The Chicon Haul

Go to a con, come back with books.  It was pretty inevitable.

The Dealer’s Room at Chicon was a pretty cool place.  Imagine this – an enormous room full of books, media, artwork, and clothing galore.  In the attached room of equal size was an area filled with classic arcade games and full-sized Battletech pods.  I found myself wandering down there to unwind just about every day.

Angry Robot was the recipient of most of my money. Mostly because they had a good deal and also because I’m really liking what they are putting out.  And no, it has nothing to do with my manuscript being there.  Honest.  Serious. Unless it helps then ‘full steam ahead!’

Fortunately, I was able to get everything into my suitcase without having to toss anything.

The Chicon Haul

The Hammer and the Blade by Paul Kemp 

Kill the demon. Steal the treasure. Retire to a life of luxury.

Sounds easy when you put it like that.  Unfortunately for Egil and Nix, when the demon they kill has friends in high places, retirement is not an option.

Between waiting at the airport, killing time at the con, and just lounging at home, I finished this one today.  Loved every page.  I think it’s because it’s a throwback to the books I enjoyed as a kid when I was first getting into fantasy.  Sure, there’s not a ton of dramatic characterization or expansive worlds to explore, but there’s enough hints and stuff that it kept me moving.

The Corpse Rat King by Lee Battersby

Marius don Hellespont and his apprentice, Gerd, are professional looters of battlefields. When they stumble upon the corpse of the King of Scorby and Gerd is killed, Marius is mistaken for the monarch by one of the dead soldiers and is transported down to the Kingdom of the Dead.

Just like the living citizens, the dead need a King — after all, the King is God’s representative, and someone needs to remind God where they are.  And so it comes to pass that Marius is banished to the surface with one message: if he wants to recover his life he must find the dead a King. Which he fully intends to do.

Just as soon as he stops running away.

Premise sounded interesting and I liked the cover.  I’d heard some good things about it from others and when I was talking to the guy at the Angry Robot booth, we got on the subject of the Open Call and my own submission.  He mentioned that CRK was selected from their first Open Call and that kind of sealed it.  As an aside, I didn’t even realize at the time I was picking it up on release day. Should have tried to find the author at Chicon and gotten an autograph.

The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes

After accidentally summoning a demon while playing poker, the normally mild-mannered Chesney Anstruther refuses to sell his soul… which leads through various confusions to, well, Hell going on strike. Which means that nothing bad ever happens in the world – and that actually turns out to be a really bad thing.

There’s only one thing for it. Satan offers Chesney the ultimate deal – sign the damned contract, and he can have his heart’s desire. And thus the strangest superhero duo ever seen – in Hell or on Earth – is born!

Name aside, I like Hughes’ writing.  He’s clever, witty, and entertaining.  The premise of this one sounded pretty cool so it was a no-brainier.  Plus it looks good on the shelf.  Seriously though – when I approach the AR booth, the guy manning it pointed at my name badge, then this book, and said “Your not the Matt Hughes, are you?”  Laughed, said no, then let him know that I had a full submission in with them.  That got us on a short conversation about pen names and the like.  Hopefully I didn’t embarrass myself too much.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

Chuck Wendig is a hell of a story teller.  Beyond that, he’s a strong advocate for sharing knowledge with other writers.  I follow his blog and have a couple of his non-fiction books on writing.  All solid advice.  I read the first five chapters of Blackbirds in e-book format but really wanted a paperback copy.  As a bonus, I got a signed copy.  I would have gone for a signing myself but I’m very scared of Wendig’s beard.  Dude, it’s scary.

There were also author signings and I got books signed by Jim C. Hines, Patrick Rothfuss, and Robert J. Sawyer.  I also picked up a gift for my brother and got him an signed drawing from one of his favorite artists.  I’m sure I’ll send it to him at some point but I’d like to see how long I can drag the torture out.

Shlock Mercenary

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