There’s a lot of different ways to have a career in SF and fantasy. Don’t believe me? Just look at the fascinating case of Joshua Palmatier.
Over the last decade Joshua has built a formidable reputation as an author, producing both an acclaimed fantasy trilogy (The Throne of Amenkor) and a popular science fiction trilogy (Erenthrall) with DAW books. Not content with merely being an author, he partnered with Patricia Bray to co-edit a pair of DAW anthologies, After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar (2011), and The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity (2012). Shortly after that DAW ended their monthly anthology program. Undaunted, Joshua launched his own small press, Zombies Need Brains, and over the next three years produced half a dozen additional anthologies with editors Bray and S.C. Butler. As author, editor, and now publisher, Joshua has moved steadily from success to success.
2018 was perhaps his most ambitious and successful year yet. He delivered three complete anthologies funded with a simultaneous Kickstarter campaign, and successfully funded three more in October. I’m not much of a Kickstarter nut, but I backed the first project. Not simply due to my admiration for Joshua (which was considerable), but because one of the books, Guilds & Glaives, contained stories from no less than four Black Gate authors: David B. Coe, James Enge, Howard Andrew Jones, and Violette Malan. The others, Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar and The Razor’s Edge, were almost as appealing for different reasons, and I consider the set to be one of the best-kept secrets of genre publishing in 2018. Here’s a closer look at all three.
[Click the images for bigger versions.]
The DAW anthologies edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray
In his September article for us (The Origins of Zombies Need Brains), Joshua shared the history of his young publishing house, and talked about his 2018 projects:
And now, six years later, Zombies Need Brains is attempting to fund three new themed anthologies with a new Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals). The themes this year are portals from one world to another, temporal deactivation, and alternate history where the divergence from our timeline comes from some kind of peaceful change in history. We have as editors Patricia Bray, S.C. Butler, David B. Coe, Steven H Silver, and of course myself. We have a slew of great anchor authors, including a few New York Times bestsellers. And over the course of the past six years, ZNB has managed to be recognized by SFWA as a professional qualifying market and three of our stories have been finalists for the WSFA Small Press Award (given out at Capclave). Two of those stories are on the ballot this year, so fingers are crossed we’ll win one.
We’ve grown a lot since that first step from party to small press, from that first rocky Kickstarter for a single anthology called Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens (now out-of-print) to our current run funding three anthologies all at once. We’ve managed to produce ten anthologies during that time. But we couldn’t have done any of it without our Kickstarter backers. Swing on over to tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals and check out our current project. Maybe you can help us grow even further, from ten anthologies to thirteen … and beyond!
That was when I learned a little of the true scope of Joshua’s ambitions. He wasn’t just producing vanity projects; his books were thoroughly professional, with top-notch art and an enviable list of contributors, including Seanan McGuire, Laura Anne Gilman, Juliet E. McKenna, Stephen Leigh, Laura Resnick, Faith Hunter, Gini Koch, Ian Tregillis, Leah Cutter, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin, David Farland, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Jacey Bedford, James Van Pelt, C.S. Friedman, Esther Friesner, Kari Sperring, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Kristine Smith, William C. Dietz, Walter H. Hunt, Steve Perry, Garth Nix, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber, and many others.
In addition, the books include numerous Black Gate authors, including L. E. Modesitt Jr, Howard Andrew Jones, David B. Coe, Kay Kenyon, Violette Malan, James Enge, F. Brett Cox, and others.
Here’s a look at a few of the popular anthologies from Zombies Need Brains.
I backed Joshua’s 2017 campaign at the two-book level, selecting Guilds & Glaives and Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar as my rewards, and the print copies of both were delivered on time. They’re handsome and sturdy, the size of mass market paperbacks, but with heavier cover stock. All three books are available for order now from Zombies Need Brains or your favorite online bookseller in both print and digital formats.
Guilds & Glaives, edited by S. C. Butler and Joshua Palmatier (328 pages, $17.99 paperback/$6.99 digital, June 12, 2018) — Sword & Sorcery
Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar, edited by Patricia Bray and Joshua Palmatier (294 pages, $15.99 paperback/$6.99 digital, June 12, 2018) — Urban Fantasy
The Razor’s Edge, edited by Troy Carrol Bucher and Joshua Palmatier (242 pages, $16.99 paperback/$6.99 digital, June 12, 2018) — Military SF
The cover art for all three is by Justin Adams.
Here’s the back covers for all three books. A glance at these will reveal what I think is their sole weakness, uneven design. The back cover text (like much of the internal design) seems a little cramped, and could do with more polish on the layout and font choice. It’s a minor blemish, but it does leave room for improvement in 2019.
Overall I’m extremely pleased with the books I received, and I’ll definitely be tracking down additional titles from Zombies Need Brains. If you’re looking for some great books to start out the new year, check out their current and upcoming anthologies at the ZNB website, and keep an eye out for their next big Kickstarter campaign.
Our previous coverage of Joshua’s work includes:
The Origins of Zombies Need Brains by Joshua Palmatier
Zombies Need Brains Needs You by Violette Malan
Steampunk vs. Aliens – 5 Questions with Joshua Palmatier by Bradley Beaulieu
A Tale of Magical Apocalypse: The Ley Trilogy
New Treasures: The Throne of Amenkor
See all our recent New Treasures here.