Slow Boat to Fast City Is My Jam

What is better than a good anthology? Hmm. Lemme think…oh yeah, a good anthology with a freaking fantastic OST! Slow Boat to Fast City  from Pine Float Press features works by Sean Demory, Marshall Edwards, Orrin Grey, Steven Saunders and my own story, War Paint. It was rad to start with. And now, it has a dedicated, specially crafted soundtrack by Mr. Zoth and the Werespiders–music hinting of Barsoomists, horrors masked in the ever-present red dust, and the pitched war between them. Mr. Zoth and the Werespiders have pressed some chill-strange, catchy and atmospheric tracks for Pine Float’s ray-gun pulp, Mars-themed anthology. It’s available to pay as you please on Bandcamp. Sean Demory, Pine Float’s Overlord (I mean editor) has this to say:

It’s musically fascinating, layering propulsive, tough-guy Naked City jazz riffs with insistent, anachronistic subsonics and stutter-stop percussion. It’s not comfortable music, but that’s as it should be. It’s insistent, it’s relentless and it’s at odds with itself. It’s music that’s being invaded by aliens.

And Demory’s right. Saunders’ tracks get under the skin and sift into the cracks like that never-ending Mars red dust. Go check it out–you won’t regret it. Better yet, let these tracks play while you read the anthology itself…it’s a fantastic experience. Go, listen. Read. Do it.

You know you wanna…

Prairie City Response: Interview With Marshall Edwards

This Middle Of West I call home can be a wonderful place–home of my Little Lair On The Prairie, if you will. One of the best parts about living here? The other amazing writers , artists, and just all-around fascinating folks I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by. Today, I interviewed one such Person of Note—Marshall Edwards, who I met after we both had pieces included in Pine Float Press’s Slow Boat to Fast City anthology. Right now, at this VERY PRECISE MOMENT, Marshall has some exciting things going on—namely, the super-awesome Kickstarter campaign for volume two of Prairie City Response, a comic I need NOW.

pcrPrairie City Response, volume 1 was a fast-paced, tightly-written and beautifully illustrated read. The dialogue is real and pacy, and artists Marquez and Mohler bring on the shine in a big way. I feel like I’ve gotten a mere glimpse of what’s really going on in this powered-folks occupied, dangerous new Midwest–and I want more. The world-building is easeful and natural, the characters hooked me from the get-go (character-driven is the only way to go) and already in this first volume, there are some Big Ideas about the high price of power. Which is why Kickstarting the second needs to be a thing, and soon. In light of his current crowd-funding efforts and my legit excitement for the second volume, I asked the author about why people out there should donate, and what he’s doing that maybe other comics/graphic novels might not be.

Marshall had this to say:

I want people to know that Prairie City Response is a character-driven story with dynamic action and a very modern twist.  Like other celebrities, they live in a glass house – everything they do is analyzed by the public and torn apart by their enemies.  There’s of course a lot of punching people in the face and fights high above the city, but I can’t help thinking there’d be a lot of image-managing if heroes were in our reality.

So – you get three powerful, greenhorn heroes, put them in a kettle, turn up the heat and tell world to turn in.  The result should be drama, action, and more than a little comedy.

When I first started the series, I had a lot of concerns about private armies and police forces, and about the degrading treatment of global migrants.  You can see this in the alien refugees in the city and their harassment by the Sweetwater people.

Awesome. Now, I can has moar?

Which brought me to my next question for Marshall…soooooo…where are you going with this project in the long-run? To which he replied,

The plan is to finish up this introductory story arc – four issues – and then try to get a publishing company on board.  In those four issues, I want keep raising the pressure on the heroes, keep introducing problems from the heroes’ past.  And at least once in that arc, tensions between the alien refugees and the human population will boil over, and the team will have to take a stand regarding the conflict.  This will be a deciding moment in the direction of the series, and I’m not gonna say anymore than that :P After the first arc is complete, I want to get PCR to a publisher with my fan-base and story-telling nouse as leverage.

If I’ve not yet hooked you, wander on over to Amazon for volume one and see for yourself why this is a project worth backing. Seriously–I know the coolest people. Speaking of, follow Marshall over on Twitter at @PrairieCityPost. You won’t regret it.

Slow Boat Part Two: Meet the Contributors

Hello again, stalwart and brave readers! Welcome to the second part of the Pine Float Press Slow Boat to Fast City blogstravaganza. Ugh. Blogstravaganza? Horrible word.

In this installment, I asked each of the contributors to the anthology to tell me a little bit about why they chose to write about what they did. Sean’s submission call was high-concept–Martian Chronicles, raygun pulp, red dust…but within those suggestions, each of us had a lot of room to work.

War Paint–My contribution.

Nance hasn’t been herself lately. The dime-a-dance girl and pride of the steno pool has been having visions. Visions of coal-black eyes and things in the darkness, visions of blood and conquest. Whispers to wait. Wait.

product_thumbnailFor me, I chose to write War Paint because I couldn’t help but think about all the normal, work-a-day folks just keeping the machine running–dockhands, engineers, enlisted grunts, and yes–tired saloon girls working a slow boat’s voyage away in this strange and alien world. I loved the idea of the very world itself slowly, quietly enveloping the interlopers…hive minds that ease their poisons through human pores, and even slower, almost dreamy changes that cloud the mind gently–a darkening of the light in that corner, or a skitter just out of a showgirl’s line of vision. And when the usurping is complete, the usurped doesn’t know–or care–what hit her. This was fantastic, fun project and I can’t wait to write more.

War Paint: EpubChapbook

Marshall Edwards, author of Patton Sea Raiders

A man without a country. A mysterious package. “The Patton Sea Raiders” paints a picture of a ramshackle space-age Mars where answers are the only thing more dangerous than questions.

product_thumbnail (1)4343When Sean pitched “Slow Boat to Fast City”, I was already familiar with his world-building chops. Last year I wrote a story about a high-tech vigilante in his “gasping Rust Belt city” setting. The setting was engaging and Sean was pleased with my piece, so signing on with “Slow Boat” was a no-brainer!
I was listening to Edgar Rice Borroughs’ John Carter series for the first time when Sean told me about the project. I started painting my Mars in rust-red crags, yellow-red dust, cigarette smoke, and the blue-black bands of night. I used Sean’s jazzy noir hook to get me rolling and merged his post-war pulp with just a dash of Burrows’ mythology. I wrote the first scene first – a road-weary protagonist, a MacGuffin, and a shakedown in a shady little bar. Once the setting was laid out and the story began, I just had to ride it through to the end.

Patton Sea Raiders: EpubChapbook

Orrin Grey, author of The House of Mars

Police find three bodies in an abandoned house in the Hollywood Hills. One wakes up. Straddling the boundary between dream and nightmare, fantasy and reality, “The House of Mars” tells the story of one burned-out detective’s investigation into a mystery that transcends time and space. Police find three bodies in an abandoned house in the Hollywood Hills. One wakes up. That’s just the beginning.

34343434343434343Being asked to contribute to Slow Boat was outside of my comfort zone, both in that it was a shared-world anthology, which I’d never done, and a lot more science fictional than is my usual beat. But I’ve always been a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars stories, and I wanted to play with something in that vein, while still keeping with the noir tone that the anthology was going for, and also not writing something that would be completely out of place alongside the rest of my fiction. The result was my Burroughs-by-way-of-L.A. Confidential story, “The House of Mars,” which also managed to bring in some Golden Age Hollywood, because that’s my jam.

House of Mars: EpubChapbook

Steven Saunders, author of Grüne Reich, Grüne Hölle

Jens Vogt is a cold warrior on a hot planet, a holdout raised from childhood to wage a Venusian guerrilla war against the Allies for the glory of the Reich. Follow Jens as he fights against the alien predators of Venus in the first chapter of Steven G. Saunders’ upcoming novella

123I have been friends with Sean for a long, long time. Several years, at least. More than that, probably. We started talking in earnest way back during my year on All The Rage (*waves to the few angry comic nerds who remember me*) and have had a pretty solid friendship since. I love working with Sean on things, so when he mentioned this Buck Rogers meets Barsoom meets Raygun Gothic anthology, I just had to jump on. I felt honored that Sean would ask me to be a part of such a mindblowing pool of talent. A pool of talent that ensures my contribution is the weakest of the lot– hey, I might be serious! Thing is, everyone on this anthology has been awesome, and the whole experience worth savoring every second of. Naturally, I had to go against the grain and set my story in the jungles of alt-1958’s Venus, complete with Viet Cong-like Nazis and frog people. But Sean was a mensch about the whole idea and told me to run with it, and Jens and his story was born.

Inspirationally, I grew up in Germany, for starters. As an American living in a village full of WWII vets and civilians from that time, and considering it was near where the Battle of Aachen and more happened, a lot of history and the German perspective was pumped into me. Shit, this is a slippery slope without explaining, but don’t worry, I hate the Nazis. It doesn’t mean they can’t be protagonists in a story, though, especially young, foolish, myopically skewed youngsters who are jungle fighting the long-ago enemies of the Reich on Venus. I honestly don’t know why I wanted to write “Grüne Reich, Grüne Hölle”, especially with a German title, complete with umlauts! But Sean had faith in me to expand on one corner of his universe-baby that no one was touching yet (aside from a few notes Sean gave me). If you’re curious, the title literally translates to “Green Kingdom, Green Hell”, which I assume makes a lot more sense once you dive into the tale. With the main characters, Jens Vogt and Schneider, we get action, adventure, and the requisite disillusionment we would expect from a young man and woman fighting in the verdant, sweltering death jungles of our sister world.

Other inspirations included the wars in Indochina (including, of course, the Vietnam War), the Germans in World War I (including their actions and colonies in Asia and Africa), the original idea behind a certain frogish people in a popular “grimdark” RPG/Wargame setting/s, Arthur Machen, “Dispatches”, Sean’s notes, and more. It really was a blast to work on, and I look forward to seeing what people think of the other stories brewing and fulminating in my brain and exiting violently upon the page where Jens et al are concerned. Should be a fun ride.

Oh, and before I forget, I also was inspired to write a soundtrack for the book. I largely blame Sean (as one does) and his Big Idea was so great, and seeing what the other lovely contributors were doing, I simply couldn’t help myself. It’s a weird mix of fusion jazz, retro future, odd disco, analog noises, somber piano, and lots more. Hopefully no one hates, and hey, maybe some of you out there will actually like it.

Grüne Reich, Grüne Hölle:  Epub

Thanks for reading, all–and remember, you can buy Slow Boat to Fast City starting today in Epub and both retail and Lulu paperbacks–you won’t regret it. No, really. YOU WON’T. It’s forbidden to regret. Regretting has…consequences.

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