Playing Old Vidya: Sid Meier’s Edition

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve had some time to myself!

In my scant free time I’ve been replaying Civilization and trying out Colonization for the first time!

There are a lot of glaring things in Civilization that bother me now that didn’t bother me as a kid or even really so much replaying it 10-to-15 years ago. There are a few small thing I’m noticing, like how there’s such a huge gap between Knights as your multipurpose war unit and tanks [my Dad & I almost always skipped getting knights because Chivalry was a tech-tree dead-end], but the big things that bugged me this time around are Sid Meier’s preachiness-as-game-mechanics:

  • Republics and Democracies never break treaties
  • Democracies have no corruption
  • Even moderate pollution leads to catastrophic desertification

Colonization is fun but kind of silly-preachy in its own way.

It’s weird that having rebellious colonists makes them more efficient…

>Domestic Advisor: Congratulations! Membership in the Sons of Liberty is up!
>Me: Oh, no! How do I fix this!? You there, in the town hall! Quit “making Liberty” and get back to making tools or textiles or something!

On the other hand, Colonization IS rather educational…

>go out of your way to placate the indians
>send raw materials as gifts
>give the tribes food in their time of need
>travelling pioneers massacred unprovoked by tribes you’re “at peace with”
>burn down every camp of the tribe
>it never happens again

Anyway, be sure to check out the new issue of Cirsova, out now, and back our crowdfund to get Julian Hawthorne’s The Cosmic Courtship back into print!

Review from Caroline Furlong!

Caroline Furlong is one of Cirsova’s up-and-coming authors who, by this Summer, will be among one of the few Cirsova contributors to get a second cover feature. Her past Cirsova stories, Halcyon and Death’s Shadow, appeared in Summer Special #1 and Vol. 2 #4. Her upcoming story, Lupus One, will be featured in the Vol.2 #7 (Summer 2021).

Caroline Furlong published a review of new issue of Cirsova that’s out this week. You can read it here on her website.

If you are just coming to Cirsova Magazine for the first time, I highly recommend this issue as an entrance to the magazine proper. With two major cliffhangers, one ongoing poem (this is part nine), and three great standalone tales in its pages, this issue is an ideal access point. 

Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a little bit early to plug the Summer issue with her story, as the Spring issue just came out yesterday, but I’m pretty excited to let you know that not only will the issue have illustrations from Dark Filly, Caroline’s story will be illustrated by Usanekorin.

Meanwhile, the Spring issue is out now with covers from Anton Oxenuk, Genzoman, and myself.

Also, be sure to check out our Kickstarter for Julian Hawthorne’s The Cosmic Courtship!

New Cirsova Out Today!

The new issue of Cirsova is out today!

Amazon didn’t link our books for some reason, but you can still get them here:

Or you can buy them from our Aerio Store.

Hardcovers:

The Artomique Paradigm (Part 1 of 3)
By MICHAEL TIERNEY

Earth is now in contact with their intergalactic cousins! But during recent conflicts with aliens and pirates, the Artomiques, fascist refugees from an alternate timeline, have become Terra’s dominant faction using stolen Wild Stars technology!

The Grain Merchant of Alomar
By JIM BREYFOGLE

The Mongoose & Meerkat have set up in the city of Alomar—in spare rooms of a wealthy merchant who has no idea they’re living there, even after he’s hired them!

Devil’s Deal
By MICHAEL WIESENBERG

A gambler and a wannabe cardsharp, Henry finally has an Ace up his sleeve: the ability to see a moment into the future—a diabolical gift from the Devil Himself!

The Book of Dark Sighs
By ROBERT ZOLTAN

Dareon and Blue, the Rogues of Merth, find themselves in the crosshairs of an old foe! They must find for him a powerful tome, or Blue’s love will perish at his hand!

My Name is John Carter (Part 9)
By JAMES HUTCHINGS

BADAXE
By

PAUL O’CONNOR – WRITER

KENT BURLES – PENCILLER

JAMES BALDWIN – INKER

MELANIE MERZ – TONES

CLEM ROBINS – LETTERS

MITCH FOUST – COVER PAINTING

MICHAEL TIERNEY – DIGITAL RESTORATION

The fearsome legions of the God Badaxe are on the march, cleaving a bloody swath through the magical land of Pangaea. Countless villages have been burnt to the ground, their young male populations examined and beheaded. Somewhere, a boy with a strange birthmark on his right palm poses a deadly threat to the most powerful being on Pangea—if he is allowed to reach maturity!

Cruising Towards Our First Stretch Goal for The Cosmic Courtship!

As of this moment, we’ve raised over $3k for our project to reprint The Cosmic Courtship! Not only that, our project is now a Kickstarter “Project We Love!”

Our $3,500 Stretch Goal is as follows:

  • Foreword for The Cosmic Courtship
  • Julian Hawthorne’s Lottery [a short poem]
  • A Selected Bibliography of Julian Hawthorne
  • Scenes of Hawthorne’s Romances [18 page fully illustrated facsimile of an essay Julian wrote on his father’s works as it was originally published in July 1884 issue of The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine]
  • A Short Biography of Fred A. Small, the cover illustrator for The Cosmic Courtship.

All of these will be included in the Trade, Hardcover, and Magazine formats. They will NOT be included in the pocket paperback, as that format must remained streamlined so we can offer it at the price it’s at. [Plus the facsimile stuff would not look great shrunk down that small].

A lot of people have asked about the eBook offering…

If we hit our $8k stretch goal, we’ll be giving all backers digital copies AND donating a text version to Project Gutenberg.

Why not offer it straight away? Well, since The Cosmic Courtship is a public domain work, once it’s out there, it’s out there. But we’ve all put a lot of work into this project, and our collaborators need to be compensated for their time and effort–that’s only fair to them… So, what we’re asking is for people to support us and this project so we may be able to do it again and, by doing so, get more work in the Public Domain available for modern consumption.

So, back today! At this rate, we’ll be giving away digital version for sure!

Cirsova Publishing to Reprint Nearly-Lost Julian Hawthorne Planetary Romance, “The Cosmic Courtship”

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Cirsova Publishing is proud to announce that it has partnered with Michael Tierney and Robert Allen Lupton to restore and reprint Julian Hawthorne’s The Cosmic Courtship, a never-before-collected pulp Planetary Romance by the son of famed American author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The Cosmic Courtship Serialized across four issues.

Mary Faust, a brilliant scientist, has developed a machine that can allow the conscious human soul to explore the cosmos! Her promising young assistant Miriam Mayne has accidentally transferred her consciousness to Saturn, where she falls under the enchantment of an evil sorcerer! Jack Paladin, her love, sets out after her on a thrilling celestial journey to the ringed planet! Swashbuckling adventure and high romance await in Julian Hawthorne’s The Cosmic Courtship!

While most are at least somewhat familiar with Nathaniel Hawthorne as one of the great American authors, less well known is that his son Julian was an incredibly prolific writer in his own right. Julian wrote on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from literary analysis of his father’s works to poetry to period romances and adventures. Late in his career, Julian even dabbled in the emerging genre of Science Fiction.

The Cosmic Courtship was serialized in Frank A. Munsey’s All-Story Weekly across four issues, beginning with the November 24, 1917 issue and running through the December 15, 1917 issue. While this story has been in the public domain for some time, it has never been collected or published elsewhere until now.

Cirsova Publishing has taken on this exciting project with the aim of preserving this story for posterity and ensuring that it is not lost to future generations.

Fred A. Small Cover Restored by Michael Tierney

Michael Tierney is a pulp historian and archivist who has written extensively on Edgar Rice Burroughs, having created the massive four volume Edgar Rice Burroughs 100 Year Art Chronology, and is currently working on another Art Chronology about Robert E. Howard. He has been involved in the comic book industry for 40 years, owning two of the oldest comic book stores in Central Arkansas until switching to mail-order only in 2020. He is also an accomplished science fiction writer and artist, having worked on his Wild Stars saga since the 1970s. Michael not only made his pulp library available for this project, he provided the photographic images of these rare magazines so that a manuscript could be produced. He has also lent his years of experience digitally restoring damaged pulp art to restore the original cover by Fred W. Small to create a unique cover for this edition.

Robert Allen Lupton is a prolific author, pulp historian, and commercial hot air balloon pilot. He has published nearly 200 short stories across numerous anthologies, including the New York Times Best Selling Chicken Soup For the Soul series, and has published several anthologies and novels. His most recent novel, “Dejanna of the Double Star” was published in December 2020. Robert has been an active Edgar Rice Burroughs historian, researcher, and writer since the 1970s, including at ERBzine, where several of his articles and stories are published. Robert has painstakingly recreated the text as it was originally published from the digital images provided from Michael’s collection.

Cirsova Publishing has been publishing thrilling adventure science fiction and fantasy since 2016. They have published nearly 20 issues of their flagship publication, Cirsova Magazine. Additionally, they have published a number of anthologies, a fully illustrated edition of Leigh Brackett’s Planet Stories-era Stark adventures, Jim Breyfogle’s Mongoose and Meerkat, and the 35th Anniversary Editions of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars.

This collected edition of The Cosmic Courtship will be released later in 2021.

Well, it was nice while it lasted….

Cirsova Publishing spent an entire month in the black [largely thanks to the person who bought the last three full-sized Mongoose & Meerkat illustrations], but now that we’ve sent out the contributor copies of Spring and just paid for the Summer artwork, we’re now -$14.97.

I still have two covers that need to be paid for + more interior art for the Summer issue, so help keep us alive by checking out the Spring issue on Monday!

You can buy my touhou variant cover, or you can buy Anton or Genzoman’s cover.

Amazon won’t link my titles, but those are easier to find in search than the Chen cover.

Review: The Blazing Chief + Changing of the Guards

I’m long overdue on this review of The Blazing Chief, the third and final book in Matt Spencer’s Deschembine trilogy. Awhile back, Matt sent me review copies of some of his stuff, and apparently some of our review was glowing enough to be included in the ‘praise’ section for this volume! You can check out those reviews here and here.

I’ll also note that Matt Spencer has a Deschembine gaiden story that was published in our 2020 Fall Special.

The most important question about any final book in a series is, did it stick the landing? Was it a satisfying conclusion to the story being told and did the loose threads get tied up?

I’d say, for the most part, yes.

One of the things that I noted when reading The Night and the Land was how, despite being an almost complete monster, by the end of the book you felt for Sheldon and even if you didn’t want him to succeed, you were kind of glad he survived his encounter with Rob. As the trilogy unfolds, Spencer leans into this, and while you can’t really call him the protagonist in a book with so many shifting view points, by the end of book 3, he’s something of “the hero, ackshually,” particularly as the focus shifts away from Rob as a person and more a force or nature.

I’ll admit that one of the plot twists part way through this final installment was something of a gut-punch that makes a big chuck of the story something of a shoot-the-shaggy-dog. Spencer is generally pretty liberal with his character deaths, but they’re usually secondary characters. This one was almost as surprising as when Tomino killed off Amuro halfway through the last Gundam novel (though admittedly Spencer handled this one better.)

In a way, it serves to remind that in times of crises, it’s not just one person’s story, and everyone else’s stories still go on without them, but it’s a risky choice to make in a fictional story.

Where The Blazing Chief succeeds best, I think, is its transition from modern fantasy [it’s hard to call it Urban Fantasy, when so much of it takes place in small towns and rural backwaters] to mythic fantasy. Readers who are waiting to finally get a glimpse of Deschemb will not be disappointed.

Overall, I’d say The Blazing Chief delivers a satisfying ending to series. Given the “deep lore” nature of this trilogy, I think it’s even worth it to go back and reread the whole series after finishing this one.

I also received a copy of Changing of the Guards, which is a prequel/sidestory that takes place in Old Deschemb that was written while the rights to trilogy were in limbo with a past publisher. I actually read this before The Blazing Chief, but I hadn’t had a chance to review it.

Changing of the Guards is an action-packed grimdark fantasy with lots of brutality, blood and guts, etc. It’s all right for what it is, but I think it lacks some of the spark and mystery of the main Deschembine books. While Spencer was able to craft an incredibly deep and mythic setting on earth with aeons of a hidden secret war occurring beneath the noses of mankind [until everything blows up] with the Deschembine Trilogy, Deschemb itself in Changing of the Guards feels a bit flat. I think the biggest weakness in Changing of the Guards is the anachronistic dialog–the sort of speech that worked well in the Deschembine Trilogy, which mostly took place on contemporary earth, felt strange in the mouths of fantasyland characters. Most notably, I’d say, “glowstick” as a pejorative for Spirelights makes sense in a contemporary setting, but not in a fantasy world that ostensibly never had a candy-raver scene.

Also, some of the violence and brutality was a bit too callous for my taste. While the Deschembine Trilogy featured a pretty rough cast, and most of the characters had done some really bad thing at some point or another, you still got the feeling that some of them were good people trying to do good in some rough and rotten circumstances. You don’t really get that in Changing of the Guards, where the characters are all almost irredeemably and unapologetically evil, with the only saving grace being that their machinations are aimed at individuals even more corrupt and evil than themselves.

That said, it was still an intriguing read and worth checking out if you can’t get enough of Deschemb.

Shocking Dr. Seuss Update

eBay now seems to be confirming to sellers that a publisher allowing a book to be discontinued/go out of print means that book is now a prohibited item.

This is an astounding and chilling policy decision.

I can’t think of any way to change the course of big tech, can you?

YouTube Shooting: Nasim Aghdam's Father Called Police Concerned About Her  Anger At Company – CBS Los Angeles

Brief Thoughts on the Dr. Seuss Madness

So, not only has Dr. Seuss’s estate ceased publication of several of his works for being “problematic,” eBay is now allegedly banning the sale of certain titles.

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This is a huge blow to potential aftermarket trade of these now banned books.

But you know what? This is the future that Dr. Seuss deserves. Maybe if children hadn’t been raised for decades on his anti-capitalist trash stories and books that presented Communism and Capitalism as equivalent with non-sensically trivial differences, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now and his books would not be banned by his own estate for wrongthink.

We’re living in trash world, now, and we earned it. For all of the conservatives ablooblooblooing over losing Dr. Seuss’s books, remember: He is one of the people that did this to you.