Well, ConQuest 45 – Noir has come and gone, and I am calling it a great success. This is the one Con I try to make annually, because it’s local and put on by my local fan group, which is a great group of people. Glen Cook has been attending as a dealer for years, but this year we also honored him as Guest Of Honor, and that was a blast. I panelled with Glen several times including a Spec Noir panel with Mark W. Tiedemann (shown), a live GOH interview which neither of us wanted to end but did, and a military fantasy panel also featuring Kij Johnson and Robin Wayne Bailey.
On Friday night, Robin Wayne Bailey, Todd Hunter and I threw an impromptu launch party for Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For A New Age, which released last December after funding on Kickstarter the previous March, and which features stories by Todd and Robin as well as many others, including Seanan McGuire, David Farland, Brenda Cooper, Sarah A. Hoyt, Allen M. Steele, and A.C. Crispin. The party was hopping for several hours and a Who’s Who of the Con stopped by, later voting us Best Party at the Closing Ceremonies. I also sold out of copies, for the first time ever, selling 19 and giving away 2. So I had to order more for the next Con. I call that a success./
Once again, the Basic Editing 101 For Writers panel that my editing partner Claire Ashgrove and I initiated last year was a hit with really strong attendance, including Artist GOH David Lee Pancake, who told me it was the best, clearest panel he’d seen on basic issues like passives, telling vs. showing, etc. I hadn’t encountered David yet, due to my busy schedule, so afterwards I headed down to the art show and wound up buying one of his beautiful works.
I also did a panel on Heroes and Heroines with Kij Johnson and others, a Writing For Young Audiences panel with Chris McKitterick and K.D. McEntire, and several others. Only my Abraham Lincoln Dinosaur Hunter reading drew interest as my first reading was Friday night during check in time, so I got an extra hour of rest pre-Con.
An Editor’s Are Not The Enemy panel with Selina Rosen, Deanna Sjojander and Rich Horton was lively, and brought up interesting issues about publishing traditional vs. self-publishing vs. small press which I hope were helpful.
The Con Suite, which I made extensive use of this year, unlike last year, was also well stocked and managed and I relied on it for most of my meals outside a Friday dinner with Dennis and Diane Barr and Saturday dinner with Rich and MaryAnne Horton.
Altogether, a delightful time and well worth attending, even though I arrived tired and not sure I was not sure I was ready. I quickly slipped into a different frame of mind and really enjoyed myself. Thanks to the Con Comm, and the party group especially for helping make this such a delightful experience.
After the Con, I came home and announced an upcoming Kickstarter anthology I’ve really been looking forward to. And I know it’s going to be a real special and fun project to complete. A fitting way to close the Con, with inspiration.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and 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 (forthcoming). He is currently working on Gaslamp Terrors and Mission Tomorrow: A New Century Of Exploration. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter,
“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 Sunhave 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:
KAREN 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.
Well, I’m a bad blogger. I have not been taking my own advice and keeping my regular blog days lately. I have a good excuse. I’ve been sick on and off for the past 10 days and I’m so busy with creative projects, it’s hard to think of blog topics that are fresh and worthy of your time. But some of you do follow this blog. I get enough traffic even without posting, that my numbers hardly drop, so that’s encouraging, and I’m grateful.
But here, at least is some news.
We released the cover for Beyond The Sun in its final incarnation. I am finishing manuscript prep on that now and will turn it in tomorrow to Fairwood for July release. I’ll have Advanced Reader Copies in April. Hard to believe. What a ride it’s been since I dreamed this up in August, and here it comes! There are some truly great stories in this, though, so I can’t wait to get it out in the world. In case anyone missed it, the cover is included here. A full Table Of Contents can be found at http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/01/toc-beyond-the-sun-edited-by-bryan-thomas-schmidt/.
Also, Abraham Lincoln Dinosaur Hunter: Land Of Legends, the first chapter book in my fun new scifi alt history series for young readers released after a delay on my birthday, February 13, 2013. The day after Lincoln’s birthday, by the way. So far sales are steady and I know they’ll only increase when reviews pour in. That cover and more info can be found here: https://bryanthomasschmidt.net/writings/childrens-books/.
I have started the first novel in a new scifi series. Garret Hawke, Lunar P.I. is a detective noir set in colonies on the moon. The first story has Hawke’s young neighbors’ baby murdered and the parents accused, when he sets out to clear them. This is a world of A.I.’s called Synthetics, where humans live underground because of radiation and Synthetics cover the above ground work. Colonies have only existed on the moon for 15 years, in this 22nd Century setting. Each book will stand alone but there will be some through arcs to the storylines that continue in each consecutive book. Again, illness has slowed me down, but I’m hoping to get this done by April 1st.
After that, I have to write the next Abraham Lincoln Dinosaur Hunter, and then, depending on response, perhaps start book 2 in The Dawning Age. (see next paragraph). Plus, I have the May issue of Blue Shift to turn in this week. And I have 3 other partial novels I can resume work on.
I have agents looking at Duneman, Book 1 in my epic fantasy/steampunk mix, The Dawning Age. Excited to see what comes of that.
Raygun Chronicles is 1/4th funded in Kickstarter, but hopefully the next 15 days will turn that around so I can release that. There’s some awesome writers attached. I’d hate to see it fail. But Kickstarter is a giant waiting game. The t-shirts though are awesome and to die for. I think people will really want those!
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!
It’s a big week for me. Amidst making final choices of stories for my first Kickstarter Anthology: Beyond The Sun, and awaiting my first book contract from a major, I am launching, with Every Day Publishing, a Kickstarter for Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. This anthology, headlined by Mike Resnick, A.C. Crispin, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Seanan McGuire, Allen Steele, Robin Wayne Bailey, Sarah A. Hoyt and Brenda Cooper, features contemporary space opera with a classic feel. 13 reprints, 10 new stories, great artwork from Paul Pedersen, an Artists Of The Future Winner, this will also be my first hardback release when it’s published in November–launched at OryCon–provided we fund.
As you can see from the artwork, and the very cool video, this story is about the dreams we all have of rayguns, heroes and heroines, space ships and more. And these stories will take you into that warm, fuzzy dreamscape again and again. All of the stories are fun and provide a nice variety. And I haven’t even seen what our awesome headliners have come up with yet. But with three Star Trek writers, a Star Wars writer, award winners, and fans of space opera, I sure can’t wait to read it. You can sponsor us and preorder everything from signed copies, ebooks, hardbacks, and tradepaperbacks, to t-shirts and a trip to OryCon for the launch. So be sure and check out the Kickstarter! Thanks for helping make dreams possible. All writers will be paid pro-rates. And I receive pro compensation as editor of my third anthology project, one of three for 2013.
Meanwhile check out the Kickstarter and the awesome video here, and thanks for your support!
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 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.