Review of Lovecraft Country episode “Sundown”

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Scene from the Lovecraft Country episode “Sundown”

If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi.

When I decided to review the first season of the television series Lovecraft Country, I didn’t know if it would be a single review of the series, episode by episode, or something in between.

Then I watched the first episode Sundown and was truly horrified, but not as you might imagine.

If you haven’t seen it and you care about that sort of thing, there are tons of spoilers ahead.

The show tells the tale of a young black man named Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors), a veteran of the Korean War who is traveling by bus to his home in Chicago because his father has gone missing.

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Lovecraft Country First Season

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© James Pyles

If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi.

This afternoon, I was at my local branch of the public library and I found the first season of Lovecraft Country on DVD. As some of you may know, I was critical of the timing of the premiere of this series during certain (ahem) events.

However, when I mentioned this in social media, I was told the series was being developed well before all of that happened, so I stand corrected. I also can’t miss the fact that since writer H.P. Lovecraft has been identified as a white supremacist, the title for the series has a double meaning.

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Book Review of “On Basilisk Station”

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Cover art for David Weber’s “On Basilisk Station”.

In my continued effort to review Baen Publications, I’ve just finished reading the first novel in David Weber‘s “Honor Harrington” series On Basilisk Station.

It was kind of hard to get into. Weber has a tendency to lapse into long pages of dense exposition, which tends to put the reader into one person’s head (more often than not, Honor’s) than into the action.

However, if you can power through that, you finally get to a space opera laced with political intrigue, the dynamics of provincial planetary plotting, and then the climax of classic space battle.

Weber seems to have a background in military strategy, which shows in how he depicts martial activities, both in space and on the planet. However, there were times when life aboard Honor’s ship “Fearless” felt a little like “Star Trek.”

The one thing that would have made his book better would be to cut back on each character seemingly talking too much about themselves. Also, antagonists like Lord Pavel Young and the ultra-wealthy Klaus Hauptman weren’t as prominent or as formidable as I expected them to be based on how they were initially presented.

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“7 Deadly Sins” Reviewed at “Damaged Skull Writer” Blog

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Promotional image

I’m very happy that my fellow author Brian – James, otherwise known as “Damaged Skull Writer” reviewed the Terror Tract Publishing horror anthology 7 Deadly Sins.

It features my short story “The Babel Project” (Pride). The review states in part:

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Review of “Misfits” by A.C. Haskins

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Promotional image of author A.C. Haskins

If you’ve read THIS and THIS, then you know why I’ve been reviewing a small series of short stories published by Baen Books.

Today, I review the third and last tale in the 2021 freebie I downloaded called Misfits authored by A.C. Haskins. He doesn’t seem to have a blog or website, but according to his Amazon Author’s page:

A.C. Haskins is a former Armored Cavalry Officer and combat veteran, turned economist and business strategist (and occasional firearm instructor). He has a lifelong love of speculative fiction, having written his first science fiction novel as a class project in the eleventh grade. His interests include (but are not limited to) ancient and medieval history, mythology, applied violence studies, tabletop gaming, and theoretical economics. He lives in Michigan with his wife, two cats, and a dog.

You can find what books he’s contributed to by clicking the link above.

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Review of “Latuda’s Lady in White”

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Cover art for the novel “The Cunning Man”

If you read my review of the short story Appleseed: A Founder Effect Legend, you know this is my opening effort in taking a closer look at the literary products of Baen Books.

I’ve written enough (more than enough) about the Baen’s Bar kerfuffle, but I’m convinced that the worst Baen editor Toni Weisskopf is guilty of is neglect. I’m also, if not convinced, at least deeply concerned, that this entire mess was orchestrated (with the original “catalyst” either deliberately crafting the hit piece, or unwittingly serving the purposes of others) to muffle or even mute a publisher who is politically agnostic as far as selecting authors and books (apparently this can be a bad thing if you want to promote an industry serving only a single perspective, excluding all others).

I’m writing these reviews, in part, because I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog, and having been bullied as a kid, I don’t like the adult bullies, either.

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Review of “Outland”

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Promotional image for the 1981 film “Outland”

On an impulse, I decided to watch the 1981 film Outland. I remember seeing it back in the day on cable, and remember thinking it was “okay.”

It’s still “okay.”

All star cast with Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, Frances Sternhagen, James Sikking, Clarke Peters, and John Ratzenberger made it bearable, but the story was mediocre at best and the “decompression” special effects were ridiculous.

The story goes that Federal Marshall William O’Niel (Connery) and his family are assigned to a mining colony on Jupiter’s moon Io for a year. O’Niel’s wife and son hate it and almost immediately abandon him to return to Earth. Meanwhile O’Niel discovers some nefarious doings on Io.

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Review of Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers”

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Cover art for Robert A. Heinlein’s novel “Starship Troopers”

I decided to re-read Robert Heinlein’s 1959 classic Starship Troopers (I probably last read it sometime in the late 1960s or early 70s) because science fiction writer Neal Asher‘s book Prador Moon (which I recently reviewed) was unfavorably compared to it by a few Amazon readers.

I must say Heinlein doesn’t disappoint. “Troopers” remains timeless, or nearly so, but as I understand it (I wouldn’t have picked up on this as a teenager), even in the late 1950s (and so much more now), the book was considered to have numerous controversial elements.

Yes, the idea that only military veterans are allowed to be full citizens with voting rights does go against the grain. However, this novel was Heinlein’s breakout book from “Young Adults” novels. Thus, Heinlein injected (supposedly) his personal perspectives into the world he created. His reasoning relative to citizenship is only a soldier, who is willing to give up his (all ground troops are males and most Navy pilots are females) life for the many of society has the moral and ethical perspective to casts a vote in that society. It’s also why he advocates for a volunteer only Army rather than a draft or compulsory military service for everyone. A volunteer willingly enters that world and can quit at any time during training. If the volunteer makes it to soldier, goes into combat, and remains, then they’ve established themselves as that ethical/moral model.

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Book Review of “All Systems Red”

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Cover art for “All Systems Red” by Martha Wells

First the “official reviews” including praise for the author’s other works:

“I love Murderbot!” ―Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice

“The Murderbot series is a heart-pounding thriller that never lets up, but it’s also one of the most humane portraits of a nonhuman I’ve ever read. Come for the gunfights on other planets, but stay for the finely drawn portrait of a deadly robot whose smartass goodness will give you hope for the future of humanity.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous

“Clever, inventive, brutal when it needs to be, and compassionate without ever being sentimental.” ―Kate Elliott, author of the Spirit Walker trilogy

“Endearing, funny, action-packed, and murderous.” ―Kameron Hurley, author of The Stars are Legion

“Not only a fun, fast-paced space-thriller, but also a sharp, sometimes moving character study that will resonate with introverts even if they’re not lethal AI machines.” ―Malka Older, author of Infomocracy

“We are all a little bit Murderbot.”―NPR

“Wells gives depth to a rousing but basically familiar action plot by turning it into the vehicle by which SecUnit engages with its own rigorously denied humanity.” ―Publishers Weekly starred review

“I already can’t wait for the next one.” ―The Verge

“Meet your favorite depressed A.I. since Marvin.” ―B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

“A great kick-off for a continuing series.” ―Locus

“Wells imbued Murderbot with extraordinary humanity, and while this is a fun read, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s not a profound one.”―LA Times

The Cloud Roads has wildly original world-building, diverse and engaging characters, and a thrilling adventure plot. It’s that rarest of fantasies: fresh and surprising, with a story that doesn’t go where ten thousand others have gone before. I can’t wait for my next chance to visit the Three Worlds!” ―N. K. Jemisin, author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

And as far as author Martha Wells’ awards:

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Review of Denton Salle’s Novel “Black Earth Rises, Hall of Heroes Book Three”

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Cover art for Denton Salle’s novel “Black Earth Rises”

Black Earth Rises is the third book in a series by Denton Salle, but it stands very well on its own since I haven’t read the first two novels.

Denton asked me to review his book and was aware of recent difficulties I’ve had reviewing books by people I know. He assured me that he’d understand me being forthright and fair about my review, and I have been.

For being a supernatural urban legend thriller, the story is pretty standard, up to a point. Two college buddies from very different backgrounds, the women in their lives, coming up against frat jerks, all seems normal.

Then the frat jerks turn out to be werewolves and there is a sinister school being operated by an evil sorceress in the bowels of a Texas university near Dallas. But this school also has an old graveyard haunted with the unexpected, both evil and good.

A good Catholic boy named Jim gets pulled by his frat friend Mike into an Orthodox religious group (most of which are Mike’s family) of an ancient order sworn to protect our existence from occult dangers. They live an uneasy peace with the “Otherworld” by a compact signed untold centuries ago…but not all of the Otherworld creatures are obedient, or perhaps they just didn’t sign on the dotted line.

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