I have been hooked on fantasy and science fiction since preschool when I watched Star Trek the Original Series with my family on TV. Then came Star Wars at the theater when I was 5, and a few years later, I discovered the joys of reading fantasy with the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.
The elements I like most about the genres are the high stakes (save the world, overthrow the empire, etc.), the diversity of characters, and how magic or extraordinary technology allows plots to expand in interesting ways. The ability of fantasy and sci fi to include analysis and criticisms of social conditions like religion and politics is especially fascinating as well. When this is done in conventional fiction, people and readers descend into arguments about whether an opinion is valid or the historical information is accurate instead of assessing the concepts themselves.
Of course, fantasy and sci fi can just be fun as well. I love a good hero or heroine and villains can be the best of all. And there is something therapeutic about picking up a sword or blaster and solving the problems of the world.
My taste in genre has inevitably married itself to my love of writing. For some reason I am a person capable of writing novels. The act of creating thousands of pages of fiction does not overwhelm me. Making it a good work of fiction is the hard part that requires countless hours of editing and rewriting and lots of daydreaming too.
When I'm not writing, my other passions include cooking, growing food, reducing my plastic waste, raising rabbits, spinning wool, and reading.
The thought of giving others the werewolf magic troubles Thal. He knows that they will be forever bound to him as obedient killers. They will never have normal lives again. Despite his qualms, he is troubled most by the supernatural fext who can heal from all wounds. This foul assassin serves the sorcerer Tekax, and Thal cannot dare to battle them without more werewolves at his side.
Myles and his people are now bereft of their ancient Kadolia magic. Their Elders say that the magic came from their homeland and that it is gone forever. They are scrambling desperately through badlands to stay ahead of Lasher slave hunters when a faction of survivors wants to turn back and surrender. Annihilation looms until Myles senses the return of his power.
Stories of the fantastic let us imagine the broad strokes of our lives. This essay looks at how the modern mythology expressed in popular works of fantasy and science fiction resonates with the inner worlds of readers.
A rash act of defiance will thrust Shan into a high stakes competition with Onja, his lover, his queen. His compassion for a mere human starts his descent into a dangerous test that he is not prepared for.
This value bundle brings together all four novels of The Rys Chronicles – Union of Renegades, The Goddess Queen, Judgment Rising, and the stunning conclusion The Borderlands of Power. The sprawling epic covers seven years in the lives of the main characters, whose charms and exploits have won Falbe fans around the world.
The folklore beliefs of the 16th century Renaissance come wildly to life in the werewolf hero Thal. Created by the infamous sorcerer Sarputeen, Thal now battles the dark servants of Tekax, wizard to the Turks and nemesis of Sarputeen. While escaping the Holy Roman Empire, Thal discovers more about his werewolf powers as he struggles to reach a refuge shrouded in mystery.
Enter Tracy Falbe’s fantasy worlds through three different doors. She brings the folklore of Renaissance Bohemia to life in Werelord Thal that can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel. Then Rys Rising and Union of Renegades begin two series set in the Rys World that she spent 15 years creating. At over half a million words, the Beginnings Box Set offers epic entertainment at a tremendous value.
Daniel Wood and his family are getting a puppy. A black German Shepherd puppy to be precise. His dad already picked her out on the internet, and they are on the road to the breeder’s house at the end of a long creepy country road into the woods. It looks like a woods where bears might live, but no one is thinking about that when disaster strikes the puppy barn.
Thal embodies the ancient magic of the pagan past. He challenges a world conquered by a spiritual system that denies the flesh and forgets the Earth.
Although wanted for Devil worship and shape shifting, he still boldly walks the streets of 16th century Prague. Jesuits hunt him. Mercenaries fear him. Musicians sing his praise, and women are captivated by his alpha swagger.
Regain the wisdom and creativity of our ancestors and learn to whip up something special with tight budgets and limited supplies. You may not be able to find the “10-cent bag of marshmallows” anymore, but modern cooks can still benefit from this collection of 1920s vintage recipes originally written by my late Grandmother.
In this breathtaking conclusion to the series, unleashed monsters born of cruel spells test the mettle of the sturdiest warriors. Soul wrenching chaos consumes the faith of thousands. Torn between his need to protect his secret lover and son and his legitimate family, Cruce struggles through ever worsening battles until he finally wagers his life against the most favored warlord of Onja.
Onja opens a two front campaign meant to expand her dominion over the western tribal kingdoms and bring misery and ruin to Nufal. She commands Amar to lead marauders into Nufal. Excited to be set loose upon new and foreign lands, he attacks without mercy and even dares to fight magical tabre. In the west, Onja’s holy war rages as she continues to crush old idols and remake society.
When Onja enthralls the savage Chatapaka people of the remote north and unleashes their brutal hordes upon vulnerable Nufalese settlements, the militia is overwhelmed. Cruce Chenomet and his comrades struggle to save the fleeing settlers. Cruce quickly loses hope but keeps his courage as he confronts the savage storm.
A young warrior ruined and near death is saved by Onja a mysterious rys female. Forsaking all that he was, he will take the name Amar and serve his new magical mistress. A lord among outlaws he will become, feared by kings and called the dro-shalum or curse demon by the common folk.
Indulge yourself and read this sumptuous epic told from many angles.
Preserve the bounty of your garden, support local growers, claim control over ingredients, increase your food security, and enjoy great tasting foods better than anything from a factory. All of this is possible with home canning. This short guide quickly presents everything you need to know to safely preserve jams, fruits, relishes, pickles, soups, and tomatoes.
Ever been in a casino and wished you knew how to play craps? Read Get Dicey and you'll learn which bets to play, how to play them, and most importantly which bets to avoid. Written by a Las Vegas craps dealer, here's your inside scoop on how to play the most exciting game in the casino.
Nufal is invaded and human warriors fight alongside their rys and tabre champions in a grueling clash of muscle and magic. Grim struggles smash strategy into chaos, and loyalties degenerate into desperate choices for survival. Tempet and Alloi, driven by their desire for revenge upon the rys, push King Shan deep into the violent reservoir of his power.
The heroes of The Rys Chronicles epic fantasy series face new challenges when an ancient foe rises from the dust of a lost civilization and joins forces with the flourishing Atrophane Empire that desires control of the whole of Ektren.
The Kezanada agents of Queen Onja stalk Shan with enchanted weapons. Dreibrand Veta's growing list of victories has increased his influence, but the rebellion proceeds slowly for Miranda whose children remain captive in Jingten. Shan's armies will soon confront Onja, but she will tenaciously defend her throne, and Shan will discover that he does not know the powerful secrets of the Goddess Queen.
The epic begins as Dreibrand Veta and the conquering Horde of the Atrophane Empire reach a mythic Wilderness that beckons with a magical call to glory. But Onja, Queen of the rys, a race far more powerful than the greatest human state, guards this land. She has the power to imprison souls and her genocidal rage is legendary. Everything is at risk for her desperate enemies, the union of renegades.
on Feb. 17, 2011
The terrible Black Lord of the Underworld is locked out of the green and living Overworld by seven wards set by ancient mages. This evil fallen God cannot rise to break these wards so he must twist and trick a human to do it for him. A woman is taken to the Underworld and her son cut from her womb. Raised by cruel demons and other creatures, this boy is named Bane. Vicious tortures and wicked tests make him strong as he grows. He looks to the Black Lord as his father, who imbues Bane with dark powers. As a human, Bane can go to the Overworld. When he is grown he becomes the Demon Lord and sets out to break the seven wards.
The only hope for the Overworld is a sweet and innocent healer girl, Mirra. Her Sisterhood of healers raised her to undo the evil of Bane with her glorious and selfless goodness. During her upbringing, she was sheltered from anger, arguments, conflict, and any unpleasantness. She is pure and giving and guileless and believes in the goodness of the world. A riveting psychological drama unfolds as these two opposing characters influence each other. Mirra is taken prisoner by the Demon Lord as he spreads terror and destruction across the world, marching from ward to ward and breaking them. Bane is intellectually stymied by Mirra's inability to hate him. She even cares for him because she cares for all things. Bane tortures her but will not kill her, despite repeated demands from the Black Lord that he do so. Gradually Bane becomes protective of Mirra although he refuses to accept that she is stirring human feelings within him.
But the progress of Mirra's good influence is slow, and Bane remains stubbornly loyal to the Black Lord. Wards continue to shatter beneath the Demon Lord's awesome power and the suffering of the world grows worse each day.
Demon Lord is a tremendous fantasy novel packed with demons, trolls, depraved humans, and scuttling horrors of the night. Massive mountain fortresses fall. Towns are ravaged. Storms toss ships at sea. Wards holding back the Black Lord are hidden in a great crashing waterfall or insulated within a colossal monolithic crystal. Mirra learns the terror of being chained to a sacrificial altar. Bane rides a demon steed. Every paragraph and chapter of this novel rushes headlong into gripping action and terrible trials as Bane and Mirra grapple with their worst fears.
Southwell's writing flows and is filled with stunning landscapes and lucid insights into the characters' tortured thoughts. And chapter by chapter the seeds of romance reluctantly germinate in the hostile soil. The age old story of a woman trying to change a man for his own good and the good of the world underpins this wonderful fantasy filled with dark horror, cruelty, and persistent hope.
Demon Lord is the first book in a series and I will definitely be reading more of T.C. Southwell's fantasy fiction. Getting a copy of this novel is as effortless as kneeling before the Demon Lord. It is a free ebook download at Smashwords.
on June 20, 2011
Canadian author Matt D. Williams has produced a witty, entertaining, and action-packed space adventure with his novel Jak Phoenix. The main character by the same name is a free-wheeling space captain with a clunky old ship, the Tempest, held together by salvaged out-of-date parts. Jak, whose piloting skills range from brilliant to lunatic, makes excessive demands on his beloved craft all the time while his one-person crew consisting of Baxter works diligently to cobble together software that keeps the ship's systems running. Hobbled by bad luck and poor planning, Jak makes a sporadic and mostly inadequate income salvaging materials and accepting what transit work comes along. He thinks he's going to finally make a good score when he seeks to claim the Balarian Tablets that are valuable ancient relics lost on a desert planet.
Of course the salvage mission goes horribly awry, mostly because of a dragon, but especially because Jak's old associate and now rival Murdock wants the treasure too.
As the story progresses, recovering the powerful Balarian Tablets becomes central to the plot. A beautiful Balarian woman named Cyan wants to restore the tablets to her homeworld, where their power will sustain the world's ecology. She teams up with Jak and Baxter in a round about sort of way and they pursue Murdock across the Azore's Crown Galaxy. Murdock, despite his wicked disregard for all life, proves to be the least of Jak's problems. Murdock actually means to sell the tablets to the dreaded Captain Cartrite who has been building a mini empire in the galactic fringes. Cartrite is prolonging his life with technology, building an army of advanced and mostly disposable soldiers, and planning to take over the rest of the galaxy and reshape its citizens according to his warped vision of perfection. Tapping into the Balarian Tablets promises to be Cartrite's ticket to supreme power.
Jak of course becomes pivotal in stopping Cartrite's madness, and the stakes of the novel keep going up. There are space battles, traps set in nebulas, escapes from terrifying laboratories, blaster fights in close quarters, and sneaking around in maintenance shafts. The novel Jak Phoenix unabashedly follows every formula and cliché popularized by the sci fi genre. There are overheated engines, remotely-detonated explosives, hacking into defense systems, self-destructing ships, and all of these things were perfectly acceptable and wonderful to me. I love sci fi adventure and the motifs of the genre were lovingly executed by the author.
But the real charm of this novel is its humor. The wit of Williams is artfully low key, and reading Jak Phoenix made me chuckle quite a bit. I enjoyed picking up the novel because I knew it would make me smile and laugh. The novel is full of delightful scenes like this:
"The Tempest's computer had a female voice, although it was not Jak's first selection from the three settings programmed into the operating system. Jak's nonconformist nature subconsciously forced him to insist on an alternate choice, due to the fact that so many pilots and captains chose a female voice for their ships. He had tried the other options. The supplied monotone, generic computer voice, scared the hell out of him and the sophisticated male voice made him uncomfortable. He quickly realized why so many people went with the female setting."
I happily recommend Jak Phoenix to readers who enjoy solid plotting, fun characters, and adventure. The action is plentiful and Jak is a hero easy to root for, and he needs you to root for him. He's daring and good-hearted, but definitely not an overachiever. Throughout his death-defying adventures, most everything goes wrong except his pants falling down. Matt Williams' writing is crisp, clear, and flows from scene to scene effortlessly. He's a writer who has definitely spent more time with Han Solo than the average wookie, but he channels his inspirations in an admirable fashion.
Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception
on June 29, 2012
He quickly uncovers that the people in charge of Miralto are gutting the resources of Markazia, enslaving its inhabitants, and lying to the Miralto public about all of it. Guerrilla rebels are constantly attacking the system, and Jak soon falls for their gutsy and attractive female leader Karina. Although some people might dislike how unbelievably stupid Jak is with the rebel leader, this was actually one of my favorite aspects of the novel. Stupid is Jak's specialty, and he quickly performs several dangerous favors for the rebellion and alienates his best friend Baxter. My husband also read Jak Phoenix 2 and he summed up Jak's motivation as "anything to get in the panties." I found Jak's behavior very endearing because it was so genuine. People do blockheaded things because of pesky physical attractions all the time. Someone is doing it right now.
Overall, Jak Phoenix 2 is an emotionally driven action-packed adventure. Jak is tested hard by his falling out with Baxter, and he suffers some very bad consequences for his spring break attitude with the rebel leader.
The novel was tightly plotted and the characters were vivid and believable. Compared to the first novel, I am forced to say that it was not as laugh out loud funny. It still was humorous but the story was anchored more by its serious aspects than a desire to be funny.
Jak Phoenix 2 is an exciting read that diverted me from the cares of my life. There is always something going on: explosions, fist fights, crashes, and high speed chases. Jak sorely regrets his foray into gainful employment, and I suspect that he will be gratefully pursuing freelance salvage work in his next adventure.
Hero For Hire
on Sep. 09, 2015
This is a fun read with lots of action and a likable hero. I appreciated the intelligence of the author who included many wry and insightful observations about human nature.
Return to Mech City
on Oct. 16, 2016
Return to Mech City by Brian Bakos gets my vote as the best free read at Smashwords. This first book of the Robot Horizon Series presents a modest book cover and a mere two-sentence description that managed to immediately snag my attention.
The story is a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Humanity has succumbed to plague and environmental devastation. Only the robots remain.
Before the apocalypse, many types of robots had been integrated into human society, and robot engineers in Mech City developed new ones right up to the very end.
This is the place where Dr. Anna Horvath tells her blue humanite model robot Winston to go with her dying words. She has filled his data reservoir with all the knowledge of humankind and gives him the task of preserving this legacy. Her orders give Winston a reason not to jump from a window and kill himself.
In Mech City, he finds robots adrift without purpose. No humans remain to give them tasks, and many hurl themselves from upper stories. Most of the robots are worker robots. They are built for manual functions and differ from a humanite like Winston, who lacks physical strength.
Winston begins saving robots by giving them new purpose. He has them renovate buildings. Grateful for the direction he offers, they quickly start calling him "Boss" and he likes it.
Winston meets Star. She was built to look like a perfect woman and be desirous of giving and receiving sexual pleasure. I admired how Bakos made the sex slave robot fresh again. Star is a complex character, curious, kind, and inherently good.
But not all robots are awaiting orders or good in their hard drives. Fascista Ultimo, F.U. to his friends, has plotted a takeover of Mech City and plans to rule all of robot kind. Aided by robots of sinister and destructive design, he forcefully enlists Winston to his inner circle because of his influence over the worker robots. Winston complies because he does not want to be destroyed. As a scholarly robot, however, he possesses the data and programming to recognize the dangerous insanity of F.U.
For example, F.U. says, "It's all about the natural hierarchy. We Humanites were created to be the Master Race, the successors of the founding humans."
And from his Manifesto:
"The true Fascist leader must give his followers the sense that their rotten little prejudices are something exalted and pure."
This novel is both complex and easy to read. The prose flows, and the skill with which Bakos treats the development of robot characters impressed me.
The post-apocalyptic turmoil drives Winston to experience sensations increasingly close to emotions. His programming sometimes literally crashes as he copes with terrible problems and tragedies. The adoration of the worker robots immediately builds his ego, and he likes the power. But when he see the evil of F.U. he recognizes how corrupting the love of power can be.
For me, the novel created an amazing fictional study about what the world of robots might be like. We live in a time of Big Data, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Against this real-world backdrop, Bakos imagined an artificial culture in its infancy as it struggled with chaos, oppression, and revolution.
The actions of the robots, while staying genuinely within the realm of their digital souls, reminded me strongly of the beauty and ugliness within humanity.
In Return to Mech City, I joined with characters who showed that artificial intelligence finds the great problems of the ages no easier to deal with than my organic brain.
on Jan. 29, 2017
Another great read from Brian Bakos. Expedition Westward was full of action and thought-provoking examinations of human madness, post apocalyptic desperation, and how robots might experience existence. Winston remained a compelling character. He was vulnerable to the corrupting influence of power, yet still redeemable by Star. This book introduced more human characters too as the reader discovers that the plague did not wipe everyone out. The survivors, however, are less than appealing humans and quite devoid of mental health.
Battle for Mech City
on Feb. 10, 2018
A great conclusion to the Robot Horizon trilogy. The action is nonstop in this unique dystopian adventure. The prose is skillfully written and flows effortlessly from scene to scene. Plenty of automatic weapons' fire and kinky Lexx-style high jinks drive a plot full of interesting characters like Winston and General Reyes. The story ponders robot-robot relationships, robot-human relationships, and human-human relationships.