Black Gate Adventures in Fantasy Literature reviews Dreamers in Hell

See the original Black Gate review by Joe Bonadonna at: https://www.blackgate.com/2013/07/18/giving-the-devil-his-due-a-review-of-dreamers-in-hell/ Giving the Devil His Due: A Review of Dreamers in Hell

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

Dreamers in Hell-smallDreamers in Hell (Heroes in Hell, Volume 15)
Created by Janet Morris, edited by Janet and Chris Morris, and written “with the diabolical assistance of their damnedest writers.”
Perseid Press (478 pages, June 13, 2013, $23.95 in trade paperback)

It is a place of swords and spears, revolvers and automatic weapons, sorcery and science, catapults and cannon, bows and arrows, computers and demons. It is a place where there is no Hope for the damned, merely the suggestion of it.

Welcome to Hell, where Perdition rules. Whether a soul believes in Hell or not, Hell believes in damnation of the mortal soul. Anyone can end up in Hell, no matter what religion, no matter what faith. You may not believe in Hell, but Hell believes in you.

In Hell, all things are possible. In Hell, many of the damned believe they have been wrongly sent there, while others accept their fate and try to make the best of a bad situation. In Hell’s Mortuary, the Undertaker giveth and taketh away, revives and reassigns the damned — again and again — so they can continue their dance with the Devil. Yes, welcome to Hell — where rogues and heroes and fools quest for a way out, and Satan plots to storm the Gates of Heaven.

Ah, but wait… the powers that be in Heaven have decided that Hell has become too comfortable. Infernity is in trouble. El Diablo is lying down on the job.

Heaven has sent Erra, Babylonian god of plague and mayhem, and his 7 Sibitti (his Auditors, his Enforcers, his personified weapons), to further punish the innocent as well as the guilty, and they do so with great glee. They are Hell’s judge, jury, and executioners. Satan can’t even run Hell the way he wants to run it. Paradise mocks him. Will Erra replace Satan? Make things worse for everyone in all levels and versions of Hell — past, present and future?

Dreamers in Hell is the 14th volume in this best-selling series, which has seen stories nominated and winning Hugo and Nebula awards. It is also the most ambitious book to date in this highly successful and most brilliant shared-universe of all. So let’s get started, shall we?

Heroes in HellChris Morris gets things off to a grand start with Fools in Hell. Satan plans a great festival to celebrate the rebuilding and reopening of the Hellexandrian Library. (Guy Fawkes, in an earlier tale, had destroyed the Library, as well as the Hall of Injustice in his attempt to assassinate Satan.) Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe write a play for Satan, who enlists their aid in yet another of his nefarious schemes. And who knows what wicked games, what sinister machinations lurk in the mind of His Satanic Majesty, aka HSM?

“Leave me in hell then! But leave my hell alone!” Satan screams to “Above,” in Janet Morris’ wonderful Alms for Oblivion. There is too much overcrowding in Hell for Satan’s liking. So he sets into motion plans to prove that Humankind is unworthy of Hell or redemption, and deserves only oblivion. Rid Hell of Humankind, and the Netherworlds won’t be plagued by Erra and his 7 Auditors from Above running amok throughout Satan’s rightful domain.

In Nancy Asire’s clever little The Unholy Hole, Caesar’s magnificent villa is totally destroyed, leaving but a massive hole in the ground upon which it stood. No survivors can be found. Are the dastardly Erra and his 7 Auditors behind this attack? Or is it someone or something else? Napoleon and Wellington are recalled to active duty by El Diablo himself. Attila the Hun and Sulla’s “legions” join them. Countess Marie Walewska, who chose to spend eternity in Hell to be with Napoleon, arms herself and joins in the fun.

Next up is Yelle Hughes’s intriguing Essence Helliance. The King Infernal visits Medea of Colchis, the first wife of Jason of Thessaly, who works in Hell’s Mortuary. Old Scratch needs the essence and souls of the damned who have no chance for redemption. This, he tells her, is for a project he is working on. A headstrong, disrespectful, and somewhat mad woman, Medea is in charge of this “essence and soul distillery.” But is there more to Satan’s power play? Can anyone even guess at what his infernal end game may be? (I’ve been sworn to secrecy.)

Next is Sara M. Harvey’s lovely and sad, Barefoot, On Brimstone. Isadora Duncan awakens from a dream of dance-performance, green grass, and her children — only to find that she is alone, still in Hell, and the infamous scarf that had strangled her is still around her neck. But then she meets Pharzuph and Naamah, a pair of fallen angels. It seems she has been summoned to Sin Francisco, to see Joshua Abraham Norton, who had once declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, and they are to be her escorts. But what she asks of him only one personage can give, and so she must go dance for the Prince of Darkness.

The Gates of HellShakespeare’s Ophelia, delicate and moody little flower that she is, finds herself once again in the hands of the Undertaker, in Shebat Legion’s wicked little vignette, Ophie and the Undertaker.Having twice attempted suicide, poor Ophie refuses to accept her fate in Hell and the fact that there is no escape. No matter how much the Undertaker takes from her, tenacious and stubborn Ophelia always finds herself crawling—or squirming—back to him.

In John Manning’s delicious Just Desserts, Jimmy Hoffa is union president of all Hell’s damned souls. Satan has ordered him to provide labor for the reopening of the Hellexandrian Library. Infamous Nazis Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Mengele, with a few friends, are hired as cooks under the supervision of Jewish gangster, Izzy Bernstein. Meanwhile, Matthew Hopkins thinks he’s found a way for him and fellow witchfinder John Stearne to get out of Hell and escape to Heaven, where they belong. Needless to say, everyone gets what they deserve.

Hell, I Must Be Going, is Michael A. Ventrella’s comedy-skit ode to the Marx Brothers, wherein Rufus T. Firefly and Ciccolini Ravelli, his assistant, are in charge of keeping track of all assignments in Hell. Enter one Margaret Dunwoody, who has come to question who they reallyare and what they are doing. Seems they’ve conned their way into positions where they can search for a missing brother who, for obvious reasons — is not in Hell. Hail, hail, Helldonia, land of the Knave and Unfree.

INFERNAL NOTICE: Weapons are not allowed at the grand reopening of the Hellexandrian Library. In Head Games, Bill Snider’s sly look at psychoanalysis in Hell, Fionn mac Cumhaill, accompanied by his friend Caliban, leaves his sentient spear Areadbhar at the door. Then, during an interview with Sigmund Freud, the spear begins talking to Fionn, though only Fionn can hear it. Old Siggy finds Fionn’s attachment to the spear quite “telling,” and begins to explain how the weapon is an extension of Fionn’s… well, I’m sure you can guess. Throw in the Staff of Merlin, which can talk to the Fionn’s spear, a guest appearance by Merlin himself, and one harridan named Sycorax, who is the mother of Caliban — and hellzapoppin!

Rebels in HellNext up is Tom Barczak’s heroic tragedy, Blood and Ash. Beowulf is still in the process of accepting his death when he encounters Boudica, Queen of the Iceni. Then they meet up with Joan of Arc, who has come to lead them out of Hell. All three are sorely wounded and badly burned, as you might imagine. The trio meets up with former writer turned tinkerer, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who gives Joan a Vorpal Blade that he calls ‘Alice.’ Before they can escape down the rabbit hole, along comes Erra and his 7 Sibitti Auditors. The unexpected happens, a sacrifice is made, and we discover that even in Hell, there is such a thing as Hope.

Hellexandria the Great is next at bat. Sarah Hulcy hits a home run as she tells us of Demetrius, the Chief Librarian, Makalani his assistant, and Caesarion and Brutus, the sons of Julius Caesar. Brutus and Caesarion are drafted as volunteers to act as guides for the guests at the upcoming gala in honor of the reopening of the Hall of Injustice and the Hellexandrian Library. During the boys’ training period, they hear of the destruction of their Dad’s villa by suspects unknown, and everyone is naturally on edge. (Could that all be part of Satan’s grand scheme to storm the gates of Heaven? At this point—anything is possible!) But everyone survives the big party, even though the witchfinders attempt to assassinate His Satanic Majesty.

David L. Burkhead’s The Knife-Edged Bridge is a tale of friendship and loyalty. It stars William Simpson, veteran of Second Manassas, Jim Bridger, scout and trapper, and Perseus, Son of Zeus. In olden times, this bridge was known as the Bridge to Paradise. But now… who knows where it leads? For them, it will hopefully lead out of Hell. But along the way, Bridger is horribly mangled and tortured, and Perseus goes missing. Setting out to rescue his mates, Simpson finds himself in a disturbing level of Hell he’s never seen before, where his friends are being tortured by demons, rather than having been sent back to the Undertaker for reassignment. Simpson rescues his friends, as well as Archimedes, who claims he should be in Hades or Tartaros, but not in Hell. So they all set out to find Erra and his 7 Auditors, hoping to get Archimedes’s punishment amended—and fearing that they might make it worse.

Our next item on the menu is Deborah Koren’s The Wager. It’s an interesting mash-up of the western and boxing genres, with a dash of Damon Runyon thrown in for seasoning. It stars Bat Masterson, the eternal gambler, and Wyatt Earp, who has become the manager of a boxer named Big Ed. Enter one Grayson, an atheist and former writer who refuses to accept that he’s dead and in Hell. Earp bets Masterson that he can’t convince Grayson that he is indeed dead and damned. As for what’s at stake, you’ll just have to read the story and find out for yourselves.

Crusaders in HellBettina S. Meister’s More Light is a very poignant, complex, and introspective yarn. Certain passages read like the inner monologue of poet and sorcerer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who believes he has been wrongly sent to Hell. He suffers the daily humiliation of a poet’s soul. His sufferings of old age are daily presences in his life in Hell. He is tormented by memories of his mother, his wife, and his children. But even in the Realm of the Damned, one can find a friend, and he does — Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem, whose suicidal death Goethe had immortalized in his novel, “The Sorrows of Young Werther.” Arrogantly thinking that he can play with the powers of Hell, Goethe sets out to plead his case in hope of gaining salvation.

In the Shadow of Paradise is Jason Cordova’s excellent, first-person account of Juan Ponce de Leon y Figueroa’s common-sense approach to survival in Hell, set in Lost Angeles. The 7 Sibitti have destroyed Hellywood, and through a landscape of death and devastation, Figueroa travels to find a map showing the way out of Hell, using the waters of the Fountain of Youth underneath the Mortuary. And then he meets Marie Antoinette, who has somehow acquired the map. With her is her attendant, Henrietta, who is in possession of box that contains a Prophecy Head Doll that speaks with the voice of Rasputin. Meanwhile, two Angels from Above discuss whether or not there is such a thing as ultimate salvation, and whether or not even the damned can be redeemed.

Zero Sum Game is Richard Groller’s sci-fi seasoned take on what happens when Nikolai Tesla realizes what has been missing from his theoretical constructs. Tesla is Director of Infernal Research Projects. George Washington Goethals, once Chief Engineer in charge of building the Panama Canal, is Tesla’s assistant and ally. Thomas Edison is the comptroller of the Dept. of Infernal Energy. And Hero of Alexandria is the arbiter of the War of the Currents that is still being waged by Tesla and Edison. Tesla needs funding and is obsessed with besting Edison. Goethals has a penchant for skirting regulations. During the course of Tesla’s experiments, a worker demon is killed, and then a stress wave in the fabric of Space and Time causes one-third of New Hell to disappear. Could Thomas Edison be the saboteur? Tune in and find out!

Kings in Hell“All of Hell is a stage and the damned are merely players in Satan’s endless and infernal game.” So says Jack William Finley in his philosophical And the Truth Shall Set You Free, which stars Constantine the Great, one-time emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Constantine can’t come to terms with the reality of his new existence in Hell, but he has a plan: “In the land of the Prince of Lies he would weave a greater lie than all that came before, a lie that would set them all free.” He assembles the finest minds in Hell, including Kierkegaard, Voltaire, and Schrodinger, to help him concoct this magnificent lie. Satan then orders gangster Frank Nitti to team up with Jack the Ripper, and they are sent to keep an eye on this intellectual rabble. When in Rome, do as the Romans. But when in Hell, do not attempt to emulate the Devil.

The next entry is Michael H. Hanson’s The ITTT (pronounced eye-triple-tea) — The Institute of Terrified and Tortured Technicians. Sergei Korolev, former father of the Soviet Space Program and now, in Hell, President-Elect of The ITTT, is the keynote speaker at an upcoming conference, which revolves around the ongoing feud between Edison and Tesla. Edison is a crafty bureaucrat who lords it over the various infernal-internal technology departs, and steals every idea he can get his hands on. Also in this clever little tale, we see more of the irony and punishments of Hell: genetic engineers are plagued with physical deformities, and chemical engineers are constantly sprayed in their faces by all manner of toxic elements, for example. But what’s really at stake here is Tesla’s new space tunnel, Hell’s own escape hatch.

Petra E. Jorns continues the tragic tale of Siegfried and Kriemhild in her mythic Siegfried’s Blade.Kriemhild awakens in Hell, suffering the pain of loss and guilt. Wandering over a field of bones, she hears a skull speak to her in a familiar voice. “You have murdered us.” It is the voice of Gunther, her brother, who had plotted Siegfried’s death with Hagen. Kriemhild sets out to find Siegfried, only to encounter Brunhild, her enemy, whose own vanity had led to Siegfried’s death, and they accuse and blame each other for that. Further along, Kriemhild meets Hagen, who now carries Balmung, Siegfried’s accursed sword. Hagen: whom she had allowed to murder her brother Gunther, and thus quench her thirst for vengeance. Haunted by memories of Siegfried, confronted by old ghosts and tortured by her own guilt, Kriemhild stumbles on, over the bodies of her brothers and all those she had brought to death thru her vengeance — and ultimately discovers the truth of her personal and private Hell.

Stairway to Heaven is Ed McKeown’s wonderful tale of Emile Du Chatelet — physician, mathematician, and author—who seeks audience with Belial, Crown Prince of Hell. One-third of New Hell City has disappeared, and its citizens have not reappeared at the Undertaker’s for reassignment. According to Emile, Tesla could not control his Dirac Power Source — which is actually the underlying principle that binds the Universe together. She proposes a great mechanism by which they can rip open the dimension of Hell and march out to freedom — perhaps to Heaven itself. Emile, who claims she has done nothing to warrant her place in Hell, wants revolution. She wants to invade Heaven and face God in battle, but she needs Tesla’s help, and he’s still locked inside the Fortress of Despair — J. Edgar Hoover’s prison. Belial agrees to support her, and with the aid of a female demon named Smoke, the cowboy Frank Hopkins, and Achilles piloting a Blackhawk helicopter, they storm the prison in a battle worthy of a James Bond flick. Emile’s speech to the damned is thought-provoking, eloquent, and perfectly logical.  What she asks of Belial, however, is a thing heretofore unknown in Hell.

Explorers in HellKnocking On Heaven’s Gates is Larry Atchley’s excellent and epic novella, starring Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan on Earth. Seems he’s been blown to pieces in the failed attempt to steal from Guy Fawkes the Spear of Longinus, aka the Spear of Destiny—the spear that had pierced Christ’s side. LaVey wakes up in the Mortuary after experiencing a dream of light at the end of the tunnel, a heavenly dream of love and joy. Now he wants to experience those feelings again, if he can. After the Undertaker reconstitutes his body, LaVey sets out to file his report with Satan. Meanwhile, Tesla’s latest invention has backfired and a third of New Hell has gone missing. Hell now really looks like a painting by Bosch or Brueghel. LaVey realizes that Hell is truly going to Hell in a hand basket.

Cut to Guy Fawkes, who was captured and is now in prison, but still in possession of the Spear of Destiny. But the Spear is embedded in his body, a result of an explosion during the failed attempt to take it away from him, and legend has it that whoever has the Spear is invincible and invulnerable. So no one can take it away from him. Enter Emile du Chatelet, who comes to free him and enlist his aid in her plot to storm the Gates of Heaven. Will her plan succeed or is it doomed to failure? And what is Satan’s purpose for secretly supporting but not taking part in the storming of Heaven’s pearly gates?

Meanwhile, Satan wants LaVey to play keyboards and entertain the army of damned souls about to attack Heaven. But LaVey is suffering from Post-Traumatic Death Disorder and does not feel he can perform at his best until he recovers from his emotional trauma and his troubling dream. Just as self-serving in Hell as he was in life, LaVey wonders if he can become a better person, to be loved and to find redemption. After his first session with Williams James, Psychologist, Spiritualist, and Pragmatist, the big day has come for LaVey. He is ordered by demons to play the new and improved Liszt pipe organ while the army of the damned assaults the Gates of Heaven and battles a host of Angels. Ah, but things in Hell are not always what one thinks they might be, and LaVey realizes that everything in Hell has its price — even playing the pipe organ, to which he and a number of other lost souls are physically attached.

Now we come to the final chapter, folks, and a most fitting pay-off it is, too. Janet Morris returns us to Chris Marlowe and Will Shakespeare as they perform, perhaps for all eternity, their play, Hell Bent, which is also the title of this eloquent and theatrical comic-tragedy. The two playwrights play lovers in a hellish parody of their own plays, which they have written to order, per His Satanic Majesty’s Request. Will plays the male lead, Marlowe the female. In every performance, Marlowe must kill Shakespeare — I mean, really kill him. But the Bard does not return to the Undertaker for reassignment, for Satan is there at every performance, there to revive him, once a night and twice on Sadderday. More than a parody, their play is almost a travesty, being made up of scenes and dialogue cannibalized from the plays they wrote in life. Marlowe, in love with Shakespeare, wonders and worries over the Bard’s infatuation with HSM.

“Why should you love him whom the world hates so?” Marlowe’s character asks.

“Because he loves me more than all the world,” Will’s character replies.

As he prepares to plunge the rapier into the heart he loves best, and bring death nightly to the man he treasures most, Marlowe stage-whispers a line from Othello. “Perdition catch my soul, but I do love thee! And when I love thee not, Chaos is come again.”

“Hell is just a frame of mind,” Shakespeare replies through gritted teeth.

That line from Faustus was Marlowe’s downfall — a line that ultimately proved to be false. He had taunted the Devil in life with it, and now he pays in Hell forever.

Over and over again, Marlowe must kill Shakespeare in the final act, only to watch, through jealous eyes and suffering heart, as Satan brings Will back from the dead, showering him with love and favor. However, after long and many arguments, Marlowe convinces Will to trade roles with him, and the Bard in turn convinces Satan to let them do it, because he wishes to learn how it feels to truly kill a man.

Rogues in Hell“Since I cannot prove a lover, I am determined to prove a villain,” Will tells the Devil, quoting a line from his own Richard III.

Will the Prince of Darkness bring Marlowe back to life after Shakespeare kills him in the final act of their play? Ah, there’s the rub.

Not since Adam and Eve has the Devil had such a pair to play, one against the other.

Oh, what fools these mortals be! Are the damned Satan’s tools, his fools, to think they can wring power from infinity, make themselves powerful enough to overcome their fate? Does the assault on the Gates of Heaven succeed? Does Satan bend Hell itself to accommodate his fools for war? Does he transport one-third of New Hell, trashed by power-hungry idiots and their petty hatreds, into some new dimension of space and time just big enough to accommodate their egos and their fiery deaths? Does the Son of the Morning make his point to Erra and his Seven Sibitti, the Almighty’s pitiless enforcers — that Mankind is demented and foul and not worthy of Heaven’s forgiveness, not worthy of redemption? Will Satan gather his legion of Akkadians and Spartans, Nazis, Americans, Chinese — the greatest armies of the damned — and put on his own play for Heaven? (Or a reality show—“His Satanic Majesty Disciplines His Own,” perhaps?)

In Hell, the Devil rules, the Devil is not mocked, and the Devil always gets his due.

Each story in Dreamers in Hell is top notch. Perhaps I should say each chapter, for this is truly a shared-universe that reads like a novel, rather than an anthology. The stories are all very good, many are great, some are superb. This is a true collaboration of diverse hands that has been shaped and molded into a cohesive whole by Janet and Chris Morris.

The beauty of the Heroes in Hell series is that all genres work in Hell, and no genre has been left undone. You’ll find horror and science fiction here, fantasy and historical drama, satire and action/adventure thrillers — even romance. These metaphysical, visionary “mythical epics” are character-driven, thoughtful, intelligent, and insightful. They examine the nature of Man, and the nature of good and evil.

These are fables and morality tales, examinations into what makes Mankind tick, a look into the soul of humanity. Justice rules in Hell, too, you’ll discover. So does irony: all that was fair on Earth has turned foul in Hell. But all’s fair in Hell when it comes to how the damned are treated, of course.  Yet for all its torments and punishment and betrayals and violence, there is friendship and loyalty to be found in Hell, courage and honor, and even love. And above all, Hope persists. For even in Hell, the damned can and do hope for redemption and salvation.

Have some sympathy for the Devil and give Satan his due: check this one out. In fact, I recommend you check out all 14 books in the Heroes in Hell series. Just in case you find yourself in Hell one day, it’s best to be on the good side of the Devil. If he has one, that is.

Field Notes, Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters

What the authors say about their work:  first in an occasional series.

 

We’ve had such a strong response from educators wanting to use Dragon Eaters in their classes as well as from readers with historical backgrounds,  we thought we’d ask the authors to tell us a bit about the genesis of their contributions to Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters:

 

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Our first writer up to bat is Water Rhein, author, explorer, publisher, telling us about his process for developing “Aquila of Oyos“:

Aquila of Oyos” Mythical/Historical Genesis by Walter Rhein.

I had a bit of fun while writing “Aquila of Oyos” for Janet Morris’s “Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters” anthology. This was the first in a proposed series of anthologies connected by concept and ordered chronologically from ancient past to future, and each story in the first book must be about dragons. Because of this archetypal requirement,  I thought my story would need a certain weight that only an attachment to historical or mythological figures could provide.

Although this story is not dependent on the reader’s awareness of the prevalence of mythological allusions, they do enrich the experience when the connections are perceived. The most obvious clue is the inclusion of a character named Prometheus. This is a case where all you have to do is research Prometheus’s role in mythology and the connection is made (hint: it has something to do with fire). In “Aquila of Oyos” I propose a theory for where Prometheus’s fire actually came from.

Another character name in this tale is named Prospero, a name made famous by Shakespeare in “The Tempest.” In Shakespeare, Prospero is a sorcerer and illusionist. Therefore, to have a character named Prospero in my story would be waste a great opportunity if that character didn’t also dabble in illusion…

Aquila is Latin for eagle and was a prominent symbol in ancient Rome. Rome is an empire that falls, as does the empire of dragons. The least obvious name I used was Oyos, for Aquila’s mountain. By the end of the story, the top has been removed from the mountain changing it from a dragon’s spire into a mountain topped with columns of seared stone.

After human beings gained control of the dragon mountain, the name got changed to Olympus… but by now you’ve guessed that.

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Read the entire story Aquila of Oyos in Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, edited by Janet Morris, on Kindle, Nook, or in a deluxe trade paper edition. Or hear Rob Goll’s narration of Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, available from  Audible.com and Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Eaters-Heroika-Volume-1/dp/B0193RZ4XI/

Four writers from Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters tell all…

Reblogged from Terry Erwin’s Up Around the Corner…  http://uparoundthecorner.blogspot.com/2015/06/interview-of-authors-from-heroika.html#comment-form

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Heroika 1 Perfect promo 6&9FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2015

Interview of Authors from Heroika: Dragon Eaters

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This interview is an unusual treat, in that I am interviewing four authors from the recently released anthology,Heroika: Dragon Eaters

The Authors:

  1. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genre. She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys. Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’.

Mark Finn is a fantasy and science fiction, essayist, and playwright. He is recognized as an authority on the Texas author Robert E. Howard and has written extensively on that subject.In 2007 he was nominated for World Fantasy Special Award: Professional.

Seth (S.E.) Lindberg lives near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist by day. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, spurs him to write graphic adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors.

He co-moderates a Goodreads- Sword & Sorcery Group and invites you to participate.

Cas Peace is a fantasy and non-fiction writer from the UK. She’s also a singer/songwriter, horse-riding instructor, cactus grower, and dog lover.

What is one of the most interesting novels you’ve enjoyed in the past year and why?

Butcher: IX by Andrew Weston – it’s a time travelling heroic historical sci-fi. What attracted me to this book was the fact some of the main characters are from the missing IX Legion from Rome. It’s a fun book, with monsters (which aren’t what you think they are), adventure, courage, alternate history, space ships and much more.

Finn: City of Thieves, by David Benioff. A wonderful, picaresque story about two unlikely traveling companions forced into service during the Siege of Leningrad. Wonderful writing and really well-executed on all levels.

Lindberg: Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology: This anthology marks the catalyzing moment of the sub-genre “Sword & Soul” Charles R. Saunders is credited with starting the sub-genre with his Imaro tales (~1980). In 2011, Milton J. Davis (fellow chemist and Heroika author) expanded the front with this collection, including contributions from the Soul-champion himself, Saunders. Named after African storytellers who relied on the oral traditions, “Griots” is inspiring, unique, and history making.

Peace: I think that would have to be “The IX” by Andrew Weston. Part of the reason stems from the fact that I copy-edited this book, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and part comes from Andrew’s deft handling of his characters’ differing historical origins and the way this affects their contributions to the problems they face in the novel. I found the whole thing fascinating.

What is one technique or method that you’ve used to improve your writing?

Butcher: Reading. The more a writer reads, especially in a wide field of styles, the more one can find one’s own style and learn the rules.

Finn: I always read back out loud what I have written the day before. Not only does it serve to remind me where I left off, but it helps me do an immediate copy check for awkward phrasing, overused words, etc.

Lindberg: Going mental! Balancing a fun career with the duties of a father too, there is scarce dedicated time for writing.  I’ve fallen into structured day dreaming, rehearsing scenes via each characters’ perspective. Being kept away from the writing-desk forces multiple iterations, but the frustration is rewarding when scenes are enhanced. This role playing can be done anywhere, anytime; a smartphone or notepad is needed to capture key dialogue and interactions to flesh out later.

Peace: I’m not sure if “used” is the right word, since that implies a deliberate act. Due to my editing and proofreading services I naturally get to read and work on a huge variety of different styles of writing. While picking my way through the vagaries of grammar, language, and syntax I often learn things I can apply to my own writing. It’s amazing how blind you can become to your own bad habits – copy-editing someone else’s really does help!

If it was possible, which author (living or deceased) would you like to share lunch with? What would you hope to discuss?

Butcher: That’s a tricky one… Dead – the list is long – Tolkien and discuss the influence of myth and fantasy, Alexandre Dumas to discuss revenge, Shakespeare – well he’s Shakespeare – did he write those plays or not? HG Wells – the direction of the future, Terry Pratchett on the fate of orangutans, Homer – and whether the nature of heroism has changed, Colin Wilson on the rise of the serial killer, and Jules Verne on subject of the fantastic. Now that’s a hell of a dinner party.

Living – I’m not sure….

Finn: This one is not fair, because in my capacity as an expert on Robert E. Howard, that question is a soft pitch. Obviously, me and Bob would talk about writing, creating musical phrases in prose, and as much as possible, I’d like to get him talking about his travels in Texas. That would be an entertaining lunch.
Lindberg: Darrell Schweitzer: I personally discovered his masterful Mask Of The Sorcerer (published 1995) and We Are All Legends (published 1981) weeks after I literally walked beside him in 2010 (Columbus OH, World Fantasy Convention). To think I could have talked to him in person! I missed my chance then, but I’ll be attending again in 2016. I hope he attends and I can buy him a coffee at least.

Peace: I think it would have to be Anne McCaffrey. Her Pern novels were what got me into fantasy when I was a teen, and I still admire her work. I’d love to learn what inspired her and what her publishing journey was like. I always hoped to visit her home in Ireland, but haven’t made it yet.

Tell us a little about your story found in the Heroika: The Dragon Eaters, a heroic fiction anthology.

Butcher: Of Blood and Scales” is a tale of courage, sacrifice and desperation. Oh and a great dragon…

It’s a tale of heroics to save a dying child and a land on the brink of war. It’s a tale of last resorts.

Finn:Sic Semper Draconis” posits a time in the mid-to-late 1980s when giant time gates open up and spew forth all of the atmosphere, as well as the flora and fauna, of the late Cretaceous Period, and viola! Dinosaurs in Texas. The state would waste no time organizing an armed resistance—much like game wardens—to thin out the dangerous ones. It’s (I hope) an entertaining take on the hunter, becoming the hunted, and back to the hunter again type of story.

Lindberg: “Legacy of the Great Dragon” shows the Father of Alchemy entombing his singular source of magic, the Great Dragon. According to Greek and Egyptian myth, the god Thoth (a.k.a. Hermes) was able to see into the world of the dead and pass his learnings to the living. One of the earliest known hermetic scripts is the Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus.Within that, a tale is told of Hermes being confronted with a vision of the otherworldly entity Pymander, who takes the shape of a ‘Great Dragon’ to reveal divine secrets. Legacy of the Great Dragon fictionalizes this Hermetic Tradition, presenting the Great Dragon as the sun-eating Apep of Egyptian antiquity.

Peace: When Janet first asked me to contribute to HEROIKA, I struggled for an idea. Then I realised St. George’s Day was coming up in the UK, and I decided to rewrite the story of St. George. I went back to his Middle Eastern roots and made him a knight of the Crusades, one who is doubting his faith. Then I tied the resolution of the story to an island right off the coast of my home county, Hampshire, adding a dash of druid for extra mysticism.

Links to where Heroika is available:

Heroika at Amazon US / Amazon UK

Where you can find these authors on the internet:

A.L. Butcher:

Blog: Library of Erana

At Goodreads
On Amazon

Twitter:@libraryoferana

Mark Finn:

Mark Finn on Wikipedia
On Amazon
Blog: Finn’s Wake

S.E. Lindberg:

Author Review Blog
On Amazon
At Goodreads
S.E. Lindberg on Twitter

S.E. Lindberg on Youtube

Cas Peace:

Author Website

On Amazon

Is History the Agreed-Upon Lie: Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, Janet Morris, ed.

First published at: http://ishistorytheagreeduponlie.blogspot.com/2015/05/dragons-throughout-history-by-janet.html

Saturday, May 23, 2015

DRAGONS Throughout History by Janet Morris

Our “History as the Agreed-Upon Lie” began for the human species when we first painted animals on cave walls and left our hand-prints there; then in Mesopotamia  where we cut decorations into monumental stones as early as the 12th century BCE.  Were there ever dragons —  real ones?  Many cultures refer to them in myth and legend: some had legs; some but not all breathed fire; some lived in the ocean, others on  land; some flew.
So perhaps dragons hide deep in our racial memory, going back to the days when we were the size of German Shepherds and lethal beasts ruled sea and ground and sky. Did we ever eat them?  Today, the most fierce and proud of Western civilization’s professional warriors may refer to themselves as “snake-eaters”  — not because of their dietary preferences, but because of their strength, determination, and competitiveness.For more than thirty years I, with my husband Chris Morris and other like-minded folk, have been exploring the heroic ethos as did Homer in his day and Shakespeare in his:  not simply the “monomyth” of Joseph W. Campbell, but also heroism and anti-heroism as it has shaped our myth and cultures, and still does today.  In novels we like to read and love to write, history and myth and legend mix and reinforce and explain and articulate one another as only the written word can do.  Writers have depended on myth, legend, and history in disparate portions to create humanity’s greatest literature — the better the writer, the bigger the serving that writer gives us of history turned dramatic and allegorical.We live today in a time where anti-heroes are ascendant, which makes exploring the heroic ethos even more interesting.  Was Achilles an anti-hero?  Or a hero?  Homer blamed him, at the start of the Iliad, for the many souls his petulance sent down to Hades; later, when the Amazon Queen Penthesilea insists on facing Achilles in single combat at Troy, he warns her in a demeaning fashion, then kills her with one blow to her breastplate.  Then, taking off her helmet, he falls in love with her and  kisses her dead mouth on the battlefield in an undisguised act of necrophilia.  Humans are complex, have always been.  Homer, better than most, showed us the manifold nature of the heroic heart.

When we had a chance to develop a series for Perseid Press called
“Heroika,” anthologies, books designed to treat the heroic ethos
throughout human history, we jumped at the chance.  We called the first
of these anthologies, “Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters,” not expecting our
writers to take the “dragon eating” part seriously. But some of them
did.  Some even offered me olden family recipes… These story span
man’s recorded myths and legends of dragon hunting, from the third
millennium BCE and Hittite/Hurrian Myth of Illuyankas to tales of
magical realism set today and tomorrow. The men and women in these tales
include hero-cult figures such as Heros Equitans,  Rhesos of Thrace, who
preceded the myth of St. George and the Dragon yet embodied it, as well
as people who might live in your town, might have lived in your time, in
your grandfather’s time…. Heroika may yet present nonfiction articles
in subsequent volumes. This, the first
volume, relies solely on fictional tales… or does it?

So we ask you — no, better, we dare you to put aside your preconceptions and see what seventeen agile minds made of our call to duty as they each wrote a story about “Dragon Eaters” in human history, some about the men and women themselves, some about the myth, some about our racial memories.

Perseid Press specializes in writers who write dangerously for readers who read dangerously. In Dragon Eaters, people test themselves and their beliefs against forces of nature and hope to prevail with … the art of dragon killing:

Here’s a description of Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, publication date May 25, 2015

“Dragons have been eating humans for centuries. Now heroes throughout history stalk their legendary foe. Learn how to hunt, kill, and eat the wild dragon. Never before has revenge tasted so good. A literary feast for the bloody-minded.

In Janet Morris’ anthology on the art of dragon killing, seventeen writers bring you so close to dragons you can smell their fetid breath. Tales for the bold among you.

HEROIKA 1 — DRAGON EATERS, an anthology of heroic fiction edited by Janet Morris, features original stories by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, S. E. Lindberg, Jack William Finley, Travis Ludvigson, Tom Barczak, J. P. Wilder, Joe Bonadonna, Milton Davis, A.E. Butcher, William Hiles, M Harold Page, Walter Rhein, Cas Peace, Beth W. Patterson, Bruce Durham, Mark Finn.

Come explore your own ancient history with us, in Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters.  Live a little — read dangerously.

Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters, edited by Janet Morris for Perseid Press, gets its first major media review from Ricky L. Brown on Amazon Stories Magazine (amazingstories.com)

See the original review by ricky L. Brown on Amazing stories:  http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2015/05/review-heroika-1-dragon-eaters/

Heroika 1 Perfect promo 6&9 heroika1promobanner fixedTChirezpromo-4Heroika 1 - Dragon Eaters cover

Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters is an anthology of well-crafted work with a wide range of entertaining perspectives. Spanning across cultures, centuries, and even the dimensions of time and space, each contribution has its own distinct charm. In essence, this book is a colorful bouquet of bold stories about one of the darkest primal forces in mythological lore.

Published by Perseid Press and edited by Janet Morris, this collection is due to be released on May 25, 2015. There are seventeen tales in all. Though breaking each one down with literary criticism would take multiple reviews to cover thoroughly, it is advised to just pick up a copy and dive right in because odds are pretty good you’ll find plenty to enjoy.

The collection begins with The First Dragon Eater by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, which reads like a classic saga of the Gods form Greek mythology. Having lost his heart and eyes to the dragon Illuyankas long ago, the Storm God Tarhunt capitalizes on the vulnerability and hubris of his own children to get his organs back, and in turn he sets out for revenge on the winged beast who almost killed him.

In the Legacy of the Great Dragon by S.E. Lindberg, readers will discover another use for the dragons in getting one’s sight back, but here we cross the fine line between man and god, and see how the twisted significance of the word “legacy” can define both.

Writers Janet Morris and Chris Morris join forces again for the third story Bring Your Rage. But this tome is less about the gods as in their previous entry and more about how raw barbarism can be played out in a poetic quest to slay a dragon and define the true meaning of a hero.

Aquila of Oyos by Walter Rhein is an emotional twist of honor and subservience between two dragons facing each other in a man’s world. Just as complex but from a different perspective, The Wyght Wyrm by Cas Peace is an intricate story of dragon magic and the cruelty of man when it is harnessed for war.

Though the ending of the next story was surprising yet thought provoking, The Old Man on a Mountain by Jack William Finley is a fulfilling adventure of one man’s quest for revenge and a dragon’s acceptance of fate.

Of Blood and Scales by A.L Butcher is a story of lies and deceit behind a girl’s long journey to the throne while Night Stalkers by Travis Ludvigson is a tale of a man’s loyal dedication to serve his Lord, the ruler Charlemagne.

Forged by Tom Barczak is a fairytale adventure with good versus evil, eventually allowing readers to discover the hidden magic of dragons that lies in the soul of a young girl and how “love” works its magic in unexpected ways. And The Rhyme of the Dragon Queen by JP Wilder is another enchanted story following a rhythmic song with prophetic implications and the colorful cast of characters who try to avoid its dark predictions.

Joe Bonadonna’s ability to draw on all five senses of the observant reader gives the story The Dragon’s Horde a dimension often left to the device of the characters. What this does is let the story of battling mythological creatures unfold with just enough realism to allow the tightly developed characters to act naturally on the stage of such an epic adventure.

Wawindaji Joka (The Dragon Hunters) by Milton Davis is a unique story where the dragon hunters might be as precarious as the dragons they hunt. Just as innovative, M. Harold Page brings a rare Steampunk version of dragon lore in Against the Sky Tomb of the Earth Kings where the battle is taken high into the clouds.

Red Rain by William Hiles gives readers a fast paced Civil War perspective in the battling dragons. If the War-Between-the-States can pit brother against brother, what will happen when the mythical creatures are thrown into the mix?

In La Bétaille by Beth W. Patterson, the dragon fight is taken to Cajun country in the south. Yet in Bruce Durham’s tense story Arctic Rage, readers find themselves in a frosty post-nuclear apocalypse Inuit setting where the hunter and the hunted play dual roles.

The collection is finally wrapped up with a suspenseful time traveling twist of fate. In what first looks to be the near future and some hard charging marines, we are surprisingly taking way back in time where the modern fight emerges as a bit prehistoric in Sic Semper Draconis by Mark Finn.

As you can see, there is quite a lot packed into Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters. Some elements of these stories stem from traditional folklore while others bring a fresh new light to the genre. Most of the heroes are as complex as the beasts they face, and in some cases, they are one in the same. Be it a novice just looking to learn more about dragons or a veteran hoping to discover some bold new truths, this collection will appeal to any fan of the legendary magical creatures.