Thoughts on Eric John Stark’s Ethnicity

Recently, Barnes & Noble decided to try something for Black History Month that everyone decided was a Bad IdeaTM. No, that wasn’t a Babylon Bee article, they took characters from classic works [in many cases the villains, ironically] and made them black on the cover art as part of a promotion.

Cover Only JPGLast year, we put out a fully-illustrated edition of Brackett’s Planet Stories-era Stark adventures, and one thing we wanted to be sure to do was portray him on the covers and in the interior the way he’s described: black. No, not ethnically black, but dark-skinned; easily shorthanded as “black”.

Some people take issue with or confuse Stark’s changed nature with the de jour racial politics: “How is pretending Eric John Stark’s sun-blackened skin makes him a different race any better than just straight up race swapping characters?”

Who is Stark? Is he a white man? Is he a black man? Is he a white man with black skin?

His skin is black and everyone calls him a “great black ape.”

He’s stripped of any white ethnic identity by his physical condition as well as his upbringing.

Enchantress Cover for ebookHe’s an eternal outsider.

He identifies as N’Chaka, Man with no tribe.

If Stark was ever “white”, he is no longer–he feels no racial kinship with “white” men of Earth. But he’s not “black” either, in that he is not African, nor would he feel any racial kinship with “black” men of Earth, though given his upbringing, he might feel more sympathetic towards them.

Brackett was a huge fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Tarzan, and in some ways Stark may be looked at as an anti-Tarzan.

Tarzan was Nature over Nurture. Burroughs emphasized the importance of his noble Anglo blood that always shone through despite the circumstances of his upbringing; Tarzan was always true to his blood and nothing could change that. When he meets fellow whites, he knows them to be his people.

Black Amazon of Mars Front Only

Stark was Nurture over Nature. His environment changed him physically and mentally; though he was the child of frontier settlers from earth, at his core he is a savage, more kin with the the wild Mercurian indigenous hunters than with the earth men who found him and dragged him back to earth in a cage “to civilize him”. That Stark was at some point in his early childhood a white boy would be immaterial to his ethnic identity as it presents to every other person he comes in contact with, and you can be damn sure he feels no sense of racial connection to “white” people. He’s a character who was crafted to be completely and totally an outsider among any race.

To say “he’s white with black skin” glosses over the experiment Brackett was doing with the character, creating someone with conflicting ethnic signifiers and no racial identity besides “other”.

So, when I say “Eric John Stark is black,” I’m not saying “Eric John Stark is either descended from African American slave stock or is a Sub-Saharan African”; I’m saying he’s literally black.

More details on our 70th Anniversary Illustrated Stark can be found here.

Also, be sure to check out our Spring Issue, available for pre-order now in e-book form [print pre-order coming soon!], out March 13th!

Spring Cirsova Cover Reveal!

Jim Breyfogle’s Mongoose & Meerkat are back in an all new adventure, The Golden Pearl.

We still have a little bit of room left for advertisements inside, so try to get them in to us ASAP!

eBook Pre-Order: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0847SD58P

Merch: https://www.teepublic.com/t-shirt/7730992-the-golden-pearl

Paperback and Hardcover: coming soon!

2-3 Spring Cover 0.03 Front Cover Only JPG

This issue contains:

Alpdruck! by Michael Reyes

Clock has been dispatched to the private hell of a powerful demon–and only a being of true evil on its own path towards redemption can aid him in this deadly fight!

Pour Down Like Silver, by Cynthia Ward

Banished for refusing to follow her order-pair into death, Rhesanna seeks the Tower of Ancient Time to free her comrade’s soul from the demon they failed to slay!

Lest Darkness Wreck the Stars, by Robert Zoltan

When Dareon and Blue uncover a mysterious gemstone in the wastes, a strange violet star appears in the sky and visions of a lovely woman invade Dareon’s dreams!

The Golden Pearl, by Jim Breyfogle

After a harrowing experience in their search for Burning Fish, Kat and Mangos are determined to never be poisoned again—could a Golden Pearl be the answer?!

Slave Girls for Sacrifice, by D.M. Ritzlin

A powerful sorceress with a bestial lover requires a blood sacrifice to complete her vile rites… Will Avok’s brawn and bag of tricks be enough to stop the witch?!

Praying to Thasaidon, by Tais Teng

No one prays to the Charnel God–but when a necromancer comes to collect on a family’s debts, there may be nowhere and no one to turn to but a god of death!

Adeste, Fideles, by G. Scott Huggins

Long ago, the “Last Fleet” was sent to find a new world for Earth’s orphaned children! That expedition to the fringes of space had been thought lost… Until now!

Return of the Dark Brotherhood, by Adrian Cole

Aruul Voruum nears completion of his witchfinder training… but the remnants of Daras Vorta’s cult have worked their tendrils into the heart of Mars’ government!

Outside the Outside?, by J. Comer

A review of The Tingleverse and Feast of Legends

My Name is John Carter (Part 8), by James Hutchings

James Hutchings continues his longform poem…

Cirsova 2019 Awards Eligibility by Category

Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense is a semi-pro publication that, in 2019, paid .0125 per word for original fiction. In addition to its flagship magazine, Cirsova Publishing has released original fiction in Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen’s Duel Visions and the 35th Anniversary Editions of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars.

Cirsova has published 38 eligible works of fiction in 2019.

[Bold works are Tangent Recommended; * indicates Ursa Major Award eligibility]

Novel

Novella

  • Halcyon, by Caroline Furlong [S. Spec.]*

Novelette

  • The Elephant Idol, by Xavier Lastra [2.1]
  • La Molejera, by Marie Brennan [2.2]
  • The Ghost of Torreon, by Edd Vick and Manny Frishberg [S. Spec.]
  • The Bullet From Tomorrow, by Misha Burnett [S. Spec.]
  • The Star-God’s Grave, by Schuyler Hernstrom [S. Spec.]
  • Bleed You Dry, by Su-Ra-U [S. Spec.]
  • The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar, by Rev. Joe Kelly [S. Spec.]
  • The Blacklight Ballet, by Misha Burnett [Duel Visions]

Short Stories

  • Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, by Edgar Rice Burroughs & Michael Tierney [2.1]
  • Atop the Cleft of Ral-Gri, by Jeff Stoner [2.1]
  • The Idol in the Sewers, by Kenneth R. Gower [2.1]*
  • Born to Storm the Citadel of Mettathok, by D.M. Ritzlin [2.1]
  • The Book Hunter’s Apprentice, by Barbara Doran [2.1]
  • How Thaddeus Quimby the Third and I Almost Took Over the World, by Gary K. Shepherd [2.1]
  • Deemed Unsuitable, by WL Emery [2.1]
  • Warrior Soul, by J. Manfred Weichsel [2.1]
  • Seeds of the Dreaming Tree, by Harold R. Thompson [2.1]
  • The Valley of Terzol, by Jim Breyfogle [2.1]
  • Moonshot, by Michael Wiesenberg [2.1]
  • A Little Human Ingenuity, by William Huggins [2.2]
  • The Burning Fish, by Jim Breyfogle [2.2]
  • For I Have Felt a Fire in the Head, by Adrian Simmons [2.2]
  • Pale Moon’s Bride, by Ville Merilainen [2.2]
  • Pawn to the Queen, by Christine Lucas [2.2]
  • People of Fire, by Jennifer Povey [2.2]
  • Blue-Like-The=Sky, by Spencer E. Hart [2.2]
  • Doomsday Shard, by Ken McGrath [2.2]
  • Titan, by Rebecca DeVendra [2.2]
  • The Handover of the Scepter of Greatest Regret, by Hal Y. Zhang [2.2]
  • The Grimgrip, by Michael Tierney [Wild Stars III: Time Warmageddon 35th Anniversary Edition]
  • Sinker, Sailor, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • Ragged Angels, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • The Green Truck, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • Selena, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]*
  • The Statue, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • The Summer of Love, by Misha Burnett [Duel Visions]

Covers for the Spring and Fall issues + Wild Stars Omnibus were done by Anton Oxenuk.

Omnibus Cover 0.05a

Cover for the Summer Special and art for our Illustrated Stark were by StarTwo.

Covers for the 35th Anniversary Editions of Wild Stars were by Mark Wheatley.

Proof Frontsproofs 7

Duel Visions’ cover was by Susan Bolhafner.

Featured Image -- 13516

Adrian Cole Announces “Dream Lords: Legacy”

Recently at Black Gate, Adrian Cole spoke about some of his work and upcoming projects, including a new Dream Lords fix-up anthology, Dream Lords: Legacy!

Also coming from Pulp Hero Press will be reprints of my first novels, The Dream Lords sequence, a sword and planet trilogy that initially came out from Zebra Books in the 1970s (when they also published a terrific list of REH pastiches). There will be some new material added in to each of the three Dream Lords volumes, and ultimately a brand new volume, Dream Lords: Legacy, which will bring together the new stories I’ve been having published recently in Cirsova Magazine and the revived Startling Stories, together with new material exclusive to the book.

Adrian Cole’s new Dream Lords stories were originally published in Cirsova Vol 1. [2, 5, 6, and 7]; Return of the Dark Brotherhood, will appear in the Spring 2020 issue of Cirsova.

Cirsova 2

First appearance of Witchfinder Arrul Voruum and the new Dream Lords.

Happy Birthday, Leigh Brackett!

leigh bracket

Happy Birthday to Leigh Brackett, the Queen of Space Opera Science Fiction! Leigh Brackett was one of the best and possibly most important authors you’ve never heard of [unless you follow us, of course].

She was a fan-favorite in the pages of the pulps [and yes, the readers knew she was a woman, and if a neophyte reader misgendered her in the letters columns, editors were quick to correct them]. Some of her Hollywood screenplays are among the most beloved classics of all time.

These days, she gets short shrift in some circles, in part because of the Year Zero approach to culture that requires glass ceilings to be broken over and over again–plus the uncomfortable fact that she not only spoke up about NOT facing discrimination for being a woman in Science Fiction [Hollywood was another story], she was unapologetically /our girl/–her final sci-fi epic, Skaith, was Atlas Shrugged in Space with a black man siccing his psionic dogs on hippies and communists so that the people who worked for a living could escape to the stars with their labor intact.

We’re such huge fans of Leigh Brackett that this year, we published a fully illustrated 70th Anniversary edition of her Eric John Stark Planet Stories adventures!

Be sure to check those out [they’d make great Christmas presents] and her other many thrilling works!

Rawle Nyanzi’s Brand Zero and a Look at Some Cirsova-Published IPs

Our hard work at Cirsova has not gone unnoticed, and Rawle has commented on it here!

Rawle is one of the pioneers of the Brand Zero concept that some of the folks in our circle have been bandying about. He talks about it here, having grown out of some musings by Jon Del Arroz.

The short version of it is a mindset to put fully behind the failing corporate fiction brands that continue to disappoint and instead focusing on new brands, new properties, either by creating them or supporting them. Talk up these new IPs instead of spending time and effort on complaining about how let down you are by the old brands.

Brand Zero has picked up a lot of traction in the last few weeks, but it’ll be interesting to see if it gains real momentum beyond a few writing circles.

If anything, it gives us an opportunity to highlight a few of the brands we’ve helped build up by publishing them in Cirsova:

Michael Reyes’ Clock – The misadventures of an invisible dwarf [as in he has dwarfism; he is not “dwarven”] who is a chaos magician tasked with guarding Coney Island and the world from extra-planar monsters. We’ve run a couple stories [Clock’s Watch and The Iynx] and will have another Clock story in the Spring. I’ve also helped Michael assemble the interiors and write lead-ins for his two anthologies.

First Cirsova Appearance, Fall 2016.

Adrian Cole’s New Dream Lords – This isn’t new, but it is a rebooted franchise. Older followers may have seen some of my posts about the original Dream Lords books, which I picked up on a lark a few years back. I really enjoyed them, despite having originally mocked the bad covers. Doc Morgan at Castalia actually put me in touch with Adrian, though, and we talked some about the covers and he gave me the scoop on what exactly had happened. We got to talking about other stuff, and eventually things worked out where we started publishing a sequel series to his Dream Lords, following the adventures of Arrul Voruum, one of the Witchfinders tasked with rooting out the remaining evil that went into hiding following the events of the original trilogy. We’ve published 3 shorts, a novella, and will be publishing a novelette this spring that is part of a prequel to the first four New Dream Lords stories we’ve run.

First Cirsova Appearance, Summer 2016.

Jim Breyfogle’s Mongoose & Meerkat – We really loved the first story Jim published with us [Blood & Bones, the cover story of issue 3], so when he approached us with a proposed cycle of fantasy adventures, we jumped on the opportunity. Cirsova Publishing has now run 5 Mongoose & Meerkat stories, we have two more queued up to run in 2020, and plans are in the works for an illustrated volume 1 collection sometime next year.

First Cirsova Appearance, Fall 2017.

Harold R. Thompson’s Captain Anchor Brown – We’ve run three of these shorts about the proverb-quoting bookish adventurer who finds himself in some pretty wild and perilous predicaments.

First Cirsova Appearance, Winter 2016.

J.D. Brink’s Leonidas Hawksblood – We’ve only had a couple of the stories featuring this salty space pirate [though one was broken into two parts], but we still love him!

First Cirsova Appearance, Fall 2016.

Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars – The stories we’ve published by Michael in the magazine only tangentially tie into his sprawling Wild Stars epic [they have been collected in the 2nd printing of Time Warmageddon], but as of this summer, we’ve now published an all new edition of ALL of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars, including the original graphic novel, the comic/novel hybrid, the Time Warmageddon novella, AND the all new Wild Star Rising.

First Cirsova Appearance, Summer 2016.

The Eldritch Earth – This was the brainchild of Cirsova contributor, Misha Burnett–Burroughsian fantasy in a pre-historic Lovecraftian setting. This setting was born with Misha’s novelette “A Hill of Stars”, and was then opened up to a writers circle on Google+ before that platform’s untimely demise. We’ve had several writers who dipped their toes into this world, and we featured them in a special Eldritch Earth issue of Cirsova, but we’ve kept publishing more Eldritch Earth stories when we get them. We’ve published two of Louise Sorensen’s Darla of Deodanth stories, and we have another Eldritch Earth sequel that we can’t quite announce just yet that we plan on having for 2020.

First Cirsova Appearance, Spring 2016.

Abraham Strongjohn’s Neptune – I wouldn’t have even mentioned this, if someone hadn’t brought it up the other day, saying they wanted more. It’ll be done someday. Maybe.

First Cirsova Appearance, Spring 2016.

There are more, and there will be more, including some that we can’t confirm yet but plan on making offers on soon…

But if you want to support Brand Zero at the grass roots, check some of these titles out and get in on the ground floor of some truly amazing and exciting properties!