FURLONG: From Luna to Uranus and Beyond



I have been fascinated by the nine planets of Earth’s solar system since childhood. Already a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, learning more about Terra’s eight neighbors and sun was electrifying, though it did not lead to in-depth study. (And yes, as this PAS_TWITTER_PROMOstatement implies, I still count Pluto as a planet.) The moon landings received roughly the same amount of attention, flavored with a great deal of national pride.

            So the open calls for submission to the Planetary Anthologies immediately caught this author’s eye. A series where sci-fi/fantasy writers could explore the nine planets in the solar system, plus the sun and the moon?! Sign me up!

            Unfortunately, Mars, Mercury, Venus, and Pluto had already reached their acceptance quotas by the time I discovered the open calls. Of those that remained available, several had possibilities but no catalyst – no item or event that would form coherent stories. While it hurt to let the door close on these opportunities, the lack of a cohesive element left this author little choice but to allow them to pass her by.

            Among those collections that generated viable ideas, Luna presented several intriguing possibilities. Being a fan of the Greek deity Artemis, wolves, and sci-fi/fantsy, it wasn’t hard to know what kind of story I wanted to write to fulfill the requirements for that submission. Werewolves and their association with the moon have appeared in a variety of stories, however, which left this writer wondering how to make her first submission to Luna stand out from the crowd.

            It did not take long to figure out the unique spin which would make that tale noticeable, and it was a joy to write up. Unfortunately, this twist did its job a little too well. And this author knew it. Though proud of the first story I submitted to Luna, I had a feeling it was a bit too wild and obscure to be accepted. Since I really wanted to be part of this anthology, it meant this writer had to dig around for another idea, write it up, and send in a second submission as insurance.

The only problem was that my muse seemed to have run out of feasible fantasies. In an effort to get it going again, this author asked a close friend for an opinion on the themes related to the moon. This led to a repeat of the old joke that “Hitler and his top officers live on the dark side of the moon,” which served the purpose of rekindling my inspiration. Just like that, I had a story I could use.

It needed some tinkering, of course; there was no way this author was going to write a story about the real Hitler living with his top officers on the dark side of the moon. That notion would take an entire novel to explore. Instead she threw in some Kenny Rogers, a few ghost tales involving mines and miners from the Old West, not to mention a belief that there are “more things in heaven and earth” than we know (or want to know) of, and voíla, “Despot Hold ‘Em” was born.

Finding the story idea for Uranus, which I also desperately wished to be accepted into, was a little easier. The required themes were fewer, but that meant the milieu was wide open. Having read about the discovery of diamond rain in the atmosphere of the gas giants in our solar system not long beforehand, it didn’t take much time to find out more about the titular planet of the anthology. I was especially fascinated by the fact that any material, even the strongest metal, would be crushed and reduced to atoms if it sank too far into Uranus’ atmosphere.

This instantly called to mind the sad losses of several submarines which somehow exceeded their depth threshold, imploding due to the abrupt increase in pressure. There is little difference, from what scientists have observed, between that unfortunate phenomena and the fate of any satellite – or ship – which may delve too deeply into Uranus. A prospective space-faring vessel would suffer the same catastrophic demise as a submarine diving into the Terran abyss.

A number of other influences combined to make the mystery more enticing. The man-out-of-time trope has not lost its appeal, and through her voracious reading of Andre Norton’s works, this author has a vested interest in parapsychology (the study of psychic phenomena, not witchcraft). Japanese media had a strong effect on the tale as well, a fact best exemplified by the story’s leading lady. Add in a little Cold War-style intrigue and some national pride, and you have “The Long Dream.”

Though writers aren’t supposed to play favorites any more than parents, this author would be lying if she said “The Long Dream” wasn’t one of the pieces she had the most fun working on and seeing published. Had Tuscany Bay Books not picked up the Planetary series, that story – along with “Despot Hold ‘Em” – may have seen publication at a much later date and outside the desired venue. I am sincerely grateful to Richard Paolinelli and Jim Christina for taking on this monumental project and bringing it to readers the world over.

It has been an honor and a dream come true to be published in the Planetary Anthology series, and I cannot wait to see what comes next. If you haven’t picked up any of the anthologies yet, then grab one today. You won’t regret it!



Stories have captivated Caroline from early childhood, but without her family’s encouragement that fascination might have foundered long ago. She considers it a minor miracle that as a child no one ever tripped over the toys she scattered while she set up queens and sent out heroes on quests. Reading meant that the toys got taken out less, and when it came to writing at thirteen or fourteen they had been surrendered to another. But she continues to dream up realms and heroes, monsters and androids almost every waking moment. They are her toys now, parading across paper rather than a carpet. The slightest suggestion – a word, a movie, a flower, or a ship – can bring a new story to mind. So, where there are dragons that talk and spaceships to fly, that’s where she will be. You can find out more about Caroline at her website: A Song Of Joy.


You can get your copies of Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series: Luna and Uranus right here: Luna & Uranus and check out the rest of the 11-book series here: Planetary Anthology Series.

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