Sunday, December 30, 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.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

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.

Friday, December 28, 2012

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. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

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.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

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?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

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.

Friday, December 21, 2012

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:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

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
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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Conan.

I'm a little late getting this post up, but this month marks the 80th anniversary of the first appearance of Conan, the man from Cimmeria.  Conan first appeared in "The Phoenix on the Sword", a rewrite of an unsold Kull story, "By This Axe I Rule!"  I blogged about both pieces here.  That's the cover of the issue, December 1932, there on the right.  And, no, Conan wasn't featured on the cover.  But he soon would be.

It's been a while since I last wrote a piece dedicated solely to Conan.  No, don't go looking it up; all you'll do is embarrass people, namely me.  I'm going to look at three more Conan stories, maybe more.  The stories I'll definitely look at are "Rogues in the House", "Queen of the Black Coast", and "Red Nails."  There are a few other Conan tales I will try to get to, but those three are, in my mind at least, major stories that every Howard fan should read.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy Birthday, Michael Moorcock

Today is Michael Moorcock's 73rd birthday.  All of us here at Adventures Fantastic want to wish him a very happy.

I've had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Moorcock on a couple of occasions, World Fantasy 2000 in Corpus Christi and the Nebula Awards in Austin in 2008.  What I haven't had the pleasure of doing is reading much of his work.  (After he signed those books, they've tended to stay on the shelf, something that happens to most of my signed editions.)  I've read some of his work and enjoyed it, don't misunderstand me.  I've just not found the time to dive deeply into his oeuvre.  I'm hoping to read the Elric stories this year as well as some of his shorter series.  Or start them, at least.  I may not be able to finish everything this year.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Mr. Moorcock.  And many happy returns.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

One Day in the Arabian Nights...

The Desert of Souls
Howard Andrew Jones
Thomas Dunne Books
tpb $14.95
ebook $9.99  Kindle Epub

So there's this guy, Howard Andrew Jones, see?  He's done a lot of things in the field.  He's held some editorial positions, most recently with Black Gate.  In addition to publishing some well received S&S short fiction (often in the aforementioned BG), he's the author of a novel in the Pathfinder Tales.  Mr. Jones has also edited an 8 volume series collecting much of the short fiction of Harold Lamb.  These are accomplishments which should make any man proud.

But Nooo.  This isn't enough.  The guy has to go an be an overachiever.  What do I mean by that?

Allow me to enter into evidence as exhibit A the novel The Desert of Souls.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

So How's Your Week Been?

This post has nothing to do with sword and sorcery, fantasy, historical adventure, publishing, books, or anything else commonly covered here.  I'm going to kvetch because Murphy has been with me.  It's more legally and morally acceptable than going postal.  So if you want to skip this one, I'm fine with that.  You won't be missing much.  Really.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Status Report

I'm almost done with my grading, which should be finished with all grades turned in tomorrow, assuming the university server comes back up.  (It should.)  I'm also in charge of the labs, which means I check the TA grading and make sure everything is consistent (it wasn't, but I can't talk about that) and pass lab and recitation grades on to the faculty.  Except for one course where there were some problems, that's done.  Then to jump on the edits of the lab manual. 

I'm about one third of the way through Howard Andrew Jones' The Desert of Souls.  I'd hoped to have the review posted by tomorrow, when the sequel, Bones of the Old Ones, is released.  Sadly, that's not going to happen.  My apologies, Howard.  I'm thoroughly enjoying the novel and will be ordering BotOO later today. 

I should be back up to speed later this week.  Next week, I'm off but my son isn't.  I should be able to get some stuff done. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bradley P. Beaulieu Short Story Collection Kickstarter

Just a quick note.  I don't ordinarily promote a lot of projects from Kickstarter here on the blog, although I do review some (such as here, here, and here).  However, to every rule there are usually exceptions.  This is going to be one of them.  Bradley P. Beaulieu is one of my favorite writers to have appeared in recent years.  Look here, here, and here for details about why I think that.  But for this post, let me just say the man can write character and plot and sense of wonder and make it look easy. 

I got an email from him a few hours ago announcing a Kickstarter campaign to collect all of his short fiction, with stretch goals to include new stories set in the world of The Winds of Khalakovo.  If it were a manly thing, I would swoon or squee or something.  Instead, consider a loud roar of triumph to have been roared.

If you've read Beaulieu's stuff, you'll want this collection.  The nice thing about this one is that the rewards listed have reasonable pledge amounts, unlike some projects.  So if you think you might be interested, head over here and check it out.  I'd really like to read those Khalakovo stories.

December's Agenda

Finals start this week, so things will probably be hectic until around the 14th.  My only final is Friday morning, but I've got a new lab manual to edit and send to the publisher by then.  All of which means that posting here is going to be sporadic.  I may post for two or three days straight, then not have anything new for a week or more.  'Tis the season.

Here's what I've got lined up as far as novels go.  The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones is first up, followed by The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins.  After that, it will be two science fiction novels, The Creative Fire by Brenda Cooper and Apollo's Outcasts by Allen Steele. I'll post those reviews over at Futures Past and Present.  There are a couple of forthcoming novels I've committed to review, plus 3 from Angry Robot that I had intended to review in August before moving threw my schedule into chaos.  Those will probably wait until January since none of the forthcoming titles have release dates before then.

I want to spend the rest of December getting caught up on stuff I've had on the shelf for a while that I haven't been able to get to:  some sword and sorcery, a few historical novels and collections, a lot of space opera, and some Henry Kuttner I've been wanting to either read or reread.  Plus some noir, and The Bones of the Old Ones, the sequel to The Desert of Souls.  I doubt I'll be able to read all of that in the few weeks I'll have, but I'm going to try.  Of course, I'll review some short fiction, too.

I'm not going to accept requests for reviews, nor will I be asking for many review copies over the next couple of months.  I've mentioned a Sooper Seekrit Project a couple of times before.  There are actually two now.  I should be able to make one public by the end of the month; the other, I'm not sure when I can announce.  In both cases, these are things I've been invited to participate in, and I'm really excited about them.  There will be some changes here and at Futures Past and Present because of these projects, but I'll wait until I can announce the projects before I discuss how my personal blogs will change.