New Publication: A Dark and Stormy Night (A Conradverse Tale)

January 14, 2022

While we all anxiously await the publication date for The Middling Affliction (which is currently May 31, mark your calendars!) a brand new Conradverse story was published today! This story appears in Silence in the City, an anthology edited by Shaun Kilgore.

“A Dark and Stormy Night” is chronologically set after book 2 in the series (Kakistocracy, which is written and I’m revising now, and you will likely get to read in 2023) and gives you a sneak preview of one of the many problems Conrad will have to deal with in book 3.

The story is written in such a way that you do not have to have read any previous Conradverse stuff to enjoy it, and there’s only one minor spoiler that reveals something that happens to a minor character in book 2, so it should be safe to read before you delve into the novel.

Here’s a little preview:

A Dark and Stormy Night

A Conradverse Tale

by Alex Shvartsman

IT WAS RAINING in Brooklyn. Scratch that, it was pouring cats and dogs, raining men, drizzling grizzly bears, showering wallabies, and sprinkling an occasional elephant out there. I peeked out the window and could hardly see the street through the torrential downpour. It seemed I could take an evening off from patrolling the borough. Even monsters and warlocks generally preferred to hatch their dastardly schemes while wearing dry socks. I settled onto the couch and reached for a TV remote.

My phone rang.

“Hello?” I dearly hoped the unfamiliar number was only a scammer trying to sell me an extended car warranty, and not a cry for help that would result in me chasing a slime elemental through the sewers. Again.

“Conrad Brent,” the familiar voice grated in my ear. “Beware the gathering storm. The forces of darkness are amassing in the deep. The three islands face deluge. In order to save us all you must open your heart to an old enemy.”

“Agnes?” I asked gormlessly. The Oracle of Eighty-Sixth Street was a powerful prognosticator but she was not in a habit of unloading her often-alliterative prophecies on unsuspecting people over the phone, especially when those people weren’t paying customers.

“Shush,” said the Oracle. “Time’s running short. You must ride a reluctant steed into battle, ally with a serpent, and when the time comes, choose the left one—”

The line went dead. The lights in my apartment went out, as did all lights outside. It looked like the storm had caused a neighborhood-wide blackout.

I tried to activate the flashlight on my phone, only to discover that it was also dead. I had just charged the battery. Did the oracle’s magic somehow brick a smartphone? I thought that sort of thing only happened in fantasy novels. In the real world clapping doesn’t bring faeries back to life and technology is totally indifferent toward magic.

I reached for the lantern of Diogenes. It was an arcane lie detector, designed to flare up whenever falsehood was spoken within earshot. Under the circumstances, it would make do as a night light. I hefted the lantern and said, “It’s bright and sunny outside.”

Nothing happened.

Exasperated, I tried increasingly bold-faced lies. “Pasadena is the capital of Maryland. Chicago pizza is superior to New York pizza. Nickelback albums are music.”

The lantern remained dead as Diogenes himself. With a sense of dread I reached for an assortment of charms and artifacts on my shelf. Every one of them was equally useless, like a bunch of mundane trinkets.

Something terrible was happening. Something the Oracle had tried to warn me about. Thanks for nothing, Agnes. The trouble with prophecies is that they sound like gibberish until it’s too late. I shambled through my apartment in the dark, getting dressed and knocking into furniture. I retrieved a revolver from my night stand. Although it was loaded with silver bullets doused in holy water, the gun itself was mechanical, which hopefully meant it would still work.

There was an insistent knock on the door. I slid the gun into the pocket of my unbuttoned trench coat and answered it.

Pick up a copy of Silence in the City in ebook or print format to keep reading.


My Worldcon 2021 Schedule

December 15, 2021

Here’s where to find me at Worldcon this week!

Thursday
2:30pm – Signing – Autographs 3

Friday
10am – Legal and Actuarial Supernatural Hypotheticals panel – Forum Room
11:30am – Reading – Capitol Room
1pm – Lost (or Gained) in Translation? VIRTUAL panel – Older
4pm – Translation Slam panel – Cabinet Room

Saturday
11:30am – Finances of Running a Small Press panel – Forum Room
2:30pm – Pre/Post Iron Curtain Fiction in Eastern Europe panel – Calvert Room

Sunday
11:30am – Assembling an Anthology panel – Blue Room

Otherwise the best way to find me in the wild is to visit the dealers room during its operating hours. I will be spending as much time as possible at the Caezik Press/Arc Manor booth.


Future SF Issue 13

December 15, 2021

The latest issue of Future SF is live!

Contents:

“A Mountain of Dust” by Wanxiang Fengnian (tr. Judith Huang) (China)
“Echoes of a Broken Mind” by Chirstine Lucas (Greece)
“Three Times Dad Saved the World, and One Time He Didn’t” by P.G. Galalis (USA)

Our stories are always free to read on the web. The lead novella is live now and the rest will be unlocked by the end of the month. Please support this endeavor via our Patreon page!


Cover reveal: The Middling Affliction

November 11, 2021

Here’s the cover of my humorous urban fantasy novel The Middling Affliction, forthcoming form Caezik SF&F on April 12, 2022! Art is by Tulio Brito. You can preorder the book now on Amazon, B&N, and BookShop.org

The Dresden Files meets American Gods in New York City.

What would you do if you lost everything that mattered to you, as well as all means to protect yourself and others, but still had to save the day? Conrad Brent is about to find out.

Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monsters and magical threats. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangerous secret: he’s one in a million – literally.

Magical ability comes to about one in every 30,000 and can manifest at any age. Conrad is rarer than this, however. He’s a middling, one of the half-gifted and totally despised. Most of the gifted community feels that middlings should be instantly killed. The few who don’t flat out hate them still aren’t excited to be around middlings. Meaning Conrad can’t tell anyone, not even his best friends, what he really is.

Conrad hides in plain sight by being a part of the volunteer Watch, those magically gifted who protect their cities from dangerous, arcane threats. And, to pay the bills, Conrad moonlights as a private detective and monster hunter for the gifted community. Which helps him keep up his personal fiction – that he’s a magical version of Batman. Conrad does both jobs thanks to charms, artifacts, and his wits, along with copious amounts of coffee. But little does he know that events are about to change his life…forever.

When Conrad discovers the Traveling Fair auction house has another middling who’s just manifested her so-called powers on the auction block, he’s determined to save her, regardless of risk. But what he finds out while doing so is even worse – the winning bidder works for a company that’s just created the most dangerous chemical weapon to ever hit the magical community.

Before Conrad can convince anyone at the Watch of the danger, he’s exposed for what he really is. Now, stripped of rank, magical objects, friends and allies, Conrad has to try to save the world with only his wits. Thankfully though, no one’s taken away his coffee.


Three New Publications

November 2, 2021

I have two new story and a translation out this week!

“Lajos and his Bees” by K.A. Teryna is out in the November/December issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It’s an excellent secondary-world fantasy and it found a great home in this storied publication.

My own story, “Winner Takes All” is part of the new anthology of space westerns, out today from Baen books. Gunfight on Europa Station (edited by David Boop) ebook is available now while the paperbacks have been temporarily delayed and should be releasing soon.

Last but not least, “The Going Rate” is a funny and snarky short story in the current issue of Galaxy’s Edge which is temporarily FREE to read online. It’ll only remain free for a couple of months, so don’t wait to read it.

Here’s a brief sample:

The reckoning was overdue, and if it took dark magic to serve Alfred his just desserts, so be it. Besides, the book on witchcraft Karen had been reading was due back at the library on the following Tuesday. Before her rational side could take over, she grabbed the paperback, flipped to the earmarked page, and marched into her empty garage.

Karen quickly discovered that spell books were similar to cookbooks in that the recipe always required ingredients an average person would never keep in their pantry. Armed with her years of experience cooking with dried bouillon cubes instead of homemade chicken stock, Karen was certain she could cast a perfectly serviceable spell by working with reasonable substitutions.

Since she was neither an old-timey schoolteacher nor a hopscotch-playing preteen, Karen owned zero pieces of chalk. She also didn’t relish ruining a perfectly serviceable garage floor, and so Karen found a disused dry-erase board, placed it onto the ground, and drew the pentagram with an erasable pink marker.

Karen paused to admire her handiwork, then winced as she read the next paragraph from her book. Who could possibly be expected to possess a flask of virgin blood collected during the vernal equinox, even if the recipe called for only a small flask? After some deliberation, she poured two fingers of room-temperature Bloody Mary mix into five souvenir NASCAR shot glasses and placed one at each point of the pentagram.


Announcing the Rosetta Archive

October 28, 2021

I’ll be co-editing an anthology with Tarryn Thomas. Press release copied from Future SF

Announcing The Rosetta Archive

UFO Publishing and Future Affairs Administration team up to produce an anthology to celebrate the Rosetta Awards and promote translated fiction.

The Rosetta Archive: Notable SF/F Short Fiction in Translation, edited by Alex Shvartsman and Tarryn Thomas, will contain approximately 100,000 words of translated fiction originally published in English during the year 2020.

Pending author and translator approval, the anthology will include the stories shortlisted for the Rosetta Awards in 2021, translations published in Future Science Fiction Digest in 2020, and a number of additional translations selected by the editors.

The editors will also acquire Chinese language rights on behalf of the Future Affairs Administration whenever possible. FAA will feature those stories on their apps and social media, and seek a potential partnership to publish a version of the anthology in China.

“If the inaugural anthology is well-received, we’ll consider publishing annual editions, with the 2023 volume featuring translations from 2021, and so forth,” said Shvartsman.

The book will be published in February, 2022 in trade paperback and ebook formats.

UFO Publishing (USA) is a Brooklyn, NY-based small press and a publisher of Future Science Fiction Digest.

The Future Affairs Administration (China) is a technological/cultural brand focusing on the future, producing original content with a futuristic vision for a Golden Age of Chinese science fiction.

Alex Shvartsman (USA) is the editor of over a dozen anthologies and of Future Science Fiction Digest. He’s the author of two novels and over 120 short stories, and a Russian to English translator.

Tarryn Thomas (South Africa) is a professional copy editor. She’s an associate editor at Future Science Fiction Digest and an editor at Nightshade and Moonlight Publishing.


The Middling Affliction Paperback Preorders are Live

September 21, 2021

The release date for The Middling Affliction has been announced: it will be hitting bookshelves everywhere on April 12, 2022!

Early preorders are very important. They make my publisher happy, instill confidence in bookstores and distributors to carry this title, and most importantly, they make me feel like a real writer. So, won’t you pretty please order your copy soon? I even have a bonus incentive for you:

#SFWAPro

Preorder The Middling Affliction paperback from Amazon, B&N, Bookshop.org, or your favorite bookstore. Email me a receipt (a copy of the email or a snapshot of the receipt with your phone will do) to ufopublishing at gmail dot com and I will send you a FREE e-book of steampunk humor novella H. G. Wells, Secret Agent, or an issue of Future Science Fiction Digest–your choice!

Not sure yet? Read more about the book and sample the first chapter at the new dedicated Conradverse page.

Preorder now: [Amazon] [B&N] [Bookshop.org]


Book Fiend Reader Fest on September 25

September 18, 2021

I’ll be doing a live book event this coming weekend in Manchester, CT! It is (at least for now) the only in-person event on my schedule for 2021 other than Worldcon.

As part of the Book Fiend Readers Fest, I will participate on the following programming items:

Time, Space, and Alternate Universes panel – 1:10pm

Reading – 1:50

Attendees will get to hear an excerpt from a brand-new Conradverse story; a world premiere!

The rest of the day I will share a table with Esther Friesner in the dealers room. Please feel free to stop by for free signatures, free candy, and free advice (that last one worth almost as much as you will have paid for it!) We will also both have books for sale, and maybe a gently-used kidney. But probably just books.

#SFWAPro


Future SF Issue 12 Cover and TOC

September 6, 2021

Issue 12 launches on September 15. Buy it on all major ebook platforms or subscribe to our Patreon to get the issue early, for as little as $1 per month!

“Old People’s Folly” by Nora Schinnerl (Austria)
“The Life Cycle of a Cyber-Bar” by Arthur Liu (China) translated by Nathan Faries (USA)
“When a Sleeping Seed Blooms” by Alexandra Seidel (Germany)
“Nobel Prize Speech Draft of Paul Winterhoeven, with Personal Notes” by Jane Espenson (USA)
“When the Mujna Begins” by Oleg Divov (Russia) translated by Alex Shvartsman (USA)

Cover art: Tithi Luadthong
#SFWAPro


My next novel: The Middling Affliction

September 1, 2021

I’m thrilled to finally announce this bit of news I’ve been sitting on for a few months. Now the ink is dry and the Publishers Marketplace announcement is out, so…

I sold my second novel, The Middling Affliction, to Caezik SF & Fantasy, in a deal negotiated by Valentina Sainato and Joshua Bilmes of JABberwocky Literary Agency.

Caezik Press is an imprint of Arc Manor. They publish Heinlein, Rob Sawyer, Ben Bova, and Harry Turtledove among others. They also publish Galaxy’s Edge magazine where many of my short stories have appeared. I’m thrilled to be working with them!

The Middling Affliction is a humorous urban fantasy adventure I like to explain as “The Dresden Files meets American Gods in New York City.” Those who have read my short stories may already be familiar with Conrad Brent, a hero who can perceive magic but can’t cast spells on his own. He fancies himself a magical Batman as he battles arcane threats using various artifacts and relying on his wits, a healthy amount of bluffing, and loads of caffeine to do his job. Conrad is the Brooklyn representative of the Watch, an organization of magic users whose mission is to protect mundanes (regular people) from monsters and unscrupulous or evil magic users.

This is book 1 of The Conradverse Chronicles, but it is written to work as a standalone, so no commitment to a series is required; you get a complete story.

The Middling Affliction will be hitting bookshelves in April 2022. Watch this space for more announcements!
#SFWAPro

The Watch logo