Sunday, October 14, 2018

An Open Letter to Chuck Wendig

Hi Chuck,

Now, before I really get into this let me get two things straight here.

1.) I'm an asshole. It's true. I admit it.

2.) So are you. Seriously. I'm a reviewer/blogger. You're an author/comics writer. In a lot of ways you have more clout than I do and, I'll admit, that's because you've earned it. That much having been said, we are both equally assholes. You should probably just admit to it too.

Now, I didn't write this letter just to call you an asshole, Chuck. If that's all I wanted, I could very easily have Tweeted my opinion out to the universe and just had done with it. No, I'm writing this today to make you, and anyone else who sees this letter, aware that people like you are the reason I will never for as long as I live be civil to your side in a political debate.

Oh, and don't get me wrong Chuck. The fact that you've accomplished more than I have doesn't mean that I have a single shred of respect for you as an author, a political commentator or as a human being. There is no reason on I should. I mean, you said this:

This post was made in response to the fact that a man who stood accused of horrible things got confirmed to the Supreme Court. Here's the thing: There was no evidence that he did anything. The media may have said that the claims of Christine Blasey-Ford were credible, but that doesn't mean that they were. There was no corroborating physical evidence. There was not a single corroborating witness. The accusations were simply that, accusations with no proof.

And don't tell me that women don't make shit up Chuck. There is ample proof that is has happened in other cases. And, even a loud mouthed ignorant son-of-a-bitch like you has to admit that, although neither one of the links contained above any evidence that Blasey-Ford made anything up, they do both point to the possibility. And, quite honestly Chuck, do you remember all the #metoo hoopla surrounding the Kavanaugh confirmation? Yeah, if I were to present those stories above as conclusive proof that Blasey-Ford lied, I'd have just as much validity as any woman out there screaming about how Kavanaugh did it and she had been raped. Yup.

But honestly, I'm getting sidetracked here. This isn't a letter about Kavanaugh or any of the insanity surrounding him. This letter is about an even bigger issue.It's about civility between the parties in this country. It's about why we can't all just get along. It's about people like you and their hypocrisy. Check this out Chuck:

What you personally are saying here is that it's "chilling" if someone who supports your point of view is fired for their views, but it's okay if they disagree with you. She made a comment that was interpreted as racist, yes. You find that objectionable. I'm not sure it was even meant as a reference to race, but that's neither here nor there. What you're saying is that Roseann deserved to lose her job because you didn't agree with her statements. That's fine in and of itself. And it's not just about racism either Chuck. It's about "wackadoo conspiracies." I'll be honest here. I don't know what Roseann said outside of her racist comment because she's annoying as shit and I don't bother with many celebrities outside of the world of SF/F. That's just me. I thought they should have never brought the show back, not because of any statement but because it was annoying and boring.

My problem is that this statement proves that you think that comic book companies (and by extension others) should have the backs of their creators... but only if they believe as you do. What bothers me is that you think that you should have the right to spout your bullshit but that I don't have the right to spout mine. I know you think that there is a difference between what you said and what Roseann said, but there's really not. Free speech is free speech, even when you disagree with what's being said. So yes, Chuck, your losing your job is exactly the same as Roseann losing hers.

For the record, I can appreciate the fact that you at least admitted the fact that Marvel had the right to fire you. That applies even though you seem to think you didn't deserve it because you spouted the right ideas.

And that, Chuck, is the reason I refuse to be civil. As long as it's okay for you to call someone a "callous fuckneck," or a "grotesque monster," it's okay for me to call you an ignorant fuckstick or a troglodytic moron. It really is Chuck. And that's true even though I vote Republican. See, you are free to disagree with me.

Let's take this a step further though. I've already gone over your literary success versus the fact that I've never published anything. I don't have much of a writing resume outside of this blog. Do you know what I do have though? A history degree. One that I worked hard for. And do you know what I learned while studying history? I learned that any time a political party (in this case the Democrats) believes that only they should be able to speak their mind and that anyone who disagrees with them deserves to be punished, bad things happen. They try to make those they disagree with change their tune using physical force. I am aware of precisely zero times in history where this was not the case once they took power.

So yes, Chuck, people like you are why I'll be keeping my guns. People like you are the reason I believe that we have an honest-to-goodness shooting war, complete with bombs, guns, blood and fire, coming to the United States. People like you are the reason I hope that it gets here while I'm still young enough to fight in it and before my daughters are old enough to. Because Chuck, when it's not okay to disagree with the Democrats in this country and they try the Hitler/Stalin method (Hitler put his political prisoners in camps. That's how his concentration camps started. Stalin sent wrongthink speakers to Siberia.) there will be violence. And when you try to say that your point of view should be permitted but Roseann's shouldn't, or that Republicans shouldn't be able to ask why they should believe someone who can't provide a shred of evidence for her allegations, that's what you're leading people to, whether you intend to or not.

It's worth mentioning that in the not too distant past,  I would have been pissed that Marvel fired you. My reasons for no longer feeling that way are written here. Suffice it to say that if conservatives can lose their jobs for freedom of speech, then so can liberals. I know you acknowledged this yourself. Thank you.  I just hate the fact that I don't hate Marvel right now. Free speech should be for all, but if it's not for all then it's not for anybody. So, given the way conservatives have been treated, I'm glad that Marvel fired your and I hope your fiction publisher does as well.

At let's not forget this at the end of the day: I'm nobody's bitch. I'm not going to surrender and speak civilly to someone who won't act the same way. In the words of the rapper DMX, "If it's fuck me... then you know it's fuck you." (Yes, I left  a word that I found distasteful out. The point is still valid.)  I don't encourage anyone on my side to be a bitch either. You won't hear a call for civility from me.
You know why Chuck?

Because I won't surrender. Because being civil to a piece of shit like you gives you control of the battlespace. Because being nice means giving up. I won't be giving up.

So, yeah. Just a reminder: You're still an asshole.


Friday, October 12, 2018

D.G. Lamb's Driven to the Hilt 1: The Deepest Cut

(Once upon a time, I became aware of an author named D.G Lamb who was looking to do a blog tour to promote her new book. I volunteered to host a guest post, but apparently my message wasn't received until too (maybe I should've responded to the Facebook post instead of sending someone who didn't know me a DM) late for that. Instead, I was offered a chance to review her book as part of the blog tour. And it's Science Fiction and reviewing SF/F is what I do, soo...

Yeah, it worked.

At any rate, that's my way of saying "Welcome" to any of you out there who stopped by because they were following the Driven to the Hilt Blog Tour. I hope you enjoy yourselves while you're here and if you like what you see, stay. We love new followers here at Jimbo's!)

Joshua is the main character of D.G. Lamb's Driven to the Hilt I: The Deepest Cut. He is also a survivor. That's probably the best thing I can say about him and that's awesome. I didn't start out thinking that. I wasn't sure I was going to like the kid much at first. I'm a nerd. He starts out as a jock. We're kind of natural enemies. It's not that he seemed like a bad kid. He's actually a good guy. And the series  is really well named. He is legitimately driven to the hilt. I don't know how a human being could survive more than what this kid went through, but he toughed it out.

And what's more, I really do like him. He has to go through some serious stuff and make some hard decisions, but he doesn't flinch from what he has to do.He's got both brains and guts and that's a rare combination. Joshua is a teenager, but he has more maturity, at least by the end of The Deepest Cut, than a lot of adults I know. Joshua is not always a nice guy. Sometimes being nice and being alive don't go together all that well. At the end of the day though, he makes the right decisions in circumstances I wouldn't like to face personally.

Oh, and he's both intelligent and well educated, especially for his age. The story begins with his mother home schooling him and he seems to be able to understand and explain the written word better than a lot of college students I've had classes with. He's read at least some of the classics of Western literature, including Machiavelli.  He also has a love for and knowledge of show tunes that even my girlfriend would envy.

He's resourceful too. When he finds himself alone in the world at a young age he does what he has to do. He's creative. He's intelligent. He finds sources of food that no one else would think to try and thrives off of them. He builds things. He finds work in unlikely places. I can't say enough about this kid and how much he impresses me.

He has a willingness to do research that a lot of adults lack as well. I've known people who get upset at kids who just google everything, but when you think about it, it makes sense. Granted, Lamb doesn't actually call it "googling" but if when Joshua needs knowledge and doesn't have a lot of time to get it, he knows where to look. That much is good in and of itself, but he also has confindence THAT he can learn what he needs to know if he tries.

The world Joshua lives on is not Earth. This makes me happy. Some of the wildlife in The Deepest Cut is quite frankly terrifying and the more light years away it is, the more comfortable I am. Spidervipers sound like something I'd have loved to talk about as a young kid, in a weird kind of way. Remember the conversations you had as a kid about "Would a wolf win a fight against a bear?" Yeah, a spiderviper would fit in well with that. Except that spidervipers are legitimately creepy on top of being badass. I'm not the kind of guy that runs from a spider but I'd pretty much soil my shorts if one of those showed up. There are other creatures as well. Joshua learns to contend with all of them.

He also seems to be more than he seems to be. I know that doesn't make sense but you'd really have to read the book to get it. Joshua does have a trick about slowing down time that seems to be some type of power, but there are other characters who talk about him. What they say leads me to believe that this kid has some kind of destiny, but he's not Harry Potter. There are hints but no outright statements about what the destiny is or even why they think it's Joshua. There are more books coming and that's a good thing, because Lamb seems to have asked more questions with her first book than she answered.

I don't want to take things too far though. Joshua is far from perfect. He screws up a couple of times and almost gets himself killed more than once. Still though, you can't help but root for the kid when he tries this hard and refuses to give up. He's one resolute kid and his failures only accentuate how hard he's working at what he has to do.

I'm guess that Lamb spent a lot of time doing research of her own. I don't have any real survival experience of my own, but I've done some reading (Surprising, I know) and most of what Joshua learns in his research matches what I've read almost word for word. When I say he does things in a "textbook" manner it's not just a figure of speech. The actions he performs are exactly the ones that I've read about in the textbooks. I like that. I already stated that he make mistakes sometimes, but not once did I put my phone down and scream "MORON" the way I have at some other books. It's a refreshing change.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that parts of this book bring me back to my days as a fan of both CSI and mobster movies. At some points, I almost forgot that I was in a Science Fiction novel because a lot of the action was so realistic that it could have been happening five miles from where I'm sitting right now. Lamb did an awesome job mixing the fantastical elements of her story with the mundane ones.

My only complaint about The Deepest Cut, and it's one I've mentioned with other books a few times lately, is that it starts off kind of slow. Now, I know it's the first book in a series and that they always start out slow, but it still took me a wee bit longer to get through the first chapter or two of the book than it should have. Overall though, The Deepest Cut is still an excellent work and was a true joy to read.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Spiderviper Teeth

Driven to the Hilt 1: The Deepest Cut
D.G. Lamb
Calyse Publishing, 2017

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

L.E. Henderson's The Dragon Proofed House: Book Three of the Torn Curtains Series

Ya know, I've read a lot of books over the years. Fiction, non-fiction, totally fictitious crap that claimed to be non-fiction, etc. Many of them have been books that I read having been told that they would make me think. In the case of some of the non-fiction that was true. Very rarely has the fiction. I think this book changed that for me in a weird sort of way.

L. E. Henderson's book, The Dragon Proofed House: Book 3 of the Torn Curtains Series asks a question. I'm not sure it's intended to, but it does. (Queue that Venn Diagram) Seriously. At what point would life get so bad that an individual would voluntarily enter the Matrix and forget everything about life that came before? How bad does it get before someone WANTS to give their entire life up to gaming?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not here to insult people who game. Today is my day off work. I've already spent several hours playing World of Warcraft. After I write this review, I'm going to play some more WoW. Then I'm going to call my girlfriend. Then I'm going to play more WoW. Then I'll fall asleep to The Walking Dead. I love gaming.

This is different. After all, I'm doing my laundry, writing a post and calling the little woman today. The main character of the story, Christine, has made a choice that is only marginally different than suicide. For all intents and purposes, she has chosen to sink her life so far into a game named Mirror Mountain Valley that she is unable to remember anything that came before her life there. She has no ambitions for anything after she logs out. As a matter of fact, it appears that she has no way to log out at all.

That leads to a second question, and it's one that we all faced in high school: How far is a person ready to go to be popular? How much will an individual sell themselves out to get someone else to like them? The Dragon Proofed House is a thinking persons book.

I find myself surprised at how much I actually enjoyed The Dragon Proofed House. It's certainly not my typical fare. Don't get me wrong. It was a good time. It was just... different. There are no explosions here. For that matter, there is no real violence of any kind.  There is certainly some social intrigue, but nothing like the political maneuvering that would be familiar to a fan of the Battletech novels. Despite all of that, it's still a really good story.

I couldn't help but root for Christine throughout the book. If you like the underdog, you'll love her too. Despite the trials and tribulations the game sends her way, she's bound and determined to do everything she can to help herself. If she finds that things don't always go the way she wants them to, well, we've all been there. She doesn't give up. She doesn't give over to whining and trying to wish herself to success.

And that was a welcome surprise, because the first few pages gave me a Bella-like feeling. Fortunately, that goes away quickly. Henderson seems to have succeeded where Stepanie Meyers failed.  I would still urge the reader to give The Dragon Proofed House about five or ten pages to get going.  Once Christine picks herself up and starts working toward a goal things become a lot more fun and interesting.

At the end of the day, I think that what makes The Dragon Proofed House work is that almost everything in the book is familiar in one way or another. Christine is a person who has been through a lot but so have I. She has to fight every day to make things better for herself. So do I.  Probably the paradox of her character though, is that she never gives up.

I say that because she already gave up once or she wouldn't be in the game and we wouldn't have a story. Yet, once she has made her decision to enter the game (which we never actually see "on stage") she fights to get to the endgame and stay there. And that is a fight with which I am intimately familiar.

The game plays like a virtual reality version of The Sims, except that everything constantly falls apart. At it's heart though, Mirror Mountain Valley is a game about building a really cool house and interacting with your neighbors. Money comes to the player in the form of compliment credits which can be used to either repair or improve a player's house. Compliment credits are generally given by people who like a house. It's a vicious cycle which, in its way, is comparable to some things that real world MMORPG players go through. 

I kind of wish that The Dragon Proofed House  were available in Dead Tree Format, because I'd love to give a copy to my daughter, who doesn't have a tablet and can't take pictures on her phone half the time because the memory is so full. I'd like to get her take on it. Don't get me wrong, I'm a man and I enjoyed it. I'm just saying that this is something I think she probably should read and would enjoy. As a seventh grader, she's headed into the time in her life when she'll be facing the popularity question pretty soon and I like the way that Henderson handled that.

Christine fights to fit the tastes of others and is left dealing with the consequences of changing her personality to match someone else's. I don't want to go into too many spoilers but it's about what I expected. That's something I'd like both of my kids to think about before she decides to work too hard to fit in.

Seriously. As an adult you can enjoy this book. If you know any youngsters who would actually read it (and I know some kids aren't going to read anything no matter what.) you need to get them a copy of The Dragon Proofed House and talk to them about what's in there. As a guy with a history degree, I don't often consider non-scholarly work to be important, but I'm going to make an exception here. I think this one is worth their time not just for the entertainment value (which is there in spades) but for what they can learn vicariously.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Rosebushes

The Dragon Proofed House: Book 3 of the Torn Curtains Series
L.E. Henderson
Self Published, 2018

The Dragon Proofed House: Book 3 of the Torn Curtains Series is available for purchase at the following link:

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Nope, Nope, Nopity Nope! UH-UH!

Shields up, Red Alert! Seriously, go to your men and tell them to get ready for a fight because I'm about to have Worf beam a proton torpedo aboard the bridge of the Death Star while it annihilates Babylon 5 in full view of the TARDIS as it is consumed by a supernova. As someone famous once said "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore." There is no need for this type of bullshit. None whatsoever! AT ALL! DO YOU HEAR ME HOLLYWOOD?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!?!??!??!??!?!?!??!?!?!?!??

Ok, so now we all know I'm mad. Who can tell me why? Oh, that's my job. Oops.

So what set me off is this piece. I found it while innocently checking my Facebook feed. I had some downtime at work and decided to see if I could find something interesting. Well, I found that article interesting in the same sense that Vlad the Impaler found the actions of traitors interesting. Unfortunately, I lack the authority he had and so the guilty are still at large and able to continue killing everything great that came before them. 

I'm going to take a moment and tell you what is wrong with this. I mean, yes, recasting Lando and G'Kar as females is insulting to the fandom, the original cast and J. Michael Straczynksi.Yes, they should be played by different actors. Yes, the uniform pictured is thirty-one flavors of fucked up. But honestly, none of that should matter. Because there is NO FREAKING NEED TO REBOOT EVERY DAMN THING EVER!

(Oh, and for the record, I'm not a big fan of Crude Reviews and their rampant SJWism. I don't recommend their site. I was reading the article before I realized what site it was on.)

I've talked about this before. Listen Hollywood. I get the fact that not every idea is Hollywood caliber. I support not making everything that get suggested because I support quality entertainment and some stuff is just crap. I mean, it doesn't all sink to the depths of gender-swapping Londo and G'kar just to virtue signal in a show that already had females in prominent roles. (Can you say Ivanova, Delenn, Talia and Lyta boys and girls.) Oh, and that includes two women who took command of squadrons of ships in battle. And there is no badder-ass in all of SF/F than Susan Ivanova. Still though, that's not the problem.

The problem is you morons and your absolute obsession with rebooting old content. Let sleeping dogs lie. Listen, I came to a love of B5 late. If not for the love and patience of a good woman (who, for the record, never once looked at me and uttered the words "Just watch the show, dumbass." She's obviously a better person than I am.) I may never have watched it at all. The fact remains that it makes no sense to shit all over a show that millions of people watched and loved. And no, if they're going to gender-swap Londo and G'Kar, they don't have a respect for the original show.

Look, I get the desire to make a profit. Television studios are capitalistic endeavors. I'm good with that. I'm just saying that

A.) There is no need to reboot old stuff just to make a profit.
I am watching an episode of The Walking Dead while writing this piece. When it debuted, the Walking Dead was a brand new show, not a remake. It just finished recording its ninth season. It has an absolutely huge following. It is very obviously profitable, because if it wasn't it would be gone by now. Oh, and the network that created it? American Movie Classics. Reshowing old stuff wasn't good enough I guess. The same with Netflix and Amazon Prime. Odd, that.

B. There is no lack of ideas out there.
The Orville worked. It's not a reboot. It's not a remake. It's just good TV. Remember what that's like?

C.) Gender-swaps have been known to fail.
We all know the records of the Ghostbusters reboot and Oceans 8. Stop flushing your money down the toilet. Those won't aberrations. It's not going to get better next time. If you want to make money with a movie about one or more women, make it with either original content or with content that was originally conceived with female characters. You know, like Wonder Woman? That made more money than any previous super hero origins movie. (It has, admittedly, since been surpassed by Black Panther, but it made over eight hundred million dollars at the box office.) And honestly, if women and/or minorities want to more representation then they need to show some integrity and write their own stories instead of stealing them from someone else.


D.) Sometimes it takes some intestinal fortitude to get thing done.

At some point in the not so distant past, somebody pitched a movie about a tornado filled with sharks. It could not have been an easy sell. It has made millions and produced two profitable sequels.  Take some responsibility and make something that hasn't been done before.

I know it's not easy. J.K. Rowling and George Lucas created probably the two most successful science fiction universes in the history of the genre. Hell, they created two of the most successful stories in the history of humanity. Both faced rejection. Rowling was rejected thirty-two times before Harry Potter was accepted for publication and created an entire new market of readers. There was no Young Adult market before someone at Scholastic showed some guts and let J.K. Rowling create one.
So yes, it does make sense to make new content. It makes good money if it's GOOD new content. And no, I'm not suggesting that Hollywood should start making every idea that comes their way. I'm just saying that there is plenty of new ground to explore. Hollywood needs to start looking toward the future instead of the past.

Everything they're rebooting came from something that was once a new product. No matter how far back they pull from that's true. Gilgamesh is the oldest surviving written story. Go back far enough, and somebody told it for the first time. It's time to tell some new stories for the first time. Not new versions of old stories. New stories. Get it together guys. Stop digging up corpses and looting them. Put something new on my TV screen.

(Five of my favorite SF franchises were referenced in the first two sentences of this blog. Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Doctor Who, and uhh... what? Two nerd points, exchangeable for major bragging rights, go to whoever can name the last franchise in the comments.)

Some products related to things that were named above are listed at the links below:

Friday, September 28, 2018

Kevin Antcliff's The Divorced Daddy Diaries: Acceptance, Adjustment and Adventure in the Post-Divorce World 2nd Edition

(Author's Note: Nope, no Science Fiction or Fantasy here. This is just something that I thought deserved a review.)

You know how people tell you that you don't know how something feels until you've been through it? Well, sometimes you have been through it. I mean, I just read a book about a guy who is divorced and has two little girls. I was actually kind of afraid to write this review because I thought people might assume I wrote this book under a pen-name and then reviewed it myself. I mean, that describes my situation pretty well. Well, no, I didn't write this book. Kevin's story is completely different than mine. And, oddly enough, despite the similarities, he seems to feel a lot different about it than I do. That was a bit of a shock.

Despite all of that, this book still hit me pretty hard. I really wish I had a copy when things finally went to shit between myself and Nicole. Granted, Kevin was still married at the time and hadn't written the book yet, but it still would have been nice. Because, despite the fact that situations were different and we reacted in totally different ways emotionally, there are a lot of things we both went through. I would think that most divorced men with kids have a ton of similarities and even divorced dudes with no kids have some.

To me, The Divorced Daddy Diaries by Kevin Antcliff is a book about one man and his journey, but in a way it stands for all of us guys out there and I think that's a good thing. Something I seem to have been bombarded with since before I started dating is the refrain of the divorced woman/single mom and how bad she has it. Oprah has done shows about it. Books are written. Studies are conducted. It's legit. I'm not saying it's easy for women either, but you never hear about the man's point of view.

And it's not easy for us. Reba McEntire once did a song called It Always Rains on Saturday about how sad it made a mother when her son left for the weekend. I remember how much my dad used to love that song. I also remember catching crap for asking how the father in the song felt when his kid went away for a week. No one wants to hear it, but it's a valid question. People with penises are not immune from emotional pain, especially when it involves something as important as their children. Kevin talks us through what that feels like. It's not a good feeling.

Reading about what Kevin went through with his daughters was rough because I've been through it. I had to hold it together while reading The Divorced Daddy Diaries because I read the whole thing while sitting in the waiting room at a car dealership while my vehicle got worked on. Crying in public is just not something that dudes do. It wasn't easy though. That hit me hard.

There are a lot of emotionally rough moments in this book, both for the writer and the reader. That's important though, because divorce is a rough thing to get through. Kevin was married for thirteen years - and then he wasn't anymore. If you haven't been through it, that's a rough feeling to describe. He had also lived with his daughters for their entire lives, until he didn't anymore. That hurts folks. He does a good job of showing how much.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't some scholarly treatise on the emotional state of men after divorce. This reads more like a conversation you had with your buddy over a couple of drinks one night. It's raw. It's emotional. It's not clinical in the slightest and I loved that fact about it. Clinical terms can be so detached. The Divorced Daddy Diaries are not detached. They're real. That in and of itself is what makes this book worth reading.

It's not organized like a doctoral dissertation either, and I love that about it. A lot of going through a divorce as a dude is trying to make things better for yourself while waiting for life to kick you in the nuts again. I don't care who you are or how many people you have seen go through this process nothing prepares you for it. Life as a divorced dad is a disorganized mess. You control the things you can and ride out the things you can't. The Divorced Daddy Diaries seems to follow that pattern pretty well. There is no real logical progression of chapters toward some kind of ultimate climax at the end of the book, but it works.

My perverse side (and yes, I definitely have one) wants to present this book as a gift to one particular professor at Wayne State University who is known for her love of academic formalism. It's not because I think she'd like it. It's because I think she'd shit her pants and send the book flying across the room at warp factor nine. I picture myself standing behind her belting out my best wicked clown laugh. That's awesome though. I was a graduate student in history when I took her class and I still enjoyed this book more than any of the works that she assigned.

And there are some fun parts to go with the emotional stuff as well. If you've tried online dating for any length of time you know that there are some real whackadoos out there. Kevin found a few of them and recounts his experiences with them. I found myself chuckling more than once at some of the things he went through. I've been there. It's all true.

All in all, I'd recommend The Divorced Daddy Diaries to everybody but I consider it essential reading for any man who is going through, has been through, or is thinking about (or fearing) going through a divorce. Seriously. You're not the only one dealing with this, bro. It's rough out there, but there are others who know what it's like. Buy the book. It's a quick, informative read and you'll enjoy it.

Bottom Line:5.0 out of 5 Broken Hearts

The Divorced Daddy Diaries: Acceptance, Adjustment and Adventure in the Post-Divorce World 2nd Edition
Kevin Antcliff
Self Published, 2018

The Divorced Daddy Diaries: Acceptance, Adjustment and Adventure in the Post-Divorce World 2nd Edition is available for purchase at the following link:

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What Makes Us, Us

(Author's note: I'd give credit to whoever created the meme if I had any clue who they were. I have not done any research to confirm the veracity of the quote, but I like it.) 

So just today a momentous occasion of huge import occurred. It will change my life forever, or at least the next few days. No, I'm not getting married. No, I haven't reproduced again. That book contract I've always dreamed of? No, but I might have more luck with that if I actually finished one of my projects. Nope, no new job. Nope, not moving in, out or around. This event though, it was truly Earth shattering. Watch out underwater subduction zones, because this one is a doozie. What happened? What could possibly produce such an outpouring of emotion from a guy like me? What has me so worked up that I feel the need to write about it at two -freaking- thirty in the morning? (Granted, I probably won't post this till tomorrow, but it's legitimately almost two thirty.)

Would you like to know what it is? I'll tell you. I won't even make you guess like a certain sadistic twelve year old does.


The new season of The Walking Dead came to Netflix. Well, actually it's the old season, but I haven't been able to see it because of circumstances only somewhat within my control. So now I get to spend a few days (actually probably about a week with my work schedule) not sleeping so that I can watch this totally awesome, if somewhat formulaic, show. And believe me, the big bad this season is the Best Villain EV-AR. I'm so geeked. Get it? Geeked?

See, as much as I'd like to think that my readers are all as cool as the Fonz, they're more probably a lot like me: Not as cool. Perhaps a bit introverted. Not the kind of person that just relaxes when their favorite thing shows up all over again. We're committed (or possibly should be). We're awesome. We're people who love what we love and don't care who knows it. We're geeks. We're nerds. We're the Fandom of Science Fiction and Fantasy in all of its forms and we rock.

We're so cool we could freeze a penguins belly feathers.  We love our hobbies with the passionate fire of a million suns. Some of us aren't as supportive of the hobbies of others as we should be (insert "sports-ball" references here) but we love what we love and we wish you did too.

Seriously. On February 15, 2015, I did my first post here at Jimbo's. I had three goals:

1.) Geek out about all of my favorite stuff
2.) Get Free Books
3.) Make Money

I'll admit that I haven't done so well with that last goal, but nobody's perfect. And hey, monetization tips are welcome. I keep doing this anyway because I love talking about what I love and what I love is books and I've gotten a bunch of those. That's not totally true. I love all things Science Fictional and I love to talk about that as well, so it's not just books.

I'm not saying you have to have a blog to be a geek or a nerd, etc. A lot of people like the same types of things we do and they're not going to take the time and effort away from other things in their life to spray words all over a computer screen. If that's their take, I support it. Do you people. That doesn't mean they won't talk about it though. If you don't believe me, go to a con.

I'm not an avid con goer because of my financial situation, but I have been to a couple. Actually one, but I've been there in two separate years, so that's two cons. It's not that expensive if you go to a local one so you don't have travel expenses. Day passes are cheap as well. Just to and enjoy. You know what you'll find? People just like you.

What? You've never been in an area where everyone gets the joke? Have you never seen a girl who looked to be five or six years old walk up to the guy next to you and pull on his shirt asking, "Are you a brony?" I don't know who was more excited. (Yes, it really was the guy next to me. No, I'm not a brony. I need more explosions than the ponies provide and the World's Most Awesome GF (TM) has enough pony love for the two of us.) I had never heard of Doctor Who until I went to my first con and stood in awe, gawking at a life-sized Dalek, complete with plunger arm and had someone explain it to me. I guess I looked as confused as I felt. The thing is, the people that helped me out were having the time of their lives. Especially since they said, "It's from Doctor Who." and I said, "Who?" It made their freaking day.

(Yes, I know who Doctor Who is now. I'm still learning about the show though because they took the razzle-frazzin' thing off of Netflix two days after I found out it was there. It's on Prime now though. I'm two whole episodes into whatever season came up first. It's the one with that one guy playing the doctor and the really hot love interest chick. Except I didn't call her hot. Seriously. I LOVE YOU STEPH!!! I'm not in trouble am I?)

For the record, yes it is okay to geek out in excitement over your lover too.

So be not afraid to let your geek flag fly. Lemme see you in your Star Wars T-shirt or your Tardis dress. Come to the con dressed as a Draenei. Walk around saying "Exterminate, exterminate." Get your Spock ears. Make your life sized replica of the Stargate. Float like a leaf on the wind. Cry over the death of Sturm Brightblade. Pass me a tissue on that one. While you're at it, roll some oddly shaped dice and pass me a Mountain Dew. Rock a power ring like it's nobody's business because it's not. Oh, and hand me a green one. I'm old school. You're enjoying yourself and you're not hurting anybody. Let the next generation know. One of the happiest moments of my life was when my daughter did a guest post. It doesn't get much better folks. Try it some time. Enjoy your hobby and enjoy each other because we are - we really are - the only ones who get it.

Some links to purchase some of my favorite stuff are included below.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hank Quense's Contact: Book One of the Zaftan Troubles

What do you get when you cross ugly, smelly, dirty aliens in control of both spacefaring technology and magic with dwarves who own battleaxes and can toss spells of their own? No, not Spelljammer, as much as I enjoyed that. You get Hank Quense's Contact: Book One of the Zaftan Troubles. You also get a rocking good time.

One thing that has always driven me slightly bonkers in fantasy fiction, going back to Tolkein, is that dwarven society is often ignored. I mean, sure Gimli played a major role in The Lord of the Rings but  at no point do you really get to see him in his home setting. He is clearly excited to get to the Mines of Moria but, by the time the Fellowship gets there, everything is gone. Everyone is dead. There are no dwarves left to interact with.

Quense takes care of that problem right off the bat. His story is set in a dwarven society. In Contact we see the problems and advantages of a dwarven society. Dating is apparently even more of a problem than in human societies. Property rights are a big thing. Hard work is valued. Those who don't work don't get a whole lot of respect. It's the kind of society I would love to live in.

And make no mistake about it: Dwarves are, in my humble opinion, the greatest thing that ever happened to fantasy literature. I don't mean just Gimli, son of Gloin. Bruenor Battlehammer and Flint Fireforge are age old favorites. The Dwarven Nations Trilogy is one of a very few good series about dwarves being dwarves. Another good one is the series by Markus Heitz. Quense has a ways to go before I can add him to that list, but he's certainly taken a step in the right direction.

It also seems to say a lot about Mr. Quense's politics. His government is dominated by people looking out only for their own best interests. The local governor is a product of a political dynasty. Taxes are not necessarily seen as a good thing. The needs and wants of the people are viewed mainly as a way of getting re-elected. Just as I was about to label Contact a conservative work though, I get an eyeful of "pipe-weed" use and a hatred of corporations that wouldn't fit a classic conservative. Therefore, Contact must be a work that is Libertarian in nature.

This is a good thing.There is way too much leftist drivel on the market these days. It's good to see someone with some good old-fashioned values and not a bunch of preachy, incoherent, identity politics fueled crap being fed into my Kindle. The best part about it is that Quense shows instead of tells and I, for one, was not able to find anything that looked like a sermon. Quense did a good job here.

The Zaftan themselves, are vicious corporate industrialists. They either conquer places or use corporations to undermine their societies. I kind of don't like these guys, but then again I'm not supposed to. They're the evil foreign invaders out to take everything of value. In a way, they're almost a caricature of the great colonizers from history, to include Romans, Japanese, Ottomans, Mongols, the Moors and lots of others. In a way they're not though. Very rarely in history has a conqueror come to help the people they're conquering. The might makes right theory of conquest has historically been very popular because it works. When the Zaftan don't recognize property rights in the sequels (this is planned as a seven book series) it's going to get ugly. I'm sharpening my axe in anticipation.

The Zaftan are not exactly the universe's most lovable people otherwise either.  Some are cranky. Others are lazy. One may very well be the death of his crew in a most literal sense. They're all focused on personal advancement at the cost of everyone and everything other than themselves. These guys are less trustworthy than my ex-wife. The captain is a woman with an attitude problem, although she may very well have an excuse.

They also appear to be very hard to kill. I'm thinking of my Dungeons and Dragons party from the late Nineties and our first encounter with a troll. Fortunately, my DM allowed me to get away with some meta-gaming and our party didn't wipe, but I'm guessing that the characters in Contact won't be as lucky. The next book looks like it might just get ugly for our dwarves.

I don't do spoilers but I'm looking forward to the sequel (which I have already downloaded) for another very important reason as well. I'm not going to say what it is, but it's a reflection of something that either reflects pop culture or is made fun of by pop culture, depending on your point of view. I want to see how this turns out or if it changes over time. I have a sneaking suspicion it just might because reasons.

Contact is a work of humor but sometimes it can be hard to tell when Quense is being funny and when he's actually making a point. That's actually a good thing though, as it keeps things from getting too preachy and we all love to laugh, right? I mean, that's a great thing. There was a lot here story-wise but it's always good to have a good time.

My only complaint about Contact, if you haven't guessed it already, is that it's not as long as I'd like it to be. I get that many authors are starting to come out with books more quickly now. And with a price point of ninety-nine cents I've got no complaints there, but it seems to be over awfully quickly. It takes a bit of time to get started as well and by the time things start moving we're already a third of the way through the book. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just wish it was a bit longer. Then again, a good author leaves their audience wanting more.  I'm really looking forward to reading the sequel because the first one was so good. I just wish I hadn't gotten there so quickly.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Braided Beards

Contact: Book One of the Zaftan Troubles
Hank Quense
Strange Worlds Publishing, 2018

Contact: Book One of the Zaftan Troubles is available for purchase at the following link:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Suggestion for the Dragon Awards

Listen, I'm a lover of the Dragon Awards. As the only award truly given by the fandom, I think they're both important and interesting, not to mention fun. So under no circumstances should this post be misconstrued as a nerd rage or anything. I really appreciate what the Dragons do for Science Fiction and Fantasy in all of its forms. I mean seriously, who else gives awards for SF/F card and board games? I started this blog with the premise that the Science Fiction community needs to open the umbrella and let more people and their hobbies in. The Dragon Awards have done exactly what I asked for and they've done a better job at my mission than I have. It sucks to admit that to myself, but it's true.

So no, I'm not here to lambaste a group that doesn't deserve it. I do, however, think that maybe, just possibly, the World's Most Awesome Awards could possibly open itself up to just one more category. It encompasses a group of people who labor away talking about what they love and spreading the word, often with zero compensation. I'm talking about people who spend their time promoting many of the same works that get nominated and win Dragon Awards. I'm talking about people like me.

I'm talking about people who have fan sites. Seriously. I hear you laughing out there, but think about it. The Dragon Awards are a celebration of Science Fiction and Fantasy. They are the expression of love from a fandom that is at times contentious, but is united in its love of all thing Science Fictional. I think it's time to bring attention to those who bring attention to the super talented authors and game designers, movie directors, etc. that the Dragons have.

No, I'm not going to lie to you. I really would love to win a Dragon someday. I'm also not delusional. There are many sites out there with a much bigger following than mine. I might, if I'm lucky and/or my girlfriend is feeling generous that day, receive one mention on a nomination ballot. This isn't about me.

I'm not trying to take away from the amount of work it takes to write a one hundred thousand word novel. I'm not trying to denigrate people who direct movies with huge casts and crews that probably number in the hundreds or the writers who work just as hard as novelists to get their stories on paper. I'm just saying that those of us who own and maintain websites work hard too.

Just the other day I was freaking out about ever completing a novel. I mean, fifty or sixty thousand words is a lot, right? Sort of. My favorite publishing house is Baen and they require a minimum of one hundred thousand words. Good gosh, golly-gee, how could I ever write a hundred thousand words?

Then, I thought about it. This is my one hundred and sixty-sixth post. After my first few posts, I was told that it was better for Seach Engine Optimization purposes if I did posts that were at least one thousand words long. I've written to at least that length ever since. Some are like ten words over and others are over twice that. Out of one hundred and sixty-six posts, I'm guessing (and I'm too lazy to count) that there are at least one hundred and seventy five thousand words contained within this blog. That's a lot. I'm not scared to write a novel anymore. I haven't exactly finished one either, but nobody's perfect.

And that's just the amount of work that I've put into this blog. There are much larger sites that put a lot more work in than I do. I post a couple of times a month. I'm at forty-nine posts for the year and I'm on pace to write more posts in one calendar year than I ever have before. There are sites out there with multiple contributors posting daily. They're the people telling people about these books, movies and games. They're putting in their blood sweat and tears too. I'm just thinking they might deserve a little recognition as well.

Now, to be fair, I might limit it to people who don't have works eligible in other categories. I'm a huge fan of both Sarah Hoyt and Larry Correia. I buy their books. I read their books. I've reviewed them both here. I go to their blogs. The fact remains that, were it up to me, I'd make their blogs ineligible for a Best Fan Site Dragon. I wouldn't allow sites like or to compete in this category either. Ditto the official Blizzard forums for games like WoW or Hearthstone, etc. Make this an award for the fans.

I'm not saying to rule out all professionals though. I mean, IO9 pays its writers and I'd be perfectly okay with them competing. I'm just saying that we need to keep this to people who write about science fiction and fantasy instead of people who write science fiction and fantasy. It should be about those of us who ordinarily wouldn't get the accolades. Seriously folks, this is one for the people.
I hate to do this, but I have to give the Hugos props here. They have a “Best Related Work” category. Now, I wouldn't do it the same way they do. I know of SF authors who have been nominated for Best Related Work. I know that the Hugos in general are controlled by one small group of nominators who get their own elected every year. I'm not asking to have the award (if it ever happens) limited to one person who sits at the right table at the awards banquet every year.I just think we should be part of the discussion.

The Dragon Awards are given at DragonCon every year. DragonCon is, at the end of the day, about connecting the fans with the content creators and having a good time doing it.  When the rubber meets the road though, the people carrying the load and doing our best to promote the hobby are the people out there, like me, who write about it. How about a little love for us too?

Some links to DragonCon related products are listed below:

The Janitor Must Die by John Fulton

(Author's Note: Due to the fact that I'm reviewing a book by John Fulton, I currently have a Jonathan Coulton song stuck in my head. If this post gets too zany, blame them.)

The janitor must die. That guy has got to go. There can be no sparing him. We got to get 'im, got-got to get 'im. (Oops. That's an old Tribe Called Quest song. Sorry. Sometimes I confuse janitors with wallets. Don't we all?) I mean, Josh is a pretty decent guy but he's got it coming. I think. Right? There sure are enough things out to get him that it doesn't look good. Who is after him? The stuff in the book. You do know this is a book, right? Are you paying attention? You're sure? Riiiight. Anyway...

Listen, my cousin Josh was a janitor and he never had a day like this Josh does. Things go from frustrating to bad to worse to... Well, I don't wanna spoil anything. Let's just say that out there somewhere there is a person who got into a car wreck and had a day ten thousand times better than the day that Josh has had. Seriously.

Part of the problem of reviewing The Janitor Must Die by John Fulton is that I don't like to include spoilers. At the beginning of the book Josh, our hero and janitor extraordinaire (or maybe averagedaire) has no idea how badly things are going to go that day or how his whole world is going to get turned upside down. I don't want to give up too much here.

What I will say is this: If you are

A.) a janitor


B.) You forget your wallet on the way to work and can't buy breakfast

just turn around and take yourself back home. Preferably at maximum warp.

Oops. That was a Star Trek reference and this isn't a space novel.


Listen, I warned you that this was going to be a weird one, okay?

And really, warp speed may be a massive understatement of how quickly I'd run away if I knew my workplace was going to end up like THAT. Seriously. Either you agree with me or you haven't read the book. Thankfully, there is an easy fix for this problem: Read the book and agree with me. See! Piece of chicken. (Oh God, none of you got that one.)

Part of the problem here, if we're being honest as that as good as The Janitor Must Die is (and it is a damn good book) it is kind of an interesting combination. It's kind of a big mass of "HOLY SHIT!" mixed with a bit of "What the FUCK?" crossed with just a little "Wait, what?" The thing is that there really aren't a whole lot of major plot twists. Josh really had no clue what was going on around him until things got crazy. And they go from zero to Joker levels of insanity in less time than it takes to talk about it. He's learning about the world around him as he goes and so are we. It's a bumpy ride for all involved. Some things don't fit at first.

This is a good thing as there is a lot in this first book (there is a note about sequels at the end but no time table given except "soon") and it's either a clueless main character or a series of info dumps. Fulton made the right choice here. This thing moves. The Janitor Must Die is a story that lives, breathes, and creeps. (Wow, the Oxford comma really does work.)  I have a vision of Fulton sitting at his computer with his word processor on and his hands extended from him as living words fly from his fingers and onto the screen, arranging themselves into an awesome book...

That sounds like fun. Maybe he'll show me how to do that. Seriously, because I'm all in. How cool would that be? Wiggle, wiggle, woosh, story. Done. Awesome.

It's actually a really good thing that there is a sequel or six million coming. There are a lot of things that seem to fit but  aren't completely explained. I'm hoping that further reading will elucidate certain aspects of an occasionally opaque tome which, while thoroughly delightful, is, at times, moderately insufficient in backstory. (Sorry, I thought this goofy post needed a super serious moment. Did it work?)

All trash talk aside though, it would be nice to see a little more of what motivates certain characters in future books. I'm not naming names, but the actions of certain characters would make a bit more sense of why they're doing what they're doing. I'm not calling for endless pages of exposition and long soliloquies to long lost lovers. I don't need to see a musical production describing the existence of  some classified government agency. Actually, The Janitor Must Die is probably better off without the screeching pimple-faced teenagers (UGH. High school memories) but I'd like to see maybe a flashback or two at some point in the future.

I'm really thinking of a couple of characters in particular here. I don't want to name names or give details because that would be very spoiler-y and I'm not trying to be like the peaches in your grandma's cobbler. Let's just say there are some very loose ends a possibly a very deep mystery or two that could use some light shed on them. Like about three very large star's worth.

That's not to say that The Janitor Must Die is a bad book because it's a very good one. At the end of the day, I'm left wanting more, and that's a good thing. Trust me. I tried to read Twilight once. After a hundred and forty pages I didn't want - as in couldn't take - anymore. This is not that book. I just wish there would have been a bit more here. I guess I'll have to read the sequels to find out more. I'm okay with that. I'm looking forward to it.

But for now, I'm off on a mission. Granted, I've had breakfast, lunch and dinner today, but I'm going to go eat breakfast again. Twice. Just to make sure. And I'm taking my wallet with me when I leave too.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Shotgun Shells

The Janitor Must Die
John Fulton
Full Ton Press, 2018

The Janitor Must Die is available for purchase at the following link:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

David Ryker's Invasion: Contact: Book One

So, let's say that you're a prospective space fighter pilot. You're a member of a military that is dedicated to protecting humanity from alien threats, only they've never had an engagement. There are no known alien species. You're out among the stars testing to receive your wings. Command calls with a course correction. What happens next? If you didn't guess that two alien species would show up and start shooting at each other, I'm guessing that

1.) You haven't read David Ryker's Invasion: Contact: Book One


2.) You're having a better day than Cadet Eddie Pale.

(For the record, no, that isn't a spoiler. It all happens in like the first three pages.)

What comes next? I guess you'll have to read the book. Nope, I'm not saying. Ask my daughter how many times she fell asleep watching The Half Blood Prince before she found out who the movie/book was named after. I'm a stinker. Nope, no spoilers here.

What I will say is that Invasion:Contact is a masterpiece of military action and political intrigue. There is a lot that would go into fending off an alien invasion and Ryker nails it. There is always something going on. Someone is always up to something and it's not always helpful. Then again sometimes it is, or at least the character thinks it is.

Ryker seems to have a really good grasp of human nature. When the end of the world comes knocking and we all need to work together to preserve ourselves as a species there are those who look to their own personal benefit. That's realistic. Whether it's a US President known to "never let a crisis go to waste" or Winston Churchill using a war with the Nazis to gain the office of Prime Minister, that's how some people will always act. In a lot of cases, they're powerful people, because they've found and/or manufactured so many opportunities in the past and it's become habit.

Oh, and factionalism still seems to be a thing too. That also is human nature and it works. Something that has kind of bothered me in the past is that a lot of Science Fictional work assumes that something will happen and humanity will start all working together and it will instantly be all hunky-dory. With Star Trek it's the arrival of the Vulcans. With Robotech it's the crash landing of the SDF-1. It's like one alien shows up and we all join hands and start singing Kumbaya (or Internationale if you prefer, I guess). It wouldn't work that way. Groups will still have their agendas and will be working for their own benefit, even if they're working together in public. Ryker gets that.

But there's the other side of the equation too. Sometimes a Commanding Officer makes the wrong call. Sometimes he makes the right one. Regardless, there are times when an officer's decisions are going to result in the death of his subordinates. It's not pretty but it's the way the world works. The good ones will not the losses and keep fighting. They'll mourn when they can but they'll understand that the job requires them to keep fighting until then. That's a pretty good description of Red Hand Loreto, commander of the human fleet. He's hard but fair and he gets the job done. I like this guy.

Invasion: Contact is called Book One for a reason. There are at least two sequels planned to be released in very short order. In watching some of these characters develop, I'm wondering if Ryker isn't already showing us some future villains. I'm thinking of one character in particular who appears to be more than just a little disgruntled. I know we've all blamed the boss for something that went wrong before. I just think that some cases are worse than others and that sometimes people are in a better spot to do something about their anger than others. Time, and the next two books, will tell if I'm right or wrong, but I know which way I'm betting.

The battles in this book are mesmerizing. Ryker does a damn fine job of not only keeping it interesting, but also making it believable. Yes, things blow up. Yes, troops are lost on all side because that's how things work in real wars. Sometimes shots hit. Sometimes they miss. It all makes sense. And if I got a chuckle out of one ship's weakness well, hey, that just makes the story better.

The aliens in this book actually don't think like human beings. That's awesome. I mean, I mentioned Robotech earlier, right? Who can ever forget Exedore appearing and saying "Take me to your leader"? but I find it hard to believe that a species that evolved on another planet under separate conditions and with a totally different biology would think like human beings. I mean, look at the planet we live on. There are so many differences here and biologically we're all compatible. Why would something with a completely different brain structure think like us? They wouldn't. That's one thing that really works in Invasion: Contact. The motivations of one of the two alien species can be figured out, but their mode of communication is just not what any human being would consider normal.

That leads into my only really complaint about the novel. One of the alien races is pretty cardboard. We know that they're the attackers. We know that they're to be feared. We just don't know why. I mean, it's possible that they're just xenophobic and out to destroy all other life as a threat. If so though, it would be great to know that. As of right now, they're just targets with better tech than humanity has. I hope that changes further into the series. A mysterious villain works well but a truly evil one would be even better. So here's hoping. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy because Invasion: Contact is an absolute blast. David Ryker has hit it out of the park in his first book.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Rusty Fighters

Invasion: Contact: Book One
David Ryker
Self Published, 2018

Invasion: Contact: Book One is available for purchase at the following link:

Friday, August 17, 2018

Son of Cayn by Stormy McDonald, Alan Isom and Jason McDonald I just finished reading Son of Cayn and I honestly don't know where to start with this review. Don't get me wrong, it was a really good book. I enjoyed it. I'm just not sure where to begin because there was a lot in here. I mean, I guess I expected that. It's the first book in a fantasy series and those are frequently pretty busy. When an author (or in this case team of authors) has to not only introduce their characters but also their world, there tends to be a lot of information necessary. Every fantasy setting is different and when you couple in the setting and how magic works and what fantasy races exist.. Yeah, it's a lot.

The good news is that Son of Cayn not only very effectively manages to introduce the characters and show off the world, it also manages to do so without bogging down into infodumps and leaves room for later expansion. I'm an as yet unpublished fantasy author myself. I should probably go back and take notes on how they did it because they did a damn good job. I feel like I could go on a wagon trip (Most of the story is spent on the trail, facing danger while traveling.) along the same path the crew in the book did and not get lost. I'm not sure I'd wanted because I tend to be big on not risking my hide unnecessarily, but that's a separate issue.

If you're going to read Son of Cayn, and I recommend doing so, you had best be prepared for some pretty major twists and turns. Nothing is quite as it seems. Most people are not quite who they say they are. This is a very tightly plotted story and it turns on a dime. I enjoyed that. I'm reminded of a movie I watched with my dad back in either the 80s or 90s called Legal Eagles. It wasn't Science Fiction or Fantasy, but it had a great story and an ending that worked but that you never saw coming. My dad marked out because he couldn't figure it out and he was usually good at that stuff. It's that kind of a book.

Part of the surprises are people being precisely who we thought they were, even though they're nowhere near what we thought they were. Certain things happen that only make sense in retrospect. Sometimes a new talent emerges out of nowhere. Allegiances are sometimes a little murkier than you would first suspect. Seriously, don't trust any of these characters.

The fight scenes in Son of Cayn are awesome. I have been known to play the occasional game of Dungeons and Dragons and I really want a couple of these weapons. I mean, they're pretty awesome. I have a sneaking suspicion that one or more of these authors might be roleplayers themselves and that part of the reason these characters get such cool weapons is wish fulfillment. I'm okay with that though. It's entertaining regardless.

As if I haven't already made it obvious, Son of Cayn moves. There always seems to be something going on. It may not be what the reader thinks it is, but it's happening. You may not get a chance to catch your breath, but do you really want to? What's the point of catching your breath anyway? No, Son of Cayn is a book you go through at Mach Two with your hair on fire. It's more fun that way. Slowing down is for sissies. I mean, if you want to know the truth, if I wanted boring I'd read romance. The authors of this one keep things interesting, most often in the sense of the ancient Chinese curse.

I'm also reminded of another movie when I read Son of Cayn. I know not everyone is a fan, but there is a strong leaning toward The Godfather 3 contained within these pages. It's not really all that clear who the enemy is. It's not exactly clear if our heroes really have a singular enemy. Events happen but even after reading the book I'm not altogether certain which ones were related and which ones weren't. I totally feel like Michael Corleone reading this one. "Our true enemy has not yet revealed himself."

I really did get a feeling that there are several major players still missing from the board. Somewhere out there, our true villains are hatching their plots. Somewhere out there, there may very well be someone, or maybe a group of someones, that are on our side as well. We're being led into a much larger world than either we or our heroes anticipate. It's obvious that it's there, but not how far it goes. I'm excited to find out because there is a Lord of the Rings feel here. Right now it's just the Fellowship, but there may be entire kingdoms out there that we still get to journey to. None of the heroes of the book are kings or even nobles (well, probably. I mean, given the surprises so far...) but I can't help but think that at some point in the future of this series we'll be meeting oodles and bunches of them. Or maybe I'm wrong but hey, I'm a fan I get to have my theory.

That leads me to my one complaint about Sons of Cayn. It doesn't really have a Big Bad. Our heroes are totally worth rooting for. They're honorable and they're a caravan of people off to simply sell some soap. Their goals are the everyday kind of noble: Money to be earned, families to feed, etc.
hey're normal people for the most part, at least until things start to change. But there is no one person or thing to hate as such. I'm no fan of thieves and brigands, but they just don't engender the type of ill will that a Khan Noonien Singh or an Emperor Palpatine can. That much having been said, there is a strong case for keeping the reader wondering. It's always good when an author's audience wants more. That's why it's a series, right?

Speaking of which, I published this review on the release date of the book. It's about twelve thirty PM my time. I wonder: Should I start bothering the publisher for the sequel NOW, or should I wait until after dinner?

Bottom Line:4.5 out of 5 Bars of Soap

Son of Cayn
Stormy MacDonald, Alan Isom, Jason McDonald
New Mythology Press,  2018

Son of Cayn is available for purchase at the following link:

Thursday, August 16, 2018

M.A. Rothman's Primordial Threat

We've all read stories with surprise endings. There's nothing new there. It's not like O. Henry was born last week. As a matter of fact, there are few things less surprising than a big plot twist at the end of a book or movie. It happens a lot. If it's done well it works, but it's been done to death.

What's a little more surprising is reading a book (I suppose it could apply to consuming any type of story, actually) and being surprised by your reaction to it. I mean, M.A. Rothman's Primordial Threat is a great story. It's well named. Things are constantly happening. Just when you think you've got a handle on the situation, things get worse. The primary threat has the potential to be world-ending. It's a miniature black hole that comes cruising right through the middle of the Solar System. It's going to end all human life and there is nothing we can do to stop it from going where it is going. The secondary threat is a group of religious fanatics that want to keep humanity from surviving the menace. It's a romping good time and oh my god is it intense.

The part that surprised me though, at least about myself, is that I love a good villain. I like to root against someone I can hate. Think about it. Have any of you read Dragons of Spring Dawning? (Spoilers, I guess. I mean, the book came out in 1985, so it's not like you haven't had the chance to read it yet.) Takhisis (queen of evil/Satan analogue) is about to arrive on the world of Krynn to commit genocide on the elves and enslave everyone else. Life sucks. We've spent three books leading up to this moment and our heroes are going to lose and let this evil bitch take over the world. Except it doesn't work out that way. The world is saved and the psycho hose beast is dispatched back to the Abyss where she belongs. Partly, I was happy that the good guys won. But I was freaking ecstatic to see that wench get hers. And that's the thing that surprised me about Primordial Threat.

The primary “villain” isn't a villain. It's a black hole. I'm not usually a fan of books with a mindless threat. There's a reason I don't talk much about the Dragonriders of Pern series. That reason is simple: It sucked. The threat from thread falling mindlessly from the sky was just not enough to keep me interested. I mean, the main characters are cool and it's fun watching old and new interact but UGH! Get a real villain.

Somehow, Rothman manages to make his black hole work though. I mean, you can't really hate the thing. It's a force of nature just doing what it does. On the other hand, you find yourself rooting for those plucky little humans anyway. Somehow, some way, a black hole is not a dud for a villain the way thread was. The threat is real. It's immediate and it's nasty. It just works.

Of course, a cast of heroes is necessary to any successful story and this book has just enough of them to work. I really feel like Primordial Threat could have turned into some world spanning, nine hundred and seventy three thousand character book with a Dramatis Personae at the end but it didn't. Listen, I'm as big a fan of David Weber's Safehold series and I love just about everything that Harry Turtledove has ever published. The fact remains that not every story works like that and I don't think this one would have. Rothman gave us just the right amount of people to move things along and avoided using too many and bogging things down.

These characters all not all the perfect type either. We've got one legitimate nutcase, the guy who helped her escaped from the psych ward, a president that doesn't tell the public the whole truth because it's in their best interests to not be informed and all kinds of weird problems. It provides me with an interesting conundrum: I wonder if all of these people could work together if the literal extinction in the human species wasn't in the offing. If this were an attempt at doing everyday research and possibly winning a Nobel Prize could they all hold it together? I'm not sure and honestly, it's probably a more entertaining story this way anyway.

I don't have the background is science or engineering to really make an evaluation of the tech in this book. It sounds pretty well grounded in the hard sciences, but I'm the guy who only completed one year as a chemistry major and this is all tech that would be better evaluated by a physicist anyway. Suffice it to say that it seems to work and it feels right. There are a couple of major scientific advances featured, but it all seems to work the way it should from a layman's point of view. Part of it is even based on work by a scientist that I'm somewhat familiar with. I don't want to reveal more than that.

I do have one complaint about Primordial Threat. There is a real deus ex machina moment that I find a bit annoying. I mean, here we are with this all star team of scientists and engineers and that's what it takes to get the job done? It adds a lot of tension to the story, but I still find it annoying, especially since it kind of comes out of left field. Parts of it are foreshadowed, but parts of it are not. I found myself shaking my head for a minute at one point. As a plot device, it kind of works and it does get things to where they need to be but, yeah. It's taking things a bit far in my opinion. Honestly though, Primordial Threat does work up to that point and it's nowhere near being a story ruiner.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Wandering Asteroids.

Primordial Threat
M.A. Rothman
Self Published, 2018

Primordial Threat is available for purchase at the following link:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Bitter Recollections - A World of Warcraft Fanfic by Jim McCoy

(Author's Note: A bunch of what follows is copyrighted by Blizzard Entertainment and has been used without permission. All intellectual property remains under their ownership.No infringement is intended. Battle for Azeroth starts tomorrow though, and I'm geeked!)

With a flourish of wings and the sound of hooves hitting pavement, the Forsaken Warlock grabbed his skull topped staff and hopped off of his mount, headed indoors to the Filthy Animal Inn. His purple, skull adorned robes and accessories swirled around him. As he headed into the bar, he was greeted by an Orcish female.

"Netherlord Capellini, welcome back. How goes the fight for the Burning Throne?'

Capellini saluted with his staff and spoke in a voice both harsh and scratchy, "Uda the Beast. I thought I might never see you again. I thought I'd never see any of you again. We killed him though. Argus is dead. Antorus is captured. The Legion no longer presents a threat."

Uda smile. "Such great news! For the Horde!" She spun around. "Great news!" she cried "Capellini has returned from the battle on Argus! We are victorious! For the Horde!"

"FOR THE HORDE!!!!!!!" The return cry was deafening. Drinks were lifted. Toasts were drunk. Everywhere there was merrymaking.

"I wish I was in the mood for a party." Capellini shook his head. "I need a drink. Have you heard the latest from Kalimdor?"

Uda shook her head. "No. What happened?'

Capellini grunted. "Darnassus has fallen. The Horde stands victorious there as well. The World Tree has been burned to the ground. Nothing remains of the Night Elf city. I was there. I used my magic to help ignite the fireballs that did the deed."

Uda took a step back, a shocked look on her face. "That makes sense. We received word this morning that there was nothing left of Undercity but a smoking hole in the ground."

Capellini's head dipped forward. He looked almost embarrassed. "I saw that as well. It was terrible. The fighting was fierce. The butcher's bill was too high. My home is gone. My people are scattered. Dark Lady watch over us all."

Uda nodded. "You've been busy."

Capellini shook his head once again. "I'm tired. It's been a long flight. I'm going to find a seat at the bar." So saying, he moved across the room. Many people stopped him along the way. Orcs, trolls, other Undead, Goblins, even the occasional Pandaren. Everyone wanted a chance to congratulate the Hero of Argus. Capellini just wanted to sit down.

Finally after much back slapping and rejoicing, Capellini managed to sit his old bones down on a bar stool. "Mato, old friend. We meet again."

Mato, a green-skinned male orc, nodded, "Welcome back, Cap. What are you having?"

Cap nodded, "I'll take a mug of Highmountain Tiswa and a slice of that food-burning Pandaren in the back."

Mato gave an orcish chuckle. "I wish I could, Cap. I'm afraid I can't be letting people eat my cook though. They'd get awfully hard to replace that way."

"Fair enough," Cap allowed, "I'll take the smoked elderhorn instead."

Capellini watched as Mato poured a glass of the brew out of a tap and headed back to the kitchen to grab the food. Cap drank and stared at the wall while eating his dinner. He was well aware many people found watching an undead eat unnerving. He was just past caring. The last few days had not been pretty. After a few minutes, he realized Mato was addressing him by name. "Sorry. Missed that."

Mato looked back at Cap. "Don't worry about it. I was just asking if you were okay. You're looking pretty rough right now."

"Another drink." Cap shook his head. "No. No, I'm not okay at all. I need a break. Do you realize what it's like to be a so called Hero of the Horde?"

Mato nodded, smiling. "Oh sure, I get it. Pretty girls chasing you all over. Piles of gold looted from dead enemies, glory, honor, respect. You've got it all."

Cap smirked and watched Mato take a step back in response. "Again: No. Do you know what I've seen? Do you know what I've done?"

Mato's eyebrows twitched, "Sure. You've taken on all comers and won. You're Capellini. The Netherlord. Slaughterer of otherworlders and Alliance alike."

Cap wiped the remains of the Tiswa he had just chugged off his lip. "While you're refilling this, I'll tell you what I've done. I was human once. I was killed and then resurrected in a graveyard just outside of Lordaeron. I fought my way across Azeroth. I've killed and eaten more enemies than you probably think exist." He quaffed his fourth Tiswa and spiked the mug on the ground. "Another."

Mato blanched. "Cap, do you really think that's a good idea?"

Cap sneered, "Do you really want to be known as the bartender that refused to serve a Hero of the Horde at the only bar in Windrunner's Sanctuary?" In no time flat, a full mug appeared on the counter in front of Cap.  He quickly drained this one as well and shattered the mug against the wall. The bar went silent. "Another."

The look on Mato's face was pure shock. "Mugs cost money Cap. You can't just smash them. It's not right."

Cap threw a stack of gold coins down on the counter. "Oh, so you want gold? Here's more gold than you'll make in this place all month. Take it buy more mugs, but GIVE ME ANOTHER DRINK." He turned his right palm upward. A green flame glowed within it.

Mato stammered. "Su...Sure thing, C-Cap. Just don't do anything crazy. We're friends, remember?"

Cap shrugged. "Friends, yeah we're friends. But understand this. You don't know me. You don't know what it's like. I've defeated Ragnaros twice. Have you ever been that close to the God of Fire before? Have you ever forced yourself to get closer even though your skin was burning and seen your sword wielding comerades patting on the flames on their clothes just to continue fighting? Were you there when Persifinee burned to death screaming in the Sunwell? Did you see Troof fall at the feet of Illidan and then have to work with him years later to contain the Burning Legion?" He tossed back another Hightmountain Tiswa and slammed the mug to the grounding, sending pieces flying. Mato obligingly put another one on the bar without being told to.

Cap gave a very un-Forsaken like giggle. "You're looking at me like I'm crazy and you're right.  I'm an Undead Warlock what else am I supposed to be? Do you know why though? I fought Kael'Thas Sunstrider in his own lair. I watched the weapons animate themselves and attack us. I watched Calindra fall under the blades. He was a hardened warrior, veteran of a thousand battles but he just couldn't understand what was going on. Then we had to pick up those weapons, still wet with our own blood, and use them to fight the elf. We barely beat him. I still don't know how we did."

Cap lifted the mug, then changed his mind. "Then the whole world lost its mind. Lordaeron fell. The Lich King enslaved my race. We fought him across a continent. I fought at the Wrathgate. I battled beside the Dark Lady and into Icecrown Citadel. The horrors we faced there. Diseases. Dragons. The airship battles. Our paladin got bitten by Blood-Queen Lana'thel and converted two others into vampires before regaining his wits. We had to kill the two people he bit when they freaked out and came after us. We killed everything that moved. I watched Varok Saurfang carry his dead son away in his arms sobbing and I couldn't cry. I don't have tear ducts. Then we slew Arthas himself in his throne room. I took the reins of his personal mount into my hands. It's tethered outside. It's a good thing the master wasn't quite Invincible."

Capellini unceremoniously murdered another drink, this time simply sliding the mug down the counter bottom first. "And do you know what came next? I had to stand next to that same paladin while he talked to each of the people who had been closest to Arthas and they cried about his death. Did you hear me, barkeep? They cried over the man that I had spend years chasing. He was the monster that they had created. He was the MAN WHO HAD ENSLAVED MY PEOPLE. And yet they stood there, weeping like a schoolgirl who had just had her advances denied by her crush, while I stood there, looking at the lifeless body of my friend Gumpystone. WHERE IS MY NEXT ROUND?"

After receiving another Tiswa from Mato, Cap went on. "Instead of getting better after that, IT GOT WORSE. The world was ripped asunder. Death cultists came out of nowhere. It was the Cataclysm. We spent month after month chasing Deathwing before we finally cornered him inside of the Maelstrom. It took Thrall and the Aspects to knock him out of the sky so that we could even fight him. When the fight ended, we looted the dragon's hoard and I buried my friend Norien. He was a druid. He said he was going to talk about meeting the Aspects for the rest of his life. He was right. He was dead two hours later. But we did it. We killed Deathwing. I rebuilt the World Pillar. The world kept existing. Then one day, a fleet gets lost..."

Capellini picked up his drink, sneered and threw it, still full, onto the ground. He was fully aware of the sounds of the bar emptying behind him, but he just didn't care. He had too much booze in his bloodstream and too much rage in his heart. "Pandaria. We had just found Pandaria. You'd think we would get some downtime after saving the entire freaking world, but no. We have to go conquer an entire continent full of whining Pandaren and Sha. It was the Sha of Fear that did Deathbrain in. He never had a chance. The Thunder King was even more powerful than we had anticipated. Twenty-five of us went into combat against Lei Shen. Twelve were left standing when we finished him off." Cap looked up.  "Really? Where is my next round? I gave you enough gold to buy the place."

Cap grabbed the next mug by the handle. "Then came the Siege of Orgrimmar. I respected a lot of the people I killed that day. Never was there a more loyal Hero of the Horde than General Nazgrim. I don't know why he chose to back Garrosh, but he died screaming, my green flames igniting his armor. Then do you know what we did? We kept going. He was one of the greatest generals ever and we left him there and kept fighting. I never even found out what happened to his body." Cap took down about half the mug and wobbled. "Then came the big fight against Garrosh. We got pulled into this weird nightmare place. We were in this weird place that looked like Stormwind but wasn't.  The leaders of every HORDE RACE were hanging from the walls. When he died, his bloated purple corpse fell on my friend. I never even knew his name. He just called himself "Demon." It killed him. We had won the war. Garrosh was dead and one of my best friends would never rise again."

Cap gave a tearless sob, his chest jerking. "It seems like it was only five minutes after Garrosh died. Orgrimarr wasn't rebuilt yet. The Dark Portal opened anyway. Once more, Orcs poured from it. We had to go through them one clan at a time to win that war. Somehow, and I'm not sure how, we ended up locked in battle with the demon lord Archimonde and I had to kill him for the second time. He took two friends from me. RIP Xenira and Resta. The Horde is weaker for your loss."

Cap grabbed the side of the bar to hold himself up. Mato reached over to help steady him. "And then came the Dark Shore. We damn near lost the whole Horde that day. Sylvanas saved all of our asses when she sounded the retreat. We were outnumbered and surrounded. They were still bringing in reinforcements. The Alliance was pissed because Varian died, but who gives a rip about some human king anyway? Invasions were everywhere. We couldn't kill them because they kept resurrecting. We've fought our way across these islands and onto another planet. I watched Ysera, my ally from the Deathwing fight become corrupted. I had to help kill her. I was part of the expedition that rescued Malfurion from Darkheart Thicket only to see him slaughter Horde troops at Darnassus. We went to Argus to take the battle to the enemy . We won. It should be over, and yet..."

Cap put both hands on the bar, very obviously struggling to keep his face from crashing into it. "Now this war starts. Darnassus has been destroyed. Lordaeron is a crater. Years of battle to keep that dog Genn and his followers out of our home wasted. Who knows what comes next? Who knows who we'll lose this time?" The Netherlord looks Mato straight in his face. "What if it's me? I've been around a long time. I could be the next one down. It's war. You just never know, do you? Second death could come for me at any minute. I'm not scared. I know what the consequences of a life of battle are. That doesn't mean I want it to be me."

"All of this," Capellini gave an unearthly sounding hiccup. "All of this for my warchief and my Horde.  And I'll be right back at it again tomorrow. Do you know why, Mato? Do you know why?"

Mato nodded, "For the Horde."

"For the Horde." Cap nearly fell over. "I think I need to lie down now."

Cap began to stagger toward the door, then changed his mind and turned back toward Mato. "Take this." Cap tosses Mato a bag of gold coins. "The whole crew will be here in a bit. Myronath, Kaestell, Zenjah, all of them. Make sure they all get good and drunk. I don't want to be the only one hung over on the trip to Zandalar tomorrow. I'm gonna go get a room at the Ledgerdemain. Oh, and could you feed my mount out of that?"

Mato nodded, his eyes googling out of his head. Capellini, Exalted Argent Champion of the Horde, Liberator of Orgrimmar, Light of Dawn and drunk undead shuffled across the street to sleep off the worst drunk in the known history of Azeroth.

Battle for Azeroth
Blizzard Games, 2018
Some Battle for Azeroth merchandise is available at the following links: