Aliens: Infiltrator by Weston Ochse, Narrated by Bronson Pinchot

I don’t know when–or even if–I’ll have a chance to play Aliens: Fireteam, but listening to the audiobook for Weston Ochse’s Aliens: Infiltrator certainly sets the stage for a fascinating and original action/horror gaming experience. If I never get around to playing the game, it won’t be for lack of interest, and it certainly won’t be due to this book disappointing me.
The protagonist, Dr. Hoenikker, serves as a cipher of sorts, the lens through which we experience the introduction to the Weyland-Yutani scientific facility. While there’s ample character development across the board, Hoenikker being the newest member of the scientific team provides us with a great opportunity to experience everything through a fresh set of eyes. With his military experience, Ochse does a fantastic job bringing the supporting cast of characters to life, particularly the former Colonial Marines on staff at Pala Station.
With Murphy’s Law in full effect, Dr. Hoenikker joins the crew of Pala Station just as an infiltrator begins a campaign of corporate espionage. As with the real world, this relatively small trouble of spying and theft escalates in a cascade effect that explodes into an utter nightmare by the conclusion. Laboratory experiments go horribly wrong, communication breaks down, and everything falls apart.
Experimenting with what we’ve come to think of as the black goo from the Alien prequel films from Ridley Scott, we encounter some interesting and dangerous creatures produced from the local fauna, potentially more deadly than the Xenomorphs we’ve all come to know and love. This being an Alien novel, of course, there are Xenomorphs in the mix, and we get further exposure to how the black goo can modify the outcome of the genesis taking place.
Bronson Pinchot’s narration is sufficiently skilled that the characters almost always sound distinctly separate and discernable as individual actors in the narrative playing out. I especially enjoyed the performance for Rawlings, who I couldn’t help but picture as an African American Matthew McConaughey. The only instances where Pinchot’s narration failed was concerning female characters, but I’ve heard worse over time.

Son Of the Right Hand: Book of Ze’ev 2 by John Baltisberger

John Baltisberger takes everything great from Treif Magic and amplifies it with this sequel. As a result, Son of the Right Hand feels simultaneously more intimate and far more epic than the earlier installment in the story of Ze’ev.
Months after the intense conclusion of Treif Magic, Son of the Right Hand picks up after Ze’ev has had time to recuperate. With remnants of the cult scattered into the wind at the end of Treif Magic, Ze’ev has been hunting them down and bringing them to justice. As we follow Ze’ev into what he believes to be the hideout of the final members of the cult, he discovers something far more hideous and terrible than simply a couple of cultists.
Just when Ze’ev thinks he’s earned a well-deserved break from the darkness, an old friend reaches out with terrible news of a gruesome tragedy. Time is running out as another girl has gone missing, and Ze’ev doesn’t know if he can bear the weight of another failure. His struggle to do the right thing and bring his friend some closure brings him face-to-face with a monster from deep in the history of serial killer lore.
If that’s not enough, the past isn’t through with Ze’ev, as his superiors present him with what might be the greatest challenge he’s faced so far. Sandy, the young woman he saved in the previous book–kicking off the events that nearly ended his life–is to be taken into his care. Her brief encounter with the darkness coexisting within our world has tainted her in the same way Ze’ev was tainted as a young man. Now, it’s up to him to teach her how to navigate the world as she now recognizes it.
As everything collides in a tumultuous–and possibly fatal–climax, Ze’ev makes a deal that has consequences he may not be able to live with.
Fans of John’s religious horror masterpiece, War of Dictates, will be pleased to see some crossover from characters in that epic poem as Ze’ev crosses the boundaries that separate our world from the worlds of the things that live in the shadows. That scene alone is worth the price of admission. If you haven’t already read the Splatterpunk Award-nominated War of Dictates, then you need to address that shortcoming post haste.
Notable, within the narrative, we get to act as stand-in students as Ze’ev ruminates on what and how he will teach Sandy. This is brought to greater fruition as we experience her first lesson. The expositionary dialogue is fascinating and internally justified within the story, at no point detracting from the flow of the story.
It’s a damn shame that the next book isn’t already out because this one absolutely leaves the reader wanting more, and impatient too.

This title is also available through http://www.godless.com or via the Godless app on your favorite Apple and Android platforms. I recommend checking Godless out at the earliest convenience. It’s the new home for indie horror. The link is below:

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 www.godless.com at the link below. I absolutely recommend that you do so.

Eight Cylinders by Jason Parent, narrated by Joe Hempel

Jason Parent’s Eight Cylinders captures a sort of grindhouse action/horror vibe that I appreciated a great deal. We’ve got a story about crime, cars, creatures, confusion, and condemnation in the middle of the desert…and if that doesn’t appeal to you at least a little bit, there’s probably something wrong with you.
Comparing it to movies and other visual mediums, as I usually do, it’s a little bit Tremors, a touch of From Dusk Till Dawn, a good bit The Road Warrior, and a dash of the old show The Prisoner (or maybe, for those who never watched that one, Lost). If you were to toss all of that into a blender and add a splash of cosmic horror, you’d end up with something along the lines of Eight Cylinders.
This story had me invested as soon as Seb began using a novelty Magic Eight Ball glass eye to make his decisions for him as he sped away from Vegas after a deal gone exceedingly bad. Criminal and “bad guy” that he might be, Seb is particularly relatable as a protagonist, and you can’t help but cheer him on as he races through the desert multiple times throughout this short tale. The attention to detail concerning cars, trucks, and ATVs through the narrative gives one the impression that Parent is a bit of a gearhead at heart, or certainly one who spent some quality time researching this tale with gearheads…and that comes through clearly with Seb’s absolute love for his Dodge Charger and his appreciation of other vehicles in the narrative.
Joe Hempel’s narration is excellent, and I’ll surely be watching for other titles he’s provided his voice talents to.
My sole complaint about this story is that it felt a little rushed at times like we were racing from one point to another without getting enough time to really experience where we were.