Call of Duty meets Diablo in this fast-paced, action-packed LitRPG novel from the author of GALAXY’S EDGE.

Gamer PerfectQuestion fights for ColaCorp in WarWorld, an online combat sport arena where mega-corporations field entire armies in the battle for real world global advertising-space dominance. Within the immense virtual battlefield, players and bots are high-tech grunts, using drop-ships and state-of-the-art weaponry to wipe each other out.

But times are tough and the rent is due, and when players need extra dough, there’s always the Black, an illegal open source tournament where the sick and twisted desires of the future are given free rein in the Wastehavens, a gothic dungeon fantasy world.

And all too soon, the real and virtual worlds collide when PerfectQuestion refuses to become the tool of a mad man intent on hacking the global economy for himself.

SODA POP SOLDIER by Nick Cole is available in paperback from Castalia Direct for $19.99. It is also available via Kindle and Kindle Unlimited on Amazon

Nick Cole fans and book collectors will be pleased to know that we have figured out how to provide a SIGNED AUTHOR EDITION of the Soda Pop Soldier paperback.

To obtain one, simply place an order at the Castalia House store. Once placed, we will send you an email to confirm a) the mailing address at which you want the book to go, and b) the inscription, if any, that you would like Nick Cole to write. We’ve already arranged for him to have the books on hand. You can also elect to sign up for the Castalia Book Club to receive notifications of future Signed Author Editions from Nick and other Castalia House authors if you’re not already a subscriber.

We will send the relevant information to Nick, who will sign the book accordingly and send it to you by post. The price of the Signed Author Edition includes the shipping price to you; we anticipate that the book will arrive via US post in about one week. Signed Author Editions are only available in the USA right now, and Soda Pop Soldier by Nick Cole is the first book for which we are offering a Signed Author Edition.

If you’re interested in us providing Signed Author Editions for other authors, please let us know which authors and works are of particular interest to you. 

The Signed Author Edition of Soda Pop Soldier by Nick Cole is available for $34.99.

Alt★Hero #3: Reprisal is now on Amazon. Kindle and KU editions are available.

Michael Martel and the mysterious Immotus have freed Shiloh Summers from the UN’s Superhuman Protective Council, but now Security Director Kulkarni is determined to track them down. So when SPC agents take her mother and father into custody as official persons of interest, Shiloh and her new friends face a difficult choice: fight to free them or find another way to convince the SPC to let them go.

From the first reviews:

  • Every issue of this series is improving on the last. 
  • Been following this latest insurgency in the culture war with mild interest. But they finally got me actually hooked. Art quality has jumped up a notch or three, and the story is starting to go somewhere. 
  • Better than Civil War! Even at their best, back in the old days when Marvel and DC delved into politics and social commentary, they were not as gripping and thought-provoking as this! 
  • Story is AAA! This one was freakin’ goooooood! Best yet of the Arkhaven comics releases. Already, after a total of four issues in this universe (3 Alt-Hero, one Avalon) we’re starting to see an interconnected web. The plot is racing ahead. These characters, these stories, this setting… It is going to be big. Huge. Epic.
  • This is writing one hardly sees in comics anymore, and it’s a slice of awesome. I thought issue 2 was good, but this in many ways is better. And once again, stellar artwork.

Dark Legion Comics announces GUN GHOUL #1: Raising the Dead by Will Caligan.

Someone – or something – is taking out the crime lords of Chicago.

Agent Justice of the FBI is on the case. She is a Meta Prime, with the ability to see into the past. But not even her ability to see what happened allows her to explain the impossible. And the FBI is not the only agency that is interested in learning more about the new player in town.

Will Caligan is the military veteran who was deplatformed by SJWs at his publisher earlier this year. He is now publishing with Dark Legion Comics, which will be releasing his Gun Ghoul and Techlore comics this fall as well as working with him on his new projects.

We’ve been having some trouble putting up posts because WordPress was in the process of upgrading its basic editing functionality. An upgrade to the new Gutenberg editor appears to have fixed the problem.

We now return to our normal posting schedule.

There is an issue when drafting posts that the webmaster is trying to solve but, for now, no estimated time of recovery.

The workaround I used to post this message is not viable for regular posting so we’ll have to wait.

Per Nathan, there are a bunch of updates and reviews waiting, so there’s a lot to look forward to.

Tom Cruise is back. Mission: Impossible Fallout—the sixth movie in the 22-year-old franchise—opened Friday, and if the news can be believed, it scored the highest opening weekend gross of the whole series (a cool $61.5 million domestic plus another $91.5 million worldwide). Given the somewhat cool reception to M:I 5 (aka Rogue Nation), the uptick in popularity for this entry has to please all involved, especially Paramount.

You can count me among those who disliked the previous entry. Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust upstaged Cruise’s Ethan Hunt at nearly every turn, proving herself to be the bigger badass and better secret agent. Combine that with her acerbic personality, and you had a cookie cutter masculinized modern action chick, a stereotype that has begun to pall. The previous movie’s action was only okay, the plot so-so (in some places verging on ludicrous), and the movie as a whole unmemorable.

Read More

The 1970s were the heyday for original sword and sorcery anthologies with original fiction. Lin Carter’s Flashing Swords series was the first. Andrew Offutt’s five volume Swords Against Darkness did a great job of bringing some small press writers to a wider audience. Heroic Fantasy edited by Gerald W. Page and Hank Reinhardt was the high water mark for an original anthology could do.

The collapse of the genre in the 1980s lead to an absence of this type of anthology. There have some good small press anthologies in the past ten years– Return of the Sword and Griots come to mind.

The newest entry is The Mighty Warriors from Ulthar Press and edited by Robert M. Price. The title is continuation of two Lancer anthologies from 1969, and 1970: The Mighty Barbarians and The Mighty Swordsmen.

Size is trade paperback, 6 x 9 inches, 240 pages. Cost is $19.95. Cover is a cartoony caricature of Thongor by Bruce Timm Contents include 11 stories, an introduction by Robert M. Price, and three small appendices.

“We live in a day when a malaise chokes the land and its pitiful people. Americans and Europeans have succumbed to what Nietzsche called the slave morality, the slave mentality. We scorn heroes, binding them to the ground like the once-towering Gulliver because we do not want to be reminded that we too, could tower, could rise, could bear the burdens of greatness. Conan, Thongor, Elak, Imaro, and their fellows remind us of the heroic possibility.”

“Spawn of the Sea God” by Adrian Cole is the third of his Elak of Atlantis pastiches. Henry Kuttner originally created Elak who appeared in four stories in Weird Tales from 1938-41. Elak is a good character to continue because Kuttner gave him little personality. Described as “lean and wolfish” by Kuttner, Elak is dwarfed by the supernatural menaces in the original stories. Read More

Jon Del Arroz is a familiar face around Castalia House and the blog, both for his novel, For Steam and Country, and his upcoming work for the Alt-Hero novels and The Ember War comic book. This week, he has launched an IndieGoGo campaign for his latest independent project, Flying Sparks, a more romantic take on the superhero genre. And, as recently announced, Dark Legion Comics will be publishing the retail editions.

What if you met the person of your dreams, but they’re not only your direct opposite, but also your enemy? 

Chloe Anderson is a physics student by day, a hard working, smart girl who’s close with her mad scientist professor, working with him as a teacher’s assistant. She has access to several of his inventions, and in order to help test them, she moonlights as the superhero, Meta-Girl.

Johnny Benvinutti comes from a well-established Italian crime family, and recently found he has the ability to shoot lightning from his hands. His descent into deeper crime only creates the need to cover more up as he runs his operation out of a coffee shop front business.

When the two of them meet, sparks fly on multiple levels. But will they be able to maintain their relationship while keeping secret lives from each other?

FLYING SPARKS will feature the first three chapters collected in one volume. 66-pages of action packed story of a quality only one of the top science fiction authors in the field today can bring you.

Jon Del Arroz is a #1 Amazon Bestselling author, “the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction,” according to PJ, and winner of the 2018 CLFA Book Of The Year Award. He is best known for his steampunk novel, For Steam And Country.

Jethro Morales is a professional artist having worked for Image and Dynamite, most notably for Hack/SLASH, Green Hornet, and Dejah Thoris

Del Arroz and Morales have teamed up to produce a superhero comic with intense personal drama like the Batman/Catwoman relationship has promised but never delivered. FLYING SPARKS: a hero and villain in love. You can help make this book a reality, with this volume including the first three chapters of this planned ongoing series, 66-pages of storytelling by a professional science fiction writer. The best part is: the art is already complete, which means this book can get into your hands much more quickly than most crowdfunded comics! Digital books can be delivered as soon as this crowdfund ends! Great story! Great Art. No Wait! 

But it gets even better: this book features a stunning cover by the acclaimed creative team that brought you JAWBREAKERS: LOST SOULS, John Malin (Cable, Thunderbolts) and Brett R. Smith!

“The kind of stuff that made me fall in love with early Marvel comics,” – Comic Book Resources on FLYING SPARKS

Young treasure hunters, imperial legions, xian’xia cultivators, heroic superhumans, and steampunk squires fill the pages of this week’s roundup of the newest releases in fantasy and adventure.

Clansman: Invoking the Darkness (Mapper #1) – Royce Scott Buckingham

Guided by a massive clan book containing tales of their ancestors, the Hilltoppers arrive in Abrogan, pledging allegiance to their King. They have crossed a forbidding ocean to another land where birds speak messages, poisonous sleep-animals lurk, warriors struggle for power and Lords bend the truth on a whim.

Ian Krystal, leader of the Hilltoppers, becomes an unlikely leader, charged with building roads, clearing a menacing bog full of savages, chasing down bands of thieves and in the process emerges a champion of the people.

Petrich is the clan’s scribe, meant to chronicle their journeys while learning the fine art of mapping from a renegade Lord. As a child, darkness sheltered him from marauding tribesmen and he carries it with him.

The emerging City of Skye is being built in the new land. King Blackpool’s nephew struggles with his power and the King arrives determined to double his empire.

Can an honest man of integrity prevail in a land of intrigue?

Coiling Dragon (Coiling Dragon Saga #1) – Wo Chi Xi Hong Shi

Empires rise and fall on the Yulan Continent. Saints, immortal beings of unimaginable power, battle using spells and swords, leaving swathes of destruction in their wake. Magical beasts rule the mountains, where the brave – or the foolish – go to test their strength. This is the world which Linley is born into, a world of mages and warriors.

Raised in the small town of Wushan, Linley is a scion of the Baruch clan, the clan of the once-legendary Dragonblood Warriors. Their fame once shook the world, but the clan is now so decrepit that even the heirlooms of the clan have been sold off. Their prospects seem dire… and yet, perhaps some power still remains within the veins of the Baruch clan. Dragons do not easily die, and neither do the dragonblooded.

Come witness a new legend in the making. The legend of Linley Baruch.

The Cross of the Last Crusade (Young Chase Baker #1) – Vincent Zandri

An ancient solid gold cross has been buried seemingly forever. Only Young Chase Baker is brave enough to dig it back up.

You know Chase Baker as an adventurer and Renaissance man who loves the ladies but who also loves finding trouble in the form of buried treasure all around the globe. But what was Chase like back when he was a teenager? Turns out, he was a younger version of his adult self.

In this, the first short novel in the new Young Chase Baker action & adventure series, Chase teams up with his two best amigos–the skinny, fun loving, Twigs, and the combative but courageous, Baily. At Chase’s urging, the three embark on a late night quest to uncover the Cross of the Last Crusade which is said to have been buried along with the body of an old Frenchman, Pierre Menands. When Chase’s “sort of” girlfriend, the beautiful Monique, joins the hunt, the band of teens face down haunted ghosts, angry cops, a speeding locomotive, rabid dogs, a murderous resurrected crusader, and finally, the zombie reincarnation of Menands himself.

The Frostfire Sage (The Landkist Saga #4) – Steven Kelliher

The Sages are dying. The gods are waking up.

Kole, Linn and their companions have survived the wilds of Center, slain another Sage and put their world on a path toward salvation.

Or so they think.

But the Eastern Dark has returned and laid claim to the power of T’Alon Rane, making the King of Ember his dark servant once more. Now, their ancient enemy marches across the frozen wastes of the north, seeking to end the life of his former ally and the last true power that can stand against him.

With the last two Sages on a collision course that could decide the fate of the world, the Landkist of the Valley have a choice to make. One between darkness and light, redemption and corruption.

For the Frostfire Sage is alive and unwell. And she has secrets to keep. And scores to settle. Read More

Final Command by A.E. van Vogt appeared in the November 1949 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. It can be read here at

Different brains for different thinks…

Councilman Barr, Director of the Council, has been given a burdensome task: find out what the response would be from robots if the Council decided to shut down and destroy all robots.

::record scratch::

Humans have built and developed robots that have evolved to a point where they’re nearly their own species. Humans have used them for everything from fighting interstellar wars to directing traffic to even replacing actors—people go to the movies to watch robots pantomime human drama and romance.

Robots are like people; they think and reason, even if they don’t necessarily feel. They have some intrinsic desire for self-preservation, but they are able to rationalize their own extermination unless significantly prodded to “think” about it. And Councilman Barr must prod to find what they “think”.

Read More

I am Armor. I am Fury. I Will not Fail.

Richard Fox’s Dragon Award-winning mecha space opera continues!

War rages across the galaxy. And humanity is losing battle after battle.

The renegade Armor, Roland, seeks the key to victory against the enemy encroaching from all sides. An Aeon guards a secret which will tip the balance of power in the galaxy. But first, Roland, and the Ibarra Nation must defeat her guardians, the Cyrgal.

On another front and amid the tumultuous aftermath of Roland’s defection, Gideon leads a desperate attempt to assassinate a Kesaht general. He is the last hope to turn the tide of the battle, and save the world of Ouranos.

As the war against the Kesaht and their merciless allies grinds on, Gideon and Roland must summon faith and fury to survive.

Don’t miss the next action-packed military science fiction adventure in the Terran Armor Corps series!

On an Earth far enough in the future to be depopulated and recolonized by the survivors from other worlds, nine castles are the sum total of civilization. Through technological marvels and a hierarchy of subordinate slave species, humanity rules its home world as feudal lords. Occasionally, the younger men would break from the unceasing pageantry of the castles to adventure among the Nomads, the indigenous survivors of Earth’s fall. This decadence is borne on the backs of the Meks, a humanoid species from another world who builds and maintains the technologies that fuel the castles’ war and pleasure machines.

One day, the Meks vanish. All of them, leaving the castles bereft of the technological support needed for civilization. The castles limp along, until their slaves return and besiege the castles. One by one, the citadels fall until only Castle Hagedorn remains. Finally, the Meks levy their full might against the surviving remnant of civilization.

In The Last Castle, Jack Vance poses two conflicts. The action conflict is simple: can Castle Hagedorn survive the siege? However, it is clear from the eight fallen citadels that the existing social order cannot win against the Meks. So the more important conflict is whether necessity will drive the humans to radically reorder their society or if the inertia of tradition will rule. And even if necessity wins, it might be too little too late to ensure the castle’s survival.

The answer, of course, is for humanity to give up its slave races and abandon the castle, trapping the Meks inside. With the besiegers now the besieged, humanity’s survival is assured. The Last Castle, with its aristocratic decadence, still falls, and every man now lives by the sweat of his own brow.

The characters are stock, but the worldbuilding shines. From the various slave races to naming conventions to the Nomad tribes, Vance brings to life a strange future Earth full of wonders. The setting enlivens the formula of a last stand forcing social change; one that will reappear in The Miracle Workers.

I am forced to admit that I struggle to read Vance.  I have repeatedly tried to start The Dragon Masters and others of his stories only to bounce off them. This is not because the quality of Vance’s writing is poor. Rather, like Gene Wolfe or John Wright, the writing is erudite and requires a closer read than normal. In the case of The Dragon Masters, the introduction of a sacredote in his cell required a fair bit of concentration to fully appreciate, often more than I can bring to the work in these busier days. But the adventure of a last stand made The Last Castle accessible from the first page. And while Vance is best known for The Dying Earth, I recommend reading The Last Castle as a way to ease into his strange and vivid worlds.