What’s Opera, Harlock?

Like many Americans of my age, my education in opera came from the wonderful 1957 Bugs Bunny short, “What’s Opera, Doc?” In the short, Bugs and Elmer Fudd satirize pieces from Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen among other operas.

It turns out, Bugs and Elmer aren’t the only characters from animation to take on Wagner’s Ring Cycle. In 1999, Leiji Matsumoto made an adaptation of Das Rheingold featuring Captain Harlock and the crew of the Arcadia called Harlock Saga. In this case, they don’t sing, but act out a loose, science fictional adaptation of the opera. I gather Matsumoto took the idea further in print and there are manga adaptations of Die Walküre and Siegfried as well as Der Rheingold.

In a way, bringing a character like Harlock into an opera closes a loop of sorts. Of course, Captain Harlock is a classic “space opera” character. So, what does “space opera” have to do with plain ol’ opera? To answer that, one has to go back to the original genre opera—the “horse opera.” The term “horse opera” goes all the way back to wild west shows of the nineteenth century. In that case, there’s a good chance that the term was a reference to the big spectacle that those shows represented.

By the time we get to the early twentieth century, the term “horse opera” began to be applied to movies we’d just call Westerns today. In fact, early Western star William Hart was called “the Caruso of the horse opera” in 1917. The term then migrated to western stories broadcast on the radio. When romance stories started on the radio, many sponsored by soap companies, they picked up the moniker “soap opera.” The term “space opera” started being applied to science fiction stories soon after that.

Today, when we speak of space opera, we tend to think of science fiction stories told on a grand scale, featuring larger-than-life characters, engaging in epic quests. In that sense, space opera is much the same kind of spectacle as, well, opera.

Lest one speak poorly of cartoons, I’ll note that “What’s Opera, Doc” and Harlock Saga have inspired my wife and I to finally watch Der Ring des Niberlungen. It’s definitely big and epic like a space opera. It’s also got its share of illicit romance, not unlike a soap opera. Of course, there’s the great music. Hours and hours of it. Der Ring des Niberlungen runs to some fifteen hours.

While I’m on the subject of space opera, today marks the relaunch of my space opera saga, now christened “The Space Pirates’ Legacy.” Click on the button below to visit my Patreon page and see the awesome cover Laura Givens created for the first book in the series, Firebrandt’s Legacy. If you become a Patron (and you can do so for just $1 a month), you’ll be able to read the book’s first story today. It first appeared in the collection Space Pirates, but I’ve given it a thorough edit to better line up with later stories in the book. My goal is that patrons will get to read at least one new story a month. If I get enough patrons, I’ll make sure they all get a copy of the complete book upon release. Click the button and get all the details right now.

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Two Devils and Two Heroes

Twenty years ago, in 1997, one of the very first authors to send me a story was a gentleman named David B. Riley. I published his story about vampire monks called “The Brother” in Hadrosaur Tales 2. Over the years, David continued to send me stories. In 2001, I published one in Hadrosaur Tales 11 called “The Devil’s Chest” about a cowboy named Miles O’Malley who gets hired by Nick Mephistopheles—literally the devil himself—to recover a chest containing Hades’ helmet of invisibility. In return, Miles received a remarkable horse named Paul.

David sold me a few more stories featuring Miles, Paul, and Nick. Eventually he collected all of his stories together plus some new material into a novel called The Two Devils. The main antagonist of the longer novel turns out not to be the Christian devil, but an evil Mayan god called Ah Puch. This Mayan god looks like an owl and makes a nasty habit of ripping people’s heads off, then taking over their bodies for his own use. Of course, Miles gets caught in a feud between Nick and Ah Puch. As it turns out, Miles is not just caught between two devils. He has an uncanny knack for running into everything from ghosts looking for a shootout to monsters from Mars to gorgeous angels who find him irresistible. David sold the novel to LBF Books and I edited the first edition. The book even garnered praise in The Denver Post when reviewer Fred Cleaver wrote, “I found “The Two Devils” as irresistible as a bowl of popcorn. I couldn’t stop as I followed Miles from one far-fetched adventure to another.”

I recently found some copies of the first edition of The Two Devils and I’m pleased to offer them at the same half-price clearance sale as other titles I edited for LBF Books. Just visit http://www.hadrosaur.com/bookstore.html#Two-Devils

This now brings us up to the present day. I’m currently editing a book to be published by Hadrosaur Productions called Legends of the Dragon Cowboys. It contains two novellas, one by Laura Givens and the other by David B. Riley. Laura’s story is called “Chin Song Ping and the Long, Long Night” and features the tale of an escape artist and con-man who finds himself a reluctant hero. Mayan god Ah Puch returns in David’s novella, “The Venerable Travels of Ling Fung.” Our hero here is Ling Fung who must contend with everything from a Yeti, to a cannibal, to his petulant niece, and of course, the aforementioned Ah Puch. I’m pleased to give you a sneak peak at the cover. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting collection. I’ve been having a blast editing it and I know you’ll enjoy reading it.

Cowboys and Battles

Back when I was editing the anthology Space Horrors, I was trying to entice a very good horror and suspense author to write a story for me. Unfortunately, commitments didn’t allow him to deliver a story, but he did recommend a writer he knew named Gene Mederos. I approached Gene with an invitation and he delivered a creepy tale called “A Touch of Frost.” The characters grabbed me right from the start and I could visualize everything in the story. It should then come as no surprise that Gene teaches film making and film editing at Santa Fe Community College. Ever since that first story, Gene has been one of my go-to authors when I have a new anthology project.

One of the things I most enjoyed about editing Tales of the Talisman were the beautiful story illustrations the artists delivered. Unfortunately, Gene has only written for my anthologies and not for the magazine, so I’ve never had the opportunity to see his stories illustrated…until now that is. Gene has recently turned his great visual sense into creating some beautiful illustrations of his stories. He recently shared them on Facebook and I asked permission to share them with you.

After writing “A Touch of Frost” for Space Horrors, I was delighted to hear he submitted a story to Bryan Thomas Schmidt for Space Battles. Bryan bought Gene’s story “The Thirteens.” In the story, Captain Andromeda Sax and the crew of La Espada investigate a bogey, and come up against Purists, a religious sect dedicated to ridding the galaxy of impurities—like the diverse alien and human species crewing Sax’s ship. The story not only delivered exciting battle scenes but explored issues of diversity and what makes us human. I’m especially pleased that Gene’s story was selected to appear in the best-of collection we assembled from the original anthologies and is now back in print.

Gene has gone on to submit stories for both A Kepler’s Dozen and Kepler’s Cowboys. In the latter story, Gene tackles the subject of how we’ll recognize alien life when we see it, especially when the aliens are very different than the life we know on Earth. He also imagined a rough and tumble frontier world with exotic landscapes that very much captured the essence of the space cowboy subgenre. One of the things that really makes Gene’s work stand out is the attention to detail, such as imagining a genetically engineered creature called a camule, bred to survive in harsh environments, and shown in the illustration above.

Gene and I have stories in both Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales and Kepler’s Cowboys. I’ve invited Gene to read one of his stories with me during the “55 Minutes with David Lee Summers” session at Bubonicon which is going on this weekend in Albuquerque. I’ll read my story in the other anthology. If you happen to be there, we’ll be reading in the Carlsbad Room at 10am on Sunday, August 27. I hope you’ll join us for an hour of exciting science fiction.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to be at Bubonicon this weekend, you can learn more about the anthologies by clicking on the links below:

Bubonicon 49

Today’s main event is the solar eclipse happening over much of the United States. I hope you have a good place to watch with clear skies and proper eye protection. I’m in Louisiana, where we should see about 80% of the sun eclipsed, presuming we get clear skies.

This coming weekend, I’ll be in Albuquerque, New Mexico for Bubonicon 49. The link will take you to their page with more information. This year’s theme is Back in Time (Time Travel). C.J. Cherryh and Sherwood Smith are the author guests of honor, Ursula Vernon is the toastmaster, and Elizabeth Leggett will be the guest artist. The convention is being held at the Albuquerque Mariott Uptown at 2101 Louisiana Blvd NE. Read on for my tentative schedule.

Friday, August 25

  • 4-5pm – Main Room – Jurassic Spark: Dino Appeal. Not just kids love dinosaurs. They’ve fascinated people of all ages for almost 200 years. Why? What is the enduring appeal of dinosaurs in the popular imagination? Dreaming about dinosaurs constitutes mental time travel. Usually. Does this fascination explain the appeal of Godzilla, Rodan, etc? On the panel with me are C.J. Cherryh, Steven Gould, Emily Mah, and John Saberhagen. Victor Milan will be moderating.

Saturday, August 26

  • 10-11am – Salon A-D – Fancy Pants: Idea Strategy. Are you a pantser? An outliner? How do you get at your material? The most common question asked of SF writers is “Where do you get your ideas?” and we’re all interested. Do you keep ‘em in your pants? Should we rephrase that? Where do you find them? What are your ideation strategies? Is that an idea in your pants, or are you just happy to see me? On the panel with me are Brenda Drake, Betsy James, and Susan R. Matthews. Robert E. Vardeman will be moderating.
  • 2-3pm – Main Room – Exo-Planets: What We’ve Learned. Astronomers have discovered several planets in orbit around far stars. What have we learned? Are there any in reach? Are any *really* habitable, or is it just that some could be habitable if all the conditions are just right? On the panel with me are Larry Crumpler, Loretta Hall, Kathleen Kitts, and Cathy S. Plesko. I’ll be the moderator.
  • 4-5pm – Main Room – SF As a Stealth Delivery Platform. Everybody knows that SF has inspired legions of young people to grow up and become scientists; half of NASA was weaned on Star Trek. But does SF’s influence with these people end with their choice of career? Might SF actually serve as a legitimate means of transmitting scientific ideas between working scientists in different disciplines? Might it, in certain circumstances, be more effective than usual technical publications? On the panel with me will be Kathleen Kitts, Pari L. Noskin, and Corie Weaver. Emily Mah will be moderating.
  • 5:25-6:40pm – Main Room – Mass Autographing. I’ll be joining all the Bubonicon participants in the main room where we’ll all be happy to autograph your books, programs, and anything else you want signed!

Sunday, August 27

  • 10-11am – Carlsbad – 55 Minutes with David Lee Summers. Although this is billed as a solo event, I’ve invited Gene Mederos to join me and we’ll read stories from Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales and Kepler’s Cowboys. We’ll be happy to answer questions and there may be some surprises as well. Come by and join us for 55-minutes of thrilling science fiction adventure!
  • 1:30-2:30pm – Salon A-D – Ask a Scientist! Larry Crumpler, Cathy S. Plesko and I will field your questions about science!

As usual, I will be helping with the Bubonicon Author Tea on Sunday afternoon. Check the program book for details. Because of my schedule, I’ll be helping at the second session. There are always some amazing teas to try and lovely snacks to eat.

What will be unusual for me this year, is that I won’t have a dealer’s table. I will be a free range author at this year’s Bubonicon. You will be able to find my books at the Who Else Books Table and possibly at the Barnes and Noble table as well. If you’re in Albuquerque this weekend, I hope to see you at Bubonicon!

The Weird Western Showdown

This Saturday, I’ll join bestselling authors Jim Butcher, Kevin J. Anderson, Sarah A. Hoyt, Peter J. Wacks, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Naomi Brett Rourke, Sam Knight and editor David Boop to discuss the genesis of the anthology Straight Outta Tombstone, reminisce about our careers, and sign our books. 5280Geek podcast will be there recording, and with every book sold, a portion will be donated to Reading Partners, an organization dedicated to helping children K-4 improve their reading scores!

In my story “Fountains of Blood,” Billy and Larissa from the Clockwork Legion series tangle with Marcella and Rosen from the Scarlet Order vampire series while caught up in the historical Albert Fountain disappearance. I’m not the only author revisiting familiar characters. Jim Butcher reveals the origin of one of the Dresden Files’ most popular characters in “A Fistful of Warlocks.” And Kevin J. Anderson’s Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., finds himself in a showdown in “High Midnight.” Plus there are stories from Larry Correia, Alan Dean Foster, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael A. Stackpole, Phil Foglio, Robert E. Vardeman and many more. Readers in Las Cruces and Tucson might even find copies I’ve signed at their local Barnes and Noble stores.

Lots of fun and a few surprises at this event! Mosey on down and celebrate this amazing anthology!

Here are the details:
August 18th, 7pm
Barnes and Noble
960 S Colorado Blvd
Glendale, CO 80246
Call for more information, 303-691-2998 or
RVSP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/251489345342065/

Accelerate to Maximum Velocity!

This week saw the release of Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales published by WordFire Press. This is an exciting reprint anthology I’ve been working on for a little over a year. I teamed up with editors Carol Hightshoe, Dayton Ward, Jennifer Brozek, and Bryan Thomas Schmidt to assemble the best stories from the Full-Throttle Space Tales anthologies we edited between 2008 and 2012. These action-packed, high octane, science fiction stories span the genre’s full potential. We’ve collected stories about pirates, women, soldiers, monsters, vagabonds and battles. Captain Firebrandt and his crew from my space pirate tales have a story in here, plus you’ll find tales form Mike Resnick, Irene Radford, C.J. Henderson, Danielle Ackley-McPhail and many more. This is a must-have volume both for fans of the original anthologies and those fans of action-oriented science fiction who missed out the first time. Each story includes a new introduction by the editor who originally selected it.

Here’s the complete list of stories:

    From Space Pirates:

  • “On the Eve of the Last Great Ratings War” by David Boop
  • “Space Pirate Cookies” by C.J. Henderson
  • “Earth-Saturn Transit” by W.A. Hoffman

    From Space Sirens:

  • “Outpost 6” by Julia Phillips
  • “Hijacking the Legacy” by David Lee Summers
  • “Rebel Moon” by Carol Hightshoe

    From Space Grunts:

  • “Price of Command” by Irene Radford and Bob Brown
  • “Finders Keepers” by Scott Pearson
  • “Granny’s Grunts” by Alan L. Lickiss

    From Space Horrors:

  • “Last Man Standing” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
  • “Into the Abyss” by Dayton Ward
  • “Listening” by Anna Paradox

    From Space Tramps:

  • “Backup” by Ivan Ewert
  • “The Frigate Lieutenant’s Woman” by Erik Scott de Bie
  • “Oh Give Me Land, Lots of Land, Under Starry Skies Above” by Shannon Page and Mark J. Ferrari

    From Space Battles:

  • “The Thirteens” by Gene Mederos
  • “The Joystick War” by Jean Johnson
  • “Guard Dog” by Mike Resnick and Brad R. Torgersen

You can find the book at the following retailers:

Chronicles of the Planeswalkers

This week, several of us who contributed to the anthology Straight Outta Tombstone continued our conversation with David Afsharirad at the Baen Podcast. I’m there along with editor David Boop and fellow authors Robert E. Vardeman, Nicole Givens Kurtz, and Peter J. Wacks. In this week’s installment, we discuss our stories and what inspired them. You can download and listen to the podcast at: http://www.baen.com/podcastfiles/mp3/baen-free-radio-hour-2017-07-21-Tombstone-2-Feldspar.mp3

This week I continue my series on books I edited for LBF Books a decade ago with a book I didn’t edit, Chronicles of the Planeswalkers, Part Zero by B.T. Robertson. Although I didn’t edit this book, I enjoyed the series and I took over as editor with the second book, Chronicles of the Planeswalkers, Part One: Alliances. Like the other books I’ve featured in this series, I have a stock of the books available and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the series’ first book.

The first book tells the story of a world plagued by an unseen evil and growing chaos, where a Krayn elf will search for his destiny. Aerinas, son of Tristandor, journeys to lands far beyond those he has ever traveled before. A group of elves, giants, men, and other beings must uncover the mystery locked within the secrets of the Planes. Aerinas and the others alike face challenges that will affect them physically, emotionally, and psychologically, and ultimately they face an enemy that taunts them from beyond the borders of the physical realm.

The second book in the series is Chronicles of the Planeswalkers, Part One: Alliances.
This is the first one I edited. New York Bestselling Times author David Farland said, “B.T. Robertson’s Planeswalker series provides wondrous, exciting adventure that every fantasy reader will love.”

In Alliances, an unlikely band of elves led by a wizard formerly of the Order of Light treks across foreign lands and seeks a mysterious mirror hidden within the ruins of El-Caras, the place where the final battle between good and evil took place during the Calaridis Wars many years before. They find great evil stirring, and a plan to shatter the fragile peace. Now, alliances will be formed and battle lines drawn across the plane of Vaalüna. Aerinas, a rebellious Krayn elf, continues to discover the power of the magic inside him, but after finding an ancient text penned by a long-dead wizard it becomes clear that he must grow up and face his worst fears, or perish.

I was honored that B.T. Robertson dedicated the third book in the series to me. In Chronicles of the Planeswalkers, Part Final: Alignment the Planar Alignment is at hand and a powerful being named Hydrais awaits his return from banishment on the Dark Plane of Zamas. Meanwhile, on the Plane of Vaalüna, Aerinas, along with his friends and allies, struggle to prevent Hydrais’ return. To do so, they must battle the forces of evil while Aerinas confronts truths about himself and the cold, calculating intelligence that dominates all life and destiny.

David Farland continued his praise of the series saying, “With each book in the Planeswalker series, B.T. Robertson writes with greater power and ease. With this installment, he proves himself to be a master of the craft, on par with the best fantasy writers of the day.”

This is an awesome series and here’s a little secret. I only have one complete set of the series available for sale and each book is half off the cover price. First come, first served! To order copies, visit http://www.hadrosaur.com/bookstore.html#cotp-zero