Sunday, October 16, 2011


By Scott Oden

Scott Oden has built a reputation on historical thrillers such as Men of Bronze and Memnon, swashbuckling tales of adventure set in ancient times. In Lion of Cairo, Oden moves the action forward to Medieval Cairo as rival factions vie for power in murderous court intrigues while ambitious warlords oust with zealous Crusaders for supremacy over the Holy Land. All this occurs along with a strange cursed blade and a rather depraved necromantic villain in the mix.

Oden’s protagonist is Assad, the Emir of the Knife, a Hashashin, or an assassin as commonly known. Assad is no hired sword, he is a hitman with a cause, a deadly secret agent for the mysterious Lord of Alamut, the master of a radical sect that stands aloof from the mainstream of Islam. Assad’s mission is not simply murder, but to sway the ruler of Egypt into an alliance.

Oden recreates the Cairo of the caliphs with astonishing skill. I often felt I was gliding down the mean streets and marble palace halls of Cairo along with the beggars, pimps, thieves, spies, fanatics, harem girls, and killers that people this story.

Needless to say, a lot of blood gets spilled along the way. Though Oden acknowledges Robert E. Howard as his model, Lion of Cairo is often closer to film noir. Assad is less a Conan than a homicidal George Smiley, a very patient man who strikes only when ready. The feel of Lion is often closer to a serie noir than a Sword & Sorcery tale. The prevailing mood is paranoia as treachery and deceit are the order of the day.

When it comes down to it, the battles are furious and the heads fall with astonishing speed. Yet there is clearly room for a sequel. I am looking forward to it.

-Dave Hardy

Friday, September 30, 2011


It's been an exciting week for me. My novel, Crazy Greta, is going to be published by Musa Publishing! The scheduled release date is March 2012. It will be issued by Urania, an imprint of Musa. In fact, Musa's official opening date is tomorrow, October 1, 2011.

Musa is a new publisher with a focus on e-books in many genres: Romance, Erotica, Mystery, GLBT, Contemporary, Historical, YA, Paranormal & of course SpecFic. Did I forget anybody? Oh yeah, Aurora Regency.

Just to natter about e-books at this point, I am excited about being an e-book author now. It is a growing market, one that is part of many changes that are re-making the landscape of publishing. If you will bear with me a minute, I see a tradition of cheap, mass entertainment from the penny dreadfuls, to dime novels, through the pulps of the '20s & '30s, to the paperback boom of the '50s. These were formats t hat were scorned, deemed dangerous even at times. The subjects were often lurid, violent, in some way unsettling to the rigid conformity of the times. They were often short-form: short stories, novelettes, and shot novels dominated these publishing sub-cultures. But they were also the roots of the popular entertainment we enjoy on TV, movies, and yes books, today. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Westerns, all had their origins in these formats. All the cops, robbers, cowboys, aliens, boy wizards, and gals looking to find love you see or read about have models in earlier mass entertainment.

The penny dreadfuls & dime novels are historic artifacts now, pulps are rare as dodos, the mass market paperback is going the way of the buffalo. There is little room for genre short stories, none for novellas. But the e-book is quite amenable to the novella. It is free of the ink & paper cost constraints that burden print. Printing a novella doesn't make economic sense, e-publishing it does. Further, it is a medium that doesn't tie the publisher to a warehouse of product that MUST be moved. An audience can be built. To my untrained and perhaps over-enthusiastic eye, e-books are rising to take the place the demise of the mass-market paperback has opened. This will be the new medium where authors and publishers can experiment, where readers can find inexpensive entertainment, and where new legends will sprout as Howard, Lovecraft, Willeford, Hammett, Woolrich, Buntline, Prest, and many others did before. A lot of carrion will no doubt be left by the wayside, but that's the nature of migration.

Anyway, what about my book? Well, it's an adventure-fantasy set in the 17th century Netherlands, Heaven, and Hell. My protagonist likes brandy, swords, and skating. She dislikes hordes of undead warriors, Satan, and  ichor. I fill y'all in with more detail at a later date! Thanks for listening.
-Dave Hardy