A Single Round – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SUMMARY

A SINGLE ROUND, is a collection of short stories from a HARD PLACE. Stories of moonshine and shotguns, obsession and transcendence, love and darkness, and the blindness of human desire. Each tale follows a painful path to one ultimate realization: the devil’s deal always ends badly, often with a single round.

The head that was found on the blacktop tells a tale in Johnny Fucking Carson.
Tommy watches his dream love become a nightmare in Together Forever.
Fame has a dark side, Becoming Famous echoes the age old warning, ‘Be Careful what you wish for’.
A story of realization, loss, and transformation takes flight in Redwing.
Never judge a book by its cover, even one with fangs, as a surprise awaits in Doc’s Choice.
The Grounded, sometimes the dream of escape should remain a dream.
A tale of a man who fell in love with a woman who forgot him in The Dog Walker.
The Ride will make you second guess what you thought you were sure of.

REVIEW 4/5 STARS

A Single Round is a series of short stories that are tied together with the theme of making a deal with the devil. Every deal is different and they all turn out in interesting ways. Never do they turn out as the characters expect.

At a crossroads, if you go there at midnight, you will meet a man who drives a big black car and calls himself the Judge. You’d be wise to stay away from him except… he can offer you your heart’s desire. He can give you the one thing you want most in the world and all it will cost is your soul. For some people, maybe even a lot of people, that’s a price they are willing to pay.

All of the stories in A Single Round play out with this setup. Some deliver better than others but for the most part the stories are interesting and engaging. While this could get overly repetitive, the book avoids this by making the stories somewhat interrelated and some characters tend to show up more often than others. There is some depth in most, but not all of the stories. On the surface of it, some of the things people sell their souls for might be considered trivial but later in the story the reader is shown that there is more to the story.

R A Jacobson does a fine job of setting the mood and making the reader quickly get to know the characters and feel for their plight. Although, some characters are much easier to sympathize with than others due to some of the choices they make.

Reminiscent of Needful Things by Stephen King or short stories where the buyer should beware such as The Monkey’s Paw by W.W Jacobs, this is a great collection of bite sized terror and tragedy to read through right before bed at night.

Damage Report – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SUMMARY

This is a book about mistakes and possibilities- some that change the lives of a few, and some that change the lives of many. In The Old Man, Bob is two hundred fifty years old, a survivor of the global warming that nearly destroyed humanity. Things have gotten boring lately and his best friend is thinking about ending it all. Their extended lifespans also have a small liability that makes them both wonder if it’s worth it to stick around. In Long Shot, most of the Northern Hemisphere has been destroyed in a global nuclear war. A team of American aviators is assigned to assassinate the Russian marshal who gave the order for a nuclear attack. Only the U.S. Navy has resources remaining that can reach across the globe to complete the mission. In the title story Damage Report, a colony ship of a starfaring people goes into orbit around a planet bearing the remains of an extinct civilization. The ruins are only a thousand years old and are the best chance of the star people to understand why only their species has survived out of hundreds of predecessors within hundreds of light years of their home world.

REVIEW 3/5 STARS

Damage Report is a collection of short stories that involve life and death in some way. The first story, The Old Man, deals with a man who appears old in a civilization that has defeated disease and aging. There are a few others like him but when almost everyone alive is young and beautiful and you have lived far beyond what your expected life span, is there still any purpose to life itself? The second story Long Shot deals with the immediate aftermath of a nuclear war on earth. The Navy has found the man responsible for starting the war and they decide to do something about it even with the limited resources they have. The third and final story, Damage Report is about a colony of space travelers who come upon a planet that has recently destroyed itself through nuclear war. The colony must decide if they should live on the planet but their findings also leave them questioning why their species seems to be the only one who has thrived long enough to conquer other worlds.

While all three stories have their strong points, the best of them is The Old Man. Bob is faced with a quiet existential dilemma. He has few friends left and barring an unexpected violent accident he might live nearly forever. Should he continue on or do as some of his friends have and choose to end his own life. The story confronts the reader with the question of how much life is necessary.

Long Shot is interesting due to the use of drone warfare and the realistic aspect of what would be likely military actions post nuclear war. At times it may give a bit too much information about the weapons and hardware used but if the reader loves to know about those things there is plenty here to stay satisfied.

Damage Report does a fine job of telling what it would be like to be a civilization that has not only survived but thrived because instead of repeating mistakes they learn from them.

All three stories make the reader think about the possibilities for this world and what might or might not bring about the end for us all. It’s a solid meditation on life under the threat of global disasters.

If you enjoy short fiction and like hard science fiction, realistic military fiction and stories that make you think about life, Damage Report is certainly worth a read.

Gunmetal Gods – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

They took his daughter, so Micah comes to take their kingdom. Fifty thousand gun-toting paladins march behind him, all baptized in angel blood, thirsty to burn unbelievers.

Only the janissaries can stand against them. Their living legend, Kevah, once beheaded a magus amid a hail of ice daggers. But ever since his wife disappeared, he spends his days in a haze of hashish and poetry.

To save the kingdom, Kevah must conquer his grief and become the legend he once was. But Micah writes his own legend in blood, and his righteous conquest will stop at nothing.

When the gods choose sides, a legend will be etched upon the stars.

REVIEW 5/5 STARS

Kevah was once a hero who did the impossible. He killed a magus and his legend was born. Ten years later he is old and leads a life averse to warfare but his time will come again. Meanwhile, Micah the metal has been on a conquest for his faith. He has conquered much of the world and now he comes for Kostany, the city that Kevah lives in. He will stop at nothing to achieve his victory.

When an author is bold enough to name a book Gunmetal Gods, they better deliver the goods with a huge, epic story that is an absolute page turner full of amazing battles, intense political intrigue, and surprises at every turn. That is exactly what author Zamil Akhtar has done.

The parallel stories of Kevah and Micah intertwine and intersect in surprising ways as the world moves with them and around them. As the book progresses, the reader only becomes more engaged in the story as the cast of characters grows.

Battle scenes are fascinating in this book with the combination of swordplay, magic, and technological advancements in the early development of guns. They are vividly described and utterly thrilling to read.

The book is full of well realized characters, a deep culture that is well thought out, incredible creatures and amazing beings that turn the tide of the story and everything else you would want in a fantasy tale. This book easily stands with the best of epic fantasy fiction.

If you love sweeping epics like the Game of Thrones series or Throne of the Crescent Moon, drop whatever else you are reading and pick up this book. It’s as bold as the title and it delivers on all fronts. Remember Zamil Akhtar’s name because if he keeps writing like this, he will be the next well known epic fantasy author to have a global fanbase.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

When Colour Became Grey – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

After her unexpected death, Ameerah is sentenced to several decades as a ghost in a parallel world. At the end of it she will be granted a second chance at her human life, returning to the moment she died and surviving her accident. Her duty is to hunt and kill demons, but this dangerous new world demands more than just years of service. Soon she realises the demons are not the only ones threatening her survival. Her new friends are scarce and as they struggle to make it, she can’t help but wonder if the promise of a second chance was not a ruse all along.

REVIEW

3/5 STARS

Ameerah had barely begun her life when it ended. An average woman suddenly finds herself in a parallel world, required to hunt demons and vampires for years before she will be allowed a chance to return to our own world. In Idolon, there are dangers everywhere and Ameerah will need to rely on her trainer, her master, and her wits in order to survive. Will she be able to make enough friends and allies to survive the world she is in or will she be doomed to give in to her own demons?

The book has a nice mix of different creatures of the night and there are plenty of good action scenes where Ameerah is fighting for her life. There are also elements of romance here and they play out nicely throughout the story. The world of Idolon is quite interesting although the reader is left with questions as to why Ameerah was chosen to end up there. It’s likely that some of that will be answered in coming volumes so it’s not too distracting to the reader to not have all the answers by the end.

The end of the book is able to surprise the reader while still concluding the story for the most part. The worldbuilding is done well and most of the rules of the supernatural creatures seem to stay consistent within the book. It would have been nice to see a little more background of Ameerah’s life before she dies but that is a minor complaint given the rest of the story. It will be interesting to see the continuing adventures of Ameerah in the next volume and I am looking forward to reading it.

If you like paranormal stories. stories that take place on different worlds similar to our own or shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer this is definitely worth a read.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

Lovecraft Country – #BookReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review another book from my September to be read list. This time I am reviewing the inspiration for the hit HBO show of the same name, Lovecraft Country.

SUMMARY

The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.

REVIEW

5/5 STARS

In Chicago in 1954, Atticus Turner receives a letter from his father. The letter will take him to a place full of horrors, terrors, and the real nightmare of segregationist America. He has to travel deep into Lovecraft country where monsters roam and the cosmic terror of the world seems to be alive. It will take everything Atticus and his whole family have to brave the terrors that confront them and remain sane.

Usually when there is a book and a movie or television show and I have read and seen them both, I am able to tell you if one is better than the other. Most of the time I come down on the side of the book being better but occasionally there is a movie or series that outperforms its source material. I can’t make the distinction either way here. The book and the show are both amazing in their own unique way.

The book, unlike the show, feels a little smaller in scope even though it deals with the strange cosmic entities that populate Lovecraftian horror. The drama is still personal and much like the show, there can be true horror facing the characters in the guise of monsters who only seem insignificant in the face of the terrors of racial prejudice and violence. The true terror comes from reality in both the book and the show and I think that is what makes the story feel so visceral and real.

Matt Ruff has created an intriguing cast of characters here and the situations he places them in are imaginative and brilliant. And while certain details differ from the show, this book is just as engaging. It’s a satisfying conclusion but I hope that there will be sequels to the book.

If you love historical fiction, pulp fiction, science fiction or cosmic horror even a little bit, this book is well worth a read.

Cosmically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

September 2020 TBR

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I just wanted to share with you my September 2020 TBR list as it currently stands. Note that some of this could change as I do tend to be a slower reader and some books may get pushed back a little. There may also be books added if I see one that peaks my interest in ReedsyDiscovery. For personal reasons I am trying to keep this list a little short but I do end up picking up more books than I expect each month so more could be added. This month I will be continuing a couple of series I started earlier this year and catch up with what I missed last month. I will also be adding some new titles. If you have a TBR list, let me know what’s on it in the comments.

  1. Roa Seeks by Electra Nanou

This is a little bit like putting Write a To Do List on your To Do list. I read this book and posted my review yesterday but since that was the first day of September, it counts! This was a charming little fantasy book that I quite enjoyed. Read my review of it here.

2. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

I had hoped to finish this book last month but let’s be honest, fantasy books are long. That’s one of the things I love about them but if you are not the fastest reader, it’s a struggle. If I don’t finish any other books this month, this will be the one I do finish. I have already read more than one hundred pages so far and let’s just say, this is so freaking good! I can’t wait to finish it and share my thoughts with all of you.

3. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

This is the second book in the Broken Earth trilogy. I know that this series has a lot of fans. I read the first book last month and I honestly struggled with it a bit but I was interested enough to want to know what happens next. I really did not enjoy the second person point of view in the first book but I don’t know if the second book is written in the same style. Even if it is, there could be something great in this series that just didn’t click with me so I am going to give it a fair shake (see what I did there? If you read the book you get it) and continue the series. This is on the condition that I can get a hold of a library copy so this could move to October. If you want to read my review of the first book in the series you can read it here.

4. When Colour Became Grey by A. C. Lorenzen

This is an Urban Fantasy book that I am looking forward to digging in. It’s about a woman who has an untimely death and is sentenced to hunt down demons over and over. I like the idea and am very interested to see where this will go.

5. Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

If you have seen my raving reviews of the HBO show of the same name, you will know that I very much want to read Loveraft Country as soon as possible. This is another one where I am dependent on the library having an available copy, so we will see considering how popular this is at the moment. If you want to read my spoiler free review of the first episode of the show you can read that here.

6. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hadju

If any of these books on this list get pushed back, this will probably be the first one that gets pushed. I really do want to read this book and I am fascinated with the history of comic books but then again this is an older book and I haven’t gotten to it yet so one more month won’t hurt it. If I don’t get to this in September this will get moved higher on October’s list.

Let me know what you think of my list and if you have a TBR I should check out, let me know in the comments!

Bookishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

Roa Seeks – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

The chronicles begin with a tale of exiles, disillusionment, and stubborn hope, reminiscent of Pratchett and Tolkien. Will a strange band of misfits be enough to protect a world from a monstrous threat?

Demons stir in Itania, and Meecha Roa, the black sheep of his family, travels from his home world to this legendary planet to investigate. But all he knows about Itania is what other secret agents of the angels have recounted. A place of magic, dragons, elves, humans, and simmering strife.

The mission seems simple enough: explore the activity of the demons and their servants. At the same time, track down and recruit a rogue elf demon-hunter called Azare. Except nothing is simple in Itania, especially with so much brewing in the shadows. Through hardship and precious friendships, his intricate discoveries will shake his heart and loyalty to the core as the demons turn out to be hunting for an infamous key to hell, secreted away by a master thief and lockbox-maker.

Meecha realises that what he seeks on his epic adventure are not answers and solutions just for the Aerieti, but also himself… The part he plays in this critical chess match between angels and demons.

REVIEW

4/5 STARS

Meecha Roa is a misfit to his family. He never quite fits in. What they don’t know is that Meecha is a hero. He travels through dimensions to other worlds where he takes on evils of all kinds. In his latest mission, he is tasked to understand the situation in a world called Itania. While there he will also need to find an elf demon hunter named Azare. The mission sounds simple enough but Meecha doesn’t know the depth of danger he has gotten into. He will need to make unlikely friends and allies to survive this mission.

Roa Seeks is full of adventure. There are creatures of all kinds on Itania and they keep the reader engaged. One of the best creatures introduced was a large cat and its cub, but will it befriend Meecha or eat him instead? And of course, there are demons that could pop up at any turn, making the danger more imminent.

The world-traveling is interesting and the way that Meecha is able to travel between those worlds was quite intriguing. At times it did feel as if some of the characters that Meecha interacted with could have had more of a back story to them but perhaps we will see that explored in future volumes.

There are also several great illustrations in the book. The cover art may give you an indication but the illustrations are quite accurate to the book descriptions and very well made.

Meecha is a particularly charming character and is extremely likable. He does his best even though the world around him is much larger than he is. That’s something a lot of us can relate to. The book has plenty of potential for a long-running, series and it will be interesting to see where Meecha goes from here.

If you love books full of magical worlds, strange and beautiful landscapes and creatures, and epic battles between good and evil, Roa Seeks is a great addition to have on your bookshelf.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter – #BookReview

Hey all, Slick Dungeon here, back to review another book for you. This time I am reviewing Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne.

SYNOPSIS

In the late 21st century, humanity left Earth due to multiple resource shortcomings aggravated by an acceleration in climate change. They settled Echo, a planet that was nearly a carbon copy of Earth except for being devoid of all but the most basic life forms. Fast forward 1200 years later. Echo has endured over a thousand years of dark age. Corporations and government merged early on, becoming the oppressive authority known as the Regime. Military and police merged into the Department of Enforcement, their only mission to crush the huge network of rebels known as the Dissidents. Over half the planet is covered by decaying cityscapes and the elite live high above, removed and remote from the greater populace on the moon-city of Ascension. Hope lies in one man, a former Enforcer named Atriya. But before he can break the cycle of darkness and ignorance on Echo, he has to do it within himself.

REVIEW

4/5 STARS

Atriya is a Crusader. This means that he is part of an elite military force where only the best of the best are recruited. He constantly pushes himself to go beyond the limits of human endurance and is trying to reach the next level of performance and understanding.

Lately, Atriya is getting the feeling that something is wrong. Wrong with the Regime that controls Echo, wrong with the way his fellow Enforcers operate, and maybe, something wrong with him. He starts searching for answers from his mentor and starts to rethink everything he knows.

Echo is fast-paced and full of action. There are plenty of great scenes for those who love the mash-up of science fiction and the military. Atriya is an engaging character and the reader will easily root for him to stand out above the rest. The world that Wayne portrays is fully developed and highly interesting. It’s also clear that Wayne knows his military hardware so if you are a fan of that, there is plenty to love in this book.

Personally, I felt like there were a few too many info dumps about the military weaponry but I know some people really love that kind of thing. It would also have been nice if the book was a little longer, but even if you only purchase the first volume, you do get the next three chapters of the second volume so it’s well worth the price.

If you love futuristic military action, this is the book for you. And if you read the book and like it, you should follow the author at https://dirtyscifibuddha.com/

He has a ton of free stuff there and it’s a great blog that I follow myself.

Crusadingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Fifth Season – #BookReview

Hey all, Slick Dungeon here, back to review another book for you. This time I am reviwing The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.

SYNOPSIS

This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

REVIEW

3/5 STARS

This book is a little difficult to summarize but I will do my best. In this world, there are people who are capable of controlling and moving the very earth itself. These people are called Orogenes, or in a more negative conext, called Rogga. They are capable of preventing earthquakes but they are also capable of causing them. Therefore they have the potential for massive destruction. There are also people called Guardians who can negate this power that the Orogenes have. In addition there are giant obelisks that seems to have some sort of strange power that come out of the earth every once in a while. There are also stone eaters that, well, I guess, eat stone. Finally, there are the Stills. Stills are normal people without any of these powers. Every few hundred years or so, there is a calamity called a season that starts and people have to find ways to shelter themselves for centuries. The Fifth Season is destined to be the one that ends the world for good.

The book unfolds in three time periods. One period deals with Damaya, a young woman who, as an Orogene, is taken to a place called the Fulcrum where she is made to learn how to use her powers. The second is about a woman called Syenite who has left Fulcrum and is learning from a new master named Alabaster. The third period is about you. It’s told in the second person and you are left to wonder, exactly, who you are and what will happen.

While I found much of the story interesting, and I thought the system of powers in the book was fascinating, I honestly struggled with the second person point of view narrative. I am not a fan of that point of view unless I am reading a choose your own adventure book. By the end of the book I understood why the author chose it and I was a little more okay with it, but I really had difficulty finding my bearings in the story.

I don’t want to give too much away because I do think it is an interesting book but I feel like if that second person point of view was removed, it would not hurt the story at all. All three time periods do interrelate, I just would have preferred it not be told in second person at all.

I found the story of Damaya the most interesting and I think I would not have minded a whole book about her experience from start to end. The other two sections didn’t work quite as well for me, although, I can see why some people love this book. There are twists and turns the reader does not expect.

I plan to give the next volume a read, just because I want to know where the story goes from here but this was not my favorite fantasy book this year. It, however, is unlike most other fantasy books on the shelves, so it is nice to have a unique story. It just was not entirely for me.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

An Interview with Andrew C. Piazza Author of A Song For The Void

Hi everyone, Slick Dungeon here and guess who appeared out of the cosmos and in my dungeon! Andrew Piazza, the author of the spectacular book A Song For The Void about a cosmic horror on the high seas during the Opium Wars in 1853. You should all go out and read it, right after you finish reading this post. Andrew was nice enough to let me ask him a few questions about the book, about his speculative fiction and his writing process. Welcome to my dungeon, Andrew, and thank you for joining me! Without further ado let’s get into the interview. 

Slick: A Song For The Void is not just a cosmic horror novel but a historical cosmic horror novel. Why did you feel it was a story well suited to the time period of the Opium Wars? Had you ever considered other time periods to set it in?

Andrew: The story came about as a synthesis of two separate pieces; first, the 
creature known as the Darkstar.  I came up with the idea for this 
particular nastie a while back, but I wasn’t sure where to put it.   
Then, as I started going down a rabbit hole reading about the history 
of the Opium Wars (I have a tendency to find such rabbit holes) I 
realized I had exactly the right setting.  Using that setting and that 
monster allowed me to discuss some of the themes present in the novel; 
addiction, identity, existentialism.

Slick: How much research goes into being historically accurate in your fiction? 

Andrew: Quite a lot.  I usually have to throttle back a bit, because there is 
always a risk of going overboard and including TOO much of the 
history.  In doing so, an author can compromise the narrative flow.  I 
recently read a historical horror novel set in approximately the same 
time period that suffered this mistake.  The author had clearly done 
exhaustive research and was very keen to show it all off, but the plot 
began to drag as a consequence.  It’s best to learn as much as you 
can, and then “forget” it so to speak, and let the setting be just 
that… a background that is very believable so as to create an 
immersive experience for the reader… a more perfect illusion, if you 
like.


Slick: What is your writing process like? Do you dedicate time to it every day or do you wait for inspiration to hit?

Andrew: I don’t subscribe to the need to write a certain number of words per 
day.  I do work on my books every day, but that need not be composing 
of a rough draft… it could be research, outlining, editing, etc.


Slick: In the book, there is a menacing cosmic entity that threatens the people aboard the HMS Charger called the Darkstar. What gave you the idea for that entity and the horrors it introduces to the characters?

Andrew: (Mild spoilers) I liked the idea of a cosmic creature that could wipe 
out humanity except for the presence of the magnetosphere.  That is a 
peculiar quirk of our planet this is highly underrated.  It protects 
us from certain death in the form of cosmic radiation, and most of us 
have no idea.  It fits in very nicely with the general concepts of 
cosmic terror, which come from being a tiny creature in a vast and 
dangerous universe.


Slick: The main character, Doctor Pearce, struggles with addiction. Not just addiction to substances but addiction to the past and what he has lost. Do you think that this topic is one you will explore further in future works?

Andrew: Struggling with the momentum of one’s past is a common ailment, so I 
will undoubtedly have characters struggling with this in the future, 
but I don’t know if it, or addiction in general, will be as front and 
center of a theme as in this novel.


Slick: The story also gets quite philosophical at points. It poses the question of what we truly are. If someone has head trauma and their personality changes, are they still that same person? Is there anything behind the machinery of our bodies? This kind of question perfectly matches with the cosmic horrors that appear in the book. Why did you want to dive into these questions and do you think you arrived at answers for yourself?

Andrew: If you really want to freak yourself out, read up on what happens when 
portions of the brain are damaged by injury or disease.  Or studies on 
how flimsy our knowledge of consciousness really is.  At the time of 
the novel’s setting (mid 1800’s), science was rapidly displacing 
religion as an explanation for how things are.  A transcendent 
explanation… we are all special creatures with a near-magical, 
eternal “spirit” residing within, began to be replaced by a more nuts 
and bolts approach, leading to an existential hole that still exists 
today.  It is the great challenge of modern philosophy to provide the 
consolations of religion, but still within the framework of logic and 
science.

A few years ago, I was blind-sided with an unexpected medical 
diagnosis that required dangerous surgery.  For a short time, I 
thought I might not be around to wake up the next day.  It got me 
thinking quite a lot about these kinds of existential dilemmas.  Part 
of dealing with that was in re-prioritizing my writing, which I had 
let wane in the years before out of the standard distractions of career.

Slick: I am glad that everything worked out okay for you and glad you picked writing back up so we could have some great stories to read.


Slick: This book kept me up late at night, not just reading, but also because it is genuinely scary. With Lovecraftian style horror, it would be easy to go overboard and make the horrors seem almost silly. Yet you were able to deftly maneuver the reader so that it was horrific without being outlandish. Is that a difficult balance to accomplish?

Andrew: It’s a tightrope, to be sure.  Part of the key of writing effective 
horror is to establish a strong sense of normalcy and a belief in the 
world the author has created… now we’re circling around to your 
question on historical accuracy.  Writing a setting and characters 
that are believable and establishing them as such allow an author to 
then turn all that on its ear and present the impossible as not just 
possible, but likely.


Slick: With the book and series Lovecraft Country and the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu being quite popular right now, it seems that cosmic horror is having a bit of a resurgence in popularity. Why do you think that is and how do you think that might influence your future stories?

Andrew: My favorite kind of horror is cosmic horror.  I believe it is the 
horror that lies beneath all other, from which all other forms of 
horror flow.  Why do we fear death?  Because we fear oblivion.  We 
have this aching, dull, poorly defined fear inside all of us, that 
maybe we’re not the special snowflake and center of the universe that 
our ego convinces us we are.  To be completely out of control, 
helpless, a leaf blown by the wind, is terrifying, as is the unknown, 
as is the prospect of nihilism.

As far as how it will influence further stories, you can count on my 
writing more novels like this.  Cosmic horror holds the best capacity 
for exploring those themes that run deepest, much like good science 
fiction or fantasy.


Slick: Will there be more books involving these characters and, if so, what are the plans for the next book?  

Andrew: I doubt we’ll see more of the characters in this novel, although the 
Darkstar may indeed decide to return and visit humanity again one day.

Slick: The story is on one level very personal and shows how one character relates to the world in a very difficult time. On the other hand, some menaces threaten not just Doctor Pearce but perhaps all of humanity. Do you think that the personal story of the Doctor helps to reflect the struggles of mankind overall?

Andrew: If you’re going to tackle a “big” story epic in scope, it is important 
to have a “small” story of the individuals caught up in that epic 
scope, in order to make it accessible.  We can read dry statistics of 
millions dying and it is a distant unreality, but the story of a single 
person’s suffering can easily make us weep.


Slick: As I said above this story kept me up at night because it is quite frightening. What kinds of stories keep you up at night?

Andrew: Stories of people being cruel to each other to a level that is hard to 
believe.

Slick: Agreed. Those stories can be all to prevalent and very hard to take.


Slick: How can readers buy the book and how can they get in contact with you?

Andrew: The book is on Amazon, in print and ebook format.  The US link is 
https://www.amazon.com/Song-Void-Historical-Horror-Novel-ebook/dp/B08D59S9HR.   
Readers interested in a free sample of my work in order to see if I’m 
a good choice for them can go to my website, www.andrewpiazza.com
where I have a free starter library available.  I’m also on Facebook 
at https://www.facebook.com/andrewcpiazza/.

Slick: I have signed up myself for your free starter library and I have to say, it is an excellent value with great writing. You can consider me a fan. Thanks so much, Andrew, for taking the time out of your day to come and visit my dungeon.

If you are still reading this post, once you are done, go out and buy the book. If you love cosmic horror, you will not be disappointed.

Cosmically yours,

Slick Dungeon