The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #72

Today is Tuesday, and that means IT’S…
The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week!

If you haven’t guessed from the opening, this week’s question is Monty Python themed.
Since Python is also celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year, we’re asking: What Is Your Favorite Monty Python Skit?

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it over to us on the Twitter @NerdBlitzPod or by using the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks goes out to the good sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified QotW logo.

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Unnatural Acts Review

Second books can be tough, they often make or break a series.
Obviously, Book One always has the tough task of setting up a world and its inhabitants.
But the second installment of a series should always expand and build on all the work that was put into that world during that first outing.
Yes, this is a review of a Dan Shamble book, so you know I like it.
But as I said last time, I’m trying to look at these with fresh eyes, and this is also my first chronological read through.
So does it do a good job expanding upon what the first book brought to the table?
Let’s find out!

As per usual, this is your requisite official ***SPOILER WARNING***
And I mean it this time!

Back in the Unnatural Quarter, things are moving along normally.
Businesses are thriving, including the local brothel.
Yes, you read that right, there are monster whores in this book.
Now if you read that particular sentence and it doesn’t cause you to buy this, pull the ripcord now, cause you clearly have no discernible sense of humor at all.
MONSTER WHORES, MAN!!!
Of all shapes, sizes, races, breeds, and levels of physical contact.
We have Zombies, and Ghosts, and Vampires (oh my!), Werewolves, Suscubuses (if you get that joke, 10 points to your house), and even a Mummy Cathouse wrangler.
Something so ridiculous and hilarious wouldn’t even cross my mind to think about, I’d figure werewolves would just rub their lipstick and move on.
But the fact that monster hookers are included in this would goes to show the depth of thought that KJA put into this.

The other new cases and concerns this go round include a clay golem fighting for emancipation, the ghost of a notorious bank robber that’s trying to figure out his after life, an unnatural hating senator with a deep secret, a long written off brother, a mixed monster couple fighting to move into the neighborhood they want, a mob like company taking over the Quarter bit by bit, and “Shakespeare’s” ghost’s acting troupe facing harassment.
To put it in more succinct terms, Dan & Co are swamped with way more problems and headaches than last time.

Probably the most interesting of these story lines for me would be the brother.
Sheyenne, Dan’s ghostly girlfriend, is confronted by her deadbeat brother, Travis, who comes to town and stirs up a shit storm and a half.
We all know somebody like this dillhole, the scumbag family member that gets mixed up in multiple shady schemes and somehow always comes out smelling like roses.
The dude that will sell out his sister just to get ahead, which is exactly what Travis does…twice!
Once when he sells the last family heirlooms that Sheyenne has to cover old debts and once when he goes to the Full Moon brothel and tries to get down with the resident succubus…then joins the crazy senator in his crusade against unnaturals.
It’s pretty heartbreaking for Spooky, and leaves her in an incredibly vulnerable spot, compounded by Dan having so many problems that cause him to head to Full Moon himself.

***HEADS UP, SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH TO AVOID SPOILING THE END OF THE BOOK***
And that breakdown in communication between Dan and Sheyenne leads to one of the most heart warming, yet disturbing and, some how, also hilarious things I have ever read in my entire life.
The closing pages of the book, after they mostly work things out and are back on more steady ground, sees Spooky trying to go the extra mile and do something special for Dan.
Being a ghost, they can’t do the horizontal hula because she can’t physically touch Dan.
But she can move inanimate objects.
So she gets Dan up to his (often unused or visited) apartment above the office, takes him to his bedroom, and, in an attempt to give him the entire experience of a fully functional romantic partnership, she dons a sex doll suit as a skin so they can re-engage the physical aspects of their relationship that were lost with her own death.
Gang, it is the most fucked up and romantic thing ever!
Also, it’s an utterly original concept!

In my introduction I asked a very specific question (again, we all know at this point if I’m talking about a Dan Shamble book I thoroughly enjoyed it), so does this expand on the first book?
Yes, it does.
The monster brothel isn’t the only critter run business we learn about, we hit up one of the most mundane types of businesses I can think of, a Pawn Shop.
But the twist here is this one is run by a goblin who tends to horde all of the stuff that comes in, especially if it’s shiny.
Something like this really goes to show how deep KJA gets this time, trying to expand and show that life really has gone back to normal and that monsters are fully integrated into society.
They own businesses, they engage in providing entertainment, they’ve made the Unnatural Quarter a tourist stop and lightning rod for controversy.

Without getting too deep on the controversy, I will say this: KJA is a prophet!
He totally called the era of politicians regularly vilifying people and trying to legislate against shit that they and their families have done or taken part in.
I remember when I first read this, I was stunned by the parallels to what was happening in the realm of politics at the time.
Here we see a senator who’s disgusted by the monsters who just want to live, work, and play without catching hell for, ya know, existing…kinda spooky, right?

To wrap up, one of my favorite things about this series is the continuity (and you can hear KJA bust my balls a bit about it in my interview with him from Book Club 5 Ep 2 HERE) and attention to detail that he painstakingly crafts.
Minor bit characters pass through, giving this world the depth we nerds CRAVE.
Reading in order makes this series feels like one of those fancy pants French meals you hear about that take hours to enjoy.
Book 1 was a great simple entree to get you warmed up, Book 2 feels like a 1st course with a few more complexities and flavors to keep you interested.
With that in mind, I can’t wait to revisit Book 3 and savory the experience.

Let us what you think in the comments or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Death Warmed Over Review

I’m not gonna bullshit you here: I’ve been talking up this series since Episode 37 (nooch!) of The Main Show and Ep 88 is on the cusp of dropping in the next fortnight or so.
To put it bluntly, this is a Dan Shamble book, so you know damn well that I love it.
Now if that’s all you came here to find out, that’s all good, man!
Sincerely, I thank you for taking the time and visiting the site.
Take a look around and read some of our other features, reviews, and articles, I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll enjoy.

But if you’re still here, if you want to know exactly why I love this book, let’s dive into it, gang.

As per usual, this right here is your requisite ***SPOILER ALERT***

Still reading?
Okay, groovy.
Now for those keeping score, this is the very first Dan Shamble novel, but this was not the first that I read.
I was curious after reading the third book first if reading them chronologically would make an impact on how the world unfurls and since it’s been a while and I’ll be rereading them all in order I’ll be better able to answer that by the time I write my review for book three.
I’ve also wondered how this origin story plays out in context too, and the answer is pretty damn well.

We meet Dan a month post mortem, he died when some sneaky prick snuck up on him and blasted his brains all over the sky…or at least the alley that he was walking through at the time.
We’re quickly introduced to his world and learn about the string of coincidences that caused all monsters and mythological creatures to come to life (a.k.a. The Big Uneasy) ten years ago, which include a particularly perfect planetary positioning, a copy of the Nerconomicon, and a virgin with a paper cut.
We meet his ghost girlfriend, Sheyenne, and find out she was killed by a poisoned drink not long before Dan himself got popped in that alley, and that they suspect their murders are connected as he was investigating hers when his went down.
His partner in Chambeaux & Deyer Investigations, Robin Deyer, is introduced to us as a lawyer that fights for her clients as if they were her family, never backing down from the struggle of Unnaturals and their still murky rights and privileges.
In short, Kevin J. Anderson sets up the entire world of the Unnatural Quarter efficiently and effectively.

I take the Stan Lee approach when I write these reviews, every review is somebody’s first.
Now I know I have talked about a fuck ton of Mr. Anderson’s work in these reviews, and certain phrases tend to pop up time and time again.
But that doesn’t make them any less true.
The dude is one of the most economical writers I know of.
In every book of his I read I never feel like I’m muddling around in an ocean of words waiting for him to dive in and drag up from the depths some deeply hidden objective like I have with other writers whose work I’ve reviewed.
You can tell he’s having fun, but he’s not wasting pages with some boring story about some random dude that our main characters once passed by and never did, or will, see again.
If he mentions a character or place, you best be damn skippy that off handed mention is gonna mean something or play into the story later.

Unlike a TV detective, Dan & co are always juggling multiple cases at any given time.
For this first go round the Chambeaux & Deyer gang’s caseload includes trying to get a divorce settlement finalized favorably for a monthly werewolf client who happens to be married to a former adversary of Dan’s, a nervous Vampire who keeps receiving threats from an anti-monster hate group and whose neighbors are disappearing, a witch whose sister was transformed into a pig due to a typo laden spell book, a family whose drunken uncle won’t stop bothering them now that he’s died and returned as a ghost, a mummy who doesn’t want to be museum property, trying to track down a giant creature that’s smashing windows all over town, all while trying to solve Dan & Sheyenne’s own murders.
All of that is jam packed into just about three hundred pages.

Look, gang, the bottomline here is that I love a good origin story and this is a damn good one.
After just a few chapters of Dan’s Noir-ish narration, you understand exactly how this world works.
I’ve said many times that this series feels like The Addams Family, The Munsters, and a great detective show like The Rockford Files or Monk were thrown into a blender, and I stand by it.
It’s odd, mysterious, fresh, interesting, quirky, fun, and enthralling every step of the way.
It’s a great pick me up, and it great if you want something that fits the Halloween season that isn’t super heavy, because while it may be a story of death and monsters, it has a solid heart under all of that necrotic flesh.

Tell us what you think or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories: Science Fiction, Vol 1 Review

With all of the negativity in the review world lately, folks battling to be the most snarky and faux witty as they can to try and snag the most clicks, I’ve made a specific effort to keep these Book Reviews positive.
That’s the main reason for some of the gaps in between them.
I’ve read a few stinkers and didn’t want to have to come on here and be shitty, so I just quietly moved onto the next book.
So when I got the chance to get an advance copy of this book, I leapt at it…but then I started to worry.

KJA has said this is the 1st of 4 volumes, so far, collecting a bunch of his short stories.
And with that announcement, the middle 2 were the ones I was most interested in and excited for (see what they are planned to be focused on here).
Now I was worried because I do love Sci-Fi, but my taste in it has tended to be more mainstream.
Firefly/Serenity, Star Wars (I say it is Sci-Fi, damn it!), Star Trek TNG & DS9, Bruce Campbell’s Bulgarian work, things that everyone instantly thinks of when they hear talk of the genre.
I’ve never taken the dive into the hardcore stuff, which is what caused my worry.
I’ve long talked about my love of The Last Days Of Krypton (my introduction to KJA), but that’s Superman tinged Sci-Fi, not Issac Asimov or Philip K Dick.

So, with all of that in mind and now out of the way, what do I think of this Collection of the hardest of the hardcore type Sci-Fi?
Can my fandom of the man and his writing style outweigh my inexperience and trepidation with the genre?
Buckle up for a longer than usual ride, and let’s find out!

As per usual, ***This Is Your SPOILER ALERT***

For the most part, I loved it.
My main take away is that somebody desperately needs to get in contact with KJA for the upcoming reboot of The Twilight Zone.
Some, but not all, of the stories have that classic “Oh man, that’s ballsy” moment that a lot of the the best eps of Twilight Zone still elicit to this day.
The variety of the stories is another reason I think this dude needs to be in that room.

One of the main reasons I can’t stand those bullshit singing/talent shows on TV is the judges with their inane snarky comments.
“Well, I don’t like country music, so I’m gonna pass.”
It’s just plain idiotic.
If you can’t see talent from a genre you don’t like then you need to get out of the game.
I bring that up because Military Sci-Fi usually can’t hold my attention, and this book features a fair bit of it.
I can’t say it’s bad though.
Sure, some of those stories were in and out of my head as fast as I read them, but even so they were easy to read and featured KJA’s signature style of being detailed enough to get across the important stuff without bogging you down in useless, boring, jargon filled blocks of prose.
Even the worst (process of elimination dictates there must be a worst) story among these has something interesting.
In fact, one of the best stories (Combat Experience) fits into the military subgenre, so he definitely can supercede preconceived biases and hook you in for things you weren’t initially excited for.

2 of my favorite stories (Rough Draft & Music Played On The Strings Of Time) feature a company called “Alternitech” that transports employees into alternate time lines to look for subtle differences, such as movies starring alternate leads or follow-up novels that don’t exist here, that they can exploit and profit from.
The implications of that are damn near horrific, but truly fascinating.
Seeing the impact of these 2 stories on the people involved in them is pretty great, especially for us creative types.

There’s a story that’s Jurassic Park-esque (called Mammoth Dawn), it shines a light on the sadistic streak of some humans and the beauty of others while dealing with the complicated issue of screwing with the natural order.
In short, this book shows you just how versatile Anderson is.
How this genre, more than most, is a perfect fit for allegorical storytelling.

The entire arc of his career is represented here.
The book opens with his very 1st published story (Memorial, which he had published at age 14) and the penultimate story (Ghosts Of Mars) was written for his MFA courses and published online ealier this year.
The latter, you may remember me pushing that one pretty hard for a few days.
It’s a pretty cool tribute to the foundation of Sci-Fi writing.

Before each story he writes roughly half a page about the origins of what follows.
I’ve not read a ton of short story collections in my day, but that was new to me.
It added a nice bit of weight and background to each bit of business that followed.

There are a bunch of other stories in here that I dig, but I can’t wrap up without mentioning 3 others that I really loved, 2 of which he wrote for XPrize.
The 1st one is called The Next Best Thing To Being There, inspired by a true story, this story is a heartbreaking, yet sweet, tale of a climber connecting with loved ones through technology after an accident on a trek.
The 2nd of the XPrize stories is called Terminal, about a plane that travels 20 years into the future (one of those Twilight Zone stories I mentioned) and gives a woman a new lease on life.
Both of these are emotional and oddly hopeful in their own ways.

The final story I have to mention is called Paradox & Greenblatt, Attorneys At Law.
It’s the lightest story, in terms of tone, in this collection.
It feels like Perry Mason meets The Twilight Zone, and like it could be set in the future of the Dan Shamble universe.
This is a case of a dude time traveling to take out his mother’s boss, and he gets off on a paradoxical technicality that’s pure genius.
He says in the preamble for this story that he always intended to write more stories in this series and I really hope he gets around to it because I could see it being just as fun and interesting as DSZPI is.

This being a different genre than what I’m used to from KJA (his DC & Shamble works are what I know him for, so far), it’s great to see his take on a different genre than I’m used to.
So the bottom line is: If you are a fan of KJA, Sci-Fi and all of the subgenres within it, or just damn good writing, you’re probably gonna like this.
It has great variety in the themes, emotions, and styles displayed.
And it’s just a great idea to have this all collected in 1 handy volume.
I really can’t wait for the other 3 volumes to drop so I can see him flex even more muscles.

It’s available on August 15th in Paperback & Hardcover, you can pre-order the kindle version right now by going Here.

Special Thanks to @acferrell1976 for helping me proofread these reviews.