Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

John C. Wright on Robert E. Howard, Conan, and Pulp Adventure

Reading this article reminded me why I used to blog so enthusiastically. Wright, who is quite the successful author himself, has really done his homework and unpacks what made Howard's barbarian so unique at the time he penned his adventures (and why he's inspired so many imitations ever since), in his article regarding The Phoenix on the Sword.

This is not a story about a schoolgirl remembering a stolen kiss from an older boy and contemplating her delicate pastel emotions.  This is a tale of bloodshed, of eldritch shadows, of rough men ready to die but full of roaring life. Such savagery seems bright only against a sufficiently dark background.
The barbarian of gigantic melancholy and gigantic mirth here is set against the shadow haunted cosmos of Lovecraftian weirdness, striding continents overturned by the cataclysms of Theosophists, and conquering cities doomed by Spenglerian cycles of history. Such a figure has a strange but clear appeal to it. Here is the old idea of Achilles’ bargain, who accepts a short life as the price for a glorious one.
The tale is romance. Barbarism is romanticized here just as we also see in A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and just as we also see in pirate stories or yarns of the Old West, where the Sioux or Apache are portrayed as savage but honorable warriors, graced with a rough chivalry surpassing the utilitarian cunning Spanish or British colonists. Again and again, Conan is said to have a vitality and strength civilized men have forgotten how to find.
The cruel reality of savage life is, of course, is passed by without mention. Such injected realism would defeat the story’s purpose and cheat the reader, who is looking for the cold shock of excitement that comes from the mingle hope and nostalgia of glamorizing the past.
These works are for boys and for men who have not lost the enthusiasm of boys. These works are for readers who are justifiably weary of the cobwebby regulations, courtesies, and falsehoods of polite society, nannying, nagging, and the dreary minutia of a corrupt civilization.
Such boys, spirits untested, stare at the wild expanse of untamed nature, and wonder if they are equal to the task of conquest; such men, spirits unbowed, see the corruption of overfed cities, dirty with centuries of ill-gotten wealth, and yearn for fires from heaven to overturn them in acts of unearthly cleansing.
At such times, man and boy alike is wont to call on the spirit of barbarism to refresh his soul, to remind him of the simple and manly truths of strength and steel, of straight talk and plain passion, and how men must fight if the horrors of night are to be kept at bay.
It is certainly worth the time to read the full post at Castalia House.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Numbah-Juan Best Sellah!

Yes, that's right: my dystopian thriller, False Flag (third in the Retreads series) thrust into Amazon's Top 100 in the paid Kindle Store. Before I went to bed Saturday night it had reached #69 over all.




Even cooler, it reached #1 bestseller in three categories that I know of: Men's Adventure; thrillers>political; and thrillers>conspiracies. Having learned my lesson from last year when Hell and Gone became a bestseller but I didn't document it very well (or use best-selling status as a selling point), this time I've gone crazy screen-shotting everything. I'm now like that annoying uncle at your family reunion with a stack of photos from his glory days on the high school track team, ambushing relatives who he can force to relive his 15 minutes of fame with.

What's that? You have no such uncle? Well, you've got the next best thing now, buddy.




I'm expecting sales to fall off today, so I don't know if False Flag can improve from #2 in Dystopian (right between A Handmaid's Tale and Starship Troopers), Action-Adventure, and Post-Apocalyptic. In that last genre, something must have been going on because the top eight bestsellers were shuffling around quite a bit. Mine may have actually hit #1 for a hot second--if so, I didn't catch it.

So, I'm like a kid in a candy store (or an annoying uncle with a photo album). But YOU need to jump on this bandwagon and make me a little richer...er, I mean do your part to help spread love, enlightenment, Christmas cheer, or something.

All these images are from Amazon, but it's on sale everywhere where E-Books are sold...FOR LIMITED TIME ONLY! I won't post links because it's not hard to find...MUAHAHAHAHAHA...!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Must Listen Geek Gab Episode

Pulps, and comics, and games, oh my!

John C. Wright, Razorfist, and Jeffro Johnson geek out about sci-fi and fantasy.

Check out Superversive SF while you're there--it's pretty cool.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Homeland: Falling Down by R.A. Mathis

As frightening, depressing and infuriating as it can be, these days I spend more time reading about impending catastrophe than about any other subject.

When somebody I know produces fiction on the subject, there’s a good chance they will get to buck the line and their book will go to the top of my TBR pile. I read R.A. Matthis‘ first novel, Ghosts of Babylon, a couple years ago and it deserves the five-star Amazon reviews it received. When I found out he was kicking off a TEOTWAWKI series… well, his new book went to the front of the queue...


Read the rest of my review at Virtual Pulp.

Read an excerpt from Falling Down.

Here's Part One of my interview with the author.

Here's Part Two.

Read "The Warrior Poets," a guest post by R.A.Mathis.

Monday, February 29, 2016

It's All About that Force, 'Bout that Force...

How, pray tell, do skimpy cheerleader costumes fit in the milleu of a galaxy far, far away, a long time ago?

WHO CARES?!?!?!?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Retro Men's Adventure

Two items concerning Tier Zero:

  1. The price has been dropped to 99 cents.
  2. For now, the e-book has an experimental cover image.
The sepia tone cover is mainly an attempt to create some visual uniformity to the other books in the series. Not sure how well it will go over, and I will probably restore the original cover before long. It just seems a shame to mute Derrick Early's vibrant colors, however out-of-place that may make it appear in between the first and third novel in the Retreads series.



  

(The sepia tone cover is showing on Amazon, but as I write this, the original cover is showing as the link image. Maybe it will have changed by the time you see this. Then again, maybe I will have changed it back.)

Anyhoo, the images above are all links. If you haven't read Tier Zero yet and appreciate old-school men's fiction, you can get the e-book at 99 cents for a while.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

#SHTF in False Flag!

What will be the coup de gras in the fundamental transformation of the USA---economic collapse? Race war? Terrorism?

Maybe all of the above, and then some, in this speculative saga about a near, dystopian future.

"What's that? It's a Rocco's Retreads novel, but not a shoot-em-up?"


Fear not, Two-Fisted Blogees: there is enough mayhem spread about to slake your heathen bloodlust. False Flag not only shifts the genre, but is a segue into full-blown #TEOTWAWKI (post-apocalyptic), which I anticipate for the fourth book.

The Kindle version is live now--paperback following up in about a week (for those who thirst for the blood of trees as much as for the blood of terrorists, pirates, and telemarketers).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Triumph of the Sun

I can't believe I never read Wilbur Smith before I stumbled on this book. After reading it, I educated myself on the author and his work. Like many prolific writers who crank out historical fiction, Wilbur Smith has created some fictional family trees, and crafted multiple stories around the generations thereof. In this novel, the Courtney and Ballentine families intersect during the siege of Khartoum. The novel takes the characters years beyond that event, and makes use of the author's extensive research on Africa, and the Sudan in particular, to provide a glimpse inside 2 distinct cultures.

I suspect Wilbur Smith is a closet anthropologist...not just because of the attention he gives animals in some of his novels, but because of the human actions and interactions he depicts--usually according to type. This book has a lot to offer: adventure, romance, action, tragedy, and a couple happy mini-endings.


Read the detailed review over at Virtual Pulp!

I also recommend Exodus by Leon Uris.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

I didn't see the movie until many years after it came out. When I did, the intentional mythologizing of history really grabbed me. I just had to read the book.

The book didn't disappoint. Wolfe's account of the early Space Race was both fascinating and hilarious.

I've never forgotten his colorful expose` on the collective subconscious of the testpilots/astronauts, in particular. Like the ziggurat metaphor used to describe the egocentric construct of the unspoken hierarchy according to how much of the Right Stuff each individual thought he and his peers possessed. In fact, I was obsessed with Wolfe's depiction for a while. I was rubbing elbows with military pilots at the time, and considering becoming one myself, and could see the truth in it: huge egos and equally enormous wristwatches.

I at least had the ego.

Anyway, the psychological insights are only dressing for the thorough investigative reporting Wolfe wove into an informative and entertaining inside story of an elite subculture in history.

For those who haven't both read the book and seen the film, I encourage you to correct that. It's not a case of one being better than the other; instead they compliment each other.

To read the full review, click here!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Another Free Kindle Book (For Limited Time)

Anybody remember Mad Magazine back when it was funny? Hmm, probably not. Well, anyway, it was hilarious once upon a time. How 'bout the early movies of Mel Brooks and the Zucker Brothers? (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Airplane, Airplane II) Get the picture now? That gives you an idea of the type of humor to be found in this short political satire. But it's not from the typical/obligatory left-wing perspective--quite the opposite.

Well, hmm. It's written as if it is, in fact, from the typical/obligatory leftist/feminist/homophile slant, but with razor sarcasm that lampoons the typical Marxist (usually called "liberal"), feminist and white knight memes, tropes and so-called logic. It's free for a couple days.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fight Card Novella for the Kindle Goes Free



The Fight Card series is a growing collection of retro-pulp boxing novellas--deliberate throwbacks to the sports fiction of yesteryear by some of today's most talented authors (writing under the house name "Jack Tunney"). Fight Card has spun off into MMA, romance and such, but Tomato Can Comeback is from the original hardboiled series.

Set in Detroit, 1954, it's the story of a young man fighting to redeem himself, both physically and psychologically. It's free for a couple days on Amazon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meira Pentermann's Nine Tenths

It took me a while to get around to this book. Not because the hammer & sickle on the cover made it look like a Hillary Clinton biography, but because of all the books in my towering To Be Read pile.

If they all read as fast as this one, though, I might actually catch up one day.

There's no doubt in my mind others have compared this to 1984. Of course it reminded me of the Orwell classic, too. But it truly is a thriller--as fun a read as you can hope for considering the subject matter.

Leonard Tramer is a pain in the ass, but I couldn't help sympathizing after reading the first chapter. Despite some stilted dialog here and there, and some minor plot complaints, this was an easy novel to give five stars. Meira Pentermann knows how to hook readers, and keep them hooked. Bravo.