The flagship publication coming out of DMR Books is the popular anthology series Swords of Steel, fantastic short stories of fantasy and science fiction written by some talented heavy metal musicians. The first collection was published in early 2015 followed by a second edition in 2016. But this year, DMR is of stepping up their game by introducing a double novella book as well as a third new collection of Swords of Steel.
The double novella is printed in the tradition of the Ace Double tête-bêche 180-degree flip style with two individual covers. On one side, readers are treated with the story Lands of the Earthquake by fan favorite Henry Kullner (DMR cover art for this story by Logon Saton). First published in the May 1947 Vol, 15, issue No 2 of Startling Stories (Better Publications, Inc., ed. by Sam Merwin, Jr.), this is a classic tale of crossing over from the modern world to a fantasy land of swordplay and enchantments. In a desperate attempt to find the missing memories following a year long bout with amnesia, protagonist William Boyce is thrust through a magic portal to a medieval land where time and space are twisted. Fans of Stephan R. Donaldson and John Norman will find this story a competent addition to their favorite genre.
On the flip side of this double novella and a first time in publication, the fast-paced, sometimes over-the-top story Under a Dim Blue Sun by guitarist/songwriter Howie K. Bentley leans on a similar storyline where a contemporary hero is transported to another world. But in this case, the hero is World War II Captain Erasmus O’Brian who must steal a technological weapon from the Nazis that could bring a horrific defeat to the allies. After a daring theft and escape, O’Brian accidentally flies through a worm hole where he finds himself on a strange planet ruled by a giant who enjoys gladiator type games, women are enslaved, and a strange species of Snake-men are bent on taking over the world. The outlandish cover art for this story provided by PanSpec is a perfect representation of the bizarre adventure, embodying many of the fantastic elements the younger fans adored about the pulp publications. Though this crazy adventure is wrapped up in a timely, novella length, Bentley does leave enough loose ends and plenty of room for more stories involving Captain Erasmus O’Brian.
Continuing with DMR’s tradition of Literary works from heavy metal musician contributors, Swords of Steel III, edited by D.M. Ritzlin with an introduction by Mark “The Shark” Shelton (Manilla Road, Hellwell, Riddlemaster) is also available. In this latest volume, readers will find the following pieces/compositions/works of art:
Thannhausefeer’s Guest by Howie K. Bentley (Cauldron Born, Briton Rites)
A Paean to Mine Wolfen Self by Howie K. Bentley
The Pirate Prince of Terran by E.C. Hellwell (Manilla Road, Hellwell)
The Key by Mike Browning (Morbid Angel, Incubus, Nocturnus AD)
The Chamber of Juleptsu by Jaron Evil (Archspire, Eismond, Artep, Battlesworn)
Eldon by Chris Shoriak (Ice Sword)
Stormchaser by Jeffrey Black (Gatekeeper, Scythia)
The Scion at the Gate of Eternity by Byron A. Roberts (Bal-Sagoth)
Interior artwork accompanying these works of fiction and poetry is credited to Martin Hanford, who also provided the cover for this third volume, Eva Flora, Jake Stanhouse, “MrZarono,” and “Pan-Sec.”
What stands out most in all of these publications from DMR is the dynamic correlation between basic storytelling and the emotional imagery of poetic lyrics. Add in the brash extremity of Heavy Metal, and you have an imaginative new art form with no limits taking center stage. The mere fact that the messages from these writers/artists can shine in varying forms of media is testimony to the skill and talent behind them. Fans of these books will probably be holding their lighters high, hoping for an encore.