Cirsova 5th Anniversary Highlight: The Artomique Paradigm

One of the showcase items of 2021 will be Michael Tierney’s newest Wild Stars novel, The Artomique Paradigm.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cirsova/cirsova-5th-anniversary-issue

What are the Wild Stars?

Aeons ago, Earth was nearly destroyed by an alien invasion. Refugees were led to the stars by a powerful immortal being from another universe, known only as the Ancient Warrior. These refugees became the Wild Stars. From time to time, they have revisited Earth, checking on humanity’s progress.

Now, after two centuries of modern man exploring and colonizing the stars, humanity’s Wild Stars cousins have re-established relations with Earth and her colonies.

Who are the Artomique?

The Artomique are refugees from a now-destroyed timeline where fascist Germany had nearly conquered the world.

They are led by Achilles Hister, the son that timeline’s equivalent of Adolf Hitler, and have worked in the shadows to attempt to restore their timeline. Failing that, they have worked to establish a new Artomique supremacy using stolen Wild Star technology and become one of the dominant political factions on Earth.

A Very Brief Outline of the Wild Stars

  • Exodus from Earth following the Marzaanti invasion. (Wild Stars IV: Wild Star Rising)
  • Erlik, son of the Ancient Warrior, wins the Icarus stone (and with it custodianship of Earth) from Carthage. Carthage allies with the wolf-like Brothan and Artomique to wage war against earth. (Wild Stars: Book of Circles)
  • While the Brothan have lost the war, Carthage exacts revenge on Erlik’s family, leading them on a wild goose chase through time. The Artomique begin a secret arms race using stolen Wild Stars technology. Hyper-intelligent dinosaurs get their hands on a Marzaanti space probe which accelerates their evolution. (Wild Stars II: Force Majeure)
  • Terraformers begin discovering evidence of Wild Stars presence on worlds thought to have been uninhabited. Space pirates have orchestrated a large-scale mind-control coup against humanity. Extra-dimensional monsters are unleashed in a tear in the fabric of the universe. (Wild Stars III: Time Warmageddon)
  • The Ancient Warrior returns, having laid the foundations of an aeons-long plan to rescue Phaedra from the prison of the God-Father and his knights in the heart of a super-massive black hole. (Wild Stars IV: Wild Star Rising)
  • The Wild Stars have revealed themselves and are prepared to reunite humanity among the stars, except the Artomique have been developing new weapons in secret while their leaders have achieved a sort of immortality using stolen Wild Stars cloning technology. (Wild Stars V: The Artomique Paradigm)

Two New Reviews! Tangent on Cirsova #5 [Out Today!] and Castalia House on Endless Summer [Out Now!]

The Winter Issue is out today!

Tara Grimravn has an absolutely glowing review of the latest issue posted on Tangent Online.

Cirsova is back in time for the holidays with Issue #5, bringing with it a collection of ten great stories. If war criminals, espionage, and alien threats with a little bit of sword and sorcery thrown in sound like something up your alley, I recommend taking a look!

Also, Nathan Housley digs deep into Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer at Castalia House.

Ten years ago, it was popular for a certain segment of Science Fiction and Fantasy Fandom to wax eloquently about Kipling’s “Sons of Martha”, in whose care “that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.” And while some came close to the idea Kipling expressed, they approached it from the point of view of supervisors and managers. The actual fabricators and maintenance personnel remained invisible.

Until now. Until Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer, a collection of 12 science fiction tales and nightmares dealing with the efforts, often thankless, needed for humanity to live and thrive, whether in the current day or some far-flung future. Sprinkled throughout are nightmare where those efforts are no longer to hold back that other peril, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”. And behind it all is love, in all of its twisted yet still hopeful forms.

If there is one word that sums up Misha’s writing, it might just be Selah. Meditate on these things. Extremely contemplative, extremely blue collar in a way the Expanse guys wish they were. Never just a popcorn story. Misha is a rarity in the current time, a science fiction writer who lustily embraces the New Wave instead of avoiding it. And he brings that dream-like fascination with humanity in all its varied and occasionally malignant forms to his stories.

Merry Christmas!

We hope everyone has had a good Christmas!

We received a number of great presents and well-wishes from everyone this season, including this lovely gift art from StarTwo.

merry_xmas_cirsova.jpg

For those who don’t know, StarTwo illustrated our 70th Anniversary Leigh Brackett’s Stark. They’re currently working on a comic project for friend-of-the-magazine, James Streissand, and we can’t wait to see it come to fruition!

We also got a wonderful Christmas gift from Team Shanghai Alice, getting permission to include some original Touhou art on our upcoming 5th Anniversary Issue.

The Winter Issue comes out tomorrow! I hope you saved some Christmas gift money to pick up a copy!

Quick Post-mortem on Shuriken Cold Steel

When I got a bunch of issues of Caravan Kidd to fill in the gaps in my collection, I also picked up the last three issues of Shuriken: Cold Steel to complete my set.

I’ve talked at length about the different Shuriken series, and Cold Steel was easily the worst, but I wanted to see if it turned around before the end [because the series after Cold Steel by the same writer WAS good].

Well, it didn’t.

Start to finish, Kyoko is kind of a cold, self-centered bitch, drastically unlike her characterization in the original Byers runs. The art from Christopher Taylor never gets better and maintains a serviceable-but-generic B&W Indie aesthetic that doesn’t jibe with the IP. Cold Steel also feels like S.A. Bennett trying to back-door his own superhero team book through the then-popular Shuriken. And his superhero team isn’t terrible, but it’s not what I would’ve picked up a Shuriken book for.

Cold Steel didn’t publish many letters in its short run, and the few they did more or less like the new title, but at least one person who had previously been a fan unloaded on the shoddy writing.

Cold Steel is the one Shuriken book that’s just plain bad. Bland and no charm at all, which is a shame. I really wondered what happened between Cold Steel and Shuriken Vol. 2–whether it was an editor stepping in, Bennett taking the character more seriously and trying to understand her, or maybe he got into some weeb stuff and figured out how to write a Shuriken story, he goes from having written one of the worst Shuriken books to what may be one of the best Shuriken books.

Anyway, that’s it. That’s all I have. If Cold Steel was the first Shuriken book I’d read, I probably wouldn’t have read any others. As it is, it gives me something to gripe about in context of some more enjoyable titles.

This cover is about the only good thing to come from Cold Steel

Now all I have to do is find the Hellbender one-off…

It’s That Time of Year, Again… The Awards Eligibility by Category Post

It’s that time of the year when everyone posts the things they’ve written and/or published for consideration for the myriad fiction awards for which the nominating process will soon begin.

Novel

Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat Volume 1: Pursuit Without Asking, by Jim Breyfogle*

Novelette

Short Story

Poetry

Related

Art

Cirsova Publishing has worked with the following artists in 2020:

Anton Oxenuk [Spring, Fall Special, Winter, Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat]

Robert Zoltan [Summer Special]

Timothy Lim [Summer 2020]

Dark Filly [Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat(interiors)]

Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense is a Semi-Professional publication, paying a rate of .0125 per word on acceptance.

I’m technically a fan artist, too…

*:Collects originally published stories in novel-length format

**:Forthcoming, to be released on December 29th.

Who Are the Best DC Superheroines?

Was playing Mortal Kombat vs. DC with GF last night and we got to talking about Wonder Woman.

Now, I don’t hate Wonder Woman, but let’s face it–she’s kind of a garbage-tier hero that everyone pretends is A-list for ReasonsTM.

She’s not that interesting, outside of Greek Gods, her only memorable villains are the furry cat girl and the Chinese egg. A lot of her clout comes from being part of the DC Trinity: stick anyone with Batman and Superman, and they’ll feel important. But on her own? Wondy is kind of eh… That’s me, though. Other than War of the Gods, I can’t think of any meaningful Wondy events. [No, Death Metal is not a Wonder Woman event, no matter how much the writers insist otherwise.]

My girlfriend also thinks she’s kind of cringe and rolls her eyes at the “she’s so empowering!” reasoning most folks will give for liking Wondy. She’s not really into cape comics that much, and was wondering “aren’t there better ‘female role model’ characters in comics than Wonder Woman?”

I thought about it a bit, and while the answer is “Yes”, I realized a lot of them are overshadowed by Batman, because a lot of the best ones I’m familiar with are from Bat-books, and she hadn’t heard of most of them:

  • Katana [this is the only one she knows, because I actually collect Katana merch–I don’t have a lot, because there’s not much merch for her]
  • Spoiler
  • Orphan/Black Bat
  • Huntress
  • Oracle
  • Zatanna [I know, she’s not really ‘from’ Bat-books, but that’s mostly where I’ve seen her]
  • Montoya [okay, I don’t actually like her in the comics that much]
  • Bat-Woman [not exactly a ‘role model,’ but Kate Kane, at least in the books I’ve read, is a fascinating and tragic character, moreso maybe than Batman, because her problems are mostly her own creation yet she proceeds under this Calvinist shadow of doom]

So, what have you got? Who are your favorite DC ‘Best Girls’ who you like for reasons other than ‘teh sexy’?

We would especially like to hear from some of the women in the audience–who are your favorite women in DC comics?

Or can you convince us that Wonder Woman has better bona fides than just being a character with roots in the Golden Age and being the Silver Age Justice League’s Smurfette?

Happy Birthday to Leigh Brackett!

It’s Leigh Brackett the Queen of Science Fiction’s 105th Birthday today!

Don’t let this day go uncelebrated.

Watch one of her many movies [Hatari! is a personal favorite], or read one of her many excellent short stories or books.

Our own editions of the Illustrated Stark are currently on significant discount at Amazon, particularly Queen of the Martian Catacombs and Black Amazon of Mars, which are currently under $6.

Additionally, the hardcover omnibus with all of the bonus content is currently more than 50% off!

So treat yourself for the Queen’s Birthday, or pick up some stocking stuffers for the young [or old] Star Wars fan who has everything.

What Was Missing From DCEU? Dinosaurs!

When it first came out, the Suicide Squad movie was universally critically panned. DC fans, however, lapped it up and supported it, if for no other reason than to ‘own’ the critics. The problem, however, was that Suicide Squad just wasn’t very good.

Suicide Squad, for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on, felt like an inferior sequel to a movie that was never made. It ran an ‘enemy within’ storyline for a cape-team with no buildup, and Task Force X was just a shaggy dog in the DCEU.

Suicide Squad was where Warner Brothers first really tried to open the DC film franchise into a universe with the breadth of the MCU. Despite fan support, it failed miserably to liven up an already stalling cinematic universe, and I think I know why. Never mind that the rest of the DC movies range from mediocre set pieces that borrow the emotional gravitas of the Nolan films via the Zimmerman scores to just plain trash. No, the real reason was there were no dinosaurs!

The first Suicide Squad move should have been about Rick Flag fighting dinosaurs and kaiju during the Cold War.

BRAVE & BOLD 38 VG SUICIDE SQUAD November 1961

The DCEU lacked a Captain America–everybody, even Superman, was super grim and super serious. Captain America: The First Avenger was a lynchpin film for the first wave of Marvel movies–it captured an idealistic soldier bravely fighting against unadulterated and unquestionable evil, and allowed Cap to be sort of a moral core of the Avengers.

In Suicide Squad, Rick Flag is tossed into a group of villains who create more problems than they solve and really is just kind of there while his girlfriend goes crazy and becomes the big bad of the movie.

Instead, imagine, if you will, a movie that starts in America’s heyday, where a War Hero, his beautiful not-girlfriend, and two pointdexters protect the earth from the kaiju menace in an age before supermen [yes, there were supermen back then, but not in the DCEU].

People were still into kaiju cuz they still liked Pacific Rim, the Jurassic Park franchise was making a comeback, and Americans are [or were] always up for some jingoism. So, before everything goes to hell after the death of Superman and gets even worse with Waller in charge, brave normal men stood between America and the deadly dino menace! It could’ve made for a real blockbuster that could have saved the DCEU and given it somewhere to go.

[Nah, it would never work.]

Anyway, I recently picked up the Silver Age Suicide Squad omnibus for a song at Ollie’s. I’d read one of the stories before in one of the 70s Brave and Bold digests that Mike Barr edited, but this is the first time I’ve read all of the original run of Suicide Squad.

I’ll admit, I don’t like the Star Spangled War Stories Suicide Squad as much as Brave and the Bold. In War Stories, Suicide Squad became a catch-all for ‘soldiers fighting dinosaurs.’ B&B SS didn’t JUST fight dinosaurs, and when they did, the stories relied more on classic sci-fi monster movie stuff than just WWII + dinosaurs.

Anyway, I think that Warner Bros. missed a huge opportunity to cash in on a Silver Age Suicide Squad flick–the time was right for it. But instead, we got uwu trashgirl Harley and Will Smith-desperately-trying-to-rebuild-his-action-hero-brand Deadshot in one of the messiest films I’ve seen in years.

The Future Comes To Everywhere At The Same Time – From Misha Burnett

Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer is available now for pre-order via Kickstarter!

I think it was Robert Heinlein’s Starman Jones that first opened my eyes to that concept.

I was born in 1963 and I grew up reading Science Fiction. Mostly what was available in the local library had been published in the 1940s and 1950s, the so-called Golden Age when John W. Campbell was king and Asimov was his prime minister. The stories of that era assumed that New York was the future, with occasional trips to Chicago for atmosphere. The cities in space were called things like New New York and New London and (for the daring) New Tokyo.

Science fiction was about science, and science meant progress, and progress meant big cities. Skyscrapers and subways were as much a part of my early future landscape and rocketships and rayguns.

Starman Jones was different. I can remember reading it and being confused at first because it was set in the country (the Ozarks, in fact, where I lived) but was also in the future.

Could you really do that?

It was a real eye-opener for me because even at a tender age I wanted to be a Science Fiction writer, and I’d gotten the impression that if you wrote something in the future it had to be set in either New York or Los Angeles because the rest of the country somehow ceased to exist once people had strato-cars to fly over it. 

Well, here it is the year 2020 (years after some of my childhood favorites were set) and I am still living in the Midwest.

And I am writing stories set both in the future and in the country. Go figure.

What’s more my publisher for this project is also in the Ozarks, albeit on the Arkansas side, which is like the Dark Side but without the cookies.

Now, not all of the stories in this collection are set along side what was once Route 66—two take place in Southern California, separated by a few centuries, and another takes place on an alien world, for example—but a preponderance of them are set within an hour’s drive of Springfield, Missouri.

Because the future isn’t something that happens just in big cities. It’s something that will come and find you, no matter where you are. You can’t hide from the future, it knows where you live.

Even if you live out in the boonies.