The Law of Wolves: A Short Fable by Schuyler Hernstrom

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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.

Support the Indy Scene.

I know a lot of good independent writers. I know a number of good independent artists, and few really top notch independent editors. I even know several good independent voice actors for recording audiobooks. All of which is great, because it means that new, original fiction is being created and brought to market on a […]

via Cirsova: The time to jump on the bandwagon is now. — mishaburnett

I’m with Misha  on this, Cirsova is one of a few short story markets I look forward to reading every time a new issue comes out.

Barbarian Book Club: Best of 2017 and Planetary Awards Nomination

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It dawned on me that I never got around to putting together a best of 2017 post. It’s tough for me and somewhat useless because my reading choices are completely organic. I chose my reading material based on split-second emotion without rhyme or reason when it comes to publication date, genre, topic, or length. I also impulse buy Kindle books when they go on sale so I have a significant back catalog that I go through based on whatever dark mood takes me.

In 2017 I finished 39 books give or take a few re-reads and research for my day job that I don’t keep track of.

The Genre breakdown is as follows:

  • Fantasy: 12
  • Sci-Fi: 4
  • Historical Fiction: 2
  • History: 5
  • Crime/Detective: 2
  • Other Nonfiction: 25

Favorite Fiction Read: Thune’s Vision by Schuyler Hernstrom

516TtCvHahLThis 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.

Favorite NonFiction: Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts

One of the best biographies I have ever read. Masterfully written covering the life of one 20170928_211824.jpgof the worlds greatest general and conqueror of Europe since Alexander and Cesar. The massive tome covers Napoleon’s life from his youth in Corsica through the French Revolution, the Egyptian expedition, his triumphs at Austerlitz, and finally his catastrophic campaign in Russia, defeat at Waterloo, and exile and death on St. Helena The book gives us an in-depth picture of Napoleon’s personal thoughts due to the recently released collection of 33,000 letters written during his life. It paints a fascinating picture of a vastly intelligent and complex man who micromanaged every little detail of his reign and was able to shoot off a letter focused on winning over the Austrians one minute then switch gears and write a missive correcting the improper wear of uniform by a private he saw a week prior and his recommendation and opinion on the latest Operas playing in Paris. My favorite sections focused on Napoleon’s interaction with his soldiers and the extreme respect he had for the common grunt and how he showed a genius understanding of the psychology of the soldier. Excellent reading for anybody interested in military leadership, history, the 19th century, and great men in general.

Biggest Disappointment: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

RedSisterA joyless book lacking the interesting characters of The Broken Empire and the joyful wit and comedy of The Red Queens War. Lawrence took every grimdark cliché, amped up the blood to 11, but left out the realism; creating a superhero pre-pubescent murder fantasy lacking any emotional punch, stretching the believability of the characters beyond all plausibility. Red Sister committed the biggest sin, it bored me. So much so that I would make up excuses to avoid returning to it, spending my reading time reading articles or just browsing the internet. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I paid 12.99 for the damn ebook and that everybody that also didn’t like it said that the last 20% picked up. It does a bit but not enough to make it through the slog of following a 9-year-old going through a nonsensical ninja nun school.

The thing that pissed me off about this turd is that Mark started hyping it up with the cover art, art that clearly shows an adult woman. I expected a violent dark fantasy featuring some sort of assassin nun. Instead, I got fucking Harry Potter with a feral girl-child in some shitty predictable post-apocalyptic or future fantasy setting that replaces the magic houses with castes which are obviously powers due to mutations either from being space colonists or some sort of post-apocalyptic bioengineering. Either way, the whole damn thing was boring.

2017 Planetary Award Short Story Nomination: 

The First American, by Schuyler Hernstrom

The Barbarian Book Club nomination for short story comes from Cirsova #5, the wholecover damn issue is fantastic. It was hard to choose between The First American and Burnett’s In the Gloaming O My Darling, a fantastic Lovecraftian tale with a hint of homoeroticism and a dollop of horror. In the end, I had to go with The First American because the whole insane Vancian madness is unforgettable. Barbarians, lasers, reptile-men, time-traveling astronauts, holy shit I had to take a breath after finish this one, climb to the top of my house, and play the Star Spangled Banner on my fucking Stratocaster, and I don’t even own a guitar.

On the topic of nominating, I also want to remind everyone following the Planetary Awards Blog, that my story, A Tiger in the Garden, came out this year in Storyhack #0.

There you go, the Best of the Barbarian Book Club reading list. A lot of the other stuff I read this year was great. Not to mention that I read a bunch of Shakespeare, and honestly, I had to leave out the Bard because nothing compares.

So the final take away is that you should click on the above link, drop the two bucks, and read Thune’s Vision immediately.

Cirsova #5 More Than Just a Magazine

Cirsova #5 finally came out this weekend and I devoured this fantastic issue. If you follow me at all you have no doubt read about my enthusiastic discovery of Cirsova which led to me taking up the banner of the Pulp Revolution and rekindling my faltering love for Fantasy. I enjoyed issue #3 of Cirsova so much I bought the back issues and Kickstarted  #5 and #6. Cirsova

Cirsova isn’t just another SFF magazine. It’s a herald of a movement that will change Science Fiction and Fantasy, a romantic revolution that will bring back the magic, wonder, and adventure drained by the cancerous ghouls of litfic-fantasy.

Cirsova is part magazine, part mission statement. It’s an artistic collaboration akin to a digital Montparnasse in the 1920s, where the outcast artists and writers built and borrowed from each other, constantly innovating without a care for the giants of the industry.

The format of Issue #5 collaborates my thesis by being a themed issue. Almost every story is centered on the shared Misha Burnett created Eldritch Earth setting, with a goal of “telling Burroughsian stories in a Lovecraftian setting.”

All six of the collaborations succeed, giving a glimpse of a unique alien world and it’s inhabitants. Misha Burnette’s piece, In the Gloaming O My Darling, is one of the standouts. A grotesquely chilling piece that mixed Lovecraftian pulp horror with a modern grimdark style that really worked for me.

The highlight of the issue and a story I think illustrates the absolute badassery and potential of the Pulp Revolution writers, is Schuyler Hernstrom’s* novella, The Fist American. A piece of dark science-fantasy filled with savage barbarians, time-traveling astronauts, lizardmen, genetic mutations, flying saucers, and dinosaur riding. Schuyler crammed so much fucking awesome into one story that it should require a trigger warning for readers who haven’t been awakened to the Pulp Revolution, their poor litfic-fantasy weakened minds might shatter from exposure to so much action and excitement.

But of course not everything is perfect, and I think the magazine still has a lot of room for growth and improvement. For example, compared to past issues I don’t really dig the cover art. It doesn’t really capture the theme and mood of the pieces within. I much prefer the art found in past issues, which was a unique painterly fantasy style that stood out from the other hyperrealistic covered magazines. I also thought that the issues would have been tighter if it didn’t include the non-themed pieces, for example, The Bears of 1812, was a good historical-fantasy, but it felt out of place compared to everything else.

What Cirsova lacks in polish it makes up for with clear editorial purpose and passion. Reading these stories you can’t help but notice that the authors have an undisputed love for adventurous and heroic fantasy. It’s clear Cirsova isn’t one of those award chasing magazines filled with pseudo-lit stories that hit every current trendy sociopolitical theme yet fail to tell anything that resembles a compelling story. No, Cirsova is rough and raw, but unceasingly real.

Pick up issue #5, join the revolution, you won’t be disappointed.

*Schuyler Hernstrom has a great short story collection called Thune’s Vision.

Winter Issue of Cirsova is Out Now! — Cirsova

 

Cirsova is hands down my favorite indy Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine. The last issue was fantastic. Old school Sword and Sorcery, pirates, Sword and Planet, wizards, witches, monsters, and everything that got me into Fantasy minus all the pretentious creative writing lit fic bullshit that poisons SFF. Buy it!

Stickied Post The Winter Issue of Cirsova is available now! Softcover Softcover and Kindle editions on Amazon Hardcover editions on Lulu (Use Promocode NIGEL35 for big savings!!!) Various digital editions on Smashwords

via Winter Issue of Cirsova is Out Now! — Cirsova