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.


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:

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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]


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!
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The Watch logo


New publication: “I’m Feeling Lucky” by Leonid Kaganov at Clarkesworld

July 14, 2021

The latest translation of mine from Russian has been accepted at this wonderful market, which I’ve been trying to crack for a decade. (Clarkesworld was the first magazine I ever submitted a short story to, back in 2010.) Very glad to share this first with Leonid Kaganov, a brilliant and popular writer from St. Petersburg for whom this is his first English language publication!

Read the story here.

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A Brief History of Russian Science Fiction

May 1, 2021

My essay, “A Brief History of Russian Science Fiction” has gone live as part of the Clarkesworld magazine May issue. You can read it here.

It is, of course, only possible to scratch the surface of the subject in so brief a piece. I’ve tried to go for a birds-eye view and focus on the big picture stuff as it attempts to cover 100+ years of history.

Meantime, I continue to do my small part to share some of the great Russian language short fiction with Anglophone readers. There are several pieces slated for publication in top tier magazines over the next 9 months, and several more currently out on submission.

I’m in talks with several editors and anthologists who would like to consider translations for their upcoming projects, and always happy to talk to others. If you’d like help connecting with Russian authors, a reprint recommendation, or need an original piece translated for your project, do not hesitate to reach out.


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Publication: “The Chartreuse Sky” in Asimov’s

April 27, 2021

My translation of “The Chartreuse Sky” by K.A. Teryna and Alexander Bachilo is live in the May/June 2021 issue of Asimov’s.

Future (and past) Moscow, augmented reality, and architecture meld into a unique story. Pick up a copy and check it out!

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Eating Authors Essay

October 22, 2020

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My essay appears on Lawrence M. Schoen’s blog this week as part of his long-running Eating Authors series, where he asks authors to recount their favorite meal.

My answer can be found at the link, and I assure you it’s not what you might have guessed.

It will also appear in the book that collects these essays, which is currently in its last few days on Kickstarter.


New Stories Published & Other October News

October 6, 2020

It’s been a busy stretch, with two new short stories and a guest podcast appearance in the past 10 days or so! Let’s take it in chronological order.

  • Late last month the episode of Writing Excuses aired where I talked translation with Mary Robinette, Dan, and Lari. I’m really pleased with how this podcast turned out, loads of fun anecdotes and good banter. This was actually recorded several months ago and I’m glad it’s out in the world now. Listen to the episode here.
  • My short story “Chronicle of the Mender” was published at Daily Science Fiction. I’m very pleased with the reception this story got so far, including this very nice review. The story is dark fantasy and I although it is not set in the universe of Eridani’s Crown, I think it’ll appeal to the book’s fans.
  • Today is the book birthday of Weird World War III, an anthology of alternate cold wars edited by Sean Patrick Hazlett. My story, “A Thing Worth a Damn,” is a grim look at the Socialist Republic of California which has seceded from the collapsing United States in the 1990s. With the USA once again on the rise as a global power it is seeking to reacquire its lost territories, and the Soviet Union sends in specialists to assist them in thwarting such attempts. This is mostly background and the protagonist of the story is a Soviet soldier, fighting a proxy war he’s been disillusioned with, far away from home.
  • Later this month I will be a guest at Capclave, where I will participate on a panel and host a launch party for Unidentified Funny Objects 8. This is a virtual event so you don’t need to travel to the outskirts of Washington, DC this year to attend.
  • Author and Klingon language expert Lawrence M. Schoen hosts an Eating Authors feature on his blog, where writers talk about their most memorable meals. I wrote an essay for him and it will appear on the blog sometime in the next month. He also enjoyed it enough to include in the upcoming book, 100 Writers’ Most Memorable Meals, which is currently on Kickstarter. So check it out, and read the essay when it comes out. I guarantee you, my choice of restaurant to write about will surprise you.

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New Publication: The Dog and the Dragon in Hybrid Fiction Magazine

July 30, 2020

My flash fiction story about a dragon who adopts a puppy went live in Hybrid Fiction Magazine today. You can pick up the issue here.


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