Money isn’t evil. Money isn’t even the root of all evil—the love of money is. So why are so many people enamored of the notion that making money is bad bad terribad?

It’s true: there are immoral and ignoble ways to make money. (Like manufacturing candy corn or making pizzas with pineapple on them.) And those vocations are vile. But setting aside the obviously immoral, and presuming that you don’t worship money or wealth, making money in and of itself is not immoral.

Working to make money is a moral good.

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Fiction (Black Gate): There are guilty pleasures, and there are guiltier pleasures, and then there are the pleasures that have you wearing an orange jumpsuit and standing in front of a stone-faced judge with your hands and feet shackled together, wretchedly staring at the floor, unable to look anyone in the eye, so tongue-tied with shame and degradation that all you can do is whisper, “I just can’t help myself, Your Honor… I never meant to hurt anyone, and… I know it’s wrong, and… and, there’s no excuse… but… I just can’t help myself.”

That’s reading The Destroyer.


Tolkien (The Prancing Pony Podcast): Season 3 is here, and we begin by welcoming Tom Shippey to The Prancing Pony Podcast! We discuss his classic works The Road to Middle-earth and J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, and the remarkable story of his personal meeting with Professor Tolkien in 1972. We also talk about his new book Laughing Shall I Die, an exploration of the Viking heroic mindset and their grim (often inappropriate) sense of humor. Plus, the shocking link between Beowulf and a young woman searching for the perfect bowl of porridge.


Publishing (Injustice Gamer): Galaxy’s Edge does a lot of stuff very much right. They started with a bang, filling a desire with their #starwarsnotstarwars postings on twitter, and marketing that as the overall idea of the series. The money they spend on covers is large, but clearly successful, as they get emails from new readers drawn in by the covers. They’ve even been spotted in a few physical bookstores, something few indie books get, at least before they get signed by a publisher. Their output is about a book a month, and while that’s great, all the books are by them, and start feeling the same after so many.

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The Cimmerian was a one of the best Robert E. Howard small press magazines ever produced. Editor/publisher Leo Grin had the idea of a magazine that contained well edited, entertaining non-fiction articles, a few poems, and a letter section. Art, all too often bad art would overwhelm many a small press magazine. The Cimmerian had a few small pieces per issue. The most radical idea was a regular publishing schedule. It was a bimonthly magazine for four out of five years. It ran monthly in 2006.

The magazine paid well for the small press. The result was an overall high quality magazine with contents that continue to be mined today.

The Cimmerian Press has been putting out e-book “triple packs.” The newest this week is Famous Someday: A Robert E. Howard LitCrit Triple Punch Pack!

Contents include:

“He Was Deadly”                                            The Cimmerian, V1n3 (August 2004)

“The Last of the Baker Kids”                          The Cimmerian, V3n3 (March 2006)

“COnun and TarZAN”                                     The Cimmerian, V3n6 (June 2006)

“Robert’ll be Famous Someday”                    The Cimmerian, V3n10 (October 2006)

“it is My Desire”                                              The Cimmerian, V3n9 (September 2006)

“Ur Gent”                                                        The Cimmerian, V3n8 (August 2006) Read More

Castalia House and Arkhave are pleased to announce that The Ember War comic crowdfunding campaign has reached its funding goal of $20,000. Thank you to all 317 backers who have ensured that The Ember War team will be bringing Dragon Award-winner Richard Fox’s bestselling series to life with five issues and 120 pages of action-packed military science fiction.

With five days remaining, there’s still time to contribute to the campaign.

I am Armor. I am Fury. I Will not Fail.” The first stretch goal at $35,000 is an exclusive print of Elias in his armor mecha fighting the Xaros by The Ember War novels cover artist Justin Adams! This print will be included for all backers of the book at trade paperback or above levels.

This week’s roundup of the newest releases in fantasy and adventure features ancient conspiracy theories, Saxon warriors, a Comanche rescue, the ultraviolent Goblin Slayer, and Haruki Murakami’s newest novel.

The Aryan Agenda (Harvey Bennett #6) – Nick Thacker

Ancient conspiracy theories. Neo-Nazis. Nonstop action.

Harvey Bennett and his CSO team receive a distress call from their friend, Sarah Lindgren:

Her father has been kidnapped. Worse, she believes his kidnapping is only the tip of the iceberg.

From Santorini to Egypt, Michigan to Athens, The Aryan Agenda is a nail-biting mystery/thriller of epic proportions!

Harvey Bennett is back in his most intense adventure yet.

Dragon Storm (Dragonwalker #5) – D. K. Holmberg

A war long thought over has returned, and this time the empire is not equipped to survive. Still, the dragons are safe, living in the heart of the forest near an ancient Deshazl settlement. Though hidden from the Damhur who would control them, Fes feels they deserve more and longs to see them fly free again.

When another attack leaves the empire weakened, Fes and a few friends search for allies. Finding those allies is key, but who can they trust? With the most recent attack, the likelihood of defeat looms close, and without help, they will certainly fail.

Worse, not all is as it seems. The war that has raged for centuries has left a far more lasting effect than any have ever known. The empire must be secured, and only then can Fes take the next step in ending the war—this time for good. But if he can’t protect the dragons, how can he defend against the Damhur?

Ghost in the Amulet (Ghost Night #3) – Jonathan Moeller

Caina Amalas was once a deadly Ghost nightfighter, a spy and agent of the Emperor of Nighmar.

For all her life, Caina has run from the memory of her cruel mother.

But her mother was merely the weakest member of a family of powerful and ruthless sorcerers.

Now Caina has the Ring of the ancient necromancer-king Rasarion Yagar, and her aunt Talmania Scorneus is hunting for her.

And to take the Ring, Talmania is willing to kill Caina and everyone close to her…

Goblin Slayer, Volume 5 – Kumo Kagyu

A young priestess has formed her first adventuring party, but almost immediately they find themselves in distress. It’s the Goblin Slayer who comes to their rescue–a man who’s dedicated his life to the extermination of all goblins, by any means necessary. And when rumors of his feats begin to circulate, there’s no telling who might come calling next…

A young noblewoman has disappeared while out on a goblin hunting quest. When Goblin Slayer and his party set out to find her, they are stunned to discover a horde of goblins have built their nest within an ancient dwarven fortress…and these ones even appear to be followers of some primitive, sadistic cult! But what troubles Goblin Slayer most of all is their leader, who is stronger and more intelligent than any goblin he’s faced before… Read More

Yesterday, IndieGoGo cancelled the Alt-Hero:Q crowdfunding campaign for allegedly violating their Terms and Services. IndieGoGo has begun notifying backers and refunding contributions. If you backed Alt-Hero:Q, please check your email for a message from IndieGoGo confirming that a refund was issued.  Per IndieGoGo, “refunds are issued back to the credit or debit card used to make the contribution. It may take three to five business days to process for US issued cards, and up to ten business days for international credit cards.” If there is an issue with your refund, please contact IndieGoGo for resolution.

Rest assured that the Arkhaven team is exploring the next steps in completing Alt-Hero:Q. Keep an eye on the Castalia House blog for further  announcements.

The Xi Effect, by Philip Latham was the cover story for the January 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. For whatever reason, it was stripped out of the scan of the issue, but if you’re a masochist, it can still be read here at Wikisource.

Welcome to my Friday column, where each week I talk about how much I hate Astounding Science Fiction! Or at least that’s how it feels these days, and believe me, The Xi Effect didn’t help!

A pair of astrophysicists are having issues with their observations; they hear a lecture on the Xi Effect, wherein space-time shrinkage occurs. Well it’s occurring, and the astrophysicists observe it!

It’s exactly as exciting as it sounds.

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Beating up on Dungeons And Dragons Official ™ licensed works rightfully has a reputation for playing the literary criticism game with the difficulty set to “I’m Too Young To Die”. The lifestyle brand sells the books, and the community, not the actual prose, and Wizards of the Coast has only rarely made an effort to improve on the well-earned reputation of their novels. They sell enough to turn a profit, and keep the brand alive, and these days reinforce the usual political narratives, and that’s enough. Back in 2011, they took a shot at it by assembling a solid team of well-known writers such as Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick, and Kevin J. Anderson to contribute to short works to Untold Adventures: A Dungeons and Dragons Anthology.

Curious to learn how an author such as Alan Dean Foster might approach such a herculean task, reading his entry, The Steel Princess provided some insight into why the D&D style of fiction always feels so hollow. Alan Dean Foster has long been a workhouse of traditional publishing. While his prose never truly excels, his ability to take the lighter fare of screenplays and enhance them with considerable world-building and depth in settings and characters has earned him a reputation as a man able to spin, if not gold, at least a valuable thread of silver from cinematic straw. If anyone could make D&D fiction interesting, certainly it’s Alan Dean Foster.

That being the case, The Steel Princess provides further evidence that no one can make D&D fiction interesting. He makes a valiant effort, and the core of this story shines through despite the thick covering of D&D tropes. Long ago a princess was cursed to guard a battlefield until all the fallen and broken swords, and her new metallic body composed entirely of blades, rust away to nothing but crimson dust. Our hero seeks out this Queen of Swords to trade his life that she might command a sliver of steel lodged in his brother’s breast to release its hold and spare the man’s life. Those two sentences might make for an incredible tale of sacrifice and redemption and love. If handled right, the set-up, the setting, and the resolution could resonate deeply with the reader and provide a rare glimpse into a world of wonder and alien beauty and magic.

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Click on photo to page containing good info on specifications and factories used in T-34 tank production.

This post will concentrate on the organization of a mid-1942 T-34 tank battalion and start laying the ground work for the final post’s comparison of the Panzer Mk III against the T-34/1941 followed by turns 5 and 6 of the During Action Report (DAR).  The battle has turned into a slug fest.  All this after the jump.

Links to earlier posts: Part I and Part II.

On the picture to the right and despite the notation “..and designated as T-34 Model 1942” the diagram is definitely a T-34/76 Model 1941.  The best way to tell is the large hatch on top of the turret. According to T-34 In Action the large hatch was designed to aid the evacuation of wounded crewmen but combat experience and tanker’s complaint lead to a design update for smaller hatches.  The large hatch proved too heavy for both daily use and when needed for a quick escape.  Later war models were smaller and round.  You can even get your own here for £95

As a FYI for hardcore modelers here is a turret identification guide for the late war T-34/85. and a report from Factory 112 on turret design. I’ve yet to explore the two web pages I just linked to but I’ll definitely be digging into them as it seems like a lot of good info is on offer. 

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So I went and saw Venom. It’s a Tom Hardy movie, and he was phenomenal in Warrior and also The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Dunkirk, and so forth. He’s a great actor, but all the trailers for this film were terrible: among other things, the special effects for the Venom parasite were awful. The parasite looked like a cheap plastic toy, like it was made entirely out of the same material as Tide Pods. (Which, now that I think of it, may have been some kind of subliminal marketing, to appeal to Generation Tide Pod.)

It’s a problem when trailers do nothing to make one want to see the movie. Fortunately, the movie is much better than the trailers made it seem.

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Fiction (DMR Books): Today would be the one hundred and fourth birthday of Donald A. Wollheim. When it comes to a debate regarding which editor had the greatest overall impact on the field of science fiction, Wollheim often gets shortchanged–in my opinion–in favor of Hugo Gernsback and/or John W. Campbell. However, that neglect pales in comparison to the ignorance I’ve encountered when trying to discuss Wollheim’s unequaled editorial legacy in the sword and sorcery genre. No other editor in the history of S&S comes close.






Fiction (John C. Wright): I fear that, as I go in publication order through the Conan canon of Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age stories, if I continue to praise each tale as brilliant and original, the reader might begin to suspect that I gush over everything flowing from Howard’s pen uncritically.

But, alas, Howard’s writing continues to be brilliant and original, and my critical eye sees little to criticize. To be sure, there are recurring themes and tropes that repeat from tale to tale, but rather than seeming rote or unoriginal, they gather momentum and weigh, in just the same way, in comedy, if done right, a running joke gets funnier each time it is revisited.




Fiction (DMR Books): Clark Ashton Smith’s story, “The Black Abbot of Puthuum,” appeared in the March 1936 issue of Weird Tales.  This story, part of Smith’s Zothique cycle, chronicles the adventures of two soldiers in the employ of King Hoaraph of Yoros. The Zothique tales take place in Earth’s far flung future; the supercontinent of Zothique is a geological patchwork made up of sections of Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, India, east Africa and the Indonesian archipelago. A smaller continent lies across the ocean to the south, while to the west, a few small islands reside. Due to the extreme age of the planet, countless sequences of cultures and civilizations have risen and fallen over the long span of eons. Zothique is the last continent, inhabited by the last vestiges of humanity (and other races) prior to the planet’s final demise. In this late, decadent era, a monarch’s rule is absolute, sorcery (or something very much resembling it) holds sway and technology is reminiscent of Earth’s Bronze Age.


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The days are getting shorter, cooler, and the leaves are changing colors. I generally turn to macabre fiction during October through Halloween (my favorite “holiday”).

One collection that I reread portions and finished what I originally did not read is Darker Tides by Eric Frank Russell. I had bought this book as part of four books for reduced price sale from Midnight House. Midnight House was one of the imprints of publisher John Pelan that published 23 titles from 1999 to 2006.

Midnight Press was more horror oriented in product. There was a companion imprint, Darkside Press that was slightly more science fictional in orientation.

In the introduction to Darker Tides, John Pelan said the central plan behind the volumes  as “books that I want in my collection” and “books that I have in my collection that I suspect others would enjoy too.” Read More