Friday, March 24, 2017

Promising Sci-fi, horror & Fantasy - March 2017

Once again, I am quite late with my lists this month. Job and life will do that to anyone I guess. But then again, I hope it can be as varied as ever and hopefully the books will provide on their promises' as well.

"Chalk" by Paul Cornell from Tor.com

Andrew Waggoner has always hung around with the losers in his school, desperately hoping each day that the school bullies — led by Drake — will pass by him in search of other prey. But one day they force him into the woods, and the bullying escalates into something more; something unforgivable; something unthinkable.
Broken, both physically and emotionally, something dies in Waggoner, and something else is born in its place.
In the hills of the West Country a chalk horse stands vigil over a site of ancient power, and there Waggoner finds in himself a reflection of rage and vengeance, a power and persona to topple those who would bring him low.
Paul Cornell plumbs the depths of magic and despair in this brutal exploration of bullying in Margaret Thatcher's England.


[ I rather tend to avoid books focus on bullying, having been a victim quite often in my own childhood as I was born a nerd. But this one has an edge from the blurb that interests me and the reviews all over the net is quite promising too. ]

"Hunger Makes The Wolf" by Alex Wells from Angry Robot

The strange planet known as Tanegawa’s World is owned by TransRifts Inc, the company with the absolute monopoly on interstellar travel. Hob landed there ten years ago, a penniless orphan left behind by a rift ship. She was taken in by Nick Ravani and quickly became a member of his mercenary biker troop, the Ghost Wolves.
Ten years later, she discovers that the body of Nick’s brother out in the dunes. Worse, his daughter is missing, taken by shady beings called the Weathermen. But there are greater mysteries to be discovered – both about Hob and the strange planet she calls home.


[ A sci-fi from Angry Robot that promises an interesting premise, count me in. ]




"The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1)" by John Scalzi from Tor Books

The first novel of a new space-opera sequence set in an all-new universe by the Hugo Award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Redshirts and Old Man's War.
Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible -- until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.
Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war -- and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.
The Flow is eternal -- but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals -- a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency -- are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.
 


[ I have read and heard a lot about Jon Scalzi, but sadly, have yet to experience reading his works. This might be my chance to do something about it. And this one has a hint of "Foundation' from the blurb, what am I still waiting for?! ] 

"Magic for Nothing (InCryptid #6)" by Seanan McGuire from DAW Books

Improbable, adjective:
1. Not very likely to happen; not probable.
2. Probably not a very good idea anyway.
3. See also “bad plan.”

As the youngest of the three Price children, Antimony is used to people not expecting much from her. She’s been happy playing roller derby and hanging out with her cousins, leaving the globe-trotting to her older siblings while she stays at home and tries to decide what she wants to do with her life. She always knew that one day, things would have to change. She didn’t think they’d change so fast.
Annie’s expectations keep getting shattered. She didn’t expect Verity to declare war on the Covenant of St. George on live television. She didn’t expect the Covenant to take her sister’s threat seriously. And she definitely didn’t expect to be packed off to London to infiltrate the Covenant from the inside…but as the only Price in her generation without a strong resemblance to the rest of the family, she’s the perfect choice to play spy. They need to know what’s coming. Their lives may depend on it.
But Annie has some secrets of her own, like the fact that she’s started setting things on fire when she touches them, and has no idea how to control it. Now she’s headed halfway around the world, into the den of the enemy, where blowing her cover could get her killed. She’s pretty sure things can’t get much worse.
Antimony Price is about to learn just how wrong it’s possible for one cryptozoologist to be.
 


[ My recent experience from Seanan Mcguire has left me begging for more, and this was on netgalley, and I was approved. Now it's high time to dive in on the fun I guess. ]

"Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder #1)" by Brian McClellan from Orbit

An epic new fantasy series from Brian McClellan, set in the same world as his wildly popular Powder Mage trilogy.
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place - a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall's present.
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.
 


[ Still didn't read the first series from Brian McClellan, and this one should be new reader friendly. Hmm, I am rather conflicted... ]

"The Malice (Vagrant Trilogy #2)" by Peter Newman from Harper Voyager


Following Peter Newman’s brilliant debut, THE VAGRANT. This is the much-anticipated sequel, THE MALICE.
In the south, the Breach stirs.
Gamma’s sword, the Malice, wakes, calling to be taken to battle once more.
But the Vagrant has found a home now, made a life and so he turns his back, ignoring its call.
The sword cries out, frustrated, until another answers.
Her name is Vesper.

[ The first one of this series was on many 'Debut of the year' list. This should be good too. ]





"Phantom Pains (Arcadia Project #2)" by Mishell Baker from Saga Press

In the second book to the “exciting, inventive, and brilliantly plotted” (Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author) Borderline, Millie unwillingly returns to the Arcadia Project when an impossible and deadly situation pulls her back in.
Four months ago, Millie left the Arcadia Project after losing her partner Teo to the lethal magic of an Unseelie fey countess. Now, in a final visit to the scene of the crime, Millie and her former boss Caryl encounter Teo’s tormented ghost. But there’s one problem: according to Caryl, ghosts don’t exist.
Millie has a new life, a stressful job, and no time to get pulled back into the Project, but she agrees to tell her side of the ghost story to the agents from the Project’s National Headquarters. During her visit though, tragedy strikes when one of the agents is gruesomely murdered in a way only Caryl could have achieved. Millie knows Caryl is innocent, but the only way to save her from the Project’s severe, off-the-books justice is to find the mysterious culprits that can only be seen when they want to be seen. Millie must solve the mystery not only to save Caryl, but also to foil an insidious, arcane terrorist plot that would leave two worlds in ruins.


[ I have quite high expectations for this one, because of the 'my kind' of urban fantasy vibe this series brings. Yet to read the first book of the series though. ]   

Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Novella Review - Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day

Novella - Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day 
Writer - Seanan McGuire    
Published By - Tor.com

While urban fantasy is not really my favorite genre to say the least, I really did have rather high expectation from this one. Seanan McGuire is a writer with a lot of hype on the internet and the blurb promised an interesting setting for this novella. The novella might not be extraordinary stuff (but it nearly could have been); but it does provide an unique experience with an unorthodox and imaginative setting, well fleshed out and realistic characters, and a dark and moody atmosphere which is a thought provoking read.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Best New English Mangas of 2016

I know this 2nd 'best of the year' list is a bit late. But better late than than never, right?

There are quite a lot of new mangas that started to be published in the year 2016. I have just selected some series' for this list which I think are must reads.

(PS: In no particular order of preference is this list created and only new series' that started being published in English for the first time were the main selection criteria.)

"Orange"
Written by Ichigo Takano
Published by Seven Seas

A Plea From the Future
On the day that Naho begins 11th grade, she receives a letter from herself ten years in the future. At first, she writes it off as a prank, but as the letter’s predictions come true one by one, Naho realizes that the letter might be the real deal. Her future self tells Naho that a new transfer student, a boy named Kakeru, will soon join her class. The letter begs Naho to watch over him, saying that only Naho can save Kakeru from a terrible future. Who is this mystery boy, and can Naho save him from his destiny? This is the heart-wrenching sci-fi romance that has over million copies in print in Japan!


[ Although Shoujo/romance manga is not my cup of tea, the amount of praise that 'Orange' gets is really note worthy. I think this might be a story worth checking out and its short length is also a plus in my opinion. ]

"Goodnight Punpun"
Story & Art by Inio Asano
Published by Viz Media

Meet Punpun Punyama. He’s an average kid in an average town.
He wants to win a Nobel Prize and save the world.
He wants to go far away with his true love.
He wants to find some porn.
But Punpun’s life is about to unravel…


[ It is said to be one of the best Seinen as well as one of the best coming-of-age manga of all time and now it is out in English. Definitely worth checking out. ] 

"I Am a Hero"
Story & Art by Kengo Hanazawa
Published by Dark Horse Manga

The zombie apocalypse has never been more surreal! A mentally unhinged manga artist witnesses the beginning of a zombie outbreak in Tokyo, and he's certain of only two things: he's destined to be the city's hero, and he possesses something very rare in Japan--an actual firearm! Kengo Hanazawa's award-winning series comes to Dark Horse, and this realistically-drawn international bestseller takes us from initial small battles for survival to a huge, body-horror epidemic that threatens all of humanity! These special omnibus volumes will collect two of the original Japanese books into each Dark Horse edition and include all of the color pages.

[ Zombie fiction is something that I am quite interested in and this one seems to have a setting that is different from the generic. And the reviews over the net seems to be mostly positive too. ]

"Haikyu!!"
Story & Art by Haruichi Furudate
Published by Viz Media

A chance event triggered Shouyou Hinata's love for volleyball. His club had no members, but somehow persevered and finally made it into its very first and final regular match of middle school, where it was steamrolled by Tobio Kageyama, a superstar player known as "King of the Court."
Vowing revenge, Hinata applied to the Karasuno High School volleyball club... only to come face-to-face with his hated rival, Kageyama!


[ A sports manga that is quite well received, should be good. ] 

"Kuroko's Basketball"
Story & Art by Tadatoshi Fuzimaki
Published by Viz Media

Kuroko Tetsuya doesn't stand out much. In fact, he's so plain that people hardly ever notice when he's around. Though he's just as unremarkable on the basketball court, that's where his plainness gives him an unexpected edge-one that lets him execute awesome moves without others noticing! And now that he's a high school student, he's on a mission to defeat each member of his legendary middle school team, known as the Miracle Generation, with the help of a new transfer student fresh from the U.S.-Taiga Kagami!
When incoming first-year Taiga Kagami joins the Seirin High basketball team, he meets Tetsuya Kuroko, a mysterious boy who’s plain beyond words. But Kagami's in for the shock of his life when he learns that the practically invisible Kuroko was once a member of the “Miracle Generation”—the undefeated, legendary team!
  


[ It seems good sports mangas are the thing this year, who am I to disagree with so many fans of this series, promising indeed. ]

"Platinum End"
Story by Tsugumi Ohba
Art by Takeshi Obata
Published by Viz Media

Troubled Mirai’s life changes when he gains the power of an angel, but he may need to become a devil to survive in the battle against others just like him!
As his classmates celebrate their middle school graduation, troubled Mirai is mired in darkness. But his battle is just beginning when he receives some salvation from above in the form of an angel. Now Mirai is pitted against 12 other chosen humans in a battle in which the winner becomes the next god of the world. Mirai has an angel in his corner, but he may need to become a devil to survive.
Mirai's once-great life turned to hell after his family was killed in a mysterious accident. But now that an angel is on his side, things might be looking up. With his newly received angelic powers, can Mirai get over his tragic past and find true happiness…?


[ From the creators of 'Death Note', hopefully it can deliver on the desires of so many. Still early for a decision but one can surely hope. ]

"Fire Force"
Story & Art by Atsushi Ohkubo
Published by Kodansha Comics USA

From the creator of Soul Eater!
The city of Tokyo is in the grip of a reign of terror! Possessed by demons, people have begun to burst into flame, leading to the establishment of a special firefighting team: the Fire Force, ready to roll on a moment's notice to fight spontaneous combustion anywhere it might break out. But the team is about to get a very unique addition: Shinra, a boy who possesses the unique power to run at the speed of a rocket, leaving behind the famous "devil's footprints" (and destroying his shoes in the process). Can the Fire Force discover the source of this strange phenomenon and put a stop to it? Or will the city burn to ashes first?


[ And lastly, a new series from the creator of 'Soul Eater', should be a simple yet enjoyable shounen for everyone. I already ordered two volumes from amazon and am keeping my fingers crossed. ]

Monday, March 13, 2017

Promising Sci-fi, horror, mystery & Fantasy - February 2017

Another month comes with its fresh crop of promising releases. And fortunately February is a month having lots of variety in its selection of fiction it seems.

"Snatch" by Gregory McDonald from Hard Case Crime

Whether it's a Middle East oil crisis in the 1970s or the London Blitz during WWII, world events have a way of breeding trouble on the home front, too. That's how Toby Rinaldi, son of a U.N. Ambassador, wound up kidnapped on his way to a California amusement park, and how Robby Burnes, orphaned son of British nobility, wound up snatched on the snowy streets of New York City. But as Robby's famous namesake taught us, the best laid plans don't always work out as intended. Especially not when you're a kidnapper in the hands of Gregory Mcdonald.
The comic genius behind the Fletch and Flynn books, Gregory Mcdonald also penned the two brilliant kidnapping novels appearing here for the first time in three decades - and the first time ever in a single volume. Two precocious eight-year-old boys...two teams of kidnappers, in way over their heads...two opportunities for mayhem, danger, and the trenchant social satire no crime writer has ever delivered like Mcdonald.


[ A new and exciting book from Hard case crime. Hopefully it will be a good one. ]

"Agents of Dreamland" by Caitlin Kiernan from Tor.com

A government special agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona. Later that day he meets a woman in a diner to exchange information about an event that happened a week earlier for which neither has an explanation, but which haunts the Signalman.
In a ranch house near the shore of the Salton Sea a cult leader gathers up the weak and susceptible—the Children of the Next Level—and offers them something to believe in and a chance for transcendence. The future is coming and they will help to usher it in.
A day after the events at the ranch house which disturbed the Signalman so deeply that he and his government sought out help from ‘other’ sources, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory abruptly loses contact with NASA’s interplanetary probe New Horizons. Something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact.
And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.


[ Ah, Tor.com release that promises a touch of horror among other things, yummy. ]

"The Stars Are Legion" by Kameron Hurley from Angry Robot

Set within a system of decaying world-ships travelling through deep space, this breakout novel of epic science fiction follows a pair of sisters who must wrest control of their war-torn legion of worlds—and may have to destroy everything they know in order to survive.
On the outer rim of the universe, a galactic war has been waged for centuries upon hundreds of world-ships. But these worlds will continue to die through decay and constant war unless a desperate plan succeeds.
Anat, leader of the Katazyrna world-ship and the most fearsome raiding force on the Outer Rim, wants peace. To do so she offers the hand of her daughter, Jayd, to her rival. Jayd has dreamed about leading her mother’s armies to victory her whole life—but she has a unique ability, and that makes her leverage, not a leader. As Anat convinces her to spend the rest of her life wed to her family’s greatest enemy, it is up to Jayd’s sister Zan—with no stomach for war—to lead the cast off warriors she has banded together to victory and rescue Jayd. But the war does not go at all as planned…
In the tradition of The Fall of Hyperion and Dune, The Stars are Legion is an epic and thrilling tale about familial love, revenge, and war as imagined by one of the genre’s most imaginative new writers.
 


[ Another controversial and praised release from Kameron Hurley. Need to start reading her stuff. ]

"With Blood Upon the Sand (The Song of the Shattered Sands #2)" by Bradley P. Beaulieu from DAW books

Çeda, now a Blade Maiden in service to the kings of Sharakhai, trains as one of their elite warriors, gleaning secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further their rule. She knows the dark history of the asirim—that hundreds of years ago they were enslaved to the kings against their will—but when she bonds with them as a Maiden, chaining them to her, she feels their pain as if her own. They hunger for release, they demand it, but with the power of the gods compelling them, they find the yokes around their necks unbreakable.
Çeda could become the champion they’ve been waiting for, but the need to tread carefully has never been greater. After the victory won by the Moonless Host in the Wandering King’s palace, the kings are hungry for blood. They scour the city, ruthless in their quest for revenge. Unrest spreads like a plague, a thing Emre and his new allies in the Moonless Host hope to exploit, but with the kings and their god-given powers, and the Maidens and their deadly ebon blades, there is little hope of doing so.
When Çeda and Emre are drawn into a plot of the blood mage, Hamzakiir, they sail across the desert to learn the truth, and a devastating secret is revealed, one that may very well shatter the power of the hated kings. They plot quickly to take advantage of it, but it may all be undone if Çeda cannot learn to navigate the shifting tides of power in Sharakhai and control the growing anger of the asirim that threatens to overwhelm her.


[ Another fantasy series that I need to start reading, the damn list just keeps getting bigger. ]

"Norse Mythology" by Neil Gaiman from W. W. Norton

Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.
Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, son of a giant, blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman, difficult with his beard and huge appetite, to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir, the most sagacious of gods, is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.
Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
 


[ I love Norse Mythology and I absolutely loved stuff I read from Neil Gaiman so far. Need I say more on this? ]

"Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1)" by Nicholas Eames from Orbit

GLORY NEVER GETS OLD.
Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best -- the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.
Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk - or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay's door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.
It's time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld.
 


[ This somehow interests me, may be I just like a band of ruthless men and their shenanigans. ]  



"A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)" by V.E. Schwab from Tor Books 

The battle between four magical Londons comes to a head in this stunning finale to the New York Times bestselling Shades of Magic trilogy by rising star V. E. Schwab
London's fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.


[ Urban fantasy rarely interests me these days, but V.E. Schwab seems to be writing the right kind of 
stuff these days from all the rave on the internet. ]



"Cold Counsel" by Chris Sharp from Tor.com

In Chris Sharp's new epic fantasy Cold Counsel, Slud of the Blood Claw Clan, Bringer of Troubles, was born at the heart of the worst storm the mountain had ever seen. Slud’s father, chief of the clan, was changed by his son’s presence. For the first time since the age of the giants, he rallied the remaining trolls under one banner and marched to war taking back the mountain from the goblin clans.
However, the long-lived elves remembered the brutal wars of the last age, and did not welcome the return of these lesser-giants to martial power. Twenty thousand elves marched on the mountain intent on genocide. They eradicated the entire troll species—save two.
Aunt Agnes, an old witch from the Iron Wood, carried Slud away before the elves could find them. Their existence remained hidden for decades, and in that time, Agnes molded Slud to become her instrument of revenge.
For cold is the counsel of women.


[ Ah, another promising new release from Tor.com and who doesn't love reading about Trolls? ]  
 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Graphic Novel Review - Aquaman Volume 1: The Drowning

Name - Aquaman Volume 1: The Drowning   
Published by - DC Comics   
Story by - Dan Abnett   
Art by - Scot Eaton, Philippe Briones, Oscar Jimenez, Mark Morales, Wayne Faucher
 
First things first, I got this book from NetGalley, so thank you netgalley and DC Comics for this opportunity.
Aquaman as a superhero is underestimated in more ways than one. Most general comic book readers think of him as a weak secondary member of the Justice League and according to them talking to fishes is his unique super power. But, he is so much different than what people think of him. And veteran writer Dan Abnett gets the job of introducing him as part of DC rebirth and tries to tell the story of his struggles to establish good relationship between the surface world and Atlantis.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February 2017 New PC Games To Watch For

So the month of February brings 6 games on PC that seems like worth the time. Two of these are ports of previously released games and rest are brand new.

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book
Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book is a 2015 Japanese role-playing video game developed by Gust Co. Ltd. It is the 17th main game in the Atelier series and the first game of the Mysterious storyline. The game features a completely reformed world view from earlier titles within the series, in addition to a new alchemy-centric system. It was released for PC on February 7, 2017 on Steam.

Nights of Azure
Nights of Azure is a 2015 action role-playing game developed by Gust and published by Koei Tecmo for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Microsoft Windows. The game features an RPG battle system where characters fight alongside contracted demons known as Servan. These demons can be summoned during battle through the use of SP, and are categorized into attacker and support types. As they become stronger through subsequent battles, they gain new abilities. The player accepts quests and performs customization's at the Hotel, when not taking orders to progress the story or battling enemies. It was released for PC on February 7, 2017 on Steam.

For Honor
For Honor is an action fighting game developed and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The game allows players to play the roles of historical soldiers, including knights, samurai, and vikings within a medieval fantasy setting, controlled using a third-person perspective. It was released worldwide of February 14, 2017.

Sniper Elite IV
Sniper Elite 4 is a third-person tactical shooter stealth video game developed by Rebellion Developments. Played from a third-person perspective, it is a tactical shooter with stealth elements. When players kill an enemy using a sniper rifle from a long distance, the X-Ray kill cam system will activate, in which the game's camera follows the bullet from the sniper rifle to the target, and shows body parts, bones or internal body organs being broken or ruptured by the bullet. The system has also been expanded to include shrapnel kills, melee kills and stealth kills. Sniper Elite 4 is set in Italy in 1943, in the immediate aftermath of the events in Sniper Elite III. Players control Karl Fairburne, an Office of Strategic Services agent, who is tasked to assist the Italian resistance force to fight against the Fascists in World War II. As the direct sequel to Sniper Elite III, the game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on 14 February 2017.

Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is a single-player adventure video game for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, and PlayStation 4. It is developed by Infinite Fall, a studio founded by game designer Alec Holowka, and animator/illustrator Scott Benson. It is an exploration game focused primarily on story in which players control a cat named Mae, who recently dropped out of college and has returned to her hometown to find unexpected change. It was released for PC on February 21, 2017 on Steam.

Torment: Tides of Numenera
Torment: Tides of Numenera is an upcoming role-playing video game developed by inXile Entertainment and published by Techland Publishing for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It is a spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed 1999 game, Planescape: Torment. The game will take place in Numenera, a fantasy campaign setting written by Monte Cook. It will use the Unity game engine. Like its predecessor, Torment: Tides of Numenera will be primarily story-driven, giving greater emphasis on interaction with the world and characters, with combat and item accumulation taking a secondary role. It is to be released on February 28, 2017.

[ I am mostly interested about the last two among this months releases. ]


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Guest Post - Peter McLean

Fact Within Fiction: The Goetia
by Peter McLean

I’m often asked whether the magic in my books is real or not. The answer to that is no, of course not – except for the bits that are. I write fiction, but not all of it is fictional. The Goetia, that grimoire so beloved of my demon-summoning protagonist Don Drake, is very much a real thing.

When the famous magician Aleister Crowley was first introduced, in 1899, to Allan Bennett who was to become his mentor in the Golden Dawn, Bennett’s first words to Crowley were reputedly “Little Brother, you have been meddling with the Goetia.” Upon hearing Crowley’s denial, Bennett replied, “In that case, the Goetia has been meddling with you!”

The reverence with which this work is held, even in such august circles, is hardly surprising. The Ars Goetia, being the first volume of The Lesser Key of Solomon the King, also known as the Lemegeton, dates from sometime in the mid-17th century when it was compiled anonymously from much older material, most notably Johann Weyer's Pseudomonarchia Daemonum of 1563 and the writings of Cornelius Agrippa.

The book contains not only descriptions of the 72 demons supposedly summoned and bound by King Solomon but also gives details of their ranking in the demonic hierarchy, their spheres of influence and expertise and, most importantly, the seals required to evoke and bind them.

King Solomon himself is believed to have reigned in the 10th century BC. His actual existence is still debated by archaeologists, and even if he truly lived and isn’t simply some King Arthur-like figure of legend, we will never know whether or not he was actually a magician. The Rabbinical Literature suggests so, and contain references to his battles with Ashmedai/Asmodeus (ref: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2019-asmodeus). The initiates of the Golden Dawn certainly believed that to be the case, and that the Ars Goetia held his secrets.

This book, then, is purported to contain the knowledge and methods of the greatest Magus who ever (maybe) lived. Fast forward the nearly seventy years since Crowley’s death to the present day, and many still hold that belief. Samuel MacGregor Mathers' translation of 1904, with annotations, additions and contradictions by Crowley himself, is still in print and widely circulated amongst practising occultists today. There are whole online communities dedicated to the study and practice of Goetic Evocation.

It shouldn’t have greatly surprised me, I suppose, to have recently received a message on Twitter from one of my followers telling me he had just purchased my latest book, Dominion, and a copy of the Goetia together. I’ll confess to finding this initially rather amusing, given how little real similarity there is between actual Goetic magic and what my characters do in the books, until someone pointed out to me that reading occult fiction can be a legitimate doorway to becoming a practitioner.

Fictional magic, this acquaintance told me, does not have to be accurate in order to be inspiring, and on reflection I think that’s very true. It was reading Dennis Wheatley and the like back in the early 1980s that first at least made me aware that occultism existed, if nothing else, and set me on the path of a lifelong interest in the subject.

Part of me would like to think I have inspired that follower and possibly others to look into the history and documents behind the fiction and possibly find their own path. Another part of me wonders what the hell I’ve done here.

I’ll close on one observation. The Goetia is not a book for beginners. Evocation isn’t magic for beginners, not by a long way. Even the Bornless Ritual, which opens the Mathers/Crowley version of the text, isn’t the place to start.

At least learn the basic banishings first, folks. Don’t even pick this book up until you can do the LBRP and the Middle Pillar without a second thought. If you don’t know what those things are, don’t go out and buy a copy of the Goetia.

Please?


About Peter:


Peter McLean was born near London in 1972, the son of a bank manager and an English teacher. He went to school in the shadow of Norwich Cathedral where he spent most of his time making up stories. By the time he left school this was probably the thing he was best at, alongside the Taoist kung fu he had begun studying since the age of 13.

He grew up in the Norwich alternative scene, alternating dingy nightclubs with studying martial arts and practical magic.

He has since grown up a bit, if not a lot. He is married to Diane and is still making up stories.


He can be reached online on his website: www.talonwraith.com and on Twitter @PeteMC666.


About Drake (The Burned Man #1):


Hitman Don Drake owes a gambling debt to a demon. Forced to carry out one more assassination to clear his debt, Don unwittingly kills an innocent child and brings the Furies of Greek myth down upon himself.

Rescued by an almost-fallen angel called Trixie, Don and his magical accomplice The Burned Man, an imprisoned archdemon, are forced to deal with Lucifer himself whilst battling a powerful evil magician.

Now Don must foil Lucifer’s plan to complete Trixie’s fall and save her soul whilst preventing the Burned Man from breaking free from captivity and wreaking havoc on the entire world.


Published: January 5th 2016 by Angry Robot


About Dominion ( The Burned Man #2):


In the tunnels deep under London, the Earth elementals are dying. Hunted by something they know only as the Rotman, the elementals have no one trustworthy they can turn to.

Enter Don Drake, diabolist and semi-reformed hitman, and an almost-fallen angel called Trixie. When the Matriarch tells Don that Rotman is actually the archdemon Bianakith, he knows this is going to be a tough job.

Bianakith is the foretold spirit of disease and decay whose aura corrupts everything it comes near, and even the ancient foundations of London will crumble eventually. Now Don, Trixie and the Burned Man have to hatch a plan to keep Bianakith from wiping out the elementals and bringing down the city.

But the Burned Man has other plans, and those may have dire consequences for everyone.

The past never stays buried, and old sins must be atoned for. Judgement is coming, and its name is Dominion.


Published: November 1st 2016 by Angry Robot