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  

Friday, February 3, 2017

Mini-Comic Review - Avengers #1.MU

Name - Avengers #1.MU
Published by - Marvel Comics
Written by - Jim Zub

Art by - Sean Izaakse

Coloring by - Frank D'Armata
Letters by - VC's Cory Petit
   
Release Date: January 25, 2017

No matter how good a story is, if it is unnecessary, more often than not it loses its value. Unfortunately, that is the case with this comic book. While it is quite a fun read as a standalone as the story is already known this only seems like a cash grab.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

January 2017 New Comics To Watch For

New year brings with it new and exciting comic books. Some featuring super heroics while others focusing on storytelling using this medium. My list includes -

LADYCASTLE #1 (of 4)
Written by Delilah S. Dawson
Art and Cover by Ashley A. Woods

When King Mancastle and his mighty vassals ride off on crusade, the women left behind are not at all put out—that's a lot less armor polishing for them to do. Of course, when the men get themselves eaten by a dragon and leave a curse that attracts monsters to the castle...well, the women take umbrage with that.
Now the blacksmith’s wife Merinor is King, Princess Aeve is the Captain, and the only remaining (and least capable) knight Sir Riddick is tasked with teaching the ladies of the castle how to fight, defend, build, and do all manner of noisy things the men had been doing while the women assumed they were just drunk.
Novelist Delilah S. Dawson (Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon, As Wicked as She Wants, Wake of Vultures) brings her first original series to comics, and is joined by breakthrough illustrator Ashley A. Woods (Niobe: She Is Life) for a rollicking fantasy adventure featuring women reclaiming their lives on their terms.

CURSE WORDS #1
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Ryan Browne and Jordan Boyd


“THE DEVIL’S DEVIL,” Part One
The new ongoing series from CHARLES SOULE (Daredevil, Death of Wolverine, Star Wars) and RYAN BROWNE (GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS) is COMING FOR YOU! A wizard has appeared in New York City, and he’s casting wonderful spells, getting famous, getting rich—it’s great! But it’s not. This wizard has everyone fooled. He is actually an EVIL WIZARD, and EVIL THINGS are on the way. CURSE WORDS is a gonzo modern fantasy, full of darkness, light...and MAGIC.







GOD COUNTRY #1
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie, and John J. Hill


Emmet Quinlan, an old widower rattled by dementia, isn't just a problem for his children—his violent outbursts are more than the local cops can handle. When a tornado levels his home—as well as the surrounding West Texas town—a restored Quinlan rises from the wreckage. The enchanted sword at the eye of the storm gives him more than a sound mind and body, however.
He's now the only man who can face the otherworldly creatures the sword has drawn down to the Lone Star State... 








KAMANDI CHALLENGE #1
Written by Dan Abnett and Dan Didio
Art by Dal Eaglesham, Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish


Prepare to take part in one of the greatest adventures from the infinite future of the DC Universe, and join the industry’s top creative teams in a round-robin, no-holds-barred, storytelling extravaganza titled THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE!
Born from the mind of Jack “King” Kirby, the post apocalyptic Earth of Kamandi has been a fan favorite for decades, and now 14 intrepid teams of writers and artists build on this incredible foundation and take the title character on an epic quest to find his long-lost parents and travel to places seen and unseen in the DC Universe.
Each issue will end with an unimaginable cliffhanger, and it’s up to the next creative team to resolve it before creating their own. It’s a challenge worthy of “The King” himself! In this premiere issue, the Last Boy on Earth is dragged from his safe haven by a group of tigers, only to face the nightmarish threat of the ultimate weapon!

THE FALL AND RISE OF CAPTAIN ATOM #1
Written by Cary Bates and Greg Weisman
Art by Will Conrad


“Blowback” part one! Captain Atom hasn’t been seen or heard from in years—and even if you think you know what happened to him…you’re wrong! But you’re not alone. To this day, no one on Earth—not even the other superheroes—has an inkling of the missing Captain Atom’s true fate. At last, the truth is about to be revealed in a saga that transcends not only the meaning of life and death, but the limits of time and space.










MONSTERS UNLEASHED #1 (of 5)
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art and Cover by Steve McNiven

THE EPIC BATTLE MARVEL FANS HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR, DRAWN BY TODAY’S GREATEST ARTISTS!!!
It’s all hands on deck with the AVENGERS, CHAMPIONS, GUARDIANS, X-MEN and the INHUMANS as they clash with monstrous threats that threaten to destroy every corner of the Marvel Universe. Who are the LEVIATHONS? Who controls them? How can they be stopped before Earth becomes another tragic, barren world in their wake? Written by powerhouse writer CULLEN BUNN and drawn by Marvel legend STEVE McNIVEN, this issue is the beginning of something big that you just can’t miss!

THE UNSTOPPABLE WASP #1
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Art and Cover by Elsa Charretier

Girl. Genius. Hero. Unstoppable.
Nadia spent the entire first half of her life a captive of The Red Room, but now this teenage super-scientist is on her own for the first time, and she’s ready to spread her wings!  Hank Pym’s daughter has a lot of time to make up for and she’s determined to change the world.  You know, if she can get her U.S. citizenship first. Guest-starring Ms. Marvel and Mockingbird! 











[ This first month of the year has three new non superhero series that seems quite intriguing to me, some unorthodox new stuff from DC and a new event which promises to bring back the fun of heroes vs. monsters back from Marvel. Promising start of the new year to say the least. ]  

 

Monday, January 30, 2017

January 2017 New PC Games To Watch For

The first month of the year does have only a few note worthy PC games. Two new games in a already well established series and two re-releases.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom.  It is the eleventh entry in the Resident Evil series, and the first main series installment to be played from a first-person perspective.The story follows Ethan Winters in the search for his wife Mia, which leads him to a derelict plantation, home to the Baker family. Ethan makes use of various weapons and tools in the fight against the Baker family and creatures known as the "Molded". Healing herbs are used in the event of injury and puzzles may be solved to further the story. Instead of being action-oriented, the survival horror element present in previous installments took priority.The game was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in January 24, 2017.


Tales of Berseria
Tales of Berseria is a role-playing video game developed and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows. It is the sixteenth main entry in the Tales series. Tales of Berseria is a role-playing video game, where players navigate the game's world through the game's characters from a third-person perspective. As with previous Tales games, characters can interact through Skits, animated clips that play outside cutscenes and battle. It was released in Japan in August 2016, and was released worldwide in January 27, 2017.

Disgaea 2
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is a tactical role-playing game developed and published by Nippon Ichi Software for the PlayStation 2 video game console. Disgaea 2 is the sequel to 2003's Disgaea: Hour of Darkness and was released for the PlayStation 2. A port of the game for PCs titled Disgaea 2 PC has been released on January 30, 2017, and includes all content from the PS2 and PSP versions, along with an updated interface and support for mouse and keyboard.

Double Dragon IV
Double Dragon IV is a beat 'em up video game in the Double Dragon series. The story picks up after the elimination of the Black Warriors in Double Dragon II. There are lots of extra modes, too. Cool new features fans have been waiting for including playable enemy characters, VS Mode, Tower Mode, and even more. The game is planned for release on January 31 for Microsoft Windows.

BONUS ENTRY
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Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is a role-playing video game developed by Level-5 and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 2. It is the eighth installment of the popular Dragon Quest series and it is the first English version of a Dragon Quest game to drop the Dragon Warrior title. Dragon Quest VIII uses cel-shading textures for the characters and scenery and is the first game in the series to have fully 3D environments and character models. The game retains most of the series' role-playing game elements, such as turn-based combat and the experience level system. Dragon Quest VIII follows the silent Hero, the main character, and his party of allies as they journey towards the goal of defeating the wicked Dhoulmagus. The kingdom of Trodain has been cursed by Dhoulmagus, with the King, Trode, and his daughter, Medea, transformed into a troll and a horse respectively, and it is up to the Hero to return them to their original form and save the kingdom. Dragon Quest VIII enjoyed much success since its release, both in Japan and in North America, and has seen various ports. It is a Square Enix Ultimate Hits and a Sony Greatest Hits title. The 3DS version was released on January 20, 2017 in North America.

[ Double Dragon IV should be a nostalgically impressive title, the new Resident Evil seems to be welcome return to the basic. And I am very very interested in playing the 3DS port of Dragon Quest VIII. ]

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Short Story Review - Clover

Short Story - Clover
Writer - Charlie Jane Anders
Published By - Tor Books

 
I didn't expect much when I started reading this short. But despite not reading "All the Birds in the Sky", I enjoyed this story. This is the tell of a gay couple who gets a cat suddenly from mysterious sources, their struggles in their relationship as well as the cat's own struggle to reclaim its identity.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Promising Sci-fi, horror & Fantasy - January 2017

While January may not be a month to be over-excited about in terms of books, it does have some works by well known and capable authors as well as a surprise sequel I wasn't really expecting among the releases.

"Passing Strange" by Ellen Klages from Tor.com

San Francisco in 1940 is a haven for the unconventional. Tourists flock to the cities within the city: the Magic City of the World’s Fair on an island created of artifice and illusion; the forbidden city of Chinatown, a separate, alien world of exotic food and nightclubs that offer “authentic” experiences, straight from the pages of the pulps; and the twilight world of forbidden love, where outcasts from conventional society can meet.
Six women find their lives as tangled with each other’s as they are with the city they call home. They discover love and danger on the borders where mystery, science, and art intersect.
Inspired by the pulps, film noir, and screwball comedy, Passing Strange is a story as unusual and complex as San Francisco itself from World Fantasy Award winning author Ellen Klages.






[ An unorthodox release by Tor.com which intrigues me just enough to check it out. Who knows, it just might turn out way better than I am expecting. ]

"Home (Binti #2) by Nnedi Okorafor from Tor.com

The thrilling sequel to the Nebula-nominated Binti.
It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she left her family to pursue her dream.
And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.
But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.
After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?
  


[ Another Tor.com novellas and a sequel I was not expecting. While I wasn't really blown away by the plot of 'Binti', the prose was excellent and exploring the world could be a lot of fun. ] 
  


"Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day' by Seanan McGuire from Tor.com

When her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.
But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.
 


[ Three promising releases from Tor.com in one month? Wow! But, who can pass up a standalone from Seanan McGuire, which is sure to be a delight. ]




"The Last Sacrifice (The Tides of War #1) by James A. Moore from Angry Robot

Since time began, the Grakhul – immortal servants of the gods – have taken human sacrifices to keep the world in balance and the gods appeased. When they choose the family of warrior Brogan McTyre, everything changes.

Brogan begins the toughest battle of his life to free his family from their terrible fate. But when you challenge the gods, you challenge the very fabric of society. Declared an outcast, Brogan and his kin are hunted like criminals – but nothing will stand in his way.


[ New series from James A. Moore, who is a writer I admire a lot due to his ability of magnificent world-building and face paced story telling. I know he won't disappoint me this time as well. ]






"Magnus the Red: Master of Prospero (Primarchs #1) by Graham McNeill from Black Library

Fighting in the Great Crusade beside his staunchly anti-mystical brother Perturabo, the psychic primarch Magnus and his Legion of knowledge-seekers must walk a fine line between their mission and their own desire to learn forbidden secrets.
Lord of the mystical and uncanny, Magnus the Red has long studied the ancient crafts of sorcery. A psyker without peer, save only for the Emperor himself, he commands his loyal followers of the Thousand Sons Legion in the Great Crusade, though also vigilant for any lost knowledge they might recover from the remains of dead human civilisations. Now, fighting alongside his brother Perturabo of the Iron Warriors, Magnus begins to foresee an approaching nexus of fate - will he remain true to their mutual aims, or divert his own efforts towards furthering his own mastery of the warp?
Graham McNeill returns to a character he defined in the Horus Heresy series to tell a definitive tale of the one-eyed primarch.
 


(PS: This is only a limited edition, the general wide-scale publication will be on April, but I try to always stick to the first published date rule, so...)

[ The third in the Primarchs series, and one focusing on a character I am meaning to learn more about for a while now, should be a treat into the rich lore of Black Library. ] 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mini-Comic Review - Monsters Unleashed #1 (of 5)

Name - Monsters Unleashed #1 (of 5)
Published by - Marvel Comics
Written by - Cullen Bunn

Art by - Steve McNiven

Ink by - Jay Leisten  
Coloring by - David Curiel
Letters by - VC's Travis Lanham

Release Date: January 18, 2017
 
Oh no, start of another Marvel Event! But don't worry this time it's not heroes vs. heroes, but rather heroes vs. monstrous villains. And the event is literally on a worldwide scale, as different group of heroes fight different monsters all over the globe.