Alex Shvartsman Anthology Update

Alex Shvartsman

Alex Shvartsman

By Carl Slaughter: Alex Shvartsman is a busy guy. He’s been editing so many anthologies, his writing for such magazines as Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge has been on hold.

He’s still cranking out the Unidentified Funny Objects series. UFO #5 goes to the press next month and will be released in October. He’ll start taking submissions for #6 in a few months and is working on Funny Science Fiction, Funny Fantasy, and Funny Horror.

The Table of Contents for UFO #5 comes out next week. After doing comedy for a while, now he’s delving into hard science with Humanity 2.0, also out in October.

And what’s that secret project he’s been working on?  Now we know – last week Shvartsman announced The Cackle of Cthulhu anthology:

I’ve been sitting on this news for months. It’s the secret project I was hinting at in my anthology update a few weeks ago. But now that the contract is signed, I can finally announce that I will be editing an anthology for Baen!

The Cackle of Cthulhu will be an anthology of Lovecraftian humor, half reprints and half original fiction.

Website: https://alexshvartsman.com/

 Interviewed by Carl Slaughter for SF Signal in March 2016: “Alex Shvartsman, Editor of the UNIDENTIFIED FUNNY OBJECTS Anthology Series, on Funny Fiction and His New Kickstarter Project”

Stay Crazy

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By Carl Slaughter: Erica Satfika’s Philip K. Dick-inspired debut novel is out next month. The art and jacket copy are ready. Preliminary reviews on Goodreads are mostly 5 star. I have to say, the plot is refreshingly different. Interesting cover too. What’s that the protagonist is holding in her hand as if it were a raygun? A blowerdryer!

Erica Satifka’s File 770 interview.

PRAISE

“Had Philip K. Dick lived through the riot grrrl and the collapse of the American industrial economy, Stay Crazy would be his memoir. Erica Satifka is a prophet.”

Nick Mamatas, author of Sensation and I Am Providence.

JACKET COPY

After a breakdown at college landed Emmeline Kalberg in a mental hospital, she’s struggling to get her life on track. She’s back in her hometown and everyone knows she’s crazy, but the twelve pills she takes every day keep her anxiety and paranoia in check. So when a voice that calls itself Escodex begins talking to Em from a box of frozen chicken nuggets, she’s sure that it’s real and not another hallucination. Well … pretty sure.

An evil entity is taking over the employees of Savertown USA, sucking out their energy so it can break into Escodex’s dimension. When her coworkers start dying, Em realizes that she may be the only one who can stop things from getting worse. Now she must convince her therapist she’s not having a relapse and keep her boss from firing her. All while getting her coworker Roger to help enact the plans Escodex conveys to her though the RFID chips in the Savertown USA products. It’s enough to make anyone Stay Crazy.

Cover by Nick Brokenshire

Stay Crazy is scheduled for release on August 16. Pre-order from Apex Book Company.

Pixel Scroll 7/29/16 I Have Promises To Keep, And Pixels To Scroll Before I Sleep

(1) IRON MAN. Gregg Van Eekhout was injured at “San Diego Cracked-it-Con 2016”. Before he was taken away on a cart he signed his fan’s books! Click the link for the whole story. The bottom line —

So, it’s going to be six weeks in a hard cast, and that’s my Comic-Con story. And I’d like to reiterate that I continued to autograph copies of my books even with a fractured fibula. That’s pretty metal, I feel.

(2) PROSECUTION FOR ONLINE THREATS. Ken White at Popehat reports on “A Rare Federal Indictment For Online Threats Against Game Industry”.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California has sought and obtained an indictment against a young man named Stephen Cebula for sending online threats to Blizzard Entertainment, the freakishly successful powerhouse behind the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo games as well as many others. The case is notable because it’s so rare: there’s so much threatening behavior online, and so little of it is addressed by the criminal justice system.

Stephen Cebula seems overtly disturbed. The search warrant for his home and subsequent criminal complaint tell a tale of him engaging in bigoted trash talk with other players on the Blizzard game “Heroes of the Storm,” ranging from racial epithets to comments like “I will kill your family bitch” and fantasies about raping a child at Disneyland. Blizzard suspended Cebula’s ability to communicate with other players. Cebula — perhaps tutored in law and political theory on Reddit, or by Milo Yiannopoulos — saw this as an outrageous violation of his freedom. He used his Facebook account “tedbundyismygod1” to send two threatening messages to Blizzard:

Careful blizzard … I live in California and your headquarters is here in California …. You keep silencing me in Heroes of the STorm and I may or may not pay you a visit with an AK47 amongst some other “fun” tools.

You keep silencing people in heroes of the storm and someone who may live in California might be inclined to “cause a disturbance” at your headquarters in California with an AK47 and a few other “opportunistic tools” …. It would be a shame to piss off the wrong person. Do you not agree blizzard?

(3) SITE SELECTION, COMPARE AND CONTRAST. Petréa Mitchell delivered vital data in a comment:

In crucial last-minute Worldcon voting news AND Pokemon Go news, New Orleans in 2018 has published a map of Pokestops and gyms near its proposed facility. (San Jose in 2018 has mentioned Pokestops nearby but only vaguely.)

(4) THE ENDLESS DELIGHT OF POKÉMON GO. The Week reported —

“A Georgia woman became trapped in a graveyard while playing Pokemon Go.  ‘The gate is f—ing closed,’ the indignant woman told a 911 dispatcher.  ‘This is not cool.'”

(5) THE NEXT SFWA CHAT HOUR. Coming Monday, August 1 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. — SFWA Chat Hour Episode #5: Selling Your Book at Conventions.

Join Cat Rambo as she hosts a lively discussion on how to sell your books at conventions, featuring Quincy J. Allen, Jennifer Brozek, David John Butler, and Michael Underwood.

RSVP the event to get a reminder when it’s about to start. Afterwards, it’ll go up on YouTube as usual.

(6) BANDERSNATCH. Musician Andrew Petersen discusses an influence on his decision to create The Rabbit Room“The Inklings, Diana Glyer, and the Art of Community”.

It’s easy for Americans like me, who are almost maddeningly intrigued by the romance of that famous fellowship, to idealize the Inklings—to imagine that the meetings were all chummy chortles and pipe smoke, pints of beer and chin-stroking, heady conversation and magical recitals of what are now classic works of literature. The Inklings were human, after all, and they lived in the same tired old world that we occupy, bearing the same weaknesses and wounds in varying degrees. The meetings were probably more sporadic and less inspired than we like to think. The story is a good one: Christians getting together in the name of friendship and good books. It piques an almost mythic longing in many of us. Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall in one of those rooms? For that matter, who wouldn’t want to be a member of that inner ring?

Glyer’s thesis, contrary to some academic works that claim too much has been made of the Inklings’ influence on each other, is that the very nature of friendship, of nearness, of interaction, guarantees influence on their work. Like it or not, the famously grumpy and immovable Tolkien simply had to have been affected by his relationship with Lewis, and his work must have been affected, too. It was Glyer’s book where I first grasped the idea that The Lord of the Rings probably wouldn’t exist if not for C. S. Lewis. Yes, it was Tolkien’s God-given genius that wrote the masterpiece, but it was C. S. Lewis’s encouragement that nudged Tolkien along and convinced him that the public would care to read it. Friendship matters. Encouragement, resonance, accountability, and criticism were crucial ingredients that went into the feast of Middle-Earth.

One of the central tenets of the Rabbit Room is that art nourishes community, and community nourishes art. And to me the profound thing about that idea is that the friendships—the heart-shaping relationships, the Christ-centered community—will outlast the works themselves. Glyer’s book makes a strong case for the influence of the Inklings on one another, imperfect though it was. If you want to write good books, good songs, good poems, you need some talent, yes. You also need to work hard, practice a lot, cultivate self-discipline, and study the greats. But you also need good friends. You need fellowship. You need community…..

(7) HUTCHMOOT. And The Rabbit Room is planning a conference in October. Diana Pavlac Glyer will be the keynote speaker.

On October 6 – 9, the Rabbit Room will convene Hutchmoot 2016 at Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, Tennessee. You’re invited to come and enjoy a weekend of live music, delicious food and conversation, and a series of discussions centered on art, faith, and the telling of great stories across a range of mediums.

Speakers, sessions, and special events will be announced as they are confirmed.

(8) VERTIGO. Flashbacks to the right of them, flashbacks to the left of them, volleyed and thundered.

(9) FILE WORTHY PUN.

(10) ON JEOPARDY! Steven H Silver says this was a Jeopardy entry —

Women Authors for $800.

?

?

“Nobody rang in,” said Silver.

(11) SUMMERTIME. “A summer book list like no other: Michael Dirda picks 11 hidden gems”, at the Washington Post.

One of the pleasures of summer holidays is choosing just the right books to pack along on the annual visit to the beach. I stress that word “books” because only the foolhardy would take an electronic device anywhere near sand, water, intense heat and — as one learns by experience — children predestined to spill their soda where it will do the most damage. Much better to pick one of the following recent titles in paperback or hardcover.

The Big Book of Science Fiction , edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Vintage). How big is big? In this case, we’re talking nearly 1,200 double-columned pages, dozens of representative short classics of science fiction, and newly translated work from around the world. There are surprises, too: Did you know that W.E.B. Du Bois wrote sf? That’s just one indication that the VanderMeers hope to establish a more culturally diverse science fiction canon. Still, there are many old favorites here, some of mine being William Tenn’s “The Liberation of Earth,” J.G. Ballard’s “The Voices of Time,” Cordwainer Smith’s “The Game of Rat and Dragon” and Joanna Russ’s “When It Changed.”

(12) ARRIVAL. The Wikipedia tells us:

Arrival is an upcoming American science fiction drama film starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. The film is based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by author Ted Chiang. The film is scheduled for released on November 11, 2016 by Paramount Pictures.

Deadline Hollywood reported in June:

Paramount Pictures has set a November 11 wide release for Arrival, the Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi movie starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. This was the film that took the 2014 Cannes market by storm when the studio won a wild rights auction to the pic for a fest-record $20 million, earning it North American and China distribution rights.

(13) CLOUDY DAYS. Bob, Gordon, and Luis have been laid off from Sesame Street.

The changes keep on coming for Sesame Street. Last year, the controversial news broke that the show was packing its bags and moving on up to HBO from PBS—and now, most of the children’s show’s longtime (non-puppet) cast has been let go.

At Florida Supercon, original cast member Bob McGrath, known simply as “Bob” to his young audience, said that he and comrades for several decades Emilio Delgado (“Luis” on the show) and Roscoe Orman (“Gordon”) have had their last hurrah on Sesame Street.

“As of this season, I completed my 45th season this year,” McGrath said. “And the show has done a major turnaround, going from an hour to a half hour. HBO has been involved also. And so they let all of the original cast members go, with the exception of Alan Muraoka—who is still on the show, he is probably 20 years younger than the rest of us—and Chris Knowings, who is also young.”

(14) CLICKBAIT RATINGS. Entertainment Weekly rated all 13 Star Trek movies, offering its opinion of the good, the bad, and the why.

The same day, Rotten Tomatoes published “Every Star Trek Movie, Ranked From Worst To Best”. The Rotten Tomatoes list looked like this:

  1. STAR TREK (reboot)
  2. FIRST CONTACT
  3. THE WRATH OF KHAN
  4. INTO DARKNESS
  5. THE VOYAGE HOME
  6. BEYOND
  7. THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
  8. THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK
  9. INSURRECTION
  10. GENERATIONS
  11. STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE
  12. NEMESIS
  13. THE FINAL FRONTIER

(15) ST:WTF! Adam Whitehead decided there was also clickbait potential in criticizing EW’s “gratuitous list”. And my linking only helps prove him right.

The point of Gratuitous Lists is that the things on it are not listed in order of excellence, but are just on there so people can talk about the shows/games in question rather than argue about the order, which is often arbitrary. But sometimes arguing about the order is just too much fun. After Entertainment Weekly issued a list of Star Trek movies ranked by quality that is simply objectively wrong (how high up is Nemesis?), here’s my riposte…

(16) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 29, 1958 — The U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  • July 29, 2002 — M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs.  Shyamalan cited The Birds, Night of the Living Dead and Invasion of the Body Snatchers as the influences for this film.

(17) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 29, 1972 – Wil Wheaton

(18) BELATED BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born July 28, 1866 — Beatrix Potter, British author/illustrator of the Peter Rabbit stories.

(19) FIRST TREK CON. Stu Hellinger announced he’ll be part of a fan panel at Star Trek Mission New York over the September 2-4 weekend.

On September 2 – 4, at the Javits Center here in NYC, ReedPOP is running a 50th Anniversary Star Trek Convention called Star Trek: Mission New York.

One of the program items is titled: “The First Convention and How it Helped Resurrect Star Trek”.

The panel description: The first Star Trek Convention, in New York City, began as a crazy idea with a shoestring budget that created ripples all the way to the Klingon Empire and helped put the Enterprise back in space. A panel discussion with members of the original organizing committee.

The participants on this panel are Linda Deneroff, Devra Langsam, Elyse Rosenstein, Joyce Yasner and myself as the moderator.

We have not been informed, as yet, what date and time the panel will be, but I will post the information as soon as I know.

Join us to reminisce or to learn more about what we did that helped create the ongoing phenomena that is Star Trek.

(20) JEFF STURGEON. Fascinating work at “Welcome to the Art of Jeff Sturgeon”

After his long time friend and art collaborator artist Jeff Fennel  ( www.Jefffennel.com ) convinced him to try painting on aluminum Jeff left the game business behind and went to painting full time with aluminum his new canvas. Through the new millennium Jeff’s work became nationally known with increased appearances as a exhibitor,guest,panelist and guest of honor at conventions around the country and as a illustrator and cover artist. Jeff’s work is much sought after by art collectors whether one of his classic SF/ astronomical pieces or his beautiful renderings of the american west. Jeff’s newest project is Jeff Sturgeon’s last Cities of Earth as his much anticipated shared world project comes to fruition with an anthology with the top writers in the field, an art book of Jeff’s city paintings and concept art., other platforms are in negotiation to try and bring this amazing world Jeff has created to life. Jeff lives in great pacific NW with wife and artist Leslie Kreher and sons Duncan and Corwin.

(21) WALL OBIT. SF Site News has learned Canadian fan Alison Wall died on March 5. More information at the link.

(22) WILSON OBIT. SF Site News reports Toronto fan Ian Wilson, a past Ad Astra chair, died July 28.

(23) STRACZYNSKI TRIBUTE TO DOYLE. Babylon 5 Creator J. Michael Straczynski On the Death of Jerry Doyle” in Epic Times.

When it came to politics, Jerry Doyle and I disagreed on, well, pretty much everything. Politically, Jerry was just to the right of Attila the Hun. There is a line in Babylon 5 where his character, Michael Garibaldi, suggests that the way to deal with crime is to go from electric chairs to electric bleachers. That line is quintessential Jerry Doyle. I say this with confidence because I overheard him saying it at lunch then stole it for the show.

Despite our differences, when Jerry ran for congress as a Republican not long after Babylon 5 ended, I donated to his campaign. Not because I agreed with him, but because I respected him; because there was one area in which we agreed: the vital intersection between the arts of acting and storytelling. In that respect, Jerry was a consummate professional. Regardless of whatever was going on in his life, whether it was marital issues, a broken arm, forced couch-surfing with Bruce and Andreas or other problems, he never once pulled a prima donna on us; he showed up every day on time, knew his lines, and insisted that the guest cast live up to the standards of the main cast, to the point of roughing up one guest star who showed up not knowing his lines. Trust me when I say that after Jerry got done with him, every day he showed up, he knew his lines. And then some.

He was funny, and dangerous, and loyal, and a prankster, and a pain in the ass; he was gentle and cynical and hardened and insightful and sometimes as dense as a picket fence…and his passing is a profound loss to everyone who knew him, especially those of us who fought beside him in the trenches of Babylon 5. It is another loss in a string of losses that I cannot understand. Of the main cast, we have lost Richard Biggs, Michael O’Hare, Andreas Katsulas, Jeff Conaway, and now Jerry Doyle, and I’m goddamned tired of it.

So dear sweet universe, if you are paying attention in the vastness of interstellar space, take a moment from plotting the trajectory of comets and designing new DNA in farflung cosmos, and spare a thought for those who you have plucked so untimely from our ranks…and knock it off for a while.

Because this isn’t fair.

And Jerry Doyle would be the first person to tell you that. Right before he put a fist in your face. Which is what I imagine he’s doing right now, on the other side of the veil.

(24) PROFESSIONALISM. Amanda S. Green reminds readers “It is a business. . .” at Mad Genius Club. It’s a good point in its own right, and a lesson that can be expanded to apply to fan activities as well.

So treat it as one. Yesterday, as I was looking at FB, I came across a post from someone I respect a great deal. He also has one of the most unverifiable jobs there is in publishing. No, not reading the slush pile, although that is part of his job. He has taken it upon himself to do what so many publishers don’t do. He responds to those who send something in, letting them know whether or not their work has met the minimum threshold to be passed up the line for further consideration. Believe me, that is definitely more than a number of publishers do. Too many simply never get back to you unless they are interested.

What caught my eye with his post was how unprofessional someone had been in response to his email letting them know their story had not been passed up the line. Now, I know how it stings when you get a rejection. It’s like someone telling you your baby is ugly. But it happens and we have to accept it with grace and move on. Yes, we can kick and scream and curse in public but you do not send a note back telling the editor how wrong they were. Nor do you tell them that the title has been published during the time the editor was considering it, especially if the editor has gotten back to you in less than half the time they say it normally takes.

And that is where this particular author screwed up. Not only did they send back an unprofessional note to the editor, insuring he will remember the author and not in a good way, but he went ahead and self-published the book without removing it first from consideration by the publishing house. That is two very big strikes and, in this case, the author doesn’t get a third strike before he’s out….

(25) WAGON TRAIN IN SPACE. BBC Radio 4’s “Caravans in Space” investigates space habitats and visits the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Chattanooga. Stephen Baxter makes a brief comment in the program.

Is the Earth too perfect? The Moon too grey? Mars too dusty? Then how about setting up a human colony in the depths of space?

Richard Hollingham travels to the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee to meet scientists, engineers, doctors and anthropologists planning human colonies in space and spaceships that will take humanity to the stars.

These are not dreamers – although they all have an ambitious dream – but well qualified experts. Several work at Nasa, others have day jobs at universities and research institutes.

Richard hears of proposals to build giant space stations and worldships – vessels packed with the best of humanity. These caravans in space might be lifeboats to escape an approaching asteroid or perhaps the first step to colonising the galaxy.

The programme features conference chair and Technical Adviser to Nasa’s Advanced Concepts Office, Les Johnson. He is keen that any discussions about our interstellar future are rooted in reality, not Star Trek.

We also hear from John Lewis, Director of the Space Engineering Centre at the University of Arizona, who advocates mining asteroids and suggests the first space colonies would be like lawless frontier towns.

Other contributors include architect Rachel Armstrong, who is engineering soils for living, breathing organic spaceships and anthropologist Cameron Smith.

As the programme is recorded on location in Chattanooga, it would be remiss of us not to make some reference to trains. Fortunately, our spacefaring future is being discussed in a railroad-themed hotel and on the local tourist train passengers are surprisingly open to living life permanently away from Earth.

(26) STATE FAIR FOOD. When I saw that bacon-wrapped churros were among the semifinalists in the State Fair of Texas annual fried food contest, I hastened to bring this to John Scalzi’s attention. It wouldn’t have surprised me to be the five hundredth person to send him the news, but he said I was actually number seven.

If you read the entire list of semifinalists, you’ll understand why I’m tempted to run a set of brackets and let people pick which sounds most deadly.

Next to “Lollipop Fried Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast on a Stick,” a bacon-wrapped churro sounds like health food….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Rambo, JJ, Dawn Incognito, Michael O’Donnell, David K.M. Klaus, Carl Slaughter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Stephen S. Power: How My Novel Saved Me From Drowning

Stephen S. Power

Stephen S. Power

By Stephen S. Power: When I researched what it was like to drown, I didn’t expect to one day use that research to save my own life.

In the first chapter of The Dragon Round, two sailors from the trading galley Comber are swept into the sea. Like most sailors during the ages of wooden ships, they can’t swim. Their captain, who can, dives in to save them, but I wanted to know what the sailors would undergo before he could reach them. All I remembered from my junior lifesaving class forty years ago was the possibility that a struggling swimmer might drown a rescuer by trying to use them as a flotation device.

Fortunately, Slate published a great article by Mario Vittone on just this topic, “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning”. A person in aquatic distress might yell and thrash, and they might be able to assist in their rescue, but this stage doesn’t last long, and once they start to drown they can’t do any of this for several reasons. The one that struck me most was the first: “Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.” While I could understand that our reverting to lizard brain instincts in time of peril, I couldn’t fathom not being able to call for help.

Flash forward to Fourth of July last year. My family took a deck boat out on Lake Minnetonka for some cruising, swimming and fishing. As a pre-teen I used to swim across a lake in the Catskills, and I’m in reasonably good shape, so I dove in without thinking, followed by my brother on an inner tube.

What I didn’t realize in my blitheness is that a 10-foot deep, third of a mile-wide, man-made Catskill lake is like a bathtub compared to the wild abyssal sea that is Lake Minnetonka. Nor did I figure that the wind would immediately blow the deck boat far away. I tried to swim for it, but I realized after only a dozen yards that there was no way I could fight the waves and the wind and reach the boat. Also, forty years is a lot of years since I could swim a lake. So I shouted for the boat to come to me, but it wouldn’t start. Then I called for my brother.

While I treaded water, I could feel my chest tightening up, and I was quickly tiring from moving all that lake. That’s when I understood why a drowning person can’t call out. Our lungs act as floatation devices. You don’t want to deflate them the slightest bit, even if you figure you can kick hard, stick your head out of the water and take a replenishing breath–because what if you can’t?

Fortunately, my brother made it to me, tiring himself out. He got me on the inner tube, which he then got on himself, and we concerned ourselves with a new problem: the integrity of the seals on the tube. Eventually the boat reached us, and the summer didn’t end.

What if I hadn’t known what would happen to me during this process? I imagine I wouldn’t have called in time, I would have gone silent and still, and after a few moments my brother would have been left wondering where I’d disappeared to. (Did I mention our mother was on the boat, watching this all play out? Yea.)

Perhaps The Dragon Round will help people too by showing them how to light a fire, prepare crab, row a galley and ride a dragon. I hope it doesn’t need to help them avoid trouble in the water, though, because I’d prefer to hope they don’t get in trouble in the first place.

Dragon-Round-cover-small-full COMP

Stephen S. Power
The Dragon Round
Simon & Schuster

The Dragon Round is the first of a series of at least three novels. I’m currently outlining the sequel, tentatively titled The Dragon Tower. This series, in fact, is the first of several, each of which will cover the major turning point events in human-dragon relations over the ages.

JACKET COPY

For fans of Scott Lynch and Naomi Novik comes a high fantasy epic that blends swashbuckling adventure with a dark tale of vengeance–when a ship captain is stranded on a deserted island by his mutinous crew, he finds a rare dragon egg that just might be the key to his salvation and his revenge.

He only wanted justice. Instead he got revenge.

Jeryon has been the captain of the Comber for over a decade. He knows the rules. He follows the rules. He likes the rules. But not everyone on his ship agrees. When a monstrous dragon attacks the Comber, his surviving crew, vengeful and battle-worn, decide to take the ship for themselves and give Jeryon and his self-righteous apothecary “the captain’s chance:” a small boat with no rudder, no sails, and nothing but the shirts on their backs to survive.

Marooned and fighting for their lives against the elements, Jeryon and his companion discover that the island they’ve landed on isn’t quite as deserted as they originally thought. They find a rare baby dragon that, if trained, just might be their ticket off the island. But as Jeryon and the dragon grow closer, he begins to realize that even if he makes it off the island, his life will never be the same again. In order for justice to be served, he’ll have to take it for himself.

SOCIAL MEDIA

[Article arranged by Carl Slaughter.]

Pixel Scroll 7/28/16 How Many Files Must A Pixel Scroll Down

(1) OLD PROSE, YOUNG EYEBALLS. This time James Davis Nicoll set the table at Young People Read Old SF with Lawrence O’Donnell’s “Vintage Season” – O’Donnell being a pseudonym used by both C.L. Moore and her husband, Henry Kuttner, though this particular story is believed to be the work of Moore.

I knew Moore would be featured in this series. I just was not sure which Moore story to pick. One of her stories about Jirel, indomitable French swordswoman? Or perhaps Shambleau, which introduced her magnificently useless (but handsome!) adventurer Northwest Smith, who never encountered a deadly trap from which someone else could not rescue him (to their detriment). In the end, I went with Vintage Season, mainly because people often falsely attribute it (in part or whole) to her husband. That made me suspect that the attributors consider it the most significant of her stories. It has been adapted both to film (under the title Grand Tour: Disaster in Time) and to radio and was selected for inclusion in The Best of C.L. Moore . This, I think, is the right Moore.

Reader Lisa had this to say:

Lawrence O’Donnell used a technique that, while transparent, kept me interested enough in this story to keep me reading. (Well, the technique and the fact that I’m part of this project kept me reading.) He tells the story from the perspective of a partly-informed outsider who doesn’t have enough information about the other characters, but notices that something is up with them. (Though he, and the readers, have no idea what.) By continuing to drop treats here and there for the readers, he manages to keep them intrigued.

(2) MILD MELD MOVES. Shana DuBois curates a new Mind Meld, now hosted on the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

For years, the essential sci-fi blog SF Signal published Mind Meld, a regular column that featured a monthly roundtable discussion of the tropes, themes, politics, and future of genre fiction. On the sad occasion of the closure of that site, we were happy to offer the feature a new home. Future installments of Mind Meld will appear monthly on the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

The series resumes with answers from Usman Malik, Zachary Jernigan, Delilah S. Dawson, Django Wexler, Yoon Ha Lee, Caroline M. Yoachim, Haralambi Markov, and Lee Kelly to this question —

Q: How do you see the boundaries between literary and genre fiction adapting as we move forward?

(3) REVIEW SITE ADJUSTS SCOPE. The stress of a young child’s medical problems is contributing to Bookworm Blues policy change because lately the blogger is reading —

Urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Yes, folks, I’ve been reading an absolute metric ton of UF and PNR recently, which is something I never in a million years thought I’d say, but it’s true. I’m reading it, mostly because I really, really need happy endings, fuzzy feelings, and lighter mental distractions right now. I’m having a shockingly hard time getting into anything else at the moment. I am positive that once my life, and my chaotic emotions settle a little, I will get back to my usual stuff. I also think it is incredibly unfair for me to not mention the authors and books I am reading because I’m afraid to do so for various arbitrary reasons that really don’t matter a fig to a soul.

And, the more I read these types of books, the more I’m kind of amazed at the amount of skill it takes to sell me on a happily ever after, and the books and authors that manage it deserve recognition for their skills.

So as of today, you will officially see the occasional urban fantasy and paranormal romance book reviews on here, and yes, I will open my doors to accept those books to review.

(4) PERSISTENCE. Kameron Hurley on “The Wisdom of the Grind: It’s Always Darkest Before a Breakthrough”.

Lately I’ve been in one of those rough periods where I just want to quit for six months or a year and travel around the world and refill my creative bucket. Cause right now all I can see down there are beer dregs. The truth is that every profession will try and squeeze out of you as much as it can get. While I’d like to be mindful of how much I give it, I also recognize that in order to get to where I want to be, I’m going to have to give it everything. This is a marathon, yeah, but I don’t indeed to have anything left for the way back. This is it. The older I get, the rougher than knowledge is, though: knowing I have saved nothing for the way back. There is only forward.

When it gets dark like this as I sweat over the next book and start putting together ideas for pitching a new series, I remind myself that sometimes it’s the very bleakest right before a major breakthrough. These are the long plateaus in skill and ability that we have to push through to level up. Once you get to the pro level at anything, your effort/skill ratio flips. You no longer see huge gains with minimal effort. There’s a reason you can get 2 years of skill leveling up out of 6 weeks of Clarion. You tend to be newer to the craft. You’ve got more to learn.

My next big level up is taking a lot longer to get to – several books, many stories….

(5) BEER NUMBER FIVE. Narragansett Beer introduces another Lovecraftian brew. Andrew Porter sent a comment with the link, “I had a lidless eye once, but I could never go swimming….”

IPA

Introducing the 5th installment and 4th chapter of our award winning Lovecraft series: The White Ship White IPA. H.P. Lovecraft’s, The White Ship, tells a story of a lighthouse keeper’s adventure aboard a mysterious ship where his curiosity and greed win out over his better judgment.

The label, designed by local Rhode Island artist Pete McPhee from Swamp Yankee, features an image of the story’s grey lighthouse as the north point of a compass rose and represents the narrator’s trip to the other world and back.

White Ship White IPA is a Belgian style IPA is brewed with 4 types of Belgian and American malts and creamy Belgian yeast to create a crisp, delicious beer that blurs style guidelines. We use El Dorado and Mandarina Bavarian hops to give the beer the slight tangerine notes. We then dry hop this adventurous brew with El Dorado hops to enhance the mild citrus aromatics….

(6) MONSTROUSLY GOOD. Petréa Mitchell’s Anime Roundup for July 28 has posted at Amazing Stories.

Re: ZERO – Starting Life In Another World #17

No matter how bad things get for Subaru, it is always possible that they could get worse. And, lately, they do.

The monster that showed up at the end of last episode is a flying leviathan, kind of a cross between Monstro, Jaws, and a plane full of jet engines, which is known as Moby-Dick. Well, okay, it’s called the Hakugei (White Whale), but that happens to be the Japanese title of Moby-Dick, and I do believe it’s a deliberate reference….

(7) DIAL FIVE SEVEN FIVE. Anna Wing summarized both The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings in this haiku:

It is rarely wise
To attach such importance
To your jewellery.

(8) NATURE. “Game of Ants: two new species named after Daenerys Targaryens’s dragons”The Guardian has the story.

They reminded scientists of dragons so much, they named them after two of the fire-breathing beasts from the Game of Thrones.

The two new ant species from Papua New Guinea, named Pheidole drogon and Pheidole viserion, have spiny barbs along their backs and shoulders with an unusual set of muscles beneath them.

George R.R. Martin responded with in a post.

I suspect there are dragon ants in my world as well… maybe out on the Dothraki sea…

(9) TRIP REPORT. Marko Kloos was in New Mexico for Wild Cards events.

On Monday, I went to a Wild Cards author party thrown by KayMcCauley at Meow Wolf, an art venue in Santa Fe that is pretty spectacular. I had a chance to meet Wild Cards writers and reconnect with those I’ve met before. I also got to meet Thomas Olde Heuvelt, who was whisked into the event by George R.R. Martin after his own signing in town the same evening. (He’s in the US on a book tour for the English version of HEX, his best-selling debut novel.) It was a fun event, and I had a good time, even though I still feel like the new kid in high school among so many well-known high-caliber writers.

(10) JERRY DOYLE OBIT. Actor Jerry Doyle, from Babylon 5, was found unresponsive at his home last night and later declared dead. The family made an announcement through his Twitter account:

Michi Trota posted a spot-on tribute:

(11) EXOTIC RECIPE. Fran Wilde has released her newest Cooking the Books Podcast.

cooking the books

This month’s Cooking the Books Podcast, #025: Space Weevils – Cooking the Books with David D. Levine contains:

  • 100% less gravity
  • Space weevils (you were warned, they get big in a vacuum)
  • Hardtack
  • Lime juice
  • no powdered sugar
  • A Baggywrinkles shout out!
  • Napoleons in Spaaaaace (not the general)
  • Soup
  • a big ball of boiling water

(12) DIABOLICAL PLOTS. Congratulations to David Steffen on this announcement by SFWA

Diabolical Plots, self-described as “a Sci-fi/Fantasy zine that covers virtually every media related to the genre from books to movies to video games” is now a SFWA Qualified market. Payment: Eight cents per word, on publication.

Connect here — http://www.diabolicalplots.com/

(13) RAISE YOUR RIGHT HOOF. Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas take another swing at telling the whole truth – “A Space Unicorn Tale: The REAL Story Behind the Creation of Uncanny Magazine at Tor.com.

The Space Unicorn mascot is real. Not only are they real, they edit and publish every single issue of Uncanny Magazine by utilizing their abilities to travel through a series of portals to infinite points in spacetime. You probably suspected this from the beginning.

And congratulations to them, too, because the Uncanny Magazine Year Three Kickstarter hit its goal today!

(14) CROWDSOURCED WEB SERIES WITH TREK ALUMNI. The makers of Regegades hit the $60,000 goal of their Indiegogo appeal and are looking for more.

Renegades is an original, independently fan-funded sci-fi web series, executive produced by Sky Conway, and starring Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Tim Russ, Adrienne Wilkinson, Terry Farrell, Robert Beltran, Gary Graham, Cirroc Lofton, Aron Eisenberg, Manu Intiraymi, Hana Hatae, Bruce Young, and many more. We are currently finishing production on “The Requiem” parts I and II and are now in need of funding for post-production – editing, sound, visual effects, etc…

(15) SCI-FI SAVIORS.

(16) CAST YOUR VOTE. Whether or not the Hugos have been “saved” to your satisfaction, George R.R. Martin urged all eligible voters to get their 2016 Hugo Ballot in by the July 31 deadline.

The Hugo is science fiction’s oldest and most prestigious award. These past few years, however, the awards have been under siege, and that’s true this year as well.

Nonetheless, there are some worthy books and stories up for this year’s rockets, along with some reprehensible shit. I will leave it to your own judgements as to which is which.

Vote your own taste.

Vote your own conscience.

But vote. Every ballot counts.

(17) TENTACLE PARTY. Cthulhu For President, the game, has got a facelift for the US election. Can be bought in PDF here.

Don’t settle for the lesser evil! Heed the call of Cthulhu! Get ready for muck-raking, magic, and mayhem (with a little help from the world of H. P. Lovecraft.)

The Stars Are Right!

In Cthulhu For President, you become an Elder Party staffer tasked with serving the Great Old Ones during their eternal struggle for domination. Cross wits with the other political parties, manipulate voters using non-Euclidian geometry, swear on the Necronomicon, and sacrifice your co-workers to the Elder Gods. Politics has always been evil, but destroying the world has never been so much fun!

CHA0091_-_Cthulhu_for_President_Front_Cover__54717_1468239059_500_659

(18) WHAT WERE THEY TRYING TO KEEP OUT? The Great Wall of China was designed to protect against monsters, according to a new Matt Damon movie.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Dawn Incognito, Hampus Eckerman, Soon Lee, John King Tarpinian, and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA and Anthony.]

Steven Brust and Skyler White’s The Incrementalists

“Watch Steven Brust. He’s good. He moves fast. He surprises you. Watching him untangle the diverse threads of intrigue, honor, character and mayhem from amid the gears of a world as intricately constructed as a Swiss watch is a rare pleasure.”
— Roger Zelazny

THE INCREMENTALISTS

TheIncrementalists

The Incrementalists — a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories.

Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste?and argued with her?for most of the last four hundred years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules?not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.

FIREWORKS IN THE RAIN

  • An original short story about some of the same characters published by Tor.com in 2013. Read the story here

THE SKILL OF OUR HANDS
sequel to The Incrementalists

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

Skills of Our Hands

The Incrementalists are a secret society of two hundred people; an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time.

They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time.

Now Phil, the Incrementalist whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has been shot dead. They’ll bring him back—but first they need to know what happened. Their investigation will lead down unexpected paths in contemporary Arizona, and bring them up against corruption in high and low places alike.

But the key may lay in one of Phil’s previous lives, in Kansas in 1859, and the fate of a man named John Brown.

Available for pre-order at Amazon and other retailers.

[Post by Carl Slaughter.]

More Changes at Tor

Tor/Forge Books followed Tuesday’s promotions with another round of staff announcements today.

Diana Gill has been named Executive Editor at Tor/Forge.

Tom Doherty, President and Publisher of Tor/Forge Books, said:

I am delighted to announce that Diana Gill will be joining us at Tor/Forge. She managed the US division of Harper Voyager, the global science fiction and fantasy imprint of HarperCollins, for twelve years. At Voyager, she discovered such NY Times bestselling authors as Kim Harrison and Ian Douglas. In 2014 she moved to the Berkley Publishing Group. At Berkley’s Ace/Roc she acquired and edited such notable and bestselling authors as Charlaine Harris, Mark Lawrence, Steven Donaldson, and Zen Cho. She developed both established and emerging authors across platforms and formats, both digital and traditional. Diana has done some very fine work in our field. She’ll be a great addition to the Tor/Forge team.

And Publishers Lunch broke the news of 11 other changes:

Amy Sefton has also been named designer in the ad/promo department. Previously she was an in-house graphic designer and illustrator for BuzzFeed. In addition, the division announced a number of recent editorial promotions. At Tor, Liz Gorinsky and Miriam Weinberg are both promoted to senior editor; Jennifer Gunnels and Diana Pho move up to editor; Christopher Morgan is promoted to junior associate editor; and Melissa Singer moves up to manager, editorial operations. At Forge, Bess Cozby has been promoted to editor, while Elayne Becker moves up to junior associate editor. Finally, at Tor Teen, Whitney Ross has been promoted to senior editor, and Amy Stapp moves up to editor.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Cult Movie Bracket, First Fifth Element Quarter Final

Cult Movie Bracket Logo SMBy Hampus Eckerman: For each pair, vote for the top cult movie. Vote for what is rememberable, what is fun, what is interesting, what is cult. You will have at least 24 hours to answer, but after that it depends on when I have time to count the votes.

1. DON’T LET THIS PAIRING UPSET YOU
Dr. Strangelove or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
This is Spinal Tap (1984)

2. THIS LANDING IS GONNA BE PRETTY INTERESTING
Serenity (2005)
The Princess Bride (1987)

3. WITH A BIT OF A MIND FLIP
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Labyrinth (1986)

4. QUIET, DIGNITY AND GRACE
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

5. AND THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW… THE WORLD!
Time Bandits (1981)
Groundhog Day (1993)

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 2017

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live isn’t going to San Francisco after all. Plans to hold the 2016 event there in October have been set aside.

The next Spectrum Fantastic Art Live will take place April 21-23, 2017 in Kansas City, MO.

Arnie Fenner explained why in a post at Muddy Colors.

Anything is possible if the desire is there, but everything comes with a price tag and the subsequent tough decision to back away from plans to hold the show in San Francisco in association with the AAU was not made lightly. Spectrum Fantastic Art Live has always been about benefiting the entire art community—the creators, the patrons, and the fans—and everything with the show has to make sense, including the dates, the costs, and the venue. We had heard from a great many exhibitors and attendees who enjoyed the convenient, casual and friendly atmosphere of Kansas City and were actually disappointed by the move out of the midwest, which pleasantly surprised us.

We’ve always known that doing a convention isn’t just about our bottom line, but about everyone else’s, too, and we pay attention to what’s happening in the marketplace….

As with past shows, sales of originals and prints at SFAL in May 2015 were great for some, good for others, and not so hot for a few—that’s pretty much the way it always is for every convention, big or small.

Last Autumn sales were reportedly very disappointing for exhibitors of Fantasy-themed art at several conventions. Many felt that the poor sales might have been due to a recent Heritage auction which included another portion of Jane and Howard Frank’s immense art collection. Personally, I don’t believe that one really had anything to do with the other.

Speaking bluntly (as is my wont), original art is a luxury item and sales are often tied to the cycle of confidence and stability. The current political climate and tone of the Presidential campaigns (the Brexit hasn’t helped) have had a significantly negative impact on art purchases as people worry about the economy and the future in general. Shoot, even the 1% have cut back on their buying. With a convention there is always the temptation to “keep going full steam” and ignore the lookout’s warning that there’s ice ahead, but rather than bull through and make SFAL happen someplace sometime in 2016 regardless, we opted to take a breather, let the dust settle, and optimistically hope things get back to normal after November.

More news about attendee ticket prices, hotel information and special rates, and activities during the show will be posted as available on the SFAL website  and the SFAL Facebook page.

SFAL 2017 guests

Swanwick Sets the Frame for His Mongolian Wizard Series

Michael Swanwick in 2009. Photo by Kyle Cassidy.

Michael Swanwick in 2009. Photo by Kyle Cassidy.

By Carl Slaughter: In an exclusive for File 770, Michael Swanwick provides plot details and author comments for his “Mongolian Wizard” series.  Tor has published 7 stories in the series and Swanwick plans 14 more.

Swanwick is on the verge of wrapping up his “Darger and Surplus” series.  He also has an anthology, Not So Much, Said the Cat, out in August.

First Story: “The Mongolian Wizard” by Michael Swanwick (Tor.com, 2012)

“Junior Lieutenant Franz-Karl Ritter is an officer in the Werewolf Corps, a variant of the K9 Corps, except that the men have wolves with which they share a mind link. Ritter is responsible for security at a conference of European wizards in Schloss Greiffenhorst on a snowy mountaintop in the Riphean Mountains. On the third day of the conclave, Sir Toby Willoughby-Quirke barrels into Ritter, knocking him flat, then politely introduces himself. Sir Toby soon sets up a military demonstration using a platoon of two-inch high toy soldiers, who march in formation and display their shooting abilities, then disappear into the walls of the castle, ostensibly to hunt down rats and mice. But the miniature soldiers aren’t what they seem to be, and neither is the boisterous Sir Toby.” –  Tadiana at GoodReads

Swanwick Comments: You should at least skim this story, because so many of the series’ ground rules are contained within it.

Second Story: “The Fire Gown” (Tor.com 2012)

The Mongolian Wizard has invaded Poland. Ritter and Sir Toby are called to Buckingham Palace to investigate the spontaneous combustion of Queen Titania when she donned a gown woven from salamander’s hair – an act meant to incapacitate King Oberon at the onset of war. Ritter meets the dressmaker’s daughter, the (his words) Jewess Shulamith Rosenberg. Together, they discover that her father has been murdered, and that the saboteur has left behind a box containing thousands of of plague fleas. Ritter deliberately ignites a bolt of salamander cloth to destroy them, expecting to die. He survives, thanks in part to actions by his new wolf, Freki. Shulamith, however, dies. When he has recovered enough to return to his empty apartment, he brings with him a crayon portrait of her, hangs it on the wall, and bursts into tears.

Swanwick Comments: Ritter, though he does not realize it, is a proto-Nazi who has had the good fortune not to fall under evil influences. His idealization of Ms Rosenberg is the first suggestion that he may grow out of his limitations and also a clue that he is unknowingly seeking love. The entire series chronicles his struggle to not lose his soul.

Third Story: “The Day of the Kraken” (Tor.com 2012)

Set during the Phony War. Mudlarks – children who scrounge in the tidal mud for scrap metal – witnessed and reported a chest deliberately sunk in the Thames. It contained kraken eggs which, when hatched, would render the port unusable. Though this was recovered, the saboteurs kidnapped five children, all girls, and the locales of these crimes form an inverted pentagram, suggesting they mean to perform human sacrifice. (Though magic works in this series, demonism does not.) Evidence had been left behind suggesting that the crimes were committed by Catholics – the saboteurs’ intent, obviously, is to cause religious strife.

Ritter and Freki tracked the saboteurs to an unused priory, but were captured. Held captive with the little girls, Ritter calmed them down by telling stories about Freki and getting them to pretend they too were wolves. Then, though it was strictly illegal, he entered the children’s minds and “launched his small wolves,snarling and biting straight at the throats of the three startled saboteurs.”

Understandably, the girls’ parents are outraged at how they were rescued, and Sir Toby scolds Ritter. Ritter “accidentally,” leaves some pasties where mudlarks will steal them.

Swanwick Comments: There is usually banter between Ritter and Sir Toby, who finds his stuffiness humorous. From this story, for example:

“I have an excellent sense of humor,” Ritter said indignantly.

“Have you really? I must remember to have you tell a joke someday in order to test this hypothesis.”

However, Sir Toby also feels that Ritter is insufficiently ruthless, and is constantly trying to mold him into a man without conscience. He is simultaneously a humanizing and a dehumanizing influence on Ritter.

Fourth Story: “House of Dreams” (Tor.com, 2013)

Two vagrants travel across Germany in bleakest winter. One asks questions which the second evades. Until finally Ritter puts together inconsistencies in the situation and forcibly awakens himself from a dream. He has been captured and is undergoing dream therapy by two of the Mongolian Wizard’s alienists. Through induced illusions, bit by bit, they gain information from him. But so far not the two things they desire most: The purpose of his mission and the identity of his traveling companion. So, unexpectedly, they release Ritter. He walks for hour after hour until finally, on the edge of exhaustion, he arrives at the farmhouse where he was being held captive. He has been shown that there is no hope. Later, he is given a vision of himself, back in London, killing Sir Toby, and realizes this is their ultimate intent.

He has only one advantage: Freki is still out in the cold, and they think him a man and not a wolf. Ritter calls Freki to him and takes advantage of the distraction to kill his tormentors.

Then he continues on to his meeting-place where, after a long wait in an open place as described in the play, his contact appears. Extending his hand, Ritter says, “The wizard Godot, I presume?”

Swanwick Comments: Commonly, a new psychic power is introduced in each story. This story is so far unique in not introducing a new magical creature.

This has been the most popular story of the series, I believe.

Fifth Story: “The Night of the Salamander” (Tor.com, 2015)

The Mongolian Wizard has invaded France. Fighting is fierce. On the eve of a battle, Ritter is at an aristocratic party when he is summoned by Sir Toby to the headquarters of Marechal de Camp Martel, who has been murdered and whose power is to instill absolute loyalty upon his troops and everyone he encounters. On impulse, he brings with him Lady Angelique de la Fontaine, a psychic surgeon with whom he had been flirting.

Working together, Ritter and Lady Angelique discover that, while indispensable to the French army, the Marechal was a loathsome human being, hated by the only three suspects: his valet, his aide, and his underage mistress. The murder, they find, was committed by his abused mistress who turned upon him. But before the others are released Ritter reveals that the valet is a creature of the Mongolian Wizard who will, if released, spread the news that the irresistible Marchal is dead. The aide is allowed to kill him and the battle the next morning will be fought by soldiers under the illusion that they are still led by a man who never loses.

Swanwick Comments: Many of the names in this series refer to classical fantasy. For example, de la Fontaine was the great French fantasist. In “The Phantom of the Maze,” Alice Hargreaves was the married name of Lewis Carroll’s Alice.

Freki is always an indispensable part of Ritter’s investigations, usually due to his superior range of senses, particularly smell, but occasionally as muscle. So there are in each story three indispensable characters: Ritter, Sir Toby, and Freki. Sir Toby’s part is usually small but always important.

Sixth Story: “The Pyramid of Krakow” (Tor.com, 2015)

A blind Swiss commercial traveler in chemicals comes to Krakow, accompanied by his seeing-eye wolf. Ritter, of course. He is shown the first pyramid of Krakow (more are to be built), atop which human sacrifices are made in great number in order to traumatize witnessing devotees into their potential powers. This is the source of the Mongolian Wizard’s seemingly endless supply of magicians. Ritter is identified as a spy but Kaska, a secretary, turns out to be a Polish freedom fighter. He sets fire to the Royal Palace and throws a young fool (exactly like his younger self but on the wrong side) to the enemy. Ultimately, he is saved from a witch-finder when Kaska feeds the man to the gargoyles.

When Sir Toby gets Ritter’s report, he receives it as moral permission to take actions he had previously considered too immoral to dangerous. The story ends on this unhappy premonition.

Swanwick Comments: Here I introduce the Holocaust into the mix. Ritter has been increasingly reluctant to play Sir Toby’s game. Now he sees here is no morally acceptable alternative. Yet he is aware of the evil he is agreeing to.

Though there is no romantic element to this story, Kaska will reappear. She and Angelique are to become Ritter’s two great loves. At least one of them will not survive the war.

The war begins as a conventional Napoleonic-era war and will conclude as something very like World War II.

Seventh Story: “The Phantom in the Maze” (Tor.com, 2015)

This is set in Bletchley Park, though the name never appears in the story. Young women work at scrying the future, drawing detailed diagrams of future weapons technology to be employed in the war. One of these women has been murdered at midnight at the center of the hedge maze on the day of her arrival. Since she knew no one there, Ritter is sent to discover if it is the work of saboteurs.

The murder turns out to be a crime of passion. The victim, Alice Hargreaves, arrived knowing she would have a passionate affair with the Director, a serial philanderer. She was killed by the Director’s current lover, who foresaw this affair. However, in the course of investigation strange things happen. A bird appears and disappears inside a closed room. Ritter has a discussion with the murdered woman. In a confrontation with the Director, the man is killed and then restored to life. The intensive alterations to the time frame have destabilized reality locally. It is entirely possible that over the long run it will destabilize reality throughout Europe.

Ritter promises to have the institute closed down. But the Director has foreseen this and produces a letter from Sir Toby saying it will not be. As Ritter leaves, a woman rides up on a horse:

“Hello,” she said. “My name is Alice Hargreaves.”

“I know who you are,” Ritter replied, “and I am afraid that there is nothing here for you.”

Swanwick Comments: This concludes the first third of the series (there should be 21 stories in all) and finishes establishing the ground rules. From this point on, the conflict will be a war pitting technology against magic.