Phoenix Comic Con

I’ll be appearing on the Kaiju Rising panel at Phoenix Comic Con this Sunday from 10:30-11:30AM alongside authors Gini Koch, Mike MacLean, and artist Robert Elrod, so if you’re in town swing by and give a listen!

http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/programming

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Devil’s Cap Brawl Now Appearing In Kaiju Rising

Ragnarok Publications had released the Kindle version of their giant monster themed anthology Kaiju Rising, which features stories from Peter Clines, Larry Correia, James Lovegrove, Gini Koch (as J.C. Koch), James Maxey,
Jonathan Wood, C.L. Werner, Joshua Reynolds, David Annandale, Jaym Gates, Peter Rawlik, Shane Berryhill, Natania Barron, Paul Genesse, Mike MacLean, Timothy W. Long, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Kane Gilmour, Peter Stenson,
Erin Hoffman, Howard Andrew Jones, James Swallow, and yours truly, with killer interior art by Chuck Lukacs and Robert Elrod.

March will see the release of the print edition as well.

My own story, Devil’s Cap Brawl, is set in the High Sierras of the 1860’s, during the Central Pacific Railroad’s race east through the mountains. Chinese and Shoshone laborers are ordered to blast their way through a certain peak called Devil’s Cap, a promontory that houses a menace that has slept for millennium.

25032012060854pmLongtime readers will know I have a standing love for the TV series Kung Fu with David Carradine. It’s a mesmerizing piece of television centering on the journey of a Shaolin priest through the American West. I’m also a giant monster fanatic, not just of the classic 50’s B-movies America put out, but also the subsequent kaiju films of Toho and Daiei. I love the weird designs of Japanese monsters like Gigan, Megalon, and Hedorah, and my design of the giant ogre antagonist in this story, Dzoavits (the name taken from an old Native American legend) reflects that. I also have a soft spot for heroes like Ultraman and Spectreman (I missed the Power Rangers – too old) who grow to immense size and duke it out with these big rubbery monstrosities.

spectremanMarrying these diverse elements in a story appealed to me, and when I pitched the idea to Tim Marquitz and Joe Martin,they went for it, particularly as they wanted to feature a Chinese martial artist monk in their ongoing weird western series Dead West. So, the unnamed priest in this story may appear again in the future.

Go pick up the book. It’s fantastic.

Here’s an excerpt from my story, Devil’s Cap Brawl –

Dzoavits.

It erupted from the stone, doing to Devil’s Cap in seven seconds what it would have taken another eleven months for them to do with hand drills and blasting powder.

It was immense. At least a hundred and fifty feet tall. Another arm punched through the side of the rock and it extricated itself from the encasing rock like a fat man wriggling out of a barrel. It was moundish, with a huge hairy hump between its muscled shoulders, covered with spiky, quartz-like protuberances of a muddy hue that poked through its dirty grey-black hair. In the center of its chest was a hint of a head, framed by long, scraggly hair. There was an overlarge disapproving mouth that stretched almost from shoulder to shoulder, and was hung with fleshy lips and shot through with a row of yellow, serrated shark teeth. Above that maw, two bulging red eyes glowed. The thing opened its mouth, took its first cold breath of fresh air in God only knew how long, and let out a terrifying, protracted howl that washed over them in a wave that drove them all physically back in horror.
Rocks cascading off its body, it pulled itself free of its prison, revealing a pair of strange, spindly, kangaroo-like legs that ended in long grasping black talons. It seemed to rest on its massive arms, and use them for locomotion, like a great gorilla, or a man with withered legs.

The horrible thing perched atop the ruins of Devil’s Cap and surveyed the countryside, a newly emerged monarch. It sucked the air with its ponderous lungs and regarded the milling men below.

Joe tried to run, and tripped over Chow Lan, who had fallen sprawling in the snow and was groping for his spectacles. The Chinese and Indians were in full route, except for the priest, who knelt beside Tolliver, yelling in Chinese at the men who passed, apparently urging them to take him with.

Joe heard gunshots, and looked over. Several of the Indians and white men in the camp had seen the thing and had emerged from the snow tunnel. They were firing at it with shotguns and muskets. Joe almost laughed as he scrabbled to his feet.

But before he could run, the priest grabbed a hold of his sleeve.

“You must take Boss Tom with you,” said the priest.

“Let go of me, you bloody monkey!” Joe shrieked and swung at him.

It was an old prizefighter’s instinctual blow, the kind that would have knocked an untrained man unconscious had it landed. But the priest did something peculiar with his free hand, and Joe’s punch seemed to slide uselessly down his branded arm. Then the smaller man’s two fingers pinched Joe’s wrist and twisted. The pain was so intense Joe gasped and fell to his knees, all thought of struggle gone.

He found himself face to face with Tolliver, laying nearby. The man was a black and bloody mess. He must have been caught in the explosion Joe had heard earlier, the one that had awakened this thing. He had known Tolliver back when Irish muscle had done the backbreaking work, not Chinese. They had come up together. He felt ashamed at having tried to abandon him.

But they were all dead men anyhow, in the face of this thing from the pit of hell.

“Chow Lan!” the priest yelled. “Help him!”

“Where can we go?” Chow Lan yelled, having fitted his glasses back on his nose. One lens looked like a spiderweb.
The priest looked about for a moment, then pointed to the shallow western tunnel in the base of Devil’s Cap which the terrified coolies had abandoned.

He pointed.

Joe looked up as a massive shadow fell across the entire area. The air grew chill. The sky was dark.
Then were was a tremendous impact that knocked Chow Lan to the ground and sent the snow and the loose stones hovering for a surreal moment before everything crashed back down.
The thing had leapt from the summit and landed behind them.

Joe watched as it scooped up a fistful of the fleeing workmen. He saw dozens of men flailing between its huge ruddy fingers, and heard their screams as it stuffed them hungrily into its mouth.

“Let me go!” Joe yelled.

“You will help Boss Tom?”
Joe nodded, exhaling as the pressure on his wrist disappeared.

“Go then!” the priest ordered, and to Joe’s surprise, he began to strip away his shirt and pants.

“Come on, Chow Lan,” Joe urged, taking Tolliver under the armpits.

“Where he go?” Chow Lan wondered, taking Tolliver’s feet and watching mystified as the priest discarded his pants.

“Never mind him! He’s barmy! Let’s go!”

They bore Tolliver back to the shallow depression and huddled among the rubble and abandoned equipment.

The priest was bare ass naked. He sat down on the spot and closed his eyes. He was muttering something, and his fingers were interlacing in weird passes.

Tolliver groaned.

Joe reached into his coat and pulled out his bottle.

“Here Tom, here now,” he said, pulling out the cork and tipping it to Tolliver’s bruised lips. “Mother Mary’s milk, it is. You drink. I’m sorry, Tom.”

Beside him, Chow Lan gave a cry of surprise and fell to his knees, throwing his forehead to the ground.

Joe looked over and nearly dumped the rest of the firewater up Tolliver’s right nostril.

The priest was getting to his feet.

But he had changed….

Pick up the Kindle edition of Kaiju Rising here,and watch out for the print version next month all over.

http://www.amazon.com/Kaiju-Rising-Monsters-James-Swallow-ebook/dp/B00ICCX5QY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393403741&sr=8-1&keywords=kaiju+rising

Kaiju Rising!

I’m involved in a brand new project from Ragnarok Publishing, an anthology of 19 giant monster stories called Kaiju Rising. Participating authors include Larry Correia, Peter Clines, Peter Rawlik, James Lovegrove, Erin Hoffman, James Maxey, David Annandale, Clint Lee Werner, Jonathan Wood, J.C. Koch, Paul Genesse, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Samuel Sattin, Jaym Gates, Timothy W. Long, Mike MacLean, Natania Barron, and Joshua Reynolds.

photo-mainCheck out the kickstarter –
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1089607742/kaiju-rising-age-of-monsters-anthology/posts

As of this writing we’re a featured kickstarter, about 70% funded and have twenty five days to go. Not bad.

http://sf-fantasy.suvudu.com/2013/09/featured-kickstarter-kaiju-rising.html

My own story, DEVIL’S CAP BRAWL, is a weird western/daikaiju/kyodai hero mashup, drawing on inspiration from wuxia, Godzilla flicks, and Kung Fu among other things.

When an Indian warns the Irish boss of a Central Pacific Railroad gang not to dynamite through a towering rock known as Devil’s Cap, the boss goes ahead and does it anyway, unleashing Dzoavits, a massive ogre-like creature which proceeds to smash the camp flat and endanger the entire crew. But among the hapless Chinese rail workers, a single man, a monk, doesn’t flee the beast’s shadow. He sits down and closes his eyes. And then he begins to grow….

Here’s an excerpt from DEVIL’S CAP BRAWL. Swing by the kickstarter and kick a buck. Kick two and help Ragnarok meets its stretch goals, which include some amazing interior illustrations from monster illustrator Robert Elrod, Chuck Lukacs (of Wizards of The Coast fame), and just maybe, a positively legendary fantasy artist…

Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History MuseumJoe cussed and trudged up the incline. He heard a crash behind him and all of a sudden the Chinese priest was climbing alongside him.

Halfway up the top, the ground shook hard and rumbled. A pile of loose rocks tumbled free and one struck Joe bloody in the head. The priest grabbed his shirt and kept him from falling. For nearly a full minute they hugged the rock, watching the trees sway and shed snow down on them. It was like gripping a bull trying to shake them loose.

“Earthquake!” he managed to yell.

Below, the coolies working the west tunnel ran into the open shouting, dirt and rubble sliding from their shoulders.
Bushy bearded Jesus, he had never felt one this bad. It seemed like it would never end. He glanced up and saw the wood enclosure trembling atop the summit. His heart sank when he heard a crack and saw part of the roof shift. The Paiutes spilled out and fell to their bellies just as the roof collapsed inward, the whole structure crashing flat over the engine and the tender. Debris slid down the embankment, carrying a couple screaming Paiutes with it.
Joe put his head down and quietly willed the engine not to fall from the mountain. Christ’s bloody breechclout, they would be here another year if they lost it. What would he tell Crocker? He had talked big to the priest about being footloose and fancy free. Damn if it didn’t look like he really would be. Sure, he’d get the blame, even for an earthquake. And Crocker would put some other mick in his place. It’d be back to Fisherman’s Wharf for him, bareknuckle fighting, spittin’ teeth and pissin’ blood and whiskey till a good job came his way again, if it ever did.

He looked over at the priest but he was gone. Fallen or carried off by a boulder or bit of rubble, no doubt. But no, Joe saw him above then, springing nimble as a goat from rock to rock, even in the midst of the shaking, making his way up to the summit.

Joe held on for dear life, and watched as the priest reached Tolliver where the Paiute had laid him when the shaking had started. He lifted the bloody man up in his arms and hurled himself over the edge like a madman. But instead of tumbling to his death, he skipped lightly till he reached the bottom of the hill, and then knelt there over Tolliver, shielding him from falling rocks with his own body.

No priest Joe had ever seen was like that.

The shaking stopped, and he looked up at the pile of wood and snow that had once covered the engine, and saw Old Judah’s smokestack poking through.

“Well thank Missus Lot’s salt tits for that!” he exclaimed.
Just then something burst from the side of the rock to his immediate left. It looked like a huge, mossy mass of tendril roots.

Joe was so surprised he relaxed his grip on the stone and fell backwards.

Well, that’s the end of me, he thought, as he plummeted into the open air. He supposed he would land on that rock he had been standing on before, and be broken in two. If he was lucky, he might squash a Chinaman and be saved.
But neither happened.

Instead, he felt a dull impact on his upper back and behind his knees, and found himself sagging in the surprisingly hard, strong arms of the priest like a suckling baby.

He looked at the priest in surprise, and noticed the inside of his forearms were tattooed….no, not tattooed. There were designs branded on his skin, puffy scars in the shape of a fanciful Oriental dragon on his right arm, and a tiger on his left.

He put down his feet.

“Ta, boyo,” Joe muttered.

But the priest wasn’t looking at him. No one was. The coolies and the Indians were uniformly staring wide eyed up at the top of Devil’s Cap.

The mass of tangled roots that had surprised Joe were moving, waggling like great knotty, long nailed fingers.
Because that’s what they were.

He didn’t want to believe it, but when the splayed things shot further out causing the rock to crack and crumble, they were on the end of an immensely long, muscular arm, shaggy with string grey hair stained brown by the dirt.

mountaineruptThe top of Devil’s Cap moved. It rose and fell once, like something beneath were testing the weight, then it swelled again, enough to tip Old Judah and its tender off the slope at last. The noise of all that iron and steel rolling down was a terrible cacophony, and a few men were caught up in it and smashed flat.

Something burst through the snowy cap….