Context Makes Its Entrance!

Yesterday’s bombastic declaration comes from this passage from my work in progress, HEART OF ICE:

“Tell me, what is the weight of a plaintive lament,

Of a passionate passage of sighs?

When Sir Manfred like Achilles sulks in his tent,

Under lowering, thunderous skies?

Here he broods, dark Sir Manfred! The lord of Valkenburgh!

Cast miles from the bright fields of home!

By the gale of misfortune blown here to an island

Which no man of grace calls his own!

Far in the West on his own!

Always and ever, alooone!

“Poor Sir Manfred,” Trinadan said.

“You have felt his pain-of-the-world,” said Wegener. “My work now is done.”

He turned away, to repack the halberd securely.

“But he isn’t alone, is he?” Forge said. “He’s wi’ you. And now wi’ us.”

“In the ways that matter most to the innermost heart, he is alone,” Wegener declared solemnly.

“An’ as for no man o’ grace callin’ this island his home …” Forge began.

“Pardon me if you choose for interrupting you, Sir Forge, but song is not reality,” Wegener said. “At most, it describes what can be seen through a chip of ice, held at an angle to the eye. There are only so many words available in any tongue; what does not rhyme, nor scan, cannot be said at all, and there are many things which can only be said badly, or partially.”

“There’s them as would call a thing said badly or partially as a lie,” Forge said, careful even through his easy banter not to accuse Wegener directly. Much blood had been spilled thus, in both this world and the Other Side.

“Bah!” came the sudden plosive clap of sound from the darkness, whence Sir Manfred emerged. “Of what consequence is a trivial falsehood within the grand canvas upon which the saga of Valkenburgh is played?”

Bombast Makes Its Entrance

Now in my sixth book for Chris Kennedy Publishing, I have finally been able to use this line:
“Bah!” came the sudden plosive clap of sound from the darkness, whence Sir Manfred emerged. “Of what consequence is a trivial falsehood within the grand canvas upon which the saga of SIR MANFRED VALKENBURGH is played?”
The original line is by Stan Lee, from the mouth of an armored, operatic villain whose name rhymes with Tomb …

Atomic Demons

So, THIS just happened:

This is the cover for the latest book in the Murphy’s War series, OPERATION WEREWOLF. No, there isn’t a werewolf on the cover, but we wanted to make sure you knew there are ATOMIC DEMONS IN HERE! Yes, that’s a demon prince rising out of a mushroom cloud, opposed by Mick, Dave and a Navy sorceror who’s not ready for any of this.

But I exaggerate; it’s not really an atomic explosion. Because, see, atomic explosions start off very hot indeed, but all the heat is generated in the first second, and then it cools down. THIS is an explosion that occurs, looks around, gets really angry, and starts smashing the surrounding countryside … for HOURS. So really, this is one of those rare occasions when an atomic blast is the LEAST BAD option.

Don’t believe me? It’ll be out soon! Check it for yourself.

Weird WW2 in Gaming

I just finished the fourth book in a series called Murphy’s War, set in a Weird World War II where magic and vampires fight side by side with tanks, snipers and booby traps. There aren’t many books like this of which I am aware: it’s a hat tip and homage to Operation Chaos by Poul Andersen, of course, but Mark Walker has also written Dark War, which is about World War THREE with vampires and zombies and stuff. And that’s it, as far as I know.

But in gaming, there are lots of WWWII titles. Wolfenstein, of course, the video game series, which now has a boardgame in production. There are now zombie levels in most WW2 shooter games, I hear. But there are several others, most of which I’ve owned over the years, and I think each one inspired a little bit of Murphy’s War.

Fireteam Zero pits four WW2 commandoes against a series of supernatural threats in Europe, Africa, Russia and the Far East. Each threat module has a series of operations, with sturdy pressboard maps, plastic miniatures and support material. The maps are very dark, which is exactly what you want in a horror game. The minis are fine, if a bit derivative: there are the Woods Demons, the Fire Demons, the Spider Monsters, and other stuff we’ve seen before. When painted up nicely, though, they get the job done. The character models are excellent; mine wound up being repurposed as the characters from my series for a game I hope to run at a convention sometime.

Tannhauser is by Fantasy Flight Games, so it’s overproduced, or perhaps I should say “jam-packed” with stuff. Modular maps, again dark but readable, one indoor and one outdoor. In this one, the weird stuff isn’t secret at all; it started in World War One, when the losing side resorted to black magic, and the Allies responded with superscience. Now they have electricity guns and powered-armor harnesses, while the other side has vampires, Frankensteins and zombies. I took the idea of the Austro-Hungarians making a deal with the Devil to survive World War One from Tannhauser.

Tannhauser comes with miniatures, but only a few of them. On the plus side, they are already painted and look great.

Hellboy isn’t primarily set in WW2, but half his villains are occult Nazis, so it works. It’s an adaptation of the comic book, which includes minis which are crisp and detailed and paint easily. Hellboy himself is an awesomely pulp character which goes well with the WWW2 setting; I kinda wish he’d had more adventures back then, although he was a little kid in the Forties, hence “Hellboy” rather than “Hellman.” Plenty of frog monsters and undead Vikings spice up the action, and if you don’t have enough Nazi minis, there are lots of places to correct that lack.

Still to come:

Achtung: Cthulhu

Konflikt: ‘47

The Day After Ragnarok

Enter the Keep …

New from New Mythologies!

All right, just because I’m playing catch-up, I don’t want you all expecting a new book every day! I’m not denying that would be amazing, but it’s just a quirk of the publishing process.

New Mythologies Press brings you Keep of Glass, an Arthurian adventure for the modern age. As the Enchantment of Britain grows stronger, all manner of strange marvels are arising. Men do amazing feats, wizards skulk in dark caves, and even the spirits of the land are much more in evidence. So why, in this new Golden Age, can’t a girl become a knight, if her heart is pure?

Here, let’s listen in a bit:

Trinadan told herself again that she was not afraid.

            In a few moments, a man she had never met would hurl himself down the jousting lane and try to pin her ribs to her backbone with his lance. The impact would almost certainly knock her to the ground, where his horse might or might not run her over.

            Unless she unhorsed him first.

            She held her shield tight against her side and hoped the sun wouldn’t bake all the strength out of her before the joust began. Her armor pressed down painfully on her shoulders, her neck, and the creases above her hips, while her heavy helmet shut out noise, light, and air.

            Her mount shifted in an unfamilar way beneath her; the family could not afford two warhorses, so she had borrowed her brother Priam’s. Many of the knights she passed on the way to the fairgrounds had been gentling their borrowed steeds, running them slightly breathless the day before. It had looked like an excellent idea, since the horse would not have to run more than a few lengths before lance met shield. She had meant to run her own in that fashion, but there had been no time.

            Like her mother, she was tall and slim, with the red-blond hair and pale skin of the Cymric isles. Her family links with the famous Sir Tristan were evident in the line of her jaw, so like his, and in the prominence of her cheekbones, which she disdained to accent with rouge. But where her mother’s eyes were green, and those of her brother Priam were narrow and dark, Trinadan’s were wide, like windows to a sky of perfect blue.

            She dug in her heels in determination, bringing a jump from the heavy-footed bay beneath her saddle. Trinadan swayed in her — Priam’s — armor, trying to gentle the beast without frightening it. This horse was so unlike her rouncy back in Lyonesse!

            A hand gripped the reins just behind the bridle and shattered her brief reverie. A small, pale man in garments of forest green searched her face with golden, feverishly bright eyes.

            “Are ye well seated, milady? No complaints?”

            Trinadan shifted in her saddle, seeking the point of balance she always found at home. There seemed to be none, but the man was expecting an answer. What would Priam say?

            “Never better, my good man. It’s just this waiting, you see — makes the horse anxious.”

            “Well, then, his troubles are over, milady. Because that man over there’s ready to run you over, see?”

Operation Zombie Arises

Welcome, new Hellbusters! The war continues in Hell as our heroes face the first string at last in Operation Zombie, book 3 from Blood Moon Press. (Scroll down for the Blood Moon section.)

Okay, a Thompson gun might not hurt it much … but it won’t HELP it, neither!

Who’s that hefting a Sherman tank at our hero? Well, Hell is down to just two generals, one of whom is Koriel, Prince of the Un-Dead. You’ll remember that’s how World War Weird got started, with the losers in World War One deciding to use vampires. Well, this is the guy that started that ball rolling … all the way downhill!

But even Shawn of the Dead can deal with a zombie or two. Up against the whole U.S. Army, Koriel figures he’ll stack a couple of thousand dead bodies together and weave them into a very big zombie with a huge reservoir of Un-life to draw on. Clark Ashton Smith did it first in The Colossus of Ylourgne, but Koriel’s going him one better. See, in Smith’s tale, there was only ONE colossus …

How’s Mick going to get out of this one? IS Mick going to get out of this one? As they say, it’s easier to get into Hell than out of it …

Running From the Devil

A snippet from OPERATION ZOMBIE, in progress:

I knew if I tried yelling to Gnorfank from here, my words would come out as auditory mush. I still hadn’t got my breath back from my sprint to beat the sniper’s bullet.

“Huh?” said Pruitt, whose self-preservation instinct was underdeveloped, on account of his deprived youth. Being a Lucky Man, he’d never really been in danger, not even in Jersey traffic at high noon during a gang war in a thunderstorm.

Martini, well, he was gone, leaving a man-shaped hole in the air where he’d crouched. Rabbitting from danger was one of his primary skills.

I shook Pruitt’s shoulder to break the barnacles loose and cupped my other hand to my mouth.

“Dave! Grace! HAUL ASS!” I roared, emptying my lungs through a burning throat.

 But it got the job done; they boogied. Dave kept his BAR trained on the sniper’s hide, just in case, his head aligned diagonally between his direction of travel and his direction of aim, so he could sorta-kinda see a little bit in both directions. War is compromise.

Op Vamp Minis pt 4 — Martini

Martini is the radioman/crystal ball operator for the platoon. He’s a Tech Four, two stripes and a T, but stripes are hard when the whole thing’s barely 3 inches high.

The odd thing in his right hand is a post I used to support the model as it gets printed from the ground up. I can try moving it up or down his arm, but I can’t go too far or the model doesn’t print. Real miniatures print the arms, etc. as separate pieces and assemble them, and maybe that’s the way I should go, too.

The crystal ball is painted with an iridescent paint that I think worked out quite well, even though it’s more micro-glitter than true iridescence. I don’t know if there is an iridescent paint out there — the ones I tried looked odd on Hammer’s Slammers iridium tank hulls. But I had to try — I mean, what’s more iridescent than unpainted iridium?

Op Vamp Minis pt. 3 — Gnorfank

Behold the highly collectible (only one known to exist) model of Private Gnorfank, the G.I. Troll!

The limbs are a little blocky, because I had to simplify the original file from 150 MB. As I get better with the 3D Software Fur Dummkopfen that I use, it’ll get better. The 50-cal is from a G.I. Joe file; the mortar and its ammo is Warhammer 40K. The belly armor and knee pads are to keep heavy cotton twill from tearing like tissue paper when Gnorfank stands up or sits down — no one wants a naked Troll around, no matter how much ammo he can carry.