Friday, June 26, 2015

Dexter Down Under by Jeff Lindsay, Dalibor Talajić and others

(pb; 2014: graphic novel, collecting issues #1 - 5 of the miniseries)

From the back cover:

"Dexter's in Australia -- and the hunter becomes the hunted!

"Dexter Morgan isn't just Miami's No. 1 forensic blood spatter expert -- he's also a serial killer who targets other serial killers. But when Dexter travels Down Under on the trail of a new murderer, he quickly learns that sharks aren't Australia's only deadly predator. Who is setting up illegal hunting safaris in the Outback, and they are targeting more than big game?

"Dexter investigates as only he can, but soon discovers that he isn't the hunter -- he's the prey. Now Dexter is trapped in a private preserve where humans are in the crosshairs. Will this one end with a bang? Under the hot Australian sun, Dexter's Dark Passenger is given free rein, blood will flow, and the guilty will not go unpunished."


Richard Connell's influential1924 story "The Most Dangerous Game" (also titled "The Hounds of Zaroff") + Dexter Morgan + Australia = Dexter Down Under. This is a fun Dexter side-story, written by the character's creator, Lindsay, and illustrated by Talajić. Part of the entertainment value of Down Under is seeing Dexter get bossed around by a Deb*-like, flirty Shawna Wiggs (a cop, with whom Dexter is being hunted, by a "rich bastard," Grigsby).

[*Deb, a.k.a Debra Morgan, Dexter's sister]

Talajić's computer-generated artwork didn't thrill me -- I prefer the older, hand-drawn style of comic bookdom -- but while his visual work is generic, it isn't entirely off-putting.

Down Under is a light, disposable read (when compared to the rest of the Dexter series), one worth checking out from the library if you are a Dexter completist.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Bottle & the Book by J.L. Martindale & Daniel McGinn

(pb; 2015: limited-release poetry chapbook with CD)

Overall review:

All the works in this thirteen-poem chapbook are worth reading -- and publishing. All of them have at least one line that impressed or interested me, though a few stood out (see below). Its accompanying CD, with selective readings by the book authors, further bring these poems to aural, emotion-imbued life: worth purchasing, this. You can buy it here.

Standout poems:

1.) "Sometimes I breathe" (particularly the first/page two version of it) - Martindale and McGinn: Intense, not-quite-a-call-and-response recurrent/evolving work whose stifling desperation alternates with different-trip realities and sensibilities. This poem is effective in its display of relational futility, deafness and blindness.

2.) "Let Us Rebel Against the Inevitable" - Martindale: Multi-sensory vivid, feel-like-you're-there work.

3.) "Every Time It Rains" - McGinn: Soothing, interesting rebuttal to the image-intensive "Rewrite My Sorrow" (written by Martindale).

4.) "I Pull You With the Weeds" - Martindale: Sharp, era-specific, sad and darkly funny versework. This, as of this writing, is my favorite poem in this chapbook.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Weird of the White Wolf by Michael Moorcock

(hb; 1977: third book in the Elric series)


Warning: possible spoilers in this review (if you haven't read the first two Elric books).

The third book in the Elric series is divided into three directly linked parts. First I will describe the storylines of these works, then actually review them.

In the first story, "The Dreaming City," Elric (with the aid of Count Smiorgan Baldhead, who teamed with Elric in The Sailor in the Seas of Fate, and a fleet of Purple Town ships) lay siege to Imrryr, the capital city that Elric once ruled and lived in.

When Elric left Imrryr at the end of Elric of Melniboné, he installed his cousin, Prince Yyrkoon, on the Ruby Throne as a temporary ruler of the Dragon Isle of Melniboné (on which Imrryr is located). Elric's plan was that he would learn about the hostile Young Kingdom that surrounds the Melnibéans' home for a year, then return to Imrryr to resume ruling the Dragon Isle as its emperor. Not only that, he would marry his incredibly patient fiancée, Cymoril, and make her empress.

Since that time, Yyrkoon has grown bolder and (once again) power-hungry and declared Elric a traitor and an outlaw. Hence, Elric's assault on Imrryr, to retake his throne and his bride -- unaware of the cataclysmic tragedy that will result from his actions.

In the second tale, "While the Gods Laugh," Elric travels with Shaarilla "of the Dancing Mists, wingless daughter of a dead necromancer" to seek out the Dead Gods' Book, which may undo some of the tragedy from the first story ("The Dreaming City"). In order to do so, they must pass through The Silent Lands and its Marshes of the Mist, where they must battle an out-of-its-area Mist Giant (with its wormlike, fanged and amorphous body) and, later, the beak-jawed, taloned "devil dogs of Dharzi."

Joined by a sword-capable, friendly human, Moonglum (whom they met while putting down the devil dogs), they find the gem-encrusted, "throbbing" book -- and further grim-humored tragedy.

"The Singing Citadel" --  Elric and Moonglum, after battling a Pan Tangian trireme (sailing ship), wind up in Pan Tang, "an isle of sorcerers, fully human, who sought to emulate the old power of the Melniboné." There, the sensuous and crafty Queen Yishana (of Dhakos) convinces the ex-emperor and his friend to end the ongoing disappearance of Pan Tangian citizens. At the center of these strange disappearances is a distant tower of swirling light, whose sweet song draws its victims within it.

It is bad enough that Balo, fugitive divine "Jester to the Court of Chaos" (which includes Arioch, Elric's patron demon) rules this seemingly fatal abode, but there is another seemingly-minor-in-comparison complication: Queen Yishana's jealous lover and sorcerer, Theleb K'aarna, who would see the albino kinslayer's existence ended, even if it means the death of Queen Yishana.

What sets Weird apart from the two previous Elric books is its grimness. Prior to the events of "The Dreaming City," the corpse-pale regent had hope -- now he doesn't. What he has now (besides notoriety for being a "kinslayer") is a death-wish, if he can't get back what he lost. Once again, Moorcock keeps the prose clean and cut-to-it lean, with an impressive array of surrealistic monsters and supernatural beings that Elric must, through metal, wit and mettle, defeat.

As with Elric and Sailor, this is a superior, reader-hooking novel. Own it, already.

Followed by The Vanishing Tower.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Iron Man: War Machine by Len Kaminski, Kevin Hopgood and others

(pb; 1992, 1993, 2008: graphic novel, collecting Iron Man issues #280 - 291)

From the back cover:

"The death of Iron Man!?

"We've seen Tony Stark go down and get back up many times -- but from the grave?! When his longtime employer and friend seemingly loses his struggle to hold onto life, Jim Rhodes dons the new War Machine armor and shows the world what's black and white and fed up all over! Can even cutting-edge Stark-tech withstand Firepower, Atom Smasher and the Living Laser? And while Rhodes is filling Stark's boots, what's up witht he empty armor zipping around? Guest-starring the West Coast Avengers!


War Machine is a fun and solidly written read. Full of explosions-punctuated action, it may especially thrill fans of early Nineties multimedia, with its comic book-cheesy, post-bad-guy-knockout taglines uttered by Tony Stark and James Rhodes.

This is worth owning if you are a big fan of the characters or purchase it as a less-than-full-price find.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Before the Chop II: LA Weekly Articles 2013 - 2014 by Henry Rollins

(pb; 2015: nonfiction)

From the back cover:

"How do you sell a book like this? It's like offering someone gum that has previously been chewed. Almost all of the material in Before the Chop II  has been published in the LA Weekly. You can probably go online and find it at the best possible price. How dare the 'writer' go slouching towards the trough with the audacity to recycle mere 'content' and slap a price on it? It is a damn outrage is what is it is! The hubris is bristling, the nest feathering obvious and repellent, the self-delusion total. Self-absorbed, much? Running for Congress, perhaps?

". . . Well, maybe we could say that these are the pieces the way they were intended to be read? That all put together, make a handy resource for those who don't have time to read them as they stagger into existence every week. Yes!

"Let's go with that. These are the versions before they were sent to finishing school to be refined and taught to keep their eyes and ears open and their mouths shut. This is the raw and 'real' stuff, which also describes the artwork of a three year old. . ."


Like the first Before the Chop collection, the articles in this second volume read like tightly edited versions of Rollins' spoken word shows: blunt, provocative, smart, self-effacing, humorous and enthusiastic about stuff he likes (music, especially listening to vinyl; touring as often as possible; etc.).  Mixed in with Rollins' recollections - musical, personal and sometimes political - is a sense of upbeat wisdom regarding and stemming from restraint and knowing one's place in the world, which we share with others who disagree with us (as individuals).

This is an excellent read, one worth owning. Followed by Before the Chop III: LA Weekly, Articles 2014 -- 2016.

Monday, June 08, 2015

**One of my poems, Northward, (not so) thrilling, was published on the Leaves of Ink site

One of my mainstream poems, Northward, (not so) thrilling, was published on the Leaves of Ink site.

This autobiographical versework sketches out a long, dead-of-night and creepily tactile walk down a long road.

(Again, many thanks to editor E.S. Wynn for publishing the poems, which are set to appear in my 2016 follow-up book to Mondo febrifuge: omnibus poems.)

Friday, June 05, 2015

**Microstory A Week is accepting submissions for stories, September - October 2015

Microstory A Week is accepting submissions for weekly speculative fiction stories, to be published later this year, starting on September 30 and ending on October 30, 2015.


Polished fiction stories only -- no poetry, please.

Word limit: 1500 words or less. Flasher-length works (e.g., 200 word stories) are welcome, also.

Email submissions only, please, with the word SUBMISSION at the start of the email title line.

Send manuscripts to this address:

One story per submission, please. Please don’t submit another story until you’ve heard back about the previous one. I’m also a working writer, so I’ll get back to you A.S.A.P. about your work, within two weeks (probably less).

If you’re submitting a simultaneous piece, please let me know.

I accept previously published works, as long as they're not currently published on the Net. If submitting a previously published piece, please include its publishing history in the submission email.

Novel excerpts are acceptable, as long as they work as stand-alone pieces.

If you want to be published under another name, let me know.

Authors retain the copyrights to their works. All I ask is that work published here is allowed to remain on the site, and that it remains “exclusive” here during the week I publish it. Also, if you republish the work elsewhere, please acknowledge that it was published on Microstory first.

Please be sure to include this statement in your email: “I am the sole author of this story. No one else holds the copyright to this work.”


 $10 per story. In addition, authors
may submit a 75-word bio and an author-related link or two. Not only that, I will promote, online, the future works of authors published here, on this site as well as on Reading By Pub Light.


I’m open to any story subject and style, as long as it’s story and not just an extended scene (i.e., there must be a plot, some semblance of characterization and motivation, and a conflict/problem to resolve, etc. ). In short: I don’t care about genre (for the most part), I care about quality, and an adherence to the submission guidelines. That said, authors who mix genres (e.g., science fiction, pulp, horror, quirky humor and speculative fiction), will increase the likelihood of their submitted work getting published on the site.

Caveat: I am not a fan of religious-inspirational or Hallmark-flavored work. Nor do I want sexually explicit works here – I’m going for a hard-“R” rating (at the most extreme) on this site. That said, sex may be a present element in submitted works, as long as it’s an integral part of the story.

Any rejection notes will be constructive in tone, and, time permitting, be accompanied with a reason why I’m not accepting the work in play.


Include story in body of Rich Text email – no attachments, please.

No paragraph-start indentions. Double-space between paragraph breaks, and space your lines at 1.15.

If there are italics or bold-face words in your story be sure to make that clear.



 As I stated before, I will publish one story per week, each Wednesday, November 4th through December 30th. This will be a first-come, first-serve gig, so get to it. I look forward to reading your work. :)

Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Sailor on the Seas of Fate by Michael Moorcock

(hb; 1976: second book in the Elric series)


The second book in the Elric series is divided into three directly linked parts. First I will describe the storylines of these works, then actually review them.

The first part, "Sailing To the Future," opens with Elric fleeing the "city of Ryfel in the land of Pikarayd" where he was wrongly accused of being a "Melnibéan spy." After being rescued and hired onto a galleon of country-mixed mercenaries, he and his shipmates, utilizing wit and steel, battle the bejeweled brother-sister beast-wizards Agak-Gagak in their island temple. 

In the second part, "Sailing To the Present," Elric is no longer on the Dark Ship with its mixed-hireling swords (and its blind, wise "Captain").

Elric now travels with the amiable and battle-ready Smiorgan Baldhead, "once a sea-lord of the Purple Towns." While pillaging a coast-wrecked ship, the Count and the albino emperor uncover a half-Melnibéan, half-human woman (Vasslis of Jharkor) who is fleeing a deluded ancient Melnibéan earl, the legendary Saxif D'Aan, who believes Vasslis to be his storied "stolen" lover ("Graytesha, Princess of Fwem-Omeyo"). Included in this supernatural plot-stew is Prince Carolak, an also-legendary ghost-being, a royal whom the real Graytesha loved while she lived.

Having taken on Vasslis' protection as their cause, Baldhead and Elric engage in a (reluctant, on their part) galleon battle with D'Aan, near the red-lit, ship-crushing Crimson Gate -- a portal that can take Baldhead and Elric back to their realm-world, away from the Unmapped Kingdom.

This part ends on a semi-cliffhanger note, leading into "Sailing To the Past," where . .

. . . rescued by "Avan Astran of Old Hrolmar" -- a duke, "an adventurer -- explorer -- trader" -- Elric and Baldhead join Astran in his cross-the-Young-Kingdom quest to find R'lin K'ren A'a, the mythical jungle city from which Elric's ancestors first came. Along the way, on a river near their destination, they are attacked by the Olab, "club-wielding. . . essentially [hissing] reptilian [beings] but with feathery crests and neck wattles, though their faces were almost human. . . Their forelegs were like the arms and hands of men, but their hindlegs were incredibly long and storklike."

Once in R'lin K'ren A'a, they encounter the ten-thousand-year-old Creature Doomed to Live (who may or may not be the naked, possibly-leprous J'osui C'reln Reyr), as well as the Jade Man, a stories-tall statue who guards "the place where the High Ones [the Melnibéans] meet."

Like its source novel, Elric Melniboné, the adventures in Sailor  are word-lean, with their effectively-sketched and -built-upon characters, their surrealistic and distinctive supernatural elements and beings and their epic tone. What sets Sailor apart from Elric (besides its section-fractured tales) is that the pale emperor's travels are increasingly colored by his deal with his patron demon Arioch (whose curious links to the Jade Man deepen the backstory) and the fact that Elric is learning more about the personality of his soul-stealing sword, Stormbringer.

This is an excellent, hard-to-put down read, one worth owning. Followed by The Weird of the White Wolf.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

**An overview of J.L. Martindale's published works, 2010 - 2015

J.L. Martindale, whose In Sepia graced the Microstory A Week site in December 2010, has been published numerous times since then. These works include:

Two poems in the verse collection A Poet is a Poet No Matter How Tall: Poems by Poets of All Shapes and Sizes.

Waiting on Winter, an image-vivid, autumn-stark relationship poem, published on the Cadence Collective: Long Beach Poets site on December 1, 2013.

Simple Harmonic Motion, a music-and-sensuality piece, published on the Cadence Collective site on January 25, 2014.

Spliced, an emotionally-harsh versework highlighting booze and bitterness. The Cadence Collective site published this on February 24, 2014.

Beautiful, an aggressive-in-spirit take on notions of attractiveness, dark music and romance. The Cadence Collective site published this on March 12, 2014.

Cons in Prose: A How-to Guide, a clever, funny poem about reading at open mics. The Cadence Collective site published this on April 16, 2014.

Last Line Epiphanies, about being an aging, socially "respectable" punk, and the doubts that entails. The Cadence Collective site published this on May 23, 2014.

I Lie When We Lay, an emotionally-wracked piece about troubling, complicated bonds of intimacy. The Cadence Collective site published this on June 18, 2014.

No Afterlife for Garbage, with its straight take on our material objects. The Cadence Collective site published this on January 28, 2015.

Lovers like us and ghost towns, about the past and symbolic archeology. The Cadence Collective site published this on February 4, 2015.

Martindale co-authored a verseworks anthology (The Bottle & the Boot) with Daniel McGinn. This limited-release chapbook comes with a CD of selected readings from the book. You can purchase it here.

Three of her poems -- Afterbirth; Deliverance (Birth is a Violent Lover) and I Pull You with the Weeds --  was included in the jazz-enhanced spoken-word reading CD/download Prose, Rhythm and Noise: Muliebrity, Vol. 1, released in May 2015.  (One of Martindale's works, I Pull You with the Weeds, also appears in the aforementioned The Bottle & the Boot.)

One of her poems, Like a Dog, was included in the jazz-enhanced spoken-word reading CD/download, Prose, Rhythm and Noise: Muliebrity, Vol. 2, also released in May 2015.

<em>The Freak</em> by Eleanor Robinson

(pb; 1980 ─ a.k.a. The Silverleaf Syndrome ) From the back cover “He was born monstrously deformed, a freak of nature. Possessed of ...