Startling Stories reviews! Sign up for my e-mail list!

Hey everybody, M. here.

It has been a busy couple of weeks here over at M. Stern Headquarters so I have not had a ton of time, but I wanted to share some quick updates:

Reviews of “Payload” online at Tangent and SFRevu
“Payload” got a very thoughtful, in-depth and insightful write-up from Tara Grimravn over at Tangent Online in her full review of the new Startling Stories. Check it out! If you haven’t read the story yet, this review just might pique your interest. The story also received some kind words from Sam Tomaino at SFRevu, so dig that one too!

And if you have not gotten your hands on the new issue yet, you can order a print copy from indie retailers like Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records, from the new Startling Stories website run by publisher Wildside Press, or if you want an electronic version to magically appear on your Kindle you can buy the e-book at Amazon.

I personally am as print-centric a fiction reader as can be, so I firmly encourage you to pick up a physical copy to keep on your shelf and impress your friends and family. That said, the more I think about it, the more it strikes me that it would be a slightly different experience to read this story in particular on an e-reader. What do I mean by that? You’ll just have to buy it and see…

Sign up for my e-mail list!
One other little thing is that I installed a sign-up box for an e-mail list over there on the right hand side of the screen. Why? Well, because at the moment most of the way I have been getting word out about my stories is on Facebook, and it seems like the site keeps adding hurdles to make it more difficult to promote legitimate stuff (while at the same time doing apparently as much as they can to facilitate scams, bad vibes, and all sorts of other things that are driving humankind insane).

Don’t get me wrong, I would definitely still appreciate it if you follow me on Facebook to stay in the loop, but I have begun to imagine what a post-social media world might look like and it seems it would be good to still be able to get the word out if one or more of the social media channels we have become dependent on becomes terminally unfashionable or craps out entirely.

So if you’re at all interested in getting dispatches from the wonderful and frightening world of M. Stern direct to your email, drop your email address right in that box. It might also inspire me to start doing movie reviews regularly like I always tell myself I am going to.

Just in the past couple of months I have found myself signing up for more genre authors’ e-newsletters like this and I have to say there is something pleasant about receiving that kind of content directly. Maybe it is because social media just shows me a constant stream of the same memes and people arguing with bots every day. Maybe it is because 99.5 percent of the email I receive is spam so it feels nice to get something I actually signed up for. Either way I have found it introduces a small glimmer of surprise happiness into my day.

Anyway time to get back to the shit, hopefully I will have more news coming soon. Stay safe everyone!

“Memories of Emma” OUT NOW (for subscribers) in Write Ahead/The Future Looms! … and some other stuff!

Hey everybody, M. here,

On the cellular level over here at M. Stern Headquarters I’ve spent the last few days generating fake spike proteins and doing my best to mount an impressively robust immune response to them, so this update took a little longer than anticipated. On the macro level, though, I’m happy to say that my new story “Memories of Emma” is out now in Vol. 14 of Write Ahead/The Future Looms, as you can see by my name on the absolutely stunning cover art included here.

This issue is only available to subscribers at the moment, so if you want to get a bi-monthly dose of wild, action-packed experimental cyberpunk stories delivered to your door and/or inbox, sign up and buckle in. I’ll pass along word when the standalone digital and physical editions are out as well.

Memories of M.: A podcast appearance on Simulation Nation!
In related news, Graham at the Simulation Nation live Virtual Reality talk show/podcast invited me on a few weeks ago to discuss getting started selling stories in the world of indie press genre fiction, my lifelong science fiction/horror fandom and my story “Head on the Door” among many, many other topics. It was an absolute blast. There were a few things that I wanted to mention that completely slipped my mind (like the extent to which I’ve been influenced by the 19th century Russian novel, for instance) since I am rather green at getting interviewed — but that’s all stuff for another podcast someday perhaps.

Anyway first and foremost I highly recommend you get hip to Simulation Nation. Graham hosts it as a live show in a VR environment called Altspace (though we had to move the conversation to good old-fashioned Zoom because of some technological limitations on my end). The show covers a fascinating range of contemporary emerging technological phenomena as well as classic films and other creative artifacts that deal with simulated realities, technological singularities, and all the other good stuff.

At one point in the conversation I discussed “Memories of Emma” as a possible quasi-sequel to “Head on the Door” which appeared in Write Ahead/The Future Looms late last year. What struck me after I finished the interview is that “Head on the Door” is sort of a funny story to have a sequel to. It is very much a standalone thing; it’s stylized in its own particular way, it’s about a very specific, discrete set of events, and most significantly, it focuses on the emotional lives of the characters rather than a great deal of what you might call world-building outside of the basic establishment of some near-future technological realities — and so to my mind doesn’t really feel like the sort of story that would kick off a shared MSterniverse. I think this might be one reason it is striking me as sort of a fun thing to try.

“Memories of Emma” does, in some ways, explore similar territory as “Head on the Door” insofar as it is a story about desire, confusion, and poetic sentiment, with everything rendered more complicated by technology that touches the brain. At the same time it’s more stylistically constrained and a little more obviously action-oriented. The more I think about it, the more it could set the stage for a series of emotionally intense “consciousness benders” that hit a happy medium between psychological realism and cyberpunk-ish thrills, for those who are into that sort of thing.

So I haven’t decided if it’s what I am doing yet, but there is at least one character in “Memories of Emma” that I’ve been considering going more into depth on. Which one? You’ll have to read it and guess…

New Startling Stories website has launched!
The one other big thing to happen in the last few weeks is the launch of a new Startling Stories website. I’ve been making my way through the first issue (featuring my story “Payload”) and while I’m only about halfway in, give or take a few stories that I jumped ahead to, I think Doug Draa‘s editorial instincts were really on point with the story selection. The magazine brings together a ton of different trends, styles, and tendencies out there in the science fiction world of the last few decades, all with the common denominator of catchy storytelling and memorable imagery. So I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of content Doug and the Wildside Press team have on the way for the website!

Anyway time to go get some reading done, hope everyone is holding up/holding it down alright out there!

Always Sternified; recently Modernafied,

My contributor copies of Startling Stories have arrived

Hey everybody, M. here,

My contributor copies of Startling Stories showed up in the mail the other day, so here’s a quick glimpse of what there is to dig inside:

Want to read more? Pick yourself up a copy and check it out! Not only is the magazine available on Amazon, but if you want to give your local indie bookstore some support (and you absolutely should!), Startling is now available through traditional book distributors — so ask your local bookstore owner about getting it in and they should be able to hook you up! Or you can grab one direct from the publisher, Wildside Press,

Hope everyone is still hanging in there and staying safe, take care!

Returning to the pages of Write Ahead/The Future Looms!

Hey everybody, M. here,

Happy to say I just signed the contract on another story with Write Ahead/The Future Looms, and my story “Memories of Emma” is slated to appear in their pages. Get ready for more action! More poetry! More anxiety! And more punk of the cyber variety! Keep your eyes glued to this window for more news, and/or follow me on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest developments. Take care everyone!

Received a print copy of Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror Candlemas 2021 Edition

Hey everybody, M. here,

Excited to say that my Pnakotic Pnostman dropped off a copy of Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror Candlemas 2021 Edition in the mail! We’ve got oft anthologized veteran U.K. horror/SF author/poet and Beat poet scholar Bryn Fortey and Chaosium editor/prolific purveyor of modern Mythos fiction Glynn Owen Barrass on the cover, and here’s a tiny glimpse of what you’ll find inside from yours truly:

Does that snippet make you curious about what happened at the party, and what happened at the after party and, most importantly, what happened after the after party? Head over to Amazon and snag the issue in print or ebook to find out. Within those pages you’ll find a varied assortment of Cthulhuvian tales to weirden your mind beyond its breaking point! ! ! Cthulhu fhtagn!

“Payload” now available in print in Startling Stories!

Hey everybody, M. here,

The day has finally arrived – the long anticipated first issue of the relaunched Startling Stories from Wildside Press, edited by Doug Draa, is out in paperback and available on Amazon (and with, as you can see, a different cover than the prospective one that was floating around early last year). This relaunch of the classic pulp science fiction magazine contains my science fiction story “Payload” alongside a bunch of other cool brand new stories, not to mention a ‘50s one by Silverberg (a story which was, from what I understand, written originally for the classic incarnation of the mag).

I had a whole big blog planned exploring the ins-and-outs of “Payload.” Firstly because I do believe that, as a story about intertwining and mutating varieties of contagion, it’s more germane to the world as it now looks – in the midst of a pandemic with one or perhaps numerous infodemics happening alongside it – than it would have been had it run closer to when I had written it. In fact I think the story probably speaks more to the experience of living through a pandemic in a technologically advanced society than it would have had I written something more immediately, directly recognizable as a piece of pandemic fiction. Secondly, waiting for a long time for something gives you a lot of time to think about it. And boy have I thought.

So I could honestly probably talk for an hour or two about this one – about its Ballardian (I think?) vibe and where that might fit in the context of Campbell-era of science fiction, about the approach to virology and epidemiology and how that might have changed given that concepts like spike proteins and adenoviral vectors are now, bizarrely, part of the common parlance, and about a million other aspects of this story. Some parts of it have a long, long history in my brain, despite it all having come together, as these thing sometimes do, rather quickly. But in attempting to write such a blog I found that I was just asking myself questions that I hadn’t been asked and then answering them, which felt sort of silly. More importantly, as I’ve said elsewhere, it’s a story not a philosophical treatise – one that I hope will keep people guessing and deliver some entertaining thrills more than anything. So check it out and get Startled!

And if you want more M. Stern in your head…
Earlier this week my cosmic horror-comedy “After the After Party” — a story with quite a different sensibility than “Payload” — made its appearance in Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror. Check it out in print or e-book, as nothing goes down better after an M. Stern story than an M. Stern chaser, so they say. “They” being, in this case, me. Anyway take care everyone, stay safe.

“After the After Party” OUT NOW in Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror!

Hey everybody, M. here,

Wishing a belated Happy New Year to all of you! I Just got word a little bit ago that my story titled “After the After Party” has arrived in print (and Kindle format) in Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror. This story is sort of a funny one, I’ve described it as having the sensibility of sort of a madcap rom-com — so what can you expect? Self delusion! Quixotic romance! Weird intrigue! Arcane rituals! People acting like assholes! References to the classics! Gloppy monsters! And a touch of existential fear and trembling — what would cosmic horror be without it, right?

Sound like your kind of thing? Head on over to Amazon and snag a copy, and I hope you mythos mavens and weird horror aficionados get a kick out of this one. Follow me on Facebook for more updates, not to mention brief thoughts on technological miscellany, songs I like, and whatever else I post when the spirit moves me.

And speaking of updates …

A new way to get your M. Stern fix
The duo over at cyberpunk mag Write Ahead/The Future Looms have launched a “digital news-stand” for the purchase of individual digital issues. That means if you haven’t grabbed Vol. 11. yet, featuring my story “Head on the Door” and you want something to cool to read on your electronic device of choice — or are yourself a cyborg and are capable of downloading ebooks directly to your brain — you can now get the entire issue for a mere 3 pounds sterling (or whatever that converts to in your preferred currency).

If it is at all helpful in driving this micro-transaction, I said somewhere else that the moral of “Head on the Door” is that anyone can break your skull but only you can break your heart — an aphorism I believe to be no less true now than I did like three months ago when I made it up.

Anyway hope everyone is holding up out there, take care and stay safe!

Nove-M.-ber update (new story acceptance and other stuff!)

Hey everybody, M. here.

Hope everyone is staying safe and hanging in there during what is by my calculation the eleventy-thousandth month of this goddamned wretched pandemic. I’ve got a few new developments to share, so without further ado…

New story on the way at Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror
I’m excited to say that the other day I got an acceptance from Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror for my story After the After Party, which is slated to appear in the Candlemas 2021 issue early next year. I don’t want to get too deep into what this one’s about and run the risk of dropping spoilers, so suffice it to say I’ve been calling this story a cosmically horrific rom-com romp. Looking forward to it making an appearance in print.

Write Ahead/The Future Looms back issue pack available
Speaking of print, for those who want to get their hands on a physical copy of my short story Head on the Door, Write Ahead/The Future Looms has made their most recent back issue pack available for purchase. Along with Vol. 11 —  which contains my story of broken hearts, shattered skulls, self-deception and miscommunication both human and android — you get two other issues packed with all sorts of cyberpunk madness from both seasoned authors and up-and-comers from around the world. In addition to the contents, these mags have a unique design aesthetic and look super cool when you’ve got a bunch of them together — so pick up a stack and dig in.

Follow me on Facebook for more M. Sternerrific updates
That’s about all the big news I have at the moment. Hopefully there will be more forthcoming soon but, in any case, if you’ve checked out my stories and are digging what you’re reading or have any burning questions you want my take on, give me a holler in the comments or follow me on Facebook,

Also if you’ve got a theory about what Ancient Greek tragedy the events in Head on the Door very, very abstractly map on to, let me know here or over on FB. If someone can actually get this one I might even mail them a prize or something — at the very least I’d be incredibly impressed.

Take care everyone!