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:

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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:

Maximum Velocity Cover Reveal

At CopperCon in 2007, David Boop approached me about editing an anthology of space pirate stories for Flying Pen Press. We called Flying Pen’s owner David Rozansky and I promised to talk to some people and see what kind of interest I could drum up. I found several enthusiastic authors and started collecting stories. David, David and I met over dinner at MileHiCon in Denver about six weeks later. We were joined by Carol Hightshoe and a few other people, and the idea came up that we could turn this space pirate anthology idea into a whole series of anthologies that explored different themes. It was decided Carol would do the second anthology about women exploring space.

space_pirates1 2008 saw the publication of Space Pirates, the first anthology in the Full-Throttle Space Tales series. Space Sirens, edited by Carol Hightshoe, came out in early 2009. Dayton Ward edited the third entry in the series called Space Grunts which presented stories of the military in space. He tells the story of his involvement at The Fog of Ward.

At this point, I returned to edit a second volume in the series. Back at the dinner at MileHiCon, we’d discussed calling it Space Vampires, but we decided to open it to a variety of horror tropes. I received stories about zombies, ghosts, monstrous aliens, and yes, even vampires. SummersSpaceHorrors That book became Space Horrors. Jennifer Brozek edited Space Tramps about vagabonds making their way through the spaceways. Last but not least, Bryan Thomas Schmidt proposed an exciting anthology of space battles in all their forms. I was honored to have stories in every anthology of the series but one. I don’t know whether I would have been selected for Space Grunts because time commitments prevented me from submitting a story. Let that be a lesson for all those who decide not to submit their work. The best way to guarantee not having your story in a book or magazine, is never to submit it!

Unfortunately, in 2013, Flying Pen Press made the decision to stop publishing fiction and the books went out of print and the publication rights to the stories reverted to the individual authors.

It’s a shame to keep good stories from readers who want them, so the five editors started thinking about ways we could bring the books back in some form. In 2015, Jennifer Brozek, Dayton Ward, and I were all in Phoenix for LepreCon and we hatched the idea of assembling a “best of” anthology. Each editor would read the anthology before the one they edited and select their five favorite stories for potential inclusion.

In a moment of wonderful synchronicity, David Boop who helped to launch the series originally, had started working with WordFire Press, owned by bestselling author/editor Kevin J. Anderson. David and Kevin discussed the idea of doing a “best of” anthology from the Full-Throttle Space Tales independently of our plans. David came to me with the idea just as I was working with the editors to select their stories. David encouraged me to make a pitch to Kevin, which I did, and the upshot is that this summer, WordFire Press will be publishing the “best of” collection entitled Maximum Velocity. Credit for the cool title goes to Dayton Ward, by the way. Here’s a first look at the cover:

maximum-velocity-front-cover

And here are the stories you’ll find inside:

    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

It’s been tremendous fun to revisit these stories of swashbuckling pirates, talented women, soldiers, and vagabonds facing situations both terrifying and thrilling. WordFire currently expects the anthology will be available in June and I hope to have copies at Westercon in July. So, buckle up, because this summer we’ll be going to Maximum Velocity!

On Turning 50

Over the weekend, while at TusCon in Tucson, Arizona, I celebrated my fiftieth birthday. It’s one of those points in life where I find myself looking back to see where I’ve been as well as looking forward to see where I’m going.

david-at-50

In my first fifty years, I’ve written and published nine novels, eighty-four short stories, and fifty-four poems. I’ve edited three anthologies, plus two magazines for ten years each. I contributed to the commissioning of the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope and the NMSU 1-meter telescope. I’m co-discoverer of two variable stars and I helped take data that contributed to the discovery of dark energy. Most of all, I’m proud to be the father of two incredible young ladies, one in high school, the other in college, who have a wide range of talents in such areas as computer science and mathematics.

Looking ahead, my tenth novel, The Astronomer’s Crypt, is nearing release. I have two anthologies in the publication queue: Kepler’s Cowboys and Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales. I have four short stories accepted and awaiting publication. Beyond that, I’m in the early phases of writing a new novel and I have a “fix-up” novel a little over half completed. Plus I have story treatments for four more novels. Presuming no major funding shifts, I expect to be involved in commissioning two new instruments at Kitt Peak in the coming years.

As I reach fifty, I’m arguably in the best health I ever have been. The arthritis that plagued me for years is in remission and I regularly take long walks through my neighborhood. Nevertheless, one specter looms over me. My dad was only fifty-two when he died suddenly of a heart attack. In the plus column, my doctor is helping me watch my heart health and both of my brothers have now outlived my dad by over a decade. I have no immediate reason to fear for my imminent demise. Nevertheless, I find myself grieving for how truly short my dad’s life was cut and watching my health has taken on a new urgency.

In short, as I turn fifty, I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished. My regrets are minimal. While there are some harsh words and rash actions I’d take back if I could and some friends I’ve lost touch with over the years, it’s hard to say I’d have a better life if I’d taken a different path. I have several exciting things to look forward to in the coming months and years, plus plans and goals for the years beyond that.

Thanks to my readers for sharing some of this fifty-year journey with me. I look forward to sharing the coming years with you as well.

Accelerating to Maximum Velocity

A little over a year ago, I posted about Tales of the Talisman magazine going on hiatus. At the end of the post, I made a cryptic reference to discussions with Hugo-nominated editor Jennifer Brozek at LepreCon 41 in Phoenix about about a possible book project. Go Full Throttle poster 1 Also at LepreCon was New York Times Bestselling Star Trek author Dayton Ward. As it turns out, the three of us have something in common. We all edited anthologies in the Full-Throttle Space Tales Series published by Flying Pen Press.

This series included six volumes called Space Pirates, Space Sirens, Space Grunts, Space Horrors, Space Tramps, and Space Battles. Unfortunately, Flying Pen Press decided it no longer wanted to devote its energies to fiction and released the rights to the anthologies back to the editors. The plan we hatched at LepreCon was to assemble a “Best of” anthology that included the best stories from each of the books. The thought was we would run a Kickstarter and my company, Hadrosaur Productions, would publish the book. The beautiful artwork illustrating this post is based on a poster idea for the fundraiser by our original cover artist, Laura Givens.

Because each book in the series had a different editor, our plan was to pass the book we edited to the next person in line and they would vote on their favorite stories. This way, everything in the “best of” antho would be vetted by two professional editors. Our only rule was that if we wrote a story in an anthology we were reading, we couldn’t vote for ourselves.

Fast forward to October, when I was at MileHiCon in Denver, Colorado. I ran the idea by Carol Hightshoe, who edited Space Sirens and she was all for it. The surprise at that convention was when David Boop and Peter J. Wacks approached me with an idea. David was instrumental in getting the original series off the ground and had stories in several of the books. Peter was working with Kevin J. Anderson at WordFire Press. Their idea: the editors of the Full-Throttle Space Tales Books should assemble a “Best of” anthology and submit it to WordFire!

Cutting to the chase, we did assemble the anthology and submitted it. WordFire has graciously accepted it. All of the authors selected have been notified and are on board. The editors are now in the process of fine-tuning the anthology and I hope to get the final product to WordFire soon.

The anthology will be called Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales. In it, you will find eighteen stories by such folks as C.J. Henderson, Irene Radford, Alan L. Lickiss, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Johnson, Mike Resnick and Brad R. Torgersen. The collection is edited by Carol Hightshoe, Dayton Ward, Jennifer Brozek, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and yours truly. I’ll keep everyone posted about the book as we get closer to release time. I hope you’re as excited as I am to go full-throttle again and accelerate to maximum velocity!

Harmonizing

Two weeks ago I mentioned that my oldest daughter was performing in the New Mexico All-State Symphony Orchestra. Today, my youngest daughter is performing in the New Mexico All-State Choir here in Las Cruces. I’m looking forward to hearing her perform. She has been part of the Doña Ana Youth Choir for the last few years and I’m always amazed by the performances those kids deliver.

Dona Ana Youth Choir 2012

Talisman 9-2

Much of this past week, I’ve been focused on Tales of the Talisman Magazine. We mailed out most copies of volume 9, issue 2—the autumn issue. I sent the winter issue—volume 9, issue 3—to press and copies have been ordered. They should be here within the week. Now, I’m busy reading stories for volume 10, issues 1 and 2. I’m pleased with my short list and I’ve sent out the first acceptances. Things are going well enough that I’m planning to wrap up the reading period in about a week on February 2. If you have a story or poem that you want to get in, this is the time to send it.

Tales-9-3-cover-big

I find the process of selecting stories and poems for the magazine to be a little like gathering the voices of a choir. I look for a wide range of talent. I want stories and poems that both work well together and counterpoint each other. Every now and then, people take me very literally and decide to send me a story and a poem they wrote that they feel go together. Although that can be interesting, that’s not really what I’m looking for. I find it much more interesting when two authors who perhaps have never met send me things that address a common topic in different ways. I love it when that happens!

Of course, like any good choir, I want the final composition to be entertaining and satisfying. You can find the current issues of Tales of the Talisman at Amazon.com. The links for each issue are:

space_pirates1

Arguably, themed anthologies are even more like a choir than magazines are. The theme itself gives you that element that ties the stories together. When doing a themed anthology, I like to pick a theme that’s broad enough to allow a wide range of stories, while still being narrow enough to get different viewpoints on the same general topic.

Space Horrors

As January draws to an end, we approach the final days that my anthologies in the Full-Throttle Space Tales series will be in print. The first editions of Space Pirates and Space Horrors go out of print on January 31. In the former anthology, I loved how the stories looked at pirates as both anti-heroes and villains. The horrors of the latter anthology took many different forms and we saw how they could pull people together and drive them apart. I’m planning to bring both of these anthologies back later this year, but if you want the originals, now’s the time to get them! Here are the Amazon links:

Halloween Short Stories and Poems

Talisman 9-1 Cover

Subscriber and contributor copies of Tales of the Talisman volume 9, issue 1 have now been shipped out. It occurs to me this is a great issue for Halloween. Christian Martin’s story “Sabotaged” is a scary psychological thriller set aboard a space station. Davyne DeSye’s “…I Win” is a stylish and Gothic look at Death. C.J. Henderson delivers a chillingly twisted Cthulhu mythos tale. These along with many of the stories in the issue make it a good issue to curl up with this autumn. Of course each issue is lavishly illustrated by such artists as Tom Kelly, Laura Givens, Kathy Ferrell and Jag Lall. Between the stories you’ll find blood curdling poems by such folks as Marge Simon, Charles Templeton, and Noel Sloboda. Issues are now available at TalesOfTheTalisman.com and at Amazon.com.

While on the subject of spooky poetry, you should drop by the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s On-Line Halloween Poetry Reading at http://www.sfpoetry.com/halloween.html. There you’ll find recordings of some great speculative poets reading scary Halloween poems absolutely free.

Space Horrors

If you prefer that your horrors come from beyond the Earth, be sure to check out the anthology Space Horrors published by Flying Pen Press. In this collection, you’ll find tales of vampires, zombies and alien menaces among the stars by such Lee Clark Zumpe, Sarah A. Hoyt, Selena Rosen, Dayton Ward, and more. My understanding is that the first edition will be going out of print at the end of the year, so this is a great time to grab the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I’ll be starting discussions with the authors soon about a second edition. If all goes well, that should be available by next Halloween.

Hope you’ll check some of these out. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you’re reading this Halloween season.