Saturday, January 28, 2017

Perry Rhodan: The Planet of the Dying Sun.

Despite my best intentions, time gets away from me. We’ve got two job searches going on in Psychology this semester and I’m on both sub committees. Reviewing applicants, meeting about them, doing phone interviews, etc, has filled up every spare moment I might have had to blog, or write. But, finally, here is a blog post.

I mentioned previously that I was going to make this year, at least in part, of reading series books. In this regard, I just finished “The Planet of the Dying Sun, #11 in the Perry Rhodan space opera series. This is a German series, which started in 1961 in Germany’s equivalent of a pulp magazine. There is something like 3000 books in this series, and more in a Spinoff series called “Atlan.”  In the USA, Ace books published the first 126 books, between 1969- and 1978, as well as a few Atlans. They’ve been phenomenally popular in Germany. Wikipedia indicates they reached 1 billion in sales by 1986.

I've only read half a dozen of the series. Most I’ve enjoyed, but I found “The Planet of the Dying Sun” to be extremely weak. It didn't engage me at all. After looking through my records I see that the ones I've liked were written by K. H. Scheer. My favorite so far has been Fortress of the Six Moons, not coincidentally, the first in the series that I read.

“The Planet of the Dying Sun" was written by Kurt Mahr, although from what I understand an original draft of the work might have been done by Scheer. Mahr was the pen name for Klaus Otto Mahn. Mahr/Mahn apparently wrote a bunch of the Rhodan titles and I have a couple more of his around here. However, at the moment, I’m thinking that I'll probably give those a miss and stick with the Scheer ones.

The most memorable thing about this book was the opening "letter" from Forry Rhodan. Forry was Forrest J. Ackerman, who contributed imaginary “fan letters/editorials” to some of the early books in the series. I'll quote a brief passage that made me arch an eyebrow and laugh. In speaking of Perry Rhodan, the letter reads: "He is a true super-Homo Sapiens, the representative of the Man of the Future, to show our present day Hippies, long haired defeatists, and their friends that the future of Earth is in the stars, not in drugs or in plain sex and pleasure!"

As a long-haired scientist myself, I thought this was laying it on a little thick. I guess Forry wasn’t a fan of the hippie movement.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Fantasy Book Sale

To celebrate the new year, there's a sale/promotion going on today in Heroic Fantasy that I wanted to mention. One of my own pieces is included in the promotion. If you click on this link, it'll take you to the page, which features mostly works for under a dollar.

I plan to pick up a couple of these today, too. I haven't read all of them myself. However, I have read stories by Peter Fugazzotto and Scott Oden and feel very comfortable recommending them both. 

Fugazzotto's work, it seems to me, shows some influence from two fantasy authors I particularly like, Robert E. Howard and Glen Cook. 

Oden's work featured here is properly called Historical fantasy since it is based on an actual historical world, although it features fictional characters. It's good solid writing that puts you in the period very well.

The rest of this also looks quite good. There's a variety of stories available, from the deadly serious to the more humorous. Hope you get a chance to check out the page.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Early Music that Influenced Me

I saw this “ten albums that have stayed with me or influenced me as a young person” thing going around facebook. It’s interesting . My situation growing up seems a little different from most. The only music in our house was some country & western and the music on Lawrence Welk. My father did not approve of rock and roll. He called it “Duck Quacking” music. The first time I ever heard a rock song was on the radio in the truck while my brother was driving.  It was Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells. It was a revelation.

We also didn’t own a record player while I was growing up so the idea of personally owning music was completely foreign to me. I didn’t have a turntable until I went to college. My brother-in-law had one and I did hear him play “Light my Fire” by the Doors once.  I liked it a lot. The first music I actually bought was as a Junior or Senior in high school when I had an 8-track tape player in my car.  It was Deep Purple, “Shades of Deep Purple.” I loved “Hush.” I played the tape 4 or 5 times before the machine ate it.

This means that most of the albums that really affected me didn’t come into my hands until college. But here they are, generally in the order of influence. And by influence I mean those that have remained with me over the years and have influenced my writing and all future musical interests.

1. We Sold Our Souls for Rock and Roll, Black Sabbath, double album.
2. Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin
3. Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd.
4. Tres Hombres, Z. Z. Top
5. Rocks, Aerosmith
6. Boston, Boston
7. Leftoverture, Kansas
8. Welcome to My Nightmare, Alice Cooper
9. Straight Shooter, Bad Company
10. Stormbringer, Deep Purple

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

School and Writing

Well school is back in session. Classes started Monday. That means, for the past few days, my writing has been nearly at a standstill. When I was in my 30s and even 40s I still had the energy after long days of work to go into my office and write. That energy is no more. I've had to revert back to a strategy that I've used throughout the years during the heaviest work periods:

That is, "Write at least one good paragraph every day." No matter how tired I am, I try to get that one good paragraph done each and every day. On good days, rested days, I can get a lot more than that. But even on the worst days I make a little bit of progress. Progress is the key. Writing is accumulative!

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Year of the Series

For each reading year, I tend to set a kind of general goal, knowing that I don’t intend to make it a hard and fast rule. In the past, for example, I’ve had the goal of reading more poetry, or big books, or missed classics, or graphic novels. I keep this in mind as I go through the year, and try to make sure I have plenty of books from the selected category available.

This year I’ve decided to put a focus on reading and finishing book series. I love a good book series. I read a lot of them. However, I’ve often read relatively haphazardly through a series, reading one here and one there, and often stopping part way through to go on to something else. Sometimes I’ve never gotten back to a series, even though I might have greatly enjoyed it when I first jumped into it.

The first series I ever read through completely, back to back, was the Lord of the Rings trilogy, way back in college. The second series I read like this came much, much later. It was the Harry Potter series. I’ve also got a dozen or more “series” books around the house that I’ve not yet read. So, for this year, I’ve decided to keep a little focus on completing series. I’m on the last book now of David Gemmell’s Rigante series, which is four books. I’ve got like 2 of the survivalist series books left, maybe 2 of the Cap Kennedy series left, a bunch of Edge and Dumarest of Terra books, something like 5 of the Dray Prescot series, a couple of the Destroyerman series, and numerous others. I’ve also got entire series of books in my TBR pile.

My “reading year” starts on my birthday each year so I’m well into my program for this current period. I’m having fun with it. What about you? Do you ever set general goals like this for yourself?

Monday, January 02, 2017

Opening Post of 2017

Wish I had something profound to say for my first blog post of 2017. 2016 was not a very good year for me, but it was definitely better than any in the period 2012 to 2015. That’s not saying a lot considering those were among the toughest personal years of my life. I read more in 2016 than in the year before but wrote less. I basically wrote about 50,000 words of what I consider to be commercial fiction and non-fiction, as in stuff I’d like to sell and believe that I will. A fair amount of that has been sold. Other stuff has been lingering around without being submitted just because I’ve been procrastinating on that front.

Another change in my life, which started last year, involved streak watching of TV shows. I don’t binge watch in that I seldom watch more than two episodes at a time, but for the past two years Lana and I have been watching seasons of various TV shows back to back over a period of a few weeks. I’ve found that there’s quite a bit more decent TV out there than I had assumed. This has probably impacted my writing to some extent since I used to go to my computer pretty quickly after supper. Now I tend to spend at least an hour watching a TV show before hitting the pages.

Of the shows we’ve streaked so far, here are my favorites, in order.
Game of Thrones
Breaking Bad.
Babylon Five
New Battlestar Galactica

I’m also still watching The Walking Dead and a newer show called Lucifer, but only an episode a week, like with old fashioned TV.

In short, and as usual, I’m hoping 2017 will be a good one both personally and professionally. I want to finish a few writing projects that I’ve left hang around too long. In reading, I’ve made a tentative decision to make this the “year of the series,” either starting and finishing whole series of books, or finishing a few of the series that I’ve had lingering around for a while. I’ve started with the Rigante series by David Gemmell and am about to finish book 3 of a 4 book series.

I hope all of you have a grand 2017. My best wishes go with you.