Monday, 28 August 2017

21st Century Thrilling Adventure - How it all began

As we move ahead with the 21st Century Thrilling Adventure I am eager to introduce you all to the authors in our lineup. There’s some talent here, let me tell you.

Let me begin with Misha Burnett – author of the very well received Book of Lost Days series which by the way is a fantastically eerie tale about some really compelling characters: I urge you to read it for yourself, but for now let me simply say these books defy the “traditional” genre categories. There’s science fiction, fantasy, and horror in there, all mixed together in a wonderful bundle with a dash of noir and a healthy whiff of existential dread.  But don’t trust me – let the folks at Goodreads guide you. And check out all those stars!

But I’m not just flogging books here. The fact is that Misha’s approach in Catskinner’s Book is the sort of thing I love from speculative fiction, the sort of thing that that used to be standard: a heady blend of the fantastic and the weird that doesn’t bother with genre labels. Everything is on the table, and the author just picks up the tools needed to make the story pop.

This is what I want for EXTANT! and this is why I decided to take the plunge and start off with this anthology that Misha pulled together.

I’d tell you how this collection came to be, but why make it up when I can go straight to the source and let Misha tell it for himself?

In the spring of this year I issued a challenge to a group of writers in the form of a question, “Is a modern setting incompatible with the Pulp aesthetic?”

Some lively discussion followed—discussion that is ongoing as I write this.  However, many of us chose to make the attempt to recapture the action and adventure of the Pulp era in stories that weren't set in some retro-nostalgic version of the past or an imagined far-distant future, but in there here and now.

21st Century Thrilling Adventure is the result.

The rules of the game were these (proposed initially by Rawle Nyanzi and polished by suggestions from several sources).

1.      The setting must be contemporary Earth. No “Twenty minutes into the future,” no 1950s/60s period pieces, and no alternate history. Stories should be set in the world that you see outside your window. No time travel, space travel, or dimension hopping. Exotic locations on Earth–uncharted islands, lost cities in the jungle, underground caverns–are allowed, but the heroes should be from a contemporary setting and purely human. High level and exotic skills are allowed, but no werewolves, mutants, or aliens.

2.      That being said, all fantastic elements are allowed, from folkloric monsters to made-up creatures and everything in between. Magic is explicitly allowed. We are looking for stories in which humans face off against extraordinary threats. Secret histories involving supernatural creatures, hidden super-science, covert aliens and the like are encouraged.

3.      All stories must have a conflict and a resolution. No stories where nothing happens. We are looking for Pulp Action and Adventure. We want danger, we want excitement, we want last minute rescues and hairbreadth escapes.

4.      There must be a morality of some kind, but moral dilemmas and doubts can occur. We’re looking for heroes who are heroic, who stand up against evil, who gaze into the abyss and punch it in the face.

5.      Gratuitous use of obscene or profane language is discouraged. This is more a matter of taste than anything else–we’re looking to recapture a spirit of high adventure. In the same spirit excessive gore should be avoided–violence, yes, explosive evisceration described in detail, not so much. Sexual situations are allowed, if they fit the story, but should be kept soft-focus. Leave it the reader’s imagination.

The results have been interesting. I had wanted to leave the issue of genre open, so this isn't a collection of Science Fiction or Fantasy or Horror stories—although you'll find elements of all of those—instead they are action oriented stories in which you can encounter just about anything, from purely human threats to vengeful spirits to alien invaders.

You'll find heroes who are elite members of secret agencies, and others who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But, while you'll travel from the ends of the Earth and the shuttered house next door, you'll stay right here in the modern world.  These stories all take place in the 21st Century, the world of cell phones and internet and 24 hour news networks. These are stories of the world where you live.

Well... almost, anyway.

So there you have it: like some kind of superhero origin story, the mysterious Misha Burnett gathered together a diverse team - each with their own unique powers - posed them a challenge, and this is the result.  
In the interests of full disclosure, I suppose I should mention that I am one of the original group of writers who are continuing the debate on what made the pulps tick, and how that blood and sinew could be translated into modern fiction that has the same kind of verve.

This anthology is part of that discussion - it's the vision of a group of writers who are all looking on fiction through different windows and seeing it from different angles.

It's exciting and horrifying and bizarre and thrilling each by turns.

And it's coming soon!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

21st Century Thrilling Adventure

Coming Fall 2017!

I am excited to announce the launch of EXTANT! SF's first project!
21st Century Thrilling Adventure is a collection of stories that aim for the passion and drive of Radium Age action and adventure, but drag that energy into the modern age.

For all they are maligned, the pulps of the 1920s and 1930s had life – they were exploding into an entirely new market and driving forward into brand new ideas. This collection features stories inspired by the action-adventure tales of the pulps, stories that range from hard boiled action, through tales of the weird to straight up fantasies of the modern world. The thing they all have in common is: energy.

These stories hit the ground running!

Featuring stories by:
This is an amazing lineup of writers for a first issue, and I’m excited to be working with them. Be sure to check out their websites and to search out their other work online – this project is going to be a wild ride!
All stories are in and in editing - I'd like to say the hard part is done (and done well by this talented crew!) but the truth is we still have the nuts and bolts of getting to press to deal with.
Watch this space for updates, including author snapshots and cover art!

Who are we anyway?

I flatter myself using the royal “We” of course, since – at present – EXTANT! SF remains a one-being show. Nevertheless, let me give you the penny tour:

We live in a golden age of science fiction.

SFnal technology is accelerating SF availability. This shows in the sheer number of SF offerings on TV and in the cinema in recent years, but it goes much further.

Advances in computerized animation and the drastic drop in the potential cost of SFX, not to mention a multitude of lower cost - and lower risk! - platforms makes it easy for production houses and even individuals to take risks they might otherwise have balked at. And this goes not only for traditional platforms like film and TV, but for newer visual media like video games and the emergent AR and VR.[1]

But wait! There's more!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

No really - Coming Soon!

After months of trying to sort out the logistics, I have stumbled into EXTANT! SF's first project - and it's a doozie!

More details will be coming in the days ahead as I get word from the authors and finalize the deal, but I think you'll be as excited as I am.

We have 16 original stories from established and up-and-coming authors, all drawing heavily on the blood and sinew of classic fantastic fiction. These tales are variously weird, hard-hitting, mysterious, exciting, and horrifying - some of them all at once! I'm sure you'll like them as much as I do.

We even have a killer cover in progress. It's an amazing concept and I can't wait to see the final product - it's sure to be amazing, judging from the artist's comments and the initial sketch.

There are still a few things to sort out - among them the legals and some final editing of the stories - but once we have some of the formal bits sorted out watch this space for an announcement with more details of what's to come in the months ahead!

Kevyn Winkless

Monday, 26 June 2017

Coming Soon!

The future is exciting!

The indie publishing scene is just exploding for SFF, and the energy is palpable. There are new literary movements growing everywhere, and from those movements are emerging some amazing new writers.

But more than that, the new technologies we have at our fingertips are triggering a revolution in publishing much as cheaper "pulp" paper and cheaper, more reliable printing technologies fuelled the explosion of the pulp markets in the 1930s.

More than ever, there's space in the market for new ideas and new voices - and that means there need to be plenty of dynamic new venues where the emerging writers can experiment and polish their craft. Where better than in the modern, digital equivalent of the pulps.

That's what I want to do with EXTANT! Here I plan to publish the most amazing fiction I can, both old and new. I'll be going back to basics, looking for exciting, energy rich stories to put in front of readers. And there are so many new authors popping up today that I'm sure the hardest part of my side of the job will be choosing them.

What an embarrassment of riches the modern era has brought us! What amazing new technologies, new ideas, new worlds for us to play in!

Are you an author with an urge to write something hard and fast and fantastic? If so, watch this space - soon, once I have all the pieces in place, I will be posting my first call for submissions.

What a time to be alive!