Winter Issue Out Now!

The Cirsova Winter 2021 Issue is Live Now!

Ebook

Lulu Paperback

Lulu Hardcover

For We Are Many

By PAUL LUCAS

Infinite universes are filled with myriad worlds of infinite possibilities—and infinite selves! One man hunts and is hunted across the multiverse, seeking absolution!

The Wreck of the Cassada

By JIM BREYFOGLE

The Mongoose and Meerkat have been hired to lay claim to the salvage of a wrecked ship… and will be partnered with none other than the Hand of Bursa!

Wychyrst Tower

By MATTHEW PUNGITORE

A strange find on a Caribbean expedition haunts the atavistic Dulf Abbandonato… Why would the family name of an old New England friend appear in the West Indies!?

She Saw It Creeping Up the Stairs

By MARK PELLEGRINI

Lisa and her mother have moved in with her grandmother! Grandmother is wheel-chair-bound, and Mom is in the other room… So who is walking around upstairs?!

Fail Early, Fail Well

By W.L. EMERY

Some projects are doomed to failure… Sometimes, it’s better they fail sooner than later! It is Vinellius’s job to ensure the worst of these projects fail just right!

Thorwynn Stapledon and “The Mellifluous Phoenix”

By SU-RA-U

It was supposed to be a drug-fueled science fiction anthology alleging to recreate the human brain! But what was the sinister truth behind The Mellifluous Phoenix?!

Harmonious Unity Burns

By Jed Del Rosario

The most diverse city in the Federated Alliance is burning! Riots and upheaval have necessitated the intervention of elite mercenaries—who is behind the chaos?!

My Name Is John Carter (Part 10)

By JAMES HUTCHINGS

[Editor’s Note: Continued from Cirsova Vol 2. #6]

Stealing the Alchemist Stone

By RICHARD RUBIN

Burke Fletcher and his wife Llana have just absconded with an Alchemist Stone! But the baron they stole it from is not the only one who desires its arcane powers!

To the Sound of a Silent Harp

By WILLIAM HUGGINS

Harp, a deadly and addictive vidliq, will possess you forever—much like Cavan, the magnate who built his fortune on it! Ciaon, Cavan’s errand boy, finds himself caught in a deadly web of deception—can he escape, or is he, too, a man possessed?!

Queen of the House

By J. MANFRED WEICHSEL

A door-to-door salesman promises a fantastic cleaning device that can get rid of anything and everything! But what can get rid of a salesman who won’t give up?!

The Creation of Science Fiction

By MICHAEL TIERNEY

Absolute Evil vs. Island of Ghosts

“Lovely day for a stroll, eh, Martha?”

[Warning, contains some spoilers for a 103 year-old story. Be sure to pre-order The Strange Recollections of Martha Klemm on Kickstarter!]

Absolute Evil is one of the few Hawthorne stories that is not only extant but oft-reprinted. While Cirsova Classics is a project primarily focused on pulp stories that have never been collected or reprinted, we opted to include it for completion’s sake so that we would be releasing all of Hawthorne’s All-Story Weekly fiction together. 

Not only has Absolute Evil been collected in a recent horror anthology [American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps, 2009], following its publication in All-Story Weekly, it was reprinted in a British periodical, The Premier Magazine, in June 1919 as “The Island of Ghosts” with a handful of changes. Indeed, it is this version that has seen print more than the original [Island of Ghosts appears in both The Ash Tree Press Annual Macabre 2000 and Stark House’s Strange Island Stories anthology(2018)].

Most of the changes are superficial and the vast majority of the text remains the same. The only notable change of any significance is that throughout the text, the villain, the Reverend Nathaniel Tyler, an eloquent and fierce-preaching Calvinist pastor and theologian, is transformed into merely Professor Nathaniel Tyler. Some of the more blasphemous details described in the method by which a man engaged in diablerie might be granted powers to transform and work evil are omitted to tone down some of the imagery. Additionally, though of somewhat less consequence, Martha merely supposes by tradition her ancestry from the Salem witches rather than asserts it. 

To an extent, it ruins this excellent line from the original:

“I was interested in original sin, and had dabbled in esoteric philosophy; my remote ancestors had been Salem witches. So, on these grounds at least, I was ready to meet Nat Tyler half-way.”

While I personally think that the changes made to the revised version weaken the themes and horrific nature of the tale [sure, we could all see a College Professor renouncing Christ and committing blasphemies to be granted Satanic powers to terrorize the New England coast, but a well-respected New England minister? Why that pops monocles even today!], I do think it is worth checking out both versions of the story for comparison sake.

Comic Review: Otis Stein

Recently, I was sent a review copy of Matthew “Skinny” Vealey’s indie horror comic, Otis Stein.

Otis, a strapping young redneck, is the husband of Mary, a reformed cultist. Their daughter tragically died of cancer, and her medical expenses have left them ruined.

They’re about to be foreclosed on, Otis blows himself up in a moonshining accident, and Mary’s old “associates” come looking for her!

Mary’s attempt to use her occult arts to resurrect her husband is interrupted as the cultists close in. The cultists have their own designs on Otis to use him as a host for dark supernatural powers! Will the evil forces hold sway or will love triumph?

Otis Stein is a book that I appreciated more on subsequent reads. At first, it seems rather rough and simple, but there’s actually some nice depth and nuance that you’ll catch reading it more than once. The art is ugly, but in a way that is suited for the genre and story; “grotesque” may be a more accurate term. It gives the book a throwback vibe to some of the more obscure black & white indies of the 80s. The art does what it needs to for the story, and it does it well enough.

The pacing of the book is a steady launch ramp, starting with a slow burn setup, but never really wasting time getting where it’s going. The turns from mundane to macabre to monstrous in the three acts of the book are nicely done and reminiscent of Swamp Thing’s origin in House of Secrets [though much more grisly]. Much of the last section of the book is pure grisly action-horror, where the art style really has a chance to shine.

To be honest, at first I wasn’t impressed by Otis Stein, but I think I just didn’t know what to expect and failed to appreciate it on its own terms. I think it’s easy to read a single issue comic and not really appreciate it on the first read and then toss it aside and forget about it. But with Otis Stein, the more I come back to it, the more I find that I really do like it and the more it grows in my esteem.

If you enjoy horror comics or gore comics or even romance comics, you might consider picking this one up.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/SkinnysComics

Also, if you haven’t already, there’s still time to back The Cosmic Courtship on Kickstarter!

Talking Are You Afraid of the Dark with Mark Pellegrini

Last night, I got to hang out with Mark Pellegrini on Bunderdome, where we talked about our top 5 favorite episodes and our top 5 cringe episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark!

Mark is a Cirsova contributor, with his short horror story “Just Don’t Open the Door” appearing in our Summer 2019 Special.

Kamen America 2, his latest comic with Tim Lim, is still available for pre-order for a limited time.

Schuyler Hernstrom on Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer

We’ve just received Schuyler Hernstrom’s foreword for Endless Summer, and we thought it was too good not to share.

Discussing stories is a complicated business.  Buried somewhere underneath layers of criticism, commerce, and identity you might find some deep understanding of Misha’s work. But I worry that careless digging will disturb the landscape. I challenge myself to think about his work with the care and sensitivity that he puts into it.

For me, Misha is the consummate craftsman. He carefully constructs vessels designed to take you to other places. Each one is different yet bears certain hallmarks that identify its maker. The people populating Misha’s stories are understandable and relatable. Misha understands what people want and what they need. A rhythm beats behind the prose. It is plain when you want it to be plain and colorful when you want it to be colorful. You see and experience things that are at times bizarre, outlandish or horrifying, and yet it seems plausible and real.

How does he pull all this off? It is his craft, a thing he has studied and worked at a long time.

It’s an interesting paradox. Misha is a deeply sensitive and intelligent man interested in the fantastic. But this is wedded with another side to his personality, the engineer and the tinkerer. The two sides come together and create art and you have a watertight vessel for exploring all the dark and strange corners of the universe. Ultimately, it reminds me of Japanese joinery. Timbers are locked together without nails or plates. If you squint and stare long enough up at the rafters, you may perceive the lines hinting at interlocking tenons. It’s a kind of sorcery gained from hard work and a special something that the artists possesses. 

Misha is a treat for me. As a writer, it is difficult to read something for enjoyment without trying to pull it apart. But reading an author with such command, such careful control, I can relax and enjoy the magic. After all, I’m the sort of person that doesn’t want to know the magician’s secrets. I want to enjoy the show. This collection is a front row seat.

Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer is available for pre-order now through Kickstarter. We’ve hit our initial goal but we are hoping for a strong finish in these final days.

Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer Live for Pre-Order!

Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer is live for pre-order on Kickstarter!

This fantastic collection contains 12 of Misha’s best weird science fiction tales, ranging from thrillers and adventures to mysteries and horrors.

Endless Summer has it all!

Reminder: Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer — Coming Soon!

With Mongoose and Meerkat Vol 1. and the Cirsova Summer Issue Out, we’re gearing up for our next big project, Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer!

Sign up for notification for when the Kickstarter will go live.

This fantastic anthology of weird science fiction showcases 12 stories from one of Cirsova’s top authors.

The Bullet From Tomorrow – In an all-or-nothing bid to change the future, what would your savior look like?

Milk, Bread, & Eggs – What if Earth was just one pit-stop on an interstellar journey?

These Were the Things That Bounded Me –What lengths will people go to survive when disasters strike?

The Isle of Forbidden Dances – What if you thought you found love on a party resort where you were under constant surveillance?

In the Driving Lane – Where do you go when your self-driving car won’t drive you home?

Heartbeat City Homicide – What is crime like in an energy plant bigger than of Manhattan, with levels going deeper than its tallest buildings are high?

My Foe Outstretched – Would you fight your arch-enemy to the death in a sealed-off section of subway tunnel?

Serpent’s Walk – What if a wild, mutant landscape took over the I-44 corridor and you were stranded in it?

The Happiest Place on Earth – What do the characters at an amusement park do when mankind goes extinct?

mDNA – What if those responsible for propagating the human species could never meet?

Endless Summer – When the curtain is drawn back on an idyllic utopia, can you ever go home?

The First Man in the World – If you had thousands of years, what kind of world would you build for humanity?

Wild Stars 35th Anniversary 2nd Edition + Cirsova Hardcovers Now Available Once Again!

As you know, we had some hiccups with our hardcover printer, but we’re back online and proud to announce the 2nd Editions of Cirsova’s hardcovers! The real highlight of this is the 2nd Edition of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars!

Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars 35th Anniversary Edition Omnibus

This fabulous 700+ page tome collects all four volumes of Michael Tierney’s science fiction epic.

Omnibus Cover 0.05 Front Only

Also available from Cirsova Publishing:

Summer Special 2020 #2

Spring 2020 [Vol 2, #3]

Fall 2019 [Vol 2, #2]

Summer Special 2019 #1

Spring 2019 [Vol 2, #1]

Winter 2018 [Vol 1, #10]

Fall 2018 [Vol 1, #9]

Summer 2018 [Vol 1, #8]

Spring 2018 [Vol 1, #7]

Fall 2017 [Vol 1, #6]

Spring 2017 [Vol 1, #5]

Winter 2016 [Vol 1, #4]

Fall 2016 [Vol 1, #3]

Summer 2016 [Vol 1, #2] [Kukuruyo Variant]

Summer 2016 [Vol 1, #2]

Spring 2016 [Vol 1, #1]

 

Scary Stories to Oof in the Dark

At some point last year, I remember reading somewhere that the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie was actually good. While I didn’t make going to see it a priority, I looked forward to when I could watch it for free from the public library.

Then I had the “oh, wait… from ‘producer’ Guillermo Del Toro…” moment when I finally had it in my hands. For awhile, seeing Del Toro’s name on things was a mark of quality, but I’ve been pretty eh on a lot of his stuff where he’s only had ‘producer’ cred. In fact, I’m struggling to recall the last time I really liked any Del Toro movie, and I think that the one with the teeth fairies might have been the last one [Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, 2010, writer credits].

But anyway…

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was basically a Scary Stories-branded version of the Goosebumps movie with no Jack Black. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that…

A bunch of kids go to a haunted house and find a spookybook of spookytales that come true. The attempts to work the few short scary stories from the book into the narrative of the film were about as seamless as a quilt. For instance, The Big Toe is worked in by having one kid staying home while his parents are out–there’s a pot of stew in the fridge with a toe in it. Why? Were his parents cannibals? Was his mother a mortician? A serial killer? No, the toe in the stew simply exists in the fridge because there was story with a toe in stew and the film needed an excuse for the “where’s my toe?” ghost.

The only genuinely scary part, I think, was the Pale Lady from “The Dream”, even though, other than the iconic look of the character, nothing was used from the original story.

I think that more than any other property, Scary Stories could’ve revived the classic horror showcase format… or they could’ve done a more original horror story that simply borrowed heavily from Gammell’s incidental art and aesthetic. But the whole “here’s a book of spooky stories, people die, and by the way, the big local company was the real villain” just smacked of an unoriginality that many fans of the books might find disappointing.