All posts by Hawk

Hawk is an expert in Survivability, Space, and Radiation Modeling. He has worked with civilian and military designers for over twenty years to protect spacecraft and installations from nuclear, EMP, radiological, and chemical weapons as well as natural environments. He is also an historian, martial artist, writer, swordsman, and showman.

Lost and Found by J. M. Beal

Lost and Found by J M Beal

One of the joys of going to conventions is finding relatively unknown authors. Some of those authors aren’t very creative and just produce fan-fic of whatever series is doing well. In Urban Fantasy, you see a lot of Laura K Lite (Vampire Porn), Monster Hunter-esque (Gun – Porn), and Supernatural-ish (Homosexual porn) writing.  You have to hunt far and wide to find the gems in the pile. Lost and Found is one of those gems. Here is Beal’s elevator pitch:

Author’s Burb

“Grace has a weird life. Even before she accidentally finds a werewolf that’s not a werewolf on the way home from work, she has a weird life. If it stopped at ghosts and werewolves it wouldn’t be so bad. At least the people who hunt these things know how to deal with those.

Nate’s had an entire life of supernatural crap, but he’s got no idea why Grace keeps exploding in white light every time she’s in trouble. But, surprisingly, they make a good team. If there’s suddenly a little more mystery in his life than he’d like it’s worth it. Even when it’s a lot more mystery, and witches, and psychics, and just mess it’s still worth it.”

This isn’t porn and there aren’t a lot of gun scenes. Frankly, it doesn’t feel derivative of any other novel or movie at all. The dead or magical creatures, of which there are a variety, are mostly of a different sort than the usual fodder of the Urban Fantasy canon. There are werewolves, but we are spared the usual “pack dynamic” discussions. I don’t mean to dismiss other author’s takes on these things, but I’m happy to see someone NOT fall back on the standard archetypes.

This is a story about people, wounded people. The focus in this novel is the long-term damage taken from a lifetime of dealing with monsters. Nate and his mother are definitely Exhibit A in the museum of “People Whose Lives Were Destroyed By Monsters”. Grace’s principle damage is from the less-magical monsters. In fact, a major examination in this book is whether people should be hunting monsters at all.

NEGATIVES:

Honestly, I’d like a bit more development to Grace and Nate. The story focuses on them pretty well, but it doesn’t dig deeply into their motivations most of the time. You get the impression that they aren’t particularly motivated, which sells them a bit short. Still, they are fun to follow around and have a lot of ‘cute’ interaction.

More gun porn would be nice…

POSITIVES:

This is a real gem of a novel. Very light and friendly. I think it is stirring up some good concepts and it stands a good chance of working them out in future books. I don’t agree will all the author’s choices, but I think they are developed solidly enough. I enjoyed picking up the novel and will pick up the next one.

SUMMARY:

I don’t know if this is Beal’s first novel, but it has that vibe to it. There are some concepts that I think are great and some that fall a bit flat. I think she doesn’t develop the interaction with the merfolk enough. I think she needs to link the damage caused by human and non-human monsters more explicitly. (It doesn’t really connect till toward the end of the book.) I’d say the win on this novel is that it was very easy to pick up. I do recommend this book and give it four stars.

Hawkings Austin

J. M. Beal

 

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

See the source image

If you like a grim and humorous world, Sandman Slim is one of the best Urban Fantasy novels out there. I can’t see much daylight between his world and a post-apocalypse setting, but the fact that it is bleak and dark doesn’t much improve L.A. (Though the protagonist has less trouble with traffic than I do.)

His protagonist isn’t quite an anti-hero, but he’s not a good person. He climbs out of hell into a burning pile of garbage. That is probably his best moments. He knocks over a drug dealer for his coat and goes about killing his old coven-mates.

I really like the fact that this is a noir novel in the – L.A. is a character – sense. There is a terrible personality to the multiply destroyed town. The weird theme bars, the over-priced sports cars, and the slowly decaying architecture are all features you can get to know. The action (even the action in Hell) all takes place in L.A. Its a town near-empty, for one reason or another, but it was L.A. (Even in Hell, they have flaming palm trees lining the streets. It makes you homesick. (If you lived in L.A. and didn’t want to set those palm trees on fire, just to watch them burn, you are a better person than I.)

An example scene entry from the third novel: “I come up in the Badlands, though I don’t see how this parcel of the L.A. shit-scape is supposed to be worse than any of others I’ve seen. In face, I’d find the area downright restful if it wasn’t for all the blood.”

Maybe I like the destroyed LA too much, but traffic down to Manhattan Beach or up to past Venice Beach or on the 105… ok, anywhere from Pasadena west…makes you appreciate the finer points of a zombie apocalypse. Sandman Slim takes you on a tour of the finer points of his version of the city, while killing evil warlocks, zombies, devils, demons, and weirder stuff.

Most of the universe has it in for our Sandman Slim, lucky he knows how to kill them back real well. He has a handful of colorful friends, a collection which keeps growing with each book. I especially love his unfortunately immortal alchemist friend, and his pet vampire(ish). He has a collection of enemies as well, which despite his killing them off, doesn’t seem to diminish the total number for much.

Negatives:

Is there negatives about the book? Not really. It is grim and dark and humorous. If those get aggravating for you, you probably won’t put the series on speed read. I’ve just got back and re-read, so that I can start book six. I’m only on book three, but will probably finish them all this week. For me, they are light and easy reads, but I like the grim.

The books are full of drinking, fighting, and sex. The sex is actually not terribly explicit. The gore isn’t terribly explicit, but there are bodies getting hacked up. The drinking and smoking is heavy and constant. I want a smoke half-way through the book, and I don’t smoke.

Rating for Sandman Slim:

Sandman Slim is a perfect example of post-apocalypse fiction. The world (LA) is destroyed and the angels and devils and demons and monsters are fighting over the ruins. Our hero is one of the monsters and proud of it. It is fun, emotional, and interesting to turn the pages. It is fun enough for five stars, and there is no technical crap which kills the fun.

So yes, the series, so far as I’ve read it, gets five stars. Read them.

 

The Serpent King

The serpent king gets me further along my trilogy. Unfortunately, my trilogy is on its third book….I’d like to say that it was the conclusion, but it looks like I’ll need four books in this trilogy, maybe five. Well, we all know I can’t count. Still I get another cool picture. I can live with that.

Urban-Fantasy.com

I’ll be starting an urban fantasy book review over at Urban-Fantasy.com. I’m always interested in recommendations, especially if you are a new writer. I’m starting Camp Nanowrimo over at Cabin Sablehawk this week. (Easter and edits coming in, this will be a busy month.)

My first posts will likely be on Superhero novels. I’ve read a few. My own urban fantasy is still unpublished. I may see if Jagi wants to tackle Pure Poison once the Bone God is in the can. P.S. looking for a photographer for the front art for Pure Poison. I’ve got some ideas I found on the net below.

If you are a photographer/artist who can make pretty pictures for my cover, give me a shout.

Hawk

National November Writing Month (Camp Nanowrimo)

So, as you might expect. The newbie writer is trying Camp Nanowrimo.

What is Nanowrimo? Well, every November we write for 30 days to get 50,000 words. It teaches you good habits and a few bad habits, but you get your story onto the page, which is the first hurdle.

Camp Nanowrimo is a self-directed month where you pick a project, like editing your last mess, and go to it. The nice part about Camp Nanowrimo is the texting in your own cabin. We’re always talking smack, giving encouragement, etc. I really like it.

If anyone wants into Cabin Sablehawk, give me a shout and I’ll bring you in. @sablehawk on twitter or just comment here. I’m going to open it to everyone come Sunday, but I’ll give people a couple days if they are interested.

I’ve got two projects sitting on my desk. The edits from The Bone God are coming in, and the Outline for King Serpent is starting. I really want to do both…but I’ll probably wimp out and do my edits like a good boy.

In mid April is Ravencon, which I’m also attending. I hope that anyone who wants to talk writing gets with me there I’d love to chat about writing.

Dragon Con 2018

Just to inform my occasional reader, I will be attending Dragon Con this year as a guest. I intend to do science, space, Armageddon (Or whatever they call it), and writing this year.

Any time I’m not charging around between panels with my pants on fire, I’ll be escorting my lovely wife or my wonderful daughter around the con. I intend to wear funny costumes and drink beer. Anything else is plain luck.

Yeah, Superversive is hosting a table, so I’ll probably be there too. (And with Speaker to Lab Rats at his Baen party. I better get to work and publish more books.

Later,
Hawk

Valerian and the city of a thousand planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Poster

First off, this was a fun movie. I won’t say it didn’t have some ‘drink’ moments, but it was pretty good fun. It tried to be huge, with fantastic scenes changing constantly, but it failed to be consistent, so it made no sense half the time. Just off the top of my head:

  1. Multi-Dimensional world? Man, that was so complex that it has to show up again…nope.
  2. Bashing through walls into completely different (and recently described) sections…that were supposed to be on opposite sides of a giant city? Yeah, that happened.
  3. The spaceship can enhance his fighting ability? He doesn’t mention that till the last scene.
  4. Aliens fishing for humans in the red zone?

But, the one that killed me, absolutely ruined it, was a superior officer hitting on a sergeant under his command. Absolutely improper and bugged the crap out of me, constantly.

So, the plot was simple and fun. They did a good job on one alien species, the Pearls, but the others were just goofy. I saw it with a beer and a hot chick, so I rate it a good solid 3 for movie night.

Back Online

Sunday I bought a computer. SO, now I’m back blogging.

There has been a lot going on in the last couple years. I’m going to stick to mostly talking about books and writing from here on out. I may drift into science occasionally, but I have to get approval for … stuff … so I’m going to try to stay out of my professional field.

I know, I’ve promised that I’d blog and didn’t before, what is changed now?

I have a book. I just published a book with Superversive.

Check out “The Broken Man” by Hawkings Austin.

 

Suicide Squad – Movie Review

I took the wife to a movie last night. It was a really good time, partly because the movie theater business is dying. This is a really nice theater in a good part of town watching a hot movie only a week after premier. There wasn’t 50 people in there. Of course, I spent 27 dollars on tickets plus a few on coffee. Not bad, but equivalent to buying the blue ray pack. Well, I don’t much like crowds, so this was fine. We had a nice night.

Suicide Squad is a great movie. I understand people’s quibbles, but they are wrong. Well, let me be more clear. The Marvel superhero movies are good. Character development is a bit scanty in them, character arcs are fairly underdeveloped. Lots of fun action and snarky comments. Critics hate them, people hate critics, it all works out in the end.

Suicide Squad is somewhat different. At the end of the movie you will know a lot more than you ever wanted about Deadshot and Harley Quin, Diablo and Flagg also get a good treatment. I admit that I spend most of the movie hoping someone would blow Boomerang’s head off. Croc was a bit shallow, but he had a character, they just didn’t look at it. Enchantress scared me, really, made me think Horror Story from first look. Amanda Waller is the Devil. Not sure I remembered anyone else. Joker showed up, was scary crazy. Katana was central and boring, sorry.  In an extended version, they’ll probably add 30 minutes of Joker, which won’t really improve the movie. It was good, tight even, at two hours. Lots of action, but it isn’t complex. It is mostly smashing weird looking things on the head.

I’d just say that this movie felt a lot more adult than Avengers or Spiderman. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d say that they aimed the age of viewer in the 20s at least, not the usual teenager. It hit this nearly 50 year old in the feels. I liked it a lot.

Recent Activity

Ok, so more of an explanation than an excuse. Work changed the security settings and now blogging is impossible. Sure, impossible means I could figure something out and cheat, but I won’t. They clearly don’t want us blogging from work. Blah. I just spent the money to extend this website for 2 more years, so I’m just going to have to get a better interface at home.

Sorry for the long absence.