Terrorwar Volume 1 by Saladin Ahmed & Dave Acosta

w inks by Jay Leisten, colors by Walter Pereyra and letters by Shawn Lee.

I have been quite fond of Saladin Ahmed’s output ever since the publication of Throne Of The Crescent Moon, but let’s be honest: unless a book has been given to me to cover for work nowadays, I have not had the time to read it. So I was super glad when Terrorwar Volume 1, his creator-owned comic book with Dave Acosta, landed on my desk.

In a dystopian future where many of the world’s resources have been exhausted, all of humanity is gathered in Blue City, the one haven left standing on planet Earth. But even this last sprawling bastion is haunted by strange beings known only as Terrors. No one really knows what they are, only that they manifest as people’s greatest fears. If they get their hands on you, you can expect a fiery death.

Very little seems to put down the Terrors, except for the Brain Bullets that certain special individuals are capable of manifesting to destroy them. Muhammad Cho is one of these terrorfighters. He’s put together a team of similar individuals who all run together as a crew. Unfortunately, since they’re based in one of the less nice neighborhoods of Blue City, this means that they’re still desperately underfunded, and need to compete with other crews in chasing bounties so that they actually get paid for putting down the Terrors that haunt their impoverished zones. It’s all very Ghostbusters, until shock troops from the richer parts of Blue City step in to detain our plucky heroes for “unsanctioned terror engagement.”

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/26/terrorwar-volume-1-by-saladin-ahmed-dave-acosta/

The Forgetters by Greg Sarris

Y’know, when I first said yes to this collection of short stories based on the indigenous storytelling traditions of the Southern Pomo and Coast Miwok peoples, I was expecting something very different. I thought that this would be a collection of old myths given a fresh retelling. And there is a little of that, definitely, but these are for the most part an entirely original set of stories revolving around the theme of storytelling that just happen to use that particular oral tradition as its template.

Now if there’s one thing I love almost as much as I do retellings of old stories, it’s postmodern fiction, and this is that in spades. Each story is framed by two sisters, Question Woman and Answer Woman, who may be humans or may be animals and are 100% symbols that represent both the perils of forgetting and the need for there to be active participants in the art of telling stories. What is the point of telling a story, after all, if no one is there to listen? And who, in the general course of things, tells a story unprompted? It’s the kind of subtle metaphysical pondering I adore, because I love stories and the many different ways we humans convey them to one another.

But even if you’re not high on the same intellectual supply that I love to roll around in, this collection of short stories is the exact kind of literary that I admire (and y’all know how I usually use the term “literary fiction” as a pejorative.) The ten stories here all discuss what it means to tell a story and, perhaps more importantly, to learn from it, but in such a playful way that it feels less like a set of moralizing fables and more like a reminder of the many ways in which stories transmit culture, acting as the lifeblood that keeps an idea — of civilization, of values, of traditions — alive.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/25/the-forgetters-by-greg-sarris/

Nothing Special, Vol One: Through the Elder Woods by Katie Cook

Contrary to the title, this book actually is something quite special.

Callie Benson has always felt like something of an outcast, even in a world where humans and non-humans more or less co-exist (tho in large part due to the fact that most humans don’t actually believe that non-humans like Callie and her dad are real vs really committed to the bit.) While her father allows her to help out in his “antiquities” store that backs onto Draken City Market, she is expected to go to mortal high school and then to mortal college. Callie, ofc, would much rather be helping her dad source magical artifacts to sell to both his mystical and mundane clientele. Alas then that she’s been forbidden from going any further into the magical realm than the Draken City limits.

Callie’s dull life begins changing when she literally bumps into Declan Rice, I mean, Hickey, a classmate of hers, and he realizes that she can see the vegetable spirits that surround them, too. After they both discover that they’re neither of them fully mortal, they begin to develop a friendship. Declan’s parents died when he was very little, and he was raised by his human grandmother, who is away as often as Callie’s dad is. There’s a lot for them to bond over, even before adventure thrusts them ever closer together.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/24/nothing-special-vol-one-through-the-elder-woods-by-katie-cook/

The King Of Italy by Kent Heckenlively

Hello, readers! Today we’ve been given the treat of showing you an excerpt from Kent Heckenlively’s fiction debut, The King Of Italy!


From the picturesque landscapes of Sicily to the vibrant heart of San Francisco — and set against the backdrop of Italy’s most volatile periods — Mr Heckenlively introduces us to a saga of familial honor, historical vendettas and a relentless quest for justice. Through the lives of Vincenzo Nicosia and his nephew Alex, readers embark on a journey that intertwines the personal with the political, revenge with redemption, and individual fates with the destiny of a nation. The King of Italy is a vivid celebration of Italy’s storied past and the power of storytelling.


Read on for a sneak peek at some of the book’s very first pages!

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/23/the-king-of-italy-by-kent-heckenlively/

Honoring Our Planet! Think! by Linda Miller

subtitled A Book About Celebrating Earth.

Happy Earth Day, readers! What better time to think about ways to help the planet than today? Linda Miller’s children’s book Honoring Our Planet! Think! is an exhortation to readers that couldn’t come at a more suitable time.

The book is presented in a fairly straightforward format, opening with a poem, of sorts, before turning into a call and response asking readers to think about the various difficulties confronting the planet and environment today. Interestingly, the text itself offers few solutions to the problems/scenarios it brings up, tho there is one helpful resource recommended at the end. The fabulous illustrations by Newman Springs Publishing carry a surprising amount of the load in conveying information in a way that is both cute and colorful. I’m also a little obsessed with their excellent use of textures in the illustrations.

It did feel a little weird to me that one of the last pages of the actual text told readers that caring for the planet is also an act of care for our children and grandchildren. That’s a terrific reminder for adults, but feels odd in a book ostensibly aimed at kids, who are far more likely to be motivated by their own immediate futures than by the plights of their hypothetical descendants. And while, yes, parents and children would absolutely benefit from reading this together, I wish that this book felt more in line with the tone of most of the excellent contemporary works, environmentally-themed or otherwise, aimed at young readers. The problem with exhortative prose that offers few concrete steps is that it can sound less inspirational than scolding, and that’s hardly a fun read for any age.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/22/honoring-our-planet-think-by-linda-miller/

Keepers Of The Light: Oracle Cards by Kyle Gray & Lily Moses

A few weeks ago, I moseyed over to my favorite local bookstore for a free Tarot reading by the phenomenal Jane Prompeng. I was super intrigued by the way she incorporated Oracle cards into her readings, especially since the cards she pulled for me from this deck were so beautiful and, ultimately, meaningful. When their publisher, Hay House, had a sale recently, I knew it was a sign to grab a copy.

I’d never actually purchased an Oracle deck for myself before, and honestly had had little inclination before seeing Jane use this one to such excellent effect. Tarot cards are my main steez, and a large part of this is due to how the imagery has been refined and codified over the years. Thus, reading Tarot cards makes sense to me: they’re not just random images (when done right anyway) but a full story that covers practically every aspect of life and can help readers figure out what to do with their own. As with more conventional books, a lot depends too on how the deck is “written”, primarily via the choices made in its art and theming (and often too in the author’s intent.) For example, the Seven Of Wands is a card of defense and struggle. In my Divine Deco Tarot deck, this struggle usually has a victorious ending. In my Unofficial Schitty Tarot, it usually means a valiant defeat.

Because Oracle decks don’t have to stick to the Tarot archetypes, I’ve found that they also don’t tend to have a similar resonance for me. That began to change this year with the online Moon Cards deck, which as of this time of writing, still hasn’t made it to physical format. I also learned a surprising amount about building divination decks from James D’Amato’s excellent The Ultimate RPG Game Master’s Guide. And then, ofc, I came across this Keepers Of The Light Oracle deck.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/19/keepers-of-the-light-oracle-cards-by-kyle-gray-lily-moses/

Eden by Christopher Sebela & Marc Laming

from an idea by Alain Bismut and Abel Ferry, with colors by Lee Loughridge and letters by Troy Peteri.

The Earth of the future is overcrowded and impoverished. Crime rates are up, in no small part due to families like the Oximenkos, who will do whatever it takes to survive. Dad Gabe, Mom Morgan and teenage daughter Kali are a tight and well-trained unit, with Gabe the softer-hearted idealist to Morgan’s no-nonsense soldier. Their diverse skills serve them well when they’re raiding the houses of the rich for food and other necessities, or eluding criminal gangs bigger than their own.

When the Oximenkos learn that their neighbors have won a lottery granting them much coveted space passage to Eden, an off-world colony with few of Earth’s problems, they immediately make a plan to take the Tremaines’ places. Unfortunately, their larceny means that the system malfunctions while they’re supposed to be in cryosleep aboard the Constellation, the transport ship that ferries millions of sleeping passengers from Earth to the much richer colony, a galaxy away. What the Oximenkos discover upon waking, tho, upends everything they’ve been led to believe.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/18/eden-by-christopher-sebela-marc-laming/

Hit And Run by John Freeman

Hunh. So I don’t know very much about the author, but I get the distinct feeling that I would have appreciated this novella a lot more if I did.

Hit And Run begins with the titular violent act, as witnessed by our narrator John Frederick and his friends Louise and Brian. John sticks around to give his story to the cops, then goes home to his wife Linda. The next morning, he finds the offending vehicle by happenstance and calls it in. Feeling like he’s really helped smoothe the way for justice, he’s shocked that the process of finding the perpetrator and trying him in court is taking so dang long. It’s even more of a shock when he realizes that the victim was someone with ties to his own family.

At about the same time, his marriage to Linda begins to unravel. They’d been together since college, but only felt spurred to marry by 9/11, in addition to the impetus of his mother’s slowly deteriorating health. Linda has recently started looking for a cure for her own mental issues in expensive gym training, while John stays up late writing, sometimes in cafes and bars. The deterioration of their relationship forms an imperfect parallel with the court proceedings, as the police are unable to locate the hit and run driver even as the assistant district attorney slowly, painstakingly builds the state’s case against him.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/17/hit-and-run-by-john-freeman/

Taka by Ryan Jampole

Oh my goodness, I am so obsessed with this manga-style graphic novel, I literally finished it with cathartic tears streaming down my face!

Our heroine Taka is a self-styled Notorious Delinquent. Having grown up on the mean city streets alone, she has no friends, no interest in developing any, and only really cares about one thing beyond survival: getting the Golden Mekku from one of her city’s claw machine games. She’s actually just about to snag one when she’s rudely interrupted by Gator, a low-level gang leader with the hots for Star, a young reporter. Taka accidentally saves Star while beating up Gator’s goons, so is deeply annoyed when she turns back to her game and discovers that someone else has grabbed her Golden Mekku while she was otherwise occupied.

While in hot pursuit of perhaps the only claw machine in the city that might still have her much-desired prize, Taka stumbles across something hidden and ancient… and accidentally sets an entire bevy of monsters free. Luckily — or otherwise given Taka’s antisocial tendencies — she’s also released the antidote, as well as awakened the science priest who’d spent ages guarding it. Science priest Meg explains that the things Taka set free were chimecha, robot monsters in the shape of screws that possess people and turn them into mecha-villains. Having accidentally ingested said antidote, Taka is now bonded to the Hero Metal that turns her into the Mech Fighter, the only being capable of defeating the chimecha and imprisoning them once more.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/16/taka-by-ryan-jampole/

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

“What kind of a life do you lead where you find yourself building a dog of bones?” (p. 2) Marra asks herself, though of course she knows. It’s the readers who want to know how she has come to this distinctly creepy, slightly mad pass. And she’s come to it wearing a cloak of owlcloth tatters and spun-nettle cord, made in a day by her own hand. “Even the dust-wife said that I had done well, and she hands out praise like water in a dry land.” (p. 2) What’s a dust-wife? She keeps putting the dog together, in a “blistered land” inhabited by cannibals and the things that scared them. Marra keeps repeating a jump-rope rhyme, and it works a bit of magic. “Bone dog, stone dog … black dog, white dog … live dog, dead dog … yellow dog, run!” (p. 9) And the bone dog comes alive at dusk.

The love of a bone dog, she thought, bending her head down over the paw again. All that I am worth these days.
Then again, few humans were truly worth the love of a living dog. Some gifts you could never deserve. (p. 8)

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

The book’s back cover gives away what it would otherwise take several chapters for a reader to discover, as T. Kingfisher (who also writes under her given name of Ursula Vernon) doles out background at a deliberate place, jumping back and forth between Marra’s odd and dangerous present, and a past that seemed less threatening at the time. She was a princess — youngest of three — of the Harbor Kingdom. The sisters do not get along, and the kingdom itself is in a precarious position. It is sandwiched between covetous neighbors, both of which would like the eponymous harbor, but who also want to deny it to their rival. The balance tips, though, and the oldest sister is sent to marry the prince of the Northern Kingdom in a protective alliance. Five months later she comes home in a coffin. The prince is said to be heartbroken. It is said that she fell down a flight of stairs, while pregnant.

The kingdom being still in danger, and nothing having changed about the reasons for an alliance, the middle sister marries the same prince, as soon as is seemly. Marra is sent to a convent dedicated to Our Lady of Grackles, so as to forestall any possible countervailing alliance. Being used as a pawn, having no say in her future comes as a shock to Marra, who had heretofore quite liked the princess life. Even more shocking is when she discovers how the prince has been abusing her sister. He still needs her to produce a male heir, so he is careful not to damage her too much, but it is a horror nonetheless. Marra’s sense of helplessness increases.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/14/nettle-and-bone-by-t-kingfisher/