Category Archives: Author News

Welcome to 2020 (with a Capital M.)

Hey everybody, M. here.

Happy New Year, or belated New Year I guess. While developments have continued to be a bit slow-going, they have indeed been developing and so I wanted to post a quick update to get everyone hip to the latest goings on as they get going.

Preparing to be Startled with Startling Stories #1
Back in November I received a much appreciated surprise email from editor Doug Draa containing the galley proofs for issue #1 of the relaunched Startling Stories, indicating that go-time was approaching. I ran through my edits and sent them back, knowing now that I bear the full existential weight of any typos which may appear in my story, but content that the hotly-anticipated Startling Stories #1 is getting ready to bust onto the scene ray guns a’blazin’ (Disclaimer: my story, Payload, features no ray guns). Not only that, but as Mr. Draa has mentioned elsewhere, science fiction legend Robert Silverberg joined on at the last minute with a previously unpublished story which will appear in the mag.

Though a firm release date has yet to be made public, the consensus appears to be that it’s coming quite soon, with the good people at Wildside Press making mention of it in their 2019 year-end newsletter. And while it has yet to be posted on the public Startling Stories Facebook page, there is in fact some cover art ready for the issue that has been floating around in various channels, so I’m posting it below:

I have to say my jaw dropped when I saw this artwork, as I think this merging of a classic pulp vibe with some contemporary design elements is hot enough to turn the ice cold vacuum of space into a balmy island paradise.

I also can’t help but feel a connection with the events unfolding in the image. Like the fellow suspended in goo there, his blood presumably replaced with onax (a la Stanislaw Lem’s Fiasco) to prevent him from exploding like a ripe watermelon dropped from a rooftop due to the conditions of deep space, I’ve felt like I’ve been in stasis for some time. And that grey creepin’ around there, what is its agenda? Is it planning to plant a bunch of alien eggs in my brain? Shut off my life support just for shits? Steer me to the portal to hell from Event Horizon and leave me babbling in Latin and gouging my eyes out? Or does it want to be friends? Does it plan to unfreeze me in order to bring me to a super fun alien party?

Anyway now that I’ve extended this metaphor far beyond where I should have stopped, I’ll talk about how I should, at some point in the future, be … 

Gettin’ Weird with Weirdbook
Due to the delays I’ve been hesitant to talk much about this one, but as things seem to be cranking up I figured it couldn’t hurt to mention that sometime last year I signed a contract on my story titled Birth, which is slated to appear in Weirdbook #44. While issue #41 of that magazine has been out for a minute, it sounds as though things are also starting to pick back up in terms of the publishing schedule over there, as it was made public over at Black Gate that Weirdbook #42 is in the hopper, and is going to be an issue entirely dedicated to stories by cyberpunk legend John Shirley.

As with my story coming out in Startling, I am feeling a strong impulse to talk about the one appearing in Weirdbook, but it doesn’t make much sense for an author to go around spoilering his own stories. I’ll move on to other stuff, then.

Other Stuff, Then …
What else is popping at M. Stern Headquarters? In addition to a few stories I whipped up towards the end of last year, some which I think are kind of funny and others pretty serious, I’m working on about three right now which fall I think into those same categories or somewhere in between.

Elsewhere in the offing I’m supposed to appear on an awesome horror movie podcast where I’ll be discussing (as it currently stands) the heyday of Italian horror/gore movies, how this gritty cinematic underground connects to and interacts with the art house tradition, and probably a bunch of other stuff.

And in keeping with that, I’ve officially decided that I will start doing some movie capsule reviews here as it seems sort of silly not to. I’ve got flicks by Alan Renais, Alexei German, and on the other side of the snooty spectrum, Joe D’Amato and Claudio Fragasso that I’ve got a thing or two to say about.

All this and more planned for after Startling #1 drops… Now I’m going to wrestle myself away from my keyboard and try to stop refreshing social media for at least a couple of minutes.

Take care everyone, hope 2020 is treating you well.

The Beginning Was The M.

Hey everybody, M. here.

It’s been a minute — longer than I had expected, as the inaugural issue of Startling Stories has been delayed and I haven’t had much else to report in the way of fiction-related developments. I do prospectively have another story slated to come out at this point, but I’d rather not make the details fully public until there is a little more movement on that front. While I can’t imagine that there are many out there reading this, I wanted to post something to let those curious (or those stumbling by due to coincidence of keyword) know that I hadn’t disappeared off into the ether.

I suppose the one semi-significant development at M. Stern Headquarters is the creation of my Facebook author page, which I encourage you to “Like” if you haven’t already. The news has been, of course, really slow over there as well, but I’ve been posting interesting music clips from time to time in lieu of any substantial updates.

A note on the title of this post — it is a reference to the weird work of German pseudoscience from the 1970s, “Der Anfang war das Ende,” which translates to The Beginning was the End, subtitled: “der Mensch enstand durch Kannibalismus – Intelligenz ist essbar,” meaning roughly, the human emerged through cannibalism — intelligence is edible. Of course this may be more familiar to some as a lyric from the Devo track Gates of Steel, and in fact the synth pop band’s shtick was highly influenced by the book, especially in their early days as a more experimental, conceptually challenging act.

The book was written by a fascinating New Age-y type named Oskar Kiss Maerth (nutbar or grifter to some, OKM to his friends and/or adherents), and details the entirely baseless but nevertheless compelling idea that the mechanism which drove human evolution was cannibalism among apes. Maerth, having purportedly eaten some monkey brains while traveling through southeast Asia, concluded that consuming brains increased the sexual potency and the intelligence of the eater. In our pre-human history, some apes stumbled onto this, which sent them off eating each other’s brains at scale. They got smarter, ate more brains, and climbed up the evolutionary ladder to the top of the food chain where we now reside. These days we fail to eat each other’s brains in most cases, but are the beneficiaries of our cannibalistic progenitors’ lack of scruples.

For those who can understand German, here is some footage from German television of Maerth hanging out in a monastery in Asia wearing long flowing robes, surrounded by children and delicious monkeys.

When I initially had planned this blog entry I’d intended to also explore a theorist of consciousness whose ideas I take quite a bit more seriously than Maerth’s, Julian Jaynes, but I honestly don’t know if “idea blogging” still exists in the way it did say a decade ago. Have all those think-piece writers of the early Web 2.0 era become podcasters now? I barely pay attention. 

I’m also still considering putting a review or two of some of the art house and b-horror/exploitation stuff I watch up here, but while I certainly love writing that sort of thing I find that there are people and websites out there capable of doing it more comprehensively. Plus, this is here primarily for people to explore what I’m doing in terms of my work as an author, which I consider to be a separate kind of thing from criticism.

At any rate, hopefully I’ll have some actual news soon — I have actually just in the past few months been writing stories at an unprecedented (for me) clip, but I have never been one to talk about things as I’m working on them or to discuss the submission process. I suppose I am old-fashioned in the sense that I don’t like to pull back the curtain too much.

Hope anyone who is reading this is enjoying their summer. Be safe and don’t engage in cannibalism — it hasn’t been proven to make anyone smarter, but it can definitely lead to kuru.

It Starts …

Hey everybody, M. here.

As you may have noticed, this website is in a bit of a state of disarray at the moment, which I hope to remedy in the coming weeks/months/years.

If you’ve made it here then you probably already know this, but I’d like to announce for those who just happened upon this site out of curiosity, coincidence or some quirk of Google’s search algorithm that my science fiction story titled “Payload” will be appearing in the debut issue of the new Startling Stories — the classic pulp mag now being re-launched by Wildside Press and editor Douglas Draa.

This publisher/editor combo has been super successful in re-launching the time-honored weird fiction mag Weirdbook, and I’m stoked beyond stoked to have a place in their new science fiction-focused endeavor. I’ll be using this space to keep the world posted on the magazine’s release and how to get your hands on a copy either in print or via e-book. I’ll probably also be sharing these updates on my author page on Facebook (which is going to require me to start an author page on Facebook — so look for that, too).

I’m also thinking of ways I can make use of this space in between news about any fiction I might have coming out. While I’m not super hot to become an active fixture of the blogosphere or do much “media criticism,” I do read books and watch movies like they’re going out of style (in fact some of them have) and I have a tendency to go on at length about them. So some of that as it pertains to genre fiction might appear here soon. I am thinking this could be a better place for such things than social channels geared toward shorter posts (and memes, and baby pictures, etc.). And, for that matter, it might go over better here than it does when I occasionally strike up a conversation with a random, perplexed person sitting next to me in a coffee shop.

Other than that, I’ll leave you with a generic but sincere promise that I’m hard at work on more stories. There’ll be much more to come!