The Dresden Files – A Fantasy Book Review

Technically I guess this is a book series review.  Jim Butcher has produced fifteen books in his Dresden Files series of urban fantasy novels.  Starting in 2000 he published about one a year.  The series follows the career of Harry Dresden, a Chicago wizard who consults with the Chicago PD whenever a vampire, werewolf or other evil magical being invades his territory.  Butcher provides back story on Harry’s relation to the various hierarchies of supernatural beings starting in the first novel Storm Front but one of the very impressive aspects of the series is just how complex the interrelation between the various fantasy elements of Harry’s environment becomes.  In addition to the wizards that he is nominally a member of, he has varied bad relations with the Three (Black, White and Red) Houses of vampires, the Summer and Winter Queen’s faerie realms, an assortment of demi-gods, several types of lycanthropes, zombies, ghosts, Christian Knights a Chicago Mafioso and any number of demons and devils.

And in addition to the growth of the fantasy landscape, Harry himself grows in the telling.  He starts out as an almost ridiculous figure of fun who barely survives only because he heals very well.  But across the series of stories he takes on the characteristics of a hero.  He loses those he loves and sacrifices his own well being to protect his neighbors and innocents who are often thrust into the jaws of death by proximity to Harry’s homicidal enemies.  And we see Harry’s relationship with Lieutenant Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD evolve.  They start out as uneasy allies.  But owing to the impossibility of reconciling the requirements of human law enforcement with the reality of battling supernatural monsters they often found themselves as adversaries.  Over time they become as close as family and Karrin ends up as probably Harry’s closest friend on earth.

We meet members of Harry’s bizarre extended family including a half brother who is part vampire and his god-mother who is a powerful faerie in the Winter Queen’s Court.  And Harry even becomes a father although under very tragic circumstances.

This is all just a rambling miscellany of some of the elements of this series that come to mind.  No new volume has come out since 2014 so my memory of it isn’t crystal clear.  But what is certain is that this is a fantastic series of urban fantasy books that entertains on multiple levels.  The story telling is compelling.  The characters are memorable and interesting, the evil ones no less than the good, and Harry most of all.  And Harry Dresden becomes a familiar and likable friend whose acquaintance you look forward to renewing in each book.  The whole series is a first-person account in Harry’s voice.  You laugh as his crappy Volkswagon Beetle gets smashed for the hundredth time by some monster and has to be repaired on the cheap again because Harry is always broke.  You recoil in shock when Harry’s pathetic unheated basement apartment, so often attacked by supernatural forces, is finally burned to the ground.

I’ll cut this short here.  I highly recommend the Dresden Files novels.  I haven’t read any of the independent short stories that have been added to the corpus recently so I won’t vouch for those.  I’m hoping someday Jim Butcher will give us more of the series.  They are excellent.

Morning Shmoe 2 – Trump Hates Bannon!!!  Just Saying.

Chris Buskirk over at American Greatness is fast becoming one of my favorite reads.  He had a great article ( ) that has once again inspired me to revisit our friends at Morning Shmoe.


Scene: Studio Set at Morning Shmoe

Shmoe Browfurrowed (AKA Morning Shmoe) (MS) – It’s three and a half minutes before the quarter hour and we’re back.  Lycra have you heard the latest evidence about how Trump has already eliminated Steve Bannon and is about to replace him with Barney Frank.

Lycra Spandexy (LS) – No Shmoe, tell me all about it.

MS – Well it’s obvious to anyone paying attention.  Trump is wearing ties.  And as you all know Bannon doesn’t wear a tie.  You do the math!

LS – That’s so true!  Well now that Barney Frank is the virtual president what wonderful changes do you forsee?

MS – As first order of business, Melania will be eliminated as First Lady, either by divorce or deportation and Caitlyn Jenner installed in that position.  Next Ivanka will begin the slow, deliberate process of becoming Ivanko.  After that Trump will begin his transition which will culminate in him grabbing herself.

LS – It just writes itself, doesn’t it Shmoe?

MS – Yeah, sort of.

LS – Shmoe, what do you think caused the original loss of trust between Trump and Bannon.

MS – Well Lycra, we may never truly know but we can speculate.

LS – Can we?

MS – Oh, not only can we but we will.  We’ve still got several hundred words to add before this post is full.

LS – Post?

MS – Nothing, nothing.  Anyway, if you remember during the election it was rumored that Donald Trump had become a werewolf or possibly a loup garou.

LS – Yes, that was definitely a theory that swirled around the press corp.

MS – Well, I recently heard from someone (or possibly from a voice inside my head) that Bannon had become a vampire or some other type of undead.

LS – Well, that would explain a lot of things.

MS – Yes it would Lycra, yes it would.  After all, if Underworld has taught us anything it’s that lycanthropes and vampires are always enemies.  Also, we haven’t seen Bannon during the day recently.  And he is obviously suffering from a skin condition brought on by his vampiric aversion to sunlight.

LS – Of course, why didn’t I realize this before?

MS – Because it’s only obvious after a great mind points it out.

LS – Oh Shmoe, you are wise.  But where do we go from here.  Now that progressives are firmly in charge of the US executive branch again what is the next order of business?

MS – There are so many Obama initiatives that are languishing and that need a few trillions of taxpayer dollars to really perk up.  I would say that a new cabinet level department is the first order of business.  The Department of Black Lives Matter is the unofficial name I heard mentioned (by a voice in my head) but the name is secondary.  The important thing is eliminating this whole law enforcement and justice concept that has somehow infected our government for too long.

LS – Shmoe, that’s marvelous.  And to think, the Trump administration hasn’t even acknowledged Bannon’s departure yet.  What are they waiting for?

MS – I would guess it has to do with the cycles of the moon.  Lycanthrope/vampire interactions are far from an exact science.  My guess is the announcement will occur at the new moon.  That’s April 26th to you normals.

LS – Shmoe, isn’t it great to be living in this best of all possible worlds?

MS – Yes it is Lycra, Yes it is.


The Last 1360 Days of the Trump Presidency

Trump vs The Wake-Up Call

Scene:  Trump Headquarters, Election Day evening.

Donald Trump (DT) (Reclining back in his desk chair asleep and having a bad dream):  No, no.  I don’t want to eat the Supreme Court.  Sotomayor is too greasy, Ginsburg is too stringy and Kagan is too bitter!  No don’t force me to do it.  Don’t suspend the first amendment!  No, no, noooooo!

Melania Trump (MT)  (bending over and shaking Trump):  Wake up Schmoopy, you’re having the bad dream.

Mike Pence (MP):  Mrs. Trump is he alright?

Chris Christie (CC):  Yes, should we call an ambulance?

MT:  No he sometimes has the bad dreams.  They started after we went to the Clinton wedding.  Very scary.

DT:  Where am I?  Did I eat them?

MP:  Eat what?

DT:  The Supreme Court broads.

MT:  Why are you dreaming of having the oral sex with other women, you bad man?

DT:  No, not have sex with them, tear them to pieces and wolf down their flesh.

MT:  Oh, in that case it’s alright.

CC:  Mr. Trump have you gone out of your mind?  Why would you dream of such a thing?

DT:  Because I’m a werewolf.  Remember, after being bitten by a loup garou down in Louisiana after the flood, I became a werewolf and killed vampire Hillary Clinton during the debate and then during my first hundred days in office I was forced to eat the democrat members of Congress and the entire staff of the Departments of Education and Energy.

MP:  But Mr. Trump it’s only election day and none of those things happened.  Look at the TV screen on the wall.  They’re showing Clinton Campaign Headquarters and there she is and surrounded by all those democrats.

DT:  But you were there Mike and you were there Melania and you Chris.  And I ate Hillary and Biden and him and him and him too!  It all seemed so real and there were some meals that were really, really, gross but there were also some meals that were really, really good.  Like when I ate Oprah, it was exactly like Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.

CC:  No Mr. Trump.  All those people are still alive and you’ve been right here asleep.

DT:  Well I’m glad I’m back because even though slaughtering your political opponents is very effective, it takes a terrible toll on your self-esteem and waistline.  And that’s why every time they told me I had to solve one of these political problems by digestion I told them I just wanted to go home to Queens.  And they sent me back and here I am.  And I’ll never leave again.

MT:  But Schmoopy, if you win tonight won’t you have to go to Washington the DC?

DT:  No.  I will sign an executive order making Queens the new capitol.

MP:  But Mr. Trump, all the federal personnel are in D.C.  The government won’t be able to enact business for years if you move the capitol.

DT:  That’s a feature Mike, not a bug.

MP:  Mr. Trump, that’s brilliant.  Without access to the presidency these bureaucrats won’t be able to spend money half as fast as they do now.  I should have thought of it with my brain,

MT:  And I should have felt it with my heart.

CC:  And I should have sensed it with my courageous political instinct.

DT:  Whatever.  Just give me a few minutes to wake up and I’ll join everyone at the main screen.  But have someone send out for a snack.  I’m ravenous.  Better make it ice cream and put on the Oxygen Network during dinner.

Trump vs the Urban Fantasy Debate

Scene 1: Trump Campaign HQ. Two nights before the First Debate.


Campaign Manager Steve Bannon (SB):  Mr. Trump, you called for me?

Donald Trump (DT):  Bannon, I need your help preparing for the debate.

SB:  Certainly sir.  Do you need someone to stand in for Mrs. Clinton or the moderator?

DT:  Well sort of.  I need someone who’s the same height and weight as Hillary.

SB:  Uhhhh …… why?

DT:  I need to practice some fighting techniques for when she vamps out and rushes me.

SB:  Mr. Trump, I must assure you that there is absolutely no possibility that Mrs. Clinton is a vampire.  And despite what occurred in Louisiana, you are most definitely not a werewolf.

DT:  Look Bannon, obviously you’re just not as perceptive as I am.  You know, with my werewolf senses and stuff.  Trust me.  It’s completely certain that she is some species of undead and 83% certain to be a vampire.  The science is settled on this point.  You either have to lead, follow or get out of the way.  I intend to lead.  My plan is to replace the drinking water on the stage with holy water and when she drinks it her face and throat will burst into flames.  At that point I intend to stake her and pin her to the podium carpet.  Then I’ll  explain to the Secret Service the importance of decapitating her and stuffing her mouth with garlic as soon as the debate is finished.  My only problem at this point is whether I should go after Bill next or hold off until the full moon.  I believe he is the senior vampire and his strength may be too great for me to take him down without my werewolf power.

SB:  For God’s sake stop this insanity.  You’re running for the most powerful office in the world.  If anyone heard you talking like this you’d be locked up in a nuthouse within an hour.  When I took this job I knew you were goofy but I didn’t think you were bat-shit crazy.  Look I should probably drop a dime on you myself but so help me I need this gig to work.  So come on, snap out of it and try to act sane.

DT:  Bannon, I can’t work with someone so stupid. You’re fired. Now send in Kellyanne so I can get going on this debate prep work.

SB: Goodbye and good riddance you psycho.

Scene 2: First Presidential Debate.

BBC Correspondent (BBCC): Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to the BBC radio coverage of the 2016 First Presidential Debate between Democratic Party candidate, the esteemed former First Lady, United States Senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Party candidate, the eccentric failed businessman and reality show personality Donald Trump. The candidates have met for a decidedly tepid handshake and now have taken their places at their podiums. Mrs Clinton is looking decidedly hale and hearty and not at all like the frail elderly person that the Trump campaign has presented her as. As you can now hear Mr. Trump is making some decidedly sophomoric opening remarks about mexican payment for masonry or some such rubbish. Now it is Mrs. Clinton’s turn and as you must hear her diction and elocution is masterful and might I even say delightful. Why it seems entirely possible that Mr. Trump may retreat immediately and vacate the stage in the face of such commanding eloquence. Mrs. Clinton has finished and the studio audience is standing and applauding quite spontaneously. It’s an amazing sight. I think I can be forgiven for saying that a second debate will be completely unnecessary. I feel I must go on the record to congratulate Madam President for this amazing victory. Well done, oh well done.

Trump looks dumbfounded he’s just looking at Hillary as if he expects more punishment from her. Mrs. Clinton is basking in the glow of her still cheering audience. Now she’s reaching for her glass of water for a well deserved beverage. The moderator has asked Trump his first question but the oafish challenger is so overwhelmed by the intellectual beating he’s just taken he hasn’t heard a word of it. He’s still staring at the First Lady as if she will further abuse him while drinking her water. Does he imagine her to be a ventriloquist?

Wait a minute something terrible has just occurred! An enormous flash of light and flames have erupted around the face of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Was the water in the glass actually some kind of incendiary material. A horrible shriek is going up. Oh the poor woman! The secret service is converging on her. They’ve encircled her. Oh help her, help her! She’s on the floor now. But wait the agents are scattering away. All but one. He is holding the First Lady. No she has him. Now he’s screaming. Something unbelievable is occurring. Mrs. Clinton seems to have increased in size and metamorphosed somehow. She is ripping out of the delightful powder blue pantsuit and is taking on a decidedly bat-like appearance. She seems to have exsanguinated the secret service gentleman and is approaching the moderator. This is taking a decidedly unexpected turn and it appears that the moderator feels that Mrs. Clinton has exceeded the already very generous bounds of allowable debating technique at this juncture.

But hold on, Mr. Trump is charging at Mrs. Clinton and appears to have a large pointed wooden implement in his hand. Although this also seems outside the bounds of allowable debating etiquette it appears the moderator is not going to object. Mrs. Clinton must have noticed his approach because she has pivoted away from the moderator and is facing Trump. But alas she is too late. He has implanted the wooden object into Mrs. Clinton’s thoracic region right up to the hilt. And he calls himself a gentleman! Shocking.

Mrs. Clinton has landed on her back and is thrashing about spasmodically. Mr. Trump is standing back. He’s saying something. I can’t make it out. I’m looking at the program feed that we provide for the deaf viewers and it has transcribed his words as “suck on that Bannon.” Well that strikes me as entirely cryptic.

Well Mrs. Clinton appears to have expired and is beginning to deflate down into a dessicated pile of detritus. Mr. Trump is returning to his podium and appears about to speak. Let’s move in for his comments.

DT: Good evening my fellow Americans. Tonight we have witnessed the ultimate proof of the greatness that is Trump. I have saved America from the undead and also higher taxes. Because of the short window of opportunity to select a new democratic candidate I have instructed the Democrats to leave Hillary’s name on the ballot. Let’s face it, anyone they picked at this point is probably also undead and I’ll just have to stake him too. Because of the shocking events of tonight and also because I myself am now a werewolf, I’ve decided to end my campaigning activities and will just wait for your acclamation in November. So go back to your lives and don’t worry about anything. Werewolf Trump has got your back. After my inauguration I’ll be using my special werewolf senses to root out injustice and corruption wherever it exists in the federal government. My summary judgement will be brutal but fair. Also I’ll be taping these events for my new reality series “Vigilante Werewolf President.” It will be hard-hitting but classy. Very little nudity. I predict it will last eight seasons or more. Trump out.

Trump vs the Undead

Donald Trump (DT)  Hey Bannon!  Where’s my Deadpool suit? I left it on this chair five minutes ago and now it’s gone.  We’ve got a thief around here.  Call Christie.  He used to be a cop or a judge or something.

Campaign Chief Executive Stephen Bannon (SB)  No Mr. Trump.  It wasn’t stolen.  I had it put in the closet.

(DT)  You stole my costume?  Whose side are you on?  Even Rosie O’Donnell never stole my stuff.  And she’s the worst person in the world you know.

(SB)  Governor Christie called me about your George Washington Bridge plan.  I told the Secret Service and they stopped all the arrangements you were making.  Mr. Trump you realize how dangerous and irresponsible your plan is don’t you?

(DT)  Relax.  It was gonna be done with CGI.  You know. Green screen (or blue screen or sun screen or something).  Come on Bannon we’re behind in this race.  We’ve gotta shake things up.  Start thinking outside the box.  That’s why I hired you.

(SB)  Well CGI is okay but I think we need to do something a little less uhhh … symbolic and a little more focused.

(DT)  Well then, you come up with something and hurry up.  I hate to be behind that old bag of bones.

(SB)  Bag of bones?  Hmmm.  I think I’ve got an interesting idea. All of Hillary’s recent health problems, the coughing, the spastic tics, the cackle, the slips and falls, could be explained if we found out that she had died years ago during that surgery for her broken elbow back in 2009.

(DT)  But if she died what is she doing walking around?

(SB)  Exactly.  The walking dead.  We’ll locate a doctor who can explain how the Hillary beast could have been re-animated using either black magic or some kind of zombie elixir. Then we’ll get some legal scholars to show that once she died and was revived her age reset to newborn and therefore she’s too young to fulfill the minimum age limit for president.

(DT)  And they say I’m crazy.  Do you seriously believe anyone is gonna buy the idea that Hillary is seven years old.  I mean, come on!  Look at her.  She’s a gargoyle.

(SB)  All right.  If you don’t like zombie how about vampire?  She always seems to be covered with make-up.  That could be to protect her skin from bursting into flames in the sunlight.  It would explain why she couldn’t stay out at the World Trade Center.  And it would account for her new vehicle.  Obviously she’s keeping a coffin full of the dirt of her homeland in the car to revive her after the weakening effects of the sun.  That explains why an hour later she was revived.  How’s that for thinking outside the “box?”

(DT)  Actually, I could believe that one.  But are you sure that will help me?  I hear kids actually empathize with vampires in stories nowadays.

(SB)  Actually more of them sympathize with werewolves than with vampires.  It would be Team Donald versus Team Hillary and we’d mop the floor with them.  We could establish that you were bitten by a werewolf while helping out down in Louisiana and now you sprout thick hair during the full moon and devour illegal aliens you run across.

(DT)  Sprout thick hair?  Hmm.  Maybe this werewolf thing isn’t as bad as it sounds.  Seems like there could be some advantages.  Could I tape some of my campaign commercials during my good hair, I mean werewolf phase?

(SB)  Well Mr. Trump I’m no expert on lycanthropy but once you transform I believe the only thing you’ll be able to do is rip people to shreds.

(DT)  Interesting.  Bannon I have a side job for you to take care of.  I want you to set up a media event.  Hire Rosie O’Donnell to debate me on air during the full, I mean next week.  Offer whatever she wants, but don’t pay upfront.  And take out the usual double indemnity policy on her.  I just have this feeling.

(SB)  Mr. Trump, come on, you’re not a werewolf.

(DT)  Bannon, while I was down in Louisiana we had a little incident with something they call a Loup Garou.  Know what that is?

(SB) Yes.

(DT)  Good.  Go call Rosie.

(SB)  Okay Mr. Trump.  I’m assuming we won’t actually broadcast this meeting.  That might negatively impact the campaign.

(DT)  Definitely not.  Just keep a copy of the video for my private use.  Oh and be sure to leave some floss and a toothbrush at the studio.  She looks like she could be kinda tough.

(SB)  Certainly Mr. Trump.  All will be arranged as you want.

(DT)  See now I know I was right hiring you.  You’re a very reasonable man.