PAOLINELLI: A Series Within The Series

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.

 

My first two posts in this series by authors and editors of Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series have dealt with how I went from just being one of the authors in it to publishing it and my experiences in editing Pluto. So today I’d like to talk about my stories in the series. I’ll touch on the six that were accepted and the two that were subbed and await the editors’ decision.

Aside from the story that appears in Pluto, there is an overall theme to them. A.M. Freeman, who looks to be on track along with Bokerah Brumley to get a story in all 11 books, also has a theme for her 11 stories.

red spiritual smoke on black background with copy spaceIn the case of Pluto, my story was Yes, Neil D. Tyson, Pluto is a planet. It is set around a vacationing family visiting Disneyland in the late 1950s. And, if you are wondering how that can fit into the definition of science fiction then all I can say is wait until you get to the end of the story. You won’t be disappointed.

As for why I included it, I felt a collection that took on the subject of death should have a light-hearted ending. Something, well if you will indulge me, goofy, shall we say?

As for the rest of my stories in the series, the theme is: The Last Humans. Be it the last human in space, on Earth or even in the entire universe itself. Each story, aside from Pluto, casts one human being in an incredible situation.

You might think that would be all doom and gloom in the finest dystopian fashion. But recall, Superversive Press was not just a publishing house. It was the flagship for a movement. Superversive storytelling does not buy into the subversive, dystopian, everything is horrible mindset that has infected SF/F these days.

So yes, my characters are in the soup and things don’t look so good for them when we encounter them. But at the end of the day, there is still hope. For them and for us.

So let’s look at my last humans and see if I can pique your interest in them a little.

For Luna, I wrote Polar Shift. We are immersed into the story of one Samuel Peck from Peck’s point of view. And Sam is having a very bad day shortly after we meet him. Of course, everyone else on Earth is having an even worse day and Sam comes to the realization that he may just be the last surviving human in the universe.

As a rule, I tend to insert myself into the main character and ride along the adventure I have set out for them. Which is why, more often than not, the finished story seldom ends up the was the story was originally laid out.

In Polar Shift, I really put Sam through hell and, as one of Luna’s themes was madness, I went down the rabbit hole of insanity with Sam on this story. But it is safe to say we both emerged out the other side filled with a renewed sense of hope.

Next comes Uranus and The Last Human. This was a story I originally wrote as a screenplay for film school (yes, I dabbled in screenwriting for awhile and took a couple of actual film classes) a very long time ago.

You might read this story and think “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and perhaps it has some elements of it in there. But there aren’t any actual alien pods replacing humans to be found in my story. Rather, this story introduces us to a young scientist who returns from a vacation to find the world has changed. What remains to be seen is was the change for the better or for the worse? And she holds the power to undo it all. For Anne Fontana, the questions she must examine are: What does it mean to be human? And, which version of humanity is the right one?

This story was the first time I wrote a female main character. I’d never done it before. Oh, I’ve created several female characters with major roles in my stories right and left. But never as the focus of the story. It was something of a challenge, as I mentioned above, I tend to insert myself into the main character a lot, and I’m a guy, sooo….

At any rate, I think the story worked out nicely and I think you’ll agree too.

In July, Earth will be re-released and my story is Extinction Point. In this, a

descendant of Neil Armstrong is about to  become the first human to leave our solar system. On the way out, he will become the first human to step foot on the surface of Pluto.

This story was originally intended for Pluto had I not become Pluto’s editor and wanted to run the story above in it.

It is on Pluto that our star voyager runs into a slight detour that becomes a First Contact, a visit to an inhabited world not called Earth, a discovery of the reason why we’ve never been visited by another intelligent species, and a race against the clock to save Earth from a fate shared by countless other worlds.

In September, we will re-release Jupiter which holds my story, Icarus Falls. In this

we have another astronaut, on his final mission in space before a well-deserved retirement, finding himself on the wrong side of a disaster.

This one, from a cascading collision of debris from the destruction of an orbital space station has formed an impenetrable ring around the planet. Nothing can leave the surface and nothing can return to the surface from orbit.

It is easily the longest story in the collection but I needed every word of it to set the stage for the final act, when two people make impossible choices and both in the name of love.

In early November the last of my currently accepted stories, At Homeworld’s End,

will be published in Sol. This one is one of the shortest stories I’ve ever written. And like I did with Sam Peck in Luna, I went down the rabbit hole with the main character in this story. But unlike Sam, I didn’t go all the way here.

This is a story told from a first-person POV. And as you read it you begin to wonder why I have not named the person, nor given you any kind of description – not even if they are male of female – this was done on purpose.

Because I want each individual reader to put themselves into this character, as I did when writing this story. And possibly to fully understand why “the observer” made the decision, millions of years into our future, to stand on the surface of the Earth as it meets its ultimate fate to be consumed by our dying Sun. And to do so for no other reason, ultimately, because it was only right that one of Earth’s far-flung children had returned so that it would not die alone in the night.

So those are the six stories that are/will be in this 11-book series. I have two subs, one each for Neptune and Saturn, that are awaiting their fate with each editor. They are NOT automatically going to get in. They will have to earn their way in like all of the others that the editors will choose. I hope they do but will understand if they do not.

In their own way they each hold to the last human theme. The 13th Medallion, subbed for Neptune and a pre-Christmas Day release, sees an interesting take on the old adage: Be careful what you wish for. Phantom’s Lodge, sent in to Saturn and a Feb. 2, 2020 release, is set on Earth and has, shall we say, a more supernatural slant.

If either or both are eventually accepted, I’ll be back to discuss them in a little more detail. But even if the final count is only six, I am very glad I was able to add to this incredible series. I hope you enjoy reading all 180 stories as much as I have so far.

   – RICHARD PAOLINELLI

 

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

 

PAS_TWITTER_PROMO

FURLONG: From Luna to Uranus and Beyond

CAROLINE FURLONG TAKES OVER THE BLOG TODAY. CAROLINE HAS STORIES THAT HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED INTO PLANETARY ANTHOLOGY SERIES: LUNA AND PLANETARY ANTHOLOGY SERIES: URANUS. TODAY SHE WILL TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HER JOURNEY TO THE SERIES AND HER STORIES THAT APPEAR IN THIS SERIES. 

 

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!

– CAROLINE FURLONG

 

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.