The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Fantasy & Other Annoyances

Posted on | August 8, 2022 | Comments Off on Fantasy & Other Annoyances

— compiled by Wombat-socho

You can’t please everybody.

Ceterum autem censeo Silicon Valley esse delendam.
As a general rule, I don’t care for fantasy. Far too much of it is derivative elf & dwarf crap, written by people trying to rip off Tolkien for a quick buck while having all the grounding in the other classics of your average D&D player who hasn’t read Appendix N. Feh, I say. Feh! Fortunately, a lot of really good writers have been writing fantasy lately that has nothing to do with Tolkien or (thank God) soft-core porn with werecritters, or “paranormal romance”, as Amazon would have it. One of the more notable such folks is former political blogger Moe Lane,  who has been spinning tales of a post-apocalyptic America in which magic works, and that hasn’t turned out to be a good thing. So far there’s three novels, Frozen Dreams, Tinsel Rain, and Morgan Barod, as well as the collection Tales From The Fermi Resolution. The first two novels are weird variations on your standard noir detective tales, in which our hero, Tom Vargas, the resident Shamus of Cin City (where there are no magicians, just very talented stagehands & cleaning ladies) Closes Cases. Morgan Barod is a wee bit different.  It’s set in the same universe as Vargas’ adventures, but on the other end of the continent in New Jersey…or what used to be New Jersey before everything changed. Barod wakes in a hospital, and very soon his medievalist predilections come in very handy as he has to fight his way past a whole mess of strange critters before reaching safety with the local outpost of the Federal Militia. So begins his journey home to the coast, but this is no post-apocalyptic barbarian we’re talking here – Barod uses his brain and his broadsword in equal measure to take care of problems along the way home, and boy, are there a lot of problems that need sorting. All of these are available on Kindle Unlimited if you want to check and see if these are your cup of tea; I personally enjoy Moe’s sense of humor, so I picked up all four. 

On the other hand, we have Larry Correia’s Servants of War, co-written by Steve Diamond, which is so grimdark it makes Warhammer 40k look like My Little Pony in comparison. Set during a horrific century-long war between the Empire of Kolakolvia (a combination of the worst features of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union) and Almacia (somewhat like Imperial Germany), it follows the former peasant Illarion Glaskov, who gets drafted into the Tsar’s army and sent to join The Wall – a unit of elite soldiers piloting crude mecha made from the parts of broken golems. While everything else seems to be on roughly a World War I tech level, there is magic, and there are gods, horrible unearthly monsters, and strong hints that this isn’t Earth. Not only does Glaskov have to contend with the Almacians trying to kill him, he also has to cope with backstage political skulduggery, commissars alert for wrongthink, and one of the Three Goddesses who has taken a hostile interest in him. Recommended.

I signed up for the Kickstarter to fund the graphic novel version of John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising, which is the only series of zombie novels I have ever liked, and I have to say that Chuck Dixon & company did an great job of translating Under A Graveyard Sky into a decent comic. Hopefully they’ll release an electronic version for folks who missed out on the crowdfunding effort.

Finally, we have Battle Brick Road, by Eric Weathers and Zeb Hatfield, which is a post-apocalyptic high-tech version of The Wizard of Oz. (Weird that there haven’t been more riffs on the classic series.) The Midwest is a dust bowl far worse than the calamitous drought-stricken region in the Depression, and Thea Gale is searching for her scientist father, lost somewhere in it. Her faithful robot TOTO (half air-ball, half Eyebot) at her side, she crashes into Oz – an island of fertility amidst all the desert wasteland. The first three chapters describe Thea’s arrival in Oz and her first steps on the Yellow Brick Road, but this is a much more violent tale than Frank Baum’s children’s tale. There is also a short story, “Meet Me In St. Louis”, whose art is not nearly as good as the first three chapters. So far there are copies available on Eric Weathers’ website, linked above. 


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