Saturday, 22 July 2017

Nice Cover!!!

For your pleasure, here’s the cover of Compelling Science Fiction #7, featuring my story Cogito, Ergo Sum. I didn’t post it when the issue went live at the beginning of last month – my bad!

Read the story for free on the site, or buy the issue as a download for your reader device.

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Friday, 14 July 2017

Launching Now – Tales of the Sunrise Lands

This anthology from Guardbridge Books in Scotland is coming off the presses as I post this, and premiering at a UK literary convention this weekend. The international edition will be produced through Lightning Source and purchase links will be posted as soon as possible.

The editor sent the front cover graphic at once for dissemination, and it looks pretty good! Read my tale of late Medieval Japan, Ieyasu and the Shadow, in this volume. I hope to return to 1476 and the closing phase of the Ōnin War for further stories in future!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Sunday, 9 July 2017

In Print, July 2017 (and Progress)

A number of plusses have come along in the first week of July. My ‘Middle Stars” short story The Alien Way was picked up by the anthology Visions VII: Universe, and will be going to press this month – direct links as soon as they are available. This brings me to six “Middle Stars” stories placed, if I keep on like this one day I’ll be able to talk to a publisher about doing a collection in paperback.

Next up, the new pulp era-tribute magazine Storyhack Action and Adventure has picked up my WWII story Circus to Boulonge for issue #1 (it was held over from Issue #0). No release date yet, but the issue is moving through production and we went to contract today. Links when they come available, as always.

And AndromedaSpaceways have shortlisted my “Middle Stars” story “The Marachel Job,” another actioner on the high frontier, introducing a new character I’ll be returning to .

I just completed another “Middle Stars” piece, “The One that is All,” for submission to the anthology StrangeBeasties from Third Flatiron – it’s a little overlength but they cleared me to submit without doing a severe edit, so here’s hoping they like it!

Also appearing in print this month should be my short story Pelagus in the anthology Ecotastrophe II, from Nomadic Delirium Press (same publisher as The Martian Wave), due for release July 27th, and my Cthulhu Mythos short With Strange Aeons will be in the edition of Lovecraftiana releasing on July 31st.

Releasing the weekend os July 15-16 in the UK is the anthology Tales of the Sunrise Lands – more info in the next post!

In addition, as of the 15th, my short story "Unremembered Dreams" is shortlisted with the magazine New Myths, a turnaround within a few hours!

Circus to Boulonge was my 26th placement. I recently passed the 500 submissions mark, I’m on 504 at this moment, with 66 stories out and more to come. I keep the plates spinning ever single day!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Promo with Flame Tree

As promotion for the new round of anthology releases, Flame Tree invited authors to respond to some questions with brief passages which could be compiled on the company blog. Two posts went up where you’ll find comments from me about my piece.

There wasn’t room to do all three from each writer, so here’s the third of my passages (dealing with inspirational sources for my story An Echo of Gondwana):

What are your favourite stories from this genre? (can be films/artworks/other mediums too, or authors/film directors/artists)

“Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, of course; and King Kong must be listed; Burroughs’ The Eternal Savage and The Land That Time Forgot. The writings of Lovecraft, Howard, Smith, Carter and others have many evocative passages which bring the “lost worlds” concept into focus.”

I hope to place with Flame Tree in future as their list expands, and if I can then this anthology may be thought back on of as the start of an excellent partnership! The volume is at press at this time and should be available in the weeks ahead.

Cheers, Mike Adamson

* Royalty-free image from Pixabay.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

In Print, June 2017 (and Progress)

Compelling ScienceFiction #7 went live today, you can read my story Cogito, Ergo Sum on the website!

I also placed a story today, one of my “Tales of the Middle Stars,” titled North of 25, with the magazine Uprising Review. This is an angry, mal-contented little piece, set in the aftermath of the Colonial War, short as it’s pithy, and is the fifth “Middle Stars” story to be accepted.

This takes me to 24 placements, with currently about 65 stories out, and 473 submissions to date.


The Alien Way was picked up by the anthology Visions VII: Universe on June 23rd for publication later in the year. This is the sixth "Middle Stars" story to be placed.

R*E*X went live with Syntax and Salt on June 24th -- read free on the site!

Cheers, Mike Adamson

* Royalty-free image from Pixabay.

Monday, 29 May 2017

The Influence of Art: Chris Foss

When considering the artists whose work influenced me the most in the early days of my creative development, Chris Foss shines bright. Named the “dean of science fiction illustration,” his work became one of the dominating styles of book jacket illustration in the 1970s and later, and remains one of the great franchises of the genre.

I can’t remember my first exposure to his work, but I knew the name and the style when Science Fiction Monthly began in 1974. It may have been his cover for E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Galactic Patrol, which was the first golden-era SF novel I bought and read for its own sake – I remember the newsagent where I used to stare of those fabulous Panther editions, and the cover price was 95c – the year must have been around 1973. I still have it, indeed I’m looking at all the Panther/Grenada ‘Doc’ Smith volumes as I write this. I used to study the painting under a magnifying glass, puzzling endlessly over how Foss “managed to paint out of focus.” This was of course airbrush art, but I had only vaguely heard the term, and it would be six more years before I bought one.

Foss, born in Guernsey, the Channel Islands, in1946, brought to science fiction illustration more than imagination, he brought a grounding in architecture from Cambridge, naturally flowing into technical illustration – much as the American great Syd Mead brought sound technical knowledge to his concept work for US Steel and later movie applications. Foss’s work is characterised by a number of cardinal qualities – such as asymmetry, an artistic rebellion against the symmetrical design often necessitated by “form following function,” but sometimes by mere human preference: Foss’s work proposes that this need not always be so, either by choice, or by form-to-achieve function proceeding from laws of physics with which we are not yet conversant. This alone offers a wildly futuristic implication, so that when viewing a Foss painting one is imbued with a very convincing feeling of looking into another time and place.

It is also a future embodied in dynamism, brilliant colour and a minute attention to mechanical detail. It was said (by the venerable Brian Aldiss in his introduction to Science Fiction Art, Hart Davis MacGibbon, London, 1976) that the machine dominates in Foss’s art, and that any human being which may be glimpsed is invariably a tiny figure, hurried and occupied with his concerns, all of which are subservient to the technical grandeur of the machines of his creation. “When you catch sight of a human being in one of his paintings, he is a tiny, soft creature, generally in overalls, vulnerable, hurried, among the abrasive landscapes of a technological tomorrow.” (This may be ironically counterpointed with his black and white interior art for The Joy of Sex…)

During my younger days Foss represented the summit of the pyramid. I was well aware of the output of many other excellent artists, such as David Hardy, Eddie Jones, Kelly Freas (who also has been called the dean of SF art!) and others, but as a devotee of the machine in science fiction, Foss’s worlds captured my imagination like no other. His strange, almost organic machines, defying the laws of aerodynamics at every turn, implying as they do the unquestioned control of gravity, seemed to represent the ultimate ideal of the human triumph, embodied in the conquest of space. But his work also reflects the price at which these things come – his vessels belching pollution in the form of thick, black engine efflux, titanic explosions as things go very wrong, wrecked spacecraft marooned on exotic worlds, craft in collision, robots the size of mountains treading the natural world beneath their city-block sized feet – and humans minute as insects amongst it all, if they are glimpsed at all.

It was heady stuff for a kid, and I have to wonder to what extent these mega-machines helped shape my thinking. I have never forgotten the feelings those paintings inspired, the exotic and the alien made tangible, reachable, with the promise of technology overcoming the barriers of mundanity to free humans to explore the universe. And of course, the mechanical minutia, the intakes and exhausts, antennas and lights, every structural support and shock-absorber, represented with loving attention to detail and rendered with the brilliance of a very fine artist indeed.

When I think of the artists who have brought science fiction to visual life, Foss is invariably top of the list. I could rattle off dozens of names, each of whom has something special to bring to the table, a uniqueness of style or approach, visual tricks that stamp their work – but Foss is king. Perhaps it is the impact of his studied airbrush work, counterpointing traditional brushwork and the exquisite application of oils – a fineness of technique I have never yet been able to fathom. (How does one paint a perfectly straight, hair-thin line in oils?) Maybe it’s the outrageous vision, which marries artistic abstraction to hard machine technology; perhaps it’s the expansiveness of scope, the wide open spaces of the universe, made real. Whatever, “Foss-esque” has become a word in my vocabulary (yes, I tried his sort of fine detail, his strange not-quite-English lettering styles and plethora of antennae in watercolours as a kid), and there are times I’m more than tempted to visualise story material through the eyes of such imagination. After all, while one might never be able to afford to commission concept art from the maestro, one can always imagine it!

Now 71, Chris Foss is still working. After more than a thousand book covers, he has become his own industry, in a sense, not exactly cornering his own market but certainly preserving his own niche, distinct from the great many other brilliant artists in the field. There was a time when a Foss painting on the cover was almost guaranteed to sell an otherwise indifferent book, and art directors called for other artists to emulate him – which justifiably rankles the artist as it cost him work. The first major collection of his art, 21st Century Foss from Dragon’s Dream (1978), is a hard-to-find classic now, and the binding was less than flash when new – beautifully printed but the pages disengaged quickly from the sort of perfect-binding adhesive in use. Hardware, from Titan Books is a 240-page all-colour opus dating from 2011, and well worth adding to any connoisseur’s library.

Find Chris’s official website here.

What can I say? Foss helped shape my outlook on the universe, and his imagery remains both an inspiration and a standard.

Cheers, Mike Adamson

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

In Print, May 2017 (and Progress)

Things have been happening in a variety of ways – domestic stuff, illness in the house, has certainly taken its toll, but the writing endeavour has kept on rolling.

A couple of pieces of important news take pride of place – on April 7th Flame Tree Publishing in the UK picked up my story An Echo of Gondwana to feature in their forthcoming anthology Lost Worlds. They asked all contributors to keep it under their hats until the contents were formally announced on their blog – here’s the entry:

 It’s a very proud moment to be featured as one of the new contributors to a collection also featuring classic works by names like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert E Howard, Rudyard Kipling, H P Lovecraft, Jules Verne and H G Wells! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would feature on the same contents list as luminaries like these!

This was also my first sale for full professional rates, thus something of a turning point. It’s wonderful to be able to cite a pro credit!

And I can now also cite a second – on May 2nd my short story Cogito, Ergo Sum was picked up by Compelling Science Fiction, another pro market, and will be going to press June 1st in their seventh issue. Two pro sales a matter of weeks apart is very encouraging and I have done my best to maintain output, with new ideas going into my notes, new stories appearing, and older works being given tweaks and revisions.

The Overcast magazine has shortlisted my story “Cursed with Clarity,” while Storyhack is making great strides toward their next release, in which, I have every reason to hope, I will be appearing.

Lovecraftiana went to press April 30th and the edition can be ordered as a POD paperback here:

I have entries in a number of writing competitions, with others on the way.

At this moment I have 21 placements from 453 submissions, less 68 stories currently on submission (my record is 73 or so), which equates to an average of 18.3 rejections per acceptance across the entire campaign from the beginning of last year. This is a somewhat skewed figure, as acceptances did not begin to roll until September 2016, after my very first actually appeared in print.

It’s a while since I’ve posted any new essays on the craft of writing – I’ve been busy actually writing stories! But I’ll see what I can come up with, all the same!

ADDENDUM – my SF short story Fear of the Dark was picked up on May 19th by Aurealis, one of Australia's flag-carrier SF magazines, in print since 1990. It should be appearing later in the year in issue 104. I'm delighted to have a short-listing convert to an acceptance! And also, my fantasy short Magus, one of my "Avestium" stories, was just picked up by 4 Star Stories, for publication next year.

Best wishes,

Mike Adamson