Free D.M. Ritzlin Story – The Infernal Bargain

With all of the excitement about the new Tarzan story in our upcoming issue, it might seem easy to overlook some of the other cool stuff we’ve got coming out next month.

Well, it would be a mistake to do so, for sure!

One of the other stories our spring issue will be featuring is by D.M. Ritzlin of DMR Books. Dave publishes some of the best Sword & Sorcery out there today, and we’re thrilled to have one of his stories, Born to Storm the Citadel of Mettathok,  in our upcoming issue.

And if you sign up for DMR Books’ mailing list, you’ll get another of his stories free: The Infernal Bargain!

Don’t forget to sign up for Cirsova’s mailing list, either! We’ll be sending out discount codes for hardcover copies to our mailing list subscribers when the hardcovers become available.

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Why the Name Change?

A few folks have wondered why we’ve changed the name of our flagship magazine from Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine to Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventuring and Daring Suspense. The obvious reason is that this is volume 2 of the magazine and it made sense to change the subtitle to denote this. But are we abandoning Science Fiction and Fantasy?

2-1 front cover only jpgThe short answer is “no”, but we’re moving away from the genre terms and the ghetto those tales get placed in.

In talking to people and trying to promote the magazine in person at cons, one thing I found was that “pulp” and “sci-fi” and “fantasy” didn’t really resonate with people the way that “romance” and “adventure” did. And ultimately, good sci-fi and fantasy are typically subsets of the “romance” genre. A Kline or Burroughs story is not all that different from an Ann Radcliffe yarn, only set on Mars or Venus rather than Italy.

Frankly, Romance covers all the best aspects of the genres, encapsulating love, adventure, and mystery, but if I re-positioned Cirsova as a “Romance” magazine, I think that modern expectations from both readers and would-be contributors would be a bit mixed up and I would’ve created even more problems for myself than I already had.

What problems did I have? Well, as much as I enjoy Sword & Sorcery, stories where a guy/gal with a sword fights a monster or there’s some big war in a made-up country with wizards or dragons are a dime a dozen; I’m not interested in the latter, and I see too many of the former without enough spark to really differentiate them from the others I see.

It won’t really affect the sort of submissions I get until next year, but the changes in editorial direction which began in the final issues of volume 1 are fully in place now in Volume 2. Cirsova will continue to feature romantic adventures with science fiction and fantasy trappings as well as weird tales, be they weird tales of super science or occult mystery.

It’s fitting that we officially inaugurate this new direction and shift away from being merely “sci-fi” or “fantasy” with a brand new, never before published, until recently lost Tarzan story by the master himself, Edgar Rice Burroughs. While Burroughs wrote what could be called Sci-fi or Fantasy, what he wrote were essentially Romances. Yes, there were weird elements and the fantastic, but his tradition was not the sci-fi poindexters of Campbellianism or the fantasy of the Tolkien-grotesque, as the genres have fallen into today, but romances of Dumas, Cooper, and Haggard.

Even Verne and Wells, considered the fathers of modern science fiction, wrote in the tradition of the Romance.

What we hope that people will come to realize when they read Cirsova that they will find in its pages not stories of space ships shooting each other or men and elves fighting each other with swords and spells but tales of the thrilling and the macabre in a tradition spanning centuries and many generations of writers.

Speaking of thrilling and macabre, Duel Visions by Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen is out this week!

Cirsova Featured on Hollywood in Toto: Plus Bonus Content–The Origins of Cirsova

We did an interview with Paul Hair the other day for Hollywood in Toto. It went up yesterday and can be read here.

https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/young-tarzan-mysterious-she/

(Big shiny link so you don’t miss it ^^^^)

The article mostly features the exciting story of how we came to be publishing a brand-new Tarzan Story in our Spring Issue.

Some of the interview had to be truncated for length, so as a bonus, here’s a bit about the history of Cirsova, where the name comes from and why we started the magazine.

Cirsova started out as a TTRPG (think D&D) setting blog. Cirsova was the name of both an empire and its central province. I lucked out that Cirsova was one of those made-up words like “Kodak” that didn’t really exist in any language and didn’t really mean anything, so I was the only one using it. When I first started, if you tried to search for us, Google would ask “Do you mean Alissa Firsova?” (Look her up, she’s good.)
 
The setting was unused (it’s not a great setting, and while the “Encyclopedia” posts are all still on the blog if anyone really wants to read them, I wouldn’t recommend anyone try gaming in it). I did write a Choose Your Own Adventure book that took place in the distance past of the setting called “City at the Top of the World” which, despite Cirsova Magazine’s success has probably sold maybe a dozen copies.
 
The blog morphed towards more mechanical game-oriented topics as I became involved with the OSR [Old School Renaissance, though there’s disagreement about what the R really stands for]. This in turn led to additional focus on old school science fiction and fantasy writing. Conversations with Jeffro Johnson, who was a Hugo Awards finalist for his writings on 1e AD&D’s Appendix N works (books that had influenced the development of D&D), along with the Sad Puppies debacle got me thinking “I should start my own SFF zine”.
 
At this point, the most important thing to know is that it’s pronounced with a hard Latin “C”.
[…]Jeffro Johnson and the Sad Puppies had a lot to do with [why I started the Magazine].
 
I became aware of the latter because I was friends with the former, and he was on their short-list for best fan-writer.
 
How cool!” I thought “The serious-business science fiction community has taken notice of the OSR!”
 
The history of the Sad Puppies, the name-calling, the record number of No Awards given out is too long and, at this point, too stupid to devote much time to.
 
But one thing that Sad Puppies had promised was what Brad Torgersen called “Nutty Nuggets”; basically if a spaceship and action was on the cover of a book, you ought to find action and spaceships in the book—just like if a box of cereal says “Nutty Nuggets”, you expect the box to have “Nutty Nuggets” inside.
 
Except a lot of the short fiction that the Sad Puppies nominated was not discernibly different from a lot of the stories that I’d seen some members of Mad Genius Club (a blog behind the Sad Puppies campaign) complaining about.
 
Jeffro Johnson had a joke about needing to “regress harder”, and I’d been reading a bunch of Planet Stories and whatnot around that time and thought “Surely there are people out there actually writing stories like this today; I’ve just got to find them.” So, instead of doing something sensible like trying to find a magazine that published the kind of fiction I enjoy, I started my own and was willing to pay around $75-$100 per story for short fiction.
 
I managed to cobble together a first issue with a handful of stories and some great art from Jabari Weathers. It was a little bit sloppy, especially compared to our current issues, but it was a shot across the bow. By the end of 2016, we’d put out 4 issues and around 250k words of fiction.
 
This got us a Hugo nod in the Best Semi-Pro Zine category in 2017 (apparently it doesn’t take many votes for non-pro magazines to get nominated). And we were No Awarded, as expected, because we were one of Vox Day’s recommendations that year and because I review old pulp stories and old war games on the Castalia House blog.
 
But we closed out 2018 having put out 10 issues in 3 years.
 
[RE: rebranding] (…)even though Tarzan’s technically SFF because he exists in the same setting as Pellucidar, the dinosaur-filled hollow earth, he seemed as good an excuse as any to reposition ourselves as something of an Argosy, rather than a Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Cirsova Stories on Tangent’s Recommended Reading List

Tangent Online has released its big list o’ recommended SFF reading for 2018, and the following Cirsova stories made it to the list!

  • “Party Smashers”, Ken McGrath
  • “Hot Water in Wormtown”, Robert Lang
  • “A Song in Deepest Darkness”, Jason Ray Carney
  • “Amsel the Immortal”, Lauren Goff
  • “Promontory”, Jon Zaremba
  • “Crying in the Salt House” B. Morris Allen

Please keep these and our other stories in mind this awards seasons when filling out those nominating ballots!

The full list of our stories and eligibility by category can be found here.

Clock’s Watch II Out Now!

Regular Cirsova readers will remember the Coney Island adventures of Michael Reyes’ invisible dwarf sorcerer, Clock. As Warden and servant of the chaos goddess, Eris, it is Clock’s duty to prevent all manner of demons, monsters, witches, and warlocks from destroying the world.

Clock’s Watch II reprints The Iynx, which was featured in Cirsova #7, alongside an all new novella-length adventure, Daughters of the Black Moon.

While this isn’t a Cirsova release, I did help put this edition together–they’re awesome stories with gnarly illustrations by Sean Bova.

eBook is out now, and Paperback edition will be out soon.

clockcover

Cirsova 2019 Lineup

We’re moving along at a nice clip towards getting 2019 ready to go. In fact, we even have sketches done for spring plus 1st round edits and layout done. We’ll be sending Vol 2 Issue 1 off to our copy editors before the new year, with any luck.

So, here’s the line-up. We’ve got two issues that are a little thicker than normal (think our 2017 issues) plus something new we’re trying, a Cirsova Summer Special that will showcase a few of the longer (novelette and novella) works we received.

And yes, we’ll be talking more about that first story listed in the Spring issue very soon.

Vol 2. No. 1 Spring (March)

  • Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Tierney
  • Atop the Cleft of Ral-Gri, by Jeff Stoner
  • The Idol in the Sewers, by Kenneth R. Gower
  • Born to Storm the Citadel of Mettathok, by D.M. Ritzlin
  • The Book Hunter’s Apprentice, by Barbara Doran
  • How Thaddeus Quimby the Third and I Almost Took Over the World, by Gary K. Shepherd
  • Deemed Unsuitable, by W.L. Emery
  • Warrior Soul, by J. Manfred Weichsel
  • Seeds of the Dreaming Tree, by Harold R. Thompson
  • The Valley of Terzol, by Jim Breyfogle
  • The Elephant Idol, by Xavier Lastra
  • Moonshot, by Michael Wiesenberg

Cirsova Summer Special (June)

  • Bleed You Dry, by Su-Ra-U
  • The Ghost of Torreon, by Edd Vick and Manny Frishberg
  • The Bullet From Tomorrow, by Misha Burnett
  • The Star God’s Grave, by Schuyler Hernstrom
  • Halcyon, by Caroline Furlong
  • The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar, by Rev. Joe Kelly

Vol 2. No. 2 Fall (September)

  • A Little Human Ingenuity, by William Huggins
  • The Burning Fish, by Jim Breyfogle
  • For I Have Felt a Fire in the Head, by Adrian Simmons
  • La Molejera, by Marie Brennan
  • Pale Moon’s Bride, Ville Meriläinen
  • Pawn to the Queen by Christine Lucas
  • People of Fire, by Jennifer Povey
  • Blue-Like-The-Sky, by Spencer E. Hart
  • Doomsday Shard, by Ken McGrath
  • Titan, by Rebecca Devendra
  • The Handover of the Scepter of Greatest Regret, by Hal Y. Zhang

In the meantime, please take a moment to support us by leaving a review of a past issue of Cirsova that you’ve enjoyed! It’s free, it helps us tremendously, and only takes a moment of your time.

The Holidays are Upon Us!

Which means new reads! And new games!

Honestly, part of the reason why I’ve been hard pressed for blogable content has been that I’ve spent the last couple months reading the 156 stories we received in submissions.

The other part has been that most of my reading that hasn’t been for Castalia House has been in the form of Churchill’s History of the English Speaking People. Which has been absolutely fantastic, but just hasn’t been great for blog-fodder, at least insomuch as I can’t easily relate it to D&D or the Pulps. Not that Churchill’s hot takes haven’t gotten me in a bit of trouble. But that’s neither here nor there.

I’m hoping that by the new year I’ll be finished with it and be able to plunge headlong into some Jack Vance. PC Bushi has been kicking my ass in the Vance area and by now has probably read more than me! I’ll need to catch up.

I’ve also been steeped in Battle for Wesnoth, which DolusMiles recommended to me, and OMG, this is up my alley. I’ve been working my way through the core campaigns, but I may have stalled out late-game in the first really big elf campaign.

Asshole elf-brother: Now that we’ve exhausted our forces fighting orcs, it’s time to exact additional retribution on the lizardmen that we fought once. By the way, I am totally not turning evil from that philtre of invisibility extracted from the blood of lich that we used to assassinate the Orc Warchief.

Healer: This is messed up, dude. I’m going home and taking all of the fairies, sorceresses, and ents with me.

Lizardmen: Please don’t murder us! ::sends a bunch of max level sorcerers and spearmen to slaughter my meager forces::

I don’t think I did well enough in the previous mission, because I’m starting with too little gold to recruit enough troops to hold off lizardmen in a mission with a)no healers and b)no friendly villages to recover health at. Of course, it’s a cascading issue.

The Human Alliance mission has infinite Trolls, and a little over half-way through, I did what I could to fall back but I lost a few really good units. The next mission in the ice fields, I won, but I had too little gold and too few troops to get a lot of bonus gold by finishing early. So, I’d need to go back two or more battles to substantially improve my situation. Oh, well…

I’ve been savoring Outsiders Vol 2, and I think I’m putting off finishing it because it’s been one of the best Outsiders titles I’ve read so far. I may do a cap on it here once I’m done.

Batman & the Outsiders Vol 3 has been postponed until at least March, which had me hopping mad when I first heard about it, but honestly, since issue 5, Terrifics has been giving me just about everything I could want from an Outsiders title except for having more than one actual Outsider in it.

Amusingly, I’m back in a spot where I’m hardly buying any new comics except for the Wal-Mart giants; quite the shift from about this time a year ago, when I’d been following Metal, Batman and followed Snyder’s story into the Justice League. I may post a full on breakdown of my comic reading at some point, but I went from all-in on Tom King’s Batman to done with both him and Snyder’s arc, which lost momentum hard after No Justice.

The best contemporary comic books I’ve read this year have been Valiant’s Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome and DC’s Brave and the Bold and Batman: Kings of Fear mini-series.

Anywho…

The lineup for Cirsova 2019 is almost finalized. We have one outstanding offer that needs to be resolved, and I need to see that people who asked for checks received them, but we should be able to make our official announcement pretty soon.