Happy Birthday, Cirsova!

The Cirsova blog is 7 years old today!

And instead of celebrating, I feel like I need to add some clarifying commentary to the ongoing war between SFF and Hard Bros SF.

Both sides have misrepresented or misunderstood the role that the Futurians and other sundry communist agitators played in the scifi divide. In fact, the ghost of Damon Knight is laughing at you guys for playing into their hands.

The Futurians weren’t exactly the ones writing or pushing Hard Science Fiction over Soft Science Fiction. What WAS happening, however, was that communists in the fandom were leveraging the nudniks against the editors and fans of more adventure-centric fiction.

Despite what you may have heard, the pulps were fairly progressive, exploring a wide range of social topics, except they still had a focus on individuality, struggle against unjust authority, and were frequently anti-Communist. To repeat the cringy boomertarian meme, “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.”

The Futurians and their literary adjacents were often writing utopianist thinky-stories that aimed to make a socialist future more palatable within the fandom. While many today are focusing on a hard sci-fi vs. soft/”pulpy” sci-fi divide, they’re forgetting that there were really three kinds of SFF stories: Adventure, Riddle/Puzzle, and Thinky Stories.

Sci-fi wasn’t being disconnected from Fantasy–what was happening was that the Thinky Story crowd used some hardliners of the Riddle/Puzzle-only crowd to denigrate the aspects of the Adventure stuff that they found unseemly: dames, the implausible, and in some case AmericaTM. From there, they would press the attack that it was white, capitalist, and imperialist. By undermining the aspects of SFF that some folks would today refer to as “superversive” by attacking at the editorial level and within the fandom, the socialist Thinky Story crowd was able to clear the way for more subversive fiction.

Sci-fi’s disconnection from Fantasy had far more to do with the Satanic Panic and Serious Sci-FiTM folks wanting to distance themselves from elf-shit.

But everyone at each other’s throats over scifi vs. fantasy? Congrats, you’ve been played.

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Some Cirsova Contributors in Other Publications

DMR Books has a couple of new fantasy anthologies coming out.

Death Dealers & Diabolists has a new story by Kenneth R. Gower, featuring the further adventures of Kral Mazan, the anti-hero of The Idol in the Sewers [featured in our spring issue.]

Also, Spencer E. Hart, who’s becoming something of a Cirsova regular, has a story in Warlords, Warlocks & Witches. Spencer’s next Cirsova story will be appearing in our fall issue, out on the 16th of this month.

DMR Books is a really solid Sword & Sorcery and Fantasy publisher, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have published a story by Dave Ritzlin in our spring issue.

New Reviews:Jon Mollison and John DeNardo

We have a couple new reviews go live recently!

The first is from John DeNardo in his round-up of scifi short fiction on Kirkus:

Cirsova bills itself as a “magazine of thrilling adventure and daring suspense,” a sentiment that is embodied in its lead story, “Halcyon” by Caroline Furlong. The backdrop of the story is an interstellar war between humans and the alien race known as the Gorgons, ape-like creatures that appear to be ruled by a scientific ruling class. The setting is the planet Halcyon, where a group of humans have been laboring in the mud pits of an open-air prison. The point-of-view characters are the humans Marin and Siobhan, respectively a soldier and a scientist, who make a daring escape in the opening scene. True to the magazine’s promise, the story whisks along from one adventure to the next as the heroes encounter strange beasts and unlikely allies in a fun, serviceable story reminiscent of the science fantasy planetary adventures of yesteryear.

We’ll take “fun” and “serviceable”!

Next is from Jon Mollison, who received an ARC of Wild Star Rising:

With “Wild Star Rising”, the reader gets drawn into the action one small step at a time.  The seamless merger of sci-fi and fantasy results in an epic conflict that kicks off around the time of the final destruction of Atlantis.  The points where spacefaring nations interact with the denizens confined to the bottom of earth’s gravity-well make sense in a way that most efforts to marry the two genres don’t.  The writing crackles, and the adventure leaps from ship to prison to outer space to back in time with a relentless pace that’s a joy to follow along.  New characters step on scene fully formed, and fully described for newcomers to the series, and Tierney doesn’t shy away from jerking the rug out from the reader’s expectations in a way that is both fun and inspiring.

There’s more, but you should read the review for yourself.

One thing that Jon notes is that Wild Star Rising is where Wild Stars really finally clicked for him–it’s interesting he brings that up, because what I told Michael after first reading his manuscript was that “this one makes the older books better”. Wild Stars is a pretty dense universe, and Book of Circles has a LOT going on for a comic. The novels are solid, but the media res and sequel aspects can be a bit tricky. But I really think that someone coming into Wild Stars cold has a good entry point with Wild Star Rising. Better if you have all of the books, because you can read the first half of Wild Star Rising, go back and read the first three books that take place in between, then finish Wild Star Rising.

You’ll be pretty blown away by it all.

The 35th Anniversary Editions of Wild Stars will be shipping out to backers around the end of September to early October and will be available on Amazon in late October.

What Stories are We Looking For for 2020?

Cirsova Publishing will be opening Submissions for our flagship magazine in October. Details can be found here. Everything in the descriptions there hold true in terms of what it is we’re looking for, but I’d like to highlight a few things in this post:

Raygun noir – Dark detective stories that had exotic space locals as their setting were a staple in the pulps, particularly Planet Stories. We’d love to see more of these.

Monster Girl – We got a couple of these last go-round, but none were quite what we were looking for. Seriously, go read C.L. Moore’s The Bright Illusion and get back with us. You got something along those lines? We’d definitely be interested.

South Seas Adventure and Chinoiserie – There’s a lot of interesting territory to be explored here, and we’ve dipped our toes in a bit [see The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar and The Bookhunter’s Apprentice as more fantastical examples]. That’s not to say we’re looking for Yellow Peril; we’re looking for exotic settings outside the normal fare of a lot of contemporary fantasy and adventure.

Afrofuturism – We’re genuinely interested to see what can be done in this field. We haven’t gotten any in our submissions before [though we’ve received and published fantasy stories with both northern and sub-Saharan African settings].

Mystery – If we get some genuinely good mystery stories, we don’t even necessarily need there to be fantastical elements, though strange and exotic settings would certainly be a plus.

Men’s/Boy’s Adventure – While we aren’t looking for Weasels Ripped My Flesh, classic early-to-mid 20th century Men’s adventure or, even further back, RL Stevenson Boy’s adventure would be of interest. See also Frank G. Slaughter and C.S. Forester.

Antiquity Romance and Medieval Mythology – You guys know how I rave about Swann. Also, remember that Medieval fantasy isn’t just dragons, elves and fairies; it’s also Blemyae, Skiapods, and Prester John.

Gothic Horror/Romance – We’ve actually received and published some of this sort of stuff in the past two years. Our Lords, The Swine and Pale Moon’s Bride are two solid examples. Remember that Gothic doesn’t just mean Vampires and Werewolves. In fact, we’re really not looking for either of those unless you can put a really damn good spin on it. Gothic means ghosts, crumbling dungeons, disused manses, courtly love, mysterious knights, and heretics and clergymen too damn zealous for their own good.

So, the Wild Stars Proofs are In…! What Now?

We’re very excited that we got the proofs in so that we had physical product to show people, but the work doesn’t end here!

The proofs are practical, in that they’ve let us see a few adjustments that we have to make before going to print.

There are a few minor adjustments here and there in some of the books, a couple of tweaks and corrections; we’ll be making those in the next few days prior to putting in the order for a run to fulfill to backers.

The good news is, we are on-track for meeting our delivery goal–maybe even ahead of schedule!

Thank you for your support for Wild Stars, and we’re looking forward to getting these magnificent books in your hands!

There are only 4 days left on the Wild Stars kickstarter, so if you can, tell your friends and spread the word! The Kickstarter is about 2/3 of the way towards its goal, but will surely make it with one big push here at the end! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wild-stars-iv/cirsova-presents-wild-stars-iv-wild-star-rising

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About Wild Stars & Michael Tierney

Michael Tierney has been in the comic industry for about 40 years. His Little Rock location, The Comic Book Store has been in business for 30 years this year!
His site thewildstars.com keeps you up to date on the latest comics and more!
In addition to having a hand in all sorts of comics doings, Michael Tierney is an AdventurerTM!

He’s a certified diver and done dives all over the world [part of where he gets his inspiration for wild alien fishmen, and stories like Shark Fighter!]

Michael is also a Maumelle City Councilman. Which may be the least exciting part, except when you remember that there are guys as cool as Michael trying to fight city hall from within.
People in our circles talk a lot about how there’s a #pulprevolution going on [the #pulprev crowd], but in the 1970s, there was another pulp revolution going on, as interest in older works and weird tales were in resurgence. It ran parallel to what would become the Tolkienesque.
The original #WildStars stories originate from this time period. The wild and bizarre fiction, however, went unsold to editors at the time, so Michael underwent the herculean task of reformatting his novels into B&W indie comics. Erlik in 1984 and First Marker in 1988.
Erlik, the son of an immortal from another universe, and Carthage a renegade Wild Star battle over ownship dispute for Earth, Old Atlantis. Carthage’s allies seek to wrest control of Earth or destroy it, while a psychic woman has been given the immortal’s memories of the future.
The First Marker, the clone of an earth adventurer who has been given the memories of a dead Wild Starrior, has been given the task to be modern earth’s first representative to the humans who left on the exodus to space 75,000 years earlier.
Michael wrote, drew, inked, and in the case of First Marker even printed his own independent comics because he wanted to get the stories of his #WildStars out there. As his comic shop’s success grew, he was able to do a more significant run, hiring professional artists for Vol.3
Volume 3 of Wild Stars further adapted the novels from the 1970s, with some of the story running concurrent with Erlik and First Marker. Frank Brunner, whose work you’ll see shared by @70sscifiart, did the covers for the 2001-2002 #WildStarscomics.
These comics, along with Erlik and First Marker, would be collected into Wild Stars: The Book of Circles.

Another 2002 comic, Prairie Bay: Force Majeure would expand the #WildStarsuniverse into the future.

Prairie Bay: Force Majeure tells the story of a young woman who falls afoul of a tough military commander and her escape, the circumstances surrounding which lead to a telepathic alien dinosaur getting its hands on a powerful alien artifact, the Marzanti Trident.
Rather than continue the comic, Force Majeure was expanded into a novel of which the comic served as a couple of chapters. In revenge for his defeat, Carthage has kidnapped First Marker’s infant daughter. Erlik and Daestar can help with their time machine, but there’s a catch…
If they rescue the First Marker’s daughter too soon, the timelines that the Ancient Warrior had been carefully crafting to facilitate his ultimate plan will be out the window and all foreknowledge of the future that Erlik and Daestar have will be useless. They have to wait until a fully grown Atlanta has done what she needs to do to prevent a resurgence of the Brothan and create a future where Mankind still has a chance to survive an alien onslaught and a modern earth can become reconciled to their Wild Stars cousins. This book became #WildStars II.
In 2016, Cirsova started, and in the process, I got to become friends with and publish some short fiction by Michael Tierney. At one point, he showed me some of his Wild Stars stuff and asked if we’d be interested in doing a special for his latest book.
Michael had brought on @POTUSThump and @MOWheatley to do art for this new project, Wild Stars III: Time Warmageddon. Though it stood somewhat alone, WS III builds on side characters from Force Majeure, expanding the story and the universe in new directions.
Another big project that Michael had going on around the same time was his truly monumental 4-volume Edgar Rice Burroughs 100 Year Art Chronology published by @chenaultandgray.
[Michael is something of an #EdgarRiceBurroughs aficionado].
It was through this project that Michael renewed his relationship with @EdgarRBurroughs for the first time since Danton Burroughs’ untimely passing. And from this came the “lost” #Tarzan story, Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, published in spring this year.
On the heels of this project, Michael asked if we could do another Wild Stars book for him, Wild Star Rising. After reading the manuscript, we were so excited about it, because of how it not only grew the world and expanded the story, it made the older books better in retrospect!
Just how good #WildStars IV: Wild Star Rising is is a big part of why we decided that we wanted to full-ahead and put out an all new matching edition of all of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars books! These are so cool and we want to share them with our friends, fans and readers!
So we’re asking for your help and your support!
Support for pulp revolutionaries!
Support for independent publishers!
Support for your Local Comic Shop Owner!
Support for #WildStars!