Review of The Warlock’s Curse

The Warlock's Curse by M.K. HobsonA review by Dawn Vogel

M. K. Hobson’s third novel in the Veneficas Americana series, The Warlock’s Curse, follows Will Edwards as he leaves his home in California for the promise of a job with Tesla Industries in Detroit. Set in the same alternate America as Hobson’s previous novels, The Native Star and The Hidden Goddess, but taking place a little more than thirty years later, the story weaves many elements from the earlier books through its plot. While you could jump into this series with The Warlock’s Curse without too much difficulty, it was fun for me to notice the details that tied back to the first two books.

In 1910, 18-year-old Will is anxious to put his extensive mechanical knowledge to work. He has been offered a job by Tesla Industries, but his parents are unwilling to let him take the position. A childhood friend of Will’s, Jenny Hansen, concocts a plan that will get Will to Detroit while also helping her achieve her secretive personal goals.

A bit more to the dieselpunk side of things than the steampunk and magical technology flavor of the earlier Veneficas Americana books, Hobson weaves a rollicking tale of Will’s journeys and experiences. While this book also contains some of the elements of romance that were prevalent in the first two books, the tone of the romance differs. Ultimately, this book is less of a romance than its predecessors, and ends on a note that implies that the next book in the series, The Unsteady Earth, will share in this trend.

As a historian, I really love seeing what Hobson will do with historical events and figures, and this book satisfied me on both counts. Although I would have personally loved to see more Tesla, keeping such an interesting historical figure as a background character allows Hobson’s original characters to shine, rather than being overshadowed by her depictions of real people.

My main disappointment regarding the book was that things go very badly for Will, and do not resolve themselves by the end of this book. While I know that The Unsteady Earth is scheduled for release later this year, I found the cliffhanger ending a bit hard to stomach. Will was also a hard character for me to follow as the main character because I didn’t identify with him at the beginning of the book. Right about the point where I was growing fond of him, his situation changed drastically. Having read Hobson’s other books, I’m confident that things will wrap up in a satisfactory fashion by the end of the next book, but some readers may be similarly left with a bad taste over the last quarter of this book.


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That Man Behind the Curtain: May 2013

Here’s another glimpse behind the scenes.

Continue reading

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Don’t Tell — A Tale of Boredom and Hawaiian Shirts

An essay by Donald R. Fussbarrow, as provided by Myke Edwards
Art by Luke Spooner/Carrion House

It has always amazed me how many secrets and mysteries a city can hold. Sure, that’s a massive cliché, but it’s the grim truth. A secret and a grim truth, much like the fire axe I keep under my front desk, all thanks to another cliché, in that people shouldn’t mess with things they don’t comprehend. Very rarely do I have to deal with people who meddle with things they shouldn’t, mostly just people having affairs that they shouldn’t.

After college, I had a hard time figuring out what to do with my life. An old motel up in Toledo had just closed down, so I decided to quit delivering pizza and start my own business. Risky, I know, considering the loan and that part of the city, but I figured that a “no-tell motel” could make money. I can’t think of a time in the past eight years when less than half of the rooms of my Big Surf Motel were being used.

The area has been on the downslide for several years, with property values predictably low and commercial lots renting for cheap. This might explain the nut job and his laboratory behind my motel.

Don't Tell -- A Tale of Boredom and Hawaiian Shirts

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2013 collection.

What can be said about Donald R. “Donny” Fussbarrow that hasn’t already been said? He likes his coffee, meat, and women all the same – hot, light, and easily accessible. After opening one of the more reputable motels in Toledo, OH, he has discovered that sometimes, people need more than a little help from their friends, they need to keep to themselves. Currently single (and looking).

Myke Edwards has been writing stories of the fantastic and outlandish for most of his life. Upon graduating from a reputable creative writing program, he began traveling through several dimensions where he claims to still live. He really just finds himself caught in his worlds more often than not, and makes his home in Toledo, OH, where he can frequently be found writing alongside several empty coffee mugs.

Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at

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New Fiction by K.S. O’Neill on Daily Science Fiction

Mad Scientist Journal alum K.S. O’Neill, who brought us the delightful “Protocol 3.1” last month has a new story titled “Nitpick” that is now available on Daily Science Fiction. With his story is some awesome photography by Eleanor Bennett. You can check it out here:


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Safety in Quiet

An essay by Troy Martin, as provided by Jason Lairamore
Photograph by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

My name is Troy Martin. I’m locked in a sound proof room deep underground in a government building you’ve never heard of but probably have driven by a thousand times. Yes, there is a particular reason why I picked a sound proof room. And yes, I did say locked in. I did the locking myself.

But I don’t think it will save me. I really don’t.

I know the truth. You don’t. I’m writing this in the hope that it might actually be seen by another. Who knows, it might. I got to try, anyway. Humanity deserves my effort.

You may have heard about some new developments in hypersonic sound technology, but more than likely not. I wish I’d never heard of it, that’s for sure. Ignorance is such sweet bliss and mine is gone, forever. Now all I have are the bitter facts and they will do nothing but make me crazy.

Safety in Quiet

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2013 collection.

Dr. Troy Martin started his career as a theoretical scientist for various publicly funded research universities. After years of uncountable success, of which he achieved no monetary gain, he finally made the leap into practical applications. At once, he hit pay-dirt, inventing an energy source that made oil obsolete. Upon attempting to bring his invention to market he suffered a series of unexplained and nearly fatal accidents. The government, recognizing both his peril and his potential, took him into their care to use for special advances within the scientific community.

Jason is a family man. He is the father to three wonderful children, and is the lucky husband to one very beautiful lady. By day he works as a medical professional, and at night he is blessed enough to be father and husband. Only after normal people are safely tucked away cozily in their beds and sleeping soundly, does Jason get to sit down and explore the tangential worlds of everyanywhere. And explore he does. You can find Jason at!/jason.lairamore

Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature’s Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United States and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited , having shown work in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles, Florida, Washington, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia and The Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibition (2011) amongst many other locations.

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Just One Week Remaining!

We have one week (okay, eight days technically), left on our special call for submissions. Again we are looking for:

  • Short and Flash Fiction of any genre, with a bias towards SF/F/H. 
  • Fictional Classified Ads from the World of Mad Science
  • Questions for our advice column.

Details on how to send these can be found on our Submissions page.

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Experimental Eschatology: Key Definitions in an Emergent Field

An essay by Lady Dr. Morag MacChruim, as provided by Zoe McAuley
Photo by Dawn Vogel

This treatise is intended to define a field of study which has long been the focus of my life: Experimental Eschatology. The term is my own and I define it as the study and analysis of potential means of ending the world. The world in question is somewhat cluttered with demented supervillains, rogue states, and states which do not consider themselves rogue but do like to throw their weight about in a rather uncouth manner. In times like these, Experimental Eschatology is vital, not to assist in the destruction of this poor planet, but to predict disasters and thereby be prepared to take countermeasures. The desire for such precautions is the primary motivation for my research, despite what certain small-minded elements of MI5 might think.

However, before we can properly explore the various potential apocali which might befall us, there must be an accurate and robust terminology in place to describe these threats. The modern media throw the term “End of The World” around with sloppy abandon, likewise “Collapse of Civilisation” and “Global Disaster.” Such confused language is beneath a true science such as Experimental Eschatology. Thus I will begin by dividing possible threats into a scale of disaster. I will also categorise these threats by source, for it is necessary to approach an alien invasion in a very different manner to a mega-volcanic eruption.

Thus, I present to you the MacChruim Armageddon Scale.

Experimental Eschatology

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2013 collection.

Lady Dr. Morag MacChruim has lead a long and highly successful career in the scientific and cryptographic departments of the British Secret Services, all of which is now subject to the Official Secrets Act, save for one incident in India in the 1950s involving a horde of mechanical elephants. Upon the death of her father, Dr. MacChruim inherited the Lairdship of the Middle Hebrides and later retired to the family estate on the island of Hiersay, where she continues her research into large scale disasters and rare sheep breeds.

Zoe McAuley is a resident of northern England and approaching her late twenties at a frightening rate. Lacking any other means of gainful employment, she has taken to putting Lady Dr. MacChruim’s notes into a format intelligible to the rest of the human population. She enjoys Live Action Roleplaying and getting lost in caverns in Minecraft.

Dawn Vogel has been published as a short fiction author and an editor of both fiction and non-fiction. Although art is not her strongest suit, she’s happy to contribute occasional art to Mad Scientist Journal. By day, she edits reports for historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business and tries to find time for writing. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats. For more of Dawn’s work visit

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The Monster Is the Father to the Child

An essay by Frankenstein, as provided by Richard Zwicker
Art by Katie Nyborg

“Are you Frankenstein?”

The question was laughable. I was seven feet tall, with a head flatter than the Netherlands, and twin electrodes sticking out the sides of my neck. I was either Frankenstein or the latest in Halloween shoe trees. After returning to Geneva from a two-year exile on the North Pole–a hideout I’d recommend to anyone while the heat was on–I’d opened a detective agency. With some fanfare, I’d adopted the name of Frankenstein. Victor, being dead, didn’t need it anymore, it beat the hell out of “monster,” and it was what most people wanted to call me anyway.

“That’s me. What can I do for you?”

I took one look at this twitching middle-aged man and knew he was missing most of what makes life worth living: self-esteem, confidence, love, and security. I could only hope he wasn’t going to hire me to find all those things.

“Your name is associated with … other monsters. No offense.”

This was another case of my reputation doing my work for me. I didn’t actually hang out with the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, or the Mummy, but it didn’t hurt to allow people to think I had such contacts. Being a monster myself gave me a certain insight.

“None taken. What’s your problem?”

The bluntness of my question caused him to fall apart, as if he were the Incredible Melting Man. “I think a vampire is attacking my daughter,” he said, blubbering. He landed in my chair, glancing off the raised arm. I waited for him to reconstitute himself, then asked for details. He spoke in a deliberate voice.

The Monster is the Father to the Child

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2013 collection.

Frankenstein is a monster and a consulting detective.

Richard Zwicker is an English teacher living in Vermont with his wife and beagle. His short stories have appeared recently in “Stupefying Stories,” “Tales of Old,” and “LocoThology.”

Katie Nyborg’s art, plus information regarding hiring her, can be found at

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News of Mad Scientists

A couple of our alumni have had some publishing successes I thought I’d share with you.

Eryk Pruitt originally appeared here with his tale of time travel gone wrong called “Coda.”  He now has a story up at One Million Stories titled “Levee Camp Moan.”

Also, Django Mathijsen, who brought us a tale of robot-rights and terrorism titled “Robot Ethics and the Turkish Turtledove,” has a tale in the newest issue of Emerald Sky called “Fighting Memories.”

It’s a Friday. Treat yourself to some free online fiction!

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An essay by Dr. W, as provided by Megan Vogel.
Photograph by Megan Vogel.

I gazed thoughtfully at the dark emerald beaker, turning its smooth surface in my gloved hands. The dim light in my laboratory gave it an eerie, dull glow. How important this simple tool would be in my plan–the results of today’s trials would be sealed inside, until I was ready to release its devastating tonic.

The wooden door at the entrance of the room groaned open, as the key component of the mixture was hauled in. Devious amethyst devils grinned up at me from their clusters, prepared to commit themselves to the greater cause and bursting with vitality. I gave an approving nod as they were carried past me to the huge, stainless steel tank. In short order and without a sound, they jumped to their demise, their fat bodies plummeting into the dark, cold void. One on top of the other, their skin burst open as they slammed against one another. The pile was growing higher and the crushing weight of additional bodies obliterated those at the bottom. A gurgling noise began to rise from the depths, as the vital fluids oozed out of the corpses, and a thick, pungent aroma filled the small room.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2013 collection.

Dr. W is an oenologist, residing in Paso Robles, California. Though fully aware of the dangers of viniculture, Dr. W has made it his life’s work to perfect the anaerobic process and different stages of fermentation. In his free time, he sells repurposed wine bottles via his shell corporation, All Bottled Up.

Megan Vogel is a marketing professional, living in Atlanta, Georgia. She is known by friends and coworkers for her passionate love of wine–both local and global. Megan was inspired to write after hearing about Mad Scientist Journal from its editors and having attended an educational class on wine.

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