Slow Boat To Fast City: An Interview With Pine Float Press’s Sean Demory

Salut, all! Today is the day. The AWESOME, made of WIN day–the release day for Slow Boat to Fast City, an anthology from Pine Float Press and a project I’m stoked to be a part of. So, what’s this all about? Read the blurb…trust me, you’ll want more, more, more:

It’s 1958 and the night sky of Mars sings to a hot-jazz tune played by a quartet of slot machine, rocket engine, laser fire and broken bone. The Outfit and the corporations run Mars, keeping the mines running and the Strip humming. Deputy Marshals ride between the waystations and the city, bringing rough justice to the roughest beat in the solar system. Barsoomist rebels fight a hit-and-run war, staying one step ahead of the law and the Mob, knowing they’ve got miles to go before they sleep and deals to honor before they’re free of the yoke of Terra and their own all-too-human biology. An army of chancers, either too clever or too foolhardy, make their way through occupied space in search of a bit of green. And in hidden valleys and lost caverns, the old masters of Mars awaken, peer out with tar-black eyes and prepare to up the ante.

Read on to see what Mr. Demory has to say about Slow Boat and Pine Float Press generally:

Q1: Pine Float’s a thing. Slow Boat to Fast City is a thing. A remarkable thing. Being the sort who questions remarkable things, I have some things I’d like to ask. I’ll note, this is totally under duress. Your answers will be monitored for quality assurance and rendered in triplicate to appease the Deep Ones. First off…Pine Float. Interesting name for an interesting press. How’d you swing that one?

slow boat cover 3Sean: A pine float is an old bartender’s joke. It’s a glass of water with a toothpick floating in it, the most inexpensive cocktail you can order and a sign of a cheap date that’s still a good time.

When I started this dodge, I knew what I was going to publish. I wanted to publish self-contained stories that stick with the reader and fit within a relatively tight timeframe. I believe that there’s a place for a story that costs as much as a cup of coffee and will take about as long to finish. We don’t always want a 500-page epic, and some stories are best told in a few thousand well-chosen words. Those stories need a home and a forum in which they can be enjoyed on their own terms.

I’m also trying to do right by the author as much as possible, whether that’s by giving the author cash up front and a hefty percentage of profits or by giving the author the tools to succeed: professional editing, promotional material and input in how a story sees the light of day. I don’t see anyone getting rich off of a Pine Float piece, but we can have fun and have something to show for it.

That’s what Pine Float Press is about: a literary cheap date that’s still a good time.

Incidentally, a Pine Float Press is a pine float made with a splash of soda instead of straight water. Because we’re fancy.

Q2. Today marks Pine Float’s flagship anthology, Slow Boat to Fast City. What led you to bring this thing into the world? Why Barsoomists and Mars, for instance?

Sean: This was one of my long-simmering projects, actually. My first science fiction experience was The Martian Chronicles, and I had toyed with taking that populist, streamlined view of The Future and marrying it to some neo-noir immediacy and punch. It’s a world where a lot of postwar ambiguity ended up not happening… Hitler didn’t kill himself in a bunker, he was captured at the summit of the Olympus Mons and taken back to Nuremberg for trial. The Allies focused on the boundless resources of a habitable, accessible solar system and spent less time kingmaking in the developing world. People had the room to dream ridiculously big dreams and, as inevitably happens, fight like rats in a sack.

The setting’s big and idiosyncratic, so I wanted to break things up as much as I could and provide as wide a range of literary voices as possible to give readers some purchase. There are so many entryways into this universe that I couldn’t have created by myself, and I am actively honored that my coauthors were willing to ride along.

Q3. Slow Boat to Fast City was a crowd-funded project, available now through Lulu as e-books and print on demand. Any insight into how this process worked for you and for Pine Float? Why Lulu, adn this model generally?

Sean: I like the promise of crowdfunding, especially when there’s as little risk as possible to the investors and everything’s done as professionally as possible. Slow Boat was edited by a professional editor with no stories in the anthology. Everything was paid for in full before the campaign was completed. I could tell my investors “Look. The book’s written and being edited. The license has been purchased for the cover art, which looks like this. This train’s leaving the station no matter what, so you’re not buying a promise.” We were also about a month ahead of schedule. I’m ridiculously proud of that, and I’m pleased that we didn’t have to rush or apologize. The crowdfunding allowed us to put out the book we wanted to put out in the way that we wanted to put it out.

As far as Lulu goes, they put out a quality product and they’re a good distribution hub. This book’s not designed to fill bookshelves in retail outlets, and I wouldn’t expect to have that sort of pull. It’s an epub that doesn’t cost a lot and a pocket-sized print book that costs a little bit more. Going with the print-on-demand model and an aggressive electronic publishing model (with the whole anthology and the individual stories available for purchase separately) allows people as many ways as possible to join up. If I’m an A.E. Ash fan (and who isn’t?) I might buy her story, “War Paint,” before diving into the whole book. If I like epubs, I might buy that and decided to pick up the print book for those times when I’m away from a machine. It’s as accessible as we can make it.

Q4. I know this won’t be the last we’ve heard from Pine Float Press…tell us (and by us, I mean the royal we ME) a little bit about your plans for future projects, and for the press generally. Where do you see this enterprise heading long-term?

Sean: I’m actively courting authors who might have odd-sized pieces that might need a good home and am hoping to put out some stories and single-author novelitas out later this year from some surprising talents. I’m also hoping to do a solicited anthology every year, as this one worked out well. Next year’s will very probably be “Palookaville,” a blue-collar supervillain thing. I’ve also got a few stories that could find a good home with Pine Float Press, as Alternate Shakespearean High Fantasy’s and Rural Southern Coming-of-Age Supernatural Fantasy are niche markets.

At the end of the day, though, I’d just like to see good writers get good work out in a format that makes people want to read it. I’d like to see someone pass her phone to a friend and say “I picked this up while I was in line. Take a look.”


Now that you know a bit about The Man (Demory) and The Plan (Pine Float Press), come take a look-see at what this first auspicious project has in store. Also, stay tuned later today for interviews with each individual author!

To purchase the anthology, you can choose one of these products linked below:


Retail paperback

Lulu paperback

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