Tangent finally got around to reviewing the Summer issue. Maybe they’ll get around to reviewing the Fall soon? If you have reviewed an issue of Cirsova, let us know! We’ll point to your post. Also, we really need more pull quote copy for the hardcover flaps. I’ve gotten a little lazy and re-used the same copy from the last few installments, but it would be easier if we got more reviews!
Our reviews section spilled over and we didn’t have enough space to review all of the books Baen sent us in the magazine, so we’re running a couple of them here! Be sure to pick up the Fall Issue out now in Softcover, Hardcover, and eBook! The issue currently out has J. Comer’s review of Pournelle’s Janissaries series.
The late Ursula K. Le Guin authored A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness and more than sixty other books. While her SF and fantasy are her legacy, Le Guin also penned her share of nonfiction. In her essay “The Space Crone,” she imagines an older woman (rather than the usual men and boys) as the ideal ambassador to other worlds, as she would know more of human existence. “Into the space ship, Granny,” she urged.
Jane Lindskold took apart the ‘crazy cat lady’ stereotype in the Man-Kzin tale, “Two Kinds of Teeth,” and she takes Le Guin’s idea and flies with it in Library Of The Sapphire Wind. Three old ladies attending a book club find themselves drawn by magic into a world peopled by anthropomorphic animal-folk (“furries”) and sent on a quest for the eponymous library aboard a flying ship. This author is fond of animal characters, as evidenced by her Firekeeper Saga and its wolves, but her furries are remarkably tasteful. At the library, the old ladies and their furry pals explore the ruined setting, battle the local monsters, and begin to find both wisdom and atonement for the misdeeds of their parents. The humans must be concealed. At a desert necropolis, the story unfolds further. We learn of a missing child, and a long-broken artifact, and a deal. The adventuring party returns to the Library, fights a huge battle, and… The story ends. Huh?
The story has some issues. The dramatic tension of teleporting the three heroes into a world without prescription medication, special diets, or therapy is resolved too quickly. Humans can breathe the air, eat the food, even smoke the ‘weeds’ of an alien planet? Really? The old-lady heroes are promising but not well developed as characters. And the ending of the novel (which is part of the “Over Where” series) is much too abrupt. This book might appeal to readers of second-world fantasy with furries taking the place of elves and gnomes. I can imagine reading it to kids at bedtime or in classroom storytime, but it needs a stronger ending (perhaps the next book will address this).
A Facebook meme that has been current across the last five years pays homage to the space crone. It goes, “I’d read the hell out of a series of [books about] a chosen eighty-five-year-old woman who goes on epic journeys throughout a dangerous and magical land, armed only with a cane and her stab-tastic knitting needles, accompanied by her six cats and a skittish-yet-devoted orderly who makes sure she takes her pills on time.” When I opened Sapphire Wind, I was expecting this, more or less. If I didn’t get it, well, I still like Lindskold’s writing, furries and all. Hoping for more adventures in the “Over Where” from Lindskolsd.
 In Dancing At The Edge Of The World (Grove Press, 1989)
Been thinking some about Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars. In some ways, it is, in fiction, the closest you get to something as off-the-wall as a #BROSR-style 1:1 time game with patrons in space with multiple factions, pieces on the board and off the board, all in motion simultaneously.
One of the reasons why it’s hard to pitch is that it’s SO off the wall and chaotic, it’s not easy to either compare it to other works or really capture in a nutshell what’s going on. How would you elevator-pitch the narrative of what’s going on in #BROvenloft right now?
Wild Stars VII [which we’re serializing next year]: With adventuring hero-teams still regrouping, the Wild Star patrons Strazis off the board still and Erlik dead, you’re left with the Artomique Space Nazis who control earth, the Space Pirates, the telepath guild, and the psionic T-Rexes vying for control of known space.
The God Father is back, but his faction [the Purple Order] is out of commission until he can breed more with other immortal women. Phaedra is in play and gathering her own allies to wreck the Artomique / Pirate alliance.
We haven’t seen much of the Brothan (space werewolves) lately. I’m sure they’re still out there, though, but the Black Star Reavers (Space Lizardmen) are a new wildcard faction that may or may not be allied with the Artomiques, but not the telepaths guild (or vice versa).
Carthage, the renegade Wild Star, who was a Patron from the Brothan for awhile, has been factionless for some time, but he’s still around in some capacity due to Dalucar, the Saturnian.
The crabmen’s influence is still being felt across the galaxy, and their evolutionary spike that landed on Mars led to the ascendance of the telepathic T-Rexes. We haven’t seen them directly, though, since the flashback to the 20th century in the prologue of Wild Stars V.
In the context of this Patron Level game, the Ancient Warrior/Strazis is an ascended PC who went from sword & sandal Fighting Man to name-level patron for an interstellar confederation.
If you were to run a Wild Stars Braunstein, though, you’d need the following factions:
The Artomiques (Achilles Hister)
The Wild Stars (Strazis)
Atlanteans [specifically the pre-Wild Stars Atlanteans and those who did not become Wild Starriors after the exodus](Broadwater)
The Brothan (Brotah or Carthage)
The Five-Thousand-Fingered Hand (the Madam)
Space Pirate (Red Queen)
The Saturnians (Dalucar)
The Purple Order (The God Father)
Phaedra’s coalition (Phaedra)
The Black Star Reavers (?????)
The Marzanti (?????)
The Dire Griefs (?????)
And that’s just off the top of my head and for starters. Each of those Patrons has henchmen [such as Genghis and Georgian, Achilles’ two main mooks] as well as a number of adventurers.
Because within those various groups, you have Erlik, who is Strazis’ son and one of the main leaders of the Wild Stars, his wife Daestar, who’s a member of the Five Thousand Fingered Hand (telepath’s guild that is actually a rival faction against Strazis’ Wild Stars).
Earth faction, you’d have Bully and Risky Bravo and their other family members, who are off adventuring on behalf of both earth and the Wild Stars, or, in Bullson’s case in the last volume, the Artomiques.
Different “PCs” are constantly forming, disbanding, and reforming adventuring parties against the backdrop of the machinations of the various factions vying for control of the Galaxy.
Anyway, Wild Stars VI: Orphan of the Shadowy Moon is being currently serialized in Cirsova Magazine. Part 3 just dropped. Parts 1 & 2 are on Amazon now.
We also recently published the collected edition of Wild Stars V: The Artomique Paradigm, which also reprints an original 1970s Wild Stars short story from The Multiversal Scribe that serves as a prelude to next year’s Wild Stars VII: The Gold Exigency. Plus, it contains some TTRPG write-ups for some of the major characters in case you would be interested in trying out a faction-based Wild Stars Braunstein.
Okay, everything has cleared, and we can announce our amazing 2023 lineup!
Among our major recurring features, we’ll be serializing Wild Stars VII: The Gold Exigency, in which a space cop gets roped into the cosmic struggle between warring titans, space pirates, and a telepathic dragon cult! Jim Breyfogle’s Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat race toward their dramatic conclusion this year in three stories, culminating in The Redemption of Alness! Adrian Cole’s New Dream Lords saga continues, chronicling another of Arrul Voruum’s early adventures in Across the Poison Sea!
We have a number of other returning Cirsova veterans as well as some new and exciting names! 2023 is going to be fantastic!
Quicksilver – J. Comer
Egg – Jaime Faye Torkelson
The Unshrouded Stars – David Skinner
Search Pattern – William Suboski
Starring Hedy Lamarr – Troy Riser
Hunger in the Void – Andrew Gallant
The Gold Exigency (pt1) – Michael Tierney
Comes the Hunter – Bill Willingham
The Feast of the Fedai – Jim Breyfogle
Across the Poison Sea – Adrian Cole
An Affair of Honor – Will Lowry
Curse of the Iron Moon – Frank Sawielijew
Meat on the Bone – Tia Ja’nae
Olvir’s Dream – C.D. Crabtree
The Red Queen of Ustari – Shuya Nanahara
Terror-trap of the Jintra – John Gradoville
The Machine of Fear – Harold R. Thompson
The Ruins of the Dalgre – Richard Rubin
The Serpent and the Spire – J. Thomas Howard
The Gold Exigency (p2) – Michael Tierney
Black Sky, White Knight – Mark Mellon
Children of Summer – Louise Sorensen
Dead Men Do Tell Tales – Teel James Glenn
Fossils of Truth and Grace – E.E. King
Trapped in the Loop – Jim Breyfogle
Metamorphoses at the Gate – Lysander Arden
The Dusk Next Door – Mark Pellegrini
To a Dead Soul in Morbid Love – Matthew Pungitore
The Chilling Account of The Wolf-Bann of Krallenburg – J.E. Tabor
The Angel Hanna – Rodica Bretin
The Gold Exigency (p3) – Michael Tierney
The Redemption of Alness – Jim Breyfogle
Moonlight Over Sussex – Daniel J. Minucci
Red Queen’s Race – Paul Lucas
Rising Shadows – Adam S. Furman
Incident in Burma,1942 – Mark Arvid White
That Hideous Brain – Jeffery Scott Sims
Commander – Richard Martin
Ithuriel’s Spear- Joseph W. Knowles
The Gold Exigency (p4) – Michael Tierney
Just don’t forget about 2022, we’ve still got several months and another issue left! The Fall issue just dropped in physical formats [softcover, hardcover] with part 3 of Orphan of the Shadowy Moons and Part 2 of Vran, The Chaos-Warped. You don’t want to miss it!
Need to catch up on Wild Stars? Really, at this point, the cheapest and easiest way is with the Wild Stars Omnibus. Use promo code WELCOME15 at checkout for 15% off. This tome contains all 4 previous volumes of Wild Stars in a single coffee table format.
What better way to remember the strange places you visited on your trip than by grabbing a business card?
All physical backers will receive facsimile business cards from some of the odd and out of the way places in An Atlas of Bad Roads!
*Note: As we’re fulfilling international orders directly, these may be mailed out separately to those individuals.
$8,000 – Cheap Souvenir
Maybe you want to pick up something a little more from the gas station…. something that will remind you of the good times you had every time you use it!
All US physical backers get An Atlas of Bad Roads bottle opener keychain free! [International backers who want these will need to pay separate S&H. Sorry, but mailing things is expensive! ToT]
100 Audiobook Sales – Throw Something on the Stereo
Need something to listen to on your next road trip? If we sell 100 audiobooks of Endless Summer, not only will we commission an audiobook edition of An Atlas of Bad Roads, we’ll throw in the first story to backers of this Kickstarter for free!
Not John Daker recently posted some of his current fan theories about Cirsova’s ongoing Mongoose and Meerkat series.
He’s definitely right that there are a lot of hints that have been dropped from the very first story we ran back in 2017 and over the course of the dozen stories we’ve published so far, and he’s on the right track! [Unfortunately, Jim Breyfogle has confirmed that Deathwater does not take place in the same universe as Mongoose and Meerkat; it was included as a bonus for people who had already read all of the original magazine stories in Cirsova.]
Major clues about who Kat really is and what’s going on with her are dropped in Death and Renewal, which is out now in our latest issue. One major thing to remember is that despite being an adventuring duo akin to Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser, Mongoose and Meerkat’s adventures are principally from Mangos’s perspective: Kat is the mystery box of series. Mangos’s hesitance to puzzle it out for himself are likely as not from a fear that he might lose what he has in his reliable adventuring partner who has helped him earn a reputation as a reliable sell-sword. He could always just ask her: but what would that cost him? Would he lose her forever if he knew the truth?
Mongoose and Meerkat’s adventures are entering their final arc with the story in this issue, as well as the stories in our fall and winter issues, Fight of the Sandfishers and Thunder in the North, where most, if not all, secrets will be revealed!
There is a genre out there of kickass gun-toting Catholic Priests who fight both worldly and supernatural enemies of the Church. I’m honestly not that well-versed in the genre, but I’m aware of it because a number of our friends have either dipped their toes into the genre or made names for themselves with some of their series. Doug Ernst’s Soulfinder comic series aside, this is actually the first book in this subgenre of adventure fiction I’ve read, and I’ve got to say: it was a lot of fun!
An older hard-drinking Irish(?) priest, Fr. James Keenan, and his younger [and swole] protege, Fr. Akono Nwosu, have been having problems with break-ins recently. They come to find that a witch has put a bounty out on church paraphernalia, ranging from brochures and missals to the ultimate prize: the sanctified Body of Christ. Everyone from urchins and minor delinquents to hardcore gangbangers are going after churches all over the city for these items which will be used in unspeakable blasphemous rites.
The side of Good, however, has plenty of back-up, including a tough-as-nails outlaw biker gang and the Russian mob! Things turn into an all-out war as Keenan and Nwosu and their allies bring the fight to the witch and her acolytes who are planning a massive human sacrifice to unleash a demon into the world.
There’s a LOT going on in this book. It’s very action-driven, and a little dense; it crams of lot of stuff into a relatively short span of time within the novel itself. While this isn’t a bad thing, the amount of action is almost overwhelming, and I found myself wanting a bit more space for the characters to breathe. There are a lot of point of view characters on all sides of the conflict in this story, but they’re all very distinct and give a complete view of all the action without anyone ever blending together or feeling under-developed or seeming extraneous to the story. The only downside is that there are SO many characters in the short span of the books events that I would’ve liked to have spent more time with some of them and gotten to know them better. Also, there are a lot of good horror elements and potential for mystery, yet while the horror delivers, I think that the compressed events of the timeline necessitated sacrificing rising tension for the sake of pacing.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this book is BRUTAL. A lot of gore, a lot of body horror, and a lot of good people dying pretty nasty deaths. So, I’d say it’s not for the faint of heart.
Another interesting element is the near-future cyberpunk dystopian setting. In some places, it’s almost blink-and-you’ll miss it. In other places, the sci-tech elements are critical to the story. For the most part, though, it’s a nice excuse for the Priests and their comrades to have some serious ordnance.