Announcing The Cackle of Cthulhu Anthology

July 21, 2016


I’ve been sitting on this news for months. It’s the secret project I was hinting at in my anthology update a few weeks ago. But now that the contract is signed, I can finally announce that I will be editing an anthology for Baen!

The Cackle of Cthulhu will be an anthology of Lovecraftian humor, half reprints and half original fiction. This is a topic I know a thing or two about. There are a number of great Lovecraftian humor stories out there and I will endeavor to collect a fun variety of them in this book, as well as to solicit a number of new ones.

There won’t be an open submission window for this anthology, but if you know of a great Lovecraftian humor story you feel I should take a close look at, please let me know about it in the comments or via social media.




Mailing List Activated

July 20, 2016

Writers who are smarter than me (aka writers) keep telling me that I must have a mailing list. Well, fine then. I went ahead and made one.

My plan is to update once or twice a month, but also to provide anyone kind enough to sign up for these updates with some exclusive content: I will send out a free short story or flash fiction every month (from my many previously published pieces for now, but if the list grows popular enough I’ll consider posting something original!) I will also do raffles and share some unique specials through the list. I might even share a few tidbits from my novel-in-progress in the coming months. Which is to say, sign up. Please? With sugar on top?

Click here to sign up.



Readercon 2016 Schedule

July 7, 2016

I’ll be spending the next three days in Quincy, MA, attending Readercon 27. Here’s where you’ll be able to find me:

Friday, 2pm, Salon E: Autograph session

Friday, 8:30pm, Salon B: Reading – A selection of urban fantasy humor short stories.

Saturday, 1pm, Salon 5: If Thor Can Hang out with Iron Man, Why Can’t Harry Dresden Use a Computer?
(with Gillian Daniels, Elaine Isaak, Andrea Phillips and E.J. Stevens)
What are the story benefits of setting up magic/nature/religion and technology/industry/science as either conflicting or complimentary? What cultural anxieties are addressed by each choice? How are these elements handled in stories from various cultures and eras?

Sunday, 1pm, Salon 6: Interstellar Empire in a Post-Scarcity World
(with Neil Clarke, John Clute, Robert Killheffer, John O’Neil)
If we had all the resources we needed and weren’t damaging our environment, would we still expand to space given technology that made that easy as well? Would there still be conflict with other interstellar empires? Would we have a responsibility to give this technology to all those we encounter?



New publication: “Forty-Seven Dictums of Warfare” at Daily Science Fiction

July 5, 2016

You can read “Forty-Seven Dictums of Warfare” here.

And another flash story, “A Perfect Medium for Unrequited Love” sold to Nature over the weekend. I expect it will run in a few months’ time.



New publication: “Future Fragments, Six Seconds Long” at Diabolical Plots

July 1, 2016

My fantasy flash story is now live at Diabolical Plots, free to read here.

This story was originally written for the Art and Words collaborative show, inspired by the art in the poster below. I’m happy it found a good home at Diablolical Plots, edited by David Steffen. Enjoy!





Anthology Update

June 23, 2016


This has been an especially busy six months for me when it comes to anthology projects. My writing has suffered (though I’m getting back on the horse now that the significant bulk of anthology work is done for the year.) Today shiny print copies of the Advance Reading Copy of HUMANITY 2.0 showed up at my office, and so I thought it might be a good time to update readers on my various anthologies published, in progress, and planned for the future:

Funny Fantasy


I began work on this book in late 2015 and it was published this Spring. The turnaround on reprint-only anthologies is really fast. There’s only minor editing; the bulk of the time investment is in selecting the stories. This was a follow-up to the popular Funny Science Fiction antho from last year and it’s doing quite well. If you don’t yet have a copy, grab it here.

Humanity 2.0



I’m really excited about this book as it is my first hard SF anthology. I turned the manuscript in to the publisher (Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick) a couple of months ago and the book was copy edited, proofread and laid out. The ARCs (advance reading copies) are being sent out to reviewers as we speak and the book will be published in October.

Unidentified Funny Objects 5

image description

The book is in the very final stages of copy edits, about to be sent out to the layout designer in the next few days. I’m falling a week or two behind schedule on this one, but not severely so (UFO4 was delivered to the designer on June 30 and was published on schedule.) I’m hopefuly we will once again have it in time for a Capclave launch in October.

Funny Horror

This project I’m really behind on. I’m sitting on a number of stories I consider for inclusion, but there’s a lot more reading to do, and I haven’t had the chance to do it yet. My goal is to allocate some time to this in the coming month. I would rather push back the release than publish the book with less than 100% of the stories I really like, so the amount of great content I find will dictate the release date for this one.

Secret Project

I’m weeks if not days away from announcing another anthology project, and I pretty much guarantee both the fans of my writing and fans of my anthology work will dig this one. I can’t say more until the ink is dry on the contract, but as soon as that happens, the announcement will be made! This anthology will likely be released in late 2017 or early 2018.

Funny Science Fiction 2

This is slated for sometime in 2017; I haven’t done much work but I’m sort-of passively collecting great stories. I hope that, by the time I roll up my sleeves on this project for real (likely late this year) I will have a good chunk of the book filled.

Unidentified Funny Objects 6

There will, of course, be more volumes of UFO for as long as I have the health and the financial means to publish them. I’ve done no work on this one at all, as I typically begin inviting headliners and laying out other groundwork once the previous volume is off to the printer. So I will begin contacting headliners later this summer or early autumn.

UFO6 will definitely have an open submission window, while most other projects will be filled by invitation and/or recommendation when it comes to reprints. If you know of a funny story that was published elsewhere and fits the science fiction or horror genres, I’d love to hear about it. If I like it enough, it will make it onto my consideration list and eventually I will solicit FSF2 and FH anthologies from the stories on that list.




The Hook: Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen

June 21, 2016


The Hook:

My left eye doesn’t lie. The scanning implants and heads-up display can only show me what’s really there, and right now they’re showing me a border guard carrying too many weapons. Standard-issue assault rifle hanging around his neck, but also a machine pistol under his armpit, a revolver strapped to his left ankle, and a high-voltage stunner in a tail holster at the base of his spine.

I saw suspicious bulges under his coat as I rolled up to the checkpoint, and he obviously wasn’t happy to see me, so I activated my eye scanners. Now I can read the factory bar code off each weapon and look up the manufacturer’s specs via satellite link. The stunner surprises me—it was manufactured off-world, somewhere in the asteroid belt, and delivers more energy than is legal anywhere on Earth. And the concealed firearms are Hungarian-made, military issue. Not the kind of thing Kazakh border police pick up at the corner shop.

But it’s not the guns that really put me wise to Fakey Impostorov. I can also see into his body, and simple checkpoint guards don’t have an unmistakable spiderweb of ground-to-orbit comsat antenna surgically implanted in their left shoulder. If this guy’s not a field agent for a national intelligence outfit—a spy like me—I’ll eat my shoe. And shoes taste terrible. Trust me, I know. Long story.

Anyway, what is a Hungarian secret agent doing on the Russia–Kazakhstan border?

Curtis C. Chen writes:

My debut novel Waypoint Kangaroo is a science fiction spy thriller that combines elements from three of my favorite fiction genres: espionage tales in the vein of John le Carré, space adventures such as Star Trek, and superhero comics like Wonder Woman (preferably as written by Gail Simone or Greg Rucka).

Since I was mashing up so many disparate things, I wanted to make sure the start of the book clearly established the setting and the rules of the world. I revised the first few chapters many times over the many years of working on this novel. The first draft started with a James-Bond-movie-style “cold open,” which I removed in a later draft, then put back, then changed a lot more before it really worked.

In addition to world-building, I wanted the cold open to properly introduce readers to my main character, Kangaroo. The action in the first chapter leans on some straight-up spy-fi tropes; just like every 007 film, the novel starts with Kangaroo finishing up one mission and making a narrow escape before returning home. But Kangaroo isn’t a typical spy, and readers need to know what they’re getting into, both with his unique superpower–”the pocket”–and his snarky personality.

At some point, I realized that the cold open was in many ways a thematic microcosm of the whole book: the problems that Kangaroo is dealing with, how he chooses to confront those problems (or not), and how he feels about everything that’s happening. It’s all laid out in that first scene. This became a great touchstone for me during the revision process, especially when I needed to completely rewrite certain scenes while staying true to the character… but that’s another story, which I can’t tell until later BECAUSE SPOILERS.

Buy Waypoint Kangaroo on Amazon

About the Author:

Once a software engineer in Silicon Valley, CURTIS C. CHEN now writes speculative fiction and runs puzzle games near Portland, Oregon. His debut novel WAYPOINT KANGAROO, a science fiction spy thriller, is forthcoming from Thomas Dunne Books on June 21st, 2016.

Curtis’ short stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, the Baen anthology MISSION: TOMORROW, and THE 2016 YOUNG EXPLORER’S ADVENTURE GUIDE. He is a graduate of the Clarion West and Viable Paradise writers’ workshops.

You can find Curtis at Puzzled Pint Portland on the second Tuesday of most months. Visit him online at:


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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 231 other followers