Friday, September 20, 2013

Review of Warbound by Larry Correia (no spoilers)


The Grimnoir Chronicles by New York Times’ bestselling author Larry Correia is a fantastic series. I just read book three, Warbound, which concludes the story arc started with Hard Magic (Book I), and Spellbound (Book II). The world is an alternate history Earth set mostly in the 1930’s, and is a cross between X-Men and Boardwalk Empire. That’s right, superheroes and gangsters in the 1930’s fighting for the fate of the planet. It’s epic and awesome. I must mention there are airships, pirates, and ninjas—as well as a hick girl from Oklahoma who is possibly the most powerful magic-wielding person of all time. You find out why in book three.

Warbound mostly features a trio of main characters—pictured on the cover: Faye Vierra—the hick girl with the power of teleportation (she’s called a Traveler) who is likely the best assassin ever; Jake Sullivan—a World War I veteran who can manipulate gravity (he’s called a Heavy); and Tokugawa Toru, a samurai (he’s a Brute) who can change the density of matter). Toru is such a great character and he just might be the equal of Sullivan. Toru wields a nasty war club (a tetsubo) and just might end up wearing a suit of really amazing armor. (Hint: the cover artist did a wonderful job). Toru can cause things to weigh almost nothing, which is good for him, and really bad for his enemies as he can swing his tetsubo really fast.

There is so much action in this series and Warbound was off the charts with magic and mayhem. The story arc concludes in Warbound, but I’ve heard rumors there will be at least one prequel, perhaps two, set several years before Hard Magic, likely set during World War I. There will also be at least one short story set in the Grimnoir world featured in one of the many anthologies Larry Correia has on his impressive release schedule.

Spellbound: Book II

Hard Magic: Book I

Warbound delivered on the promises of the first two exceptional novels and tied up all the loose threads, while delivering a bullet-riddled and exciting ending filled with all sorts of wizardry. The characters are a lot of fun and the plot was fast-paced as it barreled toward the final confrontation. The only thing I didn’t like was that President Franklin Roosevelt was cast as a villain along with much of the U.S. government. Correia does have some justification, as it is true that Roosevelt committed a terrible crime and interned thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II—but I found some early parts of the book a little too heavy handed.

Regardless of my own bias, I found myself engaged and inside this book on many levels. The characters and the story pulled me in. I was so intrigued with how the magic unfolded as well, and all the questions brought up in books one and two were answered. The connections made by the characters and the sheer magnitude of the Enemy coming to destroy the world amped up the tension throughout.

I’m a big fan of Correia’s writing and his Grimnoir books are amazing. The audio versions of all three are also quite exceptional. Spellbound won a prestigious Audie Award in 2013 and all three books feature the same narrator, the brilliant voice actor, Bronson Pinchot. Paperbacks of the first two books are out now—as of Sept. 2013, and if you’re an audio book fan, download them now. All of Grimnoir books are available as Kindle eBooks, though you might want to collect a hard cover while they’re still available.

Check out my review of book one, Hard Magic, for more details about this series.

Warbound Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles
5/5 Stars, Highly Recommended

Paul Genesse
Author of The Iron Dragon Series
Editor of The Crimson Pact Series

Friday, July 26, 2013


This is the awesome steampunk anthology I was asked to submit a story to by editor Joshua Palmatier--who is a great writer. His Cracked Throne novel blew my mind. Anyway, I hope this gets funded because I really want to write my story, which will be set in 1800's Australia. There's no guarantee my story will be accepted, but I have high hopes.

If you are able, please consider contributing to the Kickstarter. There are tons of great offerings at many price levels, and you can get the antho as an eBook, print book, and also get various other books as rewards.

Here's the Kickstarter video below or watch it on the official site here.

Review of Fearless: Powerful Women of History


Fearless: Powerful Women of History by Zachary Hill

This is a really fun and fascinating book that uses satire and humor to describe more than sixteen amazing women that we should all know about. Young women and girls need to understand that women shaped the course of human history, just like the men who usually get most of the attention.

Fearless: Powerful Women of History is a little like the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, as many of the historical figures actually make appearances in the book, and are interviewed by the author, and his panel of hilarious historical figures. This is history made fun, and reading it is a joy. I think reading this aloud would be hilarious and fun for a family, especially if Mom, Dad, and the kids (aged 11+) took on the roles of the panelists. Some essays are a little gruesome, so read them in advance, but overall it’s fine for most people. The only distraction I had while reading were the frequent typos, but I did read an advanced reader copy, and learned that the next version will be cleaned up.

The author, Zachary Hill, a man with a history degree who is obsessed with researching history, describes in an unscholarly way a few of the famous people we probably already know something about: Joan of Arc, and Jane Austen, but the rest are more marginal figures that have not gotten the attention they deserve. Hua Mulan (Disney made a movie about her) is described in as much detail as we know, and the truth of her life is incredible.

There are also essays about: Empress Theodora of Constantinople; the Byzantine Princess and historian Anna Komnene; Queen Tamar of Georgia the Conqueror; the warrior woman Rani Lakshmibai of India; Queen Matilda of England; Roman Empress Galla Placidia; the female “samurai” Tomoe Gozen of Japan (and there’s a separate essay about other Japanese female warriors); St. Olga of Kiev (a brutal woman and her essay is probably PG-13); Caterina Sforza (who kicked butts so far they woke up in the next time zone); St. Teresa of Avila, and more.

Author Zachary Hill’s history blog, has a ton of great information as well. Go there to browse the many topics he’s covered over the years.

Making history fun and engaging can be hard to do, but Fearless: Powerful Women of History succeeds in bringing to light some amazing women who must not be forgotten.

Fearless: Powerful Women of History (110 pages, $4.99 eBook, $5.99 print book)

Paul Genesse

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The World As a Character Presentation from LDS Storymakers


(These are just a few notes, not really what's on my note cards, and I'm not posting the 50 slides).

"The World as a Character," a few notes from my presentation. Most of this is in the world building book Eighth Day Genesis edited by Sabrina Klein. The book has been nominated for a 2013 Origins Award.

*Think of some of the most iconic fantasy or science fiction settings: Frank Herbert’s Arrakis, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Land, James Cameron’s Pandora. You can imagine each of those worlds as a character with distinct personalities.

*Reactions are much more interesting than a boring description about a place. They show the character of the setting, and also the main character’s thoughts, which accomplishes the two major goals of character development at once.

*Your job is to show us which face the world takes wherever the characters go.

*Consider very carefully what kind of story, or stories, you want to explore before you craft your world. You don’t want your story to clash with the world and make what you are trying to do seem unbelievable or inconsistent. Think about the common descriptions of plot before your proceed with the world-building.

*Write a bio from the point of view of the world. Just a couple of paragraphs.

*Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch is credited with coming up with a famous list of plots I’ve often heard at writing seminars and are considered the basic type of literary plots: Man against Nature, Man against Himself, Man against God, Man against Society, Man caught in the Middle, and Man & Woman. Make sure your world and your story are compatible. Some plots seem to fit better with certain types of worlds.

*Don’t info dump about the world and expect the readers to keep reading.

*Basic Questions to answer during world creation:
• Stable agriculture?
• Navigable rivers?
• Mountains, deserts, or bodies of water that close it off from other areas?
• Plants that are easily domesticated?
• Animals that are easily domesticated?
• A mild or harsh climate?
• Deadly diseases that are endemic to the area?
• A human population that has been there a long or short period of time?
• Natural resources that benefit the local population?

These questions are huge and if you want to understand the significance of them more read anthropologist Jared Diamond’s incredible book, Guns, Germs and Steel, and also Collapse. The answers to those basic questions above will determine a lot about the people who live in the world, and your bio about certain parts of the setting will answer the rest.

Check out Eighth Day Genesis on and check out all 21 essays on world building.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Review of Allied Zombies for Peace by Craig Nybo

(Allied Zombies for Peace display at Night Flight Comics in Salt Lake City)

Review: I loved reading Allied Zombies for Peace by the hilarious author Craig Nybo. I had no idea that a riot involving zombies, WWI veterans, cops, and the vile KKK at a peace rally in 1967 could be so entertaining. It's written like a screenplay with short, punchy chapters, and told from many different point of views, and covers only 42 minutes of mayhem. If you're looking for a fun read, check out this book.

Here's the awesome book trailer video--errr, I mean news cast about the riot.


Reading about zombies clawing and munching on some vile KKK jerkwads was awesome. There just can't be enough of that in the world. Nybo is a great comedic writer and a rising talent. I can't wait to read what he writes next.

Check it out on Amazon.

Paul Genesse
Author of the Iron Dragon Series
Editor of the Crimson Pact Series

Friday, March 29, 2013



AT THE MOUTH OF THE RIVER OF BEES (short story collection) by Kij Johnson

This is an incredible collection of stories by one of the best short story writers on the planet. She’s won practically every major fantasy and science fiction award and been nominated for all of them multiple times. If you want to read some amazing short fiction, this is a collection you must have. Her work is often featured in the years best collections and her skill at crafting beautiful and thought provoking stories is second to none.

I’ve been a fan of Kij Johnson since I attended one of her writing seminars at Gen Con in 1998 and have read many of these stories before, but I found a lot that I hadn’t read. Having them all in one perfectly packaged book was awesome. Small Beer Press did a great job.

It’s hard for me to describe all eighteen stories in the collection, but I’ll go over a few of my favorites.

26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss was first published in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine in 2008 and if you haven’t read this Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy award winning short story, you’re in for a treat. The premise is crazy: a woman buys a traveling monkey show . . . because she must. It’s deep, amazing, and will get in your head for a long time. It’s still in mine years after first reading it.


Spar, originally published in Clarksworld in 2009, won the Nebula for best short story, and this one will blow your mind. It’s a science fiction nightmare about a woman who is trapped with an alien for a very long time. It’s a chilling story. I hear people talking about this one at writer gatherings all the time. It’s that good.


Fox Magic, originally published in 1993 in Asimov’s, and won the Sturgeon Award. It became the basis for the award winning novel, Fox Woman from Tor, which I fell in love with. This is the legend of kitsune, the magical fox who became a woman and seduced a Japanese samurai lord. I loved this story and especially the novel. Fox Magic is incredibly beautiful and poignant. If you love it, read the novel for sure.

Wolf Trapping first appeared in Twilight Zone magazine in 1989, and I’d never read it before. The story is about a wolf researcher who meets a strange, feral woman who is trying to become part of a pack of wolves. The ending will leave you sick and in shock.

The Empress Jingu Fishes is a great story about a woman who can see the future, and goes through the years ahead with the bitter knowledge of what’s going to happen to the people she loves. Fascinating.


The Man Who Bridged the Mist won the Hugo and Nubula award for best novella, and I found it to be beautifully crafted. It reminded me of the world I created for my Iron Dragon series a little, with the mists surrounding the land, so I loved that aspect, and was captivated all the way through.

The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change, won the World Fantasy Award, and I can see why. I hadn’t read it before and loved it. The story is about a woman who becomes close to a pack of dogs after “the Change.” Dogs (and all the mammals) gain the ability to speak and it throws off the whole world. Dog lovers will be very touched by this one, I think. I know I was.


Ponies, won the 2010 Nebula award for best short story, and I was fortunate enough to hear Kij read it at World Fantasy soon after it came out on This tale is an allegory about growing up, although this one is in a world where all the little girls get pretty winged, talking ponies, but if the girls want to be part of the popular crowd they have to, shall we say, make some changes to their beloved ponies. This is such an awesome story and when I read it in this collection, I heard Kij, in my mind reading it like she did back at World Fantasy, like she was reading a sweet story to kids, when in truth it’s a nightmare.

There are a lot of other great stories in this collection, and I’ve savored them, letting the beauty of the words, and the expertise of the writing wash over me. The technical brilliance is one thing, but the way some of the stories stick with me is uncanny.

The title story, At the Mouth of the River of Bees, was a new one for me as well, and I saved it for last. It was about a woman (the same one from the Trickster stories) who is on a journey across the country with her old German Shepherd dog, who is dying. They run into a roadblock, the Bee River is flooding, but it's unlike any flood you've ever heard of, and the main character is drawn to find the source of the flooding. It's a journey of the heart and the mind.

Kij Johnson has a way of getting you to believe 100% in whatever world she creates, and then slips in some fantastical concept, like a river of bees stopping traffic, and it makes perfect sense.

Kij Johnson.jpg

Learn more about this amazing writer here or find this collection on Amazon.

Paul Genesse, Author of the Iron Dragon Series and Editor of The Crimson Pact Series


Saturday, March 23, 2013



Fire Season by David Weber and Jane Lindskold

(very minor spoilers)

This is the second novel about Stephanie Harrington and her treecat companion, Lionheart, set on the fascinating treecat home world. I hadn’t read the award winning first book, A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber, and came to this novel as I’m a fan of author Jane Lindskold’s short fiction and her novels (Through Wolf’s Eyes, Thirteen Orphans). You don’t need to read the first book in this series, A Beautiful Friendship, to understand this one, as I was never lost, but I’m sure it would be good to start at the beginning.

A Beautiful Friendship on Amazon

If you’re a reader of David Weber’s Honor Harrington novels, I think you’ll enjoy this prequel novel series. Fire Season is set a few hundred years before Honor was born, and this is not a space opera with lots of the big battles Mr. Weber is famous for. It’s a coming of age novel, mostly written to appeal to teenaged readers (12 and older), about a brilliant young woman growing up on an alien planet, who just happens to be the first person to ever bond with a treecat. The telepathic, empathic, six-legged (hexapedal) catlike creatures with long tails—two of their six legs have actual hands on them—are the stars of the book.

I found the most fascinating aspect of Fire Season to be the relationship between fifteen-year-old Stephanie and the treecat who adopted her. Lionheart is what Stephanie calls him, but his true name among the People (the treecats think of themselves as The People), is Climbs Quickly.

The treecats are telepathic with each other and empathic with humans, so communicating with humans is quite difficult for them, though they can read human emotions very easily and affect them in some minor ways. The treecats think that humans make all sorts of funny mouth sounds, use hand gestures, and isn’t it sad they can’t speak to each other with their minds and have to rely on such poor communication methods?

It was hilarious and awesome when two treecats were communicating telepathically with each other and one treecat noted how well the human (Stephanie Harrington) had been trained by Climbs Quickly. The big question in this book is if the treecats are intelligent enough to be considered sentient by the human scientists.

Climbs Quickly can read Stephanie’s emotions and enjoys her “mind-glow” very much. I loved reading the chapters from Climb’s Quickly’s point of view, and it was fascinating how the human scientists are trying to determine if the treecats are a sentient race, while the treecats are trying to understand if they should avoid the humans who have come to their world, or if they should interact with them more.

The book has the feel of an un-contacted tribe of native Americans first coming into contact with a highly civilized group of Europeans. That would be Europeans who are not trying to enslave or destroy them. What a concept. There are a lot of great messages in this book that will get younger and older readers thinking.

Fire Season is naturally set during the dry season when forest fires often rage across the mostly tree-covered world. Stephanie Harrington, and her big brother friend Karl, are provisional rangers with the forestry service, and they participate in watching out for fires and sometimes fighting them, and of course rescuing animals caught in the path of the flames.

Much of the book is dedicated to Stephanie becoming an adult. She has to learn to interact with kids her own age, a very difficult thing for a genius introvert, and of course deal with her well-meaning but socially clumsy parents. I think teens will easily connect with Stephanie, as she’s a very well drawn character.

I highly recommend this book to teen animal lovers—especially young women—and to fans of the Honor Harrington series who want to see where the treecats came from. This is a good starting point for younger readers, and I think this would be a great gift to a friend or relative that you wanted to expose to science fiction. It kept my interest throughout, had a good conclusion that wrapped up nicely, and I’m excited to read the sequel, Treecat Wars.

View it on Amazon: Fire Season by David Weber and Jane Lindskold
Highly Recommended, 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Paul Genesse
Author of the Iron Dragon Series