‘Raining Fire’ is a fast-paced steampunk sci-fi action thriller

Raining Fire

Rajan Khanna

Pyr Books

I’ll be honest. I’ve thought I’m a bit too old to read steampunk novels. But Rajan Khanna’s Raining Fire has opened my eyes and widened my horizons a bit. It is a fast-paced sci-fi action-thriller where the steampunk hero goes into battles armed with an old Smith & Wesson revolver and can fly airships when he can get aboard one.

Raining Fire is set amid a dark, post-apocalyptic Earth that is being hammered by two deadly forces. One is the Ferals. These are disease-ridden, zombie-like humans can infect other humans and turn them into Ferals, as well. The other baddies are the twisted, evil scientists who live aboard a large floating city known as Valhalla. They keep spreading terrifying diseases so that raiders from Valhalla can plunder, kill and further add to the misery in what’s left of Earth’s civilization.

Ben Gold, the book’s central character, is a former airship pilot who now has lost his friends and the woman he loves, as well as his own airship. What he has left, essentially, are a thirst for revenge, a strong desire to set things right, and his father’s old but high-caliber six-shot revolver.

Raining Fire moves at a fast clip, and Ben gets into many hair-raising and life-threatening scrapes as he charges from fisticuffs to firefights to battles, and beyond.

Author Rajan Khanna emphasizes in his acknowledgements that Raining Fire “is largely about finding your will to fight, and about trying to defeat the bad guys.” Ben repeatedly has to find his will to fight and stay alive. And he encounters some surprising “bad guys.”

Raining Fire happens to be the final book in this three-book series. While it does work well as standalone reading, you might wish to consider starting with the first two books, Falling Sky and Rising Tide, to keep the chronology straight.

Incidentally, (and no spoilers here), a pathway is left open to future adventures for some of the characters.

Si Dunn

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New how-to book from Make: ‘Props and Costume Armor’-#bookreview

It’s not easy to create realistic-looking costumes, weapons and accessories for fantasy and science-fiction characters. Nonetheless, many people do it, some as part of movie and play productions and others for everything from comic and anime conventions to costume parties, live-action role-playing events and holidays such as Halloween.

Props and Costume Armor , written by Shawn Thorsson, focuses on how to “Create Realistic Science Fiction and Fantasy Weapons, Armor, and Accessories.” And the author clearly knows his subjects. He operates a “custom production shop specializing in costume, prop, and set fabrication services,” based in Petaluma, Calif.

His new book brings together an impressive array of how-to steps, photographs, cautions and encouragements for readers who want to learn the art and craft of creating costume armor, fake but impressive-looking weapons, and assorted accessories for fantasy and sci-fi characters. He also provides information on tools, materials, techniques and safety tips.

It is not enough, of course, to create shiny new armor, swords, axes or laser rifles. To really get into character and play a role, you want your creations to appear somewhat weathered and battle-scarred, as well. After all, you don’t want to look as if you are fresh out of a Barnard’s Star boot camp.

“Verisimilitude [the quality of seeming real] is where a prop maker really proves their worth,” Thorsson writes. And: “In order to add the element of verisimilitude, you must embrace the general state of filth that is reality.”

In other words: Use the filth, Luke! Or: May the filth be with you.

Thorsson gives excellent, well-illustrated tips for how to add scorch marks. scratches, wear marks, rust and other combat blemishes to your creations.

Very importantly, he includes a chapter on how to make costumes stay strapped on and wearable (without falling apart), as well as accessible (when inconvenient calls of nature strike). And his final chapter, “Showing Off,” has excellent suggestions for how to behave when going out in public in full costume. You may be dressed as a superhero, but you should have at least one civilian friend along who can stop little kids from attacking you or help you get up and down stairs, or assist with crowd control.

People likely will want to take pictures and pose with you. So  you will need to rehearse “at least one or two iconic poses that show up in the comic, game, or show” associated with your character, Thorsson advises.

Props and Costume Armor is an excellent guide that can help you set up your own workshop and create fanciful, realistic-looking sci-fi and fantasy gear, using a variety of techniques, tools and materials.

Si Dunn

Props and Costume Armor

Create Realistic Science Fiction and Fantasy Weapons, Armor, and Accessories

Shawn Thorsson

Maker Media, paperback, Kindle

 

‘Spear of Light’ – Human vs. post-human on a planet facing destruction – #scifi #bookreview

Spear of Light

The Glittering Edge, Book Two

Brenda Cooper

Pyr – Kindle, paperback

Spear of Light is the second book in The Glittering Edge duology. And it has been my introduction to Brenda Cooper’s science-fiction writing.

For the most part, I am impressed. While I missed Edge of Dark, the duology’s first book, I am pleased at how smoothly I was drawn into Spear of Light, a complex but engrossing tale of humans, post-humans, and robots on the “re-wilded” planet, Nym. This second book in the duology stands nicely on its own.

The general flow of the novel is summarized on other sites, such as Amazon and Pyr, so I won’t rehash it here. But a lone ranger, Charlie Windar, wants desperately to save his rebuilt planet and is caught in the middle of an approaching war between the post-humans (the Next) and the Shining Revolution, a group of humans who want to attack the Next, no matter if it means Nym will be wrecked (again) in the process.

Meanwhile, the Next, who previously were banished from Nym’s solar system and later returned in force, are now quickly building a massive new city on Nym. And the humans caught between the Next and the Shining Revolution cannot figure out why the Next seem driven, this time, to uncover something mysterious within Nym’s ancient history.

(Thanks, Pyr, for sending a review copy.)

Si Dunn

 

Book Brief: Short screenplay DEATH ORBIT now on Kindle as a one-act play

With my daughter as co-author, I have spun off a micro-budget one-act play from my short science-fiction screenplay DEATH ORBIT. The Kindle version is now available and briefly on sale for $0.99 USD.

DEATH ORBIT: A Play in One Act is set in the future, in the seedy courtroom of an ice-mining colony. A young law student volunteers to defend an indigent prisoner who is facing the death penalty within a system where corporate money rules and the prosecution can get laws changed in minutes, to its favor.

— Si Dunn

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