This is a guest post written by Alex Stump:

My two little brothers have been watching My Little Pony for a long time now. I watched a couple episodes (and also the unholy spin-off series Equestria Girls) and I’ll be 100% honest…My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a really good show. But don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not coming out as a Brony. I, as an 18-year-old man have better things to do then obsessing over a show made for seven year olds. Which really fascinates me, what is it about this kid’s series that attracts so many young adults? It’s a question that has been going around since the show premiered and the most widely accepted questions/theories I’ve seen are:

  1. A) People like MLP for the same reason people like Star Trek or Firefly.
  2. B) These people had terrible childhoods and they watch MLP to experience the childhood they never had.
  3. C) These people had awesome childhoods and watch MLP because it gives them a sense of nostalgia.

And D) People watch MLP because they’re mentally handicapped.

These answers have some truth to them but I find them to be mostly flawed…So how about I give you my own answer to the question.
Sure, everyone has his or her own reason for watching, but I think there’s a unifying reason why. You see I believe the reason why MLP is so popular and why it stands out in the entertainment industry is because the show has a “thing”.

What is this “thing” you ask? Well, this “thing” is very important to fiction. It goes all the way back to ancient times. It was prevalent in the 20th century but sadly is being abused and forgotten in the 21st century. Let me give you some examples: Read More

Edmond Hamilton (1904-1977) was the main writer of science fiction for Weird Tales magazine in the late 1920s and 1930s. Or rather I should say, the best science fiction writer for Weird Tales. He was an early writer of space opera alongside J. Schlossel and Edward E. Smith for the pulp magazines.

Hamilton did have some forays into sword and planet fiction. He had the three adventures of Stuart Merrick in Magic Carpet and Weird Tales magazines in the 1930s. A one off story was built around the idea of two men on different worlds sharing each other’s existence as dreams.

The story was “Dreamer’s Worlds” that appeared in the November 1941 issue of Weird Tales. It starts with Khal Kan, Prince of Jotan, scouting out a Dry-lander tribe. He is accompanied by little wizened Zoor and squat Brusul. Hamilton liked ensemble casts in his stories.

Khal Kan is not given much description outside he is tall, young with a “hard, merry face.”

The trio enters the Dry-lander tent town posing to be wandering mercenaries. Khal Kan wanted to get a look at the king’s daughter, Golden Wings. Their cover is blown and Khal Kan mouths off to Golden Wings. She gives him a whipping and has he and his companions tied up. Zoor manages to use a hidden flat blade in his shoe to cut himself and his companions free from their bonds. Read More

Brace yourself for the next exciting issue of StoryHack Action & Adventure.

Taking cues from the greatest pulp magazines of a bygone era, StoryHack publishes all-new stories of bravery and derring-do in a wide variety of genres. There is something in here for everyone, and each story includes art.

Here’s what you will find in this issue:

  • Predator/Prey Relationships by Julie Frost. When Ben’s ability to shift into a werewolf is stolen, he must play a most dangerous game to get it back.
  • The Temple of Baktaar by Jason Restrick. What deadly curses await when a pair of adventurers delve too deeply into an ancient, supposedly-abandoned temple?
  • The Gambler’s Tale by Jon Mollison. Mike has a plan to not just beat the house, but bring it crashing down entirely. The mob has other ideas.
  • Crystal, Brass, and Copper by Matthew X. Gomez. When a robbery goes horribly wrong, can Bahar get any part of her old life back?
  • Junior Partner by Brian K. Lowe. With his superhero captured by dangerous foes, a sidekick must decide what he is made of.
  • The Crawlers beneath Avaris by David J. West. With city guards and assassins hot on his tail, Brutanis is forced into an underground maze. What he finds there may be worse than the trouble he’s fleeing.
  • High Ground by John M. Olsen. Captain Alexander Kemp’s space station Icarus suffers an attack in orbit as the government on Earth below collapses. Can their advanced tools and mental grit keep them alive as they respond to a series of escalating attacks?
  • The Chronicle of the Gorgon’s Island by Keith West. A cursed prince and his right hand man are shipwrecked on an uncharted island with an unruly crew. Will the monster they find there kill them before they kill each other?
  • Kakerlacs by Alexandru Constantin. After a long stint with the Corps, Mike returns to his hometown in the California desert, only to get tangled up in a sinister plot involving cops and tweakers who are more than they seem.

The Man of Bronze, the Wisewolf’s daughter, a Wild West King Arthur, and the Ark of the Covenant feature in this week’s roundup of the newest releases in fantasy and adventure.


Closure (Javin Pierce #3) – Ethan Jones

Covert operative Javin Pierce will avenge his betrayal or die trying . . .

Off the grid, Javin Pierce is struggling to heal from his wounds. Immediately he’s forced into a shaky deal with former enemies not only to secure his partner’s release from a Saudi jail, but also to settle the score with the traitor who double-crossed them.

While his new rogue team crosses Iraq’s treacherous lands, he can barely stay ahead of the deadly threats coming from all sides. As Javin sets his sights, alliances around him crumble. So with no one left to trust, in an ever-changing maze, how will Javin survive the deadliest mission of his life?


Destruction’s Ascent (Dragon Ridden Chronicles #3) – T. A. White

When the past rises, the world burns.

Newly conscripted into the Emperor’s dragon corps, Tate Fisher is still trying to figure out all that her new position entails. Along with an elevation in status comes dangerous enemies. Enemies who would rather see the dragons fall into ruin than remain in their current place of power.

When a dragon goes missing, followed by a child close to her, Tate is forced to confront the hidden agendas of those in the highest seats of authority. Her search for the truth takes her deeper into the maze of tunnels that lie beneath the city. It’s a place where secrets lurk and dangers abound.

There, she’ll uncover a plot whose origins stretch all the way back to the beginning of this world—one that can only end in the destruction of everything she knows and loves. The key to saving her city lies in her uncertain past. If only she could remember what that was.


The Disclosure Protocol (Warner & Lopex #8) – Dean Crawford

In the United States, the CIA is being held to ransom. Perfectly focused images of Unidentified Flying Objects are being sent to Langley with a demand: provide full disclosure of what the government knows about UFOs or these images will go public.

Struggling with the task of identifying the perpetrators of the images, and aware that they must somehow know when and where UFOs will appear, the CIA sends General Scott Mackenzie in search of Ethan Warner and Nicola Lopez, the only known former US agents with the skills to track down the perpetrator. His mission; obtain the technology that is allowing someone to predict when and where UFOs will appear and ensure that nobody else can access it.

But as the investigation unfolds, so Ethan and Nicola learn that the Russians are also seeking the same technology. As a race against time develops to get the upper hand, victims of strange abduction events implore the government for help, including the parents of a seven-year-old girl who is suffering seizures and post-traumatic stress from her experiences.

From the Indian Ocean to the lonely deserts of Utah, Scotland to Nevada, Ethan and Nicola discover the startling truth about alien abductions and UFO sightings, and realise that full disclosure isn’t about UFOs at all: the knowledge the CIA possesses will change the course of human history…


Dispersal (Guns of the Waste Land #3) – Leverett Butts

Guns of the Waste Land recasts the legends of King Arthur as an American Western.

Set in the late 19th century outside the West Texas town of Bretton, this third volume continues the stories of the men and women devoted in their own ways to Sheriff Ardiss Drake: Percy Murratt, still living with Ardiss, is in love. Unfortunately, so is Ardiss’ foster brother, Caleb and with the same woman. Gary Wayne Orkney has recovered as much as possible from the beating he received from Lancaster O’Loch and desperately wants to ride a horse again and continue is service as a deputy. Reverend Merrle Tallison is considering leaving Bretton and finding a life for himself. Finally, Ardiss’ estranged wife, Guernica, continues to seek closure for the events that brought her to the wilds of the Waste Land. Read More

The Automagic Horse by L. Ron Hubbard appeared in the October 1949 issue of Astounding. It can be read here at Archive.org.

Finally, a dame! And she’s having none of that animatronic Moloch….

It figures that the first really good story I’d read in Campbell-era Astounding would be by L. Ron Hubbard. Maybe not good enough start a religion around the guy and give him all my money, but The Automagic Horse is a solid story that would certainly be at home in Planet or Thrilling.

A team of special effects expects have been grafting and defrauding Hollywood studios to get spare parts and tools to build a spaceship. The spaceship will take them to the moon and stars, and they’re gonna be rich and famous… someday.

They get hired to make a stunt horse so that the SPCA won’t be all over the studio for a scene in which a horse has to kick down the door of a burning barn. This may be the job that will finally put them over the top with the funds that they need to finish carving out an underground workshop to test gamma rays… except the studio sends an accountant to keep track of the funds and audit their past projects!

To make matters worse, she’s a no-nonsense dame intent on seeing that the studio hangs onto every penny of their investment!

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“Valley of Loss” is the second volume of Jim Cartwright at Large, a serialized novel bridging The Four Horsemen’s Revelation Cycle series and The Omega War. In Cartwright’s Cavaliers, responsibility and senior NCOs forged Jim from loser to a leader fighting on the battlefield in his own relic of a giant Gundam-style robot. Previosly in Jim Cartwright at Large, he discovered more of the coveted war machines in an abandoned space station. Now Jim continues his search for information, technology, and tactics that will allow him to create more of the giant mecha. This leads him to the the Valley of Loss, the last battleground where the mecha fought. Can Jim trust the scavengers littering the battlefield like locusts? Will he find the information and machines he seeks? And will his XO ever let Jim outside his sights ever again?

The pacing in “Valley of Loss” certainly reflects the serialized novel approach taken in Jim Cartwright at Large. Instead of the taut immediacy demanded by the short story format, half the chapter is a relaxed collection of exposition and flashback, and the other, plot. Certainly the glimpse into setting and character will pay off in future chapters. The flashbacks with Jim’s father explain why, even at his lowest, Jim never gave up on his dream to be a mercenary. However, action junkies will be craving more from his visit to the Valley of Loss. I look forward to reading the collected chapters of Jim Cartwright at Large to see how all the pieces fit together, but the serialized approach needs more self-contained stories that build upon each other than one single story split into multiple parts. That said, “Valley of Loss” certainly left me wanting to read more.

Jim Cartwright’s story is one of the few positive examples in recent science fiction of how a geeky and overweight boy can turn himself into a man through hard work and responsibility. And his stories are not preachy, but fun reads that inspire readers to meet challenges head-on in an adult manner without lingering in the juvenile fascinations of many “Young Adult” stories. Perhaps this gateway drug into the Four Horsemen universe might also be a gateway into manhood for many a teen reader.

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We are very pleased to be able to finally announce that the digital edition of Alt★Hero #1: CRACKDOWN has been released to the backers of the Alt★Hero project.

The digital edition is in the MOBI format, which will work on your Kindle. You can also use download the free Kindle Previewer for Windows  or Macintosh to read the digital edition on your computer. This is the same file that will be released for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited next week, we’re just getting it out early to the backers.

We anticipate having the first print edition out in about two weeks. It will retail for $3 and will be in the same royal octavo size as the Quantum Mortis and Jeeves comic books. French, German, and Italian editions will soon follow.

Please feel free to discuss the first issue of Alt★Hero in the Alt★Hero Forums. We look forward to hearing your reactions. Thanks to all the backers who have made this possible, and thanks to the Arkhaven team, especially Cliff Cosmic and Matteo Mystic, for all their hard work in bringing this from concept to comic book.

The first volume in Cochrane’s Company, the newest space trilogy by 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, with his crew of the finest veterans and cunning rogues, have an even better scheme. They’ve conned the owner into hiring them as a mercenary security company to defend the system. With no oversight but their own, Cochrane’s Company plans to seize the richest pickings for themselves.

But nothing ever comes easy. If they want to keep their loot, they’re going to have to outwit and outfight every smuggler, bandit and renegade after the same prize – and their boss, too!

YouTube Red is not great. It’s pretty pricey—$10.00 a month—and has a very thin roster of content. And the content it has? Not very good.

Last week I reviewed Cobra Kai, the single best show on YouTube Red. So, just for the heck of it, I decided to watch some other shows and see how they stack up.

Spoiler Alert: You’re not missing much.

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Books (Haffner Press): “Picking up where Lorelei of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances left off, this volume collects the final 17 stories of strange adventures on other worlds from the undisputed “Queen of Space Opera.”  Drawn from the last years of pulp magazines such as Planet Stories, Startling Stories, and digests magazines like Venture Science Fiction, Shannach – The Last: Farewell to Mars sees Brackett at the peak of her talents.  Oddly, it is at this point where she abandons the “planetary romance” sub-genre and embarks on a small string of stories tinged with social relevance. This departure didn’t stop editors asking for some of “that old Brackett magic” and she offered up two latter day tales (“The Road to Sinharat” and “Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon”) before returning to chronicle further adventures of Eric John Stark in her final “Skaith” novels. Closing out the collection is a trio of tales written on commission from the ‘king of anthologies,’ Roger Elwood.”

 

Comic Books (Of Wolves and Men): “There’s an awful lot of people in Comicsgate who almost get the Culture War (1). So I do have to admit that there’s a certain ironic humor in seeing a number of people who were quite critical of Vox Day’s Alt-Hero project having to nut up and do the exact same thing six months later. (2)

The main (if usually unstated) goal of ComicsGate has always been to force a reform on the existing comics industry, truly a worthy goal. People want the old Marvel and DC comics back. However it increasingly looks like this noble goal is impossible. The old rotten institutions are simply too corrupt and converged.” Read More

Sword and sorcery fiction was a casualty in the pages of Weird Tales magazine when it went bimonthly and had a new editor in 1940. The sub-genre did live on with some entries in Unknown/Unknown Worlds. Less known are some stories that showed up in Fantastic Adventures and Planet Stories.

The stories that appeared in Planet Stories in the later 1940s and early 1950s are generally thinly disguised with some pseudo-science instead of sorcery and an extra moon in the sky to give a superficial appearance of science fiction.

Planet Stories (1939-1955) is an often maligned magazine in science fiction histories. It picked up where the Clayton Publications era Astounding Stories of Super Science left off. There was no pretense about predicting the future. Planet Stories pages are filled with space patrols, galactic empires, pirates, and you were as likely to encounter swords as ray guns. The sort of stuff most of us want to read.

Poul Anderson (1926-2001) had thirteen stories in Planet Stories. He had started out in Astounding Science Fiction in 1947. He branched out to Future, Super Science Stories, and Planet Stories starting in 1950 with fiction more decidedly adventure prone. Read More

Space dragons, the King of Space, legions of space marines, caravans of space refugees, and the deadliest unpaid intern in the galaxy feature in this week’s roundup of the newest releases in science fiction.


Bandwidth (Analog Novel #1) – Eliot Peper

A rising star at a preeminent political lobbying firm, Dag Calhoun represents the world’s most powerful technology and energy executives. But when a close brush with death reveals that the influence he wields makes him a target, impossible cracks appear in his perfect, richly appointed life.

Like everyone else, Dag relies on his digital feed for everything—a feed that is as personal as it is pervasive, and may not be as private as it seems. As he struggles to make sense of the dark forces closing in on him, he discovers that activists are hijacking the feed to manipulate markets and governments. Going public would destroy everything he’s worked so hard to build, but it’s not just Dag’s life on the line—a shadow war is coming, one that will secure humanity’s future or doom the planet to climate catastrophe. Ultimately, Dag must decide the price he’s willing to pay to change the world.


Beyond Atlantis ( Ascendant Chronicles #4) – Brandon Elllis

Jaxx thought the Kelhoon were bad enough – a race of aliens enslaving humans, Atlanteans, and other ET’s, and shipping them off to their factory farms on Callisto, Jupiter’s second largest moon. But when Jaxx lands back on Callisto to free those bound in chains, he encounters something far worse.

The Agadon has followed him there. A psychotic sentient race of artificial intelligent Beings hellbent on wiping out all life in the Sol system – human, Atlantean and Kelhoon alike.

Now Jaxx must persuade rebel Kelhoon to join him in a battle against an intractable enemy.

With only one chance to succeed, Jaxx might just save everyone, or he might fail and die. When the Atlanteans offer him a deal that fulfills both, he may have no choice.

And he’s running out of time.


Broken Stars (Universe on Fire #1) – Ivan Kal

Sixty-seven years ago the Qash’vo’tar conquered Earth. They had judged humanity as dangerous and unworthy of joining the other races among the stars. Ever since then, the aliens had ruled from above, keeping humanity from even thinking about reaching for the stars. The Qash’vo’tar did not care what humanity did on the ground, as long as they didn’t attempt to build anything that could get them to the stars. Outmatched in every way and not willing to accept the cost of fighting back, the United Earth gave up ever again reaching beyond the boundary of Earth’s sky.

In its isolation, humanity turned its eyes from the sky and pointed them to the ground. Instead of the stars, humanity explored the oceans, burrowed deep underground, and broadened its understanding of laws of physics. Until finally they could take no more. In secret the United Earth’s best scientists attempted to find a way out. They experimented, and in a single moment changed the fate of humanity. Accidentally, they broke through someplace else, created a breach in space-time. Deep underground, they created a portal to another universe.

They made a breach to a universe where there was magic. This new universe changed them, changed their own universe. This one accident gave them a new weapon against the Qash’vo’tar. A weapon that the aliens had no knowledge of. It gave humanity magic. And they studied it, integrated it with their technology, and they waited for the right time to strike back against their alien overlords.

And now, sixty-seven years after they had been conquered, it was time for humanity to show the Qash’vo’tar that they had been right to fear humanity. Now was the time for humanity to reclaim its world and carve a place for Earth among the stars.


Freedom’s Fate (Freedom’s Fire #6) – Bobby Adair

War in the Heavens for Freedom on Earth

The first interstellar war, a generation ago, left humanity enslaved. Now humans fight in the armies of their masters to save themselves from annihilation.

At least, that’s what the propaganda insists is true. What the layers of lies keep hidden, is how badly the new war is going for the people of earth.

Now it’s Dylan Kane’s turn to blast into the heavens and join the battle, but what his masters don’t know, is that by putting a weapon in his hands, they’re giving him the key to unlocking his hopes of freedom.

In this finale of the Freedom’s Fire series, the Free Army tries to salvage victory from what looks like a total loss. They’ve found a weakness in the Gray-Trog alliance they think they can exploit. But they’ll need to ally themselves with the hated MSS, and put their trust in people they’ve sworn to overthrow. Read More