Sunday, February 15, 2015

The IX, by Andrew Weston - New Release

Perseid Press has a great portfolio of Historical Fantasy and Fantasy Fiction including The Heroes In Hell Series and Sacred Band of Stepsons.  Below is the announcement for their most recent offering, a new take on the legendary missing Ninth Legion (available now):   

If you like your science fiction fast paced and gritty, full of realistic action and dark humor in the face of overwhelming odds, then The IX is definitely the epic for you. 

Fans of Julian May’s “Saga of the Pliocene Exiles,” Robert Heinlein’s “Have Space Suit, Will Travel”, and Jerry Pournelle's “Janissaries Series” will love this tale. It combines the divergent elements of the past, present, and future, and blends them together into a slick and stylish package that will leave you breathless and hungry for more. 

The Must Read Science Fiction Adventure of 2015. Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure...

Arden, home to a culture that has existed for thousands of years and which spans dozens of worlds. Regardless, their sophistication cannot prevent calamity at the hands of an unstoppable nemesis. Known only as the Horde, this enemy has proven relentless. They have not only stripped the outer colonies bare, but now threaten the existence of the entire Ardenese way of life.

Realizing there is nothing they can do to prevent the inevitable march toward extinction, the Ardenese governing body comes to a drastic decision. They gather together at their capital city, Rhomane, and place their remaining genetic heritage in a vast underground ark, in the care of an advanced AI construct called the Architect. Its mission? To use Rhomane’s dwindling reserves and safeguard their race by reaching out across time and space toward those who might be in a position to help reseed a devastated world at some time in the future.

Soldiers from varying eras and vastly different backgrounds find themselves snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing and transported to the far side of the galaxy. Thinking they have been granted a reprieve, their relief turns to horror when they discover they face a stark ultimatum:
Fight or die! Despite a host of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay.

Andrew P Weston is a military and police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats. A criminal law and astronomy graduate, he is a member of the British Science Fiction Association and British Fantasy Society, and is a contracted writer of both fiction and poetry for several publishing houses and a growing number of well established magazines. 

In his spare time, Andrew assists NASA on one of their research projects, and amazingly, still finds the time to submit regular educational articles for Amazing Stories and When not writing, Andrew enjoys holding his breath, being told what to do by his wife, and drinking Earl Grey Tea whilst dressed as Captain Jean Luc Picard. Make it so...


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology - Review by S.E.

Griots: A Sword and Soul AnthologyGriots: A Sword and Soul Anthology by Milton J. Davis
S.E. Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology is an aptly named milestone in speculative fiction. Named after African storytellers who relied on the oral tradition (griots), this anthology marks the initial growth of the sub-genre “Sword & Soul.” Charles R. Saunders is credited with starting the sub-genre with his Imaro tale (Imaro Series). Imaro broke the mold of adventure fantasy with Saunders being the primary champion. With Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, Milton J. Davis leads a troop of authors to expand the front. Saunders contributes the introduction for this as well as the capping tale. An excerpt reveals the Saunders’s motivation and the original scope of Sword & Soul:
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.

There are 14 varied contributions. A large portion deal with the coming-of-age of the protagonist. Some suffer from too-powerful heroes or overly ambitious scopes (i.e. a few did not feel stand alone, reading as non-identified excerpts or poorly contained plots). My favorites tales were:

Awakening by Valjeanne Jeffers: A coming-of-age tale about a feisty heroine; nice sword & sorcery.

Skin Magic by P. Djeli Clark: a dose of Lovecraftian horror and aesthetic magic make this desert journey very entertaining.

The Belly of The Crocodile by Minister Faust, a vulgar, first-person perspective of a fantastic tale.

The General’s Daughter by Anthony Nana Kawmu: a trip to the Underworld, a warrior goes to save a loved one from death.

The Queen, The Demon, and The Mercenary Ronald Jones’s battling, demonic armies = engrossing sorcery and battle.

The Three-Faced One: Charles R. Saunders’s Imaro tale demonstrates the best storytelling, from its tapping into African history/myth coupled with excellent pacing and gripping style.

More Sword & Soul: Milton J. Davis leads MVMedia which is churning out more Griots (i.e Griots: Sisters of the Spear) and a host of other Sword & Soul media, from Young Adult novels to Video Games! Check out their offerings at the (MVMedia Website and Facebook page for Sword & Soul.

Quibbles: I read the Kindle version which had two outages: (1) Scene breaks were not marked; hence, paragraphs from different scenes that should have had an additional return/space or a marker, instead ran together; this leads to repeated confusion in several stories; (2) There are credits for many artists, but there is no art in the Kindle or even alternate text.

Recommendation: New to Sword & Soul? I recommend reading either version of Charles R. Saunders's Imaro. Then it would be a coin toss continue with either (a) Imaro:2 (The Quest for Cush) or (b) branching out to find like-minded authors with very different styles with Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Dyscrasia Fiction - on Twitter and Everywhere

Finally got a Twitter feed established for S.E.Lindberg & Dyscrasia Fiction.  I hope all these social media sites are sufficient!

Twitter@SethLindberg : Tag "#dyscrasia"

Facebook: LordsOfDyscrasia

Friday, January 16, 2015

Artifacts and Relics:Extreme Sorcery - Review by S.E.

Azieran Adventures Presents Artifacts and Relics: Extreme SorceryAzieran Adventures Presents Artifacts and Relics: Extreme Sorcery by David C. Smith
S.E. Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

Azieran Adventures Presents Artifacts and Relics: Extreme Sorcery delivers exactly what is promises: fantastic adventure with a focus on artifacts. Highly recommended for dark fantasy fans, or readers looking for varied adventure.

Rogue Blades Entertainment (RBE) and Azieran: In many ways “Artifacts” continues the RBE tradition of themed anthologies (The Return of the Sword, Demons: A Clash of Steel Anthology, Rage of the Behemoth, and Writing Fantasy Heroes). Here Azieran advocates Christopher Heath and V. Shane lead the way, but the Azieran influence is limited to Heath’s two contributions and a shout-out from Bonadonna’s Dowser story. It is noteworthy that Heath contributed tales for RBE’s The Return of the Sword and Demons: A Clash of Steel Anthology with the tales Claimed By Birthright and Azieran: Racked upon the Altar of Eeyuu. In Artifacts, RBE authors appear again: (1) The Mask Oath’s author Steve Goble (from RotS) delivers a great tale; (2) Artifacts contains a reprinting of Bill Ward’s By Hellish Means (originally in Demons; Ward also wrote Wyrd of War for RotS); (3) and more prominently, RBE steward Jason M. Waltz provides an introduction which continues his excellent track record of concisely relaying the motivation for reading a themed collection (as he had for the RBE books):
“…it's pretty safe to say this creation of and questing for ultimate devices is a fixture of myth and fantasy…The Golden Apples. The One Ring. The Holy Grail. A dozen swords followed close by another dozen each of crowns and amulets and all sorts of doodads. Think of it, and there's most likely at least one tale of the one and only “Iron Skillet of Cooking.” Why? What drives our fascination? Superstition, faith, desire both baleful and beatific. That lucky rabbit’s foot — a relic of superstitious belief passed through the ages. Does it really work? Who knows — it seemed to once, and that's all that is necessary. Fortune, like gods and demons, is fickle and cannot be counted upon to strike often or consistently. Or conveniently. And so — unless we are gods ourselves, or blessed with powers beyond the norm — we quest for the next best sure thing.” Jason Waltz Intro.

Azieran Adventures Presents Artifacts and Relics: Extreme Sorcery is a dozen tales, with a variety of styles, lengths (3 novella’s included), and milieus; all are adventurous and entertaining. Readers will get a dose of classic weird, pulp fiction, alongside grim sci-fi blends that pits sorcery against technology (as well as swords). The Table below lists the artifacts of interest per story with notes. Anthologies are a great device for discovering authors, and I did yet again. I enjoyed the whole book, but a few stood out:

(1) The Lovers Quarrel by James Beamon opens the book. I do not seek out sci-fi/gun literature much (Swords & Sorcery for me please), but this duel of sorcery versus guns worked even for me.

(2) The Book of Echoes This was my first Dowser/Joe Bonadonna experience; this is a blend of mystery, noir, horror, and sword & sorcery...with a sprinkling of humor. According to him (via Facebook conversation) the first scene and finale were somewhat influenced by the 1950s film version of Mickey Spillane's "Kiss Me, Deadly." I enjoyed this so much that I purchased Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser before finishing the anthology.

(3) The Sword Cult by Steve Goble was poignant and direct. I became a Goble Fan from RotS and am fascinated with his “Faceless Sons” stories; this was my first Calthus experience and was equally engaged. Apparently a collection has been in the works--I would welcome that.

(4) The Highest Price: I’m not a Arthurian Legend fan per se, so I was not excited at first when I stumbled into the story on Excalibur; but Anderson’s perspective was fresh and won me over.

(5) The Black Abbot of Puthuum: Clark Ashton Smith’s classic tale rounds out a great menu; a selection from his Tales Of Zothique worked well.

Being a proud Ohioan, I always am excited to highlight the state’s participation in fantasy fiction. Steven Goble hails from northern OH, and the anthology ends with a story from Oron author David C. Smith. Some minor quibbles: The Lovers Quarrel felt more like a flash fiction outline than it did a fleshed-out story, and Azieran: Assimilation by Second Dawn did not really seem focused on the sword Darkannis (actually there were many weapons/artifacts that shared the stage).

Table of Contents
Artifact / Title / Author / Notes

------------ / Foreword / Jason M. Waltz / another great Waltz introduction

Heart of Alora (red gem #1) / The Lovers Quarrel / James Beamon / Steampunkish, grim duel, guns and magic

Chaos Key / Coup / Fred C. Adams / a short tale

The Book of Echoes (book#1) / The Book of Echoes / Joe Bonadonna / Mystery-Noir, horror adventure, doses of humor; Novella; A Dowser tale

Darkannis (sword) / Azieran: Assimilation by Second Dawn / Christopher Heath/ Magic vs technology; gothic robots!

Red Heart of Dolfar (red gem #2) / The Red Heart of Dolfar / John M. Whalen / Swashbuckling deviltry on the sea

Liber Malefactum (book #2) / By Hellish Means /Bill Ward / Weird hellish duel; reprint

Pipe of Mahmackrah (musical instrument) / The Mad Song/ David J. West / Deserts & ghosts

Stor and Krellindoom (sword #2) / The Sword Cult /Steve Goble / A great Calthus tale

Excalibur (a.k.a Caliburn, sword #3) / The Highest Price / Colleen Anderson / Neat perspective; Celtic lore delivered well

Collar of the Dragon Lords / Azieran: The Slaver of Karsith Keep /Christopher Heath / Dragon fighting, novella

Talisman of Uldor / The Black Abbot of Puthuum / Clark Ashton Smith / Poetic awesomeness; weird desert nightmare from his Zothique cycle

Arax, Spear of the gods / Shadow-born, Shadow-taken / David C. Smith/ warring gods play with human puppets, novella

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Dyscrasia Fiction - Beyond 2014

2014 Dyscrasia Fiction

2014 was a busy year, with Spawn of Dyscrasia hitting online book shelves and the Kindle Store in July.  The video trailer accompanied its release (embedded below). By year's end, the book was featured on two reviewer blogs as being highlights of the year.

2015 Dyscrasia Fiction

2015 is promising to be as busy. Audio books of both Lords and Spawn are in production already, due for a March 2015 release via Cover icons below. Expect more video trailers, this time with professional narrations from Kathy Bell Denton and Thomas B. Hackett! Of course, Book III is underway (working title "Seer Helen"), aiming for a 2017 release.

Thanks to all for reading, reviewing, and listening.  Feel welcome to track me down on Dyscrasia Fiction on Facebook or the Goodreads Sword & Sorcery group that I co-moderate.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gonji: The Soul Within the Steel (Deathwind 2)

Gonji: The Soul Within the SteelGonji: The Soul Within the Steel by T.C. Rypel
S.E. Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gonji: The Soul Within the Steel, Book 2: The Deathwind trilogy was really one book cut into three parts: so the story arc is spread out accordingly. I enjoyed Part-1 (Red Blade From the East) but was left wondering about character motivations; also my mind struggled to contain a geographic scope that seemed to only grow. The second installment pleasantly explored all the characters and mysteries posited in the first; geographically, it focused on one location essentially (Vedun city and the adjacent Castle Lenska). It delivered on every aspect I hoped, and the conflict/story leapt forward every chapter; it unveiled truths behind several key secrets & motivations behind the characters, and ramped up the adventure (which was at a high level anyway). Great adventure fantasy that is more dark & pulpy than it is historical. I like the content in Book-1 more now, and I can’t see how any reader could not stop at the end of Book-2. Take home message: if you decide to follow Gonji, just plan on reading the whole trilogy. I’m on to Book-3 to learn more about the mysterious Deathwind….

I copy/paste my review of the first book for completeness below; after I read the third portion, I’ll work to consolidate all into one review.

Gonji’s Deathwind (Book 1)– The Godzilla of Sword & Sorcery?
Some splendid reviews already exist for Gonji: Red Blade from the East, in particular Fletcher Vredenburgh’s January 21st 2014 Post on Blackgate is extremely thorough. This provides another summary, and some more complementary information.

Gongi Is A Unique, Entertaining Mashup: Gongi is a wandering, displaced warrior--a Ronin (master-less samurai) roaming 16th century Europe. This is not historical fiction, however. This is Sword & Sorcery in vein of R.E. Howard’s Conan…but it is a solidly unique take on the genre. Firstly, Gonji is a cross-breed of a Japanese warlord and Viking sword-maiden; rather than the Hyperborean continent of REH, Gonji explores a realistic version of Europe’s geography (Ottoman–Habsburg times). Plenty of creatures and magic infuse compelling fight scenes. I half expected Godzilla to emerge on multiple occasions!

Gonji is a mysterious, intelligent character. Stretching plausibility, he knows many languages (Japanese, Spanish, Italian, German, English, more?) sufficiently to converse with everyone. He is a bit moody too, which is ostensibly related to his mixed heritage (disciplined father, wild mother). His allegiances are difficult to predict, sometimes joining mercenary bands, sometimes rescuing weak townspeople. Generally, the blend of cultures and Gonji’s mysterious motivations are engaging.

By the end of this first installment, we know only that he is seeking the “Deathwind,” and we know he gets closer to this goal when he reached the city of Vedun, but otherwise the core of his quest is unclear. There is parallel conflict with some apparently evil occupiers of Vedun; but their motives are not clear by the end either, at times brutally dominating folk and at times letting them live in peace. I would have enjoyed a bit more clarification; the demarcation between the first and second book may just be due to the publication history.

Series: The initial Zebra books of the 1980’s essential split one long novel into a trilogy (I suspect the split was arbitrary). T.C. Rypel’s 1980 series has been released in a more complete forms (more books, eBooks, audiobooks). The newer releases from Borgo Press seem to have maintained this split. I’ll need to read the second and third books to confirm that, and I plan to do that. Actually, Rypel has a lot more Gonji in mind, and has books 4 and 5 available now. Books 1-3 are the original trilogy:
1) Gonji: Red Blade from the East: The Deathwind Trilogy, Book One
2) Gonji: The Soul Within the Steel
3) Gonji: Deathwind of Vedun: The Deathwind Triology, Book Three
4) Gonji: Fortress of Lost Worlds
5) Gonji: A Hungering of Wolves
Gonji  Red Blade from the East  The Deathwind Trilogy, Book One by T.C. Rypel Gonji  The Soul Within the Steel by T.C. Rypel Gonji  Deathwind of Vedun  The Deathwind Triology, Book Three by T.C. Rypel Gonji  Fortress of Lost Worlds by T.C. Rypel Gonji  A Hungering of Wolves by T.C. Rypel

Social Media, Cover Art, and Maps: T.C. Rypel is very accessible via Facebook(Gonji Page) and the Goodreads Sword and Sorcery Group. If you check those websites you can (a) communicate with him and (b) just read/learn fascinating tidbits. For instance, from these I learned the artwork of Serbian illustrator Dusan Kostic graces most of the new releases, which seem more appropriate than the 1980’s covers that seem to mirror the James Clavell books (contemporary for 1980’s works, but of different genre). Also, The Kindle editions of the Deathwind Trilogy books do not include artist Joseph Rutt's 1982 Maps that appear in the front of the print editions. Note that Joe Rutt also drew covers for Ted Rypels 1970's Outer Limits books.

Ohio Rocks: Incidentally, T.C. Rypel has Ohio roots, as do many Sword and Sorcery authors; in fact, 20% of the original Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA, 1960-80s) came from my home state OH. The unassuming state of OH has ties to many relevant authors including including: David C. Smith, Andre Norton, Stephen Donaldson, John Jakes, Richard Lee Byers, Roger Zelazny, Dennis L. McKiernan, Steve Goble, and more.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Jan-Feb 2015 Groupreads - "Gemmell's Legend" AND "Anthologies"

groupread jan-feb2015 LEGEND and ANTHOLOGIES 

The 2-topic, 2-month group reads have been selected for the Jan-Feb 2015 Sword & Sorcery group. Start off the new year with us!

(1) Anthologies (Link to Anthology Discussion Thread) : Since Sword & Sorcery was largely born through the short-story format, collections are an appropriate way to learn the genre and discover authors. Don’t know where to start? Ask the group for a recommendation, or check out the sampling of Anthologies, old and new, as shown in this group’s bookshelf. You are challenged (invited?) to track any one down and share your journey with the group. Feel welcome to add to the bookshelf if you know how, or ask for help to expand the list.

(2) David Gemmell's Legend ( Link to LEGEND Discussion Thread): This topic narrowly beating out “Sword’s and Orcs.” Actually any of Gemmell’s works will suffice for discussion, but the default will be his debut, and arguably his best work, Legend.

Banner credits:
L. Sprague de Camp's The Spell of Seven (1965 cover artist Virgil Finlay)
David Gemmell's Legend (2003 cover art credited to John Picacio by isfdb)
Legend (Drenai Saga, #1) by David Gemmell The Spell of Seven by L. Sprague de Camp