Thursday, January 31, 2019

Caliber Comics's Dead World: Requiem for the World


Oh my God.

Oh my God.

OH MY GAWD!!!

I'm reviewing a reboot. I can't believe I'm reviewing a reboot. This is Jimbo's and I'M REVIEWING A REBOOT!!!!

I feel like Jim Carrey right now because "Somebody stop me!"

But I'm not REALLY reviewing a reboot. I mean, I didn't even know the original existed until I was holding a copy of the reboot in my hand. So, it doesn't count.

STOP TELLING ME IT COUNTS! I SAID IT DOESN'T!!!

I mean, could we please say it doesn't count? I'll make this a really good review and toss in a link for all of you who want to get one. I mean, if I do a REALLLY good job will you please say it doesn't count as a reboot?

*cry*

I don't want it to be a reboot.

*takes long pull from Mountain Dew bottle*

I can't believe it. It's a reboot and it's on my blog. I've failed at life!!!

*SIGH*

Ok, I've come to terms with what I'm doing. It's a reboot and I'm not shying away from that. I'm a big boy. I'm going to put on my man pants and do this thing right.

So, for those of you who missed the pic at the top of the page and/or have forgotten what it looked like today's review will cover the topic of Deadworld: Requiem for the World and all foolishness aside, it is indeed a reboot. It's a good story even if I can't comment on how well it translates the original because I haven't read the original. Seriously, I met a rep for the Caliber Comics company at ConFusion and picked up two of the books there. I read the reboot first because reasons.

It was actually a really good comic. It's fast paced, has some good art and left me very well entertained. Rumors that I may have gotten chocolate stains on the pages because I couldn't stop reading it for long enough to eat a Ho-Ho are greatly exaggerated. (Ho-Hos are Hostess. It was a Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll which is totes different.)

Requiem for the World is a zombie comic. I get the fact that zombies are really popular and not all that cool with the hipster set because those goofballs hate everything that anyone else likes, but I'm telling you that this is a good one. Why? Because it has a twist. This isn't just your average zombie comic. Then again, I'm a fan of The Walking Dead, so what do I know?

I know I've never seen a comic where the zombies have a leader. They're not real bright, because zombies, but they can follow simple instructions. I'm not sure what the zombie leader guy's name even is but he's something new that I sure haven't seen before. The thought of armies of the dead working together in a coordinated manner is some scary shit and let's face it: This is a zombie comic. It's supposed to be scary.

>SPOILERS NEXT PARAGRAPH<





 >YOU'VE BEEN WARNED<

>I'M NOT KIDDING!!!!<
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I know that in cases where the cause of the zombie outbreak is not based on something sciency-sounding it's usually never given. Requiem for the Dead never quite gets to the point that it gives us all the answers but I get the feeling that later comics in the stream actually will. There are some fairly obvious hints that an answer is coming, but not exactly what it is and now I'm intrigued. I'm not sure if the answer was given in the original series or if they'll be giving the same one this time around anyway (the intro to the TPB states that a lot is changed early and I'll take their word for it. It's their product.) but they're definitely leading into something and it sounds cool.

I know that zombies are usually the only monsters in zombie fiction. I'm not sure but I have reason to believe that there are a couple of things in the book that are not exactly zombies and aren't the type of thing we would see in the real world ever. I like them. I like the fact that they're there even more. This is something that you just don't see. I'm starting to wonder how they tie in with the rest of it.

I know that the fact that I want to see more is the first sign of a good continuing anything. (Nobody tell any of my English teachers you saw that sentence. It's a mess and I can't figure out how to fix it.) Seriously, if they give you all the answers you have no reason to buy the next one. Whoever scripted this (The cover credits Gary Reed, Vince Locke and Dalivor Talajic, but doesn't say who did what and I don't know the company well enough to be sure) did a damn fine job of not just writing a good story for this book, but of creating a story that will cause interest in future books. I mean, this has the potential to cost me bunches of money and they're basically sucking all the cash out of my wallet but I'll get over it because I honestly believe I'm going to enjoy it. 

I know that I love good art and this is good art. It's black and white, but I think it almost has to be. Zombie comics are not superhero comics. They're not meant to be bright, shiny and uplifting. Zombie comics are horror comics. They are dark and brooding because that's what they're supposed to be. They are tales of the scraps of humanity barely surviving. The black and white medium really helps drive that point across. It's a mood thing.

Listen, I'm not really a super-educated comics critic who can take apart a page and tell you exactly what technique was used to do what and lead to that other thing. I just know that it looks good and helped the story make sense. At the end of the day that's all I really care about. They delivered with what mattered and that's a good looking, entertaining story. Now I'm stuck with the question of whether or not to get the next one in Dead Tree Format or in e-format. I read a lot of e-books but with comics... I dunno. Then again, for what it's worth, I will be picking up the next one in some format.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Rotten Corpses

Deadworld: Requiem for the Dead
Gary Reed, Vince Locke, Dalivor Talajic
Caliber Comics, 2017


Deadworld: Requiem for the Dead is available for purchase at the following link (or you can support your Local Comic Shop by ordering it there):

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Fiction Writing for Kids - Guest Post by Hank Quense



Fiction Writing Workshop For Kids


Writing a story is a tough job, especially for a kid. There’s all that stuff about characters and setting they have to remember. And then there’s the plot. How is a kid supposed to figure that one out?

A few years ago, the Valley Middle School in Oakland NJ asked if I would visit the school and talk to their seventh graders. On visits like this, authors usually talk about their books and read scenes from them. I hate reading scenes! I find it boring and I’m sure I bore the audience with my monotonous voice. Instead of torturing the kids this way, I decided to show them how I create a short story.

The slide talk worked like this: I gave them the overall story idea, one that they would want to write about. After that, I used a handout with a series of text boxes with questions to have the kids come up with ideas on characters, setting and plot. Finally, I broke the story up into six scenes and showed the students how to use the text box ideas to write each scene. The talk was wildly successful.

Last week, I spent the day in the Norwood Public School (NJ) with the 7th graders. I attended three 90 minute classes.
The students were in the process of writing a personal memoir and I expanded my talk to include similarities in writing a memoir and a short story. Afterwards, I spent time reading some of the memoirs and suggesting improvements. The memoirs impressed me, as did the experiences the kids wrote about. The ones that stand out are: a six-year-old’s first day in the USA after leaving Russia; getting accidentally separated from her parents in Seoul, Korea; getting her hand stuck between elevator doors.

Besides the schools, I’ve given this talk in libraries and expanded the concept to include two more story ideas. While I love doing this, my talks are geographically limited. To remove this limitation, I used these three talks as the basis of a book. It’s an ebook called Fiction Writing Workshop for Kids. Using the advanced technical capabilities of ebooks, the book has graphics, audio and video clips embedded into it. The videos show the text boxes and coaches the kids on how to use each text box to develop the characters, setting and plot. Each story has a final video clip showing the students which text boxes to use in each scene. Finally, there is a set of blank worksheets the kids can use to develop stories on their own.
The suggested audience for the ebook is 4th to 7th graders.

I’ve written a lot of books, but I’m more proud of this one than any of the others.

The ebook is available on iBooks at https://apple.co/2CJYDjN and Kindle at https://amzn.to/2RnU5Yo.

You can learn more about the workshop by watching this short video: https://youtu.be/SjkIvhfTPHc and by visiting this web page: https://padlet.com/hanque/a7zx74mjcgrg

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Chris Kennedy's Asbaran Solutions

Yes, I'm reviewing Asbaran Solutions by Chris Kennedy. Yes, it is the second of the novels in the Four Horsmen Universe and yes, I can hear someone out there already:

"Dood! There are like a million novels in the Four Horsemen Universe and the Chris Kennedy Publishing Kindle Unlimited Writing Factory puts a new one out every four point three seconds. You are literally never going to catch up at this pace."

To which I reply: "Dooooood! I know. It's gonna be fun to try though. NOW GET BACK TO WORK PROLE!!!:

Or sumfin'.

Sorry, I'm in a weird mood today.

So yes, I picked up a copy of Asbaran Solutions because I felt like I needed more ass-kicking in my life. I mean seriously, who doesn't like to spend their time reading tales of derring-do and explosions? (And if you don't, why are you here?)

And this is definitely a book with a high amount of ass-kickery. Our main character is one Nigel Shirazi and his family has been fucked with. He seems to be less than okay with that fact in a "Michael Corleone said that this was too harsh" kind of way. (And if you don't get the Godfather reference, hie thee off to the video store. I'll wait until you get back.) Seriously, if he has anything to say about it, someone is going to pay for messing with The Family. Oh, and the Shirazi family owns the mercenary company Asbaran Solutions, hence the title of the book and the ability to commit the aforementioned acts of ass-kickery.

I really thought I was going to enjoy this one and I was right. I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would though. See, Chris is a veteran and, while Red Tide: The Invasion of Seattle was a really good book, I had to wonder if Kennedy was going to be able to deliver on the less formal atmosphere of a merc unit. Well, I'm here to tell you that he owned it. And, as the former commander of a 'Mech company cum regimental combat team in the universe of the Battletech board games and Mechwarrior pen and paper role playing game, stuff like that matters to me. Don't get me wrong, the troops follow orders (they wouldn't succeed otherwise) but you don't get the crisp salutes or the perfectly pressed pants that you would get out of a member of the United States Navy, where Kennedy served as an aviator. You also wouldn't see people switching between branches like a few switch between merc companies in the book. This is a good thing. Kennedy gets it when I wasn't sure he would. Troops sometimes talk back in ways that would get them in big trouble in an actual military and that makes sense as well.

It's interesting the way Kennedy uses the free-wheeling nature of mercs to move his story along too. In any type of military unit members are going to be faced with putting their duty over their personal feelings, but in a merc unit, sometimes it's possible to do what you want and get paid for it anyway. This is another positive about merc life that I was really happy to see Kennedy put that in his work. The ability to pick and choose contracts is what makes a merc unit different from a member of a standing military. The setup in the book just makes sense.

The fight scenes in Asbaran Solutions do something very well that I've never seen attempted in another book and I love it. Kennedy occasionally uses radio messages more than once to create a sense of simultaneity. (Oh look. I think I spelled that right!) You really do get a sense that there is stuff happening all over the place at the same time and it rocks. Seriously, if you're an author out there and you write military fic (whether SF or not) read this book because Kennedy puts on a clinic. I've never seen this before but I want more. It's not that reading things sequentially is bad ( I mean, that's how the human brain processes things so it makes sense) it's just that this method of writing adds a lot of excitement and a sense that things are occurring all at once. And guess what folks? Combat is chaos and Asbaran Solutions definitely gives you a feeling of being in a situation where no one is truly in control and there's no telling what could happen next. On the other hand, you may want to be careful here. Reading Asbaran Solutions before you call your girlfriend is contra-indicated if you want to call her when you were supposed to. (Huh? Experience? What? And I was only five minutes late. HMPH.)

Oh, and I kind of have to mention the aerial battles. Kennedy is, after all, a retired naval aviator and I expected these to rock. They did. I wonder how much of one particular scene was motivated by his training and how much was based on a personal fear, but I guess it doesn't matter. Just know that it was super believable and realistic and had me in physical pain just reading it. 

I don't want to spoil too much, but I really like Nigel's character arc in this story. He starts out as a spoiled little shit and ends up.. well, something else. All I'm going to say for the record is that it was a big improvement. By the end of the book I was almost to the point where I had forgotten just exactly how well I had initially wanted to clean his clock. The people around him have a lot to do with it. He doesn't just spontaneously learn to stop being a complete douche and that makes sense too. Maturation comes from dealing with people and experiencing things and that's how Nigel learns.

I've already picked up my copy of Winged Hussars, which is the book that follows this one in The Revelations Cycle. It's not by Kennedy. It's by Mark Wandrey but so was Cartwrights Cavaliers and that was amazeballs, so I'm excited. I almost feel bad for Wandrey though. I wouldn't want to have to follow a book like this. It's going to be hard to live up to.

Bottom Line:  5.0 out of 5 Red Diamonds

Asbaran Solutions: The Revelations Cycle Book Two
Chris Kennedy
Chris Kennedy Publishing, 2017

Asbaran Solutions: The Revelations Cycle Book Two is available for purchase at the following link:



Monday, January 28, 2019

Kevin Steverson's Salvage Title

If you're a graduate of the military academy who was placed in the inactive reserve despite awesome grades what would you do? If you were Harmon Tomeral you would get a job scrapping derelicts from old battles and build yourself a mech to enter into the tournament that the Marine Corps held every year because winning could give you enough money to buy ship. Would it work? If you buy a copy of Kevin Steverson's Salvage Title you can find out.

I like Tomeral. If you haven't figured it out just from the paragraph above, his defining characteristic is that he doesn't give up. I can almost hear Tomeral saying, "Never tell me the odds" in Han Solo's voice. This guy just does not know when to leave well enough alone and, in a lot of ways, Salvage Title is based on his total defiance of the odds and willingness to bend the rules to suit his situation. Everyone should have a friend like Harmon because sometimes it's necessary to view things from a slightly different angle in order to figure them out. I once again find myself frustrated by the fact that fictional characters are, well, fictional because I want to have a drink with this guy.

That's not to say that Tomeral is all being and all knowing. In many ways, he's a brand new second lieutenant. He has a lot of knowledge of things military but not necessarily the experience needed to make full use of them. Steverson is, himself a veteran, although I have been unable to find anything stating what rank he attained while in. One suspects that if he wasn't a 2LT at some point in his life, he may have run into one at some point. It's interesting though, because while 2LTs can be the butt of jokes, Tomeral isn't that guy. He just hasn't done it for long enough to have grasped all the nuances that weren't covered in training. I short, he's a believable character that makes sense and that goes a long way toward making Salvage Title such an enjoyable read.

Salvage Title  does start a bit slower than I would usually prefer but it picks up nicely. It is also the first in a series (the sequel is entitled Salvage Fleet and is already live on Amazon) and sometimes it takes a minute to set up a series. The book does pick up nicely and by the time I hit the midpoint I couldn't stop reading. This is an action packed book full of fight scenes and awesomeness and, if some dark corner of my mind couldn't help but wonder if he was doing all of this fighting just to have stuff to scrap later, at least it doesn't appear that way in the work itself. I seriously doubt that he's NOT going to salvage some of the mess though. I said he was inexperienced. I never said he was dumb.

 Of course, to a guy who grew up on Star Trek, Star Wars  and Green Lantern there is very little more entertaining than an environment filled with all kinds of aliens and Steverson definitely delivers there. He's got tinkerer aliens and capitalist aliens and extinct aliens and all kinds of stuff. Tomeral's home planet of Joth is packed with all kinds of alien species in addition to humanity. I just eat this stuff up. What SF fan doesn't like weird looking, gift having aliens? I know the existence of aliens is a trope but became a trope because it's cool. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. I hope we'll see more varieties in the sequel.

We don't necessarily get to see a lot of Tomeral's home planet Joth, but what I see I do like. It's an egalitarian society with easy access to weapons. This is not a planet where weaponry is reserved for only the elites and those who serve them and it shows in all aspects (that we can see, anyway) of their society. An armed society is not just a polite society. It is a society which is forced to accept the input of all because the consequences of ignoring those out of power has the potential to be truly horrifying.

It's not just that though. Joth is totally the "wrong side of the tracks." As a guy from greater Detroit, it's good to see a guy from the hated area succeed. Seriously. Tomeral gets denied a spot that he has earned because he's from Joth. He is denied a vehicle registration because he's from Joth. Everything bad that happens to him happens because he's from Joth. And he manages to shrug it all off and get 'er done anyway. I like this guy. I like the fact that he grew up somewhere hated. I really like the fact that he doesn't give up when it would be easy to do so. After all, who ever expected a kid from Joth to do anything good?

There are a lot of things left unanswered at the end of Salvage Title and, given the fact that it's a series starter, I really like that aspect of it. Steverson was clearly smart enough to know that you can't continue a series if you tie up all of the loose ends. There are the obvious ones that you'll come across simply by reading the book and at least one mass version of never found the body that leaves me unconvinced that one problem is as solved as we're led to believe it is. Time (and probably the sequel) will tell whether I'm right or not, but I'm a suspicious bastard on my best day, so I could be wrong here. Of course, the sun COULD rise in the west tomorrow, but that doesn't mean that it's likely.

Ignorance of any earlier work and a lack of desire to search Amazon to find out if I'm wrong lead me to believe that this is Steverson's freshman effort. While it kinda bums me out that I don't have a catalogue of Steverson works to catch up on, I'll get over it since I can claim to have been on board since almost the beginning after he publishes a bunch more books. I mean, let's face it. Being able to talk about how you've "been a fan since day one" is only half a step away from Nerdvana. In case you missed it, this means that I'll be picking up a copy of Salvage Fleet. This is also a note to Kevin Steverson (who may never read this) that you need to WRITE MOAR BOOKS!!!!! I can't brag about being down since the beginning if you only have two.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Wrecked Ships

Salvage Title
Kevin Steverson
Theogony Books, 2018

Salvage Title and Salvage Fleet are available at the links below:




Wednesday, January 23, 2019

ConFusion AAR





So what do you do when the fan club that you're a part of has an event at a local con and you have to work, but you can choose your own hours? Well, if you're me you head out to the con and leave early so you can go work. Or at least you plan to, but we'll get there.

If you're reading this and you've never been to a con, you're probably wondering what the point is. The point is simple. It's to have a good time. If you are a fan of Science Fiction and/or Fantasy or any of it's variations (Paranormal Romance and Supernatural Horror both come to mind) then you know what I mean when I say that no one gets it. The jokes, the references, the reason you're scared of a pineapple salad, the just don't know. It's not their fault per se, and I'm not trying to demean anyone, but if you're one of us you get it. We've all felt the frustration of having to find alternate ways of acting and communicating because the general public doesn't get us. Here's the thing: The person standing next to you at a con feels the same way and has been through the same stuff.

If you were the kid who had to endure the taunts (and Lord knows I was) then this is the place to be. You can sit down next to someone you don't know and talk to them about that episode of ST:TOS that still has you confused. (Ok, so that conversation was with the GF on the phone last night, BUT SHE GOES TO CONS!) When someone looks up and says "Luke, I am your father," you can look back at them and say, "That's not the right line," and someone will start cheering.

Listen, I can hear you in the back. You're talking about massive expense and telling me that not everyone is rich. You're right. I've been the guy with no car living in a motel. I know what that's like and I certainly don't want to make you feel bad about yourself. Seriously though, for those of you who aren't at absolute rock bottom it's not that expensive, especially if you live in a metropolitan area. Transportation should be cheap. You can sleep at your own house at night (just don't drink and drive -there are lots of parties at cons) and food and beverages in the consuite are free. Yes, at most cons that includes beer, but I'm not a beer drinker so I won't comment on the quality of it. How much a con badge costs is variable per con, but some have day passes that you can get pretty cheap. Saturday is usually the most expensive day, but it also the longest so there is that to think about. So Saturday is the best day to go if you're only going to do one day and you can afford the extra little bit. If you're only going for one day I recommend against Sunday because it ends early and there's not that much fun stuff. If you can't go then I'm sorry but if you can go then go.

Oh, and yes I know some people dress up in cosplay. That pic above is the closest to true cosplay I've ever gotten. Most people don't dress up. Any con I've been to and/or heard of is okay with people showing up in whatever they like as long as they can't be arrested for indecent exposure. (Yes folks, you do need to keep your privates private.) One of my favorite parts of a con is seeing all of the people in cosplay. I, however, have neither the skills nor the budget for some big time production. I go anyway and it's okay. No one says a word about it and most of them are dressed just like me anyway.

*SIGH*

So how was the actual con, Jimbo?

Why thank you for asking. I had a great time!

The real reason I went is two-fold: One, as a member of The Royal Manticoran Navy, I wanted to help at our recruiting table. Mission accomplished. I actually got one guy to stop and talk to me and someone else signed him up! It was exciting. Two: I love the Honor Harrington books and don't know anyone else who reads them (even though you can download the first two for free from Baen to find out how awesome they a... Uhh... if you like them or not.) and I thought I'd try to sucker someone into talking about the books with me. That worked too. We had a wardroom (you non-TRMN types would refer to it as a "party.") and toward the end there were four of us talking about some of the stuff from the books. So mission accomplished there as well.

But wait, there's more.

If you go to a con with some type of realistic goal you can almost always accomplish it. This is known. But why stop with merely doing things that you went to do? Why not have some extra fun? I mean, you're there. You paid for it (unless you're ghosting which you're not supposed to do, but I uhh.. may have done it at some point). Why not see what else you can do? Here's what else I did:

 I got to listen to oodles and bunches of geek music. Seriously. We had people playing recorders for a bit and had some people playing ukuleles both days I was there. It was a good time.

I hit up the dealers room and some of the people in the fan space. Being a Christian and a geek, I bought a book about Christian geekery. That one kind of excited me. I also picked up a couple of comics and another novel, any of which may appear here once I've had a chance to read them. I hadn't really been planning to spend any money, and there was certainly no requirement to go into the dealer's room at all, but well... Yeah. I am Jimbo. Watch me spend.

(As an interesting aside, Blogger's spell checker doesn't like the word Jimbo. It sucks to be Blogger though because I hereby cast aside the bullying and use my name as I would like to!)

Did I mention the party? We had a party. I didn't do much drinking because I didn't have a room (see, I practice what I preach) and I didn't want any problems getting home. So I stopped drinking at like ten and didn't drive home until three. I hadn't really consumed that much booze to begin with, so I was good. A good time was had by all and most of the attendees were not members of the TRMN but we never expected them to be. I will say this much though: If you ever visit a TRMN wardroom and you have a chance, drink a missile pod. It's a fun experience, although the shot itself is kind of girly and sweet.

I hit up the Consuite for free grub and free drinks. I don't drink beer ever (not my thing) so that was out. I did, however, get down on some free tacos for lunch and my share of a free party sub and salad for dinner. I drank lots of free Faygo too. The consuite volunteers were extremely helpful and actually gathered up some cans of Faygo so I could get this pic for my GF who lives out of town and wants to try some Faygo when she visits.

So thank you ConFusion staff! I'm trying to talk her into coming with me next year. Wish me luck!

I also geeked out and did some stuff with my TRMN buddies to try to get myself promoted within the organization. With any luck, I'll be an ensign soon! I also qualified myself for Communications, so if my promotion goes through (wish me luck again) I'll hopefully be the new Communications Officer and do most of the writing for my ship. That was more skull sweat than I've expended since my college days but I enjoyed it and it was worth it. How many other people can say they've been an officer in a fictitious navy?

Oh, and I talked to people. The Little Red Reviewer was super cool and she has a Kickstarter going.I think I might steal her idea. Do you guys think anyone would buy a book of my best posts so far? It's worth looking into I think. I also go to talk to a guy in a super-cool cosplay that I didn't quite recognize, but it was a full suit of futuristic armor with a gun and it glowed in spots. I had to stop him and recognize him for his hard work and let him know how awesome it looked because AWESOME!!!! Actually, there were lots of other people I talked to as well, but I need to get out the door and go to work.

And that, for me, was the con. Veni, vidi, vichi or sumfin'. All in all , it was a great time and I'm already planning to go back next year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

OMG I'M EXCITED!!!!!!!


(Video courtesy of Youtube)

Did you watch that trailer? DID YOU WATCH THAT TRAILER!?!??!??!?!?!?!?!??!?!?! THE 'BUSTERS ARE BACK BABY!!!

Listen, I know I'm generally against remaking old stuff. I keep meaning to share my opinion on reboots and that day is coming, but this isn't a reboot. We're supposedly getting the original Ghostbusters cast, or at least part of it. This isn't some political correctness generated all female cast created to appease a feminist crowd. It's the guys who made it work the first time.

DUDE!!!

Listen, pretty much everything I know about this film is that it was announced yesterday and the trailer dropped today. That seriously completes the list. That's enough to get me going though.

I'll be honest. Storywise there's not a whole lot (as in nothing) that has been released. But watch it all the way through. Did you hear the proton packs activate? I heard the proton packs activate. Let me say that again: I HEARD THE PROTON PACKS ACTIVATE.

Note to people who do sequels or reboots/remakes of old movies: This is how you get your fans excited. You give them something they liked about the product you're reimagining. There's no need for fancy new touches and craziness. If you want to sell tickets (and my crystal ball says this movie will do well at the box office) give the fans what they want, instead of what you want to give them.

Seriously.

The Ghostbusters reboot flopped because it was made to please people with a political agenda instead of the people who loved the originals. That's why Wonder Woman succeeded. DC didn't get rid of what made  Wonder Woman who she was to all of her fans. They gave the fans what the fans wanted and they made phat bank. Movie studios are for-profit ventures right? Learn a lesson here, folks.

Do you hear my excitement about this? Can you feel me about to burst with excitement? If not I've failed and I'm embarrassed because I'm a better writer than that.

I'm no William Shakespeare. Hell, I'm not even a Larry Correia or a Declan Finn. But you have to have gotten that much out of this, right?

I, Jim McCoy, the guy who hates all of the remakes is nostalgic as all get out and can't wait to blow ALL OF THE MONEY on this movie. I don't even know what it's about. I mean, that's a barn so there's a good chance that at least part of the movie takes place in a rural area, but that's all I've got at this point. Here's the thing though: I would like to know more and I'm willing to lay down some hard earned coin to do it.

And if anyone with influence over this movie is listening, can we get a tacky hip-hop/R+B track for Ghostbusters 3 like we got for Ghostbusters 2? I want to find out about Vigo the master of evil everytime I hear that track, and I've got it on a Spotify playlist.

I've got to cut this short and head off to work. But just know that I'm as happy as a pig eating shit right now and I'm waiting impatiently for Summer 2020. Who's with me?

Some Ghostbusters related items are available for purchase at the links below:








Monday, January 14, 2019

Call for Submissions/Suggestions for Our Memorial Day Event

(So I wrote this a couple of days ago as part of a batch I did on my day off. I've since managed to track down a couple titles. I still need more and if I get a bunch I'll do my best to extend the event. Our vets deserve the recognition.)

We here at Jimbo's (all one of us) love our veterans. We appreciate what they've done for our country and we want to do what we can to help them out. Unfortunately, Jimbo's is a blog and not a medical service that works better than the VA. Sorry vets, I have to stick to what I'm actually qualified for. So, what can a Science Fiction and Fantasy blog do to help out our vets?

Well....


Some vets are authors. Some of those authors write science fiction and fantasy. Some of the books they write feature members of the US Military in action, often in the future. I'm looking for those books because I do a Memorial Day event where I do a review a day on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. That means I need four books to read. Right now, I have one for sure: David Guenther's Zombie Airman. It sounds good, but I haven't really read something that I'm not going to review for another four and a half months.

Every year I've done this, it turns into a behind the scenes shit show (although people have told me they loved the finished product) as I try to figure out what I'm going to review and how I'm going to get it all read in time because dammit, I need to plan better. I mean, some people came through for me last year, but it was a close thing. And I mean, it's my blog, but why should I do all the work?

So here's what I'm asking for:

I need another three books like the ones I described above that I haven't already reviewed. If you happen to be an author that fits into the category and want to submit your book ala the normal submission process (IE emailing a .mobi, .epub or .pdf to thatjimboguy@gmail.com) that's awesome. If you know of someone who fits the category and you're not an author, let me know and I'll at least consider picking up an ebook. DO NOT send me pirated copies. I don't believe is stealing other people's work and I DAMN SURE don't steal from people who have risked their asses to protect mine.

One year (I think it was my first one) I did do a review of Amy Lynn by Jack July. It was an awesome book by a vet about the US Military in action but it wasn't a work of Science Fiction or Fantasy. At the end of the day, I'm glad I did it. It is a damn fine book and I've since gotten to know the author a bit on Facebook and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. Going forward though, I'm going to try to stick to SF/F because this is a SF/F blog.

Also, and I wish I knew of a way to do this more sensitively, if anyone knows of a SF/F author that fell in the line of duty, please let me know, especially if the royalties are going to any family that has been left behind. I want to pick up a copy and feature it. I don't know if such a thing even exists, but if it does, please let me know about it. If it was your father/mother/sister/brother/cousin/aunt/uncle/friend that's okay. I want to feature them here and I can't do it if I don't know they ever existed.

If you know any of the details of their service (or you are the person who served) include a few details about their service. What branch were they in? What did they do in that branch? Did they get deployed anyplace cool or serve during any wars (and yes, people, anyone who served in the military is a veteran. It's not their fault if we weren't at war at the time.)? Did they get to play with any of the really cool hardware? I do a little bio before I do the main part of the post and not every vet has their own Wikipedia page. I need the details so I can write them up and make sure whoever gets the proper credit.

And yes, I did state that I'd accept submissions but I usually end up buying the books for my Memorial Day event and that's awesome. Somewhere out there is a veteran who made the extra money they needed to get a larger sized Slurpee from me. Just think, twelve extra ounces of sweet and syrupy goodness and it all came from me.

Yes, that WAS humor. And no, this isn't Good Morning Vietnam. I can get away with corny jokes on my own blog.

I'm not particularly concerned with what sub-genre the book falls into. Let's face it: Most will be military science fiction, but nothing is impossible to a true Spec Fic fan. If Harry Turtledove can do a story about the American Civil War and flip everything backwards and add magic... Yeah, it's possible. Horror seems like a natural thing and an urban fantasy could work really well too, and that's just off the top of my head. I'm not even a published author.

Also, I'm working on a fiction piece for Memorial Day Weekend to feature here. I don't know if I'll get it done though, because I have a really bad history when it comes to finishing my stories. If I make it, I guess I'll start the event a day early though, because I don't want to cheat a deserving author out of a spot. And anyway, I'm not promising to have it done. It's the product of an idea I had for a contest that took place a couple years ago and I figured it's a natural fit IF I ever finish it...

And now I'm off topic.

Oh, and for the record, don't think I don't still want regular submissions from other authors. I totally do. It's just that  I need a particular type of author/book for a particular event. I honor veterans here four days out of the year and the rest of the population for three hundred and sixty-one days.

So seriously guys, let me know what you know about that would work. The hard part of doing this event isn't the reading or the writing it's trying to find out what in the world is even available that fits the criteria. And yes, I could relax the criteria, but the problem with working for myself is that the boss is a real prick sometimes and he won't let me weasel out of this. So please, if you've got a suggestion, drop it into the comments below, or email me, or hit me up on Facebook. I've got a group there for the blog and we'd love to have you. Thanks!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

David Weber's Uncompromising Honor

(First, the disclaimer: I am a member of The Royal Manticoran Navy, which is the official fan club of David Weber in general and The Honorverse in particular. My judgement may be a bit skewed here. Then again, when isn't it?)

The World's Most Awesome Girlfriend (TM) hit me up on Facebook Messenger one day to ask if there were any Baen books out that I hadn't had a chance to buy and/or review yet that I wanted. This was a couple of weeks before Christmas. Now, being The World's Most Awesome GF, she's usually really good at figuring out what to buy without my input, but I was happy to provide it this time. I immediately replied "Latest Honor Harrington" because I had just woken up and could not for the life of me remember what the title was before having sucked down any caffeine. About twenty minutes later I looked it up and remembered that it was Uncompromising Honor.

I'm glad I did too, because this was a really good book. It seemed to have a manufacturing defect though. Once I picked it up it wouldn't let go of my hand. Seriously. It's almost like this inanimate object didn't understand that I have responsibilities I need to attend to and that I had to get moving out the door and off to work. Maybe Baen should have named it Uncompromising Attention Whore instead of Uncompromising Honor. I mean, it just wouldn't leave me alone.

Now, to be fair, this one did start off a bit slower than I probably would have preferred. It takes a moment to get up to speed. David Weber's book, particularly in his Honorverse and Safehold series, do tend to be a bit on the talky side. Usually that's a good thing because it's how Weber keeps us informed on what's going on with his massive and far flung universes. This time though, I'm wondering if an action sequence at the beginning of the book wouldn't have spiced things up a bit and drawn the reader in a bit sooner.

That's not to say there's no action in the book. I remember one particular passage that lasted for a good chunk of the book and had my eyes glued to the pages. It was definitely an action sequence and a bit gut wrenching. I loved it though and not just because it was an awesome action scene. Weber did something in that passage. He is simply the best at it, bar none.

Something that a lot of authors of military science fiction, and both other forms of military science fiction and non-fiction forget is that militaries have histories and traditions that go farther back than just the people they're writing about. When Hal Moore was ordered to form an air cavalry unit to fight in the Vietnam War he asked for the same designation that the Cavalry unit that fought at the Little Big Horn had. Thus was the Seventh Cavalry reformed. They damn near go wiped out like their namesake too, but that's a subject of its own book and movie. My point is that these traditions do exist. They're real and the memory of what has gone before is a source of inspiration for the current generation. Weber gets that and he weaves it so well into his narrative that the story wouldn't work without it. Weber was once a history major at the graduate level and he has obviously done some serious research into the way that real militaries work.

Like pretty much every other Honorverse novel, Uncompromising Honor is a war story. In war people die. Something else Weber does very well is exposing us to the sense of loss of those left behind. A lot of authors of fiction will show the reactions of the rest of the unit when a warrior passes. Any work of military history includes at least one table of casualty figures. What often gets left out is the cost to non-combatants, at least in a non-financial sense. Weber gets that and he makes sure to let us see the other side of the conflict.

I, of course, am a huge fan of the strong female protagonist, and Honor Harrington will kick your ass. That's if she decides not to shoot, nuke or drop a kinetic energy weapon on it. I hear that she's pretty good with a laserhead too, and that's not just a weird 80s insult for nerds. She's more than that though. Honor is both a mother and a warrior. She has to deal with the problems faced with many of members of the US Military have to deal with in the real world, planet Earth, circa 2019. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. She still has the edge that she's always had. There's just so much more to her now. I wish I could force all of the people who talk down about "military fiction and its cardboard heroes" to sit down and read Uncompromising Honor. They might actually learn something.

The only truly bad part of my experience in reading this book comes from my own stupidity. See, when I have a book made in honest to God Dead Tree Format, I have a tendency to flip to the end and find out how many pages are in the thing. I've done this since probably the first time I read a book that had chapters. THIS time though, I noticed that there was an afterword. Now, the whole point of an afterword is that you're supposed to read it AFTER you read the book. I know this. I'm college educated. I read it anyway. I am -officially- a dipshit for reading the afterword first.What I'm saying here is that if you buy the book (and you should buy the book) you should not read the afterword first because there's stuff in there that you don't want to know about until after you read the dadgum book.

Uncompromising Honor is, I think, the 25646464654654654564465456th book in the series. I may be exaggerating slightly. At any rate, the Honorverse is a huge series with multiple complex relationships and you really need to start it at the beginning, with On Basilisk StationYou'll thank me.

Bottom Line:  4.5 out of 5 Laser Heads

On Basilisk Station
David Weber
Baen Books, 2018


Uncompromising Honor is available for purchase at the following link:



And, since I mentioned them, We Were Soldiers Once... and Young and  We Were Soldiers are available at the following links as well:





Saturday, January 12, 2019

Morgon Newquist's Heroes Fall: A Heroes Unleashed Novel, Serenity City Book One





So yup, I'm reviewing two superhero novels in a row. But sometimes that's a good thing. One of the weirdest things about being a book reviewer is the mental shifts I go through between books. I mean, I read the entire Honor Harrington series up to At All Costs in one fell swoop and only stopped there because that was the last book that was available at that time. I read through The Drangonlance Chronicles straight through and then Dragonlance Legends starting the next day. But when I'm reading things in an order that goes SF Comedy, Space Opera, Urban Fantasy, Superhero novel, etc. it get a little weird sometimes. As soon as I come down from the last book I read and its universe I end up in a completely different one. At least this time they were similar and my poor, abused brain didn't have to suffer as much. Come to think of it, I didn't suffer at all because Heroes Fall is a really good book.

Don't get me wrong. Heroes Fall starts quickly but you don't really get a full taste of what's to come right up front. This novel is a slow burn and a long build. I liked that about it.As you're reading pay attention to what is going on. It will be important later and that includes some of the stuff that you're convinced doesn't matter.  The stakes keep on increasing right up until the end.

Victoria Westdale is our heroine and she goes by her actual, real name. I found that a bit strange in a superhero novel. I mean, I had thought that I was going to get someone with named after a power or an bird or something but nope.. She's Victoria and she rocks. Victoria spends her time using her superpowers to bust small time crooks and working in a gas station. She's about the most unpretentious superhero I've ever heard of. In a weird way, her lack of pretense is what makes the whole story work.

Look, I like heroes in the Superman mold and I think Green Lanterns in general, and Hal Jordan in particular, are the greatest things that ever happened to the Superhero genre. I love watching those guys fly off to save an entire star system that's at war with itself armed only with their powers and a plucky attitude. I really do. That's not Victoria though. She doesn't set out to save the entire world. She starts out the novel trying to save one girl from a gang of thugs. That's the single biggest reason that Heroes Unleashed makes sense.

Victoria is a small time hero that gets caught up into something she hadn't anticipated. I like this approach because it allows her to learn what is going on. While she is learning what the problem is, so are we. We're not dealing with long bouts of exposition while someone takes us by the hand and walks us through the problem. We're actively learning about the world that we've been dropped in and we're not being talked down to. I really liked this approach.

Now that I think about it (Don't tell my mom I was thinking. She'll tell you it always gets me in trouble.) Victoria is pretty much the answer to anyone who has a problem with the "strong female protagonist" movement, and not just because super strength is her superpower. While it is true that Victoria is quite the asskicker there's more than just that to her. One of the strong themes of Heroes Unleashed is Victoria's caring nature. She's not just a woman with lots of muscle, she's a woman that wants to help. The superhero culture in the work is one of crass commercialism and Victoria rejects that, deciding instead to work someplace where she can make a real difference. I don't want to spoil too much, but she remembers her roots and works really hard to protect those who are like she once was. I have a lot of respect for this chick and I don't say that about too many people, real or fictional.


Any superhero novel is going to include a number of fight scenes and Newquist has done her job splendidly. Not only are the fight scenes fast paced and exciting but she groks that which lies at the core of a superhero fight: A battle between the participants and their powers.  When characters in Heroes Fall go up against each other it feels right because they're taking advantage of  everything they can, using both their powers and the way they interact with the environment around them. Newquist could teach a class entitled "Superhero Battles and How to Write Them." I'd probably sign up.

Of course someone out there is going to consider my praise for the battles as being a condemnation of the plot. They're wrong. I've mentioned the slow burn aspect of Heroes Fall previously and that's a big part of it. There's more to it than just that though. There is a lot of backstory here and it is woven into the plot seamlessly and in a way that makes it not just relevant, but important. There isn't a wasted page here. What is here makes sense though. It moves quickly and we're constantly trying to keep up, but it is about as logical and entertaining as is humanly possible. This is one of those books where I knew you had to go to work and that meant I should've been in the shower ten minutes ago, but let's fact face it, I'm a Lyft driver and I don't have a schedule so I can go ahead and read this next chapter and... uhhh... I was supposed to leave half an hour ago and I'm still in my pajamas. It's a good thing I don't have a boss.

I can't quite believe that I'm just now mentioning this, but Heroes Fall is the first in a new series. I believe it's going to be a magnum opus with multiple contributors along the lines of Chris Kennedy Publishing's Four Horseman Universe. I hope I'm right because the Heroes Fall universe is one with a lot of potential and more authors means I get new books faster. I'm Mr. Greedy Fan. I like that.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Thrown Vehicles

Heroes Fall: A Heroes Unleashed Novel, Serenity City Book One
Morgon Newquist
Silver Empire, 2019

Heroes Fall: A Heroes Unleashed Novel, Serenity City Book One is available for purchase at the following link: