This Memorial Day weekend, you might have time to stretch out with a good book, in between the grilling and the beers. There are a lot more military personnel (current as well as former) creating genre fiction than you might imagine. Supporting one or two of them by picking up an awesome read would accomplish multiple acts of awesome with just a few mouse clicks. Here’s a short list, just to start you off. If I left out your favorite veteran/author, add him or her in the comments box. I’m certain to miss one or two. If your wallet’s a little light after buying all that beer and meat, follow a few of these folks on Twitter or Facebook, or subscribe to their blogs!
Of course, this being my site, I’m going to lead off by pimping my dark superhero anthology, CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? (which opens with Tim Marquitz’ tale of a superhuman weapon in the War on Terror followed by an excellent story by Weston Ochse) but, if you already have that or superheroes aren’t your thing, you can pick up a copy of FOUR IN THE MORNING today, in advance of the official release date of 1 June.
Former Navy man Brian Keene has something for everyone–the holiday is certainly a good excuse to pick up something from him. I recently reviewedTHE CAGE and recommend it if you’re in the market for a quicker read.
Army vet Weston Ochse’s BLOOD OCEAN is available for a measly five bucks on Kindle. I have this one on my stack and will be cracking into it soon.
I haven’t read Army Reserve officer Myke Cole’s CONTROL POINT yet, but it looks interesting and has a lot of good reviews.
I purchased Ganymedeby Cherie Priest at my local bookstore the day before my flight to World Horror and devoured it between the flights there and back. It’s the fourth of her Clockwork Century steampunk books, set in an alternate 1890s America where the Civil War is still raging. I was slightly apprehensive at first after having to set aside Dreadnought (the third book) a third of the way through because it didn’t hold my interest. At this point, I’m invested in the series, though—I’ll be taking another stab at Dreadnought soon enough, I’m sure, and will probably find something to like. I’d been looking forward to Boneshaker, the first novel, for nearly a year before it’s release, and Clementine, the Subterranean Press-released novella, was nearly as good.
I found Ganymede, which revisits Boneshaker’s pirate Andan Cly as he undertakes one last illegal operation in order to finance his retirement, to deliver on the promise of Boneshaker better than any other book in the series to date. For those eager to meet another of Priest’s plucky heroines, we have Josephine Early, a mulatto cathouse owner and one of Cly’s former lovers. For readers looking forward to revisiting old friends, Briar, Zeke, Mercy and Swakhammer all make appearances. If you’ve never read a Clockwork Century book yet, you can certainly jump in with Ganymede (these novels are all self-contained, though they do build on each other), though I’d recommend at least reading Boneshaker first.
Red Empire and Other Storiesby Joe McKinney collects his previously released novella Red Empire and seven short stories, some written specifically for this collection. McKinney fans know him best for his zombie stories (he took home a Stoker this year for Flesh Eaters, his third Dead World novel), but there’s not a zombie in sight here, but for one story. Like most of McKinney’s work, many of these stories take place in Texas and feature police. The novella in particular reminded me of the mid-90s-era Dean Koontz novels I enjoyed before I figured out they all followed the same formula—but with the possible romance between the male and female leads left to happen after the story, rather than bogging down the action. A solid collection, and a must for any McKinney fan.
Rust and Bloodby Ed Kurtz collects nine short stories, many brand-new with a few reprints. Kurtz has a great writing style, and even the stories that failed to suspend disbelief for me held my attention all the way through. I ripped through the collection in a couple of hours. The premises behind ‘Hungry’ and ‘Pearls’ were a bit farfetched, but both were fun–‘Pearls’ in particular was an uncomfortable read for a guy who had a nickel-sized, inch-deep chunk of necrotized flesh carved from his thigh a couple years back. ‘Sinners’ and ‘Roadbeds’ were confusing, to be completely honest, but the rest of the book is packed with solid, old-school horror–‘Family Bible’ in particular was a great read.
Faint of Heartby Jeff Strand is a self-published novella featuring Rebecca, a young wife who is kidnapped from her home the night after her husband, Gary, goes off on a hunting trip with a couple of buddies. Her kidnapper and his accomplice force her to relive everything Gary did the day before—or else. Strand is great at making a reader care about his characters in a short amount of time, and screwed with my expectations expertly. I also appreciate his economical, to the point style. Faint was a quick, exciting read that I blew through in one sitting.
The first two Sam Truman Mysteries novellas—Catch My Killer!by Ed Kurtz (released this month) and The Last Invasion by Brandon Zuern (coming in May) are the first in a new ongoing series of pulp novellas from Abattoir, an imprint of Kurtz’ Redrum Horror. Abattoir plans to release a new digital novella every six weeks, with print omnibus editions collecting every four or so. If I had to compare the Sam Truman series to anything else I’ve read, it’d be Shroud’s Hiram Grange series, in that both feature down-on-his-luck investigators-for-hire who solve paranormal mysteries. Killer! introduces Sam Truman, an involuntarily-retired private investigator who doesn’t have a pot to piss in. He intercedes in an attempted robbery at a diner by blowing away the perpetrator, only to be later visited (and hired) by the ghost of a murder victim housed in the robber’s corpse. In Invasion, Sam is hired by the family of a missing girl, and uncovers much more than a simple kidnapping or disappearance. Kurtz was born to write noir pulps; Killer! flows effortlessly and is grounded firmly in the series’ 1960s setting. Invasion is Zuern’s first published work, but hopefully not his last.
Weston’s a great guy, a retired Soldier, a killer author, a CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? contributor and, most importantly, a friend and mentor I trust to tell me when my head’s up my ass. I got my hands on a review copy of his novel EMPIRE OF SALT well before I met him, and since then, I’ve still yet to read a bad Weston Ochse story. You can read my review of EMPIRE OF SALT here. You can read my review of MULTIPLEX FANDANGO (one of my 2011 recommendations) here. And you can read information on his latest novel, BLOOD OCEAN, below. Click on the break to view more bookstore links than any twenty people will ever need in their lives.
BLOOD OCEAN Released on 16th February in the UK and 14th February in US & Canada
£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-87-2 $9.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-87-2 Will also be available as an ebook
In a world reduced to ruin by all-consuming plague, one young boy embarks on a mission of revenge after one of his friends is found dead … harvested for his blood!
Kavika Kamalani is a Pali Boy on Nomi No Toshi, the floating city. The post-plague heir to an ancient Hawai’ian warrior tradition that believes in overcoming death by embracing one’s fears and living large, Kavika’s life is turned upside down when one of his friends dies – and he sets out to find the killer.
When he is kidnapped and subjected to a terrifying transformation, Kavika must embrace the ultimate fear – death itself. It is the only way if he, his loved ones, and the Pali Boys are to survive.
This stand-alone title is the latest pulse-pounding story of post-apocalyptic survival in The Afterblight Chronicles series from Weston Ochse – a writer who pulls no punches.
“Weston Ochse is an artist whose craft, stories and voice are so distinct and mesmerising that you can’t help but be enthralled.” – Dani Kollin, Prometheus Award-winning author of The Unincorporated Man
About the Series
The Afterblight Chronicles is a post-apocalyptic series in which a devastating epidemic has ravaged the world. In the Afterblight, pockets of humans attempt to continue civilization amidst the mounting chaos of the collapsed infrastructure . Mobs run rampant while cults and warlords fight for authority over the survivors of the global plague.
One of the three series with which Abaddon Books launched in 2006, The Afterblight Chronicles is a collection of stand-alone novels that has showcased the talents of a number of brilliant, up-and-coming authors, including Scott Andrews, Paul Kane, Jasper Bark and Rebecca Levene. Blood Ocean is the eleventh Afterblight Chronicles title.
About the Author
Weston Ochse is the Bram Stoker award-winning author of various short stories and novels, including the critically-acclaimed Scarecrow Gods and Tomes of the Dead novel, Empire of Salt
He is much in demand as a speaker at genre conventions and has been chosen as guest of honour on numerous occasions. Weston lives in Southern Arizona with his wife Yvonne and their menagerie of animals.