Category Archives: Crossposted

Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan

You may recall the gushing manner in which I plugged Promise of Blood, by Brian McClellan. That book launched his Powder Mage trilogy, and his career, and I enjoyed following both¹.

sins type5Another trilogy is coming, and after the amazing way he stuck the landing on the first one, I’m simply taking it as a given that Sins of Empire will be a must-read.

That cover art? Click on it to for a closer look. Also, this is kind of the first time it’s been seen. I feel special. I also feel special to have Sins_of_Empire_1.2.docx sitting right here taunting me. I opened it thinking I’d been sent a sample chapter, but no, I have the whole thing. I cannot afford to be sucked into an entire book right now. I must be strong.

You can pre-order it today², and you can even pre-order a signed copy directly from the author. It is slated for release on Tuesday, March 7th, of 2017.

If you like the Powder Mage books, and want to support Brian, his editor, and the cover artists in their ongoing creation of them, pre-ordering is totally a thing you should do. Books literally live or die on the first week of sales, which is where pre-orders show up.

Here’s the back-cover copy:

A world on the cusp of a new age…
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place — a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of an oppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.

Sedition is a dangerous word…
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with guile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Mad Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.

The past haunts us all…
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.

Yup. I’m in.

¹Do I enjoy the books more than I enjoy the Brian? It’s a tough call. He’s good company, except when he’s also in the company of his bees, or joining Sam Sykes in a long-winded account of their (dubious) heroism during the Yeti Wars. 

²Pre-order links!

MidAmeriCon II: the 74th World Science Fiction Convention

MidAmericonImageI’ll be in Kansas for the rest of the week. The World Science Fiction Convention is in Kansas City this year under the MidAmeriCon banner for the second time. Is this a weird way to name a thing? Maybe. Is it cool that the convention travels? Absolutely.

And Kansas City is awesome. I’ve been there before, and it’s definitely not a “flyover” location, though I’ll literally be flying over most of the state of Kansas in order to get there on Wednesday.

Potentially disappointing news for Schlock Mercenary shoppers: I am not exhibiting. No booth, no merch. Just me enjoying the show. We just finished our big show of the year, GenCon Indy, which is always a massive undertaking, and for which we have a team of six people. I’m way too tired to try to run a table with a team of just me.

I will, however, have a coupon code available. Catch up with me at one of my panels, or when I’m drawing comics in the hotel lobby (probably the Crowne Plaza) and I’ll teach you the magic word¹.

My Schedule


  • 3:00pm, Room 3501b — Combining Artistic Passions, with Erin Wilcox and Bradley Denton


  • 11:00am, Room 2211 — Kaffeeklatsch: It’s an hour of unstructured discussion with me, you, and about 10 other people, possibly with beverages. You need to register for this one at the show. And you may need to bring your own beverage.
  • 5:00pm, Room 3501d —The Art of Games²: I’m moderating this discussion with Tanglwyst de Holloway, John Picacio, Peter Tieryas, and Brianna Spacekat Wu.


  • 12:00pm — Autographs and Sketches: They’ve got me down for an hour in the Autograph Area. I will be very lonely. Come and get a sketch card from me (while supplies last.)


  • 11:00am, 2503b — Zen Scavenger Hunt, with Jack Campbell Jr., Gail Carriger, and Mark Oshiro. It’s a game show of sorts³.

The rest of my schedule is my own, and I’ll probably random-walk my way into good times with my extended Convention Family. I will also spend a lot of time drawing comics, and if I’m up for company while I draw I will tweet my location. It’s totally okay for you to talk to me while I draw. There’s a big chunk of my language-processing brain that just sits idle while I make pictures.

I love WorldCon. Twenty years ago, back when I was ‘just’ a fan, I was told “you should come to WorldCon” by none other than James P. Hogan during an email exchange about his website. Ten years after that I attended my first WorldCon, and stayed up until two in the morning talking comics with him. He is no longer with us, but his welcoming attitude has always stuck with me. It’s just one of the reasons I will always do everything I can to make fans, friends, and fellow creators feel welcome at this event.


¹Sandra will teach the magic word to Patreon supporters.

²I’m incredibly excited about this panel, and honored to be given the opportunity to moderate it. My plan is to pump these guests for all of the information, and if you’d like to join me as I learn from them, please do.

³Panelists bring seven items. The audience sends us scavenging, and then each of us must explain why the item we produce from our stash is exactly what they’re looking for. There will be some thick fiction there, I’m sure.



Ogre: Objective 218

Ogre218I picked up Ogre: Objective 218 at GenCon Indy without having played it, or having seen it played. All I got was the sales pitch from a friend of mine who worked at their booth, and his pitch amounted to “fast-playing card game for two players. Build a supply line to the enemy base and capture it.”

Today I sat down with my 13yo son and played it. He had already consumed the instruction manual, and he taught me to play it in a single round, which lasted about ten minutes.  Over the next half hour we played two more rounds, and at the end of the game session he’d beaten me two to one. It would have been two to zero, but I insisted upon a final game, which I think he may have thrown, because he got both his Ogres out early (read: “as close to simultaneously as the rules allow”) but didn’t press his advantage with cruise missiles.

If you want a tutorial, Steve Jackson and friends have provided one!

I didn’t think Steve Jackson Games could deliver something satisfying that played faster than Zombie Dice¹, but with the help of It’s Your Move Games² they totally did. Ogre: Objective 218 is fun for casual players, and is also good for folks who count cards and adapt their tactics in accordance with shifting statistical models.

It lists at $14.95, and is probably available at any store that carries Munchkin. It’s also available at Amazon, for folks like me who will probably stop leaving their homes once drone delivery of everything is a reality³.


¹rp_greendieMy Zombie Dice review is up at Steve Jackson’s site. It glows like the eyes of an irradiated feral ghoul. 


²Ogre: Objective 218‘s game mechanics are based on the game Battle for Hill 218, copyright © 2007 by It’s Your Move Games, Inc. Used under license.

³It’s already begun. I move around so little that my FitBit stopped telling me about goals, and simply withered and died, like an unwatered philodendron.