Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dyscrasia Fiction ® - registered trademark


Dyscrasia Fiction ® 
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted registration of "Dyscrasia Fiction" to IGNIS Publishing LLC. This is a foundational move to enable long term growth of the series.

Daimones, the third installment of the series is due out late-2016/early-2017. This #1.5 book will bridge the the end of the Ill Age that chronicles Lord Lysis's rise to power as an undead champion (#1 Lords of Dyscrasia) with the maturing of Helen from curator to Seer (#2 Spawn of Dyscrasia). 



Dyscrasia literally means “a bad mixture of liquids.”  Historically, dyscrasia referred to any imbalance of the four medicinal humors professed by the ancient Greeks to sustain life (phlegm, blood, black and yellow bile). Artisans, anatomists, and chemists of the Renaissance expressed shared interest in the humors; accordingly, the scope of humorism evolved to include aspects of the four alchemical elements (water, air, earth and fire) and psychological temperaments (phlegmatic, sanguine, melancholic and choleric). In short, the humors are mystical media of color, energy, and emotion; Dyscrasia Fiction presents them as spiritual muses for artisans, sources of magical power, and contagions of a deadly disease.  The books explore the choices humans and their gods make as this disease corrupts their souls, shared blood and creative energies.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Aona Series - Interview with Simon Williams




Simon Williams is the author of the Aona dark fantasy series, which is attracting growing acclaim for its fusion of different genres and atmospheric, character-driven narrative. He has also written "Summer's Dark Waters", a sci-fi / fantasy /supernatural novel aimed at young adults. The interview series of "Art & Beauty in Weird/Fantasy Fiction" engage contemporary authors & artists to reveal their muses, so let us learn more about the Aona series which was just concluded.

SEL #1) What is Aona?

SW: Picture a distant world, probably in the distant future, where most technology is no longer even a memory. A world which for a number of reasons is like no other. A world where two great powers will struggle for control. One of them has crossed great swathes of the known Existence to find this world, the other has controlled, nurtured and dominated it in one form or another since the dawn of known time. 
Thus two opposing, universal forces are preparing to destroy each other. One is an implacable, faceless destroyer of worlds- the other is the ancient master of all the races that live on this world- Aona. Caught in the midst of all this are the races of this world, human and non-human. Both supreme powers, in the simple terms of the Younger Races, are evil beyond comprehension. 
The story of Aona is not a fable of good versus evil. It's a tale of incomprehensible forces, survival, corruption, greed, betrayal, and above all else, the gradual realisation amongst the main characters that this war is not simply a struggle for one world but something far, far greater.


SEL #2) With Aona being dark fantasy; do you see any excerpt or book as "beautiful"? If so please give an example and explain.

SW: My work often seeks to combine striking beauty with stark horror. I don't actually think the two are that different at all sometimes. In my youth I often sought to describe in great detail and provide explanations for everything- but over time I've found that a sparse turn of phrase will often work far better if the reader has imagination and intelligence.

In terms of other authors' works that I would term "beautiful" some of the most achingly gorgeous and emotive prose I've ever read appears in Celia Dart Thornton's  Bitterbynde Trilogy and Crowthistle Chronicles.


SEL #3) I see from a previous interview that you have listed Clive Barker as an influence; he is known for being a graphic artist as well as a horror author.  Do you create art in other mediums than writing? If so, can we share a piece (illustrated/photo, or audio of music, etc.).

SW: Sadly I'm no artist- I do enjoy drawing (or doodling, in my case) from time to time, but I have no illusions whatsoever about my ability in that area. I can't draw or paint or do anything like that. Sometimes I think that's a shame because I can vividly imagine a certain scene in great detail and keep that exact image in my mind for a very long time- which would be really useful if I could draw or paint.

I play piano / keyboards and I have various compositions recorded although they're not really good enough to be shared. I even have the beginnings of a classical symphony that I had begun to create to work in tandem with the Aona books. That may sound pretentious but again I have no great illusions about the quality of my musical works. I think they're ok, but if something is just "ok" that means it isn't good enough to be shared with the world. This perhaps ties into the reason why my output has been quite lean- I have a number of unseen works, some of which are complete and others which are at various stages, which I feel are just not "right" (that's why they're unseen).

Luckily I have been able to collaborate with an artist friend of mine (her website is ankolie.com) on one of my books already (Summer's Dark Waters) and hope to on future works as well. Her vision matched mine so exactly for that book that it was astonishing.


SEL #4) Can you describe more about working with illustrator Ankolie? Any feedback about sharing the control of expressing "your world"?  

SW: It was a privilege and I certainly intend to work with her on future projects, particular those aimed at younger audiences which I feel benefit from more artwork. Ankolie managed to perfectly encapsulate the vision I had for my characters in Summer's Dark Waters, there was no need to adjust or change anything, which was remarkable.

SEL #5) Please discuss more about writing horror for various audiences: Young Adult vs Mature Readers (Summer's Dark Waters vs Aona).  Did you feel constrained with Dark Water's?

SW: I certainly didn't feel constrained with Summer's Dark Waters, I find it's perfectly possible to make something "scary" and exciting without resorting to overly graphic descriptions. It was a challenge initially to make my style a little less complex but I soon got into the swing of it, and as with my other others the characters ended up helping to carry the story. One of my new projects is actually a book for even younger readers which is actually a greater challenge still- we'll see if that works out.

I don't really feel that there needs to be much difference in style and content between Young Adult and Adult if the reading age of the reader is high enough. I'm not a big believer in censorship- there are far worse things in the news every day than in the books of 99.99% of authors!

SEL #6) Are any of your characters artists? Can you talk about their motivations?

SW: Alexia, member of a ruling family that met a very unpleasant end, is more a polymath but would include art amongst her skills. Nia is an assassin but would consider herself an artist (in the first few books anyway) based on the kind of work she does and her attention to detail, not to mention the sometimes unusual methods (see Oblivion's Forge for an example). Her motivation? Perhaps the intensity of her work helps her bury the past. Nia is one of the more complex characters in the series and I think her motivation in all things changes many times through the saga.

SEL #7) What are your muses? Are you trying to capture/contain/control particular horrors or fears?

SW: On the contrary, I'm tapping into the deepest recesses of my imagination in order to find things I perhaps didn't even know existed, and then let them go. In my experience, fear can't be contained forever; sooner or later it needs to fly free.

 

SEL #8) The runic covers have always caught my eye.  Are they Scandinavian/Futhark? Something else?  Please discuss the choice of coverart for the Aona series.

SW: I came up with the symbols and their meanings, and intend to explain them in detail in my Aona "guide" which I'm slowly compiling. They've proved popular and have certainly drawn people to my work. I consciously chose to avoid the usual fantasy tropes and cliches when I first thought about the covers, and decided a sparse, enigmatic motif would be ideal for the books. The Aona series bridges genres other than fantasy as well, so coming up with a common visual "standard" for the books might have been difficult with anything more involved. The books are fairly complex and so I also wanted to use something clean and stripped-down as a counterpoint.

SEL #9) Please share your own thoughts about the creative process. Anything peculiar about your methods? Suggestions for others?

SW: To be honest, I have no particular method. I write, I write some more, I keep writing, some of it's good and I keep it, some of it's bad and I scrap it, some of it's ok and I edit it. Sometimes it's a struggle to wade through the "creative mire" as I call it, and at other times I just sit down and it kind if happens without my really knowing about it. I like to have a title before I even start, and quite often I'll know how it all ends a long while before the middle bit and the bulk of the plot is in place. Basically it all starts with a vision, and I know that if I stick to that vision and the skeleton of the plot, in time everything will come together. That's the way it's always been.

That messy, chaotic way of working won't work for everyone, so I can't necessarily recommend it. It works for me though. 



Seek out more about Simon Williams and his dark fantasy:

Author Website Link /  Twitter: @SWilliamsAuthor / Amazon Author Page 

Summer’s Dark Waters: Amazon UK link     Amazon US: 
Oblivion’s Forge (Aona Book I): Amazon UK  Amazon US 


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Weston's Hell Bound- Hell can be fun!

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

The Grim Reaper will lead your through a wacky, dark Hell
In Andrew P. Weston’s Hell Bound, our protagonist and tour guide into Hell is Daemon Grim: he’s a snarky bounty hunter, Satan’s right-hand man for reining in the damned. Grim is so impressed with himself that it takes a while to realize that he may, like everyone in Hell, may actually be subject to being played.

Grim was introduced to the Heroes in Hell series in the previous installment, Doctors in Hell. In short story form there, he was tasked to retrieve Dr. Thomas Neill Cream who had escaped topside. Doctors in Hell is an anthology, an enjoyable introduction to Hell which serves as a great entry point to the series. Heroes in Hell is a long, sustained series, but Doctors and Hell Bound confirm that anyone can hop along and enjoy the ride from any stop (it is always a good time to go to Hell). Reading Doctors will help the reader appreciate the full novel Hell Bound, but doing so is not necessary.

For new readers, I summarize the Heroes in Hell milieu. It 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… which sadly seems too appropriate…). 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.

Having recently read Doctors, I was intrigued with the Heroes In Hell world. I wanted to experience it more but needed a tour guide. Daemon Grim did so in entertaining fashion. I wanted to “see” how the Undertaker refreshed the damned as they underwent subsequent deaths; I wanted to experience more odd-ball pairings of historical figures struggling to complete their life’s missions; I wanted my tour guide to have some depth, even if he was unaware of it. The story is a bizarre cat-versus-mouse hunt, with Grim chasing Cream through very dark realms, upturning mystery after mystery. A scavenger hunt-like game ensues with beautiful, cryptic poetry that leads Grim further and further into a web of deceit. Antagonists are aplenty.

Hell Bound delivered. Andrew P. Weston did a superb job balancing the needs of a full length novel with the freedoms/constraints of a shared world usually expressed in short story form. Highly recommended for fantasy readers who enjoy a bit of dark adventure.


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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Mansfield Reformatory - Silent Hill Ohio

Pain is caused by pleasure! Visit OSR

With the recent cancellation of “Silent Hills” many of us are feeling the urge to immerse ourselves in the Silent Hill ambience. Short of dangerously, visiting Centralia PA or the DeJarnette Sanatarium (Staunton VA), where is one to go? I highly recommend the Mansfield Ohio, Ohio State Reformatory (OSR).Ohio has lots of abandoned places, though most cannot be toured officially: 

But there is an easy-to-tour, must-see that is safe and cool: Mansfield Ohio, Ohio State Reformatory. It will satiate the need to experience the Tocula Prison, Nightmare realm, Chapel, and even a bit of Midwich School! OSR is huge, affordable, and has official tours (including night ghost hunting). So it is safe and cool. It is known for the filming location of movies like Shawshank Redemption, Tango and Cash, Air Force One, and even music videos for Godsmack and rapper Lil Wayne.

Some interesting perspectives with images below:
  • Built in 1886, not long after the fictionalized 1866 Tocula Prison of the Silent Hill world
  • It was originally a reformatory, so it’s design included a huge chapel and school.
  • It was converted to a prison sometime (less reformation focus), and then eventually shut down in the 1990's
  • The architect ensured the inmates could see the outside to have more hope; cells were put in the interior-center facing out. 
  • Since it was shutdown, many broken windows allow the weather to deteriorate the building--> especially the lead paint which peels off the walls. 
  • The warden lived in a beautiful central area. The wood was engineered due to fire codes the railings were made in steel, but look like wood.
  • The East cell block is the largest fee standing steel cell block; very loud too; this side had more grates to ensure inmates could not fling material at guards. The West cell block was quieter at night. 
  • The Chapel is fitted with iron bars lockable chambers inside the sanctuary
  • "Pain is caused by pleasure" - Godsmack Awake video graffiti (a call out to Moon Baby lyrics)








Thursday, June 23, 2016

Groupreads: Hour of the Dragon AND First Law


The Sword & Sorcery Group on Goodreads will be discussing the only REH Conan novel, "The Hour of the Dragon" AND Joe Abercrombie's First Law series.  Please join us.


July Aug 2016 Groupreads:


Banner Credits:
Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes, Coverart by Raymond Swanland 2013 

The Hour of the Dragon by Robert E. Howard; Cover art by Ken Kelly 1977

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie The Hour of the Dragon by Robert E. Howard

Monday, June 20, 2016

Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish is a must read

The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1)The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish is a must read for sword-and-sorcery aficionados.
• The Last Wish and most of the series were published in the 1990’s
• They spawned from Poland, not the United States of United Kingdom
• Inspired the Witcher game series a decade later (2007-ongoing)
• More to come, the author and series continue

Andrzej Sapkowski’s Geralt of Rivia is a “Witcher,” a superhuman trained to defeat monsters. After hundreds of years killing creatures, there are fewer threats and witchers. Actually there is less hunting monsters than Geralt sleuthing mysterious altercations. Sapkowski’s stories have conflicts that are not lone-Witcher-in-the-wild vs. monster conflict; they are more humans/vs strange forces in which Geralt referees (and usually kills). His investigative methods are a bit rougher than Sherlock Holmes. Each story was as if Conan was dumped into the Grimm's Fairy tales. But all is not grim. Lots of humor present is reminiscent of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series. Humans tend to persecute or shun the weird witchers; sustaining future witchers is addressed as the seeds of an apprenticeship are sown.

Geralt has dialogue with antagonists often. Lengthy interrogation stand offs are common. This approach allows for funny banter, philosophizing, and entertaining information-dumps. This makes for a fast, entertaining read. Sapkowski stands out as a leading non-English writer. No map, table of contents (TOC), or glossary were featured in the paperback translation. I provide the TOC below. The structure reveals the over-arching narrative of “the Voice of Reason” which attempts to connect all the others. This works pretty well, but is not always smooth. This was designed as an introduction to the series. I was impressed enough to order the Sword of Destiny when I was only half way through. It is not until the third book does a dedicated novel emerge. The series and the games continue to this day with books 7 and 8 awaiting English translation (as of 2016).

The Last Wish Table of Contents
1- Voice of Reason #1
2- The Witcher
3 - Voice of Reason #2
4- A Grain of Truth
5- Voice of Reason #3
6-The Lesser Evil
7-Voice of Reason #4
8-A Question of Price
9-Voice of Reason #5
10-The Edge of The World
11- Voice of Reason #6
12- The Last Wish
11- Voice of Reason #7

Andrzej Sapkowski Blood of Elves saga:
1. The Last Wish; Short Stories 1992 , translated from Polish to English 2007 when the first Witcher Video Game was released
2. Sword of Destiny Short Stories 1992 translated 2015
3. Blood of Elves 1994 Novel translated 2014
4. The Time of Contempt 1995 Novel translated 2015
5. Baptism of Fire 1996 Novel translated 2016
6. The Tower of Swallows 1997  Novel translated 2016
7. Lady of the Lake (1999…Novel being translated for a 2017 release in US)
8. Season of Storms (Sezon burz) Novel written 2013, set between the short stories in the first book in the series, The Last Wish. English edition TBD

Games
2007 Witcher PC
2011 Witcher 2 (Assassins of Kings) PC, Xbox, Mac OS
2015 Witcher 3 (Wild Hunt), PC, PS4, Xbox


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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Fall of Undal - Sisowath's Mythdark delivers enjoyable cataclysm

The Fall of UndalThe Fall of Undal by Katrina Sisowath
S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

(See also Doom-S.E. review and Sisowath Interview).

Sisowath’s Mythdark: The Fall of Undal is the second half of a duology (its initial half being The Doom of Undal). For obvious reason, readers should read Doom prior reading Fall. As many epic fantasy novels, there are many characters. In “Doom,” four characters emerged as our primary guides, three of which are sisters (Rhea, Hathor, and Sobekh) and the last is a male from a different royal family (Cronous). Sisowath’s ancient Kings and Queens (Dragon Court) have dragon blood within their veins, but their alien nature is suppressed as they rule over humans. Their curse/blessing manifests in various abilities which have associated temples to nurture/worship. “Fall” is all about the war between [Rhea and Cronous] versus [Hathor and Sobekh], and alien natures are unleashed in grim warfare. This dark fiction is mashup of mythical characters, cataclysms, and global war from a variety of ancient texts and rites.

The milieu is very rich and the Dragon Court family full of intrigue—a testament to the author’s study of history and world building. The style is mostly narrative, which is fitting for a myth-based story. That said, the complex story would have been more engaging with more “showing” versus “telling” (less narrative, more demonstrating). The author has indicated on Goodreads that lengthening her books is what motivated this duology to exist (i.e. stretched from one book); actually, “Fall” itself could easily have been developed into several books on its own accord. I hope Sisowath continues the trend, perhaps focusing on a subset of the epic and highlighting a single character’s perspective; something like that would make this rich world even more accessible.

Dragon Court and Anunnaki Deities: Katrina Sisowath’s Dragon Court series fictionalizes the plight of the royal Anunnaki. Note, the Anunnaki were actual ancient Mesopotamian deities of the Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian cultures. Katrina Sisowath regularly publishes on Ancient_Origins.Net and drew upon her expertise to construct a deep, believable world including: (a) blood-letting rituals of mystery cults, (b) alchemy-based magic, poisons and drugs, and (c) grand architecture expected of ancient times. The world is very immersive and believable. Alien references are relegated to subtle steampunk details; on the continuum of sci-fi to fantasy, this leans heavily toward epic-historical-fantasy.

Katrina Sisowath’s Dragon Court series is definitely recommended for epic fantasy readers who enjoy mythology.
1: Serpent Priestess of the Annunaki
2a: The Doom of Undal
2b: The Fall of Undal
…more to come…

Serpent Priestess of the Annunaki (Dragon Court Book 1) by Katrina Sisowath The Doom of Undal (Dragon Court #2) by Katrina Sisowath The Fall of Undal by Katrina Sisowath


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