Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: April 20, 2016
Edition: Paperback, 32 pages
Genre: Comic, Dark Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 Rating
The pieces are starting to come together.
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: April 20, 2016
Edition: Paperback, 32 pages
Genre: Comic, Dark Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 Rating
The pieces are starting to come together.
Continue reading →
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K.M. McKinley: You can call me Kay. I’m a writer. I have been for several years now. Before that I worked as a journalist and editor for fourteen years or so. I live in Yorkshire, in the UK. The Iron Ship book bio is out of date, as I wrote it before moving back to where I grew up.
Kay: What is any book about? I think that’s more a question for the reader. Books are collaborations between the imaginations of the writer and the reader, what I say it’s “about” might not be what you say it’s about. On a basic level, it’s an epic, multiple point of view fantasy set in a world undergoing an industrial revolution fuelled by the science of magic. Like our world went down the road of Paracelsus in the 16th century rather than Newton. At least, that was my original thinking. It didn’t work out quite that way… I won’t be so cocky as to say it’s unique, as there are a number of good industrial fantasies out there right now. Industrial fantasy doesn’t quite get all of it. Some people say it’s steampunk, though I would say it isn’t, though it has steampunky elements.
Everybody is out here announcing their “best of 2016” lists – and I still haven’t finished tell everyone what I loved from 2015!!!
I got lazy earlier this year, and the started school, and here we are now, almost a full 12 months post 2015 X… Oops! 😄
Today, I am happy to announce my…
My Rating: 4/5
Why You Should It: You ever read a book, where the ending leaving stunned, mouth hanging open… and then you suddenly burst out laughing as tears roll down your face? Fish Night has that kind of ending 😄
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DJ: Hey Kristine! Thanks for stopping to do an interview!
K. Kibbee: I’m afraid I’m not very exciting. If it were left to the reader’s imagination I’d hope to be visualized as some witty vixen with a flair for all things creative and darkly beautiful. But in truth, I’m just an introverted dog lover with an overflowing love of the literary and fantastical. I was probably born with pen in-hand and have written everything from exceedingly dry journalism to the pie-in-the-sky imaginary adventures for a little French bulldog. I’ve covered the spread in between too—publishing works in several literary journals (“The Salal Literary Review” & “S/tick,” to name a couple) in addition to my growing collection of novels.
K. Kibbee: “The Raven Queen” is book two in the “Forests of the Fae” series—a trilogy that follows a plucky young girl named Anne who finds her quest to uncover the century-old mass disappearance of an entire town full of people evolving into a battle with dark Fae creatures. For readers who are new to the series, a peek at the book jacket might just shine a brighter light–
A summer spent untangling a century-old mass disappearance, communing with ghosts, fleeing dark Fae Folk, and enduring her nefarious cousin Lexie would seem like tribulation enough for 13-year-old Anne, and yet her struggles have only just begun.
Though she’s closed Devlin’s Door behind her, it would seem that something sinister has followed Anne from the other side. Her dearest friend Grace is not a she would seem. Something dark has taken hold of the girl . . . something not of this world. Ravens surround her, people mindlessly do her bidding, and wickedness drips from her lips. It’s only a matter of time before Anne uncovers her secret and with it, her vengeance.
Meanwhile, somewhere deep in the Forests of the Fae, the real Grace struggles to retain her humanity and escape the revolting Faerie body that imprisons her. With pet raven Onyx at her side, she is heralded a Queen, and worshiped by the very creatures that she despises. Set atop a throne of thorns, she feels all is lost, until a stranger with human eyes and a sorted past is shackled at her feet.
Though worlds apart, both girls must race against time if they hope to unravel the mysteries of the Fae folk and unmask The Raven Queen. Continue reading →
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Jon Del Arroz: Sure! I’m an avid gamer and writer. I started the former with Magic The Gathering and a lot of other collectible card games, and the latter I began selling short comic stories to different magazines. I ran a web comic for a long time which had a decent following called Flying Sparks, before the site got hacked, and then transitioned into prose writing because art is expensive! Star Realms: Rescue Run is my first published novel, though I have 3 others written.
Jon: It’s about a former military operative turned rogue who is sent on a mission by her government to rescue one of the greatest military strategists of the empire from the clutches of their enemies.
Jon: Star Realms is a deckbuilding game which is small-box and inexpensive and easy to learn. It also has a free app that people can try out the game. It’s two players squaring off making decks of bases and battleships and playing them to do damage to the opposing player until they have had their authority vanquished from the galactic scene. Super fast pace, simple to learn yet with some deep strategy as well. I started playing the game soon after the Kickstarter came out and dreamt up the book idea from there. Continue reading →
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Rhett Bruno: Sure thing. I’m an architect from New York by day, and a scifi-fi fantasy author at every other time. My published works include The Circuit Series, Diversion Books, and Titanborn, Random House Hydra. I’ve been writing for a long time, but five years back or so I recommitted myself to reading science fiction, and have been focusing on writing that genre ever since.
Rhett: It’s hard to pin point one thing. I try to layer my books so that there is a lot going on, but basically, on a personal scale it’s about three broken people whose lives unexpectedly collide. As they each come to terms with their lot in life and what they really want, they are thrown into warm conspiracy and heartbreak. On a grander scale, The Circuit is a space opera taking place in our solar system after Earth has become unlivable. Opposing factions stake a claim to who will control the future of humanity, and a horrific war ensues.
Rhett: Star Wars for sure, (Some character names may give that away) but I’m also a big fan of golden age scifi. The idea of keeping the story in our solar system exclusively came from there as well as different ways of characterizing the planets in it. For a modern book, the Expanse Series was a huge influence as well. Continue reading →
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Ken MacLeod: Thanks for the interview! I’m from Scotland, with a background in science and IT and an abiding interest in political and philosophical ideas. My first novel, The Star Fraction, was published in 1995. Since then, I’ve written SF that tends to swing from near-future social and political speculation to far-future space opera and back.
Ken: Well, the first volume is Dissidence, the second is Insurgence and the third – due to be published September 2017 – is Emergence. They’re about robots who are ten years into exploring an extrasolar system about twenty-four light years away, and they’re set about a thousand years in the future. The robots have all been manufactured on-site by a relatively tiny information-packed probe that bootstraps machinery up from local resources. The very long-term aim is to terraform an earthlike planet and populate it with thousands of colonists who died of natural causes back in the Solar system, and who volunteered to have their brain-states, memories and genomes stored to be rebooted millennia later. The whole mission is run by AI versions of corporations, called DisCorps in the story, which in turn are answerable to an AI module that implements the directives of the world government back on Earth, a global democracy called the Direction.
Quite by accident, some of the little robots trundling about on a moon develop self-awareness, and start asserting their own interests. This contingency has been planned for long in advance. The Direction doesn’t trust AIs with control of weapons, so dealing with robot revolts is outsourced to law companies that have the stored minds of veterans of the Last World War – all of whom are in the Direction’s eyes terrorists and war criminals, now given a chance to ‘serve their death sentence’ and earn a clean slate by fighting in robot and machine bodies. For training and R&R they live in immersive VR environments that run at a thousand times clock speed. Unfortunately some of the veterans fought on opposite sides, and jump at the chance to fight each other again. Complications ensue. Continue reading →
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Hilary Monahan: Why sure. I’m a New York Times bestselling author for my horror YA MARY: THE SUMMONING duology which is out with Disney Hyperion. I’m also Eva Darrows, and I wrote THE AWESOME for Rebellion to some critical acclaim and have DEAD LITTLE MEAN GIRL coming out with Harlequin Teen in March. I do romance, too, under a third name—Thea De Salle—and those books will be out with Simon and Schuster starting in February. Basically if it involves words, I probably write it.
Hilary: Women. It’s a love letter to women. Queer women and old women and strong women and fat women and thin women and any kind of woman you can think of. Also snakes. I’m terrified of snakes and what better way to wrestle that demon than to write an entire novel about them. It didn’t work, by the way–I’m still afraid of them–but at least I got a very cool Greek mythology UF out of the deal.
Hilary: Mad Max: Fury Road for sure. I loved how the film featured female characters who are often reduced to supporting cast for male centered stories. Also that absolutely atrocious Clash of the Titans movie—the 1981 version (so the less atrocious of the two, sorry Hollywood.) For reasons I do not know, my grade school insisted on showing us that film annually. The artful Claymation of Medusa stuck with me, I guess. Continue reading →
David W. Edwards is the writer, director and producer of the feature film Nightscape and author of the novels Nightscape: The Dreams of Devils and Nightscape: Cynopolis. He attended the University of Southern California’s prestigious screenwriting program and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature while working for a variety of Hollywood production companies. He’s the founder and former CEO of a successful high-tech market research firm, and a former two-term state representative. He currently lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with his family.
28 November 1917
Outside Cambrai, France
The German A7V tanks rolled over the British defensive fortifications, mechanized landslides indifferent to the screams of the dying under their treads. The vanguard of sturmpanzerwagen numbered a dozen strong and was spread out enough to prevent easy targeting. Geysers of wet earth havocked the air around the armored vehicles as exhausted British gunners scrambled to find their range.
Since the beginning of the battle eight days ago, the British had managed a series of hard-won victories, pushing the Germans back from Havrincourt and crossing the Hindenburg Line. The British had then commandeered and fortified the trenches dug by their enemies. The Germans, stung by their humiliating eviction, had launched this sweeping tank assault.
Tanks were a relatively new addition to the battlefield. The British had first made use of its Mark I tanks at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette about two years ago. Although those early models had been slow moving and given to frequent breakdowns, leaders on both sides were quick to recognize the strategic advantages of the concept. Design advances in the interim had borne out their expectations. British Mark IV tanks had made surprisingly short work of the formidable defenses here at Cambrai, driving the enemy into a frenzy. The Germans had retaliated by deploying their own tanks in a desperate but disciplined bid to out
flank and outmaneuver their foes. The British had met them straight-on in the southwest corner of the wood, determined to bully the Germans into submission with their larger, more heavily armored vehicles.
Both strategies had proved hideously effective in racking up the dead.
British howitzers zeroed in and began taking their toll on the iron behemoths. One shell struck a tank squarely in the side. The force of the explosion kicked it over. Frantic voices leaked from the hull. The soldiers bottled up inside clawed at each other to escape the rush of flames. None did. The fuel and ammunition sparked and burst, leaving a smoking crater nearly a hundred feet in diameter. Charred remains scattered piecemeal over the entrenched British. Most of the defending soldiers ignored the gore. They’d seen much worse, here and elsewhere.
Several, however, broke ranks, scrambling away, screaming for God, their mothers, anybody, to save them. They splashed through the black, calf-deep trench water.
Staff Sergeant Quincy McNeil cursed and shouted, “Hold the bloody line by damn! Come back! That’s a direct order!”
The soldiers pretended not to hear. They continued their mad flight, tripping and stumbling over the bodies of their dead comrades. McNeil pointed his revolver at the nearest retreating back.
A strong hand pushed his arm down. McNeil choked back his anger when he realized his immediate superior, Captain William Davenport, had been the one to intervene. The captain thrust his chest forward and said, “The hell, Staff?”
“They’re deserting, sir!”
“And you’d waste precious ammo shooting them in the arse? Best save your ammo for the coming infantry! Look, man!” He waved toward the line of implacable A7Vs without risking a look above the parapet. “Those tanks are holding their positions! They know they’ve got us pinned with their machine guns!”
McNeil cursed again, wishing he knew how to swear in more than one language. This was a situation where cursing in the Queen’s English alone struck him as woefully inadequate.
Following that first tank hit, the remaining German tanks retreated just out of artillery range and, from positions of relative safety, raked the trenches with lethal gunfire. Any British soldier foolish enough to make a run for safety was cut down within a pitiful few yards.
To McNeil’s mind, it was a just punishment. “Why the hell wasn’t our artillery brought up to support this position, sir?”
The captain raised his voice in order to be heard over the yelling, gunfire and fitful explosions. “Because our esteemed Colonel Breen is more concerned about securing his command post. I sent word days ago for at least two dozen tanks. It was clear the Germans were going to make a push to retake this position.”
“Well, of course they were, sir!” McNeil said. His broad face was hectic with color and beaded in sweat. He hefted a perisher or trench periscope above the sandbags to survey the field. His small mouth twisted into a rictus of horror. “Blast and damn!”
“What is it, Staff?”
Lowering the perisher, McNeil said, “Infantry, sir. Those Huns are bringing up mortars, getting them in position, storm troops with machine guns and flamethrowers right behind them. Another five-ten minutes and we’ll be overrun.” He sleeved sweat from his low forehead.
“Maybe those scarpers figured the odds right, eh, Staff?”
“No better way to die than up against it, sir. Six generations of McNeils have served in Her Majesty’s army and I’ll be damned before I turn.”
Davenport grinned and clapped his staff sergeant on the shoulder. “You’re a good man, McNeil. I’ll be sure to put you in for promotion when we’re drafted into God’s army.”
“Can’t we pull back, sir?”
“To where? It’s a hundred yards to the next line and the way those tanks are firing, every man jack of us will be plugged straightaway.” Davenport checked his revolver to make sure it was fully loaded. His face was naturally pale so he couldn’t be accused of blanching in the face of duty. He had chipped plaster cheeks and a crooked nose with large black nostrils. A prim school teacher sort. “Afraid there’s nothing for it but to go down faces front and the Lord’s Prayer on our lips.” He brought his weapon chest-high and opened his mouth to order a suicidal charge over the bags.
McNeil caught the captain’s elbow.
Davenport frowned. “What, Staff?”
McNeil cocked his head like a foxhound on point. “Something’s coming, sir … planes, yeah.”
“Then they must be Richthofen’s. His damned squadron owns the skies over Cambrai.”
McNeil pointed and said, “Well, there’s some of our flyboys don’t know that, sir!”
Davenport trembled at the sight of three gunmetal gray Bristol Fighters streaking out from behind the clouds. The two-seater bi-planes were fast, agile and deadly effective.
“My sweet Lord,” Davenport murmured. “They must be either total madmen or the luckiest fliers alive. How the bloody hell did they get past Richthofen?”
The two men watched the planes pass over the array of tanks and German infantry beyond. A few Germans took potshots at the planes but it was an empty gesture. None of the rounds came anywhere near the screaming fighters. The planes were famously powered by Rolls Royce Falcon engines. The British marooned in the trenches relaxed their trigger fingers and allowed for a measure of hope.
The Bristol Fighters broke formation and peeled off in divergent loops to join again over the enemy. The first plane opened up with its forward Vickers machine gun, strafing the infantry. A swath of Germans convulsed under the unforgiving barrage. Blood misted the air. Those on their feet after the initial salvo weren’t upright for long. The gunner engaged the rear-facing Lewis: vip-vip-vip. Hot lead ripped into flesh and shattered bone. The dead and wounded turned the mud carmine.
The second plane went pell-mell for the tanks. As it zoomed in low, the gunner didn’t use his Lewis; instead, he tossed stubby, tear-shaped bombs. The plane came in so fast the gunner had time to drop only two. But his aim was spot on. Both struck home in successive flashes.
British broke into cautious cheers. The remaining tanks started back into the trees but were unable to get the necessary speed to avoid the plane’s second pass. Two more A7Vs were blasted to trifling scrap.
The third Bristol Fighter circled high above the mayhem, presumably on the lookout for enemy fighters. The German air ace Baron von Richthofen and his squadron of ravening killers had driven off the Royal Flying Corps days ago. If McNeil had told Davenport this morning that three British planes would come to his aid by afternoon, he would have thought the man barmy.
The cowed Germans scattered and ran for safety. Soldiers weighed down with flamethrowers abandoned their weapons to speed their retreat. The first Bristol Fighter dived at the fleeing men like a hawk stooping after choice field mice. The Vickers roared bullets. The rounds perforated a couple of discarded petrol tanks. Eight men disappeared in the ensuing fireballs so quickly they had no chance to scream or cry for relief. One took a full ten steps mantled in flames before finally, mercifully, collapsing.
The last of the tank crews abandoned their vehicles, clambering from their hatches to join the mass withdrawal. The second Bristol Fighter hurried them along with bursts of strafing fire and a couple of precision-thrown bombs. Another pair of tanks went up in plumes of fire.
The British, astonished and reassured, cheered with more and more confidence. Some isolated groups even assayed a celebratory song. And why not? A few short minutes ago they’d faced certain destruction and now here they stood, alive, wonderfully alive. Perhaps they would die tomorrow or the day after, but for now it was enough to live amid the receding battlenoise.
The Bristol Fighters formed up and came in for a joint landing on the denuded plot between the forward and support trenches. Captain Davenport and Staff Sergeant McNeil climbed up to full sunlight. Once the stout McNeil caught his breath, he gave out orders to his men: “Remain where you are and see to the wounded. The Captain and I will have a word with the lads, yeah. You’ll have plenty of time to thank em. Just hold your positions and keep your eyes peeled.”
The pilots and gunners shimmied out of the cockpits, flushed from the heat of their weapons. Davenport noted they hadn’t gone unchallenged. There were constellations of bullet holes across the wings and fuselages. The planes carried seven men in total. “The extra man must have crammed in with one of the gunners, Captain,” McNeil grunted. “Ballsy bastards.”
The lead pilot removed his leather aviator’s cap and goggles to reveal black hair trimmed to military standards and light blue eyes made small from effort. He was a wiry six foot three and moved with an easy, vigorous stride. He acknowledged Davenport with a smart salute. “Lieutenant Quigg reporting, sir.”
Davenport returned the salute while trying to hide his shock at the pilot’s youth. Despite his size, Quigg looked scarcely old enough to have graduated Sixth Form. “At ease, son. Which squadron are you with?”
“Begging the captain’s pardon, sir, you would be …?”
McNeil jumped forward, his face darkening. “Cheeky little bugger! The captain was killing Huns before you was breeched and you—”
The captain placed a stern hand on McNeil’s shoulder. “That’ll do, Staff. It’s well to be reminded of protocol now and again, and he’s more than earned the right.” He turned to Quigg and said, “Captain Davenport, Third Army, Eighth Eastern Division. And this fellow with the Chesterfield manners is Staff Sergeant McNeil.”
The staff sergeant barely registered his name. “Blast and damn!” McNeil blurted, staring at the pilot’s team. Now that they also had removed their caps and goggles one thing was clear: they were as young, if not younger, than their squad leader. “I got tinned meats older’n these lads.”
“Lads that fight and fly like men,” Davenport said. “Lieutenant, I take it you were looking for us?”
“Aye, sir. You should’ve received orders to assist my squad on a matter of great urgency.” He spoke in a firm but cordial Irish brogue.
Davenport was instantly impressed with the lieutenant’s demeanor. The youth didn’t so much as wrinkle his nose at the pervasive reek of piss and shit and rotting death. He might be a boy, but he had the self-possession of a canny old sweat. “I’m not aware of any such orders. But we’ve been out of touch with HQ for some time. Your arrival was just the hammer. I thought Richthofen had the air war decided.”
Quigg’s disconcertingly blue eyes shadowed over. “We left Duxford with a three plane escort but ran across the enemy some thirty miles west. Our escorts—they …” He shook his head then, recovering his voice, quoted from a popular Irish poem, “Our skies have many a new gold star.”
“Amen, son.” Davenport grimaced at the sentiment. He was inured to the larger carnage by necessity, but individual deaths still had the power to evoke raw emotions. The war hadn’t bled the feeling out of him yet. He started to lead the way to his command dugout. “Come along then. We’ll contact HQ and get this sorted.” He gave the pilot a sidelong glance. There was something familiar about the lieutenant’s name. Hold on, he thought. He recalled a Daily Herald story from a year or so past about an Irish lad with peculiar qualities nicknamed Strongboy … The realization forced a grin. “You wouldn’t happen to be …?”
“Aye, sir. That I am.” The pilot worked his jaw to suppress a shy smile. “Lieutenant Nolin Quigg of the Fifth Royal Irish Lancers. And these,” he said, gesturing to the youths flanking him on either side, “are the so-called Lost Boys.” He met the captain’s eye with a sobering look. “At the risk of sounding immodest, sir, we’re here to end this ruddy war.”