Review: Lovecraft Country – History of Violence – Episode 4

If you read this blog, then it’s likely you have read, want to read, or at least are aware of my Andrew Doran stories. Andrew Doran is my sort of parody of Indiana Jones or the stereotypical pulp heroes that Indy is based on. Because of my own past and interest in archaeology a lot of Andrew’s backstory puts him into historical adventures in caves and tombs and constantly hunting artifacts.

So, to continue my thought from above: If you read this blog, then you’ll understand why “A History of Violence” was probably my favorite Lovecraft Country episode so far.

This story is an adventure story and a “Other half” story. We have Montrose, Tic, and Leti hunting for the pages from the book. We learn that George gave the By-Laws for the Sons of Adam to Montrose who read and, seemingly, memorized the book before burning it in a booze-fueled attempt to protect his family. Unfortunately, Montrose didn’t know that Braithwhite’s daughter, Christina, would show up and begin threatening them all.

Tic decides that the only way he’s going to stop her is if he becomes a wizard himself, which I immediately said to my brother “that never works out in Lovecraft.” Leti decided that she was going with him to find the pages because she’ll be damned if anyone is going to tell her she can’t do anything. The problem is that they don’t know where to start, but Leti makes an obvious point that Montrose knew enough to go to Ardham, he might know where to find some of the pages.

Tic hates the idea, but Leti doesn’t give him much in the way of a choice. Leti recruits him and he asks to borrow Hippolyta’s car. Hippolyta agrees but then invites herself, excited to go to the Boston Museum. Her daughter and Tree come along as well, and it’s obvious that Hippolyta is along only to find out what everyone is hiding. Tree is only along to imply that Montrose is gay, give Tic some stressors, and give us more circumstantial evidence to Montrose not being Tic’s father.

At this point, I’ll quickly go over the “Other side” story that is going on with Ruby, Leti’s sister. She is getting worn down by the way people treat blacks in America. She knows that white women would be treated better and her jealousy is coming to head with (I don’t know his name… “Boy-Christina?”) showing up and showing interest. When he stops and messes up the police tailing his sister(?) he already knows that he’s about to meet Ruby and change her life. Much like everything with the Braithwhite’s he already has the plan drawn out on how their meeting will go, and if previews for next week are any indication, Ruby’s about to learn exactly how the other side lives.

But honestly, that story didn’t matter nearly as much to me as the rest of the episode. I wanted magic and monsters and Montrose, Tic, and Leti delivered in spades on the magic. We had secret doors, flooding chambers, and a cave system that somehow bridges the distance between Boston and Chicago.

We even meet some sort of magical corpse/ghost/revived woman who was considered magical by her people for having the parts for both genders. Tic’s great great grandfather had locked her away and killed her family and friends to force her to translate the pages that Tic was hunting for. They save her and take her from the tomb, only for a horrible twist at the end that I felt was my only criticism of this episode. She could have had a much larger role in the story, with her own agenda or powers or problems, but instead, she was removed as quickly as she was brought into the story and I felt as though that robbed us of a great story tool.

That being said, I still loved this episode.

To summarize, this story was just fun. I had a blast with it and never expected them to go the traveling adventurer route, a la Indiana Jones.

Mikey’s thoughts: “First off, wow. Another great episode. My brother and I say the exact same thing after every episode: “Wow… This show” This episode is no exception! All of the episodes try to scare us and so did this one, but a little bit differently. At one point they were underground and some people might have had a claustrophobic moment, especially with the spider webs. Next, there was a plank over a HUGE bottomless pit with traps and the plank receding. And then… One of my fears shows up at the end. Fear of underwater. Not the fear of drowning btw, but fear of a tentacled monster grabbing them underwater because, let’s face it, it is Lovecraft. All in all, epic episode.”

–Back to Matt– Also, not to get on a high horse again, but I recently read an article from someone who, while I don’t know that they even have a body of work, they tend to highlight a lot of the Lovecraftian works of others, including myself. This article said that they are annoyed at the lack of Lovecraftian influence in Lovecraft Country and see the idea of tying the stories to anything even remotely connected to the author as a cash-grab based on his current celebrity status. He was referencing the entire series/book, but he used references from episode 3, “Holy Ghost.” I can’t do anything but question this guy’s credentials in analyzing what “Lovecraftian” means. Holy Ghost didn’t have any shoggoths or transdimensional beings of dread, but it had ghost stories (Lovecraft wrote a specific style of these) and human experimentation (I clearly state seeing Reanimator influence), and a secret group funneling him the people (also from Reanimator). Again, I don’t mean to be the guy who constantly keeps bringing this up, but there are a lot of people out there (much as in the Star Wars fandom) who have a specific idea of what these stories mean to them and how they define their fandom, and that’s entirely alright, but it’s obvious that a lot of these same people are using their definitions to ostracize the subject of their fandom, only because it doesn’t reflect exactly their thoughts. The problem with this is that if they succeed, they’ll cancel any other growth in the genre. Lovecraft stories have had such a hard time getting off of the ground in the past, arguably because portraying a “mind-shattering evil” without shattering the audience’s mind kind of defeats the description. So, when you shoot down shows that are trying to elevate your fandom, you’re shooting down future chances of your fandom to get more great content. I’m not saying that bad shows shouldn’t be reviewed negatively, but I am saying that if you want more of them, stop closing the gates and start critically reviewing the stuff. It’s one thing to say “I don’t like it and it could be better if it did these things,” and another to say “I hate it. Cancel it.” I would enjoy critical reviews of this show, but I’m getting sick and tired of the reviews that just hate it for not being their idea of what it should be.

Of course, I am in love with this show, so maybe I’m biased.

Review: Lovecraft Country Episode 3 – Holy Ghost

After the last two episodes, it was anybody’s guess (having forgotten how the book went) where the next episode was going to go. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that while Lovecraft’s dark underworld of wizards and magic was the first homerun, the second at-bat decided to take a swing at HPL’s ghost stories.

Another decidedly great decision was to make this story more about Letti and her backstory.

Holy Ghost is the name of the episode, and as per usual, the first half of the story takes place in the solid reality of the ignorant.

It has been several weeks since the events of the first two episodes. Montrose and Atticus told George’s family that the asshole sheriff that was eaten by shoggoths ended up shooting him. It was a lie that was more believable than the truth, but it’s obvious that something about his death (aside from the being dead part) isn’t sitting well with Hippolyta.

Atticus has been trying to assuage his own guilt through helping the family in every way that he can, but even he knows that it can’t continue as hanging out in his uncle’s house and playing his uncle’s role is only making everyone uncomfortable.

He decides to ask his dad to let him stay with him, but his father’s alcoholism and generally abusive behavior quickly show him that it wasn’t worth the effort to ask.

During all of this, Letti mysteriously came into some money and bought a large house that she plans to turn into a safe haven for black people. It’s a wonderfully quaint idea that is hit over the head in a violent manner by the fact that they are in an all-white neighborhood.

Letti likes doing things the hard way, and it’s admirable.

The neighbors get pissed off by their presence as they do renovations and more of Letti’s friends (including Atticus for a few days) move in. The neighbors put out “Whites Only” signs and tie bricks to the horns of their cars to try (as Atticus puts it) audible warfare. The police aren’t any help and we can see that, as per our suspicions, Letti and her friends are entirely on their own.

Letti decides to throw a housewarming party once everyone is settled and it goes mostly well, with Letti and Atticus (finally!) hooking up, although we learn some interesting, although not entirely important, information regarding her lack of any previous partners. The party is hopping until the neighbors push Letti’s final buttons and she goes Jackie Robinson on the cars outside.

Letti is, for some odd reason, the only one arrested. During her violent interrogation she learns that the officer who arrested her has had some undisclosed history with the house and we get to the good stuff.

The house had a mad scientist-styled doctor living there who worked with the cop to kidnap black people to experiment on. They got all sorts of messed up. Super long arms, baby heads, no jaws, and lots of other weird crap that we get to see because the ghosts of his experiments are still haunting the house. Letti and Tic get an exorcist lady or something to conduct a seance and things get down-right crazy.

It wasn’t just that this was a Lovecraftian ghost story, but my brother pointed it out before I could see the connection: this was a take (just as the bipedal creatures in the first story were totally a reference to shoggoths) on Herbert West: Reanimator. We don’t know that these mutilated people were ever undead, but the experimentation in a grotesque manner on the people that society assumed wouldn’t be missed was “on the nose.” We got ghosts, we got monster corpses, and we got a seance. At the very least, I was very pleased with this story.

So far, I haven’t found a single thing that I didn’t like about this series. Until I do, just assume that each review is going to be at least one star more than my rating system.

Before we get to “Mikey’s Thoughts,” I would also like to point out that Mikey has a theory that he keeps bringing up, but didn’t add to his thoughts. In this episode we learn that Letti was a virgin. In the previous episode there is Adam and Eve symbology as the dreams they are subjected to encourages a relationship between Letti and Tic with Letti getting scared by a snake penis (not a snake’s penis, but a penis on a person – Tic – that is actually a snake). Mikey believes that the combined symbology of the dream and the emphasis on her sexual history is going to come back in the form of some sort of monstrous progeny. I’m unsure, but I can’t deny his math.

Mikey’s thoughts: This show has a habit of making you think, “Humans can be real monsters,” and then reminding you, “Oh crap! This show has MONSTER-monsters too!” Right before making you jump out of your seat. It’s amazing.

Review: Lovecraft Country Episode 1 & 2

I almost forgot that this show was about to air when all of the Lovecraft Facebook groups that I follow became flooded with posts and reviews.

Before I get into my review of the first 2 episodes, I had a few things that I wanted to say:

The first is that this review covers Episode 1 and Episode 2 of Lovecraft Country on HBO and I wish I could that it was an artistic choice to combine the review of both of them together, but it’s not. The truth is that I didn’t even think about reviewing the episodes until a day before the third one aired. This two episode combination review is my “catch up.”

Secondly, (this is where I address the 30 huge elephants in the room) Lovecraft Country covers a dark period in American History that a lot of white Americans like to pretend didn’t happen. The subject matter (race and racism in the 1950’s, not the Lovecraftian stuff) triggers some people in a way that I see as entirely selfish.

What I mean by selfish is that these people (read that as “racists”) have no problem watching an uncomfortable subject matter in another period piece as long as it doesn’t pertain to race or ‘Murica. Denying our darker past to forget about it is selfish, ignorant, and, of course, racist. I bring up this salient point for a multitude of reasons.

The first of which is that a large percentage of the posts I saw on those Lovecraft Facebook pages were claims that the show’s message was too much or statements that demanded that black people shouldn’t be put into the racist author’s legacy.

One post went as far as to claim that the Nazi’s didn’t go far enough, and used this to imply that if they had, this wouldn’t be a discussion.

These people are disgusting, obviously, and are a complete waste of the flesh they use to house their hateful demons. That being said, I am going to address some of these points.

Claiming that adding race to HPL’s stories disgraces his legacy is dumb for several reasons. Being a damned racist in the first place is what disgraced his legacy. Nobody can even speak about Lovecraft and being a fan of his work in this modern era without someone mentioning his overzealous amount of racial hatred. If anything, adding new and diverse ideas to his mythos only keeps the mythos alive by adding fresh stories and working to redeem the author’s dark opinions.

The other thing that bothers me is this claim of ownership over HPL. Trying to gatekeep people from creating any type of story, including those that include race, directly contradicts his feelings concerning the shared universe of the mythos.

The current, accepted, belief regarding new stories in the mythos is that none of his stories are protected in a way that stops authors from adding and joining them. The mythos was meant to be a sandbox that allowed creators to expand and play in. Imagine the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or The Flash’s Multiverse, but with existential dread. We, as creators (and the “Nazi” that I meantioned previously is actually a fairly famous creator) can’t create and add to the mythos when it suits us and then try to close the gate when the other artists create something that we don’t agree with. The only person who has that responsibility died in the late 1930’s.

Finally, my last major point to the haters is that this show, and the book by Matt Ruff, have been clearly advertised for years without demonstrating any sort of hidden agenda. This show is clearly what it claimed to be. If a show doesn’t intrigue ME with it’s trailers and ads, I won’t watch it. These haters all had ample warning to the content of the show and could have simply avoided it.

Instead, they watched it anyway and then bitched about it online. They are trolls looking to be fed and I encourage all moderators to block users who conduct this behavior so that they will starve and, hopefully, learn from their behavior.

Anyway, that is the only time (I only kind of promise this) that I will be bringing up people needing to stop being racist assholes in reference to this show. Now onto the review. Full disclaimer: I’ve read the book, and it was a long time ago, but I remember enjoying it.

Disclaimer number 2: My brother and I watch this together, remotely. He watches on his tv 20 minutes away while I sync my show up with his (“Ready? Ok, 1, 2, 3, hit play.”) and we sit in a party chat. Mikey’s opinions will be regular short pieces in these reviews.

Disclaimer number 3: I tried to write this without spoilers. I couldn’t do it. You’ve been warned. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. Boom! Warned again.

Episode 1 – Sundown

This episode is a perfect example of how to introduce characters and keep things moving. The opening scene is beautifully done, and while I know everyone was talking about it, I was excited to see the dread lord Cthulhu get his ass handed to him by the powerful swing of Jackie Robinson.

Atticus is the main character, but it becomes obvious that we’ll be following several other characters (his uncle Geoge and his wife, Letti and her sister, and the almost too white Braithwhites) throughout this series.

Atticus has just returned from the Korean War and there are questions as to whether he has “Shell Shock” or PTSD as we know it today. On top of that, he’s found a letter from his father requesting that he go out east and find him in “Lovecraft Country” (OMG they said it!).

George, Letti (who’s a mooch and a drifter), and Atticus decide to make this trip together and get paid doing it as George is the editor-in-chief (with his wife) of the “Green Book.” The Green Book is a book that is sold/handed out to black people to tell them safe routes, places to stay, and more in the incredibly racist 1950’s. This book is the key to surviving a roadtrip if you happen to have the wrong skin. Unfortunately, it isn’t always perfect and needs to be regularly updated, as we’ll see throughout this entire series, I’m sure.

The first 70% of this story is just them getting to their destination and dealing with very horrible people (chased out of town with shotguns, told to get out of a county before sundown, etc). It’s the getting chased out of the county that opens up the first real (there was minor bits before) supernatural stuff.

The sheriff is going to kill all three of them in the woods when suddenly…

SHOGGOTHS!

There are few televised moments that make me that happy. You can verify with my brother, Mikey, that I screamed with terror and delight when they arrived on the scene. The shoggoths came from nowhere, and even though I had them spoiled for me a little before the show, I still jumped.

Let’s get the big thing out of the way that everyone is talking about: No, they didn’t look like shapeless forms of whirling flesh, or a black mass of gel, or whatever you think shoggoths are supposed to look like, but that’s ok. As a writer for Shoggoth.net, I know what I’m talking about. Shoggoths have the ability to take many shapes, and they have come in many different flavors. This might have big six limbed bipeds, but they also had eyes and mouths covering their entire bodies.

Also, the vampire bite changing thing bothered a few people, but obviously nobody that was bothered by that ever watched “The Thing,” by John Carpenter. The monster in “The Thing” was the best vision of a shoggoth that I have ever seen, and simply touching a person made it take over and replace that person with it’s own self.

These things were shoggoths, and they were beautiful. I want 2.

Anyway, I’ve already broken my cardinal rule and spoiled a lot of the episode, but this episode ended on quite the high note (the shoggoths, duh) and put our heroes into a place that I thought (from my vague memories from the book) they wouldn’t get to until the end of the season.

 6 out of 5 stars. It was that good.

Mikey’s thoughts: “The best line in that entire episode was tied for Letti screaming for them to get the F out of that diner and for Uncle George looking at Atticus and asking what happens when someone gets bit by a vampire.”

Episode 2 – Whitey’s on the Moon

They ended up at Braithwhite mansion, the last place that Tic’s father was seen. The Braithwhites are weird, but friendly, and offer them anything and everything, but they were also expecting them and all of their favorite stuff fills each of their rooms.

Another odd thing, no one without Braithwhite in their blood can remember the shoggoths, and George and Letti can’t see to recall any of Tic’s weird crap he’s explaining to them. So Tic must be a Braithwhite. When he discovers the memory crap he makes friends with the lady of the house (who’s name is escaping me) and demands that she proves her friendship by undoing whatever spell stops George and Letti from remembering. She agrees and suddenly there are screams everywhere.

Fast forward a bit and they quickly discover that Daddy Braithwhite is trying to make a spell that will open the door to Eden and provide him with eternal life. This spell had been tried once before by (as it turns out) Tic’s great-great-great grandfather and super bad cultist, but he screwed it up and the house burnt down with Tic’s great-great-great grandmother escaping to give birth to the next line of Braithwhites.

George has a powerful scene in this episode where he does what he does best and reads. His readings lead him to understand this cult and their bylaws thoroughly and he uses those to manipulate the entire cult into giving Tic everything he wants, namely his father.

George and Letti get shot, with Letti getting killed, and the cult uses her revival to explain that they can also save George, Tic just has to take part in the ceremony.

The ceremony…

Hoo-boy…that was a doozy.

In a good way, of course. I don’t think this show could do anything wrong if it tried.

Anyway, Tic does the ceremony but it goes all wrong and I don’t know if it was because of Tic’s will, Tic’s great-great-great grandmother, the cult screwing up, or Lady Braithwhite doing something behind the scenes. I’m sure they will let us know later in the series as a big plot twist. Whatever happens, everyone, including the house, gets destroyed except for Tic, Letti, Montrose (Tic’s dad), and George…

And then George bites it.

Ugh. Tears.

Anyway, another 6 out of 5. This show is better than anything I’ve watched in a while. I’m on the edge of my seat the entire time and can’t get over how dang good it is. To prove how much I like it, just look at how many names I remembered. I never remember names of characters, not even in shows that I like. 

Mikey’s thoughts: “All I have to say is ‘Snake Penis.’ We knew it was going to happen as soon as they showed the stained glass window. Even so, I was still not fully prepared.”

Review: War of the God Queen by David Hambling

Hambling’s War of the God Queen was a relatively new look at the Cthulhu Mythos for me that not only worked, but was great at using the Mythos as a background piece of the plot without taking away from the very character driven story.

The story follows Jessica, who is thrown into the past while fighting the dread beast Cthulhu himself. I loved the portrayal as R’yleh as something more than just a location on Earth, but also as solid thing throughout time.

Jessica lands in tribal times where that same tunnel through time has also been regurgitating Lovecraftian beasts that have been kidnapping woman for breeding purposes.

She’s forced to convince tribal leaders that not only can she help, but that also being a woman isn’t something that’s a hinderance to her aid. She has to learn the language, their way of life, and how to survive in those old times while trying to figure out how to get past the monsters and climb back through the hole through time that she fell through and get back home.

My favorite thing about this story was the anthropological look at the people and Jessica’s integration. While a lot of the people she’s with see her as a goddess from on high come to save them from their demons, the rest tend to see her as a political tool, or push aside religious iconography to accept her as a person with more knowledge than they have.

Additionally, the entire story reads like an epic Hambling adventure akin to Harry Stubbs, with it being evident that Hambling did his research.

I’m a huge fan of this book and can’t see where else David takes this world that he’s been building.

5 out of 5 stars!

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!

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!

The Universe is out to get me!

It’s odd how the Universe will randomly fill my schedule with thousands of things to do right when I think I’m finally going to have a week or two to work on my projects.

About 8 days ago, I thought I was going to have a ton of free time to finish Andrew Doran 3 (seriously, how long is this Davenport guy going to take to put that out), a September deadline for an anthology story, and a chance to prep for NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, that’s not the case at all.

Well, in an effort to combat the Universe’s attempts to thwart my efforts, here I am providing an update.

I’m around 60% done with Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares. I am taking (and have taken) a break from that in order to hit that Anthology deadline. I’m hoping to finish it quickly enough to get back to working on Andrew Doran to finish it before NaNoWriMo. If I can get it done before the end of October, than Broken Nights 3 will be my NaNoWriMo project. Assuming that I can’t (waves at Universe), I’ll most likely be finishing up Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares in November.

In other news, the star of my life, my wife, Ren, has started an awesome podcast called “Are We Still Afraid of the Dark?” In it, her and her co-host, Maria, watch and review every episode of the 90’s show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” They offer commentary, reviews, and dissections in a comical manner and I produce the show! Check it out here. https://www.stillafraidofthedark.club/

Apple Link

Spotify Link

–MD–