Review — Dororo, 2007

Director:  Akihiko Shiota

From an Original Manga by Osamu Tezuka

Cast: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Ko Shibasaki, Kiichi Nakai, Yoshio Harada, Eita

Here’s our nutshell premise—in a fantasy version of Japan, the warlord Kagemitsu Daigo is on the losing, soon to be annihilated side of a clan war. To save his clan and gain revenge, he makes a deal with 48 trapped demons—he will let each one claim a part of his infant son in return for the power to defeat his enemies. The part could be an arm, a leg, a liver, a heart, whatever. Possession of this bit of humanity will allow them to free themselves from the temple where they are trapped. They agree and do, the Daimyo does, and from there embarks on a campaign of conquest to bring the rest of the country under his twisted, evil rule, setting free the 48 demons in the process.

Now, here’s where it gets weird–the child doesn’t die. After the demons get through with it, what’s left of the child is merely placed in a basket like Moses and sent down a river. Continue reading

Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter — Update

We’re still on track for a February release, and so far everything’s looking great. I’ve been in the loop on the cover design progress, and we’re close to having a final. When that’s done I plan to post some of the preliminary images to show what changes/refinements a cover might go through before it’s ready for–pardon the expression–Prime time. But we’re not quite there.

For now, and knowing that there will be readers who haven’t a clue who Lord Yamada is, this is a working draft of a proposed introduction. It may and likely will change a bit before it goes live, but this is the gist:

“This book is about a man named Yamada no Goji and set during a time in ancient Japan now known as the Heian period. Although the term is derived from the capital city during the era—Heian-kyō (modern Kyōto)—the word heian simply means means “peace and tranquility.” In comparison to the later feudal era of Japan, when the rise of the samurai class meant every two-bit lording and their armies were at each others’ throats, the word is probably appropriate.

A time of learning, great poetry, and literature, the Heian period (794 – 1185) is rightly considered Japan’s Golden Age, at least for the upper classes, but they had their problems:

Demons. Ghosts. Monsters.

While the political situation was relatively stable, the spiritual universe of Heian Japan was in the grip of powerful supernatural forces, most of them malicious and all extremely dangerous. That’s where Yamada no Goji comes in. A minor aristocrat from a nearly extinct clan, he has no property and no family connections. What he does have is a sharp sword, an even sharper mind, and a willingness—if the price is right—to use both to take on any monster the Heian underworld can throw at him.

“Monogatari” just means “story” and this is Yamada’s story, or at least part of it. I originally envisioned him as a sort of Japanese Sam Spade. That original tone is clearest in the first section, “Fox Tails.” But, as characters often do, Yamada had his own ideas about that. Still, that’s where it all started, and that’s where this book starts. Where it ends…well, I hope you’ll enjoy finding that out for yourself.

—Richard Parks”

Meanwhile, Back at the Emperor’s Palace…

Opinions are divided about series, both at the novel and short story level. Readers love spending time with characters they already know and like, but some purists think they’re the death of the genre (in which case sf/f has been dead for a loooong time). One accusation that’s leveled at series, novel and story length both, is laziness. “Once the background is established and you’re familiar with it, that’s half the work. You’re doing paint-by-numbers after that.”

Yeah. Right.

Continue reading

In Passing

I wasn’t going to mention this here, but it occurred to me that some people out there might be annoyed with me if I didn’t, so here goes. I have a new Kindle single in Amazon’s new KDP Select program, which means in this case that the download is free through Sunday, and free to “borrow” from Amazon for the next 90 days after the free download promotion is over.

A Hint of Evil-US

A Hint of Evil-UK

It’s the first story in a projected series, “Tales of the Divinity Recruitment Taskforce,” and concerns what happens on earth when the War in Heaven “accidentally” spills over into the mortal realm, and I don’t mean spiritually:

“The world is a very changed place. When the Archangel Michael accidentally chased an archdemon onto the physical plane, the War in Heaven spilled over into the human world in a direct and tangible way. Now most nations on earth are ruled by an Ecumenical Council, and Anti-Demon Taskforce agents such as Samuel Donovan fight a guerilla war against demonic incursions. Yet Sam Donovan is far from convinced that the alleged “War in Heaven” is what it seems to be, even as he and his fellow agents struggle to keep humanity from becoming “collateral damage” to the schemes of greater powers.

Matters go from bad to worse when Sam discovers that the Adversary is recruiting earth’s non-aligned spiritual beings, ancient and forgotten gods and goddesses, monsters and immortals, to fight against humanity. The situation then goes from worse to terrible when the Advocate and the Ecumenical Council discover that Sam has the natural gift of detecting evil. Now he and the Angel Deneba are partnered in the newly formed “Divinity Recruitment Taskforce” to track down, assess, and if possible, convince other non-aligned powers to join the war on humanity’s side.

To complicate Sam’s life even further, it turns out that Deneba has a sister, a fallen angel named Aereis, who has also taken an interest in Sam’s gift. Especially after Sam gets his first good look at this fallen angel—and sees no evil in her. Sam still has a job to do, but it’s getting harder and harder to pretend that he knows beyond all doubt that he’s on the right side.”

I will try to keep these to a minimum, I promise.

SF vs Fantasy, or “Do I Really Care How Many Angels Can Dance on a Bar?”

 Every so often, you know it’s going to happen. Like a dormant virus, it waits until conditions are right and then there’s the sudden outbreak, often triggered by a particular novel or story—“Is Deadbeat Downbelow really sf? I mean, its tone is very sfnal, but where’s the speculation?” or “Magic Wind Fairies reads like sf, I mean, everything’s very logical and thought out.” I follow the conversations with interest (it’s nearly always interesting when intelligent people discuss matters near and dear to them) but I don’t really have much to contribute. Maybe there really is a line, maybe there isn’t. Yet even those who agree that you can draw a line and say, “This side fantasy, this side sf” are never going to agree on where that line is going to be drawn. Continue reading