Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Redemption of the Sorcerer Book Giveaway!

Enter to win a free autographed copy of Redemption of the Sorcerer!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Redemption of the Sorcerer, The Crystalon Saga, Book one by Ralph L. Angelo Jr.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lucian-Dark God's Homecoming- A review

Lucian: Dark God's HomecomingLucian: Dark God's Homecoming by Van Allen Plexico

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lucian-Dark God’s Homecoming- A Review.
Lucian, by Van Plexico is the story of a God of a heretofore unknown pantheon who have seemingly hidden from mortals since the dawn of time. The quibble and bicker amongst themselves and at times go to outright war with each other.
In this pantheon, ‘Lucian’ is the devil of sorts, though it’s not really made clear why he is, just that it’s his role. In fact other races called him the ‘Liberator’ for his habit of raising an army and overthrowing tyrants on various worlds. He is also known by many names among the mortals one is ‘Marcus’. It is the most recent nom de plume he has used.
These powerful Gods tend to stay in their own realms for the most part, though they do have a shining golden city that some number of them live in, ruled by the powerful Golden God of battle ‘Baranak’.
From the first we see of each character there is great enmity between Baranak and Lucian. It seems the latter had tried to overthrow the former a millennia ago and failed, so he is immediately suspect as a new twilight of the Gods is unfolding in this golden realm. Gods are dying. Over 70 have died so far and all evidence points to the ‘bad boy’ God, Lucian.
Thus begins an epic journey across many worlds and dimensions as Lucian and his three human companions whose faster than light space craft had somehow been captured by the Gods of the golden city, and the space explorers themselves were thrown into a dungeon alongside Lucian, begin an incredible undertaking to not only clear Lucian’s name, but to save human worlds as well as the heavenly.
Lucian- Dark God’s Homecoming is an epic novel chronicling the adventure of a God the worlds think is evil and his quest to clear his name.
This was a good, fun read that held my attention and never seemed to drag. I was actually saddened to see it end. There was something for every type of sci-fi fan here. All in all I have nothing bad to say about this one at all. Seriously one of my favorite books out of forty or so I’ve read in the past year. I’m sure others could find fault with it if they wanted too, but I could not. I thought it was just right. Good work Van. I enjoyed it quite a bit. 5 stars

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A little bit about “Redemption of the Sorcerer”

Redemption of the Sorcerer is a novel about a man who, in his universe was all powerful. He was immortal, he was the most powerful mystic ever known in a universe of mystics. He was more powerful than any other force of sorcerers combined. He literally was magic in all its myriad forms.

But over a lifetime of a million years, he had grown callous and pompous. He had taken his position and his power for granted. Since he attained kingship over the thousand times a thousand year realm he allowed his power to guide and control him, not the other way around.

He is summarily deposed by his people and exiled to a universe seemingly without magic, one that looks surprisingly like our own.

Now powerless, the once mighty Crystalon almost immediately became embroiled in a plot involving soul sucking demons, and an evil, shadow hidden figure who plots the sorcerers end as well as the subjugation of the universe.

Only Crystalon has a chance of defeating this unknown enemy, but only if he can somehow regain his lost power. But will he want to? Is he even interested in putting his life on the line for an unknowing populace? 

The question remains, will the man within see the error of his ways and redeem himself in time to save two universes from an evil madman and unending servitude?

The answers all lie within the pages of ‘Redemption of the Sorcerer, The Crystalon Saga, Book One.’ Available at, Barnes and, and soon many other fine book stores. Get your copy today!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Nancy Hansen Interview

Ralph's Rants interviews Nancy Hansen!
Welcome to another week of Ralph’s Rant’s does Interviews. This week’s guest is none other than fantasy and pulp author extraordinaire, Nancy Hansen!
Jumping right into it, welcome Nancy, I’m very happy you agreed to doing this interview.
Ralph, I appreciate you not only having me in as a guest, but for all the reviews and interviews you do on your blog. That’s such a big benefit to the New Pulp community in general, in getting the word out. So thank you for having ,me!

So Nancy, how long have you been writing?
It seems like forever! I’ve always loved writing, because I’ve always loved good books and I’m a natural born story teller. I was that kid in school who actually looked forward to the essay questions on tests because I could fake my way through them. But serious writing, as in wanting to be published and read, started back in the early 1990s, when my kids were in elementary school and I was a stay-at-home mom looking for something to do as a later life career. I settled on writing because it fit best with my life style, and never looked back.

Did you always have the calling to write? Or was it something you came upon later on?
Well I answered some of that in the last question, but looking back over the years I can say definitely, for me it’s a calling. While I might not have taken the steps toward learning how to write well until later in life via a couple of correspondence courses, some books, and networking with other writers online; writing has been a large part of  my life from as soon as I realized that words on a page actually told stories. I was a very avid reader as a child, so much so that I’ve been known to pick up dictionaries and encyclopedias just to page through them and read anything that caught my eye. As an adult, reading became a natural progression to writing. I would read books to relax at the end of stressful days, and then kind of critique them in my mind; wishing this was done differently or gloating over how well that passage went. That lead to wanting to create the sort of story worlds I just could not find. No matter how sophisticated technology gets, it will never surpass the creativity of the human mind, and being able to link words into mental pictures is an art I find completely absorbing.
What made you want to write New Pulp? Was it a natural fit? Or was it something you just wanted to do?
You know, other than having read some C’. L. Moore Jirel of Joiry and Robert E. Howard Conan stories, and having just attended a free gallery showing of classic pulp art, I had no real background in pulp when I stumbled into the New Pulp realm back in the spring of 2010. I had written a bunch of mainstream fantasy stuff that I couldn’t seem to sell, and so was just floundering around wondering where to go with it next. Then I got an invite as the friend of a friend to this little startup company called Pro Se Productions. So I sent in a couple of short stories as writing samples. I was totally shocked when not only were they welcomed, but they actually got published! I had my first actual fiction sales in Fantasy & Fear, one of the original three Pro Se Magazines. I gave them the very first SONG OF HEROES story (subtitled Lori’s Lament), which was based on a dream I had. I also submitted a standalone story written from an idea posted online by a good friend, after changing the gender and name of the main character. That one was titled MASQUERRA AND THE STORM LORD.
I was off and running after that; resurrecting files that had been gathering cobwebs for 6-10 years or more, and fleshing out some 20 year old ideas. I think I bombarded Tommy Hancock’s email regularly for about 18 months. While working as both staff writer and editor, I learned a lot about what pulp had been and where it was headed, so it was on-the-job training. Along the way, I decided I much preferred a pulpy presentation when it came to spinning words into stories, so it became something I wanted to do, not just a way to be published.
The ‘Fortune’s Pawn’ Series; has that been in your mind for a long time? I know you told me that this series was originally one long novel, how many books are projected to be in this series?
Right now for this immediate story arc I’d say three, with the final one coming out likely early next year, though it will tie in with other work I have out. But yes, that storyline has been kicking around a long time, because the backdrop world that FORTUNE’S PAWN and my other imprint books are set in has been my playground for well over 20 years now. All of the books and anthologies in my Pro Se imprint Hansen’s Way so far—FORTUNE’S PAWN, PROPHECY’S GAMBIT, TALES OF THE VAGABOND BARDS, and THE HUNTRESS OF GREENWOOD— take place in that same big, overarching Terran World setting, albeit at different times and locales. I have crossover characters throughout. You’ve mentioned the high wizard Kendahl in your reviews Ralph, and he is a very old character, going back to the first fantasy book I attempted to write, which I am scavenging this year for a new novel in a different series in which he has a supporting role as magical mentor and guide.
The book that was cannibalized for FORTUNE’S PAWN, PROPHECY’S GAMBIT, and the upcoming trilogy finale, MASTER’S ENDGAME, was the novel I was shopping around at the time I hooked up with Pro Se, a huge 850 page behemoth of a doorstop that took four years to write. It started as a prequel to what will be the next novel series, which is partially written too. When that next series is done, it will lead directly up to the events in THE HUNTRESS OF GREENWOOD.
I have five different story arcs within this one big world, and plenty more possibilities. That’s kind of why I needed an imprint I guess. LOL
You really hit your stride in ‘Prophecy’s Gambit’ the second book in this series. What in your estimation made the second novel a smoother flowing piece than the excellent first novel?
I definitely felt that way about PROPHECY’S GAMBIT too, though its predecessor FORTUNE’S PAWN was Pro Se’s best selling book for quite a while. I think what made the difference is that I had a lot more experience writing pulp by the time I tackled the second book, so it was easier for me to sense when the action needed speeding up. Also, I didn’t have to lay as much groundwork in the second book, and my main character was adult throughout. Much of PROPHECY’S GAMBIT is new material, and I’m a better, more experienced writer and editor now than I was at the time I wrote the weighty tome these stories were cut from.
One thing that I have consciously tried to do is to straddle a line between writing traditional sword & sorcery fantasy and heroic pulp fantasy. That is a very tricky balance to accomplish because there are very distinct differences in pacing and character development, and you have to understand that contrast to know where and how to blend it. It makes the writing harder, but I know I have fans on both sides of the fence, so it is worth some extra effort to give all of them something they can savor and enjoy. That’s my ultimate goal, and it can be done. The longer you work at it, the better you get.
Is there anything of Nancy in any of your characters in this series?
Yes, I’d say there’s a heaping bucket of me in there, sprinkled liberally throughout the stories. You can see it somewhat with Callie, because while she is an innocent individual thrown into dangerous and difficult circumstances beyond her wildest imagination; she always finds her strength somewhere within and rises to the occasion. The wild and stubborn streak she has is also a lot like me. LOL In Callie’s case, her strength is in her willingness to fight back rather than crumble, and that comes from a combination of her mixed Dwarven and Human heritage and the sheer doggedness of a orphan determined to survive. There will be future characters that have other aspects of my personality; they’re just waiting in the wings for their cue to walk out and greet you all.
I have to admit the Elf Lord Levanti is very much modeled after my dad—a master negotiator within his company union, someone who could get sworn enemies to sit down at a table and hash things out civilly. Dad didn’t have as much of a cool head or subtle way with words as Levanti, but he was as inspiring as well as tireless and determined to win people over.
I tend to write a lot of strong and powerful yet rather plain and otherwise unassuming female characters because I think it’s an area that’s been underserved in speculative fiction as a whole and pulp in particular. Most of the famous ladies of classic pulp were gorgeous as well as deadly and efficient, which is fine; but it sets an impossible standard to measure your own life against, which is ultimately what we as they are for a very important reason: I want every girl or woman who reads them to be thinking, “Hey—that could be me on a good day!” I’d like all my male readers to focus on what this gal actually does instead of how she looks in that skimpy, sexy, skintight outfit as she kicks butt. Yet these ladies are still all woman, and very appealing even though they know how to handle themselves in a crisis—even if they aren’t classic beauties. If I have any hidden agenda, that’s probably it.
What else can we look forward to from you this coming year? For instance, is there a ‘Keener Eye’ novel on the horizon? Or more short stories?
For now I plan on keeping the KEENER EYE, as well as THE SONG OF HEROES and the SILVER PENTACLE, all short stories in series for Pro Se Presents. I think you can plan on another KEENER EYE tale later this year. Whenever it comes up, there is already another SONG OF HEROES written and in the queue. I might do a standalone story or two for Pro Se Presents if and when I get the chance.
On the imprint, you will be seeing another brand new Terran World series debut as an anthology. That is in editing right now and I hope to have it out somewhere in the first half of the year. I had another antho planned, introducing an additional new seroes, but the seminal story decided it wants to be a novel of its own, and the concept is big enough to support that. That I’m planning for a second half of the year release. As I said earlier, MASTER’S ENDGAME, which will end Callie’s solo main character focus, is likely to see print sometime early next year. I have to work on a Pro Se release schedule with these, and I don’t get any special favors, so this is all estimated.
I should have one or two Pulp Obscura stories appearing sometime later this year, and I’ve turned in a Tall Pulp story, so I’m hoping we might see that this year too. Again, that schedule is up to Pro Se. I have other Pro Se anthology/digest work that I’ve either turned in, have been working on, or will be starting soon. I can’t elaborate more than that and I have no idea when anyone will see those. This is a diverse bunch of projects for me and all I can say is you will be seeing my name on more than just my standard fantasy tales.
Sadly, I’ve had to turn down offers to be involved in some anthologies that I just didn’t have time to bring myself up to snuff for. I do pace myself, and I won’t take on a project I know I’d do a mediocre job on. That’s not fair to everyone else involved.
Along with the writing, as Pro Se’s Assistant Editor I get to periodically work on books by other writers as well as back up our other editors when they are swamped. I try and make myself available to other writers when they need to chat or have questions I can answer.
I’ve also branched out and done some work for other New Pulp publishers. Last year I was fortunate enough to be invited to contribute to Airship 27’s brand new anthology series SINBAD—THE NEW VOYAGES, which took on classic FX Ray Harryhausen style adventures and gave them a new international cast of characters and a decidedly pulpy twist. That was a fun story to write! I’d love to turn out another one of those this year if I ever get caught up, but I have thrown my hat in the ring for another Airship 27 project that must come first. Just recently Mechanoid Press released MONSTER EARTH, which I know you reviewed Ralph. What could be more fun that writing in an alternative earth where giant Kaiju type monsters have supplanted nuclear armaments in the Cold War?  That story was also one of my favorite ‘write to the bible’ projects and I’d love to pen another. And, I’ve just been approached by another startup group on a project I can’t talk about, but will certainly consider once I have all the details because the premise and projected series title sounds very good. So yeah, my New Pulp dance card is pretty doggoned full!
And don’t forget, I write a bi-monthly column for the New Pulp site. I sit down at the keyboard and open a vein, rambling about whatever topic of writing and loving pulp happens to catch my fancy.
Are you experimenting with any different types of genres this coming year?
All the time! I’m primarily a fantasist, but the opening paragraph that became the first KEENER EYE was given to me as a challenge, and it became my first foray into Private Eye fiction. For various projects lately I’ve penned a Western, a swashbuckling adventurer of Spanish California (no, not Zorro); a team of post-apocalyptic elemental superheroes with dashes of steampunk, horror, and time travel science fiction; a femme fatale adventuress and scum buster in a modern setting, a local legend set in a historical backdrop, and a good old fashioned super heroine with gadgets galore going up against a particular costumed villain and the evil mastermind that backs him. I still have options on a 1930s island adventure tale, maybe something involving a jungle lad, and more Sinbad and giant Kaiju monsters. I am breathlessly awaiting the debut of a rather quirky little magical series with younger fans in mind that is going to keep me and two writing partners very busy. So while I’m most comfortable in a sword & sorcery fantasy setting and can write faster that way, I find with enough time and research I can tackle just about anything.
As authors, who were your favorites who inspired you the most?
I have pretty eclectic tastes. As a kid I adored Marguerite Henry horse stories, Walter R. Farley’s Black Stallion and Island Stallion series, and Walter E. Brooks Freddy The Pig—who had the most outrageous and entertaining adventures! Anything with dogs or horses as the main characters was fair game for me back then. Jack London and John Steinbeck were early teen faves because they could tell gritty, riveting tales with characters and settings you could see in your mind, and I read some James Michener for the richness of his historical settings. I was that weird kid in high school who actually enjoyed the writing of ‘the bard of the common man’ William Shakespeare, even though they made him boring as heck by dissecting every story he retold into units of study arbitrary to some highbrow literary agenda. I just read them as entertaining stories based on snippets of civilization’s comic or tragic history, and blocked out the rest of the people trying to guess what his motive was in penning this line or that passage.
In my late teens I was handed some copies of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which started my rabid love of fantasy. That ‘big world’ backdrop idea came solidly from Tolkien. Interestingly enough, it was poets like Emily Dickenson and Robert Frost who taught me how to get a lot of description and emotion packed into very few words. As I got deeper into the speculative fiction world, while I would read all kinds of horror, science fiction, and fantasy and plenty of crossover genres, but it was always the fantasy worlds that enthralled me. Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton, Terry Brooks, Terry Prachett, and Piers Anthony are all favorites. The female authors were especially inspirational, for many of them had struggled through an era where women in speculative fiction had a very tough time getting taken seriously.
About the only classic pulp authors I had read were Robert E. Howard and C.L. Moore. Ms. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry I bought as a discounted omnibus and became entranced with her red haired warrior maid (why are they always red haired?). I had read some non-Howard Conan novels back in my teens, and while they were entertaining, I had no idea of the sheer breathless pacing of Howard’s original pulp stories until I picked up an omnibus of  his. By Crom!—Howard could keep you turning pages, anxiously wanting to know what was going to happen next. That was my real introduction to classic pulp, though I didn’t appreciate it at the time.
It’s very important to read outside your favorite genre—in fact, read all kinds of stuff. You need to get a handle on how complex ideas can be broken down and best purveyed, and how to work in details outside the genre that make a story come alive, and you can’t get that from sticking with one genre only. You’ll go stale quickly unless you broaden your reading horizons. Even if what you read is a great example of what not to write, you’re already ahead of the game.
What setting do you like writing in the best? Different worlds, such as the ‘Fortune’s Pawn’ series is set in? The ‘classic’ pulp era of the 30’s and 40’s? Or the current time, such as the ‘Keener Eye’ shorts have been set in, and why?
I’m always most comfortable in my element, immersed in some fantastic quasi-medieval, mythological setting, but really—I write whatever interests me that comes my way. If you think about it, the classic pulp writers were doing the same thing, giving you everything they could. They wrote in what to them would have been contemporary settings to places that were exotic, futuristic, outlandish, ancient and alien. As a pulp writer, you have to be prepared to pack your bags and go just about anywhere in space and time you need to in order get that story done.
What is the next big project that you are looking forward to starting on?
Oh there’s always something on my agenda! The biggest current project I have is that novel in progress that I thought was going to be only a short story. That thing started out as a book I was writing on a Tandy 1000 computer on dot matrix printed fanfold paper—yeah, it’s that old. Still good stuff in there though. It will establish a series that I already have a couple of short stories ready for, but didn’t have the genesis tale written. Then I have MASTER’S ENDGAME waiting in the wings, and if you thought PROPHECY’S GAMBIT was exciting, this beats the snot out of it! I’m just hoping I can rope it down into one final novel in that series, it’s got tons of stuff going on and all those subplots have to be tied in.
Of course there are lots of smaller projects too. I’m going to be busy all year long. I should have no problem filling two more anthologies in 2014, and depending on when MASTER’S ENDGAME comes out, I wouldn’t rule out another novel.
Any of your work you would particularly like to spotlight here and tell the world to go out and buy right now? Feel free.
How about all of it?  LOL!
Seriously though, rather than just pinpoint one particular work if you’re not sure, pick a genre I’ve written in that comes closest to something you’d like, and get yourself a paper or an inexpensive E-copy in a format your electronic gizmo can handle. There are a lot of choices out there as far as what will work on what device, and you’re not spending a fortune on them. You’re not just supporting me either, because in the anthologies outside my imprint and Pro Se Presents, I’m usually coupled with the work of other writers as well as editors, artists, and setup folks who put every ounce of care into what they do. Do support the independent publishers, because most of them are doing this as a sideline, with day jobs and family demands, because they love New Pulp and Classic Pulp so much. We want to give you, our readers, some alternative to what Madison Avenue thinks you need to read. Every time we sell a book we smile, because it makes all the hard work and head banging getting these things to print worth it. I know I give writing and editing everything I have, and down at this level we do most of our own self-promotion too. It takes an incredible amount of creative energy to get books out, and we’re doing something I never would have dreamed of when I started thinking bout being published over 20 years ago.
Besides, when you buy one of my books, it keeps me from wandering the streets, begging for dark chocolate. LOL
Thanks for playing Nancy, it’s greatly appreciated, and as always it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Folks, give Nancy a big round of applause!
My pleasure Ralph.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Van Allen Plexico Interview

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Ralph’s Rants does interviews. Tonight we have the pleasure of having the prolific Van Allen Plexico as our guest on the hot seat. Hello Van and welcome to the show!

Thanks a bunch, Ralph! Longtime fan of yours, first-time interviewee!

So Van, when did you start writing? At what age?

I think my first book was about a rabbit going on an adventure in the woods and meeting all sorts of strange creatures. I couldn’t actually write yet (though I enjoyed banging away on my granddad’s manual typewriter!) so I had to get my dad and my sister to write it out for me. I think I was about three or four. I discovered comics a couple of years later and wrote/drew those until eighth grade, when I wrote a big fantasy epic longhand in a ring-binder notebook (complete with maps!). Then I wrote my first SF novel (typed and everything) in tenth grade and actually sent it off to Del Rey and DAW and Timescape/Pocket Books. So my first rejection letter came probably about the time I got a driver’s license.

Was it something you were encouraged to do, or just something you came to yourself?

We always had books around the house, and my grandmother would read to me every night and help me follow along. So books were always important. (I do the same with my little girl now.) Living in the woods in rural Alabama, miles from anyone my own age, and with only two or three channels on the TV and no VCRs or anything yet, I devoured all the books and comics I could get my hands on. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to write books—preferably for a living, but of course that’s not so easy. So I pursued an education in other things but always kept writing—and improving my writing—a top priority on the side.

Now I’ve known you for about 15 years at this point, dating back to the MV-1 days, so I know that some of your influences were decidedly comic-based. What other authors were inspirational to you?
Ah, MV-1—that great opportunity to write fun characters and stories for an audience and find out what we could really do. That was priceless experience.
Comic-based? Yes indeed—the way that Jim Shooter used large casts and juggled plotlines in big, epic stories was very influential to me, as was the way Jim Starlin incorporated such a sense of cosmic wonder to his tales. And big hairdos.
The author most inspirational to me has always been Roger Zelazny, for his combination of pulp action adventure and pacing mixed with a true poet’s way with words. He took everything Philip Jose Farmer was doing and added a whole new layer of facility with the English language—just a musicality—and it blew my mind as a kid. The first Amber novel is still my favorite book. And I try in everything I write, to one degree or another, to capture a sense of flow and musicality, beyond just telling the story. I want it to sound good to the ear as well as make sense to the brain. That’s Zelazny’s influence.
More recently I have become an admirer of Dan Abnett’s work. Many probably know him as a comics writer, particularly for co-creating the current version of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova, among others. But his novels for the Black Library (Warhammer 40,000 / “Horus Heresy” universe) are truly remarkable. I try to some degree to emulate his ability to combine engaging prose with strong characterization and very vivid action scenes. I learn something new every time I read a book of his. I generally admire writers who attempt new things with each new project—Steven Brust is another who likes to experiment this way—and Abnett gives a master class in big-screen cinematic adventure writing with each novel.

I mentioned earlier you were prolific, how many books do you have out now?

Let’s see… Seven novels in the SENTINELS superhero series… Three novels in my overlapping SF universe… Those include LUCIAN: DARK GOD’S HOMECOMING and HAWK: HAND OF THE MACHINE as well as the first volume in my “Shattering” series, LEGION I: LORDS OF FIRE… So that’s ten novels… And then there are all sorts of anthologies from different publishers, including Sherlock Holmes, Blackthorn, Gideon Cain, Mars McCoy, the Griffon, Lance Star, Monster Aces, and a few that haven’t come out yet. And two books about the Avengers I created and edited… and a trivia book… and I co-wrote one book about football and have another one coming out in May. So, something like twenty-three, depending on how you count.

What characters are you re-visiting with new editions this year?

I’m in the early stages of working on the eighth volume in the SENTINELS series—I try to get one of those done every year, since the reader base for that property has been growing tremendously thanks to Kindle editions. I want to keep them happy! This will be the middle volume in the third trilogy, and the middle parts are always when things get really dangerous for the heroes. And there’s not much more fun than putting your beloved characters into horrible situations!
I’m also finishing up the plotting of the second “Shattering” novel, LEGION II: SONS OF TERRA. This is more serious, more violent, more intrigue-laden stuff than I do in the superhero books, so it’s a refreshing change. It’s basically Military SF in the same vein as the Warhammer 40,000 books—a cross between big guys with futuristic guns, and demonic creatures possessing mortals and entering our universe. Fun stuff!
I’ve also worked out most of the plot for the next book in HAWK’s series, so that one is out there, too.

There’s this thing we’re all involved with that has been classed as ‘New Pulp’, which is basically a sub-genre of the highly entertaining action/adventure novels we all used to pick up at supermarkets, pharmacies, and book stores like Barnes and Noble or Walden books. Book stores for the most part are disappearing and our books are basically sold through amazon and a few other places. What are your thoughts on ‘New Pulp’ as a genre, or is it all just writing?

New Pulp came along at a very propitious moment for me. I was writing LUCIAN and the first Sentinels novel and was growing concerned that nobody would like it because it was much more action-adventure oriented than the deep, sociologically profound SF like you see so much of these days (or you did a few years ago, before everything turned to vampires, teen agers, and steampunk). What New Pulp did for me was to tell me, “You have a niche—you just didn’t know what it was yet!” It reassured me tremendously that what I was doing was a legitimate type of literature, and that there were other people who liked to write it and who wanted to read it! And the New Pulp community has been incredibly good to me and to each other, providing support and encouragement across the board. So, whatever it is, I’m awfully glad it exists.

I personally think we’ve lost a bit of our Americana with the loss of spinner racks full of novels and comic books, and I feel that’s a bad thing. While I’m a big proponent of the internet and all the wonderful things it’s brought us, I also feel that we’ve lost that connection to a simpler, more personal life without places that carry novels and comics where people can actually interact together when looking over the new novel of comic releases. What are your thoughts on this?

I understand your point, but from my perspective, buying and reading comics and paperbacks was always a very solitary activity. As I said earlier, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, Alabama, and I didn’t set foot into an actual comics shop until I was halfway through high school. On those days when I’d get to go to the grocery store with my granddad and beg him for a few cents to buy a comic, or when we’d drive all the way up to Birmingham and I’d be able to buy a science fiction paperback, I would spend the rest of the day or week or month with whatever it was I’d bought, devouring it over and over. I didn’t really have anyone to share that kind of thing with (other than maybe one or two other guys, occasionally) until high school at the earliest, and even then it was mostly frowned upon. So I’ve felt nothing but a vast increase in the number of people I can actually interact with about this stuff.

Are there any of your characters who have a lot of “you” in them? Ones you identify with more than others?

I do have a particular archetype I’m fond of, though I don’t know if it’s all that personal for me: the confused protagonist who fills in the reader as he learns things for himself. I probably get that mostly from being such a fan of how Zelazny introduced us to Corwin in the Amber books. You see a bit of that in Ultraa (Sentinels) and Hawk, in particular. That’s another reason I enjoyed writing LORDS OF FIRE so much—because Col. Tamerlane, the protagonist, actually sort of knows more than the reader does in the early chapters, rather than less. He’s keeping secrets, rather than learning them, and that was fun to do. I do tend to have my protagonists sort of look like me—or a comic book version of me—though. Hawk, Tamerlane, and Brachis all kind of favor me, I suppose—if I were drawn by George Perez. Hah.

Is there any character you killed off that you wished you hadn’t afterward?

Not to give away a big spoiler to anyone who hasn’t read it yet, but I do famously (infamously?) kill a major character in an early Sentinels novel. I’ve been hearing about that from irate readers for seven years now! But it was always planned, and I did give readers a flashback to that character in the pages of Volume Six: STELLARAX. And I took steps in Volume Seven: METALGOD to sort of replace that character, more or less. So we’ll see what the verdict from the readers is…
And of course the Warlord gets killed almost every volume. It’s just that I’ve yet to figure out how to get him to stay dead…!

You have created a universe that has several of your characters and situations acting within its boundaries. It’s sort of a shared universe, but shared by the characters within it. Are you moving all your characters within those boundaries (Meaning the Sentinels as well as your ‘future’ based series and characters.)

That’s a really excellent question, and one I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.
It’s true that HAWK, LUCIAN, and now “The Shattering” all happen in the same universe. Quite a bit of time passes between each—thousands of years in some cases—but it’s all blending into one cohesive universe. The gods of LUCIAN used to be prominent in the galaxy, but then they mostly went away for various reasons covered in that book, and the galaxy was “shattered” (as is being revealed in the new series). Hawk is something of a lawman patrolling the post-shattered galaxy. There are very strong connections among the characters in all of those books and series. (Clue: Pay close attention whenever someone’s first name is mentioned!)
The short answer to your question of whether the Sentinels will be rolled into that universe is, “It probably doesn’t matter.” What I mean by that is, the stuff that happens in the Sentinels universe is pretty much “present day,” at least in comic book terms—it rolls forward to keep up, time-wise, with the latest book. (So, for example, WHEN STRIKES THE WARLORD came out in 2006, but in story terms, it happened one year ago as of the latest volume.) The stuff that happens in my other books is thousands of years in the future. So there’s not much overlap. So—it doesn’t matter.
The longer answer is, “I don’t think the Sentinels fit into that universe.” It would have been fun to have them overlap somehow, but you have to remember that Earth is interacting with a race as powerful as the Kur-Bai in contemporary times in the Sentinels books. Where are they in Lucian’s time? Or during the Shattering? And if humans are as powerful as the Sentinels in our time, where are they thousands of years from now? Ehh. Better to keep that world a sort of “Marvel Universe” of big alien empires our superheroes can interact with, and keep it separate, I think, from the more science fictional universe where such things have to be more realistically accounted for.

Last question, what one character or property would be your dream character to write? Or are you already writing your dreams with your large catalogue of books and characters you’ve already created?

There was a time when I would have said the Avengers, or maybe Corwin and the Amber princes and princesses. But I’ve come to love my own characters and worlds so much now—and to know that other people really enjoy them, too—that I barely want to think about having to take someone else’s property and do something more limited with it. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy working on things like Bobby Nash’s LANCE STAR or Jim Beard’s MONSTER ACES—that’s tons of fun, working with great characters created by friends and peers. But to write long-established characters and not really be able to change them much? Just advance the ball a few yards down the field and then hand it to someone else? That’s not too appealing anymore. I have a limited amount of time to write, and I’d rather spend most of it working on properties that make me the happiest. I’m very, very fortunate to be able to do that, and I appreciate every one of my readers for helping make that possible. And I’m very glad it makes them happy, too.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Graham Nolan's 'Monster Island' Reviewed!

Graham Nolan's Monster IslandGraham Nolan's Monster Island by Graham Nolan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Monster Island, By Graham Nolan

I recently purchased a graphic novel by Graham Nolan, one of the men who created Bane while he drew Batman a few years back. Nolan’s ‘Monster Island’ project was actually first published in the 90’s and has been re-released for a new audience.
The story harkens back to comics from a decade plus back as this was pure fun, it was not dark and ugly as most comics are these days. This was just a romp that those who love the classic Godzilla or Gamera movies will love.
Two US Navy flyers crash land on an unknown island and soon discover it is overrun with giant creatures as well as two factions of warring aliens. The flyers (A man and a woman) soon find they have feelings for each other but before they can do anything about it they have to get off the Island.
What ensues is old fashioned adventure and clean fun as our heroes have to race against time to get off the island before it disappears, possibly forever, stranding them where they can never return from.
This graphic novel had everything for me. Giant monsters, aliens, Fighter jets, cute girls and lots of action. You can’t go wrong with this one. Graham Nolan is a man who knows when comics used to be written and drawn the right way. There’s no politics here, no agenda’s, just good clean fun.
I can wholeheartedly tell you to go out and buy this one without any reservations. When you finish reading this one, you’ll be thinking to yourself that you remembered this feeling after reading comics from years gone by. It’s called enjoyment. Have I mentioned how much fun this story was? Five stars.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Prophecy's Gambit Review

Prophecy's GambitProphecy's Gambit by Nancy A Hansen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Prophecy’s Gambit- A Review

“Prophecy’s Gambit” is the second book in Nancy Hansen’s fantasy epic “Fortune’s Pawn” series. If anything I found this volume to be better than the first, which I really enjoyed. Prophecy’s Gambit finds our heroine ‘Callie’ a few months older and more pregnant as evil men surrounding her from the shadows conspire to take her captive, regardless of the effect it has on her unborn child.
Deep in the forest the Elves must deal with more attacks upon them by the horrific ‘weremon’ who, under the command of a dark wizard are seeking to kill all the elves, or if failing that, at least to drive them from the forest with the aid of the Weremon as well as the annoying and evil, ‘Drakkar’, which are hideously transformed fairies.
Callie to this point has no idea that she is the center of a hunt by the evil forces in her town’s general vicinity. Wizards and elves and monsters as well as brave men and women abound in this story, though no one really considers themself a hero, per se.
To me, one of the most interesting characters is a man named Phineas who is a hunter and all around woodsman. He’s a very interesting character to watch, and really comes closest to me of the definition of ‘Hero’ in both books so far.
There is a grand plot going on in this story, and so far we’re only getting bits and pieces of it. I have a feeling this is going to be a long adventure in the making, which is fine, because Nancy handles it all masterfully.
There are several interwoven plots going on at once, and besides the one where the wizard Kendahl and the Elf Levanti made certain that Callie was to bear a half elven child as per the Prophecy, all the rest being woven by the forces of darkness.
This is a very good book in the vein of “Lord of the Rings” and “Dragonlance”, perhaps not so large in scope as either of those series, though that could be proven otherwise in future volumes, right now it’s a fairly contained story within Greenwood and Gruel’s crossing. Machiavellian plans are being formed by the evil forces seeking to block this prophesized child from being born. Right now Callies only hope seems to be the friends and surrogate family about her as well as the watchers in the woods.
All in all it’s a very good book and Nancy’s writing really pulls the reader in. An excellent story that you can tell the author has close to her heart. Five Stars

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