ST. AUBIN: The Quirky Side of the Venus Anthology: or How Jude Lawe Gates Taught Himself Venusian Karate



After having written “How to Train Your Werewolf”, I really wanted to write something space-y for the next anthology. Writing about the Greek goddess of Love seemed like cheating.  Blending into this was my fondness for the short stories of Harry Harrison, in particular “ The Men from PIG and ROBOT”. I wanted something uplifting, quirky and with an emphasis on character.

Jude Gates ESQ was born in part thanks to the Baen Free Radio Hour. They talked about the  Liaden series, describing one of its offshoots as staring characters resembling Wooster and Jeeves as Men About Space. This tickled my funny bone

Available May 26th

and settled into my subconscious. Then I started rereading the complete short story anthology of Dorthy L. Sayers, starring primarily Lord Peter Wimsey. I particularly enjoyed the later stories, about Harriet and Lord Peter as parents, or working together.  I suppose Mr. & Mrs. North and Nick & Nora Charles in The Thin Man had their influences, too.

The lynchpin was while going through Amazon looking at books. Then on CSPAN I heard about a book called “ Who owns the Moon?”– and land ownership and mining rights were as complex, if not more so– than the law of the sea. Suddenly, clever lawyers in space-saving our world from excess litigation captured my imagination. It didn’t hurt that Tom Stranger had come out recently. Thank you Larry, I think I popped a rib laughing. While I did have this idea floating around before Tom Stranger came out, it did help me realize that this whole thing had to be a comedy.

While Jason evolved organically with the plot of his story, Jude was fully formed before the story was written. So he was not only on the search for more money, he was in search of a plot.

Because it was Venus, I knew Jude had to fall in love. A nebbishy awkward fellow with a gift for gab would require a very special lady to fall in love with. Thus Saudella was born. In order to see his charm, she’d have to be a mind reader. It’s space opera, of course that can happen!  I admit, I borrowed some of her character from the secretary on WKRP in Cincinnati.

Looking further for a flushed out plot, I borrowed some plot points from a Babylon 5 episode. That would be  A Voice in The Wilderness, season 1. The episode neglected to delve into how mining rights might be affected. Therefore I knew I had a new slant on Epsilon III. Then I looked up some stuff about mining rights– and fun facts about the planet Venus.  Writing a story is like making sausage. You are allowed to get parts from anywhere, but they better taste good together.

The last and final ingredient was actually Tinney. I borrowed his name from a friend’s last name on FaceBook. I wanted a contrast to Saudella’s unique AI experience. I also had a narrative voice that was certainly not  Jude, but it knew enough about Jude’s private thoughts it had to be an AI with neural net access. Not to mention, if his knowledge was as vast as it would have to be– he’d need help organizing it. Plus, he needs a lot more storage than a human brain has available. Last but not least, he’s a little reminder that it really is Space Opera.

He is a great boisterous foil for Jude, plus helped define what technology is like in this world.  He isn’t exactly Jude’s Bunter, lacking in any social graces. Yet he says all the things that Jude won’t say and more besides. I admit, no knowledge of how AIs work went into building him. This is space opera. I won’t besmirch “science” by calling this “science fantasy”. I tried to introduce some realistic concerns here and there, because Bujold taught me that even space opera has to feel real at some level to sell your world to the reader.

Knowing a little bit about computers, I decided to give him a portable body. Basically, a robot shell that he can inhabit, and do physical things for Jude now and then. It’s an idea that I partially borrowed from Fool’s War and When Gravity Fails. The idea is that The AI both lives in Jude’s head to help him with his law practice, and can also inhabit the robot body. As a complex piece of software, he can jump to one or both places. The only issue is that the part of him in the robot has a limit to how far it can transmit data privately.

The plot is as follows:

The esteemed head of an astronomically wealthy family dies, leaving several relatives conflicted over the will.  As the family lawyers to the deceased, Jude and his brother are asked to present the will and arbitrate the estate holdings. The megalithic conglomerate that spans the galaxy becomes the arena where powerful personalities clash over differing opinions on future direction for the company.

The strangest part of the conflict is over mineral rights for the Planet Venus. Who knew our galaxy’s white elephant was prone to causing such strife? Well, Venus is the goddess of love in Roman mythology, so maybe we should consider ourselves forewarned.

On the way to the reading of the will, he learns that another lawyer is joining the fray to reveal a secret codicil that will determine the future of planets.

To make matters worse, he’s falling in love with this beautiful and mysterious woman, whose motives and role are unknown. Rumor has it that her input will drastically change the will with a codicil. It is clear she has some unusual talents. It may even be possible that she would use his feelings against him.  All while he does his best to protect the family– against itself, and all other interests, business and personal.

When another family member is killed at the reading, and the wife of the original deceased disappears, who knows what will be the outcome for the family?  For the corporation? For the planet?

And all Jude has is a vast knowledge of interstellar property law, a wisecracking AI, and a brother who straightens his tie at awkward moments. His father and head of the law firm, who has known the family all of his life,  must correspond virtually because he is also dying from an intergalactic virus.

I suppose it is fitting that the reading of the will takes place on Mars, the planet of strife.

I think the hardest part of writing this story was actually finding a name for it. I stole Venus Times Three from a classic novel of science fiction.  It started out as a working title.  The editor liked it, so we kept it.

The most horrible thing about all this is that my search engine, plus AMAZON show me the name of my own short story, but not this classic work of Science Fiction! I hope I can encourage more people to read classic science fiction. But it’s okay if you read me, too.  I hope you have as much fun reading this story as I had writing it.

   – Margot St Aubin 


Margot St Aubin has tried everything from web designer for a law firm, security guard for a famous auto company (among other places), a clerk at the Borders home office,  to learning to code.  No one told her that pythoness had anything to do with well poisoning. If you ask nicely, she makes book covers. She loves to travel, which seems to mean getting stuck in foreign countries, being harassed by the secret police, and being shut out of famous landmarks by burly men with machine guns. Juggling words and harassing fictional characters is overall more satisfying.  For her sins, she is stranded in New York city for the duration. She is hopeful that messages in a bottle will lead to rescue soon.  She lives in a bunker with her family at an undisclosed location in Queens.

You can check out the entire 11-book series right here. While four of the books have already been released, the remaining seven will be coming out in six-week intervals and can be pre-ordered at the link above. 


3D_COVERS copy





FABIAN: Nuns In Space? The Story Behind ‘Moonboy’ in Planetary Anthology Series: Luna


Hi. I’m Karina Fabian, and I write nuns in space.

Karina Fabian April 2020Go ahead, say it loud. Say it long. Nuns in Spaaaace! The stories are as much fun to write as the concept.

Why space nuns? It actually started on a date night. My husband and I used to come up with story ideas on dates, and this time, I was writing articles about different religious orders, and Rob was volunteering with Artemis Society. The ideas crossed.

It makes a kind of sense. The Church has always followed exploration and (arguments with Galileo aside), has a strong history of scientific research. Rob and I decided that to get our order of religious sisters off the Earth, they needed to provide some kind of service of value to the early spacers. Search and Rescue, medical, and engineering came to mind. The Rescue Sisters were born!

We’d written several stories and I wrote a novel starring some of these intrepid nuns. It was interesting to combine the grit and high-tech stakes of space life with the faith, practice, and moral stakes of spiritual life. The Rescue Sisters stories have taken place in the asteroid belt, in LEO, and even as far as Pluto. But I’d always thought there needed to be one on the moon.

So, when Declan Finn asked me to write for Luna, I had my chance.

First, I needed a setting. I was lucky, because thanks to a talented friend who wrote for one of my anthologies (Infinite Space, Infinite God), I already had a moon “world” to write in. “Brother Jubal and the Womb of Silence” by Tim Meyers is still one of my favorite stories. It takes place on a hermitage in the Aristarchus Crater and on the support station, Drake Lunar Station. He was kind enough to let me adopt his world into my Rescue Sisters Universe.

Next, I needed a rescue. After all, these are the Rescue Sisters. I’d been wanting to explore the idea of children in space and toyed with the idea of rescuing some spoiled brat who went off on his own, but it felt superficial. After all, if we’re involving nuns, we need a spiritual element. Besides, unless I’m doing humor, I try to assume people are generally smart. No kid is going to risk certain death in the cold of space just to go haring off by himself.

What would make a child risk everything?

What if he had nothing to lose.

Enter Cory, the first lunar-born boy just on the cusp of manhood, who has found out he won’t live to 20. Whose entire life is one of medical tests, over-protective parents, and shallow distractions. A boy who longs for adventure, like the hero in his favorite series of novels.

The story begins when Cory decides to take his fate in his own hands and head out to an adventure that will probably lead him to an early death – or worse, a life of abuse and desperation before he eventually dies. Fortunately, God had different plans for him, and he meets the Rescue Sisters.

I really appreciate Declan giving me the push to write this story. Otherwise, it would have sat in the back of my mind, as useless as Cory felt he was.

Nobody should feel worthless.

Karina Fabian writes both serious and seriously funny science fiction and fantasy. You can find her stuff at 

You can check out the entire 11-book series right here. While four of the books have already been released, the remaining seven will be coming out in six-week intervals and can be pre-ordered at the link above. 

PAOLINELLI: An Unexpected Adventure

Tuscany Bay Books’ co-Publisher Richard Paolinelli is today’s blogger as we continue our series of blog posts regarding Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series. Richard is the co-editor of Pluto and has stories in six books in the series so far.

The last few days we’ve had a few of the authors and editors here on the blog to talk about their experiences with Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series. Several other authors and editors will follow in the coming days.

I figured it was time I should join in on this as I edited Pluto and, as of this writing, have stories in six of the 11 books in the series. In addition to my story in Pluto I have a story in Luna, Uranus, Earth, Jupiter and Sol. I have subbed to both Neptune and Saturn, the final two books in the series, but it will be awhile before I find out if they will be included. Yes, just because I’m publishing the series now it doesn’t mean I’m automatically in. That call remains solely within the capable hands of our two editors and they have the final say on what stories get in and what stories don’t. In an upcoming post, I’ll talk about my stories in the series.

But for today I want to focus on the road taken to get to this point. How I went from writing a story to sub to the series, to editing Pluto and finally to publishing all 11 books. It was quite the journey, so grab your refreshment of choice and settle in.


It all started nearly three years ago when Superversive Press announced their plans for an 11-book anthology series of science fiction and fantasy, along with all of the sub-genres contained within, stories. They would be based on the nine planets – yes, Pluto is a planet so lets get that settled here and now – plus our own Moon and the Sun itself. They would also incorporate the mythology and the gods associated with the planets as well.

I loved the concept from the first second after it was announced. After scanning the requirements, I targeted eight of the 11 books – Mercury, Venus and Mars didn’t make the cut for me – to write stories for. And I had something else in mind for one of those eight books.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Pluto is my favorite planet. So it was only red spiritual smoke on black background with copy spacenatural that when Superversive was still looking for an editor for Pluto in the series, I decided to step up and take the job. But, because I’d never edited an anthology before, I asked Dawn Witzke to be a co-editor. She’d done a fantastic job editing the Earth volume of the series and Pluto would not be as good a collection as it is without her. My story, Extinction Point, appears in Earth and was originally intended for Pluto until I became its co-editor. So, off to Earth it went. Which was fine because I had a second story in mind for Pluto: Yes, Neil D. Tyson, Pluto Is A Planet. Have you guessed what my opinion of the conference that demoted Pluto is yet?

For  the next two years I focused my attention on culling through the subs for Pluto, editing the ones Dawn and I agreed were best, all 21 of them, and awaited Pluto’s turn in the rotation to be published by Superversive.

Then disaster struck. After publishing only five books, Superversive Press shut down. For the six editors left hanging it was, to say the least, a huge disappointment as it was for the authors who had been accepted into many of them. But there was a ray of sunshine to be found among the dark clouds. Jason Rennie, the publisher at Superversive Press, announced he would be willing to turn over all rights to the series to another publisher should one be found with an interest in doing so.

As you know, I just happen to have a small publishing house, well at least one-half cropped-tbb_website-1.jpgof one, in my back pocket. And we’ve already established my interest in this entire series. So I put in a call with the other half of Tuscany Bay Books, Jim Christina, and we decided to pick up the series.

We also decided to re-release the original five – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter – under our own imprint. This meant waiting for Superversive’s first editions to come off of Amazon after a three-month wait.  Instead of sitting and waiting, we decided to release the three new books that were ready to go.

Pluto was first, followed by Luna and Uranus. Then we reached the point where we could start re-releasing the originals and Mercury came out earlier this month. Venus will be released in late May and every six weeks after that a new release will become available until all 11 books are out.

When we took over the series we wanted to keep the interiors the same as they were in the original five regarding the editors and the stories within. It didn’t work out that way, but we managed to keep nearly all of them intact. We lost one story in Venus by the author’s request as she was using it elsewhere. We lost one of the editors, Mars, who choose not to continue on in the role under TBB’s banner. But aside from those two losses, these original five appear exactly as they did before. And, as a bonus, we picked up two brand new stories for Mars along with our new editor.

PAS_TWITTER_PROMOThe big difference is the exterior covers. Superversive went with the “Golden Astronaut” theme in an anime style. But we decided to go a different direction, wanting to feature the astronomical body and the associated god each individual book was based upon. Looking at all 11 together, I’m very pleased with the way it all turned out. And I’m very much looking forward to the coming February, when all 11 books will be out and I have each one of them sitting  on my bookshelf in my office.

It has been an incredible journey with this series, an epic in its way, these three years. When it began I never for a second imagined it would turn out the way it has. I’d like to thank Jason for creating this series and, when circumstances forced him to shutter Superversive, that he was willing to allow another publisher to pick up this series’ banner and carry it on to completion.

But without the efforts of the 12 editors (Venus also had co-editors), the nearly 90 authors who submitted nearly 180 stories that make up this series, we wouldn’t be here talking about it today. Thank all of you for writing these great stories, for editing these great stories and – in the case of the original five books – keeping them in the second editions that TBB is publishing. We could not have done this without you.

And, finally, thank you readers, who have and continue to make this series successful. We hope you enjoy the books to come as much as you have those that have been released.


Find out more about Richard, his books and his free-to-read 1K Weekly Serial Series at this website:

FINN: Deceptive Appearances

My first creation was Sean Patrick Ryan. I was writing a space opera and wanted someone who could have a reasonable chance against a Wookie if it came down to it. It’s why he ended up being two meters tall and one wide. Then, for reasons I can’t recall, I made him a telepath. It was probably useful at the time.
The space opera I wrote was four books long, at 400 pages each, and I wrapped up writing them within 15 months…. Keep in mind, I didn’t know that publishers also used double-spaced type, so I really wrote 800 page novels.
So that was fun.
When it came down to writing a short story for Mercury, in an anthology that involved themes of tricky, I had one character to call on. My first. Because Sean Ryan wasn’t dangerous because he was big and knew how to fight. He was dangerous because the only fair fight was one he finished. He’d smile in your face and talk you to death, because he already wired the floor with explosive charges and he’s trying to remember when button triggers the explosive you’re standing on.
Sean Ryan is very much a combination of growing up with a cinema library of Commando, Die Hard, Sleuth, Deathtrap and The Sting. We end up with a product that’s one part shoot ’em up, one part con.
And I’d already written a short story that was “Sean Ryan is being a sneaky sumbitch.” I didn’t have any particular place to put this one. So I made a minor rewrite and placed it on Mercury. It was called Deceptive Appearances.
Remember writers: it’s not cheating to recycle.
While editing Deceptive Appearances, I dug through some research on Mercury and decided, yeah, it’s going to need some habitat domes. And we’re going to be in a poorer, more rundown dome, so it’s going to be hot. Overly hot. The sort of dry heat that starts bar fights over nothing, and a wife feels the edge of a kitchen knife while eyeing her husband’s throat….
And for the record, I may have just quoted Raymond Chandler, both here and in the short story.
Another writing tip: Good writers borrow, great writers steal. But always call it “research.”
And I was fairly surprised. Our editor David Hallquist …. did nothing to it. Nothing memorable, anyway. That’s probably what happens when you polish the same bloody twenty pages for two decades.
Final tip: edit … but not too much. Otherwise you’re going to hold on to the same book you first wrote when you were 16, and don’t release it until you’ve edited it to death by 38.
Declan Finn is best known for wearing loud and obnoxious clothing at conventions. He writes full time, sometimes when he’s off the clock, and tries to come out with a book of the month, much to the irritation of his usual publisher, Silver Empire. He is the editor of the Luna anthology, and has made appearances in Mercury, Venus, Mars, Pluto and Storming Area 51, for Bayonet Books. Most of his books can be found at Silver Empire, and the rest can be found at Amazon.
You can check out the entire 11-book series right here. While four of the books have already been released, the remaining seven will be coming out in six-week intervals and can be pre-ordered at the link above. 

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.

Pre-Order Available For Planetary: Luna

Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology series continues with the second edition of the series – Planetary: Luna. The e-book will be released on Thursday, January 30th and you can pre-order it right now using the link below.

The book, edited by Dragon Award finalist, Declan Finn, features many of sci-fi/fantasy’s best authors: Finn, Jody Lynn Nye, Louis Antonelli, Mark Wandrey, Richard Paolinelli and the legendary John C. Wright and his wife, L. Jagi Lamplighter.

You will also be introduced to many up and coming authors that you will want to read for many years to come.

E-Book pre-order link: Planetary: Luna for $4.99

A print edition will be available for purchase, $18.95, soon.

The first book in the series, Planetary: Pluto, edited by Dawn  Witzke and Richard Paolinelli, is available for purchase here in both e-book and print form.

The next release will be Planetary: Uranus, edited by Chris Wilson, and should be out sometime next month. Following this release, the re-releases of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter (previously released by Superversive Press) will soon follow.  The series will conclude later this year with Sol, Neptune and Saturn.