Bob Billo's Illustration for Where the Space Pirates Are

Bob Bello’s Illustration for Where the Space Pirates Are

For the first time since Amazing Stories Magazine closed its doors in 2005 the world’s first science fiction magazine has begun to publish fiction again. Steve Davidson who now owns Amazing Stories, has been making all the right moves to return the magazine to its former glory. His first step was to reopen ASM as a social media outlet on the internet for fans and authors to blog about whatever facet of the sf world they cared to write about. That phase has lasted a little over a year and has been hugely successful. The second phase begins now with the publication through the month of April of sf short stories by a number of writers. The stories along with original art will be gathered up into ASM’s first e-book. I’m very happy, in fact honored, to have a story included in this historic event.

In 2009 I was in the midst of writing a series of stories under the banner: This Ray Gun for Hire.  The half dozen or so tales all appeared in the now legendary e-mag, Ray Gun Revival, which was a gallant effort on the part of Overlords Johne Cook, Lee S. King, and Paul Christian Glenn to present some epic, and some not so epic, space opera to the reading public. They didn’t mind if you called in space opera, a pejorative term to some. In fact the Overlords waved their Space Opera flags high. During its seven year run from 2006-2012 it gained a reputation as a no-compromise venue for some some really good short fiction of the space opera kind.

The This Raygun for Hire series was about a character named Frank Carson, who lived approximately 300 years in the future in the same universe as Jack Brand, another character who found his legs, so to speak on the pages of RGR, and later became the hero of my first novel. The universe in those stories was based on a fictional planet called Tulon that was rich in oil deposits that Earth exploited and then abandoned when another source of energy was developed. Tulon was a wasteland, during Jack Brand’s time. (Jack Brand is sadly out of print, but copies still seem to be available. I plan to republish it under the Flying W Press imprint.)

The Carson stories take place approximately 100 years earlier when Tulon was still booming with all the oil money and government contract work coming in. There were plenty of rich folks who could afford Frank Carson’s fee to do whatever dirty work they needed done. Carson was a futuristic hired gun. Sometimes his work would almost cross the line, but usually he stayed within the bounds of law and more often than not he tried to protect the weak and helpless, while battling the strong and corrupt.

In “Where the Pirates Are,” Carson is hired by the author of space adventure novels who is under pressure from his editor to put more realistic detail in his work. In an effort to achieve authenticity in his writing he asks Carson to help him set up an interview with an intergalactic space pirate who Carson once had ties to.

In addition to being a pretty fair action adventure story, there is a lot of commentary on the current state of literature, publishing,  and the way readers today are absorbing the written word. The author who hires Carson is based on a NY Times best-selling author I happen to have known, who insists on trying to actually do the things his action hero characters do. I often reminded him Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote 22 Tarzan novels and never dreamed of setting foot in Africa.

As you can see the story is accompanied by a very nice illustration by artist Bob Bello, The story originally ran in the January 2009 issue of Ray Gun Revival under the title “The Great Author Affair.”

So there you go. I hope you click on over to Amazing Stories today and enjoy “Where the Space Pirates Are.”

And if you like it, remember there’s plenty more of that kind of Neo-Pulp Electronic Revolution Fiction to be found in my latest book, Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto, a horror western.