My short story, The Elixary of the Evanescent Market, has been published on Podcastle in both written and audio formats! It’s an adventure fantasy about a girl protecting her potion shop, available in full here.
Train to Busan: Using the Action of a Zombie Horror Movie to Drive the Protagonist’s Character Journey
I saw Train to Busan trending on Twitter, because apparently there’s going to be an American remake. The praise for the original Korean version prompted me to check it out. And it is really, really good. Uncommonly good.
A lot of horror stories don’t work for me. The ones that do usually have powerful character work or social commentary. And Train to Busan has both.
The action of the movie facilitates the protagonist’s transformation. He starts as a man used to looking out for himself, as an absent father who loves his daughter from an emotional distance. His journey takes him from encouraging his daughter to be selfish, to taking risks for people that’ve taken risks for him, to a final reckoning that leads him to the result of everything he’s been. There are scenes where he ends up seeing his past behavior in a different light or facing a mirror of his past actions.
Where his character’s journey ends up feels very right to me. It’s the culmination of what he’s done that he can’t take back and the growth he’s exhibited over the course of the movie. Even though it’s not spoken, we can feel him tangling with all of his regrets once that moment comes for him.
As for the social commentary, some of it translates–the treatment of certain people as expendable is pretty universal–but this is a Korean film, so I’m sure there’s plenty that’s going over my head. It still feels cohesive from my Western perspective, but I don’t want to talk too much about it without the appropriate context.
Overall, Train to Busan is definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.
Giving Away Free Post-Apocalyptic Urban Fantasy Short Story
I’ve been wanting to give something away–partly because it’s a tumultuous time and I hope it might have even a small positive effect on someone’s mental health. Partly because I’d like to put something out before my next book release (which is looking like early 2021).
So Ambush Predators is available for free from most major retailers (except Amazon, who haven’t price-matched it yet–but you can get a kindle-compatible digital download here instead.)
Mythical carnivores that prey on humans…and the researchers who study them.
New graduate student Jordan begins her first field expedition to study Italy’s legendary animals, under the supervision of her mentor Gabriela. But being on the frontlines of discovery with these mysterious, dangerous animals comes with risks. Will Jordan learn to survive the local Roman monsters? Or will she join the countless others who’ve lost their lives to this unexplained legendary infestation?
This short story is set in the world of Terrestrial Magic.
Pre-Publication Urban Fantasy Web Serials I’m Currently Following
I’m following along with the publication of two web serials by veteran urban fantasy authors, and I thought I’d share while they’re running:
Cursed Luck by Kelley Armstrong
Kelley Armstrong has dozens of books across the fantasy and mystery/thriller genres, including a long history of urban fantasy. In Cursed Luck, she introduces us to a new setting, featuring the curse weaver Kennedy–who runs her own antiques shop in Boston, as she tries to ply the family trade on her own.
Kennedy’s minding her own business, until a whole slew of supernaturals turn up hunting an infamous cursed item–and turn to Kennedy’s family to uncurse it. By abducting her sisters. (Obviously, she’d not letting that stand.)
I’ve been enjoying how the protagonist draws lines for what she won’t tolerate. I’m not fully caught up–I tend to like getting a bit of a backlog so I can read several parts of these kinds of series in one go–but what I’ve read so far has been a fun story.
Ryder by Ilona Andrews (I think the title is temporary?)
This story is set in the same universe as the authors’ Kate Daniels series, following one of the side characters after she’d had time to grow up. In a post-apocalyptic Atlanta with alternating waves of magic and tech, Ryder’s returning home after a long absence.
She can’t actually contact most of her family for world-building reasons and she looks completely different, which leads to an interesting dynamic–she’s back in the city where she grew up, she’s meeting a lot of people that she knows already, but all of them think they’re strangers. That’s an intriguing dynamic to watch unfold.
The story has only started kicking off with her getting into her investigations, but it’s promising, and I’m really enjoying it so far. You might have to use the search bar to find all the parts, but they’re clearly labeled.
Ninth House: An Unforgiving, Gritty Look at Power Dynamics
You may have heard some of the discussion about this book, the heavy topics that it deals with. Trigger warnings that people have mentioned. So I will say upfront that, yes, this book tackles some uncomfortable topics. I’d advise anyone interested to look up those trigger warnings beforehand, just so you know what you’re getting into.
That said, I found this to be a powerful story about power dynamics. About how power is used and how it’s abused. And about an angry protagonist who’s been burned by the world reclaiming some of that power. Continue reading “Ninth House: An Unforgiving, Gritty Look at Power Dynamics”
Girl Genius’ Epic Mad Science Steampunk Adventures Introduce Underground Libraries and Underwater Science Labs
Girl Genius continues to be one of the more fascinating adventure stories I’ve ever read. This web comic series has been putting out one new page three times a week since…what, 2002? And it keeps adding new fascinating setting and characters, revealing new dimensions to information first introduced over a decade ago. But despite the epic plot, the humor is perfect to keep the tone of the story lighthearted.
A Smart, Practical Heroine Surrounded by Chaos
I really do love Girl Genius. Especially its creative, practical (but sometimes absentminded) protagonist Agatha, who just wants to do right by the people relying on her. And create wonderful inventions that, contrary to expectations, don’t result in mass murder.
Agatha understands the family legacy–both the evil overlord vibe her ancestors had going and the heroism of her father and uncle–but rejects all of those things as a model for herself. I especially appreciate how she refuses to cut ties with her family’s creations just for the sake of public perception. Continue reading “Girl Genius’ Epic Mad Science Steampunk Adventures Introduce Underground Libraries and Underwater Science Labs”
Happy 2020: Round-up for Innkeeper Series and Sagas of Sundry’s Dread
Happy New Year, everyone!
To start off 2020, two things to potentially check out:
Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews
The next installment of Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper series is currently running as a web series prior to its official release as per usual with this series. This is an urban fantasy/sci-fi about the Innkeeper Dina, who runs a magical inn that acts as a waystation and point of neutrality for aliens (some werewolf and vampire-like) from space.
I don’t know that I’d recommend this as a starting point for newcomers, though. The beginning very much feels like it builds on the action of the previous stories.
Sagas of Sundry: Dread
I’ve written about this show before (Sagas of Sundry: Dread, and the Chilling, Psychological Story of Five Friends Haunted by their Experiences)–but back then, the series was behind a paywall. Now, it’s migrated to YouTube.
Since the 6-part story is newly accessible, I thought it was worth pointing out again. Here’s a few excerpts of what I’d written about it before.
Genre: Mystery/supernatural/horror web series/RPG Continue reading “Happy 2020: Round-up for Innkeeper Series and Sagas of Sundry’s Dread”
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Titles
I was super surprised to discover I’d never actually done a list for this topic before? And since That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday is having a free topic, now is a great time to remedy that. Including all of the covers would defeat the purpose of having the titles stand on their own, so this post will have to do without.
Titles can do a lot to pique our interest, but it is genuinely hard to pull off even when the author/marketing team wants to–because often it’s more important to have the title match the genre and brand. I find that very few titles stick out. These are the ones that really impressed me (please note that I haven’t read all of them yet):
Dead Witch Walking
Did I say that authors have to choose between cool titles and branding? Because here’s Kim Harrison, proving that’s not always the case. This is still the greatest urban fantasy title I’ve ever come across even over a decade post-publication. Continue reading “Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Titles”
Legendary Gives Us a Heroine Who Knows the Value of a Good Bluff
I reviewed the first book, Caraval, here.
Caraval is a magical carnival where participants compete to win a prize. At the previous Caraval, Scarlett competed to save her sister Tella and win their freedom. But Tella hasn’t shared all of her secrets, and those secrets will have her competing in the next Caraval–where she’ll have to choose who to save, and who to sacrifice.
In a way, Tella had been the hidden protagonist of Caraval. Scarlett might have been the narrator, but she was walking on a path that Tella laid out for her. Tella’s decisions drove the entire plot of the book. So it was super exciting to get the next book from her perspective, because though I like Scarlett, Tella has so much more agency.
And true to that promise, Legendary starts us off by revealing a whole heap of Tella’s secrets and motivations. She’d had access to way more information than we’d known (through the eyes of her sister) in the first book. And she’d tracked down that information because she’s been fighting fate for a long time now–and she’s not about to stop now. Continue reading “Legendary Gives Us a Heroine Who Knows the Value of a Good Bluff”
Suspense and Arcane Horror in Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Crystal Palace One-Shot from Critical Role
(The show starts around the 6-minute mark, as it doesn’t seem to be autoplaying from there properly.)
Victorian London is holding its annual cat show at the Crystal Palace–an exhibition center made of glass, now fallen into disrepair. It is under the guise of this event that six enterprising professionals are hired to “procure” an artifact from the closed portions of the building for a collector. A world-trotting explorer, an enterprising daughter of Japanese ambassadors, an archivist from the British Museum, an engineer previously employed by Edison, a spiritualist, and a veteran now employed by the gentlemen collector paying for this enterprise–all of these people venture into the depths of the Crystal Palace to find much more than what they were looking for.
A cross between historical fiction and arcane horror, this is a role-playing adventure with a cast of professional voice actors. And it’s awesome. Continue reading “Suspense and Arcane Horror in Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Crystal Palace One-Shot from Critical Role”