Cirsova Publishing has just acquired the serial rights to Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars 6: Orphan of the Shadowy Moons!
We will be serializing this story in 4 parts throughout 2022.
The origins of the Ancient Warrior will finally be revealed, as will the mystery of his obsession with Phaedra! Be looking forward to swashbuckling adventure and Jet-Ski Barbarians in this classic 70s Sword & Planet adventure that will be seeing the light of day for the first time next year!
We’re right on the verge of going to press with The Cosmic Courtship, but thanks to some feedback from a good Samaritan reviewer that we sent an ARC to, we decided to go back over the text with a fine-toothed comb and do another round of corrections against the scans. It took a full week, but we’ve done additional cleanup to ensure that our edition of The Cosmic Courtship is as good as it can possibly be! The files are uploaded now, we should be placing the order soon.
Next up on the table is Jim Breyfogle’s The Paths of Cormanor! This is a beautiful and action-packed fairytale romance inspired in part by the story of the Swan Princess and other Northern and Eastern European fairytales and myths. We’re offering a sneak peak at the first “Path” in the Summer issue, which will be out in just over a week!
We’ve also got some news regarding a couple of our other regular contributors that we hope to be able to announce fairly soon, but I can’t go into real details until the legalese is validated–it’s all on promises and handshakes at the moment, and we need some checks to clear first.
Dave Higgins recently posted a review of our spring issue. It’s been awhile since we got a really in-depth review of an issue, so I thought I’d post the whole thing. Since it’s a Goodreads review, and not a blog post, I’m not concerned with poaching traffic, but the original post can be found here.
Alexander draws together several modern works of science-fiction and fantasy that are likely to appeal to fans of action over contemplation.
This magazine contains three complete stories, the opening parts of two ongoing works, and a section of epic poetry, each evoking the feel of classic pulp fiction.
The Artomique Paradigm (Part 1 of 3) by Michael Tierney: In a universe where Earth is one planet in a system-spanning human civilisation, the Artomique faction have achieved dominance through technology stolen from a human civilisation that disappeared in the mists of time but is now returning. Filled with warring dynastic corporations, generation-spanning schemes, alternate realities, and multiple names for the same character, the first part of Tierney’s novel reads like Dune with the introspection on tyranny and freedom replaced with punchy comic book action. As the first of three parts, the story does not resolve itself; however, it does reach a significant minor shift in the starting situation so is unlikely to leave readers who were enjoying it in utter agony until they can read the next part. This story is set in Tierney’s Wild Stars universe and contains frequent exposition on events from this wider arc; depending on individual preference, these character narrations will either draw the reader deeper into the world or distance them.
‘The Grain Merchant of Alomar’ by Jim Breyfogle: Mongoose and Meerkat, two career adventurers, are hired to deal with a threat to a wealthy merchant; ironically, the same wealthy merchant in a closed-off area of whose house they are currently squatting. Breyfogle crafts a fantasy city, two engaging characters, and a host of supporting characters that sit firmly in the centre of classic swords-and-sorcery without seeming derivative or simplistic.
‘Devil’s Deal’ by Michael Wiesenberg: A gambling addict makes a deal with the devil to see the outcome of events before they happen. There are only two stories about deals with the Devil and readers likely to predict from the start which this is. However, Wiesenberg builds his story from details rather than the overarching progression; thus, the protagonist’s reasons for making the deal and struggle to outwit the Devil are likely to still feel interesting.
The Book of Dark Sighs by Robert Zoltan: When Blue’s lover is kidnapped by a sorcerer, he and his adventuring companion Dareon reluctantly agree to recover a powerful book from a hellish realm in exchange for her life. This novelette is firmly in the weirder reaches of swords-and-sorcery: imprisonment in giant hourglasss, floating vampiric spheres, people with body parts rearranged by an evil sorcerer, sentient lava. However, Zoltan underpins this with a solid plot arc and consistent characterisation, making this definitely a fantasy adventure rather than an unmoored exercise in strangeness. While this story is part of Zoltan’s Rogues of Merth series, the small amount of knowledge of prior events that are needed are seamlessly integrated into dialogue, allowing it to stand alone.
‘My Name is John Carter (Part 9)’ by James Hutchings: In this section of Hutchings’ retelling of the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Boroughs as an epic poem, John Carter’s prisoner relates the history of the warmongering of Zodanga. This forms a story within a story that does not require having read the previous parts; however, without the emotional resonance knowing the current situation provides, it might feel more like a history lesson than a tale of dire threats. While the metre and use of language are skilled, this sense of academia rather than action is likely to be amplified by the form in readers who do not love long verse.
‘Badaxe (1 of 3): The Call’ by Paul O’Connor et al.: The legions of the God Badaxe expand across Pangaea, both expanding his dominions and slaughtering young boys for fear they might be the one prophecied to defeat the god. Meanwhile, Tanrea, a girl raised by wolves, realises her human side; only to be captured by a sorcerer who has lost his. This comic blends a classic tale of perverted villains, violent heroes, and immense magics with stylish black-and-white art, each enhancing the other. Matching the usual comic approach, this edition ends on a significant cliff-hanger.
While each of these works has a distinct voice and plot, they are united by a philosophical embrace of classic pulp. As such, they are driven by action, risk, and heroism rather than moral introspection or the overcoming of personal imperfections. This makes them fast-paced and thrilling but also means readers who see classic fantasy as marred by sexist and racist stereotypes might see the same issues with some of these tales.
The edition slants heavily toward swords-and-sorcery but is not exclusively so. Although this might make it of less interest to those readers who prefer to remain within the fantasy genre, many readers are likely to find the variation a palate cleanser that further avoids the sense of sameness that collections sharing a closer theme can suffer from.
Overall, I enjoyed this magazine. I recommend it to readers seeking classic pulp action featuring heroic protagonists, villainous opponents, and dramatic situations.
I received a free copy from the publisher with a request for a fair review.
Given how much of Julian Hawthorne I’ve been reading lately, I thought it behooved me to read a bit more of his father’s work, and I just happened to have a fairly nice illustrated copy of The House of Seven Gables lying around waiting to be read.
I get why kids who had to read this in high school hated it, I really do. Though it is a tale of mystery, murder, madness, mesmerism and a wizard’s curse, so very little happens and Hawthorne takes his sweet time in the telling to get there.
Yet, despite how tedious and absolutely turgid House of Seven Gables is, I feel like it could be easily adapted into Children’s Puppet Theatre, probably boil the whole bloody gist of it down to about 20 minutes.
I have to admit that I felt a bit smug that Henry James’ afterword for House of Seven Gables seemed to entirely support and justify this belief.
He notes that the characters, while lavishly and intricately detailed, are mere “pictures” and grotesques, acting out their tropes, than truly fleshed out ‘real’ characters. The book focuses almost entirely on tableau and scene, painting the picture of these characters.
So, while the “story” is, imo, great–fantastic, really–it is such a small portion of the work itself–buried, really, like the old sorcerer himself, underneath the endless description of the house and its accursed inhabitants.
I think that it could be distilled easily into 20-30 minutes:
Narration of the Pyncheon vs. Maule saga culminating in the bloody death
A brief parade of the characters and their foibles, culminating in Phoebe’s awkward introduction to Jaffrey
Tableau of the dinner, Phoebe and Clifford’s relationship, maybe the bit with the weird chickens, done in a couple minutes’ description and puppet pantomime
Phoebe and Holgrave + Holgrave narrates the story of Alice, Phoebe departs.
Jaffrey’s attempt to confront Clifford
Clifford and Hepzibah’s flight + a very condensed version of Clifford’s rant about impending modernity
The return to Seven Gables, Phoebe & Holgrave’s union, and the discovery of the lost “treasure” could be condensed to a single scene with a narrated happily ever after.
I’d probably cut Uncle Venner, since, while he may be thematically important, I think he can be removed wholly from the narrative and the story remain unaffected. He’s there only as commentary and to comment on the other characters who are engaged in the plot.
Anyway, whether or not I’ll have time to come up with a puppet operetta, we’ll have to see…
So, I recently picked up Festival of Asian Heroes as an excuse to introduce myself at a new shop. I don’t know what I was expecting, but somehow this book was much worse and much more cringe than I imagined. Practically no one knows how to write cape stories anymore… practically every story just doing the “here is the character monologuing about their life and their feels while things happen in the panels.” Plus the awful strawman villains in the Katana story were oof.
Literally the only short I liked was Tamaki’s Cassie, and even tho it was mostly monologuing, at least it pulled off being cute. It sucks that they chose to showcase Asian capes [somehow Damian Wayne qualifies as this?] in such a lousy book with such lousy stories. I’d say these characters deserve better, but I’m not really caring that much anymore.
Foreword: “There just weren’t any Asian heroes in comic books when I was a kid.” will_smith_wildly_gesticulating_at_the_glut_of_now-forgotten_asian_led_titles_in_the_70s_and_80s.jpg
The ArtGerm variant was gorgeous, I was curious to see what Gene Luen Yang was gonna do [was kinda disappointed] and it was an excuse to meet the new store without having to add it to a pull [so at least DC doesn’t get to boast about order numbers from picking up an extra that the new place had.]
Sounds: Liked it, favorite of the bunch. I think I’m forgiving of internal monologuing when it’s Cassie because she has a speech impediment.
Dress Code: eh… So, asian green lantern wears an asian dress tunic. plz do not make fun of him.
Hawke and Kong: okay, I guess. Two Asian expys of other heroes who don’t get along fight a villain and become friends. Whatever…
Special Delivery: didn’t like it, also I guess Damian Wayne is Asian?
Masks: okay, but mainly I guess it was the sort of story I would’ve liked to have seen after the new Cheshire had been brought into Catwoman [I don’t know that they’ve done anything at all with her since she was introduced, and I had just about forgotten about her.]
What’s in the Box: I don’t even know who the other character who is not Cassie is
Family Dinner: Cringe and tired ‘meeting the parents’ story. Seriously, can we stop doing “gay superheroes meet dad/mom over dinner and it’s awkward” comics?
Kawaii Kalamity: cute but didn’t really do anything for me
Festival of Heroes: Ultra cringe with a stupid strawman villain [a bunch of white supremacists show up to harass people at an Asian food festival]; sad that this was what they had for the Katana story.
Perseptible: dull, didn’t like it, but I’ve never really liked Captain Atom.
The Monkey Prince: torn between okay and cringe; kinda wanted to like it cuz I love what Yang has done w/other books, but I rolled my eyes a lot. May still give it a chance. On one hand, a Son Goku vs. capes comic could be a lot of fun, but this gave off really bad “How do you do, fellow kids?” vibes that are really disappointing considering that Yang writes/wrote two of my favorite DC titles [Terrifics and Batman/Superman]
Really, DC missed out on a great opportunity to introduce a new anti-Asian villain, The Fixer–an obese enby who goes around “fixing” Asian people’s artwork.
As some of you may or may not know, our friend and contributor Robert Zoltan has been working on and publishing a new SFF publication, Sexy Fantastic, for folks into retro-pulp bodice rippers [think the sort of Andrew J. Offutt stories he published under his own name].
Robert will be doing a Kickstarter to raise additional funds for this project soon [July 1], and are accepting submissions through 15th of June.
Looking for superb heroic fantasy/sword and sorcery stories for Issue 4 of Sexy Fantastic magazine: Swords & Shadows! The fiction in the first three issues has been of incredibly high quality, and we seek to maintain that standard. Sexy Fantastic prefers mystery, strangeness, eroticism and atmosphere over violence. Note: this is not an erotica magazine; it simply does not censor stories for sexual content and treats sex as a normal part of life. $100 payment. 3K-10K word length. Deadline June 15th. See guidelines for tips and detailed submission instructions. https://sexyfantasticmagazine.com/fictionsubmissions/
If you have a story that you’ve been holding onto for us, give Robert’s mag a shot first, especially if it contains erotic themes and content. Right now, it’s looking like we won’t be able to take submissions until July, maybe August, so don’t hold anything back on our account! Send Robert your best!
I really hope that in the future we’ll see even more discussion on the younger Hawthorne and his works. Since embarking on this project, I’ve had the pleasure to read quite a handful of his writings: The Golden Fleece, Six Cent Sam’s, The Cosmic Courtship, Absolute Evil, A Goth From Boston, and Sara Was Judith, and I can’t help but feel like we’ve stumbled upon a forgotten but significant missing link in the history of early Weird Fiction. Julian bridges the gap between the high gothic era, writing throughout the gilded age, and the early golden age of pulps.
Just how influential was he on early writers of Weird Fiction? How influential were other early writers of Weird Fiction on him? In his final novel from 1920, he describes a cult of lads at Harvard who refer to themselves as “Dagons” and proceeds with a litany of old and exotic tomes kept on their shelves in what most would immediately recognize and refer to as “Lovecraftian” in manner and style. Hawthorne had a keen interest in the metaphysical and where it clashed with rapidly advancing sciences and medicines–the very core, some scholars would say, of Lovecraft’s brand of cosmic horror.
Right now, it would be very difficult to say or do more than just speculate on his significance. What we do know is that he was incredibly prolific and at one time fairly well-regarded. Indeed, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is on record stating his preference for Julian over Nathaniel. While we can’t really make any broad declarations as to his significance or lasting influences, I do believe that this project and our next one going forward will have laid the foundations to re-evaluate the significance of Julian Hawthorne’s writing and influence in our contemporary context.
We aim to have The Cosmic Courtship out the door by August at the latest. Retailers should have them before the end of the year. If you’re looking for other ways to support Cirsova publishing, look no further than Amazon, where you’ll be able to find all of our titles just by searching for “Cirsova.”
Now will begin the long (but hopefully not too long) process of getting the final touches on the books and putting the orders in and finally getting the books shipped out to the over 400 physical backers!
We’ve really got our work cut out for us in the next two months!
We hit every one of our stated stretch goals:
Starting a new Cirsova Imprint
posting original scans
We’re already 1.2 volumes into our second project, which we’ll be able to share more about soon.
In the meantime, if you can’t stop throwing money at Cirsova, be sure to check out: