The M-Brane SF Double, by Alex Jeffers and Brandon H. Bell, is finally within days of completion. This beautiful book is due for official release May 31. People who have followed my blogs or paid attention to me on Twitter and Facebook over the past year know that I have long dreamed of publishing a book that would honor the style of the old Ace Doubles from decades ago, those wonderful books where two short novels were published back-to-back (and upside down in relation to one another), so that the book has the effect of having two front covers. Over the last two years, I have had the joy of publishing monthly issues of M-Brane SF, a couple of gorgeous anthologies, a couple of lovely single-author short fiction collections, and the new fantasy periodical Fantastique Unfettered. I adore all of these things, but this new book, the Double, has become something of the new baby of the family, the special adored one, the focus of all attention (The rest of my operations will probably be glad when it's finally released! )
While I have worked hard on this project, the work I that have done is petty, insignificant, a mere trifle compared to that of the real talent behind it, the two great writers and the one great cover artist. These three came together to make my pet project not just real but actually a thing worth doing. I am going to introduce the two authors and their stories at length below, in the form of publishing here the actual intros that I prepared for the book. But first I want to acknowledge artist Jeff Lund for making two fine, matching covers for this book which each catch an essence from the stories they introduce but which also together create the whole look that I was after for this book. Of course everyone who knows me at all knows very well that Jeff is also my life partner, but his employment as the cover artist was by no means an easy inside job. He fought me for months on actually doing the work, insisting that he wasn't qualified for it. But I knew that he could do it--because I had seen so much great work from him before--and that he was the exact artist that I needed for this very special project. This post on my Live Journal , from many months ago, tells the story of getting the covers done in more detail.
M-Brane Press is offering a fine domestic (US and Canada) pre-order special for the M-Brane SF Double: The New People/Elegant Threat, Print Edition. Buy here, using the Pay Pay button below (takes credit/debit cards and e-checks if you don't have an actual Pay Pal account) for $14.95. For this price, you will get a copy of the beautiful print edition of this book (shipping included) plus this giant slew of electronic bonuses:
1) A permanent electronic (PDF) subscription to M-Brane SF, the monthly magazine of astounding science fiction. Your subscription will begin (and never end!) with a three-issue "starter pack" consisting of issues #25, #26 and the new #27--check out a free issue with the button over in the right side bar...
2) Electronic copies of Fantastique Unfettered #1 and #2 (worth the price right there). Fantastique Unfettered is our new "Periodical of Liberated Literature," a gorgeous magazine edited by Double author Bell...
3) Electronic copies of our fabulous anthologies Things We Are Not (queer sf) and 2020 Visions (near-future sf)...
4) An electronic copy of Ergosphere, the special twelfth issue of M-Brane SF, guest-edited by Rick Novy...
5) A giant mega-bundle of the entire second year of M-Brane SF, back issues #13 through #24.
(Again, US and Canadian orders only; sorry, we can't manage high overseas shipping costs at this low price, but the print book will become available in the UK, Europe and Australia after release.)
We are giving away nearly everything we have to give away with this special. That's how terrific we think it is, and how important we think it is that people get a copy of this book. But there's one catch: The special ends by the 5/31 publication date or as soon as 100 readers order this special. As soon as order #100 is received, we will will shut down the pre-order and the book will then be available only through B&N, Amazon, etc. (This isn't just an arbitrary number or a gimmick--processing pre-orders is a lot of work, and a 100 is about as many as we want to commit to in the next couple weeks). Readers who decide to jump on this good deal should do so right now by using the Pay Pal button. Allow us up to a day to send you by email the details of your purchase, including all your download links to your fat new cache of electronically preserved fiction. The print Double won't ship to you until 5/31, but you'll have more than enough to read in the meantime.
Here's the nice, easy-to-use Buy Now button, and please continue reading below to learn more about the authors and their novels...
$14.95 includes M-Brane SF Double (print), and everything mentioned above.
he fact that Alex Jeffers does not quite yet seem to be a common household name among readers of speculative fiction is a deplorable situation that I mean to do whatever little I can to correct. A writer of fantasy, science fiction and difficult-to-categorize literature, Jeffers has been one of my favorite writers that I have encountered over the last couple of years. He is a storyteller of remarkable imagination, a wordsmith of great talent and an editor’s dream of a writer with whom to work on a project.
I first learned of Jeffers when he offered a story for my GLBT science fiction anthology Things We Are Not (2009). I accepted “Composition with Barbarian and Animal”—a gorgeous, exotic, enthralling tale—for the book and counted myself lucky to have gotten such a nice item for my first attempt at editing an anthology. After I learned more about Alex Jeffers, I suspected that he was a writer perhaps a bit out of my league at the time (as the very small-time editor I was), and I doubted that I’d have a shot at publishing him again any time soon. But a short while later he surprised me with “Jannicke’s Cat” (M-Brane SF #10, November 2009). And it was then, while reading this achingly lovely story, that I learned of the singular world of Rahab, an oceanic place with but a few small islands where humans live in interstellar isolation from their cousins on other distant, out-of-reach planets. There befell a situation that resulted in the birth of no more females to the last generation of women on that world. Jannicke, an old woman at the time of the story, is one of the last of her sex, in a soon-to-be all-male world where the very survival of the species may be in peril.
Fast-forward many, many years: Science found a way where nature didn’t, and the humans—the men—of Rahab survive and flourish as humans always have, living their lives, dreaming their dreams, marrying and having families. But something else also remained the same as it had always been: most males were still born heterosexually oriented but they would live their lives never knowing a single living woman. This biological, existential conundrum and one possible solution to it are at the core of The New People. If, based on what I have just said, you have already formed expectations or made presumptions about what you will find in The New People, you are probably wrong. Jeffers surprises throughout both with the details of the story and the way his vividly rendered characters navigate through it.
When Jeffers submitted The New People to me over a year ago, I was frankly stunned. Because he submitted it for consideration as a story for the normal run of the M-Brane SF magazine, taking me at my word that I had no upper limit on word count. Indeed I do not have a firm upper word count limit for the magazine, but a thirty thousand word novella that I suspected would be fantastic (before I’d even read a single word) seemed altogether too much to treat as a normal submission. So, what to do? I had already been chattering on the web about my dream of creating a new book in the old style of the Ace Doubles, but I was still pretty far away from committing to the actual doing of it, and I had no idea what I’d be able to get for its content. But as I started reading The New People, I realized that I had one half of my Double in hand already. It was the perfect situation all around: I had one story that would work beautifully for the new book, and it was a story that had long deserved but had never gotten a proper presentation to the public.
As with the story that forms the other half of this book, Jeffers’ tale is one stand-alone piece of what we must hope will one day come forth as part of a much larger story. Jeffers says he has in process a work called A Boy’s History of the World, which will incorporate all of his Rahab stories. This is something that ranks highly on my personal list of Books That I Wish Existed. But for now, I will content myself with the terrific pleasure of being the one to point toward this great open window into that world. Enjoy.
—Christopher Fletcher, Editor, M-Brane SF
Foreword to Elegant Threat by Brandon H. Bell..
have been telling readers about Brandon H. Bell since I first read his work in the slush-pile the first month I was producing M-Brane SF magazine. In the slightly more than two years since M-Brane SF #1, I have published Brandon’s stories twice more in the magazine and in a couple of anthologies (Things We Are Not and the M-Brane SF Quarterly #1), and I have been gratified to see, as his list of publishing credits steadily lengthens, that other editors are seeing what I see in this extraordinarily imaginative and intelligent writer.
The story you are about to read is a marvel, and the realization in print of a project that Brandon Bell has been working on for a long time. He has created a rich, lavish, fascinating and sometimes frightening Post-Singularity, interplanetary milieu. Some lucky readers have had a chance to peer into it a couple of times already: one of his first published short stories, “Best Gift” (Return to Luna, Hadley Rille 2008) was, as Bell describes it on his website, “a tale about Sterling Suits, Neo-Dromedaries, and the persistence of love, trust, and faith on the lunar surface.” The next glimpse into this strange world was in M-Brane SF #5 (June 2009), with the story “Abraham Discovers an Artifact Impenetrable to All Harm,” an enigmatic and startling story about an unusual family struggling to make their way in the universe at the edges of an impending war between humans and Post-humans. These stories were so fascinating that my only complaints were that they were too short and that there weren’t enough of them. But now, with Elegant Threat, we finally get to spend a longer time in Bell’s world.
Elegant Threat—the story of people who wrangle aquatic fauna from the harrowing tides of the moon Shanama against a backdrop of imminent conflict with the mysterious Post-humans and sectarian strife within their own ranks—was envisioned by its author as the first of a triptych of stories that will eventually comprise a much longer novel. But this story herein—a novella of about thirty thousand words—is also complete, self-contained and will satisfy readers even if the other portions are never seen (though all readers of this one will certainly clamor for the rest and Bell likely shall feel obliged to produce it soon enough).
Bell has deployed an interesting and unexpected literary device in telling this story. Its subtitle, On the Demise of Captain Fantomas Patton-Guerrero and Loss of La Amenaza Elegente, gives the reader a big clue up front essentially how the story is going to end, as does the very first chapter’s final line: “…La Amenaza Elegente dropped toward the planet, beginning its descent toward the place that would soon become its grave.” As with an ancient Greek tragic play or a Shakespeare drama, we go into it knowing that Captain Fantomas and his ship are doomed but the fascination lies in seeing how and why this disaster unfolds. And even though the ending is foretold from the earliest pages, the reader will not see coming the stunning sequence of events that bring about that ending. This way of telling the story, as if it is a recounting of an event that the reader may have heard of before, adds an alluring patina of history to it. But what really makes this story and this way of telling it succeed is the way that Bell draws such lovely, nuanced characters and makes the reader really care about them enough to hope that maybe somehow, against all odds, they will still avert tragedy even though we already know that the Amenaza is not going home again.
Now, without further delay, please visit spectacular, deadly Shanama and witness the fate of La Amenaza Elegente.
—Christopher Fletcher, Editor, M-Brane SF