One thing I realized after attending my first steampunk festival last month is how much they love to read. When you consider classic authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are considered the Godfathers of Steampunk as we know it today, this much true. The steampunk genre revolves around everything from science fiction to romance, historical fiction to fantasy. But for some, its an obsession, and as an author, I want to encourage that type of obsessive behavior in people.
One of those groups is theSilk City Steampunk and Oddball Newtfrom Manchester, CT. They are hosting their third annual Book Fiends Readers Festival on Saturday, June 25, from 11am to 5pm at Cheney Hall, 177 Hartford Road, Manchester, CT. It is a celebration of steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, supernatural, paranormal, and poetry authors. The event is FREE and open to the public.
Besides meeting some great authors (including yours truly) and artists, there will be sword fighting demonstrations, food trucks, author panels, and BYOTC (Bring Your Own Tea Cup) for the Tea Cup contest. There will be a VIP meet & greet after the festival from 5pm to 7pm (tickets $10 per person). Visit Oddball Newt Productions for more information and for future steampunk events in Connecticut.
Events like these are great opportunities for you, the readers, to meet the authors of your future favorite books and pick up some great bargains to add to your summer reading list or to your bookshelf. Let’s help each other out in this endeavor. If you’re in the New York/New England area, I hope you take the time to come to the festival. I look forward to seeing you there!
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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available as a paperback/ebook at iUniverse Publishing, Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series, is available as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, is available through Lulu and other booksellers.
Get ready for The River of Souls fantasy novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid Publishing along with the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates. The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of his current fantasy book series, plus so much more coming soon.
Most authors would put a shameless plug in for their own fantasy books, but I want to highlight some great books from some of my fellow independent authors that I read in 2021. I would highly recommend any one of their books for the fantasy or sci fi lover and avid book reader in your home. I met all of these wonderful authors through our independent author social media connections and it has been an absolute joy getting to know them and reading their books.
On the Edge by M.J. Glenn is the first book in the Dweller Hunter series. The novel tells the story of Ebony Wick, who for two years has survived alone as an outlaw and highwaywoman in Rundlewood Forest. She doesn’t need people. She only needs to survive. But when Hunter Sparrow breaks into her camp and invites her to join his gang, the Bounty Hunters, she finds herself facing a difficult choice. With a burning desire for revenge against a powerful enemy, Ebony must choose between reason and instinct. But in doing so, she discovers a long-hidden secret that will change her world forever. I loved this story and how independent minded Ebony is, even when confronted by a haunting past and revelations that change her world forever. I am looking forward to reading more of this series and the continuing adventures of Ebony Wick!
Bound in Darkness by Kim ten Tusscher is the first book in the Lilith Trilogy. I have only read the first book and just started reading the second, Broken in Twilight, so I will just cover Book One. This is the story of Lilith, a woman who has only ever lived with anger and destruction. The sole dragon shifter known to humankind, she despises her life as an instrument of terror at the hands of a prophetic sorcerer. Finally fleeing years of abuse, she’s distraught when she’s captured for stealing food and forced to answer to a bitter king for her crimes. Hiding her fiery past from the monarch’s shrewd advisor, Lilith grits her teeth and endures brutal lashings to keep her powers secret. But when her former abductor sends spies to reclaim her and threatens carnage in the name of God, she’ll have to choose for which captor she’s willing to spill more innocent blood… Can the tortured woman escape to freedom before the land beneath her burns? You really feel for Lilith, the pain and suffering she’s endured, as you read each page of this wonderful novel. I am just getting into Book Two, and it is enthralling and captivating as the first.
Jax Marlin: The Complete Short Story Series by T.K. Toppin is my kind of sci fi noir novel. The vigilante, Jax Marlin, and the special inspector who chases her, Michael Pedroni, find themselves on a journey of deeper self-discovery and mutual understanding as they battle the criminals of the world. What was once black and white and by the book, no longer applies. The world is filled with myriad shades and perspectives, and in order to conquer evil, one must do what one must. Learning this prompts Pedroni to make a life-altering decision. As for Jax, her once-resolute focus wavers when her driving force, the fire inside her, takes over with violent results. She battles her inner demon in a life-long war, she realizes she can’t change who she is and what drives her: bad people must be punished. She must make the ultimate decision: destroy the beast within or continue down the destructive path of homicidal abandon. I love watching classic noir crime dramas on TV and reading this book was like stepping into one of those classic films. The no nonsense detective, the female fatal, the spark between them, and its all done with a sci-fi vibe that I love.
Lorden Awakening by Krislee Ellsworth was, I think, the highlight of my reading this year. Magic has not existed for three centuries, and the world is dying because of it. Anaver has never seen the sun through the foggy dome that surrounds the island of Tamrose. She’s heard tales of other lands and magic, but no one can prove that such things ever existed. When fate pulls her from her home and places her in a land of sun and starlight, she discovers that she harbors a power that can awaken the earth’s dormant magic. Rothrin has watched as the world around him fades away. The elements have long lost their state of Lorden, or harmony, which has caused a decades-long famine to sweep over the continent. All seems lost until he meets Anaver, and the elements begin to awaken. They set out on a quest in a land on the brink of collapse and starvation to unleash the earth’s power before time runs out. Like the other fantasy books in my list, Lorden Awakening has an original magic system that is captivating as the story itself. These are great characters that you’ll fall in love with and villains you’ll hate.
The last book I want to mention is a bit of a shameless plug, but not just for me, for the other authors in this anthology. From Dark Corners is a collection of horror short stories published by The Publishing Room. Their mission is “to ensure that anyone with a dream in publishing a book can accomplish their goals.” They also publish short stories from independent authors in various collections. I published with them previously in their fantasy anthology, On Distant Worlds. This time, I wrote a horror short story called The Chalice for this anthology, my first leap into the genre. Along with authors Samayra Rashid, Danni Grace, Ruchi Acharya, and Jesse Fletcher, this book is a great addition for any horror fans on your holiday gift list. They support independent authors like me, you can too!
Click on the links above to order these books and, if you’re interested, click on the links below to check out my other fantasy novels for your holiday gift list! By the way, I am always open to book review exchanges between authors. I love getting new books to read and helping out other independent authors.
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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.
Get ready for the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, coming soon from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid Publishing. The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.
Happy New Year everyone! As we kick off 2018, I need to talk about a subject that’s near and dear to my heart … Anime! Now, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I really need to talk about this again. It’s becoming quite the obsession with me. I watch a different show nightly on my iPad. I’ve watch so many different genres its exhilarating. It’s so easy with services like Crunchyroll, Funimation, even YouTube.
I love watching anime, and its not for the reasons you might think. I know some people watch it for “fan service”, waiting for those gratuitous cleavage and butt shots of scantily clad women. It’s ridiculous how disproportioned women are in anime. They either have ridiculously large breasts or look like little girls. It’s weird and really, not my thing.
First off, and I know this is unusual, but I love the music. Anime’s have the best theme music of anything out there. These opening songs are catchy and memorable, even though I don’t understand the words. The songs resonate and rattle around my head like a catchy TV jingle. For example, I first heard the themes to Speed Racer and Space Battleship Yamato more than 40 years ago, yet I can still recite them verbatim.
Then there’s the comedy. The anime writers love to put geeky, ordinary guys in awkward situations that make you laugh. It usually involves them walking into a bathhouse or room where the female protagonist is dressing or, more than likely, naked. There are also common occurrences of flirting that makes one, or both, quite uncomfortable. These moments bring needed levity to sometimes serious stories.
Speaking of the stories, that’s one of the things I truly love in anime. The plots made be similar across different genres, but the stories are incredible versatile and diverse. They combine fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and action/adventure in so many different ways. I also love the “underdog to hero” story in many of them. It’s the heart of most of these stories; specifically, good versus evil. That’s the basis for a lot of them and its the best story there is. Now matter how bad it can get, good wins in the end. They take the morale high ground, even if the main protagonist is a pervert (i.e., High School DxD) or a nobody (i.e., Is it Wrong to pick up Girls in a Dungeon).
The next thing is the art. Anime is art on whole other level from other animation. The beauty of it is undeniable. It’s quite graphic and real, which makes it even more inspiring to watch. Between the elaborate costumes, weapons, spaceships and backgrounds, the art is so detailed and, quite frankly, utterly spectacular. I mean, take Chain Chronicle: The Light of Haecceitas. This series has such a wide variety of characters, races, and locations. Each one is more beautiful than the next.
I can’t begin to describe the inspiration I get from watching all these anime. Each one provides me inspiration for my own stories in more ways than one. I know I probably need to go to an AA meeting (Anime Anonymous) but for now, I’ll watching.
I can honestly say that I love classic sci-fi/horror movies. I grew up watching them on Saturday afternoons on TV or late at night as part of the “Doctor Demento” movie showcase. I really consider them an essential part of my development as a sci-fi/fantasy writer. Their stories may be a little campy, and somewhat dated, but oh so fun to watch.
I think everyone has their own opinion on their favorite movies, I have a few that, to me are essential for any sci-fi/horror fan to watch. Some of these have been remade and update with modern movie magic, but the originals are still the best.
Them (1954) — The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization. This movie has an all-star cast, including James Whitmore and Edmund Gwenn (Santa Claus from Miracle on 34th Street). In the early days of the atomic bomb, scientists didn’t really know how radiation would affect people, insects, animals, etc. It wasn’t the giant ants that were scary in this movie, but the sound they made. When you heard that sound, it made chills run down your spine, kind of like the music from Friday the 13th when Jason Voorhees was near. The best scene was when they were talking to the little girl who survived the attack and, when she hears the sound of the ants, and shouts out “Them! Them!” It really makes the movie seem real and terrifying.
Dracula (1931) — The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina. Before vampires became sparkly boy-toys, there was Count Dracula. Bela Lugosi is, and always will be, the one and only Dracula. This is the role that, unfortunately, typecast him so that he rarely did any other roles outside the famous vampire; but at the same time, it is a role he will always be remembered for. He doesn’t bare the classic fangs we see in vampires today, but he was terrifying none the least. It is amazing to see the huge sets and dark, scary places associated with the classic story. Though it’s been told and retold, time and time again, this is still the original and the best one there is.
War of the Worlds (1953) — A small town in California is attacked by Martians, beginning a worldwide invasion. Though Orson Wells radio show started the hysteria around this adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel, the movie brought it to life. It even won an Academy Award for visual effects, influencing countless science fiction movies in the years to come. The death and destruction reigned down on the people of Earth was overwhelming. It also showed the ugly side of man, as they tear each other apart to escape the horror. Even in the end, when they died from something simple as bacteria, it demonstrated that we (human beings) are not the most powerful beings in the universe. This movie is always on the top of my watch list.
The Thing from Another World (1951) — Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost. Many think John’s Carpenters The Thing is the best version of this story, but I beg to differ. This is, without a doubt, the best and the scariest there is. When battling aliens, it’s hard to imagine a fight like this: A crashed spaceship, a frozen alien pilot, alien plant-life that grows on human blood, and more. The creature itself was terrifying to watch. His bloodthirsty nature was an integral part of the story, as was the idiot scientist who thought he could control it. Battling the creature in the freezing arctic made it even more difficult. This is an essential science fiction classic for everyone to see, but my advice is don’t watch it alone.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) — Two hapless freight handlers find themselves encountering Dracula, the Frankenstein monster and the Wolfman. Okay, it’s not a scary movie, but it’s too damn funny to ignore. Abbott and Costello ran into various classic movie monsters in a series of movies, but this one is the best. This movie has the original Dracula (Bela Lugosi), the original Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr.) and even a cameo by Vincent Price as the Invisible Man. It has so many great scenes that combined scary and funny. When Lou Costello was reading the description of Dracula and the coffin lid kept opening and closing, or when he goes into the Wolfman’s room and he keeps missing the monster’s attacks are side-splitting laughter to watch. This is a don’t miss movie.
There are a few honorable mentions like Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Time Machine (1960), The Wolfman (1941), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and Godzilla (1954). I’m sure there are a few I missed, so please add your favorites to the comments. Just pop the popcorn, turn off the lights, and put in the dvd. Just remember to watch it with a friend.