This week, C. C. Blake presents the first volume of a new project. PULPTASTIC ADVENTURES QUARTERLY will be a series of anthologies that appear in January, April, July, and October. The first volume’s theme and title is INTERSECTIONS, and it offers a trio of original stories curated by C. C. Blake from three of Twice Told Tales Press’ authors. Today, Blake will choke back on the politics (hopefully) and tell us about the fiction.
Take it away, Blake!
Confessions and Intersections
C. C. Blake
I have come to believe some of the great endeavors started out as bad jokes that everyone but the teller took seriously. Case in point, this new series of anthologies from Twice Told Tales. At one of our confabs (aka dinner), I threw out the idea of an open genre anthology, a place for stories of all sorts to show up. It would be a melting pot of pulp fiction, which I teased as Pulptastic Adventures. Since I was already involved in a monthly book of my own, C. C. Blake’s Sweaty Space Operas, there was no way I wanted to get involved with yet another monthly deadline so when the inevitable question “How often?” came up, I said, “What about quarterly?”
At least no one tried to tell me pulp fiction was a genre. As everyone knows pulp fiction was named for the vast numbers of magazines that appeared on newsstand racks from the 1920s through the 1970s in one form or another. They were penny a word stories, and individual magazines focused on individual genres and styles. There were pulp horrors, pulp romances, pulp suspense, pulp heroes, pulp adventure, pulp science fiction . . . About the only thing that could be said for the stories as a whole was that they moved like blazes. When I kicked off my own career, I was part of a modern pulp magazine empire focusing in on sweats-style men’s adventure, pulpy android sf, and pulpy vampire stories.
Well, the idea caught like wildfire around the table. Glasses of stout or Malbec wine might have had something to do with that. We all kicked off ideas about what we might do in terms of stories and themes and whatnot. We agreed to kick things off in 2019 and then it came time to figure out who was going to curate this thing. Well, I should have learned a lesson from my day job in corporate America. If you don’t want to a lead a project, then keep your mouth shut. The poor sob who proposes the idea invariably gets stuck with the lion’s share of work and all the blame if/when that project goes off the rails.
So, even though I have a monthly book I am putting together, I was urged to be the responsible editor for this anthology’s first volume. I took it one better and decided to helm things for the first year. Will I stick around after that or pass the crown to another? Well, that remains to be seen. We may last four volumes total, but we will last the four.
This first book came together in terms of theme after I had received the stories. I had nothing in mind when I pitched it, and I was surprised when the stories all touched on speculative fiction in some way or another. Two of them did so in a direct fashion—Daniel takes us to the stars for a trader whose deal goes south, and then the trouble begins; Kaysee Renee takes us to a distant world where an alien being is expected to perform a musical extravaganza—while my own piece explored the poverty row world of scifi b-picture filmmaking in the 1970s for a mystery starring my first series character, the troubleshooter called Chuck Cave. However, this is a random thing. The next issue won’t be all spec fic informed, but will branch out to other interests. Kaysee Renee has been threatening to submit a prairie romance of all things! The Pulptastic Adventures Quarterly anthologies are intended for folks who love stories more than they might love particular genres. Perhaps individual issues will continue to revolve around one genre or they will be more inclusive. We are still figuring this out as we go. As our publishing backlists show: Twice Told Tales Press writers love all kinds of stories, and we feel we aren’t alone out there.
This first volume contains 20,000 words spread over three original tales, and we have some fun surprises in store for future installments, as well. Hope you join us for the wild ride ahead.
The Nubile Nymphs of Neptune
A Chuck Cave Mystery
C. C. Blake
I had to stop what I was doing on the catwalks when the four green-skinned, voluptuous, alien beauties slithered into the Jacuzzi far below and started making out. Hands and mouths traveled all over, going places no red-blooded heterosexual male wouldn’t appreciate. It was a thing of beauty. My breath caught in my throat in a fevered fascination. Too bad the scene got cut from the picture. Even if you saw the hack job that was The Nubile Nymphs of Neptune or whatever it got called, you never saw that clip. The scene was cursed. The girls gave the scene their all while someone else dedicated his attention to malfeasance, and I was too stupid to watch out until it was almost too late.
Not five minutes after the director called “Action,” and the cameras rolled, a metallic whang sounded from the rigging where I was. It was the sound of a support cable snapping under too much load. A long, thin, and metallic cable whizzed through the air, slicing my cheek and nipping the tip of my left earlobe. One of the heavy duty lights plummeted toward the pool, twenty feet below. What sweet, green painted flesh it didn’t crush faced electrocution.
I hollered a warning even as I dove off the catwalk and caught the lamp’s electrical line. There was no hope that my momentum could pull the line aside or drag the damned light off its trajectory. However, I landed on the opposite catwalk and rolled over, clutching the cable and then there was a momentary jerk as the light stopped its downward rush, and we both swung through pendulum motions for almost three seconds before the cable slithered through my palm like a razor-hided serpent.
The girls stopped what they were doing, and four sets of wide eyes and o-shaped mouths turned up my way, green tinged bubbles fizzing up around their vulnerable parts. My interference was enough to throw that sucker off its trajectory. The light touched down on the stage not two feet from the Jacuzzi, landing with a crash, fracturing into a hundred bits of glass, steel, and electrical wiring.
I hit the stage near the light, catching solid stage with my tailbone and then slamming backwards into the glass and steel fragments. The plug end of the line went into the tub and the director, McCracken, made a squawking terrified sound for fear that the girls were going to get cooked by the part of the cable that gets plugged into the wall. Needless to say, he was not operating with a full head of functional brain cells. As I had learned when I got the job as a concrete consultant and then as bodyguard, artistic vision is all that was required to helm a poverty row shoot like Nymphs. Everything else was numbers crunched by a bean-counting producer, cameras pointed by an overworked DP, as well as hackneyed lines first scribbled by an impassioned scenarist and then recited with as much heart as possible by the hired “talent.”
One of the girls stepped up out of the Jacuzzi and asked, “Are you okay, Mr. Cave?” Carlotta had no thought or fears about her state of undress.
“I’ll survive,” I said. What I saw got me on the road to recovery, all right.
[Continued in “The Nubile Nymphs of Neptune”]
In My Father’s House, There Are Many Doors
Daniel R. Robichaud
The deal had gone sour well before the blasters started popping, the containers of Promiser earwyrms started exploding, and Himi Yamiako ran for cover behind the Bakemono‘s landing gear, while calling for his Dripthian copilot to get his protoplasmic butt in gear. When Goo-Goo Mosch’s bored gurgle voice responded “Roger” on the mobile comm emergency receiver implanted near Himi’s eardrum, Himi realized the initial Arctician attack that wiped out his mobile comm’s higher activity had no effect on the baseline function. He could talk to his copilot. All was not lost.
While assessing the present trouble, the Japanese trader regretted ignoring his father’s advice about dealing with Arcticians. It had seemed simple racist profiling before. Now that blaster bolts were whizzing, Himi realized a truth underlying the racial insensitivity: There is no trusting Blue Bugs to keep their end of the deal without throwing in some kind of twist.
Himi’s first clue that the Arcticians were planning something should have been their choice of a meet up locale. These fire grass fields – named for brilliant coloration and not flammability – lay outside of Homeopathia, a relocation settlement for the Terran ChrisSign anti-technology religious group. The locale was not exactly ideal to exchange such delicate comm and entertainment technology marvels as earwyrms.
Sure, Homeopathia was a nowhere land where the local luddite castoffs would likely not interfere with gleaming starships and their technology-corrupted occupants. The townsfolk might show up, waving pitchforks or thumping their Grass Blade Bibles in an attempt to save a soul or two, but they would not actively interfere. The gunpowder barrel strapped bombers responsible for the group’s forceful relocation to the edge of known space were long gone pieces of history.
The sinking feeling set in when the Arcticians greeted him with snarls and jeers, upping to absolute zero their reputation for chilly dispositions – a byproduct of their species being bred for deep space work as well as life on the converted asteroids they used for their Interstellar Archipelago Armada. When they called him the lowest names, regarding his penalty-of-death crimes of dual perversion, citing both Himi’s bisexuality and polyamory, he learned two facts: someone had ratted him out and also that he was in deep, deeper, deepest trouble. Then, the violence kicked in and there was only time for survival.
[Continued in “In My Father’s House, There Are Many Doors”]
Born Under a Wand’ring Star
Kaysee Renee Robichaud
Old Man Barnard struck a match off his thumbprint and touched the flame to his pipe bowl’s contents. Green smoke swirled upward, scented lilac and honey and fruity tobacco. In the distance, the lowing of his cattle melded with the distant huffs of the plains yeti as the second sunset signaled the coming of twilight. The oldster shook the match flame out with two careful wrist flicks, smiled around the pipe stem and said, “Not sure what you east coresters have come looking for, but I’m liable to put up a couple of chits right here and now that what you’ll find i’n’t what you’re expecting.”
Caroline Capote did not glance back at her captureman, John Rollins, to know he was smirking. Nor did she snort at this oldster’s wager. She had been all over the rim worlds, riding burner ships east to west and traverse to adverse, and she had never really found a surprise. Research was the key. Knowing what you were going to see was vital to getting the story without introducing the bias of surprise. Surprise was for battleground correspondents, not infotainment jockeys. She did not want to dare crewed missile fire or stray phase-plasma blasts, so she sided with the simple stories that made the day-to-day grind back in the Eastern Core a little bit easier to bear. Of course, the fluff sometimes made her squirmy, and that was the sign of a good news story, too; if a story turns a body on, her favorite school mentor had once confided, it could turn a mind on, as well.
Instead of educating the man on quality journalism, she offered him one of her heart-melting smiles and said, “I hope you’re right, Mr. Barnard. I would love to be surprised.” His attention fixated on her red lips, on her long throat, on her brunette hair long in the back and banged in the front. She hoped he was not looking at her wrists, which were looking unsightly thin this week.
“Call me Old Man,” he said. “Mister is so formal.”
“I prefer a little formality, when I am a guest on someone else’s land.”
He considered this and bobbed his head. “That’s a convincing enough argument. Mister is it. But how about I’ll call you Missy Capote?”
She knew the title was a local thing, respectful. However, in the Eastern Core it was a diminutive. These outer rims just did not keep up with the cutting edge. She did not roll her eyes when she said, “I’d like that.”
[to be continued in “Born Under a Wand’ring Star”]
We hope these excerpt have piqued your interest enough to check out INTERSECTIONS: PULPTASTIC ADVENTURES QUARTERLY, VOLUME 1. It is currently available in both paperback and eBook editions. Grab a copy from Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, or your favorite market today.
Do you have a book releasing soon? Would you like to tease our audience with some behind the scenes items, share your thoughts on an inspirational work, or otherwise tease our audience with your words and work? Then drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org about writing for our Tuesday Tease series.
“Confessions and Intersections” and the excerpt from “The Nubile Nymphs of Neptune” are copyright © 2019 by C. C. Blake. The excerpt from “In My Father’s House, There Are Many Doors” is copyright © 2019 by Daniel R. Robichaud. The excerpt from “Born Under a Wand’ring Star” is copyright © 2019 by Kaysee Renee Robichaud.