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You Like Me Because I’m a Scoundrel

I remember watching Phantom Menace in the movie theater wondering what the movie was missing. There was awesome Jedi action (and way better choreography than the original trilogy). The music was fantastic. Tatooine looked pretty much the same, and pod racing was...

Powerful Words from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Anton Strout

Anton Strout is the author of urban fantasy, including the Simon Canderous paranormal detective series and the Spellmason Chronicles. He’s also the host of the Once and Future Podcast. He’s going to have a story in the fantasy anthology Knaves from Outland...

Only Days Left to Back Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology!

There are only a couple days left to back Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology on Kickstarter! Featuring stories from Cat Rambo, Mercedes Lackey & Dennis Lee, Maurice Broaddus, Anton Strout, Anna Spark Smith, Cullen Bunn, Walidah Imarisha, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Clay Sanger,...

Warlock 5 Author Interview: Cullen Brunn

Last year, some of us discovered the irreverence of Deadpool and are eager to view the sequel. This year, some of us are working with one of the writers from his comics: Cullen Bunn. But we’re not the only ones fangirling/fanboying. Cullen is wearing his fanboy hat...

Kane Gilmour on The Rise of Kaiju Prose

As we cruise into the middle of 2018, it might be difficult, surrounded as we are with great kaiju novels and anthologies, comics, and Pacific Rim Uprising rampaging across theater screens, to recall a time when kaiju fans were at a loss for good material. And while...

What’s In a Character’s Name?

Naming a character is like naming your first-born child. You agonize over very detail, even go so far as to pronounce the name under your breath to test the inflection. Lucky for you, you're more concerned with how it looks on paper rather than how it sounds spoken in...

4 Ways to prep for the Royal Wedding Outland Entertainment style

In addition to wearing the Editor in Chief hat here at Outland Entertainment, I also write about pop culture in enough places that I've found it useful to follow the news. While this is particularly relevant for geek news, there are some headliners you just can't...

Press Release: Blackguards Anthology Gets Facelift

Outland Entertainment is please to announce a new look and edition for the anthology Blackguards, dividing the book into two volumes and including two never-before-seen stories. Blackguards, originally published by Ragnarok Publications, was a massive volume containing stories from some of the best dark fantasy and grim dark authors in the industry…

A Letter to My Past Self

Dear Greg (in 1986), So you’ve just turned fourteen, and you’ve just entered your freshman year of high school.  I wanted to send you...well, not a pep talk, exactly.  You’ve never liked or trusted those; they’re treacherous, and too often they’ve been empty promises,...

Fighting The Voices in My Head

This article by fantasy author Melanie R. Meadors first appeared Geek Mom: Geek Speaks...Fiction! Here, Melanie tells us about how she fought the voices (of the characters) in her head…and lost. When editor Marc Tassin invited me to write for the anthology, Champions...

Recently, Publisher Melanie Meadors and Editor in Chief Alana Joli Abbott got together to chat about a serial they’re both reading: Born to the Blade.

Alana: So, Melanie, how did you feel about Born to the Blade?

Melanie: Wow, I have to say, I knew it would be cool, because I’ve read Michael R. Underwood’s work before, including what he contributed to Hath No Fury, but this was pretty awesome—it was even better than I expected! (I mean that in the best possible way, Mike, if you are reading).

It reminded me of something along the lines of Avatar:The Last Airbender and Game of Thrones, if you can wrap your mind around that.

Alana: It does! I’ve been following the Serial Box serials since their first project, and this is a great new addition to their library. It has some of the familiar things I’ve liked in their previous projects: strong characters and great world building, right from the get-go, for example.

Melanie: Yes—and it’s no easy feat because we get to know a few characters in this first part, but they all have strong voices and unique views so it works. I was nervous I’d forget who people were, but I didn’t, really.

Alana: The setting is really well established from the beginning as well. The first episode opens with rebels from Kakute freeing their exiled and imprisoned leader from prison. There’s the instant set up between the good rebels and the evil, conquering empire. But pretty quickly, that expectation comes into question. We meet Michiko, a bladecrafter, who is dedicated to serving that empire.

Melanie: And that mysterious Golden Lord of Kakute…wow.

Alana: His introduction is fantastic, and Mike sets up a twist that takes the whole episode in a different direction than I expected by the end.

Melanie: Yes! And let’s face it—I can’t quite tell how I feel about Lavinia, but what a badass character.

Alana: No kidding! Lavinia is the representative of the Empire in Twaa-Fei, a neutral nation where the best bladecrafters from the various nations meet to solve international matters, to the best of my understanding. And in this episode, she takes on two fellow Warders in combat and wins handily. She’s amazing.

Melanie: Yes. And the best thing is, you are kind of kept wondering throughout the entire encounter. You think you know how things will go, but you don’t KNOW.

Alana: And the combat, which mixes swordplay and magic in a really satisfying way, is beautiful. I could almost see it.

Melanie: YES! I absolutely loved that aspect of it, that’s where I was thinking of the Avatar: The Last Airbender comparison. The other thing is that the fight and action scenes seem to last just the right amount of time. They are suspenseful and keep you on the edge of your seat, and don’t drag on. Lots of nice details so you feel you are there.

Alana: If you have a chance, you should listen to the audio version, narrated by Xe Sands. Serial Box is doing enhanced audio, which mixes sound effects into the narration seamlessly. It really grounds you in the narrative, and it’s used so well here. Each of the sigils, the spells created by the bladecrafters, has a ringing sound that’s both magical and metal.

Melanie: Yes, I actually listened to a little bit of it, so I would get the experience, and I did notice the sound effects—what a cool addition to the story!

Alana: Xe does a great job distinguishing the character voices as well. So Ojo, who is an elder Warder and a bit of a rebel in his own right, comes across with a gravitas that youthful Kris, who is going to be tested to earn a place for their nation among the Warders, doesn’t yet have.

Speaking of Kris, I immediately thought of what a cool setting this would make for roleplaying as well. Kris’s nation has the inborn trait to change gender; Michiko’s nation can speak to their ancestors. How cool would it be to pick a heritage like that for an RPG?

Melanie: I agree!! And some parts of it, with the casting of spells and so forth, really seemed like it would translate well into a game as well.

Alana: With the ending twist from episode one, I’m really excited to listen to episode two–which came out today.

Melanie: Yes, definitely. I’m really intrigued by this world. And I appreciate that there are characters of non-binary genders, and sensitive use of pronouns as well.

Alana: I agree completely.

Melanie: I think authors and publishers are becoming more aware of how important it is that the voices of everyone can be heard. I also love the mixture of cultural influences as well.

Alana: I feel like they’re going for something that feels like Asian influence, but Lavinia feels very Roman Empire in some ways.

Melanie: Yes, I think there are Roman influence with the Empire side for sure.

I think this is a progressive and different story, but people who like a standard fantasy tale will be very pleased with it as well. I mean, I think they really pulled off something great here.

Alana: And this week’s episode is from Marie Brennan, who is a frequent Outland contributor at this point, so I’m excited to see where she’ll take it!