Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Charnel God - Clark Ashton Smith

The Charnel House - Clark Ashton Smith

A man looks for a woman who has a sleeping sickness. She is abducted and taken to the death god Mordiggian. It seems he only wants dead people though, to her abductors dismay. His priests are also easy to annoy.

3 out of 5

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To the Daemon - Clark Ashton Smith

Give me a story, D.

3 out of 5

The Metamorphosis of the World - Clark Ashton Smith

The Metamorphosis of Earth - Clark Ashton Smith

A bit of aphroditeoforming and interplanetary conflict.

4 out of 5

Substitutions - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Vegas Death employee xmas eve double act.

3.5 out of 5

Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage - Seanan McGuire

Truth Fairy web.

3 out of 5

Ass-Hat Magic Spider - Scott Westerfeld

Ass-Hat Magic Spider - Scott Westerfeld
Charlotte's colony diet Web.

4 out of 5

Till Human Voices Wake Us - Lewis Shiner

Till Human Voices Wake Us - Lewis Shiner

Mermaid clone affair ends quite fishily.

4 out of 5

Frosty the Hitman - Jon F. Merz

Lawson is asked to protect a vampire council member from an assassin - at xmas.

3.5 out of 5

Fortitude - David Brin

Galactic genealogy slumming.

3 out of 5

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gridlinked Scooby Ending - Neal Asher

""All that happened here, when we returned, was to deny Dragon information so it would snatch back its dracoman, like it did before, but also, to make it think we had followed up on our proposed plan but were then entertaining suspicions. I think that if Dragon had known that we knew what had really happened here, it would have run, after destroying Hubris and levelling the complex. I wanted it concerned, but not panicking. I wanted it to take back its dracoman, but without too much checking. It was all to get that CTD into Dragon. It had to pay. We couldn't let that pass." "

3.5 out of 5

It's Lonely Out There The Evolutionary Explanation For The Fermi Paradox - John Lambshead

"Humans have key characteristics other than size. We are tetrapods that are obligatory bipeds so we had the possibility to evolve hands. This is unique among mammals and reflects our unusual evolutionary journey from the trees to the plains of Africa. This change of habitat is somewhat unusual and seems to have been driven by climate instability causing rapid retreat and advance of woodland.

We have forward facing "predator" eyes, our primary sense is sight, and good hand-eye coordination – again an evolutionary hangover from an earlier arboreal existence.

Most mammals are primarily smell and sound orientated but vision is our primary sense and we use sound near exclusively to communicate, our secondary method being visual. We can make a wide variety of noises so can exchange sophisticated abstract concepts. None of this guarantees intelligence. It merely allows it to develop. For example, birds have many of these features, a sophisticated high-energy metabolism, good vision and complex vocal and visual communication but they are small, having lost out in the competition with mammals to exploit large-body ecological niches. Large non-flying birds did evolve on isolated islands but had no potential for the evolution of hands. Wings are so specialised that it is difficult to see how they could evolve into hands. Evolution is difficult to reverse.

Therapod dinosaurs, birds' close relatives, developed all the physical bodily prerequisites for the evolution of intelligence since they had bird-like characteristics but, being non-flying, could be large and had the potential for the evolution of hands. Feathers did not evolve for flight but as a component of a high-energy sophisticated metabolism and a number of therapods were feathered. So why did an intelligent therapod not evolve?"

4 out of 5

The SF Signal Podcast Episode 100 Sword and Sorcery Panel Part 3 - Jaym Gates

In episode 100 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester offers up part three in our special three-part podcast on Sword and Sorcery moderated by editor, author and publicist Jaym Gates.

This week's panel:
Jaym Gates (moderator)
John O'Neill
Howard Andrew Jones
Ryan Harvey
Bill Ward
Jason M. Waltz
James Enge
Sam Sykes
John R. Fultz
Alex Bledsoe

The SF Signal Podcast Episode 098 Sword and Sorcery Panel Part 2 - Jaym Gates

In episode 98 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester offers up part two of a special three-part podcast on Sword and Sorcery moderated by editor, author and publicist Jaym Gates. (See also: Part 1.)

This week's panel:
Jaym Gates (moderator)
John O'Neill
Howard Andrew Jones
Ryan Harvey
Bill Ward
Jason M. Waltz
James Enge
Sam Sykes
John R. Fultz
Alex Bledsoe

4 out of 5

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Queen of Hearts 1 - Daniel Homan

""I could use a man like you."

"If I fold, I die?"

"I believe so."

"Then I'm forced to play."

"That's the nature of a game with such stakes."

"No different then ruling a country," Renue says. "Like the lives you've so callously taken over the years."

Mesmer scoffs. "What would you know? What inkling would you have of the sacrifices one must make to rule? I could've had you killed weeks ago, when you first strode so arrogantly into my home. But I'm feeling charitable tonight. So if you fold, I'll cancel your debts. Just leave me the deed. Or, play, and we'll simply see what side lady luck chooses." "

4 out of 5

Friday, December 23, 2011

Seed 7 - Rob Ziegler

""I got one question for you, old man. I think you know what it is."

Hondo didn't hesitate. "Water tank." Richard's eyes moved languidly to the tank, then to the small freckled boy with the AK.

"Bunny, you ever want to touch that rifle again, you get your ass up there and see if my seed's in that tank." Richard moved close to Brood. Slipped his good arm around the small of Brood's back, found the bone hilt of the hooked blade. Pulled it free and held it up, smiling as he inspected it. "Looks familiar."

Bunny slung the AK over his back and climbed nimbly atop the wagon. He unscrewed the tank's lid and stood on tiptoe to peer inside. His eyes widened; his mouth formed a black circle.


"Watch your mouth, Bunny," his brother scowled.

"That mean it's there, Bunny?" Richard inquired mildly.

"Fucking hell," Bunny affirmed.

"Bunny!" his brother growled."

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Weakling - Robert E. Howard

I died in sin and forthwith went to Hell;
I made myself at home upon the coals
Where seas of flame break on the cinder shoals.
Till Satan came and said with angry yell,
"You there—divulge what route by which you fell."
"I spent my youth among the flowing bowls,
"Wasted my life with women of dark souls,
"Died brothel-fighting—drunk on muscatel."

Said he, "My friend, you’ve been directed wrong:
"You’ve naught to recommend you for our feasts—
"Like factory owners, brokers, elders, priests;
"The air for you! This place is for the strong!"
Then as I pondered, minded to rebel,
He laughed and forthwith kicked me out of Hell.

3.5 out of 5

We Are the Duckers of Crosses - Robert E. Howard

We are the duckers of crosses,
We are the swingers of swings.
We count our gains and our losses
In all of the fourth rate rings.
We are the bums and the slackers
Swiggers of Ancient Crow.
Yet the fans pay sixteen smackers
To see us knocked for a row.
Bout losers and bout forsakers
They hand us a-many slams,
For we are the set-ups and fakers,
We are the fourth-rate hams!
We are the takers of slams and blips!
Jester and ring-side clown!
But sometimes we go with our trunks on our hips
And jerk us a title down!
Taking bout that champs are shying,
Where the ring gong clangs and thrums
Where the swining mitts are flying—
We are the fourth-rate bums!

4 out of 5

Visions - Robert E. Howard

I cannot believe in a paradise
Glorious, undefiled,
For gates all scrolled and streets of gold
Are tales for a dreaming child.

I am too lost for shame
That it moves me unto mirth,
But I can vision a Hell of flame
For I have lived on earth.

3 out of 5

A Tribute To The Sportsmanship Of The Fans - Robert E. Howard

Headlock, hammerlock, toss him on his bean again,
Jump on his belly and boot him in the hips,
Clamp the scissors on his neck
and choke him till he's green again
Get the fans wild-eyed, with froth on their lips.

Barlock, body-slam, nibble on his ears again—
Its just like eating cabbage—and kick him in the groin,
Butt him in the belly, that brings the cheers again,
The fans want a run for their hard-spent coin.

Flying-mare, toe-hold, twist his neck around again,
Wrap his legs around his waist and tie them in a knot,
Stamp in his mouth so his teeth cannot be found again,
The fans paid their money so make it good and hot.

Stranglehold, leg-split, jerk his knee-caps loose again,
Crack his ribs and break his arms, leave him life-long lame,
Send him out on a shutter—then listen to the boos again,
The kind fans howling that the battle was too tame.

3.5 out of 5

Toper - Robert E. Howard

Toil, cares, annoyances all fade away;
I care not who may run for President.
I drowse and swing my rum the live-long day,
And watch the shallops skimming o'er the bay.

3 out of 5

Christopher's Crummy Christmas - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Sleigh fixing.

3 out of 5

Bradley P. Beaulieu Chats With - Michael Swanwick

"BPB: You mentioned in a recent interview that you were planning on visiting China for some necessary research for the next Darger and Surplus novel. Without giving away any spoilers, can you tell us where you're going and what you plan to research?

MS: The novel's going to begin in Chengdu, a city in Sichuan Province, and end in Beijing. I've spent two weeks in Chengdu and love it (and the food!) passionately. But I've only overnighted in Beijing so I must return there to get a good sense of it. For the rest . . . I want to see whatever I can of China, its natural beauty, and its six thousand years of history. I want to see everything that its tourist board would most like me to see. I'm already mad about the country and its people. I want to discover the locations and images (in Moscow they included Red Square and the Metro and the Secret Garden in the Kremlin) that will define the land for me."

3.5 out of 5

Thriller - Michael Jackson

4.5 out of 5

Blogging Sax Rohmer's The Hand of Fu Manchu 6 The House of Hashish - William Patrick Maynard

"The House of Hashish” starts off with a wonderfully atmospheric opening with Dr. Petrie keeping a lonely nighttime vigil in the now abandoned shadow-filled wharf-side Joy Shop with only the sound of lapping waves and the incessant squealing of rats to accompany him. From a window, he watches Nayland Smith approach an old beggar woman and overhears their conversation. The old woman claims to have twisted her ankle and begs Smith to help her to the rooms she keeps in a wharf-side warehouse. Smith obliges and, of course, walks into a ruse as a dacoit leaps upon his back and quickly wraps a cord around his neck and begins strangling him. Fearing he is witnessing his friend’s death and helpless to stop him, Petrie is flabbergasted to see Smith’s apparent twin arrive to the rescue. Smith’s double beats off the dacoit and hurls the man into the Thames."

3.5 out of 5’s-the-hand-of-fu-manchu-part-six-–-“the-house-of-hashish”/

To The Contended - Robert E. Howard

Bide by the fluted iron walls
Take ye a serving wench to wife;
Drown in the pot the bugle's calls,
Trade your spear for a peddler's knife.
Turn to the vendor's paltry strife,
Gird ye round with doors and bars
Safely snore in the lap of Life—
I must follow the restless stars.

Wait at the doors of your master's halls
—For the faithful server, boards are rife—
Make no oath when the whip-lash falls—
Hark to the counsel of your wife;
Trade your harp for a peddler's fife.
But gods, the spray and the plunging spars!
Here is my heart—in the heart of Life
And I must follow the restless stars

King, there are stallions in golden stalls,
But bars of sapphire are only bars!
Bide in peace in the high safe halls—
I must follow the restless stars.

3.5 out of 5

Penumbra - Gregory Benford

Gamma ray burster, moon shadow Asia no burn.

3.5 out of 5

Tides - Robert E. Howard

I am weary of birth and battle,
Seasons and Time and tide,
Of the ocean's empty rattle.
And the woman at my side.

I am weary of pain and revel,
And eyes that glitter or weep;
I will sell my soul to the Devil
For a thousand years of sleep.

Then never a dream shall haunt me,
And never a star shall rise,
Nor a shadow come to daunt me
In the blackness over my eyes.

There shall be no name or number
Of the seasons over me;
I shall know the tides of slumber
As a sunken ship, the sea.

And when I shall wake hereafter,
And the Devil comes for his gain,
I will crush him with crimson laughter
And turn to my sleep again.

3.5 out of 5

Eye of the Tiger - Survivor

4.5 out of 5

There’s An Isle Far Away On The Breast Of The Sea - Robert E. Howard

There's an isle far away on the breast of the sea,
A gem that is set in the stars of the bay,
And it lives in the hearts of the wanderers who stray,
(And begob it's too good for such spalpeens as ye!)

Oh the sorrow on them that have sailed from its swards!
On the thoughts that they think and the sighs that they sigh!
Is it liquor alone that is dimming their eye?
(With the graft that they get from misvotin' the wards.)

Oh, oft to that isle the fond memory flies!
To the brooks where they sported, so young and so chaste
And the dear drowsy shores that they left in such haste
(For the stealin' of cows and the tellin' of lies.)

There the soft fleecy clouds on the mountains repose,
And the breeze is a kiss and perfume to the mind,
And love reigns supreme and peace sits enshrined.
(So shut your damned mouth or I'll break your damned nose.)

Oh the men of the isle are all loyal and bold
And the women are lovely and fair to the eye;
Ochone for the ones who left with a sigh.
(Betrayin' their friends for the Englishman's gold.)

Oh never the love of that island shall slack
As long as her sons shall roam the world round,
For a country so beautiful will ne'er be found.
(God pity the bastards that have to go back.)

3 out of 5’s_an_isle_far_away_on_the_breast_of_the_sea...

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - The Flaming Lips

4 out of 5

There Were Three Lads Who Went Their Destined Ways - Robert E. Howard

There were three lads who went their destined ways
Bewildered by this thing that men call Life
Toiled through the week and idled leisure days.
And cursed the world but knew the world was rife
With thing of beauty. Even they could see.
They reveled in old tales of ages hoary
And plagued by souls vague reaching out for glory,
But knew dim, uncertain longing to be free.

They saw, they felt but could not put in words
The things of beauty that oft met their eyes,
Waving of blossoms and the flight of birds,
The tints of sun-set fading from the skies.
They dimly glimpsed the sky-kissed mountain crest
And felt chargrin of failure, dim unrest.

Blasphemous, showing their deep joy at verses,
Praising an artist with deep, sulphurous curses.
When their souls thrilled they knew but naught to swear
Admiring cursed at lakes by breezes kissed,
"Say, look at that damned elm waving there."
And vaunt its praise with oaths that fairly hissed.
They named, if chose, a demi-god a lout
Sneered at the thought that man-kind was their brother
Yet they could see a pretty girl without
Licking their lips and elbowing each other.
And they could see young saplings in the shade
And think of dancing girls. Could see
The sapling's litheness in a tender maid.
Could revel in the winds that whisper free.

"Say, boy, you see that moon just coming up,
Throwing its banners like long, silver teeth,
Say, I can think that it's some sea-king's golden cup—
Look there, white clouds above and purple hills beneath.
You know old pard, I guess that I'm a fool.
But I have got a lot of thoughts in me—
But what's the use? There never was a school
Could teach a fellow to write poetry.
And yet it's in my soul. I'd like to tell
The things I feel and see and sometimes think
Yet I can't catch and put them into ink—
My thoughts are great—my speech so barren. Hell!"

And in impotent anger, kick the sand
And gesture vaguely with a toil-worn hand.

And sometimes they would put on leather gloves
And therewith deal each other manful blows,
Pausing perchance to shake a bleeding nose,
Admire a leafy bough or budding rose,
Through loosened teeth quote poets songs of loves.
They took delights in rough and savage games,
Strong drink, and called each other scorching names.
Yet they would turn aside to small a flower. Oftentimes
Would sit them down and seek to make some rhymes.

Then feeling their dim soul-glories wane, morosely go
To see a prize-fight or a picture show.

3 out of 5

The Quest For Tanelorn - Blind Guardian

3.5 out of 5

The Tempter -- Robert E. Howard

Something tapped me on the shoulder
Something whispered, "Come with me,
"Leave the world of men behind you,
"Come where care may never find you
"Come and follow, let me bind you
"Where, in that dark, silent sea,
"Tempest of the world ne'er rages;
"There to dream away the ages,
"Heedless of Time's turning pages,
"Only, come with me."

"Who are you?" I asked the phantom,
"I am rest from Hate and Pride.
"I am friend to king and beggar,
"I am Alpha and Omega,
"I was councilor to Hagar
"But men call me suicide."
I was weary of tide breasting,
Weary of the world's behesting,
And I lusted for the resting
As a lover for his bride.

And my soul tugged at its moorings
And it whispered, "Set me free.
"I am weary of this battle,
"Of this world of human cattle,
"All this dreary noise and prattle.
"This you owe to me."
Long I sat and long I pondered,
On the life that I had squandered,
O'er the paths that I had wandered
Never free.

In the shadow panorama
Passed life's struggles and its fray.
And my soul tugged with new vigor,
Huger grew the phantom's figure,
As I slowly tugged the trigger,
Saw the world fade swift away.
Through the fogs old Time came striding,
Radiant clouds were 'bout me riding,
As my soul went gliding, gliding,
From the shadow into day.

3.5 out of 5

Tarantella - Robert E. Howard

Heads! Heads! Heads!
Bounce on the cobble stones.
Glitter of scarlets and flame of reds
Crimson the road that Freedom treads,
We’re rearing a fane of bones.
And bare feet
Weave their beat
Down the red reeking street.
Hell holds sway.
Slay! Slay!
Hate goes bellowing through the land,
Crimson-hued is my gleaming brand.
Kill! Kill! And my lips a-thrill
With hot kisses snatched in the frenzied whirl—
Raped from the lips of a noble girl.
And her brother’s blood on my hand.
Rage, lust, passion-hot.
Prance, dance, you sans culotte.
This is your hour, the height of your power,
Culture, decency forgot.
Blood! Blood! The red gleams preen
On yon fair maid the guillotine!
Vive, vive la guillotine!
Hate and slaughter, that is all;
Blood to shed and heads to fall.
Love is lust and good is lies,
Satan rides the eery skies.
Dance and sway
Whirl away
Meet and kiss, it is bliss
But to slay!
All the world’s a gore-rimmed sea, lo, the devil laughs with glee.
Come and dance then, you with me, come and caper wild and free.
With red blood those fires are lit,
Hades’ smoke is tinged with it.
And the very skies that soar
Are encrimsoned as with gore—
Yon was once a baron’s head,
Now it decks a pike instead.
I salute ye, with my sword.
Here’s to you, m’sieu le lord.
Much you had of wondrous wine,
Ermine coats and horses fine,
Luscious lips of dainty girls,
Snowy bosoms, gold and pearls,
None so haughty as your sneer—
Now you ride a common’s spear.
Here’s to you! In hell you burn.
I am on the upward turn
Of the slow revolving Wheel
With my reign of blood and steel.
O’er my prostrate head ye strode;
On my shoulder bent ye rode.
You the whip-man, I the clown
Till I rose to tread you down.
They will rise to trample me—
For the moment I am free.
Through the ribs the winds may drone
Now the world is all mine own.
Mine to lust, to rage, to dance!
Vive la Freedom! Vive la France!

4 out of 5

Swords Glimmered Up The Pass... - Robert E. Howard

Swords glimmered up the pass
Fringing the grim dark mass.
There was blood on the grass;
Red blood
But the flood
Far below lumbered on to the east and the dawn—
When all men are gone.
Shall not they,
Hill and stream,
As today
Gleam and dream,
Forgetting forever in majesty still
That men climbed the hill or died on the river.
High on the great black crags
Like hags
Brooding for death and slaughter,
We waited
With the thirst of our blades unsated
And below us rippled the water.
We two—you and I
Last to die.
At bay there we stood and the wind in our hair
Shook the iron clawed brood of the black eagle's lair.
They came in the flame of the thundering dawn
Driven and drawn
By the spate of their hate and the fate of their lust
For the glimmering dust,
They dreamed they could hold, the traitor of gold,
The breaker of thrust.
And we laughed in the bend of a curse that our blades, they
were virgin of rust
Then from his bed
The great sun clambered red;
His gleams lit up the lances and the banners of the foe;
The cohorts clambered sealing our doom beyond repealing;
Behind our boulders kneeling e hurled out lead below.
Many a bastard there
Of that dark band
Clutched with a nerveless hand
The mocking air.
Man after man, one by one
Dropped in the eye of the sun
To the crack of the ball;
Reeled from the sombre cliff
Grim and stiff,
And the river below drank his fall.
Two men—and we laughed and we swore
In the fringer of the rifle smoke's plume,
Twomen—and we laughed at the roar
Of a whole army bringing our doom.
And our rifles stammered and yammered,
Carving the air with red laces
Till our powder was burning their faces
As up to our muzzles they clambered.
You rose,
And you jeered—
In the beard
Of our foes
You hurled gold.
And some of them clutched it with screams,
and some in the clutching grew cold.
And you roared to the horde:
"Here's the price of Hell's thunder!"
And the leap of your sword
Rent a bosom a-sunder.
I swung up the stock
Of my empty gun
And the crash and the shock
Broke the brains out of one.
Then smoke veiled the sun
And blood, cliff and rock.
A reeking red carpet we made and we laid
With the crash of my gun and the slash of your blade.
Bullets jerked at us,
Knives stung;
Sword points dirked at us,
Gun stocks swung. Like reddened leopards we sprung.
And they forced us back to the lip of the pass
that over the river hung.
We were blackened with powder,
Red with blood
Ever louder we heard the flood.
Your blade was a shard on a battered hilt,
Your grip slipped on the blood you'd split.
From my rifle the splintered stock was rent
And the barrel was twisted, burst and bent.
The last charge came—fierce faces rose
To go blank under our last great blows.
Flame in our faces waved its sheet
And we felt the gulf yawn under our feet...
Roaring our final oaths we fell
And crashed together into Hell.

4 out of 5

Black Blade - Blue Oyster Cult

And Libertine62 has kindly added a bunch of Elric images in, too!

3.5 out of 5

A.S.I.O. - Redgum

4 out of 5

Surrender - Robert E. Howard

I will rise some day when the day is done
And the stars begin to quiver;
I will follow the road of the setting sun
Till I come to a dreaming river.

I am weary now of the world and vow
Of the winds and the winter weather;
I'll reel through a few more years somehow,
Then I'll quite them altogether.

I'll go to a girl that once I knew
And I will not swerve or err,
And I care not if she be false or true
For I am not true to her.

Her eyes are fierce and her skin is brown
And her wild blood hotly races,
But it's little I care if she does not frown
At any man's embraces.

Should I ask for a love none may invade?
Is she more or less than human?
Do I ask for more, who have betrayed
Man, devil, god and woman?

Enough for me if she has of me
A bamboo hut she'll share,
And enough tequilla to set me free
From the ghosts that leer and stare.

I'll lie all day in a sodden sleep
Through days without name or number,
With only the wind in the sky's blue deep
To haunt my unshaken slumber.

And I'll lie by night in the star-roofed hut
Forgetful and quiet hearted,
Till she comes with her burning eyes half shut
And her red lips hot and parted.

The past is flown when the cup is full,
And there is no chain for linking
And any woman is beautiful
When a man is blind with drinking.

Life is a lie that cuts like a knife
With its sorrow and fading blisses;
I'll go to a girl who asks naught of life
Save wine and a drunkard's kisses.

No man shall know my race or name,
Or my past sun-ripe or rotten,
Till I travel the road by which I came,
Forgetting and soon forgotten.

4 out of 5

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Harlan Ellison - Frederik Pohl

"And there, in those years of the 1960s, he wrote stories like “‘Repent, Harlequin,&rsqu; Said the Tick-Tock Man,” “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World,” “A Boy and His Dog,” “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes” and “Shattered Like a Glass Goblin,” racking up a considerable collection of Hugos and Nebulas in the process. (One writer said, “They ought to give him a Hugo every time he writes a story, just for the titles.”)

I was Harlan’s editor for the first publication of some of the best of those stories, and I have to say that it was not an easy job. We were in a state of war for five or six years on end. There was the Battle of the Douchebag, when Harlan fought tenaciously for his right to have one character in a story call another by that epithet. In a large sense, he was sort of in the right; for generally speaking a writer should be entitled to have his story presented as he conceived it. "

4 out of 5

Spider-Man - Ramones

4.5 out of 5

She Never Slept Interviews Author - Laird Barron

In relation to the Book of Cthulhu.

3.5 out of 5

Nightflight to Venus - Boney M

4 out of 5

The Spiders Of Weariness Come On Me - Robert E. Howard

The spiders of weariness come on me
To weave wide webs on my brain.
I must go to the night and the sighing sea
And the drive of the drifting rain.

3 out of 5

Sonora to Del Rio - Robert E. Howard

Sonora to Del Rio is a hundred barren miles
Where the sotol weave and shimmer in the sun—
Like a host of swaying serpents straying down the bare defiles
When the silver, scarlet webs of dawn are spun.

There are little 'dobe ranchoes, brooding far along the sky
On the sullen, dreary bosoms of the hills.
Not a wolf to break the quiet, not a single bird to fly;
Where the silence is so utter that it thrills.

Maybe, in the heat of evening, comes a wind from Mexico
Laden with the heat of seven Hells,
And the rattler in the yucca and the buzzard dark and slow
Hear and understand the grisly tales it tells.

Gaunt and stark and bare and mocking rise the everlasting cliffs
Like a row of sullen giants carved of stone,
Till the traveler, mazed with silence, thinks to look at hieroglyphs,
Thinks to see a carven pharaoh on his throne.

And the road goes on forever, o'er the barren hill forever,
And there's little to hint of flowing wine—
But beyond the hills and sotol there's a mellow curving river
And a land of sun and mellow wine.

3 out of 5

Bradman - Paul Kelly

5 out of 5

Song of the Pict - Robert E. Howard

Wolf on the height
Mocking the night;
Slow comes the light
Of a nation's new dawn.
Shadow hordes massed
Out of the past.
Fame that shall last
Strides on and on.
Over the vale
Thunders the gale
Bearing the tale
Of a nation up-lifted.
Flee, wolf and kite!
Fame that is bright.

3.5 out of 5

Bat Out of Hell - Meatloaf

5 out of 5

A Song of the Don Cossacks - Robert E. Howard

Wolf-brother, wolf-lover,
Over the river the kites hover
Where witch-light glimmers
And tall grass shimmers―
What dead things shall their eyes discover?
What, when the sabers sing in the gloaming,
What, when the gray wolves cease their roaming?
Wolf-lover, wolf-brother,
We are sworn to slay each other.

Gray light glances
Along our lances―
Both of us sons of our Volga mother.
Kites shall feast then ranks burst asunder
And the roar of the red tide hurls us under.
When the white steel glints and the red blood spurts―
Death in the camps and death in the yurts.
When the crimson shadows of twilight fall
We shall be feasts for the white jackal.

Wolf-lover, wolf-brother,
We be sons of the self-same mother,
Though between us flows a red stained tide.
Horse and man
Ride we far,
You for the Khan,
I for the czar,
Wolf-lover, Tartar-brother, ride!

3.5 out of 5

A Song of Cheer - Robert E. Howard

The men, also the maids;
The dames had cut and combed their hair,
The men wore theirs in braids.

They came unto a comrade's room,
They laid on him their hands
Said they, "Oh fiend, oh cringing wretch!
"Behold the traitor stands!"

They punched him thrice upon the nose,
They blacked his gleaming eye;
They nailed his trousers to the wall
And left him there to die.

But people came and cut him down
And gave him other pants.
"And tell us now," the people said
"How this thing came to chance?"

"Alas for me!" the wretch replied,
"My sinful lust for gold!
"My former friends are down on me—
I wrote a book that sold!"

3 out of 5

The Gambler - Kenny Rogers

3.5 out of 5

Skulls And Dust - Robert E. Howard

The Persian slaughtered the Apis Bull;
(Ammon-Ra is a darksome king.)
And the brain fermented beneath his skull.
(Egypt's curse is a deathly thing.)

He rode on the desert raider's track;
(Ammon-Ra is a darksome king.)
No man of his gleaming hosts came back.
And the dust winds drifted sombre and black.
(Egypt's curse is a deathly thing.)

The eons passed on the desert land;
(Ammon-Ra is a darksome king.)
And a stranger trod the shifting sand.
(Egypt's curse is a deathly thing.)

His idle hand disturbed the dead;
(Ammon-Ra is a darksome king.)
Till he found Cambysses' skull of dread
Whence the frenzied brain so long had fled,
That once held terrible visions red.
(Egypt's curse is a deathly thing.)

And an asp crawled from the dust inside
(Ammon-Ra is a darksome king.)
And the stranger fell and gibbered and died.
(Egypt's curse is a deathly thing.)

4 out of 5

Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2

4.5 out of 5

Khe Sanh - Cold Chisel

5 out of 5

The Final Countdown - Europe

4 out of 5

Teenagers From Mars - The Misfits

4.5 out of 5

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - Gene Pitney

3.5 out of 5

I Fought the Law - The Clash

4.5 out of 5

Pawn To King Four - Timothy Zahn

Cobra patrol.

3 out of 5

Torn Away - Joe R. Lansdale

Dead time soldier.

2.5 out of 5

I Shot the Sheriff - Eric Clapton

4 out of 5

Young Lions - Zachary Jernigan

Black suit vs White suit.

3 out of 5

Enter the Dragon Later Enter Another - Lavie Tidhar

Multiple Assange hunt.

3.5 out of 5

You Know What Hunts You - Jay Lake

Dead Towns take bits.

3 out of 5

Kolkata Sea - Indrapramit Das

Dead in the wet.

3 out of 5

Shadow of Dreams - Robert E. Howard

Stay not from me that veil of dreams that gives
Strange seas and and skies and lands and curious fire,
Black dragons, crimson moons and white desire,
That through the silvery fabric sifts and sieves
Strange shadows, shades and all unmeasured things,
And in the sifting lends them shapes and wings
And makes them known in ways past common knowing--
Red lands, black seas and ivory rivers flowing.

How of the gold we gather in our hands?
It cheers, but shall escape us at the last,
And shall mean less, when this brief day is past,
Than that we gathered on the yellow sands,
The phantom ore we found in Wizard-lands.

Keep not from me my veil of curious dreams
Through which I see the giant things which drink
From mountain-castled rivers--on the brink
Black elephants that woo the fronded streams,
And golden tom-toms pulsing through the dusk,
And yellow stars, black trees and red-eyed cats,
And bales of silk and amber jars of musk,
And opal shrines and tents and vampire bats.

Long highways climbing eastward to the moon,
And caravans of camels lade with spice,
And ancient sword hilts carved with scroll and rune,
And marble queens with eyes of crimson ice.

Uncharted shores where moons of scarlet spray
Break on a Viking's galley on the sand,
And curtains held by one slim silver band
That float from casements opening on a bay,
And monstrous iron castles, dragon-barred,
And purple cloaks with inlaid gems bestarred.

Long silver tasseled mantles, curious furs,
And camel bells and dawns and golden heat,
And tuneful rattle of the horseman's spurs
Along some sleeping desert city's street.

Time strides and all too soon shall I grow old
With still all earth to see, all life to live:
Then come to me, my silver veil, and sieve,
Seas of illusion beached with magic gold.

3.5 out of 5

Serpent - Robert E. Howard

I am the symbol of Creation and Destruction
I am the beginning and the end.
With my tail in my mouth
I am the Circle of Eternity.
Wisdom is in my eyes
And the dusk of wisdom lurks amid my coils.
My track circles the world
And I loop my coils around the Universe.
My head waves among the stars
And the nations fall prostrate before me.
Coiled, head upright, I am the spirit of the sea.
The world-shaking dinosaur was my henchman
And the flying dragons were my footmen.
The ancients knew me.
They reared shrines and altars
And I taught them dim, dusky wisdom.
I coiled in the ruins of Troy and Babylon
And on the forgotten streets of Nineveh.
The Norse called me Midgaard and built their galleys
Like a sea-serpent.
The Egyptians and the Indians called me Ysis
And the Phoenecians Baal.
I am the sea that girdles the world.
I am the first and I shall be the last.
I am the Serpent of the Ages.

3.5 out of 5

Secrets - Robert E. Howard

There is a serpent lifts his crest o' nights
And hisses in the darkness of my room.
His substance and the cloaking night are one;
His form is of the soft, thick, musky dark.
His strange eyes glimmer and his scales are loud
Yet none but I can hear—and scarcely I.
His gliding whispers shake my sluggish soul
With strange wild fires and lights of other dreams.
He loops himself about me in the dark;
I struggle with a strange, wild ecstasy
And seek, yet would not wish, to free my limbs.
Strange shudders shake my limbs at his cold touch
As coil on coil he laps my naked form.
Colder than ice he is, yet in my soul
He kindles fires more hot that Hades' breath.
With soft insidious whisper at my cheek
He lures me to the midnight's curious joys.
I rise and follow. All the land is still.
the crescent moon hangs breathless in the sky,
Whose crystal deeps are pierced with pointed stars.
Through woodlands silver black he leads me on.
Over the terraced swards where fountains dance,
Until the moon lights up a window sill.
My naked feet no hint of sound may make.
We glide together o'er the silver sill.
I hear the velvet hangings swish behind
like whisper of some crimson nightmare's wings.
My feet sink deep in rugs of silken weave
And like a ghost I bend above the bed,
A girl lies there, her sleeping lips a-smile
On soft arm pillowing the golden head.
Her tender limbs stretched out in light repose.
There is no gown to veil her symmetry.
She lies and shimmers ivory in the moon.
Those perfect, scarlet lips were made to kiss;
My arm should be about that slender waist.
But here the serpent rustles grisly scales.
And sways beside me like a fearful tree.
His whispers speak of deeper, fiercer lusts,
Of wilder joys, most terrible and strange.
That change soft dreams to nightmares red and grim.
He indicates the curves of that soft breast;
He whispers of the red wine which is blood.
He makes me feel the thrill that's born of death.
This is not earthly—from what darkened world,
What shadowed planet, what inhuman sphere
Come such wild dreams, such fearsome fantasies?
The serpent bids me stoop to that soft breast
To let the dagger kiss—with one swift thrust—
Death should be beautiful, then crouching by
Watch with quick breath and glinting eye the blood
Drain slowly from that soft, rose-tinted cheek
Until the wine has oozed from every vein
Leaving her marble white and marble cold
Like some inhuman goddess from a star.
Drained clean of all the grosser things of life.
Then raise her gently from the ruby lake
And kiss her cheeks as one who knows true sin.

3.5 out of 5

The Sea - Robert E. Howard

The sea, the sea, the rolling sea!
High flung, wide swinging, so wild and free,
The leaping waves with their white-capped crest
The plunge and lunge on the ocean's breats
Like wild, white horses racing free,
With the swing of the rolling, surging sea!
The white sea cloud that drifts like a dream;
The sea-gulls that skim o'er the waves, and scream;
The dolphin's plunge and the petrel's nest,
That is borne to land on the tide-race crest:
And all that goes, from mid-ocean to lea,
To make up the rolling, the surginf sea!
Can ye stand on the peaceful, quiet lea,
And gaze on the tumbling, tossing sea,
Out o'er the surge and the white waves' crest,
Nor feel a longing within your breast?
A drawing, a pull, be it day or night,
That tempts ye to dare the ocean's might.
I stood on the deck of a ship offshore
And harked to the awesome and deafening roar
Of the ocean waves when theys truck the reefs,
High tossed on the tide like crested chiefs
Whose plumes toss high 'bove the battling hordes,
Where leap the lances and flash the swords.
And the mighty waves rose high and steep
To the hand of the waves that smote the deep.
And my soul leaped wildm and my would leaped free,
To the leap and the swing of the rolling sea!
And my soul was freed with that ocean leap,
And it plumed the depths of the mighty deep!
Down, down, down where the mermaids ride,
Down where the things of the deep sea glide.
Down where the ships, long sunken, float,
War-ship and galley and coracle boat;
Down beyond reach of the storms or the tides,
To the coral halls where old Triton hides!
And I saw the mermaids and the mermen play,
The the kraken and sea-serpent locked in fray.
And all the ocean-marvels that be,
And the wonderful monsters of the sea.
I wandered 'mongst beautiful sea-flowers,
Where the castle built by the polyp towers,
Where the waters glitter with strange sea-jade,
And the sea-things swim through the deep-sea glade.
And then my soul came back on me,
Back through the surge of the swinging sea.
But still I gaze from the quiet lea,
And long for the swing of the plunging sea.

3.5 out of 5

The Cowboys' Christmas Ball - Larry Chittenden

'Way out in Western Texas, where the Clear Fork's waters flow,
Where the cattle are "a-browzin'," an' the Spanish ponies grow;
Where the Northers "come a-whistlin'" from beyond the Neutral Strip;
And the prairie dogs are sneezin', as if they had "The Grip";
Where the cayotes come a-howlin' 'round the ranches after dark,
And the mocking-birds are singin' to the lovely "medder lark";
Where the 'possum and the badger, and rattlesnakes abound,
And the monstrous stars are winkin' o'er a wilderness profound;
Where lonesome, tawny prairies melt into airy streams,
While the Double Mountains slumber, in heavenly kinds of dreams;
Where the antelope is grazin' and the lonely plovers call—
It was there that I attended "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The town was Anson City, old Jones's county seat,
Where they raised Polled Angus cattle, and waving whiskered wheat;
Where the air is soft and "bammy," an' dry an' full of health,
And the prairies is explodin' with agricultural wealth;
Where they print the Texas Western, that Hec. McCann supplies
With news and yarns and stories, uv most amazin' size;
Where Frank Smith "pulls the badger," on knowin' tenderfeet,
And Democracy's triumphant, and might hard to beat;
Where lives that good old hunter, John Milsap, from Lamar,
Who "used to be the Sheriff, back East, in Paris sah!"
'T was there, I say, at Anson with the lovely "widder Wall,"
That I went to that reception, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The boys had left the ranches and come to town in piles;
The ladies—"kinder scatterin'"—had gathered in for miles.
And yet the place was crowded, as I remember well,
'T was got for the occasion, at "The Morning Star Hotel."
The music was a fiddle an' a lively tambourine,
And a "viol came imported," by the stage from Abilene.
The room was togged out gorgeous-with mistletoe and shawls,
And candles flickered frescoes, around the airy walls.
The "wimmin folks" looked lovely-the boys looked kinder treed,
Till their leader commenced yellin': "Whoa! fellers, let's stampede,"
And the music started sighin', an' awailin' through the hall
As a kind of introduction to "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The leader was a feller that came from Swenson's ranch,
They called him "Windy Billy," from "little Deadman's Branch."
His rig was "kinder keerless," big spurs and high-heeled boots;
He had the reputation that comes when "fellers shoots."
His voice was like a bugle upon the mountain's height;
His feet were animated an' a mighty, movin' sight,
When he commenced to holler, "Neow, fellers stake your pen!
"Lock horns ter all them heifers, an' russle 'em like men.
"Saloot yer lovely critters; neow swing an' let 'em go,
"Climb the grape vine 'round 'em—all hands do-ce-do!
"You Mavericks, jine the round-up- Jest skip her waterfall,"
Huh! hit wuz gettin' happy, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!"

The boys were tolerable skittish, the ladies powerful neat,
That old bass viol's music just got there with both feet!
That wailin', frisky fiddle, I never shall forget;
And Windy kept a-singin'—I think I hear him yet—
"Oh Xes, chase yer squirrels, an' cut 'em to one side;
"Spur Treadwell to the centre, with Cross P Charley's bride;
"Doc. Hollis down the middle, an' twine the ladies' chain;
"Varn Andrews pen the fillies in big T Diamond's train.
"All pull yer freight together, neow swallow fork an' change;
"'Big Boston,' lead the trail herd, through little Pitchfork's range.
"Purr 'round yer gentle pussies, neow rope 'em! Balance all!"
Huh! hit wuz gettin' active—"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!"

The dust riz fast an' furious; we all jes' galloped 'round,
Till the scenery got so giddy that T Bar Dick was downed.
We buckled to our partners, an' told 'em to hold on,
Then shook our hoofs like lightning, until the early dawn.
Don't tell me 'bout cotillions, or germans. No sire 'ee!
That whirl at Anson City just takes the cake with me.
I'm sick of lazy shufflin's, of them I've had my fill,
Give me a frontier break-down, backed up by Windy Bill.
McAllister ain't nowhar: when Windy leads the show,
I've seen 'em both in harness, and so I sorter know—
Oh, Bill, I sha'n't forget yer, and I'll oftentimes recall,
That lively gaited sworray—"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

4 out of 5

Hurricane - Bob Dylan

5 out of 5

The Cowboy's Christmas Ball - The Killers

4 out of 5

Scarlet And Gold Are The Stars Tonight - Robert E. Howard

Scarlet and gold are the stars tonight,
The river runs silver below the bridge—
But the hour shall come when the dawn grows white
Over the eastern ridge.

Your face is a dim white flower of night,
In your arms unheeded the hours fall—
But the dawn makes hearts grow strange and light,
And the far lands call.

3.5 out of 5

A Sappe Ther Wos And That A Crumbe Manne - Robert E. Howard

A sappe ther wos and that a crumbe manne
Whoe from the timee that he firs beganne
To jazzen oute he lopved rapery,
And many a damsel sat himme on his knee.
As far as goeth manne he had wente,
And many a virgin's gude name hadde bente.
Betimes among the dames of seventeen,
And jazzen all the nighte at Racine.
To Philadelphia hadde been alsoe
Ageyne another trull in Chicagoe.
And many a damsel hadde proved fickle,
"Gude sirs," quote, "A maiden for an ickle
"Her pantys taken down for any manne,
"I hode you sirs, ageyne the whole damn clanne."
And forthwith bought a ticket to New Yorke
Because Hisse wife expected ther the storke.

2.5 out of 5

The Sands of Time - Robert E. Howard

Slow sift the sands of Time; the yellowed leaves
Go drifting down an old and bitter wind;
Across the frozen moors the hedges stand
In tattered garments that the frost have thinned.

A thousand phantoms pluck my ragged sleeve,
Wan ghosts of souls long into darkness thrust.
Their pale lips tell lost dreams I thought mine own,
And old sick longings smite my heart to dust.

I may not even dream of jeweled dawns,
Nor sing with lips that have forgot to laugh.
I fling aside the cloak of Youth and limp
A withered man upon a broken staff.

3.5 out of 5

Sailor - Robert E. Howard

I saw a mermaid sporting in the bay,
Far down, far down where blew no roaring gale;
About her snowy shoulders flashed the spray,
The waves played emerald at her sinewy tail;
She swam a jade and golden, star-set way,
Where all the rainbow colors seemed to play—
She vanished at the Swedish captain's hail
Who bid me go to Hell and furl a sail.

3.5 out of 5

The Wind Through the Keyhole 1 Starkblast - Stephen King

"During the days after they left the Green Palace that wasn’t Oz after all—but which was now the tomb of the unpleas- ant fellow Roland’s ka-tet had known as the Tick-Tock Man—the boy Jake began to range farther and farther ahead of Roland, Eddie, and Susannah.

“Don’t you worry about him?” Susannah asked Roland. “Out there on his own?”

“He’s got Oy with him,” Eddie said, referring to the billy-bumbler who had adopted Jake as his special friend. “Mr. Oy gets along with nice folks all right, but he’s got a mouthful of sharp teeth for those who aren’t so nice. As that guy Gasher found out to his sorrow.”

“Jake also has his father’s gun,” Roland said. “And he knows how to use it. That he knows very well. And he won’t leave the Path of the Beam.” He pointed overhead with his reduced hand. The low-hanging sky was mostly still, but a single corridor of clouds moved steadily southeast. Toward the land of Thunderclap, if the note left behind for them by the man who styled himself RF had told the truth.

Toward the Dark Tower."

3.5 out of 5

Rune - Robert E. Howard

Gods of heather, gods of lake,
Bestial fiends of swamp and brake;
White god riding on the moon,
Jackal-jawed, with voice of loon;
Serpent god whose scaly coils
Grasp the Universe in toils;
See the Unseen Sages sit;
See thee council fires alit.
See I stir thee glowing coals,
Toss on manes of seven foals.
Seven foals all golden shod
From thee herds of Alba's god.
Now in numbers one and six?,
Shape and place the magic sticks,
Scented wood brought from afar,
From the land of Morning Star.
Hewn from limbs of sandal-trees,
Brought for o'er thee Eastern Seas.

Sea-snake fangs, see how I fling,
Pinions of a sea-gull's wing.
Now the magic dust I toss,
Men are shadows, life is dross.
Now the flames crawl, ere they blaze,
Now the smokes rise in a haze.

Fanned by far off ocean blast
Leaps the tale of distant past.
Dimly, dimly, glimmers thee starlight,
Over thee heather-hill, over the vale.
Gods of the, Old Land broodo'er the far night,
Things of the darkness ride on the gale.
Now while the fire smolders, while smoke enfolds it,
Now ere it leaps in clear, mystic flame,
Harken once more (else the dark gods withold it)
Hark to the tale of the race without a name.

3.5 out of 5

Rules of Etiquette - Robert E. Howard

Rule I.
If a girl stops you to talk while you are chasing your trains,
And it looks like they're going to lose ye,
Just up with your musket and knock out her brains,
Saying, "Miss, you'll have to excuse me."

Rule II.
IF a tiresome guy should hapopen to call,
And stay and stay without leaving at all,
Just heave him out of the door on his dome,
And maybe he'll take the hint and go home.

Rule III.
If you were going down the street,
And a pretty girl you chance to meet,
Don't hit her if she should you slight,
A swiftish kick is more polite.

Rule IV.
There was a guy named McDoodles,
With a face like an Austrian poodle's,
When folks said, "What a beeze--
You big piece of cheese!"
Why, he'd wallop them all on their noodles.

Rule V.
When a tailor's solicitor calls at your door,
Don't make him a greeting with your forty-four;
Don't give him a scowl and a horrible glare,
And say, "You poor fish! You bum! Take the air!"

He may be a bum and he may be a boob,
But it's none of your business if he's even a rube.
He's a human, although he may not look the part,
Either give him some clothes or a good running start.

3.5 out of 5

Roundelay of the Roughneck - Robert E. Howard

Let others croon of lover's moon,
Of roses, birds on wing,
Maidens, the waltz's dreaming tune,—
Of strong thewed deeds I sing.

Let poets seek the tinted reek,
Perfume of ladies gay,
Of winds of wild outlands I speak,
The lash of far sea spray.

Of dear swamp brakes, of storm whipped lakes,
Dank jungle, reedy fen,
Of seas the pound the plunging strakes,
Of men and deeds of men.

Prospector; king of the battling ring;
Tarred slave of tide's behests,
Monarchs of muscle shall I sing,
Lords of the hairy chests.

Though some may stay 'neath cities away,
To toil with maul and hod,
To outer trails most take their way,
To lands yet scarcely trod.

The torrent's might, the dizzy height,
Shall never bate their breath,
With desert's toils they match their might,
And hurl their mocks at Death.

The tropic creek, the jungle reek
That steams through sullen trees,
The boding wild where leopards shriek
Holds never fear for these.

Nor do they shrink from hell's own brink,
When kites low wheeling fly,
And circling near the jackals slink,
And sands stretch bare to sky.

Far swing their trails through calms and gales,
From Polar sea to Horn,
From bleak ice-glittering peaks and vales,
To sun-kissed seas of morn.

In driving snow, where artic floe
Surges though ice-reft straits,
Where bergs sweep southward, row on row,
And wind fiends shriek their hates.

Where the broad sun smiles on a hundred isles
With the long sea reach between,
And the lone gull wheels for a thousand miles,
And the reefs lift fanged and lean.

On Polar trails where the screeching gales
Bellow and roar and blow,
And the skies are gone while the firece wind rails,
And the path fades in the snow.

By atolls lean where ships careen,
In the sullen, still lagoon.
And crouching bushman's spear is a sheen
In the light of the shuddering moon.

In the marshy swamp, in the jungle damp,
Tall trees in marching lines,
That echo again to the tusker's tramp,
Where the tiger glides through the vines.

On mountains bleak, on cliff and peak,
From Pole to Pole and Line,
Adventure still they ever seek,
Adventure still they find.

3.5 out of 5

Romance - Robert E. Howard

I am king of all the Ages
I am ruler of the stars
I am master of Time's pages
And I mock at chain and bars.
Now, as when I sailed the world
Ere the galley's sails were furled
And the barnacles had crusted on their spars.

I am strife, I am Life,
I am mistress, I am wife!
I am wilder than the sea wind, I am fiercer than the fire!
I am tale and song and fable, I am Akkad, I am Babel,
I am Calno, I am Carthage, I am Tyre!

For I walked the streets of Gaza
when the world was wild and young,
And I reveled in Carchemish when the golden minstrels sung;
All the world-road was my path, as I sang the songs of Gath
Or trod the streets of Nineveh where harlots roses flung.

I swam the wide Euphrates
where it wanders through the plain
And I saw the dawn come flaming over Tyre.
I walked the roads of Ammon
when the hills were veiled in rain,
And I watched the stars anon from the walls of Askalon
And I rose the plains of Palestine beneath the dawning's fire
When the leaves upon the trees danced
and fluttered in the breeze
And a slim girl of Juda went singing to a lyre.

4 out of 5

A Roman Lady - Robert E. Howard

There is a strangeness in my soul
A dark and brooding sea.
Nor all the waves on Capri's shoal
Might stay the thirst of me.
For men have come and men have gone
For pleasure or for hire.
Though they lay broken at the dawn
They did not quench my fire.
My pity is a deathly ruth
I burn men with my eyes.
Oh, would all men were one strong youth
To break between my thighs.
Any many a man his fortune spread
To glut my ecstacy
As I lay panting on his bed
In shameless nudity.
But all of ancient Egypt's gold
Can never equal this,
Nor all the treasures kingdoms hold,
A single hour of bliss.
Within my villa's high domain
Are boys from Britain's rocks
And dark eyed slender lads from Spain
And Greeks with perfumed locks.
And youths of soft and subtle speech
From furtherest Orient,
Wherever arms of legions reach
And Roman chains are sent.
Why may I not be satiate
With kisses of some boy—
They only rouse my passions spate
I never know such joy
As when through chambers filled with noise
Of wails and pleas and sighs
I stride among my naked boys
With whips that bruise their thighs.
I drift through mists red flaming flung
On hills of ecstacies
As shoulder-wealed and buttock-stung
They shriek and kiss my knees.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Great Game 1 - Lavie Tidhar

"He caught up with the boy as the boy was turning away from the canal, down a narrow soi. People passed them both but the observer ignored them, his attention trained on the boy. He caught up with him in the shadow of a doorway and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

The boy began to formulate a question, began to turn around, but never got a chance to complete either action. The observer slid what could have been a very narrow, very sharp blade – but wasn’t, not quite – into the soft area at the back of the boy’s head.

The blade went through skin and fat and bone, piercing the brain stem and the hippocampus and reaching deep into the brain. The boy emitted a sigh, a minute exhalation of air, perhaps in surprise, perhaps in pain. His legs buckled underneath him. The observer, now participant, gently caught him so that he didn’t fall but, rather, was gently lowered to the ground.

The whole thing only took a moment. When it was done the observer withdrew the thing that was not quite a blade, but functioned as one, which was as much a part of him as his skeleton or the cells that made up his skin. His skeleton was not entirely human and his brain not at all, and he was currently experiencing some new sensations, one of which was bewilderment and another being anger, neither of which had troubled him before. "

4 out of 5

The Robes of the Righetous - Robert E. Howard

I am a saintly reformer,
basking in goodly reknown
Sure of applaud of the righteous,
cinctured in purity's gown.
Young men and old men revere me,
women and girls out of school
Come to me telling their secrets,
seeking my counseling cool.
Little they know of my story
when I was the water-front's toast.
Back in the days of my glory
down on the Barbary Coast.
Young and my lips full and crimson,
flaming with passionate blood,
My love was the leap of an ocean,
my passion the swing of the flood.
Changing and varied my fancies
yet no woman ever gave more
For I joyed in the man on my body
just as much as the one just before
Ah, nights that were lurid and gorgeous,
under the bar lamps blaze
Flutter of cars on the table,
faces that leered through the haze
Of smoke drifting up from the stogies,
the red liquor flowing free
And the shout of the salty ballass
that sailors sang from the sea.
The money scattered like water,
the pagan thrill of the dance
The hand that groped in my clothing,
the burning and meaning glance
Then the look as the stair I mounted,
the man that left the floor,
The joyous and panting waiting,
the stealthy knock at my door—
What if they knew, the elders,
that I was a Barbary whore?
Hiding my charms with meekness
under purity's gown
Sure of applaud of the righteous,
basking in goodly reknown.

3.5 out of 5

The Giant Thief 1 - David Tallerman

"The sun was going down by the time they decided to hang me.

In fairness, they hadn’t rushed the decision.

They’d been debating it for almost an hour since my capture and initial beating. One of the three was in favour of handing me over to an officer from amongst the regulars. The second had been determined to slit my throat, and was so set in his opinion that I’d hoped he might make a start with his companions. On that basis, I’d decided to lend him my encouragement. “He’s right, you know. It’s quick, but painful, and less messy than you might expect.” All that had earned me was a particularly vicious kick to the forehead, so I’d settled for the occasional nod or mumble of assent instead.

I’d often been told that sooner or later I’d steal the wrong thing from the wrong person and end up with my neck in a noose. While I’d occasionally suspected there was some truth to the theory, I’d made a point of trying not to think about it. struck me as a needlessly drawn out and unpleasant way to go, so I’d comforted myself with the knowl-edge that – law enforcement in the Castoval being what it is – I’d never need to worry unless I got care-less or exceptionally stupid.

That day, unfortunately, I’d been both. "

4 out of 5

The Road of Azrael - Robert E. Howard

Towers reel as they burst asunder,
Streets run red in the butchered town;
Standards fall and the lines go under,
And the iron horsemen ride me down.
Out of the strangling dusts that blind me
Let me ride for my hour is nigh,
From the walls that stifle, the hoofs that grind me,
To the sun and the desert wind to die.

4 out of 5

The Shadow In the Hall - Lee Collins

A bit ghostly for me, that joint.

3 out of 5–-day-7-lee-collins/#more-9334

The Education of Junior Number 12 - Madeline Ashby

"“You’re a self-replicating humanoid. vN.”

Javier always spoke Spanish the first few days. It was his clade’s default setting. “You have polymer-doped memristors in your skin, transmitting signal to the aerogel in your muscles from the graphene coral inside your skeleton. That part’s titanium. You with me, so far?”

Junior nodded. He plucked curiously at the clothes Javier had stolen from the balcony of a nearby condo. It took Javier three jumps, but eventually his fingers and toes learned how to grip the grey water piping. He’d take Junior there for practise, after the kid ate more and grew into the clothes. He was only toddler-sized, today. They’d holed up in a swank bamboo tree house positioned over an infinity pool outside La Jolla, and its floor was now littered with the remnants of an old GPS device that Javier had stripped off its plastic. His son sucked on the chipset.

“Your name is Junior,” Javier said. “When you grow up, you can call yourself whatever you want. You can name your own iterations however you want.”"

4.5 out of 5

Retribution - Robert E. Howard

The moon above the Kerry hills
had risen scare a span
When we went forth from Knocknaroe
to card a Saxon man.
We stretched him naked on the ditch―
God save this soul of mine!
The howls of him as hard we dragged
the cats along his spine.

A great, full-bodied man he was,
that beat poor Tom O'Rourke,
The hardest English landlord now,
from Donegal to Cork.
'Twas, "Damn you eyes! Pay rent or starve!
Get out with all your brats!"
But, faith, the howling of him now
was louder than the cats.

It's maybe he remembered then,
the swelling Saxon toad,
How he evicted Biddy Flynn
to die beside the road.
I hope that he remembered, too,
the while the tomcats clung,
My cousin Mike O'Flaherly
his testimony hung.

He cursed the king in agony
and damned the penal laws―
Oh, quite a different man he was
beneath those ripping claws.

His squealing dwindled to a moan,
his back was bloody beef;
We flung him in the thorny ditch
like, any common thief.

The mist was stealing from the sea,
the night was strange and still.
We heard him weeping like a child
as we went down the hill.
And then, above out oaths and jests,
there sounded from the wood
A cry so wild and sweet and sad
it chained us where we stood.
Some nightbird rended by an owl―
I felt black sorrow rise;
I turned to speak to Dermod Shea,
and tears were in his eyes.

3.5 out of 5

The Final Bough - Chris F. Holm

Elf death, North.

3.5 out of 5–-day-3-chris-f-holm/

Repentance - Robert E. Howard

How is it that I am what I am
How did I come to fall?
Who was the man my soul to damn
Black in the sight of all?
Who was it came in my virgin hood
And in some evil hour
Turned all my life to bad from good
Bruising the tender flower?
I cannot remember the fellow's name
I had long ago forgot;
I was young and my blood was flame
The person mattered not.
I was hot as a blazing brand
Blood and body and nerve
Ripe to be plucked by the first man's hand
And any man would serve.
I have had my day, I have had my fling
Men have bowed at my knee.
I sit in the bars where the harlots sing
To sailors hot from the sea.
Sallow my cheeks and my lips have faded
Life's roses slip my clutch
But my blood is still hot and still unjaded
I can thrill to the deck-hand's touch.
Still I thrill to the hands of men
I love the contact yet
The breath that is laden with wharfside gin
The scent of tobacco and sweat.
Bristly jowls on my painted cheek
The obscene, whispered jest,
Calloused hands that lustfully seek
My out-worn charms to quest.
My by-gone life is dim and far;
I am content with gin,
A slug of wine, sometimes at the bar,
A room for the sailormen.

3.5 out of 5

Rebellion - Robert E. Howard

The marble statues tossed against the sky
In gestures blind as though to rend and kill,
Not one upon his pedestal was still.
Stiff fingers clutched at winds that whispered by,
And from the white lips rose a deathly cry:
"Cursed be the hands that broke us from the hill!
There slumber of unbirth was ours till
The gave us life that cannot live or die."

And then as from a dream I stirred and woke—
Sublime and still each statue raised its head,
Etched pure and cold against the leafy green,
No limb was moved, no sigh the silence broke;
And people walked amid the grove and said:
"How peaceful these white gods!—aye, how serene."

3.5 out of 5

Rebel Souls From The Falling Dark - Robert E. Howard

Rebel souls from the falling dark,
What are the crowns you gain?
The quenching night of a dungeon stark
And the brine of the rusty chain.
The taunt and the tang of the bitter blood,
And the grim of the grisly bars,
The friar's chant and the hangman's hood—
And a star amid the stars!

3.5 out of 5

Prude - Robert E. Howard

I dare not join my sisters in the street;
I think of people's talk, the cynic stare.
Fierce envy makes me scornful of their play,
And hide my lust behind a haughty air.

3 out of 5

Private Magrath Of The A.E.F - Robert E. Howard

The night was dark as a Harlem coon
Smoke and clounds once lin' the moon;
Flares goin' up with a venomous sound,
Bustin' and throwin' a green light around.
An', yeah, there was me cursin' my soul
For losin' meself from the raidin' patrol.
Creepin' along in the mud and the slime,
Cussin' and havin' the Devil's own time.
Smeared and spattered with Flanders mire,
Tearin' me clothes on the loose barbwire.

I'm crawlin' along, keepin' close to the ground,
When all of a sudden I hears me a sound.
I halt and I listen, it's too dark for sight
But some bird's ahead of me there in the night.
I reached for my gun—then I swear through me teeth
For somewhere the thing's fallen out of its sheath.
But before I can move, I hear feet a-slush
And something to meself: "Come right ahead Fritz,
I've lost me gat but I've got me mitts."

I sidestep quick as he makes his spring,
His bay'net flashes, I duck, I swing!
Flush on the jaw my right he stops,
Down in the muck on his face he flops.
I'm cursin' him for a bloody Hun
As I loosen the bay'net off his gun.
I feel for his ribs 'neath his tunic drab
For I've only time for a single stab.
I feel a locket a-danglin there,
I jerk it out, then a rockets flare

Limns it in light like crimson flame
And I see the face of a white haired dame
And German letters beneath it run,
Which I take to mean "To my darlin' son."
I haul that Hun up onto his pegs,
And I says, "Get goin'; and shake your legs.
Your line are that way, now get gone."
And I hends him a boot to help him on.
Saying, "Make tracks on your homeward path,
With the compliments of Monk Magrath."

3 out of 5

The Poets - Robert E. Howard

My soul is a blaze
Of passionate desire;
My soul is a blaze
That sets my pen on fire.

3 out of 5

Embedded 1 - Dan Abnett

"“You look like shit. But shit that I’m pleased to see,” she replied. “Buy me a drink.” He’d known her for years, but the core of their rela-tionship was a sixteen month assignment to Seventy-Seven. Cleesh was a data wet nurse, feeding, supplying and managing the newslines from a can station circling at twenty-nine miles. She was the most able and clued-in editor-engineer he’d ever worked with. They’d become friends, but he’d never met her in the flesh. She never unhooked from the plug network and left her no-grav home. Prolonged no-grav fucked you up, sooner or later. It made you bone-light or flesh-heavy, sometimes both. No matter how well sunlight, clean air, fresh water and food were simulated, they were still simulated, and it poisoned you eventually. Diabetes, SAD, muscle wastage, organ failure, obesity, eczema, there was always some kind of price.

They talked. He became aware of how twig-scrawny his wrists were compared to hers. Perhaps he had been riding the drivers too long.

“You’re here to cover the thing that isn’t a war?” she asked.

“Of course.”

“You got an in? They’re freeking® tight about the press free-associating with servicemen.” "

4 out of 5

Norman Spinrad's The Solarians - Stephen Baxter

"But Spinrad's The Solarians (1966) is an exception, for here humanity actually causes an instability in the sun. We are losing a war of attrition with the relentlessly logical Dulgaari. But the Dulgaari fleet is duped into entering the solar system, 'Fortress Sol' - where it is vaporised by an artificial Nova Sol, 'like a swarm of moths caught in a flamethrower' (chapter 12). The scenes of the destruction of an evacuated Earth are affecting."

3.5 out of 5's-the-solarians/

Anniversary Day 1 - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

"Bartholomew Nyquist parked his aircar in one of the hoverlots at the end of the neighborhood. The Dome was dark this morning, even though someone should have started the Dome Daylight program. Maybe they had, deciding that Armstrong was in for a “cloudy” day—terminology he never entirely understood, given that the Moon had no clouds and most people who lived here had been born on the Moon and had never seen a cloud in their entire lives.

He grabbed his laser pistol from the passenger seat. He always kept the pistol on the passenger seat when he was traveling, just in case something happened. He tucked the pistol in his shoulder holster, hidden under his already-rumpled suit coat, and got out of the car.

The neighborhood looked even darker than it should have, sprawled below him like something out of those Dickens Christmas plays his ex-wife loved so much. All it needed was some sooty smoke coming out of chimneys above each house to be authentically dreary.

Oh, his mood was bad. And for that, he could probably only blame himself. He should “buck up”—wasn’t that what Chief of the First Detective Unit, Andrea Gumiela, had told him yesterday? Buck up, Bartholomew. Everyone gets divorced. And yours was two years ago. The attitude was understandable last year. This year, it’s becoming a problem.

That after she made him watch the entire complaint vid his now-former partner had filed. Nyquist knew the complaints already, having heard them from previous partners and in his divorce proceeding: surly, impossible to work with, superior. Conversations filled with biting sarcasm—and that was on a good day. On a bad day, he didn’t communicate at all.

And on this day, he didn’t have to. Still on the force, still a homicide detective, and still without a new partner. He would have partner tryouts all week. The brass wanted to keep Nyquist. He had the best closing rate on the force. The problem was that regulations stated he needed a partner. He stated that he didn’t. He worked better alone."

3.5 out of 5

Blackbirds 1 The Death of Del Amico - Chuck Wendig

"A roach sits paralyzed in the middle of the floor.

“Shoo,” she says. “Fuck off. You’re free to go.”

The roach does as it’s told. Itboogies under the pull-down bed, relieved.

Back to the mirror, then.

“They always said you were an old soul,” she mutters. Tonight she’s really feeling it."

3.5 out of 5–-day-6-chuck-wendig/

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One Blood Strain - Robert E. Howard

Now autumn comes and summer goes,
And rises in my heart again,
As witchfire glimmers through a pool,
The mystic madness of the Dane.

Blue thunder of a foaming sea
Reverberating through my sleep,
White billowing sails that fill and flee
Across a wind-swept restless deep—

They speak to me with subtle tongue
Of blue-bright ways my forbears trod,
When time the bearded Vikings bent
Their oars against the winds of God.

And I am but a common man
Who treads a dreary way ashore,
But oceans thunder in my dreams,
And blue waves break on creaking beams,
And foaming water swirls and creams
About the strongly bending oar.

When summer goes and autumn comes
To paint the leaves with sombre fires,
I feel, like throbs of distant drums,
The urge of distant nameless sires.

3.5 out of 5

Old Faro Bill Was A Man Of Might - Robert E. Howard

Old Faro Bill was a man of might
In the days when the West was young,
He drank a gallon of booze each night—
The toughest galoot unhung!
Oh, some men shrink at the sight of blood!
Bill roomed in a cougar's lair
And for tobacco he carried a cud
Of Mexican prickly pear!
Old Faro came of a wolfish breed,
When he was a suckling child
He laughed at the marahuana weed
For he said that is was too mild.
Old Faro he was a buffalo
When it came to rough-and-tumble,
He laid the toughest battlers low
With never a miss or fumble.
Some men stammer and halt and pause
At the sight of lover's moons,
But Faro married a hundred squaws
And a couple of octaroons.

3.5 out of 5

The Last Christmas Letter - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Dead dad conversation.

3.5 out of 5

Ocean-thoughts - Robert E. Howard

The strong winds whisper o'er the sea,
Flinging the gray-gnarled ocean's spate;
The gray waves lash along the lea.

The lone gulls wings are high and free,
The great seal trumpets for his mate;
The high winds drum, the wild winds dree.

The gray shoals roar unceasingly,
Where combers march in kingly state,
The crest-crowned monarchs of the sea.

And now, along the lone, white lea,
The surges fade, the winds abate.
And the wide sea lies silently.

But far to islands, restlessly
Surges the tide, unreined and great,
Forever roaming and forever free.

And thus my soul, forever restlessly,
Longs for the outworld, vast, unultimate,
The vasty freedom of the swinging sea,
Forever roaming and forever free.

3.5 out of 5

Nun - Robert E. Howard

I have anchored my ship to a quiet port;
A land that is holy and blest.
But I gaze through my bars at the tempest's sport
And I long for the sea's unrest.

3 out of 5

Nisapur - Robert E. Howard

The day that towers, sapphire kissed,
Reeled to a Mongol sword that hissed,
And broke the silver sighing mist
That parted doom from Nisapur.

Or when in morning shadows grey
The flying ghosts of Subotai
came galloping from far Cathay
To trample towers of Nisapur.

Or when in midnight's star-shah'd rule
There came o'er sands like golden pools,
Bayezid riding from Stamboul
To break the walls of Nisapur.

Ere Rustum, great fire-breathing lord
Who broke the genii with his sword,
Had fallen before the Golden Horde
His bones are dust in Nisapur.

And he who chanted of the vine,
Split like a skin of Shiraz wine,
Had made that dust a ting divine―
Divine the dust of Nisapur.

4 out of 5

The Mountains of California - Robert E. Howard

Grass and the rains and snow,
Trumpet and tribal drum;
Across my crests the people go
Over my peaks the people come.
Girt with the pelts of lion and hare.
Plodding with oxen wains,
Climbing the steeps on a Spanish mare,
Soaring in aeroplanes.
Men with their hates and their ires,
Men with their loves and their lust
Still shall I reign when their spires
And their castles tumble to dust.

3.5 out of 5

Moonlight And Shadows Barred The Land - Robert E. Howard

Moonlight and shadows barred the land;
Night breathed like some great living thing.
The Seeker rested chin in hand
And heard the night wind's whispering.
He heard like songs of vanished men
The waving branches answer then.
"Lords of the seas of silence, old as the word of God,
We are the ancient people, haters of chain and rod."

3.5 out of 5

Moon Shame - Robert E. Howard

The great black tower rose to split the stars
In all the world below there was no light,
But other towers fringed the sky line spars
To mark that silent city of the night.
On one high altar nearest to the cold
Hard pallid moon that broke the velvet sky,
With waving plumes and mask of beaten gold
A grim nude figure stood, the priest and I.
The worshippers lay round in one dim ring
And on the altar's face that blackly shone,
A naked woman, cold and white and prone,
Lay silent to my frightful whispering.
My low, grim chanting ceased; like men who sinned
The worshippers about us caught their breath
And through my plumes I heard the night-born wind
Whisper a wordless monotone of death.
From hidden lutes there broke a grisly tune;
I reached an arm that plumbed the pulsing skies,
And tore from out her place the frosty moon
And laid it between those heavy naked thighs.
Then swift the change in fashion, form and shape,
I saw a faint mist shift and fade away,
And there a woman with a woman lay,
In shameful passion and unnatural rape.
Strange were her eyes, icy deep and icy cold
With passions human soul could never hold;
More cold and white than rarest ivory were
Her upturned, surging buttocks and her thighs,
And firm full breasts; her strange pale moonlight hair
Floated about her shoulders like a cloud;
No whisper broke the silence; still and cowed,
The people cringed before her icy eyes.
Beneath her thighs the woman whimpered twice
Then hid her eyes before those eyes of ice.

4 out of 5

Monarchs - Robert E. Howard

These be kings of men,
Lords of the Ultimate Night,
Kings-of-the-desert and fen -
Jackal, vulture, and kite.

3.5 out of 5

Miser's Gold - Robert E. Howard

"Nay, have no fear. The man was blind," said she.
"How could he see ’twas we that took his gold?
"The devil, man! I thought you were bold!"
"This is a chancy business!" muttered he,
"And we’ll be lucky if we get to sea.
"The fellow deals with demons, I’ve been told."
"Let’s open the chest, shut up and take a hold."
Then silence as they knocked the hinges free.

A glint of silver and a sheen of jade—
Two strange gems gleaming from a silken fold—
Rare plunder – gods, was that a hidden blade?
A scream, a curse, two bodies stark and cold.
With jewel eyes above them crawled and swayed
The serpent left to watch the miser’s gold.

3.5 out of 5's_Gold

Mingle My Dust With The Burning Brand... - Robert E. Howard

Mingle my dust with the burning brand,
Scatter it free to the sky
Fling it wide on the ocean's sand,
From peaks where the vultures fly.

Let it drift with the drifting tide,
And flit o'er the artic floe,
Let it spin and ride where the snow-storms hide
And the wild ice-field winds blow.

Let it mingle with desert sand,
And the waves of a tropic sea,
When the roaring surge sweeps o'er the strand
And the ocean winds shout free.

3.5 out of 5

Men Of The Shadows - Robert E. Howard

From the dim red dawn of Creation,
From the fogs of timeless time
Came we, the first great nation,
First on the upward climb.

Savage, untaught, unknowing,
Groping through primitive night,
Yet faintly catching the glowing,
The hint of the coming Light.

Ranging the lands untraveled,
Building our land-marks of stone.
Vaguely grasping at glory,
Gazing beyond our ken
Mutely the ages' story
Nearing on plain and fen.

See, how the Lost Fire smolders,
We are one with the eons' must.
Nations have trod on our shoulders,
Trampling us into the dust.

We, the first of the races,
Linking the Old and the New―
Look, where the sea-cloud spaces
Mingle with ocean-blue.

So we have mingled with ages,
And the world-wind our ashes stirs,
Vanished ore we from Time's pages,
Our Memory? Wind in the firs.
Stonehenge of long-gone glory,
Sombre and lone in the night,
Murmur the age-old story
How we kindled the first of the light.

Speak, night-winds, of man's creation,
Whisper o'er crag and fen,
The tale of the first great nation,
The last of the Stone Age men.

4 out of 5