Sunday, December 23, 2012

Crime writers

I spent some time today picking the brain of a crime author I respect. I'd like to look into penning some crime and mystery fiction in 2013. The s-f and fantasy field has become so hidebound and inbred - at least in the U.S. - because of PC that I'm taking it as a good opportunity to venture farther afield. (I know another author with attitudes similar to mine he doesn't even submit to U.S. s-f mags any more - he sends everything overseas.) I really don't think crime and mystery editors make their editorial decisions on the basis of the religion, politics, gender and ethnicity of the author - unlike the PC nazis who currently have s-f  by the throat.

Nothing new is going to be written on my part for at least two or three weeks, with my Christmas vacation coming up - other than having to work on Christmas Day, I'm off work until Jan. 2nd. I have eleven stories in various slushpiles, so there's a nice supply still out there.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reallocating time

Dropping cons is part of a general re-allocation of time I plan to 2013, anyway. They've not been very useful in recent years. When I first started out, I learned a lot, but I have a lot more experience under my belt now. The social aspect is useless to me. Science fiction is an inbred clique and I don't fit in. The SFWA has the same problem at the national level. That's why Lone Star Con would be so unpleasant for me. It will be the usual bunch of Austin Assholes chumming up with SFWA Snobs.

Membership in the con costs hundreds of dollars, so it's not really readily available to the normal working guy and gal. That's going to drive down attendance, and draw the circle of exclusivity tighter.

I also don't have a real good feeling about the con in general. The Texas s-f community is so inbred with a narrow social base that I really wonder whether there are the numbers of volunteers there to run such a large undertaking. I had extreme difficulty communicating with the group. Of course, I may be overthinking the issue. It may simply be blackballing. There are many zines and outfits where I can't even get a rejection or reply to a query anymore, where I have been blackballed because I'm not PC. This widespread blackballing is the genre's dirty little secret. I know another author who doesn't even submit to U.S. mags any more. The PC Nazis have been especially emboldened since their Messiah in the Rose Garden got re-elected. John Salzi, the SFWA President, even has a PC hitman, Jim Hines, whom he sends after people who refuse to toe the party line. So much for tolerance and the so-called Big Tent.

One thing that will be taking more of my time in 2013 is the Texas Nationalist Movement. I joined up after the general election in November. Actually, I've been a big supporter for years, but after the election my wife agreed to let me pay the dues. Texas will be having a Constitutional amendment election in 2013, and I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't something on the ballot regarding Texas independence. By the time Lone Star Con rolls around over the Labor Day Weekend, it will probably be a hot topic. I'd like to spend some time in 2013 helping the TNM.

Here is another example that highlights the elitist hypocrisy of the PC Nazis who have the whip hand in the U.S. now. The America Left supports the right to self-determination and autonomy of all oppressed peoples across the world - unless they are Christian and/or Patriots.

SASS - the Society for the Advancement of Speculative Storytelling - was incorporated this year and is ready to start taking members and becoming an active, public organization. This is also a project where I want to invest a lot more time.

On a personal level. plans are to have my 81-year old mother come and live with me and Patricia after Christmas. That will also be taking up my time, in a nice way.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Off the list

Well, as I predicted on Dec. 9 I didn't get picked for the "Rayguns Over Texas" anthology. I never got a panelist invite for LoneStarCon - they won't even respond to tell me to drop dead - so that's pretty much that. No reason to pour good money after bad.

I'm going to ConDFW in February, but that will be my last con - how appropriate. It was my first in 2003. At this point, after trying to beat my way into the genre after ten years, I've decided to scale back. No more cons, that's for sure. Most pros hate me, anyway, for not being PC - that is, while, male, Christian and hetero.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Risen from the dead

I feel like Lazarus in the Bible this morning. At bedtime Saturday I was stricken with flu-like symptoms - chills, feeling feverish - and spent the rest of the weekend in bed. I ate some pizza Sunday, but otherwise I completely lost my appetite.

Monday morning I was feeling very weak, but I managed to work a half day at the paper. Still, my stomach was so unsettled I almost ralphed into my waste basket. All I ate were some french fries from a McDonalds meal, and I barely kept those down.

Came home, completely exhausted, and collapsed in bed at 5:30 fully dressed. Woke back up five hours later and undressed. I got up at six this morning. Finally eating. I'm feeling better, but I am monitoring my blood sugar and blood pressure, they are still both high.

On the writing front, I got a rejection Monday, almost 250 words long - which struck me as strange at first. But when I read it, I realized the editor wanted to explain thoroughly why they ultimately didn't take the story after five months of serious consideration.

The detailed explanation was very nice, but the beginning really floored me: "We are honored that you thought to send a story to XXXX. I'm a fan of yours."

Holy smoke, honored? A fan! I've never had an editor say they were a fan. That's a first.

It was a nice bit of an ego boost in the middle of two days of being bed ridden with the flu.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Off into the slush

I finished "Bette Davis Ice" today and sent it off to a slushpile. It clocked in at just over 2,500 words - not a long story, It's the 109th story I've written in ten years.  I have an even dozen stories in various slushpiles around and about.

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Howard and I at ArmadilloCon in 2010.
With the World Science Fiction Convention being held in San Antonio next year - LoneStarCon 3 -  there will also be an anthology issued in conjunction with it, called "Rayguns Over Texas". The deadline for submissions was Dec. 1st. I sent in a story, but I doubt I'll be included; my s-f is too old-fashioned for current tastes - i.e. I don't always make the white male hetero Christian the villain, the future dystopian and America the Evil Empire. I know a lot of s-f writers don't like me because I am so non-PC; I really don't care, I got a day job. anyway. For me, it's just meant to be fun.

One of the few authors who's always been nice to me is Howard Waldrop - Howard is a nice guy in general. After I wrote the story I sent to the anthology, I called Howard last week to get caught up. Howard had a big and arduous move to a new apartment as of Nov. 1st. and I was unhappy to hear that didn't send anything in for the anthology- he said he was too busy with the move.

Afterwards I had an idea. I felt bad that Howard might not be included in an anthology that highlights Texas authors - he's the real deal.

Back in 2007, when I published original fiction on my Sentinel Science Fiction blog, I bought and published a story Howard wrote called "Kindermarchen", which was done for Conestoga in Tulsa in 2006. I remember his reading it, and in 2007 when I was doing Sentinel S-F, I asked Howard it if had ever been published.

It hadn't, and so I did. I called Howard back last Sunday and asked if it had ever been published anywhere else. He said it hadn't.

Sentinel S-F went away in the fall of 2007; I fell behind in my hosting payments because of the expenses related to my move when I took my current job. So it hasn't been available on-line for over five years. Therefore it has a very minor publication history.

I went digging through a pile of manuscripts and at the very bottom I found "Kindermarchen". I scanned it through OCR software, made it into a Word file, and asked Howard if I could submit it. He said sure, and I also asked the anthology editor, and he said to send it along.

So that's my good deed for the week. I think any overview of Texas S-F should include something from Howard. I hope he gets in. Anyway, it was the best shot I had for him. I called him this afternoon and told him I had sent the story off, and he was thankful.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

"Bette Davis Ice"

Spent the day the Ben Wheeler Book Fair in Ben Wheeler, a small town here in East Texas. Like most small town book fairs in these parts, it was well organized but poorly attended, and most authors sold only one or two books, if any.

I didn't sell any, but I expected that. I took my typewriter and banged out the first draft of my latest story, "Bette Davis Ice", between 10 and 2. It was a good use of my time, and a promotional trick I've used before. Here is a photo Patricia took of me at the keyboard.

The book fair was at an old historic school that is now used as the town library. Patricia did school work on her laptop (and also brought me lunch, since I was in my throes of creativity).

One author who DID do well was his-own-self was Joe Lansdale, who was there with Kasey. Some people showed up and bought STACKS of his books. Joe and Kasey were also guest speakers.

The first draft of "Betty Davis Ice" is ten pages, and when I finished Joe was nice enough to read it. He said it was fun, and definitely showed Howard Waldropian influence. Kasey thought it was a hoot, too.

Despite the lack of sales, it was a fun day, and we enjoyed the chance to meet Joe and Kasey again.

Now I need to run "Bette Davis Ice" through OCR software and start editing it. BTW, the Maguffin of the story is that a Brit can't tell the difference between the way a Texan pronounces "eyes" and "ice".

Friday, December 07, 2012

"Hearts Made of Stone"

Just signed my contract for Wakefield Mahon's Song Stories anthology. It is slated to come out via e-book on Feb. 15 and paperback the first of March.

The anthology is composed of stories inspired by songs. My contribution is entitled "Hearts Made of Stone"

Here is the description that was used on the Song Story Press website for the call for submissions:

"Music is one of the fundamental experiences of the human condition.  Music has the power to calm or excite, to evoke the full spectrum of emotions as few other tools can.  A few simple lyrics backed by an earnest melody can tell an epic tale of tragedy or triumph.  That is, in part, where the idea for Song Stories came from.  For some of us, music is not just part of life, music IS life.  It permeates our waking thoughts and our dreams and often appears in our stories. What songs remind you of your childhood? of high school or college?  Your first love and your first broken heart.  Now take those memories and wrap them in your imagination.  Give us your gripping horror, your mind blowing fantasy and your farsighted science fiction and transform those songs into something new."

Wakefield adds: "With so many excellent submissions, we are accepting submissions to complete a second volume."
* Submission Call Starts:  12/1/2012
* Submission Call Ends:  3/1/2013

Sunday, December 02, 2012

"Unsubstantiated interpretations"

Eric Cline, another author featured in the current issue of Stupefying Stories, flogs the issue on his own blog, and makes this nice comment about my story, too.

"I just got my sample copy (that is, a PDF) this morning, and I'm already smiling over some of my fellow authors' contributions.  For instance, "The Relic," by Lou Antonelli, shows the trivial, incidental creation of the title object and the unsubstantiated interpretations heaped on it later.  I suspect that famed archaeologist Eric Cline (the other Eric Cline, whom I mentioned in a previous post and who kindly commented on this blog earlier) would nod ruefully at the events that unfold."

The Stupefying Stories line-up

I'm reposting from its web page the rundown of the December issue of Stupefying Stories:


Hard to believe it's December 2012 already. Depending on who you listen to we only have about three weeks left before the world ends, either from magnetic pole reversal, crossing the galactic ecliptic, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, a collision with Planet X, global warming, global cooling, the return of Quetzalcoatl, President Obama and Speaker of the House Boehner joining hands, flooring it, and going full Thelma & Louise off the edge of the fiscal cliff, or the regrettable and wholly inexplicable failure of the Ancient Mayans to invent the perpetual calendar.

In any case, as we were putting together this book, we thought: what better way to go out with a bang that with a bunch of great stories exploring the end of the world—and what might come after? From ecological catastrophes to alien invasions; from tyrannical overreaching central governments to dangerous unfettered cowboy capitalists: It's the End of the World, As We Know It!

And the stories in this book will make you feel just fine.

STUPEFYING STORIES 1.11 (a.k.a., "the December edition"), is edited by award-winning writer Bruce Bethke and features:

   "We Talk Like Gods," by Jon David
   "Tiny, Tiny Hungers," by Mark Wolf
   "Moonbubble," by Eric Cline
   "The Relic," by Lou Antonelli
   "Mr. Non-Existent," by Paul Malone
   "Blue Stripped," by Gerry Huntman
   "HoPE," by A. A. Leil
   "Avocado Rutabaga Aubergine," by M. Bennardo
   "In the Shadows of the Empire of Coal," by Shaun Duke
   "Measure of Intelligence," by Torah Cottrill
   "The Gods of Sand and Stone," by Joel V. Kela

If you want to go to the web page (which has all the Amazon and Barnes & Noble links), the link is here:

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The record set

With the publication of "The Relic" in Stupefying Stories, I have 12 stories published this year:

1. "The Centurion and the Rainman" - Buzzy Mag, March 2012

2. "Encounter in Camelot" - 4 Star Stories, Spring 2012

3. "Great White Ship" - Daily Science Fiction, May 11, 2012

4. "Accidental Witness" - Planetary Stories, Spring 2012

5. "Double Exposure" - Daily Science Fiction, June 11, 2012

6. "The Starship Theodora" - Nova Science Fiction, Summer 2012

7. "Pirates of the Ozarks" - Science Fiction Trails No. 8, Fall 2012

8. "Barsoom Billy" - Science Fiction Trails, No. 9 All Martian Spectacular Fall 2012

9. "Damascus Interrupted" - Phantasmagorium, Sept. 2012

10. "The Way of the Heretic" - 4 Star Stories, Fall 2012

11. "Snow Globe" - Bewildering Stories No. 500 Fall 2012

12. "The Relic" - Stupefying Stories Dec. 2012

That brings me up 73 stories since my first publication in June 2003.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Spinning the plates

For someone who is only a casual writer, and who only writes short stories, I'm amazed how busy I get sometimes. Yesterday I was dealing with four different editors and publications.

As previously noted, I finished "Riders of the Red Shift" and sent it to an anthology that deadlines Dec. 1.

I still have to proof the short story I wrote in collaboration with Edward Morris, "Uncle Gumball Saves the World," which Shelby Vick is planning to publish in his mag "Pulp Spirit".

I had to review and approve some terms for an kickstarter agreement with the anthology, "Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For A New Age" which is being edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. It is a collection of best of stories from Ray Gun Revival’s multi-year run combined with new stories from headliners who include Mike Resnick, Ann Crispin, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Sarah A. Hoyt, Robin Wayne Bailey, Brenda Cooper, Allen Steele, and Seanan McGuire.

It will also include reprints by Milo James Fowler, Michael S. Roberts, Michael Merriam, TM Hunter, Robert Mancebo, Alice M. Roelke, Paula R. Stiles, Jenny Schwartz, A.M. Stickel, Shaun Farrell
and Jennifer Campbell-Hicks.

I'm part of it because it will include a reprint of my story "The Silver Dollar Saucer" that was published by Ray Gun Revival in 2009.

"Raygun Chronicles" will be having a Kickstarter campaign January 14 through February 22 to fund the anthology. It will be published November 2013 by Every Day Publishing with a launch at OryCon in Portland, Oregon.

Finally, I got an email from Bruce Bethke at Stupefying Stories. He said that, as they are preparing the December edition, they can't figure out where to place my story, "The Relic", in the TOC.

He said he came up with a "crazy idea" - since the story has four vignettes (which are widely separated in time) - to space them at the beginning, early middle, late middle, and end of this edition as "The Relic (Part One)" (Part Two, Three, etc.)

"I think it would put a really cool arc on the book as a whole," he wrote.

I told him I love crazy ideas and I loved his idea, go right ahead.

Like I said, I'm amazed how busy I get sometimes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Riders of the Red Shift"

Banged out an estimated 3,600 word (I used a typewriter, so the word count is approximate) first draft of a short story Sunday, working towards a Dec. 1 submission deadline. The story is called "Riders of the Red Shift". I started at 2:30 p.m., finished five hours later.

I put my typewriter on a table outdoors, the fall weather was so nice. I moved inside for the last two hours as the light grew dim.

Monday night I took the 12 typewritten pages of the first draft of "Riders of the Red Shift", photographed them, then ran them through OCR software to make a Word file. I also started editing and revisions, I'm maybe one-third of the way through.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stupefying Stories

Just finished checking out my proof from Editor Bruce Bethke of my story "The Relic" slated to run in the December issue of Stupefying Stories. Looks great. I'm looking forward to seeing it published. This is the first time I sold a story to Stupefying Stories. It looks like, based on the publication date, this will be my 12th story published this year, which is a new record. It will be my 73rd story published since I first broke in, back in 2003.

If 4 Star Stories comes out with its winter issue before the end of the year, "Racing with the Sunset" will be my 13th story of the year.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Comprehensive survey explains all things “Steampunk”

All books are either fiction or non-fiction. When you read fiction, you are faced with a wide array of categories, or “genres”.
Romance – the largest genre – has all types of variations – Christian Romance, Historical Romance, Supernatural Romance, and so forth. In the same way, science fiction and fantasy has its sub-divisions. “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” are both Space Opera – far-ranging stories set in Outer Space. “Total Recall” and “Bladerunner” are Dystopias – visions of a future gone wrong.
One popular sub-category of science fiction and fantasy is Steampunk, stories with a sensibility derived from the 19th Century work of Jules Verne, but written in the present day. It is very popular, for a number of reasons which are intelligently explained and laid forth in a book just published called “Steampunk: An Illustrated History of Fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film and Other Victorian Visions.”
A month ago I received an email from a publisher based in Minneapolis about the British author Brian J. Robb’s Steampunk book. I used the internet to check out the publisher, Voyageur Press, and saw it is reputable and in fact doesn’t publish fiction, but is a non-fiction publisher.
Robb is a best-selling author who written non-fiction books on science fiction and fantasy topics such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, films adapted from Phillip K. Dick stories, and the horror films of Wes Craven.
I did something I haven’t done in years, and said I would be willing to read and review the book, which arrived two weeks later. I read it this past weekend, and I’m pleased to say I didn’t regret it.
An extra prod to my decision to read and review the book was that I’m a little more knowledgeable than most people about the genre.  As some of you may know, I am a professional member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, and my breakout story sale to Asimov’s Science Fiction in 2005 was a story about a secret rocket development program for the Republic of Texas in 1844. So I know a little about Steampunk.
The touchstone book on the genre, “The Steampunk Bible”, was written by Jeff Vandermeer in 2011. I’ve read it, and when I opened Robb’s “Steampunk” my first question to myself was, what could he add to the field?
Well, in terms of actual information, not much, but in terms of clarity and organization, a great deal. I didn’t realize until I turned the last page that Robb – being a non-fiction writer – had a way of explicating the history and trends of the genre that makes for easy reading.
Vandermeer is an author and editor (I once participated in a writing workshop he led) and his “Bible” really gets into the authors more (it blurbed itself as a “veritable Who’s Who of key players”). Robb has some distance which allows him to look at the subject more objectively. Vandermeer’s book is indeed a “Bible” while Robb’s is more of a history and reference work. I think it is more accessible to people who are not hard-core fans of the genre,
My heart goes with Robb’s book, then, because – strange as it may seem – I have never been a Steampunk fan, or a fan of science fiction and fantasy in general. In the continuum of Reader to Fan to Author, I went straight from Reader to Author, probably because I didn’t need to be a fan and learn how to write – I learned to write as a journalist. I attended my first fiction writers workshop after selling a story to Asimov’s Science Fiction.
Because of what I do know, I can judge whether Robb did his research and knows his stuff. He did and he does. 
In his first chapter,  “The Gilded Age”, he lays out the ancestry of the genre during the Industrial Revolution – an era which used to loom larger in our collective historical consciousness until the present technological age sped off – and how Jules Verne and dime novels for young men implanted so many of the ideas we recognize today.
He also makes an appropriate nod to the fact that the 19th Century Industrial Revolution came at a time when Great Britain’s economy and imperialism were at their peak, which is why so much of Steampunk smacks of the Victorian Era (Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901).
One of the strengths of Steampunk is that can draw from other popular strains of speculative fiction and fantasy, such as alternate history and fantasy. One of the best examples of Steampunk we’ve seen, the “Wild, Wild West” television franchise, did just that.
Robb does an excellent job of explaining the role of the various influences that went into the formation of Steampunk.
Just as 19th Century science fiction owed its form to Jules Verne, modern Steampunk owes to current form to some crucial authors. Despite not being a fiction editor or author himself, Robb nails the literary nail on the head with the steam-powered nail gun in giving credit to K.W. Jeter, James Blaylock and Tim Powers as having produced seminal work in the late 1970s and the 1980s.
The trio of authors were, strangely enough, all living in Orange, California, at the same and met regularly at the same pub, where their idea all went into the same stew that produced some defining works.
Although they ultimately went off in some different tangents – sometimes more towards fantasy, sometimes more towards steam and clockwork technology – Blaylock (who wrote the foreword to this book), Jeter and Powers all made critical contributions towards the development of the genre, just a few years after a British author, Michael Moorcock (currently a Texas resident) wrote some early defining work.
Moorcock’s stories, starting in 1971 with “The Warlord of the Air”, provided what Robb describes as the “toolbox” of Steampunk images and styles which was opened up by Blaylock, Jeter and Powers. A London native, Moorcock mined the rich vein of the Victorian Era for his alternate histories.
I don’t want to mention the Vandermeer “Bible” too much in this article, but one thing I have to note is that in comparison Robb is British and I’m sure that contributes to the objectivity of his work. Most Steampunk culture is based in the U.S., where it has more of a fantastical following because of its foreignness. There are people in Britain whose great-great-grandparents actually lived that way, when we were still in a frontier culture.
On the other hand, Robb is also very balanced in not hammering us over the head with the Victorian underpinning of the genre.
One of his great strengths in the book is the clear way he explains what Steampunk is – not an easy task. The geo-political background with the British Empire is obvious, but a lot of what defines Steampunk is its “look” and he points to the fact that during the Industrial Revolution people were proud of their craftsmanship and didn’t mind if you saw how things work – as opposed to today’s technology, which for all most people know could be magic boxes filled with pixie dust.
The downside of that is the slam that some people “slap cogs on it and call it Steampunk.” Real Steampunk understands the tech basis of the culture. It its day, steam and mechanical power was cutting edge.
All fiction is read by people in the present living in the modern world. Robb notes that Steampunk is especially amenable to enjoyment by everyone today because it is a genre with a lot of female fans and top notch woman writers
This is not true historically for science fiction; which has been a notoriously male-dominated field. Steampunk is helping to change that. As a newly-emergent field, Steampunk is taking advantage of the gender equality that is creeping into the numbers of both science fiction authors and readers.
That’s because the many strong female characters found in Steampunk today are not an anachronism – there were many groundbreaking women leaders in that era, from women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony in the U.S. to suffragette leader Emmeline  Pankhurst in Great Britain.
This strain is explored in his chapter “A Young Lady’s Primer”, where he notes authors such as Gail Carriger, Cherie Priest and Ekaterina Sedia “are at the forefront of the current wave of female-driven steampunk.”
I’ve served on literary panels with both Carriger and Priest, and I’ve seen how they follow the two different ways authors live in the Steampunk world. Robb devotes a chapter to role of Steampunk as a lifestyle and fashion scene; in fact, there are “Steampunks” who don’t even know it’s a literary genre. Carriger role plays and if you meet her, you know her persona as an author is a Steampunk character. In her case, it may be useful in that, for personal professional reasons she uses a pen name; since she made up a pen name, she also made up a character. Priest, on the other hand, when I met her, wasn’t wearing a bustle or waving a parasol.
Carriger has the style, feel and meaning of alternate history down, and her books – collectively called the “Parasol Protectorate” – are among the most popular Steampunk offerings.
Women are well-represented in the latest crop of emerging speculative fiction authors, and Steampunk seems to be a very useful “sandbox” for them to play in a myriad of aspects of the genre – not only literary styles, but also fashion, art, music and lifestyles. It’s fun and exciting to watch
I’ve also served on panels with Tim Powers, and through him, I see a strain in Steampunk from an unexpected source – Phillip K. Dick. You wouldn’t think that Dick was an influence on Steampunk – the guy whose movies became “Blade Runner”, “Total Recall” and “Minority Report” – but he was a paranoid character who always questioned the official history and what was the truth.
Powers, Jeter and Blaylock all knew Dick –who was prominent in the California speculative fiction scene in the 1960s and 1970s – and Robb correctly traces Dick’s influence through the California trio on the development of Steampunk. When set in the past, good Steampunk is often “Secret History”, and when set in alternate worlds, it calls into question what is reality. It’s easy to see Dick’s influence once it’s pointed out, as Robb does.
Another reason why Robb’s book is more accessible to the public is that he casts a broad net that still coincides with the public mind. For example, stories set in alternate worlds between WW I and WW II aren’t Steampunk – the term “Dieselpunk” has sometimes been used – but the public feels movies such as “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” are still in the field.  Another term that’s been used is Valvepunk (the British call vacuum tubes ‘valves’), for technology before transistors and microchips.
Robb also acknowledges Steampunk influences in places where its visual style is readily seen by the public. “Doctor Who” is an example from Britain; closer to home we have “Warehouse 13”, the most popular show on the SyFy Channel.
The Steampunk “toolbox” that Moorcock crafted together in the 1970s shows its influence in places such as this. There are also relatively new authors – Britain’s China Mieville is a well-known example – who write fantasy with such a Steampunk “feel” you almost forget it’s fantasy, or perhaps fabulist alternate history.
After reading the book, I see Steampunk influence all over. Have you seen a Heineken beer commercial called “The Switch” where three guts walk into a dingy, drab bar that transforms into a hip social scene as the beer is poured? The way everything unfolds, rolls out, or turns over –with an array of switches, slides, chains and cogs – is pure Steampunk: Visible, obvious, fun and perhaps slightly unreliable – but percussive maintenance can be fun, too.
As a professional non-fiction author who’s written on genre topics before, Robb shows his skill in the way the books flows and holds together logically. It’s a good read. Because visual elements are so important to Steampunk, the book is heavily illustrated; it had 300 color images in its 192 pages.
The only thing I would note by way or warning is that as a Brit, Robb occasionally drops words and terms in British English that Americans might not get, such as “spanner” for wrench.  One reference to “Passchendaele” left me flat-footed; I had to look it up. It was a brutal World War I battle, infamous for its carnage that apparently became a byword for the British.
Overall, I was very impressed, and if you have the slightest interest in the genre, I recommend the book. Being it’s coming out so soon before Christmas, it would make a great present for anyone you know who likes the kind of science fiction and fantasy that harkens back to Jules Verne and/or “The Wild Wild West”.
(“Steampunk: An Illustrated History of Fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film and Other Victorian Visions” by Brian J. Robb, Foreword by James P. Blaylock. Hardcover, 192 Pages. ISBN: 9780760343760. Publisher: Voyageur Press. Price: $35.00.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age"

Some information worth republishing, from Bryan Thomas Schmidt's web site, that was posted Sunday:


Here’s the scoop on my latest anthology project:

Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age

Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

A collection of best of stories from Ray Gun Revival’s multi-year run combined with new stories from headliners.

Ray Gun Revival is all about space opera and golden age science fiction.  A Kickstarter will be running in January and February 2013 to help fund this project. It will be published November 2013 by Every Day Publishing with a launch at OryCon in Portland, Oregon.

Along with classic Raygun Revival reprints, we’ll have new stories from the following headliners: Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Sarah A. Hoyt, Robin Wayne Bailey, Brenda Cooper and Allen Steele.

We’ll also have new stories from up and comers Peter J. Wacks and Keanan Brand along with reprints from headliners Mike Resnick and A.C. Crispin, a story which has never appeared in short form before.

Expected Reprint contents are as follows (depending on space):
[Table of Contents Order To Be Determined]

* Mike Resnick – Catastrophe Baker & The Ship Who Purred
* A.C. Crispin – STARBRIDGE: Twlight World
* Milo James Fowler – Captain Quasar & The Insurmountable Barrier of Space Junk
* Michael S. Roberts – Sword of Saladin
* Michael Merriam – Nor To The Strong
* TM Hunter – Ever Dark, An Aston West Tale
* Robert Mancebo – Slavers of Ruhn
* Alice M. Roelke – The Last, Full Measure
* Lou Antonelli – The Silver Dollar Saucer
* Paula R. Stiles – Spider On A Sidewalk (Writer’s Of The Future Winner)
* Jenny Schwartz – Can Giraffes Change Their Spots?
* A.M. Stickel – To The Shores Of Triple, Lee!
* Shaun Farrell – Conversion
* Jennifer Campbell-Hicks – Malfunction

Friday, November 16, 2012

"The Silver Dollar Saucer" flies again

Bryan Thomas Schmidt with Ray Gun Revival contacted me two days ago and said Ray Gun's publisher, Every Day Press, is planning a "Best of" anthology. He asked me to send him a copy of "The Silver Dollar Saucer", which RGR published in January 2009. I quickly did so, and I'm honored to be a part of the project.

Schmidt posted on Facebook today that "My space opera anthology, coming from Every Day Publishing next November, has the following headliners committed, with one more to come: Dean Wesley Smith, AC Ann Crispin, Mike Resnick, Sarah A. Hoyt, Robin Wayne Bailey, Brenda Cooper, and Allen Steele. With stories from Shaun Farrell, Author Lou Antonelli, Michael Merriam and more. Kickstarter and full expected TOC coming soon."

Sounds great.

I always liked RGR, but I write very little space opera, so I never really had a chance to send them much. I appreciated that  they published "The Silver Dollar Saucer". I thought it was a neat little story. A year or so earlier it was actually bought by Amazon singles, but I hadn't read the contract carefully and missed the part that said an author featured on Amazon Singles also had to have a book available on Amazon. I didn't at the time, so the deal fell through.

In 2009, when Fantastic Books published "Fantastic Texas",  I was able to include a reprint of "The Silver Dollar Saucer".

In the process of learning about the anthology, I learned that RGR is going on hiatus. I've cut and pasted a post from the web web site last month. It's a very lucid and explains a lot.



These is the message where We inform you that the economy is bad, readership (while strong for us) isn’t quite making the bills, and Decisions Have To Be Made. In short, with tomorrow morning’s story, the experiment known as RGR 2.0 will be complete. To quote Dave Grohl, “Without making a big deal out of it, we don’t have any (stories) after this. This is it, man. Honestly I don’t know when we’re gonna do it again…and this is the perfect place to do it.”

The Overlords started Ray Gun Revival magazine in 2006 in a wave of post-Firefly enthusiasm. We’re still in love with Space Opera and Golden Age Sci-Fi, and there’s still room for stories like these. We’re simply run out of resources to share more of them just right now.

So what’s the story? I wish it was something glamorous like juicy Overlord in-fighting or stepping aside to resume our recurring feud with that hack Ming the Merciless, but the truth is far more pedestrian: we’re losing money. Our gracious publisher, Every Day Publishing,  has been exceedingly supportive but has been taking a loss since we started a year ago February. Grand expansion plans never quite coalesced, and while we did publish some exciting content by some up-and-coming stars and some established heavyweights, the traffic never grew enough to put us in the black and we never quite achieved the critical success which might have changed enough of these components to stay closure. We had grand plans of selling merch and compiling books for Kindle and Nook, however, time and events conspired against us. Lee has been dealing with a life-threatening illness in her family (among other things), and Paul and I have both seen a marked increase in responsibility and required time / effort for our day jobs. Utterly pedestrian, but there it is.

In short, we’re running on empty, and despite bringing in some really solid support in the form of our first Overseer (Keanan Brand), phenomenal big-name interviews and serial novel publication from Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and the services of more slushpile editors (Slushmasters), we couldn’t get enough things going to increase our readership enough to keep paying authors at the rates to which we have become accustomed. While we could have returned to more modest token payments, I wouldn’t do that to our Slushmasters nor our readers.

That’s not for lack of trying. Slushmaster Anton Gully, in particular, really carried this publication for the longest time with the sort of truly devoted service which one wouldn’t normally expect from the wisecracking undead. And when Lee and I were frankly burned out, Paul Glenn and Keanan Brand stepped in to propel us forward.

However, it wasn’t enough, and that’s the bottom line.

So the final story for RGR 2.0 will run tomorrow morning. I’m very proud of Mike Roberts. We’ve had any number of friends who have threatened to ‘send us something,’ and as you may suspect, most of them never panned out. But Mike has chops and grit and this is, I believe, the second story of his which has won a sale. Well done.

We do have some ideas to do before we go radio silent. During this our last week, I thought it would be fun to get as many RGR staff and readers together over in a Google+ RGR hangout to field questions, tell stories, talk about space opera, and hatch new schemes for the future. I’m looking at Friday night as a possibility. Stay tuned here and to the usual social networking sources for further information.

This is where I’d like to thank Jordan Ellinger, Camille Gooderham Campbell, and Steven Smethurst from Every Day Fiction / Every Day Publishing. They believed in us when we were looking for a home, and put up real money and much time to fund and host and operate Ray Gun Revival 2.0. I mean, who can forget the masterful teaser trailer they wrote and produced? I still want to see what happens next!

Thanks to Anton Gully, Steven Wilson, James King, Walter Rosenfeld, and all our other Slushmasters. Steven has been with us since a year ago February serving faithfully as his busy schedule permitted, and Anton practically carried the slushpile for many months. I am convinced there is nothing Anton does not know (‘nothing he does not know? I feel there’s a double-negative there…).  Anton’s knowledge of the genre is encyclopedic, his love for story is evident, and his wry sense of humor is unmatched. If you ever need a reader – editor, you can’t do better than Steve or Anton.

Special thanks to Keanan Brand for stepping in and acting as a 4th voice of reason when we needed help corresponding with our authors, and to James King for 11th hour Slushmastering. It’s been a real delight to work with both of them.

So let’s talk about what’s happening. RGR won’t be publishing new stories for the foreseeable future, however, that doesn’t mean our stories are going away. Our publisher has expressed interest in keeping the site up and continue host the stories. This is good news and means readers will continue to be able to find and explore and enjoy the many great stories published during the RGR 2.0 tenure.

Technically, the Overlords and Ray Gun Revival are going on hiatus — we’re not going away forever, we’re just going to take a break and watch the digital publishing revolution take shape. For now, we are going to let Real Life™ develop a little. We’ll still be available via the usual social networking options. While we’re on hiatus, if you have any ideas for RGR 3.0, please hatch them up good and proper. At this time, we do intend to return in a year or three, and we want to take it up a notch when we do and take a run at the big time. Maybe we can form a kickstarter to fund the first year of pro-rate stories and come out of the gate with new content and paid cover art for Amazon / B&N sales. (I’m not actually allergic to making money for the publication, I’m just not very practiced at it.)

So that’s it for now. Again, many thanks to Jordan and Camille and EDF – they have been staunch supporters and great peers and I recommend them without reservation. If you have any questions we can answer, feel free to contact us on our Facebook page or get us at usual e-mail address, or privately at Johne Cook  / L. S. King / Paul Christian Glenn.

Finally, we’re hatching an idea to take RGR 2.0 out with a literal bang with a Google+ hangout later this week – more on that as plans coalesce. So for now, one last mwahahahaha!

Thanks seems so thin a sentiment to describe the deep and abiding appreciation we feel for you all and our readers, but there it is. Thanks, from the bottom of our dark and twisted genre-loving hearts.

The Ray Gun Revival Overlords,
Johne Cook / L. S. King / Paul Christian Glenn

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fantastical/absurdist issue of Sein und Werden

More on the next issue of Sein und Werden (which, if you don't know any Deutsch, is German for "being and becoming"; Guest editor Rhys Hughes it will feature fantastical/absurdist 'comedies' of 1000 words or less. and should be published early in January.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Three editors

I was contacted by three different editors yesterday. The first says his ezine is coming out with a "Best of" anthology and said a story they published in January 2009 is being considered, so I sent him a copy of the story as he requested.

David Gray with 4 Star Stories says my short story "Racing with the Sunset" will be published in the winter issue, which should come out in December. If it does, it will be my 12th story published in 2012 - the most ever in a single year for me.

Rhys Hughes, who is guest editing the winter issue of Sein und Werden, says they plan an extended version of the issue to be created as a free ebook, and he asked if I minded being also included in the ebook as well as the print edition. Of course, I have no objections, I'm honored.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The news is, there is no news

Nothing doing on the fiction front since last Tuesday - which was election day. I was up until 3 a.m. Wednesday morning because of all the extra work election coverage entailed. Hometown and home county went heavily Republican, but it wasn't a party purge - one local Democratic county commissioner won re-election.

Got a couple of stories back from magazine, but I think I still have maybe eight out there. I still need to write some fresh ones, though, because off the ones that have been published this year and have already been accepted.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

"Steampunk" the book

"STEAMPUNK: An Illustrated History of Fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film and Other Victorian Visions by Brian J. Robb | Published November 17 by Voyageur Press"

I received a review copy of this book at my office yesterday. Working at a newspaper as I do, I get many opportunities to review books, but I turn almost all of them down because:

1. It's a POD and probably not very good.

2. I'm not qualified to judge the subject.

3. I don't have time.

4. I'm just not interested.

BUT when I received a news release about this book, my ears pricked up. Here is a subject I'm interested in, and I'm qualified to render an opinion on. So I said sure, send the book along.

It looks very impressive, at first glance. Obviously I'm not going to be able to start reading it today - being Election Day an all that - but I should be able to schedule it for the paper the weekend of its official release.

Meanwhile, here is the publisher's own news release:


STEAMPUNK is simultaneously a literary movement, ultra-hip subculture and burgeoning cottage industry and has become the most influential new genre to emerge from the late 20th century. It influences the look and aesthetic in multiple media and genres, be it movies, literature and music, from rock to dance to alternative music . Steampunk’s influence is fast-growing, alive in fantasy novels, films, arts and crafts, fashion, comic books, music, computer games, even architecture.

STEAMPUNK: An Illustrated History of Fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film and Other Victorian Visions is the definitive book on the writers, film-makers, artisans and aesthetes who created the extraordinary genre. The book is spectacularly illustrated and international in scope, telling the comprehensive history of the movement, from its melding of Victorian, Edwardian and science-fiction influences to Lady Gaga and Alexander McQueen incorporating Steampunk into their art.

The author and contributors represent a ‘who’s who’ of the Steampunk, Victorians, Edwardians and science fiction genres the history of Steampunk is explored in-depth. Starting with its roots in literature to its ongoing evolution involving visual media and informing craft and DIY traditions, author Brian J. Robb, along with James P. Blaylock, Jonathan Clements (among others) not only chart Steampunk’s history but also its influence on culture today and its future.

STEAMPUNK: An Illustrated History of Fantastical Fiction, Fanciful Film and Other Victorian Visions is the first large, illustrated history-in a book, fittingly stylish in its design, package, and artwork. With 192 pages and 300 color images, the book will be a permanent part of any fans/lovers/creators of the genre.

About the Authors and Contributors:

Brian J. Robb is a New York Times/Sunday Times best-selling author. Among his works are Timeless Adventures: How Doctor Who Conquered TV, a critical and cultural history of the TV series (Kamera, 2009), A Brief History of Star Trek and A Brief History of Star Wars. He has also written Silent Cinema and Counterfeit Worlds: Philip K. Dick on Film.(Titan, 2005), and Screams and Nightmares: The Films of Wes Craven.

James Blaylock is one of the originators of Steampunk science fiction. He is the author of The Narbondo Series, including The Digging Leviathan, Homunculus, Lord Kelvin’s Machine, The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives, The Ebb Tide, The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs, Zeuglodon, and The Aylesford Skull.

Jonathan Clements is the author of several works on eminent Victorians and Edwardians, including Darwin’s Notebook; Mannerheim: President, Soldier, Spy; and Admiral Togo: Nelson of the East. He also wrote Red Devils, the first of the Space: 1889 audio plays for Noise Monster Productions, and numerous Doctor Who audio adventures.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Some creds for Daily Science Fiction

After the world science fiction convention is held, the actual tally of nominations is released. I read that in the Best Best Semiprozine category - with 362 ballots cast -  Daily Science Fiction  got 5.25% of the nominations with 19 votes. That ranked it 12th (the cutoff for the actual ballot is the top five). The cutoff was at 44 nominations. I expect it will do better next year. I am a member of Lone Star Con and I will certainly be voting for them.

In a kind of related observation, on the SFWA web site, on the forum where stories are posted for embers to read, my two Daily Science Fiction stories - "Great White Ship" and "Double Exposure" - rank 8th and 12, respectively, in most views.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Latest acceptance

Rhys Hughes has notified me of the acceptance of my story "Crab Apples" which will be published in the winter issue of "Sein und Werden". He is the guest editor for that issue.

 ISMs Press is the independent Manchester-based publisher of the art and literary zine. "Sein und Werden" is German for "being and becoming".  It describes itself as "a literary magazine of experimental prose, poetry and artwork that seeks to merge and modernise the ideas behind Expressionism, Surrealism and Existentialism."

Good reaction

Positive reaction already coming in for "Snow Globe". This reposted from Facebook:

Walter Giersbach: Absolutely loved this story for its characters and plot development, but my hat’s off in particular for your pure invention. Creating an entire cosmos is one of the toughest chores in spec fic, but I think you did it here. Congratulations!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Snow Globe"

Bewildering Stories Issue No. 500 has just come out, and it has my story "Snow Globe", an unusual journey - for me, at least - to a post-Singularity World. It is my 72st story story of mine published since Revolution S-F published "Silvern" in June 2003. It is my 11th story this year, which ties my annual record of last year.

If I get one more story published this year, I will have set a new record of an even dozen in one calendar year. I'm pretty sure I will do that, thanks to a story scheduled in the winter edition of 4 Star Stories. I have another three stories pending publication elsewhere.

This year I've had stories published from up to eight cents a word to zilch per sale. I don't think that's common, but I suppose it highlights the fact that I write for the enjoyment and don't think much about the money - at least from this source. I'm fortunate because I like my day job, and unlike many fiction writers, I would rather do that than write fiction. So although on the basis of my publications and earnings I'm considered a professional genre writer, I really see myself as an amateur.

Friday, October 26, 2012

"Uncle Gumball Saves the World"

My collaborator, Ed Morris, writes that Sheby Ivy at Pulp Spirit magazine has picked up our story, "Uncle Gumball Saves the World". It will be in issue No. 17, which will be published next year. Edward correctly apprises that the story is was influenced by Dallas television kids show host Jerry Haynes, who played "Mr. Peppermint" on Dallas television from 1961 to 1969 and then again from 1975 to 1996.

"Uncle Gumball" supposes a third Dallas kids' TV host (Mr. Peppermint's rival was Icky Twerp, who's show was called "Slam Bang Theater" and ran Three Stooges shorts and cartoons).

The fictional "Uncle Gumball" - an obvious knock-off of Mr. Peppermint - outlives both his more successful rivals (Haynes died last year, Bill Camfield, who played Icky Twerp, died in 1991) and deep into the 21st century and while on a nostalgia show unloads a piece of business he was never allowed to use on the the air on his kiddie show - with apocalyptic results.

You'll have to read the story.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The amateur

Bewildering stories will be publishing my short story "Snow Globe" next week. It will be my 72nd story published since June 2003. It will be my 11th this year, which matches the total number of stories I had published in 2011. If I get one more story published this year, I will have set a new record of an even dozen in one calendar year. I'm pretty sure I will do that, thanks to a story scheduled in the winter edition of 4 Star Stories. I have another three stories pending publication elsewhere.

This year I've had stories published from up to eight cents a word to zilch per sale. I don't think that's common, but I suppose it highlights the fact that I write for the enjoyment and don't think much about the money - at least from this source. I'm fortunate because I like my day job, and unlike many fiction writers, I would rather do that than write fiction. So although on the basis of my publications and earnings I'm considered a professional genre writer, I really see myself as an amateur.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book fair on Friday

I received an invitation to participate in a college book fair this past weekend. Normally, I have a problem attending book fairs since I work on Saturdays, but this book fair is being held on a Friday afternoon - my day off. So I will try to make it.

It is being held at Wiley College in Marshall, outside its library. I have posted a copy of the flier.

Wiley College is a historically black college founded after the Civil War. It has a distinguished history, and its debating team's winning of the national championship in 1935 was fictionalized in the 2007 movie "The Great Debaters"?

On the subject of days off, it looks like, because of a change in the publication schedule at the newspaper, I may be getting Saturdays and Sundays off in the future.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Slush pile shuffle

Spent time Sunday updating my submissions log and otherwise tending to records that were starting to get disorganized.

I got an email Thursday from a magazine to whom I sent a story in January and never heard back from. I queried in September and also didn't get a reply, so moved on and resubmitted the story elsewhere. It was rejected and has been submitted elsewhere.

Now someone from the magazine finally replied. They were very apologetic, but have no record of ever having received the story. They asked I send it by email, which I did (it was originally mailed). I guess this is a multi-sub now, but unavoidable. I hope there are no complications.

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Back Own My Stab"

Jotted off a flash this week, "Back Own My Stab", a tail-biter of a time travel story - hence the backwards title. Amazingly, it came in at exactly 1,000 words. At this length, I pretty much had the story worked out and memorized in my head, so when I sat down to write it, it only took an hour.

I've dropped it in the slush pile for an anthology; if they don't want it, I'll send it to Daily S-F. It has a lot to compare with "Double Exposure".

This is the 106th story I've written in ten years.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Depleted the stock

I just took stock and realize I only have a half dozen stories currently under consideration in various slushpiles. That may be the lowest ever for me since I started. Of course, with eleven stories already published this year - and four acceptances waiting to be published - I suppose that makes sense. I need to write up some more.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Second try

Last spring, with the cooperation of the local community college, I offered a Continuing Education course in Speculative Fiction writing. It needed a half dozen students to "make" but it only got two. We decided to give a try again this fall. This time there were no sign-ups.

The folks here in East Texas are more interested in westerns, romance, and non-fiction. It was worth a try, anyway.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Latest sale

Just esigned a contract for my story "The Relic" which will be published by Bruce Bethke's monthly ezine anthology "Stupefying Stories". Happy to be among their authors.

This will be my 72nd, 73rd or 74th short story, depending on when it runs (I already have two bought and pending in other mags). I also have a story sold to a anthology.

Monday, October 01, 2012

More praise for "Double Exposure"

Frank Dutkiewicz, reviewing the June offerings of Daily Science Fiction for the e-zine Diabolical Plots, had high praise for my story "Double Exposure":--A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli. Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be.

“Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"The Way of the Heretic"

David and Mary Gray have published the fall issue of the quarterly ezine 4 Star Stories. It leads off with my short story "The Way of the Heretic".

Here is the editor's blurb on the issue:

"In this, the Autumn 2012 Issue of 4StarStories, we are happy to present four really good reads. Lou Antonelli creates a future history of science gone amiss in his story, “The Way of the Heretic”. John Bruni introduces us to some way-out rock fans in “The Party’s Over”. Don D’Ammassa takes us to a unique world in “Sandcastles”. Finally, Marilyn Marquez Mercado gives us some scary insight with her short story, “Silence”."

This is my 71st story in 2012.this year.

Back in the USSR

Well, my Soviet Union pinup cosmonaut t-shirt arrived this week from Andrew Bawidamann, and when I put it on...


I was instamagically transported to Red Square circa 1982. I kept my mouth shut - since with my Texas accent I probably would sound like Slim Pickens in "Dr. Strangelove" to the indigenous Russkies - but I used gestures to get a passing commissar to take my photo.

It was good to be "Back in the USSR" - even briefly - but I had to leave, so I pulled off the shirt and


I was back in East Texas.

But I brought back a lot of material for an alternate history story, about the '82 Cuban Missile Crisis - so named for the main antagonists - Fidel, Raoul and Mark.

Friday, September 28, 2012

35 years on

A few days ago I learned via Facebook that the Columbia University Libraries have digitized back issues of the Columbia Daily Spectator from the 1940s to the present. This is a boon for me, since I was a reporter for the newspaper, served on the student council, and was also a staff member of the Office of Student Activities. These were the three main occupants of the since-demolished student center, Ferris Booth Hall. I think I hold the distinction of being the only person to have belonged to all three groups.

A search of the digitized archives comes up with over 200 hits for me from those pages, from 1975 to 1984. This archive will be of great help to me in the future, since my own old issues of the paper disappeared many years ago.

When I began writing s-f a decade ago, I recalled the irony of the fact that - of all the writing I did for the Columbia Spectator - I only did ONE book review, but it was James Gunn's "Alternate Worlds". I later bought a copy through eBay, and in 2004 I attended the Campbell Conference in Lawrence, Kansas, and he signed it for me.

Thanks to this newly-opened archive, I was able to retrieve the review and read it after 35 years. Although parts of it makes me cringe today, I thought I'd reprint it, so here it is, from April 28, 1977:

A guide to the cosmos


Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction by James Gunn (A&W Visual Library, $7.95)

The appeal of Alternate Worlds extends beyond the narrow confines of the science fiction genre. It is an interesting work of illustrated history by noted science fiction author, James Gunn.

Though issued in hardcover in 1975, its lofty $29.95 asking price kept many from looking into this scholastic and philosophical work. Since its issuance in softcover at a more reasonable figure, both science fiction buffs and the genre's casual readers can add the book to their shelves.

Gunn has done his homework. The book traces the origins of science fiction ideas from Homer to Vonnegut, and presents the basic concepts that led to the recognition of science fiction as a legitimate art form under the broader category of fantasy. It is also a graphically pleasing book, with 85 full color plates and 635 in black and white.

The color illustrations are science fiction pulp magazine covers. (If you are old enough to remember when the science fiction pulps were in their heyday, you may recall that these covers could get bizarre at times, but were always interesting.) The black and white illustrations are weighted heavily towards author's portraits, with many illustrations from famous science fiction stories thrown in.
The original illustration from the 1977 article

Gunn's opus is a celebration of the fact that in recent years science fiction has burst from the ghetto of pulp magazines and monster movies, and captured an ever-widening audience. But Gunn is a science fiction writer himself, and it becomes apparent that he is too close to properly assess the role of the genre in the modern world.

While it is true that science fiction has gained the recognition it so long deserved, it is pompous for Gunn to say "the world has finally caught up with science fiction" and that it is "the most relevant fiction of our time." This is probably the long-range effect of Isaac Asimov, generally known as the most pompous man alive, who, luckily, contributed only a short, saccharine introduction to Gunn's book, describing his love affair with sci-fi in prose so picturesque I thought I might be reading the Song of Solomon.

Once he draws away from philosophizing and turns to historical narrative, Gunn is on firm ground. He explores the development of the genre, particularly after the start of the industrial revolution, and offers solid opinions as the place of the authors in the development of the modern idiom.

Only as he draws closer to the present era (and his contemporaries) does his narrative begin to falter, mostly because he refuses to objectively judge their place in the history of the genre. Finally, he resorts to an embarrassingly redundant listing of names, with no value judgments whatsoever.

Gunn is commendable in the degree to which he follows the true science fiction line in this history. Considering how indefinite the boundaries of the genre are, he does a wonderful job of separating the science fiction from the fantasy, so that writers like Vonnegut and H. P. Lovecraft are only mentioned in conjunction with the true science fiction they wrote.

Despite his weakness in placing the role of science fiction in modern society and his reluctance to judge contemporary authors, considering the size of the project undertaken, Gunn manages to produce a well-researched and coherent history. 

“Alternate Worlds” is likely to be used as a reference for years, and it is a piece of interesting reading, to boot.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SASS get-together

‎FenCon Convention in Dallas this past weekend saw the distribution of the first literature ever prepared by SASS, a tri-fold brochure.

There was an informal meeting of some SASSians Sunday for lunch in the FenCon hotel restaurant. Treasurer Shedrick Pittman-Hassett lives in the Dallas Metroplex, Secretary Lou Antonelli lives in East Texas, and Michael Finn - who is the moderator of the Inkwell forum - lives in Houston. There were also two prospective members who joined the other for lunch.

The latest - and hopefully - final draft of the by-laws were distributed. The latest revision incorporate language needed because of being incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of Texas. This version will be mailed to the 24 members of the by-laws study committee.

The secretary noted other changes included setting a minimum of ten dues paying members to formally call the first vote for adopting the by-laws, and the addition of a provision allowing a hardship waiver for dues.

A membership application is being prepared. The by-laws state that anyone who served on the by-laws study committee does not otherwise have to qualify for membership. The membership application will also be mailed to the members of the committee. It is anticipated that as many as half of the committee members may ultimately become dues-paying members.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Facebook page for SASS

SASS logo
We are getting close to taking membership applications and formally starting SASS (Society for the Advancement of Speculative Storytelling). Since some of the organizers are attending FenCon in Dallas this weekend, I made up a brochure last weekend that can be distributed to interested people.

I thought since people are starting to contemplating joining when we open for memberships, I made up  Facebook page for public viewing:

Right now, we have no official dues paying members, just a by-laws study committee, but we will be transitioning to a membership list in the coming weeks. We are working up a final version of the bylaws, which will include verbiage required because we are a non-profit group.

Dues will be $25, and we will call an election to approve the bylaws and permanent officers when we have ten full-fledged dues paying members.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

First con of 2013

I received - and have accepted - an invite to be a panelist at ConDFW next February. This will mark the tenth anniversary of my first con, which was ConDFW in 2003. Before then I didn't even know such things existed.

Here is some information from their email:


The dates for this year's convention are February 15-17, 2013.

    ConDFW is sponsored by the Texas Speculative Fiction Association, a gathering of fandom located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  ConDFW is primarily a literary-fiction convention, with additional focus on art and gaming.  It has consistently grown in attendance since its start and is well appreciated for its open, friendly atmosphere.  The Guests of Honor for this year's convention are Hugo award winner Jo Walton and graphic artist Brian Stelfreeze.

    ConDFW will be moving to a new hotel this year.  We're still going to be at a Crowne Plaza, but this time we will be at the Crowne Plaza North Dallas/Addison.  This hotel has a long and positive history of working with conventions, and ConDFW is glad to become a part of that.  Additionally, the hotel will have completed a multi-million dollar renovation in the months prior to the convention. 

    Programming for the convention will run from early afternoon on Friday through late afternoon on Sunday.


Their new hotel is the one that hosts FenCon. 

I hope that by February I will be able to clear my schedule so that I can attend the whole con; as I have noted on this blog before, I normally work Saturdays and it's hard for me attend cons these days. When I attended SoonerCon in Oklaoma City in June, I didn't get there until 5 p.m. Saturday. I wasn't able to attend ArmadilloCon at all, and I only will be able to make FenCon on Sunday this weekend.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We have handouts!

I burned up an ink cartridge, but it was worth it today as I prepared the first piece of hand-out literature for SASS, a tri-fold which will be available at FenCon. I printed 55 of them, with two dozen each going out in Monday's mail to Shedrick and Mike, and a few others to individuals who have expressed an interest or curiosity in SASS.

SASS meeting

The logo of the Society for the Advancement for Speculative Storytelling
SASS (Society for the Advancement of Speculative Storytelling) was formally incorporated as a non-profit group by the Texas Secretary of State on July 31 of this year. I helped organize the group as a home for aspiring writers, newbies, semi-pros and people like me who are casual writers. I'd like to think it will have welcoming, congenial and supportive like many local writers groups are, but at a national level.

We had a by-laws study group of two dozen people who received various incarnations of the proposed bylaws from March until May. Shedrick Pittman-Hassert of Denton, Texas, volunteered to be treasurer and set up the P.O. box; he is the registered agent for SASS. Dario Cirello is the interim president, and Brad Torgerson is the interim v-p. I'm the secretary.

Mike Finn of Houston, hosts our forum, the Inkwell. He will be attending FenCon in Dallas next weekend, as will be Shedrick, who lives in the area. Although I can't attend the con either Friday and Saturday, I plan to drive in Sunday morning; Mike and Shedrick and I will have lunch and talk about SASS stuff, among other things.

We're just about ready to have a formal unveil and start taking dues and have an official membership list; then we can vote in a permanent board.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Latest story published, "Damascus Interrupted"

The Phantasmagorium web site has published by Alternate History/Christian Horror story "Damascus Interrupted". You can find it on-line 

Ed Morris, fiction editor at Phantasmagorium, said "It follows our guidelines to the letter, and still manages to be pure, unadulterated Antonelli Brand Alternate History. Lou Antonelli, you are a cross-genre surgeon who delivers such hybrid children with skill, wit and panache. Pleasure to be running this one this week..."

It is my oldest unpublished story, I wrote it in January 2003. It was originally supposed to be my first published story, but the small print mag that originally wanted it went out of business beforehand. When I attended my first con, ConDFW in February 2003, this was the story I had sold. A big reason I wanted to attend the con was to learn about the markets, because I realized that if my stuff was actually publishable, I needed to know what I was doing.

At ConDFW I met Jayme Blaschke, fiction editor at Revolution S-F, and it was Jayme who ultimately published my first story in June 2003.

"Damascus" is my 70th published story since then, and my ninth this year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

And it's an even dozen

David Gray at 4 Star Stories, who already plans to publish my story "The Way of the Heretic" in his fall issue, says he will publish my story "Racing with the Sunset" in his winter issue. That means that, if all near-future publications come off as anticipated, I will have 12 stories published in '12.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

One day at Fencon

After the fiasco that prevented me from attending ArmadilloCon in July, I had to admit I have scheduling problems that prevent me from taking Saturdays off from work, and I cancelled as a panelist at FenCon. I have to say that, with FenCon just two weeks away, it was a wise move, because things haven't changed. The only way I can take a Saturday off is if someone takes the shift for me, and right now my normal replacement is on temporary assignment in another county, and the only other person who could work for me - my boss - is working two jobs because someone quit without notice.

But I can't see what could tie me up on Sunday, so I hope to drive in and at least spend the day there, and meet up with the usual suspects.

I hope things change next year, the next con I would really like to attend is ConDFW in February. I also really hope to attend Lone Star Con. But I have to be careful with my plans, because things have way of changing at the last minute.

Latest acceptance

Bewildering Stories has been around for many years and published one of my stories as far back as 2003. I still send them an occasional tale*. Editor Don Webb says he will be publishing my short story "Snow Globe" by the end of the year. That will be my 72nd story published - if the others in line for the rest of the year are published as anticipated - and my 11th of 2012. I'll be curious to see whether I pick up another publication later this year, because that would make 12 stories in 2012.

* The story "I Got You" that BWS published in 2004 earned an Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Science Fiction.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Not much to report this week...

...on the writing front. Because of a change in my work schedule, I actually didn't have a day off this week. I used to have Mondays off. Now I have Fridays off. Because of the change, I had to work this past Monday (yes, on Labor Day) I haven't had a  full day off since Aug. 20. But I will have Friday off as the new schedules cycles. I plan to use it to work on genre stuff.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

George, Joe and Me

I was checking Facebook this morning when I noticed a post from Joe Lansdale saying that a book by one of his favorite authors, George V. Higgins, has been made into a movie. The movie is called "Killing Them Softly" and it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May. It will be released in the U.S. in October.

I didn't know that Joe was a George V. Higgins fan, and I picked up the phone and told Joe that - it's a small world - George V. Higgins and I are from the same town, Rockand, Mass. Higgins graduated from Rockland High School in 1957, the year I was born. I graduated in 1975.

George Higgins' father, John T. Higgins, was high school principal when he was a student, and something about having his dad in the principal's office during his time in school gave George a real attitude about Rockland. Maybe he was picked on; maybe he resented the time his father accidentally stepped off the stage in the school auditorium, and he fell to the floor, breaking his leg - and the little bastards laughed at him.

In any case, after he graduated, Higgins never would admit he was from Rockland, and often claimed Brockton as his birthplace - which was true, that is where the hospital was.

John T. Higgins left the Rockland schools and was treasurer of the Massachusetts Teachers Association when he died suddenly in 1966; he was 60. George was in law school at the time.

I always thought it was fascinating that the principal who succeeded John. T. Higgins at Rockland High School was named Joe Cogan, and in 1974 - when I was a junior in high school - Higgins' third novel (following "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" in 1970 and "The Digger's Game" in 1973) was named "Cogan's Trade". That's the first time it occurred to me that novelists even scores by naming villains after nemeses.

By the time I was in high school, John T. Higgins was dead, Joe Cogan had left as principal in 1969, and George was keeping as great a distance as he could. But Mrs. Higgins - John T.'s wife and George V.'s mother - lived in Rockland until she died in 2007, age 98 (she outlived her husband by 41 years, and her son by eight - George died in 1999.)

I wouldn't say Doris Higgins was reclusive, but she didn't seem to socialize much. From what I heard, there was lingering resentment in the Higgins family over the way her husband had been treated. Reading between the lines, I assumed John T. Higgins had been a no-nonsense educator, and that would have put him in conflict with the other strain in public education, which is to use school jobs as patronage. In Massachusetts, where the Irish Democrat glad-handing policy of handing out jobs to insure political loyalty was very strong then - and probably still is today - I'm sure that caused problems.

Doris Higgins was a member of a historical committee when I was in high school (the city celebrated the centennial of its incorporation in 1974) and I served as a student rep. Higgins was 65 at the time, grey-haired, stern and like I said, no-nonsense. We met a couple of times at her home. What I remember the most was that she has two large Dobermans and was very concerned to keep them away from the guests. That was back when Dobermans had a much worse reputation than they do now, and I think she thought some people would be scared of them.

Anyone who knows me well knows I've always been a big dog lover, and I wanted to play with the pooches, and she wouldn't let me!

I regaled Joe with all this trivia this morning. It was a good excuse to visit. He and Karen are heading overseas for a tour in Italy and Germany starting on Tuesday (I've never traveled overseas and have never owned a passport). Keith and Kasey will be joining them later. It's nice to see Joe is doing well, he's certainly earned it.

Like I said, it's a small world.

My SoonerCon schedule

I will be in Oklahoma City June 22-24 for the SoonerCon convention. Here is my schedule. Hope to see you there! The Author and The Antholo...