It’s looking like July 6th at the earliest for the issue to be in my hands, but that’s no reason to keep folks from reserving their copy. So, after a heck of a lot of hard work, and thanks to some great contributors, BULL SPEC #2 is now available to pre-order!
With cover art by the awesome Vladimir Krizan, stories from Melissa Mead, Uri Grey, Gwendolyn Clare, Paul Celmer, and Kaolin Fire; the continuation of the graphic story “Closed System” by Mike Gallagher; an excerpt of Richard Dansky’s “North Carolina ghost story” Firefly Rain with an interview by J.M. McDermott; interviews of John Kessel (along with his essay “Imagining the Human Future”), Dexter Palmer (along with a review of his novel The Dream of Perpetual Motion, reviewed by Natania Barron), and Hope Larson; a review of Cherie Priest’s novel Boneshaker, reviewed by Joseph Giddings; poetry from David M. Harris, Helen R. Peterson, Reggie Lutz, and J.P. Wickwire; art by Joey Jordan, Rebecca Camfield, and Aleksandr and Natalia Frolosov; it’s an issue I hope you all enjoy. Thanks so much for your support of BULL SPEC, here’s to kicking off a solid second issue and getting the work started on issue #3!
OK. The fun has apparently started, as I’ve started receiving some review copies at the Bull Spec PO Box. I’ve been pinging reviewers and so far having pretty good luck at finding homes for them, but please, publishers and authors: query first! I only carry 2-4 reviews per issue, and at least one of those will be a solicited book. That out of the way, books received, June 2010:
The Legions of Fire by David Drake (Tor). Pub. May 2010; $25.99; Hardcover; 368 pages; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches; ISBN: 978-0-7653-2078-0. “From the Bestselling author of theLord of the Isles. . . In this novel of magical menace to the survival of all humanity, David Drake introduces a new fantasy world, Carce, based on Europe during the later Roman Empire. Far in the north, a group of magicians perform a strange dance on a volcanic island intended to open a gateway for supernatural creatures that will allow them to devastate the whole Earth and destroy all life. Not knowing the cause, two young men, Corylus and Varus, and two women, Hedia and Alphena, each separately pursue the answer to mysterious and threatening happenings that prefigure disaster in the great city of Carce, the center of civilization. Through magical voyages in other realities where fantastic creatures, and even gods, help or hinder them, each of them must succeed or not just the city but the world will end in fire. The Legions of Fire is the first of a fantasy quartet set in the world of the city of Carce.” I’ve hopefully got it worked out to excerpt this book and include an interview in Bull Spec #3, currently scheduled for September 2010. I’ve read this one and really enjoyed it: sphinxes and magic and a well-imagined “not Rome” that Drake, a student of Latin and ancient Rome, really pulls along. In the hands of its reviewer and we’ll see what he makes of it.
Children No More by Mark L. Van Name (Baen Books). Pub. August, 2010; $22; Hardcover; 400 pages; ISBN 978-1-4391-3365-1. “The Sequel to One Jump Ahead, Slanted Jack and Overthrowing Heaven,. Jon and Lobo are back–On a mission to save children whose childhood has been stolen and replaced with the horrors of war: Jon Moore knew that better than most, having learned to fight to survive before he’d hit puberty. So when a former comrade, Alissa Lim, asks for his help in rescuing a group of children pressed into service by rebels on a planet no one cares to save, he agrees. Only later does he realize he’s signed up to do far more than he’d ever imagined. Jon’s commitment hurtles him and Lobo, the hyper-intelligent assault vehicle who is his only real friend, into confrontations with the horrors the children have experienced and with a dark chapter from his past.” I’m still looking for a home for this one, but finally, I think, have stumbled onto a few ideas. A little more on this one: Mark is donating every cent he receives from the sale of copies of Children No More hardcover to Falling Whistles. No go read what he has to say. (And then come back, eh?) I’ve tentatively worked it out with Mark to excerpt this book and include an interview in Bull Spec #4, currently scheduled for December 2010.
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Pyr). Pub. July 6, 2010; $26; Hardcover; 359 pages; 6×9; ISBN 978-1-61614-204-9. “It begins with an explosion. Another day, another bus bomb. Everyone it seems is after a piece of Turkey. But the shockwaves from this random act of 21st century pandemic terrorism will ripple further and resonate louder than just Enginsoy Square. Welcome to the world of The Dervish House–the great, ancient, paradoxical city of Istanbul, divided like a human brain, in the great, ancient, equally paradoxical nation of Turkey. The year is 2027 and Turkey is about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its accession to the European Union; a Europe that now runs from the Arran Islands to Ararat. … Gas is power. But it’s power at a price, and that price is emissions permits. This is the age of carbon consciousness: every individual in the EU has a card stipulating individual carbon allowance that must be produced at every CO2 generating transaction. For those who can master the game, who can make the trades between gas price and carbon trading permits, who can play the power factions against each other, there are fortunes to be made. … The Dervish House is seven days, six characters, three interconnected story strands, one central common core–the eponymous dervish house, a character in itself–that pins all these players together in a weave of intrigue, conflict, drama and a ticking clock of a thriller.” This one to be hand-delivered to a local reviewer soon, hopefully to be reviewed in Bull Spec #3.
Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television by Douglas E. Cowan (Baylor University Press). Pub. August 15, 2010; $24.95; Paper; 326 pages; 6×9; ISBN 978-1-60258-2385. “Drawing on the most popular examples of the genre–Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, and Stargate SG-1–as well as the lesser known but no less important, University of Waterloo professor Douglas Cowan eloquently surveys science fiction’s compelling visions of transcendence.” I can figure out why I got this one: reviewing D. Harlan Wilson’s non-fiction critique of science fiction “Technologized Desire” in issue #1. This one’s on its way on to a reviewer soon, but it has to wait for company to make the Atlantic crossing a little more worth the postage. Hopefully also in time for Bull Spec #3.
So, not too bad, a trickle I can handle, and all books I hope to see reviewed in Bull Spec. We’ll see how July goes!
Not as much fanfare as I might like to give them, but I realized I: (1) didn’t even feature here a few more acceptances from issue #1; (2) never mentioned here a pretty long list now of acceptances for issue #2 and further. So, without, ahem, further adieu:
After deciding to make the move to a print magazine, I had one story firmly in my hands for this issue already, C. S. Fuqua’s “Rise Up.” Wanting very much to find a local author, and not having a terribly big budget left over for original fiction, I was very pleased indeed to have a story from Raleigh’s Peter Wood in my submissions queue. Pete hadn’t been published yet, another plus for me, and I was very much hooked by the TV-broadcast “conceit” of “Almost a Good Day to Go Outside” and the overall arc of the story really stuck with me: amidst the science fictional backdrop of a terraforming research colony, a timeless story of family dynamics unfolded and ended on a bittersweet if not pleasing note.
And I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been able to reach out to then-Hillsborough, now-Raleigh author and podcaster Natania Barron for a reprint. “Doctor Adderson’s Lens” was just what the issue needed: a shot of steampunkish fun. And, like Pete, Natania supported the issue (and magazine!) launch party at The Regulator Bookshop with a great reading. If you haven’t listened to each and every episode of her Alderpod Podcast — go. Go now.
I was lucky to have a strong “cornerstone” for each magazine issue in year one from having selected stories for their ability to stand alone. Melissa Mead’s science fiction story “Hirasol” is a story which hit an absolute home run for me: an indefatigably optimistic voice and the kind of story I opened Bull Spec to publish.
Another along the lines of “the kind of story I opened Bull Spec to publish” is Uri Grey’s “The Sad Story of the Naga.” Part fable, part modern-set fantasy, Uri’s distinctive (unique?) and definitively non-US perspective comes out in this short story of a world where an ancient goddesses from the Far East hitchhikes her way through the Holy Land.
I have read a few strong fantasy stories in my submissions queue, but my pick of the bunch ended up coming from an entirely different source entirely: the Crossed Genres Stories for Haiti project. I read a good number of the stories, and Kaolin Fire’s for “By the Dragon’s Tail” stuck with me for its voice, its setting, and its imagery. I was very glad when he agreed to let me include it in issue #2 and hopefully find a few folks who haven’t had a chance to read it yet, and maybe even bring some belated attention to the excellent Stories for Haiti project as well.
Nearly finally, I turned to my submissions queue for some local stories, with an eye on the content already booked. The near-future dark science fiction of Gwendolyn Clare’s “The Other Lila” was one of those stories which I couldn’t get out of my head, and I was very glad to see that it really fit in the issue.
I said “nearly” finally above, as eventually I bemoaned the small number of locally written stories going into the issue and picked up a short further future science fiction story from Garner’s Paul Celmer which I hope bounces around your head as it did mine.
Featured: In what I hope is something I can continue to do, each issue is planned to “feature” a local author’s recently released book with an excerpt and at least a little something else, whether it is an interview, a review, something. Issue #2’s “featured excerpt” is Richard Dansky’s Firefly Rain, along with an interview by J.M. McDermott.
Reviews: Natania Barron reviews Dexter Palmer’s The Dream of Perpetual Motion, and Joseph Giddings reviews Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker.
Poetry: There are four poems in the issue, including J.P. Wickwire’s “The Torturer’s Boy” which at nearly 500 words is probably as long as a poem as I think I’ll publish.
I don’t want to talk in too much detail about the stories yet, but locked into issue #3 are: Katherine Sparrow (another one of those “cornerstone” stories I opened Bull Spec to publish) and David Steffen.
David Tallerman’s “The Burning Room” is locked into issue #4, the last of my four original “cornerstone” stories.
Not yet scheduled:
Nick Mamatas, Erin Hoffman, Lavie Tidhar, and Melinda Thielbar. I’m so looking forward to seeing what people think of these stories, but it’ll be a bit yet.