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LATE-BREAKING NEWS

As part of a somewhat expensive Amazon ad campaign, we've dropped the price on The Fugitive Heir to $0.99. If this leads to better follow-on sales of The Fugitive Pair and The Fugitive Snare, we'll leave it at this price. C'mon, buy the complete set!

• All current issues of Stupefying Stories are now available free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. See the right column for links. For non-US customers, these should automatically redirect to your local manifestation of Amazon. If they don't, let me know.

• Yes, we are in fact reading new submissions. Our revised submission guidelines aren't ready for public consumption yet, so you'll just have to send your story to submissions@rampantloonmedia.com and take your chances. One story at a time, please! No multiple submissions and no simultaneous submissions!

SHOWCASE IS MOVING BACK IN WITH ITS PARENTS!

As you may have guessed from the new banner, we're consolidating the Stupefying Stories blog and SHOWCASE webzine into one new site. In the meantime, before it's gone for good, you really should check out all the great stories on the old SHOWCASE site.

NOW OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS


Submission Guidelines & FAQ
(We’re currectly rewriting our submission guidelines. Stay tuned.)

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Stupefying Stories #20 Book Release: After Action Report


Thanks to everyone who helped promote last Friday’s release of Stupefying Stories 20.

I’m pleased to report that in the 24-hour promotional period we gave away 968 free ebooks, catapulting SS #20 to the #1 spot on Amazon’s Science Fiction Anthologies bestseller list. Between this and the results of the SS #19 release promotion, I think we can now safely consider the Alice Cooper Theory to be proven. That is, it’s easy to hit the top of the charts. All you need to do is something big enough, loud enough, ridiculous enough,  and expensive enough.

Staying at the top of the charts, though: that’s the next mystery to be solved.

I’m also pleased to report that the hoped-for knock-on effects have materialized, to some extent. These promotions do lift the sales of our other titles. Compared to buying Amazon or Facebook advertising, these free ebook promotions produce a far better return on investment and are a far more effective way of introducing readers to the kinds of books and stories we publish. So if you’re one of those people who wrote to me to say something like, “I almost feel guilty taking it for free,” don’t be. We want you to take free ebooks when we offer them. We want you to like what we’re publishing, and most of all, we want you to tell your friends about what we’re doing and how much you like it.

But if you truly do want to repay our kindness, then here’s something you can do that will really help: write a review.

It doesn’t have to be much. A line or two will do: something as simple as “I really liked [this story]” or “Nice collection. Didn’t totally bore me to sleep.” Amazon, we’ve learned, will cheerfully collect your star ratings, but only attaches them to the listing for a book if there is some written comment.

Reader reviews really do help. It takes ten reader reviews just to get Amazon to notice. At fifty reader reviews all sorts of good promotional things kick in. The whole point of Amazon’s marketing system is to find out what people like and then sell them more of it. Ergo, your comments really do matter, because that’s what Amazon tracks to determine what the marketplace likes, and comments from confirmed purchasers (which includes everyone who’s downloaded a free ebook) matter most of all.

End of sermon. Time to pass the collection plate. If you’ve downloaded any of these ebooks during any of our recent free ebook promotions and enjoyed what you read, please take a minute to rate the book and comment on it.

Thanks,
Bruce Bethke
Stupefying Stories | Rampant Loon Press

Amazon links:
Stupefying Stories 12
Stupefying Stories 13
Stupefying Stories 14
Stupefying Stories 15
Stupefying Stories 16
Stupefying Stories 17
Stupefying Stories 18
Stupefying Stories 19
Stupefying Stories 20


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Book Release / Free eBook Friday

STUPEFYING STORIES #20 ESCAPES!



To celebrate the release of STUPEFYING STORIES #20, we’re giving away the Kindle edition FREE for the cost of a click—but only for the next 24 hours, beginning at Midnight tonight, West Coast time.

Tell your friends! Tell your family! Tell people you know who aren’t such good friends but still like to get free ebooks! Share the news!

But share it soon, because at midnight tomorrow night, this book goes back to normal price.

» DOWNLOAD ISSUE #20 RIGHT NOW


STUPEFYING STORIES #20
features the gut-grabbing cover story, “Zombie Like Me,” by Clancy Weeks, along with a terrific mix of fantasy, light horror, demons, abominations, vampires, old family secrets, very nasty little fairies, and Bo Balder’s remarkably strange but charming story, “Alien Whispering.” If nothing else, read “Endeavor to Dream on Broken Wings,” so you can someday tell people that you were reading AJ Finley before anyone else had heard of her.
CONTENTS:
THEIR NOSTALGIA WILL BE VERY MUCH LIKE OUR NOSTALGIA • by Eric Cline
HOW TO BUILD A TRAIN • by Brandon Kempner
ENDEAVOR TO DREAM ON BROKEN WINGS • by AJ Finley
PILES OF DUST AND BERRIES • by Sadie Bruce
ALIEN WHISPERING • by Bo Balder
LUCKY FIND • by Lance Young
SECRET SEED • by Shannon Norland
ZOMBIE LIKE ME • by Clancy Weeks


But wait, there’s more!

To sweeten the deal, we are also giving away, absolutely FREE for the cost a click, Book #1 in Henry Vogel’s bestselling Fugitive Heir trilogy. Here’s the pitch:


In a galaxy where psychics are hunted outlaws...

Matt Connaught’s parents have vanished. He knows that they are still alive. But powerful people want them to stay vanished, and if Matt reveals how he knows what he knows, his life as a free man is over.

To rescue them, and save himself, he must become…


» DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK NOW

» BETTER YET, GET THE ENTIRE SERIES

» ALSO AVAILABLE ON AUDIO BOOK


(The audio books, it’s worth noting, are typically free with an Amazon Audible trial subscription.)

(It’s also worth noting that if I was writing a review of this book, I’d begin by saying, “Imagine if Robert Heinlein had written Slan,” as that really does pin the idea down in one succinct phrase. A pity no one has used those words in a review yet.)


And one more thing....

Authors and publishers really appreciate it when readers take the time to put in a good word for a book they like. It’s not just for our egos: word-of-mouth really helps to sell books. If you take any of these free ebooks, and you like what you read, please, please, please take a moment to give the book a good rating, or put in a good word for it on Goodreads, or maybe even write a quick review. The authors you like will appreciate it, and they will show their appreciation by writing even more great books and stories for you to enjoy!

Thank you.

Friday, January 26, 2018

T-minus 7 Days


Coming Friday, 02/02/18: Stupefying Stories #20


Cover story: “Zombie Like Me,” by Clancy Weeks
Cover artist: Keith Rosson

Plus:

“Their Nostalgia Will Be Very Much Like Our Nostalgia,” by Eric Cline
“How to Build a Train,” by Brandon Kempner
“Endeavor to Dream on Broken Wings,” by AJ Finley
“Piles of Dust and Berries,” by Sadie Bruce
“Alien Whispering,” by Bo Balder
“Lucky Find,” by Lance Young
“Secret Seed,” by Shannon Norland

Watch for it!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

There’s always one more typo



As soon as sales of issue #19 took off, the old familiar fear returned. This one takes the form of a really stupid, egregious, and embarrassing typo, that I’d somehow managed not to see all the way through the production process, but that would leap off the page and slap me in the face the moment I downloaded the finished book from Amazon and looked at it on my own Kindle.

No one has reported finding such a thing yet, and I haven’t found one myself, but I did find that the links to previous issues of Stupefying Stories—which were tested repeatedly and do work in the epub development build—don’t work on my Kindle Fire.

Sigh. Dammit.

Herewith, links to the earlier issues of Stupefying Stories that are still available. All these links are to Amazon.com. If you don’t live in the US, these links should redirect to your regional incarnation of Amazon; e.g., Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com.au, Amazon.de, und so weiter.

» Stupefying Stories #18

Cover story: “350 K in My Shades,” by Karl Bunker
Contents:
AI, ROBOT • by Joel David Neff
PRINCESS NICOTINE • by John Skylar
A RING, A RING O' ROSES • by Simon Kewin
FROZEN TEARS • by Frances Silversmith
350 K IN MY SHADES • by Karl Bunker
SLOW STEPPER • by Juliana Rew
THE NORTHERN RECESS • by Fred Coppersmith
WHAT THE WITCH WANTS • by Aislinn Batstone
THE LIFE TREE • by Jamie Lackey

» DOWNLOAD NOW


» Stupefying Stories #17

Cover story: “The Ransom of Princess Starshine,” by Amy Thomson
Contents:
FISH AND FOOLS • by Beth Powers
THE LIBRARIAN AND THE TROLL • by E. G. Cosh
STAR COME OUT • by Joanne Rixon
FINDING GEORGIA • by Christian Riley
THE RANSOM OF PRINCESS STARSHINE • by Amy Thomson
THE JAGUAR’S SON • by R. Y. Brockway
FOREST OF LIGHTS • by R. L. Bowden
THE WITCH’S KEY • by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks
THE PRACTITIONER • by James Khan

» DOWNLOAD NOW


» Stupefying Stories #16

Cover story: “I Live the Warrior’s Life,” by Robert Lowell Russell
Contents:
I LIVE THE WARRIOR’S LIFE • by Robert Lowell Russell
THIS IS NOT WHEN YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD MEET ME • by Robert Dawson
IRENA PESTROVICH • by Thomas K. Carpenter
ONE SAFFRON THREAD • by Sarah Bartsch
LONG COLD WISH • by Laura DeHaan
PROVINCIAL AFFAIRS • by Alter S. Reiss
THE BUSINESS OF RATS • by Sandra M. Odell
THE MEMORY OF WORMS • by Karin Terebessy
CATCH OF THE DAY • by Kurt Heinrich Hyatt

» DOWNLOAD NOW


» Stupefying Stories #15

Cover story: “Destroyer of Worlds,” by Evan Dicken
Contents:
MAKING MONSTERS, by Sarah Read
AT WORK IN THE FIELDS OF THE LORD, by Edoardo Albert
PLEASE PASS THE PURVIEW, by Conor Powers-Smith
DESTROYER OF WORLDS, by Evan Dicken
THE SEVENTEENTH MEETING CONCERNING THE POSSESSION OF PATRICIA COTTON, by L Chan
URSA MAJOR, by Lynne M. MacLean
THE BOO HAG, by David Bowles
RECKONING IN SPOTSYLVANIA, by Ambrose Stolliker
ANTIMIRUS, by Mike Reeves-McMillan

» DOWNLOAD NOW


» Stupefying Stories #14

Cover story: “50 Foot Romance,” by Eric J. Juneau
Contents:
50 FOOT ROMANCE, by Eric J. Juneau
CITY OF OPPORTUNITY, by Jānis Zelčāns
THE ALIENS WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA, by Peter Wood
THIRTY NINE, by Shedrick Pittman-Hassett
RIGEL’S MISSING TAIL, by Antha Ann Adkins
THE BONE POINTER, by Chuck Robertson
GODS ON A HILL, by G. J. Brown
THE ANNIVERSARY GIFT, by Gary Cuba
MASTERS, by Jason Lairamore
WATER PRESSURE, by Anna Yeatts
EMISSARY, by Matthew Lavin
THE GHOSTLESS MACHINE, by Austin Hackney

» DOWNLOAD NOW


» Stupefying Stories #13

Cover story: “Meat 2.0,” by William Ledbetter
Contents:
PERSONAL SPACE, by Alison Pentecost
THE GREAT WORK OF MEISTER VANHOCHT, by Auston Habershaw
RAINBOW SPORES, by Jamie Lackey
END TIMES, by S. R. Algernon
HER SYMPHONY AND SONG, by Sarah Frost
HAPPY VALLEY, by Garth Upshaw
MEMORY MAKES LIARS OF US ALL, by Eric Dontigney
MEAT 2.0, by William Ledbetter

» DOWNLOAD NOW

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Stupefying Stories Authors on the Move!


When we first launched Stupefying Stories, the whole point of the thing was to help writers launch their careers. We lose sight of that objective from time to time, but I have to tell you, the best thing about this job is seeing the name of someone who you were the first (or one of the first) to publish show up years later, on the shortlist for some major literary award, on the cover of one of the major pro-market magazines, or in a book release announcement from one of the major publishing house.

With that in mind, here’s some news that came in this week that I’d like to turn around and share with you. If there’s enough interest, we’d like to make Authors on the Move! a weekly feature on this site.



KEITH ROSSON has just made the preliminary ballot for the 2017 Bram Stoker Award, for his novel, The Mercy of the Tide. Long-time readers of Stupefying Stories will remember Keith for stories like “The Things That Perish Along the Way,” but more recently, he’s been the cover artist who did the terrific cover for Stupefying Stories #16 and the even better cover you’ll be seeing next month on Stupefying Stories #20.

To learn more about the Bram Stoker Award click this link, and to take a closer look at The Mercy of the Tide, click here.



EVAN DICKEN reports that he has a Warhammer 40K [Oops! ~brb] Age of Sigmar story coming out as a download on the Games Workshop Black Library site next week, and he can’t say anything more about it right now because of the NDA. However, I do know that my son will be first in line to buy it—and no, to my son’s disappointment, Evan does not know Dan Abnett or Aaron Dembski-Bowden personally.

Long-time Stupefying Stories readers will remember Evan for his many contributions to Stupefying Stories and SHOWCASE, beginning with “Dark Illusions” in Stupefying Stories #8, but what I want you to think about is his upcoming chapbook, Second to Last Stop, which is in the final development stages right now and we expect to be releasing on February 8th. Watch for it!



Do you have some publishing news or a success story you’d like to share? Send it to queries (at) rampantloonmedia.com, and we’ll get it into the queue for this column. Thanks!

Book Release | Free eBook Friday: After Action Report

By the time yesterday’s Free eBook Friday promotion was finished in the West Coast time zone, people had downloaded an astonishing 1,905 copies of Stupefying Stories #19 and Stupefying Stories #12. For a while, issue #19 was the #1 bestseller in both the Science Fiction Anthologies and Fantasy Anthologies categories, while issue #12 was right behind it in the #2 spot in both categories.

Wow. I was hoping we’d get some attention with this book release. I guess we got it. Now to figure out how best to use this incredible and completely unexpected opportunity.

One thing we learned from this experience: Amazon promotional deals key off U.S. West Coast time, which means they take effect and end at 2 a.m. my time, or 8 a.m. London time. So it really helps to get information about promo deals out to my European and U.K. authors well in advance, so that the promotion can be up and rolling already by the time Americans crawl out of bed. At the same time (sorry, couldn’t resist), by the time the promotion ends, it’s already well into the next morning in Australia and Japan, so there’s an advantage to be had in promoting deals right until the very last minute.

The second thing I learned is that watching Amazon’s sales counters spin is as addictive as watching election returns. I really had a lot of trouble tearing myself away from the computer long enough to do the other things I needed to do last night, because—

The third thing I learned last night is that, while I was stocking up and hunkering down in preparation for the blizzard that’s supposed to hit here tomorrow, our cover-story author, Fi Michell was at the beach, dipping her toes in the Tasman Sea, working on her tan, and following the sales reports with great amusement.

Sigh. Australians...

Friday, January 19, 2018

Book Release / Free eBook Friday

STUPEFYING STORIES #19 ESCAPES!



To celebrate the release of STUPEFYING STORIES #19, we’re giving away the Kindle editions of both our latest book (issue #19) and our oldest book that’s still on Amazon (issue #12) FREE for the cost of a click—but for today only.

Tell your friends! Tell your family! Tell people you know who aren’t such good friends but still like to get free ebooks! Share the news!

But share it soon, because at midnight tonight, these books go back to normal price.

» DOWNLOAD ISSUE #19 RIGHT NOW

» DOWNLOAD ISSUE #12 RIGHT NOW


STUPEFYING STORIES #19 features the remarkable cover story, “Communion,” by Fi Michell, along with  a terrific mix of fantasy, light horror, superheroes, alien invasions, space adventure, and I don’t know what to call “More Crackle Than Music” but I love it. The book ends with Harold Thompson’s dark but charming story, “Dogs and Monsters,” which I’m hereby going to go out on a limb and christen an entirely new sub-genre, “post-Human steampunk.” Clifford Simak would have loved it.
CONTENTS:
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR THE FAIRYLAND GAZETTE • by Effie Seiberg
HORNS OF A PARADOX • by Julie Frost
THE BONE MERCHANT • by Robert Luke Wilkins
COMMUNION • by Fi Michell
SOULLESS MACHINE • by Jennifer R. Povey
BEHEMOTHS IN THE PARK • by Henry Fields
THE INVASION WILL BE ALPHABETIZED • by Ryan Harvey
MORE CRACKLE THAN MUSIC • by RM Graves
A RAINFOREST, THE WATER CYCLE, AND FIFTY PREGNANT TIGERS • by W. Winward-Stuart
THE OLD MAN AND THE C • by Ronald D. Ferguson
DOGS AND MONSTERS • by Harold R. Thompson
STUPEFYING STORIES #12, on the other hand, is a celebration—no, a defiance—of Winter, in the form of a fine collection of nine wonderful winter’s tales. From a story of slightly mad science and a man who will stop at nothing to get fresh blueberries in December, to the tales of things that wash up on winter beaches that the summer vacation people never see; from a very different take on a very different Russian revolution, to a steel mill in the depths of the Great Depression, to a sleeping bag on a sidewalk in New York City, here are nine tales celebrating the idea that no matter how tough winter may be, we are tougher.
CONTENTS:
ANACHRONIC ORDER • by Christopher Lee Kneram
DRIED SKINS UNSHED • by Julie Day
A NUN’S TALE • by Pete McArdle
THEY FOLLOWED ME • by Carol March
INTERREGNUM • by John J. Brady
FULL FATHOM FIVE • by Judith Field
BONE MOTHER • by Torah Cottrill
ALEPH • by Brandon Nolta
ALIEN TREATIES • by Randal Doering
If for no other reason, get #12 for “Full Fathom Five,” so you’ll understand why I’m so enamored with the stories of Judith Field, and “Aleph,” which is a story I think a lot more people need to read, especially right now.

» DOWNLOAD ISSUE #19 RIGHT NOW

» DOWNLOAD ISSUE #12 RIGHT NOW



And one more thing....

Authors and publishers really appreciate it when readers take the time to put in a good word for a book they like. It’s not just for our egos: word-of-mouth really helps sell books. If you take any of these free ebooks, and you like what you read, please, please, please take a moment to give the book a good rating, or put in a good word for it on Goodreads, or maybe even write a quick review. The authors you like will appreciate it, and they will show their appreciation by writing even more good books and stories for you to enjoy!

Thank you.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Talking Shop


Op-ed • “Dear Time Traveler,” by L. Joseph Shosty


On December 21, 2017, Bruce wrote an op-ed titled “It’s Amazon’s World, We Just Rent Space in It.” In it, a friend of Bruce’s asks (paraphrasing and perhaps embellishing a little), when the market is glutted with small presses, self-pubbers, and ancient reprints hoping to capture evergreen status in this new frontier, how do you stand out in the crowd?

I answered that question about a year or two ago by mostly walking away from the Internet, at least for the time being. See, I’ve tried giveaways, blog tours, and begging overworked critics to review my books; just about everything the internet says you absolutely *must* do to sell your books. This included getting a Twitter account [shudder], but that’s a tale for another day. Suffice it to say, none of it has worked in the long term, and most of it has been more a drain on my time than anything else. I participate on Goodreads, keep a Facebook page, and that’s it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Today on SHOWCASE

Fiction • “Quality of Life,” by Alexandra Renwick




Good afternoon, Mr. Jones. First let me thank you for coming peacefully when our field agents brought you in. I’m sure it was inconvenient to have been interrupted at dinner, and at such an elegant, expensive restaurant, too. A date, was it? Well, I’m certain our agents apologized to your lady friend on your behalf, but the issue of plummeting credit prognostication is of utmost importance to modern society, and we at the Bureau monitor this vital element within our population in the interest of public financial health. A wealthy country is a healthy country after all, Mr. Jones.

I assure you it wasn’t personal. You were simply remotely evaluated and deemed in need of immediate credit intervention and counseling. Our field agents are equipped with the latest in credit prediction technology. With the Credit Endangerment Act and other Credit Viability Legislation, all questions of privacy violation are moot. Soon every local governing body will host a branch of the Bureau, and every Bureau agent will carry a portable C.R.E.D.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Today on SHOWCASE

New Fiction • “600 Years Ago, Today,” by Michael W. Lucht •

By 2134, every memory chip had been networked. Otherwise CRUD, the Commission for the Removal of Unremarkable Data, could not have existed. As things stood, no backup copy was safe from their high-level iterative deletion algorithms. Unless, like Hinckley, one had managed to obtain a rare vintage memory card without integrated wireless access.

Hinckley slotted this highly illegal device into a wireless adaptor to link it with his terminal. That done, a slight gesture was all it took to instruct the computer to copy 2.4 terabytes.

At that moment Javert, senior CRUD manager, appeared at the entrance of Hinckley’s cubicle. The security cam footage shows Hinckley flinching; after all, he had never committed a criminal act before. Hastily, the contraband vanished deep inside his pocket.

Uninvited, Javert strutted inside, grabbing the backrest of Hinckley’s chair. “Deleted Jodie yet?”

“Please reconsider,” Hinckley pleaded. Later, in court, he claimed that he’d still held out hope of changing Javert’s mind.

“I’ve read your report. She’s an ord.”

“She’s anything but ordinary!” To make his point, Hinckley played a section from her video blog on his terminal. It showed a pretty teenager, with tousled hair and intense brown eyes. “Life is a gift,” she declared in a melodious voice. “I shall not waste mine. I will make a difference!”

Friday, January 5, 2018

Media Relations

Podcast • Storypunks Interview •



I did an interview with Cindy Grigg at Storypunks.world a few weeks back. It’s now up on YouTube, iTunes, and wherever else it is that podcasts go to reach the world. Personally, I’m afraid to watch it—I have a painful “second guess” reflex, and whenever I watch or listen to a recording of myself later, I’m always hearing all the things I should or shouldn’t have said—but you may find it interesting. Here’s the link:

https://storypunks.world/2017/10/27/interview-cyberpunk-with-author-bruce-bethke/

Enjoy!
~brb

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Talking Shop


Op-ed • “2018: Where We Stand,” by Bruce Bethke •



We began with a Kindle.

That sounds much better than, “We began with a series of expensive blunders, some of which continue to this day.”

A decade ago, when we first incorporated Rampant Loon Media LLC, I really had no interest in becoming an SF/F fiction publisher. At that time I’d already spent about 30 years in the publishing business, on one side of the desk or the other, and in the end, I’d walked away from genre fiction with no regrets.

Or so I thought.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Friday Challenge: Reminder



Just a gentle reminder here, that:

A.) The 12/22/17 Friday Challenge, “2018: The Year in Review,” is still open for submissions, and

B.) “Arfour’s Complaint” is still on the autopsy table.

Meanwhile, we’re still expecting to release Stupefying Stories #19 on Monday, January 1st, so if you’ll excuse us, we’ll get back to work.

P.S. And buy some of our books, wouldja?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Talking Shop

 

Op-ed • “The View from the Field,” by Eric Dontigney •


I’m a writer.

That is one of the loneliest sentences in the world, for a host of reasons. Tell someone you’re a doctor or an accountant, they get a decent picture of what you do. The details might be wrong, but the gist is accurate. Tell someone you’re a writer and it evokes images of Hemingway in Paris or that pale, creepy guy hunched over a laptop at Starbucks. Cue the explanation that almost no professional writer fits those stereotypes.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Did you get a new Kindle for Christmas?

Are you looking for something to read on it?

Then you’re in luck, because right now we are giving away the Kindle editions of these two ebooks absolutely free for the cost of a click.



In a galaxy where psychics are hunted outlaws...


Matt Connaught’s parents have vanished. He knows that they are still alive. But powerful people want them to stay vanished, and if Matt reveals how he knows what he knows, his life as a free man is over.

To rescue them, and save himself, he must become…


DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK NOW

BETTER YET, GET THE ENTIRE SERIES

ALSO AVAILABLE ON AUDIO BOOK

THE FUGITIVE PAIR IS ALSO ON AUDIO BOOK


(The audio books, it’s worth noting, are typically free with an Amazon Audible trial subscription.)

(It’s also worth noting that if I was writing a review of this book, I’d begin by saying, “Imagine if Robert Heinlein had written Slan,” as that really does pin the idea down in one succinct phrase. A pity no one has used those words in a review, yet.)



Stupefying Stories #12


Our first attempt to expand Stupefying Stories to a “2.0” format (which, if you’ve been wondering, is why we kept using the “1.xx” issue number format until #18), Stupefying Stories #12 has more and longer stories than any issue before and most of the issues since. It’s also going out of print when this promotion is over, so get it now, because this is your last chance to download it. Includes:

“All the Beautiful Lights of Heaven,”" by Russ Colson
“Showing Faeries for Fun and Profit,” by Julie Frost
“Indigene,” by Lawrence Buentello
“Cottage Industry,” by Evan Dicken
“The Robot Agenda,” by Samantha Boyette
“The Wrong Dog,” by Kyle Aisteach
“The Music Teacher,” by Mark Niemann-Ross
“The Last Unit,” by Judith Field

And of course our cover story, the unabashedly old-school alien world sci-fi pulp adventure, “For the Love of a Grenitschee,” by Mark Wolf

DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK NOW


P.S. As a special treat, you might also want to read, On writing “The Music Teacher,” by Mark Niemann-Ross, in the soon-to-disappear Stupefying Stories SHOWCASE #4.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Seemingly Oligatory Christmas Column

Nonfiction • “Christmas Eve, 2017,” by Bruce Bethke •



I had a column I used to recycle every Christmas Eve. It was a mopey, sentimental thing about my Dad and the 8mm movie camera he used to take to every family gathering when I was a kid. The technology of the times required that he use a battery of photoflood lights if he wanted to shoot color film indoors, so we have a lot of footage of my relatives raising their hands and cringing before those floodlights, like vampires cowering at the first rays of sunrise.

Sometime in the late 1960s my Dad got the idea to edit all those Christmas clips together into one reel, although for reasons he never explained he decided not to put them in chronological order. The result is a fascinating home movie that skips back and forth in time between the early 1950s and the late 1960s, and shows the members of my extended family going from being young children, to having children of their own, and back and forth again.

Some years back, when DVD was new, I got the idea to transfer that movie to DVD, dub in a soundtrack of period Christmas music, and then make VHS copies of the result and send them to all my living relatives. The tapes were a hit. But... VHS.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Friday Challenge • Judgment Day: The Appeal

After the decision in the 12/08 Friday Challenge was announced, one author filed an appeal. We promise not to make a practice of doing this, but in this one case, after discussion with the author, we have agreed to conduct a test. Herewith, a link to the story in question:

» “Arfour’s Complaint,” by S. Travis Brown


Now, in the column to the right, please note the associated reader poll. What did you think of this story? You have until midnight, Thursday, January 4, to register your opinion. You can select multiple responses and change your vote right up until the poll closes.

Thank you for your participation. Results and implications to be announced after the poll closes.

P.S. Why the cat? Because nothing draws eyeballs on facebook like a cute photo of a cat.

The Friday Challenge • Judgment Day



The votes are in, and the winner of the 11/17 Friday Challenge, by an overwhelming margin, is “A Once a Year Gig,” by James Westbrooks. We’ll have more to say about that one in a bit, but first off, congrats to James for the win!

Now, as promised, here are our comments on the other finalists.

» “No Christmas Without Santa,” by Gary Cuba

What can we say about this one? Gary Cuba has been a regular contributor to Stupefying Stories and SHOWCASE since “Oogie Tucker’s Mission” appeared in issue #3, and as always, this story does not disappoint. In the space of 250 marvelously succinct words he delivers a complete and horrifying little tale of a Christmas gone terribly wrong, and proves once again that ending a story with the anticipation of impending doom is often more effective than actually putting that doom onstage. Very well done.

» “The Real Saint Nick,” by H.L. Fullerton

H.L. Fullerton is another longtime contributor whose name we were happy to see in the inbox again, and had this one come in as a regular submission and not as a Friday Challenge entry, I probably would have accepted it and published it anyway. The story of a fairy princess and her husband, a dryad, banished to the mundane world and trying to make sense of Christmas—well, that alone is charming and funny. But then add in the element of a wife trying to let her intelligent but not altogether perceptive husband know that they are going to have a baby—well, that won me over. This one is charming, and funny, and sweet, and sentimental, and all in all, a perfect fantastic Christmas story. Personally, this one was my pick to win. I guess that says something about my quirky sense of humor.

» “Grodie and The War on Christmas,” by James Rye

James Rye is a stalwart member of the original Friday Challenge crew, going back to the dawn of time, or at least to “Armstrong” in the original print-only incarnation of Stupefying Stories, and it was great to find his name in the inbox again. This story is not as well-polished as some of the other submissions we received, but he does a terrific job of taking the tired “war on Christmas” meme and turning it into a snarky first-person-shooter action/adventure story. Great fun!

» “A Once a Year Gig,” by James Westbrooks

Finally, the winning story, by relative newcomer and previous Friday Challenge winner James Westbrooks, provoked some interesting debate around here. It’s well-written, and a classic crossover mashup—of Clement Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” plus Star Wars, with a faint whiff of Dune—of the sort that’s defined humorous SF ever since Isaac Asimov was a teenager. Most of us found it pleasant, amusing, and deserving of the win.

But that’s where the discussion took an interesting turn. While most of us liked it, the Token Generation Z member of the panel said, “I hate it. It’s yet another fan-boy inside-joke crossover story, and those were old before I was born. My Dad likes those stories. It’s the kind of story every freshman creative writing student cranks out because it makes her professor laugh and gets her an easy A.”

Well. That certainly was an unexpected reaction. But it got us thinking...



As regards the 12/08 Friday Challenge, we had the very unusual result of the judges opting for "no award." The rules do allow for this, in the event that we receive no entries deemed worthy of the win. For the 12/08 challenge, the TGZ’s arguments carried the day: the few entries we did receive were mostly "robot noir" crossover mashups and extended fan-boy insider jokes, so this was declared to be a Lousy Challenge, and I have been forbidden to use it ever again.

However, after further discussion, we have decided to put the TGZ’s proposition to the test, and in a few minutes we’ll be posting the second part of this experiment.

...to be continued...

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Friday Challenge • 12/22/17

While the judges are evaluating the entries received for the 12/08/17 Friday Challenge, it’s time to announce today’s challenge. This one is very simple. We call it:

2018: The Year in Review



Yes, that’s right. While everyone else in the media world is staring intently into the rearview mirror and writing articles looking back at the events of 2017, I want you to imagine it’s exactly one year in the future, and you are looking back at the events of 2018. Specifically, I want you to focus on something positive that happened in 2018, that made the world a better place for all concerned.

Then, I want you to write a short news article talking about this terrific discovery | scientific breakthrough | whatever, and what it means for the future of humanity. Remember, what we’re looking for here is optimism. The challenge is to describe something positive, that gave the world cause for hope.

The deadline for this one is midnight on Thursday, January 4th, 2018. Think it over, then write up your idea and send it to submissions@rampantloonmedia.com, with the subject line of 12/22 Friday Challenge.

Now put on your optimistic mindset and start daydreaming!






P.S. I can’t believe I need to say this, but absolutely no assassinations or obituaries! I don’t care how awful you may believe someone to be. If the only way you can imagine the world becoming a better place is by way of the untimely death of some other human being, please, get professional help.

From the SHOWCASE archives...

Fiction • “The Music Teacher,” by Mark Niemann-Ross •



We have a sort of a double-header in today’s SHOWCASE archive selection. First off, I’d like to direct your attention to On writing “The Music Teacher,” by Mark Niemann-Ross, in SHOWCASE #4, which is a really good non-fiction piece about how Mark went from an idea, to a story, and then to a published story. If you want to write fiction, this is a good read.

Then, I’d like to direct your attention to Stupefying Stories #12, which is where you will find the published story, “The Music Teacher.” From now through Christmas Day, we’re giving away the Kindle edition of Stupefying Stories #12 for free. When this promotion is over, though, #12 goes out of print, so this is your last chance to get it.

DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK NOW

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Free eBook Friday

It’s another FREE EBOOK FRIDAY!

Beginning at midnight tonight, and continuing through Christmas Day (because who knows, maybe Santa is bringing you a shiny new Kindle?), we are giving away the Kindle editions of these two ebooks absolutely free for the cost of a click.



In a galaxy where psychics are hunted outlaws...


Matt Connaught’s parents have vanished. He knows that they are still alive. But powerful people want them to stay vanished, and if Matt reveals how he knows what he knows, his life as a free man is over.

To rescue them, and save himself, he must become…


DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK NOW

BETTER YET, GET THE ENTIRE SERIES

ALSO AVAILABLE ON AUDIO BOOK

THE FUGITIVE PAIR IS ALSO ON AUDIO BOOK


(The audio books, it’s worth noting, are typically free with an Amazon Audible trial subscription.)

(It’s also worth noting that if I was writing a review of this book, I’d begin by saying, “Imagine if Robert Heinlein had written Slan,” as that really does pin the idea down in one succinct phrase. A pity no one has used those words in a review, yet.)



Stupefying Stories #12


Our first attempt to expand Stupefying Stories to a “2.0” format (which, if you’ve been wondering, is why we kept using the “1.xx” issue number format until #18), Stupefying Stories #12 has more and longer stories than any issue before and most of the issues since. It’s also going out of print when this promotion is over, so get it now, because this is your last chance to download it. Includes:

“All the Beautiful Lights of Heaven,”" by Russ Colson
“Showing Faeries for Fun and Profit,” by Julie Frost
“Indigene,” by Lawrence Buentello
“Cottage Industry,” by Evan Dicken
“The Robot Agenda,” by Samantha Boyette
“The Wrong Dog,” by Kyle Aisteach
“The Music Teacher,” by Mark Niemann-Ross
“The Last Unit,” by Judith Field

And of course our cover story, the unabashedly old-school alien world sci-fi pulp adventure, “For the Love of a Grenitschee,” by Mark Wolf

DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK NOW


P.S. As a special treat, you might also want to read, On writing “The Music Teacher,” by Mark Niemann-Ross, in the soon-to-disappear Stupefying Stories SHOWCASE #4.

Talking Shop

Op-ed • “It’s Amazon’s world, we just rent space in it,” by Bruce Bethke •



I got a query from an old friend the other day. And by old, I mean old: this is someone I’ve known for more than forty years. After a long and successful career as a teacher and writer of non-fiction books he retired, and decided to try his hand at writing a novel. In the fullness of time he actually finished his novel, and then to compound the miracle, he found a publisher who liked it well enough to accept it for publication and pay him a modest advance. After another fullnessity of time, spent working through the development editing, copy editing, proofreading, dust-jacket marketing copy development, and all that stuff, his novel was at last released...

Whereupon it promptly sank without a ripple. Not even a nice satisfying ker-ploonk! as it hit the surface of the literary world and went under. Two weeks after the gala release party, it was as if his novel had never existed.

Prompting his query to me: here in the 21st century, how in the Hell do you get your book noticed?

From the SHOWCASE archives...


Fiction • “On the Pond,” by Jake Doyle •


Look at our breath rise in the crisp, cold air. Look at the moon reflecting off the black ice. Look at the snowflakes melt into the ice. Look at that ice, there’s something about it. It’s bumpy, with an occasional crack. It’s not anything like man-made ice—it lets you know where you are, let’s you feel the bumps and cracks transfer from your blades to your shoes to your feet. Listen to the sounds—the sweet, sweet, mellifluous sounds of our skates gliding, slicing and cutting as they draw abstract art in that rough, frozen pond. Listen to the sounds of our wooden sticks—with snow on the blades and tape dangling from the shaft from hours and hours of use—echo off the woods to the north as they slap against the ice, the puck, or other sticks. Watch the way we all have our signature way of shooting and passing and skating. Watch the way a game can go from serious and intense to laughs and jokes in a matter of seconds. Or watch Andy Potter skate that Saturday morning in early January, when his blades did more dragging than slicing, almost like the wind was the only thing pushing him along, and you would know, from that day on, that playing pond hockey would never be the same.

That first day of pond hockey. Joy is a feeling that comes to mind. Not Christmas joy, not Easter joy, not Thanksgiving joy, rather, the first-day-I-met-my-brother joy. We wait and wait and wait, staring at the little thermometer hanging from the homemade bird feeder west of the pond. Is it under thirty-two? we’ll ask. It’s a bucket full of memories that we reminisce about on those beaches or around those bonfires during the summer months. You must think we’re crazy! How could anyone enjoy such a horrid time of the year over such a sun-filled, beach-living season? How could anyone think about memories from winter while sitting around a bonfire wearing shorts and flip-flops and tank tops?

Well, maybe we are crazy, for waking up at the crack of dawn to shovel the snow off a freshly frozen pond in the middle of December. Maybe we are crazy for playing till two, three in the morning just when our toes are on the edge of frostbitten and we have no choice but to stop. Maybe we are crazy because we don’t wear shin guards or elbow pads or helmets. Logan Campbell will agree. He crushed his left elbow and tore his ACL in the same day on the pond. Nicholas Pano will tell you we’re crazy and he’ll smile as he says it. He’ll tell you we’re crazy because four years ago all ten of us rushed him to the hospital in Andy Potter’s dark green Jeep as blood painted his brown hair after his skull crashed into the January ice.

But maybe it’s the only time of the year we get to do that one thing that we think about every time someone brings up the dreaded, frigid Michigan winter. Pond hockey...

» Read the rest of the story »


Photo credit: “Eishockey auf dem Backsteinweiher,” by Immanuel Giel • Used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Friday Challenge Reminder

Gentle reminder: the Friday Challenge deadline cometh.

This post is to remind you that you have about two and a half days left in which to vote for your pick to win the 11/17 Friday Challenge. You can read the four finalists right here.

Likewise, you also have about two and a half days left in which to submit your entry for the 12/08 Friday Challenge. If you need a refresher, you can read the challenge statement and submission guidelines right here.