Thursday, August 31, 2023

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for September 1, 2023

It's time for the latest weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with an uproar involving The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, season 2 of Foundation, Star Trek in general, Ahsoka and Star Wars in general, Blue Beetle and the DC Cinematic Universe in general, Barbie, the live action One Piece, Rebel Moon, part 2 of Dune, season 2 of The Wheel of Time, season 5 of What We Do In the Shadows, season 7 of Riverdale, season 14 of Archer, Jurassic Park at thirty, the cancellation of the already complete Spiderwick Chronicles and Nautilus TV shows, the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, the debate about AI writing and art, tributes to Arleen Sorkin and much more.

Speculative fiction in general:

The debate about The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
Film and TV:
Comments on season 2 of Foundation:
Comments on Ahsoka and Star Wars in general
Comments on Star Trek in general:
Comments on the live action One Piece
Comments on Blue Beetle and the DC Cinematic Universe in general:
Comments on Barbie:
Comments on season 14 of Archer:
Comments on part 2 of Dune:
Comments on Rebel Moon:
Comments on season 2 of The Wheel of Time:
Comments on season 7 of Riverdale:
Comments on the cancellation of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Nautilus and other completed shows before they have even aired:  
Jurassic Park at thirty:
Tributes to Arleen Sorkin:
Comments on the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike:

Writing, publishing and promotion:
Comments on the AI controversy: 
Classics reviews:
Con and event reports:
Science and technology:
Toys and collectibles:
Trailers and videos:


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 2023


Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie and small press authors newly published this month, though some July books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, YA science fiction, Steampunk, Dieselpunk, folk horror, regular horror, vampires, zombies, aliens, starships, magical swords, feminist monsters, puppets living in appartment walls, crime-busting witches and much more.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Servant of a Pale Sword by Tim AkersServant of a Pale Sword by Tim Akers:

A lone pilgrim travels to the Temple of Absolution to free himself from a great sin. But when the priests of the temple cut too deep, Lohit Maast is left with no memory of who is or what burden he sought to escape. Among his things is a strange and powerful sword, its blade forge from materea, the very bones of the world. Is he a thief? An assassin? The hero of some great campaign? Or is he something far more dangerous...

Constant Sorrow by J.N. Chaney and Terry MaggertConstant Sorrow by J.N. Chaney and Terry Maggert

Humans have been in the stars far longer than Van originally thought, and they’ve been busy.

But not every visitor to or from Earth has good intentions, and the Peacemakers are faced with an uncomfortable reality. The Earth is about to meet aliens. Some of the aliens are bringing goods to trade. And among those items—are weapons.

When a secret cabal of humans who want to exploit the Earth is revealed, Van has to decide how and where to fight this threat. Along the way, he reveals a secret history that began in the Great War—and ends with mass chaos on his home planet.

Van won’t let that happen—at least not without a fight, and to hold back the gears of war, he’s going to need a lot of help. With Torina at his side, the crew faces a decision that will change the future of the stars themselves, and challenge the Guild, the Earth, and the Equal Grasp as the universe gets smaller with each contact between humans and aliens.

How can Van manage the clash, save earth, and deliver peace?

If he can, what will it cost him?

I Found Puppets Living In My Apartment Walls by Ben FarthingI Found Puppets Living In My Apartment Walls by Ben Farthing:

Can you tell me how to get... out alive?

Johnny awakes. A puppet looms over his bed.

He recognizes the furry monster: Grandpa was its puppeteer on the children’s television show R-City Street. But Grandpa went missing a year ago. He disappeared from this very apartment building, which was converted from the old R-City Street studio.

Desperate to see Grandpa again, Johnny follows the puppet inside the building’s walls, ever deeper into a puppet-infested labyrinth...

I Found Puppets Living In My Apartment Walls is a horror tale from the “darkly inventive” purveyor of uncanny places and wondrous evils, Ben Farthing.

Galaxy Unknown by M.R, ForbesGalaxy Unknown by M.R. Forbes:

Two hundred years ago, the generation starship Pathfinder fled a war-torn Earth, never to be heard from again. Until now...

Captain Caleb Card and his crew are on a mission to investigate a transmission believed to be from the lost ship. Ambushed upon arrival, they immediately fear the worst. But the beacon isn’t only active, it’s on the move, and where it leads will change everything they thought they knew about the universe. Cast into a distant galaxy brimming with unknown dangers, they’ll need to adapt quickly if they want to survive long enough to help the missing colonists.

Hextraordinary Circumstances by Lily Harper HartHextraordinary Circumstances by Lily Harper Hart:

Vampires are taking over the French Quarter.

Ofelia Archer was hoping for a break, a stretch of quiet time to enjoy the opening of her brother’s new bar, but the sight of vampires walking the rooftops one evening, tracking her, makes her wary. Then, the next morning, when a body is dropped in front of a famous vampire house, things in the Quarter take a turn.

Ofelia’s dealt with vampires before, but there’s something different about this fang gang. She’s confused enough to wonder: Are they really dealing with vampires, or something else entirely?

Zach Sully, Ofelia’s fiancé and a local police detective, starts digging. It seems there’s more than one dead body afoot…and possibly a conspiracy to hide multiple deaths.

Ofelia’s team is prepared to figure out the truth, even if it means putting themselves in danger to do it. When the new enemy focuses on her father Oscar, however, Ofelia goes on the offensive.

The French Quarter is a place where things frequently go bump in the night. This fight is about to get bloody, however.

In more ways than one.

Beast Mom by Kim ImasBeast Mom by Kim Imas:

An Oregon mom is about to lose her $#!t.
It might be what the government's been waiting for.

On the outside, Harriet "Harry" Lime is a typical American mom. But after years of packing all the lunches and picking up all the socks, she's become a on the inside. And after stumbling upon the offensive new statue at her daughter's school, she gets unusually angry and turns into a gigantic monster.

Now she'll have to figure out why that keeps happening-and why some mysterious uniformed men have begun lurking around town-all while keeping up with the grocery shopping, the carpool, and all those mother@#!&ing socks.

As soon as Harriet discovers that other local women are undergoing their own amazing transformations, she faces the sudden danger of being ripped away from everyone and everything she loves. Still, she's begun to wonder: How much of her old life-with its surplus of cleaning, cooking, and monthly cramping-does she want to hold on to, anyway?

Medusa Falling by G.S. JennsenMedusa Falling by G.S. Jennsen:

*A stand-alone adventure set in the Amaranthe universe*

“Can I ask where we’re going?”
“Someplace safe…as safe as anywhere on this broken, fallen world can be.”
A first contact encounter isn't supposed to kick off with a dead body.
Ambassador Marlee Marano has been dispatched to Belarria as part of a Concord initiative to meet new species and build alliances. But when an assassin murders her counterpart in front of her eyes and takes her hostage, she is plunged into an alien world on the brink of collapse.

With no way to contact Concord or get offworld, Marlee’s only allies may be a shadowy band of rebels with a questionable agenda steeped in government conspiracies, mysterious genetic experiments and bloody historical grievances that threaten to boil over. The rightness of their cause is the least of her concerns, though, for she finds herself wanted for murder and hunted by all sides.

Medusa Falling is a heart-pumping sci-fi adventure that will take you on a roller-coaster ride of twists and turns as Marlee races to uncover the secrets and lies of a captivating but deadly alien culture and find a way home.

Freaky West by Amanda M. LeeFreaky West by Amanda M. Lee:

Mystic Caravan has hit Texas, and things are supposed to be quiet in Austin. The only thing of note in a city that praises itself for being weird is the nest of vampires that rules the town.

They’re not the ones wreaking havoc this time, however.

Poet Parker knows something is up when a walk near the river results in an attack from a manic man with an ax. When he disappears just as quickly as he appeared, however, she knows something magical is afoot.

It seems Austin is trapped in the clutches of a bored being, and her way of entertaining herself includes bringing urban legends to life…and unleashing them on the city.

Poet has fought every type of magic imaginable, but this one leaves her flummoxed. It’s almost as if she’s dealing with a child mentally. Magically, however, she’s dealing with a monster.

Urban legends aren’t the only thing putting Austin in an uproar. The visiting loas—both of whom are there for Poet—are also drawing attention…and from all the wrong people.

Some magics are too strong to fight. Poet is not the sort of hero who can turn her back on people in need, however. Even if it means putting herself at risk to save them.

Poet has new magic at her disposal. Now she has to learn how to use it…or they will all perish.

It’s a fight to the finish, and who will come out on the other side is anybody’s guess.

The Lioness and the Rat Queen by Noah LemelsonThe Lioness and the Rat Queen by Noah Lemelson:

A city burning…
A murderous tycoon on the run…
And three vigilantes out for revenge…

Marcel never thought his investigations would lead to this; his once-friend Lazarus Roache turned slaver and cruel puppet master. For the good of Huile, and to salve his conscience, Marcel must take Roache down, even if that means following him into the desolate and savage reaches of the Wastes.

Yet the tycoon is not the only Wastefolk with a past with Marcel. To find the tycoon Marcel must break hardtack with an old enemy, a disgraced imperial general who he had once tried to kill, and is more than eager to return the favor. Yet she is not the greatest threat in the Wastes, for there is also a bounty hunter on his trail, the mysterious Queen of Rats, who somehow seems to know Marcel’s every dark secret.

Hyvilma by Gideon MarcusHyvilma by Gideon Marcus:

A damaged ship, a dying shipmate–can she save them both?

Under attack! The flight back to Hyvilma should have been the easy part for the crew of the Majera–until a deadly ambush by pirates sends them reeling through hyperspace. Now getting to the planet in time is the only way Captain Kitra Yilmaz can save her dying friend.

But landing at Hyvilma may be impossible: war has broken out on the Frontier.

An Unholy Triquetra: Celtic Fairy Tales</em> by Jason Parent, William Meikle and Curtis M. LawsonAn Unholy Triquetra: Celtic Fairy Tales by Jason Parent, William Meikle and Curtis M. Lawson:

Three unique voices in today's horror bring you new takes on an old power that threatens to reshape our world. Celtic legends are reborn within these pages, with fresh stories guaranteed to spark nightmares in the vein of Grimm's pre-Disneyfied fairy tales.

A Knot Within A Knot by Jason Parent: A man survives a plane crash only to find himself in darker circumstances, with a winter storm on the horizon and an orphaned child in tow. An elderly woman faces off against a god of night and his steed from the confines of her airplane seat, while another hides from night and storm in the hope of a new dawn. Unbeknownst to them, their fates are linked and dependent upon the next two tales.

Bound in the Valley of Balor by Curtis M. Lawson: After surviving a plane crash, a corrupt federal agent and a mob informant find themselves stranded in a remote valley. Blood spilled during a conflict between the two awakens an ancient evil bound beneath the valley. Can either of them escape from The Valley of Balor?

Summons by William Meikle (part of hisMythos of Sigils & Totems): Would you fall slave to the rhythm?
He came to Scotland after the death of his wife in search of peace. But the old house is restless. Something is waking, something noisy, something that will not be denied.
His search for meaning in the face of ever increasing activity in the house leads him down strange occult pathways, into deep history and a story that is racing to a finish.
The rhythm calls to him. Will he fall slave to it? Or is there a path to be the drum master before it subsumes him utterly?

This Celtic horror anthology is perfect for fans of folk horror, myths and legends, supernatural horror fiction, Grimm fairy tales, and Scottish survival horror, or fans of Ritual by Adam Nevill, Bag of Bones by Stephen King, or the legendary Ramsey Cambell.

Fire, Steel and Petroleum by Glynn StewartFire, Steel and Petroleum by Glynn Stewart:

From the author of Starship’s Mage, this short, magazine-style dieselpunk story delivers on action and an Arthurian hopepunk style.

Raiders have burned the village. With innocents in danger, a Knight must stand.

The Dead Shall Rise (Dark Tide, Book 10) by Jay Wilburn, Armand Rosamilia and Erin LouisThe Dead Shall Rise by Jay Wilburn, Armand Rosamilia and Erin Louis:

They’re coming to get you, Brave Reader.

“Prepare Because Death is Coming” by Jay Wilburn: "Take this and bear the warning." When a messenger arrives at Dry Stretch, warning that a horde of zombies is heading their way forty years after the fall, Bay scoffs at the news. But a 'full body' meeting is called. Ethic is sent north to scout, but in Dry Stretch, no one is preparing. No one is repairing the walls. A William Faulkneresque story of the dead set in a dystopic dust-bowl town.

“Zombie Diner” by Armand Rosamilia: A family finds themselves on the wrong side of the zombie apocalypse while on vacation in Florida…

“Dance with the Dead” by Erin Louis: Tiffney is expecting just another night at the strip club. But when a customer goes berserk in the VIP room, things take an unexpectedly bloody turn. Stuck with a cocaine raddled manager and a shady club owner. Tiffney faces the unimaginable and is forced to turn her coworkers into allies to fight the evil that has taken over the club. Together they have to fight to stay alive.

This Zombie horror anthology is perfect for fans of post apocalyptic survival, The Walking Dead series, zombie apocalypse, and World War Z.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Interview with Kim Imas, author of Beast Mom

Today it gives the Speculative Fiction Showcase great pleasure to interview Kim Imas, whose novel Beast Mom has its debut on August 29.

Where do you think the idea for Beast Mom came from? Was it prompted by situations you encountered as a Mom of young children?

In part, yes. As a new mom I kept having these moments of shock. I wondered how it was possible I wasn’t already aware of something really impactful, like an unexpected way in which my body was reacting to pregnancy or childbirth, or the fact that daycare and preschool cost a proverbial arm and a leg. 

But Beast Mom was also inspired by the events of 2016 and 2017. Firstly, it was inspired by the public discourse around a qualified female presidential candidate and her electoral defeat by of man who bragged about assaulting women, and secondly, by the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, which ultimately led to a global explosion of the #MeToo movement. All of those things enraged me—and plenty of other women, too—but by the time I was finishing Beast Mom there was already a backlash against #MeToo, which only served to make me even more angry at the way our society talks about, views, and treats women. It all felt so obvious to me, yet people were (and are still) denying that we collectively behave as if women who seek power, and women who have paradigm-challenging stories to tell, are never to be trusted and worse still, we must all go to great lengths to diminish them.

The trope of women becoming monsters has an ancient provenance in Western culture - from the Ancient Greek sea-monster Scylla through to Milton’s Sin - but most were imagined by men. What is different about a woman imagining female metamorphosis?

What a wonderful question, and one I’m still educating myself about. But I will say that on the one hand, when men have imagined women with unusual and powerful abilities, they are often characterized as threatening, “ugly,” and duplicitous. These tend to be one-dimensional and they are coded as bad, I think because we’re talking about women whom men cannot control. Yet on the other hand, men have also created many female superheroes who are literally drawn with the exaggerated physical characteristics that we associate with men’s approval. So to oversimplify things a bit, when it comes to women and supernatural power, male storytellers have given us two extremes: hyper-ugly/monstrous and hyper-attractive/idealized for the male gaze.

I like to think that as a woman who’s been around a few decades, I apply a nuanced, real-world experience to my female characters, and I definitely bring a strong inclination to imbue them with the complications and contradictions innate to real human beings. These women don’t exist to be damned, but they don’t exist to be put on a pedestal, either. They make mistakes and piss men off and don’t always look photo-ready. Yet even when they are, in fact, part-monster, they aren’t without their own sorts of loveliness, honor, and achievement. And I hope this translates to authentic female characters who “ring true” to all who read them.

Beast Mom is also humorous and satirical. Why is that important?

The challenges women face today seem to have been around forever—why the heck hasn’t there been more progress? And why do we doubt women’s stories, or ignore them entirely? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but when I was writing Beast Mom, my gut told me that making people laugh would help ensure that more people give the book a try and then continue reading even when Harry, the protagonist, goes on one of her rants. I figured that regular doses of levity might help these stories of women’s struggles—the stuff that’s harder to swallow—go down more easily, so to speak.

But even prior to Beast Mom, I’m proud to say that my writing style had been described as “wry,” “witty,” and “delightful,” so I think, too, that’s it’s in my nature to infuse my stories with bits of lightness, joy, and observations that will make people smirk or smile. I also come from a family of very funny people, so perhaps I’ve quietly absorbed the rhythm of their banter and the ways they use word play, unexpected juxtapositions, strange sounds, and other means for cracking each other up.

Would you call Beast Mom a feminist book and what does that mean to you?

I absolutely intended Beast Mom to be a feminist book and am eager to promote it as such. Feminism is key to me, and it’s key to this story. I think of it as the idea that women should be both treated equally and have equal opportunities to men. That this is not currently the case for us is a sad indictment of our culture.

It’s also a source of ongoing frustration to me that feminism is so frequently misunderstood and even wilfully misrepresented. Too often, I hear it described—erroneously—as equivalent to man-hating or worse. I hope that any readers who were hesitant to embrace feminism before reading Beast Mom will take away a new appreciation for it once they’re through.

Your first novel, published under a pseudonym, was a Regency Romance, Everything but the Earl. Is it safe to say that it was much more than just a romance?

I’m proud to say that Everything but the Earl is a romance, full-stop. I think it’s important to keep normalizing the fact that romance is a valid genre just like any other. Having said that, when talking to prospective readers, I’ll often mention specific aspects that could help them decide if it’s the right book for them, like the screwball-comedy-type banter and antics, or the elements of a #MeToo story, or the fact that it celebrates women’s friendships. But on the whole, Earl sits squarely in Regency Romance and that is more than fine by me.

What do you want your readers to take away from reading Beast Mom?

I really hope readers enjoy this book on multiple levels, beyond the story itself. I hope readers feel like Harry—the protagonist—is someone they’d like to be friends with. I love being immersed in the worlds created by my own favorite authors, and I hope that’s true for Beast Mom readers. 

Also, the process of crafting sentences and paragraphs is particularly enjoyable to me and I take pride in my “smooth prose and witty dialogue” (which is how Publishers Weekly described my first book). I wanted readers to enjoy Harry’s “voice.”

On a more serious note, I’d love it if Beast Mom leads more people to realize that as a society, we don’t listen to women’s stories. I hope it leads more people to begin truly listening to women’s stories. And I hope it helps normalize—no more stigma!—talking about women’s bodies and healthcare needs, even when the conversation is bloody or personal or otherwise uncomfortable for us. 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

About Kim Imas:

Kim Imas received degrees in engineering and urban planning, from Duke and Harvard respectively, before pursuing a career as a writer. Her work appeared in Boston Magazine and The Boston Globe Magazine before she turned to long-form fiction. Her first novel, a romance, was initially published under a pen name and earned praise from Publishers Weekly for its “smooth prose and witty dialogue.” A former Oregonian, Kim now lives with her family outside New York and tries to do in novels what Dolly Parton does in song: deliver stories of women’s struggles in a way that’s too damn delightful to ignore.

Website | Instagram | TikTok

Friday, August 25, 2023

The Dead Shall Rise (Dark Tide, Book 10) by Jay Wilburn, Armand Rosamilia and Erin Louis


Release date: August 25, 2023
Subgenre: Horror, Zombies

About The Dead Shall Rise:


 They’re coming to get you, Brave Reader.

“Prepare Because Death is Coming” by Jay Wilburn: "Take this and bear the warning." When a messenger arrives at Dry Stretch, warning that a horde of zombies is heading their way forty years after the fall, Bay scoffs at the news. But a 'full body' meeting is called. Ethic is sent north to scout, but in Dry Stretch, no one is preparing. No one is repairing the walls. A William Faulkneresque story of the dead set in a dystopic dust-bowl town.

“Zombie Diner” by Armand Rosamilia: A family finds themselves on the wrong side of the zombie apocalypse while on vacation in Florida…

“Dance with the Dead” by Erin Louis: Tiffney is expecting just another night at the strip club. But when a customer goes berserk in the VIP room, things take an unexpectedly bloody turn. Stuck with a cocaine raddled manager and a shady club owner. Tiffney faces the unimaginable and is forced to turn her coworkers into allies to fight the evil that has taken over the club. Together they have to fight to stay alive.

This Zombie horror anthology is perfect for fans of post apocalyptic survival, The Walking Dead series, zombie apocalypse, and World War Z.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.



Prepare Because Death is Coming

Jay Wilburn




I was there when the messenger died on the edge of our territory, out by the green highway sign that read Dry Stretch in a language none of us spoke or read any longer. My dad was there to see and hear it too. So was Ethic Hanover, who was the loudest voice in favor of taking the messenger’s story seriously. My mother showed up later, hustling me and my brothers away before I could hear all of it. Eventually, all of Dry Stretch would be gathered to discuss it.

The messenger was chewed up good, like the stories of what it was like when the undead were everywhere and humankind was on the brink of extinction, the way the traveling evangelists talked of it in church revivals. His clothes were torn. Blood around his crescent wounds dried black and gummy. The puncture points of the dull teeth (because zombie teeth are our teeth), of course, were swelled up; angry and red around the edges with pink rivulets of blood infection worming out from the festering bites. The poor bastard was hot with the fever of it, just like in the old days before my time, before my dad’s time; back before most people younger than Granby could remember, except from the tellings. His open sores wept green and slimy off his pallid skin and into poisonous mud in the dust of our road.

I thought he was babbling deliriously at first because he stuttered so much before he got the first real words out from where he curled on his side, squinting up between the three of us into the sun. “The zombies, a horde as broad as the horizon, sweeps the land and comes this way to fell all before it. Prepare, for they come for you all. Bear me witness.”

“Nonsense,” my father breathed out, denying him witness instead.

“Bay,” Ethic said without looking up from the infected dying man. No more reproach than that, just my father’s name said evenly. Could have been reproach or a substitute for shut up. Could have been shock at my father’s quick and dismissive response despite the evidence before our eyes. My father had used the uttering of my name on countless occasions for countless meanings.

My dad glared at the side of Ethic’s face for a goodly count of time, a face he’d whisper against soon.




About the Authors:

Jay Wilburn was an author of horror and speculative fiction that lived in coastal South Carolina near Myrtle Beach. He taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full-time writer. His signature series is the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and for younger readers, The Lake Scatter Wood Tales. 


Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he's not sleeping. He's happily married to a woman who helps his career and is supportive, which is all he ever wanted in life...

He's written over 200 stories that are currently available, including crime thrillers, supernatural thrillers, horror, zombies, contemporary fiction, nonfiction and more. His goal is to write a good story and not worry about genre labels.

He also loves to talk in third person... because he's really that cool. Maybe.

You can find him at for all of his information as well as random things he enjoys.


Erin Louis is a former adult entertainer, with a love of books, writing and humor. My job has given me a unique perspective on life. I spent twenty years as an exotic dancer on and off and started writing nonfiction as a way to shed light on a misunderstood industry and profession.

My passion for writing began with nonfiction, but I have always loved horror fiction. Stephen King, Lois Duncan, and Clive Barker got me through some tough years growing up. I found an escape through those books along with countless others. My own fiction reflects those influences as well as my love for all things dark and maybe just a bit scary.