tales to astound
the ever-rolling
oss magazine
june 2018

All life-forms are invited to send their stories, comments and articles to Zendexor at heritageofdreams@aol.com.

[Please submit as simple .doc or .docx format as attachments, using New Times Roman size 12 or Arial size 10 font, or inline text in an email.  Due to some issues with email not getting through, if you do not receive confirmation of receipt within three days, please contact via email only (no attachments) to arrange another attempt.  Use a different email account if the second attempt also does not get a response.]

[ + links to:   previous issues  -  The Eternal Zones story archive  ]

editorial

The Outer Solar System gets top billing this month.

First we have the long-awaited continuation of the literary collaboration between Dylan Jeninga and myself, Mission to the Tenth Planet.  Dylan and I have worked out the plot, but with the other calls on our time we haven't kept up regularly with writing the story.  However, now we can present Episode V (there are two still to go).  This Episode has mostly been written by Dylan, who takes care of the Terran side of things, including realistic details of ship and crew, while I look after the portrayal of the alien monster-mountain, Zutelix.  I think it's fair to say that collaboration was vital for this tale; neither of us could have managed it on our own.

The other serial is a one-man job and maybe this will mean that the episodes arrive more regularly!  Uranian Throne continues with more drama and insights into the civilization of the Seventh Planet.  Long may the flow of narrative continue.

Non-fiction is also featured in this issue; I'm delighted to include Jamie Ross' second piece in his Reality Distortion Field series.  The future for Tales To Astound already looks bright even though this is only the fourth issue.

I have begun to institute a Letters Page, old-style, for comments from readers.  This depends on you people sounding off as much as possible.  C'mon, don't be shy!

Lastly, bearing in mind that Romance (in its many forms) is what makes the OSS go round, I'm sure readers will all wish to congratulate Dylan Jeninga who is getting married on the 15th of this month, and to join me in wishing him and his new Jeddara a long and prosperous reign.  Whether the guests will be singing "Caliban's Bar" is more doubtful...

Zendexor

this month's features

serials

Mission to the Tenth Planet - Episode V...........by Dylan T Jeninga and Zendexor

- the ship from Earth comes into range of the frightful Zutelix...

Hyala......(Uranian Throne - Episode 2).....................................by Robert Gibson  

- she was a kind of guru, but she had her own worries...

a spaceman's drinking song

Caliban's Bar....................................brought to this planet by Dylan Jeninga

the reality distortion field

The Dark Forest Premise and a Look at Space-Suits............by Jamie Ross

the planetary postbag

From Dylan Jeninga:

I've finally sat down and read Dynoom, and there are my thoughts:  Gibson is on top of his game here. Dynoom, the titular AI, is likably vulnerable, and the unusual premise serves the tale as I hoped it would. Ooranye is an enjoyable setting, well crafted, and I'm always glad to get more of it!  [Editor:  There's plenty more to come, including a novella in soon-to-be-published Vintage Worlds.]

Re Zookie Must Die: I love Violet's marriage of the Gernsbackian raygun future with a certain level of "grit", as we like to call it. What's more, Henniver was a likeable protagonist, someone I sympathized with immediately.  [Editor: I feel the same.  I would however like to know more about what exactly happened on Nightside in Violet's tale.  It's tempting to clamour for a sequel.]  ...I enjoyed that Henniver is a miner of "harmonium". That's two stories on the site with call outs to Sirens of Titan: namely my own Titan story [Pirates of Titan] and Zookie.



previous issues

may 2018 editorial

Already on the first day of the month I had enough material to start off the May issue - and this prompts me to remark that the continuity and quality of submissions has so far exceeded my expectations.  Well done, contributors; you're the salt of the System. 

And since I can't afford to miss any of your input, may I draw everybody's attention to the "Please send your stories and letters to..." section at the top of this page.  For the wording in square brackets I am indebted to a reader, P Robert Thorson, who has had experience with email-problems.  In any case, simple ways are best for someone like me who is not much good at unscrambling esoteric file-types.  (I recently had another email from someone who suspected I might have ignored his contribution deliberately.  As if I would be so crazy!  Once and for all, I pounce on anything sent, and grumble when nothing is sent.  That's the attitude here at System HQ.)

Thinking over my latest reading as Editor, I have been struck by the idea that sf stories, and perhaps other types of stories too, just require one realistic thread, one realistic aspect or "face" among their many fantastic ones, in order for that quality to draw the unrealistic remainder in its train towards success as a work of art.  If you picture the story as a comet, the realism is the nucleus while the un-realism is the coma and tail.  Or you can imagine the process as one of convection; the one realistic aspect pulls the fantastic elements after it.

In Dylan Jeninga's new tale The Winds of Vulcan, that necessary realistic aspect is provided by the starkly believable crew and the practicalities of their plight.  Because all of that is so convincing, we're drawn to accept the rest in its train - the existence of Vulcan itself (while we're reading the story) and the possibility of native inhabitants glimpsed amid the tempests.  We accept it all the more, insofar as the plot gives us the intensity of what I call a "snapshot drama" - one desperate slice of life-and-death.  (Incidentally, Dylan has also provided us with some thoughts on the inspiration for this story - see The Gritty NOSS.)

The opening episode of Robert Gibson's new serial is, by contrast, a gritless murmur which lulls us into an old-glow sense of wonder; but the tale still possesses a certain realism which springs from a surprising emotion: namely the "yearnings and insecurities" (to use the author's own phrase) of a sentient computer, fixed in the fabric of a city, longing for mobility and for the sense of purpose that is slipping from its grasp as its old functions are less and less needed.  A reader persuaded to believe in that will then swallow the rest of it - in particular the habitability of Uranus, and the mysterious, ancient civilization of that world.

From the completely non-gritty Robert Gibson back to the gritty-NOSS scene, we meet the blazing power of Violet Bertelsen's Mercurian story, Zookie Must Die.  Here, in a Twilight Belt with a breathable atmosphere, the "realistic thread" is the thirst for personal vengeance and the moral transformation of the protagonist.  You have to believe it all while you're reading.  (Incidentally, this tale is set in the same reality as On the Shoreline of Darkness.)

Some may cavil at my theory of the "one-realistic-thread".  Some may point out that there have been successful writers, in particular perhaps Edgar Rice Burroughs, who have written a kind of dream-literature without any realism at all - the Barsoom tales, for instance.  I would disagree for the following reason:

I think ERB is no exception to my rule.  He is realistic in one important (albeit paradoxical) sense.  That is to say, he uncovers a lot of truth about the wish-fulfilment side of our natures.  Insofar as we long to escape from tedium and vulgarity, that part of our inner being has as much a right as any other to be termed "real".

Using such arguments, I can wangle it so that no one has a hope of refuting my theory.  It's un-falsifiable.  That's the kind I like, no matter what Karl Popper says.  And on that self-satisfied note I'll leave you to get enthralled by the latest in planetary peril.

may 2018 features

novelette:

The Winds of Vulcan.................................................................by Dylan T Jeninga

- The physical conditions were hostile enough.  But was there more?

short story:

Zookie Must Die...........................................................................by Violet Bertelsen

- Henniver ventured into Darkside to confront his last enemy...

serial:

Dynoom......(Uranian Throne - Episode 1).....................................by Robert Gibson  

....The danger of Man replacing Machine...!

april 2018 editorial

This month's cornucopia presents the reader with two fascinating new stories plus some thought-provoking non-fiction.

Jamie Ross gives us a stunning sequel to Beyond Despair; and the word "stunned" does indeed describe the state of officialdom after the revelations which a joint Terran-Uranian expedition receive on Europa!  This tale belongs to a rare but important class of OSS story which not only celebrates but logically justifies the idea of a habitable solar system.  In other words, it gives a reason why the glamorous Old Solar System might, after all, be real. Best of all, the plot invites a whole series of further sequels...

Jamie's story is a conceptual-breakthrough tale; the other good kind of story to have is the pure adventure, and Dylan has sent in one of this category.  Adventures require settings that are convincing in their own terms, and Pirates of Titan gives us one which, within an OSS context, is fascinatingly plausible.

Then we have the start of a new regular column, The Reality Distortion Field.  Remember those monthly Isaac Asimov science-fact articles in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction? It's good for a mainly fiction magazine to include a different slant from the stories, a breeze from another corner of reality.  But to judge from Jamie's fictional contributions so far, we can expect him to be likelier than Ike to give due weight to the OSS, as he explores the interplay between reality and our favorite dreams.  In that respect we are hugely privileged to have the views of a real space-engineer with his heart in the right place.

april 2018 features

Europa Dive.........................................................................by Jamie Ross

- Terrans and Uranians team up to face peril on a Jovian moon in a wonder-filled sequel to Beyond Despair

Pirates of Titan.....................................................................by Dylan T Jeninga

- Kira had to atone for her past, by undertaking one final mission for the authorities...

the reality distortion field - april 2018

Working in the Space Program..............................................by Jamie Ross


march 2018 editorial

"Time, like an ever-rolling stream / Bears all its sons away..."  (And daughters, even.)  Isaac Watts' lines convey the sense of a continuum, whereas magazines in the pulp era had to be discrete events, appearing one after the other, month after month in separate issues.  We're no longer limited to that!  Here on-site is your continuum magazine!  The format of Tales to Astound (much of which, including the title, was suggested by Dylan Jeninga) shows that the Isaac Watts scenario has won out.  You readers, consequently, can be borne away on an ever-flowing tide of stories galore, each "monthly issue" cumulatively containing all the previously displayed tales as well as new ones...  burgeoning towards an infinity of Old Solar System adventure.

Stid:  You're doing well with the hype, Zendexor.  That's one point you have in common with the old editors.

Zendexor:  Indeed, for the sake of authenticity, a monthly orgy of self-congratulation should be part of the deal.

Stid:  Monthly?  How come?  If it's continuous how is it quantized into monthly issues?

Zendexor:  New things may happen every month; tales may be added every month, and/or comments made - the possibilities are endless.  Take this first "issue", for instance.  Five authors have sent in stories to me so far this month: an unprecedented bonanza.  Temporarily they show up in "This Month's Features", and permanently they reside in the archive, "The Eternal Zones".

Harlei:  The Eternal Zones.  Sounds transdimensional...

Zendexor:  Eternally significant, at any rate, as each work of fiction scores another groove in the plenum, the ultimate integral, the character of a world or worlds. 

march 2018 features

The Chthonic Pull and On the Shoreline of Darkness ............by Violet Bertelsen

          - sinister influences from the outer System against a rich background

Rock and the Belt Pirates...........................................................by Joe Guzzo

          - our hero puts his powers to the test in a sequel to Rock and a Hard Place    

Whom Gods Destroy...................................................................by Dylan Jeninga

          - Do Not Disturb the sleep of the Moon!

Project Utopia..............................................................................by R Olsen

          - women and men are worlds apart

Beyond Despair...........................................................................by Jamie Ross

          - the seventh planet holds a key to new life


the eternal zones

Here is our archive of on-site OSS tales, arranged, broadly, in astronomical zones from the Sun outwards to the System's edge.

This is the main section of Tales to Astound, where all our on-site fiction lurks.  Here the unwary reader can be drawn into our ameliorated neighbouring worlds.  Here you can experience how these "Oughtified" or "Shoulded" worlds have progressed, under the loving care of our writers, to being what they jolly well ought to be...

the solar furnace

Incandescence     by Dylan Jeninga

The Winds of Vulcan     by Dylan Jeninga

marvels of old mercury

Zookie Must Die    by Violet Bertelsen

a warm but not scorching venus

Project Utopia     by R Olsen

earth-shimmer

Man of the World     by Robert Gibson

mysteries of the moon

The Archives of the Moon     by Robert Gibson

Whom Gods Destroy     by Dylan Jeninga

meandering on mars

Wanderers of Mars     by Dylan Jeninga

asteroidal adventures

Peril on Pallas     by Dylan Jeninga and Zendexor

Rock and a Hard Place     by Joseph Guzzo

Rock and the Belt Pirates     by Joseph Guzzo

jovian jeopardy

Flame Lords of Jupiter     by Robert Gibson and Zendexor

Europa Dive     by Jamie Ross

the saturn system

The Arc of Iapetus     by Robert Gibson

Pirates of Titan     by Dylan T Jeninga

the uranian touch

The Chthonic Pull     by Violet Bertelsen

Beyond Despair     by Jamie Ross

Uranian Throne     by Robert Gibson

plutonian nightmare

On the Shoreline of Darkness     by Violet Bertelsen

Trans-plutonian trip

Mission to the Tenth Planet     by Dylan Jeninga and Zendexor      (unfinished)


workshop

Longtail: A Prologue     by Xiangjun Zeng