Saturday, July 20, 2019

Gen Con - Q&A with Anna Smith Spark


The GenCon Writer's Symposium is fast approaching!

Coinciding with this is Anna Smith Spark's released of the third installment in the Empires of Dust: HOUSE of SACRIFICE!

Earlier this year I interviewed the Queen of Grimdark over on BlackGate.com  (May 2019):Disgust and Desire: An Interview with Anna Smith Spark

And in ~2weeks, I'll be moderating her Q&A session at Gen Con! Please join us, and bring your questions.

  • When: 5pm / Friday / Aug 2nd
  • Where: Marriott Hotel, Ballroom 4 (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Register: Q&A with Anna Smith Spark Event signup

The whole Writer's Symposium is a blast. Check out the events: 



Monday, July 8, 2019

Hell Gate by Andrew P. Weston review by SE

Hell Gate by Andrew P. Weston
S..E rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who “was” the Grim Reaper before becoming Satan’s strongest champion? This series chronicles the exploits of Satan’s right-hand warrior, Daemon Grim (the reaper). It began with Hell Bound and Hell Hounds … and continues with Hell Gate. In addition to my reviews of those, I capture some key
takeaways:

  • The series is all about Daemon Grim
  • Hell Gate is all about revealing the mystery Daemon Grim’s past, which we’ve been teased about for two books, and here it is!
  • The crazy milieu of Hell persists, so start with Hell Bound to get grounded; more on WTH is Hell below.
  • The cat and mouse hunt after Frederic Chopin and Nikola Tesla reaches a climatic milestone; the duo’s evil plotting that began in book #1 is finally revealed too.
  • Grim takes readers in realms of the Quran (Jahannam)
  • The inclusion of mystics (namely from ~1500, Saint Teresa of Ávila and Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim) was a pleasant addition


Hell Noir Style: The milieu and conflict are so epic in scope, and weird in substance, that the story lends itself more for narrative storytelling over dramatic showing. As before, Mr. Weston doles out exposition-through-dialogue; as I read this, I just envisioned a Noir film in which the protagonist provided a snarky voiceover. I felt like I was called into Grim's police office and sat in a room full of smoke as he coached me through a mysterious case.

What is Hell’s Milieu? Grim was introduced to the Heroes in Hell series in the anthology Doctors in Hell. Heroes in Hell is a fantastical place built from myths and religions—so do not expect Tolkienesque elves or dwarves. The primary realm explored is called Juxtapose, which is a satirical mirror of our earth’s cityscapes (the Seine river featured as “Inseine”, Paris called Perish, the Eiffel Tower represented as the Awful Tower, Facebook is called Hatebook). Since time has little meaning in Hell, beings from past and present meet and scheme (i.e., Tesla and Chopin). There are other realms beyond Juxtapose connected with ethereal gateways. All are populated by beings being tormented and try to outwit Satan or their comrades. Even Erra, the Akkadian plague god, has visited Hell to torment Satan. No one is safe! It is a splendid, wacky place that works well.

Where to Start on your trip to Hell: Hell Gate is wacky and fun, but is not the beginning. The Heroes in Hell is primarily a series of anthologies; this novel focuses on Grim but has story arcs connected to HIH. Given the breadth of abstract interactions, I recommend initial readers begin with either:

  1. Doctors in Hell (HIH #18): Daemon Grim is introduced in this collection, and even though it is #18 in the series, it is a perfect entryway for HIH newcomers.
  2. Or…. Hell Bound (Grim novel #1): Daemon Grim’s first novel, occurring chronologically after Doctors, but before Hell Hounds.
  3. Or for those who’ve done that, note Grim also appears in Pirates in Hell and Lovers in Hell



View all my reviews