Pathfinder Chronicler Vol. 4

I’m happy to have another short story, The Orphan Crusade, published in the pages of Pathfinder Chronicler which was released at this year’s PaizoCon. PFC is a fan fiction publication featuring fantasy stories set in Golarion, the home world setting for Pathfinder adventures. The cover art for this volume is the best yet, I think.




Love Never Dies

It took me awhile to get around to indulging Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, not in small part because I didn’t want the original musical to be spoiled. Some stories are perfectly encapsulated in a single telling. I have long been a fan of Gaston Leareuxe’s original novel. Though not particularly great writing, the story has always been one that struck a chord with me. Weber’s original musical told the story in a way that other productions, the movies and such coming out of Hollywood, typically do not. The Phantom musical recognized the story for what it is, a tragic love story, whereas most of the movies concentrate more on the horrific and climax with violent ends. In the end of Gaston’s book the Phantom, Eric, escapes but ultimately dies of a broken heart after letting Christine free.

So when I first heard of Webber’s extension of the story, I was both intrigued and perplexed. The production never came to American shores, and the reviews were mixed to lacking. All of which made it pretty easy to ignore. But as we were browsing about the used book and music store I happened across the cast recording. I enjoy most of Weber’s music, so I determined it was time to give this show a whirl. The music did not disappoint, and I found myself frequently going about my day-to-day business with its melodies echoing in my mind.

Enough of the angel of music’s songs resonated in my head that I was willing to give the video production of it a go as well. Not to mention that it’s a lot easier to listen to a musical if you can “see” what’s happening in your head. There are a number of substantial alterations to the arrangement order and telling of the story from cast recording (2010)  to video (2012) that smooth the story out, so given a choice I recommend the video production.

The story? The story boils down to a Phantomphile’s wet-dream. Set ten years after the original in Coney Island (don’t pay too close attention to the dates, as some liberties are taken here), the Phantom, with the help of Madame Giry and Meg, has escaped Paris to run an amusement park full of freaks called Phantasma. And, if the story must be allowed to persist, sending Eric to America and that period of Coney Island works for me. It’s a perfect setting for the Phantom, and puts Eric in a new world. Webber seems to have taken off the Phantom movie theme that portrays Eric as a much younger man. Hey, a decade later the original Phantom would be much less limber and even less a prospective partner. Age doesn’t improve ugly unless you’re Sean Connery.

At Phantasma, the Phantom pines over his lost love Christine and plots to get her back into his life. Conveniently, Christine’s childhood love and now husband who confronted the Phantom in the original musical has become a drunken lout with massive gambling debts. That’s okay, we never liked him anyway. Christine and Raoul come to America with their ten-year old son, Gustave (seriously, Gustave??),  for that same age-old reason–they need the money. Christine is set to sing, and her services are (secretly) outbid by the Phantom. Madame Giry and Meg, who has her own bit of infatuation going on with Eric, have been patiently plying their own plans to launch Meg into stardom. Neither are very happy to find that Christine is back on the scene.

Not long after her arrival, the Phantom reveals himself to Christine. The biggest leap in story imagination here, and the least tenable of all this, is the revelation that a decade past Christine returned to Eric “under a moonless sky” the day before her marriage where they consummated their love. Then, ashamed and afraid of Christine rejecting him again, Eric leaves her before she wakes, and so she ends up marrying Raoul after all. After meeting Gustave and showing him his world, it doesn’t take the Phantom long to do some mental math here.

Later the Phantom would prey upon Raoul’s predilection for gambling, wagering that if Christine sings for him, Raoul must leave alone. If she does not, the Phantom will wipe away all Raoul’s debt. If there was ever doubt that Raoul might come out the winner here, that star fades quick. In the meantime, Madame Giry has learned that Gustave is Eric’s son, and that he plans to give his fortune to him, even though the boy turned away from him in terror. Giry imparts this information to her daughter Meg, and it shatters the young starlet’s dreams for the future. While Christine is singing, Meg kidnaps Gustave with the intent to take him to the pier and drown him. The Phantom and Christine catch up to confront her, and Eric learns that Meg prostituted her body in order get him money to build his enterprise. Phantom tales aren’t given over to happy endings without heartache, and Meg accidentally shoots Christine with a pistol she brought along. Christine reveals to Gustave that Eric is his real father before dying in Eric’s arms. Gustave, who ran off at the news and somehow manages to find Raoul, returns. Eric gives Christine’s body over to Raoul (she’s dead, you can have her now) and despairs. Gustave unmasks him and touches his face without fear. Curtain close.

That’s the quick synopsis. Nothing as good as the original story, but they seldom are. What it does fulfill is all the PTO lover’s earnest desire that Christine and Eric were really meant to be together, even if that tragically doesn’t work out. Webber isn’t the first to imagine Christine and Eric having a child, as Susan Kay’s 1991 novel Phantom, which recreates Eric’s story from birth to death, also ends with progeny. The music is worth giving a listen if you enjoy Webber’s work. It is darkly rich and intriguing, and probably sold short given the original’s notoriety and this production’s lackluster fanfare.



Pathfinder Chronicler Availabe On Paizo

You can now download the fan fiction inspired works published in the Pathfinder Chronicler Anthology Volumes I – III on Paizo! Especially volumes II & III, since they have tales by yours truly in them. Check it out here:



Pathfinder Chronicler Anthology, Vol. 2 Download

Pathfinder Chronicler Anthology, Vol. 3 Download


The Return of the King

And I don’t mean Elvis. We all know he was taken by aliens to planet Rx.

When I first heard that a new Godzilla movie was coming out, my mind immediately cringed. After Roland Emmerich’s debacle that was the “American” Godzilla in 1998, which, if not for Jar Jar Binks, might surpass Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in movie awfulness, I was understandably skeptical of this latest installment.

Godzilla has always held a special place in my heart, and brings back a lot of childhood memories of racing home to watch Monster Week when The 4:30 Movie would have that special week of sci-fi bliss. They also had Planet of the Apes Week, but I wouldn’t appreciate that classic until I was older. Apes were boring as hell, but giant atomic fire-breathing lizards were awesome. Whenever I get the bug to go back and watch one of these movies featuring Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidrah and all the rest I am reminded of just how cheesy almost all of them were. But I haven’t forgotten the boy who saw none of the cheese, either, or the things those producers accomplished without the benefit of today’s CGI tech. They are nice jaunts down memory lane, but also everything that I don’t want to see in a modern rendition that doesn’t intentionally aim for the cheese or target kids.

The original Godzilla, or Gojira, was made in 1954 in glorious black and white and remains a classic. With its muted color and adult theme I don’t recall it ever gracing Monster Week, which was filled with kid pleasing robots, monsters, UFOs, alien roaches disguised as people, and more. The first Godzilla, made less than a decade after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was a strong metaphor embodying the fears of a world now filled with the threat of nuclear annihilation. In the end Godzilla is stopped by the scientist Serizawa, who destroys both the atomic beast and himself while taking the secret to his own destructive device, the Oxygen Destroyer, to the grave with them. The original may have been surpassed by electronic gadgetry and other movie magic, but the story has not. When the film was brought to America, it was promptly sliced up and rearranged with new scenes featuring Raymond Burr as reporter Steve Martin and a few others to help it transition better to an American audience. The attempt was creative, but ultimately takes away from the impact of the original film given the chance to compare.

From there Godzilla would evolve from a lumbering menace born of humanity’s hubris to favored anti-hero and (if benign) champion/defender of earth before going into hibernation in 1975. Nearly a decade later he would reappear in The Return of Godzila to seek out nuclear sustenance (hey, a ten year sleep leaves you a little hungry). The 1984 Godzilla was pumped up in size to compensate for a cityscape now filled with towering skyscrapers. After being knocked out and revived by the skittish Russians launching a nuclear missile, Godzilla is finally led to a volcano by tapping into his evolutionary background with some bird calls. A few explosive blasts to create a controlled eruption sends the giant to a hot bath. Again, the film was sent to America where it would be sliced and hacked. Godzilla wasn’t the only thing that grew in size, as a very rotund Raymond Burr would reprise his role as Steve Martin.

And this would launch into the next series of Godzilla films with a reboot thrown into the mix, as well as reviving such famous adversaries as King Ghidrah. Lots of higher tech movie fluff, but still lots of cheese. Then throw in the American, non-atomic fire fish-breath Godzilla of 1998. Which brings us to now.

The Godzilla of 2014 is the biggest Godzilla yet, and the film does the proper job of not showing too much of him too soon. The film follows the Brody family, which serves as the primary vehicle to transition the audience from scene to scene. Their story is unoriginal and cliché. But we aren’t really here for them. The first full reveal of the new Godzilla, along with the halo jump later in the movie and the first time Godzilla unleashes his atomic breath, are some of the best cinematic shots. This bull-doggish faced CGI Godzilla expresses a better range of creature emotion, from pissed off to exhausted. He is oblivious to the ants (people) swarming around him, and the unleashing of the atomic breath down the MUTO’s throat (MUTO = Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Object) at the end before ripping its head off truly establishes Godzilla’s title of “King of the Monsters.” This is the kind of geekdom that makes my inner child roar “hell yeah!”

What the movie lacks is that its titular character, recreated with no acknowledgement of previous appearances, is not the focus of the story. The focus revolves mostly around the MUTOs, giant, radioactive insectoid monsters that go around sucking up radiation and preparing to reproduce until Godzilla comes to save the day. In short, the movie feels like a sequel to a movie that doesn’t exist. The limited history given on how the atom bomb tests were really attempts to destroy the big G leading up to today seems like something worth exploring–“we tried to destroy it, and now look here, it comes to save us.” The movie tips the hat by having Ken Watanabe play a scientist named Serizawa, but instead of having created a WMD of devastation equal to the original Oxygen Destroyer, his job seems to mostly be standing around gawking. But perhaps I pass judgment too soon. With its success, I understand another movie is already in the works.


Pathfinder Chronicler Anthology Vol. III

My copies of PFC vol. 3 arrived late last week. Like the previous volume, it’s a nice looking book with more fantastic cover art by Carolina Eade. My story Monsters in the Attic kicks off on page 91, and takes place in that most wonderful of places, Nidal (Hellraiser, meet Pathfinder).

Before now, about the only way you could pick up one of these fan fiction packed anthologies was to attend a convention–but no more! If you would like to have one of these for youself, you can secure it by making a donation to Pathfinder Chronicler. Visit the site at to find out how to get that, art posters, or to submit your own story. The next fiction contest is underway right now!



The Gorgon’s Love

Love fantasy? Steampunk? Then you should check out the latest collection of short stories from Nevermet Press in Stories in the Ether Vol. 4. It’s an ePub, and should be compatible with all readers. It is my honor to have my story featured on the cover, and kudos to Paul Hagwood for the outstanding Medusa art he created to compliment the tale. Follow the link below to check it out, and while you’re at it give a look at A Feast of Frights if you haven’t already, which holds within it my short story Midnight Passage.

With two works available on Amazon now, it seemed appropriate to start an author profile there, although that is still a work in progress when it comes to the finer deatails.

I continue to hone away at my novel. I’ve discovered as a writer that perhaps my greatest weakness is a penchant for long-ass paragraphs. So a lot has been going back and breaking those babies up with the word hammer. Plus I’ve had several ideas that add some layers of complexity and depth to the story. In the mean time, I’ve also had a short story tickling the back of my brain that I’m probably going to have to spill onto paper here soon.




Feast in Hand

Today I was finally able to put my hands on my own copy of A Feast of Frights from The Horror Zine.  It’s a good-sized book, has a great cover and feel to it. Weighing in at 473 pages, it’s a big chunk of dark horror and fantasy. If you love the genre at all, there is bound to be something in it for you. And there is my story, right on page 223. But since there is so much more to the book, I don’t feel a bit narcissistic. But there’s a nice warm fuzzy from seeing my work in such a well-presented attractive volume. My thanks to Jeani Rector at The Horror Zine for all her hard work and dedication to bringing this book to print, and including me within its pages. You can find A Feast of Frights on Amazon here:

It should be available in both print and kindle format. If it isn’t available on kindle yet, it will be very soon. The only thing better than seeing your name in print is hearing that other people enjoyed your work, so give it a read and come back and tell us what you thought!