Science Fiction (Type Bar Magazine): A recent Washington Post articleindicated that only 12% of the reading public were interested in reading science fiction.  A perusal of bestseller lists for science fiction shows an even more alarming truth: the science fiction books that do sell are a shrinkingly small number of reprints, classics and novels that had been adapted into movies.  Science fiction is not selling.

Books (Get Pocket): First things first. What makes a book cover iconic? There are no hard and fast rules, of course—like anything else, you know it when you see it. But in order to compile this list, I looked for recognizability, ubiquity, and reproduction—that is, if there are a million Etsy stores selling t-shirts/buttons/posters/tote bags with the book cover, or if someone you know has ever dressed up as it for Halloween, or has a tattoo of it, it probably counts as iconic.

Edgar Rice Burroughs (Carolina Calots): The virtual Carolina Calots meetup held in April of 2024 took an intriguing turn. Participants were all geared up to discuss their beloved speculative fiction writers other than Burroughs and engage in a detailed analysis of the similarities and differences between Burroughs’ writing style and that of the author they selected. The conversation turned out to be both captivating and intellectually stimulating, with a plethora of renowned authors and their literary creations being brought into the spotlight. Read More

Charles Henry Cannell (1882-1947) is a writer better known for some lost race novels as “E. Charles Vivian.” He also wrote eight novels in the “Gees” series as “Jack Mann” published from 1936 to 1940.

Maker of Shadows is the fifth novel in the series. Originally published in the U.K. as a hardback in 1938, the pulp magazine Argosy reprinted it in 1939 as a four part serial. Private investigator Gregory George Gordon Green known as “Gees” has a tendency to get involved in fantastic cases. He is traveling in the Scottish Highlands to a place called The Rowans at the request of Margaret Aylener. Gees has a difficult time driving through a dense fog you can see only a few feet in front of the car. The fog does not pentrate the territory maked by four rowan trees at the Aylener house. Read More

Every week, the Castalia House Blog spotlights some of the many new releases in independent, pulp, and web novel-influenced science fiction and fantasy.

Best (Baneberry Hall #1) – Frederick Gero Heimbach

As he would be first to admit, Mason Best is a genius. He lied—oops, charmed—his way into Baneberry Hall, the nation’s top prep school, didn’t he? Angel Ferguson, the intimidating student body president, wants him at her side. The headmaster, the trustees, the top jocks: everyone wants a piece of him.

Mason wins at every game he tries—but being best is exhausting. Fortunately, Mason has a tower hideout he shares only with his friends:

  • Miles Coffin: eccentric boy billionaire, addicted to candy cigarettes
  • Sapphire Moon: glamour girl, born performer
  • Eve Shepherd: matriarch of the hideout, with whom Mason is definitely not falling in love

Mason Best: political player – loyal friend. Can Mason be both kinds of person? Can he stay loyal when his political patrons demand he betray the people he loves, one by one?

Mason’s a smart kid. He’ll find a way to make it work. Of course he will. He’s sure of it.

Origin (Parallax #1) – Matt Conant and Lauren Cipillo

A conspiracy threatens everyone in the colonized worlds. Only they can stop it.

In a distant future where advancements in cybernetics and gene-splicing have resulted in a dozen different variants of humanity, three individuals find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that could doom everyone in the colonized worlds.

Paige Angstrom, a fierce and loyal Peacekeeper, yearns to shield her sister Volara from a life of corporate-indentured servitude.

Hemlocke Shaw, a gene-spliced engineer, tirelessly searches for his missing eco-activist wife.

And Emrald Re, a no-nonsense bounty hunter, embarks on a mission to find a vanished wastelander named Lewis DuCane.

Amidst deadly power outages, vanishing civilians, and stalled terraforming projects, the trio unearths a cover-up of epic proportions. The revelation sends shockwaves through their lives, forcing them to confront their own identities and become unlikely heroes in the struggle against the very architects of the Terran race.

Revelation (The Sol Saga #3) – James Fox

The solar system faces its darkest hour.

General Keith Brennan races against time to thwart the deployment of a city-destroying weapon of unprecedented magnitude. As the fate of millions hangs in the balance, Brennan’s resolve is put to the ultimate test.

Meanwhile, Edward McAaron grapples with a relentless internal struggle, torn between his thirst for vengeance and the weight of leadership. With Governor Chu’s fate in the balance and the lives of his followers on the line, McAaron must confront his own demons before it’s too late.

As Lisa Colt and Jonathan Spalding delve deeper into the conspiracy, shocking revelations come to light, shaking the very foundations of the system. President Trent, driven by desperation to end the war, faces mounting pressure from shadowy benefactors whose true motives remain shrouded in darkness.

As alliances crumble and betrayals unfold, the solar system hangs on the brink of destruction. Can Brennan and McAaron overcome their personal demons and unite against a common enemy? Or will the secrets they uncover tear them apart, spelling doom for all?

Shadows of the Earth (The Token #2) – Nathan Hystad

The Delta is assembled, but the threat is far from over.

Rory travels to the Moon, encountering her grandfather’s footprints from fifty years ago. She returns to her parent’s home, eager to forget about the last few weeks, but the Shadow persists.

Silas and Cody are covertly led to the Planetae laboratory, but quickly realize there’s more to the tokens than their initial assumptions.

Waylen struggles to maintain peace as the walls between organizations crumbles. When one of his closest allies betrays them, Waylen’s trust is shattered.

Who invented the Delta?

What are the Echoes trying to show them?

Can they prevent an invasion, or has it already begun?

The Wild Adventures of Sherlock Holmes #4 – Will Murray

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal detective returns for ten puzzling cases ranging from his earliest career to his final bows.

“The Adventure of the Improbable American“ tells of Sherlock’s first U.S. friend, while “The Adventure of the Christmas Lesson” recounts Holmes’s and Watson’s first Christmas together.

Other cases depict the Great Detective endeavoring to untangle the struggle between mudlarks over a diamond ring of great value, and then unraveling the mystery of a nobleman found seated before his own fireplace––without his head!

The early 20th century finds Dr. Watson reuniting with the orderly who saved his life in Afghanistan, concluding with “The Disquieting Adventure of the Murmuring Dell,” reuniting Holmes with Algernon Blackwood’s enigmatic Dr. John Silence.

Reading (John C. Wright): Readers who do not want to read a curmudgeon (me) being curmudgeonly, please go away. This is not a review or a philosophical analysis. No attempt at balance or fairness has been made: the following consists of merely a description of negative reactions. These are some books I just could not finish. I am only going to list books that I thought I would like and that I really, really wanted to like, and that I could not finish.

Horror (Monsters, Madness, & Magic): Join Justin and special guest co-host Howie Bentley of Cauldron Born and Briton Rites as they chat with legendary author Ramsey Campbell about classical music, horror films, Clark Ashton Smith, H.P Lovecraft, writing fiction that drips with dread, and more!

Star Trek (Fandom Pulse): IDW Publishing has been under intense scrutiny, especially as their company relies on expensive licenses of various properties for the majority of their comic sales. The publishing company has obtained the license to publish Dungeons & Dragons, Star Trek, Godzilla, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sonic The Hedgehog, and many others. Read More

I have a weakness for Atlantis novels. I first read of the lost continent in the first volume of the Golden Book Encyclopedia. Love the illustrations in those volumes. I think the first fictional piece I ever read set in Atlantis was Henry Kuttner’s Elak of Atlantis in “Spawn of Dagon” in the paperback The Ghoul Keepers. Reprinted of course from Weird Tales (1938).

Francis Ashton (1904-1994) was a UK chemist and author. He wrote three novels from 1946 to 1952. He is probably best remembered for The Breaking of the Seals originally published in 1946. A fantastic tale of a man’s mind sent back in time to the lost continent of Bahste and its submergence when the current moon is destroyed. Donning reprinted the novel as a trade paperback in 1983 under its Starblaze imprint. Read More

Every week, the Castalia House Blog spotlights some of the many new releases in independent, pulp, and web novel-influenced science fiction and fantasy.

Conscript – Scott Bartlett

The Scourge are back And the Corps needs recruits.

Desperate to free his younger siblings from debt slavery, Po Abbato turns to crime. He’s caught, and offered a choice: spend 25 years in a digital prison while his body rots…

…or join the Marines.

War has returned to the solar system, sooner than anyone expected. Po must learn fast what it truly means to fight alongside others.

That is, if he’s going to make it.

Dark Dreams of Nilztiria (Tales of Nilztiria #2) – D. M. Ritzlin

Nilztiria! An ancient land where daring swordsmen and unscrupulous sorcerers alike strive against unfathomable monstrosities in their personal quests for glory. Its eon-spanning history is not even fully known to the most studious scholars.

In Necromancy in Nilztiria, thirteen legends of this fabled land were revealed. In this new collection, nine more tales can be found, detailing the exploits of infamous heroes such as the cursed warrior Vran the Chaos-Warped, the freewheeling barbarian Avok Kur Storn, and the enigmatic wizard Xaarxool the Necromancer.

“With a diverse assortment of tales spanning the length of traditional sword-and-sorcery both light-hearted and solemn, to the tales of horror and wonder more akin to the old weird tales or the Dying Earth series, Necromancy in Nilztiria is a great collection of new S&S that will delight any fans of the genre. It manages to stay true to the genre’s roots while doing some innovation of its own, avoiding slavish imitation. For 2020 this is nothing short of miraculous.” (Age of Dusk

Holy War (Abner Fortis, ISMC #10) – P. A. Piatt

“Activate the travelers.”

With those three words, The Master, leader of the Kuiper Knights, unleashed a horrific terror attack on the United Nations of Terra that united the entire planet against them.

Major Abner Fortis takes command of Second Battalion of the First Regiment of the newly reconstituted Second ISMC Division and joins the force deployed to the Free Sector to mete out punishment to the evildoers. Using out-of-the-box thinking and old-school Space Marine attitude, Fortis recruits his best friend, Gunnery Sergeant Petr Ystremski, to serve as First Sergeant and whips the battalion into fighting shape in short order.

But when tragedy strikes during the combat drop, the regimental battle plan is thrown into disarray and the Kuiper Knights—many of them former Space Marines—are able put up a stiff resistance. With another battalion under siege and the chain of command stunned into inaction, it falls on Fortis and Second Battalion to take decisive action to head off disaster. Outnumbered five to one, with their enemy dug deep into a seemingly impregnable position, can Fortis and the Space Marines prevail and deliver the justice they’ve come to dispense, or will the Space Marines suffer a catastrophic defeat at the hands of the Knights?

Read More

H. P. Lovecraft (Aeon): Lovecraft honed these elements through his short stories (along with two novellas and a single novel), developing a unique version of the weird fiction pioneered by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Machen and M R James. However, Lovecraft did not enjoy mainstream success during his lifetime.

Fantasy (Sprague de Camp Fan): Bran Mak Morn is on the menu. “Red Waves of Slaughter” by Steven L. Shrewsbury is the latest monthly offering for Robert E. Howard fans to chew on. This Bran was speedily digested. “Red Waves of Slaughter” is a fast read. It starts in the middle of frenetic action and immediately grabs you.

Comic Books (Fandom Pulse): X-Men editor Tom Brevoort has been no stranger to courting controversy and tarnishing the Marvel Comics brand over the last few months. Posting to his Substack, he’s revealed Marvel’s cynicism when it comes to identity politics, but now he’s also talking openly about past bad business practices that intentionally screwed creators like Rob Liefeld. Read More

Time to read a modern thriller after all the horror anthologies I knocked off this past winter. I was alerted to Kurt Schlichter’s The Attack by a friend. I checked out the premise, read the first pages that were part of free preview.

I have heard Kurt Schlichter filling in on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show now and then (why do I even listen to Hugh Hewitt?). I knew of his on-line pieces at

The Attack was written after Hamas’ attack into Israel last October. The premise is an October 7th type attack on the United States. Ten thousand Moslem jihadis have been infiltrated into the United States across the open southern border. Iran is in command, has the cells organized, weapons procured, targets picked for teams. Read More

Every week, the Castalia House Blog spotlights some of the many new releases in independent, pulp, and web novel-influenced science fiction and fantasy.

Chords of Fate (The Wayward Chronicles #1) – D. K. Holmberg

We were called the Wayward. It was a derogatory term for some, but it was one we embraced. Most of us truly were Wayward.

Leo Surinar is a wanderer, traveling with his mother in the Wayward caravan in the only life he’s ever known, finding their own peace while parts of the world descend into war. When a traveling minstrel joins the caravan, everything begins to change.

As Leo learns the power of song and begins to dream of a world beyond the caravan—one only the Academy can show him—he starts to think there might be more to the world than what he sees from the top of a wagon.

Until his mother’s illness forces him to make a difficult choice.

Leo soon learns about the world beyond the caravan, the power that can be imbued in song, and power even greater than the song. As he’s hunted by deadly guild assassins and runs from the fae, he must decide between returning to what he’s always known and the knowledge and magic of the Academy.

Ghost in the Veils (Ghost Armor #2) – Johnathan Moeller

When the truth is hidden, unveiling it can be deadly.

Caina faces a new enemy – the insidious serpent men and their mysterious Cult of Rhadamathar. Already they are working to incite war and spread chaos, both within and without the Empire.

So when the ruler of Istarinmul asks Caina to discover why the Cult tried to assassinate his pregnant wife, Caina has no choice but to agree.

But the serpent men have been working in the shadows for centuries…and they have prepared lethal traps for those who seek out their mysteries…

The Queen’s Fixer (Ashes of Entecea #1) – Casey Ezell

All Laethine wanted was to go home.

With the death of her beloved husband, the Jaerl of Antiroc, Laethine knew she had to take his place and be a good leader for her people. However, her husband had a secret, one that would thrust her into the cutthroat world of royal interplanetary politics and dark conspiracies.

Now she’s beset on all sides, and despite her grief, she must pick herself up and move forward with cold precision, even as her heart breaks with every step.

Victory seems impossible, but she cannot fail, for the fate of her entire planet hangs in the balance.

She must become the Queen’s Fixer.

Stars’ Call (Battleship Chronicles #1) – L. Eclaire

It’s time to return to the Fleet to fight for humanity once more, this time in a human body.

Ever since her creation, Light Seeker fought for humanity as a battleship, facing enemy forces that sought to carve out as much human space as they could get away with. She had taken part in hundreds of battles, seen millions die, served under four captains until she lost it all.

Stripped of weapons and with most of her memories restricted, Light Seeker retired into a human body, keeping her promise to a captain she almost lost.

Decades later, she’s back in the Fleet as a cadet and ready to join the fight.
Only this time, she has more than her crew to protect.

Ultimate Conclusions – a Kickstarter from Karl K. Gallagher

Hi, I’m Karl K Gallagher. I’m asking your support to help me put out a collection of my short stories.

I’m best known for my Torchship Trilogy, which is a hard SF adventure story about an undercover spy fighting a government which suppresses uncontrolled computers. The trilogy was a finalist for the Prometheus award for best libertarian science fiction novel.

There’s a few loose ends at the end of the story: what’s going to happen with the uploaded people? Will the humans win their war against the AIs? And how can they rebuild the planets devastated in the war?

I’ve written three new stories tackling those questions and giving a look at the characters we love from the trilogy, which I hope Torchship fans will enjoy

This Kickstarter will be available until 10 April, 2024

RPG (Grognardia): When I first read Astonishing Swords & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, two things about it greatly impressed me. Most significant was that this roleplaying game of “swords, sorcery, and weird fantasy” demonstrated an obvious love for the pulp fantasies of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith.

Robert E. Howard (Echoes of Crom): Join me and Matthew Knight as we discuss the Bran Mak Morn story “Worms of the Earth” by Robert E. Howard.

Conan (Sprague de Camp Fan): “The People of the Summit” by Bjorn Nyberg and L. Sprague de Camp is the second story in Conan the Swordsman, Bantam Books, 1978. It was originally published in The Mighty Swordsmen, Lancer Books, 1970. The original version was by Nyberg alone.

Weird Tales (Tellers of Weird Tales): Weird Tales was in trouble one hundred years ago this month. Although by March 1924, “The Unique Magazine” had been in print for a full year, and although it seemed to be prospering, Weird Tales was also only two months away from faltering. After the quarterly anniversary number of May/June/July 1924, Weird Tales went into hiding, and things fell apart for its publishers, Jacob C. Henneberger, John M. Lansinger, and their Rural Publishing Corporation of Indianapolis and Chicago. Read More

Crocodilans: Alligators, crocodiles, gharials, caimans. When I was a kid, alligators and crocodiles were among my favorite animals. The were the closest thing today to a dinosaur.

The crocodile order emerged from the archosaurs 250 million years ago as the pseudosuchians. The pseudosuchians were dominant that they kept the dinosaurs (another branch from the archosaurs) from the top-spot until the end of the Triassic Period. Crocodiles somehow made it through the K-T extinction event 66 million years ago and were apex predators in subsequent times and places. Read More

Every week, the Castalia House Blog spotlights some of the many new releases in independent, pulp, and web novel-influenced science fiction and fantasy.

Enemy Below (Nocturnus #1) – Devon C. Ford

We aren’t alone. The enemies are already here… beneath our feet.

Beneath the surface, a war rages between the surviving demons still inhabiting the Earth and those few, the initiated, who fight to keep it buried deep where it belongs in the darkest shadows.

Troy Odell was doing what he did best, taking the fight to the enemies of the free world. No two missions were ever the same, but he never expected his world to turn so violently upside down. The only surviving member of his team of US Marine Raiders, he finds himself drawn into that secret battle.

Adapting to his new reality, Odell must find his place in that new world and come to terms with not only the truth about the world but where he fits in it.

Fighting enemies he though only existed in movies, Odell soon learns that his side of that secret war is vastly unprepared for what is to come.

First Contact: The Anatomy of Courage – Peter Cawdron

Dr. Christopher Walters has been assigned to a medical evac team serving on the front line of the war against the alien invaders known as the Novo.

As part of the Dog Food Squad, his role is to provide battlefield triage to wounded soldiers in no man’s land.

Life expectancy at the Front is so low no one uses their real names, and he teams up with Hawk, Mouse, Leech, Lavender and William Sunday to save those he can from the brutal reality of war. The Novos, though, are not what they seem.

Inconsistencies leave Doc questioning the war and wondering what the price will be for peace…

The Princess Scout (Scout #8) – Henry Vogel

Separated from their classmates during a drill, Scout Cadets Anne Villas and Christine Montide find themselves stranded on a previously uncharted world. By pure chance they’ve discovered a lost human colony that wants to stay lost, and the rulers of this planet will use all the power they have to keep it a secret.

Anne is not just any cadet, though. She’s “The Princess Scout” — the daughter of David Rice, the Scout Corps’ legendary hero, and Callan, indomitable heir to the throne of Mordan. With the might of a whole planet against them, can Anne and Chris find a way to not merely survive, but win?

The Princess Scout mashes up space opera excitement with the dangerous atmosphere of a Cold War thriller, resulting in the latest standalone hit novel in Henry Vogel’s best-selling Scout series. Read it today! Read More