“A fascinating way to see how different authors of speculative fiction approach a similar theme… This was an enjoyable collection of speculative fiction presenting several interesting takes on WWIII scenarios between the US and Russia. The overall quality was high.”— Kevin P. Hallett in Tangent Online
In the picture above, I’m standing in front of my childhood home in Wilmington, Delaware on the Weird World War III launch date, October 6, 2020. It feels nostalgic to be at the place it all started. Weird World War III is my first traditionally published book as an editor or author. I’ve had short stories that have appeared in others, but this book is the first traditionally published project for which I was directly responsible and accountable. Without me, it would never have existed, but without others, it would have have gotten off the ground.
Author Tim Waggoner writes a blog post every time he has a new book coming out. I’d like to do the same, and what better time to start than now.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
“Never forget where you came from.”— Fred Collier
In my early twenties, a junior officer named Fred Collier gave me some of the best guidance in life. Right before he left the Army, he told a group of officers to “never forget where [they] came from.” For me, it was not only a call to be humble, but also it reminded me that nothing I ever accomplished was truly done on my own.
The experience of producing this anthology was no different. I am thankful that Toni Weisskopf at Baen took a risk on me as a first-time editor. Without Mike Resnick‘s guidance and support, this anthology would never have been possible.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Alex Shvartsman, and David Boop were instrumental in helping me deal with the business side of the anthology, sharing their knowledge of pitches, contracts, and editorial etiquette. Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Peter J. Wacks also produced one hell of a story, as did Alex Shvartsman.
Without Nick Mamatas, I would never have been introduced to writers and friends like T.C. McCarthy and Erica Satifka. Nick was also instrumental in graciously answering all my random editorial questions. And to top it all off, he wrote an amazing story for the anthology.
I am also thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with writers I am in awe of like David Drake, John Langan, and Mike Resnick. None of them needed to participate in this anthology, but I’m damned pleased they did.
I’m also grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to not only give Baen’s audiences stories from authors they know and love like David Drake, Mike Resnick, Sarah A. Hoyt, Brad Torgersen, and Martin Shoemaker, but also amazing authors with whom they might not yet be familiar like John Langan and Erica Satifka. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to work with many of the folks who appeared with me in Writers of the Future Volume 33 like C.L. Kagmi, Stephen Lawson, and Ville Meriläinen.
It was an honor to receive stories from other up-and-coming authors like Xander and Marina Lostetter, Brian Trent, T.C. McCarthy, Eric James Stone, and Deborah A. Wolf as well as extremely talented veteran writers like Kevin Andrew Murphy.
Throughout the journey of producing this anthology, I also got to collaborate with folks I’ve known for over thirty years like Greg Schauer, who runs Between Books in Wilmington, Delaware. Greg worked with Baen to set up one of only two of my signing events in this post-COVID world. It seems like only yesterday when I discovered his store as a twelve-year-old kid playing Dungeons and Dragons.
I would be remiss to not thank Corinda Carfora at Baen for helping me with all the marketing and coordination for birthing my book into the world. I’d also like to thank John Goodwin and the folks at Author Services for helping me set up interviews to promote the anthology. I want to thank Michael Wilson and Bob Pastorella at This Is Horror and John Scalzi for using their platforms to help me promote my work (Weird World War III is tentatively scheduled to appear on The Big Idea tomorrow). I am also grateful to have worked with Tony Daniel through a seamless and organized editing process. I also couldn’t be happier with the cover Kurt Miller delivered for the anthology. It truly captured the essence of Weird World War III.
The Road to Success Runs Through Failure’s Gauntlet
“Life ain’t fair.”— Theodore J. Hazlett, Jr.
It couldn’t have been a crazier year to launch this anthology, but it’s certainly been a weird one. Each month could’ve been a standalone geopolitical thriller: a once-in-a-century pandemic that swept through the United States, killing over two hundred thousand souls to date; one of the most contentious election cycles in US history muddied by conspiracy theories and Russian intrigue; the adverse economic impact of COVID-related business shutdowns driving the highest US unemployment rate in decades; civil unrest in major US cities resulting in the most costly riot damage in US history; Western wildfires causing billions of dollars and destroying millions of acres that turned the sky blood-red; increasing tensions between the world’s two most populous nations over the contentious Line of Actual Control in the Himalayan foothills; and now a proxy war between Armenia and Azerbaijan with Russia and Turkey lurking in the shadows.
My father gave me the best advice you could give a child to prepare for a world filled with such adversity and capriciousness: “life ain’t fair.” It was great advice because it’s not only true, but also it helps one steel oneself against the vagaries of life; to never count on good fortune. It taught me to make my own luck; to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
It was a long road to get to this point in my writing career. I’ve been writing and submitting stories since 2011, and it oftentimes feels like an endless stream of disappointment and rejection. In fact, unless you are one of the incredibly talented and lucky few, as a writer and/or editor, you should expect an astonishingly daunting number of rejections before you succeed. In my opinion, the only thing that separates a published author from an unpublished one is a published author never quits. Writers speak of this rejection so often it might be easily discounted as hyperbole. It’s not. My personal experience is empirical proof of it.
Since 2011, I’ve:
- Written 65 original short stories
- Written 2 novels
- Entered the Writers of the Future Contest 17 times
- Submitted those 65 short stories 2,381 times
- Received 2,151 short story rejections
- Haven’t sold a single novel yet
And yet I persisted. I didn’t quit. If I had thrown in the towel, I would have missed out on the joy of selling stories I created from nothing.
Since I finished and submitted my first short story on December 17, 2011, I’ve:
- Sold 44 original short stories (68% of short stories written)
- Sold 9 reprints, including 4 stories to various “Best of” anthologies
- Been a winner in the Writers of the Future Contest
- Edited the Weird World War III anthology
There’s still a long road ahead, but when I look back on the last 9 years, I’ve definitely made a ton of progress. And for that, I am thankful.
Support the Authors
Working with authors I admire was one of the most rewarding experiences of putting together this anthology. Reading the stories they created really brought my vision for Weird World War III to life. If, after reading their stories, you’d like to see more from them, I’ve included a list of some of their current or upcoming publications you should definitely check out.
- David Drake: To Clear Away the Shadows is available now.
- Mike Resnick: The Hex Is In: The Fast Life and Fantastic Times of Harry the Book is available now.
- John Langan: Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies is available now.
- Nick Mamatas: Wonder and Glory Forever: Awe-Inspiring Lovecraftian Fiction will be available on November 18, 2020, but you can preorder it today.
- Brad R. Torgersen: A Star-Wheeled Sky is available now.
- Sarah A. Hoyt: Trade Winds is available now.
- Dr. Xander Lostetter.
- Marina J. Lostetter: Noumenon Ultra is available now.
- T.C. McCarthy: Tyger Bright will be available on February 2, 2021, but you can preorder it today.
- Martin Shoemaker: The Last Campaign launches today.
- Deborah A. Wolf: The Seared Lands is available now.
- Brian Trent: Ten Thousand Thunders is available now.
- Erica L. Satifka: Busted Synapses will be available on November 3, 2020, but you can preorder it today.
- Kevin Andrew Murphy: Knaves Over Queens is available now.
- Stephen Lawson: Leaders Taste Better and Other Stories is available now.
- Ville Meriläinen: The Post-Apocalyptic Tourist’s Guide to Joensuu, Finland is available now.
- Peter J. Wacks: Caller of Lightning is available now.
- Bryan Thomas Schmidt: Common Source is available now.
- Alex Shvartsman: Eridani’s Crown is available now.
- C.L. Kagmi: Twiceborn is available now.
- Eric James Stone: The Humans in the Walls: and Other Stories is available now.
As for me, all I ask is that you: 1) buy a copy of Weird World War III using any of the links below and 2) post a review on Amazon (the more reviews Weird World War III receives, the higher Amazon’s algorithm ranks it). Thank you. And I hope you enjoy the anthology.
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Marina J. Lostetter lives with the subsequent geek, as well as two capricious house cats. She enjoys globe-trotting, board games, and all things art related. Marina’s numerous original short stories have appeared in venues such as Lightspeed, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, and Uncanny Magazine, while her sci-fi novels, including NOUMENON and NOUMENON INFINITY, are available from Harper Voyager. She has also written tie-in materials for the Aliens and Star Citizen franchises. Marina tweets as @MarinaLostetter and her website can be found at http://www.lostetter.net.
Dr. Xander Lostetter earned his doctorate in microelectronics-photonics engineering from the University of Arkansas in 2003. He subsequently took his research commercial, building a tech company that developed state-of-the-art power electronics solutions for military and defense programs, spacecraft, satellites, renewable energy, and electric vehicles. Dr. Lostetter has been awarded over two dozen patents, is the author of more than one hundred engineering publications, and has been the recipient of three international R&D 100 Awards for top technology breakthroughs. He currently lives in Arkansas with his wife, Marina, where the two love strategy games, arguing Kirk vs. Picard, and spending their time engaging in all things geeky.
Their story, “Tap, Tap, Tapping in the Deep”, appears in the Weird World War III anthology.
Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background?
Xander: I’m from a tiny blue-green rock orbiting your average yellow dwarf star at a distance of approximately 8 1/2 light minutes. On that tiny rock, I live in Fayetteville Arkansas in the United States. I have a doctorate degree in microelectronics engineering, but can often be found secretly building Legos by moonlight.
Marina: I live with that weirdo. I write sci-fi and fantasy full time.
What authors have had the greatest influence on your writing? Why?
Xander: Terry Pratchett, because well, he’s pure genius. Philip K. Dick for his mind blowing philosophy. Stephen King is the ultimate in the study of character psychology. And Tim O’Brien has the uncanny ability to get to the core of very dark but real human experiences.
Marina: Tolkien made me fall in love with SFF, Tanith Lee and Madeleine L’Engle made me want to become a writer, and Dan Simmons made me fall in love with space-opera–the formatting of his novel, Hyperion, had a huge influence on my own space-opera series, Noumenon.
Besides yourself, which other contemporary authors would you recommend?
Xander: Stephen Baxter’s Manifold series and the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons are two of my all-time favorites, since I love well written hard science fiction. I like Max Brooks for his zombie work, especially World War Z. Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan and Siobhan Dowd’s / Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls are both amazing works on the nature of humanity.
Marina: Nicky Drayden writes great genre-mashups, like The Prey of Gods; JY Yang writes brilliant fantasy, such as the Tensorate series; Megan O’Keefe performs incredibly skilled unreliable narrator work in Velocity Weapon; and Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar have done fascinating epistolary work in This is How You Lose the Time War.
What kinds of stories do you write? Why?
Xander: I am always fascinated with science fiction and fantasy, because it allows you to push the boundaries of “what if” beyond any limits of the imagination. To me, these are the ultimate playgrounds for creative exploration.
Marina: I tend to write stories about re-establishing understanding. That might mean a sci-fi story where the characters think an alien megastructure is meant to do one thing, but instead it does something completely unexpected. Or a fantasy story where magic seems to play by one set of rules, but the character’s conception of their world is all wrong. I try to tell stories with layers, where the over-arching conflict, personal conflict, and inner conflict are all intimately entangled.
What’s your favorite book? Why?
Xander: The Hobbit, because at the age of 10 it introduced me to the amazing world of fantasy literature. Star Trek, though not one book, is also a sentimental favorite. At that same early age of 10, it was the inspiration that filled me with the passion to pursue the path of becoming an engineer and loving all things “space”. When I was young, and the original TV show was in reruns, I gobbled up Star Trek books as fast as they could publish them.
Marina: Hyperion gets a hattrick here. I also love Vellum by Hal Duncan because of how masterfully complex it is; Vicious by V.E. Schwab is super-anti-hero melodrama at its finest; and Wolf Tower by Tanith Lee is my go-to comfort read.
Each of the stories in this volume evoked certain themes and emotions that can sometimes be approximated with music. The below video is the editor’s best interpretation of the feelings and themes that this author’s story evoked. Please note that this is only the editor’s interpretation. The author did not know this portion of the blog post existed until the editor published it.
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