Posts Tagged ‘anthology’

I was one of the backers for Goodman Games most recent Kickstarter for Tales from the Magician’s Skull, and as a result, received my copy a bit earlier than most. What follows is a (mostly) spoiler free review. Some of the writers were familiar to me, either from previous issues of Tales, but it was nice to see a couple of Broadswords and Blasters vets mentioned as well (D.J. Tyrer and Cynthia Ward).

Now how’s that for a cover?

The Demon Rats by C.L. Warner – a samurai is tasked with ridding a temple of a plague of demonic rats. The story starts straight forward enough, but the Warner weaves in additional complications as the story progresses. First, there is a questionable ally in a kitsune who has her own ambitions… as well as the origin of the demonic rats in the first place. The action is fast paced in this one, and Warner does a good job of evoking feudal Japan. If there is any real complaint it is that the main character, Shintaro Oba, never seems to the reader to be in any sort of mortal peril. If anything, the real danger seems to come from the complication of dealing with the inhuman kitsune, Mika. This isn’t Warner’s first Shintaro story, and I’d be interested to know if Mika would end up as a recurring character. She provides an excellent foil to Shintaro’s stoic warrior, what with her devious nature.

The Eye of Kaleet by Jeffery Sergent – a stranger in a strange land… Jade is an adventurer and a thief in a land where strangers aren’t trusted, and if a woman is caught wearing a sword, it could mean her life. After purchasing a strange gem from a nervous merchant, she is beset by a strange set of circumstances… and has to deal with a persistent Captain of the City Guard. Heist stories are always fun, and heists where the goal is to replace an item as opposed to purloin one are always welcome. The relationship between Jade and the Captain is not much developed here save for a sense of mutual respect… and a mutual desire to see more of the world. It would be interesting to see how that relationship develops in a longer story, and I can only hope to read more of Jade and her adventures.

Green Face, Purple Haze by Marc DeSantis – An American Soldier from the Vietnam war is transported to a fantasy world and a different kind of war. I will be honest that I wasn’t much impressed with the piece. I found the prose excessively utilitarian and missing some of the prosaic flair of the other stories. The concept is also one I’ve seen elsewhere (Doomfarers of Coramonde by Brian Daley comes to mind, albeit in novel format), so that might be well coloring by view. Admittedly, as the story is told exclusively from the perspective of the soldier, I can understand the direct nature of the prose. I was just hoping for something more than what was offered.

The Sorcerer’s Mask by Jason Ray Carney an unnamed Rogue enters the city of Chel and falls afoul of the sorcerer Lech who rules from the shadows. The magic of this piece is evocative and creative, a woman who weaves magic with paints and canvas; a sorcerer having lived long past his appointed time. The story weaves and bobs, reading as if it was a more an oral tale than a written one, a story told by a fire late at night after a few cups of wine. The ending was a surprising twist, and not one that this reader expected.

The Black Pearl of the Sunken Lands by Cynthia Ward Perhaps the most outlandish and fanciful tale in this volume, “The Black Pearl” follows the exploits of Bruko, a nereus, and his companion Dolphin, wanderer. Most of the exploits occur under the surface of the sea, as Bruko and Wanderer explore a long sunken temple and the dangers it contains… all in search of a bauble so Bruko can impress his lover. There are elements of real danger throughout from bloodletting kelp to self-repairing undead… as well as a giant serpent to make any fantasy lover proud. An absolute fantastic piece of fiction, and one that could easily springboard to more adventures within the aquatic world.

A Simple Errand by Matthew John – Lachmannon is a barbarian warrior… who finds himself imprisoned for behaving like a barbarian in a civilized city. Finding himself chained and in a dungeon, he has little to look forward to save for his punishment of being flayed alive. That changes when a strange wizard offers him freedom… and maybe a bit of treasure, all for a simple errand. What follows is a high stakes adventure on an alien word, far from what Lachmannon is accustomed to. Matthew John depicts an alien landscape filled with strange denizens, with challenges a plenty for an iron muscled warrior. At times Lachmannon comes across as a bit of a pastiche of other barbarian heroes of sword and sorcery, but at times such comparisons must seem inevitable.

Nzara by D.J. Tyrer a bit of soul and sorcery from Tyrer, as the hero Ini-ndoga and his companion, the archer and tracker Mbeva, arrive at a village in sore need of assistance. The chieftain and his first wife have been killed by a lion… but the lion is sacred to the village and so they cannot act against it. Ignoring the plea from one of the former chieftain’s other wives, Ini-ndoga agrees to investigate and sees what can be done. Suffice to say, not all threats are straightforward, and even a triumph can taste like ashes when complications arise.

The Silent Mound by Charles D. Shell – A Native American warrior is ambushed by three white men in the ne colonial New World. The white men are in search of gold, and they’ve heard rumors of a burial mound hiding what they seek. They strive to get Nihonka to act as their guide. Betrayal and terror follow as they find and unearth the mound, only to unleash the horror within. A bit of a delve into cosmic horror (never unwelcome) as well a change in venue from your typical sword and sorcery tale. There is a strong sense of adventure here, and of terror lurking just out of sight.

Dakagna and the Blood Scourge by W. J. Lewis – the cursed-to-wander-the-earth Dakagna returns in this sword and sorcery tale. She had been hired to track down the mercenary captain Begaram, leader of the ruthless mercenary company, the Blood Scourge. But not all is as it seems, and when the hunter becomes the hunted, it is all Dakagna can do to keep her wits (and her head). Bloody and full-blooded, this is a story to whet the appetites of any who appreciate sword play in their stories, as well as surmounting what might at first appear to be impossible odds.

You can grab your own copy of issue #10 here!

Cover for “God in Black Iron and Other Stories” out September 29th

Wow, it really has been a while since I’ve knocked the dust off this place, hasn’t it? Well, truth to tell, I’ve not had much to share, and I’ve not been writing nearly as much as I might want to be. Not necessarily due to lack of time, but well… 2020 has been a drain, all right? I do have a few pieces still coming out this year (two next month!) and a few more slated next year, so it’s not like I’ve completely dropped off the indie lit circuit. The stories included have previously appeared in such venues as PULP MODERN, ECONOCLASH REVIEW, SWITCHBLADE, and STORYHACK.

Interior illustration by Ran Scott for “A Long Journey’s End”

Anyway, it’s not all a loss as I finally got around to putting together a collection of previously published short fiction, pulled some older pieces I’ve published in this space, and included a piece that never saw the light of day (outside a few editors’ slush piles). It’s a pretty broad selection of speculative fiction with some cyberpunk/noir, sword-and-sorcery, Weird Western, steampunk, and yeah a sprinkle of urban fantasy. All told, it’s twenty short stories of varying lengths and I’m pretty happy with how it’s coming together.

The cover is by Luke Spooner/Carrion House who did the covers of Broadswords and Blasters and Ran Scott was kind enough to lend his talents for a few interior illustrations.

Digital comes out September 29th (you can preorder below) with hard copy to happen once I finish these last few edits and get Amazon to play nice with the upload (figure close to the 29th as well). Any word of mouth would be deeply appreciated as well.

Altered States II: a cyberpunk anthology (Altered States cyberpunk anthologies Book 2) by [Salgado-Reyes, Jorge, Booth, Roy C.]

Grab it here!

It features my short story LIMITLESS and happens to have some of the same characters from my NaNoWriMo novel, PROJECT PROMETHEUS.

If you do grab it, remember writers thrive on reviews, and even if you don’t feel comfortable leaving one on amazon, I’d love to know what you think of the story.