of Rhiannon by Leigh Brackett
S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leigh Brackett's sword & planet adventure The Sword of Rhiannon is a short novel but a favorite among aficionado's. It was first published Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories in "Thrilling Wonder" Magazine in 1949 (cover artist Earle Bergey).


It is like Indiana Jones looted Cthulhu's tomb!


This really is a gem. Written before Sci-Fi and Fantasy really became substantial genres of their own, the summary of this sounds Sci-Fi but really is Fantasy. The Mars milieu features little technology; in fact, it is almost exclusively populated with fantasy creatures ("halflings" that are like reminiscent of harpies, mermaids, and man-serpents) and fantasy/historic technology (swords, pirate ships); there is a lack of laser guns and air-ships. Actually, the technology that enables some interesting time/space travel is rooted in a Lovecraftian Mythos magic associated with an elder race (Quiro).

Our protagonist is Carse, an archaeologist/criminal who is very "Indiana Jones" like (of course this was created long before Indy Jones hit theaters). The titular Sword of Rhiannon is revealed from the start to Carse; it had been hidden for centuries in a tomb, so it was rumored, and he quickly finds the tomb from which it came as sought treasure to loot. His adventure begins as he comes into contact with eldritch forces...

The adventure is high throttle action from start to finish. The reader learns more of the curse of Rhiannon. However, there is a rich history and dynamics between cultures that are not fully realized. I would have enjoyed experiencing more of: the initial/future perspective on Rhiannon's past, the Dhuvian's oppression of others, the demonstration of Rhiannon's power(s), the demonstration of the Sword's power or purpose...

Brackett's prose is deeper and more poetic than one expects from pulpy Sword & Planet. Here is an excerpt:
"It was a long way to the city. Carse moved at a steady plodding pace. He did not try to find the easiest path but rammed his way through and over all obstacles, never deviating from the straight line that led to Jekkara. His cloak hampered him and he tore it off. His face was empty of all expression but sweat ran down his cheeks and mingled with the salt of tears.

He walked between two worlds. He went through valleys drowsing in the heat of the summer day, where leafy branches of strange trees raked his face and the juice of crushed grasses stained his sandals. Life, winged and furred and soft of foot, fled from him with a stir and a rustle. And yet he knew that he walked in a desert, where even the wind had forgotten the names of the dead for whom it mourned.

He crossed high ridges, where the sea lay before him and he could hear the boom of the surf on the beaches. And yet he saw only a vast dead plain, where the dust ran in little wavelets among the dry reefs. The truths of thirty years living are not easily forgotten."


This book is very well done but feels like four servings of a five-course-meal. It is a quick read and well worth it, but apparently this is a stand alone adventure. This novel could easily have been inflated to 2x its length without departing from its pulp-adventure roots (i.e., it would not become filler-saturated epic fantasy). Brackett did write more Sword and Planet, but not with Carse.

The Sword of Rhiannon by Leigh Brackett Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories by Leigh Brackett

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

World Fantasy Convention 2016 Wrap Up - READINGS

World Fantasy Convention 2016 - S. E. Lindberg Summaries:
WFC 2016 Author readings

Darrell Schweitzer reads soon to be published "Girl in the Attic"
Listening to authors read their own work, often works-in-progress (WIP), is a perk of attending conventions. At this years WFC I heard the following:
  • Peter Straub
  • Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Fred Durbin
  • Carol Berg
  • Darrell Schweitzer 
  • Sally Grotta
Shown at top is a reading from Darrell of his soon to be published weird fiction "Girl in the Attic" (to be included in S T Joshi's Black Wings). His dark humor percolated through his fear of the Pocono ridge lines. Very grateful to Darrell Schweitzer for the opportunity to participate in the panels and to have so much time chatting-about/listening-to weird fiction.

I also really enjoyed listening to Carol Berg present her WIP "Chimera"; she attended the Writer-Artist panel and Brenda Carr introduced me to her.  Had a great discussion on engineering and writing. Also enjoyed hearing Sally Grotta read her WIP "Dream a Little World" which is a captivating adventure in which people can make their dreams "real." Also got to listen to Sarah Avery read from her Imlen Brat (a book brought to life via Kickstarter which I had backed); Sarah has links to Black Gate magazine, having work appearing in the last issue #15. A great experience to listen to accomplished, professional writers. All very friendly and inspiring.
Carol Berg read WIP "Chimera"


Sally Grotta reads WIP "Dream a Little World"

Sarah Avery read Imlen Brat