Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Medieval Mars Annoucement

No little green men, but how about dragons, knights, castles, and even an ornithopter thrown into this intriguing short story compilation titled: Medieval Mars: The Anthology (Terraformed Interplanetary Book 1)

I was so excited when I received the invitation to join several authors in this genre-bending project. There so much great world-building in this collection of short stories.

Imagine . . . A future terraformed Mars, where civilization crashed back into a Medieval Era. Christian Knights called “riders” patrol the Pilgrim Road from Olympus to New San Diego, on the Chryse Sea. The technological past is known as the “Age of Magic” and only a handful of people understand how the remaining ancient devices really work. Lighter gravity in dense air makes flying dragons and bird riders a reality; alloys of the past make “magic” swords; and masters of ancient knowledge wield wizard-like power.

Nine authors spin tales in this unique story world, one which combines elements of science fiction and high fantasy.

Click the image to launch your interplanetary adventure on Amazon. A 315-page collection of great stories for $1.99? No need for a rocket scientist to calculate the huge deal. :-) I hope you'll check it out.  Best Regards, Mark 


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bragging on my Home

I’m going to brag some on the area where I live. This may bore some, but I’m going to brag nonetheless. I live thirty-five miles northeast of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, the city once described by James Parton as "Hell with the lid off!" The city has also been referred to as The Smoky City, a Rust Belt City, and The Armpit of America, to name but a few.

Historically, coal. iron, and steel built the city and surrounding Southwestern PA region, and as a result the land showed the scars from decades of abuse and neglect. I grew up in the area during the 60’s and 70’s, when smoke billowed from hundreds of stacks, where sewage and mine drainage killed the rivers and turned water the color of rust. The Kiskiminetas River (called the Kiski for short) flows past my hometown and never froze in the winter, even when temps dropped below 0 degrees F (-17 degrees C). Fishing and swimming were impossible due to pollution. Air quality reports were a staple of daily news programs. Warnings regularly went out for the elderly and people with health problems to stay indoors.

Over the last 40 years, though, I’ve witnessed the land’s transformation, a remarkable rebirth. This is due in part to the shifting industries and economy in the region, but also to strict pollution laws and the tireless effort of thousands of people.  

The hills and waterways slowly continue to heal and participation in countless outdoor activities has exploded in recent years. Biking, walking, and hiking trails have replaced abandoned railroad beds. Canoes, kayaks, fishing and pleasure boats dot the waterways. Every year I see more bicycles on the roads, more and more bicycle and kayak racks on vehicles, more and more people on the trails, more kayakers and canoeists on the local creeks. I hear coyotes at night; see beaver and muskrats on the water, hawks and great blue herons flying. Just this year I’ve followed three different bald eagles while kayaking local creeks. It is wonderful to see.

I know my area may not be as spectacular as other parts of the world. I’ve been to El Capitan and Half Dome, and driven across the Tioga Pass. I've witnessed the majesty of the Grand Canyon, both from the South Rim looking down and looking up from the bottom while rafting on the Colorado River. I’ve traveled through the Alps and cruised the Rhine River. Southwest PA is my home, though. It’s my little corner of paradise, and I’m blessed to have witnessed its wonderful rebirth.       

I'm not the most accomplished photographer, but here's a slideshow of some of my favorite places within a short drive from my home. Enjoy. --Mark