Category Archives: Adventure

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Razorfist Rants on a 1980s Action Classic

We’ve only recently discovered Razorfist AKA the Rageaholic. Not only are his epic rants impressive simply for lung capacity and linguistic aplomb, but a whole lot of his observations are savvy, too.

I can’t believe this, but there is no review of Cobra posted here or at the Two-Fisted Blog. How can this be? I was sure Hank had posted one years ago…

Well, that just means we have to do one, and soon. Stay tuned.

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Marvel Comics Regains its Senses?

Probably not. This is more likely economic reality putting the temporary kibosh on their agenda.

Comic book fans are among the most loyal fans. Few things run them off of their favorite books. For some reason, Marvel decided to do three of the most likely things to cost them fans: remove their favorite characters, tarnish the histories of those characters, and insult the fans who complained. The latter proved most insidious because the insults accused fans of racism, sexism, homophobia, and bizarrely resorted to stereotypes about comic book fans.

As Marvel did this, their new politically correct fan base proved not to be fans at all. As Marvel published book after pandering book, the books enjoyed initial high or good sales only to drop most of their audience within the first quarter. The prime example of this is the recent Black Panther book, which lost 70% of its audience in one month.

As far as I’m concerned, they have permanently lost me as a reader. Both DC and Marvel have gone too far off the deep end to ever get me back. They may dial it down a little bit for a while but I don’t believe for a second that they’re going to abandon trying to push The Narrative.

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The Magnificent Seven 3.1

The grandfather of this latest Magnificent Seven movie was Akira Kurosawa’s classic The Seven Samurai.

Set toward the end of the feudal period in Japan, the plot blossoms out of a small village ravaged by “brigands.” The villagers’ livelihoods are being progressively wiped out by succeeding raids, and their very existence will soon be threatened. A wise villager proposes a plan to pool what remaining resources they have, and use it to hire samurai to protect the village. Seven alienatied warriors, for various reasons, answer the call. What follows is, in effect, a suicide mission, in which the samurai face overwhelming odds with inferior weapons and equipment (the brigands have horses, armor, and even firearms while the samurai have nothing but their swords and the clothes on their back.

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In 1960 the story was transposed into the Old West, in a film directed by John Sturges, starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn and Eli Wallach. The samurai are replaced by gunfighters, of course. The remake is not without its flaws, but certainly has some memorable lines.

In 2016 the latest update hit the screen. I was not even aware of it, due to how hectic personal life has been lately…until a few days ago.

Some character types have survived the evolution of the story, and the core of the plot remains the same. But the SJWs in Hollywood just could not help but conform it to The Narrative.

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The Japanese original suffered no obligation to ethnic diversity; but the new Seven is composed of mostly minorities (one each: black; Asian; Mexican; native American), and none of the white ones survive. (OMG! Is this a metaphor of WHITE GENOCIDE?!?!?!?!?) Denzel Washington is a great actor, who has been believable in every role I’ve seen him play. Furthermore, there were some black cowboys and soldiers on the frontier. But the Chisolm character is the de facto leader of the Seven and nobody (even among the bad guys) so much as mutters under their breath about it. Granted, 19th Century America was not the racist holocaust SJWs tell us it was (when they’re not trying to convince us that the USA was founded as the secular welfare state it is now, where illegal aliens are treated better than our veterans/citizens; it’s “legal” and even mandatory in some cases to discriminate against straight white males; and the only people with inalienable rights are sexual deviants). But there certainly were bigots who weren’t afraid to speak and act on their prejudices.

As if the suspension of disbelief weren’t strained enough, the film makers just had to insert a Brave Womyn Warrior into the message film. She is the de facto leader of the townsfolk during the war against the cutthroat army (led by an Evil White Male, of course).

Yeah, okay…

Despite all the social engineering, Magnificent Seven 2016 is an entertaining 133 minutes. There are plenty of dramatic scenes and fun action sequences to keep your attention. Technically the acting and direction is Grade A.

If you have the time and inclination for a movie marathon, you could do worse than watching this one back-to-back with the 1960 film and the original (and best, IMHO) Seven Samurai.

False Flag Is On Sale

The third book in The Retreads series is now on sale for 99 cents at Amazon.

False Flag is a near-future SHTF speculative saga of economic collapse and civil war, in which the specops-veterans-turned-military-contractors from Hell & Gone and Tier Zero face catastrophes on the home front.

“Henry Brown takes down some very dark paths in this cautionary tale of the near future USA. Using lots of story straight from today’s headlines (and back page articles…) we see a very nefarious plan against the citizenry…..and the Retreads spring into action putting their mettle to the test….” – J.G. Scott

“Henry Brown is a talented author, a man with a mastery of dialogue and pacing that knows his craft intimately. This book, I can tell, was his attempt to try something a bit…uncomfortable. A challenge. And he pulled it off with the same dexterity I’ve come to expect from him.” – Nate Granzow (Author of Hekura, The Scorpion’s Nest,  the Cogar series)

“Henry Brown has crafted an action-packed romp that is both enjoyable and terrifying.” – R.A. Matthis (Author of The Homeland series, Ghosts of Babylon)

“This book keeps you wanting to know what happens next – and really makes you wait to find out. The divergent story lines of regular Americans eventually tie together to culminate in a larger story of a nation in crisis.” – Amazon review

What an exceptional story.” – Amazon review

Third book in the series,. Could stand alone but you don’t want to miss the first two. So go back and purchase Hell and Gone (one of the best military thrillers ever written) and then Tier Zero. You won’t be disappointed.” – Benjamin Drayton

 

 

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Bam! Hell & Gone is a Bestseller

Recently I organized a little media blitz for my debut shoot-’em-up, and ran a 99 cent promotion. The results have been encouraging.

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I’m not a full-time author (I still work a “real” job, drat the luck), so I’m not able to sit at a computer all day and track rankings. The best I saw was that Hell & Gone hit #1 bestseller in war, pulp, and men’s adventure, and reached #70 on the top “paid in Kindle store” on Tuesday night. It was inside the top 50 in some other categories, too, but I don’t know where it peaked. Could a healthy number of reviews/increased visibility be forthcoming? You can bet I’ll be paying attention, when I can.

I’m not sure how many sales I’m getting on Kobo, Apple and Barnes & Noble, where it’s also on sale for 99 cents. (BTW both Hell & Gone and Tier Zero are also available as Audible audio books.)

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I also have a 99 cent promotion scheduled to start Saturday (November 5) for False Flag, the third book in The Retreads series. I don’t have the same level of media blitz lined up, and it’s a darker/more controversial storyline, so I don’t expect the same caliber of spike. However, Election Day happens right in the middle of the promo, and approximately 40% of those who go to the polls will be voting to make this speculative dystopia a reality. So it’s kinda’ fitting.

UPDATE: The sales reports are trickling in from other stores, starting with Barnes & Noble. Don’t know where it put me on their algorithm, but I see a boatload of sales. I need to do this again.

High Couch of Silistra by Janet Morris

Guest Post by Jim Morris

High Couch is a classic. It is also, so far as I know, sui generis. In a long life of writing and editing in which I have written nine books, edited more than two hundred and read thousands I do not know of another book like it, not even remotely. On one level it is an exciting sci-fi adventure. On another it is a sword and sorcery epic, and on yet a third it answers Freud’s famous question, “What do women want?”

A brilliant woman has decided to give the game away, and guess what? Feminists have attacked her for it.

The writing style is heroic, but readable and fun. The characters are recognizable, the plot is satisfying, and the world it creates is like nothing you have seen before, but is still believable. It also contains what I consider the most erotic single sentence in all the thousands of books I have read:

“Flesh toy, come here!”

If that doesn’t set up a scene in your mind then you have no business reading fiction.

I’m not going to give the plot away. I’m just going to recommend it. Highly.

Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris or others. She has contributed short fiction to the shared universe fantasy series Thieves World, in which she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She created, orchestrated, and edited the fantasy series Heroes in Hell, writing stories for the series as well as co-writing the related novel, The Little Helliad, with Chris Morris. She wrote the bestselling Silistra Quartet in the 1970s, including High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne.

This quartet had more than four million copies in Bantam print alone, and was translated into German, French, Italian, Russian and other languages.

In the 1980s, Baen Books released a second edition. The third edition is the Author’s Cut edition, newly revised by the author for Perseid Press.

Selling Books is Like Alchemy

…Which is to say, I may never figure it out.

But, sometimes advertising in the right way can give you a bump. For months Shadow Hand Blues has been buried on about page # umpteen zillion or so at Amazon. Nobody bought it, because nobody knew it existed.

Virtual Pulp took advantage of an advertising special on Kindle Nation Daily. (It’s unlikely we’ll ever use Book Bub unless their prices get a whole lot less ridiculous.)

Then on May 29 SHB reached #60 in Mysteries>Private Investigators; #76 in Suspense>Political; # 68 in Historical/Suspense; and # 8,755 paid in the Kindle Store. (The rankings were actually a little better than that before I thought to take a screenshot.) Not bestseller status, of course, but it at least moved the book up out of the enormous slush pile for a hot second where browsing readers might actually find it.

And a few did. Sales spiked for one day. What’s nice is, since the promotion ended, it hasn’t slipped completely back into obscurity. Some E-Book sales are still trickling in, and it’s accumulating some KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) read, along with its prequel, Fast Cars and Rock & Roll, which is targeted at a much narrower niche audience. Maybe one or both will pick up some reviews, as well.

 

The IX by Andrew P. Weston

Guest Post by Jim Morris

The IX is the most inventive science fiction novel I have read since Stranger In a Strange Land. That’s saying a lot. The plot is highly complicated, and yet so clearly and gracefully written that it is easy to follow.

In the far future in a galaxy far far away the Arden are besieged by the Horde and though it will take a long time it is clear that their defenses will eventually crumble and they will be destroyed … unless.

The Ardenese, in an act of creative self-immolation sacrifice their lives to save their DNA, in hopes that someone will eventually reseed the planet with its original inhabitants. Their lead computer, The Architect, also recruits defenders through time and space, specially selected for qualities that are not apparent to the Ardenese, from a far off planet called Earth. They snatch great fighters from different eras just before they were about to die anyway. So they’re thrown into a probable suicide mission with their bonus time.

There are problems integrating fighters who were snatched in the act of trying to kill each other, and from far different times, the IX Legion of Rome and Scottish tribesmen, the US Cavalry and Indian tribes, and 22d Century Royal Marine Commandos and terrorists, all welded into an integrated force.

The ending is to wildly inventive and too brilliant to give away here. Suffice it to say I ended the book with tears in my eyes.

Andrew P. Weston is a Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on thel Greek island of Kos. An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the bestsellers The IX, and Hell Bound, (a novel forming part of Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell universe). Weston is also a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, and the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.

When not working he devotes spare time to assisting NASA with two of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories. He has also been known to do favors for friends, using his Royal Marine Commando skills.

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Captain America: Civil War is More Than a Slugfest

In the Silver Age of comics, when Marvel became a serious competitor for DC, there was a distinct contrast in the storytelling styles of the two publishers, especially in the team titles (DC’s Justice League of America and Marvel’s Avengers, primarily). While DC spent most of its comic panels on plotting, Marvel’s approach was something more like: “Forget this silly script treatment–let’s have somebody fight!”

The “Marvel Misunderstanding” subplot became an inside joke with comic book readers–when there were no supervillains handy, excuses were dreamed up to have Marvel’s heroes duke it out with each other.

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The difference between Marvel’s characters on the silver screen and in comic book pages is almost as drastic as the spy novels of Ian Fleming compared to the cinematic James Bond in the Roger Moore days. Still, we got a little “Marvel Misunderstanding” throwback in the first Avengers flick.

As the title of this movie (“Civil War”) suggests, most of the screen time is dedicated to fraternal conflict among Marvel’s big screen pantheon. But not due to a misunderstanding–because of a fundamental disagreement about “oversight.”

Collateral damage caused in the previous Marvel movies has caused various globalist interests to call for “hero control” (my term, thank-you).

Iron Man, at one point a free market capitalist hero, is now more of a corporatist bleeding heart who believes the answer is for the Avengers to be leashed by the United Nations. Now there is a brilliant quantum leap in logic: collateral damage caused by saving the planet from despotic monsters must be curbed by putting the good guys under the direct control of an organization with a horrific track record, run exclusively by unelected bureaucrats who don’t believe in representative government and are not accountable to any people anywhere in any way.

Introducing, in the red, white & blue corner: the Title Character! With him are Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Falcon and Ant Man,
Introducing, in the red, white & blue corner: the Title Character! With him are Scarlet Witch, Bucky (AKA the Winter Soldier), Hawkeye, Falcon and Ant Man,

On the other side is Captain America. He doesn’t spell it out like I did, but amazingly, he senses the danger in such an arrangement, that would make the problem they’re trying to solve even worse (which is pretty much the de facto purpose of the United Nations).

Interesting analyses can be drawn from this scenario. It can be a metaphor for the whole “gun control” struggle or, more broadly, the march toward police statehood, and the belated reaction to it by Americans who prefer to be free men, partly represented in the Trumpening. Again, it’s amazing how accurately Tony Stark and Steve Rogers represent their respective sides, considering Hollywood’s blatant myopic axe-grinding in every other movie touching on the subject.

Marvel’s done a great job with characterization and humor in their movies, and that continues here, even though this might be their most somber one yet. Suddenly there is a whole subplot regarding Stark’s parents which affects his frame of mind in this movie. Robert Downey Jr. pulls it off with his usual panache.

...And, in this corner...the Invincible Shellhead, with a record of one knockout, one not-so-bad sequel, and one idiotic swan song! Backing him up is Black Widow, Black Panther, the Vision...
…And, in this corner…the Invincible Iron Man, with a record of one knockout, one not-so-bad sequel, and one idiotic swan song! Backing him up is Black Widow, Black Panther, the Vision, and War Machine.

There’s a lot of character tweaking I found annoying, as a one-time comic afficionado. Of course, I quit reading comics as they became 100% SJW converged, so a lot has probably changed since then. Black Widow is about 20X more badass than in the comics I read, but she has been that way in all the movies, because vagina. It was cool to see Black Panther on the big screen, but he punches way above his weight here, too. But the most annoying is Spiderman.

Apparently the webslinger is getting yet another reboot. This time Peter Parker has a younger, attractive Aunt May, and is given his costume by Tony Stark who, somehow, has discovered his secret identity without ever having met him. Normally Spiderman would be the heavy hitter of all the heroes in this story (when the character was introduced by Stan Lee originally, only Thor, the Thing and the Hulk were stronger), but he is reduced mostly to comedy relief. The way he was brought in, and dismissed, makes him seem like just an afterthought in the script. Too bad, because the actor played him better than any other has, IMO.

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…With special guest cameo by Spiderman 3.1! Or is it Spiderman XP? Spiderman Vista?

Physical prowess is treated inconsistently in every superhero adaptation for big and small screen. Of course part of this is necessary to conform to the feminist aspect of The Narrative. Much of it is no doubt contrived to make scenes more dramatic. Then there is the star clout of Downey Jr., who frankly got more attention in this film than the title character did. Spiderman and Captain America are not played by actors worshipped to the degree he is; therefore the characters must be depicted as inferior to his, one way or the other.

In any case, most moviegoers don’t know much about the source material anyway, so this should be a fun diversion for a couple hours.

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Paper Clip, High Jump, and Nazis in Antarctica

Those are what my co-guest, Bruno De Marqes, talked about on the Speculative Fiction Cantina podcast.

Fate plays some interesting jokes. I was there to talk about my books, especially False Flag . I fully expected to rock the boat broaching some of the conspiritorial subjects FF deals with. (Truth be told, there wasn’t time to go into much detail anyway.) Bruno was there to talk about his book, Futureman. I couldn’t believe my ears when he mentioned researching Operation High Jump and Operation Paper Clip.

So here’s a guy in Portugul who chased down the same crazy historical facts-that-sound-like-pulp-fiction I had. The between-the-lines background for one sub-plot in False Flag is MK Ultra and Project Monarch. All of the above were related to Paper Clip.

It doesn’t sound as crazy coming from a foreigner, for some reason.

Anyway, the subjects were only mentioned in summary. Most of the interview focuses on other aspects of us/our fiction.