Dracula 1972 AD and Beyond

Recently reading Fred Saberhagen’s 1975 novel The Dracula Tape, brought to mind a pair of movies set just a little earlier in the decade. These were Dracula AD 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula both produced by Hammer films in 1972 and 1973 respectively. These were the last two films where Christopher Lee played Dracula for Hammer. Just as Batman has the Joker, and Sherlock Holmes has Moriarty, Dracula has Van Helsing, and it’s fitting that Hammer studio’s long-time Van Helsing, Peter Cushing, was along for the ride. These movies were interesting to watch, since I’ve long cited Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Dracula as an inspiration for the Desmond Drake character in my Scarlet Order Vampire novels.

Dracula AD 1972 opens with Dr. Lawrence Van Helsing’s final confrontation with the count. As one might gather from Van Helsing’s name, we’ve already deviated from Bram Stoker’s novel. The two are fighting on a coach when it hits a rock and both are thrown clear. Van Helsing soon discovers that Dracula has been impaled on the broken spoke of a wagon wheel! The good doctor finishes the count off. Dracula falls to dust just before Van Helsing succumbs to his injuries. Unfortunately, one of Dracula’s minions shows up and collects the wheel spoke which impaled Dracula along with a healthy sample of vampire dust. Soon, we skip ahead to 1972, where a group of young people are partying in a London estate. When they’re kicked out, the leader of the group, who looks suspiciously like the minion who collected Dracula’s remains, invites the group to an abandoned church. He wants to conduct a black mass “for kicks.” The ritual is performed. The leader, who goes by the name Johnny Alucard—another tie to a novel I read recently—succeeds in bringing Dracula back. It looks like the world may be lost, but fortunately, one of the people in the group is young Jessica Van Helsing played by Stephanie Beacham. She’s the great granddaughter of Lawrence and the granddaughter of Lorrimer who, like Lawrence, is played by Peter Cushing. In this film, Dracula seems tied to the abandoned church and relies on his minions to do all the work for him. This makes it comparatively easy for Lorrimer to track him down for the final confrontation. The movie’s pacing and style felt like a tribute to the earlier movies in the Hammer Dracula franchise, but it added little new to the lore.

Hammer followed this film with a sequel called The Satanic Rites of Dracula. The movie was retitled Dracula and his Vampire Brides for release in the United States. As one might gather from the British title, more dark rites are in process. Only this time, the people engaged in the rites are from Britain’s business, political and scientific elite. Top investigators attempt to infiltrate the proceedings to find out what’s going on. They get some info and turn to Scotland Yard’s Inspector Murray who helped to crack the last weird case involving dark rituals. Inspector Murray turns to his friends Lorrimer and Jessica Van Helsing for help. This time Jessica is played by Joanna Lumley, but otherwise, our repeat characters are portrayed by the same actors as before. We soon learn that Dracula is no longer tied to the church where he had been trapped in the last movie. He’s now a top London businessman called D.D. Denham. Dracula has grown so old that all he really wants is an end to his immortal existence. However, being Dracula, he isn’t content to just find a way to die. He has to take out humanity as well and he’s found people willing to help. Fortunately, Murray and the Van Helsings are there to save the world. While the first film felt like a tribute to early Hammer Dracula films, this one played more like later films with more explicit violence and nudity. I liked the idea of Dracula as a businessman in the 20th century and Christopher Lee’s D.D. Denham certainly feels not a little like Desmond Drake from the Scarlet Order novels.

Even though the second film felt campier than the first and had several problems, I tended to like it better. The first film relied on many tried and true Dracula tropes, but the second film embarked on new territory, doing more to make Dracula himself the kind of character he would be in the present day. I only wish that Christopher Lee’s Dracula had been given more to do along with a stronger ending than the one he received in the final film. Still, if you’re a fan of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, it’s worth seeking these films out.

I’ve been hard at work on my third Scarlet Order vampire novel featuring Desmond Drake, who takes inspiration from Christopher Lee’s Dracula. As of this writing, I’ve completed just over 80,000 words of the novel. If you want to be ready when the novel comes out, check out the first two books of the Scarlet Order vampire series at: http://www.davidleesummers.com/books.html#scarlet_order

Flaming Thunderbolts! Terrahawks, Volume Two!

My commutes to Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona from my home in New Mexico give me great opportunities to listen to podcasts, audio dramas, and audiobooks. Recently, I listened to the second volume of Big Finish’s audio revival of Terrahawks, one of the puppet shows helmed by the the late Gerry Anderson. Like many of Anderson’s shows, Terrahawks told the story of the Earth threatened by an alien menace. In this case the alien menace comes in the form of a group of alien androids under the command of the witch-like Zelda. She has a “family” of androids including her son, Yung-star, her sister Cy-star, and Cy-star’s sometimes-son/sometimes-daughter, It-star. The titular Terrahawks were the organization that stood in the aliens’ way. They’re under the command of Tiger Ninestein and his first officer Mary Falconer. Other members of the team are Hawkeye and pop-star Kate Kestrel. The Terrahawks are ably assisted by an army of spherical robots known as Zeroids, whose personality drive Ninestein crazy. Like many of Gerry Anderson’s TV series, the show was performed with puppets, although the Terrahawks and their opponents were “glove” puppets rather than the more familiar marionettes of other shows. What’s more, while most of Gerry Anderson’s puppet shows were made for an audience of children, most were played “straight” and told serious adventure stories. Terrahawks took a more tongue-in-cheek approach to the material. The TV series ran for three seasons from 1983 to 1986.

The audio revivals were produced between 2015 and 2017 by Gerry Anderson’s son, Jamie Anderson. Freed from the constraint of visuals, he both ramps up the speculative elements and the humor, and overall, it works well. Volume 2 gives us eight new episodes of Terrahawks. The set opens with “Sale of the Galaxy” in which both Zelda and Ninestein are invited to appear on a deadly game show. The host is played by famous British host Nicholas Parsons, who was also the real-life husband of Denise Bryer, the actress who gave voice to Zelda and Mary Falconer. Jeremy Hitchens reprises his role as Ninestein from the TV series, including his signature exclamation, “Flaming Thunderbolts!” The second episode, penned by Chris Dale, is “The Trouble with Toy Boys” and it imagines a creepy ventriloquist dummy named Timmy who bears no small resemblance to one of Gerry Anderson’s original puppet stars, Torchy the Battery Boy. In “Return to Sender” we get a romance story for Sergeant Major Zero of the Zeroids as the robots contend with a NASA probe that has returned to Earth and isn’t all it seems to be. “Renta-Hawks” parodies perhaps the most famous Anderson puppet show by imagining the Terrahawks in competition with a team of handsome young men in rescue vehicles. Unlike the young men of the Thunderbirds, this global rescue organization charges for its services and the Earth government would like the Terrahawks to follow suit.

In the second half of the series, Zelda has gone missing and the Terrahawks are under the gun to cut their budget. When a probe lands deep in the heart of Texas, Mary and Kate are sent on a quest to deal with it. In “Lights, Camera, Disaster” by David Hirsch, It-Star hatches a plot to make the androids look good. He’ll write a movie with the androids as the heroes fighting the villainous Terrahawks. It all looks like ti might work until the producers get their hands on the script and start making changes! In “Count Anaconda’s Magnificent Orbiting Circus” Tiger and Mary are invited to a show only to find this is a circus you would rather run away from.

The set finishes with an epic hour-long finale, which is arguably the best episode of the set, “My Enemy’s Enemy” by Jamie Anderson. The Terrahawks learn Zelda’s location and learn that both Earth and Zelda’s family are under threat from a common enemy, Prince Zegar of Guk, who’s descended from Zelda’s creator. During the course of the story, we learn the backstory of Zelda, Cy-star, and Yung-star. After that, we’re treated to an epic space battle that will change the Terrahawks going forward.

Volume 1 of Terrahawks on audio felt like a continuation of the series. Volume 2 gave us more of a story arc. If you enjoy light-hearted science fiction where you care enough about the characters to feel invested in them, it’s well worth checking out the Terrahawks audio series. I look forward to seeing what they do with the third and final volume. You can find the second volume of Terrahawks for download at: https://shop.gerryanderson.com/collections/terrahawks/products/terrahawks-audio-drama-series-volume-two-download

Also, just a friendly reminder that May 4 is the last day you can get the Sci-Fi Exploration Storybundle with my novel Firebrandt’s Legacy along with nine other great books. Get all the details at: https://www.storybundle.com/exploration

The Dracula Tape

I first met Fred Saberhagen in 1986. He was sitting outside of the Waldenbooks in Albuquerque’s Coronado Center Mall signing copies of his new book, The Frankenstein Papers. In effect, the book told the story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from the monster’s point of view. I was well aware of Saberhagen’s reputation as a science fiction author and a good friend from high school was a particular fan of his Berserker series, so I decided to give the book a try. Saberhagen kindly signed the book to me. I came to know him a little better once my wife and I began selling books at Albuquerque’s science fiction convention, Bubonicon, where I listened to him on several panels. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2007.

Recently, a friend asked if I’d ever read Saberhagen’s 1975 novel, The Dracula Tape. It occurred to me that was a serious omission. After I’d read and enjoyed The Frankenstein Papers, I’d always meant to seek out a copy of The Dracula Tape. However, in 1986, I hadn’t yet read the original Dracula and I thought it would be more enjoyable if I had some background. Unfortunately, by the time I actually read Dracula in the mid-1990s, Saberhagen’s novel had fallen off my radar. Fortunately, Fred’s wife, Joan Saberhagen, has made certain that The Dracula Tape is still available in ebook and audio formats, so I was finally able to pick up a copy and dive into a book I’d long meant to read.

The Dracula Tape opens in 1975 England. Arthur Harker and his wife Janet arrive in a hospital after their car dies on a remote road. In the back seat is a tape recorder. On the tape within, is the voice of a man purporting to be Count Dracula. He relates the events of Bram Stoker’s novel from his point of view. It turns out that Arthur and Janet Harker are descendants of Jonathan and Mina Harker of Stoker’s novel and Dracula is on a mission which will be revealed at the end of the novel. Saberhagen’s approach works well, since Dracula is an epistolary novel told from several points of view. The one point of view we never heard in the novel was Dracula’s own. Of course, Count Dracula sees himself as the hero of the story and endeavors to paint himself as such by presenting alternate versions of the accounts as presented by Stoker’s characters without outright contradicting them. The effect is that he paints Stoker’s characters as unreliable narrators and yet, readers familiar with Dracula may wonder if the count is a reliable narrator himself.

Over the years, numerous authors have speculated about Mina Harker’s fate in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. For example, in Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary gentlemen series, she’s granted at least some vampire-like powers, including apparent immortality. I especially like the way Saberhagen addresses both Dracula and Mina’s fate after the events of the novel. I also really enjoyed Saberhagen’s version of Lucy Westenra’s story. I recommend The Dracula Tape to fans of Stoker’s novel who want to see a respectful and believable version of the events from the Count’s perspective.

You can learn about my epistolary vampire novel and also learn why Rae Lori recommends it at by clicking the image below:

Against the Day – Part 2

Today finds me at El Paso Comic Con. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll drop into the convention center and visit me at Booth A15. Also today, I continue my look at Thomas Pynchon’s steampunk novel Against the Day. Part 2: Iceland Spar is nearly three times as long as Part 1 with an elaborate plot ranging the American continent and even the world. Since I want to tackle this part of the novel in one post, I’ll do my best to limit my summary to the highlights. Part 1 opened in 1893. Part 2 moves ahead to 1899 and opens up with the young airship adventurers, the Chums of Chance. The Chums have been sent to find the Voromance Expedition which has found a meteorite harboring a consciousness and a purpose. I found myself reminded of Legion from my Clockwork Legion novels. What’s more we meet an airship crewed by Russians, who are rivals of the Chums. We ultimately learn that the Voromance Expedition is being funded by the industrialist Scarsdale Vibe.

We then join Kit Traverse at Yale. Kit is the son of Webb Traverse, the anarchist and miner from Colorado in part 1. It turns out that Kit’s education is being funded by Scarsdale Vibe and that the industrialist sees Traverse as a better potential heir than his own children.

Jumping forward to 1900, we find private investigator Lew Basnight in Denver on the trail of a dynamiter called the Kieselghur Kid. During his quest, Basnight accidently ingests cyclomite dynamite, which proves to be a hallucinogen. Basnight become addicted and eventually teams up with a pair of Englishmen who take him back to the United Kingdom where he’ll get involved with a group called the True Worshipers of the Ineffable Tetractys, or TWIT. The Tetractys is a numerical pattern with spiritual significance and they want Basnight to join as a sort of psychic detective, believing he’s gained special sight from his ingestion of cyclomite.

Meanwhile, we return to the Chums of Chance, who are now in Venice looking for a map called the Sfinciuno Itinerary which dates from just after the time of Marco Polo. As they continue their quest, they find the Itinerary may not be a literal map but a guide to a spiritual quest. One of the keys is the Iceland Spar, which proves to be a lens made from calcite which has many strange properties explored by characters through this section of the novel. In particular, calcite has the property of “double refraction” as shown in the photo I took of a calcite crystal from my home state of New Mexico at the Smithsonian Institution earlier this month.

From here we move ahead to the period from 1903-4, about a decade after the novel’s start. We have an extended sequence out in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado following the family of the anarchist Webb Traverse and people connected to him. We learn about hired guns who kill Webb. Those same men end up getting involved with Webb’s estranged daughter, Lake. Meanwhile, Webb’s sons Frank and Reef vow to avenge their father. All through this section, there are hints that Webb or his son Frank may be none other than the famed Kieselghur Kid.

In the course of their quest, Frank Traverse meets Merle Rideout, the photographer from Part 1, who is now working as a chemist in the mines. Merle points out that Iceland Spar is useful to people engaged in alchemy. While they’re meeting, Frank finds out people are gunning for him. Merle’s daughter Dahlia helps him get away, then decides to make her fortune in New York. She ultimately becomes an actress for a sleezy vaudeville company run by Scarsdale Vibe’s brother and finds her mother Erlys who had run off with the magician Luca Zomboni. He uses Iceland Spar to help create optical illusions, but it also has the danger of creating duplicate people.

Also in New York, Frank and Reef’s brother Kit meets with Nikola Tesla and Dr. Vanderjuice. Kit begins to realize that Scarsdale Vibe may have been responsible for hiring his father’s killers. Kit looks for a way to get out from under Vibe’s thumb and asks to go to Germany to continue his study in mathematics. Vibe, who seems a bit relieved not to have Kit nearby agrees to pay for his journey.

At this point we return west and follow Reef Traverse, who has become fascinated with dynamite and finds himself associated with the Kieselghur Kid. After someone tries to kill him with an avalanche, he heads east and finds himself in New Orleans. Once again, I find a fun parallel with my Clockwork Legion series. We leave Reef traveling to Genoa, Italy with a group of anarchists.

It’s now 1904 and we return once again to Colorado to follow the adventures of Reef’s brother Frank who is on the run from the people trying to kill him. Frank flees to Mexico and finds himself arrested on political crimes. He’s eventually able to break out of prison and meets up with three Tarahumare people who lead him on a spiritual quest worthy of Carlos Castaneda. During this episode, he learns that Iceland Spar has the property of duplicating places. Frank goes off on his own again and catches up with Sloat Fresno, one of the men who killed his father. Frank succeeds in killing him, but the other killer is nowhere to be found.

Finally, while the Chums of Chance are taking a vacation in New York, they learn about a professor who has built a time machine. Following up on that, two of the boys take a trip to a frightening apocalyptic future and then seek more information about time travel. They find themselves at a conference of professors interested in time travel in the Midwest. After this adventure, the chums are sent to Asia to continue their search for the Sfinciuno Itinerary. Along the way, they discover a device that can allow them to travel through sand the way a ship travels through water, which was funded by Scarsdale Vibe.

Whew! All that and I’m not even halfway through the novel! Since I’m writing these posts as I read, it’s distinctly possible that I’m not covering things that will prove to be important and giving too much emphasis to minor plot points. Still, it continues to be an interesting, if challenging read. In part 2, we see more women taking an active role. I love the way Pynchon weaves together all these disparate plot elements and it’s fascinating to see how he sets a lot of the novel in locations I would later visit in the Clockwork Legion series. You can learn more about my series at: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#clockwork_legion

El Paso Comic Con 2023

El Paso Comic Con is a community-based pop culture experience for all that reflects today’s fandom. At El Paso Comic Con you’ll get to indulge in all your favorite fantasy, sci-fi, and other pop culture genres, such as comics, games, film, television, and more! You’ll also get to attend panels and workshops hosted by creative pros as well as get autographs and photo ops with your favorite creators and celebrities.

The 2023 El Paso Comic Con dates are April 22-24. It will occur at the El Paso Convention Center in downtown El Paso, Texas. The hours of operation are Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 10am-7pm, and Sunday 10am-5pm. You can get more information about the event at: https://elpasocomiccon.com/

Among the guests at this year’s El Paso Comic Con are Michael Rooker, John Barrowman, Sam Jones, and Luci Christian.

Michael Rooker made his film debut, playing the title role in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. He has also starred in some of the most iconic films, such as Mississippi BurningSea of LoveJFKTombstone and Jumper to name a few. In August 2014, Rooker starred in one of the most memorable franchises in the Marvel Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy, as Yondu, the blue-skinned renegade space pirate and surrogate father to Peter Quill.

John Barowman is best known for his portrayal of Captain Jack Harkness in the sci-fi hits Doctor Who and Torchwood, and Malcolm Merlyn in the TV shows: Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and Flash.

Sam Jones has over 70 films and numerous television shows to his credit. He is best known for his roles in Flash Gordon, The Spirit, The Highwayman, SG-1’s The Bounty Hunter and for his memorable comedic performances in Ted and Ted 2.

Luci Christian is one of the most prolific anime voice actors in North America, voicing fan favorites Ochaco Uraraka in My Hero Academia, Nami in One Piece, and Honey in Ouran High School Host Club. I know her work from Gatchaman and Bodacious Space Pirates among other shows.

I will be presenting a panel at 5pm on Saturday of the convention called How science inspires my writing. In the panel, I’ll discuss how my work in astronomy influences me and how it helps me be a better and more productive writer. My tips can help anyone juggling a love of art with a day job.

When I’m not on my panel or checking out events with the other guests, you’ll find me at booth A15 in the Vendor Hall, as noted in the map above. I hope all of you in the El Paso and Las Cruces area are able to make it to El Paso Comic Con!

The Sci-Fi Exploration StoryBundle

I’m proud to announce that my novel Firebrandt’s Legacy has been selected for the The Sci-Fi Exploration Bundle curated by Adam Gaffen. In the novel, Ellison Firebrandt and his crew of space pirates visit worlds discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission, learn the fate of lost Earth colonies and even explore a wrecked starship which has crashed into an asteroid in our solar system. All the while, they’re learning the capabilities of a new drive that … uh … came into their possession. With that, I’m going to turn the post over to Adam, who will tell you how you can obtain a pirate’s treasure chest worth of great science fiction novels for one low price. But don’t wait, this bundle will only be available until May 4.


It’s hardwired into humanity’s genes.

As far back into history you want to go, there have always been people who want to push the boundaries of what we know. Whether that was looking to the stars and wondering where those twinkling lights came from, or what was across that intimidating-looking ocean, or what the purpose of all that red stuff inside the human body, the questions never seemed to end.

That spirit of exploration has never stopped. It’s alive today, as we push boundaries in space, on the planet, and into the dreams of cyberspace.

We’ve gathered ten notable authors to give you their takes on where humanity’s endless curiosity might take us.

Come with us as our voyage of exploration begins!

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” – Carl Sagan

Here’s a FEW of the books in this bundle!


Ding Dong, the Technowitch is dead.

As an illegal clone of the murdered galactic princess, Dora’s face would get her killed the minute she steps off her dull farming moon. She spends her days tinkering with gadgets and gears, with Tau, her kitchen-timer-bot, for company. But when forces close in and threaten her family, her escape attempt lands her deep in the Outer Zone — and on top of the Technowitch of Night, crushing her in the process.

Now a fugitive in two solar systems, Dora’s only chance of survival is to find her way to the mysterious Technomage on his Emerald moon. In a place where science has advanced to be indistinguishable from magic, she must accept the help of an unlikely trio: a cryogenically preserved girl with no memory, an obsolete theme park droid, and a bioengineered beast with a penchant for the dramatic.

As Dora realizes there’s more to the princess’s death than what the universe has been told, she must choose — save her family, or risk everything to right a centuries-old wrong.


Right after she finishes her BLT, disgraced Major Tanis Richards is off to save the day one more time.

Tanis is looking forward to a long journey in stasis before arriving at the newly terraformed world of New Eden. New Life. New Start. Getting a berth on the Intrepid is her ticket out of the Sol System.

But nothing proves easy for Major Tanis Richards. Nothing is at it seems. What should be a simple trip is fraught with danger and filled with adventure. An array of forces seek to stop the Intrepid—no matter the cost, or lives lost. From competing corporations, to stellar eco-terrorists, no one wants the Intrepid to arrive at New Eden.

Through their journey, the crew of the Intrepid will face rival stellar governments, civil war, and the most wanted serial killer known to the galaxy. Pivoting their role from colonists to saviors.

Perhaps it’s because the Intrepid carries the most valuable secret known to humanity. Or maybe it’s just Tanis’s luck.


“Alternitech” is a company that sends prospectors into alternate but similar timelines where tiny differences yield significant changes: a world where the Beatles never broke up, or where Lee Harvey Oswald wasn’t gunned down after the Kennedy assassination, where an accidental medical breakthrough offers the cure to a certain disease, where a struggling author really did write the great American novel, or where a freak accident reveals the existence of a serial killer. Alternitech finds those differences—and profits from them.


They think they’re ready for this mission. They’re wrong.

The Terran Federation is finally at peace and ready to begin serious exploration. The TFS Pike is the newest ship in the Fleet, purpose-built for deep space missions. Four kilometers long, with a crew of four thousand, she’s well-equipped for the years ahead. If only the crew was as prepared.

Ensign Nicole Crozier, the former Premier of the Luna Free State, has left politics behind to pursue a career in the Fleet. But her stint as the Artemis Minister of War has landed her in Tactical instead of Science, her passion, and she’s not happy about it.

Everything changes when Nicole discovers a rogue planet, and she’s given command of the landing party. On the surface, an ancient alien artifact emerges from the ice. As Nicole and her team explore the interior, the planet and her team vanish. The crew of the Pike must use all the tricks and tools available to get their missing people back.

When they finally do, Nicole brings aboard a discovery which could change the course of history.

Or end it.

If you’re a fan of Star Trek: Voyager, Battlestar Galactica 2003, Interstellar, or 2001: A Space Odyssey, then this is for you.

All these books – and six more! – available for you in the Exploration StoryBundle.

But don’t delay! This bundle has places to be, and once it leaves orbit, it’s gone for good!

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in .epub format—WORLDWIDE.

  • Over the Moon by S.E. Anderson
  • Intrepid Legacy – The Extended Trilogy by M. D. Cooper
  • The Apprentice Storyteller by Astrid V.J.
  • Alpha Centauri: Vol. 1 – First Landing by Alastair Mayer

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $20, you get all four of the regular books, plus six more books for a total of 10!

  • Firebrandt’s Legacy by David Lee Summers
  • The Meaning Wars by Michelle Patricia Browne
  • Alternitech by Kevin J. Anderson
  • The Oberon Cycle – Complete Box Set by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • Mindstorm by Becca Lee Gardner
  • The Ghosts of Tantor by Adam Gaffen

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get a DRM-free .epub for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook. For press inquiries, please email press@storybundle.com.

Revisiting King Arthur

Back in my university days, after watching John Boorman’s film Excalibur, several friends discussed how much the film resembled true Arthurian legend. This set me on a personal quest to discover what true Arthurian legend actually is. One of my early finds in that quest was a used copy of Richard Brengle’s fine compilation Arthur: King of Britain. The book opens with excerpts from early histories that mentioned Arthur or events that would become associated with Arthur. It then went on to present excerpts from the Mabinogion, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and other canonical Arthurian tales. Another book I found in this quest was Warriors of Arthur by Bob Stewart and Richard Hook. This last book endeavored to discuss Britain from the time Arthur would have lived if he had been a real historical figure. The book also included retellings of some of the early legends I first encountered in Brengle’s book along with some memorable illustrations. One of those was a telling of the story of Peredur, a young man raised by his mother in the woods who encounters Arthur’s men and decides to prove himself worthy of joining their company. I loved the story and it has stuck with me over many years. As a character, Peredur is also known as Peredurus, Percival, Parzival and more.

It’s from this background that I discovered Nicola Griffith’s novel Spear. Based on the notes at the end of the book, it seems clear that like me, Nicola Griffith has long been a fan of the expansive Arthurian canon. In the book, she weaves several different versions of the Peredur and Arthur story into a single narrative. In this case, a young woman is raised by her mother in the woods. They possess a prized chalice but little else. The young woman learns to hunt from the animals of the forest and she encounters nearby human villages where she learns their language. One day thieves set upon a band of knights. Stealthily, the young woman helps the knights overcome the bandits. She’s impressed by the bravery of the knights and wants to join them. She also wants to learn more about the world. When she leaves her mother, she’s called spear or Peretur. Griffith tells her story in a way that retains the lyricism of the classic Arthurian texts, but yet is still accessible to the modern reader. By making Peretur a woman, we hear the echoes of many women throughout history who took up arms for causes they believed in, from Grace O’Malley to Tomoe Gozen and from Mulan to Ada Carnutt. I enjoyed the fact that Griffith included notes at the back of the novel to discuss her literary and historical inspirations and how she blended them together into a satisfying new take on the Arthurian legend.

Back when I was first delving into the Arthurian canon, I thought it would be cool to create my own version of the story based on the stories that resonated most with me and the history of post-Roman Britain. I soon discovered that many talented authors had already presented their own takes on the idea. Still, I folded some of those story ideas and that historical research into my novel Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order Vampires. You can find out more about that novel at: http://davidleesummers.com/dragons_fall.html

The Nemo Trilogy

I first encountered Captain Nemo at my local drugstore when I was a kid. He was in the pages of a reprint edition of the Marvel Classic Comics adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. My mom bought the comic for me. I brought it home, and read it right away. I remember sitting stunned at one of the last panels, which depicted the Nautilus disappearing into a whirlpool. I couldn’t believe that would be the end of Captain Nemo. I was delighted a few years later to catch Ray Harryhausen’s adaptation of Mysterious Island on a Sunday afternoon and discover that Nemo had survived the maelstrom and had further adventures on a remote island with giant monsters. Sadly, he again seemed to meet his end as that movie drew to a close. Since those early days, I’ve read Jules Verne’s novels and grown even more fond of the character.

When I discovered the graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, I was delighted to meet an incarnation of Nemo who felt like Verne’s Nemo and, what’s more, he’d survived the events of The Mysterious Island. Since the first graphic novel, Moore and O’Neill have expanded the series quite a bit both in the number of volumes and the years the series spans. Alas, Verne’s Captain Nemo is not immortal and they imagined that he would meet an end, but they also gave him an heir in a daughter named Janni Dakkar who takes up the Captain Nemo mantel. Recently, while getting ready for Wild Wild West Con with its Roaring 20’s theme, I started looking for steampunk or related retrofuturistic fiction set in the 20s. This led me to discover the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Nemo Trilogy. The Nemo Trilogy comics follow’s Janni Dakkar’s adventures from 1925 through 1975.

Volume 1 of the Nemo Trilogy is called “Heart of Ice” and it opens when the new Captain Nemo steals a treasure from Ayesha, an immortal woman from H. Rider Haggard’s novel She. Ayesha has strong influence with Charles Foster Kane of Citizen Kane fame. He sends the boy adventurers Tom Swift, Frank Reade Jr., and Jack Wright after Janni, who has decided to explore Antarctica. They all end up on a journey through Lovecraftian horrors.

In Volume 2, “The Roses of Berlin,” it’s 1941 and Janni’s daughter Hira has married Armand Robur, son of Verne’s famous air pirate. Armand’s airship is shot down while he’s raiding Nazi ships. Janni and her lover Broad Arrow Jack must go to a Berlin rebuilt in the image of the film Metropolis to rescue their daughter and son-in-law. There, they find Ayesha is collaborating with the Nazis. I found it quite satisfying to have a story where Captain Nemo and her crew take on Nazis along with figures from German expressionist cinema. I also loved that Moore gave us some dialogue in French and German and didn’t translate it for us on the page.

Finally in Volume 3, “River of Ghosts” Janni leans that Ayesha has not only survived the events of volume 2, but there is somehow more than one Ayesha. Janni takes the Nautilus up the Amazon and discovers an enclave of Nazis like the one in the movie The Boys from Brazil. Along for the journey is Janni’s grandson, Jack. Also along for the ride is Hugo Hercules, who was the first superhero to ever grace the comic pages. Their adventure takes to an enclave of creatures from the Black Lagoon to dinosaurs and then gives us an explosive climax. In an epilogue set in 1987, we find that Jack is happy to take up the mantel of Captain Nemo for a new generation.

I felt like this series released between 2013 and 2015 got stronger as it progressed and it proved to be a solid entry in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen saga. More importantly, it does my heart good to know Nemo’s story didn’t end in the Maelstrom off the coast of Norway. In fact, Jack Dakkar or his children could still be sailing the Nautilus through Earth’s waters today. Mobilis in Mobile!

My character Captain Onofre Cisneros was created as a tribute to Captain Nemo. The best place to learn about Captain Cisneros and his adventures is in my novel The Brazen Shark. Learn more at: http://davidleesummers.com/brazen_shark.html

Sleepless in Marine City

The first time I flew on an airplane, I was in the third grade. My parents and I flew to Seattle to visit my brother who had moved there for college. My most vivid memory of that trip was visiting the Pacific Science Center and the Space Needle at the Seattle Center. I was especially excited to see a Gemini space capsule at the Pacific Science Center. Not only could you look at it, but you could sit inside and flip the switches and pretend you were on a real space mission. I had already read all about the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, so I had a very good sense of how special this display was. I would later learn that the capsule in Seattle was an unflown mockup, but it still had been built for the Gemini program and it helped to ingrain my love of space exploration.

The Seattle Center as we know it today started as the fairgrounds for the Century 21 Exposition of 1962. Among the exposition’s notable visitors was Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov. This real history along with the Cuban Missile Crisis serve as the inspirations for the fourth volume of Keisuke Makino’s Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut, which was recently translated into English and released in the United States.

In this volume, computer engineers Kaye Scarlet and Bart Fifield are sent to a space conference at the Exposition in a Seattle fictionalized as Marine City. Kaye is a dhampir, a person descended from both humans and vampires. Bart is human. In the previous volume, they marched for dhampir rights in the United Kingdom, which is this alternate world’s version of the United States. They soon learn that their heroes, cosmonauts Lev Leps and Irina Luminesk, are scheduled to speak at the conference. Like Bart, Lev is human. Irina is a vampire.

The goal of the conference is basically twofold. The first objective is to hash out two competing plans to land people on the Moon. The second is to discuss cooperation between the space programs of the United Kingdom and the “Zinitra Union.” Bart and Kaye have studied the two competing plans for lunar landing and have come to the conclusion that neither will work. There’s a third plan rejected early on due to a technicality they think can work, but they have to sell it to their bosses. While all of this is going on, the United Kingdom discovers that the Zinitra Union has been building missile silos on a small island not far from the UK’s shores. This world’s version of the Cuban Missile Crisis threatens to shut down the conference and our engineers and cosmonauts begin to despair for the future of space travel and the fate of the world. As all of this is going on, Bart and Kaye begin to understand the feelings they have for each other.

All in all, Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut continues to be a satisfying retelling of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Aside from changed names and slightly changed dates, this volume tends to stick close to the historical events. That said, events at the ending suggest that this world’s history may diverge from the history we know. This world’s Nikita Krushchev isn’t removed from power in 1964 and a would-be assassin fails to kill this world’s John F. Kennedy. So author Keisuke Makino has now neatly set up a world as it might have been. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Vampires navigating interpersonal relationships and working to understand their place in the universe are hallmarks of my Scarlet Order Vampire series. You can learn more about those books by visiting: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#scarlet_order

Against the Day – Part 1

This weekend finds me at Tell-Tale Steampunk in Baltimore, Maryland. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll make time to drop by and say hello! You can get event information at: https://telltalesteampunk.com. In honor of being at Tell-Tale Steampunk, today’s post is about a steampunk novel I recently discovered.

I was first introduced to Thomas Pynchon’s writing during my junior year at New Mexico Tech. I took a course in the philosophy of science and we read Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow. It’s a dense novel and Pynchon is less interested in exploring traditional plots and character arcs than exploring themes through a series of set pieces. While there is a narrative arc, it’s not tied to a structure. Pynchon likes to play with language and his characters even break out in song from time to time. My philosophy professor gave me an “A” on my final paper about Gravity’s Rainbow and seemed genuinely impressed by how well I’d unpacked the novel. Because of the experience, I’ve long had something of a soft spot for Pynchon’s writing. I would go on to read his novels The Crying of Lot 49, Vineland and Mason & Dixon.

Recently, while getting ready for Wild Wild West Con, I learned that Thomas Pynchon had published a novel in 2006 called Against the Day, which many people consider steampunk. That was during the time when my children were young and I was busy being a stay-at-home dad, so I didn’t hear about the novel’s release at the time. Weighing in at almost 1100 pages, Against the Day is also Pynchon’s longest novel. Given my interest in both Pynchon and steampunk, I decided I needed to give the novel a read. Given the novel’s length and the way Pynchon’s narrative tends to wander, I thought it might be worth discussing the novel one section at a time. Against the Day is broken into five parts, so today I’m taking a look at Part 1: The Light Over the Ranges.

The novel opens as a team of boy adventurers called the Chums of Chance arrive at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 aboard their airship the Inconvenience. The Chums tend to be the thread tying the events of part one together. The Chums are ship commander Randolph St. Cosmo, second-in-command Lindsay Noseworth, handyman apprentice Miles Blundell, young Darby Suckling, and Chick Counterfly, who the Chums rescued from an encounter with the Ku Klux Klan. Rounding out their crew is the highly intelligent dog, Pugnax.

Through the Chums, we meet their mentor, Professor Heino Vanderjuice and the financier Scarsdale Vibe. Our businessman is concerned about Nikola Tesla’s plans to bring free electricity to all. He would like Professor Vanderjuice to find a way to counter Tesla’s work in Colorado Springs.

A private detective Nate Privett assigns his employee Lew Basnight to the Inconvenience to look for anarchists who may be trying to infiltrate the Columbian Exposition. Basnight also relays his misadventures escorting Franz Ferdinand around Chicago. The Chums of Chance also have an encounter with a photographer named Merle Rideout and his daughter Dahlia. We learn that Rideout’s wife ran off with a magician. The story follows Rideout to Colorado where he gets a job in the mines of the San Juan mountains.

The plot largely turns to Rideout’s adventures out west some six years after the fair and time with a dynamiter from the mines named Webb Traverse. Traverse is a rabble rouser and an anarchist looking to bring justice to the mines.

At the end of part one, we return to the Chums of Chance who are assigned to monitor Tesla’s experiments from the other side of the world, then must enter the hollow Earth to travel between the poles.

So far, the book has touched on familiar themes to Pynchon readers including labor rights, racial equality, and no small measure of scientific wackiness. The characters even break out in song a couple of times. It struck me in a few places how similar Pynchon’s set pieces are to events and characters in my Clockwork Legion series and other steampunk I’ve written. My novel Owl Riders opens at the World’s Fair in New Orleans. My story “The Falcon and the Goose,” scheduled to appear in the forthcoming Grease Monkeys anthology, is set on the railroad connecting the mining towns of Colorado where Merle Rideout and Webb Traverse meet. Merle and his daughter Dahlia remind me a little of Ramon and his daughter Alethea. Although younger, the adventuring spirit of the Chums reminds me a bit of the Owl Riders themselves from throughout the Clockwork Legion series and I couldn’t help but see a little of Professor Maravilla in Professor Vanderjuice. Unfortunately, Pynchon doesn’t give the women in his tale much to do so far. You can discover the Clockwork Legion series at: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#clockwork_legion

Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing where Pynchon takes me as this journey continues. Part one is just about ten percent of the way through the novel, so I’m sure there are many twists and turns to come!