Works of fiction appearing here are © 2011-2017 by Jack H. Tyler, and are not to be assumed to lie in the public domain.
Any reproduction of this material is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Vampires in the Big Easy

          Those in the New Orleans area this coming Wednesday have an opportunity to meet David Lee Summers, a well-regarded author in many genres.  He'll be signing books at...  Well, all the scuttlebutt is in his very informative post that came in this morning.  This guy has the Blimprider Seal of Approval, so don't miss it if you can!  And if you must, you can keep up with David's busy writing life at https://davidleesummers.wordpress.com

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          I am on the road this weekend. I just participated in a fabulous book signing for Straight Outta Tombstone at the Barnes and Noble in Glendale, Colorado. My next stop is New Orleans, Louisiana where I’ll be researching some of the locations in my next steampunk novel, Owl Riders. I’ll also be at Boutique du Vampyre on Wednesday, August 23 from 3 to 6pm to sign copies of my vampire novels and Straight Outta Tombstone.
           My vampire novels tell the story of the Scarlet Order, a band of vampire mercenaries who fight evil. The first novel, Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order tells the story of the Scarlet Order’s origin during the middle ages, their role in the grail quest and their encounter with the human prince known as Vlad the Impaler. The second novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order carries their story to the present day where they must stop a top secret project to create vampire-like super soldiers.
          My story in Straight Outta Tombstone features the Scarlet Order vampires as they would be if they existed in my Clockwork Legion universe. It’s a fun, twisted crossover that celebrates one of the first vampire stories, Carmilla, and imagines an alternate explanation to the real life Albert Fountain disappearance. Who was Albert Fountain you ask? He was Billy the Kid’s defense attorney and his empty grave is behind my home in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
          Boutique du Vampyre is a terrific shop in New Orleans’ French Quarter. They have an assortment of vampire themed gifts including apparel and accessories, dolls, jewelry, and wine. They’ll even help you create a great New Orleans vampire adventure. Come hang out with us at Boutique du Vampyre this coming Wednesday, chat for a while, and find some great gifts!
The boutique is located at 709 1/2 St. Ann Street. Call 504-561-8267 for more information, or RSVP for the signing at the event’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/486214595060988/. Even if you can’t make the signing, you can get my vampire books from the Boutique by visiting https://feelthebite.com/collections/vampire-library-books-for-sale

Friday, August 18, 2017

Old Friends, New Books, and a Big Ol' Party!

          Arriving on my feed this morning was Karen Carlisle's photoblog about her book launch at the Steampunk Festival in Port Adelaide, Australia.  There are many pictures, and as I don't want to change the focus or presentation during a transfer, I'm simply going to provide the link.  Please take the time to follow it for a look into this wonderful community of enthusiasts.  You won't be sorry!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Free Books!

           Opened my feed this morning to find this just in from the very active William J. Jackson.  Not much to say here.  Go survey the field and commence your harvest!
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          Howdy. I am again taking part in a free ebook giveaway involving Instafreebie, and set up by talented indie author Dean Wilson. Looking for a grwat science fiction or fantasy read at no cost? Start here.
          I offer up a preview of my steampunk junior novel The Blossom of Hours. Give it, and many more titles, a try. Click the link and explore!  http://sffbookbonanza.com/freebooks/

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Weird Western Showdown

          Found this simmering on my feed this morning, fresh off the page from the website of David Lee Summers.  I've had the pleasure of seeing this gentleman on a panel.  He is not to be missed if you're in the area!
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          This Saturday, I’ll join bestselling authors Jim Butcher, Kevin J. Anderson, Sarah A. Hoyt, Peter J. Wacks, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Naomi Brett Rourke, Sam Knight and editor David Boop to discuss the genesis of the anthology Straight Outta Tombstone, reminisce about our careers, and sign our books.
          In my story Fountains of Blood, Billy and Larissa from the Clockwork Legion series tangle with Marcella and Rosen from the Scarlet Order vampire series while caught up in the historical Albert Fountain disappearance.   I’m not the only author revisiting familiar characters.   Jim Butcher reveals the origin of one of the Dresden Files’ most popular characters in A Fistful of Warlocks.  And Kevin J. Anderson’s Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., finds himself in a showdown in High Midnight.  Plus there are stories from Larry Correia, Alan Dean Foster, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael A. Stackpole, Phil Foglio, Robert E. Vardeman and many more.  Readers in Las Cruces and Tucson might even find copies I’ve signed at their local Barnes and Noble stores.
          Lots of fun and a few surprises at this event!  Mosey on down and celebrate this amazing anthology!

Here are the details:
August 18th, 7pm
Barnes and Noble
960 S Colorado Blvd
Glendale, CO 80246
Call for more information, 303-691-2998 or
RVSP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/251489345342065/

Sunday, August 13, 2017

FIREFLY: The Game

          "Find a crew... find a job... keep flying!"
                                   ~ Box Tagline

          Pretty much everyone alive who I know is aware of Joss Whedon's series Firefly, sabotaged by its network after one partial season.  Fewer are aware of Gale Force Nine Games' Firefly: The Game.  We played a session today, my wife, my daughter, and I, and a great time was had by all.
          The Firefly game is based directly on the short-lived series by the Master, and is as true to the source material as any follow-on media I've ever seen.  I chose to show the back of the box below, as its photograph shows the game all set up and ready to play.  It consists of the map of the area of space where Firefly takes place, multiple card decks that represent items you can buy on supply worlds such as Silverhold and Persephone, and jobs you can get from such personages as Badger, Patience, and Niska.  Up to four can play, each captain taking a Firefly class transport represented by die-cast plastic models, and cruising around space looking to hire crew, pick up jobs, and complete them for cash.  Cruising the black can be a dangerous proposition, and two decks of cards are included to produce chance encounters in Alliance Space, and out in Border Space, away from the central star.  Yet another deck controls the "misbehavin'" it is necessary to do to complete some of the riskier, but higher paying jobs.
          This is the back of the box, shown large to clearly include everything in a legible fashion.  What it doesn't show is the Blue Sun expansion that we include in our games which adds another board half the size of the one you see to the left side of the map with Meridian, Mr. Universe's station, and Miranda with its dangerous reavers and their attendant mysteries, plus more card decks to support them.  By the time you include space for discards, money, and marker tokens, this game has the largest footprint I've ever seen, with the sole exception of Avalon Hill's The Longest Day, a battalion-level simulation of the Normandy Invasion.  This ain't no joke!  To play this with enough space to be comfortable, we have to rearrange our living room.  It's worth it!  This is the expanded board:

          Shown here are a few sample character cards.  You can see how each character, and they are all people seen in the show or the Serenity movie, brings certain skills and talents to the captain who hires him or her.

          Skills can be enhanced by purchasing gear at the various spaceports one visits, and with crew in hand, and all the fine equipment you can cram into the hold, its time to go looking for work.

          You visit the various nefarious characters around the rim, and evaluate what work they have to offer.  You look to see what the job requires, and choose jobs whose requirements can be met by the skills of your crew.  Legal jobs are usually straightforward fetch-and-carry affairs, but illegal and/or immoral jobs require some "misbehavin'," usually accomplished through a series of die rolls modified by the skills you possess in order to succeed, and the consequences of failure can be grim.

          We like to play the scenario that is most like the show, the simple effort to accumulate cash.  I played Womack, the vicious renegade Fed from the episode The Message, where the old war buddy was smuggling organs inside his own body.  My ship was the Bonnie Mae, which seems fitting, as my wife is Bonnie Gay.  I started in Osiris, just inside Alliance Space, and was able to add Simon Tam to my crew.  He is very intelligent, has two "wrenches" on his card signifying mechanical expertise, and is far and away the best medic in the game.  He is also a wanted fugitive, which made me an outlaw ship and in trouble with the Alliance right off the bat.  You can avoid the Alliance by going "a little farther out," like Mal used to say, but as you leave the Alliance's area of influence, you become more likely to be targeted by reavers, and they don't care whether your papers are in order or not; they're just as happy to eat them,  too!  None of this was helped by the fact that, stopping in for resupply at another planet, I picked up Simon's sister, River.  Womack is the kind of guy who would turn them in at the drop of a hat, but both characters add so much to your skill set (although River's bonuses are randomized on each attempted use) that even a crud like Womack might keep them around.  I sure did, and they were indeed useful.
          I began by doing a couple of legal jobs while tiptoeing around the Alliance's patrol cruiser to pick up some modest but safe working capital.  I delivered three crates of rocks across the breadth of Alliance Space whose weight cost me twice the fuel consumption per burn, then when I got out there to deliver it, I picked up two tons of manure from Patience to deliver to an agricultural planet.  These trips caused me to transit the edges of Alliance Space, and I was accosted by the cruiser patrol on several occasions.  Once I ditched him by deploying the Cry Baby, but I didn't have another one, and he soon returned to his sniffing around...  Thanks, daughter!  Eventually, he discovered River in one of my smuggling bins, and they dragged her off in irons.  Surprisingly, Simon didn't freak out on me, but that's how the game works.  Once I stepped up to doing some misbehavin', I would occasionally slip up, and get a warrant issued.  This makes you even more attractive to the Alliance, and once they catch you, you have to pay your fine of $1,000 per warrant to go your way.  Bonnie got caught repeatedly with something out of order, once with two warrants, and she eventually finished the game with $600 after starting with $3,000.
          I had a run of jobs to do, but running into difficulty on my misbehavin' cost me some warrants, and thus some money, and I finished with $4,200, a modest profit.  Daughter cleaned house after a rough start.  Movement is handled as follows:  You can always move one space without drawing any chance encounter cards.  To move more, usually five, you have to burn a fuel token, which cost money to replace.  As you start moving, you draw cards, and for the first few turns, she would pay the fuel, start to move, and immediately get jumped by the patrol, which even if it doesn't harm you, brings you to a halt, and you forfeit the rest of your turn while they search you from keel to masthead.  Eventually, she was able to gather a few lucrative jobs in a localized area, and rather quickly amassed over $14,000, with $12,000 needed to win.  Luck, as you can see, plays a role, but with several hundred cards in the game, it balances out.  It was in for her this game, but in all likelihood, it will be in someone else's corner next time we play.
          The downside of this game is that there is very little interaction possible.  If I see you about to win, there is precious little I can do about it.  I can try to beat you to a location and swipe a job out from under your nose, but as a rule, I'm trying to make my own money, not interfere with yours.  If you have a "disgruntled" crew member, I can steal him from you by moving into your space and paying his hire price, but the only way I can really, seriously harm you is to move through space out on the rim hoping to draw that magic card that will set the reavers on you, but the odds of me drawing something that will harm me instead are about ten times greater than getting the one that will bite you.  What this means is that this is a great solitaire game.  You don't need other players, you can just go to various planets, hiring crew and taking jobs, until you reach the dollar figure to win, the reavers eat you, or the Alliance bankrupts you.  There are also other scenarios that are based on goals other than money, so there are many ways to approach it.
          The bottom line is that we had a great time, and if you like games, this one has a fascinating combination of mechanics that weave a convoluted tale of conflicting strategies.  If you like Firefly, the show, this game puts you in it, with all the personalities, locations, gadgets, and capers from the series, as well as many, many more that capture the flavor exquisitely.  Finally, if you are a solo gamer, this one is made with you in mind.  No matter the number of players, you'll be living on the black, misbehavin', and keeping it shiny all the day long.  Join the crew, or build your own, and get in on the action.  It's a wonderful way for your local group of Browncoats to spend an afternoon!