The second adventure of space trucker E. Z. Sudden by Jon Mollison.

E. Z. Sudden and Karenina return to action in their first mission as part of the Star King’s intelligence service. Sudden knows every simple job has the potential to get real complicated real quick, especially when a guy has to show his naïve and adventurous new wife the ropes. To his chagrin, a simple intelligence gathering mission goes south when they uncover a hidden conspiracy on the fringes of the Ragged Edge of space – a plot by the local megacorp to steal the land out from under a few humble farmers. Their investigation leads the roguish smuggler and his princess bride into a web of evil larger than either could have imagined.

With all of the thrilling fights and chases and escapes from certain doom you’ve come to expect from the humble and hardworking tramp space freighter captain E. Z. Sudden, and all of his princess’s charms, this novel touches on the deeper meaning of heroism, handled with a light touch that will leave you smiling and ready for more.

In a stray moment of distraction, a French trucker runs over the Khalakjistani Minister of Defense. His imprisonment incites his union to refuse to haul anything across Khalakjistan’s roads. As the clock ticks down on an eccentric Texas billionaire’s deal for mineral rights in Khalakjistan, he turns to one man to break the trucker out of prison:

Wayne Shelton.

The Mission is the first volume of the Wayne Shelton series, a 13-volume comics written by best-selling Belgian comics writer Jean Van Hamme (Thorgal, XII, and Largo Winch) and illustrated by Christian Denayer (Alain Chevallier, T.N.T, and High School Generation). In it, the fifty-year-old Vietnam veteran gathers his team together to break out the trucker. But just when everyone assembles in Turkey, a betrayal upends Wayne’s plans. It may sound like a simple men’s adventure story, but Van Hamme and Denayer execute it with panache, creating a best-selling comic that is still going strong today. Some English-speaking fans have compared Wayne Shelton to James Bond, but I find comparisons to Mr. Wolf from Pulp Fiction to be more apt, for Wayne is the man you pay millions to in order to do the impossible–or make the impossible go away.

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Dragons have been gone from the world for centuries, though their power remains.

A war fought a thousand years ago removed the destructive threat of dragons, allowing fire mages to use the magic stored within their bones to protect the empire for a millennium. The empire has known a fragile peace, held together by that ancient magic.

Fes has always longed for stability. Raised within the slums of the empire, taught to steal and hurt others to make his way, when he’s discovered by the emperor’s chief fire mage, he’s given a chance to use his particular gift for gathering lost dragon relics to become something more.

An encounter with a priest in possession of a dragon bone reveals the existence of a new power that threatens to return the long dead dragons to the world. Chased by the dangerous enemies, Fes travels into the bleak lands of the Dragon Plains before others can reach it. If he survives, what he discovers means the continued safety of the empire and a promise of wealth and freedom. If he fails, the deadly power of the dragons might return.

Yet, with a growing and unexplainable magic within him, it’s the promise of understanding who he truly is that might be the most valuable, only it’s the same power that leaves him with questions some within the empire don’t want answered.

Dragon Bones by D. K. Holmberg is the exciting first book in an epic new fantasy series.

They also announced a Gears of War themed Funko Pop video game. Weep for the future.

So E3 is hoving into view, and once again I must spend some of my dwindling store of precious time watching company men try to get people pumped up for the latest round of sequels, remakes, and rip-offs. Surprisingly, there were some original games scattered here and there, and some of the sequels (etc.) actually looked pretty good.

Dan Mattrick screwed Microsoft, and the Xbox One, hard. Read More

RPG (RPG Pundit): So my cat got in the way of my latest video; but the overall point is still clear (and slightly cuter, thanks to the cat): there’s no such thing as a real “D&D Community”.  There’s a D&D Hobby, but the notion of a “Community” is a combination of a marketing tactic by Hasbro, and a maneuver by SJWs to try to infiltrate and impose control over the hobby.

 

Fiction (Pulp Rev): In his last podcast, JimFear138 sat down with Rawle Nyanzi to discuss the concept of genres in a freewheeling discussion that spanned, among other things, My Hero Academia, the blurry line between science fiction and fantasy, and, at the 40:15 mark, Japanese light novels.

Rawle didn’t have a high opinion of most light novels. I share the same sentiment. Yet light novels are the modern-day inheritors of the pulp tradition.

 

Comic Books (Reactionary Times): Zoe Quinn is writing a comic book for DC.
This is such a hilariously bad idea, I am actually having trouble figuring out how to make fun of it.
For those that don’t remember, Zoe Quinn, was a (and here the air quotes are going to have to be huge) “Independent Game Dev.” Who created the legendary POS title, “Depression Quest.” It was a (believe it or not) interactive text game, you know like Zork from 1977.  It was about an SJW feminist trudging around, being mentally ill and depressed like any other SJW.  It was complete and total shit as a game. Read More

There has been a quiet rebirth in the historical novel in the past 15 years– Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane, Harry Sidebottom etc. Most are Sassenachs (i.e. Englishmen) who have a Roman fixation.

I picked up David Gibbins Rome Destroy Carthage at a Dollar General store last week for $3.00 in the paperback rack. I thought why not? “Total War” with a trademark symbol is above the title so there are probably others in this series by other authors. Gibbins seems to write techno-thrillers on the lines of Clive Cussler.

The novel is about Scipio Aemilianus, the general who destroyed Carthage in the Third Punic War in the 2nd Century B.C. Much of the novel is from the perspective of Fabius Petronius Secundus, friend of Scipio and later centurion in the Roman legions.

The novel starts with the Battle of Pydna in Macedon in 168 B.C. Gibbins does a fair job with the battle but seems to downplay one important aspect of the battle. The Roman legionaries got under the 16’ Macedonian sarissa (pikes) to cut down the phalanx in windrows.

The novel backtracks then to a military academy for training of future Roman military tribunes. There is some anachronism with one student messing around with gunpowder and theorizing about cannons. Read More

Mecha knights, space vampires, and the Sheik of Mars feature in this week’s roundup of the newest releases in science fiction.


Earth Unknown (Forgotten Earth #1) – M. R. Forbes

Centurion Space Force pilot Nathan Stacker didn’t expect to return home to find his wife dead. He didn’t expect the murderer to look just like him, and he definitely didn’t expect to be the one to take the blame.

But his wife had control of a powerful secret. A secret that stretches across the light years between two worlds and could lead to the end of both. Now that secret is in Nathan’s hands, and he’s about to make the most desperate evasive maneuver of his life — stealing a starship and setting a course for Earth.

He thinks he’ll be safe there. He’s wrong. Very wrong.

Earth is nothing like what he expected. Not even close. What he doesn’t know is not only likely to kill him, it’s eager to kill him, and even if it doesn’t?

The Sheriff will.


A House Divided (Terran Armor Corps #4) – Richard Fox

A crisis grows in the heart of the Terran Union, one that threatens to tear the Iron Dragoons apart.

When Roland and his lance rescue an Ibarra crew from a Kesaht attack, those saved become a pawn in a conspiracy that could turn the galaxy against all of humanity. Earth’s senior leaders must sacrifice the captured crew to preserve the peace, or risk war with the Ibarra Nation. But Stacey Ibarra and her lieutenants have plans of their own…

Roland, torn between his duty as a Templar and his loyalty to his home world, is thrust into the struggle between the Ibarras and Earth. He must choose between the factions, and there will be no turning back.

The next chapter of the Dragon Award winning series will forever change the Ember War universe.


The Last Champion (The Last War #4) – Peter Bostrom

Admiral Jack Mattis thinks Spectre, humanity’s nemesis, has been defeated. And he sacrificed the USS Midway to do it.

Now a US Navy pilot has gone missing. A terrorist group kidnaps a dozen infants. Admiral Mattis’s own infant grandson is suddenly and mysteriously ill with a sickness no doctor can–or will–diagnose. No one can piece the puzzle together, until from a derelict future-human ship Mattis finally recovers an actual mutant human, come from the future to destroy Spectre himself.

Because humanity’s greatest nemesis is not dead–he is only now ramping up his plan for galactic domination. And the pieces he sets in motion will force Admiral Mattis to make the unthinkable choice between saving a billion people, or saving his only grandson and a dozen other infants.

Spectre must be stopped.

And only one champion can stop him. Or die trying.


Mavericks (Expeditionary Force #6) – Craig Alanson

United Nations Special Operations Command sent an elite Expeditionary Force of soldiers and pilots out on a simple recon mission, and somehow along the way they sparked an alien civil war. Now the not-at-all-Merry Band of Pirates is in desperate trouble, again.

The remnants of the Expeditionary Force stranded on the alien-controlled planet ‘Paradise’ get a chance to prove themselves, in a simple off-world training mission with a ship full of teenage alien cadets. When the mission goes horribly wrong and the survival of everyone on Paradise is at risk, the Merry Band of Pirates may have to come to the rescue. Unless they get killed first… Read More

This may very well be the greatest audiobook ever produced. I’m not kidding. It’s right up there with Douglas Adams reading his own The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. Owen Stanley’s satirical novel is brilliant, of course, alternating between darkly and ridiculously funny, but Gabrielle Miller’s narration, in her unique Australian accent, takes it to a new level of hilarity. The way she does Roger Fletcher’s sneering laugh will crack you up, and her effortless switching between the roughneck and posh accents is spot-on.

And if you think you recognize the voice, let’s just say that you do and leave it at that.

THE MISSIONARIES is six hours and 41 minutes. You will not want to miss it. It’s that good.

Cold War, by Kris Neville, appeared in the October 1949 issue of Astounding. It can be read at Archive.org here.

Depicted: the subject of one of the conversations.

A President has a conversation! A hard-nosed journalist is briefly introduced and just as quickly dispatched! The dark secret the conversation was about and the journalist was killed for is revealed in another conversation!

Cold War attempts to crack the same nut as Doctor Strangelove—what happens when a crazy is in charge of the button?

Unfortunately, there’s really not much to this thinky story. The idea of people suffering space madness with their finger on the nuclear trigger is not a bad one, and in the hands of a more capable writer (a Stanislaw Lem?) it could’ve made for a decent short story. Even as it was written, the Presidential conversation in the first pages would make an intriguing slice of a longer work. But there’s just not enough substance to call Cold War a story.

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

The fourth book in the Dragon Award-winning Terran Armor Corps by Richard Fox charges forth.

A crisis grows in the heart of the Terran Union, one that threatens to tear the Iron Dragoons apart.

When Roland and his lance rescue an Ibarra crew from a Kesaht attack, those saved become a pawn in a conspiracy that could turn the galaxy against all of humanity. Earth’s senior leaders must sacrifice the captured crew to preserve the peace, or risk war with the Ibarra Nation. But Stacey Ibarra and her lieutenants have plans of their own…

Roland, torn between his duty as a Templar and his loyalty to his home world, is thrust into the struggle between the Ibarras and Earth. He must choose between the factions, and there will be no turning back.

The next chapter of the Dragon Award winning series will forever change the Ember War universe.

Don’t miss this action packed military science fiction adventure!

The Lords of Creation have learned that although they rule the solar system with their god-like scientific knowledge, there are even more powerful forces to be feared lurking out in the dark depths of space.

The vampiric necroforms are a massive empire of anti-life, terrible beyond all imagining, ruling a vast network of dead stars and planets they have drained of all life. And at last they have come to the Nine Worlds, seeking to destroy the last refuge of living things to be found in all the dying universe. But how can the Lords of Creation even hope to stop the nightmarish undead monstrosities when they are bitterly divided by pride, jealousy, and mutual suspicion?

SUPERLUMINARY is the latest and most outrageous creation of science fiction grandmaster John C. Wright, the Dragon-award winning author of THE UNWITHERING REALM, THE GOLDEN AGE, MOTH & COBWEB, and AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND. THE SPACE VAMPIRES is the second book in the series.


Aeneas did not recognize any of the constellations. The analytical screen, however, was able to match the spectrographic fingerprints of certain brighter stars in the view: Betelgeuse, Sirius, Vega. The stars Rasalhauge and Kornephoros were brighter than when seen from Earth. The three stars of Orion’s belt, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, were a shallow triangle rather than a line.

But the spectrograph for double stars of this system was not in any almanac. It should have been a star visible from Earth, with it characteristics known and recorded. It was not.

“We are within thirty-five to fifty lightyears of Sol,” Aeneas announced after scrutinizing the astronomical data for some time. “The bad news is that I do not have an exact location. This spectrographic fingerprints for these two stars appear in no almanac. The worse news is that I cannot return us to Sol with this equipment. It is roughly three or five times outside my operational range.”

Lady Luna had prevailed upon servant mechanisms to provide her a chair, not to mention a small luncheon of fruit, salad, venison, and red wine. She sipped the wine from a diamond cup.

Lord Pluto neither moved nor spoke, and may have turned off his own nervous system, since he stood without fidgeting.

Luna said, “By ‘this equipment’ you mean the warpcore it took a highly advanced technological civilization inhabiting every world and moon of the Solar System over a year of intense effort to prepare, right? So all we have to is, what? Find a civilization roughly three to five times more advanced than the Empire of Man? What is the good news?”

Aeneas said, “We are smack in the middle of a binary system whose suns are roughly the same size. A subgiant yellow sun twice as big as and six times brighter than Sol; its companion is an orange-red main sequence star a hair smaller than Sol and half as bright. Because of this, the gravitation barycenter is not underneath the surface of a sun, but nicely placed about seven AU’s from either star.”

Seven astronomical units was smaller than Saturn’s distance from Sol, but larger than Jupiter’s.

“It might be a trinary system, because that subgiant star is occluding our view of another star-sized gravity source beyond it.”

“Why is that good news?” Read More

Imagine an alt-history world where the United States of America consisted of a filthy, disease-ridden hell-hole ruled by vicious devil-worshipping psychopaths.

Go ahead and write your own joke.  I’ll wait.

Got that out of your system?  Good.  Because if you made the joke that I think you did, have I got a book for you.  The Devil’s Dictum by Frederick Geo Heimbach takes the concept of a United States founded by pirates, advances the clock to the mid-1940s, and then uses that as the backdrop for a story that seamlessly mixes satire, action, history, insanity, and political intrigue to create a tight little genre all its own.

It’s hard to explain the plot of a novel like this without giving away too much of the setting, and the slow reveal of the setting of The Devil’s Dictum is part of the charm of this novel.  With the eastern seaboard of the United States occupied by pox-ridden scoundrels, the dregs of every nation on earth, the religious refugees from Britain wind up founding a very different sort of Haiti.  No William Penn leaves his eponymous state taking the name “Kiddsylvania”.  No General Washington results in a capital named Burrsburg.  Satanism is the order of the day, and the resulting political turmoil of this United States of America sees the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court the highest law-giver in the land.  The capital building has been sealed tight, with the congresspersons locked inside – only food and ink and parchment are fed into the madhouse/legislature and only bills come out. Read More