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Aug
14

Destiny by William Emmett, came out in 2017 and it was nice to read a recently released novel. In this science fiction tale, super high tech meets a totalitarian medieval state along with various other cultures, which exist on this far-off world our hero finds himself stranded on.

Destiny by William Emmett

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher:  Xlibris

Published: 2017

Reviewer Rating:  3.5

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

Menem, is the sole survivor of an interstellar exploration program. When he, and much of his tech, are forced to land on this world full of more primitive humans, he throws Star Trek’s Prime Directive out the window, it lands in the fire, and instead he sets out using his technology to be a one-man force for justice, the betterment of the people, and human rights.

And Menem has a serious amount of tech. He can create sonic booms, knock out fifty guards, and escape into his orbiting craft at will.  He finds a young deformed girl who was subjected to slaver cruality. He rescues her and uses his machines to recraft her into the most beautiful woman on the planet. Together they set off to create a university of higher learning, but in the process, anger the evil emperor who has twenty times the troops of Menem’s local allies to entire these lands and destroy Menem and his allies.. The free people are forced to wager on whether good planning and high-tech aid will be enough to help them win against overwhelming numbers.

god

Some kinks in this book’s armor would include, all the typos. I know I’m not one to talk when it comes to editing, but golly, this book had a lot. Hopefully they’ll all be fixed before it goes up sale. I found it a strange choice for Menem to do everything in his power to take over the ethics of this world he crashed on. I suppose it would be tempting, but kind of an odd concept to think one person with tech could be all but a god molding the planet and changing the flow for all the people rightfully living there. But hey, maybe given the chance, I would do it too.

I liked how his advanced technology was used in imaginative ways to affect outcomes which would aid his allies. Strong book and enjoyable. Emmett shows promise.

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Boney II

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Aug
08

I know a good number of people enjoy deserts, but always figure, I should visit them in the winter, because it’s the smart thing to do. I don’t agree. Going to the desert in the colder months is like only visiting the ocean at low tide, or having Christmas (Opps I mean the Yule Tide) in July, or ice fishing on the Summer Solstice, or maybe watching Alaskan bears eat bugs for a month before the Salmon start spawning. If you’re going to experience something, grab it head on. Feel the real heat the desert brings. Dive into the furnace, oh crap it’s sorta hot out here.

Saquaro

One would think leaving the cool mountains mid-summer and coming to the desert would almost be the difference between life and death, but I’ve seen far more animals here. Every turn on the castle grounds has lizards dashing away from you. Rabbits run to hide under cholla.

Horny Toad

On my long bike ride besides the, often flowing, (but only this time of year) Santa Cruz wash, I’ve seen several species of lizard, blue herons, multiple road runners and even a southern Arizona gopher snake. It got grouchy too and emits a hiss mimicking the shake of a rattler’s tail.

saga

Showing up during monsoons proved well worth any heat I’ve endured. When the desert clouds open up, it is a force to be respected. Lightning hammers the world and thunder explodes coming ever closer. Washes flow in areas which have been dry for months and erupt into rivers.

Santa Cruz

Yeah, I’m cool with my timing.

I think we all need to do what we can to enjoy every time of year and each day in it. I don’t care if you have to work a sixteen-hour shift or clean your whole house, every day needs to be savored and we should allow ourselves at least a little peace, relaxation, and joy.

Sometimes, work, stress, and obligations seem to crush us flat. We feel like we are doing things for everyone but ourselves. Still, we deserve to live and enjoy our own lives. And no one says you can’t enjoy it around others, whether they be friends, family, or maybe someone you just met.

Bike wet rain

I just randomly met a woman who needed help because her car window was smashed in by a thief. He stole her backpack and a few other things. She was quite obviously going through a stressful time, but I got her to smile and chuckle. I helped her through it a bit and we might end up being friends.

Even in adversity, you could learn something or have some positive outcomes. Of course, some things just blow and you have to deal and suffer through it, but again at the end of the day enjoy the moon for a moment, read a good book, or perhaps sit someplace comfortable and let yourself just be.

Life is ridiculously short and we sometimes work so hard to improve it for us and others we don’t stop to just live it. I think I’m going to go look at some lizards. Later.

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AZ sunset II

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no toe

Jul
31

Genre:  Dark Fantasy

Publisher:  White Cat Publications

Published: 2011

Reviewer Rating:  4

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

Tainted Blood by Ferrel D. Moore might be considered a horror by some, but I would place it firmly in the camp of Dark Fantasy, despite its high body count.

Tainted Blood by Ferrel D. Moore

The story has multiple POVs, but follows the plight of Sveta, who is a professional mercenary and a handful of her fellow Russian heavies. Early on, they are laid out to attack an old man who turns out to be an unstoppable werewolf. Nothing slows this thing down, not bullets, silver, or fire. Everything about it is uncontrollable including its need to kill scores and scores of humans.

With the help of a mysterious girl, Sveta survives her initial encounter with the beast only to find herself guided to its steampunk tech underground lair. Once there, she learns more about the fate of the man suffering from the curse of the beast while multiple gangs of the Red Mafia close in on them.

Action and bloodshed happen at any moment as these evil and heartless Russians first manipulate and then kill anything in their path, much like the werewolf they hunt. Sveta knows she should try to escape before it becomes too late, but the intense mystery being slowly reveled becomes too much for her to walk away from.

As I said, this book is full of action, but it is also full of violence and malice. If you do not like bloodshed and evil people being evil, then it could be not to your liking. Also, even though bullets never hurt the beast, not only to people brag throughout how they are going to shoot it down, but they continue to use guns even when the twenty people they just saw getting killed had been using their guns to no effect.

werewolf

However, if you love action and military style battles, this could be one for you. Despite the training and force they can bring to bear, it is all useless and they will have to figure out another way to destroy this unstoppable beast.

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Werewolf II

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werewolf_in_the_bedroom_by_woodywelch-d9y562k

Jul
30

So I moved from a cool mountain paradise with no humidity and mosquitos down to a steaming desert to be blasted by the heat in the middle of the summer. One could say my choice has questionable merit and might have been unwise. Butttttt, hear me out.

Cholla

I have also moved from the most expensive place in the state to the cheapest. Tucson rent, literally less than half as much. I’m looking at two bedrooms for around 600$ a month when the last two-bedroom place I called in Flagstaff wanted 1700$ and that was with two families living in your back yard.

Gotta say, “Screw that.”

I’m not having it any more. Flagtown is one of the best places to live in the USA, but I’m at a point in my life I’m just not going to flush an extra 600$ a month away to help make someone else rich. I’m not going to go into it, but it’s time, for this guy to live smaller (Remember the mouse?).

Brussels-mouse-645473

Which could bring up this episode of WildernessPunk’s topic, Extravagance. Some forms of extravagance are obvious. The guy spending his wages on cocaine. (Do people still do that?) The rest of humanity could look at him and say, “What a fool. I’m so much better than that.”

Still, and you knew this was coming, I think much like how we all cherry pick the ways we’re helping the world and being environmental, I think we also pick our extravagance. For the purpose of this discussion, I will consider an extravagance as something you have/do which is spiked up financially and perhaps with the use of time, much higher than the other parts of your life.

Let me give you some examples:

  • Having a hotrod when you live in an apartment
  • Spending a month of your wages on a vacation once or twice a year
  • Gambling frequently
  • Cigarettes
  • Any constant use of drugs from caffeine to cocaine, this includes alcohol of course.
  • Buying ATVs or jet skis for no legitimate use
  • Living in an expensive place without the job to match
  • Buying expensive things without the job to match

jet skis

This list could go on, but I think you get the idea. I’m not saying living large in some way is wrong. We should all choose what we want to do in life. What I am saying is more on the line with the glass house and a pile of rocks sort of thing. Is the person who is impoverished because she has a huge car payment each month so different than a guy who blows four hundred bucks a month gambling? Maybe she’ll have more to show for it, but you never know, while she’s eating rumen, he’s off having a great time for ten hours, meeting people, and developing fun memories.

Personally, I think a great vacation is much better than wasting money on cocaine. (Why is he still picking on the poor coke heads?) Yet, there could be some similarities.

  • When it is over, all you have are memories
  • You could now be quite broke for a month or more
  • You could have racked up more debt
  • No one is much interested in what happened besides you
  • Both wish they didn’t have to go back to the real world and could remain in that state

ot

And so… what’s my point, yes sometimes I have one. I believe we should each be careful judging other’s hobbies, pastimes, and motivations, when we might be living very extravagantly ourselves, but just in a different way. Whether you spend an extra 600$ a month to live in a mountain town, drive the best car at the office, or party until 2pm every Friday and Saturday night, they’re all extravagant behaviors and all wasteful in some degree.

Such things should be thought through carefully, like all important things in life. Perhaps even consider your impact on the environment. The guy dumping 6 bottles a day into the trash, is certainly hurting the eco-sphere more than the gambler flipping cards. But wait, did the gambler spend 10 bucks on gas and use a quarter tank to get to the casino…

AZ Sunset

Until next time, be careful when you choose your poison and don’t be too quick to judge another just because their brand is different than yours.

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Jul
25

Dead Space, Liberation is the third graphic novel in the Dead Space series. Titan Books has taken the Dead Space video game and made it into an impressive graphic novel. Again, the artwork of this graphic novel is mind grabbing as much as it is disturbing and a very powerful feast for the eyes.

Dead Space, Liberation by Christopher Shy

The horror of the murderous corpses continues to mutate as it spreads across the universe and devours all in its path. In this novel, a lone survivor teams up with a ship crew and tries to fight back and survive the monsters crafted from human flesh.

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Titan

Published: 2013

Reviewer Rating: 3.5

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

The character development was better in this novel and I felt for the main character and wanted him to somehow see things through, but like the other Dead Space novels, it is a slaughter.

I found parts of this hard to read, but the font was bigger than the last novel. After reading third of these, it would have been nice to see more plot twists. Perhaps origins or explanations could have been introduced. Instead we meet some people and then see them all get killed. There is a terror in never knowing what you really face or why the horror is happening to you, but there is also the danger of repetition.

If you liked the first two novels, get this one as well. This is good stuff, but I do not think I would pay for another one.

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Dead Space

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Jul
21

How much? How many? Possessions, what do we really need? Out of everything you own, how much have you used in the last month, the last year? Do you have things which haven’t seen the light for over a decade? Depending on your age, I bet you do.

Of course, even in the US, there is a wide curve in how much people possess. A twenty-two-year-old bouncing into a new apartment, might have less than a twelve year old living in suburbia. Others own rooms full of items and in general the older one is, the more likely they own more and will continue to do so as long as their health permits.

Overall, I’d guess the richer one is, the more they possess, (and the more resources they consume and the more they hurt the environment) although poverty is no protection against accumulating too much. Everyone is different, but most people in this country tend to fill any place they have, given the time.

Why do we keep so much? As I allow myself a moment out of the piercing desert sun, I leave my half empty Uhaul and contemplate the type of things I’m moving through the shimmering heat.

Half Done

Perhaps we should look at both the positive and negative aspects of doing so before we move on. Let’s go positive first.

  • Saving items is environmentally friendly on multiple levels. I’m keeping things out of the landfill, instead of replacing them with something new whose construction uses part of the environment and it also creates a carbon print to be produced. Often when I contemplate throwing away a non-perishable item like a broken table, this is the thought which nags at me, “This is so irresponsible to be throwing this into a landfill, when with a little work it could be fixed.”

 

  • You might be able to use it. Again, I’m helping the environment by not replicating something I have. I’m not wasting money buying something new.

 

  • Certain things are useful sporadically. I’m not just talking about winter and summer clothes here. There are also things like camping equipment, hunting and fishing gear, and vacations supplies, which all though used less frequently, as very valuable when it is time to bust them out.

 

  • Sometimes you can pass things down to friends. “I’m sick of this old sofa, but my buddy moved into a new place and has almost nothing in there yet…”

 

  • Lastly, it is yours. You worked for the money to get it. You carried it into your home. Items are part of your capital base and most of us just want this to increase. It is the way of mankind.

 

Alright let’s head into the negatives.

 

  • Too many things make your living space one big mess. Sure, some people like things tidier than others, but having crap spread over everywhere in every room gets ridiculous. You are weighing the pleasure of having nice things by the overabundance of them to the point where nothing looks good and little is enjoyed.

 

Storage unit 2

  • You have so much stuff you can’t find what you need. We have possessions so we can use them. But when we have too much, the things we need are unfindable or buried in some closet and if you forgot where you put your keys, it might be a half an hour quest to locate them within the clutter.

 

  • Clutter is dangerous. It is easier to get hurt when things are twisting your ankle, stabbing your ribs, or falling off shelves. Not to mention carrying items through narrowed spaces makes it more likely you might throw out your back.

 

  • No clean level surface to put my beer on.

 

  • If/when you have to move, well… that’s when the nightmare really begins

 

  • If you are a renter, having too much crap can get you tossed out of your place too.

So what is the answer? How do we balance all our things? The younger generation may have a lead on some of us. They seem happier just having a little screen to stare into and get much of their entertainment from the cloud.

Much of our lives we are told to get more, get more. But why do we really need more and what are we getting? Do I really need those 25 extra shirts I never wear? Are my files of paperwork I haven’t seen for 5 years really something I should still be keeping?

Conan

It is hard to get things and sometimes even harder to throw them away. Perhaps the best idea would be to want, need, and use less. Remember the mouse? But despite of my words, I still don’t want to get rid of my Conan comics.

 

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Alex of the Gods

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Jul
08

deadspacesalvage

 

 

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Titan

Published: 2013

Reviewer Rating: 3.5

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

 

Dead Space, Salvage is the second graphic novel in the Dead Space series. Titan Books has taken the Dead Space video game and created an impressive journey into this horrific world. The artwork nails you to a wall and creates a deep helpless feeling as one turns the pages and experiences the horror building to a deadly climax of blood, bones, and death.

In this novel, the crew of a space ship hope to gain some serious cash by salvaging a craft floating in deep space. If they knew what waited for them they would have turned around and light speed would be a hundred times to slow to get them away fast enough.

The character development is good and you feel for the heroes who end up facing the giant monsters made from dead flesh. Again, the novel become one where, once they realize their peril, the crew seeks to escape a place of certain death. There is a feeling of hopelessness within these pages as if, like death itself, in the end there is no way to avoid your final fate.

The artwork is very intense and inspired, but the dialog is even harder to read here. I found myself skipping some of it and just focusing on the gory art. No bubbles were used, just letters over the artwork, which made it very difficult for me to follow. Also, the plot, although different from the first novel, repeats much of the flow of Dead Space one.

As long as your eyesight is good, I would recommend this book to all lovers of horror art and the fans of Dead Space.

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Jul
05

Dead Space by Ben Templesmith

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Titan

Published: 2013

Reviewer Rating: 4

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

 

Dead Space is a graphic novel with the emphasis on graphic. Not for the faint of heart this one. It revolves around the people on a distant planet who think they discovered a marker which is part of a new religion, but instead have just discovered their deaths.

This marker, which is a huge twisted obelisk, first makes people overly aggressive. Some go mad, others turn to violence. As the bodies begin to pile up, they animate and that is when the real killing begins.

Dead Space

A few people realize what is happening in time to try to escape, but it could very well be too late. A feeling of horror and doom seeps from the pages. Dread mixes with danger and hopelessness as the survivors try to break free from the terror threatening to destroy everything they know.

Dead Space is a video game and this artwork here is inspired, if also sick, and creepy. Hints of some Alien overtones can be felt, but this is its own thing and the artwork is twisted, but impressive.

If this is your type of thing, I cannot see to many downsides. However, sometimes reading the dialog proved difficult. The font seemed small to me. Also, it was sick, dark, and very violent. If you do not want to see people torn apart you might want to avoid this one.

I enjoyed this and was happy Titan set it to me to check out. I often have a hard time remembering to read the graphic novels, but in this case, I am glad I motivated. If you like scary, sick horror, grab this one.

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deadspace II

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Jun
23

Aliens Labyrinth

Genre:  Horror

Publisher: Dark Horse

Published:  1997

Reviewer Rating:  4

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

 

As some people might know, I am a big fan of the Alien series and concept. I used to read a lot of comics and graphic novels. I switched to mostly reading books over the last decade or two, but I had Aliens Labyrinth laying around so I thought I would give it a try.

Set on a far-off space station, experiments are being done in an attempt to train aliens. Like most things involving aliens, things go wrong and people get killed in horrible ways, but the scientist in charge keeps the experiment alive.

aliens

Two new people arrive at the station. One is replacing a fallen scientist and the other is the dead man’s lover. They quickly discover things are far worse than they seemed and when they learn to much, they end up entering the training labyrinth.

Great art and easy to read and follow which is more than I can say for some graphic novels. Characterization and action were also well done.

alien-big-chap-003

Downsides might include it seems similar to the Aliens 4 movie, but hey, either we fight them or study them I suppose

I would recommend this to any fan of the Alien concept. They took some liberties, but I think they worked out well. Worth checking out.

 

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alien-internecivus-raptus-statue-feature-200464

Jun
20

To reach Glenwood New Mexico, from our hidden river/forest paradise, one has to leave the Apache Nation and travel through a hundred miles of high desert forest. Then you drop down thousands of cliff covered feet into the arid jagged rock which rings the west side of the Gila Wilderness.

Our little group of adventurers left the forest later than I would have liked, but ended up discovering the hotel we stayed in last time was full. Found a newly renovated place and strangely spike the high life in the middle of potential future tribulations.

Glenwood ghost

Almost nothing in the way of business is alive in this shady ghost town. Cat and I have been coming here for over a decade and each time we see it die in stages. First time, both the hotel we stayed in and the lonely lost tavern we enjoyed, both gone. The only store in town, now gone. This trip. Sad attempts at restaurants leaves only a single pizza parlor open three days a week for four hours a pop.

Glenwood Bar

Odd to see things go ghost in just part of your lifetime, but shouldn’t this mean the rent would be cheap here? Desert shade and hey a river runs through it. Sure, a lack of money or any normal type of job might slow me down, but hey. Still, when the reality store says open, but the dust covered door is locked, it might be hard to find an angle.

The one thing which is progressing in this town is the recently remodeled, Los Olmos Lodge. One can tell a lot of love, thought, and sweat went into making a relaxing gathering of cabins near both the river and several frog covered ponds. I love my frog friends. With this couple strivinging to open a restaurant and re-open the general store, they have more work ahead. Yeah, we offered to help, but might be taking nine months before the caretaker’s job opens. Ergg.

Glenwood swamp

Is there such a thing a fate? Why were my thoughts drawn here so often over the past few months? Still the nearest place to buy beer is 20 miles away and uphill. That could prove pretty rough.

Funny how me staying here today is a reality check of sorts. There is no place to buy food, ale, or anything else. If I didn’t bring it with me, I don’t have it. Unless I go hunt wild game, going to be hard to increase the larder.

Life without a store… (Or I have food I bought at a store with me.) still feels weird to need to stock up, but yet be in a place where people live. Look there goes two now? I wonder if they brought their own dinner?

Glenwood pool

Could this be what civilization means. Spending money on food. Maybe it just is that simple. Water, food, shelter.

I have some cans of food several years old, which have already been used today. Another odd thought, I worked for a company, I haven’t been with for over a year, but today, I will be surviving off this old effort, that and the cabin Cat rented. It’s my older son’s 6th birthday weekend and he’ll have a few days in the rough lands, half steaming desert and abandoned shops with a little pool time thrown in.

Glenwood Green

So I’m shutting this down so I can live off the corpse of my former life as this place of luxury and fun battles against the tide of the crumbling forgotten years which surround it.

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Glenwood Stage

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Glenwood Frog