THE PRICE OF A DRINK is the fourth 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.

In this issue, Gussie Fink-Nottle has summoned up the courage required to address the collected youth of Market Snodsbury, but it is a liquid courage. Not only that, but he has summoned up entirely too much of it, with hilarious and humiliating consequences for everyone involved. 

Adapted from the classic Wodehouse novel by comics legend Chuck Dixon and drawn by SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN illustrator Gary Kwapisz, THE PRICE OF A DRINK is issue #4 of 6 in the RIGHT HO, JEEVES series.

Since they first got big, Penn and Teller have been known as the bad boys of magic. Their acts did away with, and in many cases explicitly rejected, the familiar patter and psuedo-mystical trappings so common with magicians up until that point. Originally loathed by fellow magicians (irritated by the duo’s habit of revealing some of their craft’s secrets on stage), in the thirty years since becoming a break-out act, they’ve graduated to the top ranks of illusionists.

Magic is a lie. Stage magic, that is, relies on sleight-of-hand artists and tricksters who exploit bugs in how human visual processes work and how the brain lies to itself to cover it up. What you see isn’t the real world, it’s at best a barely-good-enough approximation, sufficient to keep you alive and that’s about it.

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Writers (Legends of Men): As you know by now I’m a huge fan of the Conan stories, but I’m also a huge fan of Howard’s other creations, even his poetry. Last June I attended Robert E. Howard Days, a gathering of Howard scholars and fans to celebrate the life and works of Robert E. Howard. While there I met Patrice Louinet, one of the most prominent Howard scholars.

His book, The Robert E. Howard Guide, was just published and he discussed it a bit. I bought a copy and have to say that I think it is a great book about Howard and his works. It’s not just a biography, though there is a short biography of him in the book. It’s an introduction to everything Howard.

 

Appendix N (RMWC Reviews): An English baron, Sir Roger de Tourneville, is mustering a force to aid King Edward III in his wars in France.

And then a Wersgor spaceship arrives over the small town in Lincolnshire where Roger is mustering. The little blue men inside the scoutship attack, the English storm the ship and kill all but one of the aliens, and Sir Roger gets a bright idea: force the surviving alien, Branithar, to fly the English force to France, and from there they can fly to the Holy Land. Sounds great, right?

Unfortunately for them, Branithar has other ideas, and plots a course for Tharixan, a Wersgor colony world, and thus, Poul Anderson’s 1960 novel The High Crusade begins. Originally serialized inAstounding/Analog Science Fiction and Fact, it was published as a novel by Doubleday that same year. Read More

Gordon R. Dickson (1923-2001) was a mainstay of mass market science fiction paperbacks in the 1970s and 80s. The “Dorsai” series was one of the first in the military science fiction series going back to 1959. Dickson and Poul Anderson could always be counted on supplying adventurous science fiction.

Dickson was a pillar for Analog Science Fiction in the late 1960s and early 1970s during John W. Campbell’s last years as editor.  Wolfing, Tactics of Mistake, The Pritcher Mass, and The Far Call all were serialized in that magazine before book publication.

The Outposter ran in three parts May, June, July 1971 at the very end of Campbell’s tenure as editor. It is a space opera that does not appear to be part of any series.

A few hundred years in the future, Earth has a lottery where if you draw the lucky number, you are shipped off to one of the planetary colonies. Most lottery “winners” are not too happy about it. A hundred years of colonization has not worked out too well. Most of the colonist are worthless and not the type of stock to start new opportunities.

The colonies are overseen by a corps called “Outposters.” They are managers, Shirreffs, judges, and a sort of governor. There is also a Navy that is corrupt and cowardly. Read More

A latent psychic swears a vendetta against the aliens who invaded his home, a team of lawyers must prevent the ruin of two galaxies, and mecha mercenaries The Four Horsemen and Wardogs, Inc. both return to action in this week’s roundup of the newest releases in science fiction.


Battle Harem #1 – Isaac Hooke

Jason was a little short on creds so he decided to get his mind scanned. It seemed like a good idea at the time: get paid to license a copy of your mind for use in one of the numerous machines that run society. What could go wrong?

Turns out, a lot.

Jason wakes up in the middle of the radioactive wasteland that was created fifty years ago when aliens destroyed half the Earth. He has no idea why he’s here, or what the hell he’s supposed to do. Worst of all, he’s no longer human: his consciousness has been installed into the AI core of a state-of-the-art war machine, a mech with enough firepower to raze a small city.

Hunted by mutated alien bioweapons, Jason travels the wasteland in an attempt to piece together what happened. Along the way he encounters a few abandoned war machines that also have no memory of their mission, machines that can’t decide whether they want to join him or kill him. It doesn’t help that in VR they all look like super hot women.

Sometimes it’s tough being a machine.

When Jason and his new companions discover what they’re truly capable of, however, everything changes. And not necessarily for the better.


Dark Moon Arisen (The Four Horsemen Cycle: The Omega War #3) – Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey

The Omega War is in full swing. Earth has fallen to General Peepo’s army, and the surviving Human mercenaries have taken refuge at the hidden Winged Hussars’ base in New Warsaw.

On Earth, the defensive forces fight to keep the hearts and minds of their fellow Humans, but Peepo’s plans are slowly converting the people to her way of thinking, and the Mercenary Guild troops continue to root out the forces arrayed against them.

Outnumbered and on the run, the situation is bleak, but none of the Horsemen like being on the defensive. When they get intelligence that Peepo is massing resources at a secret base, they decide to launch a decisive counterattack that may open Earth up to recapture.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sato, the Hussar’s brilliant but unpredictable scientist, unwittingly reactivates a 20,000-year-old doomsday weapon with a mind of its own. If it can’t be stopped, all the Four Horsemen’s plans might become meaningless.

Forces are moving both in the shadows and in the light, but who will rise victorious? One thing is for sure…a Dark Moon has Arisen.


The Fall of Heaven – David S. Grunwell

In the wondrous megacity of Heavensport, robots do all the work allowing its three-quarters of a billion inhabitants free to pursue their passions.

Unfortunately for Rolland Newcastle, someone’s passion is to kill him. Stripped of his wealth, technology, and connections, is this the start of a worldwide purge?

Rolland inherited his troubles from his ancestors, the legal owners of the beautiful planet of New Jerusalem. After cryrosleeping for 223 years, they found that technological advances had allowed squatters’ ships to make the journey in just 3.5 years.

Arriving 200 years later, they found an established world that didn’t want them. The Fall of Heaven was just the start.


Forbidden Sanctuary (Star Lawyers #2) – Tom Shepherd

What terrible secrets will Tyler Matthews and his Star Lawyers discover within the Forbidden Sanctuary on the mysterious, sacred planet Adao-2?

Can the legal team from Matthews Interstellar Industries learn the truth in time to save M-double-I’s century-long quest to open Jump Gate Omega, bridge the 2.5 million light years to the Andromeda galaxy, and prevent economic ruin and war in the Milky Way?

While Tyler, J.B., Rosalie and Lucy (her shapeshifter cat) battle pirates and religious fanatics, Suzie and her holographic A.I. colleagues—former ladies of the night, re-purposed as legal assistants and starship crew– face an even deadlier foe. This unknown enemy threatens to delete all the starship Patrick Henry’s programs and terminate their existence forever.

To make matters worse, Cousin Esteban languishes in prison on Suryadivan Prime, where the former Catholic monk faces a death sentence for crimes he did not commit. Read More

John del Arroz introduces you to the Special Forces of Steampunk!

Airships, Guns, and Gadgets! The Knights of the Crystal Spire are more than ordinary fantasy knights.

Life as an apprentice knight hasn’t been easy on James Gentry. As a commoner and an outsider, he’s been ridiculed, picked on, and shunned by the other boys. But he’s determined to become one of the finest knights Rislandia has ever seen.

During his training, James stumbles upon a master knight selling information on Rislandian troop movements to a Wyranth spy. To keep Rislandia safe, he must root out the traitor and put a stop to the enemy’s schemes. Does he have what it takes?

“Knight Training” is a stand-alone sequel novella to the award-winning steampunk novel, For Steam And Country!

The first installment of Gulf, by Robert Heinlein, appeared in the November 1949 issue of Astounding. It can be found here at Archive.org.

Gulf is a slow-burn sci-fi spy thriller. It’s very dark and atmospheric, and while the hook, some of the window dressing, and the MacGuffin are science-fiction, Gulf stands up as a fairly standard, if well-written, example of the spy-pulp genre. If the sci-fi elements weren’t there, it would still hold up as a spy story, as it doesn’t really rely on those tropes to make its narrative work.

An agent has three tubes of micro-film: two decoys, and one with top secret plans for something. He’s got to get them to the post office so they can be transferred with cold mechanical efficiency to the dead drop address. There’s a game of cat and mouse as those who want to get their hands on the film interfere with the agent as he tries to make the drop, and after he gets the tube off, he’s taken to a private jail on trumped up charges of passing a forged note to a waitress [his wallet had been stolen by a porter urchin and swapped with an almost identical fake].

His enemies try to no avail to discover the contents and destination of the tube, and the agent is “rescued” by an interested 3rd party [a fabulously wealthy helicopter salesman] who got himself captured to make contact and plan the break. The agent escapes only to find that he’s been burned by a double, the tube either went missing or never made it to the dead drop, and his agency thinks he’s the one who stole it.

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In case you’re interested, we’ve got THREE new print editions out this week in the Castalia Books Direct store that may be of interest.

First is CHUCK DIXON’S AVALON #1: THE STREET RULES, which is available in a gold logo edition for $2.99. We very nearly got it out as fast as the digital version thanks to our new production process, which cuts 4-5 days off the previous pre-print routine. This means that all of our new print editions will only be available on Castalia Books Direct for a week or two, before they eventually show up on Amazon.

Second is the brilliant SUPERLUMINARY trilogy by John C. Wright. It contains The Lords of CreationThe Space Vampires, and The World Armada and is a 482-page paperback. Although it retails for $27.99, we’re able to offer it at $19.99.

And third is Vol. II of Vox Day’s Collected Columns. Crisis & Conceit 2006-2009 is a 756-page hardcover that is available for 34.99.

In the late 1970s, the surging popularity of both J. R. R. Tolkien and Dungeons & Dragons fueled an increased appetite in fantasy novels. Publishers scrambled to meet this demand, buying up a number of derivative stories that congealed into Tolkien and D&D pastiche. This increasingly self-referencing sub-genre of fantasy was derided as “extruded fantasy product,” or, more commonly, pink slime. During this time, the tabletop game replaced the magazine as the primary means of experiencing fantasy. Many a fantasy work since can trace its origins to a role-playing campaign that the writer either ran or played in years prior. In the forty years since that fantasy explosion, gamers have shifted from the tabletop to first the console, and then the online video game. This change in the medium of fantasy has brought about a change in the conventions and stories in fantasy, incorporating many of the gaming mechanics into literary adventures. In Japan, this new set of expectations, settings, and tropes can be called Blue Slime fantasy.

The pink vs. blue divide has been used before to indicate the audience of what sex a story is intended for. Here, Blue Slime is intended not just to contrast with the earlier term, but also to pay homage to to the mascot of Dragon Quest, one of the video games that inspires the genre. And slimes are everywhere in the bestiaries of Blue Slime fantasy. What sets Blue Slime fantasy apart from other fantasies is that a Blue Slime fantasy is a video game-inspired story taking place in a pseudo-European setting, centered around a party of heroes taking quests from a guild, using  the leveling, health, magic, class, combat, dungeon, and reward mechanics found in games such as Dragon Quest and .hack (pronounced “dot Hack”). While many of these stories, such as Sword Art Online and Overlord, can take place in a virtual game world set in the near future, these tropes have been extended to the non-video game fantasy worlds of the isekai genre, as can be seen in Arifureta, Konosuba, and In Another World with My Smartphone, where adventurers still carry cards displaying their level, class, combat stats, HP, and MP. While some of the adventures have a resemblance to cyberpunk such as Otherland and Snow Crash, the “punk” has been replaced by an often too-self-aware gamer and other more mundane concerns. But whether online, in another world, or in a galaxy far, far away, the video game influence pervades all Blue Slime fantasy.

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All war is murder for profit.

Some people are just more open about it.

WARDOGS INCORPORATED is one of the largest and most professional mercenary corporations operating in the Kantillon subsector. If you need a bodyguard, an assassination team, or an armored cavalry regiment complete with air support, Wardogs Inc. can provide it for you… for a very steep price.

The Stratocracy of Sfodria has ruled over its people with a very large steel fist for centuries. The giant mechs piloted by their nobles are all but invulnerable and have long served as the aristocratic shield against Sfodria’s enemies. But recently, their indestructible knights have been falling in battle at an unprecedented rate, and no one knows why. Desperate to reverse the fortunes of war before their nation falls to their hereditary enemy, the Stratocracy turns to Wardogs Inc. to train their ineffective and long-ignored militia.

Tommy Falkland and his fellow Wardogs aren’t on the job long before they begin to realize that they may be in well over their pay grade, as they are not dealing with a conventional human threat.


I’d been sitting in a cafe in the outer rim of the spaceport, about ten gates from where we were going to pick up our ship for the next leg of the trip. Our ultimate destination was the Dom Sevru system, but we had to go through Feymanus, then jump through to Rhysalan, then to Terentulus, over to Merovinge and up through Mosva. Like Park said, it was a pissant planet. Just look up the sector map—you’ll see what I mean.

Anyhow, I was sitting outside this cafe, eating a stale pastry and drinking a coffee that wasn’t quite as terrible as I expected, when this guy caught my eye in a bad way. You know how it is when you just feel that someone is off. It’s usually in the eyes, and you can sense it once you’ve dealt with enough bad guys. But I’ve learned to trust my gut over the years, and this thick guy with fleshy lips and a stubbly head was triggering my radar.

He was sitting there poking around on a little tablet, pretending not to be watching Cole and Waterose where they sat at a table inside the cafe. I keyed my com jack to Ward’s channel. “Ward, it’s Falkland. Come to the cafe in Sector 18,” I said, glancing up at the signage. “Be cool and ignore the guys inside. I’m at the outside table.”

“Roger,” he replied. “Be there in five.”

Before he arrived, the thick guy got up and walked past Cole and Waterose, glancing at them again as he passed. He stepped out into the concourse and started walking towards the rest rooms. Once I was sure of his destination, I relaxed. Ward showed up a moment later and I swigged my coffee and chucked the rest of the lackluster pastry into a chute. “Ward—I think we got a spook. He was eyeing the boys over there.”

“Where is he now?” Ward said, looking around.

“Restrooms. Let’s corner him.” Read More

Bounding Into Comics reviews Chuck Dixon’s Avalon #1: The Street Rules:

Chuck Dixon is responsible for some of the most memorable comic book stories and characters of the past few decades. Most notably, he’s revered as the creator of one of Batman’s most formidable villains, Bane. Dixon’s newest comic series, Avalon, comes courtesy of Arkhaven Comics and is set in Vox Day’s Alt-Hero universe. I’ve been a fan of the books that have populated that world thus far and Dixon’s inclusion in this particular story had me hopeful and VERY excited. I’m happy to say that I was not, in the least, disappointed.

The story itself is told within the framework of an interview given by a super-powered vigilante named Fazer to a reporter in a local diner. Right off the bat, it’s evident that heroes/vigilantes are well known and even expected in this universe as nobody seems to think it’s strange to see a costumed hero sitting and chatting with a reporter. The interview itself seems to be focusing on not so much the actions of fighting villains and saving people, but rather on the fundamental reasons why it’s done and the ideas of responsibility in managing your gifts. It’s a refreshing introduction to the characters and it’s the characters themselves that make what could have otherwise been a generic crime fighting story really worth reading.

Read the whole thing there. We’re very pleased to see the issue merited Arkhaven’s best rating yet!

Here’s the story of a little movie that could, a really-real urban legend made by a legitimate cinematic legend, a movie never released in movie theaters, a movie whose reels were supposedly burned to ash by the Hollywood producer who bought the rights to it, a movie that somehow leaked to the public and (like the Star Wars Holiday Special) found a second life on bootleg DVD’s and lately, on YouTube. This is the story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four.

Roger Corman is an insanely prolific (and successful) low budget Hollywood mogul, specializing in horror, SF, and exploitation flicks. He has producer credits on 415 different movies on IMDB, including Death Race 2000, the original Piranha, and Battle Beyond the Stars.

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