Anthology Review: Pulp Rock!


The blurb:

Space pirates and superspies, ghostly singers and half-orc bards, lost cities and deals with the devil . . . all this awaits and more in Pulp Rock: Twelve musically inspired tales of adventure, excitement, and horror by some of the most exciting voices in science-fiction and fantasy. Come explore the nexus between music and the written word, and get ready to rock.

Now you’ll find short blurbs for each story on the Amazon page, but I highly recommend buying the book without reading those, and just enjoying the surprises of discovery.

There isn’t a weak story in the bunch and, unlike with some other anthologies I’ve read, I suffered no temptations to skip! It reminded me of listening to an album the old school way - straight through.

The authors have got a ton of variety in here - adventure, fear, despair, joy, mystery, violence, metaphysics, wonder, transcendence, and of course the love of music. Backing the book was a given for me, since most of my own work is heavily inspired by the music I listen to. It was a lovely treat for me to see how these talented authors manifest rock-infused prose and plot in their own styles.

The stand-out story to me was Entomocronicity by Alexandru Constantine. I hadn’t read anything by him before but I did expect his piece to be the most litfic, and it was. There’s a ghostly kind of horror, touches of madness, and even some sci-fi-ish metaphysical stuff. Trust me when I say it’ll take you places you didn’t expect and dig a knife into your heart.

My favorite world of the bunch was the one depicted in Keep It Burning Bright by the anthology’s creator and editor, Alexander Hellene. It really feels like a tiny (but important) corner of a much larger world. The interaction with transcendence at the story’s climax is absolutely my kind of fantasy.

And my favorite character was Drummerbot from David V. Stewart’s Farewell to Once and Future Kings. This isn’t surprising to anyone who knows me because I love friendly robots, AI, and I myself am a drummer. He was just such a great addition to an already great spy story. Also of note in this piece is Stewart’s clear knowledge of music composition, which was woven into the conflict in an interesting way. Oh, and he also has best girl.

There’s so much other great stuff in here I could hit, but honestly the best way to discover it is to just dive in and enjoy. Let’s wish a great launch to this killer anthology, so we can all look forward to a volume two!

Grab a copy today.

Book Review: Heroes Fall by Morgon Newquist

The blurb:

Victoria doesn’t need a cape and a name to be a hero.

Living and working in the slums of Serenity City, she has become its faceless and nameless defender. She turned her back on the glittering world of professional superheroes years ago. If she has her way, she’ll never go back.

But the young and forgotten teens she helps are disappearing from the street, and nobody seems to care. As Victoria unravels this mystery, she is lead back to her old life in the star-studded glamourous superhero circles. No matter how much she hates it, she can’t abandon the helpless when they need her the most.

All clues point back to The Rampage, the terrible day when their mightiest champion Achilles fell to darkness. Will Victoria uncover the truth of what actually happened twenty years ago in time to help her lost boys and girls?

And what will happen when the fallen hero Achilles escapes, and Victoria is the only one who can stop him?

Morgon Newquist blazes on to the Superhero scene with the first Serenity City book, bringing nuance, emotion, and superpowered fights in spades. A solid, engaging launch to the brand new shared Heroes Unleashed universe, Heroes Fall will hook readers right in and leave them wanting more.

Can Victoria solve the twenty year mystery of Achilles’ fall from grace in time to save Serenity City? Or is there another, more sinister player who will destroy the very idea of superheroes?

I entered the Heroes Unleashed universe via Kai Wai Cheah’s killer thriller Hollow City, and every one of these books has been great. It was about time I circled back to the first in the series, and I’m so glad I did!

Newquist’s approach is as unique as each of the other authors and displays great technical skill and imagination, leveraging interpersonal dramas to delve deep into what it means to be a hero in this shared universe.

One thought in particular that kept coming to mind for me was, “She does The Boys-ish style superhero drama better than show!” (I’ve never read those comics, so I can’t comment on that.) That’s not to say that’s all this book is. It’s at once more kind, lighthearted, and deeper, less superficially ‘gritty’. There’s a lot here to enjoy and I hope I can do it justice.


Once again we have an HU entry with a cast of clearly defined, engaging and useful characters. Everyone’s strengths and flaws come into play, and in fact all of the plot concerning the mains is specifically driven by these things.

What you’re in for here is an engaging drama and confrontation with fate, punctuated by slick action scenes with surprisingly technical and realistic details.

The plot runs tight and every scene contributes to forward motion. You will hardly notice as the pages fly by.


There’s a deliberate fuzziness between hero and villain here, which is part of why I made the connection to The Boys. Watchmen could be brought up as well. Some characters wonder what they truly are, while others pretend to be heroes when they’re not. Some aspire to be better, and others tend to hunker down and hide. It all comes off really juicy and authentic.

Victoria herself is the perfect window into the drama between the two heroic titans involved, Achilles and Pendragon. Though she’s strong, she’s only barely capable of holding her own among the older guard, and must often rely on cunning to get herself out of a fix. She’s likable and it’s easy to root for her as she figures out her place in Serenity City.

Craft and Critique:

Morgon is a more than solid author. Her appreciation for classic literature comes through, in no small part via her inclusion of quotes from the Iliad. It’s a nice way to punctuate the beginning of chapters and frame the central conflict in epicness.

The prose is easy and smooth, with a certain quality that put me in mind of Paula Richie’s Penance (also in the series and also very good).

If I had anything to say by way of critique it might be that I found Victoria a little too reactive in the early chapters, waiting for a time to act while the plot revs up around her. This makes sense in context of course, since the character is at that point making up her mind how involved she even wants to be. Thus it may be more of a feature than a bug!

Overall this is yet another excellent addition to the HU series. If you’re in the mood for superheroes, or even just a good action tale, Heroes Fall is for you!

The Mythos Project, or Conservative Retellings

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