News for September 2022

I haven’t had time to really post here in the last several days because SO much has been going on!

On the things to do list:

  • Second Round Edits for Summer 2023
  • Mail out and finish fulfillment of Mongoose & Meerkat Volume 2
  • Setup pre-orders for Mongoose & Meerkat Volume 3
  • Get all of the 2023 art solicits out
  • Start reading the stories we’ve already gotten for Mighty Sons of Hercules
  • Setup pre-order for Mighty Sons of Hercules
  • Figure out where to squeeze in future and forthcoming projects by Cirsova’s “Big Three” [Jim Breyfogle, Misha Burnett, and Michael Tierney]
  • Two other things that I wish I could talk about but I can’t [some secrets must be kept…]

As you can see, I’ve got my work cut out for me, and even working on things absolutely non-stop I can’t help but feel like I’m falling behind.

Other things I’ve had going on…

  • I’ve become a bit of an impromptu regular on the LCS Guys show, since no other LCS Guys except for Michael Tierney have been able to make it on for months now. Last Friday, we talked about a number of things, including how terrible Ingram is! [it’s not just happening to me, RJ shares his own horror stories]
  • Tangent finally got around to reviewing the Summer issue. Maybe they’ll get around to reviewing the Fall soon? If you have reviewed an issue of Cirsova, let us know! We’ll point to your post. Also, we really need more pull quote copy for the hardcover flaps. I’ve gotten a little lazy and re-used the same copy from the last few installments, but it would be easier if we got more reviews!

Space Gals and Furry Pals: A review of Library of the Sapphire Wind by Jane Lindskold

Our reviews section spilled over and we didn’t have enough space to review all of the books Baen sent us in the magazine, so we’re running a couple of them here! Be sure to pick up the Fall Issue out now in Softcover, Hardcover, and eBook! The issue currently out has J. Comer’s review of Pournelle’s Janissaries series.

     The late Ursula K. Le Guin authored A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness and more than sixty other books. While her SF and fantasy are her legacy, Le Guin also penned her share of nonfiction. In her essay “The Space Crone,”[1] she imagines an older woman (rather than the usual men and boys) as the ideal ambassador to other worlds, as she would know more of human existence. “Into the space ship, Granny,” she urged.

     Jane Lindskold took apart the ‘crazy cat lady’ stereotype in the Man-Kzin tale, “Two Kinds of Teeth,” and she takes Le Guin’s idea and flies with it in Library Of The Sapphire Wind. Three old ladies attending a book club find themselves drawn by magic into a world peopled by anthropomorphic animal-folk (“furries”) and sent on a quest for the eponymous library aboard a flying ship. This author is fond of animal characters, as evidenced by her Firekeeper Saga and its wolves, but her furries are remarkably tasteful. At the library, the old ladies and their furry pals explore the ruined setting, battle the local monsters, and begin to find both wisdom and atonement for the misdeeds of their parents. The humans must be concealed. At a desert necropolis, the story unfolds further. We learn of a missing child, and a long-broken artifact, and a deal. The adventuring party returns to the Library, fights a huge battle, and… The story ends. Huh?

     The story has some issues.  The dramatic tension of teleporting the three heroes into a world without prescription medication, special diets, or therapy is resolved too quickly.  Humans can breathe the air, eat the food, even smoke the ‘weeds’ of an alien planet? Really?  The old-lady heroes are promising but not well developed as characters. And the ending of the novel (which is part of the “Over Where” series) is much too abrupt. This book might appeal to readers of second-world fantasy with furries taking the place of elves and gnomes. I can imagine reading it to kids at bedtime or in classroom storytime, but it needs a stronger ending (perhaps the next book will address this).

     A Facebook meme that has been current across the last five years pays homage to the space crone. It goes, “I’d read the hell out of a series of [books about] a chosen eighty-five-year-old woman who goes on epic journeys throughout a dangerous and magical land, armed only with a cane and her stab-tastic knitting needles, accompanied by her six cats and a skittish-yet-devoted orderly who makes sure she takes her pills on time.”  When I opened Sapphire Wind, I was expecting this, more or less. If I didn’t get it, well, I still like Lindskold’s writing, furries and all. Hoping for more adventures in the “Over Where” from Lindskolsd.    


[1] In Dancing At The Edge Of The World (Grove Press, 1989)

The Little Corporal’s Legacy: A Review of A Call to Insurrection by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Thomas Pope

Our reviews section spilled over and we didn’t have enough space to review all of the books Baen sent us in the magazine, so we’re running a couple of them here! Be sure to pick up the Fall Issue out now in Softcover, Hardcover, and eBook! The issue currently out has J. Comer’s review of Pournelle’s Janissaries series.

     One hundred and eighty-six years after his death on St Helena, Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, is still a household name. While the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, Horatio Nelson remains a more distant romantic figure.[1]  It was a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, Frederic Marryat, who pioneered the genre of nautical fiction.[2] In later years, meticulous research alternated with sheer melodrama in the works of numerous nautical writers.[3] One favorite is the “Horatio Hornblower” series by Cecil Smith (“C.S. Forester”), later made into movies and a TV series about the Nelson-like hero. Numerous SF authors have paid homage to Hornblower, including Leo Frankowski and David Feintuch, but perhaps the best-known of these Hornblower-in-space series is David Weber’s Honor Harrington. Honor, a gal from the kingdom of Manticore (space Britain), enlists in the Navy, has many adventures with her alien treecat, and ends up a stateswoman, admiral, and diplomat. Harrington proved so successful (fourteen novels and counting) that Weber expanded the series, including novels about Honor’s ancestor Stephanie Harrington and her colleagues. Call to Insurrection is in this latter series.[4]

     And it’s hard to follow without having read the rest of the series (which this reviewer has not done). A nobleman’s family dies in a horrific drunken “accident,” and a character investigates. There is a succession crisis among space Germans (who speak twentieth-century German in the forty-first century[5]) and rebellion which threatens worlds. Someone is killing people in graphic detail aboard the space-German ship. There is a missing heir…or is there? The Germans fight a well-written space battle which was a real pleasure to read. They win, and the Emperor of the space-Germans gets married. It’s obvious that there will be a sequel…

     …and the reviewer scratches his head.  The writing is good, and the storylines are well-drawn, though they don’t really converge.  The characters are not striking, save for Chomps the detective, whom this reviewer liked.  The huge battle at the end is finely-drawn action, but… it’s a Napoleonic sea battle.  And there, the heir of Marryat took this reader out of the story. This was surprising, since the silly rollicking action of Grossman and Frankowski was simply fun.  The present reviewer could merely scratch his head and go huh?

     The reviewer really wanted to like this book, since Weber aided Alex Pournelle in finishing the Janissaries series after Jerry Pournelle’s death.  It’s not a bad novel, honestly, and its authors are professionals.  Its problem is that it’s not a good one.  It’s a shame that its action could not keep this reader’s attention.  The reviewer would be willing to read other work by these authors.    


[1] A readable introduction to this man and his most important battle is Nelson’s Trafalgar by Roy Adkins.

[2] The ur-tale is the Odyssey, of course, but Marryat’s Mr Midshipman Easy contains all the elements of modern nautical fiction: the young middie and his adventures in the Napoleonic era, his rise through the navy and through society’s ranks, a dark-eyed lass whom he woos and weds. Midshipman Easy, and the dark horse of the novel, Mesty the prince-turned-slave, continue to inspire writers even today. Easy rises through the ranks with the help of his pal, and ends up a landed gentleman; Marryat’s humor and wordplay make the novel a pleasant read despite stereotypes and dialect writing.  The curious can find this neglected work at https://gutenberg.org/files/21553/21553-h/21553-h.htm

[3] This reviewer considers the novels of Richard Russ (“Patrick O’Brian”) to be examples of how to write nautical fiction and the work of Dudley Pope to be examples of how not to do so.

[4] Yes, it’s a novel about a friend of the ancestor of the main character.

[5] I may simply be persnickety about this, but Weber has got to know that the Spanish of Borges was Silver Age Latin, two thousand years back.

Cirsova Fall Issue Available Now in eBook!

The physical versions of the Fall Issue have been out for awhile, but now that it’s the 15th, the eBook is out too!

The Impossible Footprint
By DAVID SKINNER
Daredevil Dylal O’Lal desires the impossible: to put his footprint on the surface of the sun! Though most insist it cannot be done, the existence of a young woman who proves to be wholly impervious to flames suggests his ultimate feat is achievable!

Orphan of the Shadowy Moons (Part 3)
By MICHAEL TIERNEY
Having escaped enslavement at Arendahj and returned to the Teluchi Islands, Strazis has before him the momentous task of leading a war of liberation! Many rally to Strazis’ cause but his old foe Eirlik has other plans—as does Eirlik’s father!

Vran, the Chaos-Warped
(Book 2)
By DAVE RITZLIN
Ripped by magic from the frozen world of the primitive cavemen, Vran finds himself in even stranger environs! Can he track down the foul wizard Foad Misjak within the halls of a giant castle that is teeming with cannibals and magically animated statues!?

Fight of the Sandfishers
By JIM BREYFOGLE
Celzez plans to denounce Teriz, a royal guard of Alness, as a traitor who shirked his duty as the city fell! Jalani hopes Mangos can stop him before it gets him killed!

The Wisdom of Man
By ADAM S. FURMAN
John Knox finds a victim of the experiments of a billionaire working to distill tachyons that can freeze time itself! Can he stop the mad project before it’s too late!?

A Long Way to Fall
By DAVID EYK
A murder has occurred on a colony cylinder under hostile occupation: a young officer has been found mangled, every bone broken—how did he fall from the axis?!

Fall of a Storm King
By MISHA BURNETT
The dangerous job of piloting in Saturn’s rings requires altering one’s perception of time! Luther is one of the best until a minor injury costs him his certification!

Tripping to Aldous
By J. MANFRED WEICHSEL
An interstellar police investigator is in pursuit of murderer Richard Morales! But the trail leads to Aldous, an illicit party planet with a hallucinogenic atmosphere!

Cerulean
By J. THOMAS HOWARD
On the run and dying of thirst on a desert world, Roger Campbell-Thorn finds salvation in a flask of nourishing intoxicant that sends him to the world’s distant past!

The Strickland Line
By ALEC CIZAK
The Strickland Line has a bug problem! Journalist Harv Wallender is accosted by a nasty critter… Quite the inconvenience! But then the critter starts to grow…!

New Troops for Old: Jerry Pournelle’s Janissaries
By J. COMER

My Name is John Carter (Part 13)
By JAMES HUTCHINGS

Local Signing Event Next Month! – Michael Tierney at Retrograde Comics in Little Rock, AR

Michael Tierney will be doing a signing at Retrograde Comics in Little Rock, Arkansas on October 8th 12PM – 4PM.

This will be his first major public appearance since closing his comic book stores last year. He’ll be signing copies of the new Wild Stars release, The Artomique Paradigm, as well as a few other things.

Retrograde Comics is located on Kavanaugh in Hillcrest. It’s a basement unit, so may be hard to spot, but it’s beneath the record store.

2612 Kavanaugh Blvd, Unit C
Little Rock, AR 72205
1-501-353-2668

www.littlerockcomicbookstore.com

Wild Stars and TTRPG Patron Play

Been thinking some about Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars. In some ways, it is, in fiction, the closest you get to something as off-the-wall as a #BROSR-style 1:1 time game with patrons in space with multiple factions, pieces on the board and off the board, all in motion simultaneously.

Left to Right: Carthage, two Brothan, Daestar, and Mack

One of the reasons why it’s hard to pitch is that it’s SO off the wall and chaotic, it’s not easy to either compare it to other works or really capture in a nutshell what’s going on. How would you elevator-pitch the narrative of what’s going on in #BROvenloft right now?

Wild Stars VII [which we’re serializing next year]: With adventuring hero-teams still regrouping, the Wild Star patrons Strazis off the board still and Erlik dead, you’re left with the Artomique Space Nazis who control earth, the Space Pirates, the telepath guild, and the psionic T-Rexes vying for control of known space.

The God Father is back, but his faction [the Purple Order] is out of commission until he can breed more with other immortal women. Phaedra is in play and gathering her own allies to wreck the Artomique / Pirate alliance.

We haven’t seen much of the Brothan (space werewolves) lately. I’m sure they’re still out there, though, but the Black Star Reavers (Space Lizardmen) are a new wildcard faction that may or may not be allied with the Artomiques, but not the telepaths guild (or vice versa).

Carthage, the renegade Wild Star, who was a Patron from the Brothan for awhile, has been factionless for some time, but he’s still around in some capacity due to Dalucar, the Saturnian.

The crabmen’s influence is still being felt across the galaxy, and their evolutionary spike that landed on Mars led to the ascendance of the telepathic T-Rexes. We haven’t seen them directly, though, since the flashback to the 20th century in the prologue of Wild Stars V.

In the context of this Patron Level game, the Ancient Warrior/Strazis is an ascended PC who went from sword & sandal Fighting Man to name-level patron for an interstellar confederation.

If you were to run a Wild Stars Braunstein, though, you’d need the following factions:

  • The Artomiques (Achilles Hister)
  • The Wild Stars (Strazis)
  • Atlanteans [specifically the pre-Wild Stars Atlanteans and those who did not become Wild Starriors after the exodus](Broadwater)
  • The Brothan (Brotah or Carthage)
  • The Five-Thousand-Fingered Hand (the Madam)
  • Space Pirate (Red Queen)
  • The Saturnians (Dalucar)
  • The Purple Order (The God Father)
  • Phaedra’s coalition (Phaedra)
  • The Black Star Reavers (?????)
  • The Marzanti (?????)
  • The Dire Griefs (?????)

And that’s just off the top of my head and for starters. Each of those Patrons has henchmen [such as Genghis and Georgian, Achilles’ two main mooks] as well as a number of adventurers.

Erlik

Because within those various groups, you have Erlik, who is Strazis’ son and one of the main leaders of the Wild Stars, his wife Daestar, who’s a member of the Five Thousand Fingered Hand (telepath’s guild that is actually a rival faction against Strazis’ Wild Stars).

Earth faction, you’d have Bully and Risky Bravo and their other family members, who are off adventuring on behalf of both earth and the Wild Stars, or, in Bullson’s case in the last volume, the Artomiques.

Different “PCs” are constantly forming, disbanding, and reforming adventuring parties against the backdrop of the machinations of the various factions vying for control of the Galaxy.

Anyway, Wild Stars VI: Orphan of the Shadowy Moon is being currently serialized in Cirsova Magazine. Part 3 just dropped. Parts 1 & 2 are on Amazon now.

We also recently published the collected edition of Wild Stars V: The Artomique Paradigm, which also reprints an original 1970s Wild Stars short story from The Multiversal Scribe that serves as a prelude to next year’s Wild Stars VII: The Gold Exigency. Plus, it contains some TTRPG write-ups for some of the major characters in case you would be interested in trying out a faction-based Wild Stars Braunstein.

Cirsova Turns 10!

Cirsova turned 10 yesterday [the blog, not the magazine]. Celebrate and buy a copy of our one publication that take place in the Cirsova “setting” from when we were an OSR blog!

I would’ve never guessed when we started that we would become one of the most important things to come out of the OSR Blog Sphere.

  • resurrected a 70s Sword & Planet series [Adrian Cole’s Dream Lords]
  • become home for another scifi series with roots in the 70s [Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars]
  • publish previously lost Tarzan story [Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She]
  • published a high-end illustrated edition of Leigh Brackett’s Stark Planet Stories
  • reprinted the nearly-lost All-Story Weekly fiction of Julian Hawthorne
  • much more [everything else]

If you haven’t already, pick up the Fall issue! The ebook version of it drops on Wednesday.

Cirsova 2023 Lineup!

Okay, everything has cleared, and we can announce our amazing 2023 lineup!

Among our major recurring features, we’ll be serializing Wild Stars VII: The Gold Exigency, in which a space cop gets roped into the cosmic struggle between warring titans, space pirates, and a telepathic dragon cult! Jim Breyfogle’s Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat race toward their dramatic conclusion this year in three stories, culminating in The Redemption of Alness! Adrian Cole’s New Dream Lords saga continues, chronicling another of Arrul Voruum’s early adventures in Across the Poison Sea!

We have a number of other returning Cirsova veterans as well as some new and exciting names! 2023 is going to be fantastic!

Spring

  • Quicksilver – J. Comer
  • Egg – Jaime Faye Torkelson
  • The Unshrouded Stars – David Skinner
  • Search Pattern – William Suboski
  • Starring Hedy Lamarr – Troy Riser
  • Hunger in the Void – Andrew Gallant
  • The Gold Exigency (pt1) – Michael Tierney
  • Comes the Hunter – Bill Willingham
  • The Feast of the Fedai – Jim Breyfogle

Summer

  • Across the Poison Sea – Adrian Cole
  • An Affair of Honor – Will Lowry
  • Curse of the Iron Moon – Frank Sawielijew
  • Meat on the Bone – Tia Ja’nae
  • Olvir’s Dream – C.D. Crabtree
  • The Red Queen of Ustari – Shuya Nanahara
  • Terror-trap of the Jintra – John Gradoville
  • The Machine of Fear – Harold R. Thompson
  • The Ruins of the Dalgre – Richard Rubin
  • The Serpent and the Spire – J. Thomas Howard
  • The Gold Exigency (p2) – Michael Tierney

Fall

  • Black Sky, White Knight – Mark Mellon
  • Children of Summer – Louise Sorensen
  • Dead Men Do Tell Tales – Teel James Glenn
  • Fossils of Truth and Grace – E.E. King
  • Trapped in the Loop – Jim Breyfogle
  • Metamorphoses at the Gate – Lysander Arden
  • The Dusk Next Door – Mark Pellegrini
  • To a Dead Soul in Morbid Love – Matthew Pungitore
  • The Chilling Account of The Wolf-Bann of Krallenburg – J.E. Tabor
  • The Angel Hanna – Rodica Bretin
  • The Gold Exigency (p3) – Michael Tierney

Winter

  • The Redemption of Alness – Jim Breyfogle
  • Moonlight Over Sussex – Daniel J. Minucci
  • Red Queen’s Race – Paul Lucas
  • Rising Shadows – Adam S. Furman
  • Incident in Burma,1942 – Mark Arvid White
  • That Hideous Brain – Jeffery Scott Sims
  • Commander – Richard Martin
  • Ithuriel’s Spear- Joseph W. Knowles
  • The Gold Exigency (p4) – Michael Tierney

Just don’t forget about 2022, we’ve still got several months and another issue left! The Fall issue just dropped in physical formats [softcover, hardcover] with part 3 of Orphan of the Shadowy Moons and Part 2 of Vran, The Chaos-Warped. You don’t want to miss it!

Cirsova Fall 2022 Issue Available Now in Print!

The Impossible Footprint
By DAVID SKINNER
Daredevil Dylal O’Lal desires the impossible: to put his footprint on the surface of the sun! Though most insist it cannot be done, the existence of a young woman who proves to be wholly impervious to flames suggests his ultimate feat is achievable!

Orphan of the Shadowy Moons (Part 3)
By MICHAEL TIERNEY
Having escaped enslavement at Arendahj and returned to the Teluchi Islands, Strazis has before him the momentous task of leading a war of liberation! Many rally to Strazis’ cause but his old foe Eirlik has other plans—as does Eirlik’s father!

Vran, the Chaos-Warped
(Book 2)
By DAVE RITZLIN
Ripped by magic from the frozen world of the primitive cavemen, Vran finds himself in even stranger environs! Can he track down the foul wizard Foad Misjak within the halls of a giant castle that is teeming with cannibals and magically animated statues!?

Fight of the Sandfishers
By JIM BREYFOGLE
Celzez plans to denounce Teriz, a royal guard of Alness, as a traitor who shirked his duty as the city fell! Jalani hopes Mangos can stop him before it gets him killed!

The Wisdom of Man
By ADAM S. FURMAN
John Knox finds a victim of the experiments of a billionaire working to distill tachyons that can freeze time itself! Can he stop the mad project before it’s too late!?

A Long Way to Fall
By DAVID EYK
A murder has occurred on a colony cylinder under hostile occupation: a young officer has been found mangled, every bone broken—how did he fall from the axis?!

Fall of a Storm King
By MISHA BURNETT
The dangerous job of piloting in Saturn’s rings requires altering one’s perception of time! Luther is one of the best until a minor injury costs him his certification!

Tripping to Aldous
By J. MANFRED WEICHSEL
An interstellar police investigator is in pursuit of murderer Richard Morales! But the trail leads to Aldous, an illicit party planet with a hallucinogenic atmosphere!

Cerulean
By J. THOMAS HOWARD
On the run and dying of thirst on a desert world, Roger Campbell-Thorn finds salvation in a flask of nourishing intoxicant that sends him to the world’s distant past!

The Strickland Line
By ALEC CIZAK
The Strickland Line has a bug problem! Journalist Harv Wallender is accosted by a nasty critter… Quite the inconvenience! But then the critter starts to grow…!

New Troops for Old: Jerry Pournelle’s Janissaries
By J. COMER

My Name is John Carter (Part 13)
By JAMES HUTCHINGS

Review: Ghosts on the Block Never Sleep, by Tia Ja’nae

It is very hard to put into words what a ride this book is. Wow. Adventure, crime, political thriller, to horror. Ghosts on the Block is the story of a young woman who has been working for a car parts fence who’s getting in over his head. One more job keeps turning into “Just One More JobTM” with the stakes escalating for the heroine along with the dangers and the challenges as her skills draws the attention of a corrupt city alderman who has her fingers in the pies all over Chicago.

The writing is tight and witty, keeping things moving at a break-neck pace but never sacrificing the character development. I’m always a little iffy on present-tense writing, but here it works. The action and the heists themselves were so much fun, I could’ve read a book of them three times longer and I don’t know that it would’ve worn out its welcome.

So that corrupt city alderman? Man… Frank Booth’s got nothing on Monica. Hoowee, that lady’s EVIL! I honestly cannot think of any villain in fiction that I would rather not be within 50 miles of. I really don’t want to spoil the last turns that this novel takes, but like I said: it goes from Adventure Crime Thriller to Political Thriller to Horror.

For various reason, this book is out of print and no longer available on Amazon despite having come out at just the end of last year. It is worth it to do whatever you can to track down a copy and read this. You will not regret it [unless you’re squeamish; this gets pretty ExtremeTM towards the end.]

Five Stars and probably one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Disclaimer: We have an offer out on an unrelated piece of short fiction by Tia Ja’nae.