Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense is a semi-pro publication that, in 2019, paid .0125 per word for original fiction. In addition to its flagship magazine, Cirsova Publishing has released original fiction in Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen’s Duel Visions and the 35th Anniversary Editions of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars.
Cirsova has published 38 eligible works of fiction in 2019.
[Bold works are Tangent Recommended; * indicates Ursa Major Award eligibility]
This is it, the final Retro Fandom Friday for some time! People were abuzz in the Vizigraph about the Fall issue of Planet Stories, which featured Enchantress of Venus as its cover story. I totally did not plan for this to fall on the day that our Illustrated 70th Anniversary Edition of Enchantress of Venus comes out, but hey, it is a happy coincidence!
First letter we’ll look at comes from W. Paul Ganley:
What is Planet coming to? How dare your cover illustrate a story! All the science-fiction tradition, gone–Destroyed by a mere flick of the paint brush–lost forever. Oh, well, I suppose an artist had to hit upon a picture that would follow a story just by the laws of chance–even though they don’t read the story. (They don’t, do they?)
Enchantress of Venus automatically slips into first place, by three laps head of Action on Azura. It also automatically places Leigh Brackett fourth upon my list of authors–no, wait a minute, I’ll make that third. Will Jenkins(…)has slipped.
I agree with Rodney Palmer: Brackett’s work is undeniably like that of Burroughs’. Not, I believe, in style, but in the mood she creates. (Burroughs, by the way, is my favorite writer.) Oddly, her style is akin to that of Bradbury (my second favorite author); I say oddly, because I see no similarity in the styles of Bradbury and Burroughs.
I guess her character, Stark is here to stay. Now, I have a question I’d like you to answer when (?) you print this. Did Miss (?) (Married.–Ed.) Brackett write any stories about Stark before she left science-fiction-writing ‘way back when I wasn’t reading (anything, probably)? (See Ed Cox’s letter, below.–Ed.) If so what are teh titles, and in what issues did they appear (I want to get them, if any)? If she didn’t, here is a request–two requests. First, have her continue the series, as she can have him as a hero on any planet she chooses, without detracting from the story value–in fact, it would enhance the story. Second, if N’Chaka is a new character, how about a story (book-length novel, huh?) about his early childhood. I doubt whether the fen will accuse her of pirating Burroughs’ work. I’d like to read about the adventures of Stark in his youth in Mercury, and about the incidents of which she has but hinted in her latest stories.
Sword of Fire, by Emmett McDowell, was the featured cover story of the Winter 1949 issue of Planet Stories. It can be read here at Archive.org.
Whatever the hell that is they’re riding is totally making epic meme-face.
At last we get to the exciting cover story of the Winter issue!
Dashing raygun pulp hero Jupiter Jones is on a mission for the Galactic Colonization Board to chart nearby star system with potentially habitable worlds when his ship, the Mizar, gets hit by a space warp that throws him half-way across the universe. Without fuel and supplies to get back, he’s forced to land on an earth-like alien world to seek out the necessary fissiles to get him home.
Jones finds himself on a strange planet with several divergent humanoid races, most of which are the bred-slaves of a race of evil telepathic mollusk men! Lucky for Jones, in the octopods’ temple, they have a giant tentacle monster statue made out of uranium that may be his ticket home!
The Octopods managed to take over the world because the humanoid civilization had found these small creatures that, when affixed to the neck, gave them telepathic powers. Having telepathic powers and small mollusks attached to your spinal cord became all the rage. Of course, the small mollusks were the young life-stage of horrible tentacle monsters from the sea, and everyone who had one of the buggers stuck to his or her neck was easily enslaved.
Let The Ants Try by Frederik Pohl (as James MacCreigh) appeared in the Winter 1949 issue of Planet Stories. It can be read here at Archive.org.
A man’s first enemy is his family—for he sees them first—but he sides with them against the families across the way. And still his neighbors are allies against the Ghettos and Harlems of his town—and his town to him is the heart of the nation—and his nation commands life and death in war.
Let The Ants Try is a great one. A lot of pulp stories I’ve read have tried to mix humor and horror, often with varying results, but I think this one nails it. It has an almost absurd premise, practically a joke, that’s played straight through to the end with pretty terrifying and grisly results.
In the not-too-distant future of 1960, we’re looking at Fallout: Detroit. The bombs fell, and it was hell on earth. Those who died in the initial blast were the lucky ones—those outside the city had the fortune to die slow and miserable deaths from radiation sickness. When the radiation finally died down enough, Dr. Salva Gordy, a professor of mathematics and physics, moved back to the ruins of Detroit, to be where his family had been and because he felt he had nowhere else to go.
In The Green Dream, drug lord Owen Baarslag is accompanied by a strange alien girl, Joha, on his quest for revenge.
Owen is quite a heel:
To the Tellurian colonists scattered minutely through the rich area of Sector 5, Owen Baarslag was an unspeakable obscenity. A degenerate derelict; an abnormal who had “gone native” and things even more despicable. A Stith addict who eked out a precarious existence in the most polluted occupation known: that of forcing the timid Venusian swamp natives to harvest the meagre crops of aukweed from the lake bottoms.
He wasn’t always, though. He was once a scientist, quite brilliant, actually, until he was outlawed by the academy. Owen forever harbors a grudge against his twin brother, Albert, also a brilliant scientist, who was the one who turned in the very psyche eval that condemned him.
The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, by John and Dorothy de Courcy, appeared in the Winter 1949 issue of Planet Stories. It can be read here at Archive.org.
There have been a number of husband and wife team throughout SFF history. And we’ve long-since put to bed the myth that pulps weren’t publishing stories by women unless they hid behind a male name. But John and Dorothy de Courcy may be one of the first husband/wife teams I’ve seen credited together, and exclusively together, in the pulps. (Moore and Kuttner were independently well-known, and Moore was always credited under her maiden name when they were credited jointly; John & Dorothy seem to be exclusively a couple thing, and that’s kind of adorable). The de Courcy’s also seem to have some small contemporary popularity and recognition via Libravox despite having a relatively small body of work from the late 40s, published mostly in a couple Ziff-Davis magazines and fanzines.
The Night Has a Thousand Eyes is one of those SFF crime-thrillers that could work a contemporary setting just as well as a futuristic one and makes you wish SFF of this era was better represented on the big and small screen. The story’s anti-hero is a rough pace pirate type hanging in an even rougher dive—he’s doing impossibly stout shots to impress folks, but this leads to him getting into a scuffle where he accidentally kills a man: the brother of an exotic dancer who witnessed the murder.
The last thing Captain Brace wants is a run-in with the spaceport authorities. He wants to spare the girl if he can, but his options are limited. He can’t keep her along, but selling the dancer to human traffickers is almost as unpalatable as killing her.
Despite its brutal premise, and its tense and thrilling execution, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes is a touching and emotional story with a powerful ending.
Flight From Time by Alfred Coppel Jr. appeared in the Winter 1949 issue of Planet Stories. It can be read here at Archive.org.
The premise of Flight From Time is a fairly simple one: a criminal is hoping to get away with his crime by hiding out in space until the statute of limitations on his crime has expired. He’s got everything he needs: supplies, food, fuel, entertainment. All he has to do is wait. It’ll be a long and lonely wait, but he can manage and it will be worth it once he can finally put all of his ill-gotten wealth to good use.
Then his ship’s chronometer breaks down. The crook is no mechanic, and he’s unable to fix it. But it’ll be okay—he just has to wait it out. Maybe be a bit more cautious, judge by the rate at which he goes through his provisions over his decade-and-a-half stint.
When his pocket watch breaks, it’s just salt in the wound. But he can make it. He just has to have patience!
Tubemonkey, by Jerome Bixby, appeared in the Winter 1949 issue of Planet Stories. It can be read here at Archive.org.
It’s no big, scalable concept like The Dead-Star Rover, but Tubemonkey does offer some compelling fodder for your space rpg.
At some point, there’s a chance that space radiation will fry your brain and turn you into barely cognizant half-wit. Despite your idiocy, you may still retain your pilot skills, and still have some moments of lucid clarity. Such a condition might make you the ideal mark for space crooks who need pilots who don’t ask questions or really understand what’s going on, just that you’re getting a shot at space one more time.
Rhiannon is one such poor fellow—his mind and memory are shot, but he’s a capable pilot who keeps himself occupied in the sims (“rocket games”). His only real friend is a dog named Sergeant Atoms. When someone comes to him with the opportunity to get back into space again “to help win the war”, poor Rhiannon jumps at the chance.