Right Ho, Jeeves #3: Bertie at Bay is now available in Kindle format.

BERTIE AT BAY is the third issue in the RIGHT HO, JEEVES series, which tells of the travails of the inimitable Bertie Wooster, summoned from the comforts of #3A Berkley Mansions, London to Brinkley Manor by his imperious Aunt Dahlia. Love is in the air and Wodehousian shenanigans are afoot, as Wooster’s well-meaning attempts to help out his friends sort out their romantic difficulties only leads to one hilarious disaster after another.

Adapted from the classic Wodehouse novel by comics legend Chuck Dixon and drawn by SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN illustrator Gary Kwapisz, BERTIE AT BAY is issue #3 of 6 in the RIGHT HO, JEEVES series

But that is not all. There is more good news on the Castalia front. Both Hitler in Hell and The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon are now available in paperback editions. The former is 472 pages in our standard demi-octavo size, the latter is 550 pages in royal octavo. Due to our desire to keep them under the $19.99 price point on Amazon and the discount structure required to do that, both books are slightly more expensive on the Castalia Direct Store.

We do our best to keep our prices down and are continuing our efforts in that vein. This sometimes leads to anomalies, such as the $3 comic price and the occasional higher price on the direct store.

I was wrong about Far Cry 5. When I saw the first publicity photos—featuring a panoply of villains with an American flag with crosses on it—I assumed the game would be a hatchet job on Americans, Christian Americans, and gun-owning Christian Americans.

Mea bad. Mea maxima bad.

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RPG (Walker’s Retreat): “Geek Gab Game Night is irregular these days, but worth it when it happens. It happened today, and Dorrinal hosts both Douglas Cole and Sean Punch (“Dr. Kromm”) to talk about their new hotness:

Sean Punch, also known as Dr. Kromm, works for Steve Jackson Games. He joins us along with our old friend Douglas Cole to talk about Dungeon Fantasy RPG and Cole’s new adventure for the setting, Hall of Judgment!

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Well hit the button below and settle in for an episode of tabletop gaming fun.”

 

Writing (Erindor Press): “The most important thing you’ll do for your story is to get the details right. Spending time on research is every bit as important as writing the prose. Why? Because research is writing. If you’re an independent author who creates your own deadlines, you may want to rethink some things…

Your daily word-count goal is killing you (AKA “An odd place to begin this article, but trust me…”)

I hear the collective gasp! coming from the peanut gallery, believe me. But, I’ve also seen you all on social media, constantly bemoaning that you’re not making your daily word-count quotas, as if something mystical happens when you reach 2000 words.”

 

Cinema (RMWC Reviews): “Since Infinity War hits very, very soon, the thing to do seems to be to make a survey of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. So yeah, time to rank the movies according to my own arcane standards. Do note that even if I drop a movie somewhere down at the bottom, that doesn’t mean its not entertaining or competently made. I’d rather watch The Incredible Hulk again instead of Electra or X-Men Origins: Wolverineever again.”

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In the January 1937 issue of Weird Tales, Clifford Ball of Astoria, New York, had this to say in the letters section (“The Eyrie”):

“I have been a constant reader of your magazine since 1925, when some author’s conception of weirdness was a gigantic ape dragging a half-naked female about a jungle, and I have watched it progress steadily upward to the zenith. I do not write criticisms; the main purpose of this letter is that I feel moved to offer my condolences upon the death of Mr. Howard. A hundred international Tarzans could never erase the memory of Conan the Cimmerian. Neither Northwest Smith nor Jirel of Joiry–and in Moore you have an excellent author–can quite supplant his glory. When I read that Red Nails would be the last of Conan’s exploits I felt as though some sort of income, or expected resource, had been suddenly severed.”

Clifford Ball did something about it, he began writing sword and sorcery fiction. He was the first inspired by Robert E. Howard.

“Duar the Accursed” appeared in the May 1937 issue of Weird Tales. It is a short novelette or long short story depending on your definition. The story opens up with a bound man of great stature in chains before Queen Nione. Read More

A blood feud among oil rig divers, a sword in an enchanted forest, and an assassination plot in Saudi Arabia are featured in this week’s roundup of the newest releases in fantasy and Adventure.


Aching God (Iconoclasts #1) – Mike Shel

“Closer, mortal. You are here, finally, to feed the Aching God…”

The days of adventure are passed for Auric Manteo. Retired to the countryside and isolated with his scars and riches, he no longer delves into forbidden ruins seeking dark wisdom and treasure. But just as old nightmares begin plaguing his sleep, he receives an urgent summons back to that old life.

To save his only daughter, he must return to the place of his greatest trauma: the haunted Barrowlands. Along with a group of inexperienced companions and an old soldier, he must confront the dangers of the ancient and wicked Djao civilization. He has survived fell beasts, insidious traps, and deadly hazards before. But how can he contend with the malice of a bloodthirsty living god?

First volume in the planned epic fantasy trilogy IconoclastsAching God is the debut novel by RPG adventure designer Mike Shel.


Betrayal (Javin Pierce #2) – Ethan Jones

Spies on the hunt. A traitor in their midst.  Suspicions are high and time is short.

Who is behind the betrayal?

Spy Master Javin wants to eliminate two terrorist masterminds, but he’s not the only one looking for them. When the mission suspiciously goes awry, his team is now forced into a dubious alliance with Mossad and the infamous Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Pursuing the terrorists deep into hostile Saudi Arabia, they not only discover an assassination plot that could topple the Saudi kingdom, but also suspect a traitor has infiltrated their team. Who is behind this betrayal? With suspicions high and time short, can Javin and Claudia unmask the traitor and stop the assassination plot before the Middle East is plunged into an all-out war?


Beyond The Deepwoods: Volume One – presented by Mystic Inkwell

Mystery. Wonder. Adventure.

For centuries, fantastic tales of myth and magic have captured the minds of our race, igniting the deepest corners of our imagination and giving us the ability to dream of things far beyond the realm of possibility. Tales filled with wondrous creatures, strange magic, and grand adventures.

In this anthology, fifteen debut and international best-selling authors contribute their best fantasy short stories. Explore new worlds and meet mighty dragons. Uncover lost secrets and fight against ruthless monsters. Journey Beyond The Deepwoods and unlock a whole new realm of imagination…if you dare.

Beyond The Deepwoods will keep you turning the pages deep into the night.

Grab your copy of Beyond The Deepwoods: Volume One today, and join these fifteen amazing authors as they take you on a journey what it is that lies beyond the deepwoods.


Comatose (The Book of Maladies #5) – D. K. Holmberg

Newly promoted to full physicker, Alec still struggles with his place in the University. Friends treat him differently and the master physickers no longer allow him to study with them. After everything that has happened, he’s still an outsider. When his father arrives at the university for healing, Alec must use everything he learned from him in order to save him, but even that might not be enough. He must discover the secret of his illness by finding a way to work with the master physickers, but what he finds is unexpected and hints at a greater plot taking hold.

Sam wants nothing more than to head toward the Theln lands after her brother, but with Alec needing her help, she postpones the journey. Rather than having the opportunity to help Alec, she finds herself chasing details of the past Marin has hidden, only to realize the deception to the city runs much deeper than she could ever had imagined. Could it be that Marin had actually saved Tray as she claimed?

Though they have both progressed in knowledge and ability, it still might not be enough to stop a plot against the city that has gestated for years and finally threatens to come to fruition. The truth behind the plot has the potential to destroy the city, if it doesn’t destroy Sam and Alec first. Read More

After a great story by Arthur C. Clarke, I was all ready for the September 49 issue of Astounding to start getting good… Only to find that was the last story.

Okay, that’s not really fair, because maybe L. Sprague DeCamp’s The Queen of Zamba was fantastic, but it was the 4th and final installment of a serialized novel, which took up a good chunk of the issue.

Other features of the issue included a rather dry article on Cybernetics by E.L. Locke and something called “Progress Report”, by John H. Pomeroy, which was a lengthy jargon and BS-filled fake scientific report expanding on Astounding’s (particularly Asimov’s) prolonged trolling about Thiotimoline. I’m in no place to comment on this most literal approach to science fiction, so I’ll suffice to say that after a page or two I just skipped the rest.

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Ever since the Red Baron’s Flying Circus swept the skies clean of enemy planes, readers across the world have been captivated by the exploits of military aviators, real and fictional. When the newspapers weren’t singing the praises of Chuck Yeager, Eddie Rickenbacker, Robin Olds, and Duke Cunningham, the pulps churned out flying ace after flying ace, and the movies glorified the Right Stuff and the dogfight. Whether God is My Co-Pilot, The Flying Tigers, the Black Sheep Squadron, or even some whiny volleyball player named Maverick, audiences could not get enough of an impressive parade of tall, handsome fighter jocks. But overseas in France, unknown to many of his contemporaries, the greatest American ace is the comic hero Colonel Buck Danny, United States Navy.

I’ll wait a moment for all the old salts to regain their composure.

Despite the odd and distinctly un-naval rank, for seventy years Buck Danny has been flying everything from P-40 Warhawks with Chennault’s Flying Tigers, F-104 Starfighters, the X-15, F-14 Tomcats with the Navy, and most recently, F-22 Raptors with the Air Force, always with a Sergeant Major’s eye for realistic detail and procedure. A veteran of every American war from World War Two in the Pacific to today’s War in Afghanistan, Buck Danny’s career has been frequently split between the Navy and the Air Force in pursuit of adventure and the hottest airframes available. It’s easiest to think of this Navy recruit as an Air Force officer on loan to the Navy, just like his ever-present wingmen actually are. And in The Secrets of the Black Sea, the Navy sends Colonel Danny as a liaison to the Soviet Union in the last days of perestroika and glasnost, just before the coup attempt that signaled the end of the Soviet Union. Read More

Hanhoka of I, THE ONE returns in the new serial by Dominika Lein.

A story of budding romance, dashed dreams, and the loneliness of suffering secrets.

War has waged for all of Princess Hana’s life. She has only just become a woman and yet defeat looms on the horizon, her home running out of people, land, and time.

A wanderer stumbles upon her ritual in the forest, recognizing the princess as an opportunity. With some unknown plot in mind, he uses her to gain entrance into the royal castle.

A four-part series, Princess Hana is the first installment of The Descent Files: Hana and shares the story of an incarnation lived by the spirit Hanhoka (featured in available stories, I, the One and We, the Two) through an adjacent plane of physical reality.

“The closest thing I can compare this work to is the Ghibli movie Spirited Away.”–Amazon Reader Review of I, the One

Image result for all the wrong questionsThis has been updated from an article on Superversive SF.

Like Snicket’s other big series, this series is not superversive. Since I’ve done so much writing on the Snicketverse anyway, and since the excellent second season of the Netflix series came out, I figure I might as well do a bit on his prequel series to “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, “All the Wrong Questions”.

My thoughts:

This series was both better and worse than “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. Read More

Click to embiggen. (If the giant ape wasn’t big enough already.)

Modern movies are mostly awful. It’s rare you find even one worthy of a recommendation, and to find two? Well, that’s like winning the modern movie lottery. And to find two movies worthy of a recommend on the same day, movies that are absolutely and intrinsically opposed to each other in concept and execution, is an oddity above and beyond finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow: it’s an event so singular and rare, it may never have happened in human history to date, and will almost certainly never happen again.

On Friday last, I watched both Rampage, the loud, proud, Chicago-destroying epic action movie starring The Rock, and A Quiet Place, the small, intimate, post-apocalyptic tension factory starring (and directed by) John Krasinski. It’s hard to think of two movies more unlike each other, yet both were excellent examples of what they tried to be.

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Fiction (Pulp Archivist): “Also of note is that the epic retribution intended in each of these scenes falls considerably short, for a rogue is never a crusader and the shades of gray that cloud these tales never clarify into black and white.

It is easy to dismiss this myth of Melniboné as a mere Leftist revenge fantasy, but Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice puts the decadence of the myth of Melniboné in context.”

 

Fiction (DMR Books): “ ‘lin carter and l sprague de camp finished unfinished works of howard and made full stories out of them as well.they are worth having as if it was not for them there would be no conan movie no conan comics and would not be ass [sic] popular as it is today[.]’

— Quoted verbatim from a proud member of the subliterati on Facebook circa late 2017.

The view expressed above, after you puzzle out its quaint syntax and typos, is one often seen around the webz even in these supposedly more enlightened times. The part about “Conan comics” is especially laughable. L. Sprague de Camp considered comics to be “trash.” Roy Thomas went to Glenn Lord and between the two of them, they made Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian the bestselling comic of the 1970s. However, once de Camp saw the comics were a cash cow worth milking, he clamored to get in on it. “

 

 

Fiction (DMR Books): “Harold Lamb died on this date in 1962. He left behind a staggering amount of quality fiction and nonfiction. He was one of the very top contributors to one of the premiere pulps, Adventure, and went on to become a popular and award-winning historian.

What we’re concerned with today is his impact on sword and sorcery fiction. There are a lot of things we don’t know in that regard. We don’t know whether CL Moore or Henry Kuttner were fans. Clark Ashton Smith appears to have never read Lamb, though Smith actually wrote a novel as a teen that wouldn’t be that out of place in Lamb’s oeuvre. We know nothing about Fritz Leiber’s feelings when it came to Lamb.”

 

 

Writing (Brian Niemeier): “It’s my pleasure to present the readers of this blog with the foreword to my upcoming short story anthology.

Spend some time on authors’ blogs or online writing groups, and you’ll meet people who claim to be aspiring writers. I use “claim” because there’s no such animal. Our actions define us. If you write, you’re a writer. If you don’t, you aren’t.

About eighty percent of Americans say they want to write a book. Wanting to write doesn’t make them aspiring writers. Only half of them will ever sit down at a keyboard to start a book. Only half of those who start will finish. The writers are the tiny fraction driven to see a book through to completion; then start on the next. In saecula saeculorum.”

 

Conventions (Mystery File): “The older I get, the longer this drive gets! Five of us drove from New Jersey to Chicago in the usual 15 seat white rental van. We take out the last two rows of seats to make the cargo area bigger. We need the space for all the books, pulps, and artwork that we will buy during the convention. During the long drive I pondered the age old question of which is worse: to forget your want list or to forget your medication. I know of two collectors who had to deal with these mistakes. I think forgetting your want list is worse. How can you collect without your lists?”

 

Fiction (Tellers of Weird Tales): “During the pulp fiction era of the twentieth century, an American author of science fiction and fantasy stories created a world in which beings from the distant stars long ago came to Earth and now live in its hidden places. These beings look upon us as savages, or as like insects, or even as food. The author in question wrote numerous stories based on this premise and created what might be called a literary cycle. Other authors contributed stories to this cycle as well, and it generated great interest and enthusiasm among readers and fans. The author’s editor helped formalize his creation and even gave it a name. We still use that name today, long after the author’s death. The author’s name was of course–no, not H.P. Lovecraft–it was Richard S. Shaver. And this is where a problem begins.”

 

Fiction (Tolkien and Fantasy): “Initially I thought this particular topic of study was going to be more difficult than it turned out to be. There are some anomalies (like the Canadian printing of Dunsany’s King of Elfland’s Daughter that was distributed in England and in Canada, see here, scroll down to the second scan), but such anomalies turned out to be the exceptions rather than the rule.

 

RPG (Table Top Gaming News): “Dragon Heresy is a fantasy RPG that uses modified 5th Edition rules to bring you into the Norse legends of old. Glory is yours, if you can grasp it. But with any RPG, getting started can be rough. There’s always going to be a learning curve. Thankfully, there’s the Dragon Heresy Introduction Set that can get you swinging your axe in no time. This new set is up on Kickstarter now.”

 

RPG (Kotaku): “Slay the Spire, a roguelike where you try to deckbuild your way out of brutal dungeons, went into Early Access on Steam last November and has since been slowly winning over unsuspecting players who go into it with low expectations. I am one of those recent converts.

Developed by Mega Crit Games, Slay the Spire takes RPG dungeon crawling and remixes it around modern card mechanics. At the beginning you’re presented with a map of different rooms connected by meandering and intersecting paths. You choose where to start and then follow the path from one discrete room to the next.”

Karl Edward Wagner’s story, “Neither Brute nor Human” to me, is one of the best satires on fantasy publishing that I have ever read. The story originally published in the World Fantasy Convention Program Book for 1983. ISFDB.org page has a question mark as to whether it is trade paperback size or not. I have the 1982 booklet which is 8.5 x 11 inches and saddle stapled.

Robert Weinberg edited the program book. It is listed as having 96 pages and price as $8.95 ($22.11 in today’s dollars). The cover by Rowen Morrill. The theme is a celebration of Weird Tales magazine. Included are essays by Karl Edward Wagner, Algis Budrys, Robert Weinberg, Stephen King, Robert Bloch, Jack Williamson, Sam Moskowitz. Fiction by Gene Wolfe, Manly Wade Wellman, Ramsey Campbell, Hugh B. Cave, Philip Jose Farmer, Brian Lumley, and Karl Edward Wagner. Talk about giants walking in those days. This should be reprinted as a mass market paperback.

Karl Edward Wagner new fiction was infrequent in the early 1980s. Warner Books had reprinted the Kane books in spring 1983. I bought each of them off the shelf. There was a follow up collection, In a Lonely Place in July 1983, which I liked a lot.

I did not read “Neither Brute Nor Human” until October 1987 when it was reprinted in the Tor paperback, Why Not You and I? I had just read some of the contents in Night Visions: Dead Image (Berkley Books, September 1987) a few weeks before seeing Why Not You and I? Read More