Blog Archives


Date Line by Noel Loomis appeared in the October 1948 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories and is the first in the Orig Prem series. I’ve read stories that have made me think “Wow, this seems like it probably inspired an episode of the Twilight Zone” and stories that have made me think “Wow, this seems […]

Robert Ervin Howard was an incredibly prolific writer, and produced a bibliography so full as to make those of us with limited reading time weep.[1] Some modern (and not so modern) critics have apparently dismissed Howard as a kind of idiot savant who was able to succeed despite his lack of education and training mainly […]

Pulp Nova represents James Desborough’s attempt to recapture the spirit of the Golden Age of Science-Fiction.  Written back in 2013, Desborough recognized even back then that the self-publishing made possible by changing technology was creating a publishing environment similar to that of the pulp era.  The easy cost of production gives free rein to writers […]

Another excellent conversation, this time with Jay Barnson. You can find Jay’s stories The Priests of Shalaz, in Cirsova #4 and The Queen of Shadows in #5, plus his other published work on his Amazon page.  Jay created RPG called Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon( and Void War. Other games can be found […]

Last year, I speculated if military fantasy had enough good writers to make it a viable sub-genre. Operation Arcana is another Baen Books anthology offering of military fantasy. Baen Books published the trade paperback in March 2015. The mass market paperback came out in September 2016 at $7.99. John Joseph Adams is the editor. The […]

The Cosmic Jackpot by George O. Smith appeared in the October 1948 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. The Cosmic Jackpot opens with a confused and angry Martian scientist receiving a red lipstick and a couple of worthless silver slugs in his change from a vending machine. Meanwhile, on Earth, a scientist/entrepreneur has just announced the […]

David C. Smith presents the first non-fiction piece in Swords and Sorcery II, and it’s a beauty. There exists a massive amount of scholarship on Robert E. Howard, his life, his history, and his work, and with very few exceptions (see: Damon Knight’s spiteful and amateur analysis), the analysts agree that Howard’s work conveys a […]

Before we get into this one, I have to say… I’ve been discussing games, science fiction, and fantasy online with him for about four years. He’s one of twelve people that took the time to write an introduction to my book Appendix N, too. While we’re as about as close as two people can get […]

Science fiction writer Robert Sheckley was born in New York City in 1928 and died there in 2005.  He lived most of the intervening years in the United States.  And yet, he was never more than a moderate success in his native land.   His short stories attained some popularity, with a few being adapted into […]

This short piece from real life rocket scientist is a straight-ahead “Men With Screwdrivers” story. (Note: read it here!) And yes, the details about the challenges his characters face in the harsh environment of the moon ring true. The most striking thing about that to me is that Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke still define “hard” […]

One of things Sci Phi Journal does with their stories is append a little “Food for Thought” section at the end where they unpack a little of the point of the story. I think this is a little bit risky, personally. After all, there are plenty of people that will read a story and enjoy […]

The works of H. P. Lovecraft are often imitated, but never reproduced and certainly never surpassed. It’s a rare sort of genius that can launch an entirely new genre of literature, and rarer still is the genius whose imitators so consistently fail to improve upon his works.  In the decades since the great old one […]