on February 26, 2009
Just got this earlier today, and sat down to read it. So I figured I'd pop in a leave a review for it. And just for kicks, I'll do it story-by-story.
HHH starts off with 'The Wolf's Cry', a quick story that gets the reader familiarized with Jim's writing style. It's quick and painless, if a bit gory in place. A good intro.
Raw and Real is the next story, one about the televised execution of a werewolf. A good story, but forgetable. I'd already forgotten about it when I sat down to write this review.
The next two stories are very short. 'My Son- the Monster' is a take on the greek myth of Icarus, one almost everyone is familliar with. 'The Red Badge of Doom' is the tale of a man bitten by a zombie. Both are alright, but extremely short.
The next story is where I really started enjoying it. 'Charlie Horse' is about a future where Zombies are common and are harnessed to do everything from being power sources to racing. At first, when reading it, I was scratching and my head and asking what I was looking at, but by the end, I was begging for more. 'Charlie Horse' is followed up by 'The Rally', the final part of the zombie trilogy.
I'd already heard 'Reality Bites!' and 'Cookie?' before on the Drabblecast, so they were nothing new. Both seemed much better in audio format, and 'Reality Bites!' is the weakest story in the collection.
'Adventurers Beware!' was, to simply state it, made of pure awesome to a Dungeons and Dragons player like myself.
'A Matter of Perspective' was alright, but one of the weaker stories. It also had the problem of being forgettable.
'The View from My Room' was a very good bit about the first kid born in a moon colony, but it seemed to be lacking something. It should definitly be turned into a novella, or even a full length novel later down the road. The next story, 'Lieutenant Armchair' is in the same boat, only it doesn't seem to be missing anything. It's just a damn good story that needs it's own book.
Next is where the collection really flies. 'Confessions of a "D-List" Supervillain' is by far the best, and longest, story in the collection. It by itself is the worth the price of this collection. It also needs it's own novel. Actually, it needs a series.
'Battle Maidens' is a short teaser for an upcoming series. It's only there to make you want to buy the first book in the series. It worked. When the first Battle Maidens book comes out, I'll cheerfully drop some cash for it. Nuff Said.
Overall, HHH is a great collection that nicely shows off Jim's talents as an author. I look forward to any and all future works from him.
on May 15, 2009
I've read this book twice now and for the most part, it's even better the second time around. Of all the gems in this collection, my favorite is "Confessions of a D-List Supervillain". The wry humor and fast pace of the novella is addictive, and I was actually sad to see it end; in fact, I'd like to see this story turned into a full-length novel.
Another very good story is "Raw and Real", a story as much about political opportunism as much as werewolves. Other really well-done stories are "The View From My Room", about the life of a teenage boy living on the Moon, and "Charlie Horse", which is chock full of darker humor. "Adventurers Beware!" is a very funny take on the absurdities of the wandering hero genre, and "Lieutenant Armchair" is another story, along with "View", that beg to be written as stand-alone novels.
"Cookie?" was one story I didn't like, as it seemed too short and vague to draw me in, and "A Matter of Perspective", while it has its funny parts, did essentially nothing for me.
"Battle Maidens", the preview included of an upcoming novel, was well-done and left me itching to get the completed book. The teaser could use a bit of polishing, but I'll certainly be on the lookout for the finished novel.
Overall, I'd give the collection a 4 out of 5, and honestly, my rating would be 5 of 5 if the book contained only "D-List", "View" and "Charlie Horse"; that there are other entertaining reads inluded is merely icing on the cake.
Jim Bernheimer is a fairly new fantasy author. I think this is his first book, a Create Space publication. This collection consists of 12 Shorts and one Novelette- which is run as 5 chapters.
As one would expect of any collection like this, there are hits and misses. But the hits far outweigh the misses.
Here's a few of the Hits: "Charlie Horse" is a somewhat humorous horror story about what really would happen if there was a Zombie apocalypse, Hey Zombies can run all day, seemingly inexhausteable, right? Perfect power source then. Green too!
"Reality Bites' again takes the idea of Undead, and explores the legal repercussions of being Undead. Nice use of dark humor.
Continuing on a theme, we have my favorite; what would real villagers think of D&D style Adventurers? We find out in "Adventurers Beware!". Great little story!
Well, to stop Jim getting a swelled head <g> and to let you know they are not all gems, I think I will now tell you about a couple of the lesser stories, then on to the best.
'The Wolf's Cry' is rather sophomoric, we have all read it before- the noble spirited forest creatures, the bad "two legs" with their "boom sticks". Not very original, and not well done. Poor choice of tales to lead this compilation. "Raw and Real" is also not all that well done, and very predictable. Others, like "Cookie?" rate a "meh".
'The View from My Room' is the best written of the shorts- it really reminded me a lot of a Heinlein Juvenile. Sure, not one of the Masters best juveniles, but still, if we found someone new to SF and slipped this into a collection of RAH's YA stories, it'd slip right on by. That's pretty high praise.
Finally, the last story, "Confessions of a "D-List" Supervillain' is a winner. Again, I get a faint feeling it's a little like "PuppetMasters" but with SuperHeroes.Really nicely done world and good characterization. I want more!
Now it says "Horror" but the "Horror" stories are not super gory or creepy. More like Shaun of the Dead than Dawn of the Dead. It also says "humor"; and there are a number of good chuckles and a lot of grins, but don't expect a "laff riot", ok?
This overall is one of the best collections I have read from a new fantasy author. Take a risk, get it.
Note that I rcvd a review copy.
Short stories are really tricky. Some writers try to bite off too much and cram an entire novel into the short story. But the best short stories give you just enough of a taste of the situation and characters to tell what needs to be told. That's exactly what Jim Bernheimer did in this case, except he added a delicious ironic twist to most of his stories.
Well done Jim.
This collection of short stories covers such a variety of situations that it's hard to believe they're all from the same author.
I read these stories after I finished his novel, Confessions of a D-List Supervillain (Volume 1), and wanted more. Portions of the D-List Supervillain are included in this collection, so I just skipped them. Even so, this collection is long enough that I didn't feel like I was shortchanged in any way. Just the opposite in fact.
I'll have to say, I'm jealous of Bernheimer's talent. Now get back to work, Jim, because I need some more. :)
on May 8, 2014
I loved the book. The stories were fun, interesting and thoughtful. There were more than a few times that I laughed outloud. It is a great read and well done. Some stories had twist endings that were totally logical. I highly recommend this book to anywone who likes these genres
on April 21, 2009
Jim Bernheimer's first released publication, Horror, Humor and Heroes is a collection of 12 short stories, one novella and a preview of a novel he currently has in the works. Perhaps it would have been more appropriately titled "Zombies, Humor and Heroes", as I personally don't find zombies scary, as I typically them more amusing than scary. Overall, it's a mixed bag, but the positive certainly outweighs the negative.
The first two stories are rather mediocre, with the first glimpses of quality not revealed until the third story, "My Son - the Monster". It's a rather creative slant on the myth of Icarus.
Stories four through six are all zombie related. "The Red Badge of Doom" concerns a man who's just been infected by a zombie. A decent idea, but not developed enough to really be interesting. "The Rally" is also short, but its brevity isn't an issue, as the idea doesn't need a lot of space to breathe, in a future where a congressman won't let a simple thing such as death stand in the way of an election. "Charlie Horse" is the best of the zombie stories, taking place in a largely zombie overrun U.S. where zombies are harvested for uses ranging from energy production to a slightly altered version of horse racing, zombies being the stand-in for horses.
Stories seven and eight are rather forgettable, short affairs. "Reality Bites!" deals with a recently made vampire who is trying to collect on his life insurance policy, while "Cookie?" is about an Easy-Bake microwave that may be haunted. I liked the idea behind both stories; I just didn't find the execution to be there.
"Adventurers Beware!", the ninth story, has villagers in a magical world lamenting the adventurers that recklessly destroy their villages. It'd probably be very amusing were I into World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons, or any other role-playing game, but as I'm not, some of the humor was lost upon me.
The tenth story, "A Matter of Perspective", is almost painfully bad. Some whiny guy makes a device that turns stereotypical liberals into stereotypical rednecks. The book would have been improved with this story left out.
The eleventh story, "The View from my Room" is a great short story, the best one in the book. It's about the first child born on the moon, and the apprehension he feels for being a celebrity for nothing he had any control over, and his nerves about going to college back on Earth. It contains well-drawn characters, reasonable scientific detail that adds in enough depth for it to feel plausible. If the author can someday capture this sort of essence on a regular basis, he'll gain himself a lot more readers.
The final short story in the book, "Lieutenant Armchair", is a fine conclusion to the short stories. It deals with a future where the Midwest U.S. has been quarantined, due to mutant animal and insect infestation, and the grunts that are drafted into service to fight them. The "Armchairs" are the officers that command the grunts via video transmission, which creates some obvious resentment. Some nice ideas here, which probably should have been expanded upon, as the story felt too short.
If this book only consisted of the previous twelve short stories, I would he hard pressed to recommend it. However, the novella "Confessions of a D-List Supervillain" is fantastic. The story centers around "MechinaCAL", a down-on-his-luck villain who finds himself the only person standing in the way of global devastation, as almost the entirety of the human race has been enslaved by genetically engineered bugs. The story is written in first person, Cal, the downtrodden inventor, guiding us through his world. His main adversaries are the Olympians, government sanctioned superheroes that were given their powers by the Greek Gods themselves.
The author strikes a nice balance by adding enough scientific details to give an idea of how these advanced technologies work, but simplifies the explanations enough to not bog down the narrative. Very satisfying.
The book ends with a preview of the Jim Bernheimer's upcoming novel, Battle Maidens. While I'm not exactly fond of the title, if the preview is any indication, the full novel should be well worth the reader's time.
While this book certainly has its ups and downs, the quality short stories that do exist, along with the great novella, make this one certainly worth picking up. Definitely recommended.
on December 26, 2013
This short story collection is full of werewolves, zombies, Greek idols, giant bugs, and the first kid born on the moon. With plenty of twisted humor. Oh yes. If the average puns and jokes that populate SFF literature merely get a weak grin out of you, then perhaps you need some deeper, darker humor? It can be found here. This collection contains 11 or 12 short stories plus the first 5 chapters of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain and the first few chapters of Prime Suspects. So it’s a great way to see if this author is for you. And it is thoroughly entertaining.
While I won’t go through each and every short story, I will share my thoughts on my favorites.
Raw and Reel – David is a TV producer, and he is filming a questionable show in Mexico. It’s a werewolf hunt. Yeah, werewolves turn up here and there and as long as they cage themselves during the full moon and don’t make a ruckus, no one much cares. But once one goes wild and crazy, then they have to be put down. Well, this particular werewolf may or may not have done the deed, but it looks like he will have to pay the price. And what of David and his sleazy soul? Well, there’s a surprise waiting for him. I liked the twisted nature of this tale from start to finish.
My Son, The Monster – Daedalus and his son Icarus have been imprisoned by Minos. Daedalus is quite the inventor and manages to fashion a way to escape. As the narrative moves forward through the escape scenes, we also get small flashes of Icarus’s past, and it is not pretty. I liked this story for it’s new spin on an old, old tale. The ending was bitter and just.
Charlie Horse – Oh my! Now this was such an excellent story. I am hard pressed to say which is my favorite of the lot, but this might be it. I am not much of zombie person, but this was awesome. Ted and his band, including the new kid Chuck, round up zombies. Yep. They have a few runners to entice the zombies out and get them to congregate in one location, and a nice big tank or caravan or such for holding them while they are transported to market. Most are sold to the zombie-powered turbines, generating green energy. A good zombie can walk in a circle for a few years before giving out, all the time pushing on a spinner connected to a turbine. Nice. I actually laughed out loud at the idea, thoroughly liking the take on zombies as something useful. Of course the stronger and faster ones can end up doing other things, like at the race tracks…….I’ll just let your twisted little minds chew on that.
Reality Bites – Life insurance and vampires. You’ve been declared legally dead, zero heartbeat for the past week, but you can’t claim your life insurance benefits because you’re still ambulatory. Nor can you claim any government paycheck or social security. Sucks. Literally, for you are a vampire. well, Mr. Merril is anyway. As he tries first logic, then pleading, and finally the vampire thrall seduction stare on Fundamental Insurance worker Cheryl, his sad little tale unfolds. But Cheryl is an old hand at the insurance company, and has a few surprises of her own. Yep, it’s a messed up situation captured here for my amusement.
Adventurers Beware – This is one of the stories that vies for my favorite of the litter. You’ve got your adventurers, Lord Byron, Lady Anise, Ragnor, and Nimblefingers. They adventure, whether the locals need some adventurers to swoop in and save them or not. Duncan runs the inn and he and the senior business women and men gather about. How to get rid of Lord Byron and his crew? Mulling it over a nice local beer, they come up with a plan. Adventurers love maps. Listening to this story made me think of my man’s D&D games, and of course the numerous hours I’ve logged playing one dungeon crawl PC game or another. very funny.
The View From My Room - Adam was the first person born on the moon. His parents emigrated there perhaps 20 years ago and now Adam is a teen. He is prepping for his first trip the Earth to see his grandparents in person. Wearing a weighted full-body suit daily for several hours to build his muscles and bone density, he contemplates what it will be like to leave the moon. A crowd on the sparsely populated moon is perhaps 20 people. On Earth, the crowds will be unlike anything he has ever experienced. This was probably the only story in the lot that didn’t ride on twisted or dark humor. It was simply cute watching this teenager prep for his first big trip.
Lieutenant Armchair – So here is the 3rd of my favorites. It’s nitty gritty and dark. Some biological agent escaped the labs a few years back and now Kansas is no more. Large, aggressive bugs (just one result of the agent) cause grief and consternation as they spread and make places uninhabitable to humans. Along the TX-OK border, Chris Gibson and his band of merry bug whackers have been sent out to take out a bee hive. But it’s dirty, dangerous business and their armchair lieutenant, who is safely tucked away back at headquarters, is barking orders that make no sense and may get one of them killed. Later, back at base, Gibson gets to unwind with a beer and gives his shoulder to teary Kelly, who had a bad day. There’s a lovely twist to this story, but I don’t want to ruin it.
This book also includes the first 5 chapters of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, and it works quite well as a short story, or short novella. Mechani-Cal (Cal, for short) is a guy who has been screwed over one too many times. And now is looks like the world will be screwed over by mind-controlling bugs. Luckily, he has been able to lock himself up in his battlesuit and avoid being taken over. Unfortunately, it looks like the superheroes known as the the Olympians have been brainwashed. Battling a few of them, he manages to stun Aphrodite (aka Stacey), whose bug falls off. taking her back to his secret lair, she threatens all sorts of death and anatomical contortions upon him if he doesn’t release her. She needs her bug; it’s an addiction. And it goes from there. And it is pretty cool. Cal has issues, Stacey has issues. But somehow, someway (twisted and full of U-turns) they find a way to work together. I definitely need to read the full-length version.
The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer was once again an excellent narrator. I loved variety of voices he pulled off, from young Adam to battle-scarred Gibson. He even had a variety of female voices for this collection that were believable and not strained. Perfect pick for this book.
on April 21, 2016
This collection is a lot of very different stories thrown together. In fairness, I guess this is exactly what the "Horror, Humor and Heroes" title suggests. The "Horror" is mostly a few zombie stories, and the "Heroes" is two Bernheimer stories -- one is a prelude to his upcoming D-List book, one is a misc. story, mostly attempting to be funny (and failing in my opinion -- a rare miss for a talented author). The "Humor" is mostly stories that are a little wacky, but not LOL funny, like one regarding what Santa Claus is really up too, and a fake advertisement urging readers to stock up on toilet paper before the zombie apocalypse (which is amusing but goes on a bit too long). As a fan of Bernheimer's D-List series, my favorite was the second Bernheimer story -- there is actually a lot of plot there -- not sure if this stuff will repeated in the new book or what, but it felt like important stuff, and even if it is going to be repeated it is a good preview. And it was pretty funny as well, starring Hillbilly Bobby (who is usually amusing). The rest of the stories are ... highly miscellaneous. All are readable, and at a bare minimum will pass the time. Bottom line: an entertaining collection of misc. stories that is particularly recommended for Bernheimer's fans (despite the fact that I thought his first story here was a rare miss).
on July 30, 2014
Although I don't think I could give it a full five stars at the paperback price, it's a clear five-star win for the ebook. The stories are mostly light, and a few are downright slight, but I've had worse luck with anthologies from major publishing houses. I enjoyed it, and I will probably buy more books from this author.
on April 6, 2010
I got this book from the author directly in exchange for an honest review :-) This is a great collection of stories that vary widely but focus on mainly urban fantasy and sci-fi stories with a touch of humor. Story length varies from very short (a couple pages) to novella size (a 70 page novella).
There are thirteen stories in this book, along with a preview of Bernheimer's new book "Battle Maidens". As I said the stories vary widely, most of them were really well done. "Confessions of a 'D-List' Supervillain" was the novella and was great; it is about a low rank supervillian who has to save the world from mind altering bugs who are trying to take over the world. I also liked "Cookie?" in which a toddler teams up with a supernatural force to make cookies in her Easy Bake oven that people will do anything for. Then there was "Reality Bites!" in which a vampire tries to take on an insurance company to get his death benefit, which was also good. I enjoyed "Lieutenant Armchair"; in which we get to watch soldiers struggle in an America filled with animals of more than gigantic proportions. "Charlie Horse" was another enjoyable story that dealt with zombies being used as a power source, I loved the irony in this one.
Really almost every story in this book was interesting. The only one I thought was a bit weak was the first story "The Wolf's Cry" which had some awkward sounding dialogue.
Bernheimer did a great job changing the tone of his writing to match the wide variety of characters in his stories. The writing was easy to read and really propelled the reader forward; in most of the stories the dialogue was witty and funny. Bernheimer writes especially good action scenes and does a good job of taking a creative idea and making it into a great short story. Most of the humor was of the ironic kind or slightly dark; I enjoyed it a lot.
There are some really short stories in here, only a couple pages long. I am always interested in these types of stories because short stories are hard to write and make complete. Bernheimer did an excellent job of putting a lot into these short stories, they are very well put together, the writing is concise and no space is wasted. I was impressed with how much story he conveyed in such a small amount of space.
In general I really enjoyed this collection of stories and was glad I read it. I also have Bernheimer's book Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman which I plan on reading shortly and I am looking forward to reading it. If you are a fan of urban fantasy, humorous sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes, short stories, zombies or just speculative fiction in general, I would pick up this book. It is a fun read and there are a lot of creative stories in here. I look forward to reading more of Bernheimer's work in the future.