Review: Gemini Man

This one came out, and I have to tell you, it’s about flipping time. I read this book months ago. I probably should have written up the review immediately, but I was more interested in finishing the bloody books that came in around them.So, anyway, this is JD Cowan’s book — Gemini Man.

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Review: Somewhither, by John C Wright

Everyone knows the phrase “down the rabbit hole.” It’s an Alice in Wonderland reference, where the main character is in their normal, everyday life one moment, then in someplace utterly insane the next. Reality is utterly, totally, and completely different.

For John C. Wright’s Somewhither, the rabbit hole wasn’t good enough.

No. We needed an inter-dimensional portal that opens up to an invading army, sucking our hero into a realm that makes Wonderland look positively friendly and harmless.

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Review: When the Gods Fell, Richard Paolinelli

Welcome to When the Gods Fell, the latest by the Dragon Award finalist Richard Paolinelli (Escaping Infinity)

Mars Is Hiding A Secret

When the first small group of humans arrive on Mars, they expect to retrieve some probes and learn more about Earth’s neighbor. Instead, they find Oracle Veritas, of House Delphi, who has waited 65 million years to brief these children of Olympus about their own origins, their very essence … and the danger that threatens them.

Seas and lakes, deserts and icecaps, forests and mountains once covered this planet then called Olympus. Veritas tells them that it was home to a race of immortals—Zeus, Odin, Yahweh, Lucifer, and others—who guided the fates of other worlds and fought among themselves for supremacy.

Zeus, Odin, Yahweh, and Lucifer, supported by characters from other realms, had battled for control. As civil war loomed, the most powerful of all the gods, Zeus, foresaw chaos and destruction. Left with a single, terrible solution to save all the worlds, Zeus turned to the only person he could trust to carry out his last order … and change all existence forever.

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Review: The War Revealed, by Karl Gallagher

I almost wish that The War Revealed came out this month.  That way, I could have voted for it for the Dragon Awards this year. I’m going to have to settle for The Lost War (reviewed yesterday).

Newman and Goldenrod survived landing in a monster-infested wilderness. Their group of historical reenactors no longer fears starvation. But can they control the magic powers people are developing? Discover how they were transported there? And stay safe from the orcs and dragons?

The War Revealed (The Lost War Book 2) by [Gallagher, Karl K.]As noted in yesterday’s review, this series is amazing.

In the first book, we saw the emergence of magic just beginning to settle in among the folks of the SCA troop transported to a fantasy world where magic is common … and so are orcs. This book goes far deeper into the mechanics of magic. I’m trying to recall when the last time I saw magic being executed this practically. In the previous novel, a lot of time was spent on logistics and how things work. This novel centered around how magic worked. There’s Chekov’s gun, and then there’s Checkov’s SAW. There were even some uses of potential energy that read a little bit like old-school philosophy (IE: Ancient Philosophy). And some of it boils down to “Magic is weird.”

But yeah, there’s a lot of how things get done, only with magic. Call it “hard fantasy” if you must be picky, but it’s interesting and readable for well over 30% of the book.

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Review: The Lost War

When I was sitting next to Karl Gallagher at LibertyCon, he mentioned that Torchship was about his day job (yes, he is a rocket scientist), and that The Lost War was about his hobby.

It was supposed to be a weekend of costumed fun. Instead these medieval historical reenactors are flung into a wilderness by magic they don’t understand. They must struggle to survive and deal with monsters who consider them prey . . . or worse.

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Review: Come, Seeling Night

What families don’t have their little problems?Paxton Lock is back, and payback can be a mutha.

Enter Come, Seeling Night.

Paxton Locke’s been in some pretty tight spaces before. This one might be the worst.

Drugged and shipped to who-knows-where on an airplane, he’s locked up by men who seem to be Feds. But they haven’t given him his phone call, and Pax isn’t sure if his cell mates are even human.

This is one cell he can’t get out of, but he’s got to find a way to escape. Mother has his girlfriend, and she wants a redo of the night she killed Paxton’s father. But this time she won’t be interrupted. Paxton’s got to find Cassie, and he’s got to stop his mother.

Or the world might end.

Apocalyptic visions from Mother’s grimoire have haunted him for years. Now she’s close to making it happen. And all Paxton can do is wait in his cell for someone to realize he’s not the bad guy.

Can Paxton escape his magical prison and stop Mother? Or will he be too late, and lose Cassie just like he lost his dad?

The third installment of the Paxton Locke series delves deeper into the meaning of love and forgiveness, while providing plenty of action, magic, and Humphreys’ signature subtle horror.

Will Mother bring about a world on fire, or a dead Earth? Can Paxton defeat her? Find out and read Come Seeling Night today!

Once again, this is a brilliantly executed plot. Even the tangential subplot that becomes a thread to be untangled in the rest of the series is nicely place. It effects the plot of this book, sets up for the next book, and we move right along.

In short, there’s nothing like C4 to cut through red tape.

I’m not sure if I can add anything new to my review that isn’t a spoiler. Though I will admit that the historical aspects we have revealed to us over the course of the novel are very interesting.

And if you think I mean a mention here or there, no. There are whole characters who are historical references. I think I have about or or three figured out.

But yeah, a lot of what impressed me about this book was the setup for everything to come. It almost feels like a three-book origin story.

Yeah, I know it almost feels like cheating that I’m saying so little. But everything interesting really is a spoiler… and I read the ARC for this book months ago, and I’m a bit rusty trying to catch up to my book reviews.

And damn does Paxton want to be Harry Dresden when he grows up… if he grows up. Right down to pissing off everybody he meets. And if anything ever happens to Butcher (God forbid), Humphreys can Sanderson in as replacement quite well.

And I like the punchline. Very Terry Goodkind…. except for the speeches. There are no speeches.

But Come, Seeling Night here.

 

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Catholic Book Release: Crusader (Saint Tommy, NYPD Book 5)

Crusader is here.

Still working abroad, Detective Tommy Nolan has a hot tip that leads him to Germany. Women and children are disappearing from Catholic Bavaria. The local police have their hands tied. Tommy is the last hope for answers.

Yet again, Tommy is in over his head. What starts as a sex trafficking ring turns into a terrorist conspiracy to unleash Hell on Europe. To stop it, Tommy must fight Nazi vampires, terrorists, and a swarm of succubi who want him as their next meal. Tommy has always crusaded for justice. But now he might be on his last crusade.

This one has everything.

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Debunking Liars Who Didn’t Bother Watching the Show They Criticize: A Babylon 5 Fisk (Part Two)

So, here we are again for another extended romp through the cesspool at Tor.com.

Exterminate

Jennifer Geisbrecht (achoo) didn’t finish spewing her vitriol at Babylon 5 in a short post, so it’s taking me twice as long to prove she’s wrong.

When I’m done with her, hopefully she will have learned her lesson.

Bowman

Yeah, my married name sounds better for this sort of thing.

Anyway.

If you missed it last time, this comes from dear Jennifer’s post on how Babylon 5 Is the Greatest, Most Terrible SF Series.

Once again, the original is in italics, and my response is in bold.

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Debunking Liars Who Didn’t Bother Watching the Show They Criticize: A Babylon 5 Fisk (Part One)

I know, it’s been a while.  Life happened, and the blog got buried under things like getting married, moving, getting a new job, and getting pregnant.

Again

Yeah.

But then my dear husband read this blog post to me this morning, and I was so furious that suddenly, I had to move fisking from the back burner to the front burner.  And then he kept reading, and I had to move it out to the grill, and THEN into the blazing crucible out back.

Okay, I’m speaking figuratively, but that’s how bad this “critique” of Babylon 5 really is.  It’s so horrifically stupid, I had to sit down at my computer and put on some opera to keep me from going insane while reading it.

Mady

Yes, it was so bad, I had to turn to Mady Mesplé to keep my brain from disintegrating and dribbling out my ears.

I suppose the author should be proud of herself; her style and content are both so disgustingly awful, it essentially forced me out of retirement.

So, who wrote this piece of tripe that wins the Most Asinine Garbage of the Internet Award . . . today, at least?

Introducing Jennifer Gesundheit . . . I mean Jennifer Giesbrecht (bless you) from that cesspool of scum and mediocrity, Tor.com.  She asserts that Babylon 5 Is the Greatest, Most Terrible SF Series.  Now, I’m not disputing her right to have an opinion on the show; she can think whatever she wants to about it.  But when she lies about the content to further her own little agenda . . . well, she’s awakened the sleeping, (pregnant) angry blogger, and filled her with a terrible resolve.

This is going to be a very long one, because Gesundheit is very long winded, but as usual, the original content is in italics, and my response is in bold.

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Fate RPG Alternate Rules: Health

I’ve been a tabletop RPG gamer for decades. No, I’m not going to toss out how, gosh, I’m so old-school ’cause I know how to calculate THAC0, and that makes me better than you. I mean, I do know how to calculate THAC0, but I never played 2e D&D.

Wait. Actually, if I never played it, but I still know how to work THAC0 . . . I can’t figure out if that makes me a better nerd, or a more pathetic one. You know what, I’m not going to think about that one too deeply. Moving on.

The point is, I’ve been gaming for a while, and most of that time has been as the GM. I liked running narrative games; games with a high degree of story, where exploring the world and its issues through the eyes of the characters was more important than loot or monster stats. I actually got pretty well-known in the DC area as someone who could craft Dungeons & Dragons, a game built around kicking in doors and boosting stats, into a game where players cared more about the NPCs they would meet than their next magic weapon.

Then I switched to the Fate RPG, a game built around narrative play, and I’ve never gone back. I have, however, tweaked it a lot over my seven years of play. Continue reading

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2019 Dragon Awards Discussion

The Dragon Awards are open for voting … and we’re getting close to the cut off date for the nominees. Let the discussion begin.

And yes, I said discussion. I’d like people to come on, and tell me what you want to see nominated. Hell, I’ve already made adjustments to the list below. I haven’t changed who I’m voting for yet, since something would need to blow my socks off to change my mind. But I want to make certain that this become a DISCUSSION.

Now, again, please remember the eligibility is from the start of July 2018 to the end of June 2019.

So, let’s continue.

Yeah, it’s been a fast month. Hell, I feel like I just did this blog.

Though trust me, you have no idea how much I wanted to title this post “Sad Puppies 6, Zombie Puppies Bite Back,” but my click bait instinct has a filter.

Anyway, let the discussion begin. And yes, I’ve got additional suggestions kicking around from you folks who came to play

And yes, I said discussion. I’d like people to come on, and tell me what you want to see nominated. Hell, I’ve already made adjustments to the list below. I haven’t changed who I’m voting for yet, since something would need to blow my socks off to change my mind. But I want to make certain that this become a DISCUSSION.

Now, again, please remember the eligibility is from the start of July 2018 to the end of June 2019.

So, let’s continue.

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Just a Girl: a Captain Marvel Review

The stage is set. Avengers: Endgame looms on the horizon, its plot shrouded in mystery, following on the heels of Infinity War, a gargantuan (or, some would say, titanic) crossover epic. In between the two films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gave us nothing but a solitary pair of movies: The Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel. One a sequel to a goofy light-hearted superhero heist, the other a complete unknown to moviegoers. Many of us wondered who this woman was, and even comics readers puzzled over what role her film would play in the larger movieverse.

Well, we have our answer, and I won’t hold you in too much suspense: Captain Marvel was some of the most fun I had with an MCU movie in a while (not counting Into the Spider-Verse because technically, it’s not an MCU movie). There’s been some smashing successes in the MCU lately, but for the most part, they’ve had some pretty heavy stuff alongside the jokes and smiles, even the Ant-Man sequel. Captain Marvel almost feels like the opposite: even though it tackles some pretty hefty themes and plot points, it’s bound and determined to exult in its sky-high superheroics.

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On the Authority of the Pope

I think I know what the problem is.stupid things the Catholic church has done

Ever since Pope Francis was elected, all of us Catholics have suffered other people trying to tell us what we believe, largely based off of off-hand comments by Pope Francis in an interview. Or in a rambling, nigh-incoherent speech, even when translated by the Vatican.

As such, we’ve been lectured on guns, on communism, on the environment, and we here at the Catholic geeks have spent a ton of time refuting it. We have an entire section dedicated to it.

But I think I may have hit on the problem. Everyone thinks that the Pope is some sort of monarch. That the whims of the Pope are the dictates of the church.

WRONG!

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Remembering the Challengers

On January 28th, 1986, the United States manned space program ground to a sudden halt with the deaths of seven people. Their names were Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judy Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.
space-shuttle-challenger-crew.jpg

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Elevate: an Into the Spider-Verse Review

Screenshot from Into the Spiderverse; Miles Morales lands in an action pose in front of a green taxicab

Originally, I was going to write a piece talking about how different my experiences were when I saw Aquaman and Into the Spider-Verse within days of one another over the holidays. Then, on a whim, I went on my own to see Spider-Verse a third time in the theater, and changed my mind completely. Spider-Verse shouldn’t share a blog post with a superhero film that rates approximately at “the first Thor, but with Jason Momoa and way better CGI” (and that’s exactly as much as you need to know about it). It deserves its own post, because boy howdy did it leave an impression.

“Alright, let’s do this one last time. My name is Peter Parker. I was bitten by a radioactive spider and for ten years I’ve been the one and only Spider-Man. I’m pretty sure you know the rest.”

I’ll be avoiding spoilers and plot details in general about this film, probably telling you less than you know from the trailer.

Content Advisory: bloodless violence and a couple of deaths; color-intensive and dynamic visuals that could be distracting or problematic for some individuals Continue reading

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Review: The Brave and The Bold

Finally, we get The Brave and the Bold: Book 3 of The Hidden Truth.

You may remember that the previous two books in the series explored an alternate history where 9-11 killed President Al Gore, destroyed the White House, spared the twin towers, and revealed a shadowy conspiracy that had been twisting fate, warping history, and bending culture and all of society to their will.

And most of that was in the opening chapters of book one.

Book two was a chess game, as the enemy came closer and closer to encroaching on our heroes’ turf, raiding academia, targeting professors for personal destruction, and a game of wills that only the wary would pass.

Then there came the Order of Preacher spies, the tong assassins, and the forces of counter revolution, for lack of a better term.

And now, book three. 

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Review: Fade, by Daniel Humphreys

Fade (Paxton Locke Book 1) by [Humphreys, Daniel]

With the novel Making Peace, I noted that I found the successor to Terry Pratchett.

Now, it seems I’ve tripped over the spiritual successor to Jim Butcher.

Where the hell have all of these people been hiding?

Yes, yes, I know I’ve been busy with building my own damn shelf of novels, but this is ridiculous now. These people are some awesome writers, and I’ve been hip deep in writing my little heart out.  Gah. It’s a bit frustrating.

But anyway, it’s Halloween…

Time for a ghost story.

Welcome to Fade.

From Dragon Award nominee Daniel Humphreys

Son of a Witch

Family drama is bad enough without adding magic and human sacrifice. Ten years ago, Paxton Locke’s mother killed his father in a mysterious ritual that – thankfully – went incomplete. Now, Paxton makes his living as a roving paranormal investigator, banishing spirits while Mother languishes in jail.

When a terrified ghost warns him of a dangerous, newly-freed entity, Paxton faces a fight far beyond simple exorcism. In a battle for his very soul, will he be able to endure – or simply fade away?

Harry Dresden’s sorcery goes on a Supernatural-style road trip. Cool car sold separately.

Frankly, the last line isn’t branding. It’s fairly accurate …. and despite having his own family drama, Paxton Locke is no where near as angsty as the Winchester brothers, whose own angsty bullshit killed any interest I had in Supernatural, no matter how good the plots were.

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Review: War Demons

The Devil went down to Georgia. He was looking for a soul to steal.And this time, he isn’t coming with a violin.

Welcome to War Demons, by Russell Newquist.**

When he came home, so did they…

Driven by vengeance, Michael Alexander enlisted in the Army the day after 9/11. Five years later, disillusioned and broken by the horrors he witnessed in Afghanistan, Michael returns home to Georgia seeking to begin a new life. But he didn’t come alone. Something evil followed him, and it’s leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

The police are powerless. The Army has written Michael off. Left to face down a malevolent creature first encountered in the mountains of Afghanistan, he’ll rely on his training, a homeless prophet, and estranged family members from a love lost…

But none of them expected the dragon.

Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden collides with Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International in this supernatural thriller that goes straight to Hell!

That tag at the end isn’t bluster. It’s fairly accurate. Personally, I think War Demons leans more on the MHI than the Harry Dresden. So much so that I’m willing to say up front that I would not be surprised if Russell ends up authoring an MHI spinoff novel. No, I’m not exaggerating. This is a story that could have been mistaken for a Monster Hunter International novel if Larry Correia used prayer as a weapon more often. But I will admit, there is a TON of Dresden-level action.

Let’s back up a step.

Chapter one opens up with a swordfight with a demon, and ends with dropping a daisy cutter on it.

That irritated the sucker a little.

Fast forward a few years to our hero, Michael Alexander, who Jack Ryaned out of the military when his helicopter crashed. He and his buddy hid in a cave …. only do discover something in the cave that was colder than the dark and hungry.

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Ask a Catholic Geek: Moral Culpability in Service

I’ve been meaning to start up an Ask a Catholic Geek series, and this question posed in our Facebook group was the perfect opportunity.

How do we explain, using moral theology, why it is licit to allow racists to use your credit card services? CAN we say it’s licit?

What level of material cooperation is licit? I think many people are deeply confused on this question.

~ Stephanie S.

Racism does not enter into it. What you are looking for is the following: When does 
providing a service to those who shall use the service to commit a sin mean I myself participate in that sin?
 

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Castlia House Reviews Hell Spawn

Over at Castalia House, Jon Mollison reviewed Hell Spawn.

Played entirely straight, the result is an urban fantasy for people who don’t like urban fantasy. Instead of the usual kitchen sink approach as seen in the “Iron Druid” series and countless magic-girl of the week series, Finn steeps the universe of Saint Tommy entirely in a Catholic worldview where Earth represents a battleground between heaven and hell. Though the dual nature of the conflict – good versus evil – lacks the political complexity of the kitchen sink approach, it also grounds the novel with a unified system that carries with it the weight of two thousand years of refining, evolution, and tradition. There are real rules to what can be done and how things operate, and that grounding in a single understanding of the rules of the game allows the action to proceed at a faster clip, and with considerably higher stakes than most examples of the genre.

Considering how popular Iron Druid is, I’ll take that review.

Which is not to say that this is a book for Catholics only. The matter of fact presentation of the faith that lies at the core of this work never veers into preachiness or ham fisted apologia. Hand wave away the protagonist’s explanations for his powers – most of the supporting characters do – and you’re still left with a gritty tale of a serial killer targeting a cop. Head-canon the supernatural abilities into a secular expression of natural law, and you’re left with a dark superhero tale that makes the nineties grimdark culture seem tame by comparison.

I …  yeah. I cop to it. This went dark. But it’s nice to see that Mollison finds I did it well.

One word of warning on that note – and Declan Finn’s unflinching willingness to show the nature and effects of evil, this novel goes into some ark places where even the most bloody-minded Hollywood producers fear to tread. The setting being New York City, the usual political theater enters the investigation

I don’t know why, this part just pleases me.

Declan writes with an economy of words that packs a lot of impact into this relatively short novel. Never quite dipping down into the close-mouthed unwillingness to describe even the most recurring characters or locales, he nonetheless manages to present just enough information to keep things visually stimulating without dragging the action down.

Be well.

 

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