If you are among pulp magazine enthusiasts, Standard Magazine’s titles generally do not rank high on the list of favorites. Late 1940s Startling Stories does have its fans. There are some who collect Texas Rangers, a long running series featuring Jim Hatfield, Texas Ranger. I have never met anyone who goes out of their way to collect Thrilling Detective except for issues with a specific author.

The Best of Thrilling Adventures is a huge anthology from Altus Press that came out at the end of 2017. Thrilling Adventures is a title that gets little love. It was down market from Adventure, Blue Book, and Argosy. I do find the title more interesting than Short Stories, a magazine that strikes me as being marketed to blue collar workers.

Very little has been reprinted from its run from 1931 to 1943. Robert E. Howard had two stories in Thrilling Adventure including an “El Borak” story. Six of Carl Jacobi’s stories from Thrilling Adventures were reprinted in the excellent collection East of Samarinda. The most fiction from Thrilling Adventures that has been reprinted was from Louis L’amour. L’amour had 18 stories in Thrilling Adventures from 1938 to 1943. A good number of them were reprinted in two Bantam paperbacks in the late 1980s– Night Over the Solomons (1986) and West From Singapore (1987). I bought both of those paperbacks off the spinner rack at a Dairy Mart up the street from the apartment I lived in at the time. The few remaining unreprinted stories and the contents of the 1980s paperbacks have been reprinted in the more recent collected short stories in two volumes. Read More

Last year I interviewed Michael Tierney and as part of the conversation we discussed his Wild Stars series of comics.  As the 35th anniversary of this endeavor approaches Michael has teamed up with Cirsova to launch a Kickstarter for an illustrated novel: Time Warmageddon.

Michael’s novel is enhanced by Tim Lim’s cover art (Donald Thump, My Hero Magademia) and interior illustrations by Mark Wheatley (Jonny Quest, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall).

The novel begins when a group of independent space colonists are threatened with the use of force unless they evacuate their planet.  They decline and prepare to fight as they believe they are no longer in danger from the planet’s vicious fauna.  Unfortunately, a particular vengeful species proves them wrong but there are hints that the real danger is not to be found on the planet but in rumors of an elder humanoid race with the ability to rearrange whole solar systems. Not essential to the plot, but a nice atmospheric touch is the tourist trade on Venus when the Earth is one the wrong side of the sun for certain deep space destinations.  Many travelers will book journeys to Venus as both a shortcut and lay over while Venus orbits around to where onward travel to the Earth is possible. In the meantime they enjoy the Madi Gras like carnival.

The Kickstarter is going well but there is less than a week left.  Pledges range from $5 for a digital copy up to $25 which includes hard copies of previous editions of Wild Stars comics. For retailers there are pledges available from $25 to $75 offering multiple copies of Time Warmageddon and Multiversal Scribe Magazine (original art by Michael in this one). All stretch goals have been met allowing for a hard cover add-on and the inclusion of the hard copies of past Wild Stars comics.

A short Q&A with Michael on the next page along with a couple of questions to Alexa from Cirsova.

 

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Time-travelling scientists must defend medieval Paris from Vikings, an A.I. platoon fights for the promise of freedom, and a teen soldier livestreams her battles in this week’s roundup of the newest releases in science fiction.


An Airless Storm (Cochrane’s Company #2) – Peter Grant

The secret is out – the Mycenae system is the hottest new mineral find in the spiral arm. Now it’s about to become ground zero in a gold rush by every crooked company and asteroid thief in the galaxy.

Andrew Cochrane and his mercenaries have warded off a deadly onslaught by asteroid thieves. Now they’re riding high, buying more ships and looking for more contracts.

However, the criminal Brotherhood isn’t about to accept defeat – not after Cochrane’s Company killed their Patriarch. They’re out to rebuild, rearm, and get revenge.

What started as a simple patrol job in a deserted binary star system explodes into a multi-planetary arms race, with survival on the line!


The Dawn of the Iron Dragon (Saga of the Iron Dragon #2) – Robert Kroese

A new beginning, 1300 years in the past…

In medieval Europe, three explorers from the distant future begin an ambitious project: build a craft capable of reaching the stars. While their leader oversees the construction of a secret underground base in Iceland, the other two travel thousands of miles to negotiate with the rulers of Europe and recruit the most brilliant minds of the age. When the Iceland base comes under attack, the travelers try to return to defend their home, but they are trapped in Paris just as an army of 20,000 Vikings lays siege to the city. To survive, they must defend Paris from the hordes of Norsemen and fight their way back to Iceland to save their new home–and keep the dream of the Iron Dragon alive.


Earth Fleet (Rebel Fleet #4) – B. V. Larson

At long last Earth has a handful of starships. Surrounded by Rebel Kher, Imperials and the mysterious Nomads, Humanity dares to assert our right to independence.

The interstellar community reacts harshly. In the eyes of our neighbors, we’re upstarts, dangerous beings that don’t know our place.

For the Kher, freedom can only be won through battle. War fleets arrive to instruct us, and Captain Leo Blake is again sent out to voyage among hostile stars.

We’re far from ready, but the time has come. It’s game-on.


Image Hand (Silent Order #8) – Jonathan Moeller

The galaxy is at war, but wars are won and lost in the shadows.

To the galaxy at large, Jack March is a privateer of the interstellar Kingdom of Calaskar and a former Iron Hand commando of the malevolent Final Consciousness. In truth, he is an alpha operative of the Silent Order, the most efficient and feared intelligence organization in human space. When there is a crisis, Jack March is the man to call.

When Jack March finds the crew of a space station killed by mysterious radiation, he soon finds himself on the trail of a deadly superweapon.

And unless he finds the weapon, he will be its next victim… Read More

A new beginning, 1300 years in the past…

In medieval Europe, three explorers from the distant future begin an ambitious project: build a craft capable of reaching the stars. While their leader oversees the construction of a secret underground base in Iceland, the other two travel thousands of miles to negotiate with the rulers of Europe and recruit the most brilliant minds of the age. When the Iceland base comes under attack, the travelers try to return to defend their home, but they are trapped in Paris just as an army of 20,000 Vikings lays siege to the city. To survive, they must defend Paris from the hordes of Norsemen and fight their way back to Iceland to save their new home–and keep the dream of the Iron Dragon alive.

THE DAWN OF THE IRON DRAGON is the second installment in Robert Kroese’s IRON DRAGON trilogy, which began with THE DREAM OF THE IRON DRAGON. The saga will conclude with THE VOYAGE OF THE IRON DRAGON in December 2018.

THE IRON DRAGON trilogy is being produced as part of the phenomenally successful SAGA OF THE IRON DRAGON Kickstarter, which raised over $10,000. Meticulously researched and packed with action, this series is a must for sci-fi and alternate history fans.

“Terrific storytelling, letter-perfect alternate-history, and the highest stakes for humanity imaginable combine to make this a thrilling start to an exciting new Viking saga. Kroese avoids both romanticizing and demonizing the Vikings, showing them to us in all their humanity, while spinning a tale that pulls no punches and leaves us gasping for more.” – Lars Hedbor on THE DREAM OF THE IRON DRAGON

There wasn’t anything all that special in Astounding Oct. 1949’s letters section, and since the letters haven’t caught up to where I’ve actually read yet, it’s hard to glean much from them. Typical mixed bag of “It’s great” and “It’s terrible”, though I’ve noticed that Lensman seems to be a really love-it-or-hate-it series, even in its own time. Also, for whatever reason there’s another story hidden behind the letters section which I almost missed. ::Shrug::

Warren Carroll says “With every issue, the 1949 Astounding grows better and better.” Of course, he hasn’t factored in any of the issues I’ve read so far, and I can’t weigh in, as I haven’t read the issues or stories he lauds.

R.J. Raven-Hart has low marks for the November 1948 issue (“Quite the poorest issue I have seen as regards to fiction; [but] far away the best as regards to articles”) and January (“Poor stories compared to your usual standard”) 1949 issue, with mixed for February 1949.

I am a wireless engineer myself, of the old days—I can claim to have seen a coherer, not actually in use, but in reserve to be switched in should the electrolytic detector fail—and was in radar during the war, and I had never realized the progress I had seen. Ley was, as ever, first-class; so was the Locke article. By the way, I note with alarm that recent letters from readers have suggested the discontinuance of articles—I hope this is not your policy. They should continue, if only to give the high-brow an excuse when found to be a reader of Astounding. Oh, and congratulations to van Vogt for doing something I thought quite impossible—writing something duller than the “Lensman” stories.

Insert “I read it for the articles” meme here.

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In 2009, the Louvre Museum, one of the most renowned art museums in the world, gathered comic book artists together for a unique exhibit showcasing the breadth of contemporary art found in comic books. French bandes dessinées and American comic books featured prominently in the display, joined by panels drawn by Japanese manga artist Hirohiko Araki. While most of the featured comics used the grounds of the Louvre as a vehicle for investigating art or even as characters, Araki took one of his more popular characters, a manga artist turned occult detective, and thrust him into a mystery deep inside the Louvre’s underground tunnels, complete with all the accumulated quirks of his JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure -and a touch of body horror.

In many ways, Araki was the perfect choice for such a collection. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is rooted in both Japanese and Western pop culture, mixing Japanese punk brawlers with a love for Western music and the traditions of both cultures’ occult detective stories. The names of several characters may be familiar: Dio, Speedwagon, Red Hot Chili Pepper, Cream, Aerosmith, Green Day, Black Sabbath, etc.. The series is still going strong after thirty years, following the Joestar family throughout generations as they fight against an ancient and undead enemy of the family. To properly explain the JoJo’s series would easily require a month’s columns and the average reader might still think the plot and the setting a fever dream. Perhaps one way to think of the series is if the X-men fought each other with Pokemon, mutant powers, and their fists. And, strangely enough, it works so well that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has been a staple of manga readers throughout it’s entire run.

To overcome the daunting barrier of entry that such a long-lived series creates, Araki crafted his exhibit, collected in Rohan at the Louvre, to be a stripped-down version of a JoJo story. Focusing on Rohan Kishibe, the aforementioned manga artist turned occult investigator, Araki moves the powers and other regular JoJo characters to the background, allowing guests to the Louvre to experience this ghost story through his eyes. After a brief introduction to Rohan and his power to read people like books–illustrated with a touch of body horror as their skin peels like pages, Rohan tells his story of a search for the darkest black ever seen. And so begins a horror story worthy of mention in the same sentence as Manly Wade Wellman’s “The Golgotha Dancers”. Read More

Bishop Thomas Cranberry finds himself at a loss when he is confronted by a thief and realizes some disturbing truths about himself. The experience sends him in search of the men who are increasingly absent from the Church, who find themselves at a loss in a world that has gone increasingly feral, and who feel that they have nowhere to go and no one to whom they can turn for support. In listening to them and attempting to understand their plight, he finds an unexpected mission.

The Heretics of St. Possenti is for listeners who want the backstory of the story and for those who want to know how one inspired man can make a difference in a fallen world. It is a novel for those who need inspiration to get them though the day and those who look for unusual ways to accomplish the mission. It is for people who understand and respect the old ways but know that sometimes a seed cannot grow without splitting the pavement.

Narrated by Wade Schoenemann, The Heretics of St. Possenti is 12 hours and 2 minutes long.

The second volume of Peter Grant’s Cochrane’s Company trilogy marches forth.

Andrew Cochrane and his mercenaries have warded off a deadly onslaught by asteroid thieves. Now they’re riding high, buying more ships and looking for more contracts.

However, the criminal Brotherhood isn’t about to accept defeat – not after Cochrane’s Company killed their Patriarch. They’re out to rebuild, rearm, and get revenge.

What started as a simple patrol job in a deserted binary star system explodes into a multi-planetary arms race, with survival on the line!


Praise for Cochrane’s Company:

“This is a great new series in the same universe as the author’s Maxwell Saga and Laredo series.”

“[The] first book in the Cochrane’s Company series is a combination of Western movie, military SF, and the condottieri of Renaissance Italy. This was easily read, and required only a little mental juggling to keep track of major characters and places. Set-up and explanatory sections were nicely written, and the action scenes were tightly woven. Recommended for anyone aged 12 and up with a liking for space, adventure, or history.

“One of the things I like about Mr Grant is that his villains always have logical motivations for what they are doing (or trying to do) and that when looked in certain ways the heroes may be only a little better than the villains. What I particularly liked about this book is that the hero (Cochrane) has enough awareness to realize that some of the things he does (or commands others to do) are indeed pretty dark shades of grey even though they are for the most part the ones being sinned against. Cochrane is clearly going to have to struggle to ensure that he does take the morally better course not just the most expedient.”

Image result for the sheik of mars

Robo-Djinn are best Djinn

“Sheik of Mars” by Ben Wheeler is pure fun: Nothing less and sometimes even just a little bit more.

The plot is dead simple: The protagonist, the current Prince of Mars, marries the love of his life, the beautiful Zira, but on the day of his marriage the degenerate son of the Sheik of Mars kidnaps his wife and brings her to his personal harem. It’s up to our protagonist, his best friend Ibrahim, and his servant the swarthy eunuch to rescue Zira and escape the Palace of the Sheik of Mars alive.

The absolute best thing Mr. Wheeler accomplishes in this book is atmosphere. The obvious influence in the book is “1001 Arabian Nights”, and sure enough the main story is itself a story within a story, in true “Arabian Nights” fashion (at one point, briefly, we actually get three layers deep). Mr. Wheeler capture the Arabesque flavor flawlessly, and keeps it up throughout the novel. Read More

Arkhaven Comics is very pleased to be able to announce that QUANTUM MORTIS A Man Disrupted #2: Zero Zero Tango is now available for Kindle and Kindle Select.

Chief Warrant Officer Graven Tower is a ruggedly handsome military policeman who hates aliens. Fortunately, as a member of His Grace’s Military Crimes Investigation Division – Xenocriminology and Alien Relations, he gets to arrest a lot of them. Sometimes he even gets to shoot them.

Chief Tower and Detector Derin Hildreth of the Trans Paradis Police Department are investigating the murder of the Crown Prince of Morchard on the shadowed streets of Trans Paradis City, but the alien government-in-exile is less than entirely helpful. The royal house of Morchard appears to be considerably more interested in seeking revenge than seeing justice done. But there is no way that Tower or MCID are going to let any vengeful xenos start another war in their house!

QUANTUM MORTIS A Man Disrupted #2: Zero Zero Tango is 27 pages, retails for $2.99, and is available via Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Matvei Daniilovich is still the illustrator, but starting with this issue, we arranged to get him a professional colorist in order to move from a bi-monthly release schedule to what we hope will be a monthly one, so you may note that the colors are a bit more vibrant in this issue. UPDATE: Look Inside is now enabled, so you can see these for yourself.

From the reviews of Quantum Mortis A Man Disrupted #1: By the Book:

  • The plot is interesting, and the universe feels like it has actual history and depth. Instead of skipping over the richness of the original novel the comic gives you a lot to read rather than just pretty pictures which you quickly turn past to find out what happens next.
  • It’s just the first issue, but the story is fantastic so far. I haven’t read the book on which it is based, so it’s totally new to me. I really love the look and slightly Blade Runner aesthetic and noir feel.
  • The story was good and got me interested in the characters. Dialog was snappy and smart. Hard to say what tech levels would be on a distant planet in the 3000s, after some big wars, but the tech-setting feels about right for a sci-fi crime-noir story.
  • Old school comic book. Cute girl, manly hero, robot comedy relief, dark conspiracy, gritty high tech future.
  • A fun start to an intriguing story, excellent retro artwork (I suspect that at some point in this storyline, a rocket-ship will land upright on a plume of flame, as God and Robert Heinlein intended), good banter, and the shadow of a prince’s corpse burnt into the ground as foreshadowing of things to come. This is going to be a fun series, count me in for more!
A print edition of issue #2 will be available in a few weeks in a gold logo edition.

So, The Incredibles II: I didn’t hate it.

And maybe that’s not surprising. Despite being bought by Disney—who’s run the Star Wars movies so far into the ground, they’ve plummeted underground and are now nearing the Earth’s core (and also The Core is a much better movie than the last two Star Wars flicks combined)—they’ve managed to keep producing quality entertainment. Coco, for example, was a fine movie that touched on the importance of family, and the importance of remembering and honoring the dead. If you don’t know where you came from, you have no idea who you really are.

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Books (Skelos Press): Presenting the English translation of the award-winning book that introduced a new generation of French fans to the father of sword and sorcery. The Robert E. Howard Guide was born out of years of scholarship, but took its final form after answering the same questions from fans over and over again. In many ways, Howard remains a “famous unknown writer, “the man who single handedly defined modern fantasy, but whose life and works are still known mostly filtered through adaptations, pastiches and gross approximations. Because of those specificities, he is more often than not known for what and who he wasn’t, for sentences he never wrote, or for characters who bear little resemblance—if any—to his original creations. This, in turn, explains how and why this book was conceived.

 

Popular Culture (Jeffro Johnson): You can see the cultural programming for this present disaster hit hard just by looking at the movies of the sixties and seventies. Marathon Man (1976) features a “nice guy” protagonist. Dustin Hoffman plays a nebbish that blunders into a bit of a thriller. “Realism” in this case means that he is such a loser that the only woman willing to take up with him is one which is willing to do so under the orders of a mysterious figure from the underworld. (Note how this character type would undergo some modifications in the eighties: loser protagonists in both Gremlins and The Karate Kid fall into completely arbitrary female favor without establishing any of the sort of qualities that could motivate it while characters that could command that sort of attention are painted in the worst light possible.

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