Monday Heroic Fiction

Tales 1 smallerWork continues behind-the-scenes with Tales From the Magician’s Skull as Joseph finalizes the Kickstarter preparations. I can hardly wait to point the way, but you’ll have to wait just a couple more weeks. There are many things about working with Joseph that I like, and one of them is his careful preparation.

I haven’t been reading nearly as much the last month, as my wife and I discovered Parks & Rec, and have been watching it in the evenings. We don’t usually binge watch television like this, but it’s nice to have a positive show about people you like. It kind of feels like the 2nd-5th seasons were the best, but we’re watching to the end. In the shortened 7th season I’m finding myself laughing out loud several times an episode again, even if some of the main plot lines feel a little forced and sometimes indulgent.

But that’s not heroic fiction. I wanted to share something that was, and that’s the Blades books by Kelly McCullough. I’m most of the way through one of them, Bared Blade, and it reads something like Zelazny and Chandler co-writing a fantasy detective story in ancient China. Except that by “detective” I mean that there’s a problem to be solved and a sort of professional trouble-shooter who’s a former assassin for the goddess of justice. That means that, unlike so many other blokes in cloaks, he was only offing the bad guys. Aral is a force for good, or at least strives to be, the fantasy equivalent of Chandler’s knight in the battered trench coat working his weary way through a corrupt but beautiful city.

bared bladeI made several new friends at GenCon this year, one of them being Kelly, and when I got home I sat down with a pile of books from friends old and new that I had encountered there. Owing to the Parks and Rec viewing, Kelly’s is the only one I’ve gotten very far with. I’ll have details about any others I like in coming months.

Bill Ward and I have started making notes about the Corum books. I’ve been holding things up a little, because if I’m not writing or working on the Kickstarter or providing the daughter with essay writing advice as she’s applying to college, I’m a little low energy. Anyway, at some point we’ll announce we’re almost ready to have another read through.

Lastly, I’ve another recommendation. Ages ago, before I started serious work on finalizing Tales From the Magician’s Skull, I read issue 11 of Grimdark magazine for Black Gate. I’m WAY overdue getting up a review, but I ended up with two thumbs way up. I like grimdark fantasy but don’t seek it out preferentially. It has a lot of the same tone I like from sword-and-sorcery but I find that when everyone’s in gray and everything is covered in crap and smells I don’t enjoy spending as much time there. I was afraid Grimdark magazine would be like that, and it isn’t. There was a nice variety of stories and plenty of sense of wonder in amongst that sense of horror. I’ll finally finish a long review and discuss it at Black Gate, but my thumbnail is two thumbs up. There’s a talented editor aboard there and I’m going to subscribe. If you’re not familiar with it, you should take a look.