Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Carl Sagan Owes Percival Lowell An Apology

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I saw Carl Sagan's Cosmos in the seventh grade thanks to my science teacher. She had VHS copies (bootlegs) that we watched. I really liked them for the most part. The Mars episode really stuck with me in part because Sagan talked about Edgar Rice Burroughs and Barsoom and it was all backed by Holst's Mars: The Bringer of War.
It moved me.
Then he talked about what Percival Lowell thought he saw, the canals on Mars and such, the receding of seasons and movements of a dying race - and what a load it was and how deluded Lowell had been to think he saw such things.

And then last Thursday NASA up and says looking at these pics it seems that maybe Mars has flowing briny water on the surface. They did also say that the water would have to be briny to be flowing in the Martian cold.

With all of that in mind, I think Sagan gave Lowell a bum rap and he ought to be giving him a posthumous apology, at least now that he can do it in spirit.

Still overall it doesn't really look like they found anything after all, they won't go looking closer for fear of contamination but then isn't the Rover's very presence equal contamination. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against checking things out but lets be realistic, we already have alien robots on the planet go take a closer look!

I read some articles saying how this was all grandstanding in a way to help promote the new The Martian movie and I'm just cynical enough to wonder if that isn't the case. Personally I'd rather they just do another John Carter of Mars.

And while I don't personally put any stock in the Martian face, pyramids etc I do heartily think they should be looking closer at a lot of things!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Salt Lake Comic Con Recap

Posting this now as a recap etc, etc even though another idea I'm excited about is brewing...

I just gotta get this outta the way.

I ended up on more panels that I initially posted about = that's pretty cool. I got to meet a bunch of great people, old friends and new. It was fun to sit down and not have any idea who some people were until they introduced themselves - during one of the writing panels, I was sitting next to a bearded guy I didn't recognize, probably around my height and then he says he is Brian McClellan author of the Powder Mage series and I was like Wow! Awesome! - I have truly been meaning to read those.

I did some other great networking and such with some other pro's and have laid groundwork for bugger better more in the publishing world.

I did not sell as many books as I would have liked but recouped my costs and then some. The real important thing I had to keep reminding myself was the networking.

In some ways I didn't have as much fun at this con as others in the past but in other ways this may have been the most important - business wise. Here I am repeating myself. I did get a number of books and gotta make the time to catch up on my overwhelming TBR pile.

and now a few shots etc...

 Me selling and signing some books.

Me and Rosanna Rocha, she has a great Red Sonja pinup - which is where I first knew her from. (she didn't do it this con though) the morning I found her she was cold and thus wearing these pj's  - I did share some more nubile pics earlier on twitter but I got in trouble - sorry Honey. In any case Rosanna did share a great story on how she started cosplaying as Red Sonja - it was her mom's favorite character from back in the day and she did it as a tribute to her mom and powerful women. Which I thought was cool.

While standing in line to get my special guest pass who ends up a couple people behind me? but Frank Coniff from MST3K, I let him cut in front of me and we chatted for a few minutes. super nice guy. He asked who I was and what I did and we had a nice short chat about these events etc. I've been a big fan of MST3K for about the last 20 years so it was great to meet him.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Three Days of the Con Man

And the big Con for me starts today! I'll be at Salt Lake Comic Con for the next three days, I've got a panel everyday, discussing fantasy fiction and writing and such. I always have a good time in part because I get to hang with so many cool writer friends and its just a fun reckless geek atmosphere.

This is a promotional banner my brother in law made for me. And as it says I'll be at table BLACK 15 which from what I've heard is a great spot in a heavy traffic area of the con floor. Kind of in the neck of the big L which the conference floor looks like.

In addition I'll be speaking on panels at
Thursday 2:00 pm in room 151A: Its The Good, Bad and Very Ugly of Writing.
Friday at Noon in room 150 G: It the Forgotten Gems of Fantasy and Sci-Fi (You regular readers have a good idea on the things I'll want to talk about to the hipster crowd.)
Saturday at 8:00pm in room 255F: Its Writing the Sins - This is one of the panels I volunteered for and it sounds like we'll be working a little blue - perhaps more so than I ever actually write. But who knows that will be the last panel of the whole con.

I'll post updates here in a few days, and I'm sure I'll have plenty of pics and stories,.

Also in my writing news, the latest issue of UGEEK Magazine #7 is up with the seventh chapter of my Walking Through Walls novella :Tentacles and Pentacles.

The tale took an unexpected twist because I made sure to throw my protagonist Kenaz and his accomplice Lysandra into a world of trouble that I wasn't sure how they would extricate themselves from, the muse gave me something I think quite unique and it was exciting for me to discover where it was taking me along the way.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Big Things in Life

I've neglected my posting for a bit now, but you know I have some good excuses.

My newest daughter (she's my fourth!)was born just three weeks ago. Her name is Athena Eve West, I wanted
something feminine and powerful and unique in that when she is in school there won't be a passel of others kids with the same name, That's my own hell with a good  but incredibly common name -I can't tell you other writers out there how many times I  pondered using a pen name for that very reason but at the same time I want everyone to know that I am me = ego wins.

That all said, despite the many sleepless nights (giving my wife all the breaks possible) this has been my most productive writing summer I have ever had. I don't have an exact count but I have probably nailed down about 70K words just this summer. And that is my personal all time best I believe. So progress has been good and I am working at keeping that drive and progress up and running.

Coming up very soon is Salt Lake Comic Con and I so hoped to have my latest quick project out but it won't quite make it - instead it will be available in time for October, which is fitting considering its ghost stories. Largely inspired by the weird tales I love by Robert E. Howard etc but also by a new favorite ghost story writer M.R.James, I'mm nearly thru all of his tales and think they are magnificent. His are all very English but I am borrowing a lot of his framing devices though set in the American West rather than the English countryside, a whole lot of found letters and the like  and a lot of this is really true, type verbiage. I'll have Whispers Out of the Dust available shortly.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

5 BLADES is out and FREE

 5 Blades an anthology I contributed four! previously released tales is out and for free for the next couple days.

My tales may be familiar to my regular blog followers, -

Fangs of the Dragon: Blessed by a holy man, Porter Rockwell was promised that if he never cut his hair he would not be harmed by bullet nor blade . . .
But what if monsters strike with tooth and claw? This might be Port's last ride . . .
Or will he send them crawling back to the abyss? Either way it's gonna be a helluva fight!

The Serpents Root: A quest for a dangerous item to cure the sick may not be as simple a delivery as a thief expects. Love can be a killer.

The Dig: An archaeologist struggles with the semantics of who is the real grave robber with a rogue Italian captain in WW2 when they find something buried that should not be.

The King in the Wood: Music and mythology merge as a young woman buys a strange instrument in a curiosity shop and things will never be the same.

The other four blades are 

Jason King - fantasy author extraordinaire who recently released book 2 in his Age of the Infinite series.

Drew Briney - lawyer and all around nice guy, with a some great fantasy tales.

Jaime Buckley, acclaimed comic artist with some of his tale spinning.

and newcomer Lewis Strassburg with a great fantasy tale of revenge and giant worms.

Catch it while its hot and free here

P.S. should have had you wait a day Paul! I owe you!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

City of Stairs

City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett

This was brilliant. A great mashup of epic fantasy, mystery and espionage like thrillers. I was captured by the thought of a once great empire, blessed by a cabal of divine Gods who bestowed strange miracles and blessing upon their chosen people until a put upon satellite people using mysterious means had their revenge and slew the gods.

That is all in the not-to-distant past of the novel and we are now dealing with a reconstruction and digging through the scraps of information left in the wake of such deicide. This is also all set in a fantasy world with technology similar to about the turn of the century and all that goes with it - bureaucracy. A murder sets the stage and into this steps Shara, an official from one of the ruling families of the victors and Sigrud her muscle - essentially a massive Viking. They are trying to piece together why a historian  was killed, it is also matters that he was once important to Shara and they each had a fascination with the mysterious past of this once blessed land.
Bennett evokes great charm and wit with these characters and once the action gets going Sigrud reminds me of everything I love about Brock Sampson from Venture Bros! This is a very good thing!
The twists and surprises keep coming and I highly recommend this!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dark Tale of a Dark Man (and Woman)

Blue Eyes at Night, by J.P. Wilder

This is book two of the Crusader series which I reviewed some time ago here, apologies to J.P. I mentioned this was coming and I did buy it the day of release but my reviews have fallen sharply behind, something I will work at remedying from here on out.

Blue Eyes at Night is the second book following the adventures and redemption of minor lord and experienced Crusader Aaron. He is wracked with guilt at what he had to do and succeed in the previous chapter book that made him a hero presently. Without any recourse on moving forward with his life he heads back into the fray.

I see J.P.'s life experience here to a degree - I am only guessing, but I can see shades of veterans here whether it be modern or ancient. Granted this is fantasy but J.P. has a dark mood giving us insight into that terrible survivors guilt and washes it down with some fantastic action. I enjoy the mixing of almost history with a grimdark fantasy.

On his journey Aaron encounters ghosts from the past specifically Lady Edweene who he thought was dead - or is it her twin sister Lady Elayne? He also has to face the living demons before him. Recommended for everyone that likes gritty fantasy with a little something extra.

I'm also in the midst of J.P.'s next paranormal thriller Schade of Night and wow does he kick things up a notch when he goes from chapter books to novels!