The trade paperback edition of the new Rough Edges Press anthology ROCKET'S RED GLARE is now available on Amazon, and ebook editions for all platforms are available at the various on-line retailers. I just want to say how proud I am of this book and all the authors involved, and how grateful I am to them and to Brad R. Torgersen and Livia J. Washburn for their work on the cover. There are some great stories in ROCKET'S RED GLARE: a major new novella from Brad R. Torgersen, a USAian story by Sarah A. Hoyt, gritty military SF from Nathan E. Meyer, an interstellar epic by Keith West, a superb first contact yarn from Robert E. Vardeman, suspenseful tales set in our solar system by Christopher Chupik and David Hardy, a poignant look at the future on Mars by Lou Antonelli, and stories set on Earth but involving galactic conflict from Martin L. Shoemaker and myself. Classic SF from top-notch authors. You can't go wrong with that. Barnes & Noble Kobo
FILL A STEIN AND GRAB A BLOODY HAUNCH! isn't your normal
writing how-to book. You can read some dry, dusty tome about story arcs and
character development, or you can let Mean Pete Brandvold grab you by the
throat, give you a few good shakes like a dog trying to kill a rat, and listen
to his advice on how to slap your reader across the face and get his attention.
Chances are, you're more likely to write something I want to read if you go the
Mean Pete route.
Despite the colorful trappings, however, this book will give you plenty of
practical tips on narrative hooks, point of view, dialogue, description,
pacing, plotting, and characterization, all from the prospective of a
top professional who's been making his living as a writer for almost twenty years.
And you're going to be mighty entertained in the process, as well.
FILL A STEIN AND GRAB A BLOODY HAUNCH! isn't just a book about writing, though.
Brandvold also includes several touching autobiographical essays and a couple
of short stories. This is a fine collection by a writer I've long admired.
STAGECOACH: THE TEXAS JACK STORY, which seems to have
gone straight to DVD, is about as cheaply made a Western as you'll ever see. The
gunshots sound more like cap pistols, and all the different stagecoaches are
pulled by the same pair of horses. The less said about the wig worn by one of the
characters, the better. And it has that undeniable "shot in Canada"
look that too many Westerns do these days.
That said, I found the movie pretty entertaining. Country music star Trace
Adkins plays the title character, a reformed outlaw whose efforts to go
straight and build a life for himself and his new wife are ruined by a crazed
ex-marshal and a vicious female bounty hunter. An almost unrecognizable Judd
Nelson plays another outlaw. Those are probably the only two people in the cast
you've ever heard of. There's plenty of action, some good lines of dialogue
here and there, and Adkins has a great voice and screen presence. Adjust your
expectations accordingly, and STAGECOACH: THE TEXAS JACK STORY is worth
watching for die-hard Western fans like me.
From distant galaxies to the mean
streets of Hollywood . . . from the war-torn skies of France in 1918 to the far
side of the moon . . . The stories in Rocket's
Red Glare exemplify the adventure, courage, and sense of discovery so vital
to the American spirit. Whether daring to cross interstellar space or battling
alien conquerors when they come right to our own back yard, the characters in
these tales never give up, never stop fighting for their country, their lives,
their honor. Featuring all-new stories by Sarah A. Hoyt (part of her USAian
series), Brad R. Torgersen, Martin L. Shoemaker, Lou Antonelli, James Reasoner, Robert E. Vardeman, Nathan E. Meyer, Keith West, Christopher Chupik, and David Hardy, Rocket's Red Glare is
packed with space opera excitement, dazzling scientific speculation, gritty
action, and compelling characters.
I'm really proud of this book. This is the kind of SF I love to read. The ebook is available for pre-order through Amazon and Smashwords and will go live on Thursday, and the print edition should be available then, too.
Archeological thrillers have become quite popular over the
past twenty or so years, but as you'd expect when Stephen Mertz tackles a
genre, you're not going to get the same old same old, as the saying goes. True,
in his recent novel THE MOSES DECEPTION, you get a male/female pair of intrepid
archeologists, but they're not involved in a romantic relationship as so often
happens in books like this. Rather, Drs. Adam Chase and Lara Newton are
partners and allies, although there is some attraction between them. Sure
enough, on a dig in the Middle East, they make a discovery with implications
that could change the entire world: fragments of the original Ten Commandments
that Moses broke when he came down from Mount Sinai. And according to these
fragments, there was an eleventh commandment that no one ever knew about
because Moses kept it to himself (hence the title).
Adam and Lara are already in an area plagued by violence, and this momentous
discovery just puts them in more danger, as it's important enough for various
factions to kill over, which is exactly what happens as the two of them try to
reach safety at the estate belonging to their wealthy backer in the Swiss Alps.
Much double-crossing and intrigue ensues.
What really sets THE MOSES DECEPTION apart is Mertz's writing, which as usual
is lean and fast-paced and filled with action and compelling characters. So
many thrillers these days are bloated, with page after page of padding that
puts me to sleep. Not so anything by Steve Mertz, who has been one of the top
action writers in the business for the past forty years. THE MOSES DECEPTION is
great entertainment and highly recommended.
This cover by Arnold Kohn has some obvious attributes, but what I really like is the crazed look in the horse's eye, right at the edge of the cover. Now that's a war horse. Inside, the lead story is by "Alexander Blade", who appears in this case to have been Richard S. Shaver, not a good sign. Then there's a story by S.M. Tenneshaw, also a house name, but the real author of this one isn't known. Robert Moore Williams and a handful of lesser known names round out the issue. I have a feeling that based on the fiction this may not be a top-notch issue of AMAZING STORIES, but I do like that cover.
As usual for this era, a cover by H.W. Scott graces this issue of WESTERN STORY. It's not Scott's best cover, by any means, but it's not bad. The featured novel (really a novella) is "Spawn of the Gun Pack" by T.T. Flynn, one of my favorite Western authors. I'll have more to say about this story next week, when I feature a pulp I happen to own that reprints this story. Backing up Flynn in this issue is a mighty fine line-up of authors: Walker Tompkins, L.P. Holmes, S. Omar Barker, and John Colohan, I don't own this one, but with those authors I'm sure it's a fine issue.
Well, I knew that if I continued reading the Ki-Gor novels
in order, I'd get to some that weren't, shall we say, top-notch yarns. For the
sake of completeness, though, a few words about KI-GOR—AND THE CANNIBAL
KINGDOM, from the Summer 1940 issue of JUNGLE STORIES.
First of all, it's actually not badly written. The prose flows fairly well, the
settings are described nicely, and the action scenes are okay, if rather
sparse. I have no idea who was behind the John Peter Drummond house-name on
this one. But whoever it was neglected to come up with much of a plot. Ki-Gor
goes to the aid of his old friend and sidekick George Spelvin, the former
railroad porter from Cincinnati who's become the chief of the M'Balla tribe in
Africa, when George and his people are attacked and besieged by a horde of
cannibals. That's all there is to it. A lot of the novel consists of Ki-Gor and
his beautiful redheaded wife Helene (who's given nothing to do) traveling from
one place to another. There's one nice bit near the end where Ki-Gor exposes a
jungle con-man, but that's not enough to save a plot that really needed a few
One other way in which KI-GOR—AND THE CANNIBAL KINGDOM is noteworthy is that
it's the first story, as far as I recall, in which George Spelvin is referred
to as Tembo George, Tembo meaning elephant (because he's a great big guy, of
course). This is the name by which he's known for the most part in the rest of
At some point I'll have to start skipping some of the stories because I don't
have all of them, but I probably have 80% of the series in one form or another
(all reprints except for one issue of JUNGLE STORIES). For now, though, I'm
going to continue reading them in order and writing about them here from time
to time. If you're following along at home, though, you could probably skip
KI-GOR—AND THE CANNIBAL KINGDOM without missing much. Sad but true.
We missed this Western "mini-series" (actually a
glorified two-part TV movie) when it came out in 2006 and never got around to
watching it until now. Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church play uncle and
nephew, respectively, who take a herd of horses from Oregon to Sheridan,
Wyoming, in 1898 to sell them to a representative of the British government
looking for war horses. Along the way they wind up taking care of five young
Chinese women who have been sold to a madam in a Wyoming settlement for a life
of prostitution. When Duvall and Church won't turn the women over to the madam,
she sends a brutal gunman after the drive to retrieve them and kill their
That's the plot, which would have made a nice, taut, hardboiled 90 minute
Western. To stretch it out to twice that length, there's a lot of spectacular
Canadian scenery (like so many Westerns in the past 20 years, BROKEN TRAIL was
filmed in Alberta), some romance, and a lot of scenes of the horses being
driven along. The pace is leisurely, even meandering. But eventually, even most
of the scenes that seem like filler do have some sort of payoff, and the ending
is very satisfying.
What really makes this film work are the performances of Duvall and Church,
both of whom have the sort of weatherbeaten, lived-in faces appropriate to
Westerns. Duvall, of course, can do this sort of stuff in his sleep, but he
works at it and doesn't phone in his performance. I think of Church primarily
as a comedic actor, but he's fine as a cowboy with a stubborn streak, and
impressive enough that I wish he'd made more Westerns. Greta Scacchi is also
good as a soiled dove who throws in with them to get away from her life.
BROKEN TRAIL is one of those movies that has a lot of excellent individual
scenes. While those scenes don't add up to a great Western, it is a good one,
very watchable and entertaining.
Echoes of Massacre
Canyon by Ben Goheen aka Ben Tyler (Five Star
Publishing) Silence Rides Alone by Ian Charles Millsted
(Sundown Press) The River of Cattle by Alice V. Brock (Pen-L
Publishing) The Silver Baron’s Wife by Danna Baier Stein
(Serving House Books) The Wanted Lawman by A.C. Smith (Gray
Dead Man’s Boot
by Patrick Dearen (Five Star Publishing) Far West: The
Diary of Eleanor Higgins by Linell Jeppsen (Wolfpack
Publishing) Gun Devils of the Rio Grande by James Reasoner
(Rough Edges Press) Killing Blood by Robert D. McKee (Five
Calamity Jane: How
the West Began by Bryan Ney (Dragon Tree Books) Good
Water by John Nesbitt (Five Star Publishing) Grandpa and the
Kid by Cliff Hudgins (Wolfpack Publishing) Lone Star Ranger
7: A Ranger Redeemed by James J. Griffin (Painted Pony
Books) The River of Cattle by Alice V. Brock (Pen-L
Revenge - Vol. 10 Final Showdown, by Big Jim Williams (High Noon
Press) Museum Piece by Brian Koukol (The Missing
Slate) Odell's Bones by Troy Smith (Cane Hollow
Press) Widelooping a Christmas Cowboy by Livia J. Washburn
(A Cowboy under the Mistletoe, Prairie Rose