What’s Going On? Update for Early June

The Small Worlds Kickstarter was a success! We’ll begin fulfilling as soon as the funds clear. This is a major win for us before our open submissions period in August. We’ll have this up for retail as soon as we get the book out to everyone who pre-ordered it. Additionally, once we send out the digital rewards, the audiobook for An Atlas of Bad Roads will be going live on ACX.

The next immediate big thing is the Summer Issue, which will be out 6/15. We’ll devote an entire post to it in the next couple of days, but the eBook is available for pre-order.

The Mighty Sons of Hercules is about to go up on Kickstarter for pre-order. I’ll post a link and a full post as soon as it’s approved.

We’ll be open for submissions in August. Things are still really crazy, and we’ll need more funding to buy stories for next year. One way you can help is by checking out our eBay store. A few recent sales have already boosted us nicely. I’m trying to list more things, but I’m not very good at getting off my duff and just doing it…

Also, don’t forget that Mongoose and Meerkat Volume 3 is out now on Amazon! If you missed the kickstarter, you can still check out this final collection and get the exciting conclusion as much as 6 months before magazine-only readers.

Finally, if you missed the Kickstarter for Sky Dance of Winter Fire, Michael has a few copies held in reserve that are available on his eBay store. There were only 25 and 35 copies each of the two different formats, making it the second-rarest Cirsova title after Relics of the Kangsta: 16 Inspiring Diss Tracks.

Later up this year and early next:
>Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars 6 collected
>Jim Breyfogle’s A Bad Case of Dead
>Mongoose and Meerkat Omnibus
>some really big things I can’t talk about yet

Final Day for Misha Burnett’s Small Worlds!

Today is the last chance to back Misha Burnett’s Small Worlds! The Kickstarter ends at 6PM Central Time this evening. While the book will go up on Amazon eventually, you won’t want to miss out on the deals to get An Atlas of Bad Roads on audiobook for only $10, not to mention the exclusive Kickstarter hardcover!

You’d better hurry, time is running out!

Misha Burnett on Small Worlds [Part 8]

How do you hope your readers will react to these stories?

By feeling good about themselves.

That may sound strange coming from me, since my work so often deals with the dark and dismal side of human nature, but I mean it.

The fact of the matter is that I love the human race, in spite of everything. It’s not that I have many illusions about us being being good in any objective sense, but this is my species and you’re all I’ve got.

I try to use the Fantastic to shine a light on the Mundane. I like to present my characters with interesting and difficult ethical choices and show them choosing to take the best of a bad lot.

I want my readers to identify with my characters and to think, “If I was in that situation and I reacted to it like that person did, I’d feel good about myself.”

I don’t always succeed. And sometimes, to be honest, I change it up and write a story designed to make people think, “I’m glad I’m not the kind of person who would react to that situation in that way.” (There’s a lot of that in my last collection, An Atlas Of Bad Roads.)

In general, though, I am hoping that people will finish Small Worlds feeling good, and strong, and brave. I want to give people hope. And if many of my stories are dark, well that’s because when it’s darkest even the smallest candle can shine with a mighty light.

[Misha Burnett’s Small Worlds is on Kickstarter now but ends tomorrow! Be sure to pre-order this amazing collection, and don’t forget to check out the audiobooks of Endless Summer and An Atlas of Bad Roads as DRM-free add-ons, only $10 each!]

Misha Burnett on Small Worlds [Part 7]

Are any of the characters or events in these stories based on real people or events from your own life?

All of them and none of them. I have very few characters who are based directly on a person I know. (And I probably shouldn’t point those out in case someone decides to sue me.)

Instead I tend to create characters based on “types” that I have known. I recall reading once a line from a detective novel (I think it was Joseph Wambaugh but I’m not sure) in which the protagonist muses that he remembers people by first categorizing them with a particular label and then making a note of one way in which the individual varies from the stereotype.

For example: Outlaw Biker—but he raises chihuahuas.

Corporate Lawyer—but she paints seascapes on the weekends.

Vegan Health Nut—except he smokes a pack a day.

It’s a surprisingly deep way to create new characters. And it is a good representation of the sort of person I’ve known. People want to belong, but they also want to be seen as individuals. I take bits of pieces from people I see in my daily life and I combine them in new ways. I expect most writers do something similar.

As far as events, again, not directly. A lot of my stories begin as daydreams, when I am in a particular situation and I think, “You know what would make this day more interesting? Electrified zombies.”

Since I write genre fiction I generally change up the details of the setting, but the events are often the same as I encounter every day at work—at least to begin with.

Until the electrified zombies show up.

[It’s the last weekend to back Misha Burnett’s Small Worlds! Don’t miss out!]

Misha Burnett on Small Worlds [Part 6]

[There is about a week left on the Small Worlds Kickstarter! Be sure to back it now; if you’ve already backed it, convince your friends and family that they need to back this exciting new Anthology! Don’t forget that we’re also offering a discount on audiobooks of Endless Summer and An Atlas of Bad Roads!]

How do you think your own life and experiences have influenced your writing?

I paint what I see.

When I first started writing I tried to emulate the writers I admired. That’s a natural step in the process of learning the craft. I would advise anyone who wants to write to start by imitating the masters, just as art students do. (Or used to, anyway. I don’t know if they still teach art that way.)

But that’s just for learning technique. One’s voice, the nigh-indefinable something that gives humanity to words on paper, has to come from within.

I’m not sure how to describe the process of discovering your own voice except to say that it’s when you start to realize what the old masters got wrong. This sounds more arrogant than I want, but I haven’t been able to improve on the wording.

It comes when you are familiar enough with the tropes and beats of fiction that you can integrate them into your own experiences. You start to see both fiction and reality stereoscopically. When you read you think, “Yeah, but if that happened in the real world….” In your daily life you think, “If this happened in a story…”

Your voice is the point where that double vision becomes focused into one three dimensional image. And that image is different for all of us because it is based on what we know to be true from direct experience.

For me, it’s the nuts and bolts, the hardware of reality that I see most clearly. I am able to look at the Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions with the eye of a blue collar worker. I ask uncomfortable questions like “Where do starships dump the sewage tanks when they are in hyperspace?”.

Often the answers I come up with resolve themselves into stories.

Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat Volume 3: The Redemption of Alness By Jim Breyfogle On Amazon

The exciting final chapter of the adventures of Kat and Mangos is available on Amazon now, in both paperback and ebook!

Two years have passed since the fall of Alness. And two years have passed since the brash young sellsword Mangos teamed up with Kat, the mysterious Alnessi rogue. Together, they have made a name for themselves as the Mongoose and Meerkat!

The northlands still smolder as Rhygir holds Alness in an iron grip. Rumors swirl that an Alnessi royal may have survived, but Rhygir is intent on hunting down any resistance that might rally to a rogue prince who escaped the slaughter.

Though Rhygir has been consolidating power in Alness, the Mongoose and Meerkat have been hard at work, gathering resources and making alliances in Alomar and abroad. But can the new allies and old friends overcome the army of Rhygir before it can be bolstered by elite mercenaries?

All of the pieces of the King’s Game are in place!

Fully illustrated by Dark Filly and Raven Monroe.

Don’t miss out on the thrilling conclusion to Jim Breyfogle’s epic series!

If you haven’t picked up it, grab it today.

If you backed the Kickstarter, leave it a review!

Misha Burnett on Small Worlds [Part 5]

What themes or messages do you hope to convey through these stories?

I tackle this subject in the introduction—which I’m told no one ever reads. (I always read short story collection introductions and afterwards, too, if there is one. But maybe I’m just weird.)

For those who may read this but won’t read that, let me summarize it with one line from the introduction:

“Small worlds need saving, too.”

I initially conceived the title, Small Worlds, as a reference to the fact that several of the stories take place on artificial worlds in space. As I was putting it together, though, I began to feel a more metaphorical meaning to the title.

We don’t really live in the world. It’s too big. In order to make sense of things we have to put up fences, to draw boarders around our little piece of the world and declare everything else off limits, out of bounds, beyond the pale.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing, necessarily, it’s just how things are. No one—with the possible exception of some saints—can love the whole world. We can, however, love the ones who are close to us, the ones we see every day. It’s not always easy. In fact, some days it can be damned difficult. But it’s how we stay human.

This is why so many Science Fiction and Fantasy Epic Extravagances feel flat. Saving the world (or the universe) isn’t really something human minds can grasp. What we can focus on is saving ourselves and the ones we love.

Our own small world.

That’s what matters.

[Misha Burnett’s Small Worlds is live on Kickstarter through the end of the month. Also, if you missed it the other night, Misha was on Critical Blast with RJ Carter talking about the project.]

Review of J. Scott Coatsworth’s Tales from Tharassas [By J. Comer]

This chapbook is three short stories by Coatsworth, whose SF and fantasy draw heavily on the soft SF of the 1970s and 1980s. Coatsworth is a personal friend and this reviewer read two of the stories in various versions before publication.

Tharassas, the Earthlike planet of these stories and the new novel The Dragon Eater, was settled two lifetimes before the first story, “The Fallen Angel”. It is home to a white racial colony who by this point have nonwhite people among them thanks to the “angels”, the slower-than-light star travelers who find mates and families on this planet (and others). The colony lives off a crop of “hencha”,  a plant with intelligence of its own.  Narratives of winter storms remind the reader of life in Arizona and California, where Coatsworth lives now. The nonwhite “differs” leave the racist community and found a new society in the wilderness, the “ce’faine”.  (Notably, Coatsworth pays careful attention to language in this book, though there isn’t a fully developed conlang here. The names with apostrophes recall Anne McCaffrey’s Pern).

The second story, “The Last Run”, brings another “angel”, Sera, to Tharassa, on the last starship that Earth will ever send. Sera’s wife dies en route and the starship crashes, leaving her to deal with a  colony’s virulent racism and her newfound attraction for local gal Jas’Aya, who harvests hencha amidst the failing technology of the colony world, and can communicate with the alien plants. The bond between the farmgirl, the stranger, and the plants resolves the story.

The last tale is one which Coatsworth has edited several times in different versions.  In the current iteration, “The Emp Test”, a young ‘Steader’ is injured and convalesces in the hands of an enemy tribesman, who is sworn to silence. The imagery of grasslands and mountains again recalls the American Southwest, Coatsworth’s home, and this setting seems very real. The ubiquitous hencha figures in this story as well, as does the psychic ‘emp’, a creature which creates a mindlink.  This story is more a romance than the other two are.

Tales from Tharassas is a light introduction to Coatsworth’s fiction and will appeal to fans of McCaffrey, Lois McMaster Bujold and James Cambias.  Coatsworth’s attention to real science and his commitment to causes of equality and justice are evident here as throughout his work.  Recommended.