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.

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.

Audiobook of Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer Coming Soon!

Very soon, we’ll have an audiobook edition of Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer available. Read by Brandon Casinelli, this is a work that Misha Burnett considers his masterpiece. You will not want to miss it.

Also, as of right now, the hardcover editions of Endless Summer are going for marginally less than the paperbacks on Amazon. Be sure to grab a copy!

Deep Discount Right Now on Mongoose and Meerkat + Mongoose and Meerkat Audiobook Coming Soon!

Amazon is currently liquidating it’s remaining stock of Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat Volume I: Pursuit Without Asking.

Right now, it’s going for as low as $5.75!

We’ve also been spending the last couple of months working with Erin Michele Gabbard to bring these exciting adventures to life in an all-new audiobook edition of Pursuit Without Asking. She has done an excellent job on these stories and we can’t wait to share it with everyone!

Don’t forget, the next installment of the adventures of Mongoose and Meerkat, The Grain Merchant of Alomar, is appearing in the Spring issue out in three weeks!

We’ll have some more exciting Jim Breyfogle news soon! We’ve just signed Jim for another book deal, and we plan on having something out later this summer or early fall! Stay tuned!

Short Reviews – The Golden Fleece: A Romance, by Julian Hawthorne

The Golden Fleece: A Romance, by Julian Hawthorne, was originally published in the May 1892 issue of Lippincott’s Magazine. It can be read here.

When you go into a book with a title like “The Golden Fleece,” you don’t expect a modern adventure in the American Southwest [California, particularly], but here we are!

The titular Golden Fleece, in this case, is a mysterious wool garment with strange symbols woven into it. Is it under an enchantment? Is it a map to lost Mesoamerica treasure? Who knows! It has been passed down matrilineally and ended up in the hands of the mixed-race daughter of a general who fought in the Mexican American war.

The setting and much of the background are revealed through an airy and whimsical dialog between an old professor and his friend, an old general who fought in the war with Mexico. After the war, the general settled down with a beautiful Mesoamerind woman and now has an alluring daughter who is her spitting image. The daughter has an old Indian servant who had been something of a oathman to her mother, but more on that in a minute… The general and the professor discuss the possibility of treasure in the California desert–the greatest treasure would be fresh water that would make the land arable and instantly much much more valuable to investors who had purchased it cheaply. On his way to possibly assist in the endeavor is a young civil engineer who was once a student of the professor.

The old Indian manservant is actually a witch priest in service to the last princess of an Aztec city; he’s been kept immortal by the gods so the treasures of the city could be restored to the rightful owner. He’s able to bring the spirit of the dead princess into the host body of the general’s daughter. Both the princess and the girl she’s possessing fall in love with the young civil engineer, creating an awkward love triangle. The princess is determined to get the treasure back so she can shower the young man with wealth. The old Indian becomes reluctant to assist because he feels bad for the girl and it would be a disaster if the spirit of the princess killed her.

The Golden Fleece turns out to be some sort of protective garb [whether magical or mechanical is never explicitly stated] that allows the wearer to enter the lost pyramid [revealed by seismic activity] and retrieve the chest with the hidden treasure without being harmed by the poison gasses in the treasure room. Removal of the treasure chest also unstops the spring which will flood the valley with fresh water.

There’s a hackneyed sub-plot where the engineer initially meets and falls for a shop-girl who’s coming out west from New York. The engineer instantly falls for the beautiful Mestiza girl, and cultivates a rivalry with a local Mexican aristocrat in an attempt to distract the shop-girl and fix their attentions on one another. The protagonist is kind of a dick, and you feel for the poor Mexican sod who he corners into potentially dueling to the death [as the professor says, it would have been an execution had he gone through with it], but the Mexican guy does end up with the shop-girl and they live happily ever after–even after he finds out she was a lowly shop-girl, his fascination with modern American capitalism leads him to placing her in even higher esteem when he finds out.

Now, I say that it’s hackneyed, and it kind of is, but Hawthorne’s breezy writing style brings enough wit and humor to it that it’s still enjoyable. In fact, that can be said for the whole book in some regards. While it’s not particularly innovative [it’s a very typical lost city/lost treasure story] and the characters are VERY flat, there’s something about the flow of Hawthorne’s prose that still makes it a delight to read. There’s a bit of musicality to it, and some clever humor, though, unlike many authors who write clever, he never seems too enamored with his own cleverness. There is also a stab at making a statement on mixing of ethnicities, royal and common blood, and how America has made such a thing uniquely possible, with the unions of the A & B couples of the story symbolizing the triumph of the time and ideas, but it doesn’t really beat you in the face with it and may be easily overlooked.

It’s worth checking out, to say the least. I managed to read the whole thing in one sitting Saturday night.

Will definitely be looking at more of Julian Hawthorne’s writing in the near future. The man was apparently incredibly prolific, and he even wrote some early science fiction, though virtually none of it is presently available.

What the Heck is Going on with Future State and Batman?

One of the rules of modern post-Crisis DC has been Batman never reboots. Never fully. They will do soft reboots, slide the timeline around a bit, but generally tend to avoid doing a hard reboot on Batman. And Future State has been no different, though, they’ve gone about it rather strangely…

Death Metal most recently hit the reset button on the DC universe, but it ran at the same time as an incredibly successful Bat Family event that repositioned the direction of the myriad Bat-books going forward out of Joker War.

Future State is either the remnants of an aborted project known as G5 or a spinoff event from Death Metal [with everything being framed as part of the infinite possible futures following the latest reset of the multiverse] depending on who you ask.

For Batman, it’s a weird postlude to Joker War. Like I said, Batman’s not allowed to be fully rebooted, so all of the Future State Bat-books are following a storyline of the aftermath of Joker War, taking place roughly two years later.

Asian cop who lost his eye in Joker War won his mayoral election right before Future State launched, and his anti-mask platform has turned Gotham into a police state, where all the criminals and capes are being hunted and locked up.

Bruce Wayne/Batman has been killed, but he hasn’t, Lucius Fox’s son is filling in as Batman, the rest of the Bat family is around struggling and not doing so hot, Batman is in hiding, or he’s in a prison, or he’s on a train. I’m not entirely sure. There’s a clear chronology to the Batman Future State books, but they’re being published out of order so that it can all run concurrently over the course of two months.

The problem: Future State did a two year time skip, but the Future State Bat-books all tell parts of a single story that spun out of Joker War… Where will the mainline books pick up in March? Things were ending just before Punchine’s trial, and Tec was set up to build into the story that would become the Future State Magistrate story. Will the Future State Batman storyline just be the new normal going forward; will Batman go back to a pocket continuity [like Tom King’s run before he killed Alfred] while it wraps things up that happed during the two years before Dark Detective and Next Batman? Will things rewind to Punchline’s trial and the Mirror gang and Future State doesn’t happen? Who knows.

Anyway, one of the main things I’ve noticed about Future State bat books [other than the homogenous neon mud coloring] is that it seems like a pendulum swing–someone was like “oh, crap, we have to run an ACAB storyline, because Joker War ended up being anti-BLM!” I do wonder what happened to Clown Hunter, whether there’s a story reason for him not being in Future State or if Tynion just said “no.”

Crowdfunding for Cirsova #6: Where is the Money Going?

Okay, so, we’re trying to raise $7,000 for the Spring issue. That’s a lot of money! So, where is it going?

Well, let’s first talk about how much did this issue cost to put together?

  • Cover Art: $1200 [Anton Oxenuk Cover + Genzoman Cover]
  • Interior Art: $700 [3 illustrations from Dark Filly and 1 illustration from Zobert Zoltan]
  • Fiction Content: $500
  • Comic: $500 [rights and digital cleanup]
  • Editing: $80
  • Proofs: ~$100
  • Contributor Copies: ~$70

So, that’s over $3,000 right there!

The rest is going towards fulfillment [~$10 per unit to print, ship and fulfill for softcovers]. We need to get about 300 backs. So, 6 times as many as we have now…

If you want Cirsova Magazine to keep on keeping on through 2021 and keep doing illustrations [something everyone has asked for but we’ve never done until now], then we REALLY NEED TO REACH OUR GOAL!

Critical Blast Interview with Michael Tierney, The Local Comic Shop Guys, and Wild Stars Art From DarkFilly

Friday night, Michael Tierney and I were on with R.J. Carter of Critical Blast talking about the new issue of Cirsova and The Artomique Paradigm.

Saturday, Michael also appeared on the regular Critical Blast feature round-table of comic shop owners.

Here’s a piece of the Red Queen of the Space Pirates of Corsairiana with Achilles Hister the Elder of the Artomiques by Dark Filly.

Be sure to back our kickstarter for our 5th Anniversary Issue!