Love Of Classics Inspires Raygun Chronicles Kickstarter Anthology Project

I’m very excited to share, at John DeNardo’s invitation, the genesis of Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For A New Age. My latest project as an anthologist (provided our Kickstarter succeeds), it’s an anthology of new and reprint space opera stories, contemporary but with a classic bent. For many SFF fans, space opera is part of what made them fall in love with speculative fiction. Such was certainly the case for me. I grew up watching Star Trek reruns every night before dinner and then Star Wars hit theatres and I was in love with the possibilities of storytelling. While I shunned the cheesy Dr. Who, I loved Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and movies that followed like The Black Hole, the animated Hobbit, and so on.

Raygun Chronicles came out of a desire to find writers who were doing space opera in that classic style today. One key source was an ezine which had just gone out of business called Ray Gun Revival. Its publisher, Every Day Publishing, is run by friends of mine—Jordan Ellinger and Camille Gooderham-Campbell, and the three of us had discussed working together in the past but were awaiting the right opportunity.

When I launched my Kickstarter for Beyond The Sun, Jordan and I began talking about what else I might do and the idea that became Raygun Chronicles came into play. As professional writers, Jordan and I both look for opportunities to provide venues for writers, myself as an anthologist and Jordan as a small press publisher. The challenge, always, is to fund them and pay pro-rates. By combining the best reprints from Ray Gun Revival with new stories by top contemporary authors, we saw a way for Every Day Publishing to keep publishing this kind of fun fiction and help authors reach a larger audience at the same time.

I recruited friends to headline, contacting Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her husband Dean Wesley Smith, Robin Wayne Bailey, Brenda Cooper, A.C. Crispin and Mike Renick. Later, Allen Steele, Seanan McGuire and Sarah A. Hoyt joined. Add Keanan Brand, who had stories in Ray Gun Revival, and Peter J. Wacks to write originals and we had a good core of contemporary new stories to join the mix.

I spent two weeks pouring through old issues of Ray Gun Revival, choosing the stories based on personal taste, ability to stand alone (no serials), frequency of the authors appearances, gender and other factors. I wanted a good mix of male and female authors. What we came up with I think will be a real blast for fans of old fashioned space opera. Stories from Brenda Cooper and Peter Wacks have already come in and, if they are any indication of what to expect from the new, we really are going to have something special.

Paying all writers, myself, and a pro artist at pro-rates and covering rewards, shipping and expenses, we decided on a budget of $8000. So we prepped our Kickstarter and launched it two weeks ago.

We’ve raised $1600 as of this writing, which puts us a little behind, but still, the enthusiasm is encouraging. From signed copies to t-shirts, ebooks, bookmarks, pro-critiques, and a trip to OryCon for the book launch, we have some awesome rewards to offer.  We’re hoping to add a few more if we get to add stretch goals, including a chance for every backer to be in a drawing, regardless of level, for a second OryCon trip.

For me, it’s a chance to edit the type of stories I love to read and share them with new generations and fans. It’s also an opportunity to work with some great writers as editor and to enable up and coming writers to appear alongside respected favorites while getting paid well to do what they love. For the writers it’s a chance to write something in a mode that isn’t oft revisited these days, and to appear alongside heroes and legends in our headliners. For Every Day Publishing, it’s a chance to release an anthology of higher pro-level quality. And for you it’s a chance to support people’s creative dreams and pre-order a great product in doing so.

There have been a number of successful anthologies created this way from Alex Shvartsman’s Unidentified Funny Objects, a humor collection, to Ellen Datlow’s Fearful Symmetries, Fireside Magazine, John Klima’s Glitter & Madness anthologyand my own colonial science fiction project, Beyond The Sun, which arrives from Fairwood in July.

Crowdfunding is a great resource in this new age of publishing, and I hope you’ll help make it possible. Thanks for your time.

Again, here’s the link to our Kickstarter. I’m posting interviews with contributors about their stories daily and much more!

2 thoughts on “Love Of Classics Inspires Raygun Chronicles Kickstarter Anthology Project”

  1. Let’s be honest, here – the RAYGUN CHRONICLES idea is gobsmackingly awesome! You get some of the best stories from our seven seasons of Space Opera, you get new works by friends of the magazine, and you get works from some of the biggest name in the genre! This. Is. Shiny.

    When Bryan approached me about doing the anthology, my first thought was it was a very cool idea that could spur greater interest in Space Opera. My second was wistful remorse – the timing couldn’t be worse for the founding editors (aka Overlords) of Ray Gun Revival magazine (RGR). RGR had just gone on hiatus due to one life-threatening illness and substantial increase in work responsibilities for the other two. We simply weren’t in a position to take a more active role in the project. The Overlords cheerfully and fully support the project from afar, but that’s about the best we can at this moment in time, and that kind of sucks. It really is a cool idea. Bryan and the EDF publishers graciously pinged me about ideas for the anthology in the early brainstorming, but the actual execution is all his baby.

    One thing while I’m thinking about it – anybody who’s read RGR knows I’m something of a cover art snob, and I was prepared to dig in my heels to make sure they got the right guy for this cover. The portfolio I saw was heavy on Fantasy cover art and I initially had my doubts. But that quickly became a completely moot point. Paul Pedersen is SO the right guy. They showed me his early ideas for RAYGUN CHRONICLES and I was astonished and pleased. Based on his cover for RAYGUN CHRONICLES, I foresee a lucrative new future working on SF covers if he so desires.

    I don’t know about y’all, but I’m putting my money on this project. I’ve pledged $50 (at which level includes a limited release t-shirt). And to sweeten the deal, Bryan has said he’ll reveal the limited edition t-shirt design when $2000 of pledges have come in. Let’s get on the stick, people! Pledge early! Pledge often!

    As an added bonus, if the project is fully and successfully funded, the Overlords have agreed to spare your puny planet. (This is a limited offer – pray we don’t alter this offer further… Mwahahaha!)

    Kind regards,

    Johne Cook
    Overlord-in-hiatus
    Ray Gun Revival magazine

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