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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

Jun
14

Confusion abounds and confounds.

Strange to think how different my life was twelve months ago. Last year, I lived in an apartment away from my children through no choice of mine. Now I’m not only with them, but it appears I will be rescuing them. It’s just up to me to figure out how.

Like many times in life, it comes down to choices, hard choices, but perhaps good ones, especially for a man who claims to embrace chaos. Still change is painful and uprooting can suck. Strange to think throughout my entire life, even as a child, I had never resided anywhere longer than the Pine house I currently call home. Hell, I’ve remained in the mountain paradise of Flagstaff for seventeen years.

Flag

Yes, Flagstaff is a paradise of sorts, with its ripping downtown scene, perfect summers, and it location close to hundreds of exciting places to explore. In many ways, the latter is the most important to me. When one lives in Flag, you can work all day and still get to Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and even Nevada in time to set up and camp before dinner. Yet paradise has its costs and boy howdy, does it cost a lot to live in Flagtown.

So… it becomes a strange conundrum. In order to live in this wild and wilderness zone, you have to be part of the rat race you escaped from to be here. Not that I’ve been a big part of the rat race for the last year, but as if the town senses I’ve been riding on its back without paying my America Scream dues, it’s trying to buck me off.

Perhaps this won’t happen, but would it be bad if it did?

I suppose there are several schools in life when it comes to where you live. Some folks like to stay in one place. They want to keep the friends and contacts they have collected over the years. I think this grows truer as we age. Not only are the friends we’ve known for so long more precious, but our ability to make new ones diminishes.

Younger folks can move to a new place and gather new friends quickly, Others young and old wish to experience and explore the world as much as they can. Still, what people wish to discover and explore can be quite different. Some seek, cities, culture and people, while for others exploring could mean seeing new vistas and environments.

As mentioned above, this latter idea of exploring new environments and places is what made Flagstaff so wonderful for me. Yet, could it be time to do more than explore remote spaces. Perhaps it’s time I try my hand at living more in the wilds full time?

However, with most loving parents, much of my reality circles around my small children. I need to do right by them, but what’s right?

I contemplate such issues and concerns from my camp chair nestled in the forests of the Apache Nation in the White Mountains of Arizona. I’ll (Oh so luckily) be here a few more days. A river with a water crest covered island is just a few hundred yards below me. Animals and wild horses travel at ease through the mighty trees.

River

But this place is not my primary goal. What I am setting out to do is enter the half abandoned desert town of Glenwood New Mexico. Not much on the way of jobs or anything else there, but compared to the college, wealthy second home town of Flagstaff, the rent will be perhaps less than half. Could this be the ideal writer’s retreat? The almost ghost town clinging to the White Water River where it spills out of the Gila Mountain Wilderness?

I suppose I’ll find out, but for now it’s time to get my kids going and make a picnic to take down to our river wonderland.

 

***

 

The river is warmer than expected and my older son learned he could wade over the slick rocks, at least a little, without parental aid.

I seem to be slipping back into journal mode a bit here, which was never the primary goal of WildernessPunk. WildernessPunk is not something just meant to be mine, but rather an exploration of the topic of how nature integrates or could integrate into the lives of people so involved in a world controlled by technology.

island

Thirty years ago, many people did lead lives based on technology. Whether you worked for a phone company or build cars in a factory, some level of the current high tech helped you make your cash. Now, however, almost everyone has large parts of their days revolve around tech of some kind. Some people spend hours each week on Facebook and such things. Others have hundreds of movies to indulge in just a click away, if they don’t feel like searching through their 700 channels. Most of us are never apart from the unending internet, with our hand held computers we decided to call smart phones. Children will all grow up considering this is a normal and acceptable manner in which to live, but is it—says the man typing on a laptop in the middle of the forest.

Writer's chair

Still my point is not to bash on tech as much to somehow mesh it with wilderness in a positive way. Can technology save our wildernesses, instead of being used for more effective ways of destroying it as has happened for the last five thousand years.

I think one of the things which will need to occur is a change in attitude. I often see the same type of people who would fight to preserve a section of forest be the first to complain about the idea of bio-engineering animals or changing the DNA to improve crops. Saving the world will require sacrifices.  Some might be ethical, others will involve comfort and convenience, but they will all involve a change in attitude.

It’s easy to become so spoiled with our current level of auspicious grandeur, that we come to think of all the things we have as normal, even though our grandparents could only maybe do 1% of the things our children do when they lived their youth.

Just think about your day. Go through the whole thing and don’t ignore the small tasks or other things we take so for granted we barely consider them. Now compare your day and what you do to someone living in 1880. I’m sure those people back then considered themselves normal and progressive, but if you raised your children in a manner completely acceptable in those times, Child Protective Services would probably end up stealing them from you.

Wake up:

Our World                                                                              1880s

Turn on lights                                                                                    No

Work the oven or microwave                                                              No

Eat food transported a long distance                                                    No

Watch the news on Television                                                            No

Brush Teeth                                                                                       No

Shower                                                                                              No

Deodorant                                                                                         No

Check your cell phone texts                                                               No

Drive to work                                                                                    No

Work in a temperature controlled Environment                                   No

Check Emails                                                                                    No

Check Voice Messages                                                                      No

Go to a grocery store where 10,000 types of food are available            No

Eat any type of meal you wish                                                            No

Choose from hundreds of books and movies                                       No

Set your climate control to whatever you wish                                    No

 

Okay, I think you get the point.

So why is it, what was normal and appropriate in 1880 would probably get your kids stolen, make you unemployable, or at the very least the weirdest person everyone knew, if you lived like that now? Still, think about for a moment and wrap your head around who had a lower impact on the environment?

I would, off the top of my head, guess 1880 guy or gal would have about 1 100th the environmental impact everyone you know is making each year. Yet, if I was most people’s neighbor and I was living 1880 style, I’d probably get the cops called on me. If I was renting a place, I’d be kicked out within weeks.

So we all want to protect the environment, but if we saw someone doing 100 times better at the job than us, we would most likely think of him as some sort of homeless loser long before saluting his impressive effort.

Again, it might be time to reevaluate our thought processes if we want this world to live. Are we going to keep congratulating ourselves for recycling and buying a low energy dishwasher or are we really going to try to step up and make some tough choices? I’m not expecting 1880, but if you are giving maybe 3% just admit, fuck, I’m part of this big problem. Sure, I don’t expect you to throw your cell phone into the fire, but how about we try to make that 3% more like 26%?

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Boney II

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May
30

Netherspace by Andrew Lane and Nigel Foster

 

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publisher:  Titan Books

Published: 2017

Reviewer Rating:  4

Reviewer:  Michael Griffiths

 

 

Netherspace by Andrew Lane and Nigel Fosteris a Science Fiction novel with a huge imaginative scope. These folks bring in the concept of Netherspace, which is a method of traveling through another, and very odd, dimension in order to travel through space. It also allows truly strange aliens to visit Earth.

Aliens have been known to man and visiting Earth for a few decades, but humans are in little ways closer to understanding them. These bizarre creatures are too different from ourselves to really comprehend let along have a verbal dialog with. Despite these barriers, the races have shared technology with us and we can also try these dangerous journeys through space.

Kara, an assassin, and Marc, a painter who became famous when an alien followed him around for three weeks, are forced into service when a group of humans is kidnapped on a far-off planet by aliens. Much of the book becomes how these two deal with the suspect ship crew as they attempt to reach these pilgrims. If they can make it there, the real test will be to try to be the first to really understand what these strange alien races really want.

As I said, this is a very inventive novel. I enjoyed the oddness of the aliens, which I found a lot more realistic than landing on planets with human looking creatures who we can talk to. I think they nailed how difficult it would be to second guess or understand a creature from a different world. The character development proved well done.  By the time the action started to hit, you really wanted to see what these people could do.

spaceship

The book shined, but did feel a little slow to start. The authors are very holistic in their writing. It gives you a complete picture, but also leaves you moving through a long journey without any fast-forwards. Some people might not enjoy how kept in the dark we are about the aliens and their motives. Many unanswered questions could be something you enjoy, but if you the type of person who wants everything wrapped up and explained, this book could frustrate you.

Overall a very powerful novel. I really looked forward to seeing how things would work out. I liked the bizarreness of the book. The future is dark, but also weird. Titan Books strikes again.

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May
11

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Rockefeller Publishing Group

Published: 2015

Reviewer Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

 

The Raping of Ava DeSantis by Mylo Carbia is a horror novel set in contemporary times. There is not a drop of supernatural in this one. It could be labeled Thriller, as easy as Horror, if it were not for a few scenes of brutal torture. The mood is dark, with little faith in mankind, and few characters being anything close to decent.

The plot quickly turns disturbing when Ava is raped by three frat boys after they enter a drug induced frenzy. They behave in a very sick and gruesome manner, doing such things as cutting off her nipples and making her infertile due to all the abuse she receives. Later, the excessively rich parents of one of the boys named, Wesley, bribes Ava and her family into keeping the horrid rape quiet.

Years pass, but after Ava receives her last payment, she begins to hunt down the three men and enact a brutal revenge of her own. Two of the men are finished in a quick, but horrific manner, while Wesley, gets sucked into her web as she chips away slowly destroying everything he holds dear, including perhaps his mind.

This is also an erotic novel with a few sex scenes, although most are deranged. The novel flows well and although the idea of revenge has been played out in thousands of novels, Carbia finds some fresh ideas.

Inanna

Carbia calls herself the Queen of Horror, which I think is a bit premature. Firstly, you are using a tag line of Stephen King’s, whose last name is King, so it is more of a play on words as much as him being the biggest horror author in our time. Perhaps wait until you have more than one book out to make that claim.

I think she has a lot to learn about horror. Two of the men died in terrible ways, but besides the last ten minutes, they were not abused as all. Part of horror is the suspense, the dread of knowing something is coming for you. Yes, torture sucks, but if anything, they got off with just ten minutes of hell instead of atmospheric fear leading to the discovery of the hidden menace. Ava also has sex with Wesley, which just seemed odd after everything. Sure, she used the recording of it to abuse someone later, but I do not think I would want to pleasure a person who had abused me so.

Good first stab at the horror field. An inventive twist on a well-used theme. Sexy too, if you can get past the general trauma of the novel. It reads easy as well. Might be a good summer vacation novel for horror fans.

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TROA

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Apr
26

Bullettime by Nick Mamatas

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Genre:  Science Fiction

Publisher:  ChiZine Productions

Published: 2012

Reviewer Rating: 3

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

Bullettime by Nick Mamatas is a nihilistic, young adult, coming of age novel with a small dash of potential science fiction thrown in. Hard to say how much of the science fiction aspect is real or is just in the head of a tortured teen named David.

High school is miserable for David, he is in real danger in his school. Almost everyone hates him, he gets beat up, and even stabbed. With a constantly working and raging father and an alcoholic mother, he gets little relief at home.

Somehow a gorgeous and inventive girl befriends him and opens up his mind to be able to view the matrix of how the choices he makes leads him to multiple different outcomes. The novel has dual points of views. The David who is in the background and sees the end game of the choices each different David makes and the main David we follow as he marches towards various levels of his own doom.

Teen with gun

Most of David’s dooms revolve around the different choices he makes when he decides to bring a game to school. However, as mentioned above, these different views of his choices and even the girl he meets, might just be his own inner psychosis. If this is the case, the novel just becomes a story about how an abused teen brings a gun to school.

I am usually a big fan of Chizine, but this did not seem up to their usual Par. As some may know, I am not a huge fan of young adult fiction to begin with and also not a fan of gun violence, so any glorification of such does not sit too well with me. I wanted to like David, but he possessed the annoying self-indulgence mixed with universal distain, which is what makes teenagers often so hard to deal with in the real world. I also did not like how the lip service to the science fiction aspect became a vague uncertain side note and never either helped no hindered the primary David we followed.

The book had some strong points, such as the conflict and powerless aspect David possessed. You wanted him to think of an answer and pull himself out of the dregs of his own life. Interesting novel, but not one I would give a troubled teen to read.

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M16

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Apr
18

Oh gentle readers, I suppose I’ve been neglecting you, not that many will notice and less will care. Still, WildernessPunk, the idea one can survive without most of the mundane expectations of the day. It focuses on helping the environment by using less processes and items which destroys the land and instead living closer to it. Getting more involved with nature, while using less of what kills it. Can such a concept work? Like most things in life it is more a matter of greys as opposed to a pass/fail black/white idea.

Sand Face

This explains the Wilderness, but what about the punk? Originally, I was trying to live in the wilderness, while creating the funds for doing so with my writing and internet work. High tech creating the means for living low tech. To be honest, I think some of this has dropped off, although I have gone a whole year now without the dregs of an 8 2 5 job, so I’m living some sort of ideal, now if I can just figure out what the ideal is.

Trail

Maybe a few updates are in order for the eight of you who have followed WildernessPunk over the second half of 2016 and into 2017. Maybe just some bullet points would speed this up.

  • I’m seeing my kids.
  • Yes, I’m living in a house, my old place in fact, trying to make things work out for everyone involved.
  • For the first third of 2017, I got a job which ended up being ridiculously awesome. I only worked about one day a week at it, but made a few hundred dollars an hour while doing so. I got to travel around Arizona for free. Not great places unless you like places like Yuma and Phoenix, but what the hell.

Now however the steel teeth of reality’s beartrap is closing in on me. Boy, wouldn’t it be great to be a writer or a guy who could survive by working on the internet in the woods or at home? I’m clinging on with my toenails, but the grim figure of mundania lurks outside the door ready to kick it in.

Dusting

I could go over a shopping list of bullshit, such as the landlords not thinking the yard is yuppie enough with the tree trunk tables, sandstone shelves, and trying to evict us after paying to live there for twelve years, but I have better things to speak on. Besides WildernessPunk was never meant to be a journal as much as a philosophy, so let’s move on past my personal triumphs and tragedies.

So what new concept are you going to discuss this time, Mr. Bone?

Environmentalists.

Unless you’re Donald Trump, or have a black heart full of hate, (wait, same thing) most people you ask, “Are you trying to help lessen your impact on the environment?” will answer, yes. But what does it take to be really be helping or be an environmentalist? I hesitate to use the word environmentalist, because it has certain defined conditions. So just to insure we do not make any Trumpers nervous, in this one case, let’s just say Environmentalists are people trying to live in a way which creates less damage to our world.

Let’s look at a few categories. Those bullet points were fun before, let’s use them again.

  • End Game Recyclers: These are the folks who separate their trash, bring it to the curb, and then hop in their car to go buy a new set of lawn furniture.

Recycle

  • Privileged Purchasers: These people feel they are ahead of the pack because their new custom made home has an energy efficient dishwasher and since they have solar power, the average person could never hope to be as cool to the environment as they are.
  • Cherry Picker: These are the people that pick an item or two, usually something easier for them or what they want to do anyway, then elevate themselves above anyone who falls short in this category. Sure, every positive thing you do helps, but helping the environment does not stop because you bike commute or have become a vegetarian.

 

  • Power Shoppers: Folks who might do some of the above, but then consume and consume. They buy new things while the old items get tossed into the landfill. They recycle their plastic, but purchase so many groceries they produce five time more trash than they can recycle.

 food-waste-getty

The list could go on, but I think you have the idea. Does an environmentalist complain their neighbor is not buying new yard furniture fast enough or maybe dumpster dived an old frame and uses it as a couch, for a few extra years before he burns it in his wood stove?

Quite often environmentalism isn’t pretty. A plastic covered garden instead of a water hogging green lawn, might be an eye sore to some, but we need to rethink what an Environmentalist really is. Is the inner-city professional who votes blue and has all their food transported hundreds of miles to them really better than the red voter who just hunted a deer and made himself a hundred meals without the use of chemicals or animal farms.

CB III

Driving and spewing poison in the air, so you can take your Sunday walk through the woods, seems like a contradiction. Yet, this is so much of what we see in this country.

What am I trying to say? I am saying we need to rethink what an Environmentalist is and what it takes to be one. Again, it is all a matter of greys, but if your only making it to the 5% mark, you need to reevaluate where you stand. We also need to rethink what we can do. Is having a pristine yard and worrying over what your neighbors think more important than global warming? Are we just going to pick a few things to make us feel better and then ignore the rest of our destructive behaviors?

Beer Sunglasses

No one can be perfect unless you head off into the woods and become a hunter/gatherer, but disregarding that, we need to look at our environmental impact holistically and also not judge others who live closer to the earth and have not bothered to lower the water table by keeping a perfect lawn in the middle of a drought, because, let’s face it folks, we are all in a drought.

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Boneman

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Blur Art

Apr
10

Low Noon Edited by David A. Riley

 

 

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Science Fiction Trails

Published: 2012

Reviewer Rating: 4

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

Low Noon is a horror anthology set in the Weird Wild West and is edited by David A. Riley. I guess I am going through an anthology reading phase or perhaps I am desperate to read horror and I really do not have many laying around. I was also off to camp in Arizona and New Mexico and figured a southwestern horror book would fit right in. Whatever the case, this anthology proved to be a pleasant or perhaps considering the stories an unpleasant surprise. I enjoyed these stories which I read in Coyote Buttes and Flagstaff Arizona as well as in the wilds of the Zuni Mountains in New Mexico. When I arrived at the New Mexico camp in the darkness, wolves took up their low eerie howling and when I heard them I figured I had picked the right book to take along.

The anthology contains twelve stories designed to put shivers down your spine. I give them each a quick review below.

weird west

The anthology starts with a bang as Don D’Ammassa presents Drawn Out. Sometimes people with extra-natural powers underestimate everyone else. When a woman comes looking for her missing beloved, Old Man Fosters should have been more careful because the young artist might end up having some tricks of her own and when she finds out what happened to her man, she will not be very forgiving.

Second is The Trail of the Brujo, by Matthew Baugh. This is a truly brutal tale about a witch who can switch bodies. If he is not stopped his evil and horrid ways could go on forever. Still, how can you stop someone who can switch into a new body each time he runs into trouble or is shot?

Third up is Before All This Modern Stuff by Lyn McConchie. This tale revolved around a man who puts greed in front of human life. When his cattle thieves turn out to be starving women and children, he orders them killed anyway. Years go by and he had forgotten the deed, but often one’s bad deeds come back to haunt you when you least expect it.

The line up continues with Feeding Pluto by C.J. Killmer. In this tale a man goes tracking down his friend who has disappeared along with many others. The cannibals eating these missing people might be the least of his problems, because something worse wishes to eat him as well. This one stretched reality more than a little, but I enjoyed it. The main character is cool. I like it when authors allow themselves to write powerful protagonists.

Henrik Ramsager brings us A Quarter Past Death. Some rough characters come into town to try to defend their shattered brother’s honor, but how can you have a gunfight with a man who’s already dead, even if he’s shooting back at you? This one didn’t do it for me as much. Seemed more comic than scary. I like comedy, but sometimes I am just hoping for the shudder.

The Five Disciples is by Joel Jenkins. A bounty hunter and friend take one five ultra-powerful warriors from Asia. These long lived mages go down a bit too easy. Sometimes in fantasy and horror one wonders how these villains live to be some unheard of age and then get cut down by the heroes. Were there no heroes of merit or one who got lucky for the past hundred years of danger and fighting? Good story despite my peeve. Much more high fantasy here, over horror.

Next is The Judiciales by John Howard. In this very short story Carlos finds his life has a price tag he cannot pay no matter how much money he stole. This was a little short for my tastes. It felt rushed.

Hell Home on The Range was written by Sam Kepfield. I liked this story quite a bit, however, it has the same basic plot of Feeding Pluto mentioned above. Seems like between Donner Pass and the movie Ravenous, people like to think of the lonely places being full of white cannibals. Still this was a well done and exciting story. I enjoyed a little character development the villainous female received. One of the strongest tales of the anthology.

Weird west II

Kit Volker wrote Art Lessons for us. This is another short one which did not do much for me. Seemed a little bit like filler. With so many longer and stronger stories, these shorter tales just cannot compare.

The Temptation of Darcy Morgan was given to the reader by David Boop. This story bordered on being epic. A bartender, a sheriff, and the beautiful young dealer, bet the souls of a town against a man who never loses a game. They are not off to a good start. Nice one where wits are used to solve problems instead of violence.

Weird west iii

Realgar was written by Jackson Kahl. This might be the scariest tale in the anthology. It is moody and contains a hint of Lovecraft style horror. I enjoyed how the main character started off wealthy with many men and slowly found himself more and more on his own. Liked this one a lot.

Lastly, we have A Walk in the Woods by David B. Riley the man who edited the book. In his tale, Grumpy deals with some high plains drifting vampires. These vampires have someone hunting them. It soon becomes a three-way conflict where not many will survive. Another good one and a great way to end the book.

Overall a strong and enjoyable anthology. A couple of shorter tales brought down the overall score, but I would recommend this to all lovers of horror. If you like the southwest, like I do (Hell, I live in Arizona where some of these stories take place.) It delivers and I enjoyed reading in while in the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico and I am glad I picked it for my little camping trek.

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weird west IV

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Mar
28

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Titan Publishing

Published: 2017

Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Michael Griffiths

Off Rock by Kieran Shea

Off Rock, by Kieran Shea is a Science Fiction novel with the beginning 98% of the novel taking place on an asteroid being mined by the main characters. Jimmy is a grunt miner who’s getting a little old for the job and not too many options on how to move on. This changes when he happens on a hidden vein of gold. Getting caught means life in prison and being subject to experimentation, but this does not keep Jimmy from wanting to get himself and the gold, Off Rock.

Jimmy first step is to team up with the station’s primary wheeler and dealer in black market goods. This person is untrustworthy at best, but his primary problem is his ex-girlfriend, who not only has it in for him, but is also his supervisor. The plot thickens as a beautiful hitman is sent to take out Jimmy’s partner because of all the money he owes to a crime organization.

Betrayals and lies start to build us and his ex suspects something is going on. Add to this Jimmy’s stash ends up being only a fraction of the size he thought it was. It’s enough to live on, but certainly not the life changing money for two people to split.

SF Mining

This book builds slowly as the tension continues to intensify. The last third becomes an exciting ride as chaos erupts on the mining asteroid. Jimmy is a likable character and you want to see him make it through this even when many of his problems are of his own creation.

If you are looking for hardcore science, this book might not be for you, although it uses many of the dangers of space, it is a very human story focusing on the dynamics between people more than repairing warp drives outside of black holes.

S F A

I enjoyed the character development and interaction, which took place in this novel. You really care about Jimmy by the time the climax of the novel crashes into you. I would recommend this novel to lovers of science fiction and action in general. Again, Titan nails another rock star novel to their resume.

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SF Mining II

Mar
08

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Darkwater Syndicate

Published: 2016

Reviewer Rating:  4 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

Shadows and Teeth Edited by R Perez De Pereda

 

Shadows and Teeth, was edited by R. Perez De Pereda or at least I think it was. It actually is not made clear. But I will not hold this against Darkwater Syndicate because this is an excellent horror anthology. As some people may know, I do not read many anthologies, but I have not gotten many new horror novels lately and needed a strong dose of the scary and luck was with me for Shadows and Teeth delivered.

The tales are a little longer than some and even though this is a full-length book, there are only ten stories. I had no issue with this. It is great for authors to have enough space to insure their complete tale comes across. These stories are not quite up to the ‘I need to leave the light on tonight,’ but some of them left me unnerved. Below is a quick review of stories they present for us.

First up is Water, Ice, and Vice, by Antonio Simon, Jr. Wow, talk about a novel idea for horror—an evil refrigerator which gives you what you want, but maybe not in a way you would like it. Jeremy goes from being a promising young man to a victim who could die from horrid diseases, end up in jail, or worse. I liked how this story set the stage for the anthology. It let me know I could expect anything.

Second up is The Dinner Party by Trevor Boelter. Kaitlin has guests. She is hosting a party, but why does it feel so wrong? Why are so many bad things happening? Part of her dinner party seems normal, but other parts are quickly entering beyond weird and into a realm of dangerous terror. She needs to figure out what is really going on before she ends up added to the growing pile of bodies littering her bedroom. This was well done. It makes the reader work to figure out what might be happening before Kaitlin does.

Broken Glass Face

Routine by Mia Bravo hits us next. Obsessive Compulsive Disorders can develop out of the need to keep ourselves safe. However, if taken too far, they can plunge a man into madness or worse start to make his life unsafe, the very opposite of what it set out to do.

Mark Meier brings us The Final Spell. I read this while sitting in my car on the outskirts of a high desert town and as the wind blew dust over the unfamiliar streets and faces, I have to admit the story made me feel a little uneasy. A student in the school of Magick finds a mysterious trainer. Perhaps he should have been more wary, but each step he takes leads him that much further from any hope of salvation.

witches-wizards-4611

 

Back Through the Mists is by J.S. Watts. This is about time traveling hosts who continue to reenact the gruesome sacrifices of their time. I liked the main character, but I felt to many things were left undone and this one did not leave me loving it.

Paige Reiring wrote Spawn. This short could be made into a book series with some effort. More urban fantasy than horror here, although what this female assassin has to battle is horrible indeed. In a world where some talented folks are given familiars, one should always consider there could be a bigger and badder familiars out there and if it comes for you, only the best will be able to survive.

 

Madness

 

 

The Pied Piper’s Appetite by, Rich Phelan comes next. This is a more low  fantasy number. What starts out as a reasonable guy quickly becomes a vicious and plotting serial killer. He does not just kill his victims but likes to play with them first. Not a situation I would want to be in. After all the supernatural in this anthology, it was a little hard to shift gears for me. I am not too into torture style horror as much.

Viktoria Faust presents Riana in the Gray Dusk. The shortest story in the compilation, in this a photographer makes a study of a girl who lives to be on film. But what if the film is also robbing her? Like a junky seeking a high which leads to doom, could the same thing have happened to this girl?

The Autobiography of an Unsuccessful Author was written by Brittany Gonzalez.  Maxwell is writing a horror story. Have his characters come alive or has he snapped and who is really trying to kill his wife? This one became brutal. I suppose there are many brands of horror, but the ‘oh crap I’m in a living hell and beating up my wife,’ is not as much my thing.

Crying by Darren Worrow could be considered a novella and is very nicely done. A well told tale about a man having issues in his life and wondering how his past may be affecting his choices. When he uncovers a curse might be involved with his family, he starts to research the issue but discovers more about himself then he might have liked.

A few of the stories did not move me as much, but overall this is a great horror anthology. I would recommend it to all lovers of horror and look forward to receiving more from Darkwater Syndicate.

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