Over at Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, the Penultimate Issue #61 has been released this month. Here are some highlights:
THE EDITOR’S WORD
by Lezli Robyn
It’s the penultimate issue of Galaxy’s Edge before the magazine is converted to a bi-annual anthology series, and the momentum is building for us all at Arc Manor Publishing! We’ve started planning the new anthologies and placing the last stories in the magazine feels like a wonderful game of Tetris: so much work, with too little time to make it all fit! After returning from a weekend reconnecting with artists and writers at Boskone—the annual science fiction convention in Boston—I feel invigorated about what lies ahead for Galaxy’s Edge: we’ve got some great titles for you this issue!
In “Down and Out in the Church of the Tortured Goose” by Thomas K. Carpenter, we’re introduced to Daisy, a young lady in a futuristic world who—despite only knowing a life of abuse, deprivation and illegal data mining through a permanent neural net implanted in her brain—still manages find it in her to commit a great act of kindness and compassion. The ending really tugged at my heartstrings. I defy you not to fall in love with Myx.
Daniel J. Davis entertains us with the wonderful “Antares Needs Actors” about an aspiring performer who is hired for a gig that takes him unexpectedly across the galaxy, right in time for him to level up and become the real hero he had wished he could play in movies! This story has a delightful Bradbury or Burroughs pulp vibe, which makes for a great nostalgic winter read.
We’ve got a couple of shorter new stories for you, with Krystal Claxton’s “Flight of the Silverbird” exploring how one person’s love can both survive and transcend all boundaries of space and time. And Laurence Raphael Brother’s “Ship of the Gods” also shows us the enduring nature of love (once disguised as hate), in a modern urban fantasy where not everyone is quite who they appear to be….
It is our original novelette, however—“Death Game” by David Gerrold—that really challenges the reader to consider what you would do for your partner to show them your love. Would you risk dying, just so they could get their thrill-seeking fix? David pens a poignant tale that begs the question: how far is too far? When can loving someone have a point of no return …
We round out the fiction in this issue with some reprint pieces by regular contributors Mike Resnick, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, and Michael Swanwick, as well as relative newcomers-to-our-magazine, Alan Smale and Howard Waldrop. Howard’s novelette in particular, “Night of the Cooters,” was recently turned into a short film by George RR Martin, which has started to win film festival awards across the United States. The alien invasion story set in a quaint western town filled with eccentrics is bound to entertain in any medium, and I’m delighted to reprint the written form in our magazine.
Jean Marie Ward interviews Ursula Vernon (an absolutely fascinating read!), and Richard Chwedyk also recommends more speculative titles for our readers. Lastly, but not at all in the least, we have our regular Writing and Turning Points columns by L. Penelope and Alan Smale. Readers may have noticed the absence of Gregory Benford’s regular column, The Scientist’s Notebook, the past couple of issues. All of us at Arc Manor Publishing would like to send Greg our love and best healing vibes to help him on his path to recovery from a major stroke at the end of 2022. Not only am I a fellow stroke survivor, and twin, but I am an avid lover of the sciences and our magazine feels incomplete without his insightful columns.
And on that note, I wish all our readers well. The next issue of the magazine will be the last one before we switch over to the exciting new anthology format, so as a special gift to our loyal readers, Issue 62 will be a longer one, with more stories than normal to express our appreciation for your support!
TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR ISSUE 61
DOWN AND OUT IN THE CHURCH OF THE TORTURED GOOSE by Thomas K. Carpenter
AFTERNOON AT SCHRAFFT’S by Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, and Michael Swanwick
ANTARES NEEDS ACTORS by Daniel J. Davis
SING by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
SHIP OF THE GODS by Laurence Raphael Brothers
THE GODSTONE OF VENUS by Mike Resnick
FOSSIL FUELS by Alan Smale
FLIGHT OF THE SILVERBIRD by Krystal Claxton
NIGHT OF THE COOTERS by Howard Waldrop
DEATH GAME by David Gerrold
SCARY HOUSES, TALKING ANIMALS, AND SO. MANY. PALADINS.
GALAXY’S EDGE INTERVIEWS URSULA VERNON (AKA T. KINGFISHER) by Jean Marie Ward
Most teenage rebels have it easy. All it takes to achieve maximum parental panic is to threaten to become an artist. Having artists for parents, Ursula Vernon was forced to weaponize the sciences, majoring in anthropology and transcribing endless interviews that had her thinking not about culture but about the way people talked. Her mother, however, never gave up hope that Vernon would follow her forebears. “Just take one art class,” she said, “just one, and I will never say anything again.” To Vernon’s dismay—and our delight—her mother was right. That art class led to a career as an artist and illustrator, as well as the long-running, multi award-winning webcomic Digger and Illustrated children’s books like Hamster Princess and Dragonbreath. Meanwhile, her studies in cultural anthropology and all those interviews honed a literary voice perfectly suited to her irrepressible humor and fascination with the natural world. More awards followed, many of them for work published under her T.Kingfisher pen name. including The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, which served as a talisman for many of us during the darkest days of 2020. Galaxy’s Edge spoke with Vernon shortly before the release of her latest horror novel, A House with Good Bones, about her love for talking animals, the horrors of home ownership, and the lamentable dearth of bullwhips in her life.
Galaxy’s Edge: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Ursula Vernon: Well, for a while a zookeeper, and then for a much longer period, a Vulcan. Then I kind of wanted to be a writer but decided there was no money in it.
Galaxy’s Edge: Very few writers would disagree. It doesn’t sound like Edgar Allan Poe or Ursula K. Le Guin were involved at all.
Ursula Vernon: They were, actually. I read them voraciously. I had one of those leatherbound Poe collections with all the stories of Poe that your well-meaning relatives get you when they know you read a lot of books, but they have no idea what you like. So, they get you the fancy classics.
I had Poe and Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and, I think, Jack London. And I’m very sorry, Charles Dickens. I did not read any of you. But I devoured all the others. I loved Poe very much. And Ursula K. Le Guin … When I was five, my mother got me the Earthsea trilogy. And I was like, “Wow, these are amazing.” And I read Narnia, and then I went to Poe at an age when I was probably way too young to be reading Poe. So, I was the seven-year-old going around talking about being buried alive …
TO READ THE REST OF THIS INTERVIEW — HEAD TO GALAXY’S EDGE MAGAZINE
RECOMMENDED BOOKS by Richard Chwedyk
MOVING OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE
The other day I was writing up a lecture for an asynchronous class on science fiction writing I’m supposed to be putting together. I brought up the subject of how there’s a wide variety of reading in the field these days, some but not all of it divided along generational lines. Mostly, though, it’s a matter that readers often find one kind of SF that appeals to them, but don’t venture much further from that little corner of work they like. So I recommended to aspiring writers to read as much SF as they can manage, and to read as much outside of their “comfort zone.” See what the folks on the other end of the field are doing. Good or bad, you’ll learn something you can apply to your own writing.
Good advice, I thought. And like much of the good advice I hand out, I wasn’t following it.
Teacher, teach thyself first.
So, most of the entries in this column will be of books and authors who aren’t my “go to” choices.
And what I found was that I can be right even when I don’t know what I’m talking about …
TO READ THE REST THE LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS — HEAD OVER TO GALAXY’S EDGE MAGAZINE
TURNING POINTS by Alan Smale
As historical turning points go, at least from a western European perspective, the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a pretty big one.
It’s an idea that hasn’t gone unnoticed in speculative fiction. Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp is a foundational novel in alternate history, in which his hero, Martin Padway, travels from 1938 to 535 AD and does his darnedest to avert the “Dark Ages” by bolstering up the influence of the post-Roman Ostrogoth civilization he finds in Italy at that time. Many other authors have explored a longer-lasting classical Roman Empire: Robert Silverberg’s Roma Eterna (2003); the Romanitas trilogy (2005-11) by Sophia McDougall, the graphic novel Rome West (2018) scripted by Justin Giampolini and Brian Wood, and the Clash of Eagles trilogy (2015-17) by (cough) Alan Smale, in which the Roman Empire has survived in its classical form until the thirteenth century and is now attempting to invade North America, with naval assistance from the Norse, only to get much more than they bargained for when they come up against the Iroquois and Mississippian cultures.
Obviously, our world of 2023 would be unrecognizable if the Roman Empire had never fallen. But, seriously: how likely is that?
Well. Let’s talk …
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LONGHAND by L. Penelope
A SACRED DOCUMENT FOR YOUR WORLD
Whether you’re working on a short story, novel, or long-running series of novels, a good record-keeping system will come in quite handy. The document I use regularly during the planning, writing, and editing phases (and sometimes after publication) is known as a story bible or a series bible.
I think of it as the sacred document for my world or an encyclopedic reference guide to all the details about story, character, and location that I need to know as I write. And when I take time off from a project and come back next month, next year, or in ten years to finish it or pen another entry in a series, I have something to rely on. My poor brain is unequal to the task of recalling the color of my protagonist’s sister’s eyes. Or how tall the villain is, or the name of the country across the sea where the sidekick sailed off to. A comprehensive and easy to navigate story bible has saved me on countless occasions.
The manner in which you choose to organize your writing and worldbuilding will need to be unique. Some writers keep information in a three-ring binder so they can add, remove, and re-order their notes at will. However, one important feature that this kind of highly flammable, dead tree-based system does not allow for is search. I would be lost without the ability to Command + F on my Mac and instantly search through all the records in my story bible. I also find the ability to hyperlink to different documents; easily cut and paste; include inspiring images of people, places, and things; and tag my files with various categories extremely useful depending on the project. My system also allows me to save entire web pages in case they go offline in the future, so I’ll always have a record of the information within …
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