OLSEN: Adaptive Reasoning



Pluto, the Roman god of death and wealth, drove the theme for the Pluto Planetary Anthology. It gave me a great opportunity to merge interesting themes into a new red spiritual smoke on black background with copy spacestory. My story, Adaptive Reasoning, let me explore how to anticipate and welcome death without fear, as well as how to come to terms with not being fully human or alien. I also integrated ideas on how thought patterns can block understanding. Just as an up-front point, I’m not going to spoil anything in the story here, so don’t worry if you haven’t read it yet.

About half my stories seem to be written for a specific market or anthology. Some have been steampunk themes, others science fiction in a shared universe, and one anthology wanted stories with chickens. For me, having some constraining rules for a story helps me to put together an idea and outline faster. I read about a study once where people who were given barely enough tools to complete a job succeeded faster than people who had extra tools because the second group spent time trying to figure out how to use all the tools. Telling me to write 5,000-10,000 words within the limits of a particular Planetary Anthology is easier for me than starting from scratch with no idea at all where the story will go.

Adaptive Reasoning is science fiction, which ties into my engineering background. I’ve been a software engineer since shortly after dirt was invented, so technical details are my forte. One of the interesting things with my story is that it is set chronologically before the name Pluto was assigned. This is the sort of thing you discover when you do technical research for a story. I had to work out what to do about that to properly restrict usage of the planet’s name until it was named.

1193_pluto_natural_color_20150714_detailYes, I still think of Pluto as a planet, as is proper. There’s a nice thing about standards and naming conventions. There are often enough to choose from that you can pick your favorite standard. Science is never settled because of how science works, and that’s where it’s fun to play with ideas by mixing what could be real with a touch of pure imagination like aliens or faster than light travel.

I enjoy working with hard science in stories. There are a lot of cases where a story has to bend the rules of reality, whether for plot points, or to make certain impossible things possible. For instance, I make use of how tech equipment decays over time in Adaptive Reasoning, yet in another story called Learning to Run with Scissors in an unrelated science fiction anthology, I’ve set up equipment that runs properly after being turned off for a million years. That survivability is pretty unlikely, but people can forgive such things in the name of a good story if you give them a reason to believe. It’s all about entertainment.

If you know much about stories, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve talked about scene, setting, science, and even theme, but I haven’t really mentioned characters. Without characters encountering and solving problems, you don’t have a real story. Rest assured that problems occur and emergencies loom in Adaptive Reasoning. I’m a fan of action-adventure pulp stories. I toned down the adventure this time and ramped up the emotional tension instead since I wanted more of a thinking story with a more sedate but satisfying ending that met the themes I’d been given. You be the judge, of course.



John edits and writes speculative fiction across multiple genres, and loves stories about ordinary people stepping up to do extraordinary things. He hopes to entertain and inspire others with his award-winning stories as he passes his passion on to the next generation of avid readers.

He loves to create and fix things, whether editing or writing novels or short stories or working in his secret lair equipped with dangerous power tools. In all cases, he applies engineering principles and processes to the task at hand, often in unpredictable ways.

He lives in Utah with his lovely wife and a variable number of mostly grown children and a constantly changing subset of extended family.

Check out his ramblings on his blog at https://johnmolsen.blogspot.com/ or visit his Amazon Author page here to see his recent publications including his Riland Throne fantasy trilogy: https://amazon.com/author/johnmolsen/


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

LEHMAN: Lunacy


Welcome to a special edition of “the Scuttlebutt”

My normal Blog “the Scuttlebutt” is published by a different outfit, but I was kindly invited to submit a post to the folks from Tuscany Bay Books because I have a story in Luna… So, pull up a chair, the bar is behind you, grab something, and let’s talk.

An online friend of mine reached out to me about a year and a half ago, or maybe it was two and a half, I would have to look it up, and frankly, I’m too lazy to do so right now.

Declan said that he was asked to be the editor for one of the planetary anthologies, specifically the one on the moon, and would like me to submit something.  Now since the series I’ve been writing is Urban (or more accurately Rural) Fantasy, I expect that he figured I would do a John Fisher story.

Well, I hate to be predictable, and at the time I had recently seen some things about NASA’s thoughts on going back to the moon as a jumping-off point for the rest of the system… So, I decided to do a straight-up Sci-Fi story instead.



One of the writers I most admire is Robert Heinlein, and one of the many reasons I admire him is his ability to let you run with your assumptions, and then challenge them.  So, I wanted to do this, in the story.  How effective I was is left to the reader to determine.

I thought when I was writing it, that I was writing a stand-alone… However, upon completion, I realized that I had instead written the background story for a space opera series I had been thinking about for most of a decade.  I’m currently working on the first one of that series, and no, I have no idea when it’s going to be done, or published… My 9-5 job has taken a massive chunk of my life lately, and with the world events, by the time I get home, I’m afraid I’m too wiped to write.

Anyway, I had never written a short story at the time I put this one out, and I warned Declan that while I would give it a shot, I wasn’t sure how it would work… I’m used to having 100,000 words to cover a story, not 2,000-10,000.  Well, I sat down to write Vulcan III while we were away to Ocean Shores for a long weekend and finished it over two days.  Everything just jelled.  Shorts are still not my first love, but they no longer hold the trepidation that I originally had for them, and I’ll probably do more if invited.  When I wrote it, I also had no idea that we would be seeing anything like the current societal isolation thing we’re currently seeing.  I don’t think this changes the story at all, but it does further underline the need for social contact discussed in the story.

Hope you enjoy it, stay safe, stay sane.

Yours in service.


William’s “The Scuttlebutt” blog posts can be found here: The Scuttlebutt. At 17 he joined the US Navy as a Submarine Sonar Technician, serving in that capacity on various Fast Attack and Ballistic missile subs for the next 20 years, with a couple of shore duty breaks. he retired as the Work Programs Director for the Naval Regional Brig at Bangor Submarine Base, and spent some overlapping time as a Reserve Police Officer for the City of Bremerton WA, a job he continued until the ankles gave out, and running was no longer an option. On weekends, he dresses up in 70 pounds of armor to bash people with sticks, as a member of a Medieval Recreation group. You can find more of William’s works on his Amazon Author page.

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

3D_COVERS copy

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.

PYLES: The Journey To Barsoom



I’m thrilled that my short story “The Three Billion Year Love” was accepted into the Tuscany Bay Books Planetary Anthology Mars. I wrote an earlier version of the story on my blog shortly after the death of Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher (the protagonist’s wife is named after her). This was at a point in my life that, for a variety of reasons, I was wanting to be able to retreat from humanity.

I wrote “Billion,” in part, as wish fulfillment, since the character Juan Villanueva, ends up living on the planet Mars totally alone (or so he thinks) three billion years in the past. Of course, like a lot of my stories, as various anthologies posted open submissions, I thought this one would be a terrific addition to someone’s collection. The publishers I presented it to, up until Tuscany Bay, disagreed.

I was a little surprised, in fact, when Richard Paolinelli emailed me, saying it had been accepted. This happened only a few days after I sent it in, and it was a real shot in the arm. I’m also excited, because of the two stories (so far) that have been accepted into the Planetary Anthology (the other tale will be published in Sol), this one will be featured in the second edition of Mars, and, to the best of my understanding, is only one of two short stories that has been added to that edition.

Indian_Spacecraft_Snaps_Spectacular_Portrait-c244b1e758aba6b8ee527570b89c8416Ever since I first heard of Superversive Press,” I’ve wanted to have at least one of my missives published by them, so this is something of a milestone for me. I know that the planet Mars is probably one of the most popular destinations in the history of science fiction, so writing a truly unique tale about the Red Planet is difficult. I hope that my digging into the distant past of Mars, and framing it against the grief of a widowed genius and innovator captures the hearts and imaginations of the readers.

My thanks to Richard, and to the anthology editor Lucca DeJardins, for kindly accepting my short story “The Three Billion Year Love.” The book comes out August 18, 2020, and is available for pre-order at Amazon now.



James is a published Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Technical Writer. He currently has several short stories published in anthologies and is working on his first full-length novel. You can find out more about him on his blog: Powered By Robots


Pre-order your copies of Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series: Mars & Sol right here: Mars & Sol and check out the rest of the 11-book series here: Planetary Anthology Series.


HALLQUIST: Editing Mercury

David Hallquist takes over the blog today. David was the editor for Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series: Mercury.  In addition to editing the anthology, he also wrote a story for it as well as having stories included in Venus, Mars and Sol. He will share his experience as an editor and tell us a little bit about the stories within. 


Planetary Fiction Anthology was a lot of fun to work on and the whole thing started as an idea bounced around by an online community of writers, both amateur and professional. What was the next big thing to work on? I thought that a massive anthology, with one book in each dedicated to a planet in the solar system might be big enough. We’d need a separate editor for each one of course.

PAS_TWITTER_PROMOThe idea had a lot of enthusiastic support, much of it along the lines of “You go do that, then.”

Thus, I found out I’d just volunteered myself to edit the first book in the series: Mercury.

At first I was thinking: how am I going to get stories in for Mercury? This little planet seems to get overlooked in science fiction, with Mars getting the bulk of sci-fi attention and even the asteroids or other dwarf planets and moons seeming to get more focus. More, what would I write to contribute?

One thing that helped was broadening the concept from just science fiction into fantasy as well. Had I not done that then we all would have missed out on some of the truly fantastic and strange tales in the anthology series. On top of that, each planet had a mythic significance associated to it. Thus, Mercury would also be about tricksters and messengers, Venus about love and Mars about war, etc. Then, finally there are all the strange phenomena about each planet to write about, and bizarre little Mercury is as strange a world as any with its unusual composition and odd orbit.

Still, I was worried. What would anyone have to say about little Mercury? Would that tiny cinder near the sun be forgotten and ignored after all? Then, when the tales rolled in I was overjoyed. Planetary Fiction: Mercury contains tales of wonder strangeness of nearly every sort.

Award-winning author John C. Wright gives us an eerie time-traveling epic on Mercury Mercurywith In the Palace of Promised Immortality. Ben Wheeler treats us to a wild motorcycle race across the planet in Schubert to Rachmaninoff. We get a chilling tale of underground Mercury in Joshua Young’s The Haunted Mines of Mercury. J.D. Beckwith gives us the first faster than light ship near Mercury in Quicksilver.

In Last Call Lou Antonelli gives us a view of a Mercury of the far future, near the end of its life as a mining planet, and about to be forgotten. Declan Finn treats us to the schemes of criminal elements under the domes of Mercury in Deceptive Appearances. A.M. Freeman shows us another Mercury of the far future in The Star of Mercury. In Curcurbita Mercurias has a murder mystery on the innermost planet.

Still, only some of the tales took place on the planet itself. Had we not invited tales of the fantastic, then we would not have had tales like L. Jagi Lamplighter’s The Element of Transmutation where we meet the mythical Mercury himself, or Cory McCleery’s mind-bending trip of the fantastic in Tower of the Luminous Sages. Other tales deal with the concept of travel itself, such as Bokerah Brumley’s Ancestor’s Answer where time travel is used to resolve family honor, or Misha Burnett’s mDNA where a genetic messenger travels the wasteland to save the human race.

What about my story? I set out to craft a tale that would fit the concept of messengers and travel, while set on the planet itself. Mercury is a planet with a lot of mysteries: a strange orbit, a strange composition, and odd magnetic field readings. I love mysteries. So, I put together all of the mysteries along with questions on the Fermi Paradox when crafting The Wanderer. Explorers arrive on Mercury and find a strange structure as old as the solar system deep underground that could be the key for understanding what happened back in the beginning of the solar system and answering questions of life between the stars.

I’ve sent in submissions to the other books Planetary Anthology as ideas came to me. In The Morning and Evening Star, a man gifts the planet Venus to his true love, only to have his life fall apart in a disaster that threatens their marriage. In Rusted Fortress, explorers on Mars discover that the solar system was one the site of a terrible battle at its very beginning. Finally, in the upcoming Sundown and Out (Planetary Series: Sol) , a private detective must solve his biggest case yet: who murdered the Sun?

SuperversiveFinally, the whole Planetary Fiction project would never have been possible without the many creative gems from the contributing authors, and the tireless patience of Jason Rennie, our “Interplanetary Editor” (at Superversive Press) keeping the whole thing on the rails. I was overjoyed when I heard that Tuscany Bay Books was going to imprint the whole series. Thanks again to Richard Paolinelli for making this treasure chest of wonders available to everyone.



David Hallquist graduated from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland in 2004, where he learned much of business but little of smithing. He has had a long history of customer service positions including banking, call center service and sales, all of which have served as a fascinating study of the human species. He lives in Rockville, Maryland, and is still waiting for the flying cars. A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy turned author with several published short stories, has turned his pen and keyboard to tales of the fantastic.


Get your copy of Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series: Mercury right here: Mercury and check out the rest of the 11-book series here: Planetary Anthology Series.