The Next Book I’m Reading

hype

Cover image for Dan Simmons’ novel “Hyperion”

After Dan Simmons lambasted teenage climate change darling Greta Thunberg on twitter, and came on the radar of Mike Glyer’s File 770 (which must still be experiencing technical difficulties, since I haven’t received any email notifications of new posts in quite a while), AND finding out that his signature novel Hyperion is a Hugo Award winner, I’ve been dying to read the book and learn more about him.

Yes, I think he went too far in his insults of a little teenage girl who is clearly being manipulated by adults, but he also stood up to the more leftist powers that be in social media and the science fiction creators and fandom community, and occasionally, they need to be stood up to. So I put a hold on it at my local public library and today it became available.

Continue reading

Advertisements

“Fall Into Fantasy” Anthology featuring “The Demon in the Mask” Available Now!

fantasy

Cover art for the Cloaked Press anthology “Fall Into Fantasy 2019”

It’s here! the Cloaked Press anthology Fall Into Fantasy 2019 featuring my short story “The Demon in the Mask” is now available for purchase. Here’s a small excerpt from my tale to drive some interest:

But he had found a key of his own, and it was suspended above the Obsidian Throne of the Princess, or witch if you’d prefer.

“Forgive me my God and my Master, but great is my need and only yon sword Ariel gives me scant hope of slaying the evil one and freeing both your servant and your nation.” With that Andre stood and approached the throne. He had to mount the dais and stand upon the hewn black stone to reach the sword. He could hear it moan and wail like a thing alive, as if the angel encased within longed for the freedom that the man now gripping it enjoyed.
Continue reading

Book Review: “The Collapsar Directive”

collapsar

Cover art for the anthology “The Collapsar Directive

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this anthology on the condition that I would write and publish a review. I have also had a short story and a piece of flash fiction published by Zombie Pirate Publishing, but none of my stories appear in the anthology I am reviewing, The Collapsar Directive.

Actually, the anthology’s title is taken from a story written by Adam Bennett, co-founder of Zombie Pirates, called “The Sword and The Damocles,” a tale about two interconnected intergalactic spacecraft. Like many of the short stories in the anthology, I found it to be “okay,” but not particularly remarkable. Of course “Collapsar” was published a few years back, and I know that many of the authors have since honed their writing skills.

Mel Newmin’s “Looking at the Face of God” had a nice twist to it, but I objected to the idea of releasing zoo animals back to the wild, since animals kept in captivity often lose their ability to fend for themselves in an untamed environment. Once the big reveal occurs, the results become interesting, but then science fiction does sometimes have the created confront their creator.

Continue reading

The Engineer and the Clockwork Dragon: A Preview

dragon

from “The Hobbit” (2012)

Sixty-seven-year-old Rolf Liechtenstein was surprised to wake up alive, but that wasn’t his biggest revelation. Looking past the strange figure robed in crimson, tangerine, and green who was hovering over him, he saw a large, golden dragon collapsed on a wide, stone floor.

“I thought I only dreamed…” His voice sounded more like a croaking frog, and his throat was dry as desert sand. He had meant to speak in English, but had lapsed into his native German, a tongue he hadn’t spoken regularly outside of his home since he was a boy.

The hooded old woman muttered something incomprehensible, and wizened hands protruding from long, loose sleeves pushed his shoulders back onto a mat as he tried to get a better look.

Continue reading

Removed as a Follower of File 770?

Mike Glyer (right) sitting with Marty Cantor – April 2008.

The other night it occurred to me that I hadn’t received an email notification of any posts on File 770 for over a week. That seemed rather odd to me since Mike Glyer writes on his “fanzine” rather frequently. Frankly, he’s pretty “chatty.” I thought the emails were going to a different tab in Gmail, but no. Then I checked my spam folder just in case, but again, no emails from File 770.

So I looked, and as of this writing, the latest File 770 post is from today. In fact, not a day has gone by when Mike Glyer hasn’t posted something on his fanzine.

I checked my WordPress Reader to see if they showed up there. Nope. Not present. So where have my notification emails been going?

Continue reading

Author Update October 9, 2019

From the comic strip “Peanuts” by the late Charles Schulz

Last night I received an email saying that my twelfth short story has been accepted for publication in an anthology. Since I didn’t receive explicit permission to disclose details, I can’t tell you anything about it…yet.

Well, it was an adapted version of a story I wrote for a writing challenge. As I recall, it was a musical writing challenge. It was also a theme that I expanded into (most of) an online novel, so long time readers have probably come across at least part of it.

In time for Halloween, it’s horror but it’s also a love story (sort of).

This is on top of rejection after rejection after rejection. Really, I receive far more rejections than I do acceptances.

Continue reading

Film Review of “The Abyss: Special Edition” (1989)

abyss

© James Pyles – DVD cover for the 1989 film “The Abyss”

I hadn’t intended to watch a film on Sunday evening, but saw a DVD of the 1989 film The Abyss and said, “why not?”

Actually, this is the special edition, so it’s expanded quite a bit from what folks saw in the original theatrical production.

The movie opens aboard the USS Montana, an Ohio-class U.S. Navy sub. The sub encounters some strange light apparition near the Cayman Trough and, caught in its wake, is dragged across a rock formation, fatally damaging the sub.

With Soviet ships closing in to salvage the nuclear submarine, the Navy commandeers a private, underwater drilling platform operating near the Trough that’s led by Foreman Bud Brigman (Ed Harris) and crewed by a bunch of roughneck oil drillers.

Brigman’s estranged wife Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), who designed the drilling rig, accompanies a group of Navy SEALs commanded by Lieutenant Hiram Coffey (Michael Biehn) down to the rig just before a hurricane hits, in an attempt to reach the Montana and search for survivors.

Continue reading

Film Review: “Escape from L.A.” (1996)

© James Pyles – photo of DVD case for the movie “Escape from L.A.”

I saw John Carpenter’s 1981 film Escape From New York starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, and Adrienne Barbeau when it was first in the theaters and then a few times on disc later. It’s what I consider a “high functioning B movie.” That means it’s a lot of fun, but in spite of the quality actors in the movie, it would attain no higher level than “cult classic.” It’s a good way to waste two hours.

I’ve been aware of the 1996 sequel Escape from L.A. for years, but never had the desire to see it. However, yesterday at my local public library, I found it on disc and figured “what the heck.”

Actually, given the quality of the story of the original, and that sequels almost never live up to the original, I expected to either be bored or to hate it.

Continue reading

The Clockwork Dragon

Image of the Trans-Mongolian Railway station found at towardsrisingsun.com

“Bored, bored, bored.” Atlan manipulated the energy projecting into the boiler, cooling the steam. His partner Narangerel stood behind him in the locomotive’s cabin dilating time and slowing matter as they approached Sükhbaatar’s Trans-Mongolian station.

The eighteen-year-old girl looked at the back of her lover’s head. “You always say that, Atlan, but we are still apprentice elemental guides learning our craft.”

“I know.” The water cooled, he turned to her. “I’d just like a little excitement.”

As Narangerel released time and fixed the wheels of the stopped train, she looked out and up. “Atlan!”

From over the Russian border it appeared in the air, lit by the first rays of the sun. It was a man on a dragon, but the wings were made from massive brass rods and gears.

Atlan stared over Narangerel’s shoulder as the gleaming clockwork dragon and the dead engineer began the greatest adventure of their lives.

It wrote this wee missive for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use the photograph/location presented by the Pegman as the prompt for crafting a tale no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Sükhbaatar, Mongolia.

I admit that it’s been a long time since I participated in one of these challenges. Truth to tell, the steam has run out of me. I’ve encountered a number of personal and professional reverses and it’s left me tired and bored.

It’s true that so far in 2019, eleven of my short stories have been chosen for publication, but as the deadline looms for several more, I feel empty.

The story above is set in the universe I’d like to write my next story in (though it never occurred to me to set it in Mongolia) where people can naturally manipulate the elements as that world’s form of technology. The “clockwork dragon” and his dead (resurrected) rider, the engineer, are actually the beginning of the story, but I don’t have the heart to dive in.

So I created my 150 word introduction, if you will, as an attempt to jump start my creativity. So far it’s not working.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.

PAW Patrol or Why I Wouldn’t Let My Granddaughter Read Medium.com Even if She were Old Enough to Read

Promotional image for the children’s televisions how “PAW Patrol”

You’ve got to be kidding me. Someone, who on twitter is called @JanissaryJones but who is known on Medium.com as Walt D, AKA Walt T. Downing, decided to go full retard (no, I’m not making fun of people with developmental disabilities, it’s a movie thing, click the link) on my four-year-old granddaughter’s favorite cartoon and character set, PAW Patrol.

Screenshot from twitter

It’s a show set in the fictional Adventure Bay featuring a young boy named Ryder who organizes a specialized team of dogs, each with a special talent, to perform various rescue operations, from saving an imperiled kitten to rescuing a child from a disastrous snow boarding mishap.

Continue reading