Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No. 20 - The Bonehunters

by Steven Erikson

Started: July 22
Finished: August 19

Notes: I've been neglecting my fantasy reading of late, so this is a good place to get back into it. I've never read anything by this author, but he comes highly praised. At more than a thousand pages, it might take me a while to finish this one; but maybe not. Also, this is the sixth book in a series, but I'm starting here any way; I figure if the writer is good enough, I shouldn't have too many problems catching on to what's happening.

Mini review: This writer might, just might, be my favorite of the more modern action fantasy writers. When the events in his stories turn to battle and such, this writer is great at keeping your attention. On the downside, I feel he has way too many characters and makes it difficult to keep up with all of them; more of my feelings on this can be found in the comments to this post. Despite there being so many of them, this writer does have some great characters that could easily deserve novels of their own. I will be reading more of Steven Erikson's works.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

No. 19 - The Grin of the Dark

by Ramsey Campbell

Started: July 13
Finished: July 22

Notes: Ramsey Campbell is best known today as a horror writer, but back in the 1970s he did some Sword and Sorcery writing and similar work. I'm familiar with some of his S&S stuff and some of his short stories, but this is the first novel I've read by him. This is his newest horror novel, set in England and it concerns a forgotten silent-movie star and a film critic. I'm hoping for some solid reading.

Mini review: This is one for horror fans who enjoy a slow build up and not a lot of gore, a tale more psychological then full of terror. I enjoyed it, but I felt the build-up was a little too much, at least by 50 and maybe 100 pages. The ending comes upon you rather quick, which wasn't bad, though itis a bit confusing. Reminded me quite a bit of psychological horror I'm more familiar seeing from horror novels of the 1950s.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Smith and Wesson 586 .357 magnum

Okay, okay. Without a doubt, this is my all-time favorite firearm. Yes, I realize it's a revolver, which means it doesn't have the firepower of semi-auto handguns. Yes, I realize it's a revolver, which also means it doesn't have the range of a long weapon. Yes, I realize it's a revolver ... but it's FRICKIN' AWESOME.

Everything about this gun is perfect for me. It has a good weight in my hands. It has a solid feel in my hands. The craftsmanship is perfect. It's a .357 magnum, which has one of the best (if not THE best) one-shot-drop ratio of any caliber bullet, and this gun will also fire .38s. And to add to all this, I'm a dead-eye shot with this thing. Mine's just short of a six-inch barrel, which I find perfect; a shorter barrel drops the range and a longer barrel makes a gun more difficult to carry.

Made by the fine folks of Smith and Wesson.

I could go on and on about this firearms, I love it so much, but I think you get the picture. Even in the age of modern semi-automatic pistols, this thing is a man-stopper. It wouldn't be great for hunting large prey, but it's a perfect home-defense weapon and would still be tolerably (as compared to modern military weaponry) dangerous in combat.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

No. 18 - City of the Dead

by Briane Keene

Started: July 10
Finished: July 13

Notes: This is a writer I've been meaning to get to for a couple of years. Apparently he's the next big thing in horror, and has even been called the next Stephen King. But hey, who hasn't? Honestly, I've heard lots of good about this author, so I felt it was time I got into some of his material.

Mini review: A darn fine read. Kicks off with action and pretty much stays with it until the end. Most of this is action and dialogue, with very little exposition, making it seem somewhat like a screenplay, which is a type of writing pretty common in novels nowadays. I wouldn't say Keene is the next Stephen King, but I can see why he has a following. I'll give him another try one of these days. What the heck? He writes about zombies, and I love zombies.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

No. 17 - The Flip Side

by Flip Flippen

Started: July 6
Finished: July 10

Notes: I don't normally get into these self-help books for boosting the ego, but the copy on the back of this book seemed appropriate to the business of writing, so I thought I'd give it a try. Basically, this is a book to help you defeat whatever behaviors you might have that are holding you back from success.

Mini review: This would be a good book for someone starting to study their own emotional constraints, but I found it a bit simplistic. I did, however, get a few ideas here for my own personal growth. For you writers out there, this could be a pretty good book for figuring out emotional weaknesses and strengths for your characters. A word of warning, the author thinks very highly of himself and doesn't hesitate to yak on and on about his own emotional situations and his family and business life; nothing wrong with that, but for me, I'd prefer something a little more in-depth and less about the writer himself.

Friday, July 04, 2008

American Derringer

I owned one of these small beauties chambered for .357 magnum, but I usually shot .38s from it because a small gun like this isn't easy to control with the kick of the .357 magnums.

This firearm was of fine craftsmanship, but it just wasn't my kind of gun. While it worked great, I just never got too comfortable with it. For one thing, I couldn't hit anything with it beyond 10 feet or so. Of course that's understandable, because this is a Derringer with its very short barrels. To be honest, I found the Derringer sort of a useless firearm; it doesn't have any range, and there's only two shots. It might have a good fright factor if you're up close to someone, and I'm sure it could kill if you could hit with it, but honestly ... if I'm that close to someone in a fight-to-the-death situation, I'd feel much more comfortable using a good, solid knife.

But that's just me. Honestly, this was a great gun, just not my thing. Still, this isn't a weapon I'd want to stake my life on, and it's definitely not something I'd want to take into a firefight. It does make a great collector's piece, especially for those who seek out modern versions of old West guns.

Made by the fine folks of the American Derringer Corporation.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hand-and-a-half sword

The hand-and-a-half is also commonly known as a bastard sword. No, it's not because of any parentage situation. This big blade is called a bastard sword because it's not a one-handed weapon, nor is it truly big enough to be a two-handed sword. It's in the middle, big enough that you can swing it with two hands to put some extra power behind it, but just small enough that with training you can use it in one hand as a heavy long sword.

The hand-and-a-half I own is an excellent weapon, with a good weight and balance. I'd have no problem taking this thing into combat. However, I'd want to wear gloves or wrap the pommel in cord or something because smooth leather covers the handle right now, making it a bit too smooth for gripping, in my opinion.

Weapons of this type were fairly common during the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. A knight or field officer would likely carry something like this into combat, or during a tournament. It's a bit big to carry around all the time for everyday protection, but it's a fine war implement.

Killing Just for Fun

My short flash horror story, "Killing Just for Fun," can be downloaded from Demonic Tome right here.

Word of warning: There's some harsh words and gross stories in this online magazine, so if that's not your thing, you might want to steer clear.