Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Services Rendered is available now!

Good news, everyone, the new Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. short story collection is out now!

That’s right, Services Rendered is available for purchase in all of your favorite formats, including Paperback and Hardcover.
Get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, where ever else you buy your books.
You can find your favorite digital type stuff right here.

It features 9 stories, 2 of which have never appeared in print.
Earlier this year I reviewed 1 of the stories featured, High Midnight, and next week I’ll review the other 8, just in case you want to know what’s going on before you buy it.

Also next week, keep your eyes peeled for Series 5 Episode 2 of The Nerd Blitz Book Club where we finish reading Role Model and I Interview Kevin J. Anderson.

I hope you’ll all get this book, if only as a thank you to a friend of the show.
But I know if you are a fan of monsters, detectives, and quirky comedy, you are going to love this series as much as I do.

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Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories: Fantasy Review

You remember what I said in my review of the Sci-Fi volume of this planned 4 volume collection about somebody contacting Kevin J. Anderson for the upcoming Twilight Zone reboot?
At its best, Twilight Zone pinballed between Sci-Fi and Fantasy with ease.
But can KJA, who I feel is best known for his Sci-Fi work, bounce between the genres with the same effortlessness?
I say it’s time we find out.

As per usual, take this as your official warning of ****SPOILERS**** and let’s dive in.

I almost want to bury the lead here and make you dive deeper to find the answer to the above question, but I just can’t.
He does.
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of his 2nd of 4 planned Short Story Collections and I can say for sure that there are some stories in here that rival anything Serling and Co. came up with on their best days.
For instance, the story Time Zone (which even KJA calls out as Twilight Zoney) ends with that same amazing stomach dropping feeling of episodes like Time Enough At last or the horrific unavoidable feel of eps like Spur Of The Moment.
A dude who just moved west gets a call from his panicked parents who just saw on the news that a devastating earthquake hit his area.
But he doesn’t know anything about what they’re telling him, thinking they must be confused by the change in timezones again, when the time they mentioned strikes and he feels a rumble.
That is such a fucked up and genius, but extremely terrifying, idea that leaves your head swimming, and I love it.

While I love the stories, his intros shine again.
Most writers seem to be okay giving off the vibe that they are distant, reclusive, stuck in their own imaginations, but these intros give you a peek inside.
He again talks about what inspired each story.
He shares stories about his childhood, when he and his wife (fellow author and frequent collaborator, Rebecca Moesta) were dating and newly married, Christmas traditions, friends he has known and worked with for years, and anything in between.
If you are subscribed to his readers group, you know these personal anecdotes aren’t in here as some attempt at being pseudo friendly while slyly slipping a nimble finger or two into your wallet for a dollar…or twenty.
He genuinely seems to want to connect with his readers, not unlike another well known Kevin we mention around these parts from time to time.

It adds a new layer to each story, specifically the ones set in and around a fictional small town called Tucker’s Grove Wisconsin.
I was not disappointed by a single one of those stories, Loco-Motive, Just Like Normal People (which has a great nod to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, aka The Laughing Bird, that I loved), & Mirror, Mirror On The Wall.
My grandparents came from a small town that we often made trips to so they could visit their siblings and these stories feel like they could be set there.
The dark history and suspicious attitudes he gives to this otherwise idyllic town are as real as you can get, chillingly so.

I have said it before and I will say it again and again, Kevin J. Anderson is one of my favorite writers because he gets important information across in the most economical way possible.
With both of these short story collections, all of the Shamble stories, and his DC work, he crams them so full of details without boring the shit out of you for a half page with meaningless minutae about a rocking chair that damn near makes you want to rip your eyes out and stomp them into jelly.
I feel he is legitimately on the level of J.K. Rowling in that regard.
Of the twenty-six stories included, I loved twenty-four.
The two that I didn’t love were enjoyable but in the end their focus was on subjects that I just didn’t care as much about.
That’s a great average no matter how you slice it.

The last stories I have got to mention are Dark Angel, Archangel & Heroes Never Die, they are among the grandest included.
The first features the former grim reaper and his replacement as they are waging a war for the future of humanity, and it is awesome.
The way he cross cuts between the combatants and humans, showing who is winning through the fates of random people is brilliant and a must read.
The second showcases a Thor-like hero of old in modern times as he relays stories to a young kid who just moved in next door and loves superheroes.
The whimsy from the kid as this man of failing physicality spins his yarn is both hopeful and beautiful.
His defense of his elder friend is the same.

The bottom line is this, the fun on display here is stunning.
It’s hard to express just how much I loved this book.
In here, he plays with the toys of Jules Verne & H.P. Lovercraft, fictionalizes the inspirations of H.G. Wells & Charles Dickens, takes us through time to before man walked the earth and into feudal Japan, and the beautifully trippy cover art is the cherry on top.
In short, this book is the perfect personification of what short fiction can and should be for me.
This is going to be a tough act for other writers to follow.

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories: Fantasy is available September 15th in Paperback, E-Format, and Hardcover.
Pre-order it on Amazon or wherever you buy books.

Special thanks to @acferrell1976 for her editorial help on these reviews.

Share this on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBBookReview.

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #7

It’s Tuesday, gang, and you know what that means, time for some hard hitting Questionizationings!
Let’s go!

What counts the most for you when reading comics?
Writing or Art?

Leave your answer in the comments below or post them on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBQotW so we can find and RT ’em.

Special thanks to @SteBoost for our QotW logo!

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.

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”.”