Announcing the FUNNY SCIENCE FICTION Reprint Anthology

June 8, 2015
Funny Science Fiction

Funny Science Fiction

I will be editing another anthology of science fiction humor over the summer.

Tentatively titled FUNNY SCIENCE FICTION (Hey, it gets the point across, okay?), I envision it as being “just like the Unidentified Funny Objects anthologies, except it will all be reprints.” There are lots of funny stories out there that I love, and would have published in UFO without hesitation, except other editors got to them first. Still, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to read all the magazines and anthologies out there, and so I’m confident the anthology will feel fresh to the fans of the UFO series. You can expect the same variety of voices, styles and lengths, and the same wacky and occasionally difficult-to-peg down sense of humor.

The awesome picture displayed above is by Argentine artist Flavio Greco Paglia will be the cover art for this book.

Those are some of the similarities to UFO, but lots of things are different, too.

For one thing, this will be an e-book only release, at least for now. UFO books sell way better as e-books than in paper (partly because UFO Publishing is a tiny company with limited distribution). Also, e-books are way cheaper to produce. I can afford to do this on a shoestring budget and without a Kickstarter campaign or causing undue emotional harm to my wallet.

In case the book is super successful, I’m optioning the Print rights from authors. (As in, I will pay them a bit more money and be able to release the book in a print version.) Authors will be paid $0.01 per word for non-exclusive electronic rights outright, and another $0.01 per word if and when I want to exercise the print option. It’s not a lot, but unfortunately $0.01-$0.02 per word is pretty standard as reprint rates go. Ultimately I do not expect to make a ton of money from this project, but to use it as a way to promote the UFO series.

The second difference is that this book will include science fiction stories only. No fantasy. However, if it proves to be successful, the FUNNY FANTASY volume won’t be far behind! I have a fairly broad definition of science fiction, which includes superheroes, steampunk that doesn’t include magic, etc.

Also, there will be no submission window for this project as such. About half the stories will be solicited by me directly — they’re stories I’ve already read, I already love, and I will definitely include in the book if the authors let me. For the rest, I’m asking readers (and authors themselves) to recommend reading material to me.  I’m looking for stories of 500-7500 words that are SF and that are funny. Please feel free t0 e-mail me, or simply post  your favorites in the comments of this post. If you’re an author, it’s OK to recommend a few of your own stories. I’ll do my best to read everything that’s suggested, and may reach out to some authors directly and ask them to see their stories if they weren’t published online.

I’m looking to mostly include stories that were published in the last few years. (Original publication date of 2010 – present.) I may go back a few years more for my absolute favorites, but will include nothing from the 20th century. The idea is to showcase some of the best humor SF being written today. Go far enough back and the book will become filled with time-tested classics by Brown and Asimov and Sheckley, leaving little room for modern stories.

I began the process of reaching out to authors about their stories yesterday and already have three tales under contract:

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

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

“Whaliens” by Lavie Tidhar (Analog, 2014)

I’m super excited to share these stories (and several others I’ve already solicited and am waiting on responses and/or contracts) with my readers.

I’ll be reading and slowly acquiring stories for this project over the course of the next month or so. Again, if you have a (recent) favorite, please let me know about it in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook, by carrier pigeon, or at a convention. Thanks!






UFO4 cover and table of contents

May 22, 2015

The fourth annual Unidentified Funny Objects anthology will contain 23 stories totaling approximately 86,000 words. Cover art by Tomasz Maronski. Interior illustrations by Barry Munden.

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Unidentified Funny Objects 4


“We Can Get Them for You Wholesale” by Neil Gaiman

“The Time-Traveling Ghost Machine of Professor Jaime Peligrosa” by Andrew Kaye

“Please Approve the Dissertation Research of Angtor” by Caroline M. Yoachim

“Match Game” by Esther Friesner

“The Transformation of Prince Humphrey” by Brent C. Smith

“In the End, You Get Clarity” by Laura Pearlman

“Project Disaster” by Tim Pratt

“Hello Hotel” by Piers Anthony

“Bob’s No Kill Monster Shelter” by Ian Creasey

“Board Meeting Minutes” by Oliver Buckram

“Armed for You” by Anaea Lay

“The Unfortunate Problem of Grandma’s Head” by Karen Haber

“My Mother Loves Her Robot More than Me and I Feel Bad” by Eric Kaplan

“The Worm that Turned” by Jody Lynn Nye

“Department of Death Predictions, Final Notice” by Tina Gower

“Champions of Breakfast” by Zach Shephard

“Keeping Ahead” by Mike Resnick

“So You’ve Metamorphosed into a Giant Insect. Now What?” by James Aquilone

“Confessions of an Interplanetary Art Fraud” by Michael J. Martinez

“Texts from My Mother about an Alien Invasion” by Tina Connolly

“Support Your Local Alien” by Gini Koch

“Topics to Avoid on a First Date with Yourself” by Jonathan Ems

“The Monkey Treatment” by George R. R. Martin


UFO4 Cover Reveal, Submission Guidelines, Headliners

February 13, 2015

At long last, here’s the info about UFO4:

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The cover is by Tomasz Marosnki (the same artist who drew the UFO3 cover.)

Unlike the previous volumes, UFO4 will be themed. The theme of this anthology is: dark humor.

As with previous UFO volumes, this book will feature 2 reprints and all-original material for the rest. The headliners are attached to the project are listed below:

George R.R. Martin – “The Monkey Treatment” reprint

Neil Gaiman – “We Can Get Them For You Wholesale” reprint

Esther Friesner – “The Match Game”

Piers Anthony – “Hello Hotel”

Other headliners that have agreed to write original stories for this volume include:

Mike Resnick – Gini Koch – Tim Pratt – Jody Lynn Nye – Karen Haber

Submission guidelines are now posted. We’ve raised our pay rate to $0.07 per word for original fiction.

There will be a Kickstarter campaign launched sometime in early March. As with previous volumes, the book will be published regardless of the crowdfunding campaign’s success. However, a successful campaign will allow us to purchase more stories, include interior illustrations and otherwise maintain and improve the annual series.

Some of the notable changes from previous volumes:

* Themed volume (see above)

* Maximum story length is 5000 words.

* One submission per author.

Hope to see many great stories from all of you!



Podcast: “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma”

February 6, 2015

You can now listen to the title story of the collection here:

If you enjoy Tina’s narration (and there’s no good reason why you won’t) you can pick up the audio book containing all 40 stories at Audible, forthcoming in the next few weeks.



Win a signed paperback of Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma & Other Stories!

January 5, 2015

Enter to win FREE. No gimmicks.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories by Alex Shvartsman

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories

by Alex Shvartsman

Giveaway ends January 15, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

New Publication: “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Monsters” in Daily Science Fiction

December 22, 2014


My humor flash story “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Monsters” is live on the Daily Science Fiction website. Check it out! And if you prefer to hear it in audio, it will appear on the Far-Fetched Fables podcast sometime next year.

If you enjoy this story and the way it makes fun of movie tropes, you will probably also like “Worldbuilding” and the way that story satirizes science fiction tropes.





UFO3 Kickstarter Ending Soon

February 16, 2014

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UFO3 Kickstarter campaign will be ending on Tuesday evening.

As of the time I’m writing this, we raised just about $5500 but there’s still a long way to go. If you like the series and would like to see it continue and prosper, please consider pre-ordering your copy of UFO3 through the campaign instead of waiting until the book is released. Getting access to the funds early will allow me to invest into buying more stories, promoting the book and the series better, and commissioning more pieces of interior art.

In addition to all the UFO books there are unique cool rewards available, such as becoming a character in stories written by Gini Koch and by me,  getting a critique for one of your own stories, or even having your name mentioned in the foreword.

There are also prints of the gorgeous cover art above, which can be added to any pledge level for an additional $10.

I really enjoy editing the UFO series. Although I hope it will turn a profit someday, I have not taken any pay to date, and have invested a lot of my own money on top of what’s been raised via Kickstarter to publish and market previous volumes. UFO is growing, but at this rate it will be a few years yet before it becomes self-sustained (especially since I want to keep raising the pay rate for authors as aggressively as possible).  So if you’re able to help out — whether by pledging any amount, or letting other readers know about the campaign — please do. Thank you!


Pandora’s Boxes

January 26, 2014


This past Wednesday I had two very different stories about Pandora’s boxes published in two SFWA venues. They were written at different times, submitted at different times, accepted at different times… But both were published within hours of each other. What are the odds?!

First up is the “High-Tech Fairies and the Pandora Perplexity,” a humorous Magic Pawn Shop fantasy story that features the same set of characters as “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma.” This story was published in issue 37 of InterGalactic Medicine Show.  You have to subscribe the magazine to read the full story, but you can check out the opening scene and beautiful illustration by Andres Mossa.  Here’s a little sample, to whet your appetite:

“Never cared much for those,” said Grandma. “The things people try to put inside! In 1935, a fellow named Schrödinger shoved his cat into a Pandora’s box to prove some sort of a point. PETA activists from the 23rd century keep traveling back in time to egg his house, ever since. Using artificial eggs, of course.”

The other one is “The Keepsake Box” a flash fantasy story published at Daily Science Ficiton.  DSF e-mails their stories to subscribers (it’s free to subscribe!) a week before they’re posted on the web site, so those of you who do not already subscribe will be able to read it for free in a few days (I’ll post the link). For now, here’s a teaser:

She dumps the contents of the keepsake box onto the table and begins to chant as she picks up the items one by one, drains them of their power, and weaves the resulting strands of enchantment into her spell.
From the twig of the tree under which she met him, she drains excitement. It’s light and full of possibilities, like beats of a fluttering heart

This is not a humorous story. It’s dark and brooding, and kind of different from what I usually tend to write. I hope you enjoy it!

On the acceptances front, I just sold a suspense story (that’s right — not science fiction, not fantasy!) to Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.

I was also invited to submit a story to a New Zealand-based steampunk anthology Angels & Automatons. They just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the book.

And, of course, I would be remiss not to mention the ongoing Kickstarter for UFO3. We have over 100 backers and raised a third of our goal already, but there’s still a long way to go, and I’d appreciate any and all help, in both pledges and sharing the details of this campaign.




New Publication: Bedtime Story on Christmas Eve, 1,000,000 AD in Spark IV

January 17, 2014


My humorous flash “Bedtime Story on Christmas Eve, 1,000,000 AD” appears in the current volume of Spark: A Creative Anthology.

In addition to my humble story and the great cover art, this volume is packed to the gills with amazing speculative fiction, including stories from my friends and fellow Codexians  like Brad Torgersen, Alex Kane, Annie Bellet, Erica Satifka, Alexis Hunter, Anna Yeatts, and Michael Hodges. And, to put the icing on the cake, the foreword is by Kevin J. Anderson.

A large percentage of my stories are published in online zines and can be read for free. In this case, you’ll have to actually buy the book. But you can get a nice discount — 35% off, until January 31, if you use a coupon code SHVARTSMAN-FRIENDS.

So there. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Seriously though, editor Brian Lewis has produced a really nice-looking book, and you would do well to support Spark by picking up a copy if you can spare a few bucks.

In other news, I’m thrilled to have made my third sale to Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge magazine. After a tough-but-necessary rewrite, Mike accepted “Fate and Other Variables” — a story of a hacker and a kabbalist teaming up to alter what’s written in the metaphysical Book of Fate. What can possibly go wrong?

I’m very excited to share this story with the world, but there is no release date yet. Should be sometime this year, but likely after another story of mine (“Doubt”) sees the light of day at GE.


My Top 5 2013 Blog Posts

December 31, 2013

I’ve been moderately good about updating the blog this year — lots of publication and story sale news, but also an occasional interesting post about other things. As the year winds down, I went over my blog posts of 2013 and picked out my favorites. That is, the five favorite entries that I wrote, not the 5 best I read on the Internet


#5: It Came from the Slush Pile

I was posting regular slush updates during the UFO2 reading period, and at some point came up with the following bit of wisdom:  “This doesn’t mean that you can’t sell us a zombie reality TV story about a road trip in space. But it won’t be easy.” I suppose I shouldn’t have been at all surprised to find a flash story that used all those tropes in my inbox shortly thereafter! I couldn’t include it in UFO2, but I offered the author, Rachel Winchester, an opportunity to publish it on my blog (and paid her for it. You all know how I feel about 4-the-luv markets by now).

#4: Getting Short Fiction Published

I’m kind of cheating here. This was linked from my blog, but actually posted at SF Signal. They interviewed me about all sorts of submission-related things, including what kind of bribes I accept (for the record: coffee, chocolate, and flattery.) The interview came out really well and is easily one of my favorite blog posts this year. I would also like to give a shout-out to SF Signal, who don’t only provide an amazing service to the SF/F community, but have been incredibly generous and helpful to me as a publisher, in promoting UFO books.

#3: Hijacking the Space Marines

There was an outcry earlier this year about Games Workshop bullying indie author M.C.A. Hogarth over the use of the term “space marine.” They claimed ownership of it as part of their miniatures game, despite the term enjoying a healthy and consistent usage in a variety of science fiction stories that predate their company. Fortunately mine was but one voice of many, M.C.A.’s books were restored on Amazon, and GW hasn’t taken any action against her, to my knowledge.

#2: How I Spent My WorldCon: An Illustrated Report

A lengthy post about what it was like to attend my very first WorldCon, and to go on stage to pick up Ken Liu’s Hugo. With pictures!

#1: 5 Practical Tips on Writing Humor

Once again, I leave my own blog to find my favorite article of 2013. I wrote this as a guest-post for the Dark Cargo blog, and was very pleased with the result. There are precious few articles that deal with humor writing in any sort of practical way (since it is even more difficult to try and teach someone to be funny than it is to teach someone to be a good writer), but I hope that my advice will be of some use to those interested in writing humorous SF/F in particular.