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Fiction: Navigation

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EDWinter2

“It’s just a number, Helen,” he said.
“I know that, Gerald, but still, It makes me, I don’t know.” She glanced nervously at the road sign ahead of them. “Can’t we just go another way?”
“All the other routes add hours to our trip. I thought you wanted to get to the bed and breakfast before dark.” He poked at the tiny map on his phone screen. What he wouldn’t do for a TripTik right now.
“I do, but, do we have to take Route 666?”
He sighed. Their romantic getaway to Hell, Michigan was off to a rocky start.

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

The first collection of Everyday Drabbles stories, Winter, is now available as an eBook from Amazon! Enjoy over 90 short stories for less than two dollars!

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Podcast: NPB4 – Intro to ‘Food Wars’

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Hello listeners!

This week Jurd is out celebrating the independence of Canada, and Jason fell asleep, so Spence and Hugh are here with an intro to one of our favorite non-Gundam anime, Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma!

Click HERE to listen!

How to watch Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma:
Subbed on Crunchy Roll
Dubbed on Hulu
and coming soon to Cartoon Network’s Toonami!

Buy Spence’s book, Stonebriar Casefiles 182: Bad Alchemy!

Buy Hugh’s book, Everyday Drabbles: Winter!

Fiction: Fire Breather

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EDWinter2

Glory Bywater, freelance hunter and consulting mage, listened to the heiress’s request with some confusion.
“If I understand correctly, you require a mansion-sized fireproofing charm for your new pet?”
“That’s quite correct. She’s an adorable little thing, but she breathes fire, you see. I just can’t bear the thought of keeping her outside.”
“I recognize that it may be considered cruel, but have you considered simply removing her flame sacs?” The woman looked at her with contempt.
“I’m afraid that’s out of the question. I require the enchantment.”
“Might I ask why?”
“Because the poor devil will suffocate, obviously!”

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

The first collection of Everyday Drabbles stories, Winter, is now available as an eBook from Amazon! Enjoy over 90 short stories for less than two dollars!

Hugh Likes Comics: Canto

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Canto1

Canto #1
Written by David M. Booher
Drawn by Drew Zucker
Colored by Vittorio Astone
Lettered by Deron Bennett
Published by IDW

The Skinny: A boy with a clockwork heart ventures into a dark world in this grim steampunk fairytale.

Canto’s people live in chains. Denied freedom, identity and even hearts, they toil for cruel masters bigger and stronger than themselves. But Canto believes in two things: A fairytale about a boy who saved a princess, and the girl who gave him his name. When she is injured by the cruel slavers, he’ll do the only thing he can to save her: Leave the confines of their labor camp and bring back her heart.
A sinister but none-the-less charming steampunk fable, Canto #1 opens with a familiar fantasy theme, but plays it expertly. Booher and Zucker’s steampunk fable starts on all the right notes for a great series. The story flows around the gaps in the characters’ knowledge, the questions that Canto will have to find the answers for. It is also doesn’t flinch away from the horrors of its world.
Zucker’s designs are doing a lot of great work here. Canto and his people are little clockwork knights, and their is brutal and violent without being gory. They don’t have or lose blood, but Time. It’s a clever and occasionally devastating use of metaphor that works well on the page. The designs are all funhouse mirror, with the squat, dwarfish slaves and their towering, bestial masters. Even Canto’s face looks like a mask. Astone’s moody colors are dark but also deep and rich. The art and colors are what really elevates the story.
Canto #1 is an excellent start to a story that looks to take a critical, or at least subtextual eye the tired quest motif. I can’t wait to see how far it goes with its material. You can find it digitally through Comixology, or pick up a physical copy at your local comics shop!

Fiction: The Surprise

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EDWinter2

I was a sailor, and wrecked in a storm, I washed up on a strange shore.
I awoke in the house of a giant, who warned me, “You may go wherever you wish, but stay out of my cellar.”
As I recovered, his warning weighed heavily upon me. I recalled every story of man-eating giants I’d ever heard. Eventually, I snuck into the forbidden room.
I found it stacked floor to ceiling with balloons, banners, and supplies for a welcome party.
“It was going to be a surprise, the disappointed giant said. “But now you’ve gone and ruined it.”

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

The first collection of Everyday Drabbles stories, Winter, is now available from Amazon!

Hugh Likes Video Games: SteamWorld Quest

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Steamworld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
Developed by Image and Form Games
Published by Thunderful
Played on Nintendo Switch

The Skinny: A lighthearted but mechanically deep card-RPG sort of set in the SteamWorld Universe.

Each SteamWorld title is a little different. From the dungeon diving of SteamWorld Dig to the Tactical gunplay of SteamWorld Heist, each is a charming and innovative little gem of a game. The latest game in the series, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, builds on that reputation.
A fantasy RPG, SteamWorld Quest is framed as a storybook being read in the main SteamWorld post-post-apocalypse setting. Like its predecessors, this game is short but deeply engaging. The hand-drawn art style and the snarky writing work well. There are lots of little sight gags and clever bits that only really work if as a fantasy story told in a world of steampunk robots. This seems counter intuitive until you meet the first mini-boss, a black knight with a birdcage for a head.
The card-based RPG combat, which are stylized punchcards, naturally, has a good balance of randomness as strategy. Each character has a deck of eight cards which represent attacks, spells, buffs, and healing. Characters also manage items, weapons, and equipment. In combat, you have a hand of cards pulled from all three decks, and play three cards a turn. Three cards from the same character creates a combo, with a variety of special effects. During combat, you have to build up steam by playing low level cards. More powerful abilities cost steam, so you have to balance your decks to be able to play better cards. As a veteran RPG player, I found it pretty intuitive, with a lot of depth and options over the five playable characters.
At around twenty hours, the game isn’t very long for an RPG but you can go back to previous chapters to grind for items, experience, and money, or to find hidden secrets. The story isn’t very complicated, but it is filled with charm and clever little references to games like Final Fantasy IV and other old-school RPGs.
SteamWorld Quest is a lighthearted but perfectly executed take on the card RPG. It’s available for PC and from the Nintendo Switch eshop.
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Fiction: Overstreet

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I limp into the bazaar late in the afternoon and eventually find what I’m looking for: A pre-war bike tire patch kit. The sharp-eyed woman behind the counter has actual wrinkles. She might’ve even seen the bombs fall. This is going to be tough.
I look in my pack and see what I have to trade.
When governments fell, money became worthless. Gold wasn’t portable. But there were other systems.
I pull out a near-mint holographic Pikachu card. Flashy, but more common than you’d think. She gives me an inscrutable look, and we get down to bargaining.

This story originally appeared in Everyday Drabbles, a daily free fiction project on Wattpad. Visit the link for more free stories. And if you enjoy my writing, support my work by buying me a coffee!
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

The first collection of Everyday Drabbles stories, Winter, is now available from Amazon!

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