Monday, June 07, 2021

Bruce Boston: Gallimaufry


GALLIMAUFRY
: By Bruce Boston. Plum White Press, 2021, 134 pages.

Bruce Boston is a Bram Stoker Award winner, but that says little about the breadth and depth of his talent. As others have remarked on his work, you’ll find facets of language and story that resonate with the art of Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Dylan Thomas, and Oscar Wilde in his offerings.  But all of his work is uniquely “Boston,” and I hope that someday, someone will remark that they see a little of Bruce Boston in my work. It would be a high honor.

This is a collection of Boston’s short stories that span some fifty years of his life. Every single one of these is a small jewel of effort and art, from the profound sadness of “Cold Finale,” written with Marge Simon, to the absolute hilarity of “An Unrecognized Masterwork,” to the peyote-like stream of images in “Surreal Chess (which I desperately wish I’d written.)

Let Boston tell you where luck comes from in “Tales of the Dead Wizard,” or scratch an itch with “The Infernal Itch.” I highly recommend this collection. I loved it.

You can find it here!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Review: The Lost Empire of Sol

 Here is my review of The Lost Empire of Sol anthology, which was a labor of many years and at least 2 incarnations. The initial discussion from Scott Oden regarding this project must have happened on Facebook as far back as early 2012. A facebook group for the concept/anthology was created on May 17, 2012—so, nine years ago today. A number of people were excited about the project, including me. I wrote a story a little later in 2012 for the book called “The Machineries of Mars.” I know that Tom Doolan also wrote a tale for it, because after the initial plans fell through and the stories were released back to us, both Tom and I self-published ours on Amazon. I’m not sure if other writers involved at that time completed their stories or not. If they’re reading this, they can let me know.


In 2015, the anthology stirred to life again. Since I’d self-published my original story, and the new concept was subtly different than the original, I wrote a fresh story in 2016 called “A Sandship of Mars.” Scott brought Fletcher Vredenburgh aboard as editor and cat herder for the authors, and soon most of the stories were actually completed, edited, and ready to go. Things languished for want of a publisher.

Only when Jason M. Waltz joined the group and suggested that he’d like to publish the anthology did things really start moving. However, Covid hit and various other real-world events intervened so that the work finally appeared only in April of 2021. That’s certainly the longest developmental period for any anthology I’ve ever been involved in.

The idea was for ten shared world stories, with a story for each planet (including Pluto), and for the supposed planet that used to exist where the asteroid belt is now. When I wrote “Sandship,” the background concept was that there had once been a planet-spanning human empire ruling within the solar system but that the empire had fallen. The planets were now largely isolated, although some high tech space travel remained in a few places. In other places, the planetary populations had fallen back into a kind of Sword and Planet level technology, meaning lots of sword-fighting and a little bit of advanced tech.

To make matters worse, an alien entity was invading the solar system to pick up the pieces of the old empire. My understanding was that the entity was moving slowly and employing a variety of means to try and “take over” the lost empire of Sol. I wrote a fairly small world, self-contained tale about Mars being invaded by parasites that could turn their victims essentially into zombies under their control. I was pretty happy with it.

The final book contained not only the ten stories, but an introduction, forward, prologue and epilog. Here’s the TOC (Thanks to Joe Bonadonna).

Foreword, by Fletcher Vredenburgh

Sword & Planet is the Genre We Need, by John O'Neill

Prologue, by Scott Oden

To Save Hermesia, by Joe Bonadonna & David C. Smith

The Lost Princess of Themos, by Tom Doolan

What Really Happened at the Center of the World, by Christopher M. Blanchard

A Sand-Ship of Mars, by Charles Allen Gramlich

Whispers of the Serpent, by Howard Andrew Jones

Outcasts of Jov, by Mark Finn

Written in Lightning, by Keith J. Taylor

Survivors of Ulthula, by E.E. Knight

Hunters of Ice and Sky, by David Hardy

A Gate In Darkness, by Paul R. McNamee

Epilogue, by Scott Oden

To Save Hermesia, by Joe Bonadonna & David C. Smith is set on Mercury and did a bang-up job evoking the feel—for me at least—of the early Eric John Stark stories by Leigh Brackett. Stark was born on Mercury.

The Lost Princess of Themos, by Tom Doolan is set on Venus. Although not described in detail, the world brings to mind ERB’s jungle Venus. And the lost princess, Tamarra, follows in a long line of Sword and Planet Princesses, although much younger and less experienced than ERB’s Dejah Thoris. She finds her own hidden strengths, of course.

What Really Happened at the Center of the World, by Christopher M. Blanchard is a Pellucidar inspired piece with a little Journey to the Center of the Earth vibe.

A Sand-Ship of Mars, by Charles Allen Gramlich is my entry. It’s a little bit of a Dune meets the Ice Schooner meets The Puppet Masters. I really enjoyed creating the setting for this and might some day revisit it.

Whispers of the Serpent, by Howard Andrew Jones takes place on the planet that became our modern solar system’s asteroid belt. This is the first of the tales to have more of a Space Opera feel than Sword and Planet. Given the concept of the collection, you’d expect there to be all kinds of tech levels existing in the solar system so it makes sense.

Outcasts of Jov, by Mark Finn is set on Jupiter. Another Space Operish tale. It was good to see the Great Red Spot play a role!

Written in Lightning, by Keith J. Taylor is our Saturn tale. Very much a Sword and Planet work, although our heroes come from Venus rather than Earth.

Survivors of Ulthula, by E.E. Knight brings us to Uranus, or Ulthula in this story. This one also has a Space Opera feel, maybe a kind of E. E. Doc Smith and Edmond Hamilton meets Event Horizon.

Hunters of Ice and Sky, by David Hardy brings us to Neptune. The sky cities of Star Wars and Star Trek become low tech and are melded with the tale of Moby Dick! Great setting for many adventures.

A Gate In Darkness, by Paul R. McNamee is set on lonely, lost Pluto. The airships of Barsoom and Kregen meet slow decay as portions of the planet are lost to darkness and war.

So there you have it, ten imaginative tales that remember the shared history of Sword and Planet and Space Opera but take things in new directions and work in surprising connections from other realms of literature. I highly recommend it, and not just because I have a story contained within.

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Lost Empire of Sol

I cut my teeth on Sword and Planet fiction, first reading the Barsoom stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and then the many tales by those ERB influenced, such as Gardner Fox, Alan Burt Akers (Ken Bulmer), and many others. I consider S & P to be the purest form of adventure fantasy, and I've always wanted to write my own tales in the genre.

The first publishable book I wrote was Sword and Planet. That was Swords of Talera. I wrote four others in that series, and I've also written some S & P short stories. I'd say that, in general, I've never had more fun writing anything than writing this kind of tale.

A few years back, author Scott Oden had an idea for a shared world S & P anthology set in the era of the "Lost Empire of Sol." A number of writers got a chance to choose a world of our solar system to tell a story in this connected universe. I got my choice in early, and I picked Mars! What else would I have chosen?


That book is now available for preorder at this link. This is a kindle version but there are plans for a print edition as well. I'm very excited to be part of this collection with my story, "A Sand Ship of Mars." I'm looking forward soon to reading all the other tales. 

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Guns of the West



I'm thrilled to have my very first full-length western novel included in this handsome box set of 8 action packed novels of the west. Mine is "The Scarred One," under the Tyler Boone penname. 

Published through Sundown Press, this collection is available on Kindle for only 99 cents. That's a lot of good reading for the money. 

Here's the link to the books on Amazon

And if you'd like to learn more about the other authors involved, check out Sundown Press's blog

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Withering, By Ashley Dioses

 

The Withering, by Ashley Dioses: Jackanapes Press, 135 pages. Poetry.



I picked up a signed copy of this book from the author and read it over about a week to savor the poetry inside. There are 55 poems, divided into 4 sections entitled: A Luminous Darkness, Pale Radiance, Night Cries, and A is for Axe Murderer. In an Afterword, the author tells us a little about her genesis as a poet and about the pieces in the collection. She indicates that these are primarily pieces from early in her writing career, dating back even to high school.  (She has actually had a previous collection of poetry published called Diary of a Sorceress, which contains poems from later in her career.)

The collection is impressive for a writer of such youth. I also wrote some poetry at a young age but nothing as erudite as these. They are definitely not juvenilia, but fully realized and articulate pieces. They are rhyming poems, written around horror themes, and often with a formal structure. It’s a difficult style to master but Dioses moves through them with verve and confidence.

My favorites in the collection are “Obliterate,” “Hollow King,” and  “I am the most Beautiful Angel.” Here’s a quatrain from “Obliterate.”

The stones erode away,

And tales evaporate.

All memories decay,

The years obliterate.


There are also many other wonderful lines in other pieces, such as “My heart and soul are sparrow-black” and “Then scents of smoke, of myrrh, of rum,…”

There’s an outstanding cover by Mutartis Boswell, whose work I don’t remember seeing before but which I imagine I’ll see a lot of in the future. Boswell also did numerous interior illustrations for the book, which are set beautifully to really enhance the presentation of the poetry.

All in all, The Withering is a very professional package filled with some lovingly crafted and memorable poems. If you’re into dark poetry, this is an excellent reading choice.

Friday, January 29, 2021

A Dream of Crows

I dreamt of crows last night, millions of them swirling like black blades in an apocalyptic sky full of flames and clouds. I was a teenager walking with two friends along a highway where cars lay wrecked to either side. The cries of the crows were deafening, and occasionally a dead bird smashed like a kamikaze into the asphalt near us. 

We reached a temporary refuge, the penthouse apartment of one of my friends. She was rich. One friend went to a chair where she huddled in confusion and fear. I sat on the couch with the rich girl. Cell phones worked. She got a call. I heard the speaker through the phone. The “signal” was given.

The girl didn’t know I’d overheard. She made an excuse and left the room. I knew she was going downstairs to be picked up by someone, and that she’d be taken with other rich people to escape the coming destruction. I walked over to my second friend, to comfort her.

The rich girl returned. She said she couldn’t leave us, that she wanted us to come with her. We refused, knowing that even if she wanted us along, we’d never be allowed, and that we'd certainly be killed to keep the secret.

Better to chance the dangers of the apocalypse then to be led to certain death.