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  • Review: She Walks in Shadows

    The Cthulhu Mythos, the original tales by H.P. Lovecraft and for a long time the vast majority of the stories written by his friends and successors are lacking one thing (both the stories and the successors):

    Women.

    Both the stories and the the league of authors are almost devoid of women and I was only aware of Sonia Greene, as far as female authors are concerned. So I was delighted when a friend pointed me towards She Walks in Shadows, an anthology written entirely by female devotees of the Mythos and featuring female protagonists.

    I was also a little weary since I have had mixed experiences with anthologies in the past andShe Walks in Shadows is all about my favourite fictional universe, I knew I would react a bit touchy if the anthology was a disappointment.

    I need not have worried, She Walks in Shadow is a jewel, a jewel more akin to a Shining Trapezohedron, but a jewel none the less.

    While I did not enjoy every story, the ones I did enjoy far outweight the ones I did not.

     

    “Cthulhu of the Dead Sea” by Inkeri Kontro and “Bring the Moon to Me” by Amelia Gorman share the #1 spot in my personal list, both blending science and the Cthulhu Mythos in delightfully creative ways and being bone-chilling at the same time.

     

    Another great one is “Notes Found in a Decommissioned Asylum, December 1961″ by Sharon Mock. The style of the story really drags you into the brutal reality of an insane asylum and then there is some Cthulhu Mythos sprinkled on top.

     

    “The Thing in The Cheerleading Squad” by Molly Tanzer is really delightfully different and not slapsticky at all, although you might think it is, judging from the title.

     

    But the review would not be complete without mentioning the final story of the anthology:

    “Queen of a New America” by Wendy N. Wagner, a tale featuring everybody’s favourite evil lady pharao: Nitocris,truly a lady with a plan.

     

    She Walks in Shadows is a great and delightfully different Cthulhu Mythos anthology that opens new perspectives on old tales and spins new ones, adding more facettes to the cosmic horror that is the Cthulhu Mythos.

    The Anthology contains 25 original short stories, there is a lot more to discover than the stories I mentioned in this review. Get a copy, you will not regret it…

     

    8 out of 10 screaming Haunting Horrors

     


  • Ætherhertz – A Genuinely Awesome German Steampunk Novel

    In the past I have on numerous occasions complained about the way Germany and Germans are portraied in Anglo-centric Steampunk fiction (i.e. the authors had a tendency of making the Germans a) the villains and b) Nazis with Pickelhauben).

    Now I have the great pleasure of presenting a genuine German Steampunk novel to you and an awesome one on top of that. Ætherhertz gives you a first-hand look into what Steampunk Germany could really have looked like, with an accurate depiction of what society in the time of the Kaiser really was like and with amazing attention to detail.

    Ætherhertz has of course been translated into English for your reading pleasure, I am not forcing you to read a book in German, do not worry.

    Ætherhertz is a splendid read, the German original (by the same name) is still the Steampunk novel I meassure all other German Steampunk novels against. The world feels real, has beautifu Steampunk and Steamfantasy elements in it and presents a Steampunk world from a very different perspective to the one you may be used to.

    No colonies, no big cities (Baden-Baden is a rather small town, even today) and no threats to the British Empire. This novel is about the people, and it spans the whole spectrum, high-society, the poor, the military, the criminals and all of the people feel real.

    But before I sing more praise for Æthehertz, here is a short synopsis from the author herself:

     

    Baden-Baden 1910

    Since the turn of the century, a substance called Æther is rising from the waters, and it is changing the world. A blessing for the industry, a curse for the people, for some of them are being transformed into creatures from fairy-tales and legends. The so-called »Corrupted« are haunting the green mists, and themselves hunted and locked up in jails or asylums.

    It is in these strange times, the story begins:
    In the famous spa town of Baden-Baden, young women are being poisoned by a mysterious substance. While investigating the case, Fräulein Annabelle Rosenherz uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the whole Grand Duchy of Baden.

    But Annabelle is in grave danger herself, she has secrets of her own, and while she tries to solve the murders, she finds rejection and people obsessed by power, but also love.

    A steampunk novel set in the beautiful town of Baden-Baden: Stroll with us under the brightly lit gas lanterns, wander along the Lichtenthaler Allee, past the stately casinos towards the first class hotels and fashionable gathering places of the high society, but also towards the perilous secrets thriving in the dark and the misty heights of the Black Forest.

    Look here if you want to know more, or contact the author about a free copy for a review: Ætherbooks on Facebook

    Now available in ebook format: Aetherworld

     

    So please, if you are interested in Steampunk from a different perspective than the regular British Empire or US-centric ones, give this one a read, you will not regret it!


  • Steampunk Writers Around the World – Volume I – OUT NOW!

    It seems ages ago when my friend Josue Ramos and others came up with the idea of assembling a group of Steampunk writers from all around the globe to work together on a truely international and culturally diverse Steampunk anthology.

    The project survived through the financial crisis, although it lost its original would-be publisher but was then adopted by Lunar Press.

    So finally, after more years than any of us would have thought, I am honored to reveal the Steampunk Writers Around the World  Volume I anthology. Hot off the presses, a July release by Lunar Press, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

     

    FOREWORD By Kevin Steil

     

    THE STORY OF YOUR HEART By Josué Ramos – Spain

    EL ALFÉREZ DE HIERRO By Fábio Fernandes – Brazil

    HEIRS By Marcus R. Gilman – Germany

    PÓLVORA Y VAPOR By Aníbal J. Rosario Planas – Puerto Rico

    PROVIDENCE IN THE PACIFIC By Ray Dean – Hawaii

    LAS CADENAS INFINITAS By César Santivañez – Peru

    THE SWARM By Milton Davis – Africa

    LA HISTORIA DE TU CORAZÓN By Josué Ramos – Spain

    UNMADE By Suna Dasi – Scotland/India

    LA MALDICIÓN DE LA ESPINA By Elaine Vilar Madruga – Cuba

    THE GOLDEN APPLE By Petra Slováková – Czech Republic

    CUAUHTLIPOCA, EL ÁGUILA HUMEANTE By Paulo César Ramírez Villaseñor – Mexico

     

    The stories are truely divers and off the beaten track of „Steampowered Anglophones save the World“. My personal favourite is Suna Dasi’s UNMADE, which is the best Steampunk short story I ever had the pleasure to read.

    I only regret there are no Francophone authors in the anthology. Still, it is a fine selection of tales from all over the world and you can get it now right here!

    Oh yes, and my story of course features a propper Zeppelin and its crew, not just a blimp or dirigible, but a proper Zeppelin.

    So, grab yourself a copy, celebrate the diversity of Steampunk and an indipendent publisher!


  • Steampunk Writers Around the World – Teaser!

    A long time ago, a cabal of writers from all around the world hatched a plan to write an anthology of Steampunk short stories. Each author would write a story focused on their country of origin and the result would be a truly multi-facetted anthology going beyond the limits of usually rather Anglo-centry Steampunk fiction.
    I am a member of that cabal, and here is a teaser regarding the interior art of the anthology.

    More info soon!

     


  • Joe Dever has passed on

    2016 does not relent and another legend leaves us.
    It is with great sadness I report the passing of Joe Dever, whom many role playing enthusiasts will know as the principal author of the Lone Wolf series of Fighting Fantasy-style role playing books and the wolrd of Magnamund in which the adventures of Lone Wolf take place. He was only 60 years old.

    To me personally, this is a very great loss, since he is one of the very few authors I consider myself to be a genuine fanboy of and the sum  his work, especially the Drakkarim, has influenced many an adventure I ran as the game master/dungeon master.

     

    I was lucky enough to have met Joe Dever at the RPC in Cologne in 2013 and dedicated a podcast to him which I am sharing here again.

    Joe Dever will be missed and I will miss him a lot.

    Rest in peace, Sir!

     

    Joe Dever has passed on


  • Review: Black Silk by Lila Lestrange

    Black Silk by Lila Lestrange has managed something no other book managed before: It wanted me to rage-quit my Kindle out of the window because of the level of disgusting, selfish evil the main villain reached, but let’s start at the beginning:

    Black Silk is a dark fantasy novel of quite some size (more than 100.000 words) and my first forray into Dark Fantasy or more precisely Grimdark Fantasy.

    The setting of Black Silk is the city of Naressina, a bustling trading port reminiscent of Renaissance Venice. Ships from all over the world fill its ports and many strange and wonderful goods from spices to silks to darker things change hands here.

    The first thing that sets Black Silk apart from other fantasy setting is the one non-human race living in rather limited numbers alongside humans in the city. These are the zereshi, humanoids with features of both cats and insects whose home is in some distant landNaressina trades with. One of their kind features prominently on the cover:

    Black Silk by Lila Lestrange Cover

     

    It is also with one of the zereshi, the merchant Zîf Kaliari, that the story begins. One of his warehouses is broken into but nothing seems to be missing. Instead, he finds a strange golden amulet depicting a beast or deamon of some sort.

    While the wealthy trader Zîf tries to uncover the secret behind the amulet and his health rapidly fades, the gang from Lowtown, the poorest part of Naressina, which broke into the warehouse and who got screwed by their mysterious employer, nearly destroying them, want revenge and a few answers themselves.

    At the same time revolution is brewing and the ruling classes of the city  use the civic unrest and general turmoil for their own ends, which are nefarious in more than one way. The reader lerns pretty quickly that life in the poor quarters of the city is cheap in deed, that the brutish law of the rulers does not even spare children and that dark forces are everywhere in more than one form.

    Enter Viedro, the aforementioned villain who is basically behind every single act of evil in the city. He is a noble who through intrigue and dark magic becomes the de facto ruler of the city, completely untouchable by the law. He is arrogant, lecherous, decadent, cares nothing about the lives of others, has despicable sexual preferences, is in league with deamons, I could go on. This bloated maggot (he is rather obese)  has no redeeming qualities and is depicted so realistically by Lila Lestrange, it made me mad on more than one occasion and let me seethe with rage several times as well.

    The political situation, the treatment of the poor and the self-serving dark magic is not the only thing that makes Black Silk a truely dark piece of fiction. There are the little personal tragedies that play out, the low-grade everyday racism against the zereshi and the bleakness of the lives of the poor.

    Yet, there is hope in the tale. Zîf and the gang which broke into his warehouse, the Wharf Rats, make contact in a roundabout way, uncover the dark conspiracy which has chocked the city and move against it as unlikely allies and make other allies along the way.

    One of the most beautiful scenes in the novel is when one of the truely evil scumbags in charge uses fear-based magic against another character with a dark past and finds out the hard way that fear-based magic does not work against a psychopath who lost his fear a long time ago.

    Also, the Drunken Rat, the tavern the Wharf Rats hang out, is a rare mostly happy place in this dark city of oppession, fear and magic. It is a place of refuge for some of the protagonists and also the reader.

    All in all, Black Silk is a fascinating, captivating, and harrowing tale set in a refreshingly different fantasy world, no elves or orcs but zereshi and two suns.

    8 out of 10 dark deamons.

     

    Find out more about Naressina and Lila Lestrange here.

     


  • Raven Choy – An African-American Superheroine

    It happens rarely I simply post a press-release, but here I happily make an exception, because the whole topic is so awesome and also neccessary:

    In Korea, orphan Rayven Choi has had 20 years to feel bitter about the hitman who brutally murdered her parents in cold blood. Now it is time for the thinking to stop and for action to take over. She is back in America, and she is on a mission. She is a bounty hunter with a score to settle…

    Los Angeles, CA, July 25, 2016 – Right on the heels of this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con International, award-winning writer and director Shequeta L. Smith has launched the first book in a her six-part graphic novel series, Rayven Choi, complete with a 14-minute companion film. The book will be available in both English and Korean.

    The multimedia series turns the comic book boys‘ club on its head with a strong African-American heroine leading the action-packed story of vengeance and female empowerment, written and directed by a woman.

    Putting a powerful African-American protagonist at the heart of the adventure was important for Smith, knowing that positive female characters are in short supply in the comic book world. And recognizing female creators are even rarer in the comic book and film sectors, Smith aims to shine a light on the untapped talent of women in both industries.

    Raven_Choi

    Smith is a seasoned filmmaker who beat more than 5,000 entrants to become the only individual female director to reach the Top 20 in HBO’s Project Greenlight. After that, she turned her focus to adapting her award-winning screenplay, Rayven Choi, into a graphic novel.

    “The female voice has been difficult to find in both the comic book and film worlds,“ she says. „I created Rayven Choi to help fill this void and to showcase the superhuman inner strength that all resilient women seem to possess.“

    Rayven Choi is now available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and iTunes/iBook eBook formats and has remained in the Top five best sellers on Amazon since its release. The film is set to be screened at film festivals later in the year.

    And this is the trailer for the first part of the six-part graphic novel:


  • Book Feature: Cog and the Steel Tower – Steampunk for Young Readers

    Another wonderful thing came in via the Ætherbox, proving once more Steampunk is alive and well, the creativity unbroken. Even better, here comes a novel aimed at younger readers, so this is an ideal way to introduce youngsters to the worlds Steampunk creates and spend their time reading instead of, you know, summoning Elder Gods or something. Right, maybe what happens in my family does not happen that frequently in other families, never mind…

    The Book I am talking about is of course Cog and the Steel Tower:

    Cog and the Steel Tower

     

    A little about the book in the author’s own words:

    Cog and the Steel Tower is a middle-grade novel set in an alternate-world steampunk setting. I wrote it as both something for my daughter to enjoy and to have fun with the steampunk setting. I really enjoyed taking these old technologies and outdated concepts like aether and alchemy and projecting a society in which they thrive. I have a particular fascination with airships and one of them, the GRD Birkenhead, plays an important role in the story.

    Blurb:

    Thirteen-year-old Cog loved getting her hands greasy in her Uncle’s workshop and building the occasional mud-cannon before the return of her mother knocked her life completely off its rails. Before long she’s stowing away on a royal airship and tricking her way into a dream apprenticeship with the Queen’s master engineer by pretending to be a boy. But her situation takes a dangerous turn when she discovers a plot to assassinate the Queen and throw the kingdom into war.

    If she can keep her identity a secret despite her best friend developing a crush on her alter ego, unravel the deadly conspiracy, and keep the demanding master engineer happy, then maybe she can have the future she’s always wanted. Keeping hidden identities and saving kingdoms may not be the same as fixing a steam wagon or an auto-mechanical potion mixer, but Cog has a set of precision screwdrivers and she isn’t afraid to use them.

    Follow Cog’s rollicking adventure as she uses her wits and ingenuity to find friendship, trust, and justice in a colorful but sometimes unforgiving steampunk world full of mechanical mayhem.

     

    About the Author:

    W.E. Larson was born in Manhattan — the Kansas one — and raised mostly in Topeka Kansas. He went to college in San Antonio at Trinity University where he earned a degree in Physics. After the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider, he decided to seek his fortune with software engineering instead. He has worked as a software engineer at a variety of companies, carefully avoiding ones that have a big IPO that makes all the employees rich.

    An interest in programming started back in middle school where he wasted time in computer lab writing video games on one of the school’s Apple IIe, learning a lot more than the class was teaching. He still has the Atari 400 he parents got him back then. With that kind of nerd potential he naturally gravitated to reading lots of science fiction and fantasy.

    Eventually, he gained an interest in writing his own fantastical tales and has written three fantasy novels. Cog and the Steel Tower is the first one ready for public consumption.

    Currently, he lives in the Kansas City metro with his wife, two kids, and three dogs. Normally he goes by Erik Larson, but had to use W.E. Larson since there is already a well-known author named Erik Larson.

     

    More about W.E. Larson and Cog an dthe Steel Tower on the web:

    The Author’s website

    Cog and the Steel Tower on Goodreads

    and the book on Amazon

     

    To kindle your interest, here is an excerpt of the novel:

    “I reckon it’s one hundred ten yards. What do you think?” Cog handed her spyglass over to Winifred.

    Winifred slithered on her stomach to get a better view from the bushes before putting the long brass tube to her eye. “One hundred thirty.”

    “I’ll need to make some adjustments.” Cog scrambled over to the device they had lugged all the way to Farmer Hemsworth’s fields. It looked like a small cannon with brass and copper tubing entwined around it. She checked the pressure gauge and turned the dial. “Okay, I think that’ll do.”

    Together, they propped up the cannon just the right amount with an old log. Winifred took another look through the spyglass. “We need to turn it more to the right.”

    Cog rotated it until Winifred held up her hand. “Perfect!”

    “Powering up.” Cog flipped a switch near the base. Sparks played along the copper coiled around the barrel, and the brass tubing hissed like a bucket of angry snakes. The pressure gauge swung ominously into the red.

    Winifred took a few steps back. “Are you sure this won’t blow up?”

    “Sure, I’m sure,” Cog said, grinning. “We’ll only have one shot, though.”

    “I’ll make sure the target is still there.” Winifred returned to the bushes for another look. “We have a problem.”

    “What?”

    “See for yourself.” Winifred held out the spyglass, and Cog lowered herself to look. The ground was damp and slick, but she hardly worried about getting her workshop overalls dirty.

    Cog put the instrument to her eye. The target, Polly, hadn’t moved from the bench in Mrs. Hemsworth’s rose garden. Polly was fifteen, two years older than Cog, and very pretty. She delighted in teasing Cog about her cropped hair, workshop clothes, and greasy hands. As the unofficial leader of the girls in the village, Polly also made sure that nobody else treated Cog too nicely. Only Winifred broke ranks.

    Winifred’s problem was immediately obvious: a boy had joined Polly. Not just any boy either, it was Lawrence Hemsworth. With his good looks and his family’s wealth, he was the most popular boy in the village. Worse yet, Lawrence was only one of a couple of boys who didn’t take Polly’s lead in tormenting Cog.

    “You still want to do this?” Winifred asked.

    Cog watched him sit next to Polly. They looked good together—Lawrence with his crisp, white shirt and Polly in a flattering, light blue dress. Lawrence leaned in and they met lips, closing their eyes.

    “Definitely!” If Lawrence insisted on kissing pretty, precious Polly… well, he’d have to face the consequences.

    “Who gets the spyglass to watch?” Winifred asked.

    “Rock, paper, scissors.”

    They pounded their fists into their hands and counted. “One… Two… Three… Go!”

    Cog kept her hand in a closed fist, but Winifred held hers open. “Paper covers rock,” she said, grinning.

    “Lucky.” Cog handed her the spyglass. “Ready?”

    “I have them in sight,” Winifred reported.

    “Firing!” Cog flipped a switch and the machine made a crackling sound followed by a tremendous phoomp! A ball shot out of the barrel—a ball of the slimiest, smelliest mud Planter’s Creek had to offer. Cog had designed the mud electro-cannon to apply a powerful electrostatic charge to the moisture that kept the slimy mass intact as it hurtled over the field.

    Cog settled next to her friend to peek out from the bushes. Even at this distance, she could see that Lawrence had slipped his arm around Polly’s shoulders. Polly adjusted herself to face him. They moved toward each other again and… splat!

    “Direct hit!” Winifred shouted before exploding into giggles. She clutched her sides and rolled into a ball, laughing so hard her eyes watered.

    Cog snatched the spyglass. Mud covered Polly. It was in her hair, on her dress, and smeared across her face where she’d tried to wipe it off. She stormed this way and that, searching behind rose bushes. Cog watched her shove some of the rose canes aside only to quickly clutch her hand, apparently too angry to remember thorns.

    Lawrence hadn’t been spared—muddy spots now marred his shirt and face. Unlike Polly though, he merely looked befuddled. Maybe he’d noticed the mud had fallen from the sky.

    Polly turned and her mud-soaked hair swung around to smack her across the face. Cog dissolved into giggles and soon joined Winifred, rolling on the ground and scarcely able to breathe.

    By the time they recovered, Cog’s stomach hurt, and she had to wipe tears from her face. “That should teach Polly to stop teasing me about my hair.”

    “Only if she figures out we were behind it,” Winifred said as she stood and made a futile effort at brushing off her dress.

    “She knows,” Cog reassured her. Who else would Polly suspect of making mud fall from the sky? “Help me get this back to the workshop.”

    With Winifred holding up one end and Cog the other, they began their trek into the village. Cog hoped to get her invention back and at least partly disassembled before Papa returned. He wouldn’t consider a mud electro-cannon a good use of his stock of parts.

    They took a path along a long wind-break of trees to Papa’s workshop. Cog peeked in a window of the white-washed building. “C’mon, Winny, it’s clear.”

    As always, the shop was tidy with racks of tools on the walls and shelves filled with well-organized bins of parts and fasteners. Two large tables took up the rest of the space, one covered with parts and the other empty and clean. They shuffled the device onto the empty table, and Cog immediately started loosening bolts.

    Winifred cleared a little space among the steam wagon parts on the other table and hopped up to sit, swinging her dirty feet. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Polly that mad before.”

    “You made a perfect call on the range,” Cog said, grinning back.

    “Too bad we got Lawrence, too.”

    “He’ll probably be laughing about it by tomorrow,” Cog said. Maybe she could have waited for Polly to be alone, but that would’ve risked missing the chance.

    “Getting the mud from the creek made me think,” Winifred said. “If we made a raft, maybe—”

    Polly burst into the shop like an unwelcome locomotive, her face still smeared and her hair in dirty strings. She jabbed a finger toward Cog. “You!”

    “What?”

    Polly tugged on a particularly muddy part of her dress. “Lawrence said this mud came out of the clear, blue sky.”

    “That’s odd,” Winifred remarked, looking as innocent as a kitten.

    “There’s only one person who could make that happen,” Polly turned her sharp gaze toward the disassembled mud-cannon. “Is that what did it?”

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Cog tried to hold back a guilty grin.

    “Oh yes, you do, you and your stupid gizmos.” Her lips twisted in anger. “Nobody is ever going to hire a girl to fix machines. All this playing around with junk is a waste of time. Your uncle just wishes he had a son instead of some freak girl his sister didn’t want.”

    “Shut up!” Winifred yelled, jumping down from the table.

    “Don’t think I’ve forgotten the freak’s mousy accomplice.” Polly turned to Winifred. “You’ll both pay for—”

    The workshop door’s bell jingled, and Papa came inside. He looked pale.

    Polly turned toward him, pointing to her dress. “Look at what your niece did to—”

    He waved vaguely toward the door. “You can come back and play with Cog later, Polly.”

    “But she—”

    “Later.”

    “Hmmmph…” Polly shot one last scathing glare toward Cog before flouncing out the door.

    She vanished from Cog’s mind as quickly as she had from the workshop. What had Papa so upset?

    “Is it Gran?” Cog asked. Her grandmother had taken ill a couple of years ago and still hadn’t recovered.

    Papa shook his head. “No. It’s… well… she’s come back.”

    “Come back? Who?”

    “Your—” He turned to Winifred. “I need to talk with Cog, Winny. Maybe you two—”

    “Albert, that’s where you went off to,” a woman’s voice came from behind him. “Is this the old workshop? You must have expanded it.”

    “Yes, business has been good.” He stepped to the side as a woman slid past him.

    She had the same chestnut hair as Cog, though hers trailed down her back in lustrous curls instead of being cropped short. But the eyes made Cog freeze to the spot. They looked exactly the same as her own: large and dark-brown in color. In her well-tailored lavender dress, the woman looked beautiful, elegant, and completely out of place standing next to a rack of tools.

    “I was just telling—” Papa started.

    “Oh, this must be Corinna,” the woman cooed, sweeping over to Winifred. Her gaze took in Winny’s dirty dress, scabbed knees, and filthy feet. “What a beautiful young lady you’ve grown into.”

    Winifred turned her gaze back and forth, her eyes wide. “Um…”

    “That’s not Corinna,” Papa said.

    “I should go,” Winifred whispered. She crept to the door, shooting Cog a glance that clearly said she’d want a full report.

    The woman turned back to Papa, “Where is she?” She peered around the room before settling on Cog and smiling. “Is this your son, Albert? He looks just like you. You never said anything about—”

    “Abigail,” Papa said, putting a hand on Cog’s shoulder, “this is Corinna.”

    “Corinna?” Her mouth fell open.

    “You’re Papa’s sister?” Cog supposed her mouth must be hanging open too. She’d never suspected the teenage girl that gave her up would be the elegant woman in front of her.

    Abigail regained her composure and opened her arms. “Come here, My Little Princess.”

    Cog took a few unsure steps before holding up her grimy hands. “You probably don’t want me to—”

    Abigail frowned at the dirty fingers. “Perhaps you should keep those behind your back this once.” She closed the distance as Cog kept her hands out of the way. Abigail gingerly pulled her into a loose hug.

    What should meeting your mother for the first time feel like? Her mind had jammed from trying to be happy, angry, curious, nervous, and a hundred other emotions all at once.

    And now, sidle over to Amazon and grab a copy.


  • Book Feature: Legacy by Michelle Lowe

    The popularity of Steampunk is not waning, not at all. In fact, I have not had so many authors contacting me for a feature of their work in a long time. Here comes the next one:

    The lady Michelle Lowe has created an intriguing steam fantasy setting in a book series by the name of Legacy that is my great pleasure to feature here. This is an excerpt of the first novel:

    Pierce Landross’s strange dream about flying machines drifted from his memory. Again, he tried holding onto the images, yet they slipped away as his eyes opened. He remembered nothing.

    He’d awakened in his hotel room after a day’s sleep. He’d arrived just the evening before, tired and hungry. After eating at the downstairs pub, he’d come up to his room and had fallen asleep the moment he’d hit the mattress. He’d stayed in the same position on his belly until his body had fully restored from its restfulness. With a groan and a deep yawn, he got out of bed, stretched, and went over to the washbasin. After cleaning his face and the rest of the sleep away, he looked at himself in the mirror. The room glowed with the afternoon light, giving him a clear view of his scar.

    It was his daily reminder of betrayal and heartbreak. Every detail of that horrible night played out in significant fragments; the punch that had brought him down, the knife, the look on his assailant’s face, and then the abandonment when it was all over. Every time he touched the scar, he could almost feel the jagged blade tearing across his skin.

    He shook off the memory and splashed more water on his face. A pang in his stomach told him that needed food. He also needed to find a ship willing to let him onboard before the royal guards caught up with him. He’d go anywhere as long as it was hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away.

    A week and a half ago, he’d crossed a line, earning him nothing more than a hunting party on his tail, aiming to bring him back to London. He’d managed a razor-thin escape in Aylesham before crossing the Channel into France, where he’d traveled down the coast, only stopping to steal horses to keep up a steady getaway.

    If this has kindled your interest, click the image:

    image

     

     

    About the Author:  Michelle E. Lowe is the author of The Warning, Atlantic Pyramid, Cherished Thief, the action adventure/fantasy steampunk series, titled Legacy. Children’s books, Poe’s Haunted House Tour, and the three part adventure children’s series, The Hex Hunt. She is also a mother, wife, and painter. Her works in progress are the continuations for Legacy. Currently, she lives in Lake Forest, California.

     

    Website: www.michellelowe.net

    Facebook: Facebook.com/michelleloweauthor

    Twitter: @MichelleLowe_7

    Email: Michellelowe7@gmail.com


  • Review: A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar

    It is in and of itself an achievement to write a book that your literary agent judges to be unable to be published in both Israel and Germany. Yet, from what Lavie told me, this is exactly what happened to A Man Lies Dreaming.

    The plot can bes summed up in one sentence that explains this phenomenon:

     

    Jewish Auschwitz prisoner flees from his hellish reality by imagening a pulp detective story in which all the villains in his life (including Hitler, Eichmann etc.) are protagonists.

     

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    A Man Lies Dreaming, is a gut-wrenching, sometimes nauseating hell-ride of a novel. The description of the daily life of the central character, Shomer, in Auschwitz is bad enough, but then comes the story he makes up in his head and things get really, well, twisted.

    The story in Shomer’s head is set in London in 1939, in an alternate universe were the KPD, the German Communist Party, won the election of 1933. The Nazis either fled or chaged sides and everyone with some money, including many Jews fled.

    Now London is full of refugees and expats, trying to settle in and find a new life for themselves. Some of the former leading echolon of the NSDAP are now businessmen in the skin trade, such as Hess and Goebbels. The skin trade is one of the more obvious aspects of the pulp story in which Shomer puts a bucket-load of the things he witnesses every day. It is horrifying to read and the knowledge of where Shomer gets his ideas from make the dark abyss the reader experiences even darker.

    The protagonist of the pulp story is a detective called Wolf, and this is all I am going to say about him as a person. He gets hired by a rich Jewish girl to find her sister and the more brutal Shomers life becomes, the more brutality enters the pulp story and the more Wolf suffers at the hand of various thugs. And here lies one of the worst mind-fucks I have ever experienced, but to go into any more detail would be a major spoiler.

    The novel ends in a really bizarre twist that makes you wonder what the final fate of Shomer is, if he died, crossed dimensions, went insane, travelled in time or what… It is hard to tell and it is an end I did not expect at all.

    On top of it all, A Man Lies Dreaming is fast-paced, fascinating, in all its horror an excellent read, but be warned: This novel kicks you in the guts really hard on an aweful number of occasions and is not for people looking for beauty in literature.

     

    10/10 and I wonder were Lavie gets his ideas from.