Susan Kaye Quinn on Mind Control, Cashing Out Souls, and Publishing Your Own Way

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

The Legacy Human-smallSusan Kaye Quinn is an author and a rocket scientist who hails from the Chicago area. It’s hard to say what she’s best known for. Her YA science fiction Mindjack trilogy, noir science fiction Debt Collector serial, South Asian steampunk Dharian Affairs trilogy, and middle grade fantasy Faerie Swap have all been well received.

Her most recent release is dystopian cyberpunk The Legacy Human, which is the first book of her Singularity series. A member of the Indelibles (one of the first indie author groups to take off, back in the day) and the Emblazoners (an equally pioneering middle grade indie author group), she is also the author of The Indie Author’s Guide.

Now, this interview is a little out of sync with reality. I conducted it in September 2013, and then hit some technical difficulties, and then got buried by my startup business, so I apologize that the projects she’s talking about are now all published (but that means you don’t have to wait to read any of them.)

I have the privilege of sharing a German translator with Susan, and we both started our indie careers at around the same time (I’m E.M. Tippetts in indie world, a chick-lit writer). Together we’ve seen indie publishing evolve from an unheard of option with a strong stigma, to what it is today, providing both her and me a living. I’m just lucky.

She, on the other hand, is good, so I strongly recommend you hear what she has to say!

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James Maliszewski Launches The Excellent Travelling Volume

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Excellent Travelling Volume-smallJames Maliszewski, Black Gate blogger and creator of the long-running hobby gaming site Grognardia, has launched a new magazine, The Excellent Travelling Volume.

The Excellent Travelling Volume is a 28-page, digest-sized print-only fanzine dedicated to Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT), the first roleplaying game set on M.A.R. Barker’s world of Tékumel. EPT was first released in 1975 by TSR, making it one of the first RPGs ever published.

Tékumel is one of the most popular and enduring settings in fantasy gaming. No less than four RPGs have used it since it first appeared, including Swords & Glory (Gamescience, 1983/84), the excellent Gardasiyal: Adventures in Tekumel (Theater of the Mind, 1994), and Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne (Guardians of Order, 2005). It was also the setting for several novels by Barker, including The Man of Gold (DAW, 1984) and Flamesong (DAW, 1985).

While Tékumel has remained popular, the original game which launched it, Empire of the Petal Throne, is now 40 years ago and an extremely rare TSR collectible. It was reprinted only once, by Different Worlds Publications in 1987. However, RPGNow sells a PDF version of the original rules for just $11. The game has a strong group of core fans who have kept it alive for four decades.

The Excellent Travelling Volume is produced under license from the Tékumel Foundation. The first issue (cover at left; art by Jason Sholtis — click for bigger version) was released in December 2014 and is already sold out. Issue #2 is now available. Issues have a very limited print run (200 copies) and go out of print fairly quickly; if you’re interested, I would suggest you act quickly.

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Fantasy Scroll Magazine 5 Now Available

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Fantasy Scroll Magazine 5-smallThe fifth issue of the Kickstarter-funded online-only Fantasy Scroll Magazine is now available.

Fantasy Scroll was launched with an Introductory Issue #0 in January 2014, which was used as a proof-of-concept for a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign ended on April 23, 2014, raising $2,956 against a $2,500 goal, enough to fund a full year (four issues).

Fantasy Scroll has become a poster child for the right way to fund and launch a new fantasy magazine. All four issues were released last year, as promised, and the mag has been successful enough to self-fund issue #5. It’s accomplished that by selling merchandise, launching a mobile app, soliciting donations — and additional funding drives, creating a Starlight Patrol of enthusiastic backers and supporters at Patreon who help keep the magazine going.

Fantasy Scroll has published original short fiction by Ken Liu, Mike Resnick, Piers Anthony, Cat Rambo, Rachel Pollack, Seth Chambers, and many others. The magazine is edited by Iulian Ionescu, Frederick Doot, and Michelle Muller. It’s published quarterly, and the contents include all kinds of fantastic literature — science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal short-fiction — and run the gamut from short stories to flash fiction to micro-fiction.

Issue #5 is cover-dated February 2015, and includes 10 short stories from Emily Cataneo, Laurie Tom, Jarod Anderson and others — including “How the Grail Came to the Fisher King,” a new story by Black Gate author and blogger Sarah Avery.

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The Three Phases of Marvel’s Adam Warlock, Part One

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

250px-Marv_premiere_01I think that my first encounter with Adam Warlock was in The Power of Warlock #2. Even at 11 or 12, I gravitated towards the lonely, brooding heroes of the Marvel universe, like Daimon Hellstrom and Doctor Strange, so I was hooked on my first look at Warlock. Like Hellstrom and Strange, Adam Warlock walked around with a heavy touch of destiny and Warlock #2 was a pretty brain-expanding issue. I read a lot of Adam Warlock since then.

In my head, I break down Adam Warlock’s history into three periods: (1) pre-Jim Starlin, which covers from his “birth” to the cancellation of his series in 1973, (2) the Starlin era, covering from 1975 until Warlock’s death in 1977 and (3) the post-Starlin era (which I name with wild inappropriateness, because Starlin still had a big hand in it), which basically covers Warlock’s resurrection onwards.

In this first post, I want to talk about the first period, the pre-Starlin Adam Warlock. I have always felt that this run of comics is a bit like a tiny restaurant serving great food that no one knows about but me.

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What Really Happened at the First Siege of Orleans? And, Where Does Dark Age History Come From?

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page

Copy of Final Cover

I borrowed a trick from Bernard Cornwell and plunged my hero into the thick of all the epic battles.

When I was writing Shieldwall: Barbarians! I borrowed a trick from Bernard Cornwell and plunge my hero into the thick of all the epic battles. That’s how Prince Hengest and his Jutes ended up at the Siege of Orleans.

No, not the Battle of New Orleans. And not the one with the Maid in it either.

This one was much much earlier – AD451 – when Orleans was Aurelianum. There was however a hero in a dress, if that’s an appropriate way of referring to a bishop’s vestments.

Here’s what happened:

King Attila with perhaps 100,000 Huns, Lombards, Gepids, Ostrogoths, renegade Romans and other riffraff pushed through the patchwork remnants of Roman Gaul, knocking over cities for supplies, until he reached Orleans.

Then he went away again.

Oh, was that anticlimactic?

You want to know the detail of what happened?

Hah! Sorry, the Dark Ages should really be called the “Historiographically Challenged Period”, meaning the ages are “dark” because we have difficulty seeing what was going on.

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Future Treasures: The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas: 2015 edited by Paula Guran

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas 2015-smallJust this morning, in my article on Peter Crowther’s anthology Cities, I observed that the novella is the natural length for fantasy and science fiction. The novella has an exceptional history in this field, from H.G. Wells “Time Machine” to John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?” to Clifford D. Simak’s “The Big Front Yard” and Fritz Leiber’s “Ill Met in Lankhmar.” Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of places that publish them these days… and even fewer that reprint them. Only a handful of Year’s Best volumes can afford to make space for novellas, which means that, if you miss their original appearance (frequently in small press outlets), you may never see some of the finest works published every year.

Paula Guran has set out to rectify that with a brand new anthology series: The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas: 2015, from Prime Books. It’s the companion volume to Rich Horton’s popular The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy from the same publisher, which publishes its seventh volume this year, and Paula’s own Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror. Here’s the description.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas: 2015 inaugurates a new annual series of anthologies featuring some of the year’s best novella-length science fiction and fantasy. Novellas, longer than short stories but shorter than novels, are a rich and rewarding literary form that can fully explore tomorrow’s technology, the far reaches of the future, thought-provoking imaginings, fantastic worlds, and entertaining concepts with the impact of a short story and the detailed breadth of a novel. Gathering a wide variety of excellent SF and fantasy, this anthology of “short novels” showcases the talents of both established masters and new writers.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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Help Uncover the Birth and Rise of Science Fiction: Support the Futures Past Kickstarter

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Futures Past 1926-smallLast month I was delighted to shine a spotlight on the first issue of Futures Past, a new magazine devoted to covering the birth of modern science fiction. Futures Past was originally a highly-regarded print fanzine, which published four issues in the early 1990s, each covering one year of SF history, from 1926-29. Editor Jim Emerson has resurrected it as a 64-page digital magazine, with gorgeous full-color pages illuminating the highlights of science fiction publishing in magazines, books, books and even conventions. The first issue, covering 1926, was released last July, and it looks terrific.

Now Emerson has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a print edition of the magazine:

In the pages of Futures Past we will be covering in unprecedented detail, the birth and development of modern science fiction from 1926 to 1975. Unlike other science fiction reference works which offer a mere page or two to a given year, highlighting only the most notable items, we will be devoting an entire volume to each year. This will not only include comprehensive coverage of all the books, films and magazines published, but also in-depth review of less prominent topics such as early fandom, conventions, fanzines, old time sf radio plays and serials, as well as extensive consideration to international science fiction. Each volume of the series is presented in proper sequential order, beginning with 1926 when the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, was published.

The money raised by the Kickstarter will be used to pay for backer rewards, printing costs and computer upgrades, and content for future issues, including reprints and “new articles by the top science fiction writers and historians in the field” — folks like Mike Ashley and Bud Webster.

The campaign has a goal of $16,800, and will close on April 29. See all the details and pledge your support here.

Vintage Treasures: Cities edited by Peter Crowther

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Cities Peter Crowther-smallIt’s been said many times that the ideal length for SF and fantasy is the novella. Long enough to establish a fascinating setting, and short enough to pack a punch. It’s been my experience that this is very true — much of the best fantasy I’ve read has been at novella length, and the format has a long history of excellence.

Peter Crowther is one of the most accomplished editors in the genre, and he’s produced some terrific anthologies over the years. But I think perhaps I’m fondest of his 2004 collection of fantastic novellas featuring four very different fantasy cities, by four of the biggest names in the field: China Mieville, Michael Moorcock, Paul di Filippo, and Geoff Ryman.

The city has always loomed large in the imaginary landscape of fantasy. Cities celebrates the fantastic potential of the city, whether in the terrible grandeur of China Mieville’s ruined London, a city overrun by a sudden, fantastical invasion, or the unsettling high-tech, high-paranoia of Geoff Ryman’s urban future. Elsewhere, heaven and hell snap at the heels of the inhabitants of Paul di Filippo’s Linear City, and Michael Moorcock invites us to join Jerry Cornelius on a tour of the uneasy streets of a future built on the ruins of September 11th. Here is fiction from four of the genre’s most respected names: an A-to-Z to the streets of the imagination.

With four of the biggest names in fantasy fiction united in one volume, each with a novella that has never been available outside the collectors’ market, Cities is the fourth of Peter Crowther’s Foursight anthologies and is proof positive that the fantastic novella is alive and thriving.

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Fantasy Literature: Lord of Mountains or An Exercise of Wishful Thinking

Friday, March 27th, 2015 | Posted by Edward Carmien

Lord of Mountains-smallThis blog has discussed S. M. Stirling’s Emberverse in some detail for the past several months. Beware spoilers as we move on to Lord of Mountains, Stirling’s 2012 addition to the series.

The logical second third of the post-quest novel Tears of the Sun, Lord of Mountains is the Act II confrontation that follows logically from the Act I setup, and coming before The Given Sacrifice‘s Act III, resolution. That these three chapters, published separately as novels, did not appear together under the same cover is a pity.

As previously discussed, the amount of “recap” material included with each is now crippling any loyal reader’s enjoyment of the texts. In fact, even new readers now feel the grit in the gears, as every time a character new to the individual text — for example, the first time Ingolf the Wanderer appears in Tears, Lord, and Given paragraphs of material is provided to foreground the character. Unfortunately, that background is now long behind Ingolf, and the current action of the narrative. And besides, how many readers are genuinely picking up the Nth book in this series, cold? And need to be reminded? Like, that one guy in Missouri, right? Yeah, you in the hat.

Would that this need be done only one time in one larger novel of three parts. First, the overall text would shrink considerably. Second, the sense of immersion would increase (and loyal readers of this blog remember what value we genre readers place on immersion, right?). Third, the narrative would flow more naturally.

As a Bush-era Secretary of Defense once opined, one goes to war with the army one has, not the army one wished one had. This sentiment is echoed by a character in Lord of Mountains, and it applies to the novels, or extended chapters, that continue to arrive annually. Perhaps in some future republication they can be packaged together, but even then would it pay for Stirling to take the time to thin the herd of redundant descriptions? Surely not.

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New Treasures: Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson

Friday, March 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Unwrapped Sky-smallWhen Unwrapped Sky, the debut fantasy novel by Australian writer Rjurik Davidson, appeared in hardcover last April, it got solid reviews for its innovative world building and original setting. Locus praised its “tough urban setting, influenced by noir mysteries as well as steampunk,” and Hannu Rajaniemi, author of The Quantum Thief, called it “Brilliant… Caeli-Amur is one of the more memorable cities in recent fantasy.”

Rjurik Davidson is already being acclaimed as a young master of the New Weird. Unwrapped Sky arrived in paperback earlier this month, and I picked up a copy as soon as I saw it. This looks like the kind of book I could lose myself in.

A hundred years ago, the Minotaurs saved Caeli-Amur from conquest. Now, three very different people may hold the keys to the city’s survival.

Once, it is said, gods used magic to create reality, with powers that defied explanation. But the magic — or science, if one believes those who try to master the dangers of thaumaturgy — now seems more like a dream. Industrial workers for House Technis, farmers for House Arbor, and fisher folk of House Marin eke out a living and hope for a better future. But the philosopher-assassin Kata plots a betrayal that will cost the lives of godlike Minotaurs; the ambitious bureaucrat Boris Autec rises through the ranks as his private life turns to ashes; and the idealistic seditionist Maximilian hatches a mad plot to unlock the vaunted secrets of the Great Library of Caeli-Enas, drowned in the fabled city at the bottom of the sea, its strangeness visible from the skies above.

In a novel of startling originality and riveting suspense, these three people, reflecting all the hopes and dreams of the ancient city, risk everything for a future that they can create only by throwing off the shackles of tradition and superstition, as their destinies collide at ground zero of a conflagration that will transform the world… or destroy it.

Unwrapped Sky was published by Tor on March 3, 2015. It is 516 pages, priced at $8.99 for both the paperback and digital editions. The cover art is by Allen Williams.

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