- Series: Cirsova
- Paperback: 102 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 2, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1523256036
- ISBN-13: 978-1523256037
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,167,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cirsova: Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine (Volume 1) Paperback – March 2, 2016
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"Cirsova is a godsend for fans who've almost given up on contemporary SF." – Brian Niemeier, Kairos
"Stuff like this doesn't come around every day, even if it should." – JD Cowan, And Between the Wasteland and Sky
“[Cirsova] attempts to re-capture the high adventure spirit of the great pulp mags — and largely succeeds.” John O’Neill, Black Gate Magazine.
“Cirsova has built a stage for writers to tell stories with narrative force, audacious adventure, and outlandishly magnificent settings.” Fletcher Vredenburgh, Black Gate Magazine
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Top customer reviews
I’m certainlylooking forward to future issues.
(I LOVE that cover.)
The Gift of the Ob-Men by Schuyler Hernstrom. The Gift of the Ob-Men is my favorite story from issue #1 of Cirsova, and one of my favorite short stories this year, but before I get to the story itself I want to copy P. Alexander’s wonderful intro:
"Cast out and exiled by his people, Sounnu braves the wilderness with only his wits and his ancient blade to keep him alive! But is he prepared to pay the price for the strange blessing which will set him forever apart from his fellow humans?"
There are mushroom men. Two-headed wolves. Automatons. Mad wizards. It’s weird and wild and wonderful and manages to be more epic than some doorstopper series. It’s at a bizarre unplaceable point in time, where civilization has fallen or yet to rise or both. Somewhere in our far future. Or maybe our far past. Perhaps in a galaxy far, far away.
My Name is John Carter (Part 1) by James Hutchings. My name is John Carter is a retelling of the Barsoom books in poem form. Or so I gather. I’ve seen the recent movie but haven’t read any of the books. Yet. Carter is on Earth for the duration—only being (presumably) transported to Mars at the end—but it’s a much different start than that from the movie.
This Day, At Tilbury by Kat Otis. A boy with the ability to control fire protects London from a river assault by a Spanish Armada led by monks who can control the weather. This story feels like an excerpt from a full novel, in a good way. It’s a single battle but there is a wealth of worldbuilding lurking beneath the surface, and Otis hints at it all. This is fun. Why don’t I ever get to read stuff like this in F&SF?
At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen by Abraham Strongjohn. The almost King of Mars, er Prince, is abducted by the Queen of Neptune. This one reminded me a lot of the John Carter movie. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it didn’t stand out.
Rose by Any Other Name by Brian K. Lowe. This one has the long lost past and far future feel of Ob-Men but is a poor sister. There are Old Machines that can transform and transport, Wolverine-man hybrids and a talking gorilla, and a nice twist at the end.
Late Bloom by Melanie Rees. Late Bloom features airships, time travel, a mustache-twirling villain, and some pretty atrocious dialogue. This was my least favorite of the stories by a fair margin, and the only one I didn’t enjoy.
The Hour of the Rat by Donald Jacob Uitvugt. The Hour of the Rat is sort of a Japanese-inflected ninja yarn. I enjoyed it, but it’s another not particularly memorable story.
A Hill of Stars by Misha Burnett. A Hill of Stars is a novelette, and the longest story in the issue #1. Kuush gains his freedom when the giant, tentacled, near-immortal Great One who owns him decides to die. After leaving a dying city laden with rather advance hiking gear he is (somewhat) promptly set upon by dinosaur-riding primitives. He will have to find his way around one of the Great Ones’ nastier creations if he wants his freedom. This was I think my second favorite story. It’s got that out of time feel and the sense that there is a massive, interesting world out there beyond the shores of the story.
Retrospective: Toyman by E.C. Tubb by Jeffro Johnson. Jeffro has picked up a few Hugo nominations for his wonderful Appendix N Retrospective series at Castalia House. This Retrospective explores the literary antecedents of the Traveler RPG with Tubb’s Dumarest stories. The writing is at the usual level, but it was less to my interest given my utter lack of familiarity with Traveler and my general disdain for space opera.
Disclosure: P. Alexander sent me a review PDF of issue #1 of Cirsova magazine, although I wound up buying the print version before I read it.
The stories vary in content and style. To help you know whether you’d like Cirsova or not, I’m going to give a mini-review of each:
“The Gift of the Ob-Men” – An exile from a primitive village receives an unexpected gift that may prove as much of a curse as a blessing. Of all the stories in the magazine, this one felt to me to be most like a classic Weird Tales story. A gonzo premise with a delightful ending.
“My Name Is John Carter (Part I)” – The only poem in the magazine, this is an effort to re-tell the story of Burroughs’ Princess of Mars as an epic poem. I was surprised at how well it works. It’s even more delightful read aloud. Would love to see the entire poem.
“This Day, At Tilbury” – A base-born son fights in the campaign to defend England against the Spanish Armada while trying to earn his father’s respect. The twist: this is an alternate history where magic is as effective a weapon as cannons. The rich worldbuilding here adds delicious texture to a moving coming-of-age story.
“At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen” – A Martian warrior is abducted instants before being crowned king of Mars by the seductive Queen of Neptune. This is a fast-paced story of planetary romance in a strong Burroughs . It’s a very fun read, though to me the ending feels incomplete. I could definitely stand to read a novel-length Ch’Or adventure.
“Rose by Any Other Name” – A man out of time trying to find his way home helps a damsel in distress who is other than what she seems. This story struck me as told again on a very strong classic Weird Tales model, with perhaps hints of the best aspects of Sid and Marty Croft’s Land of the Lost. I enjoyed this one a lot.
“Late Bloom” – In a steampunk dystopia, a young woman must risk her own life to save that of a stranger town from his own dimension. While not straying from Cirsova’s core esthetic, I felt that this story might be one I could find in another venue. Still, it is a load of steampunk fun, and the ending is killer.
“The Hour of the Rat” – I wrote this one. (Let me know what you think!)
“A Hill of Stars” – A human servant of one of the Lovecraftian Great Ones must make his way in the outer world when his master dies. This is the longest story in the magazine and benefits from the rich worldbuilding behind it. In spite of its length, it’s a compelling read. I would certainly read more in the same setting.
“Retrospective: Toyman by E. C. Tubb” – This is the lone essay of the magazine. Jeffro Johnson has built a reputation by examining the narrative sources behind Dungeons and Dragons. Here he performs a similar task for the Traveller role-playing game by examining a 1969 novel by British author E. C. Tubb. I had been completely unaware of Tubb before reading this essay, much less his thirty-three (!!) volume Dumarest Saga. Major props for introducing me to this awesome series.
On the whole, I find the first volume of Cirsova to be a very successful experiment. The stories are not pastiches; these are honest adventure tales, told without irony. The best rise to the level of classic Weird Tales. Most of the others would be at home in a DAW paperback from the early 1980s. All of them are a lot of fun. They remind me of the sort of stories that made me fall in love with speculative fiction as a teenager.
But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself!
Most recent customer reviews
Best Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine on the market in my lifetime and this is the first issue.Read more