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.

The Future Comes To Everywhere At The Same Time – From Misha Burnett

Misha Burnett’s Endless Summer is available now for pre-order via Kickstarter!

I think it was Robert Heinlein’s Starman Jones that first opened my eyes to that concept.

I was born in 1963 and I grew up reading Science Fiction. Mostly what was available in the local library had been published in the 1940s and 1950s, the so-called Golden Age when John W. Campbell was king and Asimov was his prime minister. The stories of that era assumed that New York was the future, with occasional trips to Chicago for atmosphere. The cities in space were called things like New New York and New London and (for the daring) New Tokyo.

Science fiction was about science, and science meant progress, and progress meant big cities. Skyscrapers and subways were as much a part of my early future landscape and rocketships and rayguns.

Starman Jones was different. I can remember reading it and being confused at first because it was set in the country (the Ozarks, in fact, where I lived) but was also in the future.

Could you really do that?

It was a real eye-opener for me because even at a tender age I wanted to be a Science Fiction writer, and I’d gotten the impression that if you wrote something in the future it had to be set in either New York or Los Angeles because the rest of the country somehow ceased to exist once people had strato-cars to fly over it. 

Well, here it is the year 2020 (years after some of my childhood favorites were set) and I am still living in the Midwest.

And I am writing stories set both in the future and in the country. Go figure.

What’s more my publisher for this project is also in the Ozarks, albeit on the Arkansas side, which is like the Dark Side but without the cookies.

Now, not all of the stories in this collection are set along side what was once Route 66—two take place in Southern California, separated by a few centuries, and another takes place on an alien world, for example—but a preponderance of them are set within an hour’s drive of Springfield, Missouri.

Because the future isn’t something that happens just in big cities. It’s something that will come and find you, no matter where you are. You can’t hide from the future, it knows where you live.

Even if you live out in the boonies.

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?

Leigh Brackett Wins Retro-Hugo for Shadow Over Mars

A lot of the 2020 Hugos stuff we’ve taken a minute to look at is really bad.* This isn’t the case for the 1945 Retro Hugos.

Leigh Brackett’s book with the cute bird girl won Best Novel.

Given how bad a lot of the contemporary nominees are, it’s pretty impressive that something this good would win!

We absolutely adore Leigh Brackett, and recommend you check out everything you can get your hands on by her!

If you haven’t already, you ought to check out our illustrated edition of her Stark Planet Stories novellas!

*[See our editor Xavier’s blog for some prime examples]

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]

 

Cirsova Spring 2020 Issue Available for Print Pre-Order!

Our latest issue is now available for print pre-order on Amazon!

This is an all-star issue you won’t want to miss!

2-3 Spring Cover 0.03 Front Cover Only JPG

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’s 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…

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…