Publishing Update, Autumn 2021

This autumn finds me in full-out editing and layout mode. I’m working on some of my own titles along with some books by other authors, all to be released through Hadrosaur Productions. I thought I’d take this opportunity to glimpse at the books that will be appearing in the coming months. Note, links in this post will take you to pages where you can learn more about the books I mention.

Greg Ballan should be no stranger to fans of Hadrosaur Productions. We recently published the second edition of his novel Hybrid featuring detective Erik Knight who learns he carries the DNA of an ancient warrior race and can literally transform into a super-powered being to protect the Earth. We also published Armageddon’s Son and Battle Lines, which form the Ethereal War duology in which Erik Knight literally battles forces of heaven and hell. I’m currently editing Greg’s novel Hybrid: Forced Vengence which bridges the gap between Hybrid and Armageddon’s Son. While Erik is on assignment overseas, his wife is killed. Erik is soon sent on another assignment to guard the daughter of France’s president from a suspected terrorist plot. While there, he starts picking up hints that his wife may not be dead after all. Instead, she might have been abducted for a sinister purpose.

Also in the wings is another book by Greg Ballan called Lost Sons: The Battle for Manhattan. While Greg’s Hybrid novels present his take on superheroes, the Lost Sons series combines elements of mythology, folktales and kaiju.

I’m also excited to be editing a new collection of short stories by Lyn McConchie called the Way Out Wild West. Like Greg, Lyn should be no stranger to Hadrosaur fans. Her stories have appeared in both Hadrosaur Tales and Tales of the Talisman. As you might imagine from the title, this is a wild assortment of weird western tales. If you like tales of ghosts, strange inventions, and mysterious happenings in the old west, you won’t want to miss this book, which should be available in early 2022.

While we’re talking about the weird and wild west, I can now announce that new editions of my Clockwork Legion novels will be appearing soon from Hadrosaur Productions. Sky Warrior Publishing has released the rights to me. As of this writing, I’ve completed typesetting of the new edition of Owl Dance and I just have a few finishing touches to put on Lightning Wolves. As soon as we’ve worked out a few behind-the-scenes details, I’ll be uploading the new editions to ebook and print vendors. I expect the new editions will be available by the end of the year and will make an announcement as soon as they’re available. New editions of The Brazen Shark and Owl Riders will also be forthcoming, but they will happen after I get a few of these other projects caught up.

For a while, I’ve also been working on revising and reissuing my Space Pirates’ Legacy novels. I’m currently working on the final novel in that series, Heirs of the New Earth. As with the other novels in this series, I’ve been sharing my analysis of the books and updated chapters with my patrons at https://www.patreon.com/davidleesummers. I was expecting Heirs to be complete by the end of the year, but these additional projects have slowed me down a little. Still, I’m making progress and expect to release updated edition in early 2022. If you want to help make any of these novels happen, be sure to visit my Patreon site. The money I earn there goes to pay cover artists and pay for expenses. One of those recent expenses did actually represent an exciting milestone. Way back in 1994 when we started Hadrosaur Productions, we purchased a block of 100 International Standard Book Numbers. We are coming to the end of the original set of numbers and actually had to purchase ten more to accommodate our forthcoming books!

Finally, there’s yet one more project in the wings. I can’t say much about it yet. What I can say is that in 1995, we started Hadrosaur Tales as a way to showcase the talents of authors. In 2005, we added beautiful artwork and a stronger sense of presentation to the mix and created Tales of the Talisman. This new project is a next step on the journey.

If you’ve kept count through this list, you’ll see we have nine books in various stages of production. I hope the first two of these will be out within the month and the rest should follow in the coming months. Watch this space to learn more about each of these projects as they’re released.

The Chimera Brigade

Earlier this month, I was a guest at the Gaslight Steampunk Expo in San Diego, California. The theme was the 1889 Universelle Exposition du Paris where Gustave Eiffel built the largest structure on the planet to date. I knew the country that produced Jules Verne had a strong interest in steampunk. I was aware of Jacques Tardi’s Adèle Blanc-Sec comic series and the wonderful movie April and the Extraordinary World, also inspired by Tardi’s work. I also knew the steampunk-flavored animated musical La Méchanique du Coer. I wanted to see what else the French had produced.

It takes a little bit of detective work to find good books and comics which aren’t published in English, especially if you don’t speak the native language. I did come across an article that recommended the novel Confessions d’un automate mangeur d’opium by Fabrice Colin and Mathieu Gaborit. The title translates as “Confessions of an Opium Eater Automaton.” Set in a Paris whose skies buzz with flying machines, it tells the story of a young actress and her psychiatrist brother who investigate a mysterious death and become entangled in a story involving automata and even Queen Victoria. Sadly, the novel hasn’t been translated into English, but I did discover another work by Fabrice Colin. La Brigade Chimérique is a comic Colin created with Serge Lehman and the title translates as The Chimera Brigade. The comic was translated and published in the United States by Titan Comics.

The Chimera Brigade isn’t exactly steampunk in that it’s set well after the Victorian era in 1938, however it’s clearly the product of the same kind of alternate historical roots. In effect, the comic feels like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets The Justice Society of America. In the opening chapters, we learn that super powered beings emerged in World War I as Marie Curie worked in the trenches using her radium to help wounded soldiers.

Now in 1938, German super powered beings are posed to take over as the master race while in the Soviet Union a more communist-oriented team called “We” has a different vision for Europe. Caught in the middle is Marie Curie’s daughter, Irene Joliot-Curie, who is trying to understand how the super-powered beings were created in the first place so she can keep Europe from falling into chaos. The heroes and villains themselves are a mix of historical figures and characters from classic European pulp stories. The writers coined the term “radiumpunk” to describe their story’s genre.

The story can be a bit of a slow burn compared to American comics which need a fight scene every issue. This reads more like a novel where the plot unfolds over time and we get fascinating insights into the nature of superheroes courtesy the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Carl Jung.

Six issues of The Chimera Brigade were translated into English. As far as I can tell from the French Amazon site, that’s the complete original run. Like many comics, the story doesn’t quite seem complete, however I do see a new Chimera Brigade title listed on the site for publication in 2022. I hope this new story will be available in the United States and will answer some of the questions left from the original story.

Superheroes

This past weekend I saw Deadpool 2 with my daughter. I enjoyed the film and particularly its theme of seeking out love and family in the wake of violence and chaos. It’s funny with a lot of self-aware, and sometimes inappropriate, humor. It also left me pondering Hollywood’s current obsession with superheroes. I sometimes feel like I suffer something I call “superhero fatigue.” Sort of a groan that escapes involuntarily when I see another new superhero film announced. Yet, I do go back to some that particularly grab my eye. Films like Logan, Wonder Woman, and Deadpool have engaged me in spite of my fatigue.

I loved superheroes as a kid, both from comic books and on television. I probably discovered them on television first through such shows as Filmation’s Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure and the famous Batman television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Discovering my friends from TV in comic book form no doubt helped me improve my reading. Because of when my birthday fell, I was only four when I started Kindergarten. I was younger than most of my classmates and smaller. My size probably wasn’t helped by my mom smoking while she was pregnant with me. As such, I have the familiar story of being the small kid picked on relentlessly by his classmates. I know I loved superheroes because I loved to imagine myself having super powers and impressing the other kids in class. Of course, super powers would also have given me the ability to beat up the worst of the bullies.

As an adult and a writer, I see superheroes in a different light. I’ve come to recognize that all good superheroes have limits or weaknesses and the best stories are when the villain pushes past those limits and weaknesses. All the best superheroes have people they love and they can be hurt when the people around them are hurt. That’s how Deadpool 2 starts.

As an adult, there are still dangerous forces I sometimes feel powerless to stop, such as climate change, poverty, and overblown man-children with nuclear arms who like to taunt each other through social media. Because of that, there’s still appeal in wondering whether I could do something about them if I had superpowers. Yet, it’s often the more mundane, day-to-day challenges that cause the most anxiety. Will my daughter be safe at school? How can I afford that bill I forgot about? Where did that bad Amazon review come from? Did they even read the book I wrote? Even if I had superpowers, those things probably wouldn’t change. I have to work through my limitations to find solutions to those things. I have to teach my daughter to be aware of possible dangers and avoid them when possible. I maybe have to sacrifice something for that bill, or reevaluate my finances. I should be brave like a superhero and look at that review and see whether or not there’s something I can learn from it.

The closest thing I’ve ever written to superhero fiction is Vampires of the Scarlet Order about a team of vampire mercenaries who must save humanity from itself. Can vampires be superheroes? Just ask Marvel’s Blade, who was brilliantly portrayed a few years ago by Wesley Snipes. As it turns out, I first learned about Blade when Neal Asher compared my book to Marvel’s movie and comic book series. My vampires have great power. They can move fast and have great strength. They’re hunters, but they have limits. Among other things, they can only work at night and they can be destroyed. As with the heroes in Deadpool 2, they also find family in unexpected places. If you care to see my take on superheroes, visit http://www.davidleesummers.com/VSO.html to learn more.