Three Time Travellers Walk Into…

9fe8ca763a41bf143a5529820ada4856_originalAfter being nearly somnolent for a year and a half due to the pandemic, Fantastic Books is roaring back into activity. We published Horror for the Throne last month, announced the forthcoming On Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren edited by Bill Wood and Sanctuary by Allen Steele, and now we’ve launched our first Kickstarter campaign in a long time.

Michael A. Ventrella returns to the Fantastic Books fold, editing the anthology Three Time Travellers Walk Into…. The authors were told simply “take three unconnected historical figures, throw them together, and see what fun/mayhem/pathos/what-have-you ensues.” Please check it out at, and tell your friends. (I clicked the “launch the campaign” button minutes ago, and before I could post here, there were already five backers. I’m very excited!)

We need to be stronger

This story, and specifically what the Taliban commander says (from 1:48 to 2:04) is why leaving Afghanistan is wrong, why the last twenty years of less-than-all-out war was wrong. These beings cannot conceive of negotiating, do not want to live in peace with people who think differently. Their ideology says that the only conceivable outcome is for them to dominate the entire planet, for everyone to think like them, act like them, believe like them. So, this is the other war (first, of course, we have to keep from dying due to climate change).

I don’t care what your god creature says to you, but if you—in following those instructions—think they apply to me, you have overstepped. And clearly, those religious zealots think their religion applies to me. It does not. This is why I continue to fret.

The quote, for those who can’t see the video (which is 5:39 titled “CNN gets access to US military base seized by the Taliban”), is: “It’s our belief that one day, Mujahideen will have victory, and Islamic law will come not to just Afghanistan, but all over the world. We are not in a hurry. We believe it will come one day. Jihad will not end ’til the last day.”

Where have all the baked goods gone?

This is what the pandemic has brought me to: ten minutes ago, I shut down the computer, and was going to bake something to bring to the picnic tomorrow. As I was taking out the ingredients, I discovered I had next-to-none (and far less than I needed) of not one, but two major ingredients for this particular recipe. And we’re not talking oddball ingredients: I have a only few tablespoons of shortening, and maybe a quarter-cup of flour in the house. I used to always have ample quantities of everything I might need for baking in the house, but I’ve done so little baking that I’ve let myself slip.

So instead, in the morning on the way to the picnic, I’ll have to stop for store-bought goodies (most people won’t know what they’re missing, but I’ll know). And one of these days, I’ll have to get to the store to replenish my supplies. I only hope it’s safe for the world to re-open, so I’ll want to get back to baking regularly.

First extended out-of-town trip since the before-times comes to an end

I’m home! If you’ve made a post or a general announcement, or otherwise expected me to see anything not emailed me to me since July 19th, I’ve probably missed it. But now I’m back, and if you’re waiting to hear from me, I’m catching up now (first up is royalties for Gray Rabbit Publications and Fantastic Books).
It’s starting to feel like the before-times: I’ve been out of state for the last eleven days, and 21 of the 31 days in July. Now, however, I’m home for the next three weeks, with a lot on my to-do list to be done, so… head down in the keyboard, getting back to work… NOW!

PW recommends On Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren

perf6.000x9.000.inddI’ve mentioned before that Fantastic Books will be publishing a massive non-fiction volume dedicated to Samuel R. Delany’s classic novel, called On Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren. The book doesn’t arrive until September, but the first of the reviews is now available. Publishers Weekly says, among other things, “Samuel R. Delany’s influential and divisive 1975 novel Dhalgren gets a full critical treatment in this immersive and comprehensive collection,” and “Fans of Delaney’s classic will want to snap this up.” To read the full review, see this link. And to read the full book, keep your eyes open for the September 9th publication date.

Gimme Sanctuary

Fantastic Books is excited to be publishing three-time Hugo Award-winner Allen Steele’s new novel, Sanctuary, in November.

Imagine a world without plastic.

Imagine a world where something in the environment eats plastic.

Imagine arriving on such a world in a space ship.

The human colonists in Allen Steele’s Sanctuary don’t have to imagine it—they have to survive it.

After traveling light years to the Earth-like planet of Tau Ceti-e, they have only minutes to abandon ship before the native plastic-eating organism turns their space ship into a death trap of orbiting debris.

Now they’ll have to survive an 18th-century way of life with the forbearance of the not-exactly hostile—but definitely not friendly—natives.

Why do the native Cetans keep humanity confined to one poor island? Why do they so hate and mistrust the humans? What is going on?

Private eye Jeremy Crowe finds himself caught up in the underground search for the truth, stuck on a middling rung in the modern caste system, and struggling to not make humanity’s desperate situation any worse. Fighting for his life may turn out to be the easy part.

Fantastic Books will publish three-time Hugo Award-winner Allen Steele’s new novel, Sanctuary, on November 2, 2021. The book will appear in simultaneous hardcover and trade paperback formats.
Hardcover: 308 pages, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-5154-4773-3
Trade Paperback: 308 pages, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-5154-4774-0

Sanctuary—and all Fantastic Books books—are distributed via Ingram. Review copies are available upon request.

Tough Trivia, 7/19/21

640px-Oxygen480-emotes-face-sad.svgFriday’s question a throw-back to the previous Friday’s question, about world cities’ former names: Let’s continue the theme a little closer to (my) home. Here are some former cities’ names. By what names are they known today: Marthasville, Georgia; Gum Pond (or Gumpond), Mississippi; Lancaster, Nebraska; Hot Springs, New Mexico; New Amsterdam, New York; Losantiville, Ohio; and Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania.

The answers are:

Built for the Western and Atlantic Railroad, the settlement of Terminus was renamed Marthasville, Georgia, and incorporated on December 23, 1843. Two years later, the chief engineer of the Georgia Railroad suggested renaming the town Atlantica-Pacifica, which was quickly shortened to Atlanta, and the name change was approved by the Georgia General Assembly on December 26, 1845.

Settled in the 1830s and named for the tupelo trees, known as “blackgum,” Gum Pond was renamed in the 1860s, and Tupelo was incorporated in 1866.

The village of Lancaster was founded in 1856, and became the county seat of the newly created Lancaster County in 1859. On April 1, 1869, Lancaster was incorporated as the city of Lincoln, in honor of the recently assassinated president.

Hot Springs was founded in the late 1800s, due to its hot springs. In March 1950, Ralph Edwards, the host of the popular NBC Radio quiz show Truth or Consequences, announced that he would air the program on its tenth anniversary from the first town that renamed itself after the show; Hot Springs officially changed its name on March 31, 1950, and the program was broadcast from there the following evening.

New Amsterdam was a 17th century Dutch settlement at the southern tip of Manhattan island. In 1664, the English took over New Amsterdam, and renamed it New York City, after the Duke of York (who would later be King James II of England and Ireland & James VII of Scotland).

In 1788, Mathias Denman, Israel Ludlow, and Col. Robert Patterson, landed at a spot on the northern bank of the Ohio River, opposite the mouth of the Licking, and decided to settle there. Surveyor John Filson named it Losantiville. On January 4, 1790, Northwest Territory Governor Arthur St. Clair changed the name of the settlement to Cincinnati, in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati.

Mauch Chunk was founded in 1818. The name was derived from the native Munsee-Lenape Delaware language, which called it Mawsch Unk (Bear Place). Across the river, East Mauch Chunk developed. In 1953, 65-year-old Olympian Jim Thorpe died, and in 1954, the two Mauch Chunks merged, and renamed their new municipality Jim Thorpe, in honor of the athlete whose sports career had begun nearby, when he was a student at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.


Tough Trivia has been an interesting experiment. But, due to the whelming response, and the fact that I’m going to be traveling through the end of the month, Tough Trivia is going on hiatus. Thank you, everyone, for reading along, playing along, participating to whatever extent you did. And keep watching this blog; it may be back in some other form in the near future. But when and whether Tough Trivia returns, I will continue to be here, so keep reading (although, as I said, I’ll be traveling for the next week and a half, so I may be a bit more quiet here… or there may be a new book announcement later today). And thanks!

Tough Trivia, 7/16/21

Last week’s Grab Bag (Friday) question was about world cities’ former names. Let’s continue the theme a little closer to (my) home. Here are some former cities’ names. By what names are they known today?

  • Marthasville, Georgia
  • Gum Pond (or Gumpond), Mississippi
  • Lancaster, Nebraska
  • Hot Springs, New Mexico
  • New Amsterdam, New York
  • Losantiville, Ohio
  • Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania


Ed Sullivan ShowYesterday’s question was:

The Korean War ran from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953, just over three years. M*A*S*H, the medical sitcom set during the Korean War, ran from 1972 to 1983, eleven years. Put these television shows in order by the length of their runs (number of episodes). Bonus points if you remember the actual number of episodes (within 10) of each/any: The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; The Big Bang Theory; Bonanza; Dallas; E.R.; The Ed Sullivan Show; Gunsmoke; Happy Days; Law & Order (the original); M*A*S*H; Star Trek: The Next Generation; Supernatural.

M_A_S_H_TV_title_screenThe answers:

  1. The Ed Sullivan Show: 1,087 episodes — 23 years
  2. Gunsmoke (not including the precursor radio series): 635 episodes — 20 seasons
  3. Law & Order (the Original): 456 episodes — 20 seasons
  4. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: 435 episodes — 14 years
  5. Bonanza: 431 episodes — 14 years
  6. Dallas: 357 episodes — 14 years
  7. ER: 331 episodes — 15 years
  8. Supernatural: 327 episodes — 15 years
  9. The Big Bang Theory: 279 episodes — 12 years
  10. M*A*S*H: 256 episodes — 11 seasons
  11. Happy Days: 255 episodes — 11 seasons
  12. Star Trek: The Next Generation: 178 episodes — 7 seasons


Ian’s Tough Trivia is a daily feature of this blog (Monday’s category is History; Tuesday is Arts; Wednesday is Science; Thursday is Entertainment; and Friday is Grab Bag). Each day, I post a tough question, as well as the answer to the previous day’s question. Simply comment on this post with your answer. I’ll approve the comments after the next question is posted. Sure, you can probably find the answers by searching the web, but what’s the fun in that?

And if you’ve got a favorite trivia question—or even just a topic for which you’d like to see a question—let me know! Reader participation is warmly encouraged.

A wonderfully horrific day!

Proof-IanHorrorToday is publication day, and Fantastic Books is horrified to announce the arrival of Horror for the Throne, the third in the popular series of genre-specific anthologies of short fiction.

After an interminable delay brought about by the horror of the pandemic, Fantastic Books is getting back into gear in a big way with this thrilling collection of short stories guaranteed to scare… it right out of you. Editors James D. Macdonald, Tom Easton, and Judith K. Dial have selected forty little gems that’ll get your blood pumping and tickle the tiny hairs on the back of your neck.

You’ll probably want to read it with the lights on.

Amazing Stories said the first volume (Science Fiction for the Throne) is “not a book to try and read in one sitting (as I largely did). It is what I sometimes refer to as ‘a dipping book:’ for maximum effect, you should read a story or two here, a story or two there, a story or two somewhere else.” Hugo-winner Allen Steele said “For the bathroom, for the bedroom, for the bus to work, for that chair in the department store where bored spouses sit while their wives or husbands try on new clothes… this is a perfect way to entertain yourself during idle moments in a way that won’t rot your mind. Read this and have fun.”

Asimov’s Science Fiction said the second volume, Fantasy for the Throne, is “a fun collection, exactly right for those moments when you have just a few minutes to read.” While Analog Science Fiction and Fact called it “a little gem. Or rather, here are 40 little gems by as many authors, all packaged in one sweet volume.”

Horror for the Throne is now available in trade paperback and hardcover formats—and will soon be available as an e-book—through all your major online retailers. It is distributed to all physical book stores through Ingram: just ask!

With an introduction by Bruce Coville, Horror for the Throne features the horrific stylings of: E.C. Ambrose, Colleen Anderson, Kevin David Anderson, Diane Arrelle, Stewart C. Baker, T.L. Barrett, James Blakey, Bruce Boston, Michael Bracken, Tiffany Michelle Brown, Elliot Capon, Jeff C. Carter, Gregg Chamberlain, Brenda Clough, Ian Creasey, Randee Dawn, Steve Dillon, Stephanie Ellis, Kevin M. Folliard, Eric J. Guignard, Liam Hogan, Emma Johnson-Rivard, Daniel M. Kimmel, Chris Kuriata, Geoffrey A. Landis, Sharon Lee, Gordon Linzner, Nicola Lombardi, Linda Silverman McMullen, Gregory Nicoll, Brian Rappatta, Gary L. Robbe, Chuck Rothman, Steve Rasnic Tem, Mark Towse, Mary A. Turzillo, Douglas A. Van Belle, Marie Vibbert, Dawn Vogel, and Marcia Wilson.

Get it now, before it gets you!

Horror for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads
edited by James D. Macdonald, Tom Easton, and Judith K. Dial
introduction by Bruce Coville
Fantastic Books. 176 pages.
trade paperback: $14.99. ISBN: 978-1-5154-2409-3.
case laminate hardcover: $22.99. ISBN: 978-1-5154-2410-9.