Bob Billo's Illustration for Where the Space Pirates Are

Bob Bello’s Illustration for Where the Space Pirates Are

For the first time since Amazing Stories Magazine closed its doors in 2005 the world’s first science fiction magazine has begun to publish fiction again. Steve Davidson who now owns Amazing Stories, has been making all the right moves to return the magazine to its former glory. His first step was to reopen ASM as a social media outlet on the internet for fans and authors to blog about whatever facet of the sf world they cared to write about. That phase has lasted a little over a year and has been hugely successful. The second phase begins now with the publication through the month of April of sf short stories by a number of writers. The stories along with original art will be gathered up into ASM’s first e-book. I’m very happy, in fact honored, to have a story included in this historic event.

In 2009 I was in the midst of writing a series of stories under the banner: This Ray Gun for Hire.  The half dozen or so tales all appeared in the now legendary e-mag, Ray Gun Revival, which was a gallant effort on the part of Overlords Johne Cook, Lee S. King, and Paul Christian Glenn to present some epic, and some not so epic, space opera to the reading public. They didn’t mind if you called in space opera, a pejorative term to some. In fact the Overlords waved their Space Opera flags high. During its seven year run from 2006-2012 it gained a reputation as a no-compromise venue for some some really good short fiction of the space opera kind.

The This Raygun for Hire series was about a character named Frank Carson, who lived approximately 300 years in the future in the same universe as Jack Brand, another character who found his legs, so to speak on the pages of RGR, and later became the hero of my first novel. The universe in those stories was based on a fictional planet called Tulon that was rich in oil deposits that Earth exploited and then abandoned when another source of energy was developed. Tulon was a wasteland, during Jack Brand’s time. (Jack Brand is sadly out of print, but copies still seem to be available. I plan to republish it under the Flying W Press imprint.)

The Carson stories take place approximately 100 years earlier when Tulon was still booming with all the oil money and government contract work coming in. There were plenty of rich folks who could afford Frank Carson’s fee to do whatever dirty work they needed done. Carson was a futuristic hired gun. Sometimes his work would almost cross the line, but usually he stayed within the bounds of law and more often than not he tried to protect the weak and helpless, while battling the strong and corrupt.

In “Where the Pirates Are,” Carson is hired by the author of space adventure novels who is under pressure from his editor to put more realistic detail in his work. In an effort to achieve authenticity in his writing he asks Carson to help him set up an interview with an intergalactic space pirate who Carson once had ties to.

In addition to being a pretty fair action adventure story, there is a lot of commentary on the current state of literature, publishing,  and the way readers today are absorbing the written word. The author who hires Carson is based on a NY Times best-selling author I happen to have known, who insists on trying to actually do the things his action hero characters do. I often reminded him Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote 22 Tarzan novels and never dreamed of setting foot in Africa.

As you can see the story is accompanied by a very nice illustration by artist Bob Bello, The story originally ran in the January 2009 issue of Ray Gun Revival under the title “The Great Author Affair.”

So there you go. I hope you click on over to Amazing Stories today and enjoy “Where the Space Pirates Are.”

And if you like it, remember there’s plenty more of that kind of Neo-Pulp Electronic Revolution Fiction to be found in my latest book, Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto, a horror western.

 

 

 

 

Sized CoverBlood Moon Rising Magazine gave Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto another good review. The book review editor said:

“The title and cover . . . [gives] you the feel of a Quentin Tarrantino movie. Whalen did a great job in getting you to pick up the book and he does equally well in telling the story.”

“Whalen tells a story full of action and suspense throughout the book. He also does a great job of setting the mood and time period in which the story stakes place. His main character, Slate is multi dimensional. . .”

While all of the reviews have been for the most part very good, a couple of the reviewers thought the characters lacked depth. I’m glad this reviewer found Mordecai Slate had more substance than a simple black and white, two dimensional character out of pulp fiction. He may seem a fairly simple character on the surface, but as the story progresses we see, based on decisions he makes, and his reactions to the situations that develop, he is actually more complex than we may have thought. And, I might add, this applies to the other characters as well, especially gunfighter “Taos” Leary, and villains Dax Manion, and Del Cobre.

This depth of characterization is one of the main features of what I call Neo-Pulp Electronic Fiction. Of course, as the reviewer points out, the story also has plenty of action and suspense, but even those parts of the book serve to develop a theme.

 

Oscar

I think I’m a pretty tough-minded guy. In my books and short stories I write about hard boiled characters facing some pretty harsh situations. Mordecai Slate, for example, takes on creatures that are the embodiment of evil. He often stands face-to-face with terrifying monsters that would make the average man collapse in fear. But not even Slate ever faced the hideous face of death as coolly and bravely as a dog named Oscar did on Sunday April 6.

Oscar was my daughter Lisa’s four-year old Morkie terrier. He was only 9 pounds, a ball of fluff that brought delight to my daughter and her two sons and, in fact, the entire family. He was small but he was feisty and protective of his family. And when a large pitbull ran toward them from a house down the street, he stood squarely in front of Lisa as the Pitbull ran up to them. The bull sniffed his face for a few seconds. My daughter froze in terror, praying nothing would happen but in the next instant the Pitbull had Oscar by the throat, and began the horrendous process of eating him alive. I won’t go into the gory details, but needless to say my daughter was severely traumatized. A neighbor came to the rescue and chased the damned hound away. But too late to save Oscar who was already lying on the ground torn apart. He died an hour later at an animal hospital.

He belonged to my daughter and grandsons, but Oscar stayed in our house quite often, sometimes for a week at a time. I used to take him on long walks in the woods and around Lake Accotink. It was a regular routine. As soon as I’d get up in the morning, he’d follow me around until I took a shower and put my shoes on. Then he’d start trying to talk to me. Making odd vocal sounds, as if saying, “Okay. Let’s go.” All you had to say was the word “walk” and his face would light up and he’d run for the door.

Later in the afternoon, I’d be up in my office tapping the keys, trying to put a story into words, and he’d sit outside my office, waiting to see if I was going to go out again. Sometime I’d go down to the living room and play the electric piano or the acoustic guitar down there, and he’d lie nearby on the soft carpet, listening. Or maybe just falling asleep. He seemed to like the music, although he hated the sound of a harmonica. He’d run out of the room if I played it. Sometimes I teased him with it.

But now when I go down to the living room and sit at the keyboard, or pick up the guitar and try to play something, I just can’t. Oscar’s not there.

Real tough-minded.

talk-shows2-e1359194271693

Television is by and large becoming unwatchable. And I’m not even talking about the miserable shows that are broadcast. That’s a subject that could take up another entire blog. Inane, asinine sit coms that nobody with an IQ of more than 50 would want to watch, shows about police investigations that include virtual autopsies or focus on sex crimes, reality shows that are about as far removed from reality as the daydream of a cokehead, celebrity worshipping talk shows that follow the miscreants that have become the idols of our youth, and news channels that would make the tabloids of the 1930s blush with shame, these are bad enough.

But that’s not what’s bothering me about television today.

It’s not even the bloody commercials that air in prime time. Guys with low testosterone crying about their lack of that old va-voom; women complaining about painful dryness; old couples reaching for the viagra and cialis. As annoying as all that is, it’s not the most annoying. And neither are all the commercials for medicines that have minor side effects such as heart attacks, difficulty swallowing or breathing and oh yeah, death. It’s like if you take the pill, you’d be better off risking the disease.

Even worse are the new micro channels that have popped up since TV converted to digital. I try watching movies on some of those channels and I swear you can count five minutes of actual movie time, interrupted by seven minutes of commercials. A 90 minute movie gets turned into a three hour torture test. You can hardly remember how the damn thing started by the time you reach the end. And what commercials those channels have! Shyster law firms, weight loss gimmicks, reverse mortgage swindles, term life insurance without a medical exam, etc., on and on.

But as bad as all that is, that’s not what bothers me the most about TV these days. The thing that’s got my goat is that on all the talk shows and news broadcast, whenever some CEO of a company, or the spokesman for a business association, or an attorney representing a plaintiff is interviewed,  the interviewer asks the question and the interviewee begins: “So . . .” and then they go on to give their response.

“So, we feel that climate change is absolute bunk and those who are proponents of it should be . . .”

“So, in the case of this particular car recall, we just don’t have all the answers yet, but we are investigating.”

“So, measeles is a childhood disease that we thought we had eradicated, but .  . .”

What’s going on here? What’s with all the “so’s”? Who talks like that? Is there some school for CEO’s and spokespeople that’s teaching all these people how to talk on TV. Is it some device designed to allow the interviewee a moment to gather his thoughts before he speaks? I can’t believe that, because there’s no thinking involved in these interviews. What they have to say is all written out and rehearsed.

Or are the TV networks coaching these people, teaching them this technique before they go on the air. I don’t know, but I am getting sick of the “so’s.” Stop it it. Just talk natural, people. TV’s annoying enough already.

 

 

From the CNN News Desk

VAMPIRE SIEGE AT RIO MUERTO BANNED IN TRANSYLVANIA!

The Transylvania Ministry of Information issued a statement announcing the banning of a novel entitled “Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto” published in the United States of America by Flying W Press. The ministry Sized Coverreported that the book was deemed by Transylvania Dept. of Cultural Affairs as a vicious attack on vampires around the world.

“This book should never have been allowed to be published, let alone sold,” Cultural Minister, Vlad Vladyvostok said. “The novel depicts vampires in the most disparaging manner and depicts wholesale slaughter of dozens of those of the vampiric persuasion.”

The Cultural Affairs Dept. announced it has collected hundreds of copies of the book from farmhouses, attics, and outhouses all throughout the Transylvanian countryside. The book is reportely being read in secret by the oppressed human population of that country.

“We will not stop until every copy of the pernicious book has been destroyed,” Vladyvostok said.

Author John M. Whalen told CNN, “They can complain all they want, and they can issue all the bans they want, but they can’t stop the truth from being told. I stand by my book 100 percent.”

Further bulletins as warranted.

Order your copy while you still can from Amazon.com. 

A couple of items.

First,  this is pretty wild. I just discovered that you can now download the soundtrack for Sized Coverthe Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto trailer for free at a site called Mp3Truck.com.

 

[LOOKS LIKE THEY TOOK THE THEME DOWN. NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD. DON'T KNOW WHY. SO FUGGETABOUDIT!  DELETE FROM MEMORY!]

 

I don’t know who these guys are and I didn’t give permission for them to do it, but they aren’t charging anything for it, so I’m not going to object. What the heck. The more people can hear it the better.

So if you would like a free download of the Vampire Siege theme for your listening pleasure go to: http://mp3truck.net/play/RzBpdXpleGR1SFU-115/vampire-siege-at-rio-muerto-extended.html

Now you can plug your MP3 device into your ears and listen to the music while you read the book. What’s better than that? You can also get it as a ringtone for your cell phone! Now that is cool. 

Don’t forget, the novel is now available in a paperback edition from Amazon.com. I got my first sales report from Amazon and we sold a few copies during the first week. I expect Kindle sales will greatly outnumber paperback sales, but I’m glad it’s now available in both formats. 
NEW PULP AWARDS ANNOUNCED
Second item: They announced the winners of the New Pulp awards. Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto was nominated for best novel, but didn’t win. The winner was Slow Burn, a noir crime thriller  by Terrence McCauley. Congrats to him. 
INTERVIEW TO BE PODCAST IN APRIL
Third item: I am going to be interviewed by Tommy Hancock, of Pro Se Productions. He hosts a podcast oddly enough called “Pulped.” My interview will air April 21. Please tune in.
That’s the latest news. Meantime, happy monster hunting. 

HBO's "True Detective" Season 1 / Director: Cary Fukunaga

SPOILER ALERT!!! DON’T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LAST EPISODE OF TRUE DETECTIVE!!!

Sorry to say I was disappointed in the finale of True Detective on HBO last night. After seven great episodes the final installment was a let down. For two reasons. I thought the serial killings and child abductions would be found out to be part of a much wider ring of evil that involved Rev. Tuttle and his father (or was it brother) the State Senator. Those ideas were teased all through the miniseries but at the end it seemed like writer Nick Pizzolato just forgot about those elements, or chickened out at the end. 

And what about all those references to Robert Chambers’ The King in Yellow? Nothing? Just another red herring among many.

The final confrontation with the lone killer was well staged but kind of weak. Two cops against one maniac. And they couldn’t handle him. Given all the deaths and missing children it seems improbable there weren’t more people involved.

But worst of all the writer followed the current trend of writing an arc for his main character. Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) all through the story is a total nihilist and one of the most interesting characters on television. But his near death experience converts him into a believer. Come on!

Dashiell Hammett wouldn’t have written it that way. But today’s writers and those who teach writing courses, are obsessed with the idea that the main character has to go through a metamorphosis. It makes a story totally predictable and that was one thing I thought this show would not turn out to be. Too bad.

It’s the bane of modern fiction writing– books and films. It makes a story too predictable. Start with a hero who is a loner and doesn’t like people. By the end of the story he loves everybody. Start with a person who hates cats and at the end he’s the owner of a pet store. He’s a hard-drinking cynic who at the end finds love and religion. Perhaps it’s an attempt by genre fiction writers to give their work a look of “literary” respectability.

The old pulp writers never worried about respectability. What they wanted to do was present a character who could face up to the evil in the world and not be changed or tarnished by it. I wished True Detective had ended when Marty visits Cohle in his hospital room and says he’ll come back to see him later and Cohle asks: “Why?”

“Don ‘t ever change, buddy,” Marty says and they give each other the finger.

The last scene outside the hospital gets all warm and fuzzy and totally ruins the previous 8 hours.

That’s my opinion. What did you think?

 

images (1)Thanks to those who helped make the Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto launch a success. Some books, both paperback and Kindle were sold over the weekend and continuing today. Someone even purchased a Kindle edition of the short story, Samurai Blade. I really appreciate that.

I’ve heard from Jennifer Easter and Steve Ross, two of the winners of the drawing. Now that I have their addresses I’ll be sending copies of the book out soon as I can. We got some snow and you’d think it was the end of the world. As expected, the government and everything else is shut down, including the Post Office. Once the panic is over, I’ll be able to ship the books straight away.

Still haven’t gotten Terry Alexander’s address. Send it along, Terry, and I’ll get your book to you.

Meantime, hang loose, everybody. The snow appears to have stopped. Time to get out there for another round with the snow shovel.

Today we’re celebrating Flying W Press’s release of its first paperback–Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto. The first novel featuring monster hunter Mordecai Slate has been selling well as a Kindle ebook since October, and now it’s finally available in soft cover.

As part of the celebration we’re giving away three paperbacks by means of a random drawing. We were going to pick names out of a cardboard box at noon, three and six p.m., but why drag it out? I know the suspense is killing everybody. Heh heh. Well, anyway.

And so, without further adieu, here are the names of the three winners:

Terry Alexander
Jennifer Easter
and last but not least
Steven Ross.

Winners, please send me a personal message here on Facebook on my personal page providing your mailing address and I’ll get a signed copy of the book off to you right away.

Sorry everybody couldn’t win, maybe next time. Meantime, here’s a link to the book trailer so you can hear the Vampire Siege soundtrack one more time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0iuzexduHU

Sized CoverGood Morning, ladies and gentlemen. It’s official. “Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto” is now available in paperback. The softcover edition is now listed on Amazon.com for $14.99 with a 10 percent discount, making it $13.49. The Kindle edition is still $3.99.

We will have a drawing for three free paperbacks at noon, as promised. I’m happy to say we had nine discerning readers who put their names in. There were over 250 people who saw the post announcing the raffle, which was shared at five different facebook pages and my blog. Instead of three drawings during the day, all three will be drawn out of the box at high noon. No need for further melodrama.

Those included in the drawing are:

Jennifer Easter
Joe Crawford
Travis Perry
Craig Russette
Terry Alexander
Steven Ross
Stephen Gepp
Andrew Salmon
Bobby Nash

Thanks to everyone for participating. If I missed anybody, please let me know.

Come back at 12:00 pm EST for the drawing and good luck.

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