Cirsova #5 More Than Just a Magazine

Cirsova #5 finally came out this weekend and I devoured this fantastic issue. If you follow me at all you have no doubt read about my enthusiastic discovery of Cirsova which led to me taking up the banner of the Pulp Revolution and rekindling my faltering love for Fantasy. I enjoyed issue #3 of Cirsova so much I bought the back issues and Kickstarted  #5 and #6. Cirsova

Cirsova isn’t just another SFF magazine. It’s a herald of a movement that will change Science Fiction and Fantasy, a romantic revolution that will bring back the magic, wonder, and adventure drained by the cancerous ghouls of litfic-fantasy.

Cirsova is part magazine, part mission statement. It’s an artistic collaboration akin to a digital Montparnasse in the 1920s, where the outcast artists and writers built and borrowed from each other, constantly innovating without a care for the giants of the industry.

The format of Issue #5 collaborates my thesis by being a themed issue. Almost every story is centered on the shared Misha Burnett created Eldritch Earth setting, with a goal of “telling Burroughsian stories in a Lovecraftian setting.”

All six of the collaborations succeed, giving a glimpse of a unique alien world and it’s inhabitants. Misha Burnette’s piece, In the Gloaming O My Darling, is one of the standouts. A grotesquely chilling piece that mixed Lovecraftian pulp horror with a modern grimdark style that really worked for me.

The highlight of the issue and a story I think illustrates the absolute badassery and potential of the Pulp Revolution writers, is Schuyler Hernstrom’s* novella, The Fist American. A piece of dark science-fantasy filled with savage barbarians, time-traveling astronauts, lizardmen, genetic mutations, flying saucers, and dinosaur riding. Schuyler crammed so much fucking awesome into one story that it should require a trigger warning for readers who haven’t been awakened to the Pulp Revolution, their poor litfic-fantasy weakened minds might shatter from exposure to so much action and excitement.

But of course not everything is perfect, and I think the magazine still has a lot of room for growth and improvement. For example, compared to past issues I don’t really dig the cover art. It doesn’t really capture the theme and mood of the pieces within. I much prefer the art found in past issues, which was a unique painterly fantasy style that stood out from the other hyperrealistic covered magazines. I also thought that the issues would have been tighter if it didn’t include the non-themed pieces, for example, The Bears of 1812, was a good historical-fantasy, but it felt out of place compared to everything else.

What Cirsova lacks in polish it makes up for with clear editorial purpose and passion. Reading these stories you can’t help but notice that the authors have an undisputed love for adventurous and heroic fantasy. It’s clear Cirsova isn’t one of those award chasing magazines filled with pseudo-lit stories that hit every current trendy sociopolitical theme yet fail to tell anything that resembles a compelling story. No, Cirsova is rough and raw, but unceasingly real.

Pick up issue #5, join the revolution, you won’t be disappointed.

*Schuyler Hernstrom has a great short story collection called Thune’s Vision.

Cirsova, supporting indy publishing.

cover-in-progress-2-jabari-weathers-art-png-for-pdfI’m a huge fan of short stories, huge fan of short story magazines, and a huge fan of pulp fantasy. So out of all the awesome things I came across last year Cirsova magazine was towards the top of my list. Hands down my favorite short story magazine out there.

So, when given the chance I backed the 2017 edition on Kickstarter for ONE freeking dollar. One dollar gets you two digital issues and helps the indy magazine fund next year. So if you support indy writing, pulp fiction support the kickstarter by throwing at least one dollar and also go grab yourself a back issue on amazon. You won’t be dissapointed.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1161542777/cirsova-2017-s-5-and-6-lovecraft-swords-and-space?ref=card

Goodbye Asimovs

 

asimovs

The quality and type of fiction is a magazine is largely dependent on the main Editor. If you find a magazine whose editor has tastes that align with your own it’s a guarantee that you will enjoy at least some of the stories included.

Sadly, Sheila Williams and Asimov’s do not align with my tastes at all. Actually I would like to know who her tastes align with because based on the stories in the last few issues I’m beginning to think she doesn’t actually like Science Fiction or Fantasy.

I have a digital subscription. Correction, had because I’m way over waiting for an actual SFF story from this magazine. The latest issue was the last I will ever read. Not one of the stories was an actual SFF piece. The only SF was background window dressing or downright stupid. The crowning achievement of the magazine was an idiotic novella about a gay waiter who traveled to Colonial times pretending to be an angel and getting the locals addicted to meth so he can take back Paul Reveres silver spoons. A premise so stupid and insulting I wanted to toss my Kindle.

A douchey love story about an artist that name drops Art History 101 names and pines about the tough girl that left his ass is still a love story. Just because the setting is the near future doesn’t make it SF. If you take the Great Gatsby and change the setting to the year 2099 and make the cars hover , it’s still the same book and not Sci Fi.

Another blogger commented last month somewhere and said, “Asimov’s is for Science Fiction and Fantasy fans who hate Science Fiction and Fantasy.” After reading the latest issue I fully agree.

Cirsova: Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine #3

cirsova3.png

During one of my recent adventures through the blogosphere, I came across Cirsova and Cirsova Magazine. Reading the mission statement and description intrigued me so I picked up the latest issue. I put my current read on pause and read the excellent stories found in issue number 3.

Wow! Finally, some fantasy short stories that capture my imagination. Finally, short stories filled with action and adventure!

Before I give a more thorough review I want to make it clear that I really enjoy the short story. I own numerous collections and compilations of everyone from Hemingway to Gaiman. I even have active digital subscriptions to Analog and Asimov’s.

Yet, I often find myself being bored with a lot of modern SFF shorts. The last issue of Asimov if DNF’ed 90% of the stories. There seems to be a recent trend in the short story world away from action, adventure, and heroism. The focus seems to be on the literary, the urban, the fairytale magical, or magical realism in the vein of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

A good example of this is the Hugo Award winner The Water that Falls on You From Nowhere by John Chu. A well-written story that I find excruciatingly boring and barely Fantasy. It seems that so many SFF writers come out of literary circles and workshops that Fantasy has become as monotonous as your stuffy slice of life short story in the New Yorker.

So how do I like my fantasy? Adventurous, mysterious, massive, and wild. I want to read stories that take me back to when I first cracked open my AD&D players guide and ran my friends through skeleton filled dungeons and protected villages from goblin raids. I want to be transported to worlds where Barbarians pit their swords and strength against evil serpent worshiping wizards. I crave stories filled with adventure and mystery. Fabulous ancient ruins filled with unspeakable horrors, vicious creatures, and evil wizards.

Cirsova Magazine is attempting to provide exactly what I am looking for. A pulp revival magazine focused on action and adventure, and issue #3 succeeds while leaving enough room for improvement that will keep me looking forward to the next issue.

 

The issue has several exciting adventures. A heavy focus on the Age of Sail mixed with magic in two stories, space piracy, futuristic space mercs, and sword and sorcery reminiscent of Conan. My favorite of the bunch was Clock’s Watch, an urban fantasy Lovecraftian possession story that begged to be turned into a full novel.

Cirsova is an indie publication so they need all the help and word of mouth. So if you love pulp adventure Fantasy and Sci-Fi hop over to Amazon and pick up the digital copy. It’s easily worth the price of a medium coffee at Starbucks.

P.S.

Because I linked to a Tor.com short story I didn’t like I will link to one that I loved. Give this one a read for The Hell of It.

 

Shots fired!

 

highball

The first thing I noticed when I woke up on Saturday was the blinking light on my phone.  A message! I rolled over, picked it up, and went straight to my Gmail app.

Dear Alexandru,

Thank you for the opportunity to read “The Birthday Party.” Unfortunately, your story isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now.

I am now officially an aspiring wannabe writer.

Of course, I was a bit bummed that my dream of having the first story submitted being hailed as a masterpiece is now a bittersweet memory.

I spent the rest of the weekend on the couch watching True Detective and drinking canned Highballs. This week I’m editing my next story for submission and also re-sending the last one.

One of the pieces will go to Writers of the Future. I enjoy the anthology every year and the type of stories favored tend to align with my taste  a lot more than most SFF magazines.

 

The Challenge so far:

  1. The Birthday Party – SciFi 3,000 words – hanging out
  2. ?????
  3. ?????
  4. ?????
  5. ?????
  6. ?????
  7. ?????

 

Accepted: 0 Rejected: 1 Total Submissions: 1