Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Glass Blowing - Making an Ornament


The sequel to Lords of Dyscrasia is coming in 2014, entitled Spawn of Dyscrasia.  It features a hero from Clan Tonn who is a glass blower.  My wife empowered me to do some research by signing me up for a basic glass blowing class; the goal being to make a glass ornament.  So across town to Brazee Street Studios (Cincinnati, OH) I went and had a great time.  John Ruzsa (glass blower) guided me through the process.  The below montages summarize:

  1. Gather some glass (Furnace 1)
  2. Manage temperature of the pipe and glass (Furnace 2)
  3. Add some color (colored frit is worked in)
  4. Shape it (molding, blowing, pincing)
  5. Anneal it (Furnace 3, not shown here.  Essentially the glass is equilibrated at a cooler, but still "hot" temperature.)

The ornament is quite robust, and rather heavy.  The blowpipe is the length of an Aikido jo (staff) and could easily be employed in combat.  And the furnaces...wow...they are hot!








Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Card 2013

Season Greetings & Happy New Years! 

The Lindberg Family wishes everyone a smooth transition into 2014.

 2103 card

Mythic Santa Concept

The Lindberg Card tradition has been escalating since 1998 (see Teamlindberg crafts gallery).  Each year I arbitrarily blend two themes.  This year was "Myths" and "Santa," borrowing design elements from the 2010 and 2011 cards, while portraying Santa as are more heroic. Below I list some of my initial concepts to explore:
 2010 Holiday Card 2011 Holiday Card
Santa + Centaur = "Santaur." Okay, I made that word up.  I liked the idea, but centaurs do not fly. I went out looking for horse creatures that could (i.e. Pegasus).      
Santa + Sleipnir = creepy weirdness.  The centaur alternative would be "Sleipnir", the 8-legged Viking horse who could ride the sky.  This concept just produced creepy sketches (not shown here :) ).   Winged horses might work, but didn't Santa have reindeer?
Deer + wings = "Peryton." Okay, Santa doesn't need wings if his reindeer have them.  Thanks go out to Seabury Court Resident Mythologist Erin (a.k.a. daughter) for educating me that winged-deer actually have been classified already.
Sleigh or Chariot?  Suitable vehicles for sky riding include chariots, as per Helios, Sun-driver.  For starters I tried working with the chariot.

Sketches Start the Process

Setting the Landscape with Photography & Virtual Globe

Envisioning an epic, celestial landscape, I went to my neighborhood street (Seabury Court) to capture the sunset's awesome clouds.  Thanks to neighbor Frank for letting me trespass on his driveway and grab the below snapshot (in July no less, I had to plan early this year!).   For the earth, I decided to take advantage of Photoshop's 3D object capability (I had to learn how to use it sooner than later). Online tutorials (video demo and step-by-step tutorial links) guided me through wrapping the 2D earth-map over a sphere.


Composition: Rotating Earth & Adding Sketches

The sunset image and globe were combined to get the composition started.  Adding the sketches came next. The earth had to be turned such that the sun came from the east, chasing Santa as he rides into the night.

Blocking-in Sketches

Next came painting the characters, so I “blocked in” their bodies by tracing over the previous sketches with the digital paintbrush.  

Readjusting & Detailing Perytons ... Chariot morphed into a Troika Sleigh

The chariot idea wasn't working for the image, so it morphed into a sleigh. Notice that Santa is more like a beefy-god rather than beer-belly fatso.  Custom brushes were used for the fur, cloud, and feather textures. The Swatch and Brush panels serve as paint palettes.  A Wacom Bamboo tablet enabled pressure-sensitive brushing.


Photoshop Workspace

A screenshot captures the complex document.  It is >250MB, full of layers (most with masks) and Smart Objects.  Had to colorize the 50+ layers to maintain sense of them.  Adjustment layers (also masked) help tune lighting, saturation, color-temperature.  To wrap things up, the year was added in Roman Numeral style (as done in 2007, 2012).  Then it was submitted to psprint.com for hardcopy printing ~Nov 5th.  This provides a few weeks to approve the proof and get copies in before the hectic Thanksgiving Day week.  







Sunday, December 8, 2013

RobotSlayer, Vince Kamp's Family Friendly Graphic Novel - Review by S.E.

Robotslayer by Vincent Kamp

S.E. Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

Family Friendly Heroic Fun: Looking for a fun, meaningful book to read to your child? Read this with your child, or let them have a go at it. Great art is inspired by passionate creators, as is Vince Kamp, who delivers this family-friendly graphic novel in a variety of forms (paperback comic and interactive “app”). The author’s engineering-minded father clearly influenced his own creativity; here, he pays the gesture forward to influence his own children, Leo and Benny, who literary play the heroes. Each panel is beautifully designed and painted.



The real Leo and Benny fight 8' tall, Kamp-made robots outside their Dad's "robot lab" (photo from author's website)

Availability: As good as the paperback is, most people will enjoy getting the electronic version (iPad only), since the entire graphic novel comes with a splendid mini-game and a host of interactive frames (only $2.99 in the US app store). Currently (Dec 2013) the paperback is easiest to get via a United Kingdom source (i.e. Amazon.co.uk), even if you are in the US.

App: The App is the entire graphic novel in electronic form, amplified with sounds, interactivity, and a cool mini-game. The arcade-style game is worth the price of admission; it is quite addicting too. Conservatively rated (Rated 9+), I think any boy from 2yr to 13yr’s old would enjoy this without issue. Any fantasy violence presented is really quite tame. Juvenile humor manifests in numerous “farting rats.”

Younger readers would need help with the reading, of course; this provides a great opportunity to read to your child. Let them press the buttons along the way to stay engaged. Older readers (adults mainly) may have to squint to read the font, until their tech-friendly counterparts show them that flicking the screen can “zoom in” (the flick-to-zoom feature may be turned off but can be activated in the settings).

More info:  The official Robotslayer website and its Facebook Page offer many details.  Best to hear from the author himself though, and you can do that too. Here's an interview with Geek Native talking about how Robotslayer came together - thanks to everybody who's getting behind it! The book is available to buy on amazon, there's a week and a bit until it's on the App Store... Mental. All the high fives!

Interview: Also, check out my 2011 Interview of Vince Kamp in which he discusses how he illustrated the book.



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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sword and Sorcery Movie Queue: 2014 and beyond

Sword and Sorcery list (Link)

Instead of maintaining separate postings for Sword & Sorcery movies (blog link) each year, I am now doing that via one list on the IMDB (the internet movie database).  Please suggest any additions/edits.  Here are some of the cool features:
  • Sort List: by Ranking, US release date (and flip/inverse ordering)
  • Immediate Streaming:  Click the buttons on the side to see which one's you can stream immediately...and if you are a Amazon Prime member (watch some for free...right now!).
  • Quiz: there is a fun quiz offered for this list
  • Trailers and Reviews
  • Export the List (so you can graph trends, like the quality and quantity of the genre)

2014 Highlights:  Some neat films are coming out in Dec 2013/2014, including:

  • 47 Ronin
  • A 300 sequel
  • Seventh Son
  • Hercules (2 of them actually)
  • Hobbit sequels

IMDB Sword and Sorcery movie list




Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Last of His Kind - Review by S.E.

The Last of His Kind and Other StoriesThe Last of His Kind and Other Stories by Bill Ward
S.E.Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last Man Standing – Seven Delightful, Demonic Duels


The Last of His Kind and Other Stories  by Bill Ward packages five of his previously published tales with two new ones (see the table of contents below.) This is highly recommended for Dark Fantasy fans.

One story is “man vs. self/society” but the rest share the conflict of “protagonist vs. rival.” These are the most serious of conflicts, each being a fantastic duel to the death. Hence an apt, alternative title would be “Last Man Standing.” All are dark fantasy, and Ward’s entertaining narrative will escort you kindly through hell (but not back). Each story is original and varied in milieu/perspective/available magic. The tales are also arranged nicely, with two flash fiction pieces breaking up the normal length short stories.

You’ll experience heavy doses of chaotic evil, small aliquots of guns, a bit of oriental mystique, and two solid hits of bewilderment. Also, the last tale echoes the hellish goodness presented in the first; check out these excerpts:

Hellish Environment, from By Hellish Means
…within the amphitheater vestibule was a thick, unbroken darkness, and the demon within her saw through it with a crystalline clarity. It relished, too, the tormented and frozen forms of the hundreds of corpses that filled the place…Caught in their last agony, mummified by the long years in the desert air and any the blast of hellpower that must have slain them, the dead surrounded Yrisa, screaming silent screams. Many of them, impossibly, still stood upright with their withered limbs rooted to the spot, their clothing and flesh long since fused into a single tough skin of mottled black. Most lay in heaps upon the ground, a tangled and undifferentiated mass of contorted bodies...

Hellish Action, from Wyrd of War
A red cliff of seeping flesh reared above Vendic. He charged, penetrating the aura of terror surrounding the juggernaut, his body shuddering from the tortured dirge of the construct’s chorus. He hacked at the nearest limb as one felling timber, chopping a wedge in the unprotected meat. Close now to the beast Vendic saw the individual contours of people entwined in its sickening mass—skinless tissues melding, entire bodies stretched into tendons driving dense clumps of muscle—layer upon layer of manlike shapes slithering above and beneath one another in a nightmarish parody of human anatomy. Through the clot of blood and lymph that clung to the great composite beast, scores of faces wept and screamed.

Contents
1. “The Wyrd of War” originally published in The Return of the Sword from Rogue Blades Entertainment, March 2008
2. Shadow of the Demonspawn Emperor – first time published here 2013
3. Above the Dark Wood - first time published here 2013
4. “The Killer’s Face” originally published in Morpheus Tales Issue 6, October 2009
5. “The Last of His Kind” originally published in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Issue 3, Winter 2010
6. “The Tale of Gerroth the Damned” originally published in Morpheus Tales Issue 2, October 2008
7. “By Hellish Means” originally published in Demons: A Clash of Steel from Rogue Blades Entertainment, June 2010

The titular tale is a fine adventure, but my favorites were the opening tale The Wyrd of War” and Above the Dark Wood” since they left me feeling disturbed/uncertain. Make no mistake, they were crisply and deliberately written. They were not as mind-blowing as Phillip Dick, but I was reminded of his ability to pleasantly confuse readers. I devoured the eBook on a business trip and was left hungry for more. And luckily there is! I will be checking out these other Ward anthologies in the near future:
Mightier than the Sword and Other Stories and Heartless Gao Walks Number Nine Hell and Other Stories
Mightier than the Sword and Other Stories Heartless Gao Walks Number Nine Hell and Other Stories









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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Timlett's "The Seedbearers" - Review by S.E.

The Seedbearers

The Seedbearers by Peter Valentine Timlett


S.E. Lindberg rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Game of Thrones on the Titanic!


Peter Valentine Timlett’s 1976 The Seedbearers starts a trilogy. Ostensibly inspired by history, the tale takes place on the island of Ruta (Atlantis). The cover blurb is accurate: it is a “bloody, sensual tale of an immense and violent struggle in the Atlantis of ancient Legend.” It begins with a brutal first chapter; the body of work is all political intrigue laced with sensual, adult themes; the final third is a satisfying, all-out-war synchronized with cataclysm.

Many tits are exposed, and all are gilded in gold: The domineering, Mayan-like Toltecs lead a fragile coalition. The Toltec’s themselves are split into the army and priesthood camps, and they rule over the Akkadian craftsman and Rmoahal slaves. They all live on Ruta. Chapter one is over-the-top, presenting all cultures as sexist in some way; in fact, misogyny appears intricate to the plot. The nicer cultures may treat woman okay, but still like to sacrifice virgins. Another rapes and murders them. Another eats them on occasion. In the first chapter alone there is (1) a beheading of a young girl… the subsequent eating of her corpse, (2) the a rape of one girl by >4 dozen soldiers, (3) a traditional sacrifice of young girl strapped to an altar, and (4) a slave girl whoring to maintain her life.

Timlett represents no culture in a positive light (to support the plot), but having just read Charles R. SaundersImaro (in which a wondrous blend of fantasy warfare was mixed respectfully with African history) it was jarring to see the presentation of the enslaved, black Rmoahal as ruthless cannibals led by Voodoo priests.

Sword & Sorcery?: This was pitched to Sword & Sorcery fans, but the magic is limited to telepathic and psychic elements. There are several instances in which the astral realm is explored, and the story flirts with ghosts & invisible demons (more of this would have been welcomed). The closest thing to a magic-item is the “Instrument of Mating” (a ritualistic wooden phallus…seriously).

Rating & Recommendation: Fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire series) should enjoy this. Martin may be a better writer of characterization & adult-soap-opera, but Timlett offers similar adult-fantasy themes that come to closure in one novel (this does start a trilogy, but this first dose could stand alone). Atlantis is doomed to sink after all (that is no spoiler), but there are several groups vying for power: in a nut shell, this is “Game of Thrones” on the Titanic.

The characterization probably deserves a 3-rating, but the plot is thoughtfully constructed and the action delivered well. I tend to give the initial story in a trilogy a “4’ if I am inclined to check out the second, which I am (The Power Of The Serpent).









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Friday, November 1, 2013

Goodreads Sword & Sorcery Topics for Nov-Dec 2013: Kane and Obscure Books


Sword and Sorcery Nov0Dec 2013 Groupread Kane and Obscure

All Sword & Sorcery Groupies, the poll is done and the two Groupreads Topics for Nov-Dec 2013 are:


1) Obscure Books: 
Link = https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

2) And Karl Edward Wagner's Kane
Link to groupread here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Please join us!  The banner is a montage of coverart; artist credits below:

Frank Frazetta's work shown:
Bloodstone, 1975
Dark Crusade, 1976
Night Winds, 1978

Bloodstone Dark Crusade Night Winds

Ken Kelly's cover for the Nightshade edition of:
Gods in Darkness: The Complete Novels of Kane, 2002.
Gods in Darkness  The Complete Novels of Kane 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Imaro - Sword & Soul - Review by S.E.

ImaroImaro by Charles R. Saunders
S.E. Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

Quality Adventure with Legendary Context

Style & Legendary Motivations
This unique blend of Lovecraft & African mythology features a Conan-like hero. It’s pulpy style & storytelling may merit 4 stars: its uniqueness & place in literature boost it to 5.

Imaro is adventure in the vein of vintage, pulp periodicals. Expect heavy doses of sorcery & horror at a brisk pace. Unlike traditional pulp stories, these chapters are slightly less-episodic and more-chronological. In other words, Imaro is more of a continuing character versus Howard’s original Conan publications. Adventure tropes that could be called “cheesy” are compensated well with engrossing, visceral battle scenes and bestial sorcery. In fact, I was reminded of James Silke Frazetta’s Death Dealer series and thought Charles R. Saunders was much more effective at a milieu including jungle/savannah beasts. Saunders’ Imaro felt more Frazetta-like than Gath in Prisoner of the Horned Helmet or Tooth and Claw.

An excerpt from Saunders’s Into to Milton Davis’s Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology best reveals the author’s passion:
Robert E. Howard and his contemporaries were products of their time. Racism, in the form of white supremacy, was an integral part of the popular culture of the early decades of the twentieth century, and as such it pervaded pulp fiction. As a product of a later time during which the tenets of racism came under vigorous challenge, my enjoyment of fiction from past decades was often compromised by the racial attitudes I encountered in my reading. On some occasions, I simply let it slide. On others, I wrestled with resentment. Then I discovered a way to resolve my dilemma.

Interest in African history and culture surged during the 1960s, and at the same time I was reading sword-and-sorcery and fantasy fiction, I was also absorbing heretofore-unknown information about a continent that was not “dark” as its detractors made it out to be. I realized that this non-stereotypical Africa of history and legend was just as valid a setting for fantasy stories as was the ancient and medieval Europe that served as the common default setting for everything from Conan to Lord of the Rings. A character came into my head then: Imaro, a black man who could stand alongside mythical warrior-heroes like Beowulf and Hercules, as well as fictional creations such as Conan and Kull.
Saunders executed his dream very well, uniquely adding to adventure literature & steering how African mythology is conveyed with entertaining fiction. He coined the term “Sword & Soul” and effectively started a new subgenre. Wow! I would argue that he was so effective at writing that he depicted an almost darker Nyumbani continent (i.e. Africa), albeit one based more on history & substance rather than racism. Saunders’ sensitivity toward enslavement and genocide motivated him to replace his longest chapter (Book 3: Slaves of the Giant Kings) when Nightshade printed the second edition. 

I tracked down this copy too and really liked how Saunder's revisted his past work and made it stronger. The Afua chapter in particular seemed more consistent with Imaro's development as an outcast and his conflict with evil forces...and the writing seemed less forced (especially with Tanisha's introduction). The candid remarks from Saunders and Syzumskyj (a loyal fan who urged him to revist Imaro) added value. In short, despite the first edition being a good-read, I would recommend future readers to grab the Nightshade Version if given the option (since it is even better).

1981 Imaro Edition Contents
• Book 1: Turkhana Knives
• Book 2: The Place of Stones 
• Book 3: Slaves Of The Giant Kings (replaced with “The Afua” in the 2006 edition)
• Book 4: Horror in the Black Hills (Cover for 1986 based from this chapter)
• Book 5: The City of Madness (this is not in the 2006 edition of “Imaro-1” from Nightshade…but does appear in the first chapter in Nightshades’ “Imaro-2” renamed Mji Ya Wzimu its original title in from a 1974 publication in Dark Fantasy...actually, the Nightshade edition offers a different chapter in its place called Betrayal in Blood.)

Imaro
Through these five chapters, Imaro evolves from being a fatherless, abandoned child (desiring to belong to a community)… into a vengeful, tribe-less Hercules-like figure (set on destroying evil forces). An excerpt captures his presence best:
The Illyassai was a fearsome sight. His dark skin glistened sweat-slick through garments that hung in skimpy tatters from his massive frame. Crimson-crusted wounds scored his body like glyphs inscribed by devils. Dried blood matted his wooly hair. His face was hardened into an implacable mask of hatred. Unrequited vengeance flickered like a torch In his eyes, yet beneath the lamina of that emotion lay a core of grief so bitter it threatened to consume him entirely…
Imaro vs. Lovecraftian “Mashataan” Sorcery:
Each story compounds the conflict of Imaro versus the being Mashatann, whose minions or followers assume mythological status:
Elephantine legs rose like wrinkled trees from the ground, Long bony arms hung like sticks from a pair of, knobby shoulders. The hands were incongruously delicate and graceful. Other than his head, those hands were the only remotely human features [spoiler’s name] had left…

…Upon the dais hunched a bizarre image sculpted from pitted, gray-green stone. From the waist up, the creature the sculpture depicted resembled Ngai the gorilla, although its skin was hairless and its wide mouth bore fangs even longer than those of the red panther Imaro had slain. It was the lower extremities of the unknown beast’s body that marked it as something alien to the world of natural beings. Its legs were the hindquarters of Mboa the buffalo: thick, muscular haunches tapering to sharp, lethal hooves.
Cover:
The 1981 cover by Ken Kelly captured the tone, but seems to have some glaring disconnects: the cover depicts Book Four Horror in the Hills, but has a hero that appears non-African and the creature approximates the primary antagonist...but is of the incorrect gender. The NightShade’s edition of Imaro-1, has a beautiful illustration by Vince Evans, but given the color-palette & the lack of magic & creatures, appears to showcase a Historical-Fiction novel rather than Fantasy-Fiction. Perhaps some of those design features were intentional marketing concepts.
Imaro Imaro

Finding A Copy:
The series Imaro continues with 3 more books: Imaro 2 : The Quest for Cush, The Trail of Bohu, Imaro: The Naama War, available from Lulu.com. Mshindo Kuumba has emerged as Saunder’s go-to artist for these. Click here to go to Saunders’ website to locate books: Where to purchase new Saunders books
Imaro 2   The Quest for Cush The Trail of Bohu Imaro  The Naama War (Imaro, #4)
Although the first two Imaro books from DAW were reprinted in ~2006 by Nightshade, they are difficult to find now (2013). Used bookstores are your best bet. Ebooks are being developed according to a very credible source, that being virtual-brother-to-Saunders, Milton Davis, who edited Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, the foundational Sword & Soul anthology). He recently commented on the Sword & Sorcery Group on Goodreads - LINK
Milton Davis: Charles's current publisher is working on e-book versions of the Imaro books. There's a new Imaro story in Griots and a new Dossouye story in the upcoming Griots: Sisters of the Spear anthology. And to top it all off, I plan to publish the first book (or two) in a new series by him entitled 'Abengoni.

Sword & Soul is highly recommended to fantasy-fiction readers!




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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ken Kelly - Cover Art for Spawn of Dyscrasia

Spawn of Dyscrasia Coverart by Ken Kelly

The sequel to the horror-fantasy novel Lords of Dyscrasia is Spawn of Dyscrasia.  It is on track for a 2014 release.

The commissioned cover art from artist Ken Kelly (Bio) just arrived.  Expect more posts soon documenting the design process.  If you think you are not familiar with his art, browse his gallery Ken Kelly (gallery); you likely have his coverart in your library.

Two draft compositions of the  Spawn of Dyscrasia cover are below.  Thanks go out to my partner in crime, Heidi, who has a flare for fonts & lettering.  She will be tidying the design as the cover develops.

Spawn of Dyscrasia - S.E. Lindberg / Covert Art © Ken Kelly 2013

Spawn of Dyscrasia - S.E. Lindberg - Covert Art by Ken Kelly 2013
COMP A
Spawn of Dyscrasia - S.E. Lindberg - Covert Art © Ken Kelly 2013

Spawn of Dyscrasia - S.E. Lindberg - Covert Art by Ken Kelly 2013
COMP B
Spawn of Dyscrasia - S.E. Lindberg - Covert Art © Ken Kelly 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bitter Steel, Sword and Sorcery by Gramlich - Review by S.E.

Bitter Steel: Tales And Poems Of Epic FantasyBitter Steel: Tales And Poems Of Epic Fantasy by Charles Allen Gramlich
S.E. Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

An anthology of dark adventure; highly recommended.

Epic Content: Sub-genre purists would clarify that the inclusion of “Epic” in the title inappropriately evokes long-winded, 2000page fantasy sagas; this anthology does feature 20 items of epic qualities, but these are discontinuous, compact doses of horror adventure (weird, pulp fiction). Most poems and tales were published previously. A table below sorts the order of presentation vs. publication and serves as a tour-guide for adventurous readers. The contents are organized well if you decide to tackle this linearly; a timely intermission of three humorous tales appears two-thirds the way through. After that, a few more doses of dark Sword & Sorcery leads into the final poem, an appropriate, haunting dedication to Robert E. Howard.

Author: Charles Allen Gramlich is a college professor of psychology (also teaching “writing for psychologists”); he extends his passion for teaching writing into the speculative fiction arena too (i.e. see Write with Fire: Thoughts on the Craft of Writing). He is also a scholar of the Sword & Sorcery genre, having been a member of REHupa (Robert E. Howard United Press Association). Personal annotations transition many of the tales/poems in Bitter Steel. These almost recast the anthology as a bibliography/teaching-text for future authors. As an example: the theme of lost fathers and sons is persistent throughout, and Gramlich confesses in his tour-like annotations that this stems from his losing his father as a teenager.

Emotive Style: The author’s psychology expertise enables him to his infuse his prose with emotive flare. This sometimes manifests in characterization, but more often affects his poetic tone (best represented by excerpts, like the ones below). Although he claims to have been inspired primarily by Howard and Wagner, he appears influenced by Clark Ashton Smith too. I was first introduced to Gramlich via his short story Harvest of War (highly recommended), which shares the style here: poetic cadence, with dark content, a fast read despite its depth.

In this collection, protagonists range from barbarian warriors, to anti-hero kings, to pathetic necromancers. Side characters are far from being shallow, many being deformed or mutilated with plenty of their own motivations. The Thal Kyrin yarn (6 tales) is a highlight. Thal adventures on Thanos, a version of Earth long after an alien race colonized it. No worries fantasy fans, this is not sci-fi. The foundation is obscure and mysterious, reminiscent of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Here are some examples:

Undertones of Cosmic Horror
Cloudy tears of darkness began to pour from the eyeless face of the moon, and the normal white light of that orb began to shimmer and alter, from pearl, to gray, to bloody red. And when it was all red, the color poured out into the surrounding clouds, igniting crimson lightning that cracked wide the night. The people in the tiers, the shades of Karillon, gasped and fell to their knees, hiding their faces as their God began to materialize out of the storm. Wings unfolded from tattered cumulus streamers; eyes blinked open with thunder. In another moment, bladed talons extended beneath the mass and the shape of a giant raptor was born.
Poetic, Grim Prose:
In the bitter twilight of frost-rimmed peaks, Thal dreamed, the visions crimson with gore. War-horses frothed at their bits, eyes rolling like bloody pearls. Men in bruised armor and torn silks of umber and white hacked each other into ragged scarecrows. Arrows sleeted the sky like sharpened flakes of ice. When it was over the ravens gathered, scarcely moving as Thal rode among them searching. He found [spoiler]’s head on a stake.
A Whisper From a Muse: More Thal?
Many know that REH was inspired to write Conan as if the barbarian was literary standing behind him, encouraging him to chronicle his tales. Gramlich was similarly inspired by the muse of Thal Kyrin. He does not apologize for discontinuities between the tales, but instead employs his annotations to spur our imaginations. Bitter Steel was released in 2010, and readers have yet to see more Thal in print. However, just this year (2013) Gramlich published "A Whisper in Ashes" (on Heroic Fantasy Quarterly e-zine) another accessible, poetic adventure inspired by Wager and Howard. Personally…I suspect the nameless warrior Krieg from Whisper in Ashes is actually Thal wandering, chasing ghosts and abandoned pyres. In any event, Bitter Steel is a great anthology.

Table of Contents:

Item Title Category First Published
1 “Recompense Reprise” Poem Niteblade, 2008
2 “A Gathering of Ravens” Standalone Tale: female lead Deep South Writers Conference: The Chapbook, 1991
3 “The Horns of the Air” Poem Deep South Writers Conference: The Chapbook, 1990
4 “Of Sake and Swords” Prose Poem Warrior Poets, 1997
5 “You Were There” Poem Bitter Steel, 2010
6 “Dark Wind” Thal Kyrin -1 Welcome to Suburbia, 2007.
7 “In the Memory of Ruins” Thal Kyrin -2 Shadow Sword, 1996.
8 “Wine and Swords” Thal Kyrin -3 Shadow Sword, 1997.
9 “Coin and Steel” Thal Kyrin -4 Bitter Steel, 2010
10 The Evening Rider Thal Kyrin -5 Shadow Sword, 1995.
11 “Sword of Dreams” Thal Kyrin -6 Fantastic Realms, 1992
12 “Smoke in the Blood” Poem Warrior Poets, 1997.
13 “Worms in the Earth: Barbarian’s Bane” Humorous Adventure Dragonlaugh, 2001
14 “Mirthgar” Humorous Adventure Strange Worlds of Lunacy, 2008
15 “Slugger’s Holiday” Humorous Adventure Beacons of Tomorrow, 2006.
16 “Luck and Swords” Standalone Tale Classic Pulp Fiction Stories, 1999.
17 “Sundered Man” Standalone Tale  Bitter Steel, 2010
18 “A Flock of Swords” Standalone Tale Warrior Poets, 2000
19 “In Cold Desert Light” Poem The Barsoom Poet’s Corner, 1997.
20 “Cross Plains Conjure Man” Poem Star*Line, 2001



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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Imaro and Review Starved Books


Imaro Saunders banner groupread

The Sword & Sorcery Goodreads Group for the two month duration (Sept-Oct) are below.  Please join us!: 
  1. ImaroSword & Soul  by author Charles R. Saunders : Link to discussion (click here)
  2. Review-Starved Sword & Sorcery books: It is time to advocate the Sword & Sorcery genre, and enable future readers with some reviews/ratings. Seek out some new or vintage books that are not represented well (i.e. have less than ~20reviews), post some feedback on the book's page and here!  Link to that discussion (click here).
Again, I put together a montage banner (masthead) drawing from Saunder's coverart. Credits, from Left to Right:
  • "Imaro" Coverart by Ken Kelly 1981
  • "Imaro II Quest for the Cush 1984" coverart by James Gurney
  • "Dossouye" coverart by Mshindo Kuumba 2008

Imaro  The Quest for Cush  Imaro II  Dossouye (Dossouye, #1) 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ken Kelly - Seasons Greetings

I commissioned Ken Kelly to make the cover art for the sequel to Lords of Dyscrasia, and the painting is due shortly. When the cover art is completed, I will share a blog post chronicling the design.Expect more updates on the sequel soon. The target publishing date is early 2014.

Ken Kelly is a famous fantasy artist who studied under the legendary Frank Frazetta.  Kelly has become a legend himself; browse his oil painting gallery and you will recognize the Horseclan covers, tons of Conan covers, etc.

Of course I have a hobby creating Season Greeting cards (link to S.E.'s card gallery), sometimes with a dark twist...and sometimes with an aim to mimic Frazetta (see 2010 card), but I never approached the darkness Ken Kelly presented so well in "Seasons Greetings".  I have already started this year's card (yes, I know it is only August, but my Fall schedule is busy).  No worries...my card will not be this dark.
  
Season's Greeting - Ken Kelly

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sunflower Pollen as Paint Pigment

Sunflower Pollen - Pigment/Paint

Our house is still ramping up its dye-making capabilities.   The garden continues to grow enough that we can now harvest the Madder roots without depleting the patch (started in 2011 –link to post).  The basement will soon be a functional workshop, with plenty of lighting, a sink, electricity, and benches.   
 sun flowers for dyeing
Thanks to my wife’s gardening, we have plenty of sunflowers.  Some are of the Hopi variety, the seeds of which have been used by Native American Indians to prepare purplish/gray dyes.  Whereas I hope to make my own paints, she plans to dye fabric (DesignLab link)...so expect a post later on the seed-dye making.  Many flowers are brought into the house and drop pollen.

Given the nature of pollen to be colorful, tiny, and sticky, I started collecting it to use as pigment. First we had to replace the fabric tablecloth beneath the vase that was being “painted”; aluminum foil worked well since the pollen did not adhere to it, and it could be folded into a funnel  to deliver the pollen into a jar. 
sun flower pollen hopi

Sun Flower Pollen - Microstructure

To learn about how it may work as a pigment, let’s have a look at the pollen grains: (1) dry,  (2) in oil, and (3) in water.  Below, the pollen-in-air color image is a brightfield microscopy image; to show the detail, differential interference contrast microscopy (monochrome image) was performed. Most were a-spherical (“not spheres”) and ~10microns in width (that’s ~1/10 the length of a human hair). Clearly their spikes help them to stick to substrates.  The grains are a mixture from several sunflower plants.  Most were yellow, but some were purple.
Dry Sunflower Pollen

To make paint, pigments are dispersed into liquids.  These host liquids are usually water-like or oil-like.  Actually, microscopists often embed dry samples into liquids, to reduce scattering and improve imaging (this works if the samples do not react or transform in the liquid). These immersion tests reveal how these grains may be color-fast (or not). 
 sunflower pollen in oil
Turns out, the sunflowers lost their color in the oil; but their shell shapes did not change.  This means that the pollen is filled with a hydrophobic liquid (dye), and that the shells are porous.  Actually, the spherical grains seemed to leak less (I will have to investigate further if only certain sunflowers produce those). In water, the yellow dye was slowly replaced.  It was shot out of the shell as drops.  This confirms that the dye is hydrophobic, and that the shells are porous. 

This work will inform a paint recipe.  The observations are somewhat aggravating since they indicate it may be difficult to keep dye inside the grains whether a water-paint or oil-paint is made.  For now, I will keep collecting the pigment and will lean toward design an aqueous host phase. 









Friday, August 9, 2013

The Harsh Suns - Review by S.E.

The Harsh SunsThe Harsh Suns by Jason E. Thummel
S.E. Lindberg rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jason E. Thummel proved he was an accomplished author of short story adventure with In Savage Lands, in which he delivered 13 quality Sword & Sorcery tales. Actually the author’s track record with publishing shorts via Blackgate and Rogue Blades Entertainment speaks to his merit. In addition to Thummel’s crisp writing, I have been attracted to his retro-vibe cover designs (artist Didier Normand painted covers for In Savage Lands and The Harsh Suns).

With The Harsh Suns, he develops a continuing character, chronicling the warrior Khal across three chapters (each essentially a short story). The focus is on warrior Khal’s quest to avenge his sister’s death. The primary conflict is “Kahl vs. evil-sorcerer Thanak Sul,” but there are recurring undertones of “Khal vs. gods/religion” which fortify the adventure with depth. Plenty of Sword & Sorcery delivered well. This is pulpy adventure, so you expect some arbitrary predicaments that keep the pace rolling.

The book essentially is an “origins” story that explains how Kahl becomes a wayfaring, god-cursed fighter. There is no explicit cliffhanger, but I was left expecting a sequel. I would welcome that.


View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lords of Dyscrasia Giveaways - Summer 2013

Free Illustrated Dark Fantasy!

Fifty Lords of Dyscrasia ePubs, PDFs, and Kindle Mobi's are being given-away on Librarything (until Septemebr 2nd 2013)!

And a tangible paperback is being offered on Goodreads!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lords of Dyscrasia by S.E. Lindberg

Lords of Dyscrasia

by S.E. Lindberg

Giveaway ends October 07, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

"Pulp fantasy for the horror fan!" Beware, Lords of Dyscrasia is dark. How dark? Check out this review from a disturbed Goodreads reviewer: "...This is, without a doubt, the darkest book I've ever read. I don't have any problem with those sorts of things normally, but this was on a whole other level of twisted evilness. Murder, rape, cannibalism, drinking blood, necrophilia, necrophagia, demonic possession, and things involving children that I wish I had never read... You can try to compare it to Poe, who is dark, but not holy crap this is seriously effed up psycho dark…. In summary, this is an amazingly intricate and unique story line which is totally psychotic and I will never read it again…" 

Looking for unique horror? Read on. : "...Outside of the works of Poe and Lovecraft, there are few, if any, novels comparable to [Lords of Dyscrasia]...Beowulf comes to mind both for its epic quality and bloody action...The pace is nearly breathless... Lindberg, who also created more than 50 illustrations and the cover for this book, makes the majority of current popular fantasy fiction read like recipes by comparison. Lords of Dyscrasia is highly recommended, though not for the faint of heart."Lords of Dyscrasia explores the choices humans and their gods make as a disease corrupts their souls, shared blood and creative energies. Historically, dyscrasia referred to any imbalance of the four medicinal humors professed by the ancient Greeks to sustain life. Lords of Dyscrasia presents them as spiritual muses for artisans, sources of magical power, and contagions of a deadly disease.

Learn more on S.E. Lindberg-Blog (Link)