“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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Kevin Andrew Murphy grew up in California, earning degrees from UCSC in anthropology/folklore and literature/creative writing, and a masters of professional writing fromUSC. Over the years he’s written roleplaying games, short stories, novels, plays, and poems, andcreated the popular character Penny Dreadful for White Wolf, including writing the novel of thesame name. Kevin’s also a veteran contributor to George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series. His Wild Cards story “Find the Lady” for Mississippi Roll won the Darrell Award for Best Novella for 2019, and he has a graphic novel featuring his character Rosa Loteria currently being illustrated, plus other projects in the works he can’t announce just yet. He brews mead, plays games, and like a proper medieval gentleman, has a whippet.
His story, “Anastasia’s Egg”, appears in the Weird World War III anthology.
Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background?
I’m from California and grew up in Silicon Valley. I went to college at UCSC and grad school at USC, majoring in creative writing and anthropology as an undergrad and professional writing for my masters.
What kinds of stories do you write? Why?
I write fantasy and science fiction with occasional horror or mystery and usually involve some mythology and literary allusions and oftentimes comedy as well. It depends on the story.
Which of your short stories is your favorite? Why?
I’ve written so many stories that it’s hard to pick a favorite, but “Find the Lady” in Mississippi Roll, one of the recent Wild Cards volumes, won the Darrell Award for Best Novella last year, so I’m very happy with that. That was one of my forays into romance as well, so I’m so glad people liked it.
What author has had the greatest influence on your writing? Why?
Of all the authors I’ve read, I think my biggest influences were my favorites as a child, Joan Aiken and John Bellairs. I consider myself a stylist and I think I get that from Aiken, who in turn was inspired by Jane Austen. Bellairs showed me the fun writers could have with dark magic and the occult.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Tell me about a time you almost died.
Craziest thing I’ve done is also the time I might have died. I was in college going caving with my girlfriend and my best friend and I was rappelling down a twenty-foot chute when I thought the rope might be slipping. Made a snap judgement for safety and skinned my finger going down. But we found the coffee can at the bottom of the cave with all the signatures of the deepest delvers. The cave was blocked off a few years later for safety.
What was your favorite subject in school? Why?
My favorite subject in school was English, since I love literature and writing. Perversely penmanship was my worst subject in grade school, but once I learned how to type I never looked back.
What’s your favorite book? Why?
My favorite book is probably Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland. It showed me how a sequel is written and has an excellent basic plot.
If you could live in any time period, when would it be? Why?
As for times to live, while I really like the present, the Baroque era had so much fun stuff in it if you had the money. Of course that’s always the problem even with the present.
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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