Rewriting Presidential Longevity

39carterAs of March 21, 2019, Jimmy Carter (born October 1, 1924) is now the longest-lived US president. He eclipsed George H.W. Bush’s record of 94 years, 171 days (Bush died November 30 of last year, setting the mark). Bush had originally taken the title about a year before his death, from Gerald Ford, who had set it at 93 years, 165 days.

The Presidency is usually considered an older person’s job, but Carter has been retired from the Presidency for more than 38 years, since January 20, 1981. He holds the record of longest-retired President, having eclipsed Herbert Hoover’s record of 31 years. Ford was retired for just shy of 30 years.

Carter has been senior living President since Ford’s death twelve years ago, and the oldest living President for the 111 days since Bush’s death. Carter is the oldest person to become the oldest living President.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter married on July 7, 1946. Their 72 years of marriage is the second longest in Presidential history (George and Barbara Bush married on January 6, 1945, and remained married until her death on April 17, 2018, setting the record at 73 years, 101 days.

The list of longest-lived US presidents is now:

Jimmy Carter: 94 years, 171 days-plus
George H.W. Bush: 94 years, 171 days
Gerald Ford: 93 years, 165 days
Ronald Reagan: 93 years, 120 days
John Adams: 90 years, 247 days

Across the Universe update

765c49a49cb8d51cc3809a0551be8e12_originalI saw author David Gerrold this weekend at the Big Apple Comic Con, and while he was supposed to be signing comic books, he couldn’t keep himself from telling me all about the alternative Beatles story he’s planning to write for Across the Universe, just as soon as the anthology is funded. The Kickstarter campaign has been live for just over two weeks (half the campaign’s scheduled time), and it’s nearly two-thirds funded, so things are starting to look exciting.

The time to join in has never been better, and due to public clamoring, we’ve added two new pledge levels (based on the two least-used denominations of American currency). Please check them out, join in the fun, guarantee you receive one of the first copies of this exciting anthology in the works, and tell your friends! Thanks.

Hoping to launch Across the Universe

765c49a49cb8d51cc3809a0551be8e12_originalLast Tuesday, we launched the Kickstarter campaign for Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles. In that time, 112 backers have pledged 44% of the $6,000 we need to actually publish the book. We’re off to a great start!

But now that the first-week excitement has passed, we have to really dig in to raise the rest of the money (in order to pay the authors and editors and artist, and actually produce the book). If you’d like to join us (we’d love it), the time to get involved is now. Tell your friends, share the link, and pledge a bit yourself (those pledges are actually pre-publication orders, not donations). The early-bird bonus offer — the ebook for a scant five dollars — ends at 11am Tuesday, so get in on it now!

And for the few of you who haven’t been paying attention, here’s the description of the project:

What if the Beatles had never met? Would we enjoy Dave Clark Five-mania (as Spider Robinson suggested)?

What if Brian Epstein hadn’t managed the band? What if George Harrison hated sitar music? What if Ringo had been the true star of the band all along?

What if the Beatles had been aliens? Or magic users? Or zombies? Or <gasp> American?

Help us answer those questions, and many more, as we gather together some of the biggest names in speculative fiction — and some wonderful musicians — to create Across the Universe: an anthology of speculative Beatles fiction. The writers who’ve already clamored for places in the anthology will be writing a series of speculative fiction stories across the genre-verse: horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Some humor, some not.

Across the Universe

coversketchFantastic Books today is launching our newest Kickstarter campaign. Across the Universe is planned to be an anthology of alternative Beatles stories (What if John hadn’t died? What if the Beatles were aliens? Or superheroes? Or… well you get the idea).

Editors Randee Dawn and Michael A. Ventrella each approached me with the idea, so I put the two of them together, and we’ve fleshed it out. We’ve already got promises of stories from the likes of Spider Robinson, David Gerrold, Jonathan Maberry, Alan Goldsher, Cat Rambo, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Jody Lynn Nye, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Gail Z. Martin, with notes by Janis Ian and Nancy Holder. And artist Dave Alvarez is finalizing a wonderful cover.

So please, help us spread the word. And surf on over to the Kickstarter page. Maybe the muse will grab you, and you’ll realize you need to be a part of this project!

Across the Universe, live on Kickstarter:

Recommended Reading

76ee412223ff59f82b7e32b3f1ee1014-w2041xFantastic Books is pleased to announce that Barry Malzberg’s The Bend at the End of the Road has been named to Locus Magazine’s “2018 Recommended Reading List.”

Not quite making the list, but still eligible for your awards nomination consideration, are several other books and stories we published during 2018:

The Red Carnival by Susan Casper (dark fantasy/horror novel)
Fantasy for the Throne edited by Judith K. Dial & Tom Easton (fantasy anthology)
The Favored by Morgan J. Bolt (YA science fiction novel)

Fantasy for the Throne is a mostly reprint anthology, but it did include two pieces of new work:
“The Violinist” by Amir Lane (fantasy short story)
“A Medieval Christmas” by Christopher M. Easton (fantasy poem)

New Publishers Pick Special

1617209457Publishers Pick for the coming week is once again featuring a Fantastic Books book. This week, it’s the anthology Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic, edited by David Sklar and Sarah Avery. This anthology of fantastical stories combining magic and, well, traffic, is one of our more popular.

As the editors wrote, “What do you seek at the end of this road? What have you brought to pay your way? The road is full of hazards, and the marketplace can cost more than you expect. In Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic, editors David Sklar and Sarah Avery bring you 18 magical tales of travel and transactions, ranging from busking in a train station to walking between the worlds, from doppelgangers for hire to capturing the remnants of the dead.”

As with all Publishers Pick books, the ebook version of Trafficking in Magic is available for one week only at a massive discount: nearly two-thirds off the suggested retail price of $7.99 (you can get it for $2.99). Also available this week are Robert Reed’s trilogy The Memory of Sky, and John Brunner and Damien Broderick’s combined effort Threshold of Eternity.

Publishers Pick (Again)

1515410153I know I’ve mentioned that Fantastic Books is one of the founders and regular participants in Publishers Pick. is “independent publishers and authors of speculative fiction bringing you the best of their catalog at incredibly discounted prices.” Each week, three new ebooks available (for one week only) at more than 50% off their cover prices. This week, once again, one of the three books is a Fantastic Books book, specifically, Brian Koscienski and Chris Pisano’s The Biggest Bounty. This comic sf novel follows two interstellar bounty hunters, who aren’t very good at their job yet. Grab it now! (The other two books available this week are L. Sprague de Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall and the 1632 novel The Monster Society.)

Convention Weekend

transparent_full_logoAfter the December hiatus, I’m back on the convention schedule. This weekend, the first of the year will be Arisia in Boston (back at the Park Plaza for this year).

As always, I’ll be spending a lot of time at the Fantastic Books table in the dealers’ room. We’ll be open Friday from 5 to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 7pm, and Monday from 10am to 2:30pm. And be sure to stop by for your first look at both Release the Virgins edited by Michael A. Ventrella, and Father of the Bride of Frankenstein by Daniel M. Kimmel.

And again, I’ll be on programming, though not a lot this weekend. They’ve got me scheduled for three panels:

Saturday at 2:30pm in the Cabot room, “Creating Cover Art” with Athena Andreadis, Michael Bailey, Elizabeth Leggett, and Kevin McLaughlin

Saturday at 4pm (despite my request to not have back-to-back panels while the dealers’ room is open, and I’ll be looking for someone willing to watch the table for me) in the Brandeis-Fast Track room, “Short Story Contest” with Kevin McLaughlin (I’m kind of surprised, given the dearth of available panels for me, that so few people have been assigned to this one)

Sunday at 8:30am (yes, you read that correctly: 8:30 in the morning) in the Winthrop room, “Siblings in SFF” with A.J. Odasso, Julia Gilstein, Nathan Comstock, and Debra Doyle

Hope to see you there!

2018: My Year as a Reader

Several years ago, I used to wrap up the year by listing the books I’d read during that past year. But I stopped doing it a few years back when the number decreased. However, a large part of that decrease is because I list in my calendar when I finish reading a book, but I don’t count the books I’m editing and publishing (and those, I tend to read two or three times: reading to decide whether or not to buy, then editing, then proofreading). So I’m going to see if I feel embarrassed by the size of the list this year.

Books I read in 2018:

Robert A. Heinlein: Requiem edited by Yoji Kondo. Yes, I’d never read that book before. I’d read the fiction, of course, but the essays, the speeches, and the pieces by others were all new to me. Also, having read it, now I think I really ought to seek out the movie Destination Moon.

The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster’s Guide to Life by Cookie Monster. Kind of cute.

Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography. I hadn’t realized when I started it that it was mostly presented as campaign material for his hoped-for return to politics. Nevertheless, there was a lot in the book that was interesting. And visiting the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace soon after reading the book was a neat combination.

Isaac Newton, the Asshole Who Reinvented the Universe by Florian Freistetter. Kind of fluffy. The introduction was amusing, calling Newton an asshole, but that trope got old very quickly, long before the book was finished.

Timeshift: Tales of Time edited by Eric S. Fomley. I have a story in this one, so I read the rest of it. Some very good stories to share a book with.

Unidentified Funny Objects 7 edited by Alex Shvartsman. Some funny stories in this one. A few didn’t really do it for me, but that’s the concept of an anthology: something for everyone.

So that’s six books I count as having read this past year. But then I have to add in those I read and then published:

The Red Carnival by Susan Casper
The Bend at the End of the Road by Barry N. Malzberg
White Wing by Shariann Lewitt and Susan Shwartz
Fantasy for the Throne edited by Judith K. Dial and Tom Easton
The Favored by Morgan J. Bolt
Release the Virgins edited by Michael A. Ventrella
Father of the Bride of Frankenstein by Daniel M. Kimmel

Plus another half dozen that I worked on as a freelance editor. And that’s not counting books I read with an eye to publishing, but then decided not to. So yes, I feel a little better about the number of books I read this year.

Release the Virgins is being released

releasethevirginspileJanuary 2 was the official date of publication of the newest Fantastic Books anthology, Release the Virgins (which was funded via a very successful Kickstarter project). Ebooks were sent to all Kickstarter supporters who requested them, and print books will be going in the mail in the next few days (stacks of them are currently here, as you can see from the photo). The book is available for sale on,,, pretty much any place you buy new books. (With one exception: Amazon for some reason is not offering the trade paperback directly, but only from third-party resellers; they do, however, have the hardcover available.) I’ve just finished uploading the ebook version to BN and Amazon, so that should be out there soon, too. It’s been an exciting (and busy) day.