Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Note from the Editor: Rhapsody of the Spheres

     Greetings, speculative fiction fans!

My company, Third Flatiron Publishing, has released its summer-fall collection, Rhapsody of the Spheres, a collection of SF, Fantasy, space opera, and hopepunk short stories.

 The dictionary defines a rhapsody as “an effusively enthusiastic or ecstatic expression of feeling.” In ancient Greece, a rhapsody was also part of an epic poem of a suitable length for reciting. Edie Brickell waxed rhapsodic about a smile on a dog, and Queen and Liszt gave us their musical Bohemian and Hungarian rhapsodies, respectively.

Our authors have given us their opinions of fictional what-ifs that might make us happy, and we're even including a bit of epic poetry. We're proud to point out that all of our authors claim to be people rather than AI, so the human connection is very real here.

Space opera is one of those genres that some might say verges on the operatic, while exploring the mysteries of the universe. For real-life amazement, we recommend a science news article in The Atlantic Magazine about how gravity waves pass through us all:

"Scientists Found Ripples in Space, and You Have to Buy Groceries," by Adam Frank (June 30, 2023) https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2023/06/universe-gravitational-waves-nanograv-discovery/674570/

 Jendia Gammon's space opera, "Opal World Frolic," anchors Rhapsody of the Spheres, in which a cyborg soldier meets all sort of beings on a planetary system quest. Brian Trent treats us to a space opera/fantasy mashup about a space colony with unauthorized trees, complete w/ dryads, "And Lifts Her Leafy Arms to Pray." Akis Linardos's AI protagonist builds a Dyson Sphere to protect humanity, in "The Day Luna Swallowed the Sun." Mike Adamson's astronauts enjoy the sun from afar as they visit a newly discovered dwarf moon in "Sunrise on Eris." Visits from advanced aliens take the stage in Bev Vincent's "Grand-Pere's Last Transmission," in which humans receive an invitation, and Liam Hogan's serendipitous "Discordia," in which aliens reveal that Earth's origin may have just been a "happy accident."

For those into hard scifi, we think you'll enjoy "Dog's Body," Edward Barnfield's tale of bioscientists working on an isolated island lab to clone domestic animals in preparation for a related secret project. We offer an imaginative time travel tale from Stetson Ray ("An Autograph").

Or should we call it RAP-sody? Many of the stories we received involved music and its power to change the world. Our anthology leads off with Jenny Perry Carr's "The Solution to Everything Is Disco," about a discouraged lab researcher who experiences a eureka moment when she lets the beat drop. Anne Gruner's "Museum of the Multiverse," imagines an eternal species that loves the music of the long-extinct human race. We direct you to Robin Pond's tale, "Celestial Notes," about a scientist who assembles a dissonant musical performance to save the world from climate catastrophe. Jeff Reynolds describes "One Last Night at Benny's Magic Fantastic Cabaret," for the jazz lover in us all. Even immortalized rock legends can undergo some ch-ch-changes in Bruce Golden's "Let Sleeping Rock Stars Lie."

Epic poems and mythology: We mentioned that epic poetry is sometimes called a rhapsody. Emily Martha Sorensen took up the challenge to write her poem about the origins of the Trojan War, "The Arbitration of Beauty." Happiness sometimes needs a bit of help from the goddess, in Maureen Bowden's "Euterpe." In Neethu Krishnan's "Dream Bones," a sleepwalker swims into the world of dreams to enlist as a dream keeper.

Fantasy and magic are always good to lift our spirits, right? A princess brokers a détente between humans and dragons with her song, in David Hankins's "The United Flamemakers of Ravalli." If you're a scientist, you might have wished you had magical powers to get to the solution, or at least to have your hard work recognized. Check out M. A. Dosser's "Peer-Reviewed Spellcasting." Monica Joyce Evans's "Physics for Witches" paints an artistic picture with quantum mechanics.

Family matters: Family can be both a challenge and the source of the greatest happiness, as shown in Brandon Case's futuristic social media foray, "The Stellar Instrument." Motherhood is strange and wonderful in Douglas Gwilym's "Matryoshka." Sharon Diane King's psychedelic "A Touch of the Grape" brings us family nostalgia at its best.

Then, there's always hope: 'Lor' willing and the creek don't rise' is an old Appalachian expression that things are bound to get better with enough focused intention. Lovely hopepunk stories that ring true (but weird) include Taylor Dye's "Changing of the Guard," in which two supernatural beings are on a mission to save a sick child, and "Lost and Hound," featuring M. R. Abbink-Gallagher's trippy tale about a telepathic dog who thinks deep thoughts.

As usual, our Grins & Gurgles flash humor section offers a chuckle, in "The Art of Music Surfing" by Lisa Timpf, as well as an ironic look at the last days of a butterfly, in Julie Biegner's "The Last Viceroy."


At one time, dozens of paddle steamers plied the rivers and canals of Scotland. The seagoing Waverley, pictured here, remains a tourist's delight, referred to by some as a "Hebridean Rhapsody." We hope you enjoy the many meanings explored in Third Flatiron's Rhapsody of the Spheres anthology.


Sunday, December 18, 2022

My New Fantasy Collection

 My new collection of fantasy short stories from Sophont Press, Twelve All in Dread,  is now available in ebook for preorder at amazon.com, with paperback soon to follow.

It includes a dozen stories, six from my "Twelve Witches" series as well as a number of medieval-inspired tales for readers interested in sword and sorcery. "The Twelfth Witch" introduces us to the youngest and most powerful of The Twelve All in Dread, Tesseracta Rowan, as she quests in search of her powers and family origins, while other fantasy stories, such as "Rage, Rage, Against the Dying of the Age," return us to the age of Arthurian mystery and romance. The collection concludes with a dash of Cthulhu mythos, in "Blood Moon."

Alternately hilarious, heartbreaking, and chilling, Twelve All in Dread presents a dozen fun and original fantasy stories filled with action and magic.

ISBN # 978-1-7362848-7-2

Copyright 2022 Juliana Rew, Cover by Keely Rew

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Return of the SciFi and Fantasy Cons


It is great to see the Cons returning to more in-person meetups. We enjoyed going (fully masked) to MileHiCon 54 in Denver and serving on three panels. I was especially interested in the panel on the growing popularity of stories set in the multiverse. On another panel, we had a spirited "discussion" about what can be done to fix the climate and the role the "hopepunk" scifi genre might play to offset today's preoccupation with dystopia. The audience for our panel on writing short stories and flash fiction was enthusiastic and ate up all of our advice, inadequate as it probably was. An event I love at MileHiCon is the "Slush Read," and my entry seemed to be well received. There's nothing like a little *constructive* criticism to keep you on the path to stardom.

Guest of Honor Ken Liu gave a talk about how science fiction does a terrible job predicting the future, so our work’s cut out for us to do better. Another GoH, Travis Heerman, showed us his first written, directed, and produced film, “Demon for Hire.” Only 8 minutes long, it’s a hoot. The trailer's available on his blog at http://travisheermann.com/blog/2022/07/13/trailer-demon-for-hire/

Last but not least, artist GoH Charles Vess lists among his credits illustrating Book III of Neil
Gaiman’s “Sandman” series. Of course, I caught a cold while returning from Scotland, so my filking chops were missing in action.

We managed to sell a few books at the author table, and Third Flatiron recently contributed books and ebooks to the World Fantasy Convention, to take place in early November in New Orleans. We'll be attending virtually, but are glad that's now become an option.

I'm going to try mightily to work on my new novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers' Month) next month, and am hoping to publish my fantasy short story collection, "Twelve All in Dread," featuring the young witch Tesseracta Rowan and her evolution toward "All Things Understanding."

Monday, July 25, 2022

New Anthology, "After the Gold Rush"

At Third Flatiron, we're now celebrating 10 years with our latest outing. Over the years, we're honored to have featured the work of more than 350 authors, and have podcasted more than 50 of their stories. We're also proud of the mix of Colorado and international writers. This all-original SFFH anthology has the theme, "After the Gold Rush." We asked contributors to explore themes related to complications of booms and bubbles, including effects of accelerated culture; ecological consequences caused by human over-expansion, such as climate disasters; and economics (for example, resources and commodities).

We are especially grateful to Wulf Moon, who leads the "Super Secrets" workshop. He encouraged writers on the Writers of the Future Forum to submit to our latest call, and by our count, seven "Wulf Pack" authors of the twenty-one in this anthology are new to our pages.

So, what have we got in store for you this time? Here is a peek at what's in the anthology.

Love all the new tech? We might get more than we bargained for as the latest gadgets accelerate and overtake us. We lead off with James Tager's "Past the Projections," a creative—and creepy—story in which AI robotics come to life in virtual reality. The intelligent drone "bees" in Tim Borella's "To Vanquish Other Blooms" repeat the adage, it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

We offer a number of instructive "what-if" stories about corporations that corner valuable resources, such as sunlight and real estate. With ingenuity and valor, ordinary people might still find ways to come out on top. Such a story is Robert Bagnall's "Sunrunner," an affecting story, about a rebel sunlight thief. We cheer Julie Biegner's teens as they try to take down the VR monopoly that's become a fascist state in her story, "Amphibios." Also, check out "Reassessed Value," by David Hankins, about a farmer who discovers a corporate loophole to save his land.

After climate change: Are we hearing the strains of the orchestra playing "Nearer, My God, to Thee?" In "Moving On," by Andrew Wright, Cape Cod is now an island, and it's Harry's job to check on houses and gardens before another storm arrives.

A gold rush theme means there's always room for a weird western, right? On the boomtown planet of Proxima B, when a samurai lawman is called to investigate a death, he discovers an ancient Mexican cult, in "Showdown at Sueño Hueco" by Wulf Moon.

"Earth's Last Immortals," by Erin Cullen, is the story of a future where life-extension technology has made it possible for humans to technically become immortal, but at what cost?

In a world where the world has retreated into virtual reality, a man searches for people who will return to "real" reality. "Facing Reality" by Yelena Crane.

In "Last Light in the Dark" by Shannon Fox, an actor on a far-future planet decides a change of pace is in order when his family's line of work starts to deviate from his personal values. While other stories about the after-effects of gold rush "bubbles" are usually sad, we find a nugget of hope.

It's hot. Damn hot. In Edward Barnfield's, story, "Live from the Troll Factory," hackers toil away in a post-internet apocalyptic sweatshop. It reminded us a bit of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake—only with computers.

Not all is gloom and doom, however.

There's evidence there was once a lot of water on the moon, so there may be a future call for explorers to find hidden reservoirs. Enjoy David Cleden's "Down on the Klondike," as a young man buys a stake on the Moon with his mother's credit card and runs into disaster almost immediately. In "The Front of the Pack," Lauren C. Teffeau's satirical story, this captured prisoner is not an arms dealer, he offers a scarce service—he's a regulation evasion provider.

Bon Voyage: In "Last Bite at the Klondike," by Liam Hogan, we meet an asteroid miner who opts to test the "interstellar progress paradox" rather than return to Earth.

We loved the movie, "CODA" (Children of Deaf Adults). If humans ever make first contact, it'll be important to find what we have in common. "All Our Signs Align" by Eve Morton, introduces a translator who teaches aliens American Sign Language (ASL).

"Unwinding the Clock" by Brandon Case, tells the satirical story of a grandma hacker who codes a scam app and sends the proceeds to a deserving recipient

Like William Wallace said in "Braveheart:" Freeeedom!! "The Last of the Gen Xers" by Angelique Fawns, is the story of a guy with an outlawed gas-guzzling Cadillac.

As usual, we conclude with our flash humor section, "Grins & Gurgles," with a "Currency Change Announcement" by Elizabeth Davis; "Amore for Life" by Cray Dimensional; "Genie in a PET Bottle" by Daniel M. Cojocaru; and "Goldberry" by Tom Easton and Jeff Hecht.

We hope you enjoy After the Gold Rush. It's available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B3V48HWK


Juliana Rew

July 2022




Saturday, November 27, 2021

Editor's Note: Things With Feathers: Stories of Hope Anthology

As inspiration for Third Flatiron Anthologies' latest theme, we put forth one of Emily Dickinson's poems, "Hope," in which she characterized it as "a thing with feathers." We reprint "Hope" inside for you to savor. Many of the contributors to this anthology agreed with Dickinson, while others expanded the ideas and symbols of hope.


 We open with Nemma Wollenfang's "Dream Eater," a truly transformative steampunk fantasy that shows us how a little kindness can reap rewards beyond your wildest dreams. While Cayce Osborne's "Yin-Yang" is indeed a ghost story, it is also a story of redemption.

Is there hope for us all? In P. A. Cornell's "Shiny Things," humanity's future is in doubt, as aliens return the planet to nature, until an intelligent bird pleads our inventiveness. Conversely, we depend heavily on math and technology, but sometimes it can become an obsession, as in David Cleden's "Ephemeralities."

Some of our stories call on the hopeful lessons of mythology, magic, and religion, such as F. T. Berner's "The Ones Who Made the Crossing," Sharon Diane King's "The Sorcerer's Appendix," and, for a touch of the weird, Nicholas Stillman's future-origin story, "Yes, Sadly." Barton Paul Levenson uses "Elf Magic" to show us how we could get along with others who aren't like us.

Still others draw hope from the wellspring of the supernatural, as in Bruce Arthurs' "The Best Damned Barbershop in Hell," and Paula Hammond's "Adventures in the Spiritual Lost-and-Found."

A common linchpin seems to be how much family plays a pivotal role in giving us hope—even more so over the past year. The wisdom of grandparents and devotion of grandchildren take center stage in Emily Dauvin's "The Soul of Trees," E. J. Delaney's "Zeno's Paradise (with redheads!)," Shannon Brady's "The Wonders of Yesterday," and Raluca Balasa's "Vanishing Act").

In time for the winter holidays, we have Arthur Carey's heartwarming alien encounter, "The Black Marble," a story that lets us reflect on the good things that we have and how they might continue to be.

Enthusiastic hope, aka "the Tinker Bell effect": Remember how we all clapped to bring Peter Pan's pal back to life? We want to believe that Alicia Cay's astronaut will survive in "The Girl Who Built Worlds." Melissa Mead's "Stella" catches a falling star and puts it in your pocket—ready in case you need it. Brian Rappatta's "The Warrior Rides into Battle, Sword Held High," rides along with characters who live their dreams of a better future as they take the daily bus to work.

Those of you wondering whether you're brave enough to attend a science fiction convention in person this year, there's encouragement to be found in Danielle Mullen's "One Last Thing." You might meet someone truly inspiring.

Worried about the sentient AI in your refrigerator? Anchoring the anthology is a hopeful post-singularity tale about intelligent buildings who love their customers, in Wulf Moon's "Sophie's Parisian Stationery & Parfumerie Magnifique."

As usual, we include our humor section, "Grins and Gurgles." As a ginger native of the mythical Colorado town of Plumbum, I can attest to the findings in Bonnie McCune's "Final Report from the Land of Red-Headed Children." And there's fairies! Art Lasky asks whether fairies could bring back "The Summer of Love." When a tsunami threatens, James Dorr's "The Wise Sister" helps us plan for disaster without the need to overpack.

Finally, we feature an essay, "What Hope Might Ask," in which Gerri Leen lets loose with flights of fancy regarding our fine feathered friends. Luckily, we hear wild birds have been doing better during the pandemic. We also recommend an Atlantic essay on hope by Arthur C. Brooks.

We do hope you enjoy reading "Things With Feathers." It's available from Amazon for Kindle and print paperback.


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

  As a Coloradan, I often look forward to the work of horror writer Stephen Graham Jones. His latest, The Only Good Indians (Gallery/Saga Press), is a worthy entry that brings us into collision with the natural world. And anyone who’s tried to debug an electrical problem in the house will immediately be sucked right in.

Ten years in the past, a group of Blackfeet teens stumbles upon an elk herd that is easy pickings. They slaughter many, even though it’s an illegal kill and they haven’t a way of bringing all that meat home. Now the vengeful ghost of a pregnant cow comes back to harrow them.

As bad goes to worse (think "Cabin in the Woods"), Jones’s book touches on many issues, both historical and scientific.

I was reminded of the Magnetic Fields song, “Fear of Trains,” with its haunting litany of difficulties faced by Native Americans throughout our history

We are also reminded to coexist with wildlife. I just came across an ongoing study by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to study survival rates of calves under a year old among herds across the state, focusing on how human recreation may be influencing the behavior of elk. There’s a weird but fun story in the Colorado Sun about transporting pregnant elk via helicopter!

If you’re in Colorado in the fall, a real treat is to admire (from a remote, respectful distance) the “bugling” of the elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, as the rutting season begins.

At Third Flatiron, we featured a great story about mass hunts from trains in our weird western themed Principia Ponderosa anthology. The author of that story, “The Hunt,” Salinda Tyson also invoked a Servant spirit that preserved the balance between the human and the natural. If you liked Jones’s story, check out Tyson’s story here.

The Only Good Indians is a finalist for the Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction and is available on Amazon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Racism Is Not a Family Value

Originally published November 2009


My daughter, a recent graduate in Cultural Anthropology, praised in particular a course on Zora Neale Hurston, an American folklorist, novelist, and authority on black culture, taught by Professor Lorecia Kaifa Roland of the University of Colorado Boulder. Raised as I was in lily-white suburbia, I had never heard of Zora. She was "rediscovered" by Alice Walker. But it turns out that one of Zora's best friends was Fanny Hurst, another famous novelist writing about black life. Hurst's novel, "Imitation of Life," was one of the defining "experiences" of my life, even though I never read the book. During your life, if you have children, you try to share your values and reasons for those values. I had shared the story with my daughter that I had joined the YWCA, one of the oldest women's organizations in the United States, not because I was a Christian, but because one of their basic tenets was to get rid of racism. Somewhere along the way, the YWCA felt this goal was no longer necessary and dropped it from their principles and practices. At the time, I was very upset about this and felt it was premature. I'm happy to say that it is now back (http://www.ywca.org/site/pp.asp?c=djISI6PIKpG&b=284783). My daughter and I didn't know we had these inspirational novelists in common, but for me it was exciting to see her discover and internalize an experience so different from her own privileged upbringing yet so important to our society today. "Imitation of Life" was made into two films, one in the late 1930s and another in the 1950s. I saw the 1950s version first. The story involves a black woman raising her light-skinned daughter while working as a servant for a strong white woman entrepreneur. The daughter, even as a young child, wants to be white and denies that she is "colored." When she grows up, she abandons her mother and gets as far away from her as possible, passing herself as white. She lives in constant fear of being discovered. Her mother is resigned, even comfortable, with her identity and never understands why her daughter rejects her race and her mother's love. There have been many other fantastic stories about mother/daughter betrayal, notably "Mildred Pierce" and "The Piano," but "Imitation" contained the double edges of blood kin betrayal and racism, a potent combination that I found life-changing.