Hey all! I’m wearing two hats at the moment — one as the co-creator/editor of Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters from Ragnarok Publications and one as SF Signal contributor. As co-creator/editor of Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters I’m proud to announce that the anthology is now available on the Amazon Kindle store for immediate purchase! As an SF Signal contributor I have to stress how awesome this book is — you really need to read it! For just $4.99 you can get 25 thrilling stories, accompanied by 25 awesome pieces of interior art. By funding the project through Kickstarter (achieving 185% of our initial goal) Ragnarok Publications was able to assemble a one-of-a-kind anthology featuring authors such as Peter Clines (Ex-Heroes), Larry Correia (Monster Hunter International), James Lovegrove (Age of Zeus), Gini Koch as J.C. Koch (Touched by an Alien) and more. The interior art was provided by the superb Robert Elrod and the imaginative Chuck Lukacs. To top it all off comes a tie-in story with Colossal Kaiju Combat from Sunstone Games, written by New York Times bestselling author James Swallow. All this comes wrapped in a beautiful cover provided by the legendary Bob Eggleton. That’s a lot of awesome for just $4.99 but if you’re not yet convinced here’s an exclusive excerpt from “The Banner of the Bent Cross” by Peter Clines…
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BOOK REVIEW: Ex-Patriots by Peter Clines

REVIEW SUMMARY: More awesome super heroes meets zombies, now with super soldiers!

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Things get more complicated for L.A.’s ex-heroes when a unit of super soldiers show up.

MY REVIEW
PROS: Cool heroes; fair representation of the military; better villains; better plotting; better characterization; even better pop-culture references.
CONS: Weak finale with lack of resolution – building up for Ex-Communication; weaker action.
BOTTOM LINE: A good sequel that addresses some problems I had with Ex-Heroes while suffering from a few of its own. Yet still further proof that Clines’s brain should be mined for Hollywood gold.

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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: What authors write the best action? What books feature the best action sequences? What does it take to make action really pop in fiction?

Here’s what they said…

Karina Cooper
After writing happily ever afters for all of her friends in school, Karina Cooper eventually grew up (sort of), went to work in the real world (kind of), where she decided that making stuff up was way more fun (true!). She is the author of dark and sexy paranormal romance and steampunk urban fantasy, and writes across multiple genres with mad glee. One part glamour, one part dork and all imagination, Karina is also a gamer, an airship captain’s wife, and a steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a husband, a menagerie, a severe coffee habit, and a passel of adopted gamer geeks. Visit her at www.karinacooper.com, because she says so.

When it comes to some of the best action I’ve read, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you to Ilona Andrews—notably, her Kate Daniels series. This urban fantasy leans heavily on action, outlining the motion—and painting the intensity—in gorgeous detail that skimps on flowery prose. No superhero with impossible pain tolerance, you’re transported with Kate with every cut, every wound, every agony. When I think about authors and books that feature action, I can’t help but arrow right on this series.

Two other authors that come to mind are Chuck Wendig and Stephen Blackmoore. Both write a kind of urban fantasy genre, but both are extremely different. Wendig’s Miriam Black series—beginning with Blackbirds—shows action with an almost fascinating intensity. He describes combat sequences that aren’t so much “fights” as a grotesquely detached explanation of events that could go wither way. Blackmoore, in both City of the Lost and Dead Things, colors his often vicious action sequences with a noir grit you can feel to your bones. They are terse, which only allows my brain to color in the details with such ease that I’m both repelled and entranced. Exactly where I want to be when I pick up a Blackmoore or Wendig book.

Action can be so hard to get right, and extremely easy to get lost in. Too much detail slows down a scene, and a lot of beginning authors tend to want to block and write every gorgeous detail—like an epic martial arts movie scene. It takes a certain understanding of physical capability, some blocking, and the ability to curtail one’s prose to keep the scene going sharp, fast, tight, like an actual fight is. It’s a hard skill to learn, but one worth every moment spent revising to learn it. A reader caught up in the intensity and speed of a fight is one who is there for every breathless moment.

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BOOK REVIEW: Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

REVIEW SUMMARY: Bound to appeal to fans of zombies and superheroes alike!

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The apocalypse has come and gone, the undead roam the streets of L.A. and superheroes like Mighty Dragon, Zzzap, Cerberus, Gorgon, and Stealth must protect what few living remain.

MY REVIEW
PROS: Cool heroes; original explanation of zombie virus effects and origin; good use of both genres; exciting action; flashbacks flesh out characters; cool setting.
CONS: Too many interchangeable regular people; somewhat boring villain; over too soon.
BOTTOM LINE: Ex-Heroes is a fun genre mash-up that pits superhumans against ex-humans. If ever a book had the potential for a Hollywood blockbuster, this is it.

How has Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines not been adapted for film yet? Really, I want to know? There’s no reasonable excuse I can imagine. Given the enormous popularity of superheroes and zombies, the major success of Marvel’s shared world movies and AMC’s The Walking Dead, it seems like a no-brainer (ha ha) that Ex-Heroes would make the ultimate Box Office killer. Someone call up the studios, I’m about to earn a commission.
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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

I recently watched The Amazing Spider-Man, directed by Marc Webb. I really enjoyed the movie, especially after the horrendous Spider-Man 3, but I know that a lot of people felt that the reboot came too soon. With this on my mind I thought I’d get some feedback from authors regarding the topic of reboots.

The question posed to this week’s panelists:

Q: When are reboots necessary, if ever? What properties could use a reboot? What properties should be protected from reboot? What are some of the best and worst reboots?

Here’s what they said…

Francis Knight
Francis Knight was born and lives in Sussex, England. When not living in her own head, she enjoys SF&F geekery, WWE geekery, teaching her children Monty Python quotes, and boldly going and seeking out new civilizations.

Necessary? Hmm, I’m not sure ever really necessary. Remakes either. I think you really only want to start playing with established works if you’re sure that you can bring something new (and better!) to it. Expand the characters, the universe. In that sense, I don’t think any project should be protected from reboots, if it has the potential to become better and richer for the experience, say something new.

What properties could do with a reboot? Well, perhaps Rambo? With a younger actor, as a veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan? Could work…preferably with less jingoism though, get it right back to ‘Troubled soldier tying to make sense of the aftermath’. Highlander would be superb – we could not have number 2 as well! Blade maybe could do with an overhaul, and Spawn. I’d have said Mad Max and Robocop too, but they’re being/have been done. Perhaps try again on Mad Max

For me, some of the best already done are the Batman series, the new Star Trek (I love how they expanded on our knowledge of characters we thought we knew inside out, and then put them in new and interesting positions), which also goes for the Bond reboot. I also liked the new Dredd. What didn’t work for me? The Conan reboot, Mad Max’s Doomsday… Remake/extensions of old franchises, Prometheus and The Thing prequel just didn’t work for me. The originals (Okay, the Carpenter version of The Thing was a remake itself) were so good, that they would have been better leaving well enough alone.

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SF Signal is pleased to present this exciting excerpt from Ex-heroes, a novel by Peter Clines, who we interviewed yesterday.

Here is the book synopsis for Ex-heroes:

Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes, using their superhuman abilities to make Los Angeles a better place.

Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Billions died, civilization fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland.

Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions protect a last few thousand survivors in their film-studio-turned-fortress, the Mount. Scarred and traumatized by the horrors they’ve endured, the heroes fight the armies of ravenous ex-humans at their citadel’s gates, lead teams out to scavenge for supplies—and struggle to be the symbols of strength and hope the survivors so desperately need.

But the hungry ex-humans aren’t the only threats the heroes face. Former allies, their powers and psyches hideously twisted, lurk in the city’s ruins. And just a few miles away, another group is slowly amassing power…led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all.

After the jump…the excerpt!

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INTERVIEW: Peter Clines on Mixing Zombies and Superheroes

Peter Clines is the author of the genre-blending -14- and the Ex-Heroes series. He grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine and made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper. His first screenplay got him an open door to pitch stories at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager. He is the writer of countless film articles, several short stories, “The Junkie Quatrain”, the rarely-read “The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe”, and the poorly-named website Writer on Writing.


Kristin Centorcelli: Peter, will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

Peter Clines: Well, I grew up in New England. Mostly in Maine, in the shadow of that well-known horror writer from Maine. I spent my early years writing awful comic book scripts (I still have some of the very polite rejection letters Jim Shooter sent me from Marvel), and then I moved on to even worse “novels.” I moved to California on a whim after college (where I wrote ever-so-slightly better novels) and stumbled into the film industry, and that got me playing with screenplays (like half the people in Hollywood). After several years I ended up writing for a screenwriting magazine. That gave me the time to sell some stuff to niche markets. And eventually it hit the point that I was writing fiction full time, because by then I’d made pretty much every mistake you could and figured out how to stop making them. Well, most of them, anyway.
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