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

Jeffro Johnson’s Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons is Out Now

I’m a bit late to the party on blogging this here, but hopefully devoting several posts over the past couple of years to the work he’s done on this can excuse my tardiness.

appendix-n-coverIf you’re like me and holding out for the paperback, I hear it’s coming soon (next month or so). If you’re cool with e-Reader stuff, go ahead and drop some coin on this now.

I could go on at extreme lengths as to why this book is important, how it brought the Appendix N gospel out of the hands of the OSR and discussions on ‘purity of D&D’ into the broader Science Fiction and Fantasy community, rediscovering and evangelizing treasures that were lost from public conscious due to changes in publishing practices and the retail market.

This project is one of two of the most important external factors on Cirsova being where it is and what it is. James Hutchings’s Age of Fable game brought me into the OSR and blogging, and Jeffro’s Appendix N series led me to start a magazine.

You really need to check this out.

Planetary Awards Update and Reminders

This is just another reminder to all book bloggers out there to get your nominations in for the Planetary Awards. You can find more information here at the official site.

I probably will not be nominating anything personally this year, because frankly a lot of the best fiction I’ve read from 2016 is that which I’ve published. I’ve read some other really great recent stories, like those in Swords of Steel and Robert Kroese’s Starship Grifters, but those aren’t from 2016, and I probably won’t get around to reading Swords of Steel Vol 2 in time to make the Planetary Awards.

Karl K. Gallagher’s* Torchship Pilot was excellent and absolutely worth checking out if you have not. The only reasons I’m not nominating it for this year’s award are that I haven’t read the final version yet** (I had the honor of being a beta reader; thanks, Karl!) and because last year I nominated Torchship, the previous book, and it won!

Cirsova contributors Schuyler Hernstrom and Brian K. Lowe have both gotten noms for this year’s Planetary Awards, for Images of the Goddess***(SH) and The Invisible City(BKL), and for Athan and the Priestess(SH).

*: Also a Cirsova contributor.

**:Both of my parents, who are huge SF aficionados, have read it and thought it was amazing, as good as the first, if not better! Now that Mom’s finished it, I can get my copy back and read it myself.

***: Images of the Goddess appeared in Cirsova #2 (Summer, 2016). It can be read for free here, but if you want to kick a few bucks our way, it’s on Amazon and Lulu.

Planet & Prince of Peril

I’m about halfway through Kline’s second Venus book, Prince of Peril, and it has been awesome.

I regrettably did not get a chance to talk much about Planet of Peril, but do want to take a minute to note that it did feature a pretty kick-ass female lead, Vernia, who was, like Maza, a fighting general who had become the most powerful queen on Venus after defeating several rivals in a bloody succession war. The scientist who sends Grandon to Venus recounts the beginning of Vernia’s reign:

The wild, mountainous kingdom of Uxpo, of which these forests are a part, is situated at the extreme southern limit of the empire of Reabon. Uxpo, together with seven other kingdoms, was originally conquered by the famous emperor, Margo, and its fierce, previously unbeaten mountaineer people reduced to slavery.

“Upon Margo’s death, three years ago, the people of Uxpo entertained high hopes of freedom. They had learned that the emperor’s daughter, Vernia, a mere slip of a girl, had succeeded to the throne; they revolted and, almost overnight, slew every soldier, officer and agent of the empire. Their old king had been executed by Margo at the time of the invasion, but his elder son, Lugi, was placed on the throne.

“Two days afterward a courier brought news that the princess Vernia was coming at the head of a hundred thousand soldiers. Lugi assembled his five thousand mountaineers and went forth. The army of Uxpo was annihilated, and Lugi was executed for treason. Once more the fierce Uxponians bowed their necks to the yoke of the conqueror.

Unconquerable on the battlefield, even able to escape assassins, the princess finds herself about to be undone by a technicality by her main rival. While Vernia and Robert Grandon go bouncing from adventure to adventure, trying to get back to her capital, the timer is running out – if she’s gone for a year, she’ll be considered to have abdicated the throne. The big happy ending when Vernia and Grandon are able to return to the capital, have outwitted the big bad and thwarted his scheme to marry Vernia and seize the throne, and themselves are married is one of the most awesome S&P endings ever.

Four soldiers removed the bodies and order was restored with surprising celerity. Again Grandon moved to the foot of the throne where Vernia awaited him, wide-eyed and trembling. He took her hands in his for a moment, then she resolutely bade him proceed.

Upon his return the four kings had prostrated themselves on the steps leading to the throne in accordance with the customs of their ancestors. Grandon turned to Vernia. “I am emperor now, am I not?”

“Assuredly, my lord.”

“And my word is law?”

“So long as it does not conflict with the written constitution of Reabon.”

“Is this matter of mounting to the throne on the backs of one’s vassal kings written into the constitution?”

“No. It is a custom that has been observed for generations and signifies the complete submission of the heads of the various kingdoms.”

“Then it shall be abolished. I expect loyalty from my subjects, but not abject servility.”

Then, to the surprise of the four kings, he bade them rise and stand, each man on the step he occupied, two to the right and two to the left. Thus attended, Grandon mounted to the throne while the spectators looked on in amazement.

When he had taken his seat with quiet dignity and rested the scarbo across the arms of the throne, Vernia mounted and bowed before him with right hand extended palm downward—an example which was followed by the entire assemblage. It was indeed a day of surprise for the good people of Reabon, for no sooner had she knelt before him than he, in violation of an age-old custom which decreed that the empress should sit at the feet of her lord, swung the scarbo to one side and lifted her up beside him on the throne.

“You shouldn’t have done this,” she gasped. “My place is—”

“Custom be hanged!” he responded, and there, in full view of that vast multitude, he kissed his bride full upon the lips.

The crowd responded with a resounding cheer. “A long and happy reign to our emperor and his empress!”

Then the shimmering scarlet curtains crept around the throne, and Grandon forgot all else when two soft arms stole around his neck and Vernia’s fluffy head nestled on his shoulder.

Prince of Peril has not, as of yet, had so satisfying a female lead as Planet of Peril (unlike Vernia or Maza, Princess Loralie is a bit more of a typical damsel in distress and, for the first half of the book, gets very little characterization while she’s being carried off by evil princes, cannibal apes, and horny robots). Still, it’s had some really great set pieces, including a Burroughs homage that combines the scene of Tarzan defeating the Ape King in hand to hand combat and Carter fighting the Tharks on Mars. The Venusian ape king takes a new bride each month, and this one wants to mix things up a bit and marry a food-woman (they call humans food-men and food-women, because they eat them). The monthly wedding ceremony also provides an opportunity for anyone who wishes to challenge the king and take the throne and the wives.

“Who will fight Rorg for his bride and his kingdom?” The final challenge was flung out by the victorious king-ape as he looked triumphantly about him. “Speak now, or…”

“I’ll fight you, Rorg,” I said, drawing club and knife and stepping in front of the giant. As I did so I caught a fleeting glimpse of Taliboz and Loralie. On the face of the traitor was pleased anticipation. The eyes of the princess showed surprise, and something more. Incredible as it appeared from her recent actions, it was undoubtedly concern for my safety.

But these were only fleeting impressions.

Borg stared incredulously down at me for a moment, evidently unable to believe that I had actually challenged the king of the cave-apes. Then he struck at me quickly, but not exerting his full strength, as if I were some insect annoying him.

Instinctively I used my club as if it had been a sword—parrying the blow with ease and countering with a thrust which bit into his furry abdomen, drawing blood and eliciting a grunt of rage and pain.

Although the club was so constructed that I could not hope to inflict a mortal wound by thrusting the sharp flint teeth with which it was armed, it could and did cause considerable pain and annoyance. As the cave-ape system of fighting was merely that of striking and dodging. I hoped to offset my adversary’s enormous advantage of strength and reach by employing the technique of a swordsman.

With an angry bellow, Borg swung a terrific blow for my legs. Again I parried, and countered with a neck cut which would probably have terminated the engagement in my favor had it not been blocked by one of his huge tusks. The tusk snapped off and clattered to the rock; but as a result, the club wounded him only slightly, adding to his fury.

Foaming at the mouth and gnashing his teeth in his rage, the king-ape beset me with a rain of blows that would have been irresistible to any but a trained swordsman. Splinters and bits of broken flint flew from our clubs as time and again I parried his terrific blows.

After each blow I countered with a cut or thrust, and soon my opponent was bleeding from head to foot; yet his strength and quickness seemed rather to increase with each fresh wound. Had he possessed a swordsman’s training, I verily believe that ape would have been invincible on his own planet or any other.

Presently I succeeded in raking him across the forehead with the point of my weapon, so that the blood ran down in his eyes, half blinding him. But he wiped the blood away with the back of one huge paw and countered with a blow, the force of which numbed my wrist and splintered my club into fragments.

I leaped back, then hurled the club handle straight for the great, snarling mouth as he bounded forward to finish me. It struck him in the front teeth, breaking off several and momentarily bewildering him.

In that moment I leaped, and with the fingers of my left hand entwined in the wiry hair of his chest and my legs gripping his waist, I buried my flint knife again and again in his brawny neck. Blood spurted from his pulsing jugular as he endeavored to shake me off, to reach me with his sharp fangs, and to gore me with his single remaining tusk. But his mighty strength was spent —his lifeblood draining.

A quiver shook the giant frame and like some tall tree of the forest felled by the woodman’s axe, he toppled backward, crashing to the ground.

Leaping quickly to my feet, I seized the club of the fallen ape-monarch and, brandishing it aloft, said, “Rorg is dead, and Zinlo is king. Who will fight Zinlo? Who will be next to die?”

From the throats of several of the ape-warriors in the semicircle from which Urg had come, came low growls, but none advanced, and the growls subsided as I singled out in turn with my gaze each of the truculent ones who had voiced them.

Far below me, the mob of apes was clamoring, “Meat! We want our meat!”

I knew that, spent as I was, the enormous body of Rorg was more than I could raise aloft and hurl to the mob below, so I had recourse to an old wrestling trick. Seizing the limp right arm of the fallen king-ape, I dragged the body to the edge of the cliff. Then, bringing the arm over my shoulder in an application of the principle of the lever, I heaved the remains of Borg over my head.

A moment later the milling beasts below were tearing the carcass to pieces, snarling and snapping over their feast. This custom, I afterward learned, had been established in consequence of the belief that the flesh of a strong, brave individual would confer strength and bravery on the one who devoured it.

Again I brandished my club aloft, shouting, “Who will fight Zinlo for his kingdom? Speak now, or keep silence for another endir.”

This time I heard not even a single growl from the warriors on the cone top.

An old warrior who had lost both tusks, an ear, and several of his fingers, stepped from the ranks and advanced to the cliff edge. “Rorg is dead,” he announced. “Farewell to Rorg.”

Following his words, a peculiar, quavering cry went up from the throats of the thousands of apes congregated in the crater, as well as from those on the plateau. So weird and mournful did it sound that I shivered involuntarily.

As the last plaintive notes died away, the old warrior shouted, “Zinlo is king. Hail, Zinlo!”

A deafening din followed as the ape-horde, brandishing knives and clubs aloft and clattering them together, cried, “Hail, Zinlo!”

Another great bit has been the encounter with the 5000 year old Prince and Princess who turned themselves and their followers into robots, and now the Prince is all “You must mate with us!”

There’s some great uncanny valley horror to this that you see much later in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

The page stopped before an ornate doorway, two guards saluted and opened massive doors. Then a pair of scarlet curtains were drawn back, revealing a luxurious boudoir. “His Highness, Zinlo of Olba,” announced the page as I entered the room.

The curtains fell in place behind me. I heard the guards close the heavy doors.

As I looked at the beauteous dead-alive creature that reclined on a luxuriously cushioned divan in a scarlet and gold decked recess, a feeling of revulsion swept over me; yet, paradoxically enough, this was combined with admiration. I was revolted at thought of the nearness of this living dead thing, but could not but admire the consummate art that had created so glorious an imitation of the human form.

I realized that if I would live to be of assistance to Loralie I had a part to play.

Xunia smiled languidly, seductively, as I stood before the raised divan just outside the niche it occupied. With feline grace she extended a slender, dimpled hand. Shuddering inwardly, I took it, expecting to feel the cold clamminess of death. But it was as warm as my own and as natural—from its white back in which a delicate tracery of blue veins showed, to the pink- tipped, tapering fingers. I raised it to my lips and released it, but she clung to my fingers for a moment, pulling me to a seat on a low ottoman just in front of her.

“Long have I awaited your coming, prince of my heart,” she said. “Be not afraid to come near to me, for it is my desire and my command.”

“To be prince of your heart were indeed an honor,” I replied, “yet you name me this, having only seen me today.”

“The moment I saw you I knew it was so. Fear not, beloved, that there have been others before you. I am, and have ever been, virgin in mind as in body. Once I thought I loved, yes, but it was long ago, and then I was but a child.”

“You make me very jealous, nevertheless,” I said, remembering the part I had to play.

“I did not really love him, I swear it, dearest.” She ran her fingers through my hair in a gentle caress so natural, so womanly, that I found it well- nigh impossible to believe her other than a real princess of flesh and blood. Then, before I realized what she was about, she twined her arms about my neck and kissed me full upon my lips.

The kiss did not taste of acid, as I had imagined it would, but was like that of a normal, healthy girl, though it aroused in me a feeling of revulsion which I was at some pains to conceal.

“I go now, beloved, to prepare for your marriage,” she said. “Await me here.”

As I stood up, she took my hand and arose gracefully. The time for action had arrived. Yet, as I looked down at the slender, beautiful figure, the long- lashed eyes gazing trustfully up into mine, I hesitated to carry out the plan which I had been contemplating as I sat there on the ottoman before her— a plan with which I hoped to accomplish a double purpose—to rid myself of this machine-monster and to get her brother away from Loralie, for she would probably summon him telepathically, if in no other way.

I was trying to think of her as a dead thing in a machine, yet it seemed impossible that she was other than human, so natural was she, and so beautiful. But the thought of Loralie and the danger she was in steeled me to the task.

Seizing Xunia by her long black hair, I whipped out my stone knife and slashed the artificial muscles of the slim white throat. She gave one startled scream, which ended at the second slash of my knife, and went limp as I jerked the head backward, cracking the metallic structure which took the place of cervical vertebrae. Instead of blood, there spurted from the severed neck a tiny stream of clear fuming liquid, a few drops of which fell on my hand, burning it like molten metal.

Dropping the sagging body, I turned and was about to part the curtains which led out into the hall to see if the coast was clear, when I heard a stealthy sound behind me. Swiftly turning, I saw Xunia, apparently unharmed. In her right hand was a long, straight-bladed sword drawn back for a thrust. Behind her lay the body I had just destroyed.

I leaped back just in time to avoid her vicious lunge. Then, jerking my spiked club from my belt, I dealt her a blow which crushed her skull like an egg-shell. But scarcely had this body sunk to the floor ere a panel opened in the wall behind it and a third, armed like the second, stepped out to attack me.

“Fool,” mouthed the advancing figure. “Think you that you can slay one of the immortals?”

Prince of Peril has been much more episodic than Planet of Peril, but what episodes!

Perhaps one of the most amusing parts, though, was in the introduction, which includes an in-universe shout-out to Edgar Rice Burroughs:

Now I had been a devotee of imaginative fiction for many years, and had often thought of turning my hand to writing it. I prided myself on having a better than usual imagination; yet, I did not think of the implications of the theory of telepathy when Dr. Morgan told me that the man who built the thought-projector was on Mars. While I deferred to no one in my fondness for Edgar Rice Burroughs’s stories of John Carter and others on Barsoom, I was well aware of the fact that what we knew of the planet Mars made his wonderful civilization on that planet quite impossible. I said as much, going into facts and figures.

“Of course, we won’t really know for sure about the exact conditions there unless we land on Mars. But still we know enough to make Burroughs’s Mars probability zero,” I concluded.

Dr. Morgan nodded. “Entirely correct,” he said. “There is no such civilization on Mars.”

He then explained his own incredulity when his machine picked up the thoughts of a man who identified himself as a human being— one Lal Vak, a Martian scientist and psychologist. But Lal Vak was no less incredulous whoa Dr. Morgan identified himself as a human being and scientist of Earth. For Lal Vak was certain that there could be no human civilization on Earth, and cited facts and figures to prove it.

Swords of Steel Vol 1.

Some of you may have seen advertisements in Cirsova for an anthology series called Swords of Steel. Well, if you enjoy Cirsova, I strongly recommend checking them out, and I’m not just saying that because they’ve advertised with us (but disclaimer, they have advertised with us; I was sent digital review copies of volumes 1 & 2, but also bought a physical copy of 1 and now intend to buy a physical copy of volume 2. Also, Howie K. Bentley is a Cirsova contributor with a short story, …Where There is No Sanctuary, in Cirsova #4.)

913trie-wil

The anthology specifically invokes Andrew J. Offutt’s Swords Against Darkness anthologies, as well as other Appendix N authors, in the introduction. Does it stack up? Well, to be honest, I haven’t gotten around to reading SAD yet, but I would say that this anthology is well worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of Cirsova’s Sword & Sorcery pieces.

I realized that I said SoS was “the real deal” in no less than 4 separate tweets. Sounds kinda canned, but no, this is really good. If you’re wary of promises of sword & sorcery goodness that have let you down in the past, fear not, because this anthology delivers.

Some of it is a bit darker and more grisly than what you’d typically find in Cirsova, but most of the stories are of the caliber and quality I’d be more than happy to have in my anthologies. Dave Ritzlin has done a fantastic job with this. It’s an annual anthology, so you should have no trouble keeping up.

The concept behind the anthology series is short fiction by extreme metal musicians, so I have tried to accompany each piece with a sample track from the associated band when I could find it.

Note that I’m excluding the poetry selections not because they aren’t good poems but because I don’t feel qualified to comment on them beyond saying “Yeah, that was pretty metal”, and poetry is such a subjective thing that folks who don’t like it will not be swayed and those who do like it may for certain particulars I would not be able to convey in brief.

Into the Dawn of Storms – Byron A. Roberts

The first piece is actually the first chapter of novel/novella. I have mixed feelings about chapters and excerpts either presented as a standalone story or as a serial, and this piece does not really stand on its own – it’s setting and atmosphere framing a prose poem which points in the direction that the story will eventually go. That said, I enjoyed it well enough that I would like to eventually read the book in its entirety, either serialized in Swords of Steel or as a standalone volume.

The Riddle Master – E.C. Hellwell

The Riddle Master was kind of the odd story out in this collection, as more of a gothic horror than a Sword and Sorcery story. It tells a time-worn tale of the devil’s promise to grant earthly desires to cocky and overconfident artist, but it does so in such a wonderfully atmospheric manner that it’s fun to see it hit each beat as you see them coming. This was probably one of my favorite stories in the anthology.

Also, prog rock doom metal? How freaking awesome is that! Of the bands, this guy’s is probably my favorite as well.

The Mirror Beguiling – James Ashbey

Sometimes if you can add enough flourish and weird, even a story about a simple fetch-quest going awry with some twists and turns can be a lot of fun. I’d happily read more adventures of Ruga Hawkshand if there are any more of them.

All Will Be Righted on Samhain – Howie K. Bentley and David C. Smith

One of the longer pieces in Swords of Steel, this tells the story of Boadicea’s daughter seeking revenge on the Romans and summoning the Rune incarnate Thorn to punish those who raped her and defeated her mother. Incorporating a lot of pagan mysticism and the Wild Hunt, this was a very colorful story but also marked heavily by Bentley’s penchant for carnage and gore. If you can stomach it, it’s fascinating, but a bit extreme for my taste. Pretty sure it gave me nightmares.

Headbanging Warriors – M Harold Page

Interesting little non-fiction/essay/prose poem piece about the rhythm of battle.

Journey in Somnamblia – Jean-Pierre Abboud

Rogue magicians near a city powered by magic try to do something magical. This one showed some promise, but I feel like it did not really have a payoff.

Eve’s Grave – Scott Waldrop

There’s some beautiful and haunting imagery in this, but I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind to really enjoy it. I ended up skimming and skipping a bit in this lengthy prose poem which was vaguely reminiscent of Nick Cave and The Dirty Three’s Time Jesum Transeuntum et Non Riverentum.

Blue Mistress – Jeffrey Black

A guy on a ship fishes out a mermaid; the ship is attacked by a giant squid monster. While by most accounts, this was just an “okay” story, Black really captured the “weird” aspect of the mermaid queen in a way that you don’t see often.

Vengeance of the Insane God – Jason Tarpey

A wandering warrior arrives at a city founded by his ancestors to learn the art of smithing only to find that the king has gone mad and sold out the inhabitants to deep ones. While imperfect, this is one of the stories that I hope is part of an ongoing series or uses a recurring character. Plus, if next time I run a D&D game, I’m totally using the idea of forging swords using the ashes of ones ancestors; not only was it your father’s and your grandfather’s blade, but the carbon in the steel is their ashes, so the blade IS your father and grandfather!

This story is an expansion of this track. This is probably my favorite of the bands after Hellwell.

Happy Birthday, Leigh Brackett!

Today was the Queen of Sci-Fi’s birthday. Last year, her centennial saw a spat of narrative-spinning articles either diminishing her contributions to the Star Wars Universe or propagating falsehoods about how she had to hide her identity and faced top-down sexism in the SF industry (an allegation she herself denied in interviews).

What’s the web saying about her this go round, with no new Star Wars movie on the immediate horizon for Christmas release?

Leigh Brackett (1915-1978) was a science fiction novelist; she was known as the “queen of space opera” for her novels and stories about Eric John Stark.  She was also a screenwriter.  She worked a number of times with Howard Hawks, on films like The Big Sleep, Rio Bravoand El Dorado, and also contributed—just how much is unclear—to the script for The Empire Strikes Back. – December 7: Happy Birthday Ellen Burstyn and Sara Bareilles, Lebeau’s Le Blog

(Worth noting, one the biggest obfuscating factors in determining her contributions is the public absence of the intermediary scripts Lucas wrote between Brackett’s first draft and the version handed off to Kasdan. Nonetheless, her original script is available for comparison against the final project, though it should be remembered that it was a first draft and the lady herself was no longer with us to make her own rewrites.)

We’re only going to talk about the SF/F Ace Doubles here; some people don’t know that Ace didn’t just do SF/F doubles, they did westerns, mystery, and the like as well. In fact, D-31 (A.E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A and Universe Maker) is actually the first SF/F Ace Double. Interestingly, it’s not as collectible—judging by price—as the next one, which was (Figure 2) D-36: Robert E. Howard’s Conan The Conqueror and Leigh Brackett’s The Sword of Rhiannon. (We’ll get onto talking about price in a bit.) There’s been a lot of controversy over the last year or so about whether the “good old stuff” is really that good; some people claim that it—and this is a hell of a claim to make about a whole genre—lacks literary merit, is not socially acceptable any more (because of changing social morés), and is the bastion of “old white guy” writers. Literary merit is not something I’m going to argue; it’s my contention that only time will tell. Literature goes in and out of fashion, and what’s part of Sturgeon’s 90% now may well be part of the 10% tomorrow. (You will, of course, remember Theodore Sturgeon’s comment that “90% of everything is crud,” often misquoted as “…is crap,” though I do sympathize with the latter version, often called “Sturgeon’s Law.”) Social acceptability is another thing; we cannot change the past (although we could, if we wanted, revise what was written in the past), so when we’re reading something from, say, Victor Hugo’s time, we don’t attempt to revile Hugo for not holding modern societal views on theft or treatment of criminals. So should we revile Isaac Asimov for his sometimes laughable fictional treatment of women? (I’m separating this particular example from the real-life Asimov who, I understand, was somewhat of a “serial groper”; something that is entirely unacceptable today.) And for the third fault claimed above, what about writers like Leigh Brackett? You can hardly say she was an old white guy; in fact, many of the writers published by Ace were—although often white and male—hardly old at the time. –  DOUBLE, DOUBLE, WHAT’S THE TROUBLE?, Amazing Stories

Most of the Good Old Stuff I’ve read has been pretty good, but Brackett is phenomenal.

It’s fitting that at the end of her life the Queen of Space Opera Leigh Brackett wrote the early script for The Empire Strikes Back. While there’s debate about how many of Brackett’s words and creations remain in that Star Wars sequel, I like to believe her spirit — and the spirit of the worlds she created through her stories — gave the film its heart and soul. – Space operas boldly go to the heart of the human soul, Jason Sandford

Here, here!

Two points on this, one of cinema’s most famous twists and most oft-quoted lines — or, I should say, oft-misquoted lines. The actual dialogue never included Luke’s name, with Vader only saying “No, I am your father.” A minor mistake but a crucial one for something so famous. Just as Lucas hadn’t planned out multiple trilogies from day one, he didn’t even anticipate this pivotal twist, one that defines so much of the trilogy’s ultimate themes, until he was writing Empire Strikes Back with Leigh Brackett that the outline changed from his original plan for Luke to meet the ghost of his real father on Dagobah. – 6 Lies You’ve Been Told About Star Wars, Cheatsheet

#7 – Leigh Brackett’s script was discarded.

If you’ve not read Brackett, do your self a favor.  Read her.  There are very few writers who can write fast paced action adventure with complex and flawed characters like she can and do so with a sense of poetry. – Leigh Brackett at 101, Adventures Fantastic

Yup.

Leigh Brackett was one of the best there ever was. As long as we live, we’ll cherish her name. –HAWKS MADE A NUMBER OF WESTERNS IN HIS LIFE, NONE OF WHICH HAD THE INTENSE IMPACT ON US THE WAY ‘RIO BRAVO’ DID, Cinephilia & Beyond

While I found far fewer big-name media sites name-dropping Brackett this week, I’d have to say that the overall quality of content regarding her has certainly improved as a matter of percentages for her 101st as compared with last year.

Projects, Projects, and More Projects

We’ve just about finished going through all of the submissions for 2017. We should be able to announce the line-up for at least issue 5 by mid-December. Issue 6 may be a little later, partly because the incredibly tough choices that need to be made within the constraints of budget and space. While I can always adjust for space, the only way we can adjust for budget is by our reader’s support.

  • Buying copies for stocking stuffers helps, naturally.
  • If you’d like to buy a back cover advertisement for either issue, that covers an entire story, right there.
  • We’re also considering doing some merch, for people who’ve bought all of our issues but still want to find new ways to support us. We will be setting up a CafePress or similar store soon, hopefully in time for Christmas, but it’s looking a little late for that, now. We also need to touch base with our artists to make sure that they’re okay with that in the use terms for the art we’ve commissioned.

I need to put together the pre-order Kickstarter for next year. I’ll probably flip it live in January so you’ll have someplace to spend that Christmas money you get.

With everything that’s been going on, I’ve struggled to keep up with both my pulps column AND writing new gaming content, but the last couple weeks, S:tT helped inspire me to get a few more gaming posts, and the long weekend let me not only catch up on my Planet Stories reading, I started the first volume of Swords of Steel. I’m always a little wary of promoting advertisers by way of review (ethics, and all), so I wanted to read it for myself before I started going into how you need to buy this (but really, support our sponsors, so they’ll continue to sponsor us). You need to read them. I’ll do some mini posts on it, if not actual reviews of the stories, but Swords of Steel is the real deal, and if you want more stories like the kinds we love and publish, DMR’s anthology series is a must read.

Lastly, things are coming along nicely with the Stark project. I’m probably going to go over the text AT LEAST one more time before I say “the text is good to go”, but I have the text from all three novellas prepped, formatted, and checked against the original Planet Stories text. I’ve avoided taking an editorial pen to the text except in occasions where an obvious typographical error is present and in one or two instances where a missing comma creates a confusing sentence.

The stage I’m at now is writing up character descriptions backed with examples from text, assembling project specs that could be turned over to artists. Once that stage is done, I’ll just need to scrounge the money I need to get things started. Fortunately, the Kickstarter for that is more or less ready for me to flip a switch on. When the day comes, I’ll have a press release to send out.

Lastly, I’m considering writing a self-help/DIY book on how to put out an SFF mag or anthology. I’ve gotten a lot of comments along the lines of “oh, wow, that’s so impressive, I wish I could do something like that, it’s crazy how you managed to put out a magazine that looks as good as it does.” The truth is, anybody can do it, and unless you go at the breakneck pace I did for 2016, it doesn’t cost a lot of money, either. So, I may try to collate and impart what I have learned.