Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012 in Retrospect: Short Fiction

This past year was a good year overall for short fiction.  And some of the most exciting short fiction was published online with or without the option of subscribing.  There were also the usual print venues, both periodicals and anthologies.  In this post, I’m going to try to provide an admittedly incomplete overview of the short fiction field in 2012, emphasizing online venues.  I didn’t read thoroughly enough in the print periodicals (Asimov’s, Analog, Hitchcock’s, Ellery Queen, or F&SF) to have a feel for them.  And there were enough original anthologies that flew past my radar that I’m not even going to try to discuss any of them.

And as for the electronic magazines, with one exception, I’m only going to mention the ones I read at least once this year.  I’m not going to discuss individual stories; I don’t have that kind of time.  Rather, I’m going to try to give a general idea of what the magazine was like.  Links and subcription information (where applicable) will be provided.

The year didn’t start off all that well.  The electronic magazine Something Wicked ceased publication.  I’m not sure how well known this title was in the States.  I’m not certain, but I think it was out of South Aftrica.  It started as a print magazine before moving to electronic only.  With a focus on science fiction and horror, it published three short stories and one novella plus some nonfiction each issue.  I had a subscription and got a few issues before it was canceled.  I hated to see it go, because it was different than what was being published here in the States, and I enjoyed what I read.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies was probably the go-to place online for high quality fantasy, with an issue every two weeks.  BCS had a great year, publishing their 100th issue.  They’re still going strong and required reading for anyone wanting to keep up with the field.  Subscription info here.

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is your next best bet for great adventure fiction, especially if your tastes run to sword and sorcery.  It’s also the strongest competition BCS had at the first of the year; with Black Gate publishing fiction once a week, that’s changing.  I found the quality of work at HFQ to be on par with BCS and Black Gate.  If you aren’t reading this one, you should be.  It’s free and updates every three months, just like a quarterly should, not that all publications that call themselves that do.

In October, Black Gate, which had stopped publishing in print format, began posting a new piece of fiction every Sunday.  They’ve published a mix of new stories, reprints from the print incarnation, and excerpts from novels.  So far the quality has been high, which is what I would expect from BG

In my opinion, these were the best markets for sword and sorcery and adventure fiction, and are the top venues in the field.  They weren’t only markets for S&S, nor were they the only markets for great fiction of a fantastic nature.

Lightspeed is probably the main online source for fantastic fiction.  In January, it combined with Fantasy.  This is the publication I had the most trouble fitting into my schedule this year, managing to read only one or two stories.  Edited by John Joseph Adams, it’s going strong, publishing the top names in both science fiction and fantasy.  Subscription info here.  I promise I’ll do a better job of reading this one in 2013.

Clarkesworld published some solid science fiction this year, although most of what I read was more literary than than action orieinted.  I don’t recall seeing any fantasy, but I wasn’t able to read each issue.  Subscription info here.

Apex publishes stuff on the darker side of the fantastic.  Lynn Thomas took over as editor from Cathrynne Valente near the beginning of the year.  It’s another one I intend to read more of next year.  What little I managed to fit in was good stuff. Subscription info here

Subterranean had another great year.  This is a quarterly publication.  They went from publishing their content over a period of weeks to putting it all online at once.  There is no subscription option like there is for some of the titles listed above, but I wish there were.  I’d rather read on an ereader than a screen. 

Combine these publications with the traditional print ones, and it’s hard not to conclude the short fiction market is healthy.  There were several new publications that started up this year as well. 

First there was Swords and Sorcery Magazine, an online-only publication that premiered in February.  Publishing two stories per issue, it met its publication schedule, something that new publications don’t always do.  It’s not a professional paying market at the moment, although I hope it can achieve that status soon.  As a result, the quality of the fiction wasn’t up to what you find in BCS or HFQ.  In spite of that, the issues I read were quite readable, and I enjoyed the fiction I found there.  It was certainly the most promising debut as far as S&S is concerned.  In spite of the fact that it can’t yet pay professional rates, there’s nothing unprofessional about the editorial tone.  This is one worth supporting.

Another new publication was Nightmare Magazine.  Edited by John Joseph When-Does-the-Man-Sleep? Adams, this magazine was crowdfunded by Kickstarter and has taken off.  It’s one of the best, if not the best, publications devoted solely to horror fiction out there.  I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve found.  Subscription info here.

Another Kickstarter magazine was Fireside.  This quarterly hasn’t taken off like Nightmare, and I hope it does.  It doesn’t limit itself to any particular genre, which is both a strength and a weakness.  A strength because it can publish those cool stories that defy classification, and a weakness because it will probably take a little longer to find its core readership that a genre publication would.  Subscription info here

Another high profile debut, which publishes both fantasy and science fiction, is Eclipse Online.  Edited by Jonathan Strahan, it’s a continuation of the critically acclaimed anthology series of the same title.  It publishes fiction twice a month and is worth checking out.

In many ways the most anticipated debut, and certainly the most controversial, was the relaunch of Weird Tales with Marvin Kaye as the editor.  Kaye wanted to return the magazine to its roots, something that didn’t sit well in certain circles.  The first issue was IMO a success.  Here’s hoping the best days of the publication are ahead of it.  Subscription info here.

In the interest of being balanced, I’m going to mention Shimmer, even though I haven’t read it yet.  As part of the reaction to Marvin Kaye replacing Ann Vandermeer as editor of Weird Tales, Mary Robinette Kowal underwrote the magazine so that it can pay professional rates.  The idea is that this will attract writers who would have submitted to Vandermeer had she continued to edit WT.  In other words, what we have here is a literary smackdown.  Like WT, Shimmer is a quarterly publication.  I’m going to review this one, probably after the next issue is published.   I want to evaluate it on the basis of what it publishes after paying pro rates.  Subscription info here.

These weren’t all of the fiction outlets, but with the exception of Shimmer, these were the ones I at least attempted to read.  Other major venues included, but weren’t limited to, and Strange Horizons.  These two are also on the list to read next year.

So anyway, that’s a (very) lopsided look at the electronic world of fantastic fiction in the year 2012.  There was a great deal of good stuff published.  I’m going to try to do more reading at short lengths in 2013.  For one thing, I like short fiction.  It fits my time contraints better than doorstopper novels.  Also, with my new gig at Amazing Stories (TM), I’m not going to have as much time to read novels for my personal blogs.


2012 in Retrospect: Publishing

Rather than doing a single post about what I thought of the past year, I’m going to break things up into some smaller posts.  There will be on short fiction and one on titles I especially enjoyed.  But I thought I would start with publishers.

Last year, I wrote about the publishers I thought you should be reading this year.  That list hasn’t changed much.  The day before I posted that list, I gave reasons why I wasn’t going to be reading much from the main imprints.  Those reasons haven’t changed much, either.  If anything, they’re more valid than ever.

What I’m going to attempt to do here, in this present post, is to assess some of the things I said in those two posts.

First, I said I wouldn’t be buying many titles from the major publishers.  What constitutes a major publisher is probably going to vary among individuals.  That’s fine; it will give us something to talk about.  So many publishers are trying to grab as many rights as they can from authors and paying them so little once you take a close look at the numbers, that I have trouble with supporting such a system, just as a matter of conscience.  Add to that the fact that most of the major publishers are pricing their ebooks way too high, and in some cases as much or more than the paper editions, and I really don’t see the point.

Second, I said I would be reading more indie published authors.  I have.  The mistake I made was listing the authors whose work I intended to read.  The reason that was a mistake is that I haven’t gotten to everyone on the list yet.  Since I’m going to be focusing on small and indie presses in my column over at Amazing Stories (TM), those authors will be moving to near the top of the list.

Here’s the thing that might suprise some people.  I haven’t really missed reading books published by the majors.  I’ve still read a few here and there, and have a couple in my TBR stack.  But for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the small press and indie published works I’ve read.  I’m very selective about what I pick up these days simply due to time considerations.  Most of these works have been as good as what the Big 6 5 However-many-are-left-after-the-mergers are publishing.

So I think my decision to read indie published works has been a good one, and I’ll keep doing it.

Now, as for publishers.  I’m not going to numerically rank them.  I’m going to stick to the same list, but I’ll add a couple of publishers to it.  These are what I would call midsized publishers, in that they get national or international distribution and have major authors in their stables, but they haven’t been around for decades like some publishers have.

First, I included Prime Books as a runner-up because at the time I hadn’t finished any of their titles.  While I still dip into their anthologies without reading them all the way through, I maintain that Prime is one of the best publishers around.  I’ve got collections by Elizabeth Bear and Richard Parks to read, as well as many anthologies.

Orbit Books didn’t make the list last year because I hadn’t read any of their titles.  That hasn’t changed much, but there are some titles I very much want to read, starting with the latest Joe Abercrombie.  That alone puts Orbit on the list.  The fact that they also publish John R. Fultz and Michael J. Sullivan, two other writers I’m looking forward to reading doesn’t hurt, either.

Next is Solaris and its companion imprint, Abaddon.  This is Eric Brown’s publisher, and Brown is one of the best science fiction authors working today.  He writes good space opera, and I love space opera.

Nightshade published some interesting books this year, most of which I still haven’t gotten around to reading yet, including titles Misere, Southern Gods, The Scourge of the Betrayer, and The Pillars of Hercules, plust the more recent Siren Depths and The Tainted City.  Part of the reason I haven’t read these yet is time, but also because Nightshade no longer seems to be responding to requests for review copies.  I try (and occasionally succeed) to post a review around the time the book comes out, and since I ended up buying these titles, the books had in some cases been out a while.  The most significant thing Nightshade did this year, though, was to start the online publication, Eclipse Online, a continuation of their successful anthology series.  I’ll talk about that more in the forthcoming short fiction post. 

I probably read more books by Angry Robot this year than any other publisher, in part because of how their Robot Army program worked and in part because I really like their line.  This is one publisher I’ll keep reading and reviewing, although I probably won’t read quite as many title from them this year simply due to time considerations.  I had three titles I was planning to review when we ended up moving.  In all the commotion, I never read them.  I’m going to try to work them into the queue soon.

Pyr was top of my list last year, and this was another good year for them.  Pyr seems to be shifting its focus a bit, publishing more science fiction and YA titles than fantasy in recent months, but that’s not a bad thing necessarily.  I certainly don’t hold it against them.  They are in business to make money, after all, and markets do change.  I’ve got more titles from Pyr than any other publisher in the queue at the moment, mostly science fiction from Brenda J. Cooper, Mike Resnick, Allen Steele, and Mark Hodder.

These are all publishers who publish mass market and trade, and thus within the budgets of most readers.  Among the more expensive collectible and limited edition publishers, Haffner Press stands out as my favorite, primarily because Haffner publishes some of my favorite authors.  Cemetery Dance and Subterranean are the other two publishers I’ve bought a lot from this year.

These are the publishers I’ve read this year because these guys, from what I can tell, are not only publishing some of the best fantasy, science fiction, and horror, but they also have some of the best business practices around.  With limited time and monetary resources, I want to get the best value I can and support the players (publishers and authors) I respect.  These publishers and many of the indie authors I’ve read have more than provided that. 

So as far as publishers go, these are the one I will stick with in 2013.

And This is My Room…

It’s taken me a while, but I finally got my office in the new house in some semblance of order.  I say “semblance” because I need to rearrange some of the things on the shelves.  I also need to add a shelf to the book case in the center of the second photo.  And put up some curtains.  And…

But I digress.  This is my writing/blogging/reading room.  And no, this isn’t all the books.  Most of the mass market paperbacks that have been unpacked, many of the hardcovers, and the digest magazines from the 80s and later are housed in the Library Annex, formerly known as The Guest Room.  (Please don’t tell my wife I said that; she still thinks it’s The Guest Room.)  This room has the collectibles, the graphic novels, the mysteries and crime, autographed books, and trade books by my favorite authors.

The photos go from left to right.  This is what would be the formal living room in a normal person’s house.

Some items of interest:  In the first picture, the lamp is an antique I’ve had for years and just had repaired this past week.

In the second photo, the bookcase in the center is not flush against the wall.  It’s the endcap for two foot long bookcases that come off perpendicular to the wall.  I bought them as a set.  The blue bookcase to the left facing out is designed to hold paperbacks.  It’s one of two I bought when one of my favorite second hand stores (Book Tree in Richardson, TX) closed.  I wish I’d bought more even though I had to go into debt to get them.  The small bookcase with the R2D2 nightlight (yes, it works) contains the pulps.  And, yes, that is a sword hanging on the left side of that bookcase.

You can’t see it in this shot, but behind the bookcases coming off the wall is the second paperback shelf.  It contains early copies of F&SF, Astounding, and other digests along with select paperbacks.  The shelf facing the pulps has the Ash-Tree Press, Midnight House, and Darkside Press volumes as well as most of the other horror.  The top shelf in the right bookcase (not the top of the bookcase) is everything I have by Leigh Brackett.  The shelf under that is everything I have by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore.  The middle shelf and second from the bottom contain the Robert E. Howard collection.
This last photo shows where genius happens.  I hope.  The items on the wall are for inspiration.  The poster on the left is a typewriter with the first page of a chapter with a noir novel; a gun, bottle of whiskey, and a pack of cigarettes are next to the typewriter.  The Planet Stories poster shows the cover  of every issue except one.  One was duplicated in the wrong spot.  All I need is to frame my picture of Robert E. Howard and add it to the wall.
Anyway, that’s a quick tour of my office, which I designed to be an extension of my mind.  Now you see how cluttered it is inside my head.

Merry Christmas

I couldn’t find any art I liked, at least not any I was sure I could post without violating someone’s copyright, so I decided to forego art this year.  Instead, I’ll just wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  I hope it’s safe, warm, and filled with joy.

(To see the Robert E. Howard themed art I wanted to use, click here.)

Short Story Stocking Stuffers

Back in October, I looked at some of the stories in on of Prime Books theme anthologies dealing with, what else, Halloween.  I also mentioned another Halloween themed anthology at the same time.

Well, for Christmas, I thought I’d do the same thing.  This time I’ll look at another anthology from Prime, plus  one from Baen.  With one exception, which I’ll save for last, the contents of the two books have no overlap.  I’ve selected two tales from each one.  Sort of literary stocking stuffers.  I based my selections on the authors, choosing those I especially liked.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Season of Wonder
Paula Guran, ed.
Prime Books
trade paperback, 384 p., $15.95
Kindle, Nook $6.99 (available directly from Prime)

Of the two anthologies, I liked the cover art on this one better.  The stories here are more recent, as is typical of the anthologies from this publisher.  With the exception of the story by Sarban, which was published in 1951, all of them were published in the last 23 years.  I’d not previously read either of the stories I selected for review.

The first story I read was “Christmas at Hostage Canyon” by James Stoddard.  Stoddard is the author of The High House and The False House, novels inspired in part by Lin Carter’s Adult Fantasy series published by Ballantine in the late 60s and early 70s.  This story is set firmly in the present day and concerns a young boy’s encounter with an evil elf and a sword swinging Santa, which is my kind of Santa.  I liked this one a lot and thought Stoddard captured the viewpoint of a young boy perfectly.  Stoddard’s novels are out of print, but if you haven’t read them, they’re worth tracking down.

The second story I selected is “Loop” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  Rusch has written a number of Christmas related stories in her career, many of which are available on her website if you want to read them.  Christmas isn’t central to this story in the sense that the Christmas aspect could be taken out without making major changes to the storyline.  However, this one probably works best as a Christmas story because it can be read as a riff on the Ghost of Christmas yet to come from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Unlike Dickens’ work, which is fantasy, this one is solidly science fiction, although the actual science content is mostly of the handwaving variety.  (At least it is to this scientist.)  That doesn’t take away the impact of the story, which I found to be a moving mediation on regret and choices not made.

Hank Davis, ed.
paperback, $7.99, ebook $8.99

Of the two volumes considered here, this one has the most variety in terms of publication date.  The oldest story is Seabury Quinn’s “Roads” (which I profiled exactly two years ago) from 1938.  The most recent is the only original tale in the book, “Angel in Flight” by Sarah A. Hoyt.  For the purposes of this review, I chose two of the older stories by two of my favorite authors, both sadly long deceased.  I’d read both stories years ago (as well as the story common to both volumes).  Both of these stories are parts of larger series, and while they aren’t major works as far as their respective series are concerned, they are both strong Christmas stories, the first in terms of theme and the second in terms of Christmas being central to the story.

“Over the Hills and Everywhere” is one of Manly Wade Wellman’s John the Balladeer stories.  In this one, though, John is only the narrator, telling a Christmas story to the children of a family with whom he’s spending the holiday.  As such, he only appears in the bits of framing sequence.  The story he tells is one of feuding neighbors and a wandering stranger who brings peace to their mountain.  Wellman was a deeply religious man, and it shows here in this tale.

Poul Anderson is represented by “The Season of Forgiveness”, from his Technic Civilization series, one of my favorite future histories.  This particular piece was written for Boys’ Life, the publication of the Boy Scouts of America.  It’s the story of a 16 year old graduate from the Academy who is assigned to his first post on an isolated trading station.  His desire to have a Christmas celebration for the children of an incoming group of settlers turns out to have long reaching implications for the relations between the humans and the indigenous population.

Christmas stories are hard to pull off without coming across as trite, overly-sentimental, or preachy.  The Anderson tale succeeds better than the Wellman at this.

Of course the one author who has built a reputation for extremely well executed Christmas stories is Connie Willis.  These have mostly been science fiction, with only one or two pure fantasy, and they’re well worth seeking out.  Some of the early one have been collected in Miracle and Other Christmas Stories.  That book was published over a decade ago (has it really been that long?), and she continues to write them.  Hopefully there’ be a new collection soon.  I always look forward to Connie’s Christmas stories, which almost always are published in Asimov’s.  She doesn’t publish one every year, and when she doesn’t, I’m always disappointed. (It’s been a couple of years since the last one appeared.)

The story that’s common to both anthologies is “Newsletter”, which I find interesting since there are so many of her stories to choose from.  This is an excellent choice, as it has all the elements that make a Connie Willis Christmas story so much fun to read.  Think a romantic comedy written by P. G. Wodehouse that takes place at Christmas with some type of fantastic angle, and you might have a glimmer of what you’re getting.

In this one, written as though it were a Christmas newsletter, we get Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters crossed with a Cary Grant screwball romantic comedy.  I’m a hard sell for humor, but this one made me laugh out loud.  I dare you not to see one of your family members somewhere in the cast.  If you’ve not read any of Willis’ Christmas stories, you’ve been missing out.  They’re an excellent example of an author taking diverse influences and melding them to produce something totally original.  There’s nothing like them anywhere that I’ve found.  The only thing that comes close is some of the humor in Kage Baker’s work.

There are a lot more selections in these anthologies.  I’m going to save them for next year.  If you’re in the mood for a holiday injection into your reading, either of these anthologies should fit the bill.

In the Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter
Lee Collins
Angry Robot Books
UK Print ISBN: 9780857662712
Format: Medium Paperback R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print ISBN: 9780857662729
Format: Large Paperback R.R.P.: US$14.99 CAN$16.99
Ebook ISBN: 9780857662736
Format: Epub & Mobi R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99
UK Print & Ebook | Book Depository Waterstones
US Print & Ebook |
DRM-Free Epub Ebook
Robot Trading Company

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
John Wayne

The above quote from John Wayne, which I lifted from The Dead of Winter, is a perfect fit for this book.  This is one of the best novels I’ve read all year, and I’ve been fortunate to have read more good ones than bad ones.  This novel is an excellent example of authorial misdirection that really works.

This book takes place in a slightly altered version of the Wild West, where supernatural creatures exist.  They’re not widespread, meaning you don’t trip over them every time you turn around like in some fantasies, but they are out there.  Cora Oglesby and her husband Ben are bounty hunters, and very selective bounty huners at that.  They specialize in supernatural creatures such as werewolves, hellhounds, vampires, and those sorts of things.

They’ve come to the town of Leadville, Colorado, at the request of the marshall.  Something vicious has killed two people, and he fears there will be more deaths.  He’s right about there being more deaths, and not all of them will come from the creature that’s made its first kill.

I’m hesitant to give too many details, because there’s a twist towards the end, and it’s a biggie.  Many of the things you take for granted aren’t as they appear.  The thing that annoys me is that all the signs were there, and I picked up on most of them.  I just didn’t connect the dots.  Collins did an effective job of distracting me, just like a stage magician when he doesn’t want your attention on certain things.  (I’m annoyed at myself, BTW, not at Lee Collins.  Him I’m impressed with.)

The characters talk like you would imagine characters in a Western would talk.  I’m sure Collins had to turn off his grammer checker.  For the most part, this helped pull me into the story.  A few times it was slightly annoying, but for the most part, I didn’t find it overdone.

What I did find annoying was how the viewpoint would sometimes shift between characters in the same scene.  I don’t mind multiple viewpoints in a novel, but I prefer the same viewpoint character in a chapter.  But that’s just me.  Your mileage may vary.

These are minor quibbles.  Overall, I found this a compelling story that didn’t go in the directions I expected it would.  Collins’ prose pulled me in and helped me to inhabit the story.  This is a fantastic blend of western and horror, a fine addition to the subgenre of weird western.  If your tastes run to weird westerns, monster hunting, or some combination of the two, then you’ll want to pick this one up.

There’s a sequel, She Returns From War, that’s due out on January 29 in the States and Canada and a few days later in the UK.  I’m looking forward to it.

One bit of editorializing, if I may.  Angry Robot normally only accepts agented manuscripts, but once a year for the last couple of years, they’ve had a brief window in which they allow submission of unagented manuscripts.  The Dead of Winter is one of those books.  I’ve heard enough stories about how hard it is to get representation these days to know that many fine books never get past an agent, never mind an editor.  Makes you wonder what we’ve missed because of the gatekeepers.

Exposing Myself

OK, as promised, a bit of elaboration on the press releases of earlier.  Sooper Seekrit Project #1 was my signing on with Amazing Stories (TM) as a blogger.  I wasn’t allowed to say anything publicly until the formal announcement, although I’ve contacted one or two individuals to set up interviews.  There are 50+ bloggers participating, and all of them bring their own specialties and areas of expertise.  They range from people who are relatively unknown in the field to figures who are almost legendary.  I mean, I’m part of a blog team that includes Barry Malzberg.  How cool is that?

Each individual will bring something to Amazing Stories(TM), and I really hope you’ll check out some of the links provided in the first press release.  I’m sure there will be plenty of things you’ll find of interest.

Now, how all this applies to me:

My posts there will focus on indie and small press publications.  It will be a weekly column.  I’m not sure which day of the week it will run at this point.  I’ll give you a heads-up before it does.  The first two columns will set the tone and parameters of what I will and won’t look at and define what I mean when I use certain terms (which may vary from what others mean).  After that I’ll be reviewing indie and small press publications.  Once a week is a pretty fast schedule, especially since I’m not giving up either this blog or Futures Past and Present.  I’ll look more at short novels, novellas, and collections than long epic works.  I’ll also interview authors and publishers, presenting as great a variety of individuals as possible.  And from time to time I’ll share my ever humble opinions.

I’ve emphasized indie published works here for the last year or so.  That will continue but not to the extent it has.  I’m going to broaden the emphasis of Adventures Fantastic.  Rather than focusing on sword and sorcery and historical adventure (something that’s arguable if look at some of the topics I’ve blogged about), I’m going to expand what I cover to include pulp in general.  That means in addition to fantasy and historical adventure, I’ll include noir, detective fiction, superheroes, and things related to classic pulp.  About the only thing I won’t cover here will be science fiction.  That will stay at Futures Past and Present.

Does that mean I won’t be reading much sword and sorcery?  Not at all.  This brings us to Sooper Seekrit Project #2…I can’t talk about Sooper Seekrit Project #2 yet.  I can’t even say for sure it will happen.  But if it does, it will involve sword and sorcery.  And it will be glorious.  Trust me.

All of this is part of my master plan.  I also write fiction.  Well, I try to.  I’m still trying to master that time management thing.  I intend to do better this year.  Now that we’ve moved and I’m almost settled into my new office, I should get some more fiction finished.  I started this blog for two purposes.  The first was to have fun, and I am having a blast with it.  The second was to create a platform that would give me a way to publicize my own fiction when I started publishing.  I’ve got a couple of stories that have been accepted, although I don’t know when they’ll be available.  I intend to pursue both traditional and indie publication for my short fiction, which is what I’m mostly writing these days.

Part of my motivation in blogging for Amazing Stories (TM) is to increase traffic here and to build my potential audience.  Hence the title of this post.  In other words, it’s all part of my plan for world domination. You may begin referring to me as Future Potentate of the Solar System.

Enough soliloquizing.  I’m starting to sound like a supervillain.  I’m also blogging for Amazing Stories (TM) because it’s going to be a heck of a lot of fun.

Which brings us back to the reviews.  I’ve agreed to review some indie published books that I haven’t gotten to yet.  My intention is to review some or most of those at Amazing Stories (TM).  The traffic there will be much greater than here, I’m sure, and thus these works will  have greater exposure to potential readers.  With only one post a week, it may take some time to get to all of them.  If we’ve corresponded about a review, and you have a preference where the review should appear, please let me know.  If you don’t care, or if I don’t hear from you, I’ll probably post the review there.

Finally, I’ve got enough of a backlog at the moment that I’m not going to be accepting any more books for review.  I’ll announce here as well as at Amazing Stories (TM) and Futures Past and Present when I open up for requests again.  I need to think through some guidelines about how to do that on a larger scale.  In the past, I’ve simply said Yes or No to the requests I’ve gotten.  With the broader exposure, I want to have a little more structure so as not to cause any offense.

And that’s the story behind my new blogging gig.

I’m Now Blogging for Amazing Stories (TM)

As promised earlier, here is the individual press release that accompanies the general press release in the previous post.   I’ll have more to say about what this means for me and this blog later in my next post.
Amazing Stories, the world’s first science fiction magazine, opens for Beta Testing of Phase 1 on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013.
Fifty+ Writers Sign On to provide genre-related content!
Experimenter Publishing Company
Hillsboro, NH
December 20, 2012
On Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013, I will be joined by more than 50 other writers from around the blogosphere to help launch the Beta Test of Phase 1 of the return of Amazing Stories.
Amazing Stories was the world’s first science fiction magazine.  Published by Hugo Gernsback, the Father of Science Fiction, the magazine created the genre’s first home and was instrumental in helping to establish science fiction fandom the fandom from which all other fandoms have evolved.
The magazine itself ceased publication in 2005; in 2008 the new publisher, Steve Davidson, discovered that the trademarks had lapsed and applied for them.  The marks were finally granted in 2011.
Phase 1 introduces the social networking aspects of the site and the Blog Team, more than 50 authors, artists, collectors, editors, pod casters, designers and bloggers who will address 14 different subjects on a regular basis SF, Fantasy & Horror literature, anime, gaming, film, television, the visual arts, audio works, the pulps, comics, fandom, science and publishing.  
Those wishing to participate in the Beta Test should request an invite by emailing the publisher, Steve Davidson.

Amazing Stories (TM) is Back!

Amazing Stories, the world’s first science fiction magazine, opens for Beta Testing of Phase 1 on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013.
Fifty+ Writers Sign On to provide genre-related content!
Experimenter Publishing Company
Hillsboro, NH
December 20, 2012
The Experimenter Publishing Company is pleased to announce the  reintroduction of the world’s most recognizable science fiction magazine – AMAZING STORIES!
Set to relaunch with a Beta Test of its new Social Magazine Platform, Amazing Stories will feature content from 50+ bloggers, covering an enormous array of subjects of interest to genre fans.
“We’ve got authors and agents, bloggers and editors, pod casters and broadcasters; we’ve got gamers and game designers; artists and art collectors; pulpsters and indie authors; we’ve got Hugo winners, John W. Campbell Memorial Award winners, John W. Campbell Best New Writer winners, Nebula and Hugo Award winners and nominees and winners and nominees of many other awards;  people who review films, people who make films; we’ve got fanboys and fangirls; we’ve got former editors of Amazing Stories, writers who’ve become synonymous with the field and writers who are just getting started; comic artists, book reviewers; traditionally published authors, self-pubbed authors and authors who’ve done it all.  The response to my request for participation was phenomenal – it couldn’t be more perfect if I had set out with a list of must-haves!” said Steve Davidson, publisher. 
Amazing Stories’ Social Magazine platform is designed to create an interactive environment that will be familiar to fans with blog content designed to encourage discussion  and take things beyond the usual user-generated content model for social networks.
The Amazing Stories Blog Team will cover (for now – more coming!) fourteen popular topics – Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, (lit), Film, Television, Gaming, Comics and Graphic Works,  the Visual Arts, the Pulps, Audio Works,  Anime, the Business of Publishing, Science and Fandom itself. 
At this year’s Worldcon (Chicon 7 the 70HYPERLINK “” thHYPERLINK “”  Worldcon, Chicago), Toastmaster John Scalzi talked about what it was to be a fan and concluded by saying

We are diverse – and we are all in this together.”
We are diverse – and we are all in this together, a sentiment that captures the very heart and soul of what it means to be a fan.  Amazing Stories aims to be a vehicle through which the diversity of fandom can come together. 
Amazing Stories’ relaunch will take place in two phases.  Those interested in participating in the Beta Test of Phase 1 should contact the publisher at  Participants will receive full access to the site with Member status and will receive on-site benefits as the project moves forward.
Phase 2 will introduce additional interactivity and user-customization to the site.  Following the completion and testing of Phase 2, the magazine, featuring both new and reprint fiction, essays, photo galleries, reviews and more will begin publication.  Readers who are interested in what the magazine will look like can read two Relaunch Prelaunch issues on line, or download them from the Amazing Stories store.  (Additional Amazing Stories themed product is also available here.)
Experimenter Publishing is pleased to introduce the  Amazing Stories Blog Team:
Cenobyte, Mike Brotherton, Ricky L. Brown, Michael A. Burstein,

Catherine Coker, Johne Cook, Paul Cook, Gary Dalkin, Jane Frank,

Jim Freund, Adam Gaffen, Chris Garcia, Chris Gerwel, Tommy Hancock, Liz Henderson, Samantha Henry, M. D. Jackson, Monique Jacob, Geoffrey James, J. J. Jones, Peggy Kolm, Justin Landon, Andrew Liptak, Melissa Lowery, Barry Malzberg, C. E. Martin, Farrell J. McGovern, Steve Miller, Matt Mitrovich, Aidan Moher, Kevin Murray, Ken Neth, Astrid Nielsch, D. Nicklin-Dunbar, John Purcell, James Rogers, Diane Severson, Doug Smith, Lesley Smith, Bill Spangler, Duane Spurlock, Michael J. Sullivan, G. W. Thomas, Erin Underwood, Stephan Van Velzen, Cynthia Ward, Michael Webb, Keith West, John M. Whalen, Ann Wilkes,Karlo Yeager, Leah Zeldez
Originally published in 1926 by the father of science fiction, Hugo Gernsback, Amazing Stories helped to launch both the science fiction genre and its most enduring feature, science fiction fandom.  The magazine is well known for its Frank R. Paul covers and for publishing the first stories by many iconic authors such as Isaac Asimov, Jack Williamson and Ursula Le Guin.  Published continuously from 1926 until 1995, followed by two brief resurrections from 1998 till 2000 and again from 2004 thru 2005.  In 2008 Hasbro, the then current owner, allowed the trademarks to lapse and publisher Steve Davidson applied for and eventually received them in 2011.
Additional history and background on Amazing Stories can be found at the Science Fiction Encyclopedia and Wikipedia.  A complete gallery of all 609 previous issues with publication history is also available.
The Experimenter Publishing Company was created in 2012 for the purpose of returning Amazing Stories magazine to regular publication.  The company  shares the name of the original magazine’s publisher as homage.  The trademarks for Amazing Stories were acquired by Steve Davidson in 2011,  the previous owners having allowed the marks to lapse in 2008, at which time application was made for a new incarnation of the same title.
For more information regarding Amazing Stories, the Blog Team and the Beta Test of the new site, please contact Steve Davidson via email at 
To contact one of the Blog Team:
J. Jay Jones
Barry Malzberg
Farrell J. McGovern
Lesley Smith
Bill Spangler
Michael J. Sullivan
Erin Underwood
Stephan Van Velzen
Karlo Yeager
A complete copy of this press release will appear on the Amazing Stories Blog on the date of release and can be found here.

The Next Few Days

I’ve got several things planned for the next few days.  First, earlier today I’ve was given the go-ahead to announce Sooper Seekrit Project #1 tomorrow (12:01 am EST).  This will come in the form of two press releases, followed by a post on how the things announced will change Adventures Fantastic and Futures Past and Present.  (The first change went live yesterday:  a new logo at the top of the page.)  The first press release will be a general one, followed by a press release specific to me.  I’ll make these separate posts.  Since I’ll be traveling to visit family for Christmas tomorrow, I’ll probably post the press releases tonight.  My follow-up will go live within 24 hours of that.

I’m almost done with The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins, which will be the next novel I review.  This is one of the best novels I’ve read all year.  If you’re a fan of westerns, especially weird westerns, this is one you’ll want to read.  (I’m looking at you, David and Charles.)  The book is an excellent example of misdirection.  When I hit the big twist, I had to admit that all the clues were there, I’d picked up on them, and still didn’t put things together.  That review probably won’t go live until Saturday. 

And speaking of Christmas, I’ll be writing about some seasonal short stories.  That should be up by the end of the weekend.

After that, it’ll probably be short fiction reviews and commentary on this site for next week, with at least one novel review over at Futures Past and Present.