Monthly Archives: March 2016

Link Day

link hogthrob 2I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with pacing and plotting in the new season of Daredevil, and I’ll probably put my thoughts into print for Friday after I finish watching the final two episodes. The amount of stupid that was suddenly injected into the plot can’t be overcome by the deft acting, and my suspension of disbelief has been completely destroyed. Sure, it’s a superhero show, but it goes out of its way to make things gritty and “real” so some of the things it’s asking viewers to believe defy logic.

For now, though, I’m behind schedule today and need to get to work, so here are some interesting links.

last vikingLast Friday I mentioned that I was reading a Viking series about Harald Hardrada by Poul Anderson, but failed to mention the title. This is The Golden Horn, the first of three books about the hero. I’m still kept at arm’s length, but the tone is growing from me. In talking with my good friend Chris Hocking about it he asked whether there wasn’t a bit of a feel from the sagas in it, and I assented that there was, and I think that the tone grew on me. I’m not sure I’ll immediately jump up and read the next of the books, but I ended up enjoying it.

I still haven’t finished reading my pulp anthology, but as most of my reading has been taking place while I am waiting for my daughter to come out of school or finish some after school activity, I haven’t wanted to bring a fragile old book/pulp along, or drag a laptop to read an e-book (I don’t have a Nook or Kindle, just an emulator on the Macbook).

Empires in America

eia6I spent so much time drafting a review of a great solitaire war game at Black Gate this morning that I don’t have time to spare for much of a blog post on my own site. If you have any interest in solitaire gaming, particularly at the strategic level, you ought to pick up Empires in America from Victory Point Games. Details are here.

I know that I promised I’d be reading some modern stuff, much of it by people I know, but on the way out the door or over breakfast I keep grabbing something from my “I should have read this sooner” pile. So I’ve recently finished de Camp’s Dragon of the Ishtar Gate and I’m most of the way through the first of Poul Anderson’s three paperbacks about the exploits of that famous Viking, Harald Hardrada.


chicksWell, almost. You can tell it’s around the corner because of the way our favorite tree is blooming, or the way I hear chirps all day — you see, we have a half dozen baby chicks. In a few months they’ll be full-grown egg layers and will join the rest of the aging flock, but for now they need to be kept under a warming bulb and monitored closely. They have a tendency to knock over their food bowls, or simply to eat all the food quickly. They need a great deal of food for all that energy they need to grow. You can just about see a difference every day between morning and evening.

The spring projects loom just around the corner as well, including some expensive window replacement and some painting and the inevitable lawn trimming, which I’ve never much cared for. Maybe if I owned a better weed wacker I could muster more enthusiasm for the chore, but ours constantly stops, and then has to be pull started. It gets tiresome.

The Borgia Testament

borgiaThis time last week my wife and I were driving to Pennyslvania for a funeral. It was a trip of about ten hours, so we brought along a few books to share out loud. While she was driving, I tried reading a Solar Pons story, which we both found fairly enjoyable (Solar Pons is a sort of Sherlock Holmes stand-in that I’ve heard about for years but never seriously tried, until I got a recommendation from friend and Pons scholar Bob Byrne). The second Pons story in the collection didn’t grab us, so I pulled out an old book I’d read in college, thinking my wife might enjoy it.

Turns out that she did. That book was The Borgia Testament, by Nigel Balchin, a fictional autobiography of Cesare Borgia, hero of Machiavelli immortalized in The Prince, son of a pope, and would-be uniter of Italy when it was nothing but a fractious collection of city-states. He was ruthless but very clever, and an irresistible magnet for historical fiction writers. In college (which is, jeez, a quarter century ago now) I read a big stack of novels about him. Now it’s possible that there have been some more, and better, novels since, but The Borgia Testament was head and shoulders the most compelling and entertaining of the lot, and I liked it well enough that I tracked down a copy for my permanent library some years ago.


Robert E. Howard

Robert E. Howard

I was delighted to learn that Bill Ward and I have been nominated for the Robert E. Howard Foundation’s Black River award for our Conan re-read series. That’s certainly not anything either of us was expecting, and it’s quite an honor. My friend Bob Byrne and Black Gate itself are among the other nominees, and I’m pleased for us all. It’s just good company to be in.

pic2786972_mdI’ve been very busy the last few days both with working on a synopsis of the 2nd and 3rd books of my new series, and, in the early morning, play testing my friend Dean’s new board game. It’s a blast, and I mean to talk about it when I’m just a little further along with it. You can click here for some preliminary details.

Friday I’ll have some details on some cool old stories I’ve been reading.


orangesI love a good orange.

Usually this space is reserved for talking about writing, or books, or writers, or games. But today I’m kvetching about oranges.

A couple of years ago I posted with delight that we’d finally found a good source for local oranges. They were sweet and flavorful and, darn it, tasted like oranges. Alas, that brand of organic oranges isn’t carried by the local markets anymore, and all other brands are either sour or simply tasteless. Plus they have really tough texture, which is a by-product, I assume, of some breeding program to make them more resilient. Now chewy AND tasteless!

People must be buying these damned awful things or the markets wouldn’t carry them — but who enjoys them?