The Kraken Sea doesn’t stop. Its pacing only ramps up and spirals out of control until the very entwined ending. In fact, there are no chapters and it reads a bit like an epic ballad. There’s also no break once you starting reading this unique, novella in length story from E. Catherine Tobler. I finished it all in one night after a two or three hour binge, I’m not sure of the actual time. I lost track of myself and surroundings a bit while immersing myself in this story.

We follow a special boy named Jackson and his struggle to find himself in a world he is so different from. His character rapidly evolves in more ways than one, he grows up in mind to be a man, however he is isn’t truly human but something more.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one and being published by Apex, I wasn’t disappointed. My initial assumptions for the storyline were far off base, at the very beginning I was thinking this might have a Chronicles of Narnia relation. Tobler has an ability to grab the reader by their throat and shove them face first  into a muddied world of mythical creatures and territorial battles between rival houses. The author does all this by weaving beautiful prose in a blend of wondrous character descriptions and actions somehow simultaneously, it really is a very artistic writing style.

If I had to give a few basic descriptions to give the overall feel of this story, I would go with: dark, mysterious, and tantalizing. I felt like I was trailing the entire time on the rooftops behind Jackson and Mae, watching from behind a cloud of mist as their stories unfolded. I still have more questions than answers with this one but that didn’t stop me from enjoying The Kraken Sea.

If you are looking for something a bit unique, a bit thrilling, and something that will take your mind to another plane of reality, then you really should give The Kraken Sea a look.


25111218Unless you have been living in a bomb shelter or have an extremely limited of knowledge of the current status of Warhammer 40k advents, then you wouldn’t be aware that, I Am Slaughter, by the legendary Dan Abnett, is the first installment in a large scale series of novels entitled “The Beast Arises”.

To be honest I’ve read books about Space Marines battling Orks; shocked, right? I’ll let you in on another little secret: I’ve read a lot of books about Space Marines battling Orks and this is what made me a little hesitant in jumping aboard this new series. I figured that I am Slaughter would simply be more of the same and it is, more or less.

The pacing of this one was a slow burn for me. I don’t think I really started getting into it until about page fifty. You can tell that Abnett was instructed to lay out a myriad of plots for future authors to follow, also his normal character attachments and dialogue I reminisce about when discussing his writing is a tad lacking. I recognized his banter mostly within the character Magos Laurentis near the end of the book.

I did enjoy the mystique behind the battle on Ardamantua with the Chromes. The eventual play of the Orks behind the gravitational issues and death of the world didn’t evolve exactly as I was expecting, which was nice. Abnett has also created some pretty high expectations for whichever authors get to play around with Vangorich and Beast Krule in the follow-up books.

I Am Slaughter ends with only questions and leaves the reader craving more. I’m excited to see where Rob Sanders picks up in the next installment Predator, Prey and I think Black Library’s The Beast Arises series has a bright future ahead of it. “Daylight Wall stands forever. No wall stands against it.” – Daylight

blprocessed-ragnar20cover  In all aspects of this story, Ragnar Blackmane by Aaron Dembski-Bowden reads like a tribute tale in honor of past Ragnar works, and that is a very good thing. This is somewhat of a saga within a saga and it took awhile for the past to meet up with the present and I wasn’t entirely sure that it was eventually going to connect as smoothly as it did.

Ragnar starts out waist deep in a hopeless battle on Cadia; he makes a promise to hold back the endless tide of invaders until sunset. While preparing for a final wave of assailants, he is speaking his fallen brother’s names out-loud in honor of their memories as per his ritual, when he is posed with the question of: Who is the one battle-brother Ragnar would most wish by his side at this hour? His answer is “Razortongue”

The flash back to Ragnar and Razortongue’s time together is how I am reminded of past Ragnar books, tales of a young Ragnar committing rash mistakes and having to fight tooth and claw to make amends for his errors.

I only have one quarrel with this book: the serializing change from the first few Lords of the Space Marines limited editions to this Space Marine Legends series title, the switch to this identical format but with a different series name makes absolutely no sense to me.

My review doesn’t do the book justice, however, as the glorious cover and limited edition format is well worth the cover price for any collector and the story is beautifully written. It was enough to dig me out of my grave and write a minor tribute to one of the great Black Library authors, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, and pay tribute to his fine work.










I’m not what you would consider a huge Anime fan, in fact, the only reason I came across Knights of Sidonia was by accident. I tried searching for Final Fantasy films on Netflix and happened to cross paths with this unique Netflix series. I will admit to recently absorbing Attack on Titan in just a few weeks and I consider it a brilliant piece of Anime and will use it as a reference point in my review of Knights of Sidonia.

Let’s start with the negative first. Knights of Sidonia gives a bare minimum to certain background details concerning Nagate Tanikaze, our mysterious hero from the underground. He appears to be the only person living in the underground of Sidonia and we are only given bits of pieces to why he is living underground. Also, as soon as he arrives above ground, instead of being treated as a mysterious stranger, he is instantly given a garde (think mobile space-flight suit with attachable swords and/or guns) and made into a pilot to fight against the Gauna (odd space alien beings seemingly intent on destroying Sidonia). Yes, it is a tad confusing and it can get even more confusing because of the lack of information of these details along with the fact that the entire story line seems to revolve sporadically as if the writers suddenly thought: Hey this would be a sweet idea to give gardes guns and now the garde units are using guns instead of swords or all the Gauna are these tentacled, massive creatures but wait, let’s morph them into previously devoured Sidonians and fight them against their former friends.

The next issue I have with the series is the female characters. I’m not trying to be racist in the least but I can barely distinguish any of the different female characters in this series and all of them have the exact same storyline! They pop into Nagate’s social life looking for attention and then end up dying in battle. This happens multiple times.

Moving on to why you should give this series a chance, while I’ve said some of the writing is sporadic, it does have some massive potential with the scale of the Universe. Sidonia is one mobile refugee ship that contains the remnants of a destroyed Earth; apparently there are other ships like Sidonia, however, we haven’t encountered any of those yet. Another interesting tidbit is that most of the people currently in Sidonia are some sort of genetically enhanced humans; they don’t need to eat much and they can photosynthesize for nourishment to a degree. As you get further into the series you are given some explanation into the mysterious leading council and their origins which also could be developed into another special few episodes.

The entire Sidonia storyline has some very interesting dynamics and relationships between Nagate Tanikaze and a captured Gauna. Also, the entire population of Sidonia with their enhancements, along with the leader council, might not be as they seem.

On a whole, when I compare Attack on Titan to Knights of Sidonia, I do see similar traits. I think Attack on Titan has a large upper hand in its story telling ability and I also prefer the animation. But there is just something so oddly unique and addictive with Knights of Sidonia that you can’t seem to stop watching. If Knights of Sidonia gets a Season Two from Netflix, I really hope they flesh out the back-story and work on creating some consistency with their female characters instead of using them as pawns to move the storyline along with their deaths.


Posted: February 21, 2015 in Poems, The Troubled Scribe's Scribbles, Writings

I’ve got stitches on my mind

And guitar strings in my hands

But I don’t think these sutures

Will keep these infected thoughts from breaking free


I’ve got a life time of memories

And blurry dreams filled with crystal screams

What happened to those forgotten faces

What happened to those eternal nights


What happened to the sounds that I loved

What happened to those flashing lights

Sweat bodies jumping, crashing into me

I swear I’ll stitch you all back up, back up inside of me


One night, one stage, a thrown off shoe

One band, one voice, and a bag of weed

I’ll sew these pieces hole again

So tight that the world can’t see


What happened to the sounds that I loved

What happened to those flashing lights

Sweat bodies jumping, crashing into me

I swear I’ll stitch you all back up, back up inside of me


I’ve got one last bottle in an empty parking lot

And a mind full of silver thread

I’ll cut out all sense of ignominy

And stitch myself of properly


What happened to the sounds that I loved

What happened to those flashing lights

Sweat bodies jumping, crashing into me

I swear I’ll stitch you all back up, back up inside of me


No more remorse, no more shame

Just the sounds that I love and these flashing lights

Thousands of bodies, pressed up all around us

So tight that we can’t breath

Stitching together in harmony

War Stories

Posted: January 2, 2015 in The Troubled Scribe's Scribbles

There are so many great, fresh stories in this collection of new War Stories, I hardly know where to start. Editors Jaym Gates & Andrew Liptak must have been salivating reading each new tale, racing to reach the stellar endings. That is definitely the way I felt as I read each one.

Graves by Joe Haldeman

A bit of an older story, but still providing the horrors and specters of war, Haldeman delivers chills as his main character battles not with live combatants but nightmares.

In the Loop by Ken Liu

The remainder of the stories in this collection are brand new and they really break the borders. Kyra’s goal to make up for the trauma her father faced while in battle was to eliminate the human factor in battle. Liu forces us to think about whether that can truly be possible.

Ghost Girl by Rich Larson

What an absolutely haunting setting and story! A lone urchin and her robot protector attempt to survive in the lowest of possible conditions.

The Radio by Susan Jane Bigelow

This story touches on many levels. Can an AI have feelings and have its thoughts? Is it really alive? What is spiritual faith and how far would you go to express it? Bigelow explores all this and more as a damaged and stranded AI discovers the answers to some of these questions.

Contractual Obligation by James L. Cambias

Cambias walks us through a mission step by step as humans and AIs work together to extract another human. Will humanity triumph in the end or will the mercenary?

The Wasp Keepers by Marc Jacobsen

The idea of “wasps” as spies, as peace keepers, little drones that control your every move is repulsive and horrifying. Are we close to this yet? A mother’s love for her murdered son forces her to make some hard decisions to rebel or acquiesce to a false peace.

Non-Standard Deviation by Richard Dansky

Colonel Talbot discovers that a training simulation has gone awry and he’s bound and determined to twist its non-standard deviation to his advantage. Clever man!

All You Need by Mike Sizemore

I’m guessing the end of this line, “All you need…,” would be a gun. This short, short brings war down to its very simplest elements – a soldier and a weapon.

The Valkyrie by Marcus Broadus

This is a gritty, battlefield story with a bit of religious underpinnings. Broadus puts us right in the trenches with the mud, the blood, and the betrayals.

One Million Lira by Thoraiya Dyer

Two assassins battle it out, one the mentor, the other the student. Greed, survival, treachery – Dyer gives all of it to us in this interesting short story.

Invincible by Jay Posey

In this awful battling world that Posey has created, soldiers never really die, they are brought back again and forced to relive their deaths and the deaths of their buddies over and over again.

Light and Shadow by Linda Nagata

Would you rather feel all your human emotions and human frailties in battle or have a device that suppresses all that, making you robot-like, level-headed and non-reactive? A soldier in Nagata’s war decides to chuck aside the device and experience it for herself.

Warhosts by Yoon Ha Lee

I’ve never played the Pokemon games or any of the other monster, card-playing games. But if the battling monsters ever came to life and had a whole background of ancestry and myths, Warhosts would be it.

Suits by James L. Sutter

Sutter gives us a war fought by beings wearing battle suits. These combatants have created a whole underclass of techs created purely to service these suits. But the techs have minds of their own.

Mission. Suit. Self by Jake Kerr

When one directive is placed above all else, is there any situation where all three can be met when they all at odds? Kerr places this dilemma in soldier Billy’s hands and allows him to choose.

In Loco by Carlos Orsi

Forced to battle a local leader in order to obtain medicines and supplies for a peacekeeping mission, our hero plunges himself into the heart of battle, a real flesh and blood battle.

War Dog by Michael Barretta

Interesting love story in a post-war society where uncompromising religious zealots have taken over. Really unique characters and story.

Coming Home by Janine K. Spendlove

Post-traumatic stress disorder. Spendlove takes us through what someone experiencing this awful disorder might feel like, complete with sweat-inducing flashbacks and the mind-numbing present.

Where We Would End a War by F. Brett Cox

Amanda has come back from war and simply can’t adjust. She tries, but realizes that she won’t be successful. So she does what many other soldiers have done in the past, she launches herself back into the fray.

Black Butterflies by T.C. McCarthy

I love the contrast of the title even with this one – the image of a peaceful, harmless butterfly turned into a ruthless killing machine. Fantastic and nightmare inducing at the same time. This is a chilling story of wiping out a species to protect one’s own.

Always the Stars and the Void Between by Nerine Dorman

Our main character comes back home on leave, planning to resign from military life. However, she discovers the complexity of life at home and in general may make her change her mind. A strong main character is forced to choose home or the military once again.

Enemy State by Karin Lowachee

A unique love story about one man’s consistent and undying love for a soldier who becomes changed through the war. Lowachee presents the story with a fresh perspective.

War 3.01 by Keith Brooke

Brooke takes tech to new extremes as the Brethren of the Jihad hack their way into everyone’s streaming devices and convince the world they were now in power. We are now in the latest, most modern version of War.

These stories were all written so well, I really didn’t fully realize until I reached the end of this collection of stories and read that there was a female and LGBTQ focus to the stories. Yes, I noticed that many of the lead characters were female, and yes, I noticed that there were some gay and lesbian relationships. However, the well-written plotlines and strong characters in each story far outweighed the gender bending. So much so, in fact, that I barely even noticed. These are really powerful sci-fi war stories that are a must read!

Dinning Out

Posted: November 19, 2014 in Poems, The Troubled Scribe's Scribbles

Gourmet food, chicken fried rice, and a medium steak.

An empty wine cup teeters on the table ledge.

Screams and shouts, upturned chairs.

Except for mine.

Bullets spray, glass shatters. Freeze.

The soy sauce never tasted so good.

Crimson splash, blood or wine? Freeze.

Still no movement.

“Get on the ground.” Freeze.

“Get out your money.” Freeze.

More gun shots and screams.

Blood not wine.

No watching him grow up.

No more laughter and smiles.

No more holding her hand.

No longer aging, no longer…

The bullet never missed.

Only their faces circling.

I don’t want to forget them.

I don’t want to leave them.


Posted: November 16, 2014 in Poems, The Troubled Scribe's Scribbles
Cut off my fingers and toes, then feed them to the crows.
They watched as I beat my bloody stumps against the concrete block and still they wouldn’t budge.
They would just sit on plaid lawn chairs continuing to talk.
They peeled the skin from my bones and nailed it on the living room wall in their home.
All the guests will point and laugh at the flaws exposed.
They will sew me back up, innards and all, that they kept in warm jars.
Then we’ll hold hands in public and hug, everyone will laugh and smile because the world loves drugs.
After the show they’ll drag me back behind closed doors,  stab me in the kidneys and flay me once more.
This world has become one big lie, in which liars and cheats seem to revel in the sky.
As us poor beggars crawl in our filth, for being polite and staying in line.
I’d rather be flayed alive.

Tickle Me Dead

Posted: November 10, 2014 in The Troubled Scribe's Scribbles

The lights are out and time is slipping
away from my outstretched arms.
I’m so close, yet my dreams are a million miles away. My fingers break, reaching for the stars and my mind is fading to gray.


I sit here, you stand there, screaming at my face. I lay here wishing we were  in a better place. Money rules us and don’t believe anything else. All these lies, just tickle me dead inside.


I’m aging fast and we are wasting our lives, not living in the now. We want that perfect life, that doesn’t exist at all.


I sit here, you stand there, screaming at my face. I lay here wishing we were in a better place. Money rules us and don’t believe anything else. All these lies, just tickle me dead inside.


When do we wake up.

Before we die?

It better be soon, I hear you cry.

I won’t stop now, I won’t give in.

I just can’t live this way.

All these lies are killing me.

Just tickling me dead inside.

This anthology was sooo good it hurt! Lavie Tidhar has compiled an exquisite, exotic collection of short science fiction stories in The Apex Book of World SF, Volume 3.

It was so refreshing to read these stories written by SF writers from throughout the world. Each had their own international slant that felt so fresh and unique.

Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

This a love story – of sorts. Sriduangkaew has created such an alien society that it was almost hard to follow the concept here. Yet the beings who populate this world were captivating and somehow had human attributes – machine or not – as they battled their arch enemies.

A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight by Xia Jia

Chilling and creepy. Gave me visions of that pale creature with the black soulless eyes and black hair who climbs out of the TV to terrorize the babysitter. Is the main character real or a ghost, like the others? You be the judge.

Act of Faith by Fadzlishah Johanabas

Ok, I’ll admit it. This one had me tearing up. What does it mean to be human and love a father and to love your faith? Can an android do any of these things? Deep, sweet story.

The Foreigner by Uko Bendi Udo

What an awesome blend of crooked civil servants, ethnic bias, and science fiction! This one was written so well as the main character attempts to establish his legitimacy in the face adversity.

The City of Silence by Ma Boyong

Boyong has taken the Internet and oppression to its far extreme. It is big brother tightening down the thumb screws and squeezing out your soul. Makes you want to scream.

Planetfall by Athena Andreadis

This is such a dreamy sort of tale of the establishment of a colony on a new world and the legacy those involved created. Well told with rich description and realization.

Jungle Fever by Ika Koeck

What talent to be able to instill such terror in this really short short about a monster’s metamorphosis! It all starts with a scratch.

To Follow The Waves by Amal El-Mohtar

This tale is actually about a dream weaver who unintentionally invades and controls another’s dream world. She falls in love but, alas, it is unrequited and has an unplanned consequence.

Ahuizotl by Nell Geraldine Garcia-Rosas

A chilling little horror story about a devilish water monster. Very atmospheric and told well.

The Rare Earth by Biram Mboob

Factions fighting in the name of religion. Whether in medieval times or now in the Middle East, tyrants and true believers have all called on religion to back their goals. Mboob has blended this timeless crusade with a modern ruthless twist.

Spider’s Nest by Myra Cakan

Cakan tells the tale of an addict’s descent into madness that leads to his doom.

Waiting With Mortals by Crystal Koo

This is a really hip world where humans host ghosts and ghosts plunge into humans – and it’s all policed by a supernatural police force. But there’s such a nice element of humanity between daughter and father and living up to expectations here as well.

Three Little Children by Ange

Holy crap! Never tell this bedtime story of a child murdering monster to your kids! They will never be the same. Horrors!

Brita’s Holiday Village by Karen Tidbeck

I don’t know why, but this story so reminded me of the movie, Cocoon, where these alien pods are discovered in a swimming pool and when the local aged neighbors go for swims they are suddenly rejuvenated. The main character stays in her aunt’s cabins and encounters curious neighbors and strange pupas hanging from the cabin’s eaves. Is there a connection?

Regressions by Swapna Kishnore

This story is really cool. So deep and layered about a young woman sent back in time to help reshape the world to reshape and change the past to make the future better for women. What happens is definitely not what she had planned.

Dancing on Red Planet by Berit Ellingsen

Fantastic story to round out this collection of short stories as multi-national astronauts prepare to land a first manned mission on Mars. Joyful and hopeful, Ellingsen expresses the wonderful shared elation of the Mars landing.

After reading this book, I really want to read more World SF from Apex publications. Good thing there are more volumes and, I hope, more to come in the future.