FanFic Friday: Arrow – Green Lantern

CW Introduction:
“My name is John Diggle. For 8 years, I protected Star City with the Green Arrow. When he died, I thought my time as a hero was over, but a meteorite carrying a powerful weapon had other ideas. I am no longer Star City’s Spartan. Now I defend my family, my planet, and my sector with a new name. I am the Green Lantern.”

John’s face was bathed in an emerald light as he looked down at the thing inside the case. It was round and flat on top and the case held it by the bottom. The top had an image carved into it that John was ashamed to admit reminded him of a Tie Fighter from Star Wars.
Sending out a quick prayer that the object wasn’t radioactive, John reached for it.
A bright pulse of green light burst from the thing before it floated out of the case and hovered in front of him.
“John Diggle,” a voice was being emitted from the object that, on closer inspection and out of it’s case, he could see that it looked like some sort of ring. “You have demonstrated outstanding bravery and incredible will-power.” A lance of the same green light coming from the ring seemed to solidify and leap toward John. It wrapped around his free hand and straightened his fingers. Gently, the ring floated forward and placed itself on his finger.
“Welcome to the Green Lantern Corp.”
“Corp?” John wasn’t unfamiliar with the term. “Did I just get conscripted?”

An hour later, John was sitting on the back of the van that his body had just dented. The doors were open and he wasn’t alone.
“Thanks for coming over so fast,” he said. “I would have called one of the other aliens I know, but just saying that still kind of blows my mind. Besides, they were kids when they stopped being aliens and according to my new memories, you’ve been around the block.”
J’onn J’onzz smiled and shook his head. “No thanks are required, I don’t think they would have been able to provide much assistance anyway.”
“So,” John pressed, “you know what it is?”
“I’ve heard of it but have never seen one.” He pointed at the ring still attached to John’s hand. “That ring is the weapon of the Green Lanterns.”
“That’s what it said,” John was excited that J’onn knew what it was. “It said that I was now part of the Green Lantern Corp. What is that? Some sort of military?”
J’onn shook his head. “Kind of. They are more like intergalactic police.” He frowned. “I haven’t heard of them in over a hundred years. There are stories that they would be the protective force in the universe, but something must have happened.”
“Why do you say that?”
J’onn shrugged. “My people, the Dominators, and Crisis all happened and we haven’t seen one. You would think that at least one of those conflicts would have been worth notice by the intergalactic police.”
John sighed. “You called this a weapon. What is it? And why did I get picked?”
“Well,” John stood up and put his hands in his pockets, “the stories say that a Green Lantern’s ring worked by harnessing the user’s will-power. Tehy could create solid constructs out of the light with just their minds. The stories spoke of a Martian Green Lantern who used his to create a full suit of battle armor and a full compliment of weapons.” He crossed his arms. “A tool like that could make you as powerful as Supergirl.”
“Then why did it come to me and not her?” John was struggling to understand why some space weapon would find any value in a random guy from Star City.
“John, of what I know about you, you’re a man of conviction and tactical awareness. You go into battle with your family on your mind and never back down. That when paired with your background with the Green Arrow and the military makes you a powerful force for justice and good.” He smiled. “I think the ring chose you because you’re the only choice it could have made.”
John smiled. “Thanks, J’onn, I appreciate that, I do, but I still don’t know what I am supposed to do with it.”
“Try it out,” J’onn replied.
“How do I do that?” John asked.
To his surprise, the Martian wasn’t the one who answered.
“My power source is will. Through focus and concentration, you can make me do anything.”
“Lyla?” John had heard his wife’s voice come from the ring.
“No,” Lyla’s voice replied. “I am the artificial intelligence housed inside of the ring. I chose a voice you trust and respect.”
“That’s just weird.”
“Said the man who just fought an alien god a week ago,” J’onn smirked.
“Ok,” John conceded. “Fair enough. So, I just will it? Like the Force or something?”
“This is not space magic,” the ring said. “This is space science.”
John remembered what J’onn had said about the powerful Martian Green Lantern. and closed his eyes.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” J’onn said quietly.
When Diggle opened his eyes, there was a green aura around him. Looking down he was wearing a glowing set of armor and could feel a mask over his face.
“Ring,” he said, “can you give tactical readouts based on what I’m looking at?”
“Yes,” was all the reply it gave.
His mask grew green lenses and suddenly everything that he looked directly at had a label.
He looked at J’onn J’onzz.
“Green Martian. J’onn J’onzz. 246 Earth years in age. Private Investigator. Former Head of the DEO.”
When he looked at his van it gave him the make and model and a list of all current and previous owners. When he looked at his house it did the same thing.
Reaching down, he grabbed the van’s back bumper and lifted it. The back of the van lifted off of the ground without any effort.
“I’m super strong?” John asked excitedly.
“No,” the ring replied. “You are human. The green light of will-power is encompassing your body and you are directing it to lift the car.”
“But,” John asked to clarify, “for all intents and purposes that’s the same as being super strong, right?”
He put the van back down and turned to J’onn, lowering his arms to his side. “Ok, punch me.”
“Punch you?” the Martian asked.
“Yeah,” John was grinning. “Hit me with your alien strength. Don’t go easy on me.”
“I don’t know, John. I don’t think we should start risking your death as the first test. The ring might not be able to handle it.”
“The ring,” Lyla’s voice spoke up, “most certainly can handle it, J’onn J’onzz.”
Diggle shrugged as if to say, “See?”
“Very well,” J’onn said. With speed that matched that of the Flash, J’onn swung at Diggle’s chin.
His head turned with the punch but stayed firmly attached to the rest of his body.
Smiling, Diggle said, “I didn’t even feel it. That is so cool.” He held up his hand in a fist. “Ring, what else can I do?”
“Would you care to fly?”
“Oh, hell yes.”

FanFic Fridays! Green Lantern

I’m looking to start a new blog series here, where I will be posting a new chapter to a fan-fiction here on the blog every Friday. Today’s post will be a little light, just to give you an idea of where this first one is going.

For those who aren’t prepared, my Fan-fictions will contain spoilers for the shows, movies, or books they are borrowed from.

For example: Today’s first post is going to be a continuation of the recently concluded CW show, Arrow. With tons of spoilers that include (mostly focus on) things from the series finale.

You’ve been warned.

Arrow: Green Lantern

Standard CW Intro Monologue:

“My name is John Diggle. For 8 years, I protected Star City with the Green Arrow. When he died, I thought my time as a hero was over, but a meteorite carrying a powerful weapon had other ideas. I am no longer Star City’s Spartan. Now I defend my family, my planet, and my sector with a new name. I am the Green Lantern.”

Under the Hood: Andrew Doran and the Crawling Caves

Between 2018 and 2019, I was part of a team of modern day Mythos writers striving to build something unique. We wanted to write an anthology, but we wanted it to be less an anthology and more a huge crossover event. The five of us tied together a narrative with individual stories each linked to each other either through the MacGuffin (the Al-Azif) or through actual story elements (Donny Bear and Vhourvath, among others).

Keeping each of those elements together was a collective effort with Hambling and Phipps doing work in Google Drive, and me dancing between that and my preferred use of Evernote. It was a huge effort and so much fun. The following are my notes for the first quarter of Andrew Doran and the Crawling Caves.

A fun thing to note, before we dive in, was my effort to follow some of Hambling’s advice. When I first met David, he had told me that he loved my stories, but that it might be easier to write about places I’ve been instead of spending so much time researching areas that I either haven’t gone or would never be able to go (anywhere in the past). That advice stuck with me, and is why Andrew Doran and the Crawling Caves is set in Harrisville, New York and the Adirondack Mountains. I grew up in that town and hunted, fished, climbed, and even bobsled in those mountains. I’m pointing this out so you can see how Tales of the Al-Azif was more than just a 1 year collaboration, but a collaboration that has spanned much of my relationship with these great writers. When we put pen to paper, we bring everything of ourselves with us, including what we’ve learned from each other.

Small disclaimer: Unlike the previous “Under the Hood” post, these images aren’t as well cropped. I was using a new notebook (R2D2, if you can’t tell by the stickers) and my Evernote app wasn’t having as easy a time taking the picture. For note purposes, it didn’t really matter, so they stayed the same.

My Birthday Post is About Star Wars

I just read Chuck Wendig’s first two posts on how he’d change the Sequel Trilogy of Star Wars and am thoroughly entertained. I’ve dabbled a bit in similar fan-fiction a while back when I had the ambition to rewrite the Prequel Trilogy with the small change of Anakin dying during the podrace. I didn’t get far and it’s not my best work, but I was a dumb college kid, so lay off.

As a long time fan of Star Wars, I loved this idea and have been inspired to make some commentary on Star Wars. I figure that Star Wars is the fandom that’s had the largest impact on my life and I wanted to take a minute and really dive deep into its effect on my and my thoughts on how the world has been reacting to it.

Disclaimer: I really liked the Sequel Trilogy. Heck, I really like the Prequel Trilogy. If you didn’t, that’s ok and I love that you’ve got your own opinion about it, but take your attitude and keep it in your pocket. My world is one of peace and fun. If you can’t peacefully discuss your fun, then GTFO. That goes for everything I talk about. Ever.

Star Wars is awesome. Dude, I’m not even joking. You’ve got a hero class that you can view as anything. Space Wizard, Holy Crusader Knight, Embodiment for Good. You’ve got other heroes that fit every need; Rogues, Soldiers, Pilots. You’ve got damned good villains. You’ve got OUTER SPACE! It’s just awesome.

I was around 13 years old when I learned about the existence of Star Wars through a Muppet Babies parody. When my mom realized that I definitely wasn’t getting the joke she went to Greg’s Butcher Block and rented the whole trilogy. Then she bought me the Thrawn Trilogy from Salvation Army’s bookshelf because she knew I was a heavy reader and would want more.

I was hooked.

How hooked? I read every single Expanded Universe (now referred to as Legends) title that I could get my hand on. I watched fan films over a dial-up internet connection, annoying my dad that he couldn’t get any calls until it was done loading. I grew a mullet for the Attack of the Clones premiere. I choreographed lightsaber duels with my friends and a mid-eighties VHS Camera. I acted out said-duels in front of a children’s summer camp while working there as a camp counselor.

Of course, I lamented when it was declared that the Expanded Universe no longer counted as Canon and the Sequel Trilogy wouldn’t follow it, but I was still excited to see what they did.

I experienced every emotion on the spectrum when I watched The Force Awakens.And The Last Jedi.And again with The Rise of Skywalker.

In my head, the individual movies and stories were never that, individual. They were just chapters in a large story. That was my biggest upset with the announcement regarding the Expanded Universe. I felt like they were saying “We’re rewriting the second half of the story you’ve already spent the time and energy on.” The rush of adrenaline that was my experience with The Force Awakens helped me get over that.So, I’ve never been huge on “Which movie was your favorite” styled questions because I like the whole book, not just one chapter. (Although Starfighters of Adumar is very likely my favorite EU title. I’m a hypocrite, and I’m ok with that.)

And even more so, I just don’t understand why everyone is upset over the movie. Even if I didn’t like the Sequel Trilogy (the last chapter of the story, if you will), in my head that’s just how it went. That world has been so real to me that “like” never had anything to do with any of the individual chapters. That’d be like me saying that I didn’t like that one month in college. Well, tough. It’s part of the story, and you really liked the rest of it, so move on.

That’s me though, and I understand people approach their fandoms with a certain level of “I’ve invested this much effort, and therefore it’s mine.” I deal with that kind of thing through writing fanfics and stories in my head that fix those kinds of things (see my Aliens: Legion post, or ask me sometimes about where I think Man of Steel 2 or a Quantum Leap reboot could go). Some people don’t have those outlets.

Now, please bear with me as I dive off of the deep end and speak to the heart of what I believe to be the fuel behind the Star Wars controversies, rage, and internet freakouts.

Required Rant That Sounds Like a Madhouse Conspiracy: All of this hate around the Sequel Trilogy is a stupid joke that’s gone way out of hand and that is spurred on by the media. Don’t believe me? Check out MediaWeb’s Facebook account. Or check out anything on Gizmodo that is tagged with Star Wars. In one day, MovieWeb will post six articles, all around fanning the different opinions with the most clickbait headlines I’ve ever read. Why do they do this? Because they’ve all learned that the thing that gets the most clicks is controversy in the comments section. If you aren’t making them argue, you’re irrelevant. (If you want to see this in action, then watch how Gizmodo, and Jezebel media treat Amazon and Jeff Bezos. Every link is an Amazon Affiliate link, they encourage you to buy Amazon products in Kinja Deal posts, and then they write articles, almost daily, talking about how no one should buy anything from Amazon. I understand that journalism needs to be paid for, but this kind of division between managing the company and being the public face of the company is only allowed to go on because it leads to fights in the comments and gets the blog more attention.)

This is where you should put on the tin foil hats: As social media crept onto the scene, stories started creeping up about how the world and the masses could be manipulated through it. Then we get the 2016 election, which was the first time that we have exclusive proof of people (Russian government) using social media to stoke specific reactions and attempt to get a result. People forget that a vocal group of the fans hated the prequels too. What was different? No social media yet.

Still not sure that this whole Star Wars hate is a money-making scheme put on by social media? Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill just quit Facebook because Facebook won’t stop politicians from lying on its platform.

And that news was at the top of my feed this morning, ahead of “Megxit,” “Australian Fires,” and anything with “Trump” in the headline.

How is that news? I’ve got friends that quit Facebook monthly. And did we already forget that Facebook admitted to keeping track of user data of people who don’t sign up for it? He quit it? Great, I’m proud of him, and I support just about everything that wonderful Jedi has ever endeavored to do (I’m looking at you Time Runner). But it isn’t really news, is it? Unless you know I’ll click the article and you’ll make money off the click.

Where I get back on track:I haven’t read any of the new Expanded Universe stuff, which I am definitely saying because I know I mentioned Chuck Wendig and haven’t had a chance to read any of his stuff at all regarding Star Wars that hasn’t been on his blog. I plan on it. I really loved the Mandalorian, and as much as I don’t like commercialism, I’m loving that Disney is making more and more Star Wars. I fear that someday this will change, and I’ll be annoyed with how much the market has been saturated, but that day isn’t today.

Also, my daughter is still at the age where lightsabers scare her… So, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.

Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys

The problem with Lovecraft Mythos stories, and the same thing that I tend to love about them, is that they are known to dive deeply into the mythos and alienate readers who haven’t spent their lifetimes obsessing about some obscure author from the 1920’s. It makes the stories excellent for those types of readers and keeps everyone else from even picking up the title

That’s not the case with Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys. The story uses the magic, race, and creatures of Lovecraft’s mythos to tell a story that doesn’t require foreknowledge. To that point, though, having that foreknowledge is rewarded with small nods and subtle hints as the story progresses.

This book uses the Sherlock/Watson method of telling the story, but does it almost better than even Doyle’s heroes in that it allows the reader to decide if they are the Sherlock or the Watson. The Sherlocks all know what’s coming when the protagonist, Aphra, heads home or discusses the Yith, but the Watsons aren’t left in the dark, as they are pulled along in the adventure and explained what’s going on as they see it for the first time. And none of those explanations come across as heavy-handed narration or as treating the reader as an idiot. Their just seeing it all for the first time, and get to experience the excitement, fear, and dread as if they were actually there.

Aphra’s story is one of race, subjugation, and legacy as she tries to decide what’s to come for her and her people after the Americans destroyed most of Innsmouth and threw the survivors in prison camps. Their story purposefully mirrors that of Asian-Americans during the second World War while also adding an element of the supernatural. While mirroring that horrible tragedy that the government placed on its own people, it also illustrates it by Aphra’s finding family in some of the imprisoned through mutual hardships while also pairing them all up with the very government that sought to ruin them.

Winter Tide has everything, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as both a fan of history and a fan of Lovecraft. 5 out of 5 stars!

Peek under the hood!

In the last two months, my post that received the most interest was Alien: Legion, focusing on my notes and process in writing a fanfiction. I don’t know if it was because everyone got to see under the hood or if there’s a ton of interest in Alien fanfic (please comment and let me know), but I figured I’d hedge my bets and start posting some more “mid-process” stuff.

So, stay tuned! I’m working on a bunch of projects and can’t wait to hear what you think.

Also, if I’m entirely wrong, and you just want more Alien fanfic stuff, let me know. It’s way better than wasting my time showing you under the hood when all you really wanted was acid blood and no one hearing you scream.

You are not your Opinion

A sales job or so ago, I had the wonderful chance to speak with a pastor, something that I don’t really ever have a chance to do in my normal life. He’s a friend, in a way, who I’ve sold to in multiple roles and our conversations, infrequent that they are, tend to go a little deep.
A little background on myself before we continue: I grew up in a religious household, went to church once in a while, but came from parents that believed in finding God in his works more than in the biased views of man. I don’t know that they’ve ever thought of it that way, but that’s how I interpreted their teaching. I’m not overtly religious, but I’m also not an athiest. I’m a person seeking to understand the human condition. This leads me down a path of belief with an open mind. During a conversation with my dad, I told him that it didn’t matter if my God was the God of Christianity or whatever, because at the end of the day, my God is the God of love. If your God is asking you to condemn, judge, or persecute someone than he isn’t mine.
That being said, I’m also a former archaeologist and anthropologist, so I believe in science, evolution. and evidence. A lot of my understandings tend to temper my beliefs. I’ve read history, and how religion has been used to bend the wills of people, start wars, and destroyed entire civilizations. I’m a realist that believes there’s something out there that wants me to be a decent human being but won’t go out of his way to make me one. That’s on me.
So, I don’t go to church, but I do pray once in a while. I don’t talk about religion unless asked. My religion is trying to live up to that being who wants me to be decent and better. That’s about it.
When I met with my pastor friend, we spoke about a few things. Of course, I was trying to convince him to buy something from me in my new role, but I also just wanted to catch up with him. We spoke about a few things, but of course, I couldn’t help but want to bring up politics to see where his opinion landed. I expected him to be on the far opposite side from myself, but what he said to me was a well thought out surprise.
He said that he wished people could have civil discourse again, like we supposedly once did. (I only say supposedly because, with all of my hopes of being a decent person, I can’t help but be a little cynical as well.) He then made a statement that shocked me only because it seemed to reveal an obvious truth of the world that I hadn’t noticed before.
“At some point in the last 20 years, we started associating our opinions with our sense of self. When a person does that, you can’t disagree with their opinion without disagreeing with who they are as a person, even if that’s not the case. That’s when all civil discussion goes out the window.”
That hit me hard because of how right it seemed. Just look at any social media posting that breaks down into an argument. People take the defense of their opinions so personally now. Opinions are meant to be discussed, learned from, changed, and then ignored when you know that you can’t be moved to agree with it. Instead, people fight until they’d rather cut off the person they were just having a conversation with. No longer can we say, “I respect your right to that opinion, but I’ll have to disagree.” Now it degrades to us calling each other names and taking a personal offense when you don’t agree with me.
How many times have you seen this, especially on the internet? How many arguments have you been a part of that could have ended with a simple nod at it just being an opinion, but instead it continued because people would rather validate their existence through your acceptance than admit that everyone has different views on such things?
Perhaps that’s the answer to everything wrong with the world. Maybe we just need to remember that we are all different, with different views and different experiences, and that it’s ok to accept that people have different opinions. We aren’t our opinions, and who knows, maybe their next opinion will be one you agree with.
As we go into 2020, coming out of a year of political strife and personal anxieties, try to remember that the person next to you with different politics and different religious views, is seeing the world differently. It’s not your job to change them. It’s ok to just accept them as different.

Sales isn’t a bad word

This is an excerpt from a book I wrote a few years ago regarding how to market and sell your book with limited resources.

There are a lot of negative stigmas associated with the word “Sales.” 

I don’t like that. 

I was listening to an interview with actor and former Fourth Doctor from the famous television series “Doctor Who,” Tom Baker, when he said something that I felt fit perfectly. 

I’m paraphrasing, but he said, “Everything is seduction. You seduce an employer to hire you and you seduce a new acquaintance into being your friend.” 

My quote isn’t exact. As a matter of fact, I’m probably even remembering it wrong, except for the part “Everything is seduction.” He definitely said that. 

I digress. My point is that your audience is only going to buy from someone they like, so seduce them. That’s what sales is. 

If I’m a printer salesman, I’m going to walk into a business, any business, and I’m not going to walk up to the secretary’s desk and say “Hey, wanna buy a printer?” 

That doesn’t sell anything, at all. 

Instead, I’m going to walk up to the secretary’s desk, and say something like, “Hi,” I’ll take my hat off and gently stick out my hand for a shake. “My name is Matt. How are you today?” 

That’s two sentences and I’ve said nothing about printers. Why? Because, even though it’s just small talk, it’s endearing. I’m demonstrating that I’m someone who actually wants to know how his or her day is going. 

I’m not being overly aggressive, I’m just being polite. The secretary knows that I’m there for some sort of business reason, but already he or she is more inclined to talk to me, just because I’ve disarmed them by being pleasant. 

I’ve seduced them. 

Of course, this is a staged example, but try it in a book environment. 

At your next book signing (or possibly your first, so, good luck!), don’t be the author that sits behind the table and waits for someone to engage them, but also don’t be the author who is shouting “Buy my book, please!” 

Instead, just greet everyone who walks within five feet of your table. If you’re feeling gutsy, walk around and introduce yourself. 

I spent 3 years selling e-readers, and while I was a trapped victim for the chatty people, I actually had them just as trapped in my web. My e-reader booth was set up directly in front of the door to the store, so I greeted anyone who came in with a very bright and sincere smile, a hello, and followed it up with a “How is your day going?” Somewhere around sixty percent of the time, people would just ignore me or nod as a means of acknowledging me. The rest of the time, they engaged me. They said hi back, or discussed their drive in. We began discussing other things, and I would find a way to turn it back toward the device that I was trying to sell. 

That works at your hypothetical book signing as well. You’ve made your greetings, you’ve asked them how they are doing, they feel obliged to ask you how you’re doing and you can easily spin it toward your books. 

For example: 

“I’m doing alright. How are you doing?” asks the random stranger walking by your table. 

“Me? I’m doing wonderful. I just accomplished my dream come true and became a published author,” you answer with pride and gusto! 

Now the random stranger walking by your table is inclined to ask you about your book or figuratively applaud your accomplishment. 

The point that I’m trying to make is that you need to engage people to succeed at making sales. I have seen authors sitting at their booths and playing on their iPads and never engaging a single person. Those same authors, hours later, were complaining because they didn’t sell a single book, but sitting directly next to them was an author with a mediocre book cover and a plot that didn’t sound overly exciting and he sold out of his books. The difference was that while the first author was playing Angry Chimpanzees on his iPad, the second author was having conversations with anyone who would give him the time of day. 

If you engage your audience, they will give you their time, and time really is money. 

Review: Hard Luck Hank Series by Steven Campbell

People read for a lot of different reasons. Unfortunately, a lot of stigmas are put on reading to make it sound like something you have to do for education, brushing up on modern times, or reading incredibly well-crafted fictional worlds with 35 layers of backstory you’ll never know. There’s nothing wrong with those, but TV seems to get away with so much more. If I tell a friend of mine that I love watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, simply because Charlie’s character is hilarious in his slapstick humor, then even if that person is only a fan of CSPAN, they’ll recognize my need for entertainment and listen as I ramble on about Charlie’s fixation on the world’s rat problem.

The same thing can’t be said, as frequently anyway, about books. We all know whom I’m talking about. That person or people that just finished Wheel of Time in a weekend, but if you wanted to talk to them about Yahtzee Croshaw, A. Lee Martinez, or Larry Correia they wouldn’t even realize they were rolling your eyes at you.

This is me telling you that it’s ok to read something for the pure enjoyment of it.

And that brings me to today’s review.

I led into this review with that long-winded disclaimer for a very good reason. I’m not trying to say that the Hard Luck Hank series isn’t hard literature. I’m sure that there is a solid argument that it could be. My statement is this: Hard Luck Hank should be read for the pure enjoyment factor.

This review is for the series as a whole, as I’ve binge read all of the main series and have only just started the short stories.

Hard Luck Hank by Steven Campbell is fun. Everything takes place on the space station Belvaille. Belvaille is 15 miles by 15 miles and part of the Colmarian Confederation, a government that seems to have a hard enough time keep it’s grip on just about anything. So much so, that when threatened by the military might of the Dredel Led species (sentient robots), they decided that the best way to protect themselves wasn’t to build up a stronger army or work on negotiations, but instead to mutate the entire population of the Colmarian Confederation.

Hank, the main character is one of those mutations (or is he?) and a resident on Belvaille. With how little the government watches and regulates it’s citizens, Belvaille has turned into a criminal city, with gangs and corrupt politicians running everything. Hank’s role, because of his social skills and his mutation (being incredibly strong and dense enough that most things can’t hurt him), is as a negotiator. If gangs are acting up or someone is in a bad way with the wrong people, Hank steps in to speak on their behalf.
This puts him in the thick of a lot of bad situations that make for excellent action scenes and great adventure.

Hank’s companions add to the flavor of this story. His ex is a corrupt politician and assassin and the closest thing he has to a best friend is a three-brained genius mutant with sociopathic tendencies (he randomly subjects the entire population of Belvaille to chemical and radioactive experiments in the name of science.

I wouldn’t even know what to compare this to in order to give you an idea of what this story is like. It’s serious and silly at the same time and entirely entertaining throughout.

I give everything in the Hard Luck Hank series 5 out of 5 stars. Check it out!

Review: Brightblade by Phipps and Suttkus

Brightblade (The Morgan Detective Agency Book 1) by [Phipps, C. T., Suttkus, Michael]

Brightblade is the newest book in Phipps’s and Suttkus’s United States of Monsters world. This is the world of New Detroit, where supernatural beings decided to make themselves known to everyone a few years back and now the world has to deal with them on a daily (or nightly, in some instances) basis.

Brightblade sticks out because it’s both a new story as well as what I can only describe as the linchpin. This story helps to show you how every other story is connected, aside from that big reveal of monsters being actually under your bed. It does this really well, reminding the readers that outside of the obvious books in the United States of Monsters series, there’s also the Red Room series by these guys.

If there’s one thing that these guys know how to do, it’s building a huge universe to play in.

Brightblade is much more than the “missing link,” though. We have a strong tale of a woman trained to be this generation’s Buffy the Vampire slayer, but much like Buffy, she is quickly learning that everything she’s trained to kill is too intricately woven into her personal life. The MacGuffin for the story lends itself well to her turmoil, as it seems to be the only thing that can untie the complicated knot that is her family and friends and potentially save her from joining them, but she’s struck with the realization that no one wants their “problems” to be undone.

The struggle is real as Ashley (the main character) has to decide if she can love her friends and family with the stains on their souls or if she should go against their wishes and cure them. Which is the bigger evil? How can she learn to unhate everything they are?

This was just another great story in the Phipps and Suttkus catalog and I’m a huge fan. The little nods to characters I’ve learned to love from other books helped to propel me into this story and introduce these new characters in a manner that made them feel new but also as if they were old friends.

It’s a great book and I give it 5 out of 5.

Unfortunately, it’s also made me yearn for the next Weredeer book… Get on that guys!