Retro SF instantly became cool when Cirsova burst onto the scene in March with issue #1. Well, maybe not instantly. I, for one, didn’t pick it up until a couple weeks ago, advance copy notwithstanding. And note everyone has quite picked up on Cirsova yet. I wasn’t about to make the same mistake with issue #2 as with issue #1 and let Cirsova go lamestream before I read it.
Given that Alexander is publishing the sort of stuff you don’t often see in the major mags, I worried he would quickly run out of material. If that’s going to be a problem, it isn’t yet. (And if it is, get writing now, would-be pulp authors.) Cirsova issue #2 is even better than issue #1 and I’m in for the long haul.
(Cirsova issue #2 also features a classified ad for this, Every Day Should Be Tuesday’s Throwback SF Thursday. Given that people reading Cirsova already know how awesome it is, I had better get cracking on some new material. Look for posts comparing and contrasting Burroughs’ Venus series and GRRM’s Old Venus anthology and probably posts on Hiero’s Journey and Manley Wade Wellman’s Silver John stories in the near future.)
((Images of the Goddess is longer than Hill of Stars, so issue #2 has fewer stories than issue #1.))
The Sealed City by Adrian Cole. The Sealed City is set in the world on an existing trilogy, but I haven’t read it and the story stands well on its own. Man has spread across the stars, but after a civil war have turned inward. Villagers on Earth call in a witchfinder in response to strange happenings in the desert. Despite the space opera backdrop, its straight weird fiction. (The Sealed City and Images of the Goddess, much like The Gift of the Ob-Men and A Hill of Stars did in issue #1, a solid, straight-up pulp bookends.)
Hoskin’s War by Brian K. Lowe. Set in American during the Revolution, things get weird when Iroquois attack and something unexplainable attacks with them. Lowe does some cool things with myths from a couple different sources. I liked this one quite a bit more than Lowe’s story in issue #1.
Squire Errant by Karl Gallagher. A straight-up monster killing story (well, with one twist), told from the perspective of, you guessed it, a knight’s squire. This story wouldn’t be out of place in Miles Cameron’s wonderful Traitor Son Cycle. It’s fun and well done, but it is a little bit too straight-up for my tastes though. (Gallagher is the author of Torchship, which I’ve had for a while now and really need to get to.)
The Water Walks Tonight by S.H. Mansouri. A small group of Vikings are sent to Hel’s domain as an offering to atone for their sins. It goes horror movie from there with draugr from Norse myth.
Shark Fighter by Michael Tierney. A man comes to floating in the sea, being stalked by tiger sharks. This was my least favorite of the stories, and not entirely unrelatedly the one with the smallest speculative element.
My Name is John Carter (Part 2) by James Hutchings. James Hutchings’ retelling of John Carter in epic poem form continues. Carter lands on mars, is captured by Tharks, and first sees Dejah Thoris.
Images of the Goddess by Schuyler Hernstrom. Superstitious nomads, talking apes, cultists, sassy AIs, insect-men from the fourth of five moons, giant horny horned men, slavers, radiation sickness zombies, gladiators, magic glass eyeballs, and confectioners (oh my). The Gift of the Ob-Men, by Schuyler Hernstrom, is my favorite story from issue #1, and Images of the Goddess, by Schuyler Hernstom, is my favorite story from issue #2 (and even better, it’s a novella). I will definitely be picking up Hernstrom’s self-published collection of short fiction Thune’s Vision (and talking about it here).
Rescuing Women by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I started this series, in part, to highlight hugely influential female pulp authors who were getting ignored, as in this list of 100 “must read” books by female authors that inexplicably omitted C.L. Moore, Francis Stevens, Andre Norton, or Leigh Brackett (to her credit, in Ann Leckie’s post on her 10 favorite science fiction books, 7 of her 10 selections are Vintage SF, and 4 of those are by women). Rusch noticed the same thing, and censures her tranche of female authors and those who have succeeded them for ignoring their predecessors. Forcefully. Very forcefully. But, hey, it’s a little crazy to pretend that no one came before when there was pulp great Jirel of Joiry, a female hero written by a female author who was introduced in an issue illustrated by a female artist (cover illustration above). Rusch is editing an anthology, Women of Futures Past: Classic Stories, out September 6 and featuring Moore, Brackett, and Norton among many others that Rusch gets a good plug in for and that I plan to review here.