Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories Science Fiction Vol. 2 Review

The fourth and final (at least for now) volume of Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories short story series was released back in February.
This outing was another visit to the much beloved genre of Science Fiction which, for those among you who haven’t been keeping up with the main show, is a genre I have taken a deep dive into since I read the first volume.
With these new experiences in that area, I was wondering how this collection would hit me.
Strap on your space suit and let’s space find out…in space!

I have to say, as per the usual with this series, I think the short intros he writes to each story may be my favorite part.
It really seems to give each story a bit more depth to hear where it came from, who or what inspired it, or how long he kicked it around before he dropped the final product on his editors.
Even with the stories that aren’t my favorites, it is at least interesting to have the back story.

As for the stories themselves, this go round I found myself engaging more with the shorter among them.
Not that the longer ones are bad, but I think it may be a bit of brain training and expectation with this anthological format.
The shorter stories here tend to have a bit more of a reveal or “Ah-ha” feel than the longer ones do which, to use TV as a comparison, I feel like most anthologies shows do better than episodic series.
And I like that.
I like the quick and clever economic nature of it all.

I think every subgenre of Sci-Fi gets its day in the sun in this volume, and a few have fun and interesting spins that almost make you forget you are reading a Science Fiction story, which I think is something that some of my favorites do best.
If you need some Military Sci-Fi stat, you are covered with a few novellas.
But there are also stories of time travel, genetic manipulation, alien contact, and a transformational hooker…you know, that tired old trope!

I always try to give you some of my favorite stories when I talk about short story collections, so in no particular order, the top 3 stories that I would say you can’t miss are:
Technomagic, a story of a stranded alien that becomes a world famous magician.
Prevenge, a time travel tale that is reminiscent of Minority Report, with a bit more investigation.
A Delicate Balance, a dark story about seed colonies and a severe miscalculation that leads to forced population control.
All are wonderfully distinct and showcase the variety of this writer and this genre.

So to wrap up I have to say that after reading and reviewing all 4 volumes of this series, I feel like a jackass.
For a decade or so, if folks would mention Kevin J. Anderson I’d always say “The Star Wars Guy!?” or “Awww, The Last Days Of Krypton!” and now that almost feels reductive.
Don’t get me wrong, Shamble aside, Last Days is still hands down my favorite KJA book, but the dude has way more shades and layers than just Krypton, Star Wars, & X-Files.
The goal of this series was probably to collect a bunch of stories he had the rights to and get them back in print, but they have been damn eye opening as well.
I’ll call that a happy accident and wait patiently for him to get enough material together for a fifth installment, and whatever else he’s ready to produce.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 and @gigiamk30 for their editorial assistance.

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Episode 084: Eat Me, Yeah

Wrestletopia+1+digitalIn this episode, we are diving deep and reviewing some comic bookery, specifically, the comic bookery of Suspicious Behavior Productions 1st series, published by Starburns Industries Press, Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia!

Then, Doom brings a magical Pimp Spot that leads to them discussing that little punk ass Caillou, a huge name in Brit entertainment, and Fitz’s hankering to do a certain long teased fantasy novel a future Book Club series.

We also discuss an upcoming Blu-Ray set that has us all aquiver, some plans for fun we want to get done before the end of the year, and make jokes that classy people wouldn’t, so…ya know, typical us!

URL: Episode 084: Eat Me, Yeah
Direct Download: tnb084.mp3

Spine Of The Dragon Is Available Now!

Just a heads-up to let you all know that the first book in Kevin J. Anderson’s new Waking The Dragon Series, Spine Of The Dragon, is available now!

This is a great first installment in a burgeoning fantasy saga that is full of promise.
So check out my review of it right HERE and then, if that gets your interest peaked, head over to WordFire.com to order yourself a copy, gang.
If you love epic fantasy with multiple storylines and perspectives, this is definitely for you.

Spine Of The Dragon Review

We all know that fantasy novels can be crazy intimidating, but the 1st in a series?
Good lord, man!
In my experience, they often run well over 400 pages, with the onslaught of new worlds, characters, cultures, and histories being incredibly overwhelming and can all too often take the story from being a fun break from our world to the most boring history class you could ever possibly imagine.
So when I first laid eyes on Spine Of The Dragon and saw what a monster this book was I was nervous as hell, man.
Just the footprint of it alone had me quaking in my boots, flipping through it and seeing the density had me near flop sweats.
But I accepted the challenge and started reading it.
Now, the eternal question when talking about books rises up to greet us, how did that go?

This is an advanced review, so I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but even so This is your official ***SPOILER WARNING***

Here at the top, I want to provide a quick glossary of terms so I don’t have to explain them later.
The Commonwealth – 1 of 2 eternally warring continents
Ishara – The other of the 2 eternally warring continents
Konag – The King of Kings on the Commonwealth
Empra – Queen of Ishara
Utauk – An unaligned group that are basically traveling salesman and barterers, free to go between the 2 continents
Brava – Half Wreth/Half Humans that carry a bracelet that bites into their arms and unleashes magical flame
Wreth – Ancient race that created humans, split into 2 factions centuries ago, and had a war that destroyed almost all magic on the Commonwealth

It went pretty well, in fact I read the 1st 100 or so pages in about 24 hours because it was so damn engaging.
But I have to be honest, I read THIS excerpt before getting this and I had another worry that I didn’t mention above.
A big wall I have always run into with Fantasy novels/stories is that the character names often seem too hokey. They’re either way over-thought or, sometimes even worse, under-baked, and in both cases there is no in-world explanation of how that name came about, which makes cringy names even worse.

So, in that sample I read the name King Adan Starfall and cringed hard.
BUT!
When I got to the in-world explanation, all of that fell away.
Because the significance of it is that this King chose the name when he was a teenager.
This simple yet brilliant explanation that he chose it himself makes it work, because even if you don’t know the exact circumstances of what made him choose the name you can make the argument that it sounds like a name a young person would chose and stick with for many years…Scooby-Doom said with a wink to you, his lovely readers…

This is an impeccably well written story about a deeply thought out world full of easily likable & detestable characters that are equally interesting in the ways they need to be for it all to work and be satisfying.
And with no less than 14 storylines being juggled, that’s imperative.

The storylines we’re following throughout (and I know I’m definitely going to forget at least 1) include the 3 Kings of the Commonwealth continent, the Konag of the Commonwealth, the 2 leaders of the ancient and reemerging Wreth clans, a young Utauk girl, an Utauk merchant leader, a Brava captain that’s advisor to the Konag, a woman former Brava with a dark past, Empra of Ishara, an Isharan priest, and a traveling girl whose only mission is to learn as much as she possible can.
That is a hell of a lot of story to keep track of and he never once disappoints.

The only real issue I can point out with the writing would be that it’s difficult to gauge the passage of time.
At a few points in this story, through narration or dialogue somebody will say things like “it’s hard to believe how much has changed in the 2 week since the Wreths reemerged.” and I had a moment of “shit, it’s been that long since that happened!?” that I feel could be smoothed out a little more with dates at the start of chapters or slightly more dialogue to drill the point home.

One of the things that I love most about Kevin J. Anderson’s books will always be that he writes short chapters.
That makes it far easier to keep all of the many parts of the story moving forward, it keeps you from getting bored with a particular character or group of characters because you never spend 30+ pages with one POV wishing to learn more about the other corners of a world, and it also leads me to devour his work faster.
When reading his books, I never get stuck in the middle of a chapter and have to reread the last paragraph to remember where I was.
It’s a small style choice that I don’t know if he does intentionally or not, but it’s always appreciated nonetheless.

To wrap up, this is a hell of a kick-off to a new series by a masterful storyteller and world builder, gang.
It’s a tale of friendships and betrayals, old enemies and new allies, and a world on the brink of a war that the leaders do not want but may be forced in to by the machinations and posturing of others who have axes they can’t stop themselves from grinding.
Also, it has maps, and maps in books will never not be great!
And now the long wait begins for the next installment.

Kevin J. Anderson’s Spine Of The Dragon releases on June 4th, pre-order your copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever you get your books.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Selected Stories: Science Fiction Volume 2 Press Release

From WordFire Press…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

With this new collection of stories, Kevin J. Anderson demonstrates why he has tens of millions of readers worldwide and has won or been nominated for numerous awards.

Monument, Colorado. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of Selected Stories: Science Fiction, volume 2, by Kevin J. Anderson.

#1 international bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson continues to demonstrate his versatility and imagination in his Selected Storiesseries, with a second full volume of his best science fiction tales.

These sixteen stories, ranging from flash fiction to novella length, extend from the far corners of space to the edge of time and back to cutting-edge explorations inspired by today’s headlines. Read about clones and combat cyborgs, nanotechnology experiments and giant robots, super-sentient lab rats and immortal dogs, alien magicians and altered timelines.

Anderson introduces each story with a brief perspective about the inspiration or writing process, as well as a compelling introductory essay about his lifelong close relationship with the science fiction genre.

Kevin J. Anderson has published 140 books, 56 of which have been national or international bestsellers. Anderson has written numerous novels in the Star Wars, X-Files, Dune, and DC Comics universes, as well as unique steampunk fantasy novels Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives, written with legendary rock drummer Neil Peart, based on the concept album by the band Rush. His original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series, the Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy, and the Saga of Shadows trilogy. He has edited numerous anthologies, written comics and games, and the lyrics to two rock CDs. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta are the publishers of WordFire Press.

Selected Stories: Science Fiction, volume 2:

Hardback $30. ISBN 978-1-61475-966-9

Trade paperback $18.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-964-5

Ebook $5.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-965-2

Coming February, 2019

WordFire Press is a mid-size new-model publisher founded by New York Timesbestselling authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. You can find us atwordfirepress.com. Tweet us @WordFirePress. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/WordfireIncWordfirePress.

Episode 068.5: God Hates Us: The 2019 Nerd Blitz New Year’s Spectacular

maxresdefault-700x392In this episode, the fellas are feeling festive and decide to do their 1st annual (maybe!) post-Christmas/New Year’s show!

They talk about all of the gifts they got for Christmas, including what they got each other and why they picked those specific things, a Christmas morning wubble bubble bursting causes a meltdown of biblical proportions for one of them as the other somehow gets completely Evil AND Dead.

Gather round and kick off 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Scooby-Doo franchise, in style with this short but fun episode of your favorite podcast hosted by us, gang!

URL: Episode 068.5: God Hates Us: The 2019 Nerd Blitz New Year’s Spectacular
Direct Download: tnb068_5.mp3

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Services Rendered Review

Back to the offices of Chambeaux & Deyer we go for more fun & spooky cases in this collection of 9 new stories.
The whole gang is along for the ride too!
Dan Chambeaux: Detective extraordinaire & Zombie.
Robin Deyer: Precedent-setting lawyer for all unnaturals & all around sweetheart.
Sheyenne “Spooky”: Receptionist & Dan’s ghost girlfriend.
Officer Toby “McGoo” McGoohan: Beat Cop & Dan’s BFF, emphasis on the 2nd F.
Let’s see what kind of trouble is about to go down in the UQ, shall we?

For the 20th time, this your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Let’s get this out of the way right here at the top, just so we’re all clear.
This a Dan Shamble book so we really don’t need to pretend that I may not like it.
There is a 95% chance that I was going to love it and I damn well did.
With that all out in the open I have to say the worst part of this book is that it ended so quickly, and it’s getting sadder and sadder when the adventures in the Unnatural Quarter come to an end.
I just can’t get enough of this oddball family, their interactions, and this entire universe.
Flat out, I fuckin’ love this world and these characters.
It’s creeping dangerously close to Scooby & Star Wars levels of love.

Before we get too deep, go read my review of High Midnight, the 4th story in this collection.
I go a bit more in-depth on that than I may on some of the others.
Anywho, let’s get started on the other stories in here.

There are 2 entries in this collection that I was 100% fascinated by, 1st and foremost would be Paperwork.
This is the shortest of the 9, at about 8 pages long, and it’s basically a short way to get you introduced to this universe & this collection.
An Unnatural divorce sees the spurned husband, a poltergeist, tearing up the office and slinging case files all over the place.
The main cast comes together to reminiscence about the cases as they straighten up.
It feels like pure sitcom clip show set up fun, only without recycling old content.

I hesitate to call the following an issue, because I don’t really feel it’s a complaint as much as it is a hope/suggestion.
But having gotten used to how @TheKJA has done the intros to each story with his Selected Stories series, I would’ve loved to see this one story be multi-part intros to each of the following stories to give us a little bit more fun and help us learn more about these characters.
It really would have brought home the sitcom feel.
It works as is though, and we do learn about these characters and their personalities through the other 8 stories.

The other story that I was fascinated by would be Wishful Thinking.
As KJA said when I interviewed him in Series 5, Ep 2 of TNB Book Club, keen observers will realize that this is the Shamble half of the Kolchak crossover comic that he wrote (hear both Fitz and I review the comic in Episode 43).
The second he told me that I started wondering “now how the hell is that gonna work?”, and to answer that question…pretty damn well!
Obviously while reading this, I could see the changes clear as day, but even more interesting than that is seeing the switch from a visual story to pure prose.
I love comics, but the theater of the mind that simple words on a page can prompt can not be beat.
That alone makes this the better version of this story for me.
Not to mention the singular focus on Dan and this world gives it a less disjointed feel.

I only want to mention 2 other stories in this review, and part of me wanted to rip out 1 of them and make it a special review of its own as it’s seasonally appropriate.
Cold Dead Turkey gives us a story that must be an anthropologist’s wet dream!
Set at Christmas (you know, to take advantage of the extra magic), an Aztec Mummy and an Egyptian Mummy are at odds over a sacrifical turkey being specifically raised to fulfill a centuries long wish.
This one perfectly encapsulates why I love this series.
It is unabashedly and unapologetically ridiculous.
This is what I’m talking about when I say that this series feels like a mix of The Munsters & The Rockford Files.
It’s the perfect balance of humor, monsters, & detective footwork.
It’s up there with Role Model, Hair Raising, & Death Warmed Over as one of my favorite stories in the franchise.

Another one up there would be Game Night.
There’s really no mystery here at all, this is one of those stories that helps us learn a bit more about who these characters are.
This is pure horror, a new spin on this world.
After a rough day in the office for both Dan & Robin, Spooky decides they all need a break, invites McGoo over, and organizes a family game night.
McGoo, hot off of a case of his own, and due to some confusion, rushes over before heading back to UQPD Headquarters to catalogue a vial of evidence.
Contained in the vial is a wish substance a genie tried bribing him with.
They start playing a Zombie Outbreak board game and due to a mishap and some poor wording, the entire crew gets transported into the world of the game.
Seeing the entire gang thrown into a dire situation and how they handle it throws this up there with the stories I mentioned above!

Normally, in a collection this short, I would break down every story and give you reasons why I love each, but I think I’d rather leave some of them for you to discover.
Kevin J. Anderson’s love for this series is clear, the sly world building skills are razor sharp.
A few characters from previous books and stories come back for small cameos that go a long way.
And on a more personal note, as a fan of KJA, I absolutely loved the throwaway mention of the librarian who looks like she “suffers from chronic hemorrhoids”.
If you don’t get that reference, watch this and join the cool kids club.

I want you all to check this out, half because I’m greedy and great sales means I’ll get more.
And half because I genuinely think if you like me, my YouTube channel, Fitz, the Pod, and our collective sense of humor, you will love this series.
It’s so damn good and deserves your attention gang.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.