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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Review: Sha?Daa, Last Call, edited by Edward McKeown. Michael Hanson, series creator

Book Review: Sha?Daa, Last Call, edited by Edward McKeown. Michael Hanson, series creatorEdit

Book Review: Sha’Daa, Last Call, edited by Edward McKeown. Michael Hanson, series creatorSha'Daa, Last Call, edited by Edward McKeown; Michael Hanson, series creator
Reviewed by Michael D. Griffiths
Publisher: Altered Dimensions
Year Published: 2010
Rating: (4/5)

This is the second book in what I hope will be a very long series of Sha'Daa titles. In case you have been captured by aliens or the like, the Sha'Daa is an event which takes place every 10,000 years. During the 48 hours of the Sha'Daa, the barrier between Hell and Earth is weakened. Throughout this time, the denizens of Hell not only journey to the Earth to feed, but also to try to claim it as their own. It is up to various, and mostly unsuspecting, humans to turn the tide and defend their world.

But, luckily for us, humanity is not without its allies. Chief amongst these is the mysterious trickster, Jonny, also known as ?The Salesman'. Jonny himself is barred from interfering directly in the Sha'Daa, but is able to supply people with items that could save the day, as long as they are willing to trade something dear in return.
Jonny also has another ally: the eternal barkeep Bak, the sole owner of the Triple Six Tavern. He has run his bar for thousands of years and realizes that an Earth-destroying apocalypse would probably be bad for business.

The book contains 12 stories, written by 10 different authors, set in this universe. But there is also a unifying interlude between each story, which, in this case, tends to focus on Bak's Triple Six Tavern and Jonny. If that isn't enough, the book also features over a dozen illustrations based on the various stories.

The saga begins with the cover story, "I Kill Zombies", by Edward McKeown. When a comic-loving teen is asked for a second, he picks the ultra-hottie superheroine of his dreams, Raven. But when he meets her, will she really be what he expected, or even able to help him fight through hordes of zombies?

We go from non-stop action to a more esoteric tale in "A Matter of Faith" by Arthur Sanchez. An old priest, who speaks of needing to sacrifice his life to stop the legendary Sha'Daa, has either gone completely mad or is the hero that could end up saving all of San Francisco.

Next is Paul Barrett's "As You Sow". A man watches as his estranged grandson is killed at his doorstep. Things go from horrible to abysmal when the man's own farm turns against him.

"The Road Forsaken", by Sha'Daa creator Michael Hanson, comes next. This is a straight-up horror story with several creepy details. You just have to read it. It's my favorite tale in the anthology.

Sarah Wagner is the author of "In the Chamber of Skulls". I have read her cyberpunk novel Hard Hired Humanity and she does the transition to horror nicely. A mom tries to keep her kids safe, but she is surrounded by people hell-bent on using her daughters for foul rituals.

"The Voyage of Eris" by T. Anthony Truax is an inventive story where a small group of people quickly discover they'd better step up and try to be heroes before they all end up dead. Like many of the stories in this book, you can't put this one down until you read the whole thing.

Ed McKeown gives us "Hellbeast". This isn't some kind of monster, but rather a monster-sized military vehicle used to haul broken-down tanks. Between Ed's two stories, I think I favor this one. It is full of action, suspense, and loads of violence and gore. He leaves you wondering if these veterans of battle and their vehicle have what it takes to go up against a true hellbeast.

Michael Hanson also takes another swing with "Iron Girl". I challenge anyone to find a dark fantasy story where the hero is a deaf, dumb and blind girl. And boy, can she kick some ass. Innovative and pushing boundaries, it leaves you wondering if Michael was trying to challenge his writing abilities, or if he was writing this one on a dare.

"Silent Hunter", by Deborah Koren, starts with a clich?: Inexperienced Lieutenant Javers is suddenly put in charge of a submarine after all his superior officers are killed by a huge, Cthulhuish beast. However, the story makes up for this little fault by the sheer, gut-yanking terror the crew goes through when the crew members try to engage in combat with a creature over the size of ten whales.

Bruce Durham brings us "Deathstalk", another story where the military take its hand at fighting creatures that no one discussed in boot camp. This one is pure adventure, the character development is good, and the monsters are pretty darn scary. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I have to say this story really delivers. By the time you get here, the reader is left thinking, "Damn, I'm reading a jam-packed book."

Jordan Lapp gives the anthology an injection of terror with "Reach in the Acid". The protagonist is trapped and alone on the Moon, until a bizarre, foul beast arrives.

"The Four Horsemen" by the late James I. Wasserman is a new take on this archetype. What if the Four Horseman were real and you were stuck fighting them? Oh, yeah, by the way, they can't be killed by any normal means. The result is not a pretty picture.

Some of the stories in Sha'Daa are comicbookish rather than pure horror or dark fantasy, which dilutes the experience. Also here and there, one sees instances where clich?s are employed. However, don't let these small faults slow you down. Sha'Daa is entertaining and packs a real punch. Any fan of horror or dark fantasy should have this book on a shelf. But be warned: watch out for that Salesman, because if he comes calling, that means you are about to be thrust into some serious trouble and you'd better have something to trade.

Learn more about Sha'Daa: Last Call

SFReader - Book Review: Sha?Daa, Last Call, edited by Edward McKeown. Michael Hanson, series creator

SFReader - Book Review: Sha?Daa, Last Call, edited by Edward McKeown. Michael Hanson, series creator

Monday, March 26, 2012

A list of interview and Articles on Was Once a Hero

Was Once A Hero by Edward McKeown. Book 1 of the Robert Fenaday Shasti Rainhell Trilogy
Was Once A Hero cover


Reluctant privateer Robert Fenaday searches the stars for his lost love, Lisa, a naval intelligence officer whose ship disappeared near the end of the Conchirri War . He?s joined by the genetically engineered assassin, Shasti Rainhell, whose cold perfection masks her dark past. Both are blackmailed by government spymaster, Mandela, into a suicidal mission to the doomed planet Enshar. Leading a team of scientists and soldiers, they must unravel the mystery of that planet?s death before an ancient force reaches out to claim their lives.

The classic Planet Stories of S/F have suffered abandonment, without a rescuer, until now. Edward McKeown's "Was Once A Hero" combines adventure and romance with the dark humor and human complexities absent from a more black-and-white age. Robert Fenaday and Shasti Rainhell are real people. They make mistakes, they hurt, they stumble in the dark emotionally, and they save the world. They are flawed, wounded heroes, and they make you realize, as you hungrily turn each page, that the best fiction contains excitement and passion; and the best aspect of life is the possibility of personal redemption. Was Once a Hero provides both." Tim McLoughlin, author of "Heart of the Old Country" (Movie Title: The Narrows) and Editor of "Brooklyn Noir"

http://www.amazon.com/Was-Once-A-Her...6144528&sr=1-1

https://www.createspace.com/3765878

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/120464

http://www.hellfirepublishing.com/hero.html

Announcements, review and interviews
SFWA http://www.sfwa.org/2012/02/was-once...dward-mckeown/
SFSCOPE http://sfscope.com/2012/01/edward-mc...+%28SFScope%29
Flames rising http://www.flamesrising.com/?s=mckeown&.x=0&.y=0
The Examiner http://www.examiner.com/fringe-artis...as-once-a-hero

Press release http://www.prlog.org/11771900-join-t...e-romance.html


Radio http://newscliptv.com/podcasts/books/edwardmkeown1.html
Radio http://www.blogtalkradio.com/page-re...as-once-a-hero
TMV Cafe Free Pie Show http://ia600805.us.archive.org/10/it...nEdMckeown.mp3

Blog Interviews and Other
http://hellfireherald.blogspot.com/2....html?spref=fb
http://www.robinreneeray.blogspot.com/
http://www.inspirationforum.co.uk/sh...d.php?tid=2131
http://wredhead.blogspot.com/2012/02....html?spref=fb
http://wredhead.blogspot.com/2012/02....html?spref=fb
http://thereforyoumelissa.blogspot.c....html?spref=fb
http://rueview.moonfruit.com/#/archived/4558190570

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Interview with Free Pie!!

This is one of the most fun interviews I have done so far. EW is like talking to an old friend. We covered Was Once A Hero and just about everything else. I think I was myself but maybe in fast forward. Hope you enjoy  http://ia600805.us.archive.org/10/items/FreePieNight/FpnEdMckeown.mp3

The Conclusion of Final Exam



http://www.beammeuppodcast.com/ Should have the conclusion of Final Exam tonight. Other works by me will be done in the future. Thanks Paul Cole

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review "Across A Billion Years" by Silverberg another of Ed's favorites.

Tom Rice, Kelly the Android and
Mirrick (alien professor-background)
discover a High Ones Artifact



Robert Silverberg’s “Across a Billion Years” (1969)

Scattered throughout the globe of human-occupied space is evidence of a civilization that bestrode the galaxy before humanity was born. Now, a strange device has been discovered that shows the details of that great civilization. The details include a star map and hints that the High Ones are not extinct after all.

The map beckons, and humans, being what they are, will follow. To the next great step in human destiny—or ultimate disaster.

Robert Silverberg’s YA story of an archeological expedition that comes face to face with the history they are studying is one of the best YA novels that I have read.  It is told in an epistolary fashion through the device of “message cubes” that the protagonist, Tom Rice, a young graduate student on his first deep space expedition, is recording for his disabled telepath sister left behind on Earth.

This mixed race expedition of humans and aliens is on the trail of the High Ones, a near God-like race that ruled the galaxy a billion years ago.  Despite the high concepts of the book, ancient powerful aliens, machines that run for a billion years, Dyson spheres and more, it is in the down to Earth details of Tom Rice’s life and perceptions that the piece pulls you in.  Tom is not a politically correct young man, which is in a way refreshing; he is having to deal with prejudices about aliens and artificial humans.  He is snarky and over-opinionated.  Tom reveals this aloud through the messages to his sister and one does see him develop as a human being both in tolerance and humility as the expedition plows forward into greater and greater danger and hardship.

One scene I did find a bit off-putting was his indifference to a young lady getting molested by another team member while they were uncovering a great discovery.  While the incident is not a serious assault, and she wards off the hapless “lady’s man” with ease, it is none-the-less something that takes you a bit by surprise and reduced my identification with the character.  The book was written before 1969 and like other movies and books is a product of its time and the attitudes then.  Occasionally one can risk one’s POV character being a jerk (witness the scene in the 2004 movie Sideways where the character played by Paul Giamatti stole money from his mother) but it is a dangerous move in first person story.  Still Silverberg makes it work.

His understanding of women and love grows also in the story starting out with some fairly typical and close to cliché interactions with Jan, who ends up being his girlfriend.  But he is very young and how well did anyone of us understand the opposite gender at that age?  So he is not unsympathetic in his fumbling toward romance and understanding.

From this more or less young “everyman’s” perspective we see the expedition uncover a series of finds that bring the long lost alien’s closer to our own time.  Here Silverberg excels with the sense of wonder and excitement until we come face to face with working technology of the High Ones.  But no discovery is without cost and a deadly one is extracted.  Further discoveries abound until we stand on the edge of a new future that could imperil everything from the past and we learn that those we had looked on as near Gods, may have had feet of clay.

 Across a Billion Years is an enjoyable read, perhaps a tad dated.  There are areas you longed to see explored more, the artificial human female, Kelly occupies less of the book than I would have liked.  We encounter AIs that seem to have some emotionality but that is also not explored.  Still there are only so many pages in a book and you have to select characters and plot lines to follow and others to regretfully let slip by.  I suppose the best thing you can say there is that you wanted more time with some of the characters and the milieu at the end of the book.  Tom Rice may not start as someone you would necessarily seek out as a friend, but he ends as a young man you would be proud to know.

The Author Show

My interview on the Authors Show about Was Once A Hero will be broadcast http://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShow.html. I hope you will tune in for the 15 minute interview

Monday, March 19, 2012

Free Podcast of Final Exam

And now another freebie- the podcast of Final Exam by Beam Me Up Podcast http://www.beammeuppodcast.com/. Great Voice work

Free download

Free Download! BEYOND SANCTUARY http://amzn.to/znT1Ga Mar. 20-21! #IndieKindle #historical #fantasy #mythology #kindle #ebook Print soon

Free Donwloads

Free Download! MAGE BLOOD http://amzn.to/xTsbM5 of BEYOND SANCTUARY Mar. 19-21! #IndieKindle #historical #fantasy #mythology #kindle #ebook

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gathered up all the interviews, announcements and radio spots in one place- well until there are more

Was Once A Hero by Edward McKeown. Book 1 of the Robert Fenaday Shasti Rainhell Trilogy
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Was Once A Hero cover


Reluctant privateer Robert Fenaday searches the stars for his lost love, Lisa, a naval intelligence officer whose ship disappeared near the end of the Conchirri War . He’s joined by the genetically engineered assassin, Shasti Rainhell, whose cold perfection masks her dark past. Both are blackmailed by government spymaster, Mandela, into a suicidal mission to the doomed planet Enshar. Leading a team of scientists and soldiers, they must unravel the mystery of that planet’s death before an ancient force reaches out to claim their lives.

The classic Planet Stories of S/F have suffered abandonment, without a rescuer, until now. Edward McKeown's "Was Once A Hero" combines adventure and romance with the dark humor and human complexities absent from a more black-and-white age. Robert Fenaday and Shasti Rainhell are real people. They make mistakes, they hurt, they stumble in the dark emotionally, and they save the world. They are flawed, wounded heroes, and they make you realize, as you hungrily turn each page, that the best fiction contains excitement and passion; and the best aspect of life is the possibility of personal redemption. Was Once a Hero provides both." Tim McLoughlin, author of "Heart of the Old Country" (Movie Title: The Narrows) and Editor of "Brooklyn Noir"

http://www.amazon.com/Was-Once-A-Her...6144528&sr=1-1

https://www.createspace.com/3765878

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/120464

http://www.hellfirepublishing.com/hero.html

Announcements, review and interviews
SFWA http://www.sfwa.org/2012/02/was-once...dward-mckeown/
SFSCOPE http://sfscope.com/2012/01/edward-mc...+%28SFScope%29
Flames rising http://www.flamesrising.com/?s=mckeown&.x=0&.y=0

Press release http://www.prlog.org/11771900-join-t...e-romance.html


Radio http://newscliptv.com/podcasts/books/edwardmkeown1.html
Radio http://www.blogtalkradio.com/page-re...as-once-a-hero

Blog Interviews and Other
http://hellfireherald.blogspot.com/2....html?spref=fb
http://www.robinreneeray.blogspot.com/
http://www.inspirationforum.co.uk/sh...d.php?tid=2131
http://wredhead.blogspot.com/2012/02....html?spref=fb
http://wredhead.blogspot.com/2012/02....html?spref=fb
http://thereforyoumelissa.blogspot.c....html?spref=fb
http://rueview.moonfruit.com/#/archived/4558190570
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Updated 02-29-2012 at 06:32 PM by edward-mckeown
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