MeWe Fantasy Group

In the past few weeks I’ve significantly limited my social media presence. I deleted the Twitter dumpster fire, limited my facebook to close family and required work contacts, and gave up on reading Reddit. 

But I do miss the larger discussion about books that was had across the different platforms. For the most part, I enjoyed the Fantasy page on reddit until it became extremely political.

So I followed a lot of the G+ crew to MeWe and decided to start this group. If you want to discuss Fantasy in all its incarnations please join up and get to it. 

Click here to join!

Walking with The Lord of the Rings

gollum

Last week during my long walks to work I decided to start listening to The Lord of the Rings on audiobook. The narrator is fantastic. I’ve read the series almost two decades ago, but a lot of it is intertwined with the Peter Jackson movies. Also when I read the books I didn’t possess the depth of knowledge concerning history, mythology, and religion to fully appreciate the book as intended.

I expected to notice some things here and there but two chapters in and I’m shocked at the overall difference between the movies and the novel. The tone is different, permeated with a melancholy that is missing in the films. Most of all, as early as chapter two the distinct Christian themes are discussed in depth.

The scene where Gandalf and Frodo are discussing the history of the Ring and the whereabouts of Gollum after losing it are poignant and illustrate the heart of the story.

‘What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!’

‘Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.’

‘I am sorry,’ said Frodo. ‘But I am frightened; and I do not feel any pity for Gollum.’

‘You have not seen him,’ Gandalf broke in.

‘No, and I don’t want to,’ said Frodo. ‘I can’t understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.’

‘Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it.  And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring.  My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or for ill, before the end…’ (The Lord of the Rings, p.58)

The idea that the salvation of Middle Earth was started by an act of mercy is monumental.

Barbarian Book Club: 10 October 2018 Operational Report

  • img_20181007_162836_808956119070.jpgLife has been a whirlwind of activity. Taking care of a newborn is a lot more difficult than I expected. I figured that after a bit of holding and talking to she would gracefully recline in her baby seat and relax politely while I kept busy reading and writing. Unfortunately, she would rather do her best imitation of a Stuka dive bomber every single time she gets put down. So, I’ve managed to get very little done in the writing department.
  • My goal was to submit a story to Cirsova on the 1st but that didn’t happen. Between the baby, visitors from the U.S. I’m escorting around, and a hectic work schedule that had me pulling 6 day work weeks, my writing has trickled down to almost nothing. I’m usually so tired at night that I can barely focus on reading.
  • I’m working on re-evaluating my daily routine, my procrastination level, cutting out distractions, etc. so I can focus on reading and writing in my spare time. I’m also going to up the writing on here. I’ve done most of my updates and discussions over on G+ but with that platform disintegrating I’m going to bring back a lot of my writing to a more personal level.
  • I’m doing a lot of history reading specifically military history, both for personal enjoyment and for my future long-term writing project I plan on starting soon.
  • Still hitting the Iron Temple, lifting several times per week.

Some Books Read

SolomonKaneThe Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert Howard collects all of Howard’s Solomon Kane tales. I’m really like the idea of a Puritan Paladin going around righting wrongs and slaying evil creatures. The stories themselves are a lot more rough around the edges compared to his later Conan tales but are still fantastic. I prefer the stories that take place in Europe over the longer African jungle ones. I like the rapier fiction reminiscent of The Three Musketeers. Inferior to the fantastic Horror Tales of Robert Howard, but worth the read.

Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb. I’ve mentioned here numerous times that I think Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series is hands down the best modern fantasy out there. She’s a master of characterization, writing slow, thoughtful novels that I enjoy on an emotional level unmatched by a lot of fiction I read. Fool’s Errand is the first book in the third trilogy, and it returns to the life of Fitzchivalry Farseer fifteen years after the end of the first trilogy. It’s a dark, sorrowful, and touching return to the characters I loved. I’m currently on book two and have to take it one chapter at a time because it tends to leave me sentimental due to the themes of friendship, aging, and parenthood. targetrichenviroment

Target Rich Environment by Larry Correia I like short story collections and I enjoy some of Larry Correia’s writing but this one was a bit of a disappointment. With one or two exceptions I just found these dull and uninspired.

 

 

The Law of Wolves: A Short Fable by Schuyler Hernstrom

lawofwolves

Two years ago I was brought out of my crap-fantasy induced ennui when I discovered Cirsova and the budding indy scene that was beginning to develop around that awesome magazine. The top issue, so far unsurpassed, was Cirsova #5. The centerpiece was Schuyler Hernstrom’s The First American. It blew my fucking mind. Here, after all this time searching for that elusive fantasy goodness I craved I finally found an author that delivered.

I immediately looked him up and bought his short story collection Thune’s Vision. Pure fucking metal.

This is hands down one of the best short story collections I’ve read in a long time. Hernstrom writes like a savage clone abomination of Robert Howard and Jack Vance. Barbarians, reptilians, shamans, witches, walking dead, and all sorts of dark gonzo madness fill the pages of this collection. Thune’s Vision is the Fantasy version of an underground death metal LP that you can only pick up at an invite-only exclusive show held in some cave in the middle of a dark wood. I read the whole collection in one sitting and immediately had to run to the gym to knock out a few sets of deadlifts so I could feel somewhat worthy. Read it now.
Last year I was fortunate enough to get a chance to check out an early draft of one of his stories, The Law of Wolves. It was the best short story I’ve read all year. It stuck with me and I thought about it and its critically important moral numerous times since reading it.
Finally a few weeks ago Hernstrom decided to publish it along with the first in a series of Mutant & Motorcycle post-apocalyptic novellas called Mortu and Kyrus in the White City.
The Law of Wolves is Hernstrom’s at his best. His take on the traditional Medieval European fable through a lens tinted by Lord Dunsany and Black Metal. The Law of Wolves is a moral fable that tells the truth, a much-needed antidote to the diabetes-inducing fantasy force fed to us by the House of Mouse. The Law of Wolves is a story about the price of turning your back on family, duty, and tradition. An honest truth about what happens when you play with fire, or in this case wolves.
Schuyler Hernstrom is the best independent fantasy writer out there. Read his collection Thunes Vision, read Mortu and Kyrus, and most of all read The Law of Wolves.

Cirsova Magazine

If you follow this blog or my other online rants you might remember that three years ago I almost completely gave up on new Fantasy and Science Fiction. I waded through endless endless idiotic short stories, nihilistic postmodern trash. The standard garbage in modern anthologies and magazines. I was so sick of modern SFF that most of 2016 I only read nonfiction, mystery, crime, and police procedurals. I even left American writers behind and spent a lot of time reading Nordic Noir.cirsova

Then I discovered Cirsova Magazine and my love of Fantasy was rekindled. Issue Five was my favorite, outstanding stuff. Raw and exciting, I felt like I was re-discovering the genre again. The two standouts were Misha Burnette and Schuyler Hernstrom. After all this time searching I finally found short stories that were exactly what I wanted to read. Work that challenged me and brought back the love of Fantasy that left me due to the nihilistic poison I imbibed for so long.

Discovering Cirsova was great, not just for the fantastic stories, but for the supporting community. Finally, I found readers and writers that loved the same kind of Fantasy that I’ve always loved. On top of that, connecting with other writers who share the same influences yet come from different backgrounds has completely changed the way I approach my own writing and opened my eyes to some fantastic fiction I would have missed otherwise.

Cirsova is now entering a new era and I highly recommend that you go ahead and grab all the back issues. Some of the best underground indy SFF writing around. Get the latest issue right here!

You can find my writing in another pulp magazine that is newer on the scene but just as solid, Storyhack. Well worth the read.