Cirsova Issue # 1 Line-up Announcement + Other Updates

I’ve gotten an amazing response from the SFF writing community over the last month and some change. I’m finally ready to announce the contributors to Issue 1 of Cirsova.

The hardest part of this has been holding my tongue until now because of how much I’ve wanted to sing the praises of the Cirsova authors. Seriously, these guys (and gals) rock, are totally amazing and certainly names to be on the look-out for.

Issue one of Cirsova will feature the following:

Short Stories
The Gift of the Ob-Men by Schuyler Hernstrom
This Day, At Tilbury by Kat Otis
Rose by Any Other Name by Brian K Lowe
Late Bloom by Melanie Rees
The Hour of the Rat by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt
At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen by Abraham Strongjohn

Novelette
A Hill of Stars by Misha Burnett

Poetry
My Name is John Carter by James Hutchings

Feature Column
Retrospective: Toyman by E.C. Tubb by Jeffro Johnson

The magazine is moving into phase two now. I’m soliciting artists for the first issue. As much as I would like to offer a fully illustrated first issue, I will probably only be looking at cover art at this time so I can keep the per-issue costs low for readers.

During this time, I’ll be doing some minor layout stuff and calculating available adspace. I will try to keep adspace unintrusive, mostly using it to fill white space between stories with a page or two devoted to potential sponsors.
Hopefully phase two will go as swimmingly as phase one did. Once that’s taken care of, I’ll be moving to phase 3: Kickstarter. When I initiate the Kickstarter for this, I want to have an almost finished product ready; once I get advertisers locked in and their advert images placed, I can go straight to print.  This will NOT be one of those Kickstarter debacles where a project is “almost finished and going to ship soon” for months or years.  Layout will be more or less done, all authors have been paid, the artist will have been paid, things will be almost ready to go BEFORE we Kickstart.  The Kickstarter will be about investing in the FUTURE of the Cirsova zine.  Any profits it makes will go toward making a second issue.

That said, there’s not going to be stretch goals, T-shirts, stickers, secret forums or skype calls; just what I know I can put in your hands: a high quality SFF adventure magazine full of great stories.

In other no less exciting news, in a week, Cirsova will have a guest post by Matthew D. Ryan, author of the excellent Drasmyr books!

1st Draft Done!

I just finished the first draft of my Abraham Strongjohn’s “At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen”!

Plans and details will be forthcoming…  In the meantime, enjoy some back-cover grade synopsis text.

Just the night before, Ch’Or had been in Vraala’s bed chamber.  A fortnight before that, Ch’Or had been standing before the sacred altar of his people, a coronet about to be placed on his head.  He would be the king of one world, but never this one.  He would have one woman at his side for his queen, but never the lamia that had brought him here.  The Prince of Mars would not be made to bow At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen!

Short Reviews – At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen, Abraham Strongjohn

At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen is not featured in the January 1976 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

One of the beautiful things about sword and planet fiction is you can allow reason and scientific knowledge to be thrown out the window in favor of the Law of Awesome. Abraham Strongjohn most certainly knows like the rest of us that Neptune is an uninhabitable cold gaseous world, but what better a spot for a villain like Vraala the cold-hearted Queen of Neptune to rule over with an iron fist?

Our story begins with three heroes, Ch’Or, Bi’Tik and Ra’Ana, human natives of Mars who have been kidnapped by sci-magic means for the pleasure of Vraala, fighting their way through an ice maze pursued by Neptunian Ice Bugs. After fighting through the labyrinth, they arrive in the midst of a great coliseum where the Neptunian nobles await their bloodshed. An ice dragon is brought forth, but the heroes narrowly manage to triumph over the beast. With the dragon dead at the heroes feet, Vraala holds up a single garland and promises that she will send home whichever of the three warriors can kill the other two.

At the prospect of being returned to Mars, Bi’Tik attempts first to kill the beautiful Ra’Ana, but Ch’Or intervenes to save her from their dishonorable companion. Pleased with this bloody scene, Vraala offers Ch’Or the opportunity to be her consort and rule at her side over all of Neptune, if only he will kill Ra’Ana. Ch’Or refuses and cuts a swath through Vraala’s guard, and with a knife to her throat, he forces the evil ice queen to return both Ra’Ana and himself to Mars. She relents and uses the machine to send them away, but the strange smile on her face indicates to Ch’Or and Ra’Ana that something is wrong. Wherever they were sent, it wasn’t Mars.

Overall, At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen was an absolutely ridiculous affair. Not only does Neptune probably not have a solid surface, the idea that it would be ruled by a lascivious and scantily clad matriarch is one that would be barely justifiable in modern science fiction, much less mixed company. Bi’Tik’s betrayal seemed like a shallow excuse for the male protagonists fight over the female warrior who had already shown herself to be a competent fighter against both the Ice Bugs and the Ice Dragon. One might wonder why she didn’t seize the chance to rid herself of both of them. Still, something just came together here. Maybe it was the thermal swords cutting through frosty carapace. Maybe it was the pathos of fighting for survival in a strange and alien land. Maybe it was how Strongjohn managed to give us heaving bosoms on a planet with a -218C temperature. But something here worked!