Planetary Awards Voting Open Now

Cirsova contributor Schuyler Hernstrom has several pieces that were nominated in the Short Fiction category for this year’s Planetary Awards. At least two of them (The Gift of the Ob-Men and Images of the Goddess) can be read for free on our website.

Originally posted on Planetary Awards: We’re expanding the voting pool for the awards this year, so read this entire post to find out if YOU are eligible to vote. But first, here are the 2016 stories nominated by book bloggers across the internet: Short Stories / Novellas “Athan and the Priestess” by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in…

via Vote for the best stories of 2016 — Planetary Defense Command

Cirsova #2 Free eBook until end of Kickstarter + Stretch Goals

We’re offering Kindle editions of Cirsova #2 free from now until the end of our Kickstarter. While Cirsova #2 has been free on our website for some time, we understand that it may be more convenient to have it as an eBook.

You can download it here: http://a.co/9wHX39I (note, this link will change in 5 days)

Now, for the Kickstarter…

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1161542777/cirsova-2017-s-5-and-6-lovecraft-swords-and-space

We’ve met our goal for 2017, but we really need to raise more money to stay on track for next year.

Stretch Goal $4000 – 2 issues (Closed Submissions)

Four thousand dollars is about what we need to safely say we can put out two issues next year. We likely will not be able to have open submissions for 2018; the reason I say that is I want to make our existing contributors our priority when we can. However, I want to be able to read new stories and encourage new authors to write them. Only way I can do that, though, is we can expand our readership more than we have. There’s nothing I hate more than having to turn away great stories because of a lack of resources on our end.

Stretch Goal $5000 – 2 issues (Open Submissions)

This will give us enough cushion room that we can do open submissions. We can make accommodations for good stories that come across our desk that we otherwise might have had to turn away. We’ll be able to expand to new authors and new audiences.

Stretch Goal $8000 – 2 to 3 issues (Open Submissions)

At this point, we may be looking at a healthier long-term outlook. This will also put us in a position where we could reasonably do bulk orders and mail them out from our HQ instead of putting in dropshipments by hand, which would save us some time and money.

So, how can you help? It’s hard to say, because I know that a lot of you have spent nearly as much effort trying to get the word out about Cirsova as we have.

One of the simplest things that could help a lot in the long run are Amazon reviews; even one or two sentences can help raise our profile and get our back issues seen.

Ad Space is the biggest thing that can help us have money to buy stories, since virtually all of that goes straight into the acquisitions budget. But for ad space to be valuable, we need to grow our readership and readers need to support advertisers.

At .50 cents per issue, we’re practically giving 2017 away because we want to get it into people’s hands so they can see just how good this is.

Attempting to Define the Pulp Revolution: What It Is and What It Is Not

The “Pulp Revolution” seems to be met with confusion, misunderstanding and conflation when those unfamiliar with what is going on first catch wind of it. As such, I wanted to try to define and explain some of what the Pulp Revolution is and is not to dispel some of those misunderstandings. I’d like to disclaim that Cirsova Magazine is NOT the Pulp Revolution (it’s much bigger than us), though we are happy to be a part of it, with many friends and writers who are involved to varying degrees. 

The Pulp Revolution is not a genre or a subgenre.

The Pulp Revolution is not about reprints or rehashes. We are writing and creating new things every day.

The Pulp Revolution is apolitical and international. There are writers and readers from all walks of life and all political persuasions – the Pulp Revolution only cares about great storytelling.

Pulp Revolution is not a rebranding of the Sad Puppies. Some of us got drawn into the maelstrom of fandom politics when Sad Puppies 3 blew up and caught our attention, but at this point, we’re doing our own thing independent of Sad PuppiesTM. In fact, I daresay that the Mad Genius Club might be happier without us being associated with them.

We also aren’t just a rebranding of modern pulp (New Pulp/Pulp Revival). Those cats are doing what they do largely apart from us. To my knowledge, there’s been very little if any crossover influence between the New Pulp/Pulp Revival crowd and the Pulp Revolution folks.

We are not using the term “Pulp” as a substitute for “classic SF” pre 1990. Various folks involved with the Pulp Revolution may have slightly different definitions, but I’m talking about the literal pulp format (not the digest mags), and in terms of influence, I’m specifically looking at a handful of titles that published stories that influence MY acquisition guidelines (Planet Stories, Weird Tales, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and Argosy, if you need some specifics).

We are not using the pulps to recapture kitsch; we are not using the pulps as a trope-mine. What we are doing is going back to some of the exemplary authors from that period and using them as a starting point. Not to ape them, but because we love them – we love the stories they told, the characters they brought to life, and the vivid colors in which they painted the exciting futures and worlds of the unknown.

We are not hell bent on re-inhabiting the past; we are using it as a launching point to go off in new directions. We do not ignore nor do we deny the influence of writers who are not from the pulp eras.

The Pulp Revolution today has only a tenuous link to the ‘pulp revolution’ of the 70s. That pulp revolution was part of the climate that inspired things like D&D by bringing a bunch of pulp writers who had fallen into semi-obscurity back into the forefront via paperback reprints, pastiches and homages. But that was 40 years ago. That was a generation ago. Many of us were not even alive in 70s, much less old enough to been a part of that resurgent wave of fiction. Do not assume that because people got interested in the pulps 40 years ago that everything is all good and people don’t need to get interested in the pulps again. There was not an unbroken cultural continuity that kept those works and authors in the public conscious. Do not assume that we are only talking about Burroughs, Howard or Lovecraft. Do not assume that because you have old works sitting on your shelf that people today know about them or worse that new people do not need to be told about them or should not be excited about them.

I am curious what lessons we are relearning that we do not need to relearn. Of course authors are going to write what they want to write – that is why we are supporting those who do who also happen to be writing the stories we love. Many writers involved have been writing for years, yes. The Pulp Revolution itself is more defined by the surge of excitement among these authors’ shared reader-base, who have come together to celebrate and encourage what they are doing.

But we have already been done. We are pointless. We will cease being a thing after a relatively short time. We can safely be ignored.

A Special Message to the OSR & Gaming Community

Kickstarters have been a staple in the OSR and Game Blogging community since well before I became a member. Crowdfunding has been used as a platform for countless bloggers and game devs to get everything from their latest module & supplements to their complete fantasy heartbreakers off the ground and into people’s hands. Even big name publishers have been using it as a tool to get new projects and new printings funded with quick investment capital.

There is, however, a downside that has been seen all too often in our community. It seems like much of the content at Tenkar’s Tavern over the years I’ve been following him has been a litany of failed and delayed Kickstarters. Sometimes life got in the way, other times dishonest folks took the money and ran. Even great companies with established track-records for success sometimes bite off more than they can chew, resulting in some pretty significant delays. The Skinny DM had an excellent article on the situation with Goodman Game’s DCC 4th printing Kickstarter which, despite my fondness for Goodman Games, I absolutely agree with.

So, why do I think you should back our Kickstarter?

A Proven Track Records – In 2016, Cirsova ran 3 successful Kickstarters – one for our first issue, one for our second issue, and one for our third and fourth issues. In all three cases, backers received their rewards almost immediately* after the money cleared through Kickstarter and Amazon Payments. There may have been one or two individual hiccups or items lost or damaged in the post, but I am confident that anyone you’d ask would say that we resolved all issues as quickly and satisfactorily as possible.

We Are Gamers – Before we started the magazine, Cirsova  was a gaming blog. We came out of the RPG Blog Alliance and the OSR community. Many of our contributors are fellow gamers, and the stories we all love and that shape our content are the same stories that shaped our games. Many of the stories we publish are the kind that could be run as a one-off adventure with nothing more than a couple of stat blocs; in fact, that’s almost an unspoken acceptance criteria!

We Exist to Support Writers – More than anything else, Cirsova exists as a Semi-Pro Market to support writers of exciting fiction. There are people out there still writing stories in the vein of Burroughs, Brackett, and Vance, but they need places to sell and publish their stories. Many of the big-name magazines and publishing houses are simply not interested in the kind of adventure fiction that inspired the games so beloved in the OSR. By supporting Cirsova, you allow us to stay open as a market for these writers and to continue paying in the $75-$100 range for short fiction.

Please consider checking out our Kickstarter. It costs only $1 to get both of our 2017 issues**, if you’re just curious. You have to admit, that’s hard to beat. We also offer softcover and hardcover editions of our magazine.

If you have a gamebook, module or other product coming out, or even if you just want to get word out about your blog, consider supporting us with some advertising space. In 2016, we had over a hundred subscribers and ended up selling over 500 copies of our magazine.

*:Needless to say, they received the winter issue when it came out, rather than in September when the money cleared and we sent the fall issue.

**:PDF and eBook.

both-covers-small

Interview With Jon Del Arroz, Jeffro on Geek Gab, and Cirsova Line Art

Not long after our interview with Chris Lansdown, we also spoke with Jon Del Arroz about Cirsova’s background as an RPG setting and the types of stories Cirsova publishes and is looking for.  You can read it here.

Also over the weekend, Jeffro Johnson, one of our regular columnists and the author of the bestselling Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons, was on Geek Gab.

Finally, I took a minute to snap the line-art that Ben Rodriguez sent for our Eldritch Earth cover.

Line Art photo.png

Should I have put this up on the chopping block? Probably, but I wanted to actually own an original piece of Cirsova artwork, at least for a little while.

Please consider backing us on Kickstarter! Only $1 gets you a digital subscription to our 2017 issues.

Cirsova Pre-Orders for 2017

Many of you know the routine by now. For those who don’t, here’s the scoop! We are using Kickstarter to take pre-orders and sell subscriptions for our 2017 issues. As usual, all stories have been paid for.   Our cover artists are paid. Layout is more or less done, and Issue 5 is already in the hands of our copy editors.

What do we have in store for 2017?

Our Spring issue (Cirsova #5) primarily features stories from Misha Burnett’s Eldritch Earth Geophysical Society, a writing group devoted to telling Burroughsian adventure stories set on a pre-historic Lovecraftian Earth. Expect unspeakable monsters from the stars, cultists, sorcerers, lizardmen, crabmen, fishmen (and fishwomen) and every manner of daring rogue! Also, Adrian Cole’s Witchfinder Arrul Voruum investigates the lingering evil in Karkesh in an all new Dream Lords story, Michael Tierney cooks up a historical fantasy with Bears of 1812, and Lynn Rushlau tells of daring escape in Through the Star-Thorn Maze.  Plus, the latest installment in James Hutchings’ My Name is John Carter.

Cover art by Benjamin A. Rodriguez.

issue-5-front-cover

Novella  

  • The First American, by Schuyler Hernstrom

Short Stories

  • In the Gloaming O My Darling, by Misha Burnett
  • War of the Ruby/Shapes in the Fog, by Brian K. Lowe
  • Beyond the Great Divide, by S.H. Mansouri
  • Darla of Deodanth, by Louise Sorensen
  • The Queen of Shadows, by Jay Barnson
  • A Killing in Karkesh, by Adrian Cole
  • Through the Star-Thorn Maze, by Lynn Rushlau
  • The Bears of 1812, by Michael Tierney

Poetry

  • My Name is John Carter (Part 4), by James Hutchings

Our Fall Issue (Cirsova #6) will feature the usual array of exciting SFF goodness, including the return of a few characters introduced to our readers in previous issues; Strongjohn picks up on Triton where At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen left off, Thompson’s adventurer Captain Anchor Brown pursues a mysterious god-beast deep in the wilds, present meets past in the Sacred City as Cole continues his  Dream Lords saga, plus more Othan! We’ve also got some Raygun Romance from Spencer Hart & Tyler Young, and the start of a brand new Sword & Sorcery series by Jim Breyfogle.

Cover art by Ku Kuru Yo.

Issue 6 Cover 1 front only.png

Novelettes

  • The Last Job on Harz, by Tyler Young
  • Magelords of Ruach, by Abraham Strongjohn

Short Stories

  • The Battlefield of Keres, by Jim Breyfogle
  • Tear Down the Stars, by Adrian Cole
  • Temple of the Beast, by Hal Thompson
  • Death on the Moon, by Spencer Hart
  • Othan, Vandal, by Kurt Magnus

Essay

  • TBA

We have simplified our offerings a bit, focusing on those previous pledge levels that were most popular. Both 2017 issues will be approximately the same page-count, so there will not be an issue of one item having a substantially different unit cost as was the case with our winter issue.

We will be attempting to sell advertisement again through Kickstarter. To simplify things, anyone pledging for a advertising slot can add to their pledge at whatever level they would like to back to include physical copies. To keep matters simple, advertisers buying ads through Kickstarter do not need to worry about shipping costs if they are outside the US. You want the back cover ad and both softcover copies? Just pledge $120, and we’ll sent them anywhere in the world at no extra charge.

If you want adspace in both issues, pledge for #5 and double your pledged amount.

1/4 Page – 3.5″ w x 4.5″ h 300 DPI

Back Cover – 7-8″ w x 8.75″ h 300 DPI

Please prepare ad images as high res .PNG or .TIF files.

Advertisements for Issue 5 should be sent to no later than one week after the end of the Kickstarter.

Risks and challenges

Like our last pre-order Kickstarter, backers are taking a bigger gamble, as they will be pledging for two issues which will not be sent right away.

However, Cirsova has a proven track record of delivering in a timely manner, adhering to our release schedule.

As in the past, all story content is paid for. Our volunteers have been doing wonderful turn-around work on deep pass copy-edits, and I expect them to continue doing so.

While things are still on an upward track for us, our coffers did hit empty after making 2017 acquisitions. Still, it’s all paid for and we don’t have any expenses that will prevent the issues from being completed. Rest assured that following the success of this Kickstarter we will have funds to cover all expenses related to fulfilling backer rewards. However, we WILL need to go above and beyond our goals for 2017 subscriptions to remain viable as a semi-pro paying market into 2018.

Readin’ Some Batman!

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and game-playing with little mind to how I could blog about it.

While it has been liberating, it certainly hasn’t been good for blogging.

I’ve actually taken a bit of a break from old Sci-Fi and even the Pulps (though I’m managing to stay on top of my column for Castalia House) to plow through the massive stacks of Batman I’ve acquired over the last couple of years.

At one point, I found a list that put a ton of the Batman trades in Chronological order (Year One/Post-Crisis Batman) and entered them into my Amazon wishlist.  Because I entered them in order, that meant that a bunch of the latter day Batman books were at the top of the list, so, when people bought stuff off my wishlist, I tended to get those books close to the ‘end’ of pre-Flashpoint universe. Meanwhile, when I buy single issue runs, I go for early Legends of the Dark Knight stuff when I can, and I also bought someone’s graphic novel collection which includes bookends of the Cataclysm/No Man’s Land arc which I’m currently filling out.

So, where I’m at now, I’ve been reading the post-whichever-Crisis Dick Grayson Batman and 90s Batman, and eventually I will end up in a place where they will meet. Someday. There’s still a lot of Batman in between.

90s Chuck Dixon/Alan Grant Batman is some of my favorite, with some really great story-telling and creepy villains. The 90s stuff really strikes that great balance of crime, horror, and superhero stuff that tonally sets Batman apart from rest of the DC world he’s in.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Bruce Wayne as Batman – he is THE Batman, but I also really enjoyed the Prodigal arc epilogue of Knightfall, during which a Grayson/Drake dynamic duo fill in while Batman gets his head right (and returns with 3-foot ears and terrible artwork in time for Troika). It was a different dynamic with different psychological baggage to unpack. I don’t really care one way or the other for Grayson’s Robin, nor have I ever gotten into Nightwing, but I really enjoy seeing Grayson as Batman and his struggles to fill the enormous shoes of his mentor. I liked it in Prodigal, and I still like it in post-Battle for the Cowl Batman arcs I’ve read.

It does seem like Tim Drake gets a bit hung out to dry, though. In a lot of ways, Tim Drake is the definitive Robin of my generation – he was the Robin in the comics, he was the Robin in the last season of BtAS, he was probably Robin in Teen Titans, while Dick was the “old Robin” and those of us who weren’t as up on the comics had no idea who Jason Todd was. While I enjoyed the relationship between Bruce and Damien, a Batman struggling to figure out what to do with an ACTUAL son, I think I preferred the Grayson/Drake pairing to Grayson/Wayne. BUT, I can understand why Tim has to be shuffled out of the mix – by the time the mantle has been passed on, Drake and Grayson are too close to the same age, so it’s a different relationship (Drake doesn’t need the mentoring anymore the way Damien does).

It’s still kind of sad seeing the exchange during the earthquake arc where Bruce tells Tim that hopes that one day he will take up the mantle, knowing that it is not meant to be. Jean Paul Valley was a disaster, and Bruce himself says that Dick Grayson was the wrong person. Bruce may have changed his mind on that during the intervening years, but Dick probably knew Bruce felt that way at least at one point, and has that, along with all of his other doubts, hanging over him.