“Devils and Dust” by two time
Dragon finalist J.F. Holmes takes place in the Syrian Civil War,
2018. A JTF squad sent to take out a terrorist dabbling in the
supernatural finds that they're up against an ancient god determined
to walk the earth again.
“Redeye” by Dan Humphreys
follows a pair of military contractors as they fly home from a job in
the Middle East. Unknown to the two ex-Rangers, onboard is
necromancer intent on getting a foothold in the United
“Revolution” by Lucas Marcum. Outside Valley
Forge in the brutal winter of 1777, American Marines and British
Redcoats team up to defeat an Old World threat that has beenleaving
soldiers of both sides drained of blood and lifeless in the
“Run through the Jungle” by Lloyd Behm II. A
French plantation owner turns to the supernatural to punish all sides
in the Vietnam War, dragging the men of Task Force 13 into a vicious
battle with the undead.
“Spy vs. Spy” by Michael
Morton. In the opening moves of the Pacific War, an American
detachment takes on a Japanese intelligence officer in the
Philippines who using supernatural powers to run a spy
“Devil Dogs” by Chris Bast. A young Marine in
the mountains of Afghanistan beholds the horrors of hell as his
platoon is overrun by demons, and his desire for revenge drives him
to accompany a JTF 13 squad as they hunt the demons’
“Troll” by J.F. Holmes. A squad from the 82nd
Airborne is wiped out trying to destroy a bridge behind enemy lines
on June 6th, 1944, and the Task Force is called in to deal with the
ancient enemy hiding beneath it.
How many of the JTF13 books will be novels and how many will be
We may do an anthology again in
the future, but our plans are for five or six novels next year.
How many of the novels do you have so far? I’m assuming you’re
still looking for more authors?
Ten are supposedly in the works,
but I expect five to actually happen with the year. Yes, of course,
Will the novels be released in chronological order?
No, they skip back and forth
through history and are, for the most part, stand alone books. Though
there will be an overall plot and tie ins.
Will the invaders/monsters always be coming from the same alien
They come from the supernatural
world and are native to that regions. For example, Djins in the
Middle East and classical Dragons in Europe.
I heard that JTF13 was inspired by true unexplained events in
military history. One in particular was giant spiders in Vietnam …?
I can neither confirm nor deny
but the story is out there!
Will all of the novels be action/adventure?
I’ve heard rumours of a JTF13 inspired video game. Is this true?
Wouldn’t that be freaking
Okay, a bit about your background. You’re the creator of Cannon
and have twice been a finalist for the prestigious Dragon Awards.
Well, one day about seven years
ago I was watching an episode of The Walking Dead, doing the military
thing and commenting on what utter bullsh*t the firearms and tactics
were. My wife dared me to do better, and Even Zombie Killers Get The
Blues was born. That was seventeen books and hundreds of thousands of
I started Cannon because I want
to help out writers who are just getting started and have potential.
That and make money, but I wanted to see more of the kinds of
military Sci-Fi and Fantasy books I grew up reading.
In a previous incarnation you were a military officer and trainer. So
for this last question, how about a quick pep talk for our readers
(many of whom are writers too).
Well, NCO, not Officer. Retired
after 22 years.
Don’t stop writing.
2. Be open to criticism. My
grammar on my first book was horrible, to the point where my wife
refused to read it. The odds are a million to one that you wrote the
perfect book, and writing is a trade that you can only get better at.
3. Don’t quit your day job
expecting to be an overnight smash. It might happen, but probably
not. Writing is a job like any other, and it takes hard work, but you
can do it.
Great stuff. And the next JTF13 book? What’s the title and when
will it be out?
Widowmakers, coming out probably
in February 2020. Written by William
Air Force veteran, his heroes have to deal with a major gremlin
threat to the Army Air Force night attack fighters in France, 1944.
Outside of JTF, Lucas
follow up to his smash debut novel Valkyrie is out. Valkyrie:
Rebellion is going gang busters too.
Andrew Bannister has been making waves this year with his Spin Trilogy books. Here's the first of them.
Creation Machine is a fast-paced, whip-smart science fiction debut from Andrew Bannister introducing the stunning galaxy called the Spin.
In the vast, artificial galaxy called the Spin, a rebellion has been crushed.
Viklun Hass is eliminating all remnants of the opposition. Starting with his daughter.
But Fleare Hass has had time to plan her next move from exile to the very frontiers of a new war.
For hundreds of millions of years, the planets and stars of the Spin have been the only testament to the god-like engineers that created them. Now, beneath the surface of a ruined planet, one of their machines has been found.
December's Story - A Little Journey by Ray Bradbury
were two important things – one, that she was very old; two, that
Mr. Thirkell was taking her to God. For hadn’t he patted her hand
and said: “Mrs. Bellowes, we’ll take off into space in my rocket,
and go to find Him together.”
that was how it was going to be. Oh, this wasn’t like any other
group Mrs. Bellowes had ever joined. In her fervor to light a path
for her delicate, tottering feet, she had struck matches down dark
alleys, and found her way to Hindu mystics who floated their
flickering, starry eyelashes over crystal balls. She had walked on
the meadow paths with ascetic Indian philosophers imported by
daughters-in-spirit of Madame Blavatsky. She had made pilgrimages to
California’s stucco jungles to hunt the astrological seer in his
natural habitat. She had even consented to signing away the rights to
one of her homes in order to be taken into the shouting order of a
temple of amazing evangelists who had promised her golden smoke,
crystal fire, and the great soft hand of God coming to bear her home.
of these people had ever shaken Mrs. Bellowes’ faith, even when she
saw them sirened away in a black wagon in the night, or discovered
their pictures, bleak and unromantic, in the morning tabloids. The
world had roughed them up and locked them away because they knew too
much, that was all.
then, two weeks ago, she had seen Mr. Thirkell’s advertisement in
New York City:
at the Thirkell Restorium for one week. And then, on into space on
the greatest adventure life can offer!
for Free Pamphlet: “Nearer My God To Thee.”
rates. Round trip slightly lower.
trip,” Mrs. Bellowes had thought. “But who would come back after
so she had bought a ticket and flown off to Mars and spent seven mild
days at Mr. Thirkell’s Restorium, the building with the sign on it
which flashed: THIRKELL’S ROCKET TO HEAVEN! She had spent the week
bathing in limpid waters and erasing the care from her tiny bones,
and now she was fidgeting, ready to be loaded into Mr. Thirkell’s
own special private rocket, like a bullet, to be fired on out into
space beyond Jupiter and Saturn and Pluto. And thus – who could
deny it? – you would be getting nearer and nearer to the Lord. How
wonderful! Couldn’t you just feel
Him drawing near? Couldn’t you just sense His breath, His scrutiny,
I am,” said Mrs. Bellowes, “an ancient rickety elevator, ready to
go up the shaft. God need only press the button.”
on the seventh day, as she minced up the steps of the Restorium, a
number of small doubts assailed her.
one thing,” she said aloud to no one, “it isn’t quite the land
of milk and honey here on Mars that they said it would be. My room is
like a cell, the swimming pool is really quite inadequate, and,
besides, how many widows who look like mushrooms or skeletons want to
swim? And, finally, the whole Restorium smells of boiled cabbage and
opened the front door and let it slam, somewhat irritably.
was amazed at the other women in the auditorium. It was like
wandering in a carnival mirror-maze, coming again and again upon
yourself – the same floury face, the same chicken hands, and
jingling bracelets. One after another of the images of herself
floated before her. She put out her hand, but it wasn’t a mirror;
it was another lady shaking her fingers and saying:
waiting for Mr. Thirkell. Sh!”
velvet curtains parted.
Thirkell appeared, fantastically serene, his Egyptian eyes upon
everyone. But there was something, nevertheless, in his appearance
which made one expect him to call “Hi!” while fuzzy dogs jumped
over his legs, through his hooped arms, and over his back. Then, dogs
and all, he should dance with a dazzling piano-keyboard smile off
into the wings.
Bellowes, with a secret part of her mind which she constantly had to
grip tightly, expected to hear a cheap Chinese gong sound when Mr.
Thirkell entered. His large liquid dark eyes were so improbable that
one of the old ladies had facetiously claimed she saw a mosquito
cloud hovering over them as they did around summer rain-barrels. And
Mrs. Bellowes sometimes caught the scent of the theatrical mothball
and the smell of calliope steam on his sharply pressed suit.
with the same savage rationalization that had greeted all other
disappointments in her rickety life, she bit at the suspicion and
whispered, “This time it’s real.
This time it’ll work. Haven’t we got a rocket?”
Thirkell bowed. He smiled a sudden Comedy Mask smile. The old ladies
looked in at his epiglottis and sensed chaos there.
he even began to speak, Mrs. Bellowes saw him picking up each of his
words, oiling it, making sure it ran smooth on its rails. Her heart
squeezed in like a tiny fist, and she gritted her porcelain teeth.
said Mr. Thirkell, and you could hear the frost snap in the hearts of
the entire assemblage.
said Mrs. Bellowes ahead of time. She could hear the bad news rushing
at her, and herself tied to the track while the immense black wheels
threatened and the whistle screamed, helpless.
will be a slight delay,” said Mr. Thirkell.
the next instant, Mr. Thirkell might have cried, or been tempted to
cry, “Ladies, be seated!” in minstrel-fashion, for the ladies had
come up at him from their chairs, protesting and trembling.
a very long delay.” Mr. Thirkell put up his hands to pat the air.
You can stay here at the Restorium for seven more days, can’t you?
A little delay won’t matter, will it, in the end? You’ve waited a
lifetime. Only a few more days.”
twenty dollars a day,
thought Mrs. Bellowes, coldly.
the trouble?” a woman cried.
legal difficulty,” said Mr. Thirkell.
a rocket, haven’t we?”
I’ve been here a whole month, waiting,” said one old lady.
right,” said everyone.
ladies,” murmured Mr. Thirkell, smiling serenely.
want to see the rocket!” It was Mrs. Bellowes forging ahead, alone,
brandishing her fist like a toy hammer.
Thirkell looked into the old ladies’ eyes, a missionary among
now,” he said.
cried Mrs. Bellowes.
afraid –” he began.
am I!” she said. “That’s why we want to see the ship!”
no, now, Mrs. –” He snapped his fingers for her name.
she cried. She was a small container, but now all the seething
pressures that had been built up over long years came steaming
through the delicate vents of her body. Her cheeks became
incandescent. With a wail that was like a melancholy factory whistle,
Mrs. Bellowes ran forward and hung to him, almost by her teeth, like
a summer-maddened Spitz. She would not and never could let go, until
he died, and the other women followed, jumping and yapping like a
pound let loose on its trainer, the same one who had petted them and
to whom they had squirmed and whined joyfully an hour before, now
milling about him, creasing his sleeves and frightening the Egyptian
serenity from his gaze.
way!” cried Mrs. Bellowes, feeling like Madame Lafarge. “Through
the back! We’ve waited long enough to see the ship. Every day he’s
put us off, every day we’ve waited, now let’s see.”
no, ladies!” cried Mr. Thirkell, leaping about.
burst through the back of the stage and out a door, like a flood,
bearing the poor man with them into a shed, and then out, quite
suddenly, into an abandoned gymnasium.
it is!” said someone. “The rocket.”
then a silence fell that was terrible to entertain.
was the rocket.
Bellowes looked at it and her hands sagged away from Mr. Thirkell’s
rocket was something like a battered copper pot. There were a
thousand bulges and rents and rusty pipes and dirty vents on and in
it. The ports were clouded over with dust, resembling the eyes of a
wailed a little sighing wail.
that the rocket ship Glory
Be to the Highest?”
cried Mrs. Bellowes, appalled.
Thirkell nodded and looked at his feet.
which we paid out our one thousand dollars apiece and came all the
way to Mars to get on board with you and go off to find Him?” asked
that isn’t worth a sack of dried peas,” said Mrs. Bellowes.
nothing but junk!”
whispered everyone, getting hysterical.
let him get away!”
Thirkell tried to break and run, but a thousand possum traps closed
on him from every side. He withered.
walked around in circles like blind mice. There was a confusion and a
weeping that lasted for five minutes as they went over and touched
the Rocket, the Dented Kettle, the Rusty Container for God’s
said Mrs. Bellowes. She stepped up into the askew doorway of the
rocket and faced everyone. “It looks as if a terrible thing has
been done to us,” she said. “I haven’t any money to go back
home to Earth and I’ve too much pride to go to the Government and
tell them a common man like this has fooled us out of our life’s
savings. I don’t know how you feel about it, all of you, but the
reason all of us came is because I’m eighty-five, and you’re
eighty-nine, and you’re seventy-eight, and all of us are nudging on
toward a hundred, and there’s nothing on Earth for us, and it
doesn’t appear there’s anything on Mars either. We all expected
not to breathe much more air or crochet many more doilies or we’d
never have come here. So what I have to propose is a simple thing –
to take a chance.”
reached out and touched the rusted hulk of the rocket.
rocket. We paid for our trip. And we’re going to take
rustled and stood on tiptoes and opened an astonished mouth.
Thirkell began to cry. He did it quite easily and very effectively.
going to get in this ship,” said Mrs. Bellowes, ignoring him. “And
we’re going to take off to where we were going.”
Thirkell stopped crying long enough to say, “But it was all a fake.
I don’t know anything about space. He’s not out there, anyway. I
lied. I don’t know where He is, and I couldn’t find Him if I
wanted to. And you were fools to ever take my word on it.”
said Mrs. Bellowes, “we were fools. I’ll go along on that. But
you can’t blame us, for we’re old, and it was a lovely, good and
fine idea, one of the loveliest ideas in the world. Oh, we didn’t
really fool ourselves that we could get nearer to Him physically. It
was the gentle, mad dream of old people, the kind of thing you hold
onto for a few minutes a day, even though you know it’s not true.
So, all of you who want to go, you follow me in the ship.”
you can’t go!” said Mr. Thirkell. “You haven’t got a
navigator. And that ship’s a ruin!”
said Mrs. Bellowes, “will be the navigator.”
stepped into the ship, and after a moment, the other old ladies
pressed forward. Mr. Thirkell, windmilling his arms frantically, was
nevertheless pressed through the port, and in a minute the door
slammed shut. Mr. Thirkell was strapped into the navigator’s seat,
with everyone talking at once and holding him down. The special
helmets were issued to be fitted over every gray or white head to
supply extra oxygen in case of a leakage in the ship’s hull, and at
long last the hour had come and Mrs. Bellowes stood behind Mr.
Thirkell and said, “We’re ready, sir.”
said nothing. He pleaded with them silently, using his great, dark,
wet eyes, but Mrs. Bellowes shook her head and pointed to the
agreed Mr. Thirkell morosely, and pulled a switch.
fell. The rocket went up from the planet Mars in a great fiery glide,
with the noise of an entire kitchen thrown down an elevator shaft,
with a sound of pots and pans and kettles and fires boiling and stews
bubbling, with a smell of burned incense and rubber and sulphur, with
a color of yellow fire, and a ribbon of red stretching below them,
and all the old women singing and holding to each other, and Mrs.
Bellowes crawling upright in the sighing, straining, trembling ship.
for space, Mr. Thirkell.”
can’t last,” said Mr. Thirkell, sadly. “This ship can’t last.
It will –”
Bellowes felt herself lifted and thrown about dizzily, like a doll.
She heard the great screamings and saw the flashes of bodies sailing
by her in fragments of metal and powdery light.
help!” cried Mr. Thirkell, far away, on a small radio beam.
ship disintegrated into a million parts, and the old ladies, all one
hundred of them, were flung straight on ahead with the same velocity
as the ship.
for Mr. Thirkell, for some reason of trajectory, perhaps, he had been
blown out the other side of the ship. Mrs. Bellowes saw him falling
separate and away from them, screaming, screaming.
goes Mr. Thirkell,
thought Mrs. Bellowes.
she knew where he was going. He was going to be burned and roasted
and broiled good, but very good.
Thirkell was falling down into the Sun.
here we are,
thought Mrs. Bellowes. Here
we are, going on out, and out, and out.
was hardly a sense of motion at all, but she knew that she was
traveling at fifty thousand miles an hour and would continue to
travel at that speed for an eternity, until....
saw the other women swinging all about her in their own trajectories,
a few minutes of oxygen left to each of them in their helmets, and
each was looking up to where they were going.
thought Mrs. Bellowes. Out
into space. Out and out, and the darkness like a great church, and
the stars like candles, and in spite of everything, Mr. Thirkell, the
rocket, and the dishonesty, we are going toward the Lord.
there, yes, there,
as she fell on and on, coming toward her, she could almost discern
the outline now, coming toward her was His mighty golden hand,
reaching down to hold her and comfort her like a frightened
Mrs. Amelia Bellowes,” she said quietly, in her best company voice.
“I’m from the planet Earth.”
story was first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1951.
story is taken from Project Gutenberg.
For legal reasons the following statement must be included: (This
eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no
restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it
under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this
eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org).