Spider-Man: Goblin’s Revenge Review

Our story picks up the morning after Carnage In New York (read my review of that novel here) as Spidey heads to meet up with Reed Richards and deliver the serum from that novel, which is a fun idea…in theory…
As we know, sometimes creative changes can lead to an uneven feeling in the story and tone.

Does this feel like a good continuation?
Let’s find out!

As per usual, consider this your 22 year late ***SPOILER ALERT***!!!
And a quick thank you to @acferrell1976 for her editorial help with these reviews.

So, Spider-Man meets up with Mr. Fantasic and swings back home for some much needed rest.
As Spidey makes his way home, a new maniac on a Goblin Glider lobs a pumpkin bomb at the leader of the FF and snatches the serum away, setting up our conflict.
Quickly, Spider-Man’s world is turned upside down and we jump 2 weeks ahead in time.
As the webslinger tries to figure out who this new Goblin is and what his plans are, a mission to break Carnage out of a high security prison sets that monster free.

One of the best things about this novel is the focus.
It easily could have been a retread of the previous story, going for a personal story that cheapened the one from last time.
But instead, Dean Wesley Smith weaves in a surprising personal thread near the end (more on that in a bit) that is so different and works better because of it.
The main focus though is Pete stressing hardcore about the serum getting loose in the world, facing a lack of sleep due to a reoccurring nightmare that gives him flashbacks to one of his most traumatic failures.

The action is handled in the way you would expect from an author of DWS’s stature.
The guilt and stress the webhead feels about the serum getting out, though described through 3rd person narration, comes across as well as if you were reading Parker’s diary.
Dean Wesley Smith is a writer I know of, but don’t know his work well.
Having said that, I have really liked the few books of his I’ve read (2 Spider-Man novels and a Smallville novel for sure, I’m pretty sure there are a couple more).
The scene of Carnage at the airport, murdering hostages in a ploy to get Spider-Man to face him is gruesome.
As is the scene of the Glider rider chucking a dose of the serum into a group of mercs that have been pursuing our Sensational hero, they destroy one another quickly and bloodily.

MJ, seeing the weight of pressure and responsibility that Pete is putting on himself, tries to boost her husband’s mood by bringing together their old circle of friends, Flash and Liz…which unwittingly helps this new Goblin get something over on Spidey and brings MJ closer than she probably ever wanted to be to the climactic action.
The Goblin and Carnage bickering helps Pete take down the symbiotic monster and leads to a Goblin chase and reveal.

Given the described inexperience of this Goblin, if you know the Spidey Rogues Gallery it’s pretty easy to figure out who he is.
So there is some level of predictably, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
And in all honesty, that’s probably the key to all good Spider-Man stories, fun.
I know this story sounds depressing as all hell, but trust me it does have enough fun to meet that criteria.

The 1 thing that stuck out as odd to me would be at the beginning, Reed apologies to Pete for the FF not being around to help with Carnage last time and says he hopes to be there next time.
When Carnage pops up again, the FF is dealing with another crisis somewhere and are unable to help Spidey.
It 100% makes sense that the Fantastic Four would constantly be rushing off to deal with other problems, but it felt really fuckin’ weird to draw attention to that only to let it happen again.
It’s a minor nitpick, but I feel it’s valid to wonder about.

That aside, it does feel like a good continuation of the last book.
It’s shorter, but that makes for a tighter story with more focus on our hero and his problem.
I desperately hope I can find more of these books, because thus far they are all so true to character and an utter joy to devour.
Find them if you can, gang!

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Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories Science Fiction, Vol. 1 Available Now!

Hey Gang, just a heads up for anybody that’s interested, the KJA Sci-Fi Short Story Collection I reviewed last week is Now Available!
The 1st of 4 planned collected volumes, this one has a Dune entry, a sequel to a famous Harlan Ellison story, and much more, plus the cover design is so delightfully trippy.

If you are a fan of the genre or the Author, I highly recommend you check this out.
Read my review here and then head to your nearest bookstore for the Hardcover/Paperback or pull up your favorite E-Format (many of which can be found here) and snap up a copy.
You won’t be disappointed!

Episode 057: My Wife’s Dead, Wanna See A Fat Kid?

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In this Episode, the fellers are uh-talkin’ about some stuff they done seen on TV and in the Movie Theaters recently (yay!) and all of the randomness you know and love us for.

Doom brings a Pimp Spot and Fitz got a funny book for humping years ago, then they dive into movie reviews starting with a flick Doom saw last year called IT!

Also, Doom saw Deadpool 2 and gives a spoiler free review, which Fitz follows up with an Incredible review 2…ya see, he saw Incredibles 2 with his family, so that’s why I said that…get it?…I’m sure ya did…anyway, hope you enjoy the Ep, BYE!

URL: Episode 057: My Wife’s Dead, Wanna See A Fat Kid?
Direct Download: tnb057.mp3

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.

Tough Shit Review

If you are a fan of Kev Smith, you’ve probably read this book already, maybe even multiple times.
Or maybe you were like me, a huge fan of Kev but somehow this book just kept slipping through your grasp for one reason or another.
Either way, that’s okay.
As with much of Kev’s work, it’s always there, like a warm hug ready to engulf you in its loving embrace.

We try not to talk too much about Kev because in podcasting it gets a bit tiresome and redundant because EVERYBODY does it, but the gloves are off, it’s all gonna hang out here, gang.
If you haven’t guessed…yeah, this is gonna be one of THOSE reviews, just a slobbering suck off of Kwigleeuh proportions.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, about 85-90% of this book is shit you’ve heard Kev say on a stage or in a podcast 3 or 4 times.
But, much like your favorite band that tries to sling new songs at you or a comedian that wants to work new material, you’re not gonna be pissed if they just stick to the hits.
Think about it, were most people ever like “fuck me, here comes Carlin with this 7 Dirty Words shit again.”?
No, folks wanted him to continue using that bit, but he took it as far as he could and left it behind.
Kev did the same here, he collects the hits and, though he still told some of these stories after, he didn’t bang the drum on them all forever.
And not for nothing, but presenting it in a new medium actually makes these stories feel fresh again.
That’s a great thing about him too!

With podcasts we have hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of his voice, he’s done 6 Stand-Up esque specials, countless interviews, so while reading this book you hear him more clearly in your head than most writers.
It feels more like he’s creepily whispering the stories of Cop Out, Red State, and SouthWest in your ear, hot breath on your neck, caressing your moob, and squeezing it ever so slig…maybe that’s just me…um, anywho!
It feels like he’s telling the tales directly to you, is my point!

Part of that 10-15% that you’ve not heard is painstaking detail about an incident with an unruly mega star on the Cop Out set (3 guesses who!), the inner workings of pulling off Sundance and the road show details of Red State, and then the general inspirational shit that he sorta says all the time but is presented in a fresh way.
The blow by blow account of the SouthWest incident and media bias against tubby fucks (like myself) is painful to read, but true.
Mocking fat people is still one of the only socially accepted, and in some cases encouraged, form of prejudice.
The theater and denial involved are just disgusting and, though he has lost a lot of weight since his heart attck, this particular albatross is forever around his neck as some folks still see him as that fat guy that tried flying.

He devotes a lot of time to SModcast and the creation of the SModcast Podcast Network, specifically TESD and how that turned into the Comic Book Men (RIP), his family and friends, love and relationships of all sorts, and passion, but the chapter that really, truly, brings the house down is the chapter on Carlin and Carnegie.
The story of his Dad bringing him the albums, meeting with George for Dogma, rocking one of the grandest stages of them all, and turning that into creative fuel is gold.

The bottom line is this: Kev knows how to spin a yarn.
Most chapters easily flow into the next with an ease that makes it hard to not read 50 to 100 pages at a clip.
This is the 1st book he’s truly written (the others were just collected material never intended to go together) and it’s a great 1st outing.
The thing this makes me most excited for though is the day Smitty decides he wants to write a novel.
Because this proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that he could do it better than most.
And I’m happier than a pig in shit that he’s still around to potentially do it.
If you are a fan, don’t wait as long as I have to check this out.
It is more than worth it.

TNB Book Club 3.01: Scooby-Doo And The Howling Wolfman

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Welcome Back To The Nerd Blitz Book Club!

In Episode 1 of this 2 part series, we discuss the 1st half of the 5th book in James Gelsey’s Scooby-Doo Mysteries series, Scooby-Doo And The Howling Wolfman.

Hear reminiscences of the 1st time Doom read this and got hooked on the franchise, and Fitz talk about sharing it with his kids.

Grab a copy and climb in the van, as we go for a ride with Scoob and the Mystery Inc gang.

URL: TNB Book Club 3.01: Scooby-Doo And The Howling Wolfman
Direct Download: tnbbc003001.mp3

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.