Monday, December 28, 2009


The twelfth issue of M-Brane SF, a special issue guest edited by Rick Novy has been released in its PDF edition this evening. The special trade paperback print edition of it, Ergosphere, has already started to reach  readers who pre-ordered it. I am continuing the special offers related to this book, originally set to expire on 12/24, as described in this post. There's never been a better time to become a regular subscriber.

I feel rather accomplished tonight. A year ago, I had acquired a few stories for M-Brane but hadn't yet published an issue. Since then, I have released twelve issues of the zine, published a stand-alone anthology (Things We Are Not), and am set to move ahead into an exciting second year which will see a dozen more issues of M-Brane SF and several new book projects.

Not everything has gone quite the way I wanted it to, particularly my ongoing difficulty in finding a stable way to fund my operations. On the other hand, a lot of opportunities that I had not been expecting have emerged and show much promise. Also, and perhaps most importantly, I have found a lot of great friends and talented colleagues during the past year, and that alone makes this all worth it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

ERGOSPHERE offer extended

I'm extending the awesome deal for ordering Ergosphere, or Ergosphere along with Things We Are Not (free M-Brane subscription included). The info is here on Page 2.  There is one slight modification: I neglected to specify before that I can only offer those prices for orders within the United States. Shipping to places like the UK is much, much too high for me to cut that kind of deal for non-domestic orders. I did let an order to Britain go through the other day, and ate the loss on it, because it was my own dumb fault for not being more clear about it. But from now on, the offer is only good in the US. I will, however, offer non-US readers the free M-Brane SF subscription (PDF edition) if they order either or both of the books from Amazon and email me a copy of their Amazon receipt.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A look at what's up

I apologize to regular readers for not tending much to this blog this month. It has been a rather hectic and busy season for me, even though I personally have little to nothing to do with the holidays this year. Some of the chaos has been day-job related and some of it is of my own making with having perhaps a couple too many projects in process at once. A few items drop off the list by the end of the month, however, and I should be refreshed and a bit more organized.  Here's the main news from M-Brane SF:

1. Issue #12, aka Ergosphere, releases in its PDF form by January 1. The trade paperback edition, however, is ready to ship now. See the 12/15 post for details about this. I have a nice deal going on with it, and there are still a few days to avail oneself. There's even an option to buy it along with Things We Are Not for a cheap price.

2. Cesar Torres's dozen-story short fiction cycle The 12 Burning Wheels is in process of getting ready for publication. This is going to be a remarkable item. It, too, will be published as a trade paperback and will be the first of several very special projects that I will bringing to readers during the next year. Expect to see more information, including a pre-order deal for it, sometime shortly after the first of the year.

3. Be in the habit of watching the Aether Age site. A lot of very exciting information has been posted there in recent weeks. This is gradually becoming not just a cool concept anthology but a multi-media extravaganza of high order which will include audio fiction and music. I wish to give a big shout-out to Brandon Bell who has been busily organizing these things.

4. Watch also in January for some more info regarding Derek J. Goodman's book Machina, which we are planning to release by April 1 and which will be super-cool. By the way, my announcements in recent weeks about this item and also Cesar's collection have prompted a few writers to query me about other possible book projects. I am not averse to seeing some pitches for new books, but I am not actively soliciting submissions for novels and short fiction collections yet either. I do want to plan some other projects for later on 2010, but I am taking it slowly and keeping my eyes open for some special opportunities rather than opening it up to general submissions.

I guess that's about it for now!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ERGOSPHERE pre-order! Great deal!

I am re-running this information from a few days ago:
There's a hella good pre-order deal for Ergosphere on Page Two today. It includes a subscription to the PDF edition of M-Brane SF, and there is also an option to get all that plus a copy of the paperback edition of Things We Are Not.  Offer good until 12/24.

The pic is of me with the shiny proof copy.

Here's the table of contents. These stories are all terrific and should not be missed.

Pretty Maids All in a Row Caren Gussoff
A Single Shot Lawrence M. Schoen
Hard for Us Michelle M. Welch
The Mushroom King Michael Canfield
Humans in the Zoo Paul Williams
Becoming Connie Thea Hutcheson
After Babel Joe Pitkin
Generation Cleansing Michael Andre-Driussi
The Secret Names of Buildings Maura McHugh
Havana Augmented Tim Maughan

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I keep forgetting to direct everyone's attention to Theme and Variations. This is a super-cool podcast anthology of speculative fiction produced by Michelle M. Welch (a story by her upcoming in M-Brane #12/Ergosphere). Listening to it has been on my "List of Things to Do" since I first heard of it, but I figured I had plenty of time since it grows in weekly installments. Well, there's seven weeks of it online now, and I just finally got caught up. The stories, presented in (obviously) audio form by Michelle and the stories' authors, are spec fic tales with music at their hearts. I'll give a special shout-out to Rick Novy, well-known M-Brane contributor and editor of issue #12 (Ergosphere), who reads his story and plays some music. The whole thing is terrific. I really like audio fiction anyway, and I wish that I would manage to leave myself more time in the schedule to listen to it, because we seem to be in a new golden age of it.

Signal Boost: Keep a geek in training

I have never met Caren Gussoff in person, but I know her as a colleague and an ally. She is a brilliant writer (I've published her once in M-Brane already, in issue #5, and will again in #12--the Ergosphere book--in a few days). She is also a brilliant editor, as is evident from her webzine Brain Harvest. I don't know her spouse, the artist Chris Sumption, at all. Never even exchanged an email or tweet with him. But I hear that he is doing his best to further his education and employability in this shitty economy, and that he and Caren are a mere $600 short on making his tuition payment. His Pell grant ran out. What? The Feds run out of money? Why? (Look no further than Afghanistan and Iraq...don't get me started...) Anyway, they need the money by December 21. That's in just a few days, y'all. So go to Caren's website and see what she has to offer in exchange for a donation to their cause. She's not just begging over there. She's offering some fine services in trade. She'll write you into her novel--her real novel that she has grant money for--or critique your fiction. Or, what the hell, just throw her a donation in return for nothing but that good feeling. As many of you know, I just recently completed successfully a little fund drive to help my guy Jeff do some school, and it breaks my heart that so many people are being so completely fucked over by such petty amounts of money. I know people in the online spec fic community (especially my readers, jeez!) get burned out on being shaken down for donations all the damned time. But there it is. Once again. Help if you can. 

WIRED HARD 4 review

I put up a review of Circlet Press's gay sff erotica antho Wired Hard 4 on the Region Between blog, for those who may be interested.

The Occult Files of Albert Taylor

I rather over-promised on plugs and reviews of books from some of my writing and publishing friends during the last couple of months, but I am working through my stack of stuff, and come now to Derek Muk’s collection The Occult Files of Albert Taylor.

I know Derek by way of the M-Brane slush pile. He has submitted stories to me a few times, and I included his item “Croatoan” in M-Brane #7. His usual genre as a writer is stories of the paranormal and the occult, which is not my usual genre as a reader. Nonetheless, he tells his stories with an appealing energy and enthusiasm that is quite engaging. Indeed, these stories put me in mind of paranormal TV shows, especially the 1970s series Kolchak: The Night Stalker and its indirect offspring The X-Files, both of which I enjoyed quite well, the former being a classic "guilty pleasure" and the latter being one of the best TV series of the last couple of decades. I was also, as a child, a big fan of Leonard Nimoy's In Search Of... which was one of the scariest programs on TV (for a kid of my age at the time), and which covered much of the same ground that we find in this book.

The back cover describes the collection thus:
“Meet Albert Taylor, an anthropology professor who investigates cases of the supernatural on the side. Welcome to this macabre gallery of horrors that includes such case as Jack the Ripper, Bigfoot, the Boogeyman, the Spanish Inquisition, ghosts, cults, and more!”

I’ll confess that I was skeptical about the prospect of stories featuring such things as Jack the Ripper and Bigfoot, but “Dear Boss” (about the former) and “Footprints” (about the latter) were both good fun and concluded in rather surprising ways. “Competition” is a fun tale of vampirism in Hawaii, while we have UFOs and ET’s in “Ghost Town” and “The Sun Disc.” There are creepy haunting investigations in “Lynch Mansion” and “Asylum,” and a bizarre mystery enfolds “The Exhibit” of some Spanish Inquisition artifacts. I’m loath to say too much specifically about any of the stories since they are rather prone to spoilers. But if paranormal investigations are your thing, be sure to check out this book.

Pre-order ERGOSPHERE by 12/24, M-Brane subscription included, add TWAN for super deal

There's a hella good pre-order deal for Ergosphere on Page Two today. It includes a subscription to the PDF edition of M-Brane SF, and there is also an option to get all that plus a copy of the paperback edition of Things We Are Not.  Offer good until 12/24.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Little Death

Bart and Kay of Crossed Genres just announced minutes ago their exciting new project, The Little Death of Crossed Genres, a new quarterly publication of erotic science fiction and fantasy. I've actually been waiting for weeks to be able to say something about this. What? Did I know about it already?  Yes! I'll be providing my services as a slush reader along with Jaym Gates, and I was just about ready to burst from keeping it secret.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

BROKEN VESSELS: The Audio Version!

We're having a serious run of awesomeness on the Brane lately. I am delighted to bring to you today something very, very special. Sit back, relax and listen to this fantastic audio version of Brandon Bell's beautiful short story "Broken Vessels," recently published in M-Brane #11, read by the hugely talented TC Parmelee.

Friday, December 4, 2009

ERGOSPHERE cover, front and back

Here's what the full cover, front and back and spine spread out flat, for Ergosphere (M-Brane #12) look like. I'll have order info for the print edition up here within a few days. I am going to offer a deal on it for people who pre-order it by 12/24 (for delivery near or shortly after 1/1). There might also be some kind of combo deal for Ergosphere and Things We Are Not together, but I don't know those details quite yet.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Announcing ERGOSPHERE (aka M-BRANE #12)

Year One of the M-Brane Era (glory be) will conclude on January 1 with the release of our twelfth issue, this one guest-edited by speculative fiction author and frequent M-Brane SF contributor Rick Novy.

I am preparing a special trade paperback edition of this issue's stories, tentatively titled Ergosphere: Astounding New Tales from M-Brane SF, with this cover. The manga-influenced cover art is by talented pencil artist Hazel Abaya, and it is an illustration custom-made for Caren Gussoff's deeply stirring short story "Pretty Maids All in a Row," the collection's lead story. Also, we will have interior illustrations by Weigy for Tim Maughan's spectacular novelette "Havana Augmented" which bookends the issue.

Keep an eye on this page for updates, as I expect to be able to announce price and order info for this very special edition within a week. Subscribers to the M-Brane SF PDF edition will receive this as their normal issue #12, but if there was ever a time to spring for a dead tree copy of M-Brane, then this is it.

This is an astonishing collection of stories that must not be missed by anyone who likes short science fiction. Here's the TOC:

Pretty Maids All in a Row Caren Gussoff
A Single Shot Lawrence M. Schoen
Hard for Us Michelle M. Welch
The Mushroom King Michael Canfield
Humans in the Zoo Paul Williams
Becoming Connie Thea Hutcheson
After Babel Joe Pitkin
Generation Cleansing Michael Andre-Driussi
The Secret Names of Buildings Maura McHugh
Havana Augmented Tim Maughan

A couple of geek notes: Michael Andre-Driussi is the author of the Lexicon Urthus, the major companion to Gene Wolfe's Urth Cycle, which makes him an even more formidable geek than I am; Caren Gussoff is co-editor of Brain Harvest, the world's most powerful flash fiction webzine (hey, Caren, y'all can use that as a promo quote on your site if you want); Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen is one of the world's foremost Klingon linguists (I am not making this shit up) and  author of Buffalito Destiny, published by (get this) Eric T. Reynolds of Hadley Rille Books, our collaborator on the The Aether Age. Oh, and manga/anime blogger Tim Maughan is one of the few people on Earth that I know personally who humiliates me on my otherwise respectable and world-class Cursebird ranking.

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo Victory

New posts are up at the Region Between about my victory in the National Novel Writing Month and a preview of the cover for the electronic gift edition of it that donors to the successfully completed fund drive will receive by Annual Gift Day (12/25). I'm a big fan of the NaNoWriMo method now, and I will likely do it again next year.

Some more TWAN promo

It's not like me to miss a chance at some self-promotion, but I don't think I managed to link every possible person in the world to my guest post on fantasy author Lynn Flewelling's Live Journal on November 16 in which I flog Things We Are Not.  Seriously, more people need to be buying Things We Are Not.


The new issue is out today. It is so full of such great stories that I believe it may be the best issue yet. I want to thank publicly the great writers who contributed to it, and welcome a bunch of new subscribers to the readership this month.

Subscription info for the PDF edition and the link to order print copies of all issues is found on Page 2.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Still alive and well...

I feel like when I've let this blog sit here for a few days without an update that it will seem as though M-Brane has gone out of business. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, but I have been very busy with end-of-month action this week. Issue #11 will be ready for release on Monday. I should have some more info about the special edition of #12 by then...and my NaNoWriMo book should be done! I want to say thanks one more time to those who threw in on my fundraiser. I can't wait to send you your PDFs of the NaNo book (annotated and illustrated edition!) in time for Annual Gift Day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks, y'all

As Kirk said in the Star Trek episode "Charlie X" : "On Earth today, it's Thanksgiving..." etc. I guess in Kirk's timeframe, Thanksgiving had either expanded to a pan-Earth holiday or everyone on the Enterprise was American (except for Spock and Scotty, duh!  (and don't bother mentioning Pavel "Red Menace" Chekov--he didn't join the ship until second season)).

I haven't had the greatest year of my life, but it's not been the shittiest either. I want to make a point of saying that I am thankful this year for all of my new friends and colleagues that I have found by way of M-Brane SF, Things We Are Not, the Outer Alliance and new projects like The Aether Age. You are so many that I am afraid to try to list all of you because I would screw it up and forget someone. I am delighted, gratified, thrilled and even validated as a person that so many great people have done things like subscribed to my zine, written mindbogglingly astounding stories for it, and done so much else to help me promote and keep alive the zine and my other projects. Like any new project, M-Brane has had its hits and misses in content and execution...but it's had a lot more hits than misses, and I know that everyone will agree when Year One's final two issues release in December and January.

I want to also mention my Twitter friends and Facebook friends, many of whom have had little direct association with my M-Brane activities but just decided for some reason to be my friends anyway. Yeah, everyone above: I love you all.

Enter the CAPTCHA

I hate to do it, but this blog has been drawing so much spam in comments lately that I have decided to add word verification for posting comments. I find this to be a quite annoying protocol, but I am even more annoyed by the daily notifications that I have received comments on ancient posts that either say something weird like "Did not know how to become moderator for this forum. If needed" or contain crazy gibberish with links for drugs like Viagra and Cialis. While I am pleased to report to the spammers that I do not at this time have any difficulty with either achieving or maintaining an erection, I am also perfectly capable of researching my own solution to that inconvenience should it one day arise (so to speak).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A song for November

John Anealio, the sf/f songwriter and musician, has released a terrific song for all of you doing NaNoWriMo.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Arkham Tales folds

Brandon Bell has a very worth-reading post at his blog about the demise of Arkham Tales and about the challenges that face the zine biz nowadays. Arkham Tales was a zine that I paid some attention to because it launched just shortly before M-Brane and used basically the same format, a PDF zine. Quality of content was always good, and a lot of the same writers that have appeared in my zine also appeared there. It was always nice-looking, too, which goes a long way with me. There are a lot of crappy-looking publications around, particularly within the website-only category. M-Brane is nothing too terribly special to look at, but it's not an affront to decent design either. Same for Arkham Tales. It's a decent zine and it's too bad that it's closing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some signal boost: Crossed Genres needs some word of mouth

Here's a link to a post at the Outer Alliance blog about the somewhat stressed situation for Bart Leib and Kay Holt's zine Crossed Genres. Please read it and consider helping them get the word out about what they do and buying some copies if you can. As a publisher in an almost identical situation (with an ambitious, awesome monthly zine, that is sadly underfunded), I feel both sympathy for and deep solidarity with Bart and Kay.

Some self-promotion

Just a quick plug for Julia Rios's current "Spotlight" interview on the Outer Alliance blog. The subject: me! Topics of discussion include M-Brane, Things We Are Not and The Aether Age.

Monday, November 16, 2009

M-Brane #11 TOC and new book announced

The December issue of M-Brane SF may be the fanciest yet, with truly amazing new stories by a very, very fine group of writers. Here's the line-up:

DEREK J. GOODMAN: The Christmas Machine
JEREMY KELLY: Swallowing Stars
PAULA R. STILES: Kali's Light
C.G. WARD: Dark Becoming
DAVID CURTIS: The Wigner Effect
BRANDON BELL: Broken Vessels

Regular readers remember Derek Goodman from his stories in issues #4 and #6. Brandon Bell appeared in #1 and #5. Both writers have stories in the recently published anthology Things We Are Not. I have recently announced the April publication of Goodman's book Machina, while Bell will co-edit next year's anthology The Aether Age.

Gustavo Bondoni previously appeared in M-Brane SF in issue #8, and the remaining writers will make their first appearances in this zine in the upcoming issue.

SPECIAL:  Cesar Torres's story "Victoria," was added to the line-up last week and it is something quite special. "Victoria" is one of a cycle of twelve very short stories which will appear together in a lovely book titled The Twelve Burning Wheels to be published by M-Brane SF in the very near future. The exact date of publication will be announced sometime during the coming weeks, and I am delighted to offer this taste of it in the December issue of the zine. Cesar is a writer of vast, expansive imagination and enthralling style, and I know everyone will enjoy this story in the December issue and its eleven companions when the full collection is released.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

GreenPunk update

I put up a short new post at the GreenPunk site (that has been a bit neglected of late) which may be of interest to writers. It also links to an article that effectively rebuts the idea put forth recently in SuperFreakonomics that we ought to solve global warming by undertaking a giant geo-engineering project involving pumping the stratosphere full of sulfur dioxide.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A few quick news items...

A new post is at Region Between about some developments in my NaNoWriMo novel which may or may not be of interest to anyone.  [The related fund drive for J is going well, by the way...thanks again, y'all!]

GUD Magazine has begun offering their PDF edition for sale under a "pay what you want" scheme. Readers may order issues for a price of their own choosing, as low as one cent. I will be very interested in hearing how this works out.

Brandon Bell has been named co-editor of The Aether Age. See more details at the Aether Age blog. Aside from submissions opening for the anthology soon, we have some cool stuff in mind for content on that blog as well.

Brain Harvest editors (and M-Brane writers) Caren Gussoff and Eden Robins both have guest posts of interest on November 11 on Jeff VanderMeer's blog.

Gotta get back to work on NaNo.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A new subscription offer...and fund drive

Yeah, I'm setting out the tip jar again, for a campaign that ends November 30. Visit this page and learn the details. This one is very important to me on a personal level, and so I am making it a new way to subscribe to the zine at a hella deal. So anyone considering newly subscribing ought to look there first. Also, there is a chance to get hold of electronic copies of Things We Are Not and also my NaNoWriMo novel!  Take a minute to see what's up, and help me spread the word.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

M-Brane SF Presents...MACHINA

M-Brane SF is proud to announce a new story collection by author Derek J. Goodman.  Machina will contain four short stories and novellas centered around machines and the way they affect the people around them.  Sometimes they are part of the background, sometimes they are heroes and villians, but they always have a bigger impact than it would initially appear.

At the center of Machina  is Derek's story "Dea Ex Machina," the story of a man who has sold himself to a factory and been turned into a mindless drone through magic.  But as the magic begins to wear off, he questions the reasons he ended up in the factory to begin with, and starts to wonder if there might be some truth to the stories that, among the magic of the factory, there really is a goddess in the machines.  This story is currently being adapted as an opera, and will be performed by the Crucible in Oakland in January 2011.

We will release this book in April 2010 with an introduction by Mark Streshinsky, the producer and librettist for Machine, the opera adapted from "Dea Ex Machina."

The accompanying image is not necessarily the real cover art. I would be interested in having something more directly inspired by "Dea Ex Machina" as described above. Interested artists should email me at mbranesf at gmail dot com. The gig doesn't really pay much of anything, but I might be able to come up with a modest honorarium or perhaps a royalties share.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Take a look at VanderMeer's FINCH

Take a minute to visit this site and learn more about Jeff VanderMeer's new novel Finch. This is the coolest promotional site for a novel that I have seen in a long time. You will find info about the author's book tour, a bunch of review excerpts and some fine treats like a PDF excerpt and--coolest of all--the instrumental soundtrack created for this book by the band Murder by Death.  I am listening to it as I write this post, and it is wonderful.

At the bottom of that page, there is a link to a reader's kit where you can find posters, icons and links to order your own copy of the book. I have not read the novel myself yet, but I will be soon (probably while listening to the soundtrack!).

I wish I would have thought of having some of these kinds of goodies for Things We Are Not. But I'll have some new inspiration for promotion of future books published by M-Brane.  Oh, did I say that out loud that there will be future books from M-Brane? Well, I guess readers of this blog already know that Aether Age is coming next year. There might be some others as well. You'll learn about them here first.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I did a Mind Meld

I enjoyed being able to participate in this week's "Mind Meld" segment at the SF Signal blog. The question was about what genre fiction we might select for a high school lit course, if limited to fiction published within the last ten years. The Mind Meld is regular reading for me anyway and I recommend everyone check it out. It was an interesting and not very easy question to answer because of the time frame. There is so much great writing going on in recent times that I feel we are in a new golden age of it, but it's hard to evaluate the lasting significance of some of the books that seem very important to me right now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Interesting interviews with Atwood

Margaret Atwood appeared a few days ago on The Diane Rehm Show,  discussing her new novel The Year of the Flood (11:00 segment).  She was also interviewed by Rick Kleffel at The Agony Column on October 12 (you'll need to scroll down that page to find it). I wanted to suggest that readers interested in any of the recent chatter about the merits of sf as "literature" listen to Atwood's thoughts. I was quite surprised by much of what she had to say, because previously I had only seen brief remarks which seemed to suggest that she might have a dismissive attitude toward the genre. This is not as much the case as I thought, and she has an excellent perspective on the history of the genre. During the Diane Rehm Show interview, she discusses it in terms of two threads that developed from Verne and Wells, and how she considers her own work to be more in the former.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween report

Last night's trick-or-treat event was a smashing success. We had available to us about a thousand pieces of candy, but still managed to run out before it was quite done. Halloween is the biggest deal of the year on our street, the mysterious and legend-shrouded Carey Place. Only about four blocks long, from NW 17th to NW 21st street, it is a narrow street that is really as much a pedestrian path as a street for cars, and even more so on Halloween when the ends of the street are barricaded to car traffic and the children are allowed to roam free. That link above goes to an article about the street, explaining the legend of its haunting. Other versions of the story include such frightful details as this: Supposedly attempts have been made over the years to replace the "Hatchet House's" shutters to get rid of the ax designs in them. Also, attempts have been made to repaint the house's blood red porch. But the axes always reappear...and the red always returns.  Boo!

This cool kid in the picture is Ewan. He is the son of our good friends Brian and Hayden, and he is sitting in our library (the M-Brane office itself) with  the enigmatic Tommy and his pet Flat Cat.

Friday, October 30, 2009


This has nothing whatsoever to do with M-Brane. I should probably post this at the Region Between blog, but I'm too tired to screw around with the LJ method of dealing with pics tonight. We carved pumpkins tonight, in preparation for tomorrow. We live in Carey Place, the most haunted street in the city. Literally hundreds of children will be here tomorrow evening for trick-or-treat. Happy Halloween, y'all!

The upper one is the one that Jeff carved. The lower one is mine, and is another variation of the same tried-and-true design that I use every year. I'll try something new next year. Maybe.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


The fantastic tenth issue has entered the world. All the order options (including the year PDF subscription... ahem)  are available on Page 2 except for the Kindle and Mobi versions. Our good friend, writer D.D. Tannenbaum, who programs the ebook version for me is in the hospital. I have no details on his situation, though he was able to alert me via Twitter that he'd get to the ebook in a few days. He's been a great friend to M-Brane SF and we certainly wish him well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

AETHER AGE guidelines posted!

I have posted the most current version of the Aether Age writers guidelines. Click here to visit our Issuu  page where the guidelines document can be downloaded or read online. We'll start looking at submissions on November 15, with the deadline being January 30.

Soon there will be a separate page dedicated to Aether Age affairs, and I will post notice of it here when it's online.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

M-Brane and Hadley Rille to join forces on AETHER AGE

I'm pleased to announce that we plan to partner with Hadley Rille Books as publisher of the proposed Aether Age anthology of short fiction based on the "shared world" plan that was elaborated on this blog during the summer. We plan to release the book in the summer of 2010.

Hadley Rille Books was founded in 2005 by Eric T. Reynolds to publish science fiction with an emphasis on space, archaeology, climate and other science-related topics. Recently, Hadley Rille has also published fantasy titles and started a series of archeologically correct historical fiction. Having Hadley Rille as a partner in the project will expand the reach of this book and put M-Brane and its writers in the company of a great group of creators.

Check back for further information over the next several days. I will shortly post new writers guidelines for the project with specific submissions dates. I will also add a dedicated page for Aether Age-related news and information, much as we have for  Things We Are Not. 

I should add that when I say "we" in relation to this plan, I am including Brandon Bell who devised much of the architecture of the Aether Age world and will be closely involved with it throughout.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Back home

We returned safely from our trip to St. Louis. I still have two days off from the day job, so I will attempt to finish M-Brane #10 and come out with some major Aether Age news shortly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Possibly offline for a couple days, traveling

J and I are going to St. Louis Thursday afternoon and will be, for a time, in a place that will likely have no internet access. A post at the Region Between describes our itinerary. I mention it here in case anyone needs me for anything M-Brane-related.  I don't think there is any especially pressing business right now, and I will be able to catch up on anything that comes up later in the weekend.

When I get back to normal routine, I will finish M-Brane #10 (see previous post for TOC) and make some announcements regarding the Aether Age shared world project.

M-BRANE #10 preview

Here's the table of contents for M-Brane #10, due out on November 1. We have a couple fewer stories in this one than in recent issues, but the items by Jeffers and Kenning are both novelette-length stories that I hope everyone will have time to read because they are quite lovely.

Finley, Watts, Gifford and Kenning are new to the pages of M-Brane SF. This is Jeffers's first appearance in the zine, but he was also recently published in our anthology Things We Are Not. Novy and Griffiths have each appeared in these pages a number of times before. Novy's entry is part of a series of stand-alone stories with the same main characters, other installments of which have appeared in other zines. Griffiths' story continues his Skinjumper serial. Hartley and Keller have each had one previous appearance in M-Brane.

Alex Jeffers: Jannicke's Cat
Liam R. Watts: The End of the Beginning
Toiya Kristen Finley: A Mix of Electricities
Rick Novy: How to Eat a Cobalt Bomb
Michael D. Griffiths: Take That
Robert E. Keller: The Mouth of God
Jennifer Gifford: From Embers to Ashes
James Hartley: The Spacebum
A.J. Kenning: Earners

I am continuing the offer of free M-Brane subscriptions (PDF edition) for people who purchase Things We Are Not either directly from me (print or electronic) or by way of the CreateSpace store (print). Visit the TWAN page for all the purchase options and details. Also, while it should be obvious, I'll add that one does not need to be "queer" to enjoy that anthology.  It is a collection of fine sf that can be appreciated by nearly anyone (It does contain some erotica, but not in every story, and it's not all about that).

Note to people who buy ebooks from Amazon (Kindle) or from Mobipocket: Things We Are Not as well as all issues of M-Brane SF from issue #4 onward may be purchased in in MOBI (.prc) format directly from M-Brane SF. The option is already there on the TWAN page for the anthology, and I will add it later today to Page 2 for ordering the zine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rant: Rage against Walmart

This is a tough issue, and I don’t have a good answer. But I know where I stand on it.

Check out this article about this ridiculous pricing war among of the giant discounters on their on-line sale price for new bestseller-category books. I was alerted to this situation this afternoon by a good friend, known perhaps to some of you as “The Little Fluffy Cat,” and @littlefluffycat on Twitter. She was calling on the Twitterati to stand against this rapaciousness and douchebaggery and instead buy their copies of Stephen King’s new book Under the Dome from an independent bookseller instead of Walmart, Target or Amazon.

Yeah, I get it that it can be more expensive to buy stuff that way. I understand that many people (like me, for example) live in the hinterlands and there simply aren’t any other options if you want a brick-and-mortar store (but we do get the internet here). Well, part of the reason for that lack of options is that the big box operators are so huge that it’s nothing to them to literally lose several dollars per copy on a book just so that they can have the best price. An independent operator can’t afford to lose money like that. So they go out of business or never go into business in the first place. And for what? So Walmart can win?  Walmart and its ilk don’t give a fuck about offering the best price on a Stephen King novel. Walmart doesn’t make its money selling books at all. Walmart makes its money by being the only goddamned store in town for groceries, toiletries, paper products, automotive supplies, clothing, pharmaceuticals and everything else that people need to buy whether they want to or not. How do they get to be the only store in town? By suckering all of us into their stores for the “best price” (and poorest selection, and worst service, and shoddiest merchandise, but so what?). Every time one of these eyesores sets up shop, it’s like a nuke explosion: everything dies within a wide radius around it. This dumb price war among the store’s online operations is just another manifestation of it. What, do they want the whole world wide web to also turn into suburban commercial blight? Disgusting.

Perhaps this is one of those things that I am getting too exercised about. After all, what does it have to do with me? I can’t afford to buy new hardcover books anyway, even at the discounters’ prices. Part of the reason for that is that I lost everything I ever had financially, in part as a casualty of the big box economy, and I have yet to recover (those years I spent in business for myself are nothing but failure on my resume, in the estimation of most employers). But if I wanted Stephen King’s new book and had the money to spend on it, I’d try like hell to buy it from someone whose real business is selling books.

Because if the day comes that there are no dedicated booksellers left (online or in meatspace), and it’s all in the hands of the mega-retail monsters, then where will you get those special treasures, those beloved book that are not Stephen King or Dan Brown novels, those books that really matter to you after the bestseller lists are forgotten?

Monday, October 19, 2009


[Brandon Bell has had stories published in M-Brane SF, Byzarium, Everyday Weirdness and elsewhere. His story "Things We Are Not..." is newly available in a certain anthology of the same name. Also, if you're needing an Oz fix while waiting for your copy of Shadows of the Emerald City from Northern Frights Publishing to arrive, you may be interested in this episode of Studio 360.--CF]

Stephen King (I believe in Danse Macabre) noted that the cinematic version of The Wizard of Oz represents an oddity of sorts.  It is one of the few films that outperforms its literary source material.  I'm sure the comment was in connection with the quality of many of the adaptations of his own work.

I mention this because, for many fans of the world of Oz, their knowledge of it is confined to that 1939 film, with possibly a dollop of the 'not nearly as good, but strangely compelling' sequel from the '8os, Return to Oz.

Until a trip to New Mexico, I was—mostly—one of these fans.  I once read a book of American fairy tales (the title long since forgotten) that included several entries from Baum.  But that was it.  My wife and I took our girls to Sante Fe for Thanksgiving last year and on the trip we listened to some public domain audio recordings I downloaded, including a nice collection of Oz tales.

Those tales, bearing some resemblance to Lewis Carroll's matter-of-fact morbidity, address death and physical harm in direct but fairy tale terms.  In one of the tales the lion and tiger discussed devouring someone but they talked themselves out of it in lackadaisical tones. They were... American fairytales.  The label fits.  Fairy tale logic and story structures merge with American imagery in those Baum stories to create something unique and endearing.  A mixture of the carnival and Vaudeville, old locomotives and circus animals, infused into the classic fairy tale mold.

Though the Baum stories that I have experienced are children's stories, there is a component darkness due, if nothing else, to their fairy tale form.

And then there is our cinematic Oz, with its flying monkeys, witches, and urban legends of midgets hanging themselves in the background of certain frames.  There is that rumor that if you play Dark Side of the Moon along with the movie, they match.

Into this history a book of short stories stumbles, seeking to gaze deep into the darker corners of our American Faery Land.  In this pursuit it excels, though some of the spirit of the original Oz tales must be left behind to make room for a more modern, adult, and nuanced flirtation with death and darkness.

Shadows of the Emerald City has rewards for both its cinematic and literary fans.  Some of these stories are dark love stories written to fans of the original movie alone.  Some seem aware of the sequel.  And then there are stories that venture into corners of Oz not seen or hinted at in the movies.

In the opening tale, Mark Onspaugh's “Dr Will Price and the Curious Case of Dorothy Gale,” we start, aptly enough, in Kansas.  I liked this story quite a bit.  It undertakes the considerably difficult role of delivering the reader, for the first time, back to Oz.  Worth noting is the familiar trope of the skeptical narrator, which works well as an entree into the milieu but is used to greater benefit as the existence of such a person is extrapolated upon and serves as the mechanism for the story's conclusion.  I found the actual transition from Kansas to Oz a bit herky-jerky, but that may have been intended.

Onspaugh's story lands ultimately in the horror zone, as does Barry Napier's “Tin.” Napier's tale expands upon the history of the Yellow Brick Road and takes our original cinematic tale in an alternate direction.  Think Poe meets Baum and you'll have a feel for the sort of story Napier delivers.  A nice story that allows for interpretation in purely psychological or supernatural terms.

I wanted to address to “Pumpkinhead” by Rajan Khanna and “Fly, Fly Pretty Monkey” by Camille Alexa together as they approach the milieu as one of dark fantasy. “Pumpkinhead” in particular captured the original fairy tale roots of Baum's stories while bringing a brooding horror rooted in decay and long-hidden secrets.  I am one of those readers who reads stories in order in an anthology, believing that the editor arranged them in sequence for a reason.  By the time I reached “Fly, Fly Pretty Monkey,” I wanted something a bit more understated and subtle, and this one delivered on that desire.

Which is to say, Mr. Schnarr has done a good job of arranging the stories.  The entries represent various approaches to the subject material such as the excellent “Emerald City Confidential” by Jack Bates and Jason Rubis' “A Chopper's Tale” which (at least to my delicate sensibilities) ventures into splatterpunk territory.  It also offers an alternative to Napier's history of the tin woodsman, demonstrating that Mr. Schnarr sought out the most effective stories for his anthology, as opposed to stories that jive together to offer an alternate view of Oz.

Depending on one's perspective, this could be a critique or a compliment to the anthology.  Regardless, there is great variety here for readers, though it is certainly aimed at an older audience.  Though there are some that would rate a PG if made into a movie, others, such as Rubis' tale, venture into NC-17 territory.

The artwork on the front and back covers is workable, and from a distance perhaps perfect.  On closer inspection, I'd like to see more whimsy in the imagery to contrast with the bloodstains on the yellow roadway.  I'm all about packaging: I think it matters.  I also realize that an artist is behind that work and I always want to offer, not negativity, but constructive suggestions for “next time.”  Based on the quality here, we will all be enriched by that “next time.”

Mr. Schnarr, his writers, and the artist, are in the early days of a new era of publishing.  These efforts count.

My final assessment of the anthology is that it can be a bit dark, reading all these stories in one go.  But, that is probably the point. This is, first and foremost, an anthology of horror stories.  And readers looking for something different in a horror collection, a collection that achieves this not only through the unique background of Oz but through a variety of tales and story modes, will find a sinister pleasure in these excursions over the rainbow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Published! Things We Are Not

I should have mentioned yesterday that it was the formal publication date of Things We Are Not, and that the TWAN page has all the order options available now. Readers who pre-ordered print copies during the pre-order period should have them soon, since they shipped out yesterday. Readers who pre-ordered e-copies should have received them already.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Doc Savage redux

Take a minute to visit this site where Keith "Kez" Wilson presents his makeovers of cover art from Kenneth Robeson's Doc Savage series. Each one is a piece of art in the style of the original covers by James Bama, placing the "Man of Bronze" in adventures with other famous characters and creatures from genre films, as in the one pictured here with the Martian invaders from the 1950s War of the Worlds film.

There's a whole bunch of them to look at, even ones featuring Dracula (Lugosi) and the Doctor (Baker). Fun stuff.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Priming the mental pump for NaNoWriMo

I decided to indulge in a trip to the library this morning. I have not been scheduling myself efficiently in recent weeks, and I have not been making enough time in the day to just sit and read away from the computer and its projects. I have plenty of stuff in the house already that I could be reading, but none of it has been grabbing me (though I have been re-reading some Sherlock Holmes stories lately and enjoying them; hadn’t read any of that since I was a young kid).

I decided to go somewhat literary in my library selections this time. My planned novel for NaNoWriMo seems to be a “literary” story as opposed to a genre story. There does, however, seem to be some speculative elements creeping in as I contemplate its outline in my mind. Since I am headed in this direction for the November project—“Literature,” with maybe a dash of genre—I thought I’d pick up some items from the lit shelves. I picked two books by Michael Chabon. He seems to be a guest on public radio shows all the time. Just in the past week, I’ve heard him on at least three different programs. I enjoy listening to him talk, but I have never read any of his stuff. But I know he is a very well-regarded Literature dude who also has a lot of affection for the speculative genres. So I selected his short fiction collection, A Model World and his novel (a longish novella really) The Final Solution.  These books will introduce me to the sort of writer that I think I want to emulate with my NaNoWriMo project. Or so I think right now.

Next, the fiftieth anniversary of Naked Lunch, got me in the mood to take another look at some William Burroughs. I know Naked Lunch quite well and have a copy in the permanent collection, so I decided instead to go for The Soft Machine, one that I tried to tackle as a teenager but I don’t really remember it and don’t know if I actually finished it. Not being familiar with that one seems like a gap in my education, so here it sits waiting for me.

Last, I chose Brian Aldiss’ short fiction collection Supertoys Last All Summer Long (the title story inspired the film AI, planned by Kubrick and finished by Spielberg, and of which I am evidently the only living fan). I expect I will find that I have read at least some of the stories in that one before. But that’s all right. I think this group of books, with its mix of “mainstream” and the weird, will be a good mental fortification for my NaNoWriMo project. And they are all quite short, so I should be able to get them read in a reasonable amount of time. That whole stack in my hand is less than 800 pages.

I am known as "mbranesf" at the NaNoWriMo site, and am available to be buddied there.

How girls and gays are ruining teh sci-fi!

[UPDATE: I added below the post a bunch more icky gay pics, from the Star Trek: Phase II episode "Blood and Fire" from David Gerrold and Carlos Pedraza. Just to stick it to the haters a little more. The boy in red is Captain Kirk's nephew Peter.]

If you have somehow not heard about this yet, either from Outer Alliance discussion, or me tweeting about it, or the hundreds of other people tweeting about it after I did, or from Facebook or from Scalzi's blog, there exists a moronic online magazine of neo-misogyny (called The Spearhead, no less) on which someone identifies science fiction as being the proper domain of men and boys, and decries Skiffy Tube for "feminizing" the genre with such supposedly dickless and "politically correct" shows as the recent Battlestar Galactica. Oh, and the gays are fucking up the Doctor Who/Torchwood universe, too. The icing on the cake is that the post's author (don't know his name, he just goes by the ridiculous monicker "Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Tech") provides a link to a raving piece of douchebaggery so douchey it's almost sublime in its douchiness, that being actor Dirk Benedict's screed about how the new Galactica castrated his Starbuck character. That article appears to be the original source material for Dumb-Male/Anti-Woman's post. Seriously, new-style female Starbuck could kick old-style male Starbuck's cheesy ass after chugging down a couple bottles of whatever that liquor is that they're always drinking on that show.

What a bunch of horseshit.  And I am sick of the idea that anything that isn't all about white straight male douchebags and their toys is automatically a manifestation of "political correctness." It's really quite funny in a way, but also maddening.

I almost feel bad about picking on these people. It sort of feels like beating up on Moon-landing conspiracy theorists. It's too easy a target. They're so isolated and pitiful and fringey that I almost feel like a bully for drawing attention to it. But with all the talk that goes in the blogosphere about what science fiction is, what it should be, what it will be in the future, how it stacks up against other literature, and so on, I think it's worth shining some light on this particular dank hole so that we realize these attitudes still exist and that so people who are less familiar with the genre understand that not all sf-loving boys are this dumb.

[Like Scalzi, I decided not to taint my own blog by driving traffic directly from here to the page in discussion with a link, but if you don't know where it is and want to read it, you'd probably hit on it eventually by Googling things like "spearhead" and "war on science ficton."]

[Oh, and I selected that Torchwood image just to do my part in further ruining sci-fi with male/male love].

Issue #12 update

The January issue, guest-edited by Rick Novy, will conclude our first full year of publication. I think I wish to mark this event in high style and release a special trade paperback edition of the issue, formatted like a short fiction anthology. Before proceeding with this plan, it would be nice to have some kind of sense of whether anyone would buy it (probably priced in the ten-ish dollar range). I can recoup cost without sales being huge, but there needs to be at least some sales of it. No one needs to commit now, obviously, but I wouldn't mind seeing some comments that indicate interest (or not) in this. It's going to be quite a good selection of stories with some new people that we haven't seen in M-Brane yet.

Aether Age update

I have fallen so far behind in recent days on business that I have been wanting to discuss on this blog, that I will need to dispense with some of it as outdated already and then deal with the rest of it in what will probably be a flurry of short posts over today and tomorrow.

I've officially decided that the first Aether Age shared world project will be a stand-alone anthology, produced under a model similar to Things We Are Not, with the biggest emphasis on trying to sell a print book, rather than as a special issue of M-Brane. I was waiting to get a sense of whether Things We Are Not was going to work out at all from a money standpoint. The pre-order period has gone well enough (not great,  but well enough) that I feel good that we won't lose money on it. I think such can be achieved with Aether Age as well.  Soon, probably within a week, I will have a couple of announcements regarding this project, including a revision of the guidelines, dates for a reading period, and some clarification of what we are doing copyright-wise.  This is going to be released under a Creative Commons license, which means that the universe itself will be available for anyone to use with due acknowledgement. It also means that the "furniture" that writers add to the universe with their own stories will be become part of that shared property. I'll explain this in more detail in the next iteration of the guidelines. It's quite different than a traditional copyright situation, but I think the end result will be terrific for everyone.

Friday, October 9, 2009


At The Region Between, there is a post tied in with the Twitter tradition of #followfriday with Twitter links to the book's writers and benefactors.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Some interesting items about our genre

I recommend that everyone read this article at SFF Media by John Howell titled "Why science fiction authors just can't win." It's a good encapsulation of recent events that have drawn people out on the topic of whether sf can be "good" literature or if it's just a disreputable genre...unless Cormac McCarthy or Margaret Atwood write it...and then it's not sf after all. Also covered is the recent broadside fired at the Booker Award by Kim Stan Robinson for ignoring all the fine recent British sf.

Then, as a sort of follow-up to this, try to make time to listen to this installment of Wisconsin Public Radio's show To The Best of Our Knowledge, on the topic of "The Future of Science Fiction." The portion of the show with Ursula LeGuin covers much of the same territory as the article above, and there are also interesting interviews with George R.R. Martin and S.T. Joshi, who discusses Lovecraft's cosmic vision and legacy.

All this kind of makes me want to kick some ass. I think the idea that sf just plain isn't "literature" by definition is totally silly as is the notion that it's somehow going to go away as a genre. If you have time for another item, here's another installment of TTBOOK in which Michael Chabon (a lit dude, but one of the good ones) gives an excellent defense of genre fiction.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

GUEST POST by SUE LANGE-- Michael Moore: The Conscience of America

[Welcome Sue Lange to the M-Brane blog with this interesting and timely item.--CF]

October 3, 2009: I was all set to do a shill post on my latest release (Uncategorized,; $1.99) which is obliquely related to M-Brane SF because the collection contains my story “Zara Gets Laid,” first published here in the June issue. I was all set to promote myself, but then I realized the world has bigger fish to fry. There are more important things to do than try to wrench a buck out of the unsuspecting science fiction reading public. And I discovered that because last evening I attended the opening of Michael Moore’s latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story.

Moore has a tendency to do that: make you rethink your priorities. With him, trouble’s always brewing somewhere and you and your irrelevant ass need to check it out. The trouble in the case of this latest movie happens to be the foundation of everything we know and love: our economic system.

This is not new for Moore. He started out knocking the biggest of the capitalists, GM. Since Roger and Me, his movies have portrayed formidable cracks in the American armor in the form of racism, gun affinity, selfishness, indifference to the poor and weak, and they all seem to come in some way from our undying belief in capitalism.

This movie, while not presenting anything overly new, does a good job of wrapping up Moore’s philosophy and illustrating why he feels the way he does. He makes a good case, especially since he hasn’t changed his spots over the years. Ever since GM pulled the rug out from under Flint, he’s been singing this song.

There are often moments in Moore’s movies when you have a tendency to say, “C’mon Mike, you can do better. Really now, how can someone lose a home they’ve had in their family for generations? If that guy hadn’t taken out a mortgage just to buy a new big screen TV and pair of Nikes, he wouldn’t have found himself subjected to the cataclysmically rising interest rates. And why do people go for those variable rate loans in the first place? Could Mike’s subjects just be dumb?”

And by the way, why does doesn’t his cameraman speak English? Are their chinks in Moore’s armor as well as in America’s? Lots of people think so. I don’t know. He doesn’t seem to hide his faults. He shows us everything about everything himself included. His best exposé, though, is when he shows us something creepy and dirty in the powerful. In this movie he showed us multinationals taking out life insurance policies on their employees, naming themselves as beneficiaries. It’s such an incredible idea, you almost have to laugh. Like a bad Monty Python routine: twisted, marginally funny, and in a language Americans have a hard time understanding. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my Monty, but that twit sketch was just this side of offensive.)

Moore has a way of distilling what seems to be a mass of convoluted and insurmountable problems down to a simple fact or idea. In this case the bad idea is each American’s belief that he or she will one day be a member of the 1% club. This group contains the 1% of Americans that hold 95% of the money. Yes, most of us believe that we will one day party with Bill and Sergey. Apparently we live in Lake Woebegone, Minnesota where all the children are above average.

This belief that we are special promotes a personal greed in each of us. From every guy that mortgages his children’s birthright to Roger Smith who pulled the rug out from under an unsuspecting city in the rust belt, we are all too greedy because we think we’re special.

I like Mike. I think he’s the conscience of America. He’s abrasive. He bugs us all at one time or another. Even Ray Bradbury, the conscientious icon of science fiction, is pissed off at him. And for what? For stealing the title of his own political statement: Fahrenheit 451. Seems he would have been on board with Mike, but Mike can do that to you. When he was filming down on Wall Street at quitting time, he was calling out to the traders as they were leaving the building. He wanted someone to explain derivatives. Most ignored him, but when he asked one guy for some advice, the stock broker said “Stop making movies.”

Good thing Mike has a thick crust. He’s going to need it, because this time he’s pulling out all the stops. He’s going to lose sympathy for this one. Pay attention to the song at the end. I don’t want to spoil it, but I’ll just say it’s not sung in French or with a Liverpool accent. Americans will understand the words. And recognize the tune.

And if there’s one thing Americans won’t tolerate it’s Satanism. Did I say Satanism? I’m sorry, Mike did not once mention Satanism in his movie. Doesn’t matter. Americans equate the actual word he used with Satanism. And that, folks, may be why we have a problem.

Sue Lange’s story, "Kangaroo Wars," is in M-Brane SF #9, out on newsstands now. Well, maybe not newsstands. M-Brane has not capitulated to the military-industrial complex and so does not have national distribution at all the Hudson newsstands across the continent. Get it: here. [Editor's note: Now is possibly the best time ever to start subscribing to M-Brane, and you can do it for free by pre-ordering Things We Are Not! New subscriptions will start with issue #9, containing Sue's fine story.]

Friday, October 2, 2009


It’s the fiftieth anniversary of the first broadcast of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. I was happy that Morning Edition (NPR) made mention of it this morning, in a short segment which pointed out—accurately, I think—that the show was a timely and even prophetic thing during the transition from the 1950s into the next decade when so many assumptions and norms were challenged and toppled. Serling was in some ways a renegade and a writer of deep convictions who used his show subversively to make statements and observations about society and current affairs, couching them in speculative fiction so as to slip his messages past clueless TV censors in much the same way that Gene Roddenberry would with Star Trek a few years later.

Serling personally wrote the teleplays of most of the Twilight Zone’s episodes. On camera as the show’s host, usually with a smoldering cigarette in hand, he was the first writer who also a TV star and the creative master of a whole show. The result of this total creative control, and of Serling’s singular vision for television, was one of the most remarkable bodies of work in the history of the medium.

As a kid, I loved Twilight Zone. I will still turn it on when it shows up in re-runs. When Syfy has its occasional marathons of it, I will turn it on even if I have no plan of really watching it. It soothes me as ambient noise. I have to admit, objectively, that many of the episodes really don’t seem as great anymore as they did when I was kid. But there were a lot of episodes of this show, and any TV series has its weaker entries. When the show is at its best, however, it is really good. Twilight Zone’s best episodes are and always will be among the all-time classics of TV drama. The first episode, “Where is Everybody?” is indelibly imprinted in my memory. Everyone remembers Agnes Moorehead in the strange, dialogue-free “The Invaders,” battling a diminutive alien invasion. Unforgettable are the revelations at the end of “A Stop at Willoughby” and “To Serve Man.”  I was very young when I first saw “Time Enough at Last.” I cried when Burgess Meredith’s bookworm character broke his glasses at the end of the story.

The CBS website has a lot of episodes available to watch online, so take a few minutes to return to The Twilight Zone.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

10/1 is "Support Our 'Zines Day"

Writer Damien G. Walter is promoting this very nice campaign to encourage readers of speculative fiction to show some support for their favorite zines by subscribing or donating to them on October 1. I always feel like a douchebag when I'm trying to raise money...but I'm getting used to it. If anyone is so moved as  to show love for M-Brane in this way on 10/1, the handy Pay Pal buttons to subscribe to the zine or donate to the Writers' Fund are always available on Page 2.  But a new and terrific way to support the cause this month is to pre-order a copy of Things We Are Not. It comes with a zine subscription, too!

M-BRANE #9 RELEASED; Pre-order TWAN and get it for free!

The ninth issue was just released to its writers and PDF subscribers moments ago.  The print version and single copies of the issue may be ordered as usual by way of Page 2. This issue contains, aside from its fantastic stories, a reprint of the author/story intros for Things We Are Not which ran on the TWAN page recently. Also, the list of Benefactors--those great people who donated to the TWAN sponsorship campaign--appears in this issue.

This issue is terrific, and the perfect one for new readers to start a subscription, which they can do for FREE by pre-ordering Things We Are Not. As an additional inducement, I should mention that this issue contains Mari Kurisato's story "Lurker," which has a sequel in Things We Are Not. So pre-order the anthology now, and get "Lurker" right away so you are ready for "Connected" in a few days!

Monday, September 28, 2009


The pre-order period for print (for US domestic readers) and PDF editions of Things We Are Not has begun. Go to the TWAN page for complete details. The print copy price of $16.95 includes shipping. Also a PDF subscription to M-Brane SF is included with both print and electronic editions of the book. This is a good deal.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

TWAN proof approved! Pre-order to start 9/28

At last I have in my hands the proof for the print edition of Things We Are Not. It’s a bit later than I had hoped it would be at this stage, but I believe we are still on track to release by 10/15.  The physical edition is quite gorgeous and I breathed a great sigh of relief when I opened the package and laid eyes upon it for the first time. This is the first book project of its type that I have produced and the first time I have used this particular process to publish something, so I had an irrational yet persistent fear that the spine text would somehow not be on the spine, or that the cover image colors would be all wrong or that the interior pages would be shuffled out of order. But all is well.

I will start a pre-order period soon.  Order options will appear on the TWAN page and there will be a link to it from this page and M-Brane Page 2 (the usual buy-stuff page). This will likely begin on Monday 9/28.  The reason I am delaying a couple more days is simply because of day-jobbery tomorrow and through the weekend. A couple more details need to be firmed up before I can set a final price for the paper and e-editions, and I won’t be able to have all that squared away until Monday morning. A couple of things that I can say for sure is that I will have a shipping-included price that will be available to US domestic readers who order directly from me, which will probably be cheaper than ordering it from Amazon. As for overseas orders, I do not know how the numbers work out yet, and that’s one of the things that are delaying the pre-order period for a couple more days.

Also, if you were thinking of becoming a subscriber to the zine and haven’t yet, you might as well wait a couple days now: everyone who buys Things We Are Not in print or electronic form directly from M-Brane during the pre-order period will also get a subscription to the PDF edition of the zine (this offer will probably not apply to Amazon print or Kindle sales, but I will be able to determine that for sure by start of next week).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The rest of the TWAN writer profiles...

...are now posted at the TWAN page.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Autumnal City

I've been fascinated by the images coming online from Sydney, where a bizarre dust storm blanketed the city today, turning the sunlight an eerie red. Check out this Red Sydney Project Flickr page, where people have been posting hundreds of these pictures.  A lot of them are beautiful and weird.

Many of the pictures make me think of Bellona, the strangely isolated and enigmatic city of Delany's masterpiece Dhalgren. Perhaps because of the look of the various cover art for different editions of the book, I always see Bellona in my imagination as a place where even during the day it is never quite fully light (which I guess makes sense, since the place is described as having areas that are somehow continuously on fire and probably emitting smoke), and everything is perceived through a haze.

The image to the left is the art from the original printings of the novel, and the other one is the cover of the more recent Vintage edition, which is the one I have in my own library.

In both cases, one can probably see why the images of Red Sydney reminded me of Bellona even if one has not read the book.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A few more TWAN author/story profiles...

...are posted on the Things We Are Not page.

M-BRANE 9 coming soon

I am very excited about the upcoming new issue of M-Brane SF. The October issue features a wide array of wonder and weirdness from a few writers new to our pages and few returning writers. We have here  three writers (Robins, Kozzi and Kurisato) who also have stories imminently appearing in Things We Are Not. We also have return appearances in M-Brane from Lange (#5), Grady (#2), Brill (#3), Earls (#1) and Dagstine (#2). I'm excited also by the stories from writers who were new to me (McHugh, Ward, Reynolds-Ward, Obermeyer and Sykora). I usually think that the upcoming issue is the most exciting one ever, but I think it may be especially true with this one. 


SUE LANGE The Kangaroo Wars

MAURA McHUGH: Empty Mind Came Back with the Pearl


BILL WARD: Chance in the Year 54

BOB BRILL: Hibiscus Sex



JASON EARLS: Fibonacci Numbers and the Psycho Living in the Condemned Funeral Parlor

JEFF KOZZI: The Veritable Vegetable Victory

ANNA SYKORA: The Coming of the Abaries




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