Showing posts with label WFC2016. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WFC2016. Show all posts

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Challenge! Discovery reviewed by S.E.

Challenge! Discovery
by Jason M. Waltz
S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rogue Blades Entertainment has a great track record for delivering anthologies (Return of the Sword, Writing Fantasy Heroes,Rage of the Behemoth, and more). Challenge! Discovery is the 2017 edition, which posed a challenge: look at the cover, and write a story about it. The illustration features a scantily clad female warrior and a panther emerge from jungle ruins.

The concept is cool, but the entries range in quality, and I disagree with the judges. Apparently the last two won 1st and 2nd place by the judges, but if I were to rate by (a) inspiration from cover and (b) storytelling (good pacing, show not tell, etc.) then I would have chosen 2 of the below:
- "Inner Nature" by JOHN KILIAN
- "Someplace Cool and Dark" by FREDERIC S. DURBIN
- "Witch with Bronze Teeth brushed" by KEITH J. TAYLOR

1) "Witch with Bronze Teeth brushed" by KEITH J. TAYLOR: 5-star blend of military Warhammer-esque battle and zombie horror

2) "Fire Eye Gem" by Richard Berrigan: 3-star; too corny for me; features a do-good Kimmeriorian barbarian named ‘Jack’?. ugh

3) "Inner Nature" by JOHN KILIAN 5-star, started ok and but ramped-up very satisfyingly

4) "The Ash-Wood of Celestial Flame" by GABE DYBING; nice fairy tale elements

5) "Someplace Cool and Dark" by FREDERIC S. DURBIN: 5-star, it is first person, weird funny and dark.... and I heard this exact story before! It took me a while to figure it out, but I heard him read this at the World Fantasy Convention 2016. A bonus essay on the writing of this story is added and is as engaging as the story

6)"World inside the Walls" by Frederick Tor : 3-star. Nice inspiration from the cover, but delivery style was dry narrative

7) "In the Ruins of the Panther People" by DANIEL R. ROBICHAUD: 4-star. Started slow and has cheesy romance lines, but ends with a huge bang, science-sorcery Meat Stamp! Loved the Meat Stamp!

8) "The Serpent’s Root by DAVID J. WEST, young adult pacing, but fun. 3.5; not obviously connected the cover as the other stories.

9) "A Fire in Shandria" by FREDERIC S. DURBIN; 4-star. Decent Amazon warrior story with a dragon (not sure why there was a dragon and not a panther)

10) "Cat’s in the Cradle NICHOLAS OZMENT (awarded 2nd place): 3-star Inspired by the cover for sure, but for a short story most of its pages are dedicated to non pertinent content. Pacing off.

11) "Attaberia" by HENRY RAM - (awarded 1st place): 4-star. Viking story with nice concept; starts as a 5 and ends as 3 (there is a disconnect between the tension & remoteness of a mysterious island and the inhabitants).

View all my reviews

Sunday, November 6, 2016

World Fantasy Convention 2016 Wrap Up - My One True Love - BLACK GATE and DYSCRASIA

World Fantasy Convention 2016 - S. E. Lindberg Summaries:

To John O'Neill: "My one true love"

Black Gate, Dyscrasia, & Sword-n-Sorcery

2010: I discovered the Black Gate print magazine by attending a panel at the 2010 World Fantasy Convention and listening to Howard Andrew Jones advocate for the adventure-fiction magazine. I subscribed immediately and got #15, the last print issue. The website for Black Gate (led by John O'Neill) has persisted and remains an outstanding resource for book reviews & perspectives on contemporary and historic dark fantasy. 

2015: Author Joe Bonadonna reviewed Lords of Dyscrasia on Black Gate, which was a milestone for me. Authors thrive on recognition and visibility. I adore Joe's weird fiction and Black Gate, so getting acknowledged there, by Joe, was awesome. Scroll down for an excerpt.

2016: At the 2016 WFC, I got to meet John O'Neill, help save his marriage... right before he won a WFC award for Black Gate! Not only did I get a chance to meet John O'Neill, he bought a copy of Lords of Dyscrasia, but I was encourage to sign it "to my one true love."  John’s explained on Facebook: 

"Thanks for helping save my marriage, Seth!" - John O'Neill 2016

“It's not silly. Years ago my wife Alice asked why Catherynne Valente had autographed a book to me with "To My One True Love" (because she'd asked me what she should write, and that was the first thing that came to mind).  I hastily told Alice, "Oh, that's just how everybody signs autographs these days." And so, for the last 15 years I've been begging writers to sign books with "To my one True Love, John."  I have hundreds of them, which I strategically leave open around our house.  Oh what a tangled web we weave....
Thanks for helping save my marriage, Seth!" - John O'Neill 2016

The following day, Black Gate/John O'Neill won a WFC 2016 award! Read John's kind words on Black Gate

Black Gate review, 2015 Joe Bonadonna

Seeking Revenge Against the Shades of the Dead: S.E. Lindberg’s Lords of Dyscrasia 

"S.E. Lindberg is an original voice in fantasy. His prose is lush and colorful, and his style leans toward that of classic literature, without being stilted, self-conscious or pretentious. He has a gift for putting words “down on paper” and constructing sentences that flow with a poetic nuance. 
Lords of Dyscrasia (an abnormal or disordered state of the body or of a bodily part) is touted as “Graphic Sword and Sorcery,” but to me it has more in common with the dark fantasy of Clark Ashton Smith and the gothic tones of Mervyn Peake’s first two Gormenghast books. There is some nice Lovecraftian shading to this novel, as well, with a touch of Edgar Allen Poe to lend it a feverishness of tone, and even a psychedelic flavor in style.
While Lindberg channels his influences with a deft hand, he has mapped out a beautifully grotesque world that is truly his own unique creation. This book was described to me as being part of the Grimdark subgenre of dark fantasy, and it is indeed a grim, dark tale. 
Lindberg’s “dyscrasia” is a really nasty plague — a disease of the blood that has infected the insectoid and avian elder lords of the Underworld. The disease also affects pregnant human women, who give birth to mutants — hybrids of human and elders — if they don’t die during pregnancy, that is..."

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

World Fantasy Convention 2016 Wrap Up - ARTIST-WRITER PANEL

World Fantasy Convention 2016 - S. E. Lindberg Summaries:

The Fantasy Writer-Artist : 


Jerome StueartCharles Vess, Sally Wiener Grotta(moderator), Brenda Carr Seth Lindberg 

Abstract: We can think of numerous examples of fantasy writers (novelists or short story writers) who were also accomplished painters or illustrators – from Mervyn Peake to Janny Wurts. How does working in one medium affect work in the other? We hope to hear from active contemporary writer-artists on this panel, not just talk about them.

Sally Grotta moderated. She's a photographer and writer, who also has an interest in sustaining artisan skills via her American Hands project (" ongoing photographic study by Sally Wiener Grotta, who is creating narrative portraits of traditional artisans, such as a blacksmith, quilting bee, spinner, glass blower, weaver, tatting lacemaker, papermaker and so forth." I was captivated by her work in progress call "Dream a Little World" in which people can make the substance of their dreams tangible. Really looking forward to that being published.
Sally Grotta reads WIP "Dream a Little World"
Charles Vess is an accomplished illustrator known for his drawings of fae and Gaimne's Sandman. He is currently tackling ~60 works to match a Ursula Le Guin Earthsea omnibus (both trilogies). He has been hard at work drawing dragons to her approval. After the white-washing of her characters in the TV adaptation of Earthsea, in which Ursula responded publicly, Charles attempts to clarify her vision with a black Ged.

Black Ged

Jerome Stueart hails from nearby Dayton OH. He authored and illustrated The Angels of Our Better Beasts ( ChiZine Publications).  In the dealer's room, he drew personalized beasts for any visitor (I grabbed a Polar Bear and mysterious Fox). 
 "I got a lot of love from fantasy writers and fans, and people who enjoyed the little extra Beasties that I drew for them.  It really helps you connect with someone when they describe their Beast to you, and you draw their imagination to life.... you bond.  I felt like I was in Family the whole time I was there.  I met a lot of new people, reacquainted myself with relationships, and felt very welcomed there.  I couldn't ask for a better weekend or con!" - Jerome Stueart 2016

Brenda Carr recently had her story "Gret" published in the Blackguard's Blacklist companion (I had backed the kickstart for the anthology and really enjoyed it.) Gret is wonderful story tracing the origins of a witch. The narrative voice is authentic and beautifully conveys a child's view of dark reality as she is haunted & chased by evil entities (from her sorcerer ancestors to pirates). Gret's learned from her mom that 3 L's  are needed to survive: Location, Lissome tongue, and Lightning touch (thievery).  Gret will be appearing in a few works in progress. Here is a snippet:

"The day Mam died, that sodding bag of dead man's piss knocked me over my tender young pate and threw me into the orlop of a pirate ship. I'd just turned thirteen.
So there I was, cotched and away out there on blue water. 
Now, that was a real bad location. No silver-tongued happiness was gonna save my cherry. A little main no more, I'd begun on the road to the witch I am.
Isk, the captain was no true Corsair. Pirates ain't. Pirates'll rut with a post if there ain't no goats aboard, and the goats breathe easy if there's girls." 

World Fantasy Convention 2016 Wrap Up - Sword and Sorcery Panel

World Fantasy Convention 2016 - S. E. Lindberg Summaries:

Sword & Sorcery Panel 

Scott H. Andrews was on the "Swords & Sorcery Panel" (along with David DrakeMercedes Lackey (guest of honor for WFC 2016), S. M. Stirling and James A. Moore (moderator). Scott seemed to be the only one in touch with contemporary authors (publishing post 2000); he runs Beneath Ceaseless Skies an e-zine of short fiction. James Moore was a professional moderator and did not speak of his own work, as well he could have. Drake, Lackey, and Stirling were not attuned to newer work, so it was refreshing to have Scott speak for the next generation. His BCS was up for a WFC award.

There was a strange absence of any discussion on popular Warhammer or Forgotten Realm series.... and a lack of acknowledgement for contemporary works/authors in Ragnorak Publications or Rogue Blades Entertainment, or even Black Gate (also up for a WFC award). Actually no one even mentioned Andrzej Sapkowski...who was being honored for a lifetime achievement at this event (he was not present but his Last Wish book was handed out to everyone.)

World Fantasy Convention 2016 Wrap Up - DIFFICULT FANTASY

World Fantasy Convention 2016 - S. E. Lindberg Summaries:

The Eternally Difficult (but Fascinating) Writers  (that was the topic, not a characterization of the panelists :)   ) 


Seth E. Lindberg (moderator), Kathleen Ann GoonanGary K. Wolfe, Janeen Webb, Robert Knowlton

Abstract: The writers who will never be popular but who will never fade away. It has been suggested that at least one person a year will read David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus with great fascination from now until the end of time. But he will never be popular. Clark Ashton Smith’s prose style repels some and enchants others, but we know he will never sell millions of copies. We don’t mean just neglected writers. What about the “difficult” writers? Does James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (a dream fantasy of sorts) fall into this category? What is the place for difficult prose styles or ideas which can only reach the few and never the many?

The panel was thoroughly well-read and well recognized.  Kathleen Ann Goonan has been nominated for the Nebula Award and author of NY Times Best Seller (Queen City Jazz), and won a John Campbell Memorial Award for Science Fiction. Gary Wolfe  has been reviewing speculative fiction for decades including for Locus magazine (since 1991) and even the Chicago Tribune. Janeen Webb hails from Australia known for her contribution to Dreaming Down Under (1999 WFC award winner for anthologies), and several Sinbad novels ~2000-2003 . Lastly, Robert S. Knowlton (aka Bob Hadji, Robert S. Hadjieditor of Borderlands and author and critic of various weird/horror fiction since the 1970's.

Framing the discussion was Brian McNaughton's Throne of Bones (a WFC 1998 award winner). This enabled us to discuss controlling the information flow (and distance from clarity) to a reader via (a) dense prose, (b) auxiliary material maps (or lack of them), (c) increasing accessibility via the spoken spoken word (and audio books), and a litany of authors/books identified as cryptic yet fun:

  • Sacred Fount - Henry James 1901
  • Clark Ashton Smith
  • Dhalgren by Samuel Delany 1975
  • House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski 2000
  • Virginia Woolf ~ 1890-1940
  • Red Shift, Alan Garner 2011
  • A Voyage to Arcturus David Lindsay 1920
  • Finnegans Wake, James Joyce 1939
  • The House on the Borderland, William Hope Hodgson 1908
  • Gormenghast novels (Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone), Mervyn Peake ~1950
  • Robert Coover 
  • V, Thomas Pynchon 1963
  • William Morris  ~late 1800's
  • Lord Dunsany ~1900  
  • E. H. Visiak

A Challenge from Darrell Schweitzer, program coordinator: Have you Read James Joyce's Finnegans Wake? How can you prove that?

Favorite unscripted moment: Janeen Webb recited, from memory, the beginning to E R Eddison's Mistress of Mistresses. Her voice and tenor were beautiful and it sounded like a blend of poetry and song. Her point being that many of these works are more easily understood, and enjoyed, if read aloud.

World Fantasy Convention 2016 Wrap Up - WEIRD FICTION

World Fantasy Convention 2016 - S. E. Lindberg Summaries:

Weird Fiction, Darrell Schweitzer, and Book Haul

Darrell Schweitzer is an icon among weird fiction authors (I devoured his Mask of Sorcerer and We Are All Legends).  He organized the programming at this year's WFC and enabled me to be on two panels (Writer-Artist panel and Difficult-but-Fascinating-Fantasy--which I moderated, and that was the topic...not a description of the panelists :)).

Of course I had to track Darrell down early and gets some books signed. He shared a booth with Paul Ganley who edited Weirdbook for a long time and he published Brian Lumley's Sword & Sorcery novels. Paul got these into the US print domain and are hard to come by. I had owned Lumley's Kash series, but I didn't have his/Lumley's "of Dreams" series featuring characters Hero and Eldin....these are heroes stuck in HP Lovecraft's Dream world.Iced on Aran and Other Dream Quests. Paul's age is affecting him so he will no longer be attending many/any more conventions. He'll continue to sell online.

From their booth (and a few others) I got the following: 
W Paul Ganley's Cthulhu's Cousins and Other Weirdnesses and his editions of Brian Lumley's Hero of Dreams, Mad Moon of Dreams, and Ship of Dreams.

Darrell Schweitzer's Windows of the Imagination (which contains an essay on his never published Conan the Deliverer novel) and Refugees from an Imaginary Country (which he identified as an omnibus of his best work) and The Innsmouth Tabernacle Choir Hymnal. Also go to see him do a reading of a soon to be published story "Girl in the Attic." 

S E Lindberg being corrupted by legend Darrell Schweitzer
Book Haul from WFC 2016, Wierd Fiction book booth dealer's room

Paul W Ganley:  Cthulhu's Cousins and Other Weirdnesses

Church of Dagon & A Girl in the Attic

Darrell Schweitzer educated me, quite humorously, on the Church of Dagon; how could I not get Necronomicon hymnal? I picked up his books of Necronomicon inspired poetry. He indicated that at a recent Necronomicon convention, the crowd sang "Cthulhu loves his loyal minions" (p9 from the 

The Innsmouth Tabernacle Choir Hymnal). See the embedded Youtube video; Schweitzer appears in a red Fez at the 2015 Armitage Breakfast Necronomicon Providence. 

Shown below 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.

Darrell Schweitzer reads soon to be published "Girl in the Attic"