The Rainy Season

Tsuyu, the Japanese summer rain is here. Warm downpours that happen throughout the day until the end of July. Coming here from dry Southern California is a serious change of pace. Growing up we got our annual week of rain and considered anything over that a Storm of the Century. Rainy

This week was unproductive on the writing front. Last weekend’s unfortunate circumstances put a damper on my mood and my work week was long and difficult. I avoided the internet as much as possible and I ended up spending most of this weekend playing Battlefield 1. Sometimes I feel the overwhelming need for mindless twitchy entertainment.

With the rainy season finally, in full force, I think I will be able to knock out a few stories and work on some of my unfinished ones. I’m putting the final touches on a submission for Storyhack 1 that I really like, and I’m giving my 21st Century Pulp submission two weeks or so to breathe before I work on the fantastic edits all the contributors sent me. There’s also a piece I sent to Writers of the Future that should get a response any day now.

But…The Crash Bandicoot collection is coming out on the 30th.. so I dunno..

USS Fitzgerald DDG-62

 

Fitz

RIP

  • Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia

  • Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California
  • Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut
  • Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas
  • Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California
  • Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland
  • Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio

Fitzsailors

 

Barbarian Book Club: 11 June 2017

Another month of reading has come and gone. The beautiful Japanese spring is ending and the rainy season is about to begin. I managed to finish two novels, one history book, and several short stories this month. Both of my fiction reads made up the closing chapters of their respective trilogies. The upcoming June rains will keep me indoors a lot so I expect to get in a bit more this month. Madouc

Madouc by Jack Vance. The closing chapter in Vance’s wonderful Lyonesse Trilogy. A fantastic ending to a great fantasy series. Madouc ties all the threads of the previous two novels and completes the trilogy elegantly. The novel focuses on the titular character, a scraggly red- headed child who is the fairy swapped changeling mistaken for the daughter of Princess Suldrun. Madouc is such a great character that following her adventures through the forest, through Fairy steadings, and through daily life at court was a blast. The Lyonesse trilogy was amazing, a painfully overlooked and under appreciated masterpiece that really deserves to be read more. I’m going to put together a thorough review of the series in the very near future.Nanoflower

The Nano Flower by Peter Hamilton. The third and final novel in Hamiltons post-cyberpunk, near future, corporate detective series, featuring the psychic veteran Greg Mandel. First, Hamilton is my favorite Science-Fiction writer. He writes massive, mind-blowing space operas intertwined with post-cyberpunk police procedurals that I can’t get enough of. If you haven’t read the Commonwealth novels, Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained, you need to correct yourself and start them right now. The Greg Mendel files are Hamiltons first books, not nearly as polished, but full of the proto-ideas that will come to the forefront of his more ambitious novels. The Nano Flower centers around a missing husband who sends a message to his powerful corporate boss wife in the form of a flower. A flower that once analyzed is revealed to be unknown alien DNA, setting off a massive race to achieve First Contact between worldwide corporate interests. We have power suited mercenaries, massive airships, orbiting asteroid stations, artificial intelligence, and all sorts of awesome sci-fi action. SPQR.jpg

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. If you love in-depth, exciting history, that makes you picture the events of the past. If you love reading about Ancient Rome, Republican Rome, and the Roman Empire in an eye-opening exciting way, this book is NOT for you. SPQR is a muddled, bore fest of a book, poorly written and injected with the author’s personal political views. At one point she rambles on, comparing the Pirates of the Republican era to today’s Islamic terrorism, implying that they are nothing but political boogeymen used by our leaders to justify self-serving military action. Her idiotic rant did not age well because the very same day I read that chapter the London Bridge terrorist attack occurred. Even ignoring modern day political opinion interjected without purpose, the book lacks any sort of an engaging narrative. It jumps around without rhyme or reason, focuses on trivial matters while ignoring critical events. For example, Trajan’s war with the Dacians gets about one line of text. More space is dedicated to an irrelevant discussion on the spelling of Boudica. Do yourself a favor and skip this historical turd. Download Dan Savage’s podcast The Death Throes of the Republic. The first 15 minutes of his podcast is more vivid and enlightening than all 600 pages of SPQR.

 

Operation Overlord, D-Day

June 6, 1944

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 “These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.” — President Ronald Reagan

Mike Duncan’s Revolutions

Keep your faith in God, but keep your powder dry.

Battle_of_Naseby

My current historical obsession is the early modern period. Pike and muskets, madmen and Puritans. The world changing Reformation and the bloody wars of religion that followed.

While a lot of Fantasy writers focus on the Dark Ages, Medieval, and early Renaissance for inspiration, I much prefer the era of Musketeers and mercenaries. Not to mention the civil wars and revolutions from the American to the French.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I discovered Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast on Spotify. Hours upon hours of history dedicated to the modern eras many revolutions. OliverCromwel

The show starts with the often ignored, at least in the United States, English Civil War. Excellent stuff! Puritanical Roundheads fighting Royalist Cavaliers. Murder and Regicide abound, all of it wrapped in revolutionary theory about government and religion.

The New Model Army, Englands first uniformed professional army made up of parliamentary Puritans in direct opposition to the loyalists, who still organized themselves along traditional lines focused on royal rank and patronage.

Not to mention the interesting characters such as Charles I and the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. Is there a better title than Lord Protector?

If you are a fan of History and you like podcasts, download Revolutions. I’m about the start the section on the American Revolution tomorrow.

A tough one…

About half an hour ago I finally submitted my story to Misha’s 21st Century Anthology. Writing it was quite the experience. Most of it not really positive but overall quite eye opening.

It took me two whole months to write and submit this story. Realistically much less than that because what I submitted was the final product of numerous false starts and abandoned projects. But that’s beside the point, taking two months to submit a pulp story falls squarely in the Fail camp.

I reflected on what caused me to spiral into such a negative mood, where I just didn’t feel like writing at all and identified two issues. First, I don’t like writing in the present world. I don’t like urban fantasy very much and as soon as you add the fantastic to a modern day story it leans towards the UF subgenre. I prefer writing in fantasy or fantasy-tinged historical settings, filled with mysticism and wonder. Writing in the 21st century made it very hard for me to grasp that feeling. pulp-fiction-coffee

The second issue is that I suck at writing to spec. I told myself I would write for this submission becoming over-focused to the point where I felt guilty when not working on this story. I write the best when I scatter around between stories, following whatever mood and idea I’m currently into then matching my story to submission guidelines instead of writing for the guideline.

I think from now on I’m going to write. If one of my stories matches what a submission wants I will send it. But writing with a magazine or anthology in mind does not suit me.

But now that I actually finished the piece and sent it I feel relieved. I can’t wait to read the final anthology, with or without my story in it.

Playing Twilight Struggle: The Cold War 1945-1989

20170528_181227.jpgThis weekend Judy and I decided to bust out Twilight Struggle and throw down some Commie vs Capitalist action. We managed to get two games, each winning one. The first one was a complete shutdown. Judy playing the Soviets locked down the Middle East, Africa, and most of Asia before I could contain the Red Menace. The game was over in the Early War. The second game was a brutal back and forth that slowly turned my way(U.S.) in the Late War causing Judy to concede early due to it being way past our need to wake up at 5 am for work bedtimes. I accepted her surrender but with two turns left I felt like she was still capable of pulling a win. So, right now we are 1-1 and itching to get some more games in.

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Twilight Struggle is such a fantastic game that days after my last play I still think of strategies and actions I could have played differently. It captures the frenetic reactionary nature of the cold war, where the powers didn’t directly go at each other but play an endless game of back and forth through influence, political maneuvering, and sometimes covert and overt military action. The game simulates the action perfectly. One minute the U.S. is focusing on protecting Israel from the Arab League when a slew of revolutions turn South and Central America into Communist hangouts thanks to Fidel and his buddy Che. 20170528_213954.jpg

What’s great about Twilight Struggle is that it really hits the complexity and setup sweet spot for us. It’s a  fast-paced strategy game with a lot of depth but manages to be easy to learn, teach, and set up. We can open the box, set up the chits, mix some beverages, and start playing in about 10 minutes.

I plan on writing a detailed review in the near future covering some of the really cool features. I also ordered Labyrinth: The War on Terror, a game I have been wanting to play for a long time. And of course, I have a bunch of other games that need to be played taking space on my shelf like the amazing Sekigahara.

So, if you haven’t played Twilight Struggle, do so, you won’t regret it. And if you are a fan, please recommend games that play the same so I can add them to my list.

Memorial Day 2017

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” – President Thomas Jefferson

3rdBN1stMar

3rd Battalion 1st Marines

Read Storyhack!

Storyhack Action & Adventure Issue #0 has been out for about a week. If you haven’tStoryhack0 read it yet, stop what you are doing and pick it up. My story, A Tiger in the Garden, is the cover story. It’s an action-packed Musket & Magic story taking place in a far off fantasy jungle colony. The other stories are equally great, detective werewolves, ex-military vigilantes, and a Sword and Sorcery story about a reanimated Goliath.

Pick up Issue #0 for free here in whatever digital format you prefer. If you enjoy the stories, please take the time to write a review on Amazon and on Goodreads. Reviews are critical, especially for independent publications and new writers.

Most importantly, please support the Kickstarter. The idea behind it is that Issue #0 is a proof of concept, illustrating the direction and potential for an ongoing magazine. So if you want more awesome action and adventure throw a few bucks towards the Kickstarter and support the Pulp Revolution.

Barbarian Book Club: 11 May 2017

April was a slow month for reading. I turned 34 in the middle of another beautiful Japanese Spring. When your whole world explodes with beautiful cherry blossoms, light rains, amazing greenery, the last thing you do is sit around and read all day.

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. I discovered Mark Lawrence throughRedSister one of his short stories in Grimdark #1. It was a raw, brutal tale about a farmer who avenges himself on a band of thugs that murdered his family. On the strength of that story, I bought his entire Broken Empire trilogy and continued to read all the way through the Red Queen’s War series. So when Red Sister, a brand new standalone was announced, I was excited and preordered. Sadly it was a total let down; stupid, silly, filled with cliche, and downright boring. Lawrence stuffed everything I hate about modern fantasy into one book. It was such a boring chore to get through that I would make excuses to myself and ended up taking over two weeks to read a novel that I would usually finish in a day or two.

The Green Pearl by Jack Vance. To get the bad taste out of my mouth and break my reading slump that started to overtake me I went back to a master. The Green Pearl is the second book in the Lyonesse Trilogy. Wow… I loved Suldrun’s Garden but this one solidifies Lyonesse as one of my favorite fantasy TheGreenPearlseries ever. This novel is pure fantasy,  beauty, and magic mixed with sorrow and darkness. The story continues where the last one left off and it is full of battles, truly magical magicians, multiple worlds, sinister creatures, and everything that is missing from modern fantasy. Vance is a master and this trilogy has to be one of the most underappreciated pieces of fantasy written in the last thirty years.  Do yourself a favor and pick this up.

Soto recap, a disappointing attempt at reading modern Fantasy left me dejected so I turned to a classic master to rejuvenate me. I enjoyed The Green Pearl so much that I jumped right into the final book in the series, Maudoc and looking forward to finishing it as soon as I publish this post.