For readers who want exciting tales of daring heroes up against impossible odds in exotic settings, the eight issue of Cirsova: Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction is now hot off the press.

This issue of the acclaimed fantasy and science fiction magazine features:

Novelettes

  • “Slavers of Venus,” by Nathan Dabney
  • “Promontory,” by Jon Zaremba

Short Stories

  • “Littermates” (Part 1 of 2), by J.D. Brink
  • “Brandy and Dye,” by Jim Breyfogle
  • “Breaking the Accords,” by Amy Power Jansen
  • “The Dream Lords,” by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt
  • “Only a Coward,” by Jennifer Povey
  • “Party Smashers,” by Ken McGrath
  • “Going Native,” by J. Manfred Weichsel

Castalia House is very pleased to announce the publication of Superluminary: The Space Vampires by science fiction grandmaster John C. Wright.

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.

SUPERLUMINARY is arguably John C. Wright’s darkest, most mind-boggling work to date. It’s spectacular space opera on the very grandest scale, so grand that no description can possibly do it justice. It simply has to be read in order to be believed. No one writing in science fiction today thinks bigger or does it better.

From the reviews of Superluminary: The Lords of Creation:

  • Space opera on a Grandmaster scale. This is an easily read story, with grand science concepts and speculation, and a great deal of human nature on display. I recommend it for any young man over the age of nine, who wants to discover just what’s larger and more powerful than a Death Star (hint: think big, no, … BIG).
  • No living writer has captured the spirit of E. E. Doc Smith like J. C. Wright. I’ve heard it said that Wright is the greatest living Science Fiction author. Perhaps he is. But J. C. Wright is far and away the greatest pulp author publishing today.
  • Another masterpiece by Wright. John C. Wright’s books expand the imagination like no other author in the field. Just when you think you know where his story is going he takes a hard turn, and then again. This book does so every chapter, and never lets up the gas. A ton of fun.
  • I’ve been waiting for years for John C. Wright to write a new space epic better than his Golden Age trilogy and I think this is it! If you like Wright’s Awake in the Night Land, get this. In science fiction, Wright is peerless.
  • JCW ramps the pace up to eleven. The Lords of Creation is an explosive tale of space travel, family intrigue, assasination, nanobot resurrection, life force, death force, and forbidden knowledge of the power to create and destroy. Highly recommend.

With nothing big enough to be worth spending an entire column talking about, it’s time for a potpourri episode!

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Solo, a Star Wars Story, failed in large extent because the writer was trying to force together four different genres—genres with different character archetypes, incompatible visual styles, and above all, wildly differing pacing—into one movie. It wants to be a Heist Movie AND a Film Noir AND an Action-Comedy AND a Space Opera flick. Take out any one of these elements—dropping Film Noir would be the easiest, and best, IMHO—and you could have a movie that works. But all of these together in the same film is a guaranteed disaster. Even if everything else (casting, writing, directing) had been done right—and it wasn’t—this would have sunk the movie.

Read More

Publishing (Walker’s Retreat): That’s an opportunity I cannot ignore. It is also an opportunity I am undercapitalized to exploit. To remedy this, I set up at Freestartr. I will add this link to the Gifts & Support tab today, right at the top, for future convenience. My post at the Study yesterday addresses the immediate uses I have for this account.

 

RPG (RPG Pundit): Here’s the video of yesterday’s Livestream of Inappropriate Characters; wherein I (the RPGPundit), Venger Satanis, and GrimJim talk about Anita Sarkeesian being chosen as Gencon’s “Guest of Honor”, about kickstarters and tips for running one, and Grim & Venger talk about the problems they have getting to game while old (I’m pretty sure I’m older than both, and yet I don’t really get what they’re on about). Also, we answer questions from our live viewers!

 

Gaming (Table Top Gaming News): Woo! Weekend! Woo!Yeah… so, it was actually a short week in the office, since I had Monday at home. But damn, it still felt just as long as a regular week… maybe even longer.
But after seemingly interminable years, it’s finally Saturday again.
So, while I’m playing some D&D, you can read about some game reviews. Sound good? Let’s get to it.

This week we have: Anno Domini 1666, Century Golem Edition,

Vanguard of War, 7 Wonders, Super Mario: Level Up!, The Lady and the Tiger, Chariots of Rome, and Heaven & Ale. Read More

Historical adventure took on a new life in the pages of Argosy-All Story Weekly in the late 1920s. It had been a part of both Argosy and All-Story Weekly before the two merged as one publication in 1920. There seemed to be some waning of historical adventure during the 1920s and then an upsurge late in the decade.

Swashbucklers remained a steady form of fiction for Argosy up until its end as pulp magazine in 1943. In fact one could probably put together a hefty collection just of pirate fiction and another of puffy shirt swordsmen stories from its pages.

One writer who wrote a handful of swashbucklers was Forrest Rosaire (1902-1977). He is best remembered today as a crime/detective/mystery writer under the name of “J.-J des Ormeaux.” Joseph T. Shaw reprinted one of his stories from Black Mask magazine (“The Devil Suit”) in the classic anthology, The Hard-Boiled Omnibus in 1946.

As des Ormeaux, he also had one story in Weird Tales (“Siva the Destroyer) February-March 1931 which is a Sax Rohmer type super criminal story.

“The Black Sorcerer” sounds like the title of a Clark Ashton Smith story. It appeared under Forrest Rosaire instead of the des Ormeaux pseudonym in September 16, 1932 issue of Argosy. Under the title on the table of contents page, the line “Action Stories of Every Variety” was present. Gone were the romance stories that H. P. Lovecraft had hated in the teens. Read More

The northern frontier of Britannia, a magical school, a conquered city, and Manly Wade Wellman’s Sgt. “Bible” Jaeger feature in this week’s roundup of the newest releases in fantasy and adventure.


Desperate Measures (The Valens Legacy #8) – Jan Stryvant

Things are starting to heat up for Sean and for some of his allies as well. The Sacramento Vestibulum council is starting to act in ways that no one had anticipated, and the Gradatim national council is by no means standing idly by either. When several of the councils decide to ban together in a move to eradicate Sean’s followers and remove him as well, Sean has no choice other than to try and teach them a painful lesson.

But those aren’t all the problems that Sean now has to deal with. More and more people are counting on him as the days go by and the burdens he must shoulder are quickly growing. Between the magical work he must do, the people he must lead, the battles he has to fight, and the money he needs to earn, Sean barely has time for his wives, much less himself these days.

And if dealing with the magic users isn’t enough, there are some very ‘mundane’ issues on the horizon that he may soon find himself dealing with as well.


Embers of Empire (Ava’s Crucible #2) – Mark Goodwin

America has fallen and Ava’s band of misfits is all that stands between freedom and absolute tyranny.

Political division in the United States has reached the boiling point and the Second American Civil War is well underway. Communist agitators have been successful in their efforts to intimidate voters from key states and steal the election. A far-left socialist candidate has seized the reins of power and his designs against the republic are absolute. With a sympathetic congress, he will sign in sweeping bans on firearms, criminalize free speech, and institute a new government agency to root out dissenters.

Ava’s group pledges to launch an insurgency campaign against the occupying force in Texas, but they’ll have to watch out for those who have been tasked with purging the patriots. Her team cannot fail in their mission to liberate Texas. If Texas falls, America’s demise is all but certain.


The Encircling Sea (Vindolanda #2) – Adrian Goldsworthy

Flavius Ferox, Briton turned Roman centurion, is charged with keeping Rome’s empire intact. But from his base at Vindolanda on the northern frontier of Britannia, he feels enemies closing in on him from all sides.

Ambitious leaders await the chance to carve out empires of their own. While men nearer at hand speak in whispers of war and the destruction of Rome.

And now new threats are reaching Ferox’s ears. Stories about the boat-dwelling men of the night, who have cursed the land and only come ashore to feast on men’s flesh.

These are just rumours for now. But Ferox knows that rumours stem from truth. And that no one on this isle is safe from the great, encircling sea…


The Family Shame (The Zero Enigma #4) – Christoper G. Nuttall

Isabella Rubén is a traitor – at twelve years old.

Disgraced, abandoned by her friends and shunned by her family, Isabella is sent into exile with scant hope of returning to her former home. Her destination, Kirkhaven Hall; a stone mansion miles from civilisation, inhabited only by a pair of older exiles. Existence as she knew it is over.

But as she tries to settle into Kirkhaven Hall, and a life far from the one she enjoyed before her fall from grace, she discovers that the hall has secrets. Intruders on the grounds, ghostly shadows moving at night …

… and a plot that may destroy everything she once held dear. Read More

Cirsova Publishing has teamed up with Little Rocket Publications on the eve of the 35th anniversary of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars® to publish a special edition of Wild Stars III: Time Warmageddon.

Faster-than-light scouts are arriving at distant suns to discover that they have been “replaced” by white dwarfs and their planets have gone missing… Terraformers find a world that shows signs of previous human colonization: who were those people and where did they go? The saga of the Wild Stars continues as former-President Bully Bravo seeks to solve these mysteries while pursued by an evil pirate queen and a rogue time-traveler trying to create a god.

Cover by Tim Lim

Read More

Quando Capitano Europa fa un’ offerta a Janelle Jeanneret che non può rifiutare, la modella Francese non esita ad arruolarsi con L’ Iniziativa per la Giustizia Globale. Dopotutto, provvederanno un appartamento stupendo in Bruxelles, una nuova divisa, e addirittura un nuovo nome appariscente. Le offrono anche di pagarle una valanga di soldi… esente tasse! Ma c’è un tranello? D’altronde, come farà un groppo di superumani basato in Europa a stabilire giustizia globale?

Alt★Hero e il primo in un eccitante nuova linea di fumetti di supereroi di Arkhaven Comics.

TOLLERANZA ZERO is our first foreign language translation, and it was an interesting challenge because we needed a different font that had all the necessary accents. We also needed to make sure the various text strings fit inside the existing speech balloons. We ended up going with one that worked out so well that we will probably switch to it for future English editions. This is, of course, a digital edition for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

The next foreign language edition will be French, followed by German. We will get these into print eventually, but it is not an immediate priority. It’s free on Kindle Unlimited, so why not download a copy and brush up on your language skills. And on the topic of Alt★Hero, more than 15 percent of the available Gold Logo editions for the first issue were sold on Day One, so if you would like one for posterity’s sake, don’t wait too long.

The Ghost Who Walks returns in Hermes Press’s reprinting of the Phantom’s classic novels. In the second, The Slave Markets of Mucar, the Phantom leaves his jungle stronghold for the deserts of Arabia. Prisoners have been escaping from a legendary impenetrable fortress. So when one of the Phantom’s Jungle Patrol agents investigating the prison goes missing, the Phantom must break inside, root out the corrupt officials, and trace the “escaped” prisoners before they are sold in Mucar. To stop this slavery, the Phantom dishes out two-fisted justice with the wisdom of Solomon, accompanied by his wolf, Devil.

The Slave Markets of Mucar is a straightforward adventure through exotic settings. If it seems a little quaint today, it is because our world is sedentary and unacquainted with danger. While the Phantom as a character is a contemporary of pulp heroes such as the Shadow, his novels do not rely on the lurid descriptions of the hero pulps. Instead, the novels update the classic Argosy general adventure to the pacing of the men’s adventure stories. However, the Phantom is more force than character here, as he pulls off impossible treks across the desert to appear where no man expects him. This means that The Slave Markets of Mucar is a bit scant on characterization, but the novel is a short read designed to fill a span of idle time instead of the better part of a weekend. Read More

So this is something that’s been a long time in coming. The folks who would become Arkhaven Comics started working on this back about a year ago. We didn’t do the Freestartr campaign until October, but they were preparing for it before then. And so it’s incredibly satisfying to be able to announce that not only have we printed and published Alt★Hero #1, but it is now actually available for order from Castalia Books Direct as well as from Amazon. Within two or three days you can go to your local Barnes & Noble or local bookstore and find it.

The one place that you’re not going to be able to find it yet is the comic book stores because we haven’t started that campaign yet. Not until the first volume of Chuck Dixon’s Avalon is ready to go.

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.

If you like military science fiction, or enjoy the world of Quantum Mortis, you really have to start reading Wardogs Incorporated. Book Three will be out before too long, so you should have time to read the first two if you haven’t already.


Our other patrols were back and casualty-free. Jock gathered us quickly. “They tracked the drop, boys. They know we’re here, they know we need this. And they have at least one tank. Open these containers as fast as you can and search for anything we can use to blow it to hell.”

“We’re going to need a crowbar,” Four-eyes said, using the word as if he’d always known it. I was already rifling through the toolbox in my jeep. I came out with a long screwdriver and a hammer. Jock grabbed the same, we raced to the first container and I started working at the thing. It had a lock of some sort that was supposed to be opened by some special tool. After a minute, I realized the hammer/screwdriver combo wasn’t going to cut it.

“Clear out,” I yelled, then fired a round into the lock. Still stuck. Then again. I hated doing that because of the ricochets. The third round cracked the lock and I pried with the screwdriver as Ward and Jones pulled at the door. It let go, almost throwing us on the ground, and we were greeted with a flood of packing peanuts. Brushing them away I got to the cardboard and shrink-wrap covered boxes inside, then cut into the first one with my bayonet. A spurt of red startled me until I smelled tomato. Great. More lasagna.

“Next!” I yelled, and we started on the next container. POW POW—two shots this time, then prying it open, then another flood of packing peanuts. “Come on, Four-eyes,” I said, throwing them away in fistfuls, “you really sure you don’t know what’s in these?”

“No,” he said. “I got weights but not contents. That last one could have been one long gun or ten thousand blankets.”

“Or a restaurant shipment,” I said, as I cut into the first box I could reach. This one opened without damage and I hit something metal, and cut around it and got my hand into the dark box and around a cylinder. I pulled it out. It had a picture on the side. Loquats in syrup.

I threw it down and went to the next container, which was already being opened by Jones and Ward.

“Hey!” yelled Jock. “We got some ammo over here!”

“Great,” I yelled back. “RPGs?”

“Negative,” he said. “Small arms.”

“Then we have to keep–” Four-eyes said, then suddenly fell to the ground as I simultaneously heard the crack of a rifle. I hit the ground hard and heard the rattle of answering fire from behind another container. I didn’t see the sniper—but I saw the pool of blood under Four-eyes and swore—he was already dead. Right in the neck. GODDAMMIT!

Ping-CRACK! I heard another bullet hit the container before the crack of the report. I sent a burst of fire up the field but still saw no-one. More answering fire rattled in my ears. Blood was rushing to my head as I went into the red zone—that madness you get under fire. Things slowed down as I spotted Ace behind the next container, rifle pointed over my head. He waved me in, and I ran in a crouch and hunkered down beside him.

“Ace,” I said, “you good?”

“Yeah,” he said, looking through his sight, rifle propped on his good knee. “I ain’t moving, so they’d better get in sight. Yes… okay… there you go… right–” CRACK! He sent a round and I saw a man jump up in the grass, then fall again.

“That might be it,” he said. “For the moment.”

“Stay here and snipe,” I said. All I could think about was hitting back. “I’m cracking cargo. Where did Leighton go?”

“TOMMY!” yelled Jock, “Over here!”

I ran three containers over to where he was pulling out a large wooden crate with Park’s help. A bullet whizzed overhead. Park sent a burst of fire back as Jock and I ripped off the lid.

“Whoa,” I said, realizing the interior of the box had multiple smaller boxes inside carefully nested in foam. I picked one up—it was really heavy. “What the devil are these?”

“Oh shit,” said Jock. “There are nuke shells. Lead-lined cases—made for a howitzer.”

“What the hell–” I said, then two more bullets hit the ground in front of me.

“Next container,” Jock yelled as we hit the ground and started crawling. “We can’t launch those things anyhow.”

Just as we got to the next container, there was a massive THUMP! and a crackling explosion of breaking glass and metal. I looked back—NO! MY JEEP!

A tank had crested the hill and blown up my goddamn jeep! Now I was pissed. I opened up with my rifle at the tank.

“Save your damn ammo!” Jock yelled at me.

“My JEEP!” I yelled back. “He blew up my goddam jeep!”

“Shut the hell up,” Jock said, then yelled to the rest of the guys. “Back—get back! Tank incoming!”

THUMP-CRACK! A shell hit one of the containers near me, sending a massive splash of liquid up into the air. I suddenly smelled apples. Apple juice. Great.

“Get to the woods!” Jock yelled. Howland was hauling Ace by one arm. I grabbed the other and we hauled it towards the woods, half carrying our pilot.

The other guys were winging rounds back but I was too encumbered to use my rifle. 50 meters… 40… meters… THUMP! A shell hit near us and threw us on the ground. Ace yelled in pain and I felt the sting of hot metal go into my right arm and neck. My ears were ringing. 35 meters to the woods. I pulled Ace up and Howland started to rise, then fell back to the ground and looked at me with a surprised expression as foam and blood poured from his mouth.

“Howland!” I yelled, letting go of Ace and putting my hand on him. He looked up at me and said something that came out as a bubbling hiss, then his eyes went blank and a final breath rattled from his throat. He was gone—and I saw why, his jacket was soaked with blood. Chest hit.

“Dammit!” Ace yelled. “We gotta move!”

I grabbed his arm but as we got up, THUMP! Another shell hit, knocking me on my ass. I looked back. Two tanks closing in, and at least a squad of guys coming over the top behind them. They’d spotted us and were closing in. “Come on!” I yelled, grabbing Ace and speeding him towards the woods. 20 meters, 10 meters—THUMP—CRACK! A tree in front of us blew into toothpicks, showering us with chips of wood as we closed in—and then were were in the woods. Ward grabbed Ace’s other arm as we went further in. The woods were way too thin for my liking. Mostly regrowth with lots of space in between cover.

“Over here!” Jock yelled. “Another container!”

There, half hung up in a tree was another container. Jock blew the lock off and we started yanking out packaging. Medical supplies and linens. DAMMIT!

Bullets zipped over us and leaves fell from the trees. The tanks had stopped for the moment, but I knew we were going to be joined by Corwistalians in a moment.

Jock nodded at Park and he went up a tree to watch the mottled light at the entrance to the woods. I didn’t see Jones anywhere.

I heard more gunfire behind us and whipped around. I couldn’t see anything, but Jock tagged my arm and I went back to look.

As I tip-toed, I heard a grunt from a little ways ahead, then a “Eureka!”

“Jones!” I yelled.

“Falkland—get over here!”

He’d found another container and busted it open. “Here’s the ticket!” he said, thumping the side of a long case. “120mm mortar!”

“Run,” I said to Jones. “Get the rest of the guys.”

He ran back. I heard the rattling of guns off in the distance as I dug around for a crate of rounds.
A moment later, Jones was back, along with Jock. “Park and Ace are coming,” Jock said, grabbing one end of a crate and throwing it out of the way. A bullet whizzed past us but we didn’t dare shoot back, knowing our guys were still coming. I found a box of rounds and thanked Ares for his provision.

Park and Ace came up and Park dropped Ace next to a tree and lent his shoulder to the effort. As I pushed, I saw blood on the sleeve of my jacket. Shrapnel. Don’t bleed to death now, I told myself as I pulled out rounds. I could hear the tank engines now. Way too close! “How the hell are we supposed to hit guys this close with a mortar?”

“Horizontal fire,” Ace yelled, pain on his face. “Jam the baseplate against a tree or something, then throw the shell down the tube.”’

“I swear, if the bad guys don’t kill us you guys will,” Jock said.

Image result for gurren lagann'Image result for fullmetal alchemist brotherhoodI have a few articles on the backburner (the ones getting the most attention from me now are articles on how “My Hero Academia” creates a consistent set of rules for its fantasy world and one on why I believe there were valid reasons for “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” to streamline its opening episodes beyond simply skipping past stuff covered in the original 2003 FMA anime), but they aren’t quite finished yet, so in lieu of them take a listen to fellow Superversive author Corey McCleery and me on the Whippersnappers livestream as we discuss the two classic anime “Gurren Lagann” and, yes, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”. We cover a LOT of ground, so there should be something for everyone to like once you get past my nasal voice and slight lisp.

The Whippersnappers livestream provides a youthful perspective on science fiction and fantasy from the younger members of the Superversive fiction movement. Besides Corey and me we usually will include author April Freeman and various comers and goers in our discussions as well, but with Miss Freeman busy planning her upcoming nuptials we decided that our combined enthusiasm for both shows was sufficient fodder to cover the necessary ground.

Enjoy!