Saturday, March 10, 2018

Excerpt from "Solid Gold Asteroid" (West End Books, 1994).

Here's the promised excerpt from my 1994 novella "Solid Gold Asteroid," as published in the anthology Shattered and Other Stories (West End Books).

Modern comments in red.

Gary tries to thwart Lark, but she manages to sic the Fleet on Gary. In the end, will free enterprise prevail over corrupt militarism and corporate greed? Find yourself a copy of Shattered and see!

I am deep into a new novel, (working title: Fianchetto) written on spec, so I've slowed down my blog entries. I won't give up though. 

Next: Under the Sea THE DARGONESTI (TSR, 1995)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Novella novella: SOLID GOLD ASTEROID

By 1994, FORBIDDEN LINES was on its last legs, and no new contracts were coming from TSR. I cast about for more work and found a company in Honesdale, Pennsylvania called West End Games. West End was founded in New York City in 1974, and named after the bar in which the founders met to organize the company. Like TSR, West End's original products were board war games. By 1984 they had come up with their first role playing game (RPG), Paranoia. Paranoia enjoyed a vogue through the early 1990s (I remember playing it back then), and is still around today. My tween-age children have played it recently. It's a deliberately annoying, comically bleak game about mostly stupid characters having to deal with conspiracies and hopeless bureaucracies battling each other for world supremacy--sort of like The Simpsons meets Brazil.

(West End Games, 1994)
Cover art by Randy Hamblin

The back cover. 

In its day, West End Games licensed some pretty popular media franchises for gaming purposes, such as:

Men in Black (as in the Will Smith films)

RPGs and tanks don't usually mix.

Hercules (i.e., the Kevin Sorbo TV show)

That's a pretty heavy lineup. They also produced original RPGs in the fictional universes of Paranoia, Torg, the D6 System, Metabarons, Septimus, and Shatterzone. Where I connect with West End was with the last named. Shatterzone was a space-based RPG with strong cyberpunk overtones. I was a big cyberpunk fan in those days, and when I discovered West End was doing an anthology of original, Shatterzone oriented stories, I got in contact with editor Greg Farshtey about submitting a story. As I recall, he agreed to an outline I put together called "Solid Gold Asteroid." In 1993 I wrote a fairly substantial novella by that name which was published in January 1994 by West End in the book Shattered and Other Stories.

"Solid Gold Asteroid" (hereafter "SGA") is part 1960s space drama with definite cyberpunk touches. It describes the lives of a trio of blue collar types who operate a space tug. Their job is to move other things around: bigger ships, space junk, cargo pods, and at the beginning of the story, a 10 kilometer wide antenna called Dark Echo I. The tug is named Blount Instrument after its owner/pilot, Gary Blount. 

("Blount" is pronounced "blunt," by the way. Hence Blount Instrument.

The hard working Gary Blount.
(Horst Janson, from Murphy's War, 1971)

Gary's communications guy is named Phoebus McFee, and his engineer is Jan Zuva. While struggling to align the antenna, which is far too big for the little tug, McFee picks up a telemetry signal from deep space. A robot probe has been surveying asteroids in the Shatterzone, and accidentally comes across one heavily laced with gold. The Shatterzone is like a Sargasso Sea in space, full of asteroids, wrecked ships, deadly radiation, and desperate fringe types, pirates, et. al. Not a healthy place to linger. 

At first, a gold asteroid is not very interesting to Gary, Phoebus, and Jan. The cost of recovering even tons of gold would not be profitable in deep space. However, detail assay reveals most of the gold is isotope 200, which in the Shatterzone universe is very rare and highly valuable as engine shielding in FTL spacecraft. There's enough Gold 200 in the asteroid to make Gary & Co. filthy rich for the rest for their lives. Naturally they decide to grab the asteroid before a big mining conglomerate can. 

At a raffish station called Blue Tortuga (I had a theme going here), Blount Instrument docks to take on fuel for the long haul to the Shatterzone. Jan and Phoebus go in for R&R, and Phoebus gets rolled by Gary's former lover and sharp operator Lark Kazantsev. Lark learns of the SGA and wants it for herself. Gary tries to stop her, but a race develops to the Shatterzone. On the way Blount Instrument is stopped by a scruffy Fleet corvette, the Furious, commanded by the corrupt Emil Naschy.

Naschy wants his cut.
(Peter Bull from The African Queen, 1951)

Naschy cuts himself in on whatever Gary makes on the SGA. Considering the firepower Naschy commands, Gary has no choice but to agree. 

Gary & Co. find Lark's ship, Larkspur, has cracked up on an asteroid. She's the only survivor. Now we get a twist: Lark, Gary's old lover, is a dead ringer for Gary's engineer, Jan Zuva.

Lark Kazantsev (l); Jan Zuva, (r).
(Merle Oberon, 1911-1979)

They're not twins, or clones. Jan's not actually human, she's a synthetic person, a biosynth. After Lark dumped Gary, he indentured himself for two years to pay for a duplicate of his old girlfriend. Jan's looks are based entirely on Gary's memories, but once alive, she develops her own personality, habits, and tastes. Guess what? She doesn't like Gary very much either.

Gary puts Lark to work, and together the four of them find the SGA and line up to push it out of the Zone. The huge bulk proves too much for Blount Instrument, and the SGA gets away, plowing through the Shatterzone towards open space. Outside the Zone, Naschy's ship has been taken over by corporate security men, and he's forced to take the SGA back as corporate property. No payday for our guys, and no kickback for Naschy either.

Sounds like a downbeat ending, but there's another twist I will not reveal here . . . copies of Shattered can be found.

West End Games did not survive the 90s, filing for bankruptcy in 1998 despite its plethora of big name franchise games. It was a hard time for the gaming industry. TSR hit the rocks at pretty much the same time, being bought out by Wizards of the Coast in 1997. As the new century began, the franchises to Star Wars and other valuable properties were lost, and popular original games like Paranoia were sold off. By 2016 most of West End's remaining assets had been disposed of. Personally, I don't know what happened to the Shatterzone RPG. 

I never played Shatterzone as a game, but I enjoyed writing "Solid Gold Asteroid." It was a comfortable length, a novella rather than a short story. My earliest attempts at science fiction resulted in a series of related novellas ("Dread Nymph," "Camouflet," "A Star Called Wormwood," et. al.), and I have always found the form congenial. Later I would contribute a novella to a Dragonlance anthology (The Players of Gilean), "Enter, a Ghost." Other than anthologies, there is very little market for stories of this length. 

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America define a novella as being between 17,500 and 39,999 words in length. 40,000 and above is a novel; 7,500 to 17,500 is a novelette, and below 7,500 is a short story.
Novellas that appear on multiple best-of lists
Animal FarmGeorge Orwell1945[15][16][18][19]
Billy BuddHerman Melville1924[16][19]
Breakfast at Tiffany'sTruman Capote1958[15][16]
A Christmas CarolCharles Dickens1843[15][16][18]
A Clockwork OrangeAnthony Burgess1962[15][17]
Ethan FromeEdith Wharton1911[16][17]
Goodbye, ColumbusPhilip Roth1959[17][19]
Heart of DarknessJoseph Conrad1899[16][17][18][19]
I Am LegendRichard Matheson1954[17][18]
The MetamorphosisFranz Kafka1915[15][16][18][19]
Of Mice and MenJohn Steinbeck1937[15][18]
The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway1952[15][17][18][19]
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeRobert Louis Stevenson1886[15][16]
The StrangerAlbert Camus1942[15][16][17]
The War of the WorldsH. G. Wells1898[16][19]
(from Wikipedia:
I haven't made the list yet.

The Shatterzone universe has a more adult feel to it than franchises like Star Wars or Buck Rogers. In practice this meant language and morality was more fluid (and adult) than in most space operas. The emphasis on biological and mechanistic interface shows the influence of cyberpunk ideas. "SGA" uses specialized slang and game terms (as required), which may be lost on a general reader at this late date, but that is a danger all SF faces. Trying to render 'future' slang is always problematic. I tend to minimize such terms in my own work. 

I forget who said it, but a wise writer has remarked that 'shit' will always be shit, no matter what you call it, so why make up a new term? Writer/editor Damon Knight also criticized superficial renaming of ordinary things in an SF story as the "Calling a rabbit a Smeep" fallacy. It's still a rabbit.

Next: A sample from "Solid Gold Asteroid."

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

"Pink Bells, Tattered Skies" A Short Story adapted from HUNTERS AT THE EDGE OF NIGHT

This short story was published in FORBIDDEN LINES #10 (May/June 1992). It was adapted from a chapter in my unpublished novel, HUNTERS AT THE EDGE OF NIGHT. Sort of NSFW due to language.

Illustrated by Gene Gryniewicz. Though he didn't specify, I always thought the woman on p. 47 & 49 is Sandra, p. 48 & 50 is Monica, and the guy on p. 51 is Ed. Keith, the narrator, is not pictured.

This is just an interlude in the novel, which is why I could adapt it fairly easily to a stand-alone story. Ghosts and phantom hitchhikers have nothing else to do with the novel. 

Next: Solid Gold Asteroids?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Invisible Surrealist: HUNTERS AT THE EDGE OF NIGHT

This is Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte's 1928 painting, "Hunters at the Edge of Night" (Les chasseurs au bord de la nuit): 

I have always been fascinated by obscure and strange visual images. As a child I used to hunt through our set of grocery store encyclopedias looking for interesting illustrations to pour over. Among the early eye-catchers that later became deeper interests of mine were Ancient Egypt, alchemy, and surrealist art. Over time I've thought a lot about what attracted me to such esoteric images, and I believe it is the appearance of strangeness in the midst of what seems normal. 

From the Papyrus of Ani, better known as 
The Book of the Dead. Ani is the normal
looking guy at the far left, holding
hands with Anubis.

From the alchemical art book "Splendor Solis" (1535)
This depicts the Hermaphrodite holding an egg, which 
is supposed to represent the union of opposites
and the new substances thus made.

I later discovered the works of the Surrealists painters (Miro, Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Tanguy, et. al.)

Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for its visual artworks and writings. Artists painted unnerving, illogical scenes with photographic precision, created strange creatures from everyday objects, and developed painting techniques that allowed the unconscious to express itself. Its aim was to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality" (Andre Breton) [from Wikipedia]

It's not my intention to delve into the philosophy of surrealist art here. Suffice it to say as a Rationalist, I found selective irrationalism a interesting and challenging departure. In writing fiction, surrealism has for me acted like a key, unlocking certain ideas and plots, and providing direction and development in existing stories. Science fiction and fantasy in particular have an affinity with surrealism, as the abnormal or super-normal events of genre fiction need a context in which to be understood. 

Someone once declared there were only two plot mechanisms in all of fiction:

1. An ordinary person is confronted with extraordinary events;
2. An extraordinary person is confronted with ordinary events.

There is a third possibility, extraordinary person/extraordinary events, which is the form most superhero tales take. Mythology and religion routinely use the third option. An unwanted (by me) fourth option, ordinary person/ordinary events is the basis of much so-called mainstream fiction, which is as boring as it sounds.

Around 1991 or so, while I was deeply immersed in producing and publishing FORBIDDEN LINES, I decided to develop a novel idea I'd been toying with. It centered on a new form of human invisibility. The concept of invisibility is very old. The ancient Greeks told of a cap or helmet owned by Hades that made its wearer unseen. Perseus was loaned the cap and used it when he killed the Gorgon Medusa. Norse, Welsh, and medieval legends all contain tales of invisibility, usually conferred by an enchanted ring, hat, or cloak. Sauron's ring, fiction's most self-aware piece of jewelry, also makes its wearer invisible. 

How Perseus got ahead

H. G. Wells' 1897 novel, The Invisible Man, set the pattern for science fiction invisibility for a century. Wells' mad scientist, Griffin, injects himself with chemicals that ostensibly change the refractive index of his body to that of air.

There are some problems with this concept. In order to be invisible, Griffin has to be naked. In many climates (especially England) this imposes a handicap. Wells uses this problem as part of the plot, but worse is the fact that a truly, optically invisible person would be totally blind. Without normal retinas, light would not be caught on the back of the eye--no vision. It's been a long time since I read The Invisible Man, but I don't recall if Wells tries to get around the blindness issue by having Griffin's pallid retinas floating around . . . talk about a surreal image.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Claude Rains

Later technological notions of invisibility like light bending or optical camouflage face the same problem. If you bend light around your Invisible Person (IP), how are they supposed to see?

I wanted a way around all this for my invisibility story. Optical methods I rejected as trite or physically improbable. Technical methods don't seem to answer the blindness problem. How else to make an IP?

There are actually invisible people all around us. We don't see them because we don't want to see them. Some of them are the homeless, the panhandlers, the deformed, the morbidly obese. In their case, their appearance makes the viewer so uncomfortable they check out, trying not to see anything so unpleasant. What if this reaction could be induced artificially? Suppose there was a way to transmit 'don't look at me!' signals to anyone within a significant radius?

Psychological invisibility.

This was the basis of my next novel, titled after Magritte's painting, HUNTERS AT THE EDGE OF NIGHT. It deals with an artist (living in Chapel Hill, N.C.) who is a Photorealist. He tries to paint images as exact and as real as a high resolution photograph. Keith (the artist) believes in object permanence and defines reality as what can be sensed. While out and about one November day, he spots an extraordinary looking young woman. Wanting to paint her portrait, he follows her, intending to introduce himself and asking her to pose. Strangely, her presence does not register with anyone else. She walks into a bank on Franklin Street (the main drag in Chapel Hill) walks behind the tellers' counter, helping herself to wads of cash. When Keith protests, the theft is noticed and Keith is blamed. The woman appears and urges him to flee before they're arrested. Confused, and more than a little fascinated, he goes with the woman, who calls herself 'Monica Griffin.'

Griffin, of course, is the name of Wells' invisible man. Monica is obviously an old film buff, as she later uses the pseudonym 'Illona Massey,' the name of the actress who appeared in the 1942 film, The Invisible Agent.

Illona Massey (1910-1974)
Definitely worth seeing.

My use of the name Monica is more esoteric. I will explain the significance behind the name here to demonstrate the adage that anything a writer experiences is grist for his artistic mill.

Back in 1981 I was in graduate school, working on a Master of Arts Teaching degree in history. As a grad student, I was entitled to a carrel in the main library. I could check out books relevant to my studies and store them in the carrel for much longer than the standard checkout period. In fact, the books I stored there reflected my private interests rather than any scholarly need. A casual perusal of my carrel titles in those days would find books like Vampires of the Slavs, Japanese warplanes, or Oscar Parkes magnificent opus, British Battleships. In short, Carrel 1098 was a nerd's book cache.

Sometime in the spring of '81 (don't recall the exact date), I found a handwritten note stuck to the shelf of my carrel. It purported to be from two undergrad girls, Ashley and Monica, who were curious to meet me and get to know me intimately, etc., etc. (And you thought this kind of stuff originated in spam email). There was a phone number I was supposed to call.

Now I was lonely and horny, but I wasn't stupid. This was somebody's idea of a joke, but I decided to find out who owned the phone number. At that time, the dorm rooms at UNC Chapel Hill each had a landline phone installed. With so many rooms to service, the phone company actually allotted phone numbers in consecutive number blocks. To find the location the phone number, I had to ID the dorm and floor using that block of numbers. A few minutes' study of the campus phone book (remember those?) pinpointed it in Avery Dorm, not far from where I lived. By counting rooms and numbers I soon identified the exact room where that phone number was located. 

I know, too much trouble, but it wasn't hard to track the culprits down. Nothing spoils a prank like a counter-prank. I called the number. A girl answered. I asked for Ashley or Monica.

How are things in Avery Dorm?

No one here by that name, I was told. She hung up. Not five minutes later I got a call from one of my 'admirers' in a poor impression of a sultry voice.

Hi, I said. How are things in Avery Dorm, room XXXX? Loud gasps, and the phone was slammed down. I laughed until my sides ached. Needless to say, I never heard from Ashley or Monica again. But I preserved their names, and trot them out when I need to name a fool, a temptress, or a tramp. How that's for a writer's revenge?

Ten years later, Monica became my Invisible Woman. In my novel HUNTERS Monica does the classic mad scientist thing and experiments on herself. She works in a research center, developing a device to help blind people see electronically. She discovers the software they're working on can work backward--in addition to telling the wearer what they can see, it can also tell them what they cannot see. The signal blots out entire objects. Monica sees an opportunity and inverts the seeing device into an 'invisifyer' and has it implanted in her body by a talented but unscrupulous surgeon. Problem: the device needs large amounts of energy to operate, and after surgery Monica finds she can't turn it off. It drains her of energy--body fat--and she has to eat enormous quantities of high calorie food to stay alive and keep the invisifyer working. She could go back under the knife and have it removed, but she gets off on the power and freedom invisibility confers. Monica builds two screening devices, small, coin-size transmitters that block the "I am invisible" signal and allow her to be seen. Unknown to Keith, she slips one in his pocket when he first sees her. She keeps the other to allow herself to be seen when she wants to be seen.

Monica's device made her clothes invisible too.
Sorry, Hollywood.

Fleeing the FBI and many local cops, Monica and Keith travel west on I-40. Monica has a mysterious errand in California, and she basically kidnaps Keith for company. She also has this meta-idea of having her portrait painted by a leading photorealist (Keith) while she is invisible . . . it gets pretty surreal by that point.

HUNTERS AT THE EDGE OF NIGHT was also deeply informed by the works of Rene Magritte. Each chapter title was also the title of a Magritte painting. Though I did not find a publisher for the entire novel, I adapted one chapter as a short story which was published in the tenth issue of FORBIDDEN LINES as "Pink Bells, Tattered Skies."

"Pink Bells, Tattered Skies,"
by Rene Magritte

One of these days I'll rewrite and update HUNTERS and try it out again. It's a good concept, and with some work I can bring it up to standard.

Next: "Pink Bells, Tattered Skies" 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Index to FORBIDDEN LINES, 1990-1994

Here's the index to all articles, stories, artwork, reviews, and whatever else was published in FORBIDDEN LINES Magazine, 1990-1994. This index does not include the 1989 anthology of the same name. This index first appeared at the end of issue #16, dated Summer 1994. That was the last issue of the magazine.

Any errors in the list are my own. Corrections and additions are welcome.


Issue #1: October/November 1990
Cover: "Lone Guitarist of the Apocalypse." Photo by David C. Ball

Tonya R. Carter, "Blue Mountains"
F. Brett Cox, "Love is All You Need"
Andrew Snee, "Maintenance"
D. Trull, "Jailbreak Over the Fourth Wall"                
Shannon Turlington, "Dark Eyes"
Joanne Wyrick, "Through a Glass Darkly"

Yeaton Clifton, "Uncounter," "Stellar Binding"
Jon Carson, "Echo," "Venus Bright"
Will Hooper, "Tantalus"
Joanne Wyrick, "Countess Anastasia to Her Lover," "Madoc by the Sea"

Charles Overbeck, "Comhex"

Charles Overbeck, "Ask the Count"

Issue #2: December/January 1991
Cover: "Eye for a Head." Clipart by Charles Overbeck

Tonya R. Carter, "The Creek"
Charles Overbeck, "Escape from the Dinosaur Hospital"
Charles Ozar, "Death of an American Family"
Angeli Primlani, "Orpheus"
Andrew Snee, "Fish"
Shannon Turlington, "Witches' Circle"
Paul B. Thompson, "Sodalis" [part 1 of 3]
Heather Valli, "Caffiend"

Amy Griswold, "Colonial Dreams," "nuclear nights with halo"
Joanne Wyrick, "Atlantic Crossing, 1942," "Sheldon Place"

Charles Overbeck, "Ask the Count"

Issue #3: February/March 1991
Cover: "Love and Volts." Photo by Charles Overbeck

Angeli Primlani, "Transformation"
Tony Realini, "I Remember the Name of the Moon"
Paul B. Thompson, "Sodalis" [part 2 of 3]

Alex de Grand, "A Rock 'n Roll Fairy Tale"

Charles Overbeck, "Professor SF: An Interview with John Kessel"

Nathan Ballingrud, "The Writer as Mortal"

The Difference Engine, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
Maps in a Mirror, by Orson Scott Card

Issue #4: April/May 1991
Cover: "Tao and the Soldier." Photo by Charles Overbeck

Lawrence Barker, "Mr. Eager Gnaws His Way to Freedom"
Tom Lucas, "Love May Be Called Appetite"
Charlie Martin, "Wine of Other Days"
Paul B. Thompson, "Sodalis" [part 3 of 3]
D. Trull, "Ten Letters, Starts with 'C,' Stupid Waste of Time"

Joanne Wyrick, "Atlantic Crossing, 1990"

Bruce Sterling, "New Maps of Bohemia"

Dykki Settle, "The Grays are Here"

Nicoji, by M. Shayne Bell
The Real Story, by Stephen Donaldson
Hour Past Midnight, by Stephen King

Issue #5: Summer 1991
Cover: "Crack Baby from Vulcan." Clipart by Charles Overbeck

Lawrence Barker, "Food Chain"
Brad Boucher, "Forbidden Seas"
Tonya R. Carter, "Cold Turkey"
M. F. Korn, "Letters from Skitzo"
Ron Massa, "Stiletto Vignettes"
Dan O'Keefe, "Test of the Cube"
Paul C. Schuytema, "Ice Skimmer"
Andrew Snee, "Devil's Advocate"

Yeaton Clifton, "Legacy of Babel"
John Grey, "On Watching a Cowboy Movie in Deep Space"
Amy Griswold, "Message in a Bottle"
David Hunter Sutherland, "Deck 5"

Cindy Holtslag, "The Blue Light"

Yeaton Clifton: "The Man Who Makes Stars and Sells Planets: An Interview with Sheridan Simon"

Bone Dance, by Emma Bull
The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice
Summer of the Night, by Dan Simmons

Issue #6: September/October 1991
Cover: "Memories of Rene." Photo by Paul B. Thompson and Jen Rourke

Michael Burris, "Pets"
Bill Dodds, "Fatal Peak"
Vic Fortezza, "The Power of Prayer"
Douglas Hewitt, "The Bait"
Leland Neville, "Human Communication"
Dan O'Keefe, "Nowhere to Go"
Michael C. Peralta, "Muse of Fire"

J. Slaughter, "Love Damnation"

John Grey, "Visiting a Graveyard Planet"
Jacie Ragan, "The Boarder"
Elena Venero, "Five Toxic Events"

Paul B. Thompson, "The First Lady of Horror: An Interview with Lisa Cantrell"

Fellow Traveler, by William Barton
Only Begotten Daughter, by James Morrow

Issue #7: November/December 1991
Cover: "Pinhead." Photo by Keith Payne

Lawrence Barker, "Ghost Witch and Brute Doctor"
D. Douglas Graham, "The Ward"
K. Huebner, "Vanishing Point"
Dan O'Keefe, "Tales of the Screeching Skull"
Angeli Primlani and Joanne Wyrick, "Desichado"
Paul C. Schuytema, "Waiting for the Blinding Sun"

John Grey, "Mechanic"
Paul Weinman, "Scaled Atrophy"

Charles Overbeck and Paul B. Thompson, "Raising Hell in High Point: On the Set with
Hellraiser III."

The Dark Tower III, by Stephen King
Jinx High, by Mercedes Lackey
Sexpunks and Savage Sagas, by Richard Sutphen

Issue #8: January/February 1992
Cover: "Ferret Rampage." Photo by Jon Fulbright

Lawrence Barker, "Basketball and the Naked Man"
Jennifer Bellak, "Seller of Dreams"
Michael Burris, "The Head"
Monica Eiland, "Anne's Pen"

D. Trull and Cindy Holtslag, "The Cereal Murders"

Holly Day, "In Innocence"
Laura Gowdy, "Vertigo"
Sam Silva, "Dreaming Beyond Evening of the Dawn"

Tender Loving Rage, by Alfred Bester
Phantom, by Susan Kay
The Elvenbane, by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey

Issue #9: March/April 1992
Cover: "Number 32." Drawing by Blair Wilson

Lawrence Barker, "Heroes"
M. Leigh Martin, "Small Sacrifices"
Logan McNeil, "Carla the Chimp"
John Riley, "Rocket City"
Del Stone, Jr., "Verdor"

Holly Day, "Dreams"
John Grey, "Third Year in Space"
Laura Gowdy, "Airmail"
Sandra Rico, "Mechanics"

Bob Burchette, "The Subversive Housewife: An Interview with Connie Willis"

Blair Wilson and Sparrow, "My Presidential Teeth"

In the Blood, by Nancy A. Collins
Haroun, by Salman Rushdie

Issue #10: May/June 1992
Cover: "The Flower." Drawing by Mike Ehinger

Matt Ehinger, "Pilgrims to the Armageddon Flower"
Amy Griswold, "The Life of Julio Valdieza"
Jerry Holman, "Amber Waves of Grain"
Cindy Holtslag, "Jerry Kinlow and the IGA Gang"
Patrick Ryan, "Laredo"
Jon Schwartz, "They's a-Coming"
Paul B. Thompson, "Pink Bells, Tattered Skies"

Herb Kauderer, "The Foreman"
Errol Miller, "The Captain of the Ship," "The Gathering Kingdoms of Earth"

Charles Overbeck, "Poppy, Bright and Dark: An Interview with Poppy Z. Brite"

Zombies of the Gene Pool, by Sharyn McCrumb
Sheltered Lives, by Charles Oberndorf
Thorn and Needle, by Paul B. Thompson

Issue #11: July/August 1992
Cover: "Grays' Anatomy," Drawing by Mike Ehinger

Lawrence Barker, "The Manual of Amatory Necromancy"
Michael Burris, "Melvin Moon and the Hairball"
Calvin Clawson, "The Torcher"
Matt Ehinger, "At the Hour of the Triumph of Death, a Murderer"
Fuzzy Somoza Haziz, "The Swineherd"
Richard Kostelanetz. "1,001 Contemporary Ballets"
J. Michael Major, "Afloat in the Sea of Knowledge"
David Niall, "The Manlan"

Danith McPherson Clausen, "I Saw"
Bobbie Saunders, "Sundown"

Paul B. Thompson, Bob Burchette, Dykki Settle, Charles Overbeck, "Where Right Angles Meet: Interviews with Philip Klass and Henry Miller"

Monsters--Three Tales, by Joseph A. Citro
Dark Dixie: Tales of Southern Horror, by Ronald Kelly
[These were books on tape, cassettes, not printed volumes]

Issue #12: Fall 1992
Cover: "Pope Poppy." Painting by Diego Marcial Rios

Nathan Ballingrud, "Memories of Green"
Lawrence Barker, "Wet-Soft-So-Old"
Richard Behrens, "The Patsy"
Bill Dodds, "Inside Job"
Michael J. Pakula, "Epistle from the Damned"
Jon Schwartz, "Fish Boy Blues"
Del Stone, Jr., "Mr. Dark"
Rod R. Vick, "The Jupiter Stone"
Tom Weber, "Dr. Sagoon's Revenge"

Paul B. Thompson, "Only Begotten Doubter: An Interview with James Morrow"

The Sons of Noah & Other Stories, by Jack Cady
Xenocide, by Orson Scott Card

Issue #13: Winter 1993
Cover: "The Order." Engraving by Diego Marcial Rios.

Michael Burris, "O.B.E."
Lorin Emery, "Pink Velvet"
Richard Kostelanetz. "Openings"
James Loverde, "Francois Villon and the Jealous Poet"
Warren G. Rochelle, "Boys of Summer"
Eric Sasson, "Introduction to Being"
Joan Shields, "The Troll"
Del Stone, Jr., "Joey's Friends"
Lynne Taetzsch, "This Week at the Dental Clinic"
Ken Wisman, "Snowman"

Ace Boggess, "Unlocked"

"The Art and Politics of Diego Marcial Rios"

Jellyfish Mask, by William Ramseyer
The Tale of the Body Thief, by Anne Rice

Issue #14:Summer 1993
Cover: "Roach Wars." Drawing by Frank Forte

Ace Boggess, "Ghost Writer's Fantasy Romance"
F. Brett Cox, "Wishing and Hoping"
Jerry I. Lawson, "Identity Crisis"
R. R. Mallory, "The Mark of Oman"
Gregg Palmer, "Darklands"
Brian Skinner. "Watching"
Rick Skinner, "Roach Wars"
Ken Wisman, "The Devil's Eye"

Richard Davignon, "Mother Love," "Notice"

Paul B. Thompson, Charles Overbeck, Shannon Wikle, Elizabeth Thompson, Bob Burchette, "Apparition Cancelled"
Charles Overbeck, "I Can't Stand It Anymore"

Blackburn, by Bradley Denton
The Multiplex Man, by James P. Hogan
Midnight's Lair, by Richard Layman
The Adult BBS Guidebook, by Billy Wildhack

Issue #15: Winter 1993 [So marked. It should have been 'Winter 1994']
Cover: "Kiss Me, You Fool." Engraving by Diego Marcial Rios

Andre LaPalme, "Heading Somewhere"
Rocco La Bosco, "Fireman Dreams"
Jeff Janoda, "Hands Across the Stars"
Jodie Mecanic, "The Neotenic"
Michael J. Pakula, "LAP Dogs of the Apocalypse"
Bob Rehak, "Spring Tapestry"
Robert Rhine, "My Brain Escapes Me"
Del Stone, Jr., "Kiss Me, You Fool"
Robert Sutter III, "The Crumb"

Jamie and Other Stories, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Created By, by Richard Christian Matheson

Issue #16: Summer 1994
Cover: "Satan." Drawing by Frank Forte

Paul Alexander, "Enter Evil, as the Wolf"
Lawrence Barker, "The Testament of Gaius Drusus Hippero"
Richard Behrens, "Carnival"
William R. Eakins, "Samsara"
Michael Hemmingson, "Beguiling Malady"
D. W. Hill, "The Appetizers of the Gods"
Bob Rehak, "Dog's Walking Day"
Del Stone, Jr., "Town, Square"
Russell Underwood, "Dark Meat"

Asylum Studios, "The Art of Asylum Studios"

Charles Overbeck, "Dealey Plaza, 30 Years Later"

Excerpt from "Solid Gold Asteroid" (West End Books, 1994).

Here's the promised excerpt from my 1994 novella "Solid Gold Asteroid," as published in the anthology Shattered and Other Stor...