Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Comixology

I don't know why this escaped me for so long, but Amazon has it's own site for selling comics in digital format and it's awesome. Comixology offers all the major comic series plus a lot of indie comics and graphic novels and the recommendation feature of the site is excellent. It has its own app for reading the comics that I like quite a lot and some publishers allow you to download DRM-free backups of your comics (for example Greg Rucka's Lazarus, a series I highly recommend). If you're in the US, you can purchase a flatrate that allows you to read as many comics as you like for a small sum every month, but that excludes DC and Marvel comics to my knowledge. Still, it looks like quite a nice deal.

I spent five minutes of Comixology and already had gathered a wishlist of at least twenty titles... It's great if you do not have a comic shop near you, if you just want to look into the first issue of a new series that you might be interested in oe if you just don't have the shelf space for printed comics.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Magnus Archives

The Magnus Institute, based in London, investigates paranormal occurrences - if and when the witness accounts they gather are considered genuine. After the death of the long-time archivist, John Sims takes over and is currently working his way through a mountain of sloppily archived entries, recording them on a old tape recored after digital devices have proven unreliable.

I was on the lookout for a podcast to help me with acute Knifepoint Horror withdrawal and I went through a ton of horror podcasts that were ... horrible. Or just didn't fit what I was looking for - a no frills-production, just someone telling a story.
The Magnus Archives does exactly that and it's deeply unsettling. Especially when the story arc starts to come together and picks up speed and both John and the listener start to connect the dots between at least some of the witness accounts. Most of the episodes work very well as stand alone stories and I like that a lot, but I also like the big story and how much time it takes for it to happen. I do hope that there will continue to be episodes that have nothing at all to do with the main arc to prevent X-Files syndrome (everything is connected!) because that makes it even creepier when there are things that fit into the arc.

There is quite a lot of body horror in The Magnus Archives, be warned. But I highly recommend it if you are looking for inventive, creepy and disturbing stories.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bryce Canyon

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We had the choice between Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon and as breathtaking as the Grand Canyon is, we decided to go to Bryce in the end. It's one of the most beautiful places I know and offers a ton of lovely hiking opportunities. We had one day of rain, but that gave us the opportunity to see Bryce in all kind of weather - sunshine, filled with fog, with clouds hanging over the rim.

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a hike down into Bryce
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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Black Hat Jack

Black Hat Jack: The True Life Adventures of Deadwood Dick as told by His Ownself by Joe R. Lansdale tell the story of The Second Battle of Adobe Walls, from the viewpoint of Deadwood Dick a black cowboy. It's a work of fiction, but it's well grounded in facts and blends history and fiction very well.

The story is a simple on, a stand-off between a couple of cowboys and buffalo hunters hunkered down in a trading post and somewhere between 300 and 1000 Native Americans who fight because of the senseless slaughter of buffalos. But it's written well and thrillingly and it can be easily read in one sitting - I certainly didn't want to stop before I learned how things turned out. There is a LOT of blood and gore and brutality in the story, on both sides, and a lot of casual racism (not the author's but the characters'). It's rare that black cowboys are given a voice at all and I enjoyed reading a story doing just that.

It's pulpy and bloody, but still gives food for thought. I highly recommend reading up on the real Nat Love / Deadwood Dick and the Second Battle of Adobe Walls either before or after reading this story.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Roadtrip!

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Utah, on the way back from Bryce Canyon

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Arizona

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Nevada, on the way to Valley of Fire

All photos taken with our smartphones, from the car. I will never get used to just how enormous the US are, at times it's like someone has installed a matte painting over the horizon. Especially with those fluffy clouds. It's ridiculously beautiful.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Jacaranda

The nun’s letter intercepted Juan Miguel Quintero Rios on the road to Port Bolivar. Her handwriting was small and precise, and easy to read—even in the back of a bouncing cart on a rough-paved road made rougher by the lunging wind. No natural-born American, that one. Irish, the padre guessed by her name and her habit. What she was doing on the Gulf was anyone’s guess, and how she’d learned of him, he did not know; it was the only question she left unanswered in her carefully composed response.

He did not care, but he was curious.

Despite that one omission, her small bundle of papers contained a wealth of new information. At first she’d told him only that the hotel hated, and it hungered. Now, in this most recent message, she told him the rest.


Jacaranda is a short novel that would work 100% as a Deadlands oneshot. It has the same mix of Western and supernatural, there even is a Texas Ranger. It's set in the Clockwork Century alternative universe, a steampunk-heavy zombie apocalypse that I like very much. But Jacaranda has no zombies and a lot more straight up supernatural horror than the rest of the Clockwork Century novels.

It also works just fine if you have never read any of the other novels and are just in the market for a really good ghost story.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016