Review: Rocky Mountain Retribution by Peter Grant

Peter Grant’s Brings The Lightning was my favorite fiction work of 2016, so I was thrilled to see a sequel come out this year. The first story is one of travelling west, working hard, and persevering through all sorts of adversity. It’s really a testament to the American dream, perfect thematically for a western and the opening of a series.

Rocky Mountain Retribution opens with Walt being somewhat established with his business in Colorado, a small time jump in his life, but a sensible one. I think people can start with this book first no problem if they want to jump right into it, but there’s some character banter about characters from the first book, and I think you’ll care more about side characters like Rose if you read Brings the Lightning first.

This book proved equally as adept, and perhaps from a structural craft perspective is superior to the first. Whereas the first book was about a man making it and working hard, however, this book was much darker in its themes. It was truly about retribution—with an opening scene having Walt get into a battle with horse thieves, and one of his men getting killed in the process. Walt decides to be the arbiter of justice and it sets off a cascade of events of further retribution, this time from big criminal elements in Colorado down to New Mexico.

Walt sets into investigation to stop these thieves from terror, though with a nice mix of his own interests that make his character a lot more rational than standard altruistic investigators in fiction. It’s pretty tense the whole way through, with a stellar pace to the plot as it unfolds and spirals into bigger and bigger situations.

Unlike the first book, we get a lot of villain perspectives in the book, and Grant does a great job of switching between perspectives and making them sound distinct. I liked that the main villain didn’t end up feeling like a mustache twirler, but he was quite rational in most of his actions as well.

It’s brutal. The opening scene establishes this as well. Grant doesn’t mince words going into this and says right out “this is the wild west, and it’s going to be a lot tougher and scarier than the travel over.” It jarred me at first because Brings The Lightning was so uplifting in a number of ways—of which part of it continues with the way Walt treats his men right, something that distinguishes him from the villains and shows his personal code of ethics.

But there is, as mentioned, a lot of brutality. A lot of loss. It probably will appeal to a wider group of people because of that as I could see Rocky Mountain Retribution developed into a show on AMC or HBO easily. It’s hard to get into the points where the book really hits hard without spoiling it, but let’s just say the book goes much further than the “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us” I usually see in westerns… to a full “this territory ain’t big enough for the both of us.”

Western fans won’t be disappointed in this latest effort in the least. Another solid installment by Grant in what I hope will be a long series. We could use more works like this series in modern American literature.


Oh, There Are No Problems In The Industry

“I just don’t want to get involved.” “You’re just too negative these days.” “Extremist.” “I don’t like the way you’re doing things not necessarily what you’re saying.” I hear it all the time. Every time there’s a contingent of industry professionals or wannabe professionals who want to impress the old guard who’s rapidly losing their power in publishing and comics. They think that if they play the association game, like I warned about in my periscope last evening.

Though let me remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and let me also remind you that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Since I’ve come on the scene in science fiction and comics, and seen the toxic wasteland that’s being perpetuated by the out of touch establishment elites who run monopolies, I’ve uncovered a lot. There’s far more stories than I’ve presented, but I do what I can without journalism being any significant portion of my income. In just a few short months I’ve exposed:

Problems with conventions

Blackballing whole groups in comics

Complicitness with the entertainment media in covering up blackballing in comics

Complicitness and toxicity in Science Fiction news

Anti-Male discrimination in Science Fiction publishing

#ComicsGate (I broke this story)

SFWA – large sci-fi authors guild violating its own rules over personal vendettas and not holding some people to standards they held others to

Marvel Comics Doubling Down on man hate

And more. These are just some of the ones that most people who have been following have read and seen the craziness that is publishing and entertainment.

Yet I still have a number of detractors who give me all of the above statements at the beginning. I’ve said nothing controversial, I’ve simply pointed out very real blackballing and discrimination at every turn and said “this is bad”. We all agree that bad. It’s followed by shrieks from people who freak out about “tolerance and diversity” when they show anything but in reality. The preponderance of evidence is unbelievable.

But wait, there’s more. Last night on periscope and social media I started the breakings of a story of the blackballing going further in comics.  I didn’t want to give the person a bigger platform than he’s got, but the cat’s out the bag now:

Just for working on a comic book that’s wildly popular, artists are getting blackballed. Enough is enough in this industry. Don’t be a cuck. Don’t abandon your friends when a few people screech an wail. they have no power and your signalling to them gains you nothing.I hear Tim here, contrarily is getting all sorts of job offers.

Tim also has a fully illustrated children’s book coming out soon that you should pre-order and support. I have. It looks hilarious.

The fear they try to grip you with is a lie. No one cares about it at all. But the problems they create within their monopolistic publishing establishments are very real. They are forcing people into indie publishing — where many readers find them, not just industry professionals who won’t support them. They’re in actuality afraid of competition like this:

because it’s so much better than what they have to offer.

Periscope: Playing The “I Don’t Want To Be Associated With…” Game

It’s a foolish game, and it’s a big one in comics and science fiction. It’s an enemy tactic to actually hurt independent thinkers in culture to force us into divisions that are rather pointless. I give my thoughts on it. One of my more important periscopes and worth a watch.

Alternatively, I will have it uploaded to Youtube shortly, subscribe here:

And please remember, that if you like my content, the best way to keep it going is to support my books. They’re good, they’re fun, and they don’t care who you’re associated with as a reader. I love all my readers. Check out For Steam And Country.

Alt-Hero Gets Mainstream Media Attention

A nice article on the project, of which I’m excited to be a part of. It’s really making waves in culture because of how hungry people are for content that doesn’t signal to SJWs. Very encouraging. And with Chuck Dixon and my involvement, you can be sure it’s going to be awesome fun.

Do back Alt-Hero here, and don’t forget to click on the novel ebook reward if you haven’t already. It is a separate reward and you can back multiple rewards like add-ons on kickstarter.

Interview With Dragon Award Nominee Daniel Humphreys

Yesterday, Daniel Humphreys released the second book in his popular zombie fiction series, A Place Called Hope. He stopped by the blog here to answer a few questions about the book and series:

Zombies have been all over the media these last ten years with a lot of books, comics, films and tv shows. What inspired you to write zombie fic?

 I’ve been a big zombie fan since I was a teenager. Most of the stuff available back then was camp horror. I saw the Night of the Living Dead remake with Tony Todd in the theater and it blew me away. When I got my first Kindle, many of the first books I got were zompoc.

How does your take differ from what else is out there?  
My books don’t really ‘start’ until almost a decade after the end. That’s unique in the genre – even The Walking Dead, after 8 seasons and over hundred comics issues, is only a few years after the end. A book without survival is not the type of story I’m interested in reading or writing, so starting from there the obvious question was, what next? What sort of society do we rebuild out of the ashes, and what are the mechanics of survival? In a sense I was inspired by some of my favorite books – Paulsen’s Hatchet, Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold, and Stirling’s Dies The Fire. The story elements are as various as can be, but they all have a core of people enduring and surviving against impossible odds, using their wits and whatever tools they can craft.
Did you expect A Place Outside The Wild to become such a success (and to receive a Dragon Award nomination)?
Not at all, being honest. I figured it would be years before I’d have any sort of tangible commercial or critical success. I’m not at the ‘quit the day job’ stage yet, but I’m closer than I thought.
Does A Place Called Hope stand alone or should a new reader check out the first one before delving into it? 
The new book is for the most part stand-alone, though character personalities and actions are obviously informed by what came before. ‘Wild’ was very epic in terms of scope; there were half a dozen POV characters. Hope tells a much more focused story, with only two plot threads – a flashback scene involving an entirely new character, and the core expedition that mainly focuses on Pete and Charlie from the first book.
Tell us a little about your protagonist and what A Place Called Hope is about. 
The new character, Sandy, is a doctor trying to survive on foot and alone in the months immediately after Z-Day. His story arc was interesting because it gave me a chance to explore a part of the world that I’d only referred to in the first book. His journey from the beginning of the book to the point where his storyline intersects with the main plot thread was a blast to write. Pete is always fun – he’s a grouchy, retired Marine who returned to the military at the end of the first book, and now he has to lead an important mission to the other side of the country. Charlie is a survivor and scavenger, and one of Pete’s friends. He is one of the only people known to be immune to the zombie plague, which puts him in an interesting position considering that the survivors from the first group are now in contact with the remaining element of the military and government.
How many more books do you have planned for the series?  
I’ll be wrapping up the series with the third novel, though I don’t make the mistake of never saying never. There’s always the possibility for more, but this storyline will be resolved in the third book.
Your other work is about a paranormal investigator / ghost hunter. Was it difficult to transition between sub-genres?  
At first. It takes a couple of chapters to shift gears, either way, but focusing on one work at a time helps, for sure. I will make notes of ideas for plot elements and add to the outline of other works, but for the most part I like to focus on one project at a time and avoid distractions.
What’s next for you?  
When I finish Night’s Black Agents, the second Paxton Locke book, I’m going to start researching and writing a weird western I’m calling Tombstones. It’s a ‘sidequel’ to the Paxton series (George Lucas ruined the “p” word) and there will be a tease as to who and what it involves at the end of Night’s Black Agents. I’ve had this story in my head for a long time, and I’m excited to get to it.
Sounds really cool. I’m big into the Weird West and am excited to see that!  In the meantime, do check out Daniel’s zombie novel. A Place Called Hope is available on Amazon now! 

Marvel Comics Editor: All Men Are “Part Of The Problem” #ComicsGate

The implication is clear: all men are evil and abusers if only by proxy. Not to mention this is quite the marginalizing of male victims of sexual abuse. It reminds me of the way I saw a lot of posts this last year with you say “I’m not” that’s exactly what a Nazi WOULD say. Being male is the new witch hunt, and it’s not only reflected in these ridiculous tweets, but in their work. If you’re a man reading Marvel Comics, you’ve been told: you are not desired as one of their readers.

This is why we have #ComicsGate and this is why we need Alt-Hero.

4chan vs. Shia Labeouf Season 7

This has been the most compelling reality show on the internet, probably of all time. I blogged about it a few months ago when the first couple of seasons of capture the flag occurred, so far with 4Chan undefeated even into this seventh season.

Now the stakes are so much higher, and the flag is so much higher too: 

This takes us up to the current day, where the flag has now suddenly appeared atop a building in Nantes France of all places. The move announced via Shia himself on twitter.

The irony that Shia has chosen “Frogland” itself has not been lost on the Pepe loving troll army over at 4chan. With French /pol/ users already starting to organize, it is hoped a mission will soon be attempted once an overall strategy is decided upon. With climbing seen as risky, the use of drones is already being considered as one possible approach.

Whatever is decided, many online are just happily surprised to see that the game is back on. Though with Shia’s recent string of arrests and his seeming continued mental breakdown, it remains to be seen how well he will cope with losing his precious flag again. It won’t likely be long either, considering this video posted just today, that confirms one brave French player has already gained access to the overall roof in question.

We are so blessed to live in this timeline, that’s for certain. The question isn’t whether 4chan will win, but rather, how long it will take them to do so? Any bets?

If you like trolling establishment elites in entertainment, don’t forget to back Alt-Hero, the campaign that’s driving Comicdom nuts. I’ll be co-writing two novels with one of the leading publishers in science fiction, Vox Day himself!

A beautiful new pin up of the character Rebel was dropped today:

The Book 20 Years In The Making

Last night I finished up my edits on what will be the first in what I hope will be many space opera / military SF novels set in this particular universe. It’s titled The Stars Entwined and follows an Internal Affairs investigator for humanity’s Interplanetary Navy as he navigates a powder keg of a political situation with the neighboring alien Aryshans, and a parallel story of an Aryshan Commander who has her doubts about war with humanity being a good option for her people. As their lives cross path, the war escalates to new heights. These characters really shine for me, and I hope they will for you too!

In Jan-Feb I first-drafted a second novel which overlaps with this one, which I’ll hopefully get edited and ready for you all mid-next year so you can see other angles of The Aryshan Wars. Needless to say, I’m very excited about bringing you a space opera with 100% my own world-building, and keeping in the rich tradition I’ve created in bringing fun novels through Rescue Run and For Steam And Country.  

As the blog title says, The Stars Entwined has been in the making for about 20 years. It’s the first book I ever wrote, which started in a high school English class when I wrote down the opening volleys of what would have been one Admiral Conley’s perspective (you’ll hear about him in the book) in fighting a war against an alien species. That assignment sparked my imagination where I began writing. Over the next several years, I wrote in spurts, pinning down the origins of the conflict and how the war escalated. I don’t have the original paper with Admiral Conley’s epic battle anymore (and I would probably cringe if I saw it!). My story ended up with a completely different cast of characters, with a completely new angle on interstellar war which hopefully will be fresh for you when you read!

I finished my first draft of this book, which at the time I had titled These That Twice Befell, a line from an Emily Dickenson poem. I liked the poem and the line, but as a title, didn’t feel quite sci-fi enough for me. The poem is:

My life closed twice before its close—
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

The poem still fits the theme a little bit as you’ll see when you read the book. The book really has a lot of internal death and rebirth of the characters as their preconceived notions of their worlds and who they are get turned upside down.

I redrafted the book a second time in 2014-2015, still not quite there in terms of honing my work. At the time, I called the book Starcrossed — which felt a little better for sci-fi, but there’s a zillion books titled that. I set the book aside when I started writing for Doomtown: Reloaded, which eventually led into my Star Realms novel. For the time, I set aside my own worlds and works to focus on the game-related material. I learned a ton about writing in those years and pushed myself to the next level.

With Star Realms being such a huge success, nominated for multiple awards and having so many amazing reviews, I knew I wanted to stick with Mil SF/Space Opera as my primary genre for writing. Both because I grew up reading mostly this genre, but also because my fans already were acquainted with my writing in the genre. For The Stars Entwined, I definitely drew heavily on my influences: Babylon 5, Deep Space 9, Lois Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, and Sharon Lee. If you’re into their work, I know this will appeal to you, and hopefully I was able to come across in the same tradition.

After my game work was complete, I saw people finding me online and beginning to read the blog and my books regularly. I had a choice to make to try to get work out faster — did I rewrite what would become The Stars Entwined, or did I try to release a Steampunk book I’d drafted as well. For Steam And Country was much closer to being a complete, finished work. It needed a lot less overhauling than my space opera did to be worthy of your read. I knew I needed to get something out a little faster than working on The Stars Entwined would allow, and so I chose For Steam And Country, nervous about releasing a more YA Steampunk with my audience.

When I finished the book, I immediately started work on The Stars Entwined, which I retitled it during its third major overhaul around May this year — and I actually wrote most of it from scratch. I threw out almost all of the prose from the first iterations. The overall scenes changed by about 30% of the book, which is unusual for me as I usually have the plot points worked out very tightly by the time it gets out of outline form (I work hard on my outlines, which I’m doing for Von Monocle 2 right now!). I may one day show the first draft of this to let everyone compare but it was a ton of work to get this done over the summer.

While I was doing that, For Steam And Country ended up being a bigger hit than my first book. It’s a great problem to have, but I do have the issue now where people are waiting for a sequel on my Steampunk, and now I’m about to release yet another first book for a series. I didn’t plan it that way, but the cards fell as they did based on what I had ready.  At the time I was releasing my Steampunk, The Stars Entwined was my priority to get done. I wasn’t sure a steampunk would resonate with my crowd at all, and I wanted to wait and see before committing to a series there, especially as For Steam And Country works very well as a standalone. For those readers, fear not, I’ll be spending NaNoWriMo getting book 2 of Baron Von Monocle written for you with lots of updates on its progress on this blog. I did get a little bit distracted by my Deus Vult In Space concept, which I wrote because I had to get that out of my system when I had the idea, so I apologize for the delay there, but hopefully you’ll forgive me that one digression. 🙂  That book is going to be a ton of fun.

I finished this draft of The Stars Entwined in early August, and did a clean up pass on it during that month. It’s been with my editor since then, and I just completed fixing the notes he gave to me. I’m extremely excited to get this into your hands. It’s in proofreading and cover art design right now. I haven’t decided when to release it yet — it largely depends on those efforts and their timing.

But there’s a lot of stories to the background of this book, how it developed, and how it changed. I’ll share as much as I can with you in the coming months so you can see the process of how this evolved into the fun space opera story it is for you to read.

Right now the books release schedule is probably going to be this:

  1. The Stars Entwined
  2. Reach For The Stars (Overlaps with The Stars Entwined, needs an edit)
  3. Baron Von Monocle 2 / Deus Vult – depends on which is going to be faster/easier to edit as to which is first.
  4. Alt-Hero 1
  5. Alt-Hero 2

As I’ve committed to co-write those Alt-Hero books, I may need some time before I return to these universes. It all depends on speed and also my co-writer Vox Day’s schedule in working on those. But it’s going to be an awesome 2018 at the very least. I’m about one year being in this business, and it’s been phenomenal. I’m really grateful you’re reading and giving me time to do a few series (it helps from keeping things from getting stale on my end!)

That’s all for now. I could ramble about all this for hours, and I might on periscope at some point so stay tuned for in depth looks!

If you’re liking my releases so far, have you checked out my novella, Gravity Of The Game? It’s being talked about for Hugo consideration for best novella by many people. Read it now here! 

The Orville’s Ratings

I’ve been talking about The Orville almost every week, reviewing each episode on my Periscope thus far (which you can follow here where I do daily broadcasts live, or I upload to Youtube later here ). It’s a fabulous show, capturing the heart and soul of Star Trek in a way I haven’t seen since Voyager. About the opposite of the Discovery in so many ways.

I looked around for the ratings today to see how it’s faring and found this:

For its premier, it actually beat Discovery in the demo, and while we don’t have any info on Discovery after that, one can only imagine that more people are watching this network program than something for a pay service.

When they switched to Thursday, we saw a steep decline in viewership, which I’m rather sad about. It would have been nice if they left it on Sundays, but it is what it is. Moving show days is ALWAYS problematic for TV shows, and we see that coming here. I think the first show moving being the weird “two males with a baby” episode probably contributed to the decline in the following weeks as well — even though it wasn’t a bad episode at all, the concept looked a little iffy and so people might have tuned out at that point, and kept tuning out for a bit.

that said, the show keeps getting better. Every episode is better and has more Star Trek heart than the last. It’s really so good.

These ratings are really a bubble rating grouping for a show like this, not great at all, but not horrible either. If it retains the numbers, it will be in good shape, if it loses audience, it will be gone. I’m glad there was a small boost for “Krill” which I think was the strongest episode yet. TV By The Numbers commented that The Orville does have some leeway other shows don’t because Fox loves Seth MacFarlane — as much as I like to complain about him, his being the producer, writer and lead may actually be what keeps this show on the air as Fox wants to keep him happy, and it’s clear he’s very happy making this show.

For comparison, however, Family Guy has about a 1.3 rating now, slightly better than the Orville, but also a LOT cheaper to produce. Gotham, a branded show which is high budget has a 0.9, not doing quite as well.  Lethal Weapon, riding on a brand and not quite as good as Orville is getting a 1.2, so very close to the Orville’s numbers.

Interesting stuff but we all need to keep tuning in and telling our friends about this show to keep this going. It’s our last, best hope for a space-action show.

If you like cool space concepts with heart, you’ll probably enjoy my recent novella, Gravity Of The Game, which is getting a lot of buzz for a Hugo Award nomination. Check it here.  

Star Trek Discovery Goes Full Toxic

As if it hadn’t already. When they started shutting down fan productions because of the show, we knew there was going to be trouble.  When the producer started talk of “levels of diversity” we knew it wasn’t going to be much but a political show. They doubled down in their advertisements, stating the Klingons (who we saw look and act nothing like Klingons but now are generic space orcs) were going to be an allegory for Trump supporters.

And then we saw the first episode.

Gone were any Federation ideals. Gone was any idealism at all. It was generic dark action show with side characters with a lack of any real distinctiveness other than an alien who was nothing more than a whiny wuss, but also sensible compared to the lead woman named Michael. Yes Michael. To make it even more distracting and off-putting. She was imminently unlikable — pushing for war, being completely insubordinate and just doing non-sensical things in the interest of developing dark dark dark WARRRRRRRR. You know, like Star Trek is about.

I of course didn’t watch further than that. They put out publicity about a gay character of course, so stunning and brave when every tv show out there features one who is smarter, kinder, better, and better than any of their straight counterparts. Every single time. It has a lot to do with hollywood’s sexual proclivities, which we’re now learning go a lot deeper and creepier than they ever wanted us to know — but we knew. How many of these actors have been on a creepy producer’s casting couch?

There seems to be little point to the show at all except for virtue signalling and being dark and “edgy”. Trying so hard in those directions ensures it’s anything but.

And now they’ve gone and crossed another line, making the first Star Trek to use the F word. Wow. Going full off into the deep end of ensuring no family-friendly audience wants to even look at this show. I only learned it from a blog post, but in their effort to show a amoral, destructive culture instead of the extremely idealistic Federation that Star Trek was founded on, they seem determined to cross every line.

It’s sad to see this franchise fall apart even worse than I ever could have imagined. But this is why I am making my own sci-fi world. My Military SF / Space Opera will be done soon, a world of my own devising that I’ve been working on for 20 years. I’ll have more on that for you soon. It’s time to cut any attachment to Star Trek, as the people in charge don’t care about or even like it. Why should we?