Announcing “Border Time” by Myself & Kate Corcino in The X-Files: Secret Agendas Anthology

 

x-files_secret_agendas_fullcoverEditor Jonathan Maberry has announced the Table of Contents order for his third anthology of new officially sanctioned, canon stories from The X-Files, for which Kate Corcino and I wrote a fun story set in El Paso. Here it is:

  1. Seek and You Will Find by John Gilstrap
  2. Perithecia by Andy Mangels
  3. Give Up the Ghost by Jade Shames
  4. Transmissions by Marsheila Rockwell and Jeffrey Mariotte
  5. Desperately Seeking Mothman by Jim Beard
  6. Love Lost by Yvonne Navarro
  7. Thanks and Praise by Joe Harris
  8. Border Time by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Kate Corcino
  9. A Scandal in Moreauvia, or: The Adventure of the Empty Heart by Nancy Holder
  10. Stryzga by Lauren A. Forry
  11. An Eye for an Eye by George Ivanoff
  12. Kanashibari by Ryan Cady
  13. All Choked Up by Lois H. Gresh
  14. Along the Scenic Route by Lucy A. Snyder
  15. Grandmother Black Hands Weston Ochse

Signed Books For Christmas

Still time to order copies of my books for that special someone.  I have copies of all of my titles. Tell me which one you want and if you want it personalized too or just signed.

Email me at bryan at bryanthomasschmidt.net.  I will tell you how much to paypal and then priority mail the bubblewrapped, signed books wherever you want.

Typically I charge $15 per trade paperback plus $5 priority mail but international I’d have to calculate. This helps me. It helps your loved ones and friends by giving them good materials. And it helps you save time shopping. A 3-way win.

I have some great stuff as you can see from the reviews, or you can order from my Amazon page here: http://www.amazon.com/Bryan-Thomas-Schmidt/e/B004FRQ7XS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1449351366&sr=1-1.

Here are some of the books I’ve edited or written:

Mission Tomorrow cover 2 larger TWP WFP front cover 102 More Dino Jokes cover Abe Dino Hunter LOL cover Beyond Sun Cover.indd RaygunChronicles TPB front display Shattered Shields cover small

First Annual Open Reading Period- September 7 through 21, 2015

Well, I said I was going to do it, and so here I am. At present, I don’t do general open calls because I just can’t read through all that would come in for the 3-4 anthologies I do a year. But one reason I got into anthology editing was to create opportunities not just for me, but for other writers, so instead I have decided to offer two week annual submissions periods for basically earning your way onto my invite list.  So that first period will begin Monday and run two weeks, through September 21st.  Here are the parameters:

1) Send your best story in RTF, DOC or PDF format. Make it easy on me to read your work. If I can’t open the file, I won’t read it.

2) Send me the best thing you have, published, unpublished, etc. I am NOT BUYING. All my current projects are full, BUT I am starting to pitch for anthologies in 2017 and 2018, so I will need writers when they sell, which means, I want to see what you can do. If I like your voice, craft, and style, then I will put you on my list.

3) Expect to wait a while. I am going to read through what I get, but it will take a while to read it because other ediitng and reading priorities must come first. The good news is, you can go about submitting elsewhere and living your life, because I am not buying right now so I don’t need exclusivity.

4) Please use standard manuscript formatting. I.E. double spaced, serif font, 12 point type, italics instead of underlining, wordcount and contact info above title on front page, etc.  Also, NUMBER PAGES so if I read offline and drop one, I can easily find where the pages go and in what order.

5) If you story is over 7500 words, please contact me first.

6) If I have already bought stories from you or you know I own your books or stories, you just need to ask to be included. Please feel no need to submit pieces to this call. I will have enough to read already.

That’s it. That simple. Send these files to bryan at bryanthomasschmidt.net starting Monday with the subject: OPEN CALL (story name).

I will read and let you know if you’re invited to my list.

Oh, a couple notes on taste:

I like adventure stories more than lesson stories, but if you can do both, I will be awesomely impressed and pleased. I like character driven stories. I like heroes I can admire, but if the story is strong enough, of course, any of this won’t matter. I also do not like overuse of foul language or gratituitous sex and violence, so keep in mind that since I do PG themed anthologies mostly, your story samples should fit those parameters as much as possible.  Beyond that, I like all kinds of genres, but I am not a huge vampire or zombie fan, just a warning.

I do reserve the right to just say no. I don’t owe you a slot, nor do I owe you an explanation. Unfortunately, this has to be said given the nature of the www world today, sot here it is. It is not that I plan to just arbitrarily say no without some kind of explanation, but I probably don’t have time to give long notes on every story. I don’t promise to read the whole thing either. If I don’t like it, I will treat it like any other slush. Time management is key. It is not personal. It is subjective and ruled by my personal taste, yes.  I am open to people of all beliefs, lifestyles, ethinic backgrounds, cultures, etc. In fact, I strongly seek it out and don’t get enough from POC and non-western writers, so by all means, let me see what you’ve got.

I appreciate the opportunity to look at your work and your patience through this process, and I look forward to working with many of you in the future.

Bryan


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo-nominated editor of adult and children’s science fiction and fantasy novels and anthologies. His debut novel, The Worker Prince, received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases of 2011, and was followed by two sequels. As editor, his anthologies include Shattered Shields (Baen, 2014), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, 2013), Raygun Chronicles (Every Day Publishing, 2013) and Space Battles (Flying Pen Press, 2012) with two more forthcoming from Baen Books and St. Martin’s Griffin in 2015 and 2016. He is also developmental editor for WordFire Press, owned by New York Times Bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. Books he’s edited include The Martian by Andy Weir, My Big Fat Demonslayer Wedding by Angie Fox, The Outpost by Mike Resnick, A Game Of Authors by Frank Herbert and more. From December 2010 to earlier this year, he hosted Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat the first Wednesday of every month at 9 P.M. ET on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht and is a frequent guest and panelist at World Cons and other conventions. His website is www.bryanthomasschmidt. Twitter: @BryanThomasS

Announcing Bi-Annual Open Reading Periods Coming Soon

Shattered Shields cover smallAs most of you know, I am a very busy anthologist, with 8 projects in various stages of contract and development through 2017. Most of these have their allotment of writers already, but as I develop new projects, I hope to expand my stable. Because of budget and busyness, my reading time is limited and so slush is just not something I can manage at the moment, however, I have come up with an option that will appeal to some of you.

I am ending Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat in August. This is because of sheer exhaustion from four years, fading enthusiasm from me and regulars, and also needing time to read for both fun and work that I can’t find anywhere else. Interviewing people, even twice a week, and reading one of their books to do so, is a tremendous time commitment. I have had to put in 20 hours a week to it since starting in 2010. I just can’t keep up with that and slush, and I can’t read novels by friends or colleagues for fun, blurbs or more. Add to that my work in Acquisitions and Development for Wordfire as a Junior Editor, and I just am falling further and further behind. I hate that, so something had to give.

Mission Tomorrow cover 2So the solution is that I will be doing an open submission period of two weeks, starting this Fall (September 1 through 15) where writers can send me their best work. The idea is to give me a chance to get to know your work–voice, style, etc. for consideration toward future projects with openings. I am not going to buy these stories. So send your best, whichever speculative genre you want. The sole exception is erotica. I don’t publish or buy it so it won’t be the best sample for me. I don’t promise quick turn around. It may, in fact, take me months to get through the submissions. But if you are professional quality in your writing, you will be considered for invites to future anthologies. You will be in the door. I will limit the word count, probably 6k words and under,  but those details shall be announced when the Fall comes. And I will limit to one piece per writer as well. I need to be able to see an end game here if I ever hope to do it again. Published work is fine. I will be flexible on format as well. I will make it easy for you, so please do the same for me.

Beyond Sun Cover.inddFurther details will be announced when the submission time gets closer. But since many busy anthologists just don’t have time and resources to do many open calls, consider this a great chance to get into projects that may interest you in the future. If you are put in my pool, I will notify you and invite you to appropriate future projects. You also have the right to ask about openings when I announce projects you want to be invited to. Yes, people do that anyway, but if I don’t know your work, I almost always say no. Just a practicality. In any case, get those submissions ready. Reading stuff I’ve edited for taste might be a great way to see what I like in the meantime. I look forward to discovering new colleagues to work with.

Thanks.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo nominated editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. His anthologies as editor include Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek for Baen, Mission: Tomorrow, Galactic Games, Little Green Men–Attack! and Monster Hunter Tales (with Larry Correia) all forthcoming also for Baen, Joe Ledger: Unstoppable with Jonathan Maberry for St. Martin’s Griffin (forthcoming 2017), Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter as @SFFWRTCHT.

On My First Best Editor, Short Form Hugo Nomination

Space Battles front web sizeSo I got nominated for a Hugo for Short Form Editing. Wow. Found out two weeks ago and it surprised but thrilled me. I didn’t campaign. A group of people deemed me worthy and nominated me. Since nominating people you think are worthy is how the system works, I didn’t say a thing, except thank them for their confidence and wait to see what happened. I know I was nominated by people who are not Sad Puppies because they told me. Several, in fact. Some were Sad Puppies, but most who told me were not. The only thing I know is I have worked very hard and this is a major achievement and career moment, and it is unfortunate some people are choosing to attempt to spoil that. I just discovered April 8 that I am was on a slate called Rabid Puppies. I would have demanded removal had I known but I didn’t know it existed until nominations and had no clue who was on it. I don’t associate with the person running that campaign and am deeply disappointed by how he conducts himself and his presence on the slate. I deeply regret this but there is nothing I can do.

Thing is: forever on I am a Hugo nominated editor. The only change. I will do what I’ve always done: strive to make the best books possible. From the beginning I have worked hard to do so, by picking the best new and old pros I can find to write stories, seeking diversity in the pool from right to left, white to POC, LGBT to straight, etc. With a diverse pool in place, I then pick the best stories and hope what I get reflects that well. So far, I think it has. It has varied, of course, but that is the way it goes for every editor. Still, when you want to make books with broad appeal to a broad and diverse readership, that is the only way to do it right. I have always believed that, no matter what some detractors may say. Taking someone’s ambiguous statements and twisting their interpretation does not make them fact.

Beyond The Sun revised coverA few figures of my anthologies so far:

SPACE BATTLES
11 male writers
7 female writers
2 LGBT (that I know of)
11 Progressive (that I know of)
6 Conservative or independent (that I know of)

BEYOND THE SUN
9 male writers
9 female writers
2 LGBT (that I know of)
11 Progressive (that I know of)
7 Conservative or independent (that I know of)

RaygunChronicles front displayRAYGUN CHRONICLES
14 male writers
11 female writers
3 LGBT (that I know of)
Not sure of the political alignments but some each stripe

SHATTERED SHIELDS
1 female co-editor
10 male writers
7 female writers
3 LGBT (that I know of)
10 Progressive (that I know of)
7 Conservative or independent (that I know of)

And none of this reflects the content itself which includes diverse subject matter and stories.

Don’t believe me? Go check the Tables of Contents posted online. Research it yourself. 3 of these were edited solely by me. I made all decisions. The last was co-edited by my fellow nominee Jennifer Brozek. We made decisions jointly in full. She has written about it on Locus.

Shattered Shields coverThe stats on my 9 forthcoming anthologies are not finalized so I can’t post them but these are the works that got me to where I am. The last is the one that qualifies me for a nomination.

I have spent a good portion of my life working with the disadvantaged from poor to non-westerners to LGBT. I have friends I love of all stripes. Anyone who actually knows me will tell you I do not discriminate. I also avoid kerfluffles unless I am dragged in. And even then I try to be gracious. My philosophy is treat others how you want to be treated. Help people when you can. And live and let live.

I take pride in having accomplished all these things. A number of writers have made first sales to me, including Anthony Cardno, who is gay, for example. Many have gotten to find new audiences and appear alongside their writing heroes. I love that I can make that happen. Getting to work with my heroes is part of the thrill of doing this as well.

I love diversity. Don’t believe the critics. I always have and I seek it out. It is the single best gut check I know for keeping me honest and widening my point of view to see outside the box in which I live. That’s so important that I seek it out. I don’t have to agree with everyone to listen to them. But hearing how they see the world makes me see it bigger. Makes me better.

From day one, it has been a privilege to make books and I only seek to serve the SFF community as best I can. It’s such an honor to be a part of it (most days). And I really am humbled that I get to do what I love. If I get rewarded for that with awards, that will be mindblowing. But make no mistake. I did not campaign for awards. I just try and do good work. And I will continue to do so, hoping people will give it a fair chance.

To the nomination voters, thank you for your confidence in me. Sorry for the uproar. Don’t let it spoil the moment if you can. You made me part of science fiction history. It’s so amazing, and I am truly grateful. Now, may the best person win, whomever they are. I leave it to the works.

Bryan


Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo nominated editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day, and Shattered Shields with coeditor Jennifer Brozek for Baen Books with nine more forthcoming, including Gaslamp TerrorsMission Tomorrow: A New Century Of Exploration (BAEN), Galactic Games (BAEN), Speculations KC, and several others.  A Junior Editor for Wordfire Press, he acquires and develops books of all kinds. He also hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter.

 

New Blurbs and Reviews For My Newest Anthology Babies — Raygun Chronicles & Beyond The Sun

RC Arc Front coverWe have four blurbs in for my soon to be released pulp space opera anthology so far:

“RAYGUN CHRONICLES breathes supercharged life into the space opera genre with exciting and inventive new tales by a superb line-up of writers. This is why science fiction will live forever!”—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of PATIENT ZERO.

“RAYGUN CHRONICLES is an impressive anthology with an impressive list of contributors, a real showcase of the color and scope of what science fiction can be.”—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Saga of Seven Suns

“Wonder, adventure, romance, humor–space opera delivers all of these, and this anthology brings together some of the finest talent in the business. Strange new worlds await. So lower your shields, engage your thrusters, and prepare to jump to warp speed!” — Dave Wolverton, New York Times Bestselling author of Star Wars: The Courtship of Prince Leia

“These stories bring the reader back to the days when we dreamt of blasters and flying cars. Golden age space opera fun with a strong Western feel.” — Alex Shvartsman, Editor Unidentified Funny Objects and Official Ken Liu Hugo bearer

Now I just have been mailing out review copies for Raygun Chronicles. It takes a while, but those efforts for Beyond The Sun have landed us two major reviews and a major podcast appearance this month. The two major reviews are out this week in LOCUS’ October 2013 issue which is THE industry zine and thus a huge boost for us. These are also my first Locus reviews EVER. The first comes from Gardner Dozois, year’s best editor, award winning anthologist and writer:

There’s nothing really exceptional in Beyond the Sun, a mixed original/reprint anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, but it is a fun read, with some solid core SF work, although a similar concept was explored better last year by Jonathan Strahan’s Edge of Infinity. The theme appeals to me, as stories of exploration and adventure in space beyond the bounds of Earth remain one of the foundation stones of SF, but don’t expect to find hard science and rigorously worked-out physics here, as this isn’t that kind of book. Instead, it belongs to the old Pulp Adventure school, where spaceships flit between planets in days and sometimes even hours, and there are lots of exotic alien races to interact with and/or battle with. The best of the original stories here is probably Nancy Kress’s ‘‘Migration’’, a compelling look at the power instinct can hold over even the most rational minds, but also good are Brad R. Torgersen’s ‘‘The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiae’’, Jaleta Clegg’s ‘‘One-Way Ticket to Paradise’’, and Nancy Fulda’s ‘‘A Soaring Pillar Of Brightness’’. There is also solid work by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Cat Rambo, Mike Resnick, and others, as well as good reprint stories by Robert Silverberg and Jason Sanford.

Also from October Locus, Karen Burnham reviews BEYOND THE SUN for Diverse Hands:

Beyond The Sun revised coverKAREN BURNHAM Beyond the Sun, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, ed. (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-38-5, $17.99, 296pp, tp), August 2013. Cover by Mitchell Davidson Bentley. [Order from Fairwood Press, <www.fairwoodpress.com>.] 

There are many reasons people may want to settle out beyond our solar system: religious freedom, economic opportunity, exploration, contacting other life, or simply the desire to be left alone. A little bit of all of these can be found in Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s broadly themed anthology Beyond The Sun. There are aliens, religious fanatics, soldiers, and plenty of people just trying to get by in this diverse volume. 

One story about going to the stars in search of a simpler life is ‘‘Respite’’ by Autumn Rachel Dryden. In it a more-or-less Puritan couple are trying to reach the main settlement by wagon while the wife is in labor and the local fauna is about to launch into a feeding frenzy. Ann’s internal perspectives on events gives us a wonderfully dry take on a very tense story, and the troubles between her and her husband are deftly sketched. What I found particularly interesting is that the story ends up admiring a particular view of father- hood that is directly critiqued in the anthology’s strong opening story, ‘‘Flipping the Switch’’ by Jamie Todd Rubin. Rubin uses a trope similar to Joe Haldeman’s classic The Forever War to describe a father who is providing for his family but is fundamentally detached from them. The story effectively portrays the increasing tension the man feels as he drifts farther and farther away from his loved ones. 

Returning to religious themes, Jean Johnson’s ‘‘Parker’s Paradise’’ depicts a colony that’s been vastly oversold by its religious leader; the acerbic perspective of a soldier tasked to protect the first contact group makes me want to go read some of her military SF, because this was hilarious. Jason Sanford’s ‘‘Rumspringa’’ gives us the space Amish, with a team of post-humans looking to manipulate an Amish colony through one of their own that went out into the world and came back. ‘‘The Far Side of the Wilderness’’ by Alex Shvartsman depicts a man driven by religious faith to hijack a ship and try to find Earth; his single-minded pursuit leaves him dissatisfied with a most amazing journey. Maurice Broaddus’s ‘‘Voice of the Martyrs’’ gives us an interesting blend of military, religion, and colonization – no easy answers in this one. 

There’s one final story that features a religious colony: ‘‘The Dybbyk of Mazel Tov IV’’ by Robert Silverberg. Unlike most of the stories, which are original to the anthology (there are two other reprints, both from the 2000’s), this is a reprint from 1973. This is the second anthology I’ve read this year that has done this: taking a solid selection of contemporary stories and adding in a cherry-picked story from many decades past. Inevitably, the reprint by an old master (it was a Le Guin story the last time, I recall) blows the others away. Robert Silverberg’s story seems fresher, livelier, and more three dimensional than so many of the stories here – not that any of them are bad, but simply that they don’t get over a bar set that high. Some of them do; I would put Rubin’s story in that category along with Cat Rambo’s ‘‘Elsewhere, Within, Elsewhen’’ (a lovely tale of alien contact that literalizes the metaphor of being trapped in a shell of bitterness and resentment). But it really seems unfair to most of the authors involved. I understand the incredible temptation when you’re offered a Silverberg or Le Guin reprint that perfectly suits your theme, but in a mostly-original anthology I wish the editors would stop and reconsider. 

That said, there are plenty of solid and enjoyable stories here. Various forms of libertarianism feature in Nancy Kress’ ‘‘Migration’’ and Brad Torgersen’s ‘‘The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiae’’. Massive miscommunications with and about aliens feature in Simon C. Larter’s ‘‘Inner Sphere Blues’’ and Jennifer Brozek’s ‘‘Dust Angels’’. Jumping to conclusions is ill-advised in Nancy Fulda’s ‘‘A Soaring Pillar of Brightness’’. Luckily, aliens can be just as quick to misjudge a situation when Mike Resnick depicts them examining our television broadcasts in the concluding story ‘‘Observation Post’’. 

Overall, this is a collection of solid stories in the somewhat neglected outer space exploration genre of science fiction. Post-humans are rare and garden variety humans occupy center stage, which feels a bit unusual these days. I worry that it seems that aliens in this volume are so difficult to communicate with: it often takes personal sacrifice to do so, or something improbably hand-waving to do with biology and telepathy. Compared to Silverberg’s 1973 story, in which communication with aliens is not terribly more fraught than communication with a rival human religious sect, this anthology seems a little discouraging about the real potential for relating to and communicating meaningfully with the Other. 

Nonetheless, these are enjoyable tales with serious themes, worth the time spent reading them.

Lastly, several authors, the cover artist and publisher gathered with me in San Antonio at World Con for Hugo-nominated SFSignal’s podcast as well, and you can find that here: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/09/the-sf-signal-podcast-episode-204-2013-live-worldcon-panel-with-the-authors-editor-and-publisher-of-beyond-the-sun/ So lots of new stuff to enjoy.


View More: http://emilymeganphotography.pass.us/bryanBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and is working on Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

2013 Projects

AbeLincolnDino_CoverV2I thought perhaps some of you might be interested in what I’m working on. Especially since my blogging has dropped a bit in regularity, in part, due to being so busy. I enjoy blogging but at a certain point, between writer’s block for blog ideas, and just sheer busyness, it becomes work, so I have been reluctant to push myself to produce posts if they aren’t going to have some substance. Who wants to hear about what I had for lunch or darning my socks?

Anyway, here are the projects I’m working on for this year.

Books:

Abraham Lincoln Dinosaur Hunter: Land Of Legends — copyedits turned in Feb. 1 for February release (Delabarre), this is a children’s adventure series for early readers.

Duneman, Book 1, The Dawning Age — out to agents. This is my first of three fantasy novels in an epic trilogy. I hope to sell it to publishers in the near future for 2014 release.

The Exodus, Saga Of Davi Rhii Book 3 — This is 75% written, first draft. I stalled on it and polished Duneman so I could get something on the market. The Worker Prince, Book 1, has earned back its advance but The Returning, Book 2, is really not moving quickly with sales. I am wanting to seek a mass market paperback deal perhaps before I even try and release Book 3, so this is on hold while I seek representation, although I may finish drafting The Exodus in the next few months.

Belsuk The Half-Orc — This sword & sorcery novel is half done first draft. Will get back on with it later this year.

Falcone Files — This time travel scifi noir is also half done first draft. Hope to pick it back up as well.

Amelie’s New Home — My poodle is credited as co-author. It’s the story of a poodle who is abandoned and wanders, then finds a new home. Early reader book. Meant for young kids as a story of belonging and hope. Need to revise and get this on the market.

I’ll be working on Believer, Dawning Age Book 2, as well as another Abraham Lincoln Dinosaur Hunter and a Kansas Joke Book. Beyond that, we’ll see what develops.

Raygun Chronicles cover v2 with words 3Anthologies:

Beyond The Sun — I have to finish editing one story then assemble the manuscript, format it, and add interstitial stuff like story intros, bios, etc. then I will send this to Fairwood Press in mid-March for preparation to release ARCS in April and May. Great author list and stories. Very excited about this one.

Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For A New Age — This one is in Kickstarter. If that doesn’t fund, it will go away, which I hope doesn’t happen because we have some great stories and authors lined up for this as well. Right now focus is on funding. Editing for this will begin in mid-March if it funds. [Closed to submissions.]

Shattered Shields — We just sent back the contract to Baen Books with some requested clarifications and changes. Once Toni responds, we’ll get the contract settled. Stories are due mid-August for this one, and we have some amazing names lined up. Co-editor Jennifer Brozek and I are quite excited. This will be my first book with major distribution and for a major publisher. Expect a fuller announcement later this month. [Closed to submissions.]

Choices — This is the latest, and my first YA anthology. Intended to be mostly reprints, I will be packaging and seeking a publisher. So far I have interest from Cory Doctorow, Robert Silverberg and Mike Resnick. Looking for quite a few more but awaiting responses. Except updates soon. [Closed to submissions.]

World Encounters — This one was my first anthology idea and is still my passion. Mike Resnick helped me assemble a heck of a writer’s list but so far, we have not gotten a publisher. I will be trying again later this year, in association with John Helfers who has signed on to co-edit. It is first encounter stories from cultural perspectives other than Western World. [Closed to submissions.]

Space And Shadows — An anthology of spec noir, Co-editor John Helfers and I will be assembling a writer’s list and looking to find a publisher soon for this one. [Closed to submissions.]

Writing With The Masters — My first non-fiction/fiction mix, Co-editor Rich Horton and I will be looking for a publisher. The goal is to combined essays, interviews, and stories old and new from all the Damon Knight Grandmasters still alive.

Invasion — Another new concept of invasion stories which I am beginning to develop. [Closed to submissions.]

Beyond that, there are a few less developed ideas in the works, including an SFFWRTCHT Benefit anthology. I’ll update as things develop. I also have two issues of Blue Shift to finish and get published and no doubt more will come along.

Those are what I have in the works. What are you working on?


BTS Author PhotoBryan Thomas Schmidt is the editor of Blue Shift Magazine and an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exoduswill appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends from Delabarre Publishing.  His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press (July 2013), headlined by Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress, and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day Publishing (November 2013). He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

 

Beyond The Sun Table Of Contents Is Official!

Fairwood Press bannerToday, I officially announced the Table Of Contents for Beyond The Sun, my space colonist anthology and first Kickstarter venture, at SFSignal:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/01/toc-beyond-the-sun-edited-by-bryan-thomas-schmidt/

We wound up with typical attrition of 20-40% of writers not coming through with stories. Luckily I had some name writers who asked to contribute but weren’t on my original list so we wound up with a stellar TOC.

You can click the link to see the full thing but in addition to our headliners: Silverberg, Kress, Resnick and Rusch, we also had names like Sanford, Fulda, Broaddus, Rambo, Torgersen, Brozek, Rubin and Johnson. Very exciting!

Thanks all for your support!

Meanwhile, please consider my latest project:

Smashing Planet Tales - Raygun Chronicles
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/601968027/raygun-chronicles-space-opera-science-fiction-anth

 

Write Tip: Advice From the Slushpile – Writing Lower Word Counts is a Writer’s Best Friend

I get asked a lot these days for tips on how to sell stories, etc. One tip, I’ve never heard a lot is learn to write to word counts. But I’d go one further, learn to write low word counts. Why? If an editor gives you guidelines with a range of 3-8k, that doesn’t mean the editor can afford to buy all 8k stories for a magazine issue or anthology. It means they want and need a range. It means, if everyone who submits sends in 8k stories, most of them will wind up rejected, even if their stories are perfectly good. That’s right.

My budget and my contract stipulate word count. With the magazine, I can go slightly over or under or just save a story for the next issue. With the anthology, once it’s full, it’s full. If I buy all 6k and 7k stories, the 20 I said I’d include drops to 15 or 16. That means that some writers who thought they had a chance, won’t because I can’t buy as many stories as I intended. It also means I am rejecting stories I really like.

Yes, that sucks. Not just for writers, for me, the editor, too.

I don’t like rejecting your stories. I like making you and me happy and buying them. But I do have to have standards. Quality and craft are among them, yes. But so are practical issues like budget and word count. Budgets are usually estimated on averages, too. 3-8 k, means I budget for 5500 word stories and hope I can get enough of a range to come in on budget. If I go over, I get paid less. Too far over, I’d be paying you out of my own pocket and not getting paid.

Since magazines and anthologies are hard to make money on, I usually have very tight budgets. So that means, if you learn how to write a story concisely, in the lower end of the word counts in my guidelines, you are greatly increasing the likelihood of selling me your stories.

This doesn’t apply, of course, to headliners.  If I can get 7k words from Bob Silverberg and Nancy Kress, I’ll take it any day over 7k words from John Doe writer. Why? Because the names Kress and Silverberg sell anthologies and the more words I have from them, the better quality and appeal I have overall for my project. It’s reality.

So if you’re not a headliner, writing lower word counts is your best friend. It’s an exercise you should challenge yourself to learn. Set a word count goal and write to it. Don’t give up. It’s not as hard as you think to cut 1k words from a story. That’s easy. Cutting 1500-3k is really, really hard. It gets harder the higher you go. You start to feel like you’re cutting your voice and style right out. But if you start smaller, you won’t have to worry about that.

There’s always a lot of fat one can cut from stories. No matter who you are.  And, as editor, I will mark stuff up in everyone’s document, headliner or not, if I think it can be cut. Now, many headliners know this and write so tightly it’s work for me to find stuff to cut. They know how to cut the chafe and save the wheat, and their stories come in crisp and tight as a result. You should aim to learn that,  too. It’s hard to say no to stories that are exactly the length they need to be. Unfortunately, the longer I edit, the more stories I read, the more I find that most stories don’t meet that standard. And so I either get the writer to trim them or I turn them down. Even if I think they’re good stories.

And you know where the first place to look is, besides -ly adverbs (the obvious choice)? Your favorite lines and baby moments. Yep. I kid you not. Those moments we write which give us the most warm fuzzies are the ones that most often become bloated, and we’re blinded to it by our warm fuzziness. The saying “learn to kill your darlings/babies” is about more than just cutting entire scenes. It’s about cutting vocabulary and word count. It applies on multiple levels.

Seriously.

I got into editing because I love working with writers. I love the squeeing they make when I tell them I liked their story. I love the smile on their face when I help them make it better or when someone else loves it, too, and discovers them because I bought it. I love creating opportunities for others to get paid doing what they love. I love helping people, period. So, you see, my telling you this is not coming from enmity, I assure you. I’m telling you to kill your babies because I like writers. I want you to blow me away. I want you to sell me a story. I want you to win.

But there are practical realities we all serve here. You have to write a story I can’t refuse, and while craft and storytelling may make up the bulk of that, practical matters you probably don’t give much thought to you also play a role. I want to get paid, too. And I want to honor my contracts. I want to buy as many stories as I can, sure. But I must do it within the limits of money and space.

So, you want advice on how to place more stories in anthologies and zines as an up and comer? Learn to write lower word counts. Practice telling a story well with less words. L:earn to kill your babies. Writing lower word counts is a key to success, trust me.

For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the editor of Blue Shift Magazine and an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exoduswill appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends(forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012.  His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press (July 2013), headlined by Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress, and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day Publishing (November 2013). He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

Announcing Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age Contributors

Here’s the scoop on my latest anthology project:

Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age

 

Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

 

A collection of best of stories from Ray Gun Revival’s multi-year run combined with new stories from headliners. Ray Gun Revival is all about space opera and golden age science fiction.  A Kickstarter will be running in January and February 2013 to help fund this project. It will be published November 2013 by Every Day Publishing with a launch at OryCon in Portland, Oregon.

Along with classic Raygun Revival reprints, we’ll have new stories from the following headliners:

Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Sarah A. Hoyt, Robin Wayne Bailey, Brenda Cooper, Seanan McGuire, and Allen Steele

We’ll also have new stories from up and comers:

Peter J. Wacks and Keanan Brand along with reprints from headliners Mike Resnick and A.C. Crispin, a story which has never appeared in short form before.

 

Expected Reprint contents are as follows (depending on space):
[Table of Contents Order To Be Determined]

Mike Resnick – Catastrophe Baker & The Ship Who Purred
A.C. Crispin – STARBRIDGE: Twlight World
Milo James Fowler – Captain Quasar & The Insurmountable Barrier of Space Junk
Michael S. Roberts – Sword of Saladin
Michael Merriam – Nor To The Strong
TM Hunter – Ever Dark, An Aston West Tale
Robert Mancebo – Slavers of Ruhn
Alice M. Roelke – The Last, Full Measure
Lou Antonelli – The Silver Dollar Saucer
Paula R. Stiles – Spider On A Sidewalk (Writer’s Of The Future Winner)
Jenny Schwartz – Can Giraffes Change Their Spots?
A.M. Stickel – To The Shores Of Triple, Lee!
Shaun Farrell – Conversion
Jennifer Campbell-Hicks – Malfunction

Cover Art from Writer’s Of The Future Winner Paul Pedersen 

About The Editor:

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the editor of Blue Shift Magazine and an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exoduswill appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends(forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012.  His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press (July 2013), headlined by Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress, and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day Publishing (November 2013). He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

Works In Progress: Writing & Editing Projects I am Working On

Here’s a list of the projects I am currently working on for interested friends and for clients.

Novels:
The Exodus (Saga Of Davi Rhii Book 3), Science Fiction, On Chapter 9 of 12 expected. (Anticipated end date: December 1, 2012)
Duneman (Dawning Age, Book 1) , Epic Fantasy, Awaiting 3rd/polish draft. (Anticipated start date: December 1, 2012 for January query)
Tommy Falcone 1, Science Fiction,  on hold but half finished. (Anticipated Resume date: Spring or Summer 2013)
Belsuk The Half Orc 1, Sword & Sorcery, on hold but half finished. (Anticipated Resume date: January 2013)
Believer (Dawning Age, Book 2), Epic Fantasy, synopsis in progress. (Anticipated start date: Spring 2013)

Short Fiction:
Brasilia (with Octavio Aragao), Science Fiction, half finished, in progress. (Anticipated end date: November 2012)
The North Star Serial Episodes 17-25, Science Fiction, on hold. (Anticipated resume date: November 2012)

Children’s Books:

Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter book 2, tentatively titled On The Hunt, Science Fantasy/Alt. History chapter book for kids 7-11, Delabarre Publishing.  (Anticipated Start Date: December 2012/Release date: 2014)
Kansas Joke Book, humor, Delabarre WFH, in progress. (Anticipated Release date: 2014)
Science Fiction Jokes, humor, Delabarre WFH, in progress. (Anticipated Release date: 2014)

Editing (Books):
Rage One, Thriller, Delabarre Publishing
Razing Kane, copyedit in progress. (Anticipated finish: November 10, 2012) Finish The Story edit.
Nancy Wing Middle Grade Novel, awaiting deposit. (Annticipated start: November 2012)
Walter Esselman Novel, awaiting manuscript and deposit. (Anticipated start: November 2012)

Editing (Anthologies):
Beyond The Sun, Science Fiction, in progress for Fairwood Press. (Deadline: January 15/Release date: July 2013)
SAGA: Space Age Golden Adventures From Ray Gun Revival, Science Fiction, lining up authors & prepping Kickstarter for Everyday Publishing. (Deadline: May 15, 2013/Release date: Fall 2013)
Shattered Swords, Military Fantasy, Co-Editor: Jennifer Brozek, lining up authors & prepping for pitch. (Deadline August 2013/Release date: 2014)
SFFWRTCHT Anthology, Various speculative fiction, lining up authors & prepping for Kickstarter. (Deadline: TBD/Release date: TBD)
World Encounters, Science Fiction, Co-Editor: John Helfers, lining up authors & prepping for pitch. (Deadline: TBD/Release date: 2014)
Space & Shadows: SpecNoir, Science Fiction  & Fantasy Noir, Co-Editor: John Helfers, lining up authors and reprints & prepping for pitch. (Deadline TBD/Release date: 2014)
Writing With The Grandmasters, Science Fiction, Fantasy & Nonfiction, Co-Editor: Rich Horton, planning & prep. (Release date: 2014-2015)

I’ll start keeping this updated month or biweekly, depending. But this is what I’m working on. An exciting time to be creative but definitely daunting and requiring organization and focus.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince(2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012.  His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press, headlined by Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress, a Ray Gun Revival Best Of Collection for Every Day Publishing and World Encounters and Space & Shadows: SpecNoir with coeditor John Helfers, all forthcoming. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

 

SPACE BATTLES Author Profile: Meet Author Anthony R. Cardno

Anthony R. Cardno’s family holiday tale The Firflake has already introduced him to readers. His author interview series for his blog Rambling On has also brought him notice and enabled him to build a network of writing industry friends. He’s a fan of not just science fiction and fantasy but many genres. Because his job as a corporate trainer requires regular travel, he frequents used and new bookstores all over the country.  As such, he’s gradually tracking down a complete collection of Doc Savage books and other pulp tales. He can be found online at his blog, on Facebook, at his website www.anthonycardno.com and on Twitter as @talekyn. “A Battle For Parantwer” is his first published science fiction story and is set in a universe he’s been playing with for years. Other stories he’s written have been published in Willow and Maple and online. He has another Christmas tale and a mystery novel in the works. Anthony and Space Battles editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt have been accused of being brothers, but they swear they’re only brothers in pen crime.

He sat down for an interview about Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 with Flying Pen Press:

FPP: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?

Anthony R. Cardno: A lot of the good writing-related things that have happened to me lately can be traced back to Twitter. In this case, it was somehow becoming connected to Bryan Thomas Schmidt and starting to take part in the weekly #sffwrtcht sessions. Space Battles was an invitation-only call, and Bryan invited me to participate. I was flattered to be invited, but wasn’t sure I’d submit anything. Other than playing around with loose sf ideas for a print amateur press alliance (who remembers those!) I’ve been a part of since the 80’s, I haven’t written any hard-SF since high school. In the end, I decided that I needed to stretch myself and at least attempt a submission.

FPP: This is your first anthology sale, correct? Tell us a little about “A Battle For Parantwer.” What’s it about? Where’d this particular idea come from?

ARC: Honestly, not only is this my first anthology sale, it was my first anthology attempt. I’ve submitted short stories to magazines, but this was my first try at an anthology of any kind. Once I’d decided to take Bryan up on the invitation, I realized I actually had to write something that had a chance of fitting. But I’ve never, in my own opinion, been very good at military/battle type writing. My first attempt, part of which survived into the version of “Battle” you’ll see in the anthology, was to tell the story from the point of view of a captive on a ship under attack – the intent was to show the effects of a space battle on someone who can’t even see what is going on. That didn’t quite click, so I shifted POV. “Battle” is about the Denthen System Ship Parantwer doing battle with a pirate ship they’ve been pursuing for quite some time, and it’s also about the ship’s captain, Marijen Parantwer, living up to the legend of the ancestor her ship is named for. The POV character is an experienced system Ambassador, through whose eyes we see both struggles.

FPP: You have written other stories in this world, correct? Tell us about those. 

ARC:  The Denthen star system, comprised of the planets Tarasque, Gemin, Adon and the remains of the planet Refarael, have been bouncing around in my head for several decades. The characters started out as a costumed super-team of aliens who visit Earth. I had the concept, but never really did much with the characters. This story introduces two of those original characters, sans costumes and super-heroic code-names, and two of the original supporting characters. I’m excited to actually be working in this world, though, after all the world-building I’ve done for it. I’m knee-deep in two other Denthen System stories at the moment. Both stories are un-named, because I’m horrible at naming my stories. Both stories take place on the planet Tarasque and fill out some of the social structure of the system and, in one case, some of the history.

FPP: How’d you get started as a writer?

ARC:  I started out writing stories about my favorite super-heroes when I was in 6th or 7th grade. Batgirl, the Teen Titans, those characters. Those stories, as well as the hard SF novel I wrote in 10th grade, have long-since disappeared. High school was also when I joined the Super-Team Amateur Press Alliance (STAPA) and started creating my own super-heroes instead of writing about DC or Marvel characters, doing more serious writing to actual deadlines.

Do you have plans to do any more with this universe?

ARC:  Oh, absolutely. I’ve always intended to, and now seems like the right time to pursue it, at least in short story forms. I do have a novel idea, something I tried working on for NaNoWriMo two years ago that just didn’t click at the time.

You have had other stories published, right? And a Christmas story. Tell us about those.

ARC: My short story “Invisible Me” was published by Willard & Maple magazine in 2005, and is now available to be read for free on my website. My short story “Canopus” is also on my site. The first is more of a character piece, the latter a nice little slice of light horror.

My Christmas novella “The Firflake” is available from iUniverse in print and ebook formats. It’s the legend of the First Snowflake (“firflake”) of winter, and the story of one family’s traditions which hinge on the arrival of that first snowflake. It’s also the story of how the elves met Santa. Each chapter includes an illustration by my good friend Don Cornue.

Where’d your love of SF come from?

ARC: Friends and television, mostly. My parents were not big readers. I was hooked on Star Trek reruns from the first time I saw an episode (it probably helps that the episode in question was “City At The Edge of  Forever”). I always credit my friend Terry Wynne, though, for really hooking me on SF and fantasy. He’s the one who got me watching the English-dubbed Star Blazers and Battle of the Planets cartoons; he’s the one who got me hooked on the space opera of Perry Rhodan, on Niven & Pournelle (Lucifer’s Hammer), Tolkein, Silverberg, Farmer and so many others. Although in 6th grade I discovered Robert Silverberg’s To Open The Sky all on my own, and it remains my favorite SF novel of all time.

What other projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?

ARC: I’m inching slowly closer to completing my mystery novel Ambergrin Hall, in which a student’s death threatens to reveal aspects of Croton College’s history that some would prefer forever remain hidden. I also have a second Christmas book in the works, Christmas Ghosts, which will be longer than The Firflake and aimed at a slightly older (MG/YA) audience.

And of course, every week I feature interviews with various creative folks (writers, editors, actors, singers and more) on my website www.anthonycardno.com

Finally, I’d really like to thank Bryan for the opportunity to appear in Space Battles, and thus for re-igniting my love of writing short stories.

Here’s an excerpt from “A Battle For Parantwer.” Note, Parantwer is both the name of the ship and her Captain:

A Battle for Parantwer

Anthony R. Cardno

Jespeth slammed against the bulkhead she could barely see as the ship shuddered under another direct impact. She was already bruised across a good portion of her body, so one more swelling spot was the least of her concerns. The impact reopened the cut above her right eye and warm blood trickled down. Had it been light enough to see, her vision might have been impaired by the blood; in the dark it didn’t matter.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been wandering around the bowels of the ship and she wasn’t really surprised that her captors weren’t looking for her yet. The attack on the ship was surely keeping them distracted, but even if it hadn’t been under attack they’d probably not bother looking for her. It’s not like she could go anywhere. The ship simply wasn’t that large, and she had no access to whatever lifeboats might be available.

She was torn between hoping the attack on the ship would cease so she could stop slamming into walls in the dark, and hoping that the attack would be successful and blow them out of the sky. Either way, her life as she’d known it was over. She only wished she’d had time to say goodbye to her brother. He’d be alone now, the last surviving member of the family.

The ship lurched again but this one felt different—not an attack, but a jump to hyperspace. They were running once more. Attack or jump, the effect was the same: Jespeth was thrown off her feet. She sailed through the short space to the opposite wall of this small passage she’d hidden in. Being an internal wall, it was slightly more forgiving than the bulkhead. But only slightly. She hit face-first. The last sound she heard as she slipped into merciful oblivion was a high-pitched squeaking. She allowed herself to imagine she was falling asleep under a nest of hectets somewhere on Tarasque.

***
The barrage started seconds after the Parantwer dropped out of warp.
Ambassador Kcaj Opul was glad he’d hesitated that extra moment
before unbuckling himself to stand and stretch—the momentum of the
first blasts glancing off the ship’s shields would have sent him sailing
right past most of the bridge crew and the captain and directly into the
hulking mass that was Revanian i’Matoth. Opul and Revanian were
both guests on this ship, and they had a history; slamming into the
man from behind in the midst of an attack would not help tender their
dislike for each other.

“Where in Denthen’s Name are they?”

The question, barked as it was, was not tense. It came not from
Revanian but from the Parantwer’s captain. Captain Marijen Parantwer
had what could be either described as a blessing or a curse: commanding
the ship named after her own illustrious ancestor. Ilgallen
Parantwer had been one of the most famous military leaders in the
known history of Tarasque, and not a generation had gone by in several
centuries without some member of the family being in the military.
Not many had been able to live up to Ilgallen’s legend. Marijen
Parantwer, in Ambassador Opul’s humble opinion, was well on her
way to matching, and possibly surpassing, her kinsman. She kept a
cool head in tense situations.

How many other current ship captains, military or not, could have
stayed on the trail of a pirate vessel of unknown origin outfitted with
advanced tech through six—or was this seven?—warp jumps and
three—or was this four?—actual confrontations?

A member of the ship’s tactical operations crew called out some
coordinates as a second spray of fire hit the Parantwer’s shields. The
ship rocked again, and to Opul it felt like the fire had come from
the same direction and hit the Parantwer in the same place. He was
no expert, of course, and his sense of direction had been thrown off
thanks to the six—no, seven, he was sure of it—warp jumps the ship
had made. Most diplomatic missions consisted of two jumps at the
most, with fair warning ahead of time for those whose systems were
adversely affected by the sudden change in motion.

Opul had spent most of this last jump seated, belted in, and feeling
more than a bit queasy. In point of fact, he had left queasy behind
at least three jumps ago and progressed to outright, if controllable,
nausea. These missions are for younger men, he thought, with stronger
constitutions.

“Hard about,” Captain Parantwer ordered, following the order
with a string of coordinates the Ambassador knew better than to try
to comprehend. Opul could follow the most byzantine social behaviors
to get to the root of a political problem, but spacial vectoring and
astro-navigation made him feel like an illiterate child.

Before the captain had even finished speaking, the Parantwer
was moving in what felt like three directions at once: up, sideways
and about-face. As the ship moved, the image on the front viewscreen
moved with it. Stars swung by. Opul caught and then lost sight of a
large planet with a debris field ringing the equator.

As the planet fell behind them, another object came into view—
the pirate ship.

This pirate ship looked nothing like any ship built in the Denthen
system.

As the senior Far-Range Ambassador of the Denthen planetary
system, Kcaj Opul had made it a point to learn to recognize every
space-faring ship built under Tarasquen and Geminid control, which
accounted for the majority of the fleet. There were a small handful of
Refaraelian ships remaining since the destruction of that planet, but
none of those had ever been intended to be extra-system fleet-worthy
and Opul would have recognized them as well. And of course Adon
had no ship-building capability, nor did it need it.

The fact that the ship on the viewscreen was slightly smaller than
most of the pirate vessels operating in Denthen or any of the neighboring
systems was not what set it apart in Opul’s mind. No, that wasn’t
unusual at all. But there was something about the design; even to a
man accustomed to dealing with other societies’ aesthetics, this ship
felt alien.

Which made it all the stranger that the crew controlling it were
absolutely from the Denthen system. Like the Parantwer itself, what
they’d seen of the unnamed pirate ship’s crew had been a mix of all
of the races found on Tarasque and Gemin; the captain—or, at least,
the captain’s spokesman—was an Uda from Gemin, and behind
him had stood a female F’ren from Gemin and behind her a small
complement of Tarasquens of every skin color. A home-grown pirate
crew who had been caught smuggling off of Tarasque, among other
things, a colony of hectets—a highly endangered species. There was
also the possibility of human cargo other than the crew itself.

Every jump the pirates made with their alien tech allowed the
opportunity for complete escape or at the very least for a vast outdistancing
of the Parantwer. Opul’s mission was to determine which
of their allied or enemy systems the ship originated from. They had
not yet lost the pirates because Captain Parantwer had made all the
right battlefield snap judgments, just as her ancestor had been known
to do. There was more than just luck involved in so consistently
predicting where the enemy was going, and even more so when they
were going.

She seemed to be making another of those snap judgments right
now. Her command crew fed her a constant stream of information, a
non-stop chatter that had increased in overall sound level, but not in
urgency, since the drop from warp and the first barrage of fire. She
responded with coordinate changes and weapons commands in an
even, crisp tone that said exactly what she needed it to: based on your
information, this is what we are going to do. Not a face among the
command crew showed any doubt as they carried out her orders and
fed her fresh information.

The pirates had fired immediately as the Parantwer dropped out
of warp, from a vantage point on a slightly higher plane. They continued
firing at the exact same spot on the Parantwer’s protective shields
until the ship began its convoluted spin-and-dodge maneuver.
This was a classic move among the pirates who operated near the
Denthen system: take a ship by surprise, hammer the shields in one
spot until you blow them—possibly doing some serious damage to the
target’s hull as well—and put the target in a position where they cannot
run and must be boarded. It was no surprise that they were finally
trying that tactic on the Parantwer, despite the fact that it was not a
poorly-armed merchant vessel but an actual fighter of the Fleet. The
question that mattered was: what would the pirates do now that their
classic move hadn’t worked?

For the moment, the pirate ship sat silently in front of them.

“This has gone on long enough.”

Captain Parantwer seemed to be talking to herself but Opul could tell that
despite the soft-spoken  nature of the statement, it was intended to be heard
by everyone on the bridge: crew and guest alike. As a younger, greener
diplomat, Opul might have tried to impose some sort of authority
inherent in his title in order to force the Captain to action. He knew better,
especially having met Marijen Parantwer and aligning rumor to reality
about her. He, like everyone else on the bridge, waited for her to continue.

“We cannot keep jumping around known and unknown space in
pursuit of these pirates.” Her voice was louder now, to be sure it carried
throughout the bridge. “Tactical, prepare Maneuver Eighty-Seven for
deployment. Engines and Helm be prepared to initiate fast pursuit.”

A quarter of the bridge staff began tapping on their station consoles.
Opul had no idea what Maneuver Eighty-Seven was, but he noticed
Revanian nodding in approval. If the Refaraelian representative of
Denthen’s Gladiators approved of a tactical decision, chances were
good it was more than sound. Especially considering the Gladiator’s
possible personal stake in this operation.

If the F’ren helmswoman was suddenly more alert or tense, her
posture didn’t show it. Like her captain, the helmswoman’s body radiated
a sense of calm readiness. It was highly unlikely that she would
jump the gun and initiate pursuit too soon, or have any lag in reaction
once the order for pursuit was given.

“What is Maneuver Eighty-Seven?”

The question came from the seat to Opul’s right, which held the
only other person on the bridge actually strapped into a seat: Gepyg
Liborel. Liborel was a scientist from Tarasque, that world’s foremost
expert on hectets. She was here simply to aid in the safe return of
the smuggled colony, should the Parantwer succeed in its mission.
Captain Parantwer turned slightly in her seat, so that she could see the
scientist.

“We have reached the point where all reasonable attempts to
capture that craft have failed. We’re lucky, in fact, that we have not
suffered worse damage while trying to capture without inflicting
unnecessary damage on ourselves. Maneuver Eighty-Seven will, ideally,
stop that ship in its tracks. There may be some collateral damage, but
it will prevent them from jumping again.”

“Collateral damage?” Liborel’s voice pitched slightly higher. Not
in hysteria, as Opul expected, but in a tone of righteous indignation.
“Is that what you call the hectet colony? If that’s the case, then why
am I here?”

“You are here,” the captain said firmly but not unkindly, “because
our intent is to get all, or barring that some, of the colony back alive,
along with any other living contraband that the pirates may have …
taken. We will do what we can to bring this mission to a successful
close, but we cannot allow the tech that ship possesses to get away.
The next time they strike, it may be more than hectets they take, and it
may not be simple black-market piracy they intend to perpetrate.”

“And you approve?” Liborel had turned her attention to
Revanian.

“I do.” Revanian barely spared the scientist a glance. In Tarasquen
society, that would be an incredible slight. For surviving Refaraelians
like Revanian, it was simply an indication that Liborel was as important
as whatever else Revanian was thinking about. No response at all
would have been a slight.

Even though her back was still completely to him, Ambassador
Opul could read the captain’s body language. Her posture implied that
she was mainly paying attention to the forward viewscreen, but that
she had at least half an eye and a certain amount of her attention on
the data streaming across her console. She seemed to be studying the
pirate ship’s current behavior.

In each of the three—not four, he was sure of this now—encounters,
the pirates had not acted at all unusually. While they had waited until
this current confrontation to trot out the old standard “bore a hole in
the shields” attack, it wasn’t like they had done anything at all out of character
for Denthenian pirates during the previous encounters.

“Full power to forward shields,” Captain Parantwer quietly
commanded. Again, hands flew across control panels.

Almost before they were done, a burst of bright green energy,
the same as they’d seen in earlier encounters, flashed from what
they’d determined was the prow of the pirate ship.

Continued in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which you can purchase here.

 

SPACE BATTLES Author Profile: Meet Author-Editor Dana Bell

Although she got her start in fanfic, which she continues to produce, Dana Bell has authored a number of short stories and her debut novel, Winter Awakening, released from Wolfsinger last year. Her stories and poems have appeared in Space Horrors: Full Throttle Space Tales #4 and Tales Of The Talisman, edited by David Lee Summers,  Lorelei Signal, All About Eve, Throw Down Your Dead: An Anthology of Western Horror, Frost Bitten Fantasies and Zombified: An Anthology Of All Things Zombie, amongst others.  She has a number of stories forthcoming in anthologies besides her Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 appearance and edited Of Fur And Fire, an anthology of cat and dragon stories and poems last year as well for Dreamzion in 2011 and is editing two anthologies for Wolfsinger at present, Time Traveling Coffers and Different Dragons. Her space opera tale, “Isis,” features a ship as alive as her crew. You can find her blog at http://dragonlotsma.blogspot.com.

BTS: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?

Dana Bell: It’s amazing what you can find out about on Facebook, but then I hear about many submission opportunities there. Not to mention I’d met the editor at ConQuest a couple of years back and enjoyed working with him as a writer when he submitted a story to an anthology I edited called Of Fur and Fire.

I’m a writer who likes to stretch beyond my comfort zone. Much of today’s publishing world is about ‘branding’ yourself, I’ve recently read a blog by an agent who said the more diverse a writer can be the more sales they can make. ‘Isis’ stretched me because I’d never attempted a battle story, outside of Fan Fiction, and wasn’t sure I could do it. My first anthology sale was for ‘All About Eve’ when the editor, Carol Hightshoe, asked me at MileHiCon to send her a story. I also had a story in FTST#4 Space Horrors. Both were about cats. I have quite a few stories in several different anthologies.

BTS: Tell us a little about “Isis.” What’s it about? Where’d this particular idea come from?

DB: ‘Isis’ is about the relationship between a Spacer and his/her sentient ship as they transport a group of refugees from a missionary camp after a recent attack. They’re pursued by the Buton who are unable to produce their own young and take human children captive for purposes that are not really explained, but hinted at.

The idea for this story came from many sources. I borrowed a couple of ideas from Alan E. Nourse, whom I dedicated the story to, from his book ‘Raiders from the Rings’. In Raiders the men who lived in space could only produce male children due to radiation damage and they made regular raids on Earth for supplies and women. Their main base is protected by an asteroid maze which can only be safely traversed with the correct course.

I also do a great deal of research on the Old West. In South Dakota there’s an area called the Badlands, which I’ve visited, and where the bad guys hid regularly. It’s absolutely beautiful and dangerous if you stray from the marked paths.

Some of the other concepts in the story are ‘old school’ and have been used quite a bit by writers like Anne McCaffrey in ‘The Ship Who Sang’, except in her story it was a human who was placed in the ship to run it, or the twist used in the new BattleStar Galactica and Caprica about where the Cyclons came from and why the Colonials developed the absolute terror of interconnected computer technology.

BTS: You’ve also had a novel published and edited an anthology. Please tell us a little about those.

DB: My first novel Winter Awakening was released in 2011. It took me six years to write between the in depth research and field work I needed in order to complete the book. It follows Word Warrior, a cat who leads the others to the next level of evolution by learning to read the human language. He breaks tradition by protecting his females and helping to raise and educate his kittens. It is also the story of Mute or Snow Fur as he’s called who loses his mother as a kitten. He is rescued by wolves who take him to a Spotted Ghost, who fosters him. He too, learns to read despite his disability. He also adds writing to the new skills cats are acquiring along with learning how to use a computer. The lurking danger is the constant snow and ice with the continual threat of the two legs returning, who just might be the ancient humans the cat elders tell stories of.

I edited an anthology called Of Fur and Fire for Dreamzion Publishing, along with a couple of co-editors. It’s a mix of stories about dragons and cats, sometimes in the same story. Most of the pieces were Fantasy. Seems writers can’t think of dragons in any other setting. I did get a couple of good stories using them in Horror and Science Fiction. It was an interesting and a good learning experience for me. Not to mention working with several already published writers and a couple of newcomers. I’m not an easy editor. As I warn people, I’m your worst nightmare English teacher.

BTS: How’d you get started as a writer?

DB: *chuckle* I wrote a play in third grade that the teacher allowed me to rehearse with my classmates and present. Thinking back, I suspect it was because it was the last day of school and she wanted to keep the class entertained. I’ve also had encouragement from various writing teachers and a wonderful long time fanzine editor I worked with.

BTS: You got your start in fan fiction. How has that experience formed your writing or helped your craft?

DB: Years ago, writing Fan Fiction was a black mark on a pro writer’s record. Still is depending on the publisher. However, writing in other people’s universes was a great learning experience for me and taught me the following.

  1. How to work with an editor. As I mentioned earlier I worked with a wonderful long time zine editor whose edits I always looked forward to. She taught me some wonderful tricks on how to mix description with conversation, something many other writers don’t seem to know how to do. She never accepted a bad story and always justified the changes she wanted made. I learned to work with her instead of against and this will help me in my pro career.
  2. World building. Yes, there is world building in Fan Fiction even if it’s already created. The writer has to know the show well so the story, plot line and characters don’t seem unbelievable and it could be an episode. My story ‘New Hope’, a post Serenity/Firefly tale, was nominated for the Fan Quality award. My editor said, ‘You really know the show.’ I presented the characters realistically saying, doing and wearing clothes they really would. Since I tend to use regional locations, there are very few I haven’t experimented with in a FF story before doing an original piece.
  3. How to write fast and practice. I’ve talked to other pros and am amazed at how slowly they all write. I spent thirteen years writing Fan Fiction both for zines and online. I learned to write an entire story in one sitting or a chapter with an average of ten pages in about two to three hours. I call it the splat. Get the story out. The real writing is in the rewrite, which I also learned from my zine editor. It also gives me a place to try ideas to see if they’ll work before writing an original story using the same concept. An interesting note here. My first novel took me six years to write. The Second three years and the third one. One Fan Fiction novel of 100,000 words took five months.
  4. Feedback and developing an audience. My online stories get feedback from readers all the time. Sometimes they’re just ‘thanks for the update’ and other times they’re more in depth telling me what they liked or maybe didn’t like about a story. It helped me learn to handle bad reviews as well. And since Fanficition.net has a tracking system for hits, visitors, etc. these are figures I can approach an editor, agent or publisher with because it shows I have an established audience. Blogs can be used the same way I recently found out. It will also give my readers a place to read more of my fiction while I’m working on my next novel.
  5. Crossovers. I have a very hard time staying in one universe in Fan Fiction. I have a few where I do, like Planet of the Apes and Firefly, but I tend to cross them with something else just to see what would happen. An example would be a story that mixed Dr. Who, Highlander, and Babylon 5 told from the viewpoint of a cat. By the same token, I have a hard time confining by novels and short stories to one genre. It’s not uncommon for me to cross a Post Apocalyptic with Animorphic with Christian Speculative.

BTS: Do you have plans to do any more with this universe?

DB: Currently I don’t have any plans to write more in this universe but one can never tell what future opportunities may present themselves.

BTS: What other projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?

DB: I will have stories in several anthologies this year: ‘Darkness in the Heartland’ will be in Ultimate Angels from KnightWatch Press. It features tiger angels who are assigned to stop a crazy cult leader. ‘Smothered’ told by a narrator who wanders off topic about how the Earth drowned in a dust bowl will be in Earth’s End: An Apocalyptic Anthology from Open Casket Press. ‘Keeping the Tradition’ accepted for The Mystical Cat from Sky Warrior books. Tells the story about a light house keeper in space complete with her cat and a ghost, all part of traditional lighthouse lore. ‘Tumbling Tumble Weeds’ a funny little tale about tumbleweeds attacking and overwhelming a house while two children are left at home alone will be in the Fall edition of Tales of the Talisman. ‘Justice’ is a fictionalized true life horror story based on the Sand Creek massacre. None of the gory details are made up. They’re all part of the historic record. It will be published in the Dead Rush anthology from Wicked East Press.

I’m currently editing and taking submissions through May 31st, 2012 for Time Traveling Coffers with WolfSinger Publications and will be editing Different Dragons. Guidelines are on the publisher’s site. I may be editing an anthology for Open Casket Press in 2013. My next two books have been submitted and I’m waiting to hear back from the publishers. God’s Gift is currently at WolfSinger Publications. My pitch line: ‘“God told us you were coming. Tell us about His son,” were the first words the aliens spoke to the human settlers.’ Possible prequel to my Winter trilogy with the cats, wolves and spotted ghosts. Titles are Winter Emergence mostly about the surviving humans, and Winter Moon, introducing the mother of two cats whose name is, oddly enough, Moon. My first romance Worth the Wait I’ve submitted a query letter to the Love Inspired Suspense line at Harlequin. I already have another small press who has expressed interest in the event Harlequin says no. Features two characters in their fifties who fall in love after a fatal shooting in a parking garage leaving four security agents dead and endangering my heroine’s life or else her senator cousin’s.

So here’s an excerpt of “Isis”:

Isis

Dana Bell

Dedicated to Alan E. Nourse

Explosions sounded, their vibrations rocking Isis in her launch cradle. I sensed her desire to flee and reached up a hand to glide my fingers across her pearl and ebony wing. “Easy,” I reassured her. “Just a few more minutes.”

Screams sounded beyond the wired gates. Women and children, many dressed in gray jumpsuits, trickled through the opening, scattering to whatever safety they could find. The men fired weapons to cover the retreat. Sometimes, I heard a shout as someone died.

Some of the needle-nosed ships vanished in flares of orange and blue. The fleeing refugees changed course, charging toward another.

One of the missionaries ran toward me. In her charge were about a half dozen children. “Please,” she pleaded, “please.”

I nodded, like I’d really ignore her plea. We spacers aren’t as heartless as the whispered tales the humans tell of us. Isis opened her
hatch and I motioned the group inside.

Another group came and we took them onboard. Nearby a neighboring ship erupted in a storm of fire and raining metal.
I noticed the enemy was careful only to destroy the empty vessels. Any with passengers aboard were spared. That didn’t surprise me. They were desperate to take the children alive.

“I’m full,” Isis told me.

“Time to leave then.” I stepped up the ramp and Isis closed her
door behind me. I glanced into the storage hold now full of frightened
children and their sparse caretakers. “Hang onto something.” The
adults nodded instructing the children to grab the railing along the
glittering blue walls.

My steps echoed hollowly as I went down the pastel corridor to the
control room. Not that Isis actually needed a pilot. She could launch
on her own. Still, her designers thought it better to give her limited
intelligence so she could be controlled. They didn’t want a repeat of
what had happened on Earth in years past.

I shook my head. No need to think about that.

Slipping into the gray seat that curved to accommodate my long
limbs, my fingers immersed themselves into the spiky tendrils and
watched as they wrapped around my hands. The sensation still bothered
me. It was like holding warm slimy worms.

“Go now?” she asked.

“Yes, you can launch now.”

I sensed her bunch her strength and launch her bulk into the night
sky. On the overhead holo-vid I could see the ground below. Several
spike-nosed ships barreled up as the invading troops poured through
the gates, overrunning the defenders. The soldiers scattered, gathering
up those unfortunate enough not to escape. I turned my attention away.
There was no way to help the captives now.

Deep blue changed to a ruddy purple before we reached the blackness
of space. Isis hummed to herself as she “shook” her wings and darted to
freedom.

On the vid I could see the enemy cruisers as they concentrated on
capturing any who tried to escape. They netted one ship while another
barely managed to slip past them.

They didn’t see us. I’d counted on that. Isis’ dark colors caused
her to blend into the star-studded jet. She also glided on the solar and
planetary winds. No output to be tracked.

“Where?”

“The Badlands.”

She “questioned” but didn’t argue. The Badlands were tricky
and unpredictable. Still, they’d be the safest place. The big battle
cruisers couldn’t navigate them. Neither could most other pilots.
Too many uncharted asteroid fields and many—more than could be
counted—had died.

“Are we safe?”

I turned to look at the woman who had asked. Her dark hair was
askew, framing her face in an almost lion-like mask. Her gray robes
showed traces of dirt. She clutched one end as if to anchor herself or
perhaps as a way to deal with her fear.

“They haven’t seen us.”

“I’ve heard about this ship.” She bit her lip. I think she was afraid.
There’s a deep seeded fear of AI’s in our culture. Ever since … I
stopped my train of thought. No need to upset my ship.

“We’re headed for the Badlands.” I glanced at the vid. There was
a dark dot trailing behind. I frowned.

Her voice crept up a notch. “They’re following us?”

“I doubt it. There’s no way for them to.” Or at least I hoped not.
“We need food and bedding.” Practical as always, despite a hovering
threat. Most of the nuns were like that.

“In the lockers outside the hold.” I gently removed my fingers and
wiped them on a towel I hung nearby. They weren’t really wet but they
felt like it. “I’m Captain Blair M’Tok.”

“Sister Sharon Louis.” Her brown eyes frankly took in my lean
form as I stood up. I stretched, aware yet not envious of the obvious
differences. My people are all the same; tall, slender, and with a bulky
upper torso. Most of us cropped our hair short. I’d done the same with
my dull black mop.

“You’re a Spacer,” the sister said.

I nodded not ashamed. I was among the few who understood why
the Buton’s wanted our children. There was a price to be paid to roam
the stars. We spacers had paid it gladly.

“I’d appreciate it if you kept to the hold as much as possible,” I
said. “Latrine and sonic showers are right next door.” They weren’t
standard in ships but I’d insisted. I didn’t always just carry cargo.
Settlers paid well to be transported for a possible new start on another
planet. I had no idea how many actually succeeded and didn’t really
care. Their credits paid docking fees and other supplies I needed.
The Sister glanced nervously at me before her eyes found the
deck. “Do we need to worry…?” She didn’t finish her question. She
didn’t need to.

“No. You won’t be aboard long enough.”

“But there’s nowhere to go in the Badlands.” I could hear the
bewilderment in her voice.

“Nowhere official.” I grinned.

She frowned and her expression turned to anger. “You’d take us to
be with the scum of the galaxy?”

“They’re good people.” I should know. I’d sheltered with them
more than once. “And they’ll take you in. Besides,” I pointed at the
dot, “where else are you going to go?”

“Humpf.” She finally released the edge of her robe. Her frightened
gaze darted to the dot and she straightened as if to show no fear. “Thank
you, Captain.” She stomped away.

I shook my head. I could hear the sounds of several children
laughing and a few crying. Their guardians murmured quietly trying
to reassure or quiet them.

“Going to be a long trip.” Or so it would seem. The Badlands
were only a few light years away. My over-large yellow—green eyes
drifted to the dot. It had crept closer. “I know you can’t see us.” At
least I hoped not.

Continued in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which you can purchase here starting now (preorders end April 17).

SPACE BATTLES Author Profile: Meet Patrick Hester

Every Tuesday night, a new episode of the Functional Nerds podcast is posted at www.functionalnerds.com with hosts Patrick Hester and John Anealio chatting with authors like Blake Charlton, James Enge, L.E. Modesitt, and more. In addition to running the podcast, Patrick edits and records podcasts for www.sfsignal.com (for which he was just nominated for a Hugo) and author Mur Lafferty and can be found at www.atfmb.com. But beyond podcasting, he recently signed with Agent Bob Mecoy and is marketing his first science fiction series to publishers. His Space Battles story, “First Contact,” is his first SF short story sale and has a lighter, more humorous flair than many of the others.

BTS: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?

Patrick Hester: You contacted me about the anthology.  At first, I was flattered but uninterested; I’ve had a hard time with short fiction.  I think I’m wired for novels.  It wasn’t until a second message that I thought I should at least give it a try.  Now, I’m glad that I did.

BTS: This is your first anthology sale, correct? Tell us a little about “First Contact.” What’s it about? Where’d this particular idea come from?

PH: Yes, this is my first anthology sale.  I like an adventure, and this anthology lent itself to the kind of story I wanted to tell.  “First Contact” has a pilot and his navigator out on the rim looking for the enemy.  They’re at war, and what they find is more than they bargained for.  Where this came from is complicated.  I had two ideas for a long time and neither one worked right until I decided to put them together.  In this case, a fighter jockey on the rim was one half-written story, and the second part, what they find, was actually a different, earlier story.

BTS: Does it tie into any of the other fiction you’ve written?

 PH: I have two universes that I write in.  Yes, this ties to one of them.  If I sell more stories, you’ll get to see more of this universe.  🙂

BTS: Yours is one of the more humorous stories in this collection. What’s the trick/challenge to writing humor successfully?

PH: Oh, boy.  It has to be natural.  You can’t force it.  I know writers who try to force it and you can tell.

BTS: You recently signed with an agent and have some novel series in the works. What can you tell us about those?

PH: Yep, I have an urban fantasy series, set in Denver (where I live).  First two books are written and currently being shopped by my agent, Bob Mecoy (http://www.bobmecoy.com/).  My pitch for the first book is: SAMANTHA KANE: INTO THE FIRE is a 95,000 word, fast-paced, first-person detective story, full of adventure, magic and flagrant smart-assery.  The book follows a week in the life of my protagonist, Samantha Kane, as she tries to hold her family together while learning to control a new power growing inside of her.  Before it kills her.

BTS: You are also a master podcaster, constantly busy. How’d you get involved with that and where can we find and listen to your work?

PH: A few years back, I became aware of the idea of an author platform; essentially, this comes down to your visibility, online presence, marketability and networking.  I was already blogging and dipping my toes into the burgeoning social media platforms, and podcasting felt like a natural progression, so I did a little research and started producing my own podcast at www.atfmb.com.  This got the attention of John DeNardo from SFSignal, who was talking about a musician named John Anealio.  Anealio and I started chatting.  He was doing his own podcast and we decided to meld the two, creating the Functional Nerds podcast (www.functionalnerds.com).  About twenty or twenty-five episodes in, we approached DeNardo about producing a podcast for SFSignal.com as well.  He liked the idea.  Today, Functional Nerds puts out a new episode every Tuesday (we’re nearly at a hundred), and SFSignal.com has two episodes a week, Mondays and Thursdays (we have passed a hundred episodes!). And we just got nominated for a Hugo for that.

BTS: Congratulations! What other projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?

PH: There are some things on the horizon for Functional Nerds, but John and I are still in the planning stages so I probably shouldn’t say too much just yet.  I have a space opera I hope to add to my agent’s plate soon.  Also, I’ve been working on a space western series, a throwback to the old-time serials I used to watch with my grandmother years ago.  But I want to get the novels published first.

patrick@thenewuniverse.com

My blog, All Things From My Brain: http://www.atfmb.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/atfmb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/atfmb
The Functional Nerds Podcast: http://www.functionalnerds.com
The SFSignal Podcast: http://www.sfsignal.com

Webcomic: ShadowBytes.com
Skype: guitarbluesman

Here’s a sneak peek at Patrick’s Space Battles story, “First Contact:”

First Contact

Patrick Hester

“I hate this.”

“Know what? I love it.”

Xyn banked hard to port to let the chunk of rock in front of them pass by harmlessly. The asteroid belt before them was full of such natural missiles whizzing past, and this had been a little stray rock breaking away from the rest of the group. The nav deflectors would take care of the smallest bits, but he’d need to keep his eyes open for
the larger rogues. Seated behind him, Zian manned the scopes and watched for League ships. “Best hit the shields, Z. We’re getting close now.”

“You would love this,” Zian replied sourly. “All alone on the Edge. Two hours from the nearest help and looking, actually looking, for League ships. It’s madness!”

“It happens to be our job to look for League ships. We signed on for this when we joined up in the first place. Besides, it’s fun! We’re actually on the Edge, Z. On the other side of these rocks is the Great Unknown! Billions of worlds could—no, should, be out there just waiting to be discovered. When this war is over, we’ll be able to go out there with the fleet. We’ll be explorers, not fighter jocks.”

“Why do they always hide in asteroid fields anyway?”

“No clue. Maybe they’re looking for something.”

“Like what?”

“Who knows? Shields in place?”

“Yep.”

“Good. Keep your eyes peeled for—”

Alarms started squealing and the HUD lit up with fireflies seconds before the ship shuddered and shook violently.

“What the hell?” Xyn banked hard, kicking the thrusters up to max and spiraling away from the attack.

“Where’d they come from?”

“No idea! They just appeared—the scope was clean and then they were just there!”

“Some sort of cloak…?” The ship shuddered again, and again Xyn took her into a spin, trying to come around and bring his own weapons
to bear on the enemy fighter. “I can’t shake em…”

The forward view flared and popped as the fire from the enemy pulse cannons impacted the shields and lit up the debris from the asteroid field. There was something different about the fire, coming in faster than he was used to with League ships. He needed to get them away from that fire if they were going to make it out alive.
Staring out the view, he got the craziest idea he’d ever considered. Throwing the engines into full, he tucked his tail and flew for cover.

“What are you doing? You can’t go into an asteroid field!”

“I can, I just shouldn’t. There’s a difference.”

Setting his course for the biggest asteroid he could see, Xyn made a beeline for it while the cannon fire intensified behind him.

“They really don’t want us going in there,” Zian commented. “Huh.”

“What?”

“The ship is different. Computer can’t identify it.”

“Great. That’s what we need, the League with new ships. Intelligence should’ve warned us.”

“Maybe they don’t know?”

“Dump the power from the forward shields into the aft. I won’t be able to avoid all the fire if I want to keep us on course. Too many asteroids, not enough room to maneuver.”

“You do realize that you’re insane, right?”

“I’m a pilot. Part of the job description.”

“If you get me killed, I will haunt you.”

The ship lurched as the League fighter found its mark. Xyn let them hit the aft shields, then pulled back on his speed just enough to make it seem, he hoped, like he’d been damaged. Behind him, Zian was muttering about energy signatures. “What was that?” he asked.

“The energy signature is all wrong.”

“New ships and a new energy source? Intelligence my ass. Kobo will lose her mind.”

Kobo was Fleet Commander, Third Division, and Xian’s mother. She never wanted him to enlist, but the war kept dragging on with mounting casualties and fewer pilots. Convincing her to let him sign on became easier over time. Now he was one of the best pilots around, according to his direct superior.

Waiting for the League fighter to close the distance between them, Xyn kept his eye on the giant asteroid looming before them and the fighter behind them. When the computer told him he was in trouble, he counted to five, then fired his aft torpedo. The torpedo shot out and shattered into a thousand pieces halfway between his ship and the enemy, each bit of what looked like shrapnel glittering with energy. Arcs jumped between them, dancing along to build strength and intensity. The energy web expanded. The enemy fighter altered course, trying to avoid collision, but the net formed too fast. As soon as the fighter struck the corner of the web, it contracted,
wrapping the fighter in crackling energy, rippling across the hull.

Momentum kept the ship moving forward, but the pilot would not be able to navigate or fire weapons for a few seconds.

“Got ’em!” Zian whooped.

“Only slowed ’em. We still need the cover of the asteroid field to turn this whole thing around. Put the forward shields back up.”

“Aye.”

Xyn turned hard to port, already feeling the pull of the giant asteroid before him.

“Um,” Zian said. “We’re pretty close.”

“Hush,” Xyn ordered. The ship shuddered violently. He guided her around without crashing, but it was closer than he would’ve liked. Diving to put the asteroid between him and the enemy, Xyn started firing torpedoes at seemingly random targets. Each torpedo impacted after they passed, shredding the rocks, scattering debris behind them.

“Why blow up the rocks?”

“Makes it harder for the enemy to follow us, all that garbage flying at ’em. Hold on to something.”

The sleek ship curved, banked, and spun to avoid the chunks of rock that could easily destroy it. Xyn charted his course by relying on his sight alone, what the old-timers called ‘seat of the pants’ flying.

The only path he saw open to them was to pass through the asteroid belt. Rocks of all sizes zipped along; most he avoided, some landed blows that shook the ship. The trip was shorter than it felt, then they were staring out at open space and into the Great Unknown.

“Um.”

“Calm down, I know what I’m doing.”

As he stared out at the deep, dark nothingness between galaxies, Xyn wasn’t actually sure he believed that statement. Keep it together, he thought.

“Contact aft!”

“Already?”

Xyn kicked the engines back into maximum, trying to build up a little speed and bring his weapons to bear. The League pilot was better than he gave him credit for. He expected to have more time. The shields flared and popped.

“What in Fel is that?”

“What?” Xyn launched an aft torpedo, but the League pilot shot it down before it could even arm. New coordinates popped up on his HUD. He blinked. “That…what is that?”

“I don’t know. Something big out here where there isn’t supposed to be anything.”

“No wonder he’s trying so hard to kill us. We better have a look.”

“Can we kill the enemy first?”

“Don’t rush me.” Xyn spared a glance at the shields. “We have forty percent left on the shields. That buys us time.”

“Great. I will haunt you. I’m not kidding about that.”

The League ship’s fire intensified. Xyn cut his engines, spun the ship and started firing wide of the League fighter, driving it to bank starboard. Trailing it with fire, he landed a few blows, but not enough to do any real damage. Kicking his own engines back up to full, Xyn shot towards the asteroid belt. Angling his course, he skirted the edge, cutting a zig-zag pattern in and out, heading towards the coordinates Zian fed to the HUD.

“I—What? The computer doesn’t even know what that is.” Zian breathed.

Through the forward port, he saw a massive ring, wider in diameter than any ship of the line. Lights pulsated all along the rim, bits of energy arcing along the surface. Xyn found his eyes fixed on the armada of League ships assembled before the ring. More ships than he’d ever seen together in one place before. The reports he had seen said the League couldn’t pull a fleet like this together. Obviously, they were wrong.

“That,” he said to Zian, “is the end of this war.”

Continued in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which you can purchase here starting now (preorders end April 17).

SPACE BATTLES Author Profile: Meet Simon C. Larter

The third story in Space Battles is the third anthology sale for Author Simon C. Larter. A construction worker by day, who describes himself better than I ever could as: “Flash fiction specialist and writer of short stories that range from depressing to violent and depressing. Not a poet. Novelist-in-the-making. Tragic aesthete and lover of martinis. A tad ornery, most days.” He’s also a respected expert (at least in his own mind) on Vodka, of which he is an unabashed fan. Larter’s other stories can be found in the anthologies Notes From The Underground and Short Story America, Volume 1. A husband and father based in New Jersey, Larter can be found on Twitter as @simonclarter, at Facebook or via his blog/website at www.simonclarter.com.

BTS: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?

Simon C. Larter: I found out about the Space Battles anthology through some guy I met on Twitter and then at World Fantasy Convention in 2010. He turned out to be the editor. Win!

 BTS: This is your first science fiction anthology sale, correct? Tell us a little about “Like So Much Refuse.” What’s it about? Where’d this particular idea come from?

SCL: Yes. “Like So Much Refuse” started out as a much longer story, but was mercilessly hacked down to meet the word count requirements of the antho. I’d wanted to tell a multiple-POV story that highlighted the senseless slaughter of war while avoiding the traditional “good” protagonist and “bad” antagonist trope. I lost a lot of dead bodies in the editing process, but still tried to maintain a kind of moral ambiguity when it came to the two main characters. Rarely is war about moral absolutes, and I wanted to explore that idea in a futuristic setting. Also, I just liked the idea of guerilla warfare in space.

BTS: How’d you get started as a writer?

SCL: I wrote for most of my life, up through high school, but got all practical in my first run of college and decided to get an engineering degree. (Something about being able to make a decent living really appealed to me, I guess.) It took a helluva long time, during which I wrote next to nothing, but I eventually got that degree. The last liberal arts class I took before graduating, though, was a fiction writing course. It lit the fire in me again, and I’ve been writing ever since.

BTS: Do you have plans to do any more with this universe?

SCL: Nah. This was a one-shot deal. The Outworlders are just going to fall to squabbling amongst themselves after the fall of the Confederation anyway, and how much fun is it to write about squabbles?

BTS: Where’d your love of SF come from?

SCL: I would read anything and everything as a child, if it looked even remotely like fantasy or science fiction. Probably the first sci-fi I ever read was Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet, but I’ve devoured everything from Brian Aldiss’s Helliconia series to Tad Williams’ Otherland books since then. Anything that lets me escape into another world for a while is okay in my book.

BTS: What are your writing goals? Full time? Novelist? Short story writer? All of the above?

SCL: I’d love to supplement the dayjob income with novel sales, and the occasional short story or flash fiction publication. Writing full time, of course, would be the ideal, but I’d be happy with enough extra money to keep me in vacations and vodka. You know how it is.

BTS: What other projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?

SCL: I’ve a spec-fic novella in the works for a friend’s micropress, and a noir novella that’s almost submission-ready. After those are loose in the world, it’s back to the full-length novels, with occasional forays into shorter fiction when the mood strikes me. Which I’m sure will be often. Apparently the ideas don’t stop just because you don’t have time to write them all. Why is that, anyway?

Here’s an excerpt from “Like So Much Refuse,” Simon’s thrilling adventure about a saboteur taking on an experienced Admiral and her crew: 

Like So Much Refuse

Simon C. Larter

Engel left the airlock at a dead run and leaped outward, snapping his body rigid as he plunged into open space. He felt the vibration in his chest as he engaged the thrustpack, the shift in direction. Below him, the Galaxy gleamed dully in the light from the distant star at the center of the system. Its exhaust cones, black and mountainous, bulged from its aftsection: his destination. He triggered the thrusters again, briefly, then settled into the drop, the only sound in his ears the mild hiss of his rebreather and the crackle of the propaganda transmission from the distant command ship.

Behind him, his shuttle’s autopilot engaged—flames flared in Engel’s peripheral vision—and then shut off, the tiny
Mark IV shorthopper drifting out and away from the planet’s
gravitational field and 
the starcruiser’s light guns. He’d watched
several of his comrades’ 
ships strobe space with their atoms as he
made his approach run.
Damn amateurs, he thought. Who trained
them, anyway?

But now there was nothing for him to do but plummet planetward,
watching as the Galaxy grew ever larger through the visor of his helmet.
His jaw tightened as he let his gaze glide across the gun batteries
and launch tubes ranked along the cruiser’s broad flanks. How many
lives had those weapons snuffed out? How many friends had tasted
vacuum because of them?

No more, he thought grimly. It ends tonight. If not me, another
will make it through.

Explosions winked in the darkness like static sparks as the Galaxy’s
flak guns opened fire in earnest. The city-sized exhaust cones loomed
closer. Engel grinned.

***
“It’s nothing but small craft, sir,” the scanner tech said. He turned
in his seat to regard the Admiral. “They come almost within flak range
then peel off or go adrift. Most of them are short-hop, single-man
shuttles, too. Not even interceptors.”

Admiral Johanna Stanche ran stiff fingers through her graying,
close-cropped hair and glared at the tactical projection at the far end
of the bridge. The threatening twinges that had been spiking the base
of her skull for the past two hours were coalescing into a serious headache.
She grimaced and kneaded the back of her neck. “Shuttles,” she
repeated.

“Yes, sir. The light cruisers and corvettes are keeping well back.”

“They’re testing our defenses,” Commander Martin Vandermeer
said. “Feeling us out.”

Stanche glanced toward him. A good man, she thought. Textbook
leader, but terminally lacking in imagination. For a moment, she
allowed herself to miss Marta’s sharp mind and ready grin, her
quiet support. But Vice-Admiral Marta Janowik had been killed three
months ago when the second to last remaining Confederation starcruiser
had been blasted to particles by the betrayers’ fusion bombs,
shredded and scattered like so much refuse. Now the Galaxy was the
last symbol of a dying dream, she the dream’s last line of defense.
Vandermeer’s stolid face was set in a scowl as he watched the
shuttles drifting in the TAC, an image winking out every so often as
the flak guns did their work. Beyond the swarm of small craft, hovering
at the edge of scanner range, the larger ships crouched, spider-like,
a promise of violence to come. And at the center of the projection,
the lifeless bulk of planet Arturus K-384 spun slowly on its axis, the
Galaxy a silver shard in its orbit.

“What’s the lower limit of our scanners?” the Admiral asked
suddenly.

“Sir?”

“Minimum energy signature. Craft size. What’s the smallest thing
they’re set to detect?”

The scanner tech turned to face her again. “Two meters, perhaps,
sir? Energy sig about half a kilowatt.”

“Dammit,” Stanche muttered. Then, “Dial it down. Fifty
centimeters and one hundred Watts. Do it now.” She turned to
Vandermeer. “And scramble the Falcons. All of them. Set the scanners
to rescue mode.”

“Admiral?”

“They’re jet-jockeying in, Vandermeer. Get those Falcons in the
mix, now!”

The Commander saluted crisply and turned to bark orders into the
nearest comm console. Stanche watched as the TAC image blurred,
then resolved into sharper focus once more. She clenched her jaw.
“There you are,” she said softly.

Between the ranks of light craft and the Galaxy, hundreds—perhaps
thousands—of small, humanoid shapes were closing on the starcruiser,
a diffuse, insidious wave.

“Recal the flak guns,” the Admiral said through her teeth. “Set the
bursts to go off closer. I want those jumpers vaporized.”

The bridge snapped into activity as her orders were relayed. On
the TAC, the slight, deadly shapes of the Falcon interceptors began
to appear, streaking out of the launch bays to chart a course for the
incoming enemy.

“Nice try, you sneaky bastards,” she said under her breath. “But
not good enough.”

***
Engel kept his arms tucked tight to his sides as he plummeted
toward the immense engine cowls at the rear of the cruiser—minimum
cross-section. Since his first jetbursts, he’d avoided using the
thrusters—minimum heat signature. With his right hand, he touched
the sleek bulk of the microfusion bomb strapped to his thigh and
grinned through gritted teeth—maximum damage.

The exhaust cones loomed large in his visor. The range numbers
in his HUD spun down so fast they blurred. He turned his head briefly
to watch pointillist flashes of strafe-fire rake through what he knew
was the main drop zone. The kill rate there had to be staggering. He
grimaced. “Requiem in pacem,” he murmured. “Poor bastards.” He
watched for a moment longer, then turned back to regard his target.
It expanded rapidly in front of him, a mountain of metal, coldwelded,
beaten and hardened to withstand the rigors of deep space and
warp travel. When the engines fired, the heat rippling from the metallic
skin would be enough to flash-fry human blood at a distance of a
quarter kilometer. But they were not firing now, and if all went well,
they would fire only once more: to end it. The technology that had enabled
the Confederation would be the means to its final destruction.

He engaged the thrusters, then executed a sustained burn that leadweighted
his body and sent him surging sideways. The blackened edge
of the exhaust cone shot past in his peripheral vision. Engel snapped
his torso forward, jackknifing to switch directions, and cranked the
thrustpack to full. The suddenness of the deceleration rattled his teeth
and tunneled his vision, but when the burn finished, he was floating
again, weightless, staring at a gigantic maw of blistered metal.
He feathered the thrusters once more, pushing himself into the
cavernous space. Tension he didn’t know he’d been retaining drained
from his shoulders as he drifted forward; there were no strafing batteries
in the exhausts. For the moment, he was safe—as safe as anyone could
be while hovering in front of something that produced sun-hot gas and
enough power to propel a million tons of metal death through space.
The deep dark of the exhaust cone swallowed Engel. He was a
glimmer, a speck against its immensity—a speck bearing death. The
bomb at his hip seemed to pulse with potential.

***
The muted buzz of proximity alarms and penetration alerts was
almost constant now, each one a spike in Admiral Stanche’s throbbing
skull. On the TAC, the rain of small craft and jumpers continued,
an unending wave of attackers. The Falcons were carving huge
swaths of destruction through the attack, wiping out jumpers in their
tens, hundreds, yet the assault continued.

And—more worrying—out beyond the thousand and one small
craft, the corvettes and light cruisers were beginning to edge closer.
It didn’t make sense, any way you cut it, she thought. The losses
were staggering on their part. Did they really have so many lives to
throw away? Even in the assault on the central planets they hadn’t
wasted soldiers like this. It was a distraction; it had to be. So what was
coming next?

“How many penetrations now?” she asked.

“One hundred and twelve,” Vandermeer responded without turning.

“All neutralized.”

“Check and recheck every error message in the system. Any other
anomalies, I want to know about them.”

The techs bent again to their work. The Admiral wiped the moisture
from the corners of her eyes with thumb and forefinger, wishing
her headache would subside. But the meds that took the edge off also
felt like they dulled her mind. She couldn’t afford that on a good day.
This was not a good day.

She walked over to lean down next to Vandermeer. “It’s a covering
maneuver,” she said, speaking for his ears alone. “Otherwise it’s
just throwing away lives.”

He glanced sideways at her. “Yes, sir.”

“I get the feeling we’re not going to like what they’re trying to
distract us from.”

“No, sir,” he said. Then, after a pause, “There’s some alerts from
the aft beam injectors. Channel integrity monitors are showing a break
or two. We get those regularly, though—those systems are touchy.”
Stanche didn’t hesitate. “Run a full scan anyway, and get teams on
the way there. Reroute the maintenance bots to those locations. I want
their camera feeds piped here directly.”

Vandermeer saluted. The Admiral nodded a brief acknowledgement
and returned to her station once more. Over a hundred hull penetrations,
she thought. They were getting through. She was going to start losing
people soon, if this went on—a further fraying of the Confederation’s
last tattered shreds. And they had no choice left but to continue fighting.
Every man and woman aboard knew what the PLM did with survivors.
Every channel in the galaxy had broadcast the fate of the Constellation.
She’d had friends on that ship.

“Nav,” she said, still staring at the TAC, “prep the mains. I want
those engines hot and ready.” There was a surprise coming, she knew
it. Perhaps it would be better if they didn’t stick around to find out
what it was. Live to fight another day, she thought wearily.

***
The glow of melting metal hummed in Engel’s peripheral vision
as he floated, weightless, near an injection port at the rear of the blast
chamber. If he engaged the zoom lens on his helmetcam and squinted
back the way he’d come, he could just see the tiny case of the microfusion
bomb where it hung in the chamber’s center, anchored by several
thousand meters of now-invisible fiber. The setup had been painstaking,
but he’d taken more than the necessary time, checking and doublechecking
the location, the connections. To come so far and fail due to
a foolish mistake would be inexcusable. He turned back to watch the
white-hot metal cool to red, the last shreds of his thermocord graying
and flaking to dust.

A circular chunk of alloy loosened and drifted away from the
exhaust cone wall. Engel batted it aside and leaned close, flicking
his miniflood to life. A beam of light pierced the darkness, hazed
by residual gas from the vaporized metal, and gleamed on the walls
of the injection port beyond. He played the floodlight over the blank,
metalloid walls for a moment, then reached forward and pulled himself
through the hole.

Reaching for the second thermocord coiled at his waist, Engel laid
it in place on the wall and retreated into the immense dark once more.
White heat lit the tunnel and triggered the autodim on his visor. When
it had subsided, he placed his palms on the melted metal edge of the
hole and drifted into the port again. Now the miniflood illuminated a
ragged, empty circle in the polished perfection of the injector—beyond
it a near impenetrable tangle of ducts, wiring, coolant hoses. He
slipped through the hole, twisting to avoid the thin traces of sensor
wire, and reached for the floating disc of metal set loose by the thermocord
burn through.

Turning, he replaced the disc in its hole and began to weld it back
in place. Wouldn’t be a perfect repair, he thought, but Command had
been clear: it only needed to hold for a few seconds. Once the subatomic
stream hit the burn chamber, the bomb he’d planted would do
its work in short order. The major portion of his job was complete.

And should the bombs fail to work as designed? There was
always plan B.

Through the dark plastic of his visor he watched the spitting,
sparking light of his welding arc trace its slow circle, a countdown
clockface, measuring the minutes until the end of it all.

Continued in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which you can purchase here starting now (preorders end April 17).

SPACE BATTLES Author Profile: Meet Author Gene Mederos

The second story in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 is by Gene Mederos. Born in Cuba and raised in Brooklyn, he wrote his first story in second grade. Mederos received a BFA in Theater from the University of Miami and has worked as an illustrator, graphic designer and various odd jobs including a seven year stretch at the The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in NewYork City. In 2007, he discovered filmmaking and currently teaches editing and filmmaking at the Santa Fe Community College. Most recent stories in print include the stories “Moons of Blood and Amber” in the Tangle XY anthology published by Blind Eye Press, and “A Touch of Frost” in the Space Horrors: Full-Throttle Space Tales #4 anthology published by Flying Pen Press. He can be found online at Facebook or via his website at http://lostsaints.com.

BTS: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?

Gene Mederos: I was in the Space Horrors anthology and I like the imprint, it hearkens back to yesteryear.

BTS: Tell us a little about “The Thirteens.” What’s it about? Where’d this particular idea come from?

GM: At the core, the story is about tolerance for diversity, even toleration for the intolerant. It’s an old Sci-Fi trope, that the only thing that will unite warring parties is a bigger, badder alien or even the unknown.  As for the inspiration, I have friends from the extreme left to the extreme right, politically, so it wasn’t hard to craft the mindsets for the characters.

BTS: You’ve contributed to multiple anthologies in the Full Throttle Space Tales series. Are they tied to this story in any way?

GM: They nominally take place in the same universe, one where physics is not as abridged as on Star Trek and Star Wars, but faster than light travel is available, and about two hundred years in the future.

BTS: How’d you come to be involved with this series?

GM: My friend Trent Zelazny put me in touch with David Lee Summers who was putting together the Space Horrors anthology. It’s all about who you know…

BTS: How’d you get started as a writer?

GM: I’ve always loved stories, and am always telling stories.  It was a natural progression to start writing stories to share with others that way.

BTS: Where’d your interest in SFF come from?

GM: Comic books, the original Lost in Space and Star Trek, and the first musty hard cover edition of Dune I found at the local library.

BTS: Do you have plans to do any more with this universe?

GM: Yes, as a vehicle, or a common canvas, not necessarily with any of the characters already seen in print, but cameos are fun.

BTS: What other projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?

GM: I have lots in the works, lol, most writers do. I’ve submitted a story to Bad Ass Fairies 4 which I hope they’ll publish, and am hunkering down to write an extreme planet story for another anthology, and I have the requisite novels.  But I believe mastery of the short story form is a prerequisite to a good novel, so I consider myself still in training.

Here’s an excerpt from “The Thirteens,” Gene’s exciting story from Space Battles:

The Thirteens

Gene Mederos

Nestled deeply in the foam mattress of the semi-luxurious hotel suite her rank afforded her, Captain Andromeda Sax was sound asleep when her com went off. The double pulse told her it was something important enough to warrant a secure connection. Even less than half awake her hand automatically flew to the spot on her jaw below her right ear. She pressed the small stud embedded there under her skin.

“Go ahead.”

“Captain, a bogey has entered the system,” the officer of the watch on board her ship, La Espada de la Libertad, informed her.
That could have been anywhere from four to six hours ago, depending on which of the outer system beacons had first detected
the incoming ship and transmitted the alert. A bogey was a ship that did not, or could not, transmit a valid ID code. It could be a smuggler, a legitimate freighter with a screwy comp—or it could be the enemy. Sax allowed herself a small smile; after all, there was no
one around to see it.

“Recall the crew, priority one.” That gave the crew ten minutes to
get back aboard the ship. She spared one last glance at her room. Aquarii
Station was on the frontier, but it still managed to offer most of the comforts
of the more cosmopolitan stations of the home-worlds. Accommodations
on La Espada were much more austere. She smiled again.
Five minutes later she strode onto the bridge. She hadn’t really had
time to dress, just comb her short-cropped jet-black hair and throw on
her officer’s greatcoat, but the voluminous garment covered her from
neck to ankles. And if anyone noticed she was wearing slippers instead
of boots, they wouldn’t dare comment on it. The guards at the
door snapped to attention. The crew on the bridge was all in uniform
and seated at their stations. She always kept a full watch on duty while
the rest of the crew took liberty.

“Inform the stationmaster we are launching to investigate,” she instructed
the com officer, then requested the general hail. “Emergency separation from
Aquarii station in T-minus four minutes.” That was sure to make the stragglers
scramble, for anyone left behind would have to fend for themselves out of
their own pocket. Stations were notorious for separating crew from their coin,
and the community service often imposed to pay off a debt was the most odious
of station maintenance work. Some of the crew would not return, for the
ship had its own share of odious duties as well as providing a greater chance
of getting killed. She’d deal with any of those persons when she returned. She
never thought ‘if’.

“Release hook-ups,” she ordered on the mark.

“Hook-ups released,” the officer at conn replied. She heard the
usual chorus of clicks as everyone strapped themselves in.

La Espada was now completely on its own power, air and water.
Sax strapped herself into her chair.

“Cast off.”

The station’s magnetic clamps released the ship and she imagined
the hiss of air as the powerful propellant tanks pushed them away
from the station and felt the familiar tug as the gravity provided by the
station’s rotation gave way to the gravity generated by the ship’s sudden
acceleration. She felt the weight ease an instant before the conn
announced they were standing clear of the station.

“Full sail,” she ordered. The most insane and courageous members
of her crew were the riggers. At her command they jetted out in EVA
suits along the masts and struts to unfurl the giant micro-thin solar sails.
The riggers claimed watching the golden sails catch the rays of the sun
was akin to a religious experience. She’d never seen the phenomenon
herself, but figured it must be quite a sight if it could induce one to hurl
oneself into the void to see it.

Acceleration under sail would increase slowly, but surely.

“Begin rotation,” she ordered.

“Beginning rotation,” the engineering deck replied on the ship-wide
hail, the only warning the crew would get that up and down had to be
taken into account again. The sound of the engines that rotated the cylindrical
ship within its frame of struts and masts starting up did not need to
be imagined. It reverberated and shook throughout the ship. Fortunately,
once the ship began to spin at speed, inertia was maintained by magnetic
induction and the engines would be almost silent.

The captain felt herself sink ever so slightly into the cushioning. A
thought, via implant and wireless transmission, was all it took to make
the chair turn slightly on its horizontal axis. She, like the crew, enjoyed
the automated, computer guided functions on the ship while she
could. During battle, with the comp taken offline, everything had to
be done manually. The navigator’s station came into view and with it
the senior nav officer, Poole. This was the one crewmember she would
never leave behind. As she understood it, the ship ran on numbers, and
this was the man who crunched them when the comp was down.
Poole raised his head from his displays, as if he could feel her
scrutiny like a sensorite. Like all the human beings from his planet,
Cygni-I, his skin had a slight blue cast and his hair was colorless.
These obvious and innocuous signs of the genetic modifications
undertaken by his ancestors to survive on their relatively oxygenpoor
world were all that the Purists needed to hate Poole’s kind. Sax
thought them fools. If anything, the Cygni were far more dangerous
for what they had done to their minds.

“Have you correlated a course, Mr. Poole?”

“Yes, captain.”

“Let’s have it then.”

Immediately, a heads up display appeared before her, La Espada’s
course outlined against the current layout of the system in a bright
certain blue. Lines shaded from yellow to green showed the most
probable courses of the bogey, extrapolated second by second as more
sensor data came in from the beacons arrayed throughout the system.
She was pleased to see that the most probable vectors would intercept
with her ship well above the plane of the ecliptic, where there would
be plenty of fighting room, if necessary. She knew that the universe
was more empty space than matter, but to her the Aquarii system had
always seemed cluttered with asteroids, comets and other debris.

Debris that could damage her ship.

She willed La Espada to go faster, and closed her eyes to imagine
the nonexistent creaking of the rigging and masts as light pushed
the solar sails out against the star’s pull on the ship. She’d been on a
sailing ship once, on the oceans of Maravilla, before the Associated
Worlds lost the Lalande system to the Purists. Someday, she meant to
win that world back. But since the faster than light engine could not be
used anywhere near a star’s gravity well, the ship could go faster only
as they got farther from the star. She could order a burn, and kick the
ship up to her full speed of a hundred kilometers per second, roughly
a third the speed of light. But if she were headed for battle, she would
be wise to reserve all the fuel in the tanks for maneuvers.

It would take a little under thirty hours for the ships to meet, and
there was much to be done. “Steady as she goes,” she ordered Poole
as she turned her chair to line up with the exit from the bridge. This
brought Augusto Lo into view. His bronze-brown skin was a few
shades lighter than the captain’s, his eyes and tousled hair darker. He
was actually earth-born, yet had rejected the Purist philosophy and
immigrated to an Associate world as a youth. He was slouched at his
usual station at the rear of the bridge, his eyes half closed, his head
resting on his fist, his other hand fiddling idly with the buckles on his
disheveled jumpsuit. To all appearances he was oblivious to what was
going on around him. But it was all an act. The captain knew that the
‘State Liaison Officer’ never missed a thing that happened on the ship.
So she wasn’t the least bit surprised when he came up behind her in
the corridor as she waited for the lift. The guards wouldn’t stop him from
coming after her like that, after all, they ultimately answered to him.

“Odd, isn’t it?”

She raised an eyebrow in reply.

“If I’m not mistaken, that bogey is following the same trajectory
as the last Purist ship that attacked this system.”

The captain nodded. “Yes, I’d noticed that.”

“But that approach gives you, the defender, the weather gauge. The
bogey has to expend fuel to fight the same solar wind that La Espada
has at her back, filling our sails, leaving it less fuel to maneuver. These
were decisive factors in our victory against the last incursion.”
Again, the captain raised her brow.

“And your superior skill at command and tactics, of course,” he
amended with a small grin. Sax smiled in return, more because of his use of
the archaic term ‘weather gauge’ than his sardonic compliment. “Everything
means something,” he said in return.

“Then figure it out,” she said, after pausing for a moment to visualize
her deck number.

Lo nodded. “Nice slippers,” she heard him say as the lift doors
closed.

An hour before intercept the captain was touring her ship as she
was wont to do before a battle. And she had no doubt that there would be
a battle—the bogey’s course was lining up exactly with the last Purist
ship’s incursion. A statistical impossibility, Poole had assured her.
So this ship was using the last ship’s comp data, possibly retrieved
from the latter’s logs, which would have been downloaded into a locator
beacon before the ship went into battle. It made no sense to her,
but then, she thought the whole Purist agenda made little sense. She
entered the rigger’s loft in the core of the ship. Since the ship rotated
around the core, there was no gravity in the long, cold cylinder. It
was the perfect place to store cargo, house the ship’s engines and, of
course, the riggers.

A rigger spotted her and snapped to attention, his elongated
prehensile toes grasping a length of cable to steady himself. He
was blond and blue-eyed, not too bad looking, with a crooked nose
and a wry twist to his mouth that suggested he was always smiling.
He was tall and thin, his arms and legs of equal length, with all twenty
digits being equally dexterous. His name was Jaller. He’d served on
her ship for the past four years and she knew him to be brave, loyal,
and kind. And even though the rigger’s section of the core was only
partially heated, he was naked, as was their wont. Diversity. The idea
and the reality that the Purists condemned as unnatural.

She drifted among the riggers, male and females both, for no few
minutes, praising their courage, thanking them for their service and
exhorting them to battle. Despite her duty uniform and her boots, she
still managed to skillfully make her way in Zero G among the giant
web of cables that the riggers called home. Their ancestors had destroyed
their world in a paroxysm of industrialization that had seen the
world laid waste in just six generations after colonization. The riggers
had been forced to evacuate onto space stations and ships and had
during the centuries of the sundering, when all of humanity’s worlds
had lost contact with each other and faster than light travel had been
abandoned, modified themselves to live in micro-gravity.
Members of no fewer than five of the existing seven modified human
races served on her ship and of the remaining two, the Aquarii had inadvertently
made themselves highly susceptible to space sickness and the folk of
Twobit were devout pacifist.

Her last stop on her tour was always the medical deck. Doctor
Stures was a sensorite, his people hailed from the dust-cloaked planet
of Gliese 876, Umbra. The world was metal poor and had erratic
magnetic fields so technology had been difficult to maintain.

Without much artificial illumination, the people of that world had
modified their other senses to compensate for the gloom. His skin
was blue-black with raised oblong bumps that ran from his hairline
to his jaw. She knew them to be receptors, allowing the doctor
to feel minute changes in temperature, in air pressure and displacement,
even vibrations. His eyes were hidden behind a band of dark
glass, to protect them from the ship’s bright illumination. He greeted
her in his usual way.

“Ah, Captain, in excellent health I see.” And by see he actually
meant by smell, by feeling her body temperature and by hearing her
heart beat in her chest. “All is in readiness for the coming battle.”
She had expected no less. His people were sensitive by nature and
design, but they were also pragmatists. He wasn’t one of those medical
officers who questioned the need for battle.

“We don’t know that the bogey is hostile—” she began to say.

“Pshaw,” the doctor interjected. A liberty he could take here, on
his deck. “From what I’ve heard, how could it be anything else?”

“Indeed,” the captain said, raising her brow. News travelled fast
on a ship. She believed the ancient term was ‘scuttlebutt’. Satisfied
that her ship was in order, she headed for the bridge.

As the captain stepped onto the bridge, the ship’s executive officer,
Commander Ortencia, saluted and left. The XO’s station during battle
was located close to the core, half the ship’s length from the bridge, a
hopefully safe distance from anything that might happen to or on the
bridge. The commander would monitor all activities on the bridge from
there and issue orders in support of the captain’s activities during battle.
In exchange, Major Drummond, the Captain of the Guard, took a station
on the bridge. When ships sailed on oceans his troops would have been
called marines.

“We are coming to transmission and targeting range,” Poole said.

“Furl sails, retract masts,” she ordered the riggers. “Advise the
ship and begin viral transmission,” she ordered the com officer.
She waited until all decks had acknowledged.

“Take the computer network offline, Mr. Poole.”

A few seconds later she saw the board at the Armscomp station
light up.

“Bogey firing missiles!”

Continued in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which you can purchase here starting now (preorders end April 17).

Announcing SPACE BATTLES TOC & My New Custom License Plate

Well, I know my writers have been patiently but yet anxiously waiting for an announcement, so here it is. These are the stories accepted for the anthology SPACE BATTLES: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, in a series from Flying Penn Press. Releasing around April 18, edited by myself and headlined by Mike Resnick and Jean Johnson, this anthology is original stories (non-reprints) of space opera and military scifi focused all of which have space battles as pivotal to their plot.  We are still playing with the story order so that may change but the content itself is final. Congrats and thank you to all the writers!

Between The Rocks by Anna Paradox
The Thirteens by Gene Mederos
Like So Much Refuse by Simon C. Larter
Jump Point Blockade by David Lee Summers (Other stories in this series appear in other Full Throttle Space Tales anthologies)
First Contact by Patrick Hester (first sale)
Isis by Dana Bell
Book of Enoch by Matt Cook (first anthology sale)
Joystick War by Jean Johnson  (A Theirs Not To Reason Why series story; her first novel in this series is up for a Philip K. Dick Award this year)
Never Look Back by Grace Bridges
The Gammi Experiment by Sarah Hendrix (first SF story sale)
Space Battle Of The Bands by C.J. Henderson (C.J. continues his popular Full Throttle Space Tales story series)
A Battle For Parantwer by Anthony R. Cardno (first SF story sale)
With All Due Respect by Johne Cook
Final Defense by Selene O’Rourke (first sale)
Bait and Switch by Jaleta Clegg
The Hand Of God by Bryan Thomas Schmidt (A Saga Of Davi Rhii Sequel set 20 years after the events of my novel series)
Guard Dog by Mike Resnick and Brad R. Torgersen (Not a reprint but an original written specifically for this anthology; saved for last because of the powerful resonance of its ending)

 

Also, got the Honda looking cooler these days with the new tag. A publicist suggested it and I remembered my experiences as a singer with my customized plate. People asked me lots of questions when they saw it, so I thought $50 for 5 years is pretty cheap advertising. Since I always have a case of books in the back, why not? If this helps draw interest or sell a few, it’s totally worth it. It also is fun, to me, to be the only one in Kansas with SF AUTHR as his tag. There’s gotta be others out there, sure, but I got there first. Happens so rarely for me, it feels like a win. So why not?

So those of you around the Midwest, if you see a Blue Honda Civic with this tag, come find me and say hi. I’ll be at Cons and around other places. I’d love to see you.

 

Books Read In 2011 Per Goodreads

Supervolcano: Eruption by Turtledove, Harry

Pathfinder Tales: Death’s Heretic by Sutter, James L.

Firebird (Alex Benedict, #6) by McDevitt, Jack

Anniversary Day ( A Retrieval Artist Novel, #8) by Rusch, Kristine Katherine

Owl Dance by Summers, David Lee *

Blood and Other Cravings ed. Datlow, Ellen

Downpour (Greywalker, #6) by Richardson, Kat

Greywalker by Richardson, Kat

The Flying Machine (Society of Steam, #1) by Mayer, Andrew P.

Black Blade Blues by Pitts, John A.

The Goblin Corps by Marmell, Ari

The Black God’s War (Splendor and Ruin, #1) by III, Moses Siregar

The Boy at the End of the World by Eekhout, Greg Van

Sword of the Gods (Forgotten Realms) by Cordell, Bruce R.

of Fur and Fire ed. Wacks, Peter J. & Bell, Dana

The Unremembered (The Vault of Heaven, #1) by Orullian, Peter

Black Halo (Aeons’ Gate, #2) by Sykes, Sam

Teeth: Vampire Tales ed. by Datlow, Ellen

Pathfinder Tales: Plague of Shadows by Jones, Howard Andrew

Artic Rising by Buckell, Tobias

Predators I Have Known by Foster, Alan Dean

The Desert of Souls by Jones, Howard Andrew

Low Town by Polansky, Daniel

The Horns of Ruin by Akers, Tim

Hellhole (Hell Hole, #1) by Herbert, Brian

The Black God’s War: A Novella Introducing a new Epic Fantasy by III, Moses Siregar

Shades of Milk and Honey by Kowal, Mary Robinette

Who Fears Death by Okorafor, Nnedi

Deceived (Star Wars: The Old Republic, #2) (Star Wars: The Old Republic, #2) by Kemp, Paul S.

King Maker (Knights of Breton Court, #1) by Broaddus, Maurice

The Black Prism (Lightbringer, #1) by Weeks, Brent

Diving into the Wreck by Rusch, Kristine Kathryn

The Disappeared by Rusch, Kristine Kathryn

Consequences by Rusch, Kristine Kathryn

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1) by Carriger, Gail

Rage of the Behemoth ed. by Waltz, Jason M.

Space Grunts  ed. by Ward, Dayton