New story available: “With Dust Their Glittering Towers: A Fly-Leaves Story”

 About two years ago, while working on a historical novel about a prominent Baconian, I began entertaining the idea of writing a cycle of short stories centered around the idea of a secret guild of women dedicated to investigating the supernatural mysteries surrounding the life of Sir Francis Bacon. This would be based–sometimes loosely and other times with as much unwavering historical accuracy as I could wrangle–on the Ladies’ Guild of Francis St. Alban, a mostly forgotten but extremely fascinating society founded in London in 1905 by the devout Baconian Mrs. Henry Pott (aka Constance Mary Pott, not to be confused, as is sometime the case, with her daughter of the same name, who was a noted artist), who had also inspired the formation of the Bacon Society of London in 1886.

Mrs. Henry Pott (1836-1915)

My cycle of stories would take the premise that a secret guild, called the Fly-Leaves, formed much earlier than the real-life Ladies’ Guild of Francis St. Alban, and that this secret society would plumb the stranger mysteries that were too “out there” for the more traditionalist Baconians, many of whom themselves believed that Bacon was the true author of the Shakespeare plays. The stories would be written in a modern, present-tense style that would yet strive to evoke the period in which they were set, which would span the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. “With Dust Their Glittering Towers”–which has just been released in The Many Tortures of Anthony Cardno, a charity anthology for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life–is the first story I’ve written for the Fly-Leaves series. It features intrepid Baconian Alicia Amy Leith, whose trip to Highgate takes a turn for the weird as she explores the crumbling ruins that mark the site of Sir Francis Bacon’s death. Having been inspired by an article by the real-life Alicia Leith, I spent a lot of time researching the historical details behind this one, and then a heck of a lot of time revising and polishing it. While authors are often blind to which of their works are of merit, I’m not afraid to say I think it’s possible this is my best piece of fiction yet–though doubtless I have made some historical blunder somewhere, and I hope the present-day Baconians can forgive the tale’s more fantastic elements. Many thanks to David Herter, one of the most brilliant authors I know, and my wife, Laura, a sharp baloney detector, for being my first readers on this story. I currently count ten entries in my “Story Ideas” file for potential Fly-Leaves stories, though I don’t know if all of these will be written. The current plan is for there to be one long novella, titled “Strange Promus,” which will be set just prior to “With Dust Their Glittering Towers,” and several more short stories that I will squeeze in to my writing schedule as time permits. The hope is to eventually collect the entire Fly-Leaves cycle under one set of covers, though that’s undoubtedly getting ahead of myself! For now, the first installment, “With Dust Their Glittering Towers,” is out there for you to read if you feel so inclined. Oh, yes, and an ebook edition of The Many Tortures of Anthony Cardno is coming soon. I’ll post the relevant links when it goes live.

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-????)

Tales of the Wold Newton Universe

Win Scott Eckert broke the news yesterday about the table of contents for the upcoming anthology Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, due out from Titan Books in October 2013. I’m honored to be collaborating on the book’s introduction with Win, and that the anthology will include “Kwasin and the Bear God,” my 20,000-word novella with Philip José Farmer that’s set between the first two chapters of The Song of Kwasin. I will note that this is the first-ever Wold Newton fiction anthology, so if you like Farmer’s Wold Newton mythos, you’re going to want to pick up this one. The book is now available to preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Here are the full contents:

Contents

Introduction by Win Scott Eckert and Christopher Paul Carey

The Great Detective and Others

“The Problem of the Sore Bridge–Among Others” by Harry Manders (Philip José Farmer)
“A Scarletin Study” by Jonathan Swift Somers III (Philip José Farmer)
“The Doge Whose Barque Was Worse Than His Bight” by Jonathan Swift Somers III (Philip José Farmer)

Pulp Inspirations

“Skinburn” by Philip José Farmer
“The Freshman” by Philip José Farmer
“After King Kong Fell” by Philip José Farmer

Wold Newton Prehistory: The Khokarsa Series

“Kwasin and the Bear God” by Philip José Farmer and Christopher Paul Carey

Wold Newton Prehistory: John Gribardsun & Time’s Last Gift

“Into Time’s Abyss” by John Allen Small
“The Last of the Guaranys” by Octavio Aragão & Carlos Orsi

Wold Newton Origins / Secrets of the Nine

“The Wild Huntsman” by Win Scott Eckert

Now Available: “Kwasin and the Bear God”by Philip José Farmer & Christopher Paul Carey

The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 2: Of Dust and Soul, edited by Michael Croteau, and with a foreword by Greg Bear, is now shipping from Meteor House. The anthology features a 20,000-word standalone novella—“Kwasin and the Bear God”—which I wrote based on Philip Jose Farmer’s fragmentary alternate outline to The Song of Kwasin, the forthcoming third novel in the Khokarsa series (things are moving forward with the latter, so stay tuned for more details).

Here’s some background on “Kwasin and the Bear God”…

Back in January 2009, after I’d already completed the first draft of The Song of Kwasin based on Phil Farmer’s partial manuscript and a nine-page outline, I was visiting the Farmers in Peoria, Illinois in celebration on Phil’s 91st birthday. Phil’s (and my) friend Paul Spiteri and I were among the last of the celebrants still at the house that weekend, and as we had time before our flights out of town, Phil’s wife, Bette, encouraged us to go downstairs and look through the files for unpublished material by Phil that might be worthy of seeing the light someday. Fatefully, the first filing cabinet drawer I opened contained a folder that I had never seen before labeled “HADON – Khokarsan Lore.”

My heart jumped a bit at this point, because up until that moment I thought I had had access to all of Phil’s fairly extensive extant notes on the Khokarsa series, which Phil and Bette had generously allowed me to photocopy on an earlier visit. But it turned out there were several more gems remaining to be found in this newly uncovered “Khokarsan Lore” folder, including an incomplete alternate outline to The Song of Kwasin. In the end it turned out that the outline was generally unusable for the purposes of the then-already-written third novel, as a large portion either repeated the original outline or broke the established continuity of the two published novels in the series. But there were two very exciting pages of outline detailing a side adventure of Kwasin on the island of Khokarsa.

Phil was too ill at this point to discuss anything to do with the material I’d uncovered, and had really stopped talking much at all in his last few years (although back in 2005 when the original Song of Kwasin outline had turned up he was well enough to give me a few pointers as to how he wanted the novel to wrap up). Bette, however, realized the significance of the new find and told me to take the folder home with me to make copies and study at my leisure. So I did, and sadly I only managed to return the files to Peoria a few days before she passed later that same year, a few short months after Phil’s passing that February.

“Queen of Serpents” illustrated by Charles Berlin

After I got home from the January visit, I used Phil’s detailed, Tolkienesque notes and articles pertaining to the Khokarsan language from the newly found folder to sync up the Khokarsan names, terms, and phrases in The Song of Kwasin with Phil’s syllabary and grammar rules (let’s just say, Phil was quite the linguist, and I was blown away with how much time and thought he’d put into the Khokarsan language). The novel soon sold to Subterranean, and the idea of doing anything with Kwasin’s lost adventure from the fragmentary alternate outline floated in limbo until I was honored to have Meteor House ask me to write a novella based on the material. And that’s the story of how “Kwasin and the Bear God” came to be.

Artist Charles Berlin has done some fantastic illustrations to go along with the novella in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 2, and I’m really pleased with how the story turned out–I’m told it does a good job of capturing Kwasin’s trickster nature (thanks to Phil’s outline, no doubt!). Anyway, I hope you’ll check out the anthology, which includes a Brobdingnagian assortment of talent, including folks like Spider Robinson, James Sallis, Bradley H. Sinor, Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier, Mary A. Turzillo, John Small, and more. But most importantly, it contains a bunch of never-before-published stuff by Philip José Farmer! Check out the full table of contents here.

Now Available: The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files

The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files edited by Joe Gentile and Howard Hopkins, which features my story “Devil’s Dark Harvest,” is now available from Moonstone Books in both trade softcover and limited edition hardcover editions. “Devil’s Dark Harvest” is a sort of Richard Benson and Nellie Gray meet The Island of Doctor Moreau type affair, which I had tons of fun writing.

From the publisher:

The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files

Written by: Robin Wayne Bailey, Will Murray, David Michelinie, Win Scott Eckert, Mark Ellis, Matthew Baugh, Ron Fortier, Howard Hopkins, Barry Reese, Eric Fein, Frank Schlidiner, Christopher Paul Carey, Chris Bell…
Cover Art: Tom Gianni
Edited by: Joe Gentile & Howard Hopkins
336pgs, b/w, Squarebound, 6”x9”, $18.95

The Avenger…All-New Stories for the Next Generation! Moonstone Books is proud to present this original anthology featuring never before seen tales of The Avenger.

**See it here…for the first and ONLY time anywhere…these two pulp titans collide… The AVENGER meets the uncompromising relentless justice of The SPIDER!

**See the never before told origin of The Avenger’s personal weapons “Mike” and “Ike”!

**The AVENGER meets up with the DOMINO LADY!

From the Flames of Tragedy, a Hero Rises In the roaring heart of the crucible, steel is made. In the raging flame of personal tragedy, men are sometimes forged into something more than human.

Life was bliss for millionaire adventurer Richard Henry Benson until the fateful day crime and greed took away his wife and younger daughter and turned him into something more than human.

Driven by loss, compelled by grief, he becomes a chilled impersonal force of justice, more machine than man, dedicated to the destruction of evildoers everywhere. A figure of ice and steel, more pitiless than both, Benson has been forged into an avatar of vengeance, possessed of superhuman genius and supernormal power. His frozen face and pale eyes, like ice in a polar dawn, only hint at the terrible force the underworld heedlessly invoked upon itself the day they created… The Avenger!

Now, the greatest crime-fighter of the 40s returns in a stunning collection of original action-packed tales of adventure, intrigue and revenge and even a chilling showdown with the Lord of Vampires himself!

New story in upcoming The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files

The good folks over at SF Signal have posted the table of contents for The Avenger: The Justice Inc. Files, edited by Joe Gentile and Howard Hopkins. The anthology, due out this May from Moonstone Books, includes my story “Devil’s Dark Harvest,” and will be available in both trade and hardcover editions.