Thanks to everyone’s support, we’ve hit our $10k goal and will be starting a Cirsova Classics imprint focused on bringing previously unscanned and uncollected Public Domain pulp works back into print in modern formats. I know that Michael and Robert are already chomping at the bit to get started on the next project. We may even be able to begin as early as this fall [roughly as soon as we get The Cosmic Courtship out the door]. Most likely the next work we get out will be the uncollected Hawthorne novel, Sara Was Judith, and with the novella A Goth From Boston as a companion volume. We’ll try to get both of those by mid-2022.
Hawthorne was fascinated by the concepts of astral travel, out of body and out of time experiences, hypnotism, and clairvoyance. These play a central role in several of the short stories of his that I have read and is the means by which the heroes travel to Saturn in The Cosmic Courtship. While I have not yet had a chance to read Sara Was Judith, it’s not hard to guess from the pitch that it will be about some form of clairvoyant astral discorporation.
We’ve got an idea or two for the third project/fourth book, but haven’t quite settled on it just yet. We’ll let you know when we do.
A few people have asked about illustrations–unfortunately, The Cosmic Courtship, like many stories published in All-Story, did not have accompanying illustrations [many of the well-known later pulps that were fully illustrated tended to be monthly or quarterly]
We are, however, including a facsimile reprint of Scenes of Hawthorne’s Romances in all formats but the pocketbook [it’s just too small, sorry!], which IS lavishly illustrated.
Below is just a small sample of the work, and you’ll understand why we went with a facsimile approach–also why, even though the text is extant, we felt it worth including in its original presentation, as it is available nowhere else.
Larry Niven’s masterpiece Ringworld includes a conversation which alludes to SF world-making in a mildly funny way. Louis Wu’s shipmate Teela Brown objects to the idea that the makers of the Ringworld would bring only “safe” animals to their artificial world; she asks “What if the Ringworld Engineers [who built the huge Ring] liked tigers?”
Most readers of Cirsova don’t come here for the science, and some will question the review of a zoology book on this site. Nevertheless, worldbuilding for fantasy, gaming, and SF authors usually includes descriptions of animal life, as well as the role played by predators in myth, art, and the story itself.
Good world-makers, such as Hal Clement, craft all from top to bottom; some more careless authors simply throw a slew of carnivorous beasts at their heroes without wondering who eats whom. On Earth, the top predators which have survived the end of the Ice Age are central both to ecology (as keystone species) and to myth (as gods, as beings created by God, or as the enemies of gods or heroes).
The four ‘monsters’ of the title are lions in India, crocodiles in Australia, bears in Romania, and Siberian tigers. In each case we look both at the beasts and at the humans who have to deal with them: avoiding them, fighting them, hunting them, worshipping them.
The book reflects on the past as well as the future: like the makers of the Ringworld, we are building a habitat which is more and more artificial. In our future, will we like tigers? Will we like them enough to give them enough space to live freely in the wild? And will we like them enough to tolerate them occasionally killing us?
What can we make of this sojourn through lions, and tigers, and bears (and crocodiles!)? On one level, the travel story is light reading, like a Bill Bryson story with more science asides. The careful reader will note that the science is a very readable introduction to topics like trophic collapses and keystone predators (this section could make a whole fantasy campaign in a setting such as Nicholas Eames’ or Lois McMaster Bujold’s worlds, where losing one species, even a mightily nasty one, causes all heck to break loose). On another, the SF writer could see here a reply to Niven’s question. Well, what if they liked grizzly bears? Heinlein’s dragon-infested forest in Glory Road is an example of a good use of these concepts; there are many others.
The book is a lesson, an enjoyable one, in how to use animals such as Burroughs’ banths or the “grezzen” in Buettner’s novels. The thoughtful author or GM will profit from reading it. Recommended.
When we first started this project, we weren’t sure what the reaction would be. We’ve all been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm for this project, and even before we had hit the last stretch goal, Robert, Michael, and I had been talking about what was next.
“Cirsova Classics” is our working title for the imprint [we’ll keep “Cirsova Presents” around for other special one-offs.]
For the time being, we hope to continue with a couple of Hawthorne’s other uncollected works, though we’ve got arrangements made for up to three titles already. Next in the queue will be Hawthorne’s strange mystery “Sara Was Judith.”
We are adding a Digital-Only backer tier. Originally, I’d told someone that they wouldn’t have to select a tier to receive digital rewards… and that’s true! But I also realized that in order to get backer’s names (and not just user names) included in the “Thanks” appendix, we’d need survey responses and you can’t send surveys to backers with no tiers.
The plan for the release will be as follows:
-Kickstarter ends, funds are released, and we collect surveys
-Backers will have two weeks to send in survey responses; if you do not send in a survey in two weeks, we will use your username in the “Thanks” section.
-Once the “Thanks” section has been added to the project files, we will upload the print files, do a final check, and place an order.
-We’ll mail everything out to backers.
-Once everything is mailed out, we’ll send a link to backers where they can download the digital files.
-Once we have sent the link out, we’ll upload the plaintext file to Project Gutenberg
In putting together a selected bibliography to include in the new edition of The Cosmic Courtship that we’re putting out, I came across one book called Six Cent Sam’s–I couldn’t find out much of anything about it, but surprisingly there was a facsimile edition available, so I went ahead and nabbed it. [Yes, I bought it just so I could add a couple words to the bibliography page.]
Six Cent Sam’s is a weird mystery short fiction anthology with a fascinating framing device: the narrator is ushered into a quiet and exclusive dive by a friend. That dive is Six Cent Sam’s–it only costs six cents to get in, but there are a few catches: you have to pay your own way [no treating to get in], Sam has to like you, and you have to be of ‘a certain sort.’ The six cents gets you admission, a booth, a meal, and whatever entertainment is on the tap, but there’s a special rule: anyone can drop by one of the other booths and offer additional food and libation which may only be accepted if repaid by a tale of one’s latest adventures and/or strange happenings.
While there’s clear demarcation between the tales, Hawthorne is more clever than just having his narrator go from booth to booth. While the first story serves as an introduction to the concept and has a marginally science fiction premise [an inventor is in love with a woman whose father is a doctor; inventor has an ailment that the doctor tries to use hypnosis to cure; doctor can’t hypnotize the guy, but the guy’s susceptible to his daughter; after several sessions, doctor and daughter disappear; guy finds out doctor has stolen his invention and patented it, using the hypnosis sessions to work out the kinks the guy himself had not yet worked out; he’s broken up about it, cuz he still loves the girl; end of his tale, the girl walks in–she’s broken up about it, her father’s dead, and they’ve got some stuff to talk about.] The next story begins on another night, in the middle of drinking and cards among friends [including the narrator, who is now a regular at Sam’s], and there is concern over a missing friend–he was with one of them on the street one moment, and was gone the next! At the heart of the mystery is a beautiful Persian exotic dancer and a progressive modern girl, that the young lad was absolutely torn between.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.