Monday, January 25, 2016

Turok re-release!

For all of you kids today who grew up with Nintendo Wiis and PS3's, you missed out on a heck of a lot of good games from the old days. I'm not going to pretend that old games were perfect. Oh heck no. Not at all. The graphics were chunky, there was a lot of crap that you had to figure out all by yourself, and there was stuff that often got in the way. But here and there were absolute gems that make them stack up against some of the best modern games. Unlike stuff today, a lot of older games had insane amounts of imagination and had really cool art styles.

If this doesn't interest you, then you have no soul

The old Nintendo 64 was a hot rod back in the day, and while my brother and I were definitely late to the game for, um, games, we didn't waste any time catching up. Some of the best I ever played were the Turok games. Playing a Native American with futuristic weapons fighting through alternate dimensions and blasting mutated dinosaurs is a classic scenario, one dating back to Egyptian legends, possibly earlier. It was one of the most visceral and innovative set of games ever done, and I wasted plenty of time blasting guys in Frag mode with insane weapons like the Inflator or Cerebral Bore. But alas, with the old gear being relegated to museums and restored by eccentric millionaires, the only ones who can play these games in a modern setup is after bootlegging them.

But brave knights of the game world have stepped forth and are cleaning them up and re-releasing them on Steam and other sites!

Heck, the first one is already out on Steam now! A bit pricey for a game that's almost 20 years old, but it's a lot cheaper than hunting down a working N64, controllers, rumble pack and old Turok copies.

There are no words that can describe my elation at this news. So far they are bringing back Turok and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. I'm hoping they bring back 3, but I'm so stoked at getting these two back that it's hard not to be happy.
I never like downloading bootleg games. And not just because they are whorehouses for viruses and destructive software that will give my computer electric STD's. It's because I believe that products should be payed for, but it sucks when the product just plain isn't available to be purchased. I want to give money to guys who develop good games! But when idiot companies or managers slaughter them for the soul harvest it leaves a lot of people with no other option aside from pirating, or the game faces extinction.

So I'm all for re-releases on modern platforms that give these things an extra lease on life. I often complain about modern times, but it is harder to when stuff like this happens. :D

Finnish Sniper Simo Hayha

One of the most impressive soldiers I've ever seen in history and one of my personal heroes was the legendary Simo Hayha. When you think of Finland, you usually don't think of "hard core snowbound winter warriors." But around 300,000 plus Russians learned that the hard way in the little known but brutal engagement known as The Winter War of 1939.

I've been thinking for some time about writing an article on the man and the war, but fellow blogger Jim of Frontier Partisans beat me to it. And I'm actually glad he did. Whereas my article style is what you'd expect from an over the top high schooler, Jim writes with an elegance and professionalism that you would expect from a mature and dignified expert who has delved through tomes of books, which he has. I heavily encourage you to read his take on it here. It's a fascinating read and well worth the ten minutes it takes to read it.

Since I learned of this conflict I became fascinated with Finland, sisu, and Simo. He was actually the primary inspiration behind my character Ansgar Tapio in Primal Frontier. The idea of such determined, stoic and efficient men fighting in such difficult circumstances was awe inspiring, even after I'd researched so many other wilderness warriors. Even today Finland has some impressive soldiers and Simo is a national hero, as he darned well should be. Many of us would do well to learn about that conflict and the man, as there is much to be gleaned from that conflict.

I've taken one of Mr. Hayha's pieces of advice to heart. After putting roughly 500 Russian soldiers in the ground with a Mosin Nagant bolt action rifle with nothing but iron sights and guts, he was asked afterwards how he got to be so good. His response was "Practice."

Monday, January 18, 2016

Pellucidar: The Dead World

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This is an odd book to review. I actually read this book months ago, but was so conflicted and unsure about my feelings that I decided to take some time to let my thoughts settle on it, but accidentally forgot instead. Spoilers ahead, ye be warned!

Pellucidar The Dead World is one of the many sequels set in Edgar Rice Burroughs's Pellucidar series, although this one was written very recently by F. Paul Wilson. It's definitely a different style with a clear coherent structure and not the winding and sidequesting Burroughs often used. It's also a fairly short novelette in contrast to the long stories we're used to. So, let's be quick and dive in.

It's reasonably well written. Most certainly not amateur work, so that's a good start. The opening is really solid. The small eternally floating moon within the Earth's core hovering over the Land of Awful Shadow has always been strange, but the inhabitants are very confused when a metal object falls from the moon and into the ground beneath. Metal is unknown throughout most of the inner world, but even stranger is when strange red seeds begin to distribute themselves through the shadowy land and take root. This opening is really strong and really sets an atmosphere of something really out of the ordinary happening, even for a hollow rock filled with cave men and prehistoric animals. You really feel like something big and dreadful is starting but you don't know what. I love it!

Innes comes to investigate, and over time the strange red seeds give way to plants which produce a dreadful gas, seemingly killing everyone and everything in the Land of Awful Shadow. The crisis begins to grow as others in the empire run by David Innes become worried. Thanks to the ingenuity of Perry, they develop and equip gas masks and manage to retrieve plant samples and one of the inhabitants for study.

To their astonishment, the seemingly dead man wakes! They discover that this gas, whatever it is, causes suspended animation. Curiously, the red plants die when they are exposed to direct sunlight. Whatever is going on, the answer lies on that curious moon in its eternal eclipse. Thankfully the spread of these plants is contained to the shadow of the moon. Beyond it, everyone is pretty safe. Innes, Perry and a third man build a primitive airship and sail up to the mysterious rock. The third guy is pretty throwaway honestly. He is obsessed with getting a lidi to replace the one that was incidentally killed by the falling metal object. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time! There's not much to him, but his annoyance is rather well redeemed when even Innes and Perry begin teasing him about it.

Now, this is where things get a bit odd. In the original story At The Earth's Core Perry had a complex but cool theory about how this whole hollow earth thing happened. Here he seems to realize that his earlier theory doesn't stand up and how it makes little to no sense, and that there must be another reason for this formation. As they get closer to the moon gravity confusion sets in, they smack down, and realize that this is no moon; It's a space station!

Honestly, a giant super laser inside the Earth would be pretty awesome.
No, I'm not kidding. See what I mean when I say this is where it gets weird? Through exploration and actually pretty good exercise of exposition, it is revealed that the Earth was hollowed out hundreds of millions of years ago by an alien race, gathering all the valuable ore from the inside and leaving the moon as a base. The red plants were engineered so that during their periodic returns they could gather specimens of the local wildlife and study them. There are no aliens on board the station though. Yet. They do find that a ship is coming. And because the aliens are jerks apparently, the station comes much closer to the sun, thus making its shadow much larger. This becomes a huge problem for the people below, including David's lover Dian the Beautiful. The plants will be allowed to spread and pour their menacing gaze across the landscape.

Surprisingly when the ship arrives... there are no aliens. Only these ever-present sanitary spider robots that use special spray to disinfect things. It seems their programming went a bit wonky though, because they begin sterilizing with a vengeance, up to and including any living organisms and then engage in trying to kill our human heroes. Its heavily implied that they killed the aliens on board the ship which was on auto pilot, and may have even wiped them out everywhere else. That sucks!

These little buggers are determined too and begin trying to cut through metal to get at them. So they have to find out how to evade these metal monsters, prevent the shadow from becoming larger, killing off the red plants, and get off. Difficult stuff that is. At one point they almost smash the moon station into the inner surface which would have really been unfortunate for anyone within distance of the dust cloud. Because one dinosaur extinction wouldn't be bad enough.

Eventually they succeed, they day is saved, knowledge is gained and peace is restored to Pellucidar. I'm just plain not sure how to feel about the aliens though. Even after all these months I'm not sure how to feel. I could very easily get angry and think about the Ancient Aliens angle, except that it doesn't quite do that, since these aliens didn't screw around with humanity and build the pyramids or any crap like that. It's reasonably well done actually, and yet it feels kinda out of place. I know that sounds weird, since this is a setting where there are dinosaurs inside the hollow interior of the Earth where there are lizard people and Vikings, but it just sorta seems off. And yet I can't say that the angle is bad either. I just don't know.

I guess I would have been happier with perhaps another race of beings hidden on the light side of the moon, maybe a rival race of the Mahars that had been dabbling in strange sciences and plan on retaking the land they lost or unleashing some super weapon that Innes, Perry and a group of warriors have to stop. I feel kind of silly and I don't want to sound ungrateful, but it's really difficult for me to get a bead on how to feel about this.

All things considered, I think this is a decent addition to the Pellucidar setting. It's well written, introduces some interesting ideas, and I still really like the opening. It just didn't quite reach the heights I wish it could have. If you're a fan of ERB and interested, you should give it a look. Just realize that it has a different flavor. If you're not a fan with the earlier books under your belt you should be pretty well pleased actually. You can buy it for a song right here on Amazon:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thoughts on upcoming election

Well, it's been all the buzz lately and I'm late on getting another article from the old west up, so I figured I'd take a quick moment to sum up my thoughts and opinions on the upcoming election. But I'll have some fun with it as well, so even if you disagree hopefully you might laugh!

First off we've got the Democrats. I'm going to be up front. I think Hillary Clinton is flat out evil. Now, I'm not exaggerating or being flippant. I legitimately believe that she is evil and wouldn't be the least bit surprised if she'd ordered hits on people to get where she is today.

Distant cousins
Yeah, I think she looks like a skeksis but lacks the exotic charm. She's got balls, but she also doesn't give a crap about anything except what she wants. The fact that she supports utilizing the Australian gun confiscation as something she wishes to implement alone shows that she doesn't give one solitary crap what any of us want. If she is this casual about violating one of the most important elements of the Bill of Rights, I can only imagine how she would treat other issues. She puts on a nice face most of the time, but it's a facade.

Hold on, someone that seems charming and promises lots of nice things but turns out is evil underneath, revealed in a dramatic display of special effects before astonished onlookers?

Thank you South Park!
I can't confirm this and I hate to spread rumors, but I have come across reports suggesting that among the data she deleted was information concerning two kids named Hansel and Grettle that she'd been keeping captive in her gingerbread house. Again, I don't want to jump to conclusions, but it seems a bit eerie to me.

If that's not enough, her political career is a terrifying blood-stained trail of corruption. She's like a character from Burn Notice that's once again trying to black-mail Michael Weston into doing her dirty work. Sadly reality won't help us out here since Miami isn't real. Curses fiction, why must you taunt us!?

Bernie Sanders is one of the last of the original weird hippies that spawned during the 60's but didn't die from SDTs and actually did stuff politically. Problem is, he's an aging hippie from the 60's. He wants the government to control absolutely everything, which can't possibly go wrong. It's like betting all of your money on one roll of the dice. If things go wrong, they go wrong hard.

I'm amazed at how ballsy he is in announcing his budgetary plan which is to have an annual budget of around 17 trillion dollars. Take a moment to let those numbers sink in. Here, let me do it in numerals to make it easier. $17,000,000,000,000. For perspective our military which spans across submarines, ships, helicopters, tanks, APCs, humvees, lasers, millions of soldiers, jets and the SHIELD Helicarrier has a budget of approximately 500 billion.

Well said Boromir, well said.

Simply put, these numbers are completely unsustainable. It's not physically possible. It's like trying to donate 17 gallons of blood at the local blood drive and expecting to survive. I know it sounds like I'm making too big of a deal about this, but good grief! If he can't even understand basic money handling, I can only imagine in the depths of my sugar-induced nightmares how he'll handle other issues. This sort of spending would turn America into Argentina in only a few years. For those of you who don't know Argentina suffered a complete economic collapse, which resulted in dystopian societal destruction as people began eating pets in order to survive. So, yeah, I'm not up for Sanders.

Trump? Hahahahahahahaha hahah... ahaha... ha. Okay, this is where we're going to have some fun. Do I like Trump? Nope. Is he better than Emperor Palpatine after he underwent a sex change and the living fossil? Yep.

Okay, for my viewers in other countries who are terrified and baffled as to why Donald Trump is so popular right now, I'll try to explain. For the last seven years we've had to put up with a limp-wristed, weak, inept snake-oil salesman with damp licorice for a spine who says a lot of stuff, but doesn't actually do much. For all my Russian viewers you should be amused to know Putin has treated Obama the same way a prison top dog treats the pretty looking new guy who is only 120 pounds and a hole in the back of his pants. We've watched things fall apart around us and a lot of Americans want someone who actually has some balls and isn't all talk.

Trump comes along, and he has one defining virtue: He gives absolutely zero cares about what people think about him. He says whatever he wants to whoever he wants, and although a lot of it is crazy, at least he isn't afraid to speak his mind and holds his ground. A lot of people here are happy to just have someone stand up for what they believe. He's also media gold. He talks, people listen. News outlets like having attention, so they focus on this guy. He has a bed made out of one hundred dollar bills, can set fire to it and not miss it, so he has a lot of independence. People like a guy that doesn't rely on donations from corporations here.

Thank you Google!
I don't think he'll get in though, so try not to worry too much. Although I'd be very entertained to see how things would go if he were elected though. See, out of all the candidates he's the only one that could go all Doc Holliday and terrify every other country out there with his lack of caring. It's one thing to have a crazy rich guy. It's another to have a crazy rich guy with access to a nuclear weapons stockpile, heh. It would be a little similar to when Reagan was elected and everyone thought they were dealing with a senile insane old man who would slam his fist on the Nuke The World button if anyone looked at him the wrong way.

Other than that things are pretty easy. I'm for anyone who isn't on the left.

I like Ben Carson. He's no politician or debater, but he's wicked smart and I get the impression that he's an honest man with firm morals. That speaks for a lot in my book. He might not know how to dance and sing on the senate floor, but he could figure out the important things and make them work. I think he's a really good pick.

Rand Paul really has my interest because he has proposed the same economic plans I've fantasized about doing if I were Emperor of America for a week. Namely, he wants to take the entire fed tax code, around 70,000 pages worth from what I've heard, set it on fire and charge a flat 14.5% tax evenly across everyone. If he can actually do this, it would turn the American economy around. He's the only one who seems to really know how to deal with this debt hole we're in. Obama took our debt to rock bottom of the deepest hole he could find, then took out a loan for $600,000,000 at 500% interest for a jackhammer and began digging until he hit magma. We have almost nothing to show for it except setting historical records for pointless spending.

Rand could actually start us out of that hole though. Reagan did something similar, slashing taxes to the bone which gave everyone unparalleled economic freedom by letting them keep their own money, and let them spend it wherever and however they wanted. In short, what this means is that if you have a job here in the US, you're going to have a much easier time filing your taxes and have a lot more money in your wallet.

I've yet to see the spiritual successor to Patton show up, so I'm not sure how most of these guys will stack up in dealing with Daesh, but after the Operation Do Nothing And Hope It Goes Away you've got nowhere to go but up. I'd prefer putting around ten to twenty five divisions on the ground in Syria with Naval support by the coast, but I'll settle for increased airstrikes and SF tactical strikes. Or we can let the Russians handle it.

Carly Fiorina really caught my eye during a debate in which she actually made some excellent points and handled herself very well. I think she'd do just great and I'd be fine having her in. And she doesn't look like a skeksis.

Jeb Bush? Keep dreaming. He's not going anywhere near the White House. I don't think he has a prayer, so I've got nothing for him. Also his name is Bush, and although people are mostly done with the aftermath of the George Bush era, there is still a knee-jerk reaction to anyone with last names sounding like shrubs.

I do have my own candidates, so have fun with them!

My first pick.
Say what you will about him, but The Brain is darned qualified to lead. He's insanely smart, determined and has a rocking theme song. Hey, this guy was able to come up with a slew of plans with an extremely limited budget. Just imagine what he can fix up with access to fed hardware! Also his voice is awesome. Can you see other politicians resisting the authoritative drone he puts out?

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My next candidate is Conan of Cimmeria. Hey, wait! Don't leave! Just hear me out! His record speaks for itself. This guy worked his way up from the poverty level in a bloody tundra, has lots of work experience, and ascended to the throne as King of Aquilonia which prospered under him. Heck, he boasted the lowest tax rates in the empire's history! He's got that going for him. And it's hard to see Daesh lasting for very long with this guy in charge.

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This one is cheating a little bit since he isn't technically an American, or human, but he still has his merits. Rygel XVI was the dominar of the Hynerian Empire before getting deposed, but he had to control 600 billion subjects, so managing America should be a cake walk. But most importantly he was a muppet made by the legendary Jim Henson! If that doesn't qualify him for office, I don't know what will. :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Writing for 2016

It's been a real wild ride this last year. I managed to get three books published, which I suppose ain't half bad for a starter indy author trying to make a niche for himself. I've learned a heck of a lot since I started really practicing in 2013, and even more since I started publishing. I'm getting much better, and I plan to show that with what I'm producing this year.

I hope to complete and release four books this year. I've got two that are almost finished and need editing, and am starting on two more. The first three are more Primal Frontier stories. One features Ansgar in a  race against time to save a critically wounded man and to stop a rampaging Chasmosaurus, the next Ansgar trying to stop a territory war and to kill a shaman who can seemingly bend animals to his will, and the third featuring Ansgar heading to a mysterious island to hunt and kill a kaprosuchus, which will be one of his most daunting tasks yet. On the plus side, he gets a pet! Hooray!

I am mixing it up however, and am working also on my very first scifi! I call it The Verminauts. I'm a huge fan of Aliens and really enjoy stories or games where you have a small number of heavily armed men fighting swarms of cannon fodder bugs, so this is my homage to Colonial Marines fighting Xenomorphs, Paul Verhoven's Starship Troopers blasting bugs from Klendathu, or Imperial Space Marines fighting the Tyrannids. Also yes, I know Starship Troopers wasn't true to the book. I consider them to be different animals with their own advantages.

The Verminauts are a group of mercs who work in tandem with colonizing organizations and science divisions to clear entire planets from the invasive alien species commonly called the verminoids which hop from planet to planet and breed faster than rabbits on aphrodisiacs in a college dorm campus and wipe out almost all other life. It's up to around 500 men at a time to clear out either thousands to even billions of these nasty critters using anti-matter weapons, lasers, plasma flame-throwers, electric arc guns, anti-matter missiles, and other goodies. It'll be a bit slow at first as we get to see the ship, learn about the organization, squadmates and also some intellectual discussion on environmental impacts, invasive species and human interaction with planets. But the second half will be an exhausting gun-fest on an extinction level.

I'm also in the planning stages for another Horror Western, this time featuring a wendigo. I'm surprised there haven't been more of these. This one is actually based on a nightmare I had. It's pretty remarkable that I can remember it so vividly, since 99.99% of dreams I forget entirely! I'm still working on a plot, characters and other such things, so this one is a ways out.

For yet another project I've got a sister series to Primal Frontier; The Xenogenesis Chronicles! This is a steampunk I've been mentally slaving on for some time, but I think will be superb. It has a Firefly vibe, as Earth is screwed over by a huge cataclysm in the year 1900 and humanity has to survive on a new planet. Airships and strange technology abound as people fight over the technology remnants left over from a mysteriously vanished alien race that once inhabited the planet. Where did they go? What happened to them? And what new adventures will come from discovering more of their arcane tech?
We'll so far follow the crew of an airship named the Pariah, where we have a willful former air military soldier, a female Indiana Jones bent on collecting alien tech, a gun hand with a shady past, a good-natured genius engineer, a soft-toned wise hunter and a shy but energetic woman who loves radio shows and comics. There will of course be bizarre wildlife like fungus monsters and stuff like that. Things you'd expect from Johny Quest.

It'll be full of mad scientists, weird science, bizarre inventions, lots of action, more character focus than PF although it will have similar installments in novellas. However it will also face some very interesting subjects, such as how humanity adapts culturally and religiously to an environment where literally everything their past is based off of is now gone. How will religions cope? How will people adapt to such drastic changes? What sort of new religions show up? How do people find a cultural identity when they might be the last of their race? There will also be a focus on Old vs New in terms of perspective. How much of the past should we hold on to, and what should we let go? There will be lots of intellectual debates in this series, so if you want some smartness with your action, then you'll love this.

I'm still in the planning stages, but overall have most of it figured out. I still have to come up with a plot for the first story that will help everyone get the gist of the situation while delivering on characters and getting the awesomeness of the setting across. This one is still a good ways out, but I think it'll be one of my better works.

I've also managed to contact an artist I've been following for some time and have begun to secure a commission for at least one new book cover. Hooray! His stuff is fantastic and I can't wait to throw my money at him. If I can make some more money this year I'll try to commission more, since I don't want to go with junky default covers or recycle ones I already have.

As an aside my production might fluctuate this year due to other factors. I have only one person who helps me with editing and beta reading to get a fresh perspective, but unfortunately her family is experiencing some extreme difficulties, so I'll have to rely mostly on my own biased perspective during editing. I also plan to move to a new state in August, so my already confused work schedule is going to go into cardiac arrest. Hopefully I can secure a decent job and housing. If I manage to acquire another part time job I can most likely keep up the writing at a solid pace. But if I end up working eight hour shifts, there's no telling how bad that will slow me up.
Either way I'll keep working at these. I aim to be darned prolific during this life of mine, and I wanna keep the future generations entertained! :)

Please keep up the support that ya'll have been giving. The more people that know about my stuff and share with their friends, the closer I can be to eating more than Ramen! :)