Happy Birthday, Cirsova!

The Cirsova blog is 7 years old today!

And instead of celebrating, I feel like I need to add some clarifying commentary to the ongoing war between SFF and Hard Bros SF.

Both sides have misrepresented or misunderstood the role that the Futurians and other sundry communist agitators played in the scifi divide. In fact, the ghost of Damon Knight is laughing at you guys for playing into their hands.

The Futurians weren’t exactly the ones writing or pushing Hard Science Fiction over Soft Science Fiction. What WAS happening, however, was that communists in the fandom were leveraging the nudniks against the editors and fans of more adventure-centric fiction.

Despite what you may have heard, the pulps were fairly progressive, exploring a wide range of social topics, except they still had a focus on individuality, struggle against unjust authority, and were frequently anti-Communist. To repeat the cringy boomertarian meme, “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.”

The Futurians and their literary adjacents were often writing utopianist thinky-stories that aimed to make a socialist future more palatable within the fandom. While many today are focusing on a hard sci-fi vs. soft/”pulpy” sci-fi divide, they’re forgetting that there were really three kinds of SFF stories: Adventure, Riddle/Puzzle, and Thinky Stories.

Sci-fi wasn’t being disconnected from Fantasy–what was happening was that the Thinky Story crowd used some hardliners of the Riddle/Puzzle-only crowd to denigrate the aspects of the Adventure stuff that they found unseemly: dames, the implausible, and in some case AmericaTM. From there, they would press the attack that it was white, capitalist, and imperialist. By undermining the aspects of SFF that some folks would today refer to as “superversive” by attacking at the editorial level and within the fandom, the socialist Thinky Story crowd was able to clear the way for more subversive fiction.

Sci-fi’s disconnection from Fantasy had far more to do with the Satanic Panic and Serious Sci-FiTM folks wanting to distance themselves from elf-shit.

But everyone at each other’s throats over scifi vs. fantasy? Congrats, you’ve been played.

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Edgar Rice Burroughs 100 Year Art Chronology Interview With Michael Tierney

Chris L. Adams has just posted the first part of an extensive interview with author, artist, and comic store owner Michael Tierney about his Edgar Rice Burroughs 100 Year Art Chronology project which was published last year through Chenault & Grey.

It’s up now at DMR Book’s website. Check it out!

Also, if you missed out on the Wild Stars crowdfunds, you can still pre-order on Amazon! You just won’t get the free goodies that we’re sending out to backers (sorry!)

WS 1: Book of Circles
WS 2: Force Majeure
WS 3: Time Warmageddon
WS 4: Wild Star Rising

 

Some Cirsova Contributors in Other Publications

DMR Books has a couple of new fantasy anthologies coming out.

Death Dealers & Diabolists has a new story by Kenneth R. Gower, featuring the further adventures of Kral Mazan, the anti-hero of The Idol in the Sewers [featured in our spring issue.]

Also, Spencer E. Hart, who’s becoming something of a Cirsova regular, has a story in Warlords, Warlocks & Witches. Spencer’s next Cirsova story will be appearing in our fall issue, out on the 16th of this month.

DMR Books is a really solid Sword & Sorcery and Fantasy publisher, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have published a story by Dave Ritzlin in our spring issue.

Realities of Short Fiction Economics

The economic reality of short fiction publishing that authors and editors are both afraid to admit is that supply outstrips demand on an astronomical level.  Even token markets get more subs than they can publish. Only editors who insist on fiction having value try to pay reasonable rates, even if in many cases it’s not economical for them. Even Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld has expressed some frustration with the financial realities of running a pro-paying magazine.

Authors want to be paid, of course, but authors also want to be published. Some (many) authors REALLY want to be published–they care more about having their story out there than making money. And the ratio of authors/stories to editors/publications? It makes it so that stories lack value in an economic sense.

There’s no scarcity.

At all.

Even when there is quality, there is not scarcity, so there’s not a lot of economic incentive to pay “pro” rates [especially given the often decent-to-high quality of fiction/authors willing to accept less].

The scarcity of short fiction comes in name recognition, not the fiction itself. There are a gorillion amazing stories, but for instance, there is only one Sky Hernstrom–with only one Sky Hernstrom creating a limited supply of Sky Hernstrom stories, the value on those stories becomes a premium. If I can pay Sky more for a story than another guy because I want to be the pub carrying Sky Hernstrom stories, then that’s where the value comes into fiction, not through the slush pile of great undiscovered and unpublished fiction we see every year.

The addendum to this is that if we’ve published you once, there’s a much higher chance we will publish you in the future, because a) we like your stories, b) your stories become part of our “brand” so to speak and c) if our readers like your stories, they will buy us to read them.

Some have suggested that the only viable option for authors is a sort of donation/patronage system for their writing. And that, I gather, is what Clarke and other SFF pubs are doing to keep themselves afloat–small donors, subscribers, and whales subsidize the many non-paying readers like the ones Clarke is struggling to monetize. For an unknown author, building that level of patronage may be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be the only option.

Truly devoted fictioneers have the tools available so that they can really scrounge for every publication out there they could possibly submit to–Ralan, Duotrope, and Submission Grinder are a few examples of such tools.

Publishing across many outlets is a great way of increasing visibility to the point where releasing periodic anthologies is feasible.

As much as I’d like to publish everything a few of our authors put out, it would be bad for them because it would restrict the visibility of their works to our audience.

If they published 4 stories with us, they would have 4 stories that were seen by the same set of eyes more or less, but if they published 4 stories in 4 magazines, they’d have reached as many as 4 times as many readers, including those who would be interested in catching up on what they missed in a collected anthology.

If you’re interested in submitting to Cirsova Magazine, we pay semi-pro rates at approximately .0125 per word for short fiction up to 10,000 words. We will be opening in Mid-October for submissions. More details are here.

Our latest issue, the Cirsova Summer Special is available now, and our upcoming Fall issue will be out September 16th. If you’re interested in submitting fiction to us, it will be helpful to read at least one issue to get an idea of the kinds of stories that we are looking for!

New Reviews:Jon Mollison and John DeNardo

We have a couple new reviews go live recently!

The first is from John DeNardo in his round-up of scifi short fiction on Kirkus:

Cirsova bills itself as a “magazine of thrilling adventure and daring suspense,” a sentiment that is embodied in its lead story, “Halcyon” by Caroline Furlong. The backdrop of the story is an interstellar war between humans and the alien race known as the Gorgons, ape-like creatures that appear to be ruled by a scientific ruling class. The setting is the planet Halcyon, where a group of humans have been laboring in the mud pits of an open-air prison. The point-of-view characters are the humans Marin and Siobhan, respectively a soldier and a scientist, who make a daring escape in the opening scene. True to the magazine’s promise, the story whisks along from one adventure to the next as the heroes encounter strange beasts and unlikely allies in a fun, serviceable story reminiscent of the science fantasy planetary adventures of yesteryear.

We’ll take “fun” and “serviceable”!

Next is from Jon Mollison, who received an ARC of Wild Star Rising:

With “Wild Star Rising”, the reader gets drawn into the action one small step at a time.  The seamless merger of sci-fi and fantasy results in an epic conflict that kicks off around the time of the final destruction of Atlantis.  The points where spacefaring nations interact with the denizens confined to the bottom of earth’s gravity-well make sense in a way that most efforts to marry the two genres don’t.  The writing crackles, and the adventure leaps from ship to prison to outer space to back in time with a relentless pace that’s a joy to follow along.  New characters step on scene fully formed, and fully described for newcomers to the series, and Tierney doesn’t shy away from jerking the rug out from the reader’s expectations in a way that is both fun and inspiring.

There’s more, but you should read the review for yourself.

One thing that Jon notes is that Wild Star Rising is where Wild Stars really finally clicked for him–it’s interesting he brings that up, because what I told Michael after first reading his manuscript was that “this one makes the older books better”. Wild Stars is a pretty dense universe, and Book of Circles has a LOT going on for a comic. The novels are solid, but the media res and sequel aspects can be a bit tricky. But I really think that someone coming into Wild Stars cold has a good entry point with Wild Star Rising. Better if you have all of the books, because you can read the first half of Wild Star Rising, go back and read the first three books that take place in between, then finish Wild Star Rising.

You’ll be pretty blown away by it all.

The 35th Anniversary Editions of Wild Stars will be shipping out to backers around the end of September to early October and will be available on Amazon in late October.

What Stories are We Looking For for 2020?

Cirsova Publishing will be opening Submissions for our flagship magazine in October. Details can be found here. Everything in the descriptions there hold true in terms of what it is we’re looking for, but I’d like to highlight a few things in this post:

Raygun noir – Dark detective stories that had exotic space locals as their setting were a staple in the pulps, particularly Planet Stories. We’d love to see more of these.

Monster Girl – We got a couple of these last go-round, but none were quite what we were looking for. Seriously, go read C.L. Moore’s The Bright Illusion and get back with us. You got something along those lines? We’d definitely be interested.

South Seas Adventure and Chinoiserie – There’s a lot of interesting territory to be explored here, and we’ve dipped our toes in a bit [see The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar and The Bookhunter’s Apprentice as more fantastical examples]. That’s not to say we’re looking for Yellow Peril; we’re looking for exotic settings outside the normal fare of a lot of contemporary fantasy and adventure.

Afrofuturism – We’re genuinely interested to see what can be done in this field. We haven’t gotten any in our submissions before [though we’ve received and published fantasy stories with both northern and sub-Saharan African settings].

Mystery – If we get some genuinely good mystery stories, we don’t even necessarily need there to be fantastical elements, though strange and exotic settings would certainly be a plus.

Men’s/Boy’s Adventure – While we aren’t looking for Weasels Ripped My Flesh, classic early-to-mid 20th century Men’s adventure or, even further back, RL Stevenson Boy’s adventure would be of interest. See also Frank G. Slaughter and C.S. Forester.

Antiquity Romance and Medieval Mythology – You guys know how I rave about Swann. Also, remember that Medieval fantasy isn’t just dragons, elves and fairies; it’s also Blemyae, Skiapods, and Prester John.

Gothic Horror/Romance – We’ve actually received and published some of this sort of stuff in the past two years. Our Lords, The Swine and Pale Moon’s Bride are two solid examples. Remember that Gothic doesn’t just mean Vampires and Werewolves. In fact, we’re really not looking for either of those unless you can put a really damn good spin on it. Gothic means ghosts, crumbling dungeons, disused manses, courtly love, mysterious knights, and heretics and clergymen too damn zealous for their own good.

So, the Wild Stars Proofs are In…! What Now?

We’re very excited that we got the proofs in so that we had physical product to show people, but the work doesn’t end here!

The proofs are practical, in that they’ve let us see a few adjustments that we have to make before going to print.

There are a few minor adjustments here and there in some of the books, a couple of tweaks and corrections; we’ll be making those in the next few days prior to putting in the order for a run to fulfill to backers.

The good news is, we are on-track for meeting our delivery goal–maybe even ahead of schedule!

Thank you for your support for Wild Stars, and we’re looking forward to getting these magnificent books in your hands!

There are only 4 days left on the Wild Stars kickstarter, so if you can, tell your friends and spread the word! The Kickstarter is about 2/3 of the way towards its goal, but will surely make it with one big push here at the end! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wild-stars-iv/cirsova-presents-wild-stars-iv-wild-star-rising

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