Endless Summer, Out in One Week!

Cirsova

Just a reminder, the retail edition of Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer is out a week from today!

If you missed the Kickstarter, you can still get your hands on a copy in time for Christmas!

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Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer Kickstarter Fulfilled + Retail Pre-Order

And it’s available for preorder now!

Cirsova

Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer has been shipped out to all Kickstarter backers!

If you missed the Kickstarter, you can still get your hands on it, though!

Endless Summer will be out World-Wide on November 30th.

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Haunted Yuletide

About a year ago a fellow indie author named Jay Barnson started putting together an anthology of Christmas themed Horror.

What with one thing and another, he decided to take a year to put it together–which is fine, he let us know when he took submissions that it would be a long lead project, probably out in December of 2020.

Well, it’s going to be out in December of 2020, just like he said. It’s available for pre-order now–just click on the pic.

My own entry, “A Cup Of Kindness” is about New Year’s Eve rather than Christmas because I have this problem with doing what people tell me to do, but Jay bought it anyway.

Currently just the ebook is on the preorder page, but there will be a paperback version as well and that should be up soon–depending on how quickly Amazon is running the proofing/acceptance cycle at the moment.

It’s an interesting mix, Holidays and Horror, and would be a nice gift for the Jack Skeleton on your list (and we all know that guy.)

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Lab Day

517ywgcMzJLI am in a new collection. The ebook has just gone live, the paperback should be coming soon.

As the cover implies, this is the second volume in a series. The editors got so many quality submissions that they decided to break it into two volumes.

It’s a fun idea, a school for magic, and a lot of people have played with it over the years–Harry Potter was far from the first. 

For my own contribution, I went back to Dracoheim. Given that magic is used in nearly all industries, it stands to reason that there would be a need for skilled blue collar workers who understood enough of the theory of magic to do their jobs safely, without being licensed magi. 

Hence my story takes place not in the prestigious Dracoheim Academy For Thaumaturgical Studies, but Leeshore Technical College, a three year trade school for magical mechanics, as it were. 

The story opens as the instructor, Magus Leonid Vetch, is preparing for his Sixday afternoon class, Conjuration 204:Theory And Practice Of Major Workings. Today he will be demonstrating aportation, the translation of items from the Midworld to the Realms of Nightmare. 

It should be a simple demonstration, which he has done in class for years, but there is nothing routine in the practice of magic. When something goes wrong Magus Vetch and two of his students are trapped in Ventose, The Realm of Lord Chimiculeon the Many.

What happens next? I’m afraid you’ll just have to read this book to find out. 

 

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Taking Advertising for Winter and 2021!

Cirsova

We’re accepting advertising now for the winter issue [out in December 2020], and the three 2021 issues we have lined up.

2021 will be a HUGE year:

  • Serializing Michael Tierney’s new Wild Stars Novel
  • Serializing Paul O’Connor’s 80s adventure comic Badaxe
  • Three Mongoose and Meerkat adventures

So, big stuff–we’re looking to increase our cross-over readership. Plus, we’ll be finally having illustrations!

The following are Cirsova’s Advertising Rates:

250 Character Text Advertisement $25
1/4 page Advertisement $35
1/2 page Advertisement $50
Back Cover Advertisement $125 [Three are available]

Advertisement images should be 300 dpi, with the following measurements:

1/2 Page – 7.5″ w x 4.5″ h or 3.5″ w x 9″ h
1/4 Page – 3.5″ w x 4.5″ h
Back Cover – 7-8″ w x 8.75″ h

Please send as png, jpg, or tiff!

Contact us at cirsova at yahoo dot com for details.

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Florida Man

To make it very clear, I am talking about the Audiobook in this review, and not the Graphic Novel project with the same name.

Given that they use the same cover art, I am guessing that they are the same story, but I haven’t read the comic book, so I don’t know for sure.

This novel is written by Mike Baron, who has written and drawn comics for quite some time now, including being the creator of The Badger, one of my favorite comic books ever.

The audio version is narrator by R C Bray, who I associated with his work on several Military SF and High Tech Thrillers, but whose serious, “Joe Friday”-style delivery works very well for this book. Plus, he can do a Southern accent without sounding like he is mocking the characters, a rare skill.

This novel fits my “Joe’s Sandwich” model of storytelling. The main character, Gary Duba, is a simple man who wants a reasonable, quiet life but is repeatedly thwarted by the perversity of the universe around him. He is, at heart, a decent man–and that’s what makes this book work so well.

That’s an important point, because in other hands the trope of “Florida Man” could have turned into cruelty humor of the “look at this pathetic loser!” variety, and I wouldn’t have finished the book.

Baron, however, meets Gary on Gary’s own terms, and shows us his virtues.

Gary is intensely loyal, and very willing to work hard when the occasion demands it. If you hire Gary and he takes your money, the job will get done, and it will get done right–you can take that to the bank. But don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that buying his work is the same as buying the man. Once you understand that ethos, it’s clear that on his own terms Gary is a very honorable man.

The novel is structured as a series of events, like an comic or television series. Several plotlines run concurrently, showcasing Gary’s relationships with the other characters, the most important of whom is Gary’s fiance and later wife, Krystal.

There is a certain sameness to many of the episodes–Gary tries to accomplish something that seems simple on the face of it and runs into an escalating series of obstacles–but the writing and pacing keep the book consistently interesting.

Gary is not perfect, and many of his problems are of his own making–generally through an unwillingness or inability to think past the immediate moment. And while I occasionally wanted to slap the character and demand, “What did you think was going to happen?” in general he takes responsibility for his failings and does what he can to atone for them.

All in all, very enjoyable. The humor is more subtle and low key than the cover might suggest, but it is a very funny book. Highly recommended.

 

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You Can Do Anything In A Game (But You Can’t Do That)

Last night, on Roll20, I was part of another one-shot playtest of Venger SatanisCrimson Dragon Slayer system.

This one got… weird.

Now that, in itself, was not unexpected, but the way in which it got weird was interesting.

There was me, with a new character (Tak Laufer*, human mage, who collects keys as a hobby/obsession) Kaerdin a half-elf rogue who took knowledge of medicine as a special ability, and Luie Martell, a human fighter. Martell was new to gaming, but willing to learn and seemed to enjoy himself.

Then there was a halfling sorceress named Insigna Sparks, played by someone who wanted to import his character from another game and had to be told–repeatedly– that while the other character might be 5th level and have 9 hit points and so on, this character was first level and limited to the spells in the game.

And then there was Bob.

“he is actually bunch of spiders dressed as a man but nobody knows that”

That was one of the more rational things to come out of that player.

Sadly for me, that was our cleric. You see, in the CDS system magic spells cost hit points to cast, but clerics have multiple heals per day. My plan was to cast spells and have the cleric heal me back up to full. In theory, that would have let me be a formidable spellslinger. Once it became clear that the party’s healer was here on an expired visa from Planet Freakazoid, I had to cut down on the pyrotechnics.

I have to give Venger major props for working with a trouble player (two trouble players, actually, but one was far more of a problem than the other). He let Bob rant and kept things moving by ignoring anything that wasn’t a clear game action, while asking us what the sane members of the party were doing.

We didn’t get all that much accomplished under those circumstances, but we did get through one combat against a trio of cyborgs, and I was relatively effective with the Missile Command spell (which is basically Magic Missile with a random number of missiles instead of being dependent on the caster’s level.)

Bob did get himself killed eventually, after Venger gave him every possible chance to act rational. Then he wanted to haunt the party, which game rise to evocative phrase “ghost spider poetry”. I’m going to use that–I don’t know what for, yet, but it’s a great phrase.

I’m looking forward to the next game, which will be held at a random day and time to be announced later, in order to confuse the Illuminati.

*Extra special bonus geek points to anyone who can identify the source of that name.

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Strange Days Waiting: The stories of Endless Summer

The Kickstarter for my latest short fiction collection,  Endless Summer is now live.

Now, I’ve gone on record in this blog as saying that I am not a Science Fiction writer. So what does it mean that this collection is described as “Twelve Strange Tales Of Mankind’s Future”?

It means that I don’t feel any obligation to be consistent and that I will write Science Fiction stories if I darned well feel like it.

So there.

But what do I mean by “Science Fiction”? Am I sneaking in some kind of William Burroughs style stream of semi-consciousness rant and gluing some rocket ships on it?

No, actually, these are real SF stories. They are stories in which speculative technology plays a pivotal role in the story.

I have a time travel story about a man sent back to try to stop a nuclear war, and one about alien visitors. I explore the possible uses of surveillance systems for entertainment, look at a potential downside of self-piloting motor vehicles, set a police thriller inside a geothermal power plant the size of a city, nearly end all life on Earth with three separate bio-engineered plagues, and then repopulate the devastated human race twice, using two approaches. And I wrap it all up with a tale of human migration to another star system.

I would call these “Hard SF” stories. I can’t support every single speculative element with documentation, but in general the science is plausible.

More plausible than, say, Ringworld, anyway.

I like to think, though, that they are stories about people. Human beings who live in a different time, in different worlds, but still have the basic desires that we have carried with us through all of human history.

Love. Hope. Fear. Rage. Curiosity. What makes us who we are doesn’t change, no matter what else does.

The fundamental things apply…

…as time goes by. 

 

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This is how you run an RPG, people.

Last night, on Roll20, I was part of a one-shot playtest of Venger SatanisCrimson Dragon Slayer system.

CDS is a “rules light OSR game ruleset”–but that description doesn’t do it justice.

Think back to playing with toys as a kid, and you and a bunch of friends all have action figures and are telling a story with them. But then Mark says that G I Joe shot Mr. Spok, and Leo says, “Nu-huh, Spok shot Joe first!” and then everybody starts fighting and goes home mad and Ted took your army man tank and now he won’t give it back ’cause he says it’s his.

Imagine if there had been some way that everyone agreed on to settle those kinds of fights before they started. That’s what Crimson Dragon Slayer is.

Allow me to reproduce my character sheet below:

Niblog the Terrible. 1/2 Orc Fighter. Duel wields swords. Has a Fearsome Reputation. Chaotic. 10 hit points.

That’s it. That is literally all I needed to keep track of to run a character.

In addition to Niblog, we had a Demon Thief called Gabstill, a Human Wizard named Irvine Of Arcadia, a Halfling Fighter named Barc, Antiochus Bulgar, a Human Cleric of The Meatlord, and ST-K1, a Stealth Droid.

Dump out any kid’s Lego box and pick a handful of minifigs at random, and you get the basic idea. Elapsed time for the entirety of character creation for all players was maybe seven minutes.

“Ok, briefly… Cha’alt is a desert world, a mix of old tech and sorcery, hostile but full of opportunity. All of you are currently residing in the prison cells beneath the palace. You’re in the city of A’agrybah. You have all your armor and weapons. Awaiting judgement for your various crimes. Roll a d8 if you want to know what you did to end up here.”

That was Venger’s introduction to the adventure. And then we were off and running.

First the droid tried picking the lock, but that didn’t work. While we were discussing what to do next we hear a female voice calling through the door and promising to let us out of the cell in exchange for our help in reaching another part of Cha’alt.

Given that the guard had just informed us that we were scheduled for execution in the morning, we decided to go with the mysterious femme fatale on her enigmatic mission. Sure, we’d probably all die, but we would certainly be killed if we stuck around. So we followed her (she introduced herself as “Raca’ana. I’m a palace concubine.”)  Raca’ana led us down a hallway to a room with two guards and we killed the guards.

Roll to hit. Roll damage. You’re done.

In the palace dungeon there was a mysterious room filled with arcane carvings that functioned as a magic portal to take us where we wanted to go.

Naturally.

The Wizard manages to activate the portal and we pass through and there, gleaming in the light of multiple odd-colored moons, if the fabled Black Pyramid Of Cha’alt.

Raca’ana then says, “There’s a magical necklace I need… it’s somewhere inside. Let’s find a way in before we’re spotted.”

Niblog grumbles a bit at this, since the original deal was to get her to the Black Pyramid, not explore the darned thing looking for jewelry, but she says that all she wants is the necklace and we can keep any other loot we find. The party agrees to delve.

The first room we enter has a ball pit in the center and some weird glowing crystals on the walls. Exhibiting the same level of prudence and good judgement that toddlers use when sticking forks in electrical outlets, the party starts messing with the glowing crystals.

Niblog advises against that and goes so far as to open one of the exit doors, but waits for the rest of the party. In hindsight, I should have just left them behind.

Because once the Wizard and the two Thieves manage to get all the crystals to light up in the same color, bad things happen. Unearthly voices begin speaking, talking about desire and tasting sweet flesh and then these hooked chains fly out of the walls.

We all get to roll saving throws and everybody makes it–except for Niblog. In a moment of  Direct To Video Horror Movie Irony, the one character who tried to warn the party against messing with Things Man Was Meant To Know is the guy who gets ripped to pieces by flying hooks just like Frank Cotton in the opening scene in Hellraiser.

The surviving members of the party decide to leave the room through the door that Niblog opened, and at that point we were out of time. All things considered, it was a great way to spend an evening. And I don’t even feel bad about losing a character, because I can just make another one for the next game.

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Reminder: Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer — Coming Soon!

This is going to be a good one, folks.

Cirsova

With Mongoose and Meerkat Vol 1. and the Cirsova Summer Issue Out, we’re gearing up for our next big project, Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer!

Sign up for notification for when the Kickstarter will go live.

This fantastic anthology of weird science fiction showcases 12 stories from one of Cirsova’s top authors.

The Bullet From Tomorrow – In an all-or-nothing bid to change the future, what would your savior look like?

Milk, Bread, & Eggs – What if Earth was just one pit-stop on an interstellar journey?

These Were the Things That Bounded Me –What lengths will people go to survive when disasters strike?

The Isle of Forbidden Dances – What if you thought you found love on a party resort where you were under constant surveillance?

In the Driving Lane – Where do you go when your self-driving car won’t drive you home?

Heartbeat City Homicide…

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