Weird World War III Reviewed in Tangent

Kevin P. Hallett at Tangent Online just posted this very thoughtful review of Weird World War III today, which coincidentally is my birthday. You can check it out here.

“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

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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.

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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Peter J. Wacks

Peter J. Wacks, born Zarathustra Janney, then quickly reminted the next day to a sane name on his second birth certificate, never really recovered a sense of normalcy in his life. Peter (or Zarth, whatever, it’s cool) has travelled to thirty-seven countries, hitchhiked across the United States (very funny, no, he didn’t hitchhike to Hawaii), and backpacked across Europe. He loves fast cars, running 5Ks, space travel, and armchair physics. In the past, Peter has been an actor and game designer, but he loves writing most and has done a ton of it, which can be found by Googling him, or checking his Amazon page. Even if it seems a little cyber-stalkery, don’t worry, go for it! Since he doesn’t think anyone really reads these things anyway, he will mention that strawberry daiquiris, Laphroaig, great IPAs, and really clever puns are the best way to start conversations with him. On a last note, his most recent novel is about a magical Ben Franklin, and was released by Baen in 2020. You, know, if you’re actually reading the author bios and notice this. If you aren’t, this just got slightly uncomfortable. Are you still there? The bio is over. Read the next one.

His and Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s story, “It’s A MUD, MUD World”, appears in the Weird World War III anthology.

Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background?

Hi there! I’m Peter. It is actually difficult to answer the question where are you from, because it has many answers. I’ve lived in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Denmark and travelled to an additional 33 countries. Even in the U.S. I’ve lived in 6 different states and travelled to all 44 of the others. I guess I really try to be from everywhere. Right now, I happen to park my laptop at a docking station in California, or, depending on the week, in Colorado. I’ve been in entertainment and creative fields my entire life, starting as a child actor at age 6. I’ve been an actor, game designer, poet, essayist, novelist, editor, magician, and more-depending on my mood.

I guess the best way to define myself is that everyday I am hungry to experience or learn something new.

What kinds of stories do you write? Why?

I love this question! The defining quality of the stories that I write is that I hate formulas, and I avoid writing into specific well explored territory. It’s nearly impossible to define the kind of story I write, other than to say it is usually the story in the anthology that stands out as very uniquely different. Different isn’t always good, but at least it helps people stop and blink. An example of this is that once, when challenged to write a Space Opera; I wrote a story about an aria being performed which told the story of a space battle. Another example: my time travel novel can be ripped apart and the 13 chapters can be read in any order and still result in the three act structure of build up, conflict, resolution. Even if it is just as simple as presenting a comedic story amidst very serious counterparts, its the thing I love do.  

Which of your short stories is your favorite? Why?

Okay, I’m going for a shameless self plug here. What I should say is that the story in Sean’s upcoming Weird War III anthology is my favorite. (Not naming it because I’m not sure if you’ve done the Table of Contents reveal yet, Sean…) Instead, I’m going to put out there the shortest story I’ve ever had published: Shotgun Wedding. It is a 1 page post apocalyptic bromance, and I wont give you more than that. It appears in the charity anthology Surviving Tomorrow (Google it). It was rewritten so many times it’s almost ridiculous, because I wanted to see if I could fit all the elements and hooks of a story into a one page story, and still have room for the reader to like the character. I think I succeeded, and the pre-release reviews so far have been mentioning the story so I feel like others feel the same way.

Tell me about a time you almost died.

Which one? Ha. Alright, this summer, amidst the COVID 19 craze, my first hardcover released from the marvelous Baen books—Caller of Lightning (think Ben Franklin at Hogwarts). (See how I put in a detail important for the story but ALSO a shameless plug?) Right as I was gearing up to start promoting the book in late April, I developed a fever. Then I started having trouble breathing. Then my muscles started aching at the bone level…

After being diagnosed with the global freaking pandemic, my life fell apart, in ways. I could only focus for about 90-120 minutes each day. If I tried to read or sit at the computer I’d start to have trouble breathing or fall asleep. But it was only supposed to last a week or two, so I tried not to worry—we still didn’t know better. My case lasted a little over 5 weeks before I was finally allowed to emerge from quarantine. At times, my O2 was as low as 68%—a level that should have had me in a coma. I was paranoid, full of anxiety… it was hell. And I couldn’t write more than a couple minutes a day.

And yet here I am. I do have post illness complications, and I am still shaking them off, going through a kind of slow physical therapy to try to regain my brain and my vascular strength… but let me tell you this: there is nothing like being on the losing side of the pandemic curve to make you get your crap together and decide to go out and kick some arse. 

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Okay. Craziest, stupidest, bone-headedest…. and appropriate to the upcoming anthology:

When I was 14 years old I was in Leningrad amidst Gorbachev’s Perestoik—it was the year before the renaming of the city to St. Petersburg. It was an amazing experience. Seedy looking guys on street corners would offer you 300 Rubles to the dollar—at a time that the banks were offering 3 to 1. They were using a special technique called an Elmsley Count to make it look like they were giving you that many Rubles, when in fact you’d get a random 60 or 80 Rubles. As I ALSO knew how to do the same count, I would negotiate with the con-men and usually walk with about 100 per dollar. To give you a metric – the single most expensive bottle of vodka I was able to find, behind the locked cabinet at the store, was about 350 Rubles. It was very good. I was living like the Dread Pirate Roberts in Patagonia, feasting every night, the best entertainment, and all for less than my $10 weekly allowance for full chore completion.

So one night, having had a nip of that very fine bottle of Vodka, I wandered out onto the streets of an asleep Leningrad until I came to the Hermitage Museum at the Menshikov palace of Peter the Great next to the Neva River. In my tipsy 14 year old brain I decided that since the building was Peter’s winter palace, and MY name was Peter… I should take a memento home. On the front entrance of the building, suspended over the entry between two beautiful ornate lampposts in the plaza, hung a giant red Soviet flag with a fringe along the edges. I glanced around once, made sure no one was overtly watching and at about 3 in the morning, I scaled the side of the building to the flag pole and stole the flag. I should be rotting in a prison in Russia, but somehow, I ghosted into the night with my stolen flag and got it all the way back the U.S. Not by far… but it was the supidest AND the craziest thing I have ever done. 

Story’s Soundtrack

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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  hours  minutes  seconds


Weird World War III Release Date

Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is a national bestselling author and Hugo-nominated editor whose works include the original novel series the John Simon thrillers and the space opera trilogy Saga of Davi Rhii as well as official entries in The X-FilesPredatorJoe Ledger, and Monster Hunter International. He’s edited thirteen anthologies and dozens of novels, including the international phenomenon The Martian by Andy Weir. He also authored the writing book How To Write A Novel: The Fundamentals of Fiction. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter as BryanThomasS or at his website:

His and Peter J. Wack’s story, “It’s A MUD, MUD World”, appears in the Weird World War III anthology.

Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background?

I am from Ottawa, KS at present but grew up about 3 hours west in Salina. I have a background in music and performance as well as consulting with various companies, Fortune 500 on down.

What kinds of stories do you write? Why?

I like to think I write good stories, but I guess what you’re looking for is adventure stories—stories with action and conflict driving them, with a decent pace to them. I also like to mix humor in to create characters with interesting quirks and personalities.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I was working as a temp once in Kansas City when I suddenly found myself trapped in my cube with two mountain lions staring at me from the doorway. I didn’t know anyone’s name I was working with so I had to call out for “help” generically. Finally, a woman I knew was a higher up showed up and said, “There you two naughty boys are. I wondered where you wandered off too.” She apologized, grabbed them by the leashes, and led them off. What the hell she was thinking bring them into an office is beyond me but there they were. Thank God my mom insisted I leave clean underwear in my glove compartment.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

The Florida Keys.

What’s your favorite book? Why?

Either Robert Silverberg’s Lord Valentine’s Castle or James Clavell’s Shogun. Both have amazing world building and characters with an epic drama that unfolds over many months and years and asks profound questions about friendship, life, love, human nature, and so on. They are real lessons in how to write epic adventures with vivid dialogue and character building and world building and each one I have reread multiple times since discovering them with equal joy each time.

Story’s Soundtrack

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.

Order Weird World War III Now



  hours  minutes  seconds


Weird World War III Release Date

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