This week celebrates the release of the ninth issue of C. C. BLAKE’S SWEATY SPACE OPERAS, a monthly publication presenting at least 10,000 words (often more) of space opera adventure.
So far, the magazine follows an interesting format: Six issues form a half-year story arc, with five issues featuring two stories each, one the latest installment of series character and smuggler Rick Cave, while the other fills in the blanks on a different character in the same universe. The sixth issue forms a turning point of sorts for the universe, presenting a short novel length adventure that serves as a capstone for what has occurred before. Although the format might sound daunting to new readers, Blake has taken pains to make each issue stand on its own. Today, Blake is going to talk about the latest issue.
Take it away, Blake!
On Science Fiction and Mythmaking
C. C. Blake
A lot of folks put myth and science fiction into two camps. The fantasy readers and the sf readers made a hard divide in what used to be a combined genre. Whatever the reasoning (possibly marketing purposes but what do I know?), there seems to be a hesitation about blending the genres together quite as often these days (outside of media tie ins such as STAR WARS books) as used to happen. This is a shame. I have a love for fantasy settings that discover the computer at the heart of it all, suggesting the universe we thought we knew came from the stars and somehow lost its way. Likewise, I enjoy generation ship stories (which often merrily leap back and forth between the two camps) and space opera. In fact, more than either straight sf or straight ahead fantasy, I have a love for science fantasy, that weird little genre that splits the difference. Jousting matches in space, sword and planet, and other stuff. Edgar Rice Burroughs might not have invented the genre, but he refined it and made it his own. Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny used to write the hell out of this sort of stuff. Likewise Leigh Brackett and C. L. Moore.
My Sweaty Space Opera stories have been more on the side of the speculative than the fantastic. There are touches of fantasy to them—it’s hard to write space opera these days without catching a whiff of Star Wars after all—but this month is something a little more special for me. It’s a couple of stories that really explore the fantasy side of some things. Oh, Rick Cave is not rescuing a princess with a blaster in one hand and a laser sword in the other. That might be fun, but nah. Instead, I’ve got some religious aspects showing up in Rick’s universe (namely Satanist bad guys) and they bring with them a whiff of brimstone and a little quantum magic. Now, anyone with a bit of physics knowledge knows that quantum physics is a bit magical on its own right. Oh, the studies are rigorous, but wave particle duality and quantum tunneling (aka electron teleportation), and the spooky entanglement that allows two quarks to know what’s happening with the other one no matter how far apart they are . . . Well, these are not far removed from the sorts of magical types of events found in myth and lore. It’s fun to explore the hazy realm of fringe “science” through a speculative/fantastic lens and this time around Rick Cave meets his match in a team of nasty little saboteurs, provocateurs, and assassins known as the Brimstone League. And make no mistake, the League and their mysterious Dark Lord will be returning in future issues. You can’t keep a fun villain down, in my book.
Likewise the backup story, a majorly rewritten version of a story from the old Man’s Story 2 empire days called, “Trapped in the Star Sultan’s Labyrinth of Doom” which features a space dragon and a deadly maze which a vile little man uses for his sadistic pleasure. That story needed a bit of help, it was creaky and insensitive in its previous version (still available for the curious, in my 2012 publication: THE POSITRONIC PRETTY). I like the new version better than the old for many reasons. This story introduces Dutch and Reemalah, who will make some further appearances as I move toward my “The Dirty Dozen in spaaaaace” short novel in issue 12. However, this story also lays some groundwork for issues beyond that . . . All in good fun.
Now, this interconnected quality might seem a bit challenging or even scary to the new readers. I hope that’s not the case, but some folks are loath to start in the middle of a run. Let me assure you I follow a simple credo: Like comics and other series adventures, each issue is someone’s first and should not require previous information. Instead, they should be made richer by more exposure to the background.
This is a lesson I actually picked up early on from the classical mythology stuff I was reading when I was wee. A good myth is part of a large framework, and it builds on materials that might have been expressed in previous stories, but the best of them stand on their own. So, what I am attempting to do with my little Sweaty Space Operas experiment is nothing less than making myths. I could be writing full on novels, but this is something I’m having fun trying on the short story level. We shall see how well it goes, and even if it doesn’t last for long, I am having fun attempting it.
So, regular readers? You might know what you’re getting in for when you pick up an issue, but I doubt anyone is expecting the occult space opera adventure found in Rick Cave and the Brimstone League. New readers? Trust me: I’ve got your back and I won’t bombard you wit WTF moments that rely on precious story minutiae. Each issue stands on its own. Even the short novels stand on their own pretty well.
The key here is actively engaging you, my audience, and giving you something fun to pay back your time investment. I appreciate your trust, and I will do my best not to cheat you.
Do you have a book coming out? Would you like to reach out to the Considering Stories audience with a review, a discussion of the origin of the work, your views on controversial topics (thanks AGAIN, Blake), or an acknowledgement of your influences? Then, reach out to us at email@example.com and let’s talk about getting a Tuesday Tease update into the queue.
“On Science Fiction and Mythmaking” is copyright © 2019 by C. C. Blake. Cover image taken from the Twice Told Tales Press edition of C. C. BLAKE’S SWEATY SPACE OPERAS, issue 9.