Cover and TOC reveal: Funny Science Fiction

July 23, 2015


Funny Science Fiction is a spin-off anthology from the Unidentified Funny Objects (UFO) annual anthology series of humorous SF/F. While UFO attempts to collect some of the best speculative humor being written today, Funny SF gathers seventeen from among the best funny science fiction stories published in the last decade.

Whereas UFO covers both genres, Funny SF collected science fiction stories specifically. There are tentative plans for a Funny Fantasy reprint anthology to follow in 2016.

Cover art is by the talented Flavio Greco Paglia. Cover design is by UFO’s amazing graphics specialist-in-residence and game designer Emerson Matsuuchi.

I’m indebted to the original publishers of these stories, who have done their share to publish and promote humor in SF/F. Special thanks to the editors and publishers of Crossed Genres and Galaxy’s Edge magazines who allowed me to include stories that are still under contract with them, because I wanted badly to make sure current short fiction is well-represented in this book.

Funny SF will be published on Amazon on September 1, 2015. It will become available on other e-book platforms in 2016.

Table of Contents:

Foreword by Alex Shvartsman

“Observation Post” by Mike Resnick (Beyond the Sun, Fairwood Press, 2013)

“Flying on My Hatred of My Neighbor’s Dog” by Shaenon Garrity (Drabblecast, 2013)

“Wikihistory” by Desmond Warzel (Abyss & Apex, 2007)

“Distant Gates of Eden Gleam” by Brian Trent (Crossed Genres, 2015)

“Half a Conversation, Overheard While Inside an Enormous Sentient Slug” by Oliver Buckram (F&SF, 2013)

“Hark! Listen to the Animals” by Ken Liu and Lisa Tang Liu (Galaxy’s Edge, 2014)

“Whaliens” by Lavie Tidhar (Analog, 2014)

“See Dangerous Earth-Possibles!” by Tina Connolly (Lightspeed Women Destroy Science Fiction, 2014)

“Kallakak’s Cousins” by Cat Rambo (Asimov’s, 2008)

“Kulturkampf” by Anatoly Belilovsky (Immersion Book of Steampunk, Immersion Press, 2011)

“Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs” by Leonard Richardson (Strange Horizons, 2009)

“Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class” by Dantzel Cherry (Galaxy’s Edge, 2015)

“Pidgin” by Lawrence M. Schoen (Aliens and A.I., Eggplant Literary Productions, 2005)

“Nothing, Ventured” by James Beamon (AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, 2013)

“Last Thursday at Supervillain Supply Depot” by Sarah Pinsker (Daily Science Fiction, 2015)

“Chicka-Chicka-Bow-Wow” by Mike Rimar (Cucurbital 2, Paper Golem Press, 2011)

“Troublesolver” by Tim Pratt (Subterranean Press, 2009)



Die, Miles Cornbloom – Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine 17

July 15, 2015


Die Miles Cornbloom, which I believe is my only full-length (non-flash) short story that is not science fiction or fantasy, was published in the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine volume 17.

No, I don’t plan on writing a lot more suspense/mystery type stories. That one … just happened. The idea came to me and I wrote it. But generally I stay away from writing n0n-genre. In fact, I once wrote a literary story and added some magic to it just so I could sell it to a speculative magazine!

On a related note, this is as good a time as any to mention a pair of recent sales:

“Board Meeting, As Seen By the Spam Filter” will appear in Nature sometime in the next few months.

“The Hourglass Brigade” will be reprinted in the Broken Worlds anthology from A Murder of Storytellers. I really like the cover!





John H. Costello Documents

July 13, 2015


The following scans are from the books and letters that were a part of the personal collection of John Costello, translator and science fiction fan who passed away earlier this year.  John had worked closely with Kir Bulychev, one of Russia’s best-known and beloved science fiction authors, and was actively involved in promoting Russian science fiction in the US.

I felt the following documents might especially be of interest to Russian fandom, and am sharing them with permission from ReaderCon. Click on any of the images to see the full version, and feel free to download/share/post them as you see fit.

Bulychev sig Poselok

There is a number of books in the collection autographed by Kir Bulychev and signed to John Costello. Most of them are merely signed with a brief note of well wishes, as the one above, but there are several with interesting notes that I am posting below. If there’s interest in the other “basic” signatures/dedications, I can scan those upon request.

Bulychev sketch

A self-portrait sketch by Kir Bulychev. He writes “from Igor and the Mouse” though that definitely looks like a cat to me. May have been some inside joke between Kir and John. This is from the flap of “Коралловый Замок” (The Coral Castle).


Bulychev sig Comic Book

The only dedication in English. From the flap of “Андрей Брюс, Агент Космофлота” (Andrei Bruce, Spacefleet Agent) hardcover comic book, circa 1993. Comic books were not a well-known media form in Russia; this must have been one of the earlier such publications, and it was based on Bulychev’s writing.

Bulychev sig Who Needs This

A “best of” collection “Кому Ето Надо?” (Who Needs This?). Bulychev writes: This is what’s called “The Best Of…” over there. I think it turned out to be a very pretty book.”

Lukin signature

A signature by Lubov and Evgeny Lukin on the cover page of their “Когда Отступяют Ангелы” (When Angels Retreat). It reads: “With hope that you like it. –Co-authors of this book and friends of Boris Zavgorodniy.”

Dushenko letter

The letter from Konstantin Dushenko to John Costello, granting permission to reprint the translation of Dushenko’s interview with Stanislaw Lem and requesting a copy of the publication. Dushenko goes on to ask how Costello found out about the interview, published int he Review of Books, and goes on to comment on Lem’s assent to the Russian-language publication of the novel “Memoirs Found in a Bathtub” without the foreword he was originally forced to write so the book would be able to get past the censors. Dushenko notes that all previous editions of “Memoirs” in the original Polish and in translation were published with this foreword.

Note: The scan intentionally cuts off the final line of the letter, which includes Dushenko’s address (in case he or his family still reside there.)


Kovshun letter 1Kovshun letter 2Front and back of the letter from Igor Nikolaevich Kovshun, a noted UFOlogist and head of “Proteus,” the SF fan club in Odessa, Ukraine.

Kovshun sig

A copy of “The Stars detached from the Sky and Fell to Earth…” autographed by Kovshun.



My Readercon 2015 Schedule

July 8, 2015


I will be at Readercon over the course of the next four days. If you see me, don’t hesitate to say hello! Here’s my schedule:

Thursday July 09

8:00 PM    CR    The Games We Play. Erik Amundsen, Yoon Ha Lee, Alex Shvartsman, Romie Stott (leader), Gregory Wilson. Video games and tabletop games are an influential part of our imaginative lives. Are there times when you’re reading a book and feel the game mechanics too clearly beneath the prose? Or do you enjoy imagining what a character’s stats might look like? We’ll look at tie-in books (like R.A. Salvatore’s Chronicles of Drizzt and David Gaider’s Dragon Age prequels), book-based games (like The Black Cauldron, Lord of the Rings, and the Mists of Avalon–influenced Conquests of Camelot), and the pleasure of reading gaming sourcebooks.

Friday July 10

3:00 PM    E    Autographs. Alex Shvartsman, Allen Steele.
4:30 PM    ENV    Reading. Alex Shvartsman. Alex Shvartsman reads an excerpt from “H. G. Wells, Secret Agent”.

Saturday July 11

1:00 PM    F    Making SF/F Careers Viable. Sandra Kasturi, Matt Kressel, Bart Leib, A. J. Odasso, Alex Shvartsman (leader). Writing, editing anthologies or magazines, running small presses, creating artwork… these pursuits demand a great deal of investment, and returns are unreliable. Few people can spend weeks writing a story on spec, wait months for a contract and longer for a check, or absorb financial losses for years while trying to make a business profitable. Let’s talk frankly about how low pay rates on all fronts affect the demographics of professional SF/F, and what we can do to make SF/F careers more accessible to people with limited tangible and intangible resources.

The Hook: The Floating City by Craig Cormick

July 8, 2015


The Hook:

The story starts with a murder.

It is a warm autumn night in the Floating City, and the waterways are still between the turning of the tides, and a little fetid. A dark gondola moves across the grand canal with a tall man and woman seated together in the boat. They wear ornate masks of birds, beset with tawny orange feathers and jewelry, and hold hands gently. Were there not such a large blood moon this evening it would be possible to see a soft glow emanating from where they touch.

The gondolier also wears a mask – but his is a plain white face, as if all the features have been erased from it, except an enigmatic smile. Ahead of them is a large golden palace, that seems to float on top of the water. It is ablaze with light as if there were a party for a hundred guests going on inside. But in fact it is empty except for servants. The master and mistress of the house are on their way back from a troubling meeting of the city’s Seers.

They will have need to discuss it with each other until late into the night, but for now they sit in silence, the only sound the soft splash, splash, splash of the gondolier’s oar, moving them forward.

Craig Cormick writes:

And the murder happens just a few paragraphs later. Two murders in fact, as a fearsome monster rises out of the canal, fights with the two Seers and slays them. And as they die their splendid palace sinks beneath the waters – letting you know it was only their magic that kept it afloat.

The Floating City is the second novel in my Shadow Master series, set in a world very much like Renaissance Italy, and this city is very much like Venice, but where magic and demons abound.

There are four pairs of magic Seers, protecting the city – one pair for each season, and they are slowly being killed off. As are the City’s Council of Ten. Monster and masked assassins and spies everywhere, all battling for control of the city. And just when things get desperate – the mysterious Shadow Master appears. He is armed with lightning fast swords, advanced gadgets and a sarcasticwit. He also has a scribe follow him around the city, while he dispatches his form of justice, and has him write the city’s history anew.

But that’s only half the story. The other half revolves around three very strong female characters, the Montecchi sisters: Giuliette, Disdemona and Isabella, who are each struggling to write their own destinies.

You might have picked them as being similar in name to Shakespeare’s characters: Juliet, Desdemona and Isabella from Romeo and Juliet, Othello and the Merchant of Venice – which is only half right. For I’ve gone back to the original Italian stories that Shakespeare adapted his plays from, and used those “origin” characters and plot structures within the novel. The original stories are worth checking out if you’re interested in seeing the way that Shakespeare built upon them and changed them: Luigi da Porto’s Giulietta e Romeo of 1530, Ser Giovanni’s Il Pecorone (the Dunce) of 1558, and Giraldi Cinthio’s Hecatommithi of 1565.

As for the starting point, or hook, I wanted to start the story at a major plot point, and then fill in the back story afterwards as we romp along – much as Shakespeare did in plays such as Hamlet. I think action is a great driver of plot and characterisation.

I also think the Shadow Master books are a fast-pace and fun read. And what I enjoy about them as the author, is when readers ask me, ‘So when are you going to explain a bit more about just who that Shadow Master character actually is?’ – I keep saying, ‘Well – maybe in the next book.’

After all, where is the fun in giving away all the mystery?

Buy The Floating City on Amazon.

About the author:

Craig Cormick is an award-winning Australian author and science communicator. He has published over 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, ranging over several genres. He has also published over 100 short stories.

The Shadow Master was published to widespread critical acclaim by his wife and mother in 2014, and they have great expectations for the Floating City!

You can find Craig online at his website


If you’re an author with a book coming out soon and you wish to participate on The Hook, please read this.

Win a Signed Copy of H. G. WELLS, SECRET AGENT paperback

July 7, 2015


You can win a signed copy of the book at GoodReads. Of course, you can also pick up a copy from Amazon for only $7.99 (or $2.99 ebook) and I hope to have them available at Readercon this weekend (I’ll post my event schedule tomorrow and will know for sure if I’ll have the books in time by then.)

Also, Mike Ventrella interviewed me on his blog today.




Burying Treasure – Chicks and Balances anthology

July 7, 2015


My humorous fantasy story “Burying Treasure” is in this latest installment of the Chicks in Chainmail anthology series, edited by Esther Friesner. “Burying Treasure” attempts to explain why there are piles of treasure and gold always lying around, in the unlikeliest of places, for the heroes of traditional fantasy stories and Dungeons and Dragons campaigns to find. The short answer, or course, is Keynesian economics. The long answer … you’ll just have to read the story to find out!

Buy Chicks and Balances here.



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