Thrill Kings: The Gray Walls by Rik Ty cover

In The Grey Walls, our heroes battle an interdimensional intruder like nothing they’ve ever seen before. Having taken over an office tower, the creature seems to be slowly absorbing its hapless victims– which include Nonstop, Krork, and all of the office workers, as well as a multitude of nightmarish creatures from other dimensions.

The result is an office tower filled with a maze of constantly-shifting gray walls– walls which bear still-living impressions of the creature’s meals.

Continue reading “Review of Thrill Kings: The Gray Walls”

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I discovered a ton of new favorite authors this year!

Those who know me know that I enjoy a wide range of genres. I’m intrigued by writing that’s unique: new concepts, subversions of expectations, genre blending. Interestingly enough, most of the books that fit my preferences this year came from independent authors.

This list covers a range of genres. Comparing most of these books to each other would be impossible, so they’re organized alphabetically by title instead of numerically. If you’d like to read more, each heading links to my review of that book.

Without further ado, here are my favorite reads of 2018.

Continue reading “Favorite Reads of 2018”

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Tales from Alternative Earths 2 cover

The haunting and all-too-believable tale of the first woman cosmonaut to reach space. A Handmaid’s Tale-esque account of a present day where witch trials never went out of style. An alternate past where Hitler was diverted from the course that eventually saw him rise to power and orchestrate the largest genocide in recorded history. An alternate history where an Andalusian polymath invented the glider and gave birth to a future utterly unlike that which we know today.

Continue reading “Review: Tales from Alternate Earths 2”

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Cyberpunk Is Evolving

I recently stumbled across an article that sums up what some people have been noticing for a while: cyberpunk is becoming increasingly distorted by its transition into the cultural mainstream.

Cyberpunk was sci-fi for those who saw the power of the computer, its mounting ability to overtake everything personal (attention, time, privacy), and were bracing for impact. It was speculative fiction for everyone wary of the growing influence of massive corporations and ready to be leaders in the technological rebellion.
To reflect this, cyberpunk’s protagonists—the personalities that would become the face of the genre—were uniformly disobedient.

Continue reading “Cyberpunk is Evolving”

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Cover of Dial D for Deadman by Barry J Hutchison

Dial D for Deadman is a superbly executed hybrid: part noir detective novel, part paranormal mystery, part comedy. The action takes place on a popular interstellar crossroads called Parloo, in the gritty, downtrodden surface city known to its inhabitants as Down Here.

Our hero is Dan Deadman, deceased detective at large. Between ne’er-do-wells opening portals to the Malwhere, interdimensional amnesiacs, and a missing-persons case with an exceptionally gory twist, Dan quickly finds himself up to his eyeballs in trouble.

At times like this, he’d give his left nut to be a real detective. If he still had nuts.

Continue reading “Review: Dial D for Deadman”

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Cover of Thrill Kings: The Shaftway by Rik Ty

A short story about an inter-dimensional rescue worker who gets skunked by the otherworldly creature he’s trying to rescue, Thrill Kings: The Shaftway might be best described as Lovecraftian science fiction. And as such, it brilliantly succeeds.

Protagonist Nonstop corners a small, furry, brownie-shaped creature in a ruined warehouse and sends it back to its home dimension– but not before the terrified creature gases him with something unpleasant and highly hallucinogenic. What follows is a harrowing climb out of a ruined elevator shaft while our hero struggles in the grip of an incredibly bad trip.

Author Rik Ty has a unique writing style that lends itself well to this futuristic scifi-Lovecraft blend, and his descriptions are, as Nonstop would say, ‘ace.’ Here are a couple of my favorites.

Nonstop revved and drew nearer. The Inter-D looked like a bath mat, like a bath-mat-cake, or a brownie, or a cake-loaf, or something else that was low and thick with a top coating of acorns. He guessed its sustained speed to be about seven miles an hour, which, in his opinion, was respectable for a rectangle.

The moonlight, the beautiful moonlight, showed herself in several shafts of low light haze, which streamed down from holes in the ceiling and seemed to announce: “Here: take a closer look at some old file cabinets.”

These evocative descriptions and their subtle humor are the icing on the cake of a truly excellent weird scifi short story. If you haven’t picked up a copy for yourself, what are you waiting for?

Thrill Kings: The Shaftway and Thrill Kings: The Size Of Minneapolis Upright are available on Amazon and will be free every Saturday in October 2018. Check out author Rik Ty’s website for more info about this promising series.

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Over the last week I’ve been fleshing out some new ideas for the sequel to Necrotic City. Some have asked “But what happens to the city?” and this is for them. It’s also for all the people Adrian left behind. I’m really excited about this project and I hope you will be too!

Continue reading “Necrotic City: The Sequel”

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Cover of Stormhaven Rising by Eric Michael Craig

In the wake of the discovery of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, the United States government scrambles to contain the news before it can spark a panic– but some secrets are too big to keep. Soon they aren’t the only ones rushing to devise countermeasures.

Their most viable competitors are the Chinese, and a global megacorporation to end all megacorporations: Stormhaven, founded and run by uber wealthy reclusive genius Colton Taylor. (Think Elon Musk, but considerably more altruistic and an all-around decent human being.)

Set in a near future where the US Department of Defense and NASA have only become more encumbered by bureaucratic gridlock (and in NASA’s case, insufficient funding,) private sector technologies have evolved leaps and bounds beyond that of the public sector. As such, Taylor’s Stormhaven may be the only real hope Earth has. There’s just one problem: private spaceflight is strictly forbidden, not just in the US, but on a global scale. In light of the strained political climate of impending doom, the last thing the US government wants to do is grant Stormhaven permission to reach space.

The tense and at times disastrous narrative that evolves from this situation is equal parts grim and inspiring. Stormhaven Rising represents an interesting blend of genres: part political thriller, part hard scifi, and part impending disaster. Together they make for a fun and fascinating read.

Continue reading “Review: Stormhaven Rising”

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Weathered old building at a relay site. Photo by Nocturnal Lynx Photography

What follows is the first chapter of a new work in progress called Interference. It has yet to be seen whether this will wind up being a short story or something longer, but right now my money is on something longer.

  Content warning for brief references to torture and grievous bodily injury.

Kay’s treads just weren’t made for off-road travel. After nearly losing his balance and sliding back down a particularly rocky slope, the battered librarian climbed to his feet and took stock of his surroundings.

Rocky soil stretched up the rutted trail in front of him, framed on either side by scrubby alder and arctic birch. Ahead, over the shoulder of the hill, the antennas of a radio tower farm stretched into the cloudy sky. Kay removed a crushed alder leaf that had become caught in the hinge of his right elbow and allowed himself a moment to stare longingly at the antenna array, lost in its hypnotic song.

Continue reading “Interference, Chapter 1: Kay”

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Conflict ahead sign

Let’s talk believable antagonists and realistic sources of conflict.

I’m not going to get into the four types of conflict, or six, or however many it is now. I am going to talk about creating a believable antagonistic force, rather than one of those cardboard caricature, source-of-all-evil bad guys.

The concept of a having one person be the source of all of a story’s conflict has always seemed overly simple to me. Either the antagonist has help, or the protagonist’s problems are going to be disappointingly simple to solve. A lone enemy, unaided, is easy to overcome.

Continue reading “Antagonistic Forces”

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