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Like “Death Note” before it I didn’t really intend to do a series of posts on “My Hero Academia”, which is indeed a series I talk about quite a lot. But, like then, I have more to say about the subject, and hopefully you will find it interesting as well. I am going to be discussing this fight as if you’ve seen the show up to this point, so if you haven’t, or haven’t read up to the end of the Overhaul arc in the manga, I suggest you do that before reading ahead.

I contend that the fight with Deku and the villain Muscular in season 2 of “My Hero Academia” is one of the most underrated in the series.

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Publishing (Forbes): Today, the number of science fiction and fantasy magazine titles is higher than at any other point in history. That’s more than 25 pro-level magazines, according to a count from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, amid a larger pool of “70 magazines, 14 audio sites, and nine critical magazines,” according to Locus Magazine.

Publishing (Jason Sanford): For the last few months I’ve been working on #SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines, a detailed look at science fiction and fantasy magazine publishing in this day and age.This report is available below and can also be downloaded in the following formats:  Mobi file for Kindle,     Epub file for E-book Readers, PDF file. For this report I interviewed the editors, publishers, and staff of the following genre magazines. Many thanks to each of these people. The individual interviews are linked below and also contained in the downloadable Kindle, Epub, and PDF versions of the report. Read More

Weird Tales magazine was not just H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith during the Golden Age of the 1930s. It had a very solid second string of writers – Henry S. Whitehead, Donald Wandrei, E. Hoffmann Price, H. Warner Munn, and Carl Jacobi (1908-1997). I like Carl Jacobi, a lot. Enough to own all three Arkham House collections. I like his short unpretentious horror stories. Stephen King dedicated his book Danse Macabre to Jacobi (and Joseph Payne Brennan and Donald Wandrei).

In addition, he wrote excellent stories set in the Netherlands East Indies, some featuring the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL). Read More

Superheroes, airship captains, dungeon cores, and misfit dragons abound in this week’s collection of fantasy’s newest releases.

Chuck Dixon’s Avalon #5: Forced Entry – Chuck Dixon and Renato Rei

The hunter has become the hunted. As the mysterious vigilante continues to stalk her prey, the crack international superhero team is on her trail and is determined to bring her down before she can accomplish her deadly mission.

But is there another way to find her? What is the connection between the vigilante and the unknown coma patient she was once observed visiting in the hospital? The Avalon police, too, are patiently trying to track her down before she adds to her body count.

Chuck Dixon is the most prolific comic book writer in history. Set in the world of Alt★Hero, CHUCK DIXON’S AVALON is the legend’s newest creation.

Clockmaker – Kristen Brand

Melek is used to living life on the edge.

The captain of her own airship, she makes her own destiny. The Sultana is her home, and its crew is her family.

But she’s not used to living on the edge of financial ruin. Work has dried up. Her ship needs repairs, and her men need to be paid.

When she thinks all is lost, an arrogant and obscenely wealthy man named Aldric Lesauvage hires her to get him and his possessions to Istanbul. Quickly, and without any questions asked, of course. Melek has little choice but to accept the offer, even though she knows he’s hiding something.

Her other choice is to give up her ship. And that’s a choice she won’t make.

Will Melek discover what her passenger is hiding before it’s too late? Or will the automatons of her nightmares finish off the Sultana and its crew once and for all?

The Crafter’s Dilemma (Dungeon Crafting #3) – Jonathan Brooks

After narrowly surviving an invasion of her dungeon by some seriously dangerous Elves, Sandra needs to recover from having all of her defending constructs destroyed in the process. With the bulk of her forces lost while shattering the Core of a Reptile Classification dungeon, the merchant-turned-Dungeon Core is feeling a little vulnerable.

Luckily, she has Violet, a Gnome Apprentice Enchanter, to help her get things back to normal. With Felbar, another Gnome that has decades of experience culling Dungeon Monsters, and Echo, an Elf that mistakenly got tangled up with Sandra and her dungeon, now awake from their Visitor Bond-induced comas, she can finally work on improving her relationship with the Gnomes and Elves by providing them with much-needed supplies.

Unfortunately, during her time of recovery and looking into crafting new things with her recent access to Enchanting, she neglected to keep an eye on the dungeons around her Area of Influence. With the Gnomes no longer there to cull the Undead Classification dungeon near their destroyed village, Sandra scrambles to get ahead of its rapid expansion – and potential threat to the Dwarves to the north.

But even if she manages to destroy the Undead Classification Core, should she stop there? Now that is quite the dilemma…

Embers (The Frozen Flame #2) – Paul J. Bennett

There is no sanctuary for those who are hunted!

Natalie and Athgar are safely ensconced in the sleepy town of Ostermund when a chance encounter leads them on a trail of deceit that implicates an old ally.

After discovering who is behind the plot, they must make a choice, stay hidden or risk everything in the name of friendship!

Athgar, descendant of a vanquished people, wants only to protect that which he holds most dear.

Natalia, now secure in her powers, seeks peace, but the ever-growing shadow of the family threatens all she has fought for.

Together, they embark on a path where even their success could spell defeat, for this battle may start a war that none can stop. Read More

The hunter has become the hunted. As the mysterious vigilante continues to stalk her prey, the crack international superhero team is on her trail and is determined to bring her down before she can accomplish her deadly mission.

But is there another way to find her? What is the connection between the vigilante and the unknown coma patient she was once observed visiting in the hospital? The Avalon police, too, are patiently trying to track her down before she adds to her body count.

Chuck Dixon is the most prolific comic book writer in history. Set in the world of Alt★Hero, CHUCK DIXON’S AVALON is the legend’s newest creation.

Now available in print at Castalia Direct and at Amazon. The digital version will be going out to the backers as soon as it is ready. Chuck Dixon’s Avalon #6 will be ready soon, at which point we will begin producing the omnibus editions for the original Alt★Hero backers.

See the source imageThe Overhaul arc of the “My Hero Academia” anime has caused a truly massive split in the MHA fanbase.

The manga readers couldn’t help but be disappointed – because there was SO MUCH potential, and to be harsh, potential that was wasted.

Not that it was bad! Far from it. I’d call it an arc with insanely high heights and, if not terrible per se, incredibly disappointing lows.

Warning: Everything will be spoiled. Don’t read if you haven’t at least read the arc in the manga.

Onward! Read More

Horror (Cemetery Dance): Up until the publication of The Monk in March of 1796, the Gothics mostly followed Walpole’s formula. The books usually featured a mystery or threat to the main character, an evil villain threatening the virtue of a virginal female, supernatural elements such as a ghost or an ancestral curse, and secret passages in crumbling mansions or castles. That template carried over into the next century, as evidenced by the bulk of the stories published in the pulps during the 1930s.

Cinema ( MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: A Doc Savage movie was cast and ready to go when they abruptly changed to an entirely different film at the last minute. In the mid-1960s, the success of heroes from novels and comic books like James Bond and Batman led to producers looking to see whatever other 20th Century heroes that could be adapted into films. Producers Mark Goodson & Bill Todman (best known for their TV game shows) decided to pick Doc Savage to turn into a matinee idol.

Westerns (Six Gun Justice): Gordon D. Shirreffs (1914 – 1996) started writing in 1945, after serving in World War in Alaska and the Aleutian Campaign. Coached by published boy’s adventure writer Frederick Nelson Litten at the Chicago campus of Northwestern University, Shirreffs broke into the young people’s market with pieces in Boy’s Life, Young Catholic Messenger and the later pulps like Dime Western, Ace High, and Six-gun Western. Experiences at Fort Bliss during the war served Shirreffs well in nailing down the gritty scenery of the Southwest, a setting that served him well throughout his career.

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Theodore Roscoe (1906-1992) was a pulp fictioneer from the late 1920s through the early 1940s. He made the jump from the pulp magazines to writing non-fiction books about the U.S. Navy. He was not as high production as E. Hoffmann Price or Hugh B. Cave. By the standards of 1930s pulp magazines, he could be considered an “A” list writer as a good portion of his fiction appeared in top tier pulp magazines such as Argosy and Short Stories. Roscoe had two stories in Weird Tales but ceased writing for the magazine due to slow and low payments. Read More

Rookie asteroid cops, alien slavers, space mages, and a court of space princesses fill this week’s newest science fiction releases.

Attack Plan Alpha (Blood on the Stars #16) – Jay Allan

A battle is coming, the greatest the Rim has seen in ten thousand years, a fight for freedom, for the future, for the very survival of all humanity holds dear.

Tyler Barron and his comrades are ready for their greatest test, but even as they prepare to hold the line at Fortress Striker, to turn back the Highborn’s imminent attack, the enemy have opened another front, one far to the rear. Before Barron and his spacers can face their own ordeal, a ragtag force must hold another fortress, an older one that has seen many battles, but has long been neglected and allowed to fall into decay. If they fail, Barron and his vast fleet will face enemies to their front and to the rear…and any chance of victory will be lost.

Meanwhile, Andi Lafarge and her small crew scour the depths of the Badlands, searching for the secret weapon the empire used to defeat the Highborn three centuries before…and possibly the only real hope for victory in the current war.

The greatest struggle humanity has faced is nearing its climax. Warriors struggle and die, giant warships clash, worlds burn…but will the suffering lead to a new hope for humanity…or the endless dark age that has been feared since the fall of the empire?

Dying World (Magitech Legacy #1) – Chris Fox

Our world is tumbling into the sun.

The quakes have leveled cities. Soon the continents themselves will break apart. The ships are gone. There’s no way off. But I’m not giving up. I’m a Relic Hunter…an archeologist with a gun, and I have a plan.

Our people arrived on Kemet thousands of years ago in the wake of a terrible space battle. The Great Ships are still up there, ancient derelict hulks powered by a combination of technology and magic, created by gods we no longer remember or understand.

If I can get one of those ships active, maybe I can save myself. Maybe I can save everyone.

Exile (Verity Chronicles #1) – T. S. Valmond and A. K. DuBoff

Freedom comes at a price…

TSS Agent Joe Anderson has a problem with authority. They say he’s insubordinate… or so it’s called when you punch a superior officer during a routine training exercise.

With no other place for him, Joe is shipped off to the outer colonies to run undercover surveillance. The assignment seems tedious until he makes his way onto a newly purchased cargo ship.

Captain Iza Sundari came from nothing, but she’s fought to carve out a life for herself with her eclectic crew on a ship of her own. Captaining a ship is the closest thing to freedom she can find, but she’ll have to pay for it. And freedom comes at a steep price.

When a risky proposition leads to the perfect job, it seems Iza’s financial troubles might be over. But with hidden agendas at every turn, she’ll have to cross a line she swore she never would to protect her ship and crew.

Fire At Will (Far Beyond #1) – Christian Kallias

An alien princess in distress? Check! Spaceships, Giant Mechs & Xenomorphs? Check! A high-stake intergalactic war? You better believe it!

After saving the Arcadian Confederate from certain destruction, Kevin’s consciousness is cast back to Earth. But Kevin has a hard time readapting to his boring, no-thrills life. Not to mention no one seems to believe his tales of galaxy-hopping adventures.

But when a Kregan operative shows up to hunt him down, Kevin gets his wish of returning to his galactic adventures. This time around it’s not just his consciousness on the line, but his body as well as his dog, Boomer. The Arcadians task their best engineer to recruit the pair to save the Arcadians once more.

If Kevin can’t whip this motley crew into shape, the galaxy’s doomed. By association, Kevin might inadvertently put Earth into the sights of the Kregan Empire. Can Kevin rescue the Arcadian princess from the grasp of her enemy without jeopardizing everything he holds dear in the process? Read More

We have selected an illustrator for the six-issue A THRONE OF BONES comic special. It will be released in electronic and omnibus editions – no single print issues – and will cover the battle between Legio XVII of House Valerius and the Vakhuyu and Chalonu goblin tribes. The Legend Chuck Dixon is adapting the script from the novel and Arklight Studios will be coloring it.

This is not a scene from the comic, as those familiar with the novel will immediately recognize, it is just one of the samples that the illustrator provided us to demonstrate that he was capable of drawing the various fantasy elements required by the story.

Tolkien (Notion Club Papers): Christopher Tolkien died a couple of days ago, which marks the end of an era – the last person who participated in the core Inklings meetings; the writing and discussion group that met in the evenings to read works in progress and have discussions stimulated. CT was probably the person I would (in a theoretical way) most have liked to get to know, as a friend, for long and detailed discussions – because there was so much that only he could have told.

Men’s Fiction (Wasteland & Sky): That’s the way men’s adventure used to be. At least, that’s what it was in the 1950s. What it became was slightly different. As the decades went on they started to get less and less heroic until they forgot what heroism was by the end of the 20th century. This is a pattern that can be seen with film at the time. The 1970s was a miserable time, by all accounts. Coming after the turbulent ’60s, the ’70s are regularly known as the nadir of western culture.

Cultural Musings (Jon Mollison): Today’s post is hopefully the start of a decent trend for 2020.  The Pookinator fired some interest shots across the cultural bow when he pointed out that the Chick Tract on D&D is genuinely cursed because: It’s friendly fire. It’s directly responsible for mountains of apostasy.     It covered up actual child abuse by making the “Satanic Panic” look like a ridiculous joke.

Celtic Myth (DMR Books): Thankfully, I have the recently-published The Book of Taliesin. It’s a new translation of a thirteenth century book of Welsh poems; the Llyvyr Taliesin (or ‘Book of Taliesin’, for all those sadly burdened by the crushing inability to speak the language of Heaven). You can thank National Poet of Wales Gwyneth Lewis and ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (yes, really) for their hard work in translating it for a Saxon-speaking readership.

Vampire Fiction (Karavansara): I mentioned it yesterday, and I read it last night and today as I sat around a doctor’s waiting room – Vampirella: Blood Invasion, the first Vampirella novel, written by Nancy A. Collins and published by the fiction branch of Dynamite publishing is a very fast read, and a fun one. For the uninitiated, Vampirella is a character created fifty years ago as a host for a series of anthology magazines, that later evolved into an indie comic-book character in her own right, with her own universe, recurring characters, timeline and everything.

Clark Ashton Smith (Adventures Fantastic): lark Ashton Smith (1893-1961) was born on this date, January 13.  Along with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft, Smith was considered one of the Big Three of Weird Tales. Smith lived the longest of these three gentlemen, but his writing career wasn’t much longer. He wrote during the 1920s and 30s but stopped writing around 1937. Smith was a poet as well as a short story writer, and it shows in his lush, baroque prose.  In fact, one of the more common criticisms of Smith is that reading him requires too much work and too large of a vocabulary. His stories were often set in imaginary worlds such as Hyperborea, Poseidonis, and Zothique.

Comic Books (Hero Envy): It’s a bit hard to believe, when I look back at all the comic book characters I was fortunate enough to get to co-create or at least co-develop.  But I’d grown up in small town Missouri loving comics, so when I got a chance to work in the field in 1965, at the ripe old age of 24, I grabbed it, and soon would be working for Marvel Comics and Stan Lee as his editorial assistant and “staff writer.”  I suppose Banshee was the first super-type I dreamed up, although Stan wouldn’t let the character be a woman, as he should have been.  I wasn’t wild about the idea of making up heroes for Marvel.

Gaming (Tentaclii): Board Games UK has an in-depth and very informed review of the new board-game Cthulhu: Death May Die. Even if you don’t care to play such Derlethian things, it appears to be quite a minor work of art in itself, with fine card-art and hand-painted miniature pieces.

Men’s Adventure Magazines (Mens Pulp Magazines): In the Men’s Adventure Magazines & Books Facebook group, members sometimes post interesting examples of artwork from vintage men’s adventure magazines (MAMs) recycled for other purposes. One of my favorite examples was posted a while back by Timothy Isaacson, a group member in Illinois who has diverse tastes in art and music. 

Pulp Art (DMR Books): When I walked into the Huckster’s Room at the ECOF in the summer of 2019 at Chicago, one of the first tables I visited was that of my friend and fellow author and Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, Gary Buckingham.  In short order, Gary introduced me to a guy set up near him–a jovial and loquacious fellow by the name of Bob Garcia.  In short order Bob was lauding the virtues of his wares (as might any good vendor).  I can tell you, his expositions fell on willing ears when he immediately began telling me about a book of which he had but a few Publisher Copies (PC) remaining which contained examples of the works of a man I greatly admire, that being the immortal Virgil Finlay.

Cinema (RMWC Reviews): While Tetsujin 28-go got the Mecha genre officially rolling in 1956, the first on-screen post-Tetsujin manga mech would come from Toho Studios in December of 1957 in the sci-fi special effects extravaganza Chikyū Bōeigun (literally translated to “Earth Defense Force”) more widely known as The Mysterians. Directed by Ishirō Honda, (who had previously directed 1954’s seminal classic Godzilla), The Mysterians tells the story of scientists investigating strange astrophysical and geological phenomena, when an earthquake wipes out a mountain village.

Fantasy (Pulprev): Modernity has ruined fantasy. At one end of the scale, there is the slice-of-life tale, with ordinary people doing ordinary things, just with some counterfactual elements. At the other end, there is a setting that appears totally foreign to our reality–and yet the people who dwell in it base their actions on values, issues and ideologies extremely similar to ours; and on closer inspection what appears to be an alien realm is merely a distorted reflection of modern-day ideology. In the middle are tales set in worlds that aren’t too dissimilar to our own.

Fiction (Glorious Trash): The Raven saga continues with a second volume that seems to be set shortly after the first; Raven and her guru warlock (plus occasional bedmate) Spellbinder are still in the same region in which the previous volume concluded, however now Raven is training some new character named Silver on how to be a warrior in the army Raven’s apparently decided to form. Oh and meanwhile the novel has opened with that same future prologue with some unnamed old guy traveling around a desolate world and telling tales of long ago – tales about Raven.

Hugh B. Cave (1910-2004) was another of the high production pulp fictioneers. He had something like 800 stories in the pulp and slick magazines. Much of his pulp output was for crime/detective, horror, weird menace, adventure, and spicy.  He had a few western stories and two stories in the Clayton era Astounding Stories of Super Science that really were not science fiction.

He was around long enough to have some original paperback novels from the late 1970s to 1990s during the paperback horror boom.

Starmont House had a series in Popular Culture Studies. That series was a mix of short fiction anthologies and a few bio-bibliographies. Read More