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So a few weeks before Christmas, I put out my “Best of” list for short stories, fully intending to do the same for books and movies and who knows what. Then…I didn’t. But, I don’t want to leave it all hanging out there, so I’m combining lists and putting out a “Best Things I Laid Eyes on in 2015” list. You’ll find movies, books, places, people and more. I tried to think of the entire past calendar year, but I know I missed a thing or two I loved. Forgive me. So…here’s my list:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I’ve seen the newest Star Wars film twice now and yet it seems like we’ve just shaken hands. I can’t even tell you how many times I saw IV, V, and VI as a kid. We had the movies on VHS and I watched them over and over and over. I loved them all and when Lucas re-released them in theatres with the latest effects, my dad made sure all of us kids were sitting in the seats.
Then the Prequels. Ugh. Like so many others I wanted to like them. Like so many others I was disappointed. I barely remember watching them and I know I’ve only seen Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith once each. And I know with the final movie I only saw it so I could say I did. There was no hype. No anticipation. No excitement.
Not so here. There are haters, but they can forget about trying to get me to hate it. It checked all the boxes for me and established new characters I care about. A re-tread? Hardly. Similar storybeats, but so was Harry Potter. So have been stories throughout the ages. I am an unabashed fan and I don’t care who knows.
Weapons of Mass Deception by David Bruns and J.R. Olson
Bruns and Olson have a great book on their hands, I think. Reading this book brought be right back to the hours and hours I spent reading Tom Clancy’s books when I was in high school and college. Clancy had a knack for telling a complicated story with complex international political ramifications and making me care about it. With Weapons of Mass Deception, Bruns and Olson have done the same. The book is a tremendous achievement and I can only hope that the two coordinate their efforts again to give us more books like this down the road.
Jessica Jones / Daredevil
I’m lumping these two together. The first two Marvel properties developed for Netflix and both were daring (pun intended) and showed us a side of Marvel we didn’t know we would ever get on the screen. In Daredevil we got a great introduction to the dirty underbelly of New York and were made aware early on that anything goes. Daredevil showed us that in violence, but keeping with the theme of Murdock’s blindness, a lot was kept in the dark and at night. That violence was brought to light big time in Jessica Jones. I loved Jessica Jones. I think I liked it better than Daredevil and that is saying a lot. As a father of a pre-teen girl, I am worried about the world she’ll grow up in and the boys she may date. As a high school teacher, I see a lot of borderline abusive relationships as well. In Jessica Jones, we see those relationships personified in the villain Kilgrave. What a performance and in a way it’s a shame what the end result was for his character. I’m looking forward to what Marvel and Netflix will be cooking up for us in 2016.
Chicago Architectural Tour
I went on a school trip to Chicago early in the summer and one of the things we did was this. If you ever get the chance, it is a great trip up and down the Chicago River with historical context for nearly every one of the buildings along the shore. There is a lot of new building going on and the new Trump Tower gets its fair share of criticism, but I daresay that is part of what has spurred the new developments along the route. The day we went ended up being a lot colder than we anticipated, but I still wound up fascinated by what I saw and heard along the tour.
Constitution/Warrior by Nick Webb
These books were great. So great that when I was buying Christmas gifts, I bought them in paperback for my dad. He’s hard to shop for, but he’s a military space sci-fi nut, so I knew I was safe with these books. I enjoyed Constitution, but I wasn’t sure what Webb would give us in the follow up. Wow. He really set up a complex and interesting backstory for each side in the conflict (and there are many more than two) and set up a potentially explosive third book in this series. If you like action and intrigue in your science fiction, check out Nick Webb’s books.
The last movie I remember smiling about so much in the theatre before Star Wars was Ant Man. Such a great movie. Really impressed me with its humor and vibe. Just as Daredevil and Jessica Jones redefined Marvel for the TV audience, so did Ant Man for films after the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. I love the nods to Avengers and how it all fits in with the larger universe without feeling too small.
My Newest Book Cover
Coming Soon…. Check this out:
The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott
I’d read the book by Andy Weir last year so I can’t credit that here, but the movie exceeded all my expectations. I have been burned too many times by books turned into terrible movies, and so when Scott managed to turn The Martian into not only a decent movie, but a GREAT movie, I was thrilled. Matt Damon did a fantastic job and I thought the changes made from book to film were slight and appropriate for the conversion to the movie theatre.
ALL the short stories
I read a lot of short stories in 2015. A LOT. I already did my Best of list for just short stories, so I’m not going to rehash them here, but if you like short fiction, you need to check out the Future Chronicles curated by Samuel Peralta. Some great works by a lot of amazing authors. (Myself included, Full Disclosure.)
Over the summer I had the opportunity to see a lot of family. My wife and I went on a joint vacation to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with her parents. Unlike some, I do like my in-laws and we had a great kick-off to the summer and good stories for years to come.
We also had a family reunion for my family. My sister lives a couple states away and my older brother is over 2,000 miles away, so getting us all together is easier said than done. Fortunately it worked out and we all met at my parents’ home for a few days. Unfortunately, my 99-year-old grandmother passed away in North Dakota the same week, sending my parents off to handle that business. All of my siblings were able to make it for the funeral, but it did put a bit of a damper on the overall summer get-together. Regardless, it was a great time to see people I don’t typically get to see.
The Dark Man/The White Night by Desmond Doane
A different kind of books than Webb’s offerings, but still just as compelling. If I was going to put out a Best Books of 2016 list, I really think The White Night would have held the top spot. Who is Desmond Doane? That’s the penname for Ernie Lindsey, an accomplished author on his own, but for these horror/supernatural books, he wanted a little edge he couldn’t provide as himself, so Desmond Doane was born. The first book is good, but the second…man, I couldn’t put it down. There was a moment – and you’ll get there too – when I read it and I had to send a message to Ernie cursing him out for what he did to me. I couldn’t wait to write up my review for it and I am strongly anticipating the third book in his Graveyard: Classified series in 2016.
Humbird Cheese, Toma, Wisconsin
A must stop on our family trips to North Dakota. On our way up for the funeral, we had to stop here. If you love cheese, this is a great place with free samples of nearly all the varieties of cheese. Me? I love a good smoked cheddar and buffalo wing-flavored cheese curds.
Collider Movie Talk on YouTube
We ditched the Dish this year. After over 10 years with either Dish Network or DirecTV, we finally cut the cord so to speak. We rely on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu for most of our traditional TV viewing. However, I’ve come to expect one show each day – Collider Movie Talk on YouTube. Each day, John Campea leads a panel discussion show to discuss movie reviews, box office returns and general movie news. It isn’t dry – each of the hosts have their own unique brand of humor and their passion of movies and genre movies in particular is infectious. In addition to Movie Talk, they also produce weekly shows for comics (Heroes) and Star Wars (Jedi Council) as well as a plethora of TV show recap episodes. If you like entertainment news that isn’t just Kardashian this and Kanye that, check this out.
2015 is almost up, and you know what that means…
That’s right — excessive weight gain around the holidays!
Also Top 10 Lists!!
Last year I loved making my Top 10 books of the year (which ended up being around 17 or something), but this year I’m going to break down my lists into smaller categories. One of those will be the Top 10 (Actually 12) Short Stories I read in 2015.
Obviously not comprehensive, and not all were written in the past year, but all made a big impression on me. I’m terrible at telling you exactly which was THE BEST, so I’m just going to give them to you in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Fair warning — many of them are in the Future Chronicles anthologies since I’ve read each of them this year making them a significant reading source for me each time one was released.
A few caveats: A few stories may not have made the cut because I only took one per anthology, and I definitely left all of the parts of Hugh Howey’s Beacon 23 series off since they’ll make an appearance as a full novel on my best books of the year list.
Right off the bat, we get a revelation. Eamon has been well-known in the indie community for a few years as being a top reviewer and a big supporter of indie writers. That much talent wasn’t going to stay hidden behind his blog, though, and we were treated to the first of three (so far!), short stories by Eamon in August. The story could be written off, except that Eamon penned the story in the dreaded second-person perspective. You know — the same POV that you read all those Choose Your Own Adventure books in back in middle school. Eamon pulls it off with a flourish and is a fantastic new voice.
I love how Stefan Bolz writes. Always interesting. Always compelling. Always positive. Even in The Traveler, which originally appeared in The Time Travel Chronicles, where bad things happen, there is an overall optimistic outlook. Bolz has the unique ability to take a dystopia and make it a place you want to be. In The Traveler, Bolz gives us a nuts and bolts (pun definitely intended) look at time travel as our protagonist builds a machine from scratch. The story is poignant and touching, and is one of a handful of phenomenal stories from that anthology.
Peter Cawdron is perhaps the best writer who you should be reading if you aren’t. He’s written stories about aliens, genetic engineering, time travel, and has most recently been focusing his time and talents on zombies and the monsters humanity creates. Free Fall is set in Cawdron’s zombie universe and is a fascinating take on the genre, putting an astronaut in space at the time of the z-pocalypse. What does he do? How does he react when a distress call comes to him from a little girl on earth? The tale is thrilling and captivating.
In The Dragon Chronicles, one title took the title of the “Most Talked About,” and that was Tasty Dragon Meat. KJ Colt managed to tell a story that was funny, scary, and thrilling all at the same time. Who would imagine that ingesting dragon meat would do anything besides fill a starving man’s stomach? The idea that the addictive flesh of the dragon had hidden qualities was fun and inventive and earned Colt a spot on this list.
The Immortality Chronicles was the first Future Chronicles title to send proceeds to charity. One might think the stories would be subpar, but throughout it, the authors strove for excellence. Harlow Fallon’s A Long Horizon capped the collection with a bang. The story spans hundreds of years from a ship bound for the New World from Europe to a ship in deep space bound for unknown destinations. One thing is consistent – an alien who has formed a symbiotic (even parasitic) relationship with its host, a woman who was just on the cusp of adulthood on her voyage to America. It is touching, interesting, and visceral.
Patrice Fitzgerald takes artificial intelligence and adds something we all can relate to – cake. Originally published in The A.I. Chronicles, Fitzgerald’s story takes the cake (sorry!) as the story of A.I. run amok with political correctness. There are certainly shades and hints that allude to our society today and the steps we take to making everyone the “same” and ignoring unique body shapes. I applaud Patrice’s work on the story and how it rings true, but also how it hits the funny bone as well.
Earlier when I mentioned Eamon Ambrose, I talked about how much of a boon to indie publishing he’d been. Hank Garner is quickly becoming a major voice for publishing with his Author Stories Podcast. Recording one a week, Hank is giving a voice (literally) to dozens of writers who deserve to be heard. Garner is a heck of a writer as well, publishing a number of works this year, including Writer’s Block, a story that most any writer can relate to. Of course, it isn’t as simple as just a case of writer’s block, as our protagonist Stu finds out and we get a magical story out of it.
David Gatewood is one of the best editors out there, and he took a chance this year by publishing Tales of Tinfoil, a short story anthology centered on conspiracy theories. The anthology is a bold choice and I think it pays off. Gleaves’ story leads the collection with a JFK rabbit-hole tale. Where Gleaves shines is the attention to detail and the plausibility. By the end, I was almost convinced that was the actual circumstances of the president’s assassination. Gleaves’ main work on his Sleepy Hollow series is lengthy (the three books total over a half-million words), but the short story here is a fine work, indeed.
Apparently this year Chris Pourteau just wanted to rip people’s hearts out. He originally published Unconditional on its own at the beginning of the year, and then folded it into an anthology entitled Tails of the Apocalypse featuring stories of animals in the end times. I’m sure with both appearances, readers left the story a few tears fewer. Basic premise: What about the family dog during a zombie apocalypse? Here’s the twist — the story is told from the POV of the dog who is loyal to the last. Well done, Mr. Pourteau, thanks for making me think of it all over again. I hate you.
This may be more of a novella, but I’m putting it here anyway. Right about the time The Dragon Chronicles was out and garnering five-star reviews, Thomas Robins released the first of two stories in a fantasy world inhabited by dragons and those afraid of them. The title dragon isn’t all he seems to be, however, and you’ll find yourself questioning a lot as you read through the story. Robins has since followed it up with a quasi-sequel and I hope he continues the story in 2016.
I don’t know if I can say it much better than what I said about this story when it was first released with the alt.history 101 title in July. So here we go: “Important? Yes. Important. Take Pavarti Tyler’s story for example. Entitled Concerns of the Second Sex, her tale looks at a world where the 19th Amendment never came to be. In fact, with the absence of the women’s vote, the world has reverted to a place barely recognizable. Well, recognizable if you’ve read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but that’s about it. Tyler pays homage to Atwood with this story and takes it a step further with the treatment of other races, including race mixing. If we never respected the rights of half of the species, why would the race movement of the 50’s and 60’s be successful, either? The story is tragic, yet Tyler does give it a hopeful note. I found it poignant and an important story to read and understand where we’ve come from and where we are going.”
An emotional gut punch rounds out this list as Jennifer Wells gets all the feels as the heart of the Dark Beyond The Stars collection. The authors and curator didn’t try to focus on it, but each of the authors for the anthology is a woman, showing that science fiction isn’t just for men. One of my favorites was Carindi, set in the universe of Wells’ debut novel, Fluency. The story focuses on dependency, love, and sacrifice. When everything you have is in the hands of someone else, what is does love mean? In the end, our actions are the loudest words of all, as we find in this moving short story.
…and there we go. What a great list. By no means is this comprehensive. I read a lot this year, but my my own admission, my reading list was mostly limited to independent publishing, namely The Future Chronicles anthologies. I rated A LOT of stories as five stars this year, so this list could change a lot depending on my mood. There were certainly stories that were great, but I had to set the line somewhere. Don’t worry — still going to have a Best Books of the Year list coming up in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for that.
But what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.
I innocently (Okay, maybe not so innocently) wrote a blog post on Sunday fisking a two-star review for the sci-fi anthology Dark Beyond The Stars. Thew review was unfair, specifically targeting the writers of the anthology just because their organs differ from his. So…I struck back. I tried not to be mean-spirited, but things needed to be said. Things I could not ignore with a pre-teen daughter growing up in my household.
And wow…I guess this is “viral” — at least for me. In the past couple days, I’ve had WAY above average views on this blog. The authors of the anthology got behind it and it was viewed organically that way, but then yesterday I started getting massive hits from two places.
One — The Mary Sue.
I don’t think I ever considered that I would be quoted on a Feminist website. Frankly, I just never really thought about it, but why not? (Technically a Feminist Geek Culture site). Regardless, it was a kick, reading my own words in an article condemning the DBTS review. The link back to my own blog got me some traffic, but not as much as…
Two — Reddit.
Oh my. If you aren’t familiar with Reddit, I have two pieces of advice: wade in carefully and/or run away. Reddit can be a great place (I’ve seen the community gather together to make sure an autistic kid had a phenomenal birthday party) and as Obi-Wan Kenobi once put it about another place, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Anyway, someone linked my review on the FemmeThoughts subreddit and suddenly I started getting dozens of hits. I wandered over and found a few people discussing my attempts to eradicate “sexism with more sexism.” Well, that was NOT what I intended, so I commented in an attempt to clear things up. Suffice it to say, in a world of ambiguity, there are people on both sides of the aisle who want to deal only in absolutes.
But two other things were bigger to me than blog hits.
- Four of the authors in DBTS reached out to me personally last night to thank me. Like I told all of them, I was sticking up for friends, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
- But also…John Freakin’ Scalzi. The author of Old Man’s War and Redshirts among others (both would qualify as Space Opera, I believe), chimed in as a commenter under the now infamous review. (which, by the way, had about 9 comments a few days ago, then all were mysteriously deleted. Oops…now there is 68 as of this morning.) But…back to Scalzi, that means…probably…that whether he read my blog, or the Mary Sue piece, JOHN SCALZI READ MY WORDS. *faints*
OK…gonna go recover now. If you haven’t read Dark Beyond the Stars yet…what are you waiting for????
A blog I often enjoy reading is that of J.A. Konrath. Once there, one of my favorite activities of his is when he fisks a letter, blog post, review, whatever. The Internet is a fantastic place. In fact, just the other day, I posted my blog post about my grandmother. That night, I got a message from my uncle’s cousin. Turns out he was the best man at the wedding about 50 years ago of the man who lives in my town who used to be the funeral director. About 10 years ago, I worked with that man’s daughter. I put them in touch, shrinking an already contracting world.
That’s one of the things I love about the Internet.
One of the things I don’t like is the ways we can hurt each other.
A few weeks ago, I published my review of Dark Beyond The Stars, and then a few days after that, an interview with anthology curator Patrice Fitzgerald. I was enthralled with the anthology, but when I saw the book’s line-up, I was afraid that the trolls of the Internet would somehow find their way out from under the various bridges and sewer grates to attack the collection. You see, DBTS has an entirely female author line-up. The lone man to be involved was editor David Gatewood. When I mentioned the composition of the anthology to Fitzgerald, she really didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. They were all authors — sci-fi authors no less — who all just happened to be women. Good enough. They didn’t seek out that line-up, but it happened somewhat organically.
I love it. As my daughter grows and matures, I would love for her to be able to emulate one of these fine women with their grace and style in the publishing world that sometimes holds their gender against them.
Case in point, one of the latest reviews of the anthology. A previous look at this review by Brian K. Lowe discussed the review, but didn’t name the reviewer or link it. No matter, the review is easy enough to find, but the writer of the review deserves to be named. He did purposefully leave his name there, complete with the name of one of his latest books as well.
But let’s look at that review, line by line, with my reaction in bold.
I’m sorry to offend fifty percent of the population but it has to be said that when it comes to writing Science Fiction, it still remains a purely male domain.
First off, if you are truly sorry about not wanting to offend the female portion of the earth’s population, maybe you shouldn’t have left a review in the first place. But, you did, so let’s take a look at the rest of his statement. “When it comes to writing Science Fiction, it still remains a purely male domain.”
Now this being an Amazon review, I can’t necessarily expect him to quote statistics or anything, but this is actually true. Changing, but true. Well…we don’t have up-to-date stats, but according to a 2013 blog posting by an editor with Tor Books, the percentage of women submitting to the publisher was just 32 percent for genre fiction (22 percent for just sci-fi). So yes, the numbers are lower. BUT…they are improving. The percentage of female writers in the 1940’s was pegged between 10-15 percent.
That doesn’t even take into account indie publishing. And as we know, the two years since 2013 has been a lifetime in the course of publishing, indie or traditional. So while we can’t say that women are publishing more, we certainly CANNOT say it remains a purely male domain. I myself was a big fan of Anne McCaffrey and Andre Norton as a child and women were very influential then, just as they are now.
I bought the above book the other day, hoping to be proved wrong. It is a collection of stories under the banner of science fiction by an all female group of writers. They are: Patrice Fitzgerald, Blair C. Babylon, Annie Bellet, Elle Casey, Ann Christy, Autumn Kalquist, Theresa Kay, Susan Kaye Quinn, Sara Reine, Rysa Walker and Jennifer Foehner Wells.
So he was looking to be wrong about women in science fiction. I doubt that. In fact, with the context of the review, it reads more like someone looking for things to pick out to prove their case. As for the rest of that paragraph, good job. You correctly identified all the writers.
While the stories are expertly edited by David Gatewood, without exception, sadly each one has that special something missing to make them true scifi, let alone memorable. Not one of the eleven writer’s offerings got my undivided attention.
Each was missing that special something. Let me tell you what women bring to the table that men struggle with: EMOTION. I think I am pretty in touch with my emotions, but I will probably never be able to write some of the scenes found in Jen Well’s story in DBTS. Women tend to bring out a tone of compassion and empathy, an aspect that MEN sadly usually cannot nail. While not all are mothers, there is a connection to motherhood in many of the stories and many of the tales women bring to science fiction.
If you want to talk about what men to in science fiction, we can talk about the typical “space opera” with lasers in space and faster than light speed and whatnot, but sadly we often get hollow characterizations. Women know characters because they usually understand emotions better than we do.
As for “not one of the eleven writer’s offerings got my undivided attention,” I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe turn off the soccer match or put down Angry Birds?
For the publisher to make the claim that the anthology is space opera is laughable! Obviously neither Gatewood or anyone else connected with this collection of stories has a clue about what constitutes a space opera. Think Starship Troopers, District Nine, Farscape, Star Gate, even Star Wars and Star Trek. To borrow a quote – “I associate the idea of space opera with appallingly bad writing,” which is the perfect description of this book’s content.
OK. I googled the definition of “space opera” and got: a novel, movie, or television program set in outer space, typically of a simplistic and melodramatic nature.
Based purely on THAT definition, you can rule out one of your examples. While District Nine is a fine science fiction story, it is in NO WAY a space opera. Set on Earth. Unless you consider South Africa to be a separate planet. Maybe you do.
As for some of the others, Stargate (that’s the correct writing of that) isn’t your typical Space Opera either, with the teams established on Earth, and not getting space ships until the latter half of the series. As for your quote: if you knew that going in, why did you even bother?
For any scifi story to be considered to be a space opera, it should always be a mixture of fast paced action combined with a large measure of the shoot-em-up mentality.
Again, I’ll refer you back to the definition. Your definition doesn’t even include some of YOUR OWN examples. Most of Star Trek is introspective, imaginative, and social boundary pushing. My favorite episodes (as is many people’s) are the ones were NOTHING REALLY HAPPENS. Picard plays a flute. Data has dreams. Odo discovers who he truly is. All great shows, but nothing “space opera” about them according to your definition. So, we go back to the original definition, where we are allowed stories merely set in space. All in this collection fit that example, many with stories that would fit very well in most any series Gene Roddenberry produced.
I applaud the ladies for giving it a try, but I would suggest they forget going any further. Leave the genre to those of us who know how to write scifi, being well versed in it’s many nuances…
YOU APPLAUD THEM?
I applauded my kitten when she used the litter box for the first time. Women don’t need your applause, nor do they want it. There are plenty of people out there who appreciate good stories with well-developed characters. With this final statement, it’s convinced me that you, sir, are jealous. I saw this collection hover just outside the Amazon Top 100 for a few days, and I’m sure you did, too. You have written a couple of science fiction books that have gone nowhere. When a book written by women comes along and anihilates your “works of art” in days in terms of sales and reviews, you can’t stand it. You read, thinking you have an open mind, but your mind is the furthest thing from it.
And you can’t even take criticism, either. Last I checked yesterday, there was nine responses to your review on Amazon (none by me, by the way). Today there are NONE. I imagine you sent Amazon a sob story how these people are ruining your reputation and soiling the Internet for you.
Get real. Your review just shows that you are a caveman who looks at the stars and wonders how far you can go when the women in the cave next door have already developed the wheel and fire.
Jack Eason, author of The Guardian
And there you go. There’s his name and his book. Look it up and you’ll find it has some decent reviews, but a ranking above 900,000, meaning no one has purchased it in months. This man wants recognition, and I suppose you could argue he got it here. But it isn’t good recognition.
People like you are who I will warn my daughter about. When I send her out into the world, she will be told that people will doubt her. She will be told there are some that believe she cannot achieve things simply because of the chromosomes in her cells. She will be told this, and I will tell her to ignore them. Women can write science fiction. They can write it well, and if you don’t believe me, go pick up your own copy of Dark Beyond The Stars. If short stories aren’t your thing, pick up one of their full length novels. These women can write — and write better than me.
Keep it up. Show the girls out there that men like this have no say in their lives.
Will Swardstrom, Husband, Father, Author
Dark Beyond The Stars is a wonderful new science fiction short story anthology just released this week. I reviewed it early on and highly recommend the collection for space opera buffs. (Find my review here.)
I was curious about how the collection came about. I’m friends with Patrice Fitzgerald all the way back to our days writing WOOL fanfic and think she is a great person to know in the current day in indie publishing. As it turns out, Patrice took some of the lessons she learned seeing Samuel Peralta shape The Future Chronicles series and decided to play around as the curator and publisher of her own science fiction anthology. I think she’s done an amazing job, taking the things Future Chronicles does well, and adding in her own touches of flair.
Here are some words from Patrice on how the anthology came about and all the amazing talent that went into it:
The truth is that this idea came from many of us knowing each other and having great enthusiasm for all the wonderful stories we were reading by our friends. The idea of a space opera collection was so wide open (literally!) that we decided to jump in and explore it. Kind of a “Hey kids, let’s put on a show” mentality. So we did.
And it’s fair to say that the results have been stunning. Fabulous stories, an incredible response from readers, and a bestseller right out of the gate. DARK BEYOND THE STARS jumped to #1 in SF Anthologies on the Amazon charts on launch day, and was also in the top spot in SF Time Travel. The same position showed up in the UK and Germany. Maybe other countries, too, but we were so busy collecting accolades we didn’t see all of them!
What inspiration did Samuel Peralta serve?
Sam Peralta organizes a dozen anthologies in the time it takes the rest of us humans to choose a title. He made it look easy. Turns out, there are lots of moving parts!
But after watching the Future Chronicles explode onto the science fiction radar screen, we knew it was doable. And it is truly an amazing time to be writing and publishing when you can come up with a concept, act on it, and have a finished product on sale within less than a year. Boggles the mind… and yet, here it is. A real book, and people are reading it in droves.
I don’t want to ignore that all the authors are women. Was that a conscious decision and why?
It wasn’t so much a decision as a group of friends saying we wanted to create an anthology together. And we did, while coincidentally remaining female.
We don’t mind at all that we look cool and radical in staking out our position that women can write science fiction. But that’s not news. From Mary Shelley of “Frankenstein” fame to Octavia Butler, P.D. James, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Leguin and beyond, women have been writing in this genre for a long time. It just happens that there is some conversation about this at the moment.
How important were the ancillary parts — David Gatewood, Julie Czerneda, the cover?
We love that cover! Julie Dillon, who just received her second Hugo Award, had several pieces of original art available that were created in connection with a glorious book of illustrations she financed through Kickstarter. I found her art and the only challenge was deciding which piece to use of all her excellent work. We may try to purchase another for the next book in the Beyond The Stars series, which will come out in November.
The text on the cover was done by the talented (and patient) Kendall Roderick. She was recommended by several of our authors, and she did satisfying and professional work. We will definitely go back to her.
Julie Czerneda was gracious enough to write us the Foreword that helped pull the entire collection together. A wonderful author in her own right, she hopes to be able to contribute a story to one of our anthologies in the future.
And David Gatewood? What can you say about David? He’s the editor you want when you need to have every story shine. He put a lot of his own heart and soul into this anthology. And of course, he’s the only man we let into the clubhouse. So you know he’s special.
In truth… we will have male writes in the next anthology, including Sam Peralta. At least, he is welcome into the November anthology if he can find a moment in between spearheading new anthologies to write us a story!
What do you hope people get out of the collection?
I would love to think that they are surprised by some of the stories, and even disturbed by some. And certainly entertained.
The great gift of science fiction is to bring to life new worlds and new ways of contemplating the world we know. The great joy in writing it is to have a huge canvas on which to paint bold ideas.
Are you pleased with the response to the anthology?
The debut of DARK BEYOND THE STARS is beyond (I had to say it!) anything we could have dreamed of. We are humbled by the response from fans old and new, and encouraged by the reviews and the number of books sold.
Both of those realities make it easier to dig in and get ready to do it again for the November release. But the primary reason I’m going to publish another one is that it is great fun to get together with your friends and create. The fact that it gives joy to others is just a side benefit.
Thanks, Will, for having me!
Patrice Fitzgerald is the Series Editor for the Beyond The Stars anthologies as well as an author, publisher, attorney, and occasional opera diva. Her books include Karma of the Silo, a dystopian story based on Hugh Howey’s WOOL, Running, a political thriller about two women competing for the U.S. presidency, and a boatload of sci-fi shorts, including three included in the first several Future Chronicles.
You can find DARK BEYOND THE STARS in digital and print form at http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Beyond-Stars-Patrice-Fitzgerald-ebook/dp/B0147F216Y.
A month ago, I got an email from my author friend Lyndon Perry. I first got to know Lyn through WOOL fan fiction. His story The Last Prayer is a great Silo tale and it really shows how great of a writer he is. We share some other aspects of our lives as well. Both of us are teachers for our day jobs and both of us like to mess around with multiple genres. Lyn’s stories run the gamut from horror to sci-fi to young adult to cozy mysteries. (Seriously — his book Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut is perhaps his best yet.)
Anyway, back to the email. Lyn had read my short story Contact Window. He told me later that when he’d read it, he put it down, but couldn’t stop thinking about it and the possibilities of the universe. he ended up writing a story set in my universe, which he called The Return. It’s a quasi-sequel to CW; I might write a true sequel for the characters of CW someday, but he took it in a totally different direction. In fact, the direction he took it in was a total surprise and a total treat. I hadn’t expected the story to begin with and I never would have expected the way he took it.
I ended up adding a little at the beginning and a little rewrite in the middle, but most of the story is his. And it’s a wonderful little tale it is. It shares the same universe and the same little nod of humor that the original story includes as well.
To celebrate the release of the new story, and to give an introduction to the Contact Window Universe, I’m making CW FREE Monday and Tuesday. Pick it up and then get The Return for just 99 cents. Read both and leave me and Lyn a review of our stories. And let me know if the universe of Contact Window is one that is worth exploring in future stories. After I finish my next novel, my writing slate is fairly clear and CW might make a return appearance.