More inexpensive ebook goodies!


Not sure for how long, and this might be a glitch, but you can get your hands on the digital edition of R. Scott Bakker's The Unholy Consult for only 1.99$ here!

Here's the blurb:

In this shattering conclusion to The Aspect-Emperor books, praised for their “sweeping epic scale and detailed historical world building” (Grimdark Magazine), R. Scott Bakker delivers the series’ feverishly harrowing and long-awaited finish.

The Men of the Great Ordeal have been abandoned by Aspect-Emperor Anasurimbor Kellhus, and the formerly epic crusade has devolved into cannibalism and chaos. When Exalt-General Proyas, with the Imperial-Prince Kayutas at his side, attempts to control the lost Men and continue their march to Golgotterath, it rapidly becomes clear that the lost Lord-and-Profit is not so easily shaken from the mission.

When Sorweel, Believer-King of Sakarpus, and Serwa, daughter of the Aspect-Emperor, join the Great Ordeal they discover that the Shortest Path is not always the most obvious, or the safest. Souls, morals, and relationships are called into question when no one can be trusted, and the price for their sins is greater than they imagined.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download John Gwynne's Malice for only 2.50$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon.

Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage. The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms.

Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars. High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.

Extract from L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s THE MONGREL MAGE


Here's an extract from L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s upcoming The Mongrel Mage, courtesy of the author. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The Saga of Recluce chronicles the history of this world with world-building detail and an ingenious and disciplined magic system. L. E. Modesitt, Jr. returns to his longest and bestselling fantasy series with volume nineteen, The Mongrel Mage, which marks the beginning of a new story arc.

In the world of Recluce, powerful mages can wield two kinds of magic—the white of Chaos or the black of Order. Beltur, however, has talents no one dreamed of, talents not seen in hundreds of years that blend both magics.

On the run from a power hungry white mage, Beltur is taken in by Order mages who set him on the path to discover and hone his own unique gifts and in the process find a home.

However, when the white mage he fled attempts to invade his new home, Beltur must hope his new found power will be enough to save them all.

Enjoy!
------------------

As Beltur walked along the stone walk on the south side of the causeway extending from the gates to the city, he glanced down at young Scanlon, walking beside him, half-wishing he hadn’t needed to bring the boy with him, but there was no help for that, not if he wanted to keep the burnet he was seeking from spoiling too soon. Satisfied that the ten year old was having no trouble keeping pace, Beltur studied the low-lying fields that stretched almost a kay eastward from the main gates of Fenard before reaching the outer walls. Supposedly, the watergates in the outer walls and levees could be opened to allow the river, such as it was, to flood the fields, making them impassible to an armed force.

The only problem, reflected Beltur, was that much of the time, the Anard River was little more than a stream, unlike the River Gallos, into which it flowed all too many kays to the northeast. He’d never quite understood how a cubit or two of water over the paved causeway and the fields would be much of deterrent to a determined army, but then no one had asked him, and it was unlikely anyone who mattered would, or that they’d listen to a third-rate mage.

In the meantime, he needed to see if he could find enough burnet – just because Salcer hadn’t gathered enough before he’d left, and there was no one else to gather it. Not that the great white mage Kaerlyt could be bothered, nor even Sydon. Beltur swallowed his resentment, if he dared to do otherwise, especially given that Kaerlyt was not only a powerful mage, but also his uncle and the only one standing between Beltur and his possible conscription as a battle mage for the Prefect’s army. The very fact that the Prefect needed so much burnet meant trouble, since his principal use for it was as the main ingredient in a balm used to stop blood loss, and stockpiling the ingredients for that balm was a good indication that someone anticipated significant losses of blood.

As for Kaerlyt getting the burnet himself, well, if Beltur were to be fair, he had to admit that it wouldn’t have been the best idea to let his uncle or even Sydon anywhere near herbs, given that they both carried so much chaos that their touch would wilt the herbs largely to uselessness. But then, while yours has much less chaos, you still carry enough to spoil the herbs. It would just take longer, Beltur knew. Which was why Scanlon was accompanying him to the old herbalist’s gardens.

Beltur took a deep breath and kept walking, thinking of the old rhyme.

Blood from the blade, screams in the night,
Bind him with burnet, in dark or in light,
So blood doesn’t flow
And order won’t go.

Although it was early morning, with the sun barely above the low rolling hills farther to the east, Beltur had not only to squint against the light, but to blot his forehead. The summer day was going to be hot, as were most of the days leading to harvest, and the stillness of the air made it seem even warmer than it was. He had no doubt that he’d be soaked through with sweat by the time he and Scanlon returned, since Arylla’s cottage and gardens were more than a kay from the nearest gate in the outer walls.

“Why couldn’t we have hired a cart, ser?” asked Scanlon.

“Carts and horses cost silvers. Walking doesn’t. If you want your coppers, don’t complain.”

“Yes, ser.” Scanlon shifted the empty cloth bag from one shoulder to the other.

Roughly a half glass later, after walking from the outer gates along the wall, Beltur rapped on the weathered door of the small cottage, whose gardens spread behind it under the old outer wall of Fenard. The gardens contained no trees. By edict of the Prefect, no trees were permitted within half a kay of the wall, despite the fact that all that lay between the outer walls and the city walls were fields and pastures.

The door opened, and a wiry woman stood there, wearing brown trousers and a patched brown tunic. Beneath short brown hair strewn with occasional gray, black eyes focused skeptically on Beltur, looking up at him just slightly, not exactly a surprise because Beltur was somewhat on the short side, and more than a head shorter than his uncle.

“Good morning, Arylla,” offered Beltur with a cheer he did not entirely feel.

Arylla looked sourly at Beltur, then at Scanlon. She shook her head. “Brinn or burnet?”

“Burnet.”

“Makes no sense to me why Prefect Denardre put a white mage in charge of making balms.”

“You know as well as I do, Arylla.” Because the few healers in Fenard wouldn’t. “You won’t do it, either.”

“I could, but knowing why he wants it, I wouldn’t sleep for days.” She stepped back and motioned for the two to enter the cottage, then closed the door behind them, turning and walking toward a narrow doorway at the rear of the cottage.

“That doesn’t make sense to me,” Beltur replied. “You aren’t even a healer. Besides, how can making something that can save a man’s life be chaotic?”

Arylla stopped, her hand on the latch to the rear door. “War is chaos, especially if you don’t have to fight. It’s not like the Marshal or the Tryant are ever going to attack Gallos. Or even the Viscount for all his talk. As for those traders from Spidlar, they hate war. Bad for trade, they say. Anyway, I’ve only got enough left for one bag.”

“You have more than that,” pressed Beltur.

“I do. You take that, and there won’t be any come next summer.”

He could sense the truth of her words, and that meant Kaerylt wouldn’t be happy. But then, his uncle was seldom happy, and when he was, it wasn’t for long, or so it seemed to Beltur.

“You have a bag for me to put the leaves in?”

“Scanlon, give her the bag.”

“You haven’t touched the bag, have you, Beltur?”

“No, and it hasn’t been near Kaerlyt, either.”

“That’d be some small help. Wait here.” She paused after opening the door. “And I’d thank you not to touch anything.” Then she stepped outside, leaving the door half open.

As he waited, Beltur was glad they were inside, because the cottage was cooler than outside, if not by much, and they were out of the sun.

“She never lets us go with her,” said Scanlon.

“No. Herbalists are like that.” Except Beltur knew that Arylla had no problem with Scanlon, just with Beltur. She was protective of her plants and bushes. He couldn’t blame her.

“Brinn costs more, doesn’t it?”

“Usually.”

“Why doesn’t Mage Kaerylt want more of it?”

“It’s not what he wants. It’s what the Prefect wants.” And burnet was easier to grow or find than brinn, and a great deal less expensive. “The Prefect most likely has all the brinn he needs.” Enough for his officers, at least.

Scanlon did not ask any more questions.

Beltur waited and watched as Arylla cut the burnet, easing the long leaves with their ragged-looking edges into the bag. Despite her deft movements, the wait seemed to stretch into what seemed to be almost a glass, but was undoubtedly only a fraction of that, before Beltur could see Arylla returning. He stood back as the herbalist re-entered the cottage and closed the rear door.

She handed the bag, seemingly slightly more than half-full, to Scanlon, then looked to Beltur. “Half a silver, and a bargain at that. You got more than half a bag.”

Beltur extended the five coppers. “Thank you.”

“Still doesn’t make any sense to me,” murmured the herbalist, shaking her head, then adding in a louder voice, “You’d best be on your way. It won’t get any cooler if you wait.”

In moments, Beltur and Scanlon were walking back along the dusty road that paralleled the outer wall, puffs of dust rising from the mage’s white boots with each step he took. He was careful to keep enough distance from Scanlon so that he wouldn’t inadvertently brush the bag of burnet. The last thing he wanted was for anything to happen to the burnet because his uncle would immediately blame him.

When the two of them reached the open gates of the outer wall, one of the guards in the black uniform and leathers of Gallos looked at Beltur. “What’s in the bag, Mage?”

“Burnet. It’s an herb for healing.” When the guard looked skeptical, Beltur said to Scanlon, “Open the bag a little and show the guard.”

“Don’t bother.”

The other guard frowned. “Why the boy? The bag’s not that heavy.”

“Chaos wilts the herbs, and they won’t stop the bleeding as well.”

The second guard waved them through.

The causeway was even hotter than the road outside the walls had been, and Beltur blotted his forehead again. He hated to think what the city proper would be like by late afternoon.

Unlike the guards at the outer gates, neither of the two at the inner gates gave more than a glance to Beltur and Scanlon, perhaps because they were more interested in a peddler and his cart, and the young woman with him. Once inside the walls, Beltur glanced up at the clear greenish-blue sky, then dropped his eyes to the ancient stones of the old city wall, a wall that supposedly dated back to the time of Fenardre the Great. Certainly, he could sense the age, with the random chaos that coated the old ordered stone blocks of the wall.

With a small sigh, he turned his steps toward the Great Square, well beyond which was the stone dwelling he shared with his uncle and Sydon, Kaerlyt’s main assistant, and also a much stronger mage than Beltur. Then he adjusted his heavy off-white tunic, almost wishing that he didn’t have to wear it, because of the early heat of the day, and because it led people to think that he was a more powerful mage than he really was, as opposed to the weak white wizard he was. Who can sense and use a small amount of order as well. Then again, the white tunic did mean that he was less likely to be the victim of a cutpurse or other less savory types.

From somewhere drifted the acridness of burning wood and the more enticing aroma of fowl roasting. For a moment, he thought that it was too early for that… except it was already midmorning, and whoever was roasting the bird or birds wanted to have them ready by noon.

Beltur could feel his entire body tightening, the way he felt when there was a concentration of chaos somewhere nearby. He kept walking, slowly looking across the Great Square, taking in the various peddlers and their carts and stalls. His eyes paused at a stall that featured all manner of blades, in mainly knives, but he realized that was because one of the older blades, an ancient cupridium shortsword of some sort, seemed to contain chaos. For use against ordermages? Pushing that thought aside, he kept searching, both with his eyes and senses, past a vendor with a rack of scarves, whose voice carried across the square.

“The finest in Hamorian shimmersilk scarves, all the way from Cigoerne… the very finest!”

“Perhaps the finest since the vanished silks of Cyad, if that,” murmured Beltur to himself, as he continued to seek out the source of chaos, his eyes going beyond the silks peddler to a heavyset man with a cart piled high with melons of at least two types, who was so ordered that he couldn’t possibly be the source of the chaos. Nor would a mage with that much chaos be comfortable for long near the grower.

Beltur glanced back over his shoulder and saw no one, but he could definitely sense the chaos several yards behind him, which meant that the mage was holding a concealment. The unseen mage was also fairly close. Wondering whether the mage was just moving across the square without wanting to be seen, or if he just might possibly be following them, although Beltur couldn’t imagine why anyone that powerful would follow him, he said to Scanlon, “This way,” and then turned to his right, away from the scarf vendor and between the stall with the knives and another stall where a wizened woman in gray was setting out cloth bags that looked to be herbal or fragrance sachets, not that Beltur could smell the fragrances amid the heavier odors of fowl and bodies.

Scanlon glared at Beltur for a moment, but kept pace with the mage.

After passing several rows of vendors, Beltur changed direction again, back toward the north side of the square and the side street that would lead to the old stone dwelling where he studied and lived under Kaerlyt’s sufferance – and largely did his uncle’s bidding. Unhappily, the concealed chaos mage remained behind him, if slighter farther back, but still fairly close. That wasn’t surprising, given that Beltur was a weak white who didn’t hold that much free chaos near him, and most whites sought out chaos in sensing, possibly because many strong whites were practically order-blind. Given the power and the amount of chaos Beltur sensed around the other, there really wasn’t too much else that he could do except continue on… and raise his feeble shields if it appeared that the mage following them was going to attack.

Still worrying, Beltur and Scanlon turned onto the street that led home, or the only place Beltur could have called home in the ten years since his father’s death, since Beltur had no other relatives. He tried to stay on the east side, where there was still some shade. The street had no real name, but everyone called it Nothing Lane, because unlike Joiners Lane, Coopergate, Baggersway, or Silver Street, there was no particular shop or occupation represented along its narrow way, among them a small inn with a sign proclaiming it was the Brass Bowl, even though most regulars called the public room the “yellow bucket,” a cloth merchant, a fuller’s shop, and a number of narrow dwellings including that of Kaerylt, although his could have been said to be on Middle Street as well, since it was on the corner of Middle and Nothing.

Kaerylt hadn’t been pleased the one time that Beltur had referred to its location as ‘half-nothing.”

Strangely, after Beltur and Scanlon had gone two blocks toward Middle, still two blocks from home, the other mage had stopped, then turned back toward the Great Square. Beltur wasn’t sure what that meant, but he was glad the man hadn’t kept following them. He blotted his forehead again. Even so, sweat was still running down the side of his narrow face and into his eyes. He took a slow deep breath and kept walking.

As the two neared the end of the second block, Beltur found he wasn’t sweating as heavily. He was sure the shade helped, but he had been worried about the mage who had been seemingly trailing him. When he reached the heavy oak door, just one step above the uneven bricks of the sidewalk, he paused, then took out the heavy brass key and unlocked the door. The lock was heavy and crude, but it kept out casual thieves. Even Beltur could muster enough chaos to take care of those who were less casual, and Kaerylt never left traces – except ash – of those who were foolish enough to enter.

Once inside, he just slid the lockbolt, and blotted his forehead again. At least the stone house was cooler than outside, and would remain so until late afternoon, perhaps even longer. He motioned for Scanlon to lead the way to the storeroom, then followed, stopping outside the locked outer door. He used a touch of order to shift the stored chaos from the lock to the sealed cupridium box fastened to the rear of the door, then unlocked the door and opened it, stepping back and turning to the boy. “You know what to do.”

“Yes, ser.” Scanlon stepped forward and opened the second door, revealing the thin sheet of iron attached to the back side, moved forward.

Beltur watched from the hallway as Scanlon put the bag on the second shelf, beside several others there, then stepped back and closed the inner door on the small storeroom, the one place in the house that neither Beltur nor Kaerlyt ever entered, unlike the larger storeroom and work spaces farther back in the house. Although the larger storeroom was also locked in the same fashion, a double door was not required.

After Beltur closed and locked the outer door to the small storeroom, replacing the chaos, Scanlon looked to Beltur, with a trace of a grin. “Do I get my coppers, now?”

“When we get to your house. Not until. The same as always.”

“Mother will take them.” Scanlon offered a mournful expression. “She always does.”

“We’ll see.” Beltur hid a smile.

The two made their way from the building that was both dwelling and workplace back out onto Nothing Lane, crossing Middle Street, and hurrying slightly to avoid a dray being driven too fast by a young-looking teamster, before entering the fourth door on the east side of the lane, over which was a signboard of sorts that displayed two baskets, rather the halves of two baskets, because displaying a complete basket would have been an invitation to theft as soon as it was completely dark.

In the small room behind the door stood a sturdy dark-haired woman with a worried face, concentrating on weaving osier shoots into a small basket. She looked up.

“We’re back, Therala.”

Therala looked to her son. “Were you good?”

“He was quite good.” Beltur nodded, then extracted the three coppers from his wallet and handed two of them to Scanlon, keeping the third hidden.

In turn, Therala held out her hand.

With a grimace and a sigh, Scanlon handed the coins to his mother.

“Your father needs help with the osier shoots.”

“I’ll go with him,” said Beltur. “I need to ask Zandyl about a basket-weave belt.”

“He doesn’t like to make those.” Therala shrugged. “Talk to him if you want.”

“It can’t hurt.” Beltur managed a rueful smile, then turned to follow Scanlon, who trudged toward the rear workroom. Just before they reached the archway into the workroom, Beltur slipped the last copper into Scanlon’s hand, murmuring, “Not a word.”

The boy managed not to grin, then said to the man at the workbench, “Ma said you needed me.”

“About – ” Zandyl broke off his words as he looked up and saw Beltur. “Didn’t know you were here, Mage.”

“Therala said you weren’t too keen on doing woven belts.”

“Basketweave anything for the right price.”

“I thought a woven belt might last longer than a leather one.”

“It true that you mages are hard on garments?”

“Some are harder than others. How much might a belt cost?”

“Half a silver.”

Beltur nodded. “I’ll have to think about it.”

“Think too long, and it might cost more.”

Beltur grinned. “Can’t say that surprises me.” He looked to Scanlon. “Thank you, again.”

Then he turned and headed back toward the front room. Therala barely looked up as he let himself out and began to walk back home.

He still couldn’t help but wonder why a powerful white mage had been holding a concealment in the Great Square… and why the man had followed him and Scanlon for two blocks from the Square before turning away.

Did he think you were someone else?

Why else would anyone follow a third-rate white mage?

Beltur certainly couldn’t think of any other reason.

In the meantime, he intended to clean up the main workroom, something that Sydon and Kaerylt felt was beneath them.

Reincarnation Blues


I was looking for a light read to bring with me on my latest hiking trip in parc national de la Jacques-Cartier and parc national de la Mauricie, and it felt as though Michael Poore's Reincarnation Blues was just what the doctor ordered. I was hooked on the premise as soon as I received the novel and intrigued enough to move it quite near to the top of my rotation of books to read.

I had never read anything by this author before, but this seemed to be a unique idea and I was looking forward to reading something totally different from what's out there these days. Sadly, after a great start that was very promising, Poore sort of lost control of his story and everything appeared to drift a bit aimlessly for a while. So much so that I had more or less lost interest before the end came. Which is a shame, as Reincarnation Blues seemed destined to be another winner like Daryl Gregory's Spoonbenders. Alas. . .

Here's the blurb:

First we live. Then we die. And then . . . we get another try?

Ten thousand tries, to be exact. Ten thousand lives to “get it right.” Answer all the Big Questions. Achieve Wisdom. And Become One with Everything.

Milo has had 9,995 chances so far and has just five more lives to earn a place in the cosmic soul. If he doesn’t make the cut, oblivion awaits. But all Milo really wants is to fall forever into the arms of Death. Or Suzie, as he calls her.

More than just Milo’s lover throughout his countless layovers in the Afterlife, Suzie is literally his reason for living—as he dives into one new existence after another, praying for the day he’ll never have to leave her side again.

But Reincarnation Blues is more than a great love story: Every journey from cradle to grave offers Milo more pieces of the great cosmic puzzle—if only he can piece them together in time to finally understand what it means to be part of something bigger than infinity. As darkly enchanting as the works of Neil Gaiman and as wisely hilarious as Kurt Vonnegut’s, Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues is the story of everything that makes life profound, beautiful, absurd, and heartbreaking.

Because it’s more than Milo and Suzie’s story. It’s your story, too.

The worldbuilding is decidedly uneven. Some chapters follow Milo in the afterlife, while others focus on his countless reincarnations. The timeline is all over the place, with chapters taking place centuries in the past and others fast-forward centuries into the future. It follows no logical chronology, which can have weird repercussions on the main story arc. Some of these reincarnation plotlines are brilliantly written, but others are a mess and it felt as though the author was winging it and had no idea where he was going with his tale. The premise gave Michael Poore countless opportunities to showcase his imagination, yet many of Milo's reincarnations felt flat due to what ultimately was poor execution on the author's part. There are some awesome parts in this novel. Trouble is, there is also a lot of uninspired and lackluster material that often sends everything else down the crapper.

Although his heart is in the right place (most of the time at least), there is no denying that Milo is a slacker and kind of a prick. And while it's so easy and fun to root for him at the beginning of the novel, each new reincarnation makes him lose more of his luster and it gets to the point when the reader simply loses interest in Milo's plight. I particularly enjoyed Suzie's perspective, but it wasn't enough to reel me back in once I sort of gave up on Milo. The supporting cast doesn't feature any memorable secondary characters, I'm afraid. Mama and Nan had potential, but they're never really developed. The dark and witty humor that works so well at the start of the book gradually loses its magic as the story progresses. Indeed, you go from multiple chuckles throughout each chapter to a point where you disengage and just want the story to end.

Weighing in at 374 pages, Reincarnation Blues is not a big novel. One would think that such a book wouldn't suffer from pacing issues, but it is unfortunately the case. Following a great beginning, it appears that Michael Poore ran out of fun and ingeniously clever ideas for Milo's subsequent reincarnations. As a result, the main story arc peters out, plagued by a few way-too-long chapters that irremediably kills whatever traction and momentum the storylines had going for them. Trimmed down by perhaps fifty pages or so, things might have worked a lot better overall.

In the end, by the time the last reincarnation comes and goes, I was so disconnected from the plot that Milo's fate left me almost totally indifferent. Which is too bad, as Reincarnation Blues had a lot of potential. I fear that Poore enjoyed his own cleverness a bit too much and went all out in a way that was detrimental to what lies at the heart of the tale: Milo and Suzie's love story.

It's an often fun and witty sort of novel, no doubt about it. And yet, attempting to cram too much humor and strange reincarnation stories ultimately spoiled the execution and resulted into a bit of a mess that failed to live up to the potential Reincarnation Blues showed early on.

The final verdict: 6.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Follow this link to read an extract from the book.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin.

And a cold-blooded killer.

His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world.

But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good. . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

The international hit that inspired the video game: The Witcher.

Guest Blog: Joshua Palmatier


When Joshua Palmatier emailed me to ask if I'd be willing to share the Kickstarter for his small press Zombies Need Brains, which produces all-original SFF anthologies, I invited him to write a guest blog post instead.

Enjoy!
---------------------

Genesis of a Small Press

By Joshua Palmatier

Zombies Need Brains is a small press I created in 2013 with the intent of producing SF&F themed anthologies. Since then, the press has released seven anthologies with themes ranging from steampunk vs aliens to Death personified. Along the way, it has published New York Times bestsellers alongside authors where their ZNB story was their first professional sale. Recently, the press has been recognized by the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) as a qualifying market and one of its stories—“Radio Silence” by Walter H. Hunt (published in ALIEN ARTIFACTS)—is a finalist for the Washington Science Fiction Society’s Small Press Award. It continues to grow, reaching a wider and wider audience each year, but I thought it would be interesting to go back to the beginning, to see where it all started and how it all began.

So, close your eyes and imagine a book signing at a Barnes & Noble in New Jersey in 2010 (or thereabouts). This was a group signing, with seven SF&F authors gathering in the hopes of peddling their newest books. The signing went fairly well, and afterwards, we all decided to hit the bar at a restaurant nearby. Somehow, while drinking and talking shop, the topic of anthologies came up—in particular, themed anthologies. I joked about doing an anthology centered around a bar. Someone else said what if the bar represented the epitome of all bars at that time and that as soon as that magic of being the best, the most popular, passed, the bar would shift to a new location—in essence, traveling through time. And then Patricia Bray jokingly said, what if the bartender was Gilgamesh? He found his immortality by taking over (being tricked into running, actually) the bar.

Most of the time when things like this happen, that’s the end of it. The writers go home and wake up the next day going about their usual business. But this time, I went home and wrote up a proposal for what would become AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE URBAR. It was pitched by Tekno to DAW Books and they liked it and published it, along with another anthology Patricia Bray and I created called THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY. Patricia and I enjoyed editing these anthologies, bringing them to life, and so we wrote up more proposals—

But then there was an upheaval in the publishing world. I’m not sure exactly what caused it—ebooks were having a significant impact at this point—but whatever it was, the publishing world began cutting back. Editors at houses shifted. Houses merged. And DAW Books cut back their anthology line to only a few anthologies a year, when before they were doing six or eight. It made sense—anthologies rarely earn out or make money for the large traditional houses. But it still cut Patricia and I off at the knees, right when we were settling in as editors.

I had hopes that the publishing world would settle down and DAW would bring back their anthology line. But after a couple years, it hadn’t happened. Yet I still wanted to edit anthologies. So I began to plan: I researched what it would take to set up a small press, what the expenses would be, what the legalities would cost, and then I researched crowdfunding platforms, because I certainly couldn’t afford to set up the press and produce an anthology on my own. I ended up deciding that the only way it would work is if I ran a Kickstarter that would produce the first anthology AND raise the money to pay for setting up the small press. I sat on the idea for even longer, mulling it over. Was it worth the risk? Was it worth the time and effort? Was I insane?

And then I pulled the trigger.

Zombies Need Brains’ first Kickstarter ran in August of 2013, featuring the anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS ALIENS with the (self-evident) theme of aliens invading a steampunk Earth. I set it up so that half of the anthology would be filled with well-known authors, what I called anchor authors. These authors helped promote the Kickstarter and drew in enough backers that the Kickstarter was a success. The other half of the anthology was filled by a call for submissions from some of the writers lists that Patricia and I are part of. So it wasn’t a completely open call, but it was one step away from that. We ended up with some great stories and—with a few “learning curve” mistakes made by me as a new crowdfunder and publisher—the anthology was released into the world.

The original plan was to run a Kickstarter every year for one anthology for five years, and then sit back and see where things stood to see if I’d continue with Zombies Need Brains. That changed after the second anthology. When I hit the third year, I decided that I could risk going to two themed anthologies. That worked so well, in the fourth year I did three new anthologies and I expanded to additional editors.

And now we’re on the fifth year. The Kickstarter is currently active and we’re over halfway to our goal. We’re shooting for three anthologies again. THE RAZOR’S EDGE is a military SF&F anthology featuring stories about that fine line between being a rebel and an insurgent; GUILDS & GLAIVES explores the sword & sorcery genre; and SECOND ROUND brings everyone back to the time-traveling bar tended by Gilgamesh first seen in AFTER HOURS. We’ve got some stellar anchor author lined up, names I can guarantee you’ll recognize. And you can help bring these three anthologies to life by supporting our Kickstarter at tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar. We have special pledge levels featuring tuckerizations in some of the anchor author short stories and signed copies of some of our anchor authors’ books. You could be drawn as a cartoon hamster by Esther Friesner. There’s even a pledge level that will catch you up on all of our past anthologies!

What’s in store for the future? Well, hopefully at some point Zombies Need Brains will be able to produce anthologies without the need of a Kickstarter. We aren’t close to that yet, barring me winning the Powerball in the next week. But that’s the hope. And beyond that? I’d like to expand beyond anthologies, into original novels.

But that’s far future, the land of hopes and dreams. Right now, I’m focused on the Kickstarter and the hope that I can produce at least three more anthologies, bringing ZNB’s total publishing list up to ten in just five years. Not bad for something that started as a joke: Seven authors walk into a bar …

Check out the new Kickstarter here: tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 11th)

In hardcover:

Delilah S. Dawson's Star Wars: Phasma debuts at number 10.

In paperback:

Stephen King's It is up one spot, finishing the week at number 4 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is down two positions, ending the week at number 5 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is down one position, ending the week at number 8 (trade paperback).

Cover art and extract from Jacqueline Carey's STARLESS


The folks from Happy Ever After have just unveiled the cover art for Jacqueline Carey's forthcoming Starless (Canada, USA, Europe).

Here's the blurb:

Jacqueline Carey is back with an amazing adventure not seen since her New York Times bestselling Kushiel’s Legacy series. Lush and sensual, Starless introduces us to an epic world where exiled gods live among us, and a hero whose journey will resonate long after the last page is turned.

Let your mind be like the eye of the hawk…Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.

Follow this link to read te extract.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Michael J. Sullivan's Age of Myth for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Michael J. Sullivan’s trailblazing career began with the breakout success of his Riyria series: full-bodied, spellbinding fantasy adventures whose imaginative scope and sympathetic characters won a devoted readership and comparisons to fantasy masters Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, and J.R.R. Tolkien himself. Now Sullivan’s stunning hardcover debut, Age of Myth, inaugurates an original five-book series—and one of fantasy’s finest next-generation storytellers continues to break new ground.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever.

Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of The Craft Sequence omnibus by Max Gladstone for only 11.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Set in a phenomenally-built world in which lawyers ride lightning bolts, souls are currency, and cities are powered by the remains of fallen gods, MAX GLADSTONE's Craft Sequence introduces readers to a modern fantasy landscape and an epic struggle to build a just society.

Three Parts Dead — A god has died, and it's up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Two Serpents Rise — Caleb Altemoc—casual gambler and professional risk manager—is sent by Red King Consolidated to cleanse shadow demons from the Dresediel Lex city water supply, and uncovers a scheme to forever alter the balance of power in the city.

Full Fathom Five — On the island of Kavekana, Kai nearly loses her life trying to save one of her creations, a god built to order. But when Kai starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can't stop it first.

Last First Snow — Craft lawyer Elayne Kevarian and warrior-priest Temoc must fight dark magic, secret agendas, and their own demons to save the peace between the citizens and rulers of Dresediel Lex, before hell opens to swallow the city whole.

Four Roads Cross — Protests rock the city of Alt Coulumb, Kos Everburning's creditors attempt a hostile takeover of the fire god's church, and Craftswoman Tara Abernathy must defend the church against the world's fiercest necromantic firm.

Quote of the Day

We lie best when we lie to ourselves.

- STEPHEN KING, It (Canada, USA, Europe)

Read this book back when I was a teenager, and now I'm reading it again before seeing the new movie. More than three decades down the line, It is still as good as it was when it came out in 1986!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Django Wexler's The Thousand Names for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Enter an epic fantasy world that echoes with the thunder of muskets and the clang of steel — but where the real battle is against a subtle and sinister magic…

Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder-smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.

To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men, and lead them into battle against impossible odds.

But the fates of both of these soldiers, and all the men they lead, depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning.

But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural — a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 4th)

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale maintains its position at number 3 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stephen King's It is up one spot, finishing the week at number 5 (trade paperback).

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is down two positions, ending the week at number 7 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!




You can now download Jim Butcher's Side Jobs for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

With tales ranging from the deadly serious to the absurdly hilarious—including an original story for this volume—Side Jobs is a must-have collection for every devoted Harry Dresden fan.

As Chicago’s only professional wizard, Harry Dresden has had cases that have pitted him against insane necromancers, power-hungry faerie queens, enigmatic dark wizards, fallen angels—pretty much a “who’s who” of hell and beyond—with the stakes in each case ranging from a lone human soul to the entire human race. But not every adventure Harry Dresden undertakes is an epic tale of life and death in a world on the edge of annihilation.

Here, together for the first time in paperback, are the shorter works of #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher—a compendium of cases that Harry and his cadre of allies managed to close in record time.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 28th)

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is up two positions, ending the week at number 3 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is down one position, ending the week at number 5 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's It debuts at number 6 (trade paperback).

In the Village Where Brightwine Flows


You probably remember that I gave Bradley P. Beaulieu's The Lays of Anuskaya series glowing reviews, going as far as to claim that it was one of the most interesting fantasy series I had read in the last decade or so. It was dark, ambitious, complex, and populated with a great cast of characters that leap off the pages. Even for jaded readers looking for a quality read, that book sequence was different from everything else on the market and definitely worth checking out.

I was looking forward to whatever the author would publish next, but you likely also recall that I never could get into Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. I felt that it featured none of the depth, the great worldbuilding, or the superior characterization. Everything was too black or white for my taste, and the protagonists featured none of the complexity and moral ambiguity that made characters like Nikandr Khalakovo, Atiana Vostroma, Nasim, Soroush, Rehada, and Styophan Andrashayev such unforgettable people. This was especially true of Çeda, who was too badass for her own good, and I found it impossible to care for or root for her.

And yet, although it wasn't perfect, I enjoyed Beaulieu's Middle Eastern setting. I wasn't in any hurry to give subsequent novel-length installments in The Song of the Shattered Sands series a shot any time soon, I was intrigued by this new novella.

Here's the blurb:

Street urchins have been turning up missing in the great desert city of Sharakhai. Few care until the son of one of the city’s richest patrons goes missing as well.

The apothecary named Dardzada wants nothing to do with it, but his shrewd mind and skills as an apothecary make him indispensable to his cruel half-brother Layth, the captain of the guard tasked with solving the mystery.

When Layth insists he look deeper into the kidnappings, Dardzada is drawn into a struggle much larger than he ever anticipated, and he soon realizes it will take all his wits to save the victims and himself.

In the Village Where Bright Wine Flows is a stand-alone work that one can read without having read Twelve Kings in Sharakhai and its sequels. I mean, you'll miss a few nuances regarding the characters. But nothing that would prevent you from enjoying the tale in its entirety. Mind you, I haven't read With Blood Upon the Sand and Of Sand and Malice Made, so perhaps I did miss some myself. To all ends and purposes, this novella appears to be a side story that is self-contained and can be enjoyed on its own. That's how it worked out for me, in any case.

Dardzada, the mysterious apothecary who deals with the Moonless Host introduced in Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, takes center stage. And since he proved to be one of the most interesting characters from that book, this was what made me want to give this novella a try. More than just an apothecary, this brilliant and crafty man will unveil a dangerous secret when he investigates the kidnapping and the murder of an adolescent boy who fell in with the wrong crowd. As Dardzada gets closer to the truth, he'll soon realize that his own life could be in danger.

The pace of In the Village Where Bright Wine Flows is quite fluid, which came as a surprise. Bradley P. Beaulieu's works have always been slow-moving affairs, mostly because he's laying a lot of groundwork for what is to come, or he's weaving various threads to bring everything together later on. The novella-length format precludes that sort of approach and the rhythm keeps the tale progressing at a good clip.

Street gangs, drugs, corruption, murder; In the Village Where Bright Wine Flows has all that and more. The story comes together nicely the closer you get to the endgame and this short fiction piece packs a powerful punch at the end.

In the Village Where Bright Wine Flows is a nice addition to The Song of the Shattered Sands series that further fleshes out Dardzada. But as a novella-length stand-alone, it's the perfect opportunity for potential readers who have yet to give Bradley P. Beaulieu a shot to do so.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

You can download this new novella for about 2.99$: Canada, USA, Europe

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Steven Erikson's Willful Child for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

From the New York Times Bestselling author Steven Erikson comes a new science fiction novel of devil-may-care, near calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through the infinite vastness of interstellar space.

These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life-forms, to boldly blow the...

And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through ‘the infinite vastness of interstellar space.’

The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence has taken his lifelong passion for Star Trek and transformed it into a smart, inventive, and hugely entertaining spoof on the whole mankind-exploring-space-for-the-good-of-all-species-but-trashing-stuff-with-a-lot-of-high-tech-gadgets-along-the-way, overblown adventure. The result is an SF novel that deftly parodies the genre while also paying fond homage to it.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Joe Hill's NOS4A2 for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.