on the Super City Police Department in the new Story Bundle


The latest Story Bundle is called “Racing the Clock,” and it’s available for another seventeen days. It includes a ton of fast-paced stories, including my Super City Police Department novel The Case of the Claw.

I first conceived the SCPD back in the early 2000s, originally wanting to do it as a comic book. I’d actually been in discussions with both Darick Robertson and Mike Collins at different times about providing the art chores. But we were never able to make it work.

The concept behind the SCPD goes back to when I first started reading superhero comics and wondering what happens next. I mean, okay, Batman punches Joker in the nose and hands him off to Commissioner Gordon — then what? He has to be arrested, prosecuted, and so on. And it’s not like Batman’s gonna fill out a witness statement or testify in court. (“Please state your name for the record.” “I’m Batman.” That won’t happen…)

Both my love of superheroes and my love of police procedurals have their origin in television watching of my formative years. My first exposure to superheroes was The Electric Company, a brilliant educational kids show in the 1970s (it featured folks like Morgan Freeman, Joan Rivers, Tom Lehrer, Rita Moreno, Mel Brooks, and many more), which had licensed Spider-Man from Marvel, doing live-action Spidey adventures. That led me to reading comic books (starting with Marvel’s Electric Company tie-in comic called Spidey Super Stories) and also watching reruns of The Adventures of Superman and the Adam West Batman.

As for cops, what got me into that was first Barney Miller and then Hill Street Blues. Both shows utterly captivated me, and led me to my continued study of police procedure and interest in writing cops.

And I always wondered, what’s life like for a cop in Gotham City or Metropolis or the Marvel version of New York City?

So I wrote it. I’m hardly the first — there’s the brilliant comic book Gotham Central from the 2000s, as well as Alan Moore’s Top 10 and Brian Michael Bendis’s Powers — but I have my own little take on it. I try very hard to approach them as cop stories first. The superheroes are incidental, though very much part of the fabric.

I also have always found it important in general to show what the ground-level consequences are of big-picture happenings. I’m less interested in the big-ass battle that levels buildings, I’m more interested in what happened to the people inside that building after it was leveled.

Which is why we see, for example, Officer Trevor Baptiste, who is in a long-standing legal battle over compensation for the death of his wife. She was on a job interview in an office building that was vaporized in a superhero battle — but there’s no proof that she was in the building, because she wasn’t an employee, and the records of her entry into the building (sign-in sheet and computer) were also vaporized, so the insurance company is refusing to pay.

It’s also why it’s sometimes hard to get a judge to sign a warrant to get a DNA sample when it involves a costumed hero because they don’t have a real name for the person. Even if the DNA they take from the guy in a costume matches what they have to compare it to, if they go to arrest him, there’s no proof that the guy in the costume is the same one they took the DNA from, because of his keeping his identity secret. They need his real name, which they can’t get without violating his fourth- and fifth-amendment rights.

The Case of the Claw is the first of many stories featuring the Super City Police Department, though the others are all shorter-form. I’ve written two (so far) stories in the milieu, “Stone Cold Whodunit” in the 2014 Dark Quest Books anthology With Great Power and “Send in the Clones” in the 2015 eSpec Books anthology The Side of Good/The Side of Evil.

And the sequels to The Case of the Claw can be found in novella form. Three are available now as eBooks from Bastei eBooks: Avenging Amethyst, Undercover Blues, and Secret Identities, which came out in 2016 & 2017. And I’ve got four more novellas under contract with Falstaff Books, which I hope to have out starting next year.

So check out the “Racing the Clock” Story Bundle and get to know Captain Garcia, Lieutenant Zimmerman, Detective MacAvoy, Detective Milewski, Officer Baptiste, Officer Fontaine, Officer O’Malley, Officer Fiorello, and the rest of the SCPD. For $15 or more (you pay what you want), you get The Case of the Claw along with eight other great, fast-paced novels by Mike Baron, Lauryn Christopher, Robert Jeschonek, Kari Kilgore, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, and Sam Stone, plus a Fiction River Presents anthology edited by Allyson Longueira featuring stories by JC Andrijeski, Thomas K. Carpenter, Scott William Carter, Dayle A. Dermatis, Brendan DuBois, Dan C. Duval, Steven Mohan Jr., Eric Stocklassa, and Rusch and Smith. (For less than $15, you just get the anthology and the novels by Christopher, Kilgore, and Stone.)

All Covers Large


4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets


Luc Besson takes a visually stunning, delightfully written series of comics stories, “Valérian et Laureline,” and turns them into a visually stunning, ineptly written (and horrendously acted) movie. The great superhero movie rewatch slogs through Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

An excerpt:

The script honestly feels like it wandered in from 1967, when the comic debuted, from the sexism to the simplistic dialogue to the clunky exposition. Besson can’t seem to make up his mind whether or not he’s writing the later version of Valerian who goes his own way and is a bit of a rogueish maverick or the earlier version who always meticulously followed orders no matter what. Laureline, meanwhile, having been stripped of her comics origin, is instead maddeningly inconsistent, going from ultra-competent and by-the-book to being stupid and hating people who follow the rules.

The running time of this movie is two and a quarter hours, and you feel every excruciating nanosecond of it. I felt like I’d been watching it for several weeks when I checked to see that I was only halfway through.

table of contents for Across the Universe


Over on the Book of Face, Michael A. Ventrella has announced the table of contents for the upcoming alternate-Beatles anthology Across the Universe, which he is editing with Randee Dawn. It’ll be published in December by Fantastic Books, and here’s what’ll be in it!

  • Introduction by Nancy Holder
  • “Rubber Soul” by Spider Robinson
  • “A New Beginning” by Jody Lynn Nye
  • “The Perfect Bridge” by Charles Barouch
  • “The Hey! Team” by Gordon Linzner
  • “Paul is Dead” by Lawrence Watt-Evans
  • “Come Together” by Allen Steele
  • “The Truth Within” by Sally Wiener Grotta
  • “Foursomes” by Ken Schneyer
  • “The Fabtastic Four” by David Gerrold
  • “All You Need” by Cat Rambo
  • “Used to Be” by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • “Game Seven” by Bev Vincent
  • “When I’m #64” by Patrick Barb
  • “Deal with the Devil” by Carol Gyzander
  • “Meet the Beatles” by Pat Cadigan
  • “The Walrus Returns” by Gail Z. Martin
  • “My Sweet Lord of Light” by Barbara Clough
  • “Liverpool Band Battle 1982” by Eric Avedissian
  • “Undead in the Material World” by Alan Goldsher
  • “The Heretic” by R. Jean Mathieu
  • “Cayenne” by Beth Patterson
  • “Through a Glass Onion” by Christian Smith
  • “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera” by Gregory Frost
  • “Apocalypse Rock” by Matthew Amati
  • “Doing Lennon” by Gregory Benford

The lead story is a Spider Robinson tale that originally appeared in The Best of Omni Science Fiction #4 in 1982, and which Spider very generously gave to Mike and Randee to reprint and lead off this collection of weird-ass takes on the Fab Four. The closing tale is also a reprint, Benford’s Nebula Award-nominated story from the April 1975 issue of Analog.

The bits in between are all original, including my story! “Used to Be” actually takes place in the Dragon Precinct universe, though you don’t need to have read them to follow it.

The book will be out in December. Be on the lookout!


new Story Bundle featuring the Super City Police Department

There’s a new Story Bundle available, called “Racing the Clock,” featuring gripping, fast-paced stories in a variety of genres, including my own Super City Police Department novel The Case of the Claw.

Dean Wesley Smith put this particular Bundle together, and I’ll let him take over from here……..

All Covers Large

I love reading stories that grab me and don’t let me go until I come up at the end of the story, sometimes breathless from the ride the author has taken me on. Those kinds of stories make me want to instantly get more stories from that author, repeat the ride like getting back on a roller coaster for a second trip around.

With the Racing the Clock StoryBundle, those were the types of books I was looking for to put together in one place. And since I love just about all genres, I didn’t care if the books were science fiction, mystery, fantasy, or thriller, as long as the author could take me on a ride. Fast-paced and gripping can be done in any area. I just wanted the feeling. The thrill.

So I went to find writers I knew had the ability (an advanced ability, actually) to take all of us readers on a breathless adventure. And in this bundle are some of the best writers in the business at doing just that.

My first stop when looking for writers who could hold a reader in a fast-paced book was four bestselling writers with careers very similar to mine, frighteningly enough. Mike Baron, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, Robert Jeschonek, and Keith R.A. DeCandido are all known to write across many, many genres and in many forms. From comics to media books to original novels, they have done it all and successfully for decades.

Wow, do I feel honored to have the four of them in this bundle with me.

Jeffrey J. Mariotte is the author of over seventy novels among his many other short stories and comic books. He is a master of supernatural thrillers, but for this bundle he joins in with his dark thriller of kidnapping, Missing White Girl. Gripping doesn’t begin to describe this book.

Mike Baron, the creator of Nexus and Badger comics, among many other things and a lot of novels, gives the bundle Helmet Head, a fast-paced and crazed novel of Nazi biker zombies. Yup, I said that. Got to read it to believe it.

Keith R. A. DeCandido is the author of over fifty novels and more comics than he can count. He writes in a lot of different universes, but for this bundle he gave us Super City Police Department: The Case of the Claw, a police thriller in a town where superheroes exist, but it is up to the police to find and stop the Claw.

Robert Jeschonek is the bestselling author of more books, comics, and short stories than he can count. One reviewer called him “the love child of Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman.” Yup, I agree with that completely. In this novel, Bloodliner, Robert’s hero joins forces with a vampiric Shakespeare and King Arthur to fight for their lives against an ancient evil. As Robert says, Bloodliner is not a typical throat-biter.

Bestselling writer Dean Wesley Smith (that’s me) fits right here with these first four. I have written around two hundred novels, comics, and more short stories than I can count. Death Takes a Diamond is a Mary Jo Assassin novel where immortal assassins take down a massive diamond smuggling ring.

Next, I added New York Times bestselling writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch to this all-star bundle. She also has written hundreds of novels, comics, and short stories, but is more known for her award-winning science fiction and her award-winning mystery under her Kris Nelscott name. I talked her into giving the bundle The Tower, a fast-paced time travel short novel of an attempt to steal the Crown Jewels.

Then, for good measure, I asked another multi-genre and prolific writer, Lauryn Christopher. Lauryn is not only a writer under many names, but under another name yet is also a well-known editor. I wanted her novel Conflict of Interest, a Hit Lady for Hire book, mostly because it makes a fun companion to my Mary Jo Assassin novel in this bundle.

Since my novel, Lauryn’s novel, and Kris’s The Tower are all fast-paced crime stories at their heart, I wanted to add one more crime story to the mix. So Sam Stone fit right in with her wonderful supernatural crime thriller Posing for Picasso. Like the other writers in this bundle, Sam has also had a multi-faceted career with over a dozen novels, a lot of short stories and numbers of screenplays.

But I needed to round everything off. So to go with Robert Jeschonek’s crazy Bloodliner novel of vampires, I added in Kari Kilgore’s wonderful and very strange Until Death, which was on the preliminary ballot for the Stoker Award and a finalist for the Golden Stake Award. Until Death takes us deep into the history of Transylvania, in a way not done before. And Kari also fits right into this mix because she too writes across many genres and is very prolific.

Then, for even more breathtaking, fast-paced fiction, Fiction River: Racing the Clock fills out the bundle. Ten short stories by top writers.

So strap into your chair, get some time set aside, and dig into ten of the most diverse, wild, fast-paced books you have ever seen in one bundle.

Edge-of-your-seat fiction by top writers.

But wait, it does get better if you decide to support our fantastic charity AbleGamers.com. I hope you do. There is no better feeling than helping a great cause and then reading a great book.

Or ten.

Dean Wesley Smith


For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

Posing for Picasso by Sam Stone

Conflict of Interest by Lauryn Christopher

Until Death – Death and Redemption Book 1 by Kari Kilgore

Fiction River Presents: Racing the Clock by Allyson Longueira

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus SIX more!

Bloodliner by Robert Jeschonek

Helmet Head by Mike Baron

The Tower by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Case of the Claw by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Missing White Girl by Jeffrey J. Mariotte

Death Takes a Diamond by Dean Wesley Smith

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards—which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle—and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to AbleGamers!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!


StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Flash Gordon (1980) and Flash Gordon (2007)


Flash Gordon was one of the most popular comic strips of the 20th century. Several different versions have been made for the screen, including two live-action movies: a 1980 feature film starring Sam J. Jones and a 2007 pilot for a TV series starring Eric Johnson. Both look cheap and cheesy, though for the former that’s a feature, and for the latter a bug. The great superhero rewatch cries out, “Flash–ah-ahhhhhh!”

An excerpt:

The biggest problem with this pilot movie, though, is one that would dog the TV show throughout its run, and by the time they fixed it, it was far too late: the show keeps going back to Earth. After spending the beginning of the second half with Flash and Dale on Mongo, getting captured, being interrogated, playing word games with Ming, being made into concubines, and so on, to have them then come back to Earth and deal with Flash’s Daddy issues and Dale’s relationship issues and other mundane concerns is a massive comedown because, well, those concerns are incredibly mundane, and can’t compare to visiting another friggin planet. Nobody wants to watch a Flash Gordon story that takes place in a made-up suburb, they want it to take place on Mongo.

GISH 2019 over and out

Once again, Wrenn and I participated in the Great International Scavenger Hunt, a.k.a. GISH, hosted by the magnificent Misha Collins (best known as the guy who plays Castiel on Supernatural). We were part of Team Inevitable Meta (a combination of two previous teams that didn’t have enough members individually this go ’round), and we did a bunch of cool things. (Here’s what we did in 2018, 2017, and 2015. I also participated in 2014, but didn’t do a blog post on it. We skipped 2016 due to having to move.)

GISH is designed to make the world a weirder place, and there are also lots of compassionate and charitable things — but most of the 200+ challenges are just plain silly, which is part of the fun.

Here’s what Wrenn and I did as our contributions to Team Inevitable Meta (all together, we as a team submitted 57 items, which is about a fourth of the list, which is pretty dang good, considering)…..

Item 17: Trip the light fantastic. Literally.

So I tripped over a light labelled “FANTASTIC!” Can’t get much more literal than that……

17 -- Trip the Light Fantastic

Item 30: The recorder is an under-appreciated instrument, with roots in ancient times. The depth of its mythical sirenic tones are magical and hypnotic. So what better place to play this divine woodwind than amongst the most beautiful sites in the world? Play the Kansas song “Carry on, Wayward Son” at sunset on a recorder, overlooking one of the following: the Grand Canyon (Arizona, US), Angkor Wat (Cambodia), Machu Picchu (Peru), Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal (India), the Colosseum (Italy), Iguazu Falls (Brazil), Stonehenge (UK), Egyptian Pyramids or the Sphinx, Tikal (Guatemala), Angel Falls (Venezuela), Atacama Desert (Chile), Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (Japan), The Azores (Portugal), Boulders Beach (South Africa), Cappadocia (Turkey), Cliffs of Moher (Ireland), Disko Bay (Greenland), Lake Tekapo (New Zealand), Na Pali Coast (Hawaii, US), Sagrada Familia (Spain), Eiffel Tower (France), Reynisfjara (Iceland), Trolltunga (Norway), Ubud (Indonesia), Sydney Opera House (Australia), Banff National Park (Canada), Niagara Falls (New York or Ontario), Yellowstone (Wyoming), El Capitan (Yosemite), Statue of Liberty (Liberty Island), Eilean Donan Castle (Scotland), Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany), Matterhorn or Zermatt (Switzerland), or Chichen Itza (Mexico).

We chose the Statue of Liberty, obviously, and while we couldn’t go to Liberty Isle itself (it closes at 5, and sunset isn’t until 8.15), we were able to overlook it anyhow from Battery Park. I’ve been playing the recorder since I was five, so playing “Carry on, Wayward Son” was a piece of proverbial cake…..

Item 78: The Enterprise wasn’t the only vehicle in the not-so-final frontier. Show us Star Trek covered wagons. Tweet your image to @WilliamShatner with the message, “Admit it, Bill. This is how you really voyaged.”

Wrenn put this one together. Here’s the tweet:

Here’s the wagon she put together. Since Louie was trying to “help,” she decided to incorporate him into the piece, figuring they’re re-creating “Catspaw”…..

78 conestoga wagon enterprise final

Item 98 was the traditional team image. In this case: The hot new trading card battle game is GISHémon! Create a trading card for each of your team mates with their photo and stats (location, Gisher type, powers, etc.) as the powerful kindness monsters they are. We must see each teammate’s unobscured face for it to count.


Item 130: A cyanotype photo of junk-food wrapping or junk-food.

Wrenn made a cyanotype of Twizzlers, Swedish fish, and gummy bears to make a pretty couple of flowers!

130 - cyanotype

Item 135: The aliens have been in Area 51 for decades. Why do they stay? Because of all the amenities, of course. Show us the leisurely life of aliens at Area 51: the best Retirement Community in the Universe! We want to see elderly aliens playing shuffleboard, mahjong, and bingo, getting alien spa treatments, doing tai chi and pilates… You get the idea. Post your submission to social media tagged #GISH, #Area51 & #SocialSecurityCheXFiles.

Here’s the Tweet:

Here’s the original picture. We live near a park that has an actual bocce ball court and we own a set of bocce balls, so we did our elderly aliens playing that, also using Dale’s old walker.

135 -- Area 51 retirement home

Item 154: It’s GISH University, Year 2! Each person on your team must attempt to learn a new skill they have never tried before and document the experience, including the first attempt.

We only had a minute-and-a-half to show all this, and we had more than a dozen people on the team, but we did our best to show our new skills. In my case, it was a third-degree black-belt kata that I’m still learning.

Item 159: Right a great American novel. This is not a typo.

I went with Moby-Dick, which many consider the great American novel, and filmed this right-ing of Herman Melville, with the aid of fellow author Megan Mackie:

Item 201: From Spider-Man’s web shooters to Batman’s ability to brood and spend money, if comic books have taught us anything, it’s that what makes us unique is what makes us super. But not everyone has internalized the message. Without being self-deprecating, identify one trait, offbeat skill, or feature about yourself that, properly applied, could be the origin of your new superperson identity. It can’t be an existing superhero in culture. Create a poster that showcases your superperson identity and what your flaw or feature-turned-superpower is. You may use Photoshop for this one.

I didn’t really need much editing on this, because I had a convenient image that summed up my superpower, to wit, writing: the cover art for Without a License. I just needed a superhero name….

201 -- superhero identity

Item 203: Before he was an Assbutt, our 2019 GISH Mascot was an Asserpillar. Illustrate or create a page from the award-winning children’s book The Very Hungry Asserpillar. (As you know from reading the book, each page features an important life lesson or moral, so make sure yours does, too.)

Wrenn put this together, based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and providing a very GISH-y message.

203 Veryhungryasspillar

And finally, item 206: Spoiler alert! Nobody has time to really sit down and read anymore. So, bring the stories to them. Recreate major plot points of classic books by acting them out at your local library. But in deference to library ‘rules’, you must be silent, so you’re going to have to use interpretive dance on this one.

Once again, we went with Moby-Dick, in this case because I had a handy prop, to wit, a stuffie of the blue whale from the American Museum of Natural History (along with a J. Jonah Jameson action figure, a chopstick, and some twine). We filmed at our local branch of the New York Public Library.

GISH is always great fun. We weren’t able to do as much as we would have liked due to my travel schedule (though I did item 159 at Tampa Bay Comic Con), but it was fun as always.