Reminder: Subscriptions are Open!

Cirsova, Spring 2018, is now ready for pre-orders.

Cirsova

You can get your subscription for Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine for as low as $1!

Issue 7 Cover 1 Front Cover lower res

We need to increase our readership if we’re going to keep this going. Our target for next year is 200 subscribers. Tell your friends!

We’ll have the art for Summer available soonish and will be posting it as soon as it’s ready.

For those of you who’ve been digging the art for spring, you can get it on Mugs, T-Shirts and more from our Tee Public store!

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Saturday Spotlight: ATTENTION amateur writers and artists

Another potential Pulp Rev market.

Books of the Broken

Today I am foregoing my usual Saturday Spotlight feature for something a little different.  Every Saturday I feature a pulp story from the past to shed a little light on some of the nearly forgotten authors.  Today’s entry is almost the exact opposite.  I am featuring a new idea by Millhaven Press.

Millhaven is seeking short stories from amateur writers in the hopes to put out a quarterly pulp inspired print magazine.  We think there is enough interest in these types of stories to make this idea feasible.  We miss the print pulps of yesteryear and want to bring some of that back.

Amateur writers are encouraged to submit their stories (millhavenpress@gmail.com) for consideration.  We will also need some art (even cover art) for the magazine.  All the relevant details are to be found at the Millhaven Press website.  Just click the link:
Millhaven Press Website 

Here’s to making…

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Sins Of The Gods

The third collection in the Sins Of Time series will be released next week, on Halloween.

The first one, you may recall, was called Sins Of The Past and included my story, “We Pass From View”. The second one was called Sins Of The Future and includes my story, “In The Driving Lane”.

This one has the theme of horror stories based on myths and legends. My own contribution is an atmospheric Weird Tales peice called “Black Dog”.

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I am spotlit!

One-Paragraph Author Spotlight: Misha Burnett – http://wp.me/p81NSO-Ai

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Non-Lethal Mysteries

I think I may be ready to do it again.

I have this strange condition–call it “Dr. Jeckyl & The Pied Piper Syndrome” where I am suddenly struck with a completely off the wall idea combined with a compulsion to lure otherwise perfectly sane writers to follow me into the maw of madness.

The first time this happened to me the result was Fauxpocalypse. And I managed to convince Cirsova Magazine to devote most of an issue to what I called the “Eldritch Earth”, a mashup of Lovecraftian Horror and Sword & Sorcery set on Earth 65 million years ago. Most recently, I gathered a gang of new, talented authors to write 21st Century Thrilling Adventure Stories–short fiction in the style of the Pulps, but set in the modern day.

Not all of my projects pan out, of course.  In fact most of them don’t, which is probably a good thing for everyone involved. Sometimes a crazy idea is a mark of genius, and sometimes a crazy idea is just really dumb.  It can be difficult to tell which is which.

Anyway, my next crazy idea is what I am tentatively calling A Treasury Of Non-Lethal Mysteries. If I can get authors interested, I want to put together a collection of mystery stories that are not about murder.

In fact, these would be mystery stories in which no one is killed at all, either before, after, or during the crime.  Stories of crime and detection, in true whodunit fashion, but the crime would be something other than killing someone.  It could be theft, fraud, kidnapping, bootlegging, smuggling, conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act–whatever you can come up with.

Stories can be set in any time or place, fantastic or realistic, science fiction or medieval.  I think I would write a story about a character that I recently invented, Dr. Linus Fell, who is a criminologist who uses an experimental serum to be transform himself into an amoral supergenius and who lives in an Urban Fantasy world based on 1970s crime thrillers.

This is still in the concept phase, and a lot will depend on the kind of response I get–like I say, a big part of wanting to do these things is seeing how other writers work within the ground rules I lay down.

If you’re interested, drop me a line via my contact page, and I’ll put you on the e-mail list for brainstorming this project.  I usually end up putting together a Google+ plus group for discussions, if it gets that far I’ll post the link.

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Where your eyes don’t go a filthy scarecrow waves his broomstick arms and does a parody of each unconscious thing you do

Science Fiction is a lot less Weird than it used to be.

I am using Weird here is a particular philosophical sense (in the vain hopes that one day “Weird in the sense of Burnett” will become a common phrase among philosophers of fiction) meaning “possessing significant story elements which are intended to be unfamiliar to the reader.”

By “story elements” I mean such things as setting, characters, events, and the like.  Significance is a difficult thing to quantify, but a general rule of thumb is that if an element can be removed or replaced with a mundane alternative without changing the events of the story than that element is not significant.

As an example of a Weird Element, consider the character of Mr. Spock in Star Trek. The character was introduced as a member of a non-human culture that strove for an ideal life based on reason without emotion. While “Vulcan” has since entered the popular lexicon, at the time the show’s writers intended for the character to be unfamiliar to viewers.

The impact of the character on the events of the program would have been lessened–sometimes entirely absent–if Spock had been purely human.  The anti-emotional viewpoint of the character was significant, and the character of a Vulcan was assumed to be unfamiliar to the audience at the time of the first series. 

That distinction is an important one. Keep in mind that we are not discussing whether the existence of a Vulcan character is an indication that a work is Science Fiction, but whether or not it is an indication that a work is Weird Fiction. When the initial series aired in the late 1960s, it was.  In later works based on the series, Vulcans were familiar to the audience, and hence no longer Weird.

At this point I must reject the concept that may be forming in the reader’s mind that I am insisting that Weird Fiction has an (impossible) requirement for absolute novelty.

This issue is not if a particular story element “has been done.”

The issue is of the shared preconceptions associated with a particular symbol.

When a contemporary author writes a story set in the Star Trek universe, she or he must acknowledge the existence of “Vulcans” and the Vulcans, as utilized in the story, must be as they are described in other works set within the same universe.  Otherwise, one is not writing in the Star Trek universe.

At this point a reader who is familiar with that particular franchise may feel the need to point out that the universe has undergone changes in the fifty years since it was first conceived.  I am not, myself, a fan of the franchise, but I have heard that there are differences between “TOS Klingons” and “TNG Klingons” and so on.

That rather supports my thesis, actually.  Mismatch between author and audience expectations is the surest proof that such expectations exist.  What’s more, changes in the continuity of a fictional universe are seldom, if ever, introduced as new and unknown story elements–readers subjected such “retconning” are fed the new assumptions and expected to swallow them whole rather than experience the new information as a process of discovery.

Nor are shared expectations within genre fiction limited to an existing franchise.  There are story elements within genre fiction (usually referred to as “conventions” or “tropes”) that are instantly familiar to readers of the genre, and which are deliberately used as such by authors. It is possible to write a Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, or Mystery novel without once introducing a concept that will be unfamiliar to your target audience.

Granted, many of the concepts will be “Fantastic” in the sense that they are false to fact within the universe that both writer and reader live in, but they have been made familiar by repeated exposure within fiction. Faster than light travel, for example, is known to be impossible by the laws of physics as currently understood, but has become such a convention of Science Fiction that writers seldom feel any need to explain it, or even introduce it as a speculative element.  There is a magic gizmo that selectively ignores certain laws of physics, and the audience just accepts that.

And none of this is inherently a bad thing. Artist and audience are both comfortable with a story setting that is non-real but familiar. It doesn’t mean that the story itself is bad or poorly told.  One can write an excellent story in a perfectly mundane setting, after all. In the same way one can write an excellent in a setting that is unreal, but known to the audience from fiction. Werewolves and vampires are not real, but within the context of a story can be treated by an author as being as familiar to readers as telephones and automobiles.

What this does mean is that genre fiction has largely become divorced from what I am calling the Weird. There are still authors who are working in Weird Fiction–Tim Powers, China Mieville, and Neil Gaiman come to mind–but they are exceptions rather than the rule in modern Science Fiction and Fantasy.

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There and back again

Just got back home to the Secret Hideout O’Doom. It’s been quite a trip.

Thursday, 7 Sep: Leave St. Louis at 4pm, to Joplin, MO (280 miles)
Friday, 8 Sep: Joplin, MO to Tucumcari, NM (650 miles)
Saturday, 9 Sep: Tucumcari, NM to Kingman, AZ (640 miles)
Sunday, 10 Sep: Kingman, AZ to Las Vegas, NV (100 miles)
Monday, 11 Sep: Las Vegas (0 miles)
Tuesday, 12 Sep: Las Vegas, NV to Flagstaff, AZ (320 miles)
Wednesday, 13 Sep: Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM (340 miles)
Thursday, 13 Sep: Albuquerque, NM to Wakeeney, KS (560 miles)
Friday, 14 Sep: Wakeeney, KS to Richmond Heights, MO (540 miles)

Total millage: 3,430.

My mind is fried and I still see white lines every time I close my eyes, but it was fun.  On the return trip we stopped and did some sightseeing in small towns we passed (hence the lower millage for those days.)  I got to see the Hoover Dam power plant, which is amazing.  And some lovely mountains, deserts, forests and a lot of sky.  Did some great thinking.  Drive all day, swim at the motel pool to work the kinks out of my muscles, sleep like the dead, get up and do it again.

And a shout out to Best Western Hotels & Resorts.  Seriously, this is an amazing company. We stayed at Best Westerns exclusively on this trip (yes, even in Vegas–the Casino Royale on the strip) an every single hotel was clean, quiet, reasonably priced, and gave us a nice breakfast before we hit the road. I cannot recommend them enough. And they are everywhere.

Not a caribbean cruise, obviously, but it recharged me.

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