Screenwriter, playwright, actor, and author of Martuk…the Holy and The Martuk Series, Jonathan Winn was born in Seattle, WA. He currently lives in the US. Martuk…the Holy: Proseuche is his second full-length novel and can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

A Monster Hiding in Plain Sight

by Jonathan Winn

I don’t live in a world where sparkly vampires sigh like lovelorn teenagers, their emotional angst all but defanging them.

I don’t live in a world where zombies with endless appetites lurch and stumble, their ends often coming with a surprising thwack of a shovel.

No, where I live is truly monstrous. It’s dark and forbidding. A place where innocent lives have grisly ends and ghosts still sob. The world I live in is one of betrayal and mistrust. Where the line separating enemy from friend is cloudy and constantly shifting. A land where those who walk and talk like you and me share nothing of our humanity. The world of my immortal Martuk (as in “two” with a hard “k” at the end…Martuk) is one where monsters hide in plain sight, and the blood on their hands is steeped in consequence and regret.
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Eleven failed expeditions have ventured into Area X. We embed with the twelfth – a psychologist, a surveyor, a linguist, an anthropologist, and a protagonist – as they cross Area X’s mysterious border, hoping to discover their precursors’ fates.

Annihilation, first in a trilogy to be drip-fed throughout 2014, is part dark fantasy horror, part sci-fi adventure into verdant wilderness, and part bittersweet fabulism. The prose is lucid, gripping, and establishes a not altogether disagreeable sense of “breathless and unexplainable dread,” in H.P. Lovecraft’s words.

Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness (1936) and William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland (1908) are significant precedents in their mix of trepidation, adventure, and rapture. Annihilation can also boast a crawler and a pit, a bit like Abraham Merritt’s “The People of the Pit” (1918).
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Craig Cormick in an Australian science communicator and author. He was born in Wollongong in 1961, and is known for his creative writing and social research into public attitudes towards new technologies. He has lived mainly in Canberra, but has also in Iceland (1980–81) and Finland (1984–85). He has published 15 books of fiction and non-fiction, and numerous articles in refereed journals. He has been active in the Canberra writing community, teaching and editing, was Chair of the ACT Writers Centre from 2003 to 2008 and in 2006 was Writer in Residence at the University of Science in Penang, Malaysia.

Five Lessons on The Pitfalls of Writing A Sequel

by Craig Cormick

Everyone loves a sequel, right?

Well, not necessarily. They are great for those who enjoyed a book and want to continue the enjoyment and spend more time with those characters and in that land, or fighting those aliens or demons or whatever. But they can be the devil to write (not a paranormal reference).

I’ve been trying to find a good metaphor to best explain the particular problems that writing the second book in a series presents for an author? It’s not quite like having a second child. It’s not quite like visiting an exotic city for the second time. It’s not even quite like having sex for the second time with the same partner (not a paranormal romance reference).

But in a way it’s a little bit like all of these, as there is a certain undeniable special magic that goes with the first that is lacking in the second.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Max Gladstone! – Sarah Chorn


Max Gladstonehas taught in southern Anhui, wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia. Max graduated from Yale University, where he studied Chinese. You can find out more about him, and his books on his website.

Life’s Objectivity

by Max Gladstone

Life’s not as objective as we imagine.

An airplane transfer is a pleasant brisk walk—or an infuriating ordeal if you have a bad knee or a degenerated disc. An easy climb may be impossible for someone without legs, or not, if they have the right prosthetic. A ten pound book bag is a trivial burden for some and back-wrenching for others. A dyslexic person and a speed reader occupy different spaces of possibility. Depending on one’s position in the world, a hundred dollars may be a nice dinner for two, a life-changing amount of money, or an insignificant fraction of a dividend payment. Some people respond to deadlines with grim determination and gritted teeth. Others lie sleepless for a month before an important meeting, and comparison-shop earplugs and blackout curtains.
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Michaele Jordan is the author of the period occult thriller Mirror Maze and her stories have appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Buzzy Mag, The Crimson Pact, Volumes 4 and 5 and Fantasy and Science Fiction. You can visit her website at MichaeleJordan.com while waiting for the upcoming steampunk adventure Jocasta and the Indians.

A La Anime

by Michaele Jordan

I first started watching animé in July of 2009, having been invited to sit on an animé panel at the Montreal WorldCon. Naturally, I wanted to sound like I knew what I was talking about, so I did a lot of homework into the Japanese canon, and was immediately hooked..

It was years before I came up for air. But eventually I did begin to sense a sameness. Certain tropes became excessively familiar. I still loved animé, but I grew jaded, and even sought out stories that did not feature adorable high school students fighting demons. Can you guess what I found? French animé!
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Brian Herbert has written numerous novels, including Man of Two Worlds, with Frank Herbert, The Race for God, and Sudanna, Sudanna. In 2003, he published Dreamer of Dune, a Hugo Award-nominated biography of his father. Follow him at his website and on Twitter as @DuneAuthor.

The Green Religion

by Brian Herbert
Copyright ©2014 by DreamStar, Inc.

Most progressives I’ve met are exceedingly good people. They care about the welfare of their fellow citizens, want to be kind to animals, to disadvantaged people, and good to the environment. When speaking of ecology, they mention Rachel Carson’s seminal work, Silent Spring, and emphasize sustainability, resource management, a low carbon footprint, bio-diversity, and the necessity of understanding that the resources of planet Earth are finite, and that we’re using them up too fast.

Now, what if such people—nice folks, essentially—managed to take over two continents with street protests and their own military action, and after toppling the governments and the evil corporations that propped them up, they formed a radical, far-left government, under which they imposed strict, totalitarian rules to enforce their wishes?
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A.C. Wise is the author of numerous short stories appearing in print and online in publications such as Clarkesworld, Apex, Lightspeed, and the Best Horror of the Year Vol. 4. In addition to her fiction, she co-edits Unlikely Story, an online magazine publishing three issues of fiction per year with various unlikely themes. Follow her on twitter as @ac_wise.

SF Signal welcomes back A.C. Wise and her continuing series of essays on Women To Read!

Women to Read: Where to Start – July 2014

by A.C. Wise

Welcome to another installment of Women to Read: Where to Start. I missed the anniversary mark for these posts last month, so happy anniversary plus one month to celebrating fiction by women! This time around I’m recommending circuses, time travel, living toys, and genetic modification against the backdrop of human-extraterrestrial relations.
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Malcolm Cross is the author of Orbital Decay which is available now as part of the Journal of the Plague Year post-apocalypse omnibus from Abaddon Books. He lives in London and enjoys the personal space and privacy that the city is known for. When not misdirecting tourists to nonexistent landmarks, Malcolm is likely to be writing science fiction and fantasy. A member of the furry fandom, he won the 2012 Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction. Malcolm’s blood-type is O-positive, and he has a cough. Not long, now…

Kerbal Space Program and Orbital Mechanics
How Playing A Video Game Helped Me Learn And Write About The Wonders Of Life Without Gravity

by Malcolm Cross

This is easy, I think, as I begin to prepare to attach the latest addition to my long-running (and suffering) space station in my current game of Kerbal Space Program. All I need to do is eject the engines, then separate the command module from the fuel pod, then open the command module’s shielded docking port so I can redock on the fuel storage pod’s rear docking port (exposed now that I’ve gotten rid of the engines) and finally guide the pod to my station’s upper docking port.

In shorter, layman’s terms, I’m taking the nose of my rocket — where the little green alien astronauts sit — and sticking it on the back end, so I can plug it into my space station facing the right way around.
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10 Great Comics You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

by Jacques Nyemb

Let’s face it, when it comes to comic books it has been ingrained in us to believe that quality only comes from big publishing companies. With their massive advertising budgets and box office hits, we rarely notice the lovely gems just beyond our periphery. I myself publish all-ages independent comics (which you can learn more about on our site, or on our Kickstarter page), so this topic is near and dear to my heart. This means that today is your lucky day: I’m going to share with you some comics you might not even know exist, and hopefully get you to look at something you may not be aware of!
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D. B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, will be released in hardcover on July 8. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera. You can follow D.B. Jackson via his website, Facebook, on Twitter (as @DBJacksonAuthor), and GoodReads.

The History Behind My Historical Fiction

by D. B. Jackson

Boston, July 1769: The city of Boston, Massachusetts — which is really little more than a town by modern standards (a population of approximately 15,000) — is in the midst of a hot and humid summer, not unlike those that still settle over Southern New England every July and August. There is no air conditioning, of course; a fan is something to be held in hand and waved to and fro. Food cannot be refrigerated, much less frozen. Social mores with regard to fashion dictate that despite the heat, men should wear full-length breeches and long-sleeve shirts, often with waistcoats or jackets. Women are to wear full-length dresses complete with stomachers and petticoats. Oh, and there is no internal plumbing, so no showers.

This is merely the most superficial way of conveying a basic truth: Boston in the pre-Revolutionary Era, the setting for the books of my Thieftaker Chronicles, bore little resemblance to the technology-laden world in which we live today. This is hardly an earth-shattering observation. But it becomes more significant when one considers that in creating my characters for the Thieftaker books such superficial differences were the least of my concerns. The third Thieftaker novel, A Plunder of Souls is to be released on July 8. (It follows the publication in 2012 of Thieftaker, and in 2013 of Thieves’ Quarry.) The book is set during that sweltering summer I mention above, but my lead character, Ethan Kaille, and those characters with whom he interacts, take in stride the discomforts of heat and humid air. In that respect the summer of 1769 is little different from every other summer they have known.

More to the point, their thoughts are consumed with two other, far more momentous circumstances: Boston is under military occupation. And cases of smallpox have been reported throughout the city.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Zachary Jernigan! – Sarah Chorn


Zachary Jernigan is a 34-year-old, typically shaven-headed writer and narrator from Northern Arizona. He’s lived in AZ since 1990, with relatively short stints in Utah, Oregon, Maine, and Chile. His first novel, No Return, is a science fiction/fantasy tale filled with sex, violence, looming middle-age angst, and muscular people in weird skintight costumes (including one capricious god). It came out from Night Shade Books in March of 2013 in hardcover and July of 2014 in paperback. The still-in-progress sequel, Shower of Stones, is forthcoming in 2015, also from Night Shade Books. His short fiction runs the gamut of sf and fantasy and has appeared in a variety of places, including Asimov’s Science Fiction, Crossed Genres, Escape Pod, as well as anthologies such as Manifesto UF and Daughters of Icarus . He’s been nominated for the Pushcart a couple times and shortlisted once for the Spectrum Award.
He recently released his first short story collection, The Bottom Of The Sea independently at the end of 2013. You can learn more about Zachary by visiting his website.

Narrow Margins: Why Defining Oneself as a Writer with Mental Illness is Difficult

by Zachary Jernigan

I’m really kind of a problematic sort. There are a lot of things that bother me. (I’ll give a pause here so that the folks who know me can roll their eyes and go, “Really, Zack? I never knew that!”) For all my interest in people and my enthusiasm for making friends, I’m functionally kind of a sociopath. Okay, not a sociopath, but often kind of a butt. I can get a bit ranty.

All that’s just my way of segueing into my actual opening, which is kind of negative (it uses the word hate, in fact!)…
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Susan Klaus was born in Sarasota, Florida. She has been published in several magazines including Cats, ELL, and SRQ. Klaus is the founder and president of the Authors Connection Club, and is also the host of a Web radio show called Authors Connection that went into syndication this year. Flight of the Golden Harpy is Klaus’s first novel. Follow Susan at her website, Twitter as @KlausSue and on Facebook.

Choosing Your Protagonist

by Susan Klaus

Okay, I’m a newbie here, newly published and new to blogging and posting, so I’m hoping you’ll cut me some slack. My first fantasy novel comes out this week, and my first thriller was released last Oct. and its sequel hits bookstores in August, three novels within ten months. As you see, I’ve been busy writing books and haven’t had time to dabble with Social Media but I’ll try to write a profound, inspiring blog that you’ll never forget. Therefore, let’s talk about Brad Pitt.
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Kevin Lucia recently served as a Submissions Reader for Cemetery Dance Magazine, and his podcast Horror 101 is featured monthly on Tales to Terrify. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. He is the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Book Four of The Hiram Grange Chronicles. His first short story collection, Things Slip Through was published November 2013. His nw novel is Devourer of Souls, an original tale of cosmic horror.

Hiding In The Cracks Between Things

by Kevin Lucia

My initial attempts at writing horror resulted in very obvious attempts to “scare” the reader. I had monsters – vampires, werewolves, demons – and I had blood and pumping viscera. There were incantations, tentacles, and “unspeakable horrors from beyond the grave.” Frequently, I had awful people doing awful things, and awful things happening to those awful people as a consequence.

Though some of those early efforts glimmered with potential, most of them were cliché, on the nose, and very obvious “horror stories.” Most of them were rejected, for which I’m very thankful, today. Luckily, I was new and clueless and convinced I was the second coming of [Insert Horror Writer's Name Here], so I kept plugging away.

Eventually my technique improved. I learned how to end stories. I learned how to cut, learned word economy. I started selling stories here and there to small press, semi-pro venues. Some folks found them entertaining, and hey: progress was progress.

But about the time I turned down invitations to both a vampire and zombie anthology, (thinking, “Geez, I don’t WANT to write those kinds of stories.”) I began turning my thoughts toward the kind of stories I DID want to write. I’d accepted the horror genre as my own, if only because my stories didn’t seem to fit anywhere else. Now I felt the need to stop writing stories for submissions calls, and start writing stories for me.
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J. Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, The Golden City came out from Penguin in 2013. The sequel, The Seat of Magic debuted July 1. Her website can be found at www.jkathleencheney.com.

Forgiving Anne McCaffrey

by J. Kathleen Cheney

Writers have an ingrained fear of being stuck in an elevator at a convention with the person who turns around and says, “On page 213 of Book 4, you contradicted a statement made on page 119 of Book 2. How do you explain that?”

I have to admit, I’ve got a bit of that reader in me. I’m constantly noting continuity errors in movies and TV shows. Don’t get me started on inconsistencies in The Big Bang Theory. And yes, I always noticed them in books. When I hit something that bothered me, I would go back to double check whether I’d simply misread something.

Now, I love the works of Anne McCaffrey. In high school, I voraciously read every word of hers I could find. But there were problems…
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Catherine Lundoff is a former archaeologist, former grad student and former bookstore owner turned professional computer geek and award-winning author and editor. She is a transplanted Brooklynite who now lives in Minneapolis with her wife and the two cats which own them. Silver Moon (Lethe Press, 2012) is her latest book and “Medium Méchanique” in Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam (2013) and “The Light Fantastic” in Luna Station Quarterly (2013) are her latest stories. Visit her online at her website www.catherinelundoff.com, facebook and Twitter as @CLundoff.

LGBT Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in the 1990s

by Catherine Lundoff

The 1990s saw a huge increase in positive portrayals of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters in all parts of the genre: literature, anime, manga, comics, and even some television and movie characters. Character-driven fantasy and science fiction became more popular, as did game-inspired fiction and fandom. The Internet fueled increased interest in and access to different kinds of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Cyberpunk-influenced science fiction with out queer characters, urban fantasies with LGBT characters and queer horror as well as television, movies and comics which celebrated queer subtext, all made LGBT characters and stories more visible to mainstream society.
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Betsy Dornbusch is the author of a dozen short stories, three novellas, and two novels. She also is an editor with the speculative fiction magazine Electric Spec and the longtime proprietress of her website, Sex Scenes at Starbucks.

Three things I Learned Writing Fantasy

by Betsy Dornbusch

Besides that it’s challenging, all-consuming, damned fun, and as addictive as those new churro ice cream sandwiches.

I’ve learned lots more than three things from writing fantasy, but I decided to tie this to Exile, The First Book of the Seven Eyes, my book that just came out in paperback. I wrote Exile eight years ago and these are the challenges that jumped out at me then. You’d think I’d have moved on by now. Except as I draft Enemy, the third book in the series, I’m finding these challenges have become more tenets I lean on. Problem is, they each have inner conflict. You know, to keep things interesting.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Mur Lafferty! – Sarah Chorn


Insightful, witty, and passionate, Mur Lafferty is a pioneer in podcasting and an exciting new voice in urban fantasy. After making her podcasting debut in 2004, she has become a respected contributor to podcasting and the speculative fiction genre. In January 2014, Mur graduated from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine with an MFA in popular fiction. In 2013, Mur won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her first professionally published novel, The Shambling Guide to New York City, debuted with Orbit Books in 2013. The sequel, Ghost Train to New Orleans was published in March 2014. Mur currently lives in Durham, NC with her family. She enjoys running, martial arts, board games, video games, and cooking. You can learn more about Mur by visiting her website.

Limitations for the Supernatural

by Mur Lafferty

Commonly, supernatural creatures are drawn as stronger, better, and with more opportunities than mere humans. Vampires can do anything from fly to shapechange to hypnotize to sparkle, depending on the story involved. Zombies kill/infect with just a scratch, and their strength lies in numbers. And being really gross. Even in the urban fantasy stories that place these monsters in our contemporary lives, these creatures manage to be a lot better settled within life than humans.

Ever notice how all vampires of a certain age (like 100+ years) are wealthy and sophisticated? No one is like your skeevy Uncle Larry who’s always coming around for a loan. I suppose Uncle Larry would be an easy target for someone like Buffy, but I do wonder why there aren’t more vampires who are very good at getting by, but very bad at investing.
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[Eidtor's Note: Angry Robot is celebrating their 5th birthday this week! Here's Angry Robot horror author Kaaron Warren wishing them a happy birthday in her unique way...]

The 5 Most Horrendous Real People You May Not Have Heard Of

by Kaaron Warren

Stevie Searle from Slights, serial killer, bad neighbour, worse friend, is a figment of my imagination. But even my twisted imagination can’t match reality.

In honour of Angry Robot’s fifth birthday, here are five of the most horrendous real people you may not have heard of.
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M.R. Carey is a pen name for an established British writer of prose fiction and comic books. He has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs on X-Men and Fantastic Four, Marvel’s flagship superhero titles. His creator-owned books regularly appear in the New York Times graphic fiction bestseller list. He also has several previous novels and one Hollywood movie screenplay to his credit. His latest novel, The Girl with all the Gifts, is out now.

The Appliance of Science

by M.R. Carey

I always really sucked at science at school. I was okay with the theory part, but anything resembling an experiment was sure to fall apart in my hands. My test tubes broke, my air tracks didn’t blow and my dead frog had no internal organs. None. Just a single undifferentiated squishy bit, which I drew accurately and was then handed an after-school detention for my pains.

I feel bad about that frog now. I don’t see why he should have died in the cause of my deficient education. I don’t see why any frog should. My only hope, really, is that he wasn’t a frog at all but a spy from a race of shape-shifting aliens who can mimic the outer appearance of anything but can’t disguise their undifferentiated squishy interiors, so different from the neat, purposeful organs we Terran life forms enjoy.
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ABOUT ZAHATAR: The term “Zahatar” refers to a timeless spice blend from the Middle East. The band Zahatar brings modern spice to timeless tunes. Zahatar arranges all of its own music, pulling themes from the Celtic tradition, Chinese and Spanish folk melodies, bluegrass, pop/rock, film soundtracks, ragtime, the Classical era, and more. Zahatar is currently comprised of Christopher Grano on violin/fiddle, Sarah Hoskins on cello/djembe, Scott Stewart on viola, ‘Cille Lutsch on flute/pennywhistle, Emily Smith on pedal and Celtic harps, and Shilo Stroman on percussion. Zahatar is currently crowd funding an acoustic album based on the lyrics from Charles de Lint’s The Little Country. Follow them on their website, Facebook, and on Twitter as @zahatar.

The Mysterious Nature of Music in Fantasy Fiction

by Christopher Grano

Some might say that my love of music and my love of fantasy fiction are merely complementary, but for me, they are a singular passion. Stories told through music speak to all of us. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stated that music is the universal human language, while more than a hundred years later, Marilyn Manson would say that music is the strongest form of magic.

Music is a cornerstone of fantasy. The first songs told stories to explain the creation of the world, long before history benefitted from the written word, before the word “civilization” even existed. The human voice was the world’s first musical instrument; it required no tools to build. Music has always been a tradition of humankind, right along with storytelling.
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