Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: High Midnight Review

Originally published in the Straight Outta Tombstone supernatural western short story collection from Baen Books, The Chambeaux & Deyer Investigations crew are back and heading for a shootout in the Unnatural Quarter at High Midnight.
Does this story deserve to hang its hat next to the rest of the Shamble canon?
Let’s find out!

Consider this your official ***SPOILER ALERT***, gang.

Knowing how much I love this series, this character, and this world, it would take a lot for me to say it doesn’t deserve its place in the overall tapestry.
At this point, Shamble is like Scooby for me, KJA would have to really go off the rails and go in a ridiculous Get A Clue-esque direction to lose my interest.

As the story goes Robin (Deyer, Dan’s business partner) has helped work out the contracts to bring an old west show to the UQ, the main attraction being the ghost of a gunslinger named Deadeye One-Eye.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that one of the things that makes this series so much fun is figuring out the rules and just how this world works and, once again, he adds another spoke or two to the wheel.
In Book 2, Unnatural Acts, we find out that there are ways to destroy ghosts.
In this story we find out a whole new way that they can get hurt and die…again!

After a display of his gunslinging abilities, Deadeye One-Eye gives Dan a vague threat about his Great-Great-Umpty-Ump Grandpappy, Dirk Chambeaux.
Says he’ll see Dan at High Midnight and pimps away…only to have gunfire ring out!
The promoter of the event, Mild Bill (the alleged ghost of Wild Bill), gets caught in the crossfire and is fatally shot with ghost bullets, which I know sounds hokey as shit but trust me, it works.
As he dies and fades away, he clues Dan & Co in on ol Dirk in a pretty cool way.
There is another cool world rule for ghosts that I don’t want to spoil, but it was so unexpected and I loved it.

KJA’s style is still colorful, but not overly detailed which makes it easy to devour.
You can tell he loves these characters, the warmth between the mains makes that obvious.
My way to sell this series for quite a while now has been to say that it’s like The Rockford Files meets the Universal Monsters, but the more accurate description would be The Rockford Files meets The Munsters with a pinch of The Addams Family.
It also helps scratch a long lasting itch I’ve had for some solid supernatural Western action.
It’s full of so much wacky fun, it’s punny, it’s clever, and there’s just not enough Dan Shamble in the world to satisfy my insatiable hunger.

I’m damn skippy this will be in the new Dan Shamble short story collection KJA has said is coming this fall.
If this is any indication of the quality of the other DSZPI shorts he’s written lately, we are in for some great shit when it drops.

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Star Wars: Kenobi Review

Since it was published, this book was proclaimed to be one of the best books of the EU.
Written by one of my favorite Star Wars authors, focusing on one of my favorite Star Wars characters, can it live up to that hype and my own personal expectations?
Patience, my very young Apprentice.
We’re about to find out.

As per usual, this is your official ***SPOILER WARNING***

I didn’t know too much about this going in, just that it was set almost immediately after Ep III and showed Obi-Wan settling into his new reality as a guardian of the future, of hope.
And that is definitely here, Obi-Wan has the weight of the entire galaxy on his shoulders, and at times it’s pitiable.
The moments of torment as he laments his former life make him even more sympathetic.
The working in of the alien accountant that was *Jabba* in the 1977 Marvel adaptation of the movie is perfect.
But there are 2 things I didn’t expect.
1. I didn’t expect Obi-Wan to almost be a background character.
2. I didn’t expect the arc of A’Yark (I’ll have more on this in a bit, hang tight).

Concerning the 1st point, I have read John Jackson Miller and others talk about why we really only see Obi-Wan from everybody else’s perspective, and I have to say it really annoyed me at 1st.
But the longer it goes, the better it works.
Seeing everybody else try to crack this nut is far more effective in maintaining mystery and looking at an iconic character than just jumping into his head.
It makes things more challenging for the writer and the audience, which in the end I dug.
I do love the 1 sided meditation conversations with Qui-Gon as an insight into Kenobi’s thought process, but more importantly I just love seeing the training Yoda set out for him in the closing moments of Revenge Of The Sith.

As for the 2nd unexpected point, A’Yark is a Tusken leader that we spend a surprising amount of time with.
Probably like most people, I went into this thinking that Tuskens were animalistic savages driven by rage and some unknown destructive need.
We go into the head of A’Yark and see something far more fascinating, a deep seeded superstition based on Tatooine’s twin suns.
We see some actual critical thinking, instead of base urge.
We learn about the history of the wrappings and look of Tuskens.
It’s great seeing how they’re treated vs how they really are, and learning how them and their attacks have effected and molded this community.

The worst part of this book is that it was a victim of the great EU Purge.
As seen above, JJM was walking between worlds, he was clearly tying all of his Star Wars works together.
But mentions of Duchess Satine and their relationship, which is official Canon, are examples of great moments of connectivity the Canon is currently missing.
Maybe if they do a Obi-Wan movie they’ll retread this territory (why would you do that!?), but stories like this, that could fit so well into the tapestry of the singular cohesive story, are now slightly depressing to read.

Overall, I love this book.
Maybe I’m easy to please, but there is so much to love.
If you want more insight into this legend of Lucas, read this book and hold out hope something like this comes around again and Miller gets to work on it.

The Franklin Affair, 2nd Look

Hey, gang.
Since we aren’t dropping a new ep this weekend (our 2 year anniversary show drops Monday, so keep your eyes peeled for that), I thought it would be cool to give you a 2nd look at the story I’m writing.
What follows is just the rough 1st draft of page 2.

Please keep in mind that this is just page one of 12.
The hope is, once completed, that we may turn it into an audio drama for our Bandcamp page.

And just so you get the vibe I’m going for, check out this playlist I made of mood music.
Sort of an unofficial soundtrack.

Also, just in case ou missed it, be sure to check out Page 1!

Anywhoo, let us know in the comments below what you think of it.
Without further ado, enjoy this 2nd taste of, what is tentatively titled, The Franklin Affair!

“In the quarter hour it took to ride out, the sun had set and the air took on a chill.
When we finally got there and dismounted, the horses were clearly unsettled.
As each rider climbed off, their horse backed away and bolted up the hill we’d just come down.
If something bad were to go down, we were alone.
A clatter came from the small house and we all cleared leather in near record time, while still advancing slowly.

We crept forward in silence, when our boots hit the porch, a creak came from somewhere just beyond the door.
As the sheriff reached for it, the door exploded outward on its hinges with such force it shook a hanging lantern from the nail holding it up and shattered on the porch soaking the old wood, and splattering the front wall, and door.
Willard Franklin charged out of the house, snapping and growling. Bloodstained and shockingly pale his hands groped frantically out in front of him in search of some unknown purchase.
As we all stood there stunned for a second, he hissed and a thin stream of blood leaked out of the corner of his mouth.

Before we could recover our senses, Willard lunged at the sheriff and sank his teeth into the left side of his neck.
Blood oozed and frothed from the wound as Franklin continued to gnash and slurp.
The sheriff crumpled to the ground still clawing at the gaping hole in his neck and gagging on blood.
Willard then turned his attention to the rest of us.
Brought back to reality by the shock of violence we all unloaded on him.

After a good fifteen seconds of dancing in the hail of our gunfire, Willard collapsed to the porch thrashing and growling in a pain.
With his gun still drawn, Toby ran up to check on the sheriff.
Even from several feet away it was pretty clear the sheriff wouldn’t be making it back on his own.
Toby asked if any of us had a cloth to try and stop the bleeding as the sheriff clutched at his deputy and desperately whispered in a hoarse voice.
I could swear I heard him say “kill me”.”

The Franklin Affair, 1st Look

Hey, gang.
What follows is just a rough 1st draft of a story I’m currently writing.
As of right now, this is just page one of 6.
The hope is, once completed, that we may turn it into an audio drama for our Bandcamp page.

And just so you get the vibe I’m going for, check out this playlist I made of mood music.
Sort of an unofficial soundtrack.

Anywhoo, let us know in the comments below what you think of it.
Enjoy this 1st taste of what is tentatively titled The Franklin Affair!

“We were having a great time, it felt like the whole town was at the saloon that evening.
Billy Johnson was at the piano, playing away, Madam Curtis had her girls mingling amongst the crowd, it was a hell of a party…until Marsha Franklin burst through the swinging doors covered in blood and muck.
Her scream silenced the place in an instant.

She ran up to the bar, damn near launching herself over it.
“Is Sheriff Wilkens in here?” she panted. “My Pa, he lost it! He attacked my Ma and Charles! Please, I need help!”
The bartender poked Toby, the deputy, and jerked his thumb towards the stairs.

Toby ran up to pull the sheriff off one of the Curtis girls, while everybody else gawked at Marsha.
A few of the fellas tried to get her to sit down and settle a bit, but she wanted none of that.
She was bordering on hysterics when Toby and the sheriff came stumbling down into the bar, they pushed their way to the front of the group surrounding Miss Franklin.

She dove into his arms sobbing, wailing about crazy eyes, broken nails, and cracked teeth.
While she was trying to tell her tale, Madam Curtis rounded up some of her more delicate girls and ushered them up to their rooms.
The Franklin Clan was known in town for being a bit dramatic, the blood on her clothes and the fresh wounds on her pale skin had bought her some measure of belief in the room.

The sheriff brought Madam Curtis back down to take care of Marsha while he got Toby and a few others together, myself included, so we could head over to the Franklin homestead.
Since guns aren’t allowed in the Saloon anymore, I retrieved my revolvers from bench out front, strapped them on, and mounted my horse with the rest of the posse.
In a cloud of dust, we set out.”

Firefly Returns!

Like a leaf on the wind, the Serenity soars again!
20th Century Fox has announced the return of Joss Whedon’s beloved, yet quickly cancelled, early 2000’s Sci-Fi franchise.
Sadly, not to screens, but in the best possible way that isn’t filmed, in my opinion.

In conjunction with Titan books, this fall will see the release of the 1st of 3 (for now) Firefly novels, overseen by Josh Whedon himself.
They will written by well known tie-in author Nancy Holder, probably best known for her Buffy novels (though I know from her great Smallville novels), Tim Lebbon, author of Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi: Into The Void, and James Lovegrove, a British writer whose works I sadly don’t know, though after searching him, his work sounds like something I’d be into.

I have wanted Firefly novels for a long time, so I am incredibly excited for these!
Hopefully sales are strong enough that it leads to more than just 3.
The 1st drops October 2018, and that can’t come quick enough.

Get the full details, including the 1st plot details, right here!