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Mil Spec SF May 9, 2019

Posted by bobv451 in alt history, contest, e-books, education, End of the World, Free, sci-fi, science fiction, sense of wonder, space.
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Here’s a full writeup on the Military SF Story Bundle. But before you get to reading about it, a small contest. What’s my favorite military SF novel (other than RAH’s Starship Troopers)? Be the first to post it here and you get this free story bundle…

TARGETS LOCKED – THE MILITARY SF BUNDLE

Targets Locked – The Military SF Bundle – Curated by Kevin J. Anderson
Aliens are invading. The human race is in danger. The galaxy is facing countless threats. It’s time to call out the troops, send in the space marines, muster the galactic fleet. And you get to read it all.

Bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson has curated a gigantic new Military SF StoryBundle, TARGETS LOCKED, with a dozen action-packed titles, all for immediate download into your e-reader, and you name your own price. This bundle includes THREE boxed sets and one omnibus, for a total of 25 big tales to enjoy.

Anderson’s contribution, Three Military SF Novellas, contains three complete short novels, “Comrades in Arms,” “Escape Hatch,” and “Prisoner of War” (the authorized sequel to Harlan Ellison’s classic Outer Limits episode “Soldier”…inspiration for James Cameron’s The Terminator).
There’s also a boxed set of the first three novels in bestselling author Robert Lynn Asprin’s hilarious Phule’s Company series, the fast-paced spoof where a disgraced company tries to hold a planet (or two) together.
Gladiator by Jonathan Brazee is the first book in the Women of the United Federation Marines series, genetically modified human champions who save entire planets by fighting against alien opponents.
Devils and Black Sheep by CS Ferguson: After unknowingly stealing a priceless cargo, the last of a once-infamous pirate crew must escape privateers, mercenaries, a legendary lawman, an enigmatic spymaster, and the ruthless government agents of the Inquisition.
The Bad Company by Craig Martelle: Humanity’s greatest export—justice.
The ZOO: Soldiers of Fame and Fortune by Michael Todd and Michael Anderle: Two complete boxed sets—eight novels! They weren’t wonderful people, but they fought and died in that alien area of the Sahara known as the ZOO.
Biowarriors: Infinity Plague by Bob Vardeman: Its release means the destruction of all humankind—but does anyone want to stop the Infinity Plague?
Clad in Steel by Kevin McGlaughlin: His parents were killed before his eyes during an alien attack, but the hate Owen has harbored ever since might turn out to be his greatest enemy.
Cold War by Julia Vee: Against impossible odds, the Union Wolves must make unthinkable sacrifices to give humanity one last shot at survival.
Gehenna Dawn by Jay Allan: Jake Taylor was sent to hell to fight and die…but he refused to die.
Tales of B-Company by Chris Porteau: A group of wisecracking commandos fights for independence from the despotic Transport Authority in Michael Bunker’s bestselling Amish Sci-Fi world of PENNSYLVANIA.
New Star Rising by Tracy Cooper-Posey: A generations-old war will engulf all known worlds and free states, unless a hero is found who can hold the line against the two colossal forces.

That should keep your pulse racing and your imagination stoked. TARGETS LOCKED! And a portion of the money from this StoryBundle goes to support the

    Challenger Learning Center for Space Science Education

. – Kevin J. Anderson

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.
The Bad Company Book One: Age of Expansion by Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle
Portal Wars 1: Gehenna Dawn by Jay Allan
Cold War: Alien Incursion by Julia Vee and Ken Bebelle
Three Military SF Novellas by Kevin J. Anderson
If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus NINE more, which include three boxed sets and an omnibus as well!
Tales of B-Company – The Complete Collection by Chris Pourteau
Gladiator by Jonathan P. Brazee
Devils & Black Sheep by C. S. Ferguson
Clad In Steel by Kevin McLaughlin
Soldiers of Fame and Fortune: Vol 1-4 by Michael Todd and Michael Anderle
Soldiers of Fame and Fortune: Vol 5-8 by Michael Todd and Michael Anderle
Biowarriors #1: The Infinity Plague by Robert E. Vardeman
The Indigo Reports – Story 1: New Star Rising by Tracy Cooper-Posey
Phule’s Company Volumes 1-3 Boxed Set by Robert Lynn Asprin

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.
● Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
● Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
● Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
● Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to The Challenger Center for Space Education!
● Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!
StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.
For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

Military SF Bundle

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Dark Western Trilogy May 1, 2019

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, Haiti, history, New Mexico, outlaws, weird westerns, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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It’s been a long time since I dropped a few lines here. Release of a boxed set of my (as Jackson Lowry) dark westerns for a bargain price (!) prompted me to pass along the official release blurb and to urge you to spend a buck and get all creeped out!

OFFICIAL BLURB FOR PUNISHED: A DARK WESTERN BOXED SET

BOOK ONE: UNDEAD
The day the Yankees came and took everything from wealthy landowner Vincent Bayonne was a day he’d never forget—how could he live with the uncertainty of not knowing what happened to his wife and children? Forced to watch as his plantation was burned to the ground by one of the slaves, Bayonne has sunk to the bottom of the barrel. A drunkard who has only his consuming hatred to sustain him, he makes his way from Louisiana to San Francisco, barely managing to survive on the Barbary Coast.
Just when he thinks he has nothing to live for, he discovers that William Sherman, the former slave who torched his home, is alive and well—and Sherman bears a hatred for his former master to match Bayonne’s. When Sherman bests Bayonne in a fight, the once-wealthy Southerner wakes up in a coffin, prepared for a fate he could never have imagined.
Hatred fuels Bayonne’s survival, but Sherman has cursed his nemesis with powerful voodoo magic that dooms him to an eternity of only half-living in the twilight existence of a zombie. Can an old Chinaman provide the answers Bayonne needs to survive in the world of the UNDEAD?

BOOK TWO: NAVAJO WITCHES
Vincent Bayonne has gone from wealthy Louisiana plantation owner to penniless drunk in a very short time. But that’s not all. William Sherman, the ex-slave who put the torch to Bayonne’s beloved plantation, Dark Oaks, has done the unspeakable. Sherman, a voodoo priest, has placed a curse on Bayonne and made him one of the undead—living, but not truly alive.
The elusive Dr. Glencannon is the only man who can stave off the sense-dulling effects of the curse with his elixir—but Bayonne is always one step behind him. A young Navajo boy tells Bayonne his uncle, Begay, can help—but for a price—killing the skinwalker that has been terrorizing the Navajo people.
Though Bayonne resents having to hunt the supernatural shapeshifter, there is no choice for him. For Begay, true to his word, concocts a potion that holds the zombie traits at bay and allows Bayonne to do what he must do—including hunting the skinwalker.
As Bayonne stalks the skinwalker, he makes a surprising discovery. Will he be able to kill the beast? And can he make it back to New Orleans in time to meet the Queen of the Cape when William Sherman comes ashore?

BOOK THREE: BAYOU VOODOO
Hanged twice, but still . . . undead.
Vincent Bayonne’s luck may have run out at last. The former plantation owner must find William, the freed slave who placed the zombie curse on him, if he wants to avoid the unholy fate of a living death. To reach William in New Orleans, he makes his perilous way across the untamed American frontier while escaping from US Army patrols, dodging lawmen and railroad detectives after the reward on his head, and trying not to get killed by those who hate him because of his cruel rule over Dark Oaks Plantation.
Bayonne’s quest for revenge is now a fight for sheer survival. The medicine he needs to hold back the slow coarsening of his body and mind, turning him into a zombie, is long gone. His only hope is to find William, and to do that he must first get Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, to befriend him. His only allies are a beautiful woman from his past and his own incredible strength while under the curse. With the choice of becoming totally undead or begging those he hates most for aid, Bayonne plunges into the darkest recesses of black magic, hoping for a cure—and redemption.

Check it out (and the other fine fictional tidbits at Sundown Press:

Like Tears in Rain April 22, 2018

Posted by bobv451 in computers, science fiction, sense of wonder, steampunk, weird westerns, writing, zeppelin.
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I keep thinking of a favorite scene from my favorite SF movie, Bladerunner. Rutger Hauer is a replicant, dying and bemoaning the resulting loss of all his knowledge and experience. That has always struck me as poignant. Thinking on it and the recent death of longtime friend and collaborator Martin Cameron intensifies the sense of loss.

Martin (Bucky for the 40 years or so I knew him) was a wonderful artist, but he had also edited a racing magazine and was providing incredible technical support in just about any modern artistic tool for our MAJOR ARCANIUM GAZETTE project. He did layout as well as the artwork because he had the experience. For years he worked on video games at Lucas, designing the Star Wars fighters in a couple games. He gave me a tour of Skywalker Ranch. But he was also an anime fanatic, knew Japanese pop culture and windsurfing. And the gig as editor of Wheels magazine came because of his time on the racing circuit, both as a mechanic and driver. I was always fascinated by his casual tales of how, as a kid, he didn’t think there was anything odd about finding Dan Gurney asleep on the front room sofa. Gurney and Bucky’s dad were great friends.

He was such a ball of energy, and now that energy is gone. Along with it, his artistic skill, insight and experiences unique to him. We’re all filled with our own unique skills and events that have shaped us, but death eradicates them forever. It seems such a waste, losing the knowledge–and friendship.

I am missing him a lot, as a friend and unique human being with sharp, clever ideas and a skewed outlook on the world.

(c) 2018 Martin G. Cameron

LARP September 24, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in alt history, conventions, fantasy, ghost towns, New Mexico, science fiction, sense of wonder, steampunk.
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The Steampunk Spectacular NM 6 was held in Madrid, a former coal mining town amid a touch of rain and a lot of enthusiasm. The subtheme was OZ, giving the usual steampunk cosplay an added dash of whimsy. I’m not too good estimating numbers but I’d guess that about 100 people showed up for the daylong celebration of … having fun. This is the thing that pleased me most. Everyone was smiling, enjoying themselves and no one complaining that others weren’t PC. This will change as it has in sf fandom, I am sure, but for now it is a wonderful escape.

Part of the festivities included a LARP (Live Action Role Playing) detailing how an evial French spy killed off a mine full of robber barons using a coherer (a device to remotely trigger the explosion) and steal a special time crystal. I wanted to play and wandered in, only to be asked if I wanted to be the killer. Well, yes, of course, I said. I became Edward Branley, mass murderer and railroad clacker. And French spy who killed his entire revanche. Of all those taking part, some 30 people, I could lie during questioning. Typecasting, I am sure. After being interrogated by this living theater, I was exposed as the villain. Curses, foiled again. The winner got a nice prize and I was awarded a book detailing nifty 19th century mechanical devices. The LARP was a great way of mingling and seeing others, though the interacting tended to be in role playing of role playing. Great work writing the scenario and fun working through it.

After a day of enjoyment, I started the 50 mile drive home. Sunset, crimson fire to the west over coal black mountains. Far south, cumulonimbus clouds still caught in bright sunlight. In the rearview mirror, lightning from a storm overtaking me. Ahead, empty road, dark as a desolate shot from LOST HIGHWAY and Pink Floyd’s “Time” playing on the radio. High beams cast along two hundred yards, reflecting back nothing but markers on either side of the winding road. It was surreal.

The writers and purveyors of the Steampunk Spectacular Murder Mystery LARP 2017. Thank you!

Brands and otherwise August 13, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in business, conventions, New Mexico, science fiction, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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Writing westerns requires some knowledge of cattle brands. Not much, really, but enough to sound authentic. I have a great deal of fun coming up with ranches sporting such brands as the Rolling J. But writing has changed from merely thinking about such things and dealing with them every day. A different type of brand is needed now.

Publishers don’t promote (or advertise) much anymore, so it is up to the author to deal with this important aspect of writing. What good does it do to write the best novel ever in the history of the universe only to have it ignored? Advertising, promotion–and creating a brand for yourself. All are integral to sales now.

Some things seem obvious but aren’t. There are a lot of reasons to go to a convention. Attending as a fan is entirely different from going as a writer. How you dress, how you act, your entire persona is the face you are putting not only on yourself but your work. This is part of the author’s brand (and I’m not necessarily talking about that tramp stamp). You don’t have to be staid and sober (I’d say, sober as a judge but this is Abq and such things are rare here) unless that’s the image and fiction you are peddling. Enjoy yourself but don’t get falling down drunk or insult people unless you can do it in a humorous way not likely to get you sued or punched out. Even then….

Bubonicon is coming up. Come to my panels, come to my autographing (got lots of new titles!), see how I approach the idea of strengthening my brand. So you’ll recognize me, here’s a picture taken recently in New Orleans.

White Oaks and the Drain Plug July 23, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in Billy the Kid, education, ghost towns, history, New Mexico, nostalgia, outlaws, westerns, Wild West.
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It’s no secret that New Mexico is circling the drain in many ways, fiscally, population, jobs, education. Small towns are dying and it’s as if someone folded the state in the middle, the cities and towns on the east and west rolling to the crease that is the Rio Grande Rift. Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces are becoming the only populated places in the state.

That’s why I was delighted to see the small town of White Oaks down in Lincoln County giving a shot at putting in the drain plug by getting folks (ie, tourists) into their town, if only for an afternoon. The population is 70 and is situated in gorgeous terrain in the Sacramento Mts, near Ruidoso and oozing with history from the Lincoln County War to serious gold mining. There is a cenotaph in the cemetery memorializing one of the deputies Bill the Kid murdered (James W. Bell’s body is there somewhere–they don’t know where, so…). The last mine in town was a tungsten mine. The special occasion was the reinstatement after 40 years of a tribute potluck dinner for

David Jackson
His acceptance in the town so long ago is especially noteworthy because the first black to ride into White Oaks was hanged as a horse thief. David Jackson was the second and became a pillar of the community and brought electricity to Carrizozo, the county seat 12 miles away.

After the potluck at a very nice former schoolhouse turned museum, we got a tour of the town, including a soon-to-be-open bed and breakfast, a pre-1900 house with copper shingles and the town’s main draw now, the No Scum Allowed Saloon. Here’s a picture (Lorene Mills, photo):

IMG_3365

If You Ever Want to See Your Cute Little Data Again… July 2, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in business, computers, Free.
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Ransomware. Kinda. I got pulled into a scam cum ransomware nightmare the other day because I wanted to clean up the links on my computer. Some were 404s, some worked but I no longer cared about–those got deleted. I hit one that might have been lurking for more than 5 years and…

Sirens! Dire warning that if I turned off the computer it would turn into a brick when I rebooted. Zeus Virus! I would be responsible for bringing down Microsoft! (Really–it said that) Call the Microsoft number at the bottom. Just to get rid of the strident noise by means other than turning down the speakers looked beneficial. I called. Not exactly a “hello, we’re Microsoft” but intimated as much. I spoke with my new best friend Stephanie in Mumbai (neither the name given nor where I was calling, I suspect–this is a generic name I use for tech support) who assured me if I did not take care of the virus by letting her assume control of my computer it would bring down the entire Microsoft network. It snuck in under my anti-virus programs, under the firewall, over my head like the Sword of Damocles.

While bringing down the mighty Microsoft might not be a bad idea, it struck me I wasn’t talking to anyone at Microsoft and pointed questions to this effect always sidled away–”we work as subcontractors to Microsoft.” To save my precious computer, whose operating system would be toast (and, guilt-inducingly, the entire MS network) if I didn’t comply, all I had to do was fork over $350.

I only paid $350 for the computer a few years ago. Getting up a new browser tab, I moved what data I could to a flashdrive. All the while my new best friend Stephanie in Mumbai was shouting for me not to do it, I was going to crash Microsoft. And if I had any other computers attached to the wifi network, they were infected, too. I doubted iOS on my iPad was in danger, but…

Against mnbfSiM’s exhortations, I turned off the computer, rebooted and got rid of the siren and strident warning. Ran Avast and found 2 deeply hidden viruses and expunged them. Then discovered every penny I pay for Avast is worth it. There is a subroutine that automatically protects data from ransomware (and can be configured for any folder). I hadn’t known that before. Avast is awesome. It’s worth paying for. Anti-virus. Firewall. Go for it. I am doubly glad I did, even if the ransomware demand was somewhat oblique and depended on me being doubly dumb, not only handing over remote control of my computer but also giving my credit card number.

Avast. It’s free. But the for-pay upgrade is necessary in this day and age. (And, as far as I know, kept the entire Microsoft network from crashing).

Avast

Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men… June 25, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in alt history, e-books, fantasy, nostalgia, sense of wonder, serial fiction, Tom Swift, Uncategorized, writing.
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…The Shadow does, of course. I enjoy the old timey pulp fiction for the sheer bravado of the pieces. Logic takes second place to daring fights and even more thrilling escapes. What better combination could there be in a mashup than The Shadow and Doc Savage?

That’s what Will Murray delivered in The Sinister Shadow. An epic battle of titans here, Doc and his “don’t shoot to kill” philosophy and The Shadow blazing away with his twin .45s, killing bad guys left, right and center. The plot deals more with The Shadow than Doc, with some of the alter egos being threatened by the vile Funeral Director. (OK, not as scary as it might be for a villain’s name, but it is descriptive). Lamont Cranston’s niece is kidnapped and threatened and so are several of The Shadow’s henchmen. And along the way Ham Brooks is nabbed, too, but that hardly seemed a bump in the rocky road of bitter fruit of crime.

Murray is undoubtedly knowledgeable as all get out about the pulp characters, but this one seemed strained to me. The good guys have to be at odds with one another (another case in point is Time Bomb, a Hardy Boys/Tom Swift mashup in Ultra Thriller #1.  That there was only a #2 and no more shows how poorly it was received). In the case of Doc and The Shadow, it is more antagonistic and pits lawful vs vigilante. It doesn’t work, not exactly. Fun going along but this is less a Doc Savage book than a Shadow adventure. The Pat Savage book struck me the same way–give me Doc and the fearless 5. The others are minor characters.

Enjoy this one for what it is: A retro plot written in 2015. But the originals are better. (And Murray’s other Doc Savages I’ve read are better, too. His Doc Savage: Skull Island is great, a mashup of Doc and King Kong. But I understand the temptation of having two of the most iconic crime fighters in all pulpdom dancing from your keyboard…)

Time Is Not On Your Side June 18, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in business, death, e-books, ideas, money, sci-fi, science fiction, serial fiction, Uncategorized, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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Tick. Tick. Tock. Cuckoo clock chimes. The weights descend and you are out of time. All a writer (or any of us) has is time. That’s the commodity to hoard and covet and use to its fullest extent.

I come up with a never-ending flood of ideas. That’s not a problem of “What next?” When I get down to writing, there’s not a writer’s block to be seen. No problemo. What is harder is choosing among the ideas to work on next because there is so little time and triage has to be done.

Looking back on 40+ years of writing, I mostly wouldn’t change things, but maybe, perhaps, kinda, one tactic stands out that should have been modified. Writing series books (ie, Jake Logan, Trailsman, Nick Carter) is fun and it paid a lot of bills. But none of those books is mine. I can’t put up new ebook editions or take them down or do anything. They belong to the publisher and are forever deadwood to me. Filling some of the time spent writing so many with my own work would have been a smarter move. I know writers of prodigious output who own almost no titles of their own–they did too many work-for-hires. As a result they have only a handful of titles under their control, ie, to make money now as opposed to when it was written.

Write what you need to stay alive. It’s tough out there and always has been. But do as much of your own as you can. It’s yours and there is never enough time to do “just one more.” Time’s arrow will pierce you and once gone from the quiver, time cannot be recovered.

In case you want some sf about relativity….

Of Cyber and Sound June 11, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in business, review, sense of wonder, Uncategorized, writing.
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Mario Acevedo sent me an honest-to-Ghu dead tree copy of Cyber World, Tales of Humanity’s Tomorrow. It is, as the title suggests, cyberpunk. I’m not much of a cyberpunk reader, and many of the stories herein remind me why. The stories are well done, literate and mostly leave me feeling depressed. The mark of a good story is to elicit a reaction, but the drumbeat of down is a bit much for me to take at a reading, which is the way I tried this anthology. In the afternotes there’s an explanation of what editors Jason Heller and Joshua Viola were looking for. Mixing magic realism with cyberpunk is an experiment that didn’t work for me. Give me the good ole timey noir.

I used to read horror. I don’t anymore. Got too dark. Steampunk is more to my liking as a subgenre since it can be upbeat, have heroes … and stories that have a conclusion. Too many modern short stories leave me hanging, as if I lost the last page. “Lady or the Tiger” works fine–once. I don’t mind doing the work to come up with my own endings, and sometimes (!) they are better than what’s there. The stories that simply dangle make me feel cheated out of the author’s notion of what the story ought to be. And this collection is darker than I want to deal with right now. Too much dystopia in the real world for this to be either an escape or series of cautionary tales.

One clever marketing technique with this book alone might make it worth getting. A CD of what I’d call EDM/electronica is included and most listenable. In today’s world differentiating your book from the pack is hard. This works to accomplish that. I’d never heard any of the groups, but Scandroid has 3 songs of the 7 and give songs that are great to work to.