Couple of Interviews! (Schuyler Hernstrom & Me)

I was going to write up a debriefing of my session running Raiders of the Second Moon, but Jeffro asked if I could post that at Castalia House, so it’ll be going up there Friday after next.

Instead, check out these two interviews! Yesterday, Scott Cole did an awesome interview with Schuyler Hernstom, which you can read here.

I also answered some questions about the design and art aspects of Cirsova at Nya Designs.

Planetary Awards Voting Open Now

Cirsova contributor Schuyler Hernstrom has several pieces that were nominated in the Short Fiction category for this year’s Planetary Awards. At least two of them (The Gift of the Ob-Men and Images of the Goddess) can be read for free on our website.

Originally posted on Planetary Awards: We’re expanding the voting pool for the awards this year, so read this entire post to find out if YOU are eligible to vote. But first, here are the 2016 stories nominated by book bloggers across the internet: Short Stories / Novellas “Athan and the Priestess” by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in…

via Vote for the best stories of 2016 — Planetary Defense Command

Seagull Rising has Some Awesome Things To Say About Us

Seagull Rising digs the magazine in general:

Cirsova picks up where the dry and dusty modern magazines left off.  It has abandoned the dry and ‘meaningful’ stories carefully crafted to appeal to the right kind of readers, and instead offers the kind of adventurous fun that the pulps used to offer.

and Schuyler Hernstrom in particular:

Images of the Goddess reads like a Dying Earth tale without the oppressive atmosphere or Cugel the Clever’s constant malicious conniving. Hernstrom’s prose harkens back to Vance, but the descriptions lack Vance’s frequent vagueness, and have a much lighter touch.  On the whole, this tale is even better than Dying Earth.  And that’s really saying something.

You can check out the Magazine that “is a vindication of Jeffro’s [Appendix N] work” and the Novella that “is even better than Dying Earth” on Amazon now, both on Kindle and Paperback!

No One Writes Dames Like Schuyler Hernstrom

Probably one of the hardest part of writing dames is conveying just how gorgeous and desirable they are. Some writers are content to just tell us outright that they’re pretty, beautiful, hot, whatever.  Others might try to throw at us ‘garments clinging to their supple form’, ‘milky thighs’, ‘ample bosoms’, or ‘pert upturned breasts’ if they’re really reaching.

Schuyler Hernstrom’ll either make you step your game up or give it up:

“Athan’s eyes looked past the captain to the tower’s doorway. There stood a woman of incomparable beauty. Her green eyes sat calm under a delicate brow. From temple to cheek, to mouth and chin, the lines of her face described an impossible perfection. Her beauty was all things at once, chaste and lustful, mournful and blissful, fleeting and eternal. She was the earth’s rhythms, the lust of spring, the excess of summer, the remorse of fall, the sorrow of winter. She was the Priestess. Alone among the Ullin she wore her hair long. The wind stirred the fair locks to alight on cheek and shoulder. Athan’s heart ached to look upon her.”

Daaaaamn!  Now there is a lady worth killing for or dying for or ushering in a mankind-ending apocalypse for. That is not easy to top.

You can read “Athan and the Priestess” in Schuyler’s anthology Thune’s Vision.

His short story “The Gift of the Ob-Men” can be found in Cirsova #1 and his new Novella “Images of the Goddess” is in Cirsova #2.

 

Lineup for Cirsova Issue 2

First, I think it is important to point out that Submissions are still open and we will be reviewing stories to be purchased for inclusion in issues 3 & 4 through May 1st.  Why May 1st?  Because I plan on relaxing over the weekend and won’t check my inbox for last minute submissions until Monday May 2nd.

Here is the current lineup of Cirsova Issue 2 –

Short Stories

The Sealed City by Adrian Cole
Hoskins’ War by Brian K. Lowe
Squire Errant by Karl Gallagher
The Water Walks Tonight by S.H. Mansouri
Shark Fighter by Michael Tierney

Novella

Images of the Goddess by Schuyler Hernstrom

Essay

TBA

Issue 2 will be out sometime in June or July.
Issue 3 will be out in September
Issue 4 will be out in time for Christmas

We’re looking at 2017 submissions window being open from November through December, buying 4 issues of content that will take us through the year.

In the meantime, if you haven’t bought a copy of issue 1 yet, check it out!  Help us get into the black so that we’re not a flash in the pan.

Free Preview: The Gift of the Ob-Men by Schuyler Hernstrom

This sneak preview is being made free to all.  If we reach the $1000 stretch goal, the a full preview of issue 1’s cover story will be made available to Kickstarter backers:

Sounnu was permitted one last night in the village. At dawn the shamans pronounced him exile and the young man left without ceremony. His fellow warriors stayed to their huts, unable to bear the spectacle. Even Tenno lay on his woven palette feigning sleep. Sounnu had been his constant companion for their entire lives. They were close as brothers until the day Sounnu’s father died. The sword the old man bore, crafted by the forgotten lore of the ancients, passed into Sounnu’s hands. Tenno’s flint blades, though artfully made, had seemed worthless by comparison and a shadow of envy passed over their friendship. Sounnu was taking the ancient blade with him into exile; none had dared attempt to take it from the young man.

Though his heart was heavy Sounnu resisted the urge to look over his shoulder as he left the green vale which cradled his village. Trees and shrubs diminished until the steppe was underfoot. By sundown he had crossed the grasslands that separated the vale from the ruined city due west, a nameless relic of the golden age.

The next day he followed the western road as it made its long, winding detour around the edges of the city. The remains of its crooked towers slashed at the blue sky like jagged flint blades, a last blow from a long ago age when people could twist nature into grand shapes of their own design. The road had shrunk to a mere footpath by the time it reached the base of the old mountains. Like the city, the lands beyond the mountains were forbidden by old custom. In despair Sounnu scaled in the low peaks, now finally sparing a glance backwards to view the trailing tendrils of smoke in the far distance marking his former home. There was warmth and community, now forever out of reach. The high air stung his broad, naked back with lashings of snow, shining like miniscule diamonds in the bright light of a cloudless sky.

On the other side of the range the grim warrior found himself standing before a forest of dark pine and stunted birch. Sounnu felt a palpable menace emanating from the line of black shadows draped under the gnarled branches. The presence of danger stirred his soul to something of its former buoyancy. Impatient for the thrill of combat he drew the ancient broadsword from its carved scabbard and plunged forward. He screamed his low battle cry into the mute trunks and scrambled over rocks and deadfall, ducking limbs and weaving through brush. No ghask nor ghoul nor ur-wolf answered his hoarse challenges. He grew tired and gave up seeking foes. Sounnu drank from a clear, cold stream and lay to rest on a bed of moss.

He awoke surrounded by tall heavy creatures, bearing the form of a mushroom bent into the shape of men. Their ill-formed, elongated faces were unreadable masks. The warrior sought the handle of his blade but found he could not move.

He spoke to the mushroom men in a voice heavy with despair. “By what art am I frozen?”

“By manipulating our spores we are able to cause specific calamities to fall upon the unwary,” they answered in unison.

Sounnu sighed, “This is an inglorious end. Be quick, spare me this indignity.”

The mushroom men laughed and replied, “Not so hasty! We will avenge ourselves slowly upon you and extract some recompense for the great wrong your people have wrought.”

Sounnu’s brow furrowed. “To what do you refer?”

The mushroom men leaned their heads back and shook slightly, an apparent expression of distress. Their low voices pooled over the soft ground around the young man like a cool mist as they spoke, “The memory pains us. Long ago your species attacked us with fire and steel, pushing us from our beloved vale into this place. Once we stood content underneath clean oaks as laughing fey danced around our thick legs. Now we work our spores into weapons to ward against ur-wolves and ghasks.”

“In my village the shamans told stories of the hulking Ob-men who once ruled the vale. The ancients defeated them with much sacrifice, expelling their evil from the land.”

The mushroom men let out a low, keening wail.

Sounnu winced, continuing, “I spoke hastily. Perhaps the term Ob-men does not refer to your ancestors.”

The mushroom men spoke in harsh tones, “No! That is the name they bestowed upon us. We were there! And now to learn you creatures have lionized our expulsion! Oh, the injustice is compounded! What variations should we apply presently upon this body to expend our rage?”

For the first time, one of the mushroom men spoke singularly. “Perhaps a spore to turn him inside out?”

Another suggested a spore to splinter the mind into dozens of warring identities. Sounnu felt cold sweat erupt along his muscular frame. He interrupted their conference.

“Would it, perhaps, lessen your anger to know that I am an outcast from the village of men? The great cities are no more. The temples lie in jumbled ruins. The punishment of exile now is a death sentence. And by killing me, you stoop to perform their errands and perfect their will.”

The mushroom men ceased their planning.

“You are an enemy of the humans?”

Sounnu spoke earnestly, “I am indeed. In a fit of pique I smashed an idol and offended the priestesses. The incident arose from an excess of energy on my part. The clans have faded away, consolidated now into one village. The tribes of ghask that once raided the vale are slain, and no ur-wolves dare come close to the village. There is no one for me to fight. To assuage my boredom I explored the vale. Inside a ruin I came across the idol, a strange thing with a strange face. Neither shaman nor priestess could explain its meaning. I became enraged and smashed it. At that time Yulik was thatching his roof and fell painfully. The shamans believed the events were linked and I was charged with bringing a god’s wrath down upon the village. They are clever men, though stunted and cruel, and look for any excuse to castigate a warrior.”

The Ob-Men replied, “Your story bores us. We would prefer you elaborate upon an earlier comment. The great cities are no more?”

“This is true. The elders tell us the city people died away, ignoring nature’s demands to work their great art.”

“So mankind now consists of only one village?”

“That is true also, to the extent of my people’s knowledge. Some dream that across the mountains and through endless ruins lay communities of men that live as in the golden age. They are admonished for their frivolity.”

The mushroom men stepped away from Sounnu and conversed amongst themselves. The warrior allowed himself to relax. He would be tortured to death. Such was fate. The mushroom men returned, now animated and anxious.

“We have decided to spare your life under one condition.”

There was a smell in the air, earthy and floral. Sounnu found he could move. He stood, shaking slightly from the spores’ effects.

“What is this condition?”

The mushroom men spoke in unison again. “You will return home and empty the village of people.”

Sounnu laughed. “That is impossible. Upon sighting an exile the shamans will fill my guts with worms and my ears with shrieking demons. The priestesses will publicly rebuke me with stinging words and the warriors will be compelled to kill me. Why not use your dire spores and perform the deed yourselves?”

“To answer your first concern, know that we will bestow upon you advantages. Insofar as completing the task ourselves, know that we also are a dying race. Our numbers have dwindled to that which you see before you. Should our spores be exhausted then we risk total annihilation. Do as we say and restore us to the vale where we may become contented again and the race of man trouble us no more.”

The mushroom men made Sounnu swear an oath on the souls of his ancestors and another on his prized blade. Satisfied, they then looked to one of their number. A squat specimen with black spots stepped toward Sounnu. The smell of bitter acorns filled his nose. Sounnu lost consciousness.