Nunchuck City by Brian Asman

Certainly, someone out there found themselves wondering what it might be like if Terry Pratchett had taken the time to focus his considerable talents toward writing an action-packed, ultraviolent ninja story.
Or maybe not?
Either way, Brian Asman’s Nunchuck City provides us with a glimpse of what that story might have been. This book is imbued with the same irreverent wit and hilariously meandering narrative elements one might have hoped for from just such a tale.
If you’ve ever wondered what could have been, if only David Wong (Jason Pargin) had written the screenplay for American Ninja…you need look no further because this would surely be the novelization of that magnificent piece of absurd cinema.
The story begins with Skip Baxter, a middle-aged, delusional sensei who proclaims himself to be The Most Dangerous Man In Turbo City. Imagine that kid from middle school, the one who bragged about being a black belt and how his hands were deadly weapons…now age him a solid 30 years or so, and you have Skip Baxter.
Now, imagine Skip Baxter beaten senseless and hospitalized without even putting up a feeble effort to defend himself.
That’s ok.
This story isn’t really about him. You’ll see him again, though.
This story is about Nunchuck “Nick” Nikolopoulis, a former ninja with a dark past. Nick is a man who studied under two masters, first, to become a formidable ninja and second, to become a stunningly proficient master of fondue.
All he needs to do is get a signature from the Mayor of Turbo City, and his dreams of establishing a fondue restaurant, Fond Dudes, with Rondell (his only friend in Turbo City) will come true.
Nunchuck City would be a painfully short book if it was that simple.
Suddenly, a specter from Nick’s past throws the city into turmoil, unleashing devastation and kidnapping the Mayor for the express purpose of beating him in combat and usurping the title for himself.
With another unexpected visitor from his past, Nick must find a way to save the Mayor–and the city–or admit that he failed to get the business license for Fond Dudes filed…and Nick isn’t one to accept failure.
Stay tuned after your feature presentation for Lucas Mangum’s Curse of the Ninja, a terrific short story about Catholics, ninjas, and exorcism…something you probably don’t know you need just yet, but I assure you that you do.


The Crimes & Passions of John Stabberger by John Baltisberger

If you’ve ever seen Green Room–a fantastic flick–you’ll recall the thrill you probably felt as the fictional band, The Ain’t Rights, begins performing “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” (covering the epic Dead Kennedys track) from the stage of a neo-Nazi skinhead bar. You’re going to feel the same sort of thrill reading the scene at the trailer park as John Stabberger carves his way through a crowd of skinhead punks. Unlike Green Room, the story doesn’t go sideways for the protagonists, and Stabberger keeps on ramping up the violence until he’s–literally–ramping a motorcycle up a crane to board a fucking dirigible to slaughter more Nazi pricks.
Like a golem fashioned from flesh and blades, Stabberger is single-minded and fueled by rage, not to be deterred from his bloody business.
As the first installment of the Godless League series of stories, this one hits it out of the park in a big way. This story is full tilt, no holds barred, unrelenting violence perpetrated against the most deserving victims.

You can pick up your own copy from at the link below. I absolutely recommend that you do so.

Stillborn Gallery by Axl Barnes

The nine stories collected in Barnes’s Stillborn Gallery make for an almost uniformly bleak, nihilistic deep dive into the horrors of banality, the depths of depression, heavy metal, and suicide. If you’re familiar with Axl Barnes, you shouldn’t be altogether surprised by any of that.
Barnes utilizes almost poetic prose at times, almost exclusively when applied to the most awful of things. He has a knack for painting vivid and breathtaking pictures of things the reader might not want to see, and it makes for a fantastic experience.
There’s a great deal to look forward to, for the discerning reader, from the almost Kafka-esque “Numbskull” to the morbidly romantic “Sunday Exit” in these pages.
For me, “A Perfect Day” sort of sums up the whole experience. We get to witness a day that is going smoothly for our protagonist, a man who has a vacation on the near horizon that he’ll be sharing with a clearly devoted lover. Suddenly he begins fixating on an experience from his childhood, wherein a doctor had to lance an infected wound. This fixation does nothing to spoil his mood–the way I’m about to spoil this single story–but he proceeds to kill himself in a graphic, single-minded act…perhaps because it’s best to leave on a high note.
The illustrations provided by Thomas Stetson are captivating, bringing to life a certain grimy, filthy element that flows naturally with the stories provided by Barnes.

Bobcats by Matthew Weber

Matthew Weber’s Bobcats succeeds as a coming-of-age horror tale not altogether unlike Ketchum’s Hide and Seek and King’s IT. In fact, if one were to mix those two books together with a dash of the King novella, The Body, and just a smidge of Deliverance for flavor–as well as a touch of Friday the 13th–one might have a good starting point for the story that Weber’s put together.
Joey and his four compatriots in the Bobcats–a small fraternal outdoors troop not altogether unlike BSA–plan to hike The Gauntlet, a trail that weaves through the wilderness of Black Oak Mountain. The adventure is the boys’ plan to honor the legacy of Joey’s father, the foundation of The Bobcats, who recently died of cancer. More than that, it’s a rite of passage into manhood for the five adolescent boys.
As a powerful thunderstorm rolls into the area, the expedition becomes true to its name, becoming more a gauntlet than it already might have been. Sadly, nature is only the beginning of the challenges the boys face.
Black Oak Mountain is home to more than the expected wildlife, and for the Bobcats, it’s one of the inhabitants of that dark forest that changes their lives forever. The Cleaver soon has the five boys in his sights, and no amount of preparation and survival training could have adequately qualified the Bobcats to deal with an inhuman monster who makes his living slaughtering people for money with his cruel, handcrafted blades.
Weber does not shy away from the harsh reality of precisely how an encounter like this would turn out. Bobcats is not a feel-good story with a tidy, cheerful ending replete with plot armor and reliance on suspension of disbelief. To learn how it ends–or whom it ends–you’ll have to read it for yourself.
Matthew Weber deserves additional points for hinting at a history of mysterious occurrences on and near Black Oak Mountain without delving into them and erasing the mystery. It seems like a sequel could be in order, as there’s plenty more to fear in the night than solely The Cleaver.