Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Dear Diary

Dear Diary:

More books arrived today, many of them undocumented immigrants. Of course, I did not turn them away. I have a big heart and sufficient resources at present to accept them. But I feel the first flickers of concern.

The book population in my house seems to be growing almost exponentially. Already the shelving resources are being strained. Certainly I can double or even triple-up for a while. But what if the present pace continues, or even increases? What will I do then?

There is a further concern as well, a much bigger concern. I haven't had time to get to know all the new books in my home. And I'm beginning to hear rumblings of discontent. I hear whispers, questions about why some books get shelved while others are stacked on the floor, or even placed in boxes in closets. Why are some selected for reading and others not? Dissatisfaction appears to be growing among my population of tomes.

Lately, I have sensed an underlying hostility in some of the whispers. They often cease when I enter the room. Up until this point, I have kept a pretty tight leash on my collection. But I'm beginning to sense a revolution brewing. I would round up the malcontents and send them to book mooch if I could identify them reliably. But I cannot bear to punish one book for the sins of another.

And so I wonder.... How long before they strike?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Holiday Festival of the Arts program

I've been invited to read this Sunday, December 3, at the Holiday Festival of the Arts program in Covington. It’ll be held at the St. John’s Coffeehouse, which is at 535 E. Boston St. Covington, La. 70433. The phone # is 985-893-5553.


The program features a bunch of local authors. Some will be telling stories while others will do brief readings. I’m one of the readers, and will be reading material from “The Adventures of an Arkansawyer,” a humorous memoir of my days growing up on a farm in Arkansas.


The program begins at 12:15 and ends at 4:00. My actual reading will be sometime between 1:40 and 2:40. I’m not sure of the exact moments. The whole program looks pretty interesting, though.


I will also have some of my books for sale during the intervals between events. I’m planning on bringing copies of:

Cold in the Light: $8.

Killing Trail: $5.

Harmland: $5.

The Adventures of an Arkansawyer: $6.


If you’re local, I hope you’ll drop by. Would love to see you. If anyone who is planning to come wants a specific book, let me know and I’ll be sure to bring it.



Sunday, November 26, 2017

Plum Tree Tavern

Well, I was off a few days for Thanksgiving and did get some writing done. Mostly, though I got resting and reading done, which I needed and enjoyed. I can't believe that break is already over. I hope your Thanksgiving went wonderfully.

I did have a haiku published at Plum Tree Tavern. Here's the link if you'd care to check it out: Plum Tree Tavern.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dyscrasia Fiction, S. E. Lindberg

Helen’s Daimones, by S.E. Lindberg, IGNIS Publishing LLC, Dyscrasia Fiction
204 pages. Front cover art by Daniel Landerman.


This is the third book in the Dyscrasia series by Lindberg, following after Lord of Dyscrasia and Spawn of Dyscrasia. Here again we find the combination of beautiful language and powerful imagination that informed the first two books. The result is a unique fantasy vision that is both artistic and effective. The “Dsycrasia” novels are hallucinogenic, dream-like, full of wraiths and apparitions. Ideas and images pile one on top of another with an intensity that is far from common in fantasy literature. I admire the author’s ability to maintain that intensity throughout his works; his world-building never stumbles.


This volume also introduces Helen, a young girl who immediately evokes both sympathy and admiration. I liked this touch because it gives readers a very human character we could strongly root for. Most of the other characters are inventive and complex but not entirely human. They are fascinating, but not as easy for the reader to inhabit. I’m looking forward to more adventures with Helen, and at the end of “Daimones” the author hints at things to come. I know there is a fourth book in the works. I’m looking forward to it. Here's the link on Amazon








Friday, November 10, 2017

Charles Recommends: Sword and Planet Fiction

I'm going to start a new feature both here on the blog and on facebook in which I’ll recommend my top five or so books in each genre that I’m familiar with. I'll limit it to one book per author in each of those genres. What I'd love to get back is other folks' recommendations in those genres as well. I'm always looking for new good books to read. Below are my top five recommendations in Sword & Planet fiction.

1. Swordsmen in the Sky: My favorite fantasy collection of all time. This is the collection that, more than anything, made me want to write Sword & Planet stories. Contains: Swordsman Of Lost Terra by Poul Anderson, People of the Crater by Andre Norton, The Moon That Vanished by Leigh Brackett, A Vision of Venus by Otis Adelbert Kline, and Kaldar, World of Antares, by Edmond Hamilton

2. A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is the one that started it all for me. The first in the Barsoom series by Burroughs. John Carter gets to Mars and has his first adventures. I loved it so much that from the moment I read it I began making up my own stories about this kind of character and world. Eventually, the Talera cycle resulted. I owe ERB so much for the joy he gave me and the inspiration he was for me with these books.

3. A Sword for Kregen, by Alan Burt Akers (AKA Kenneth Bulmer): This is the first Dray Prescot book that I ever read, and it is still my favorite. Dray Prescot meets a better swordsman than he is, which was unique in my experience with Sword & Planet fiction up to that time. The book also involves a game of living chess, or the Kregen equivalent of that, called Jikaida. I still remember finding this book at a small used bookstore in Russellville, Arkansas when I was in college there. Just a great story.


4. Aldair in Albion, by Neal Barrett, Jr.: This is the first in a four book series that has to be one of the most unique S & P works out there. It’s a bit outside the standard realm for S & P fiction because it actually takes place on a future earth. However, the feel of it—to me—is sword & planet with a healthy dose of animal fable. This is a story about a world abandoned by humans but only after they raised many other species to sentience. The main character is an intelligent, upright walking pig. But although that sounds like food for hilarity, the story is full of adventure and excitement.


5. In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, by S. M. Stirling: Stirling knocked it out of the park with this one. A wonderful revival of the Sword and Planet genre, and set on Mars no less. Great action, fantastic and wonderful characters, and a powerful ending. A truly enjoyable experience.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Traveler Series, D. B. Drumm

This is the first in a post-apocalyptic series that seems clearly influenced by the movie Road Warrior. It's credited to D. B. Drumm. It takes place about fifteen years after a "nuke-out," which seems to have occurred in this book's timeline around 1984. That's when the book was written. It features a man known only as Traveler, although we do learn his real last name late in the book. It's Paxton.  Traveler is an ex-special forces soldier who, while in "El Hiagura" (El Salvador) before the war,  was exposed to a very nasty neurotoxin that often causes him great pain but which also seems to provide him with some extra-sensory ability to detect emotions. 

In this volume, Traveler stumbles into a town where two opposing war-lords divide the town between them. Shades of Kuroisowa's "Yojimbo" and Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars." As one might expect, Traveler ends up pitting the two sides against each other. The book also reveals that a man who betrayed Traveler back before the war is still alive, and that he serves the ex-president of the United States, a man named Frayling, who appears to be a rather thinly veiled substitute for Ronald Reagan, who was president from 1981 to 1989. It further reveals that at least one of Traveler's friends from before the war is still alive. These two discoveries provide a set up for the continuing series.

As with most of these men's adventures books of the era, D. B. Drumm was a house name for the series. It appears that Ed Naha wrote this first volume, and he and John Shirley traded off on the books through the rest of the series.

I actually enjoyed this book quite a bit and will look for others in the series. There are apparently thirteen volumes. Although the story is pretty standard, the writing was good and the character interesting. Better done than many in the post-apocalyptic genre.