No review this week?

As a matter of fact, yes, there should be.

There’s no big press item this week. And as soon as I can get a moment to give it the attention due I plan to review a pair of novels and another webcomic.

There is also another author who is working on a review of some self-published items she’s recently finished reading but she’s an author herself and one of her own stories has engrossed most of her attention of late.

So bear with is for a bit and there will be more coming.

Also there’s the matter of submissions! We could use them. We’re all readers here and could spend a year or two going through our bookshelves reviewing those, but we’d much rather review stuff we’ve never seen before. So, come on, don’t be shy.

Genre doesn’t matter, nor length. Poetry, scifi, westerns, mysteries, romance, it doesn’t matter we want to see it. Published already or coming soon doesn’t matter. Just so long as we can give a date it’ll be on shelves or a link to where it can be bought today we’re good.

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Discount Armageddon

Discount Armegeddon by Seanan McGuire is a simply fantastic story and fabulous start to what is likely to become a seriously addictive series.

The characters are endearingly quirky and exceedingly well written, and when the action stops the humour starts, when the humour stops the action starts, and there’s a good chance that they’ll both happen at the same time.

Another reason to love the book? Two words: Aeslin mice. Don’t ask, just read.

The book doesn’t, I think, make any deep philosophical statements about Humanity, society, etc. It also doesn’t pretend to. If you’re looking for that, move along, but if you want a damned fun read that you won’t want to put down and will likely find yourself coming back to again and again, this will be a well spent us$7.

Available in paperback and eBook formats from all major retailers.

A Princess of Mars

A Princess of Mars, the first in a series by Edgar Rice Burroughs about the exciting adventures Barsoom.

There are nearly a dozen books in this series, though I’ll frankly say I’ve never read past the first six. 

The first three are about John Carter, a Virginian who, while prospecting, finds himself transported by mysterious means to Mars.  From there it is one exciting adventure after another as he learns to cope with the strange, brutal new world he’s found himself on and the strange, brutal people he’s found himself among.  There he meets the incomparably beautiful Dejah Thoris and the rest is history.

The next few books deal with his son, his daughter, and the daughter of Carter’s long-time friend among the Green Martians.  They’re good stories, but they don’t have the same feel as the earlier three and each one progressively seems to lack the lustre and wonder of the last.  Eventually you get to a book that feels like an attempt to rehash the first one with a new character.  I couldn’t finish it.

These stories are often credited with inventing the Speculative Fiction/Space Opera sub-genre of Planetary Romance.  The adventures of John Carter of Mars are deservedly engraved into the memory of SF, and their influence can be felt and seen in all but the newest stuff striving so hard to be unlike that which came before.  Ignoring the rest of the series I cannot recommend John Carter’s exciting adventures enough.  They’re truly timeless.  His chivalrous, honourable nature leaves him the kind of hero that will touch anyone in any era.  By all means, the later stories are a fun read, but more pulpy, and with less staying and wowing power.  But Princess of MarsGods of Mars, andWarlord of Mars will blow your mind or your money back.

Don’t believe me?  Follow this carefully crafted link over to Project Gutenburg and try it.  I swear if you don’t like them you’ll be refunded every penny.  Though I’ve a feeling that you will love them and cherish them and find yourself time and again flying out and away to that arid red globe with its white apes, faithful Woola, the fierce six-armed giants such as Tars Tarkas, the grand towers of Helium, and more.  This is like Princess Bride in space – sword fights, and fist fights, true love, and brave deeds, impossible odds, and dangerous beasts.

Awesome for the start, mediocre for the rest.

Banzai Girl

Banzai girl is a fairly new webcomic Created & Written by Jinky Coronado, Illustrated by Jinky Coronado & Wilson Tortosa, Lettered by Matt Thompson, and Colored by Michael Kelleher.

So far you don’t know a lot about what’s going on, but the art style is fantastic. An interesting mix of pin-up, manga, and late eighties/early nineties Marvel comics.

There’re three story lines being old. One is of the life and adventures of the central character, Jinky, who is deliberately modelled after the author/illustrator and her friends who are reasonably normal teenagers who are concerned with shopping, school, and so on. At least until strange monsters start possessing people and attacking them. Secondly, there’s a fantasy story, of a princess (who is Jinky), that somewhat parallels and even somewhat foreshadows Jinky’s real life in the little bit of it we’ve seen so far. And finally there’s freedom fighter Jinky from some high-tech far future where she battles monsters similar to those that have shown themselves in Jinky’s real life (except that in that freedom fighter dream world they wear high tech battle armour). And of course they do all tie together as Real Life Jinky’s strange, recurring dreams.

I will say that, right now, early on, the story is a little hard to follow, but it’s looking to resolve itself.

The only real criticism I’ve got is that, occasionally, they might want to proofread a little better. A couple of missing words in dialogue, easily figured out, and one verb tense error. Honestly though, the number-of-errors to number-of -words-so-far ratio is nothing compared to some big named comics I’ve read of late and certainly of several actual books.

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Questionable Content

Questionable Content, by Jeph Jacques is a fantastic, free webcomic.
What’s it about? That’s the best part, nothing. The correct question is who is it about.
It’s about Martin, a musician who found himself stranded in Seattle and trying to figure out what to do with his life.
It’s about Faye, the Georgian raging id monster with glasses and lots of T&A, and her issues and outbursts.
It’s about Pintsize, the AnthroPC forged in some distant layer of Hell, or Winslow the Mac AnthroPC who’s far more sensible and nice. Or Momo, the Sony AnthroPC who works at a library and keeps Marigold out of too much trouble.
It’s about Dora, and her Coffee of Doom coffee shop.
Hannelor and her various inanities.
And a slew of others.

QC is not our world, but it looks a feels like it in many ways (the existence of artificial intelligence, and high energy lasers that fit in part of the chasis of a 2ft tall psychotic PC being some fine examples of how it establishes itself apart). The characters simply live their colourful and bizarre lives and Jeph provides the window to those lives. The comedies (lots of this) the tragedies (not so often), and dramas (when things need a little shaking up).

He isn’t trying to write anything “OMG this was such an amazingly brilliant example of …” and then slew off a lot of literary this or that. He has little plan, if his blog posts and annotations are anything to go by. His favourite reply to anything that tries to examine QC as deliberately deep or much planned out in advance is “How should I know? I just write[or draw] comics.” A fantastic attitude, in my opinion, as it hearkens back to the heydays of comics, of Stan Lee’s Marvel, or Golden Age DC, when the stories were meant to simply entertain and depth and profundity were either accidental, or only what (at most) that single story arc was about – not the title in whole.

Really, for addictive hilarity and fantastic characterisation evolved organically through the course of the story, check it out. You’ve nothing to lose but a little of that silly sanity stuff and a bit of time.

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Correction:  it takes place in Massachusetts

Dragondoom

Dragondoom, by Dennis McKiernan may not be indie, but it tends to be a touch obscure. It was even out of print for a good while.

This is, frankly, one of my all time favourite fantasy novels. I nearly read the copy at my local library to death until I found a copy of my own at a used book store in the late nineties (this was during that unfortunate OOP phase), and have proceeded to reread that till parts of it are protected by tape.

I cannot recommend it highly enough. Mithgar keeps to the tropes of fantasy cleanly enough to be accessible, and easily understood by anyone who has ever heard of an elf, or a dwarf, warriors, and dragons. But imaginative too, there are subtle touches to make the setting his own; Tolkein’s ground work is clearly visible, but he’s built upon it to something definitely unique.

This story, by its tropes is a fantasy. Sword and sorcery, magic, prophesy, myth and legend all come alive. Yet it does defy genre a little, it’s a compelling story of love, friendship, honour, pride, and the consequences of these.

The story is told in back and forth fashion as it follows the quest of the main characters, Elyn of Jord, and Thork of Kachar, to slay a dragon that has besieged both their peoples. It tells the story of Prince Elgo of Jord and his quest fir glory which led to Elyn and Thork setting off in search of a legendary hammer. The switchback timeline is carefully done so not to confuse (chapters start by clearly telling you when the scene takes place), and arranged to maximise suspense and provide the best understanding of the total story.

If you want a great introduction to fantasy, this book is a fine alternative to The Hobbit, and if you already know and love fantasy you should add this book to your collection post haste. Hate fantasy? Give it another try with this fine story.

Where to buy:
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
IBookstore
And many more.

Here we are!

Welcome to Indie Fic Reviews!

We’re new. How new? Well, we’re still looking for works to review. In the mean time we’ll just review things we’ve been reading and really liked.

Are you an author? Are you a small, indiepress publisher? Submit your titles!

Who are we?

We’re normal blokes (and ladies). We’re artists, techies, writers (one of us has a published book! Indie, of course), we’re people. We’re the same sorts of people who would be buying your book off the shelf, except you don’t have a big corporation backing you to let people know it’s on any shelf. We’ll tell them how wonderful you are.

We will try to avoid negative reviews. Now this doesn’t mean every book will receive glowing praise. More like if we read it, and we like it, we will say so. If we don’t like it, we will examine if it was our own personal tastes or the book’s quality that was responsible. If the former we will try to review the book on its merits, personal bias be damned. If it’s the latter we will reply back to you, privately, to say that we will not be reviewing your book, unless you select to allow us to post a negative review. Why do we avoid negative reviews? Because you’re small, indie press. You’ve got enough stacked against you. We may not like your stuff, but someone will, and we’d rather not sway that person’s opinion away from you. No press, for you, is (in our default opinion) better than bad press — if you disagree, that’s what the checkbox is for.

Happy reading!

Hello world!

Welcome to Indie Fic, the self-publish and small press reviews blog.

As you can see, we’re still under construction.  Sorry about that, hope to be fully up and running soon.

If you’re wanting to go ahead and submit a review query there’s a simplified form up there.

THAT form will be removed at the end of today, and by then the permanent submission process and form will be in place.