Stayin' Alive: New OSS Stories?

by Dylan
(Illinois, Wisconsin)

Blessings are falling from me onto your wonderful personage, OSS readers!

(That greeting, if you are wondering, originated in Phillip K. Dick's Martian Time Slip).

So, the one and only drawback of this particular subgenre of Science Fiction is the dearth of new stories. Or is it?

Certainly, and much to my chagrin, new stories are not published at the rate they once were. But they do occasionally come out. For example, I was introduced to the OSS by Ray Bradbury, but I didn't REALLY get into it until I found a book called Old Mars at my local Barnes and Noble.

Now, the fact that an OSS book was on sale at a Barnes and Noble was surprising, although I did not realize it at the time. Such books just don't get published that often. But the important discovery I made was that they do get published.

And so, I come to you, fellow readers, asking if you know of any recently published OSS literature. My list so far includes:

Old Mars
Old Venus
Uranian Gleams
The Martian War
War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches
The Sky People (Lords of Creation Series)
The Courts of the Crimson Kings (Lords of Creation Series).

Does anyone know of anything to expand that list? Any Barsoom Pastiche or full-fledged independent stories?


Comments for Stayin' Alive: New OSS Stories?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Apr 15, 2016
Good News, Everyone!
by: Dylan

"Space: 1889" is a pen-and-paper rpg created by Frank Chadwick. It sports a well fleshed-out NHOSS setting, which is not surprising for a game of this type. The Wikipedia description goes as follws:

The game presented an alternate history in which certain discredited Victorian scientific theories were instead found to be true and have led to the existence of new technologies. In the setting, Thomas Edison invented an "ether propeller" which could propel ships through the "luminiferous aether" (the universal medium that permeates space, based on a now outdated scientific theory), and traveled to Mars in 1870 accompanied by Scottish soldier of fortune Jack Armstrong, where they discovered that the planet was inhabited. By the time of the game's setting in 1889, the great powers have used Edison’s invention to extend their colonies and interests to the inner planets of the solar system. Venus and Mars have been colonized by the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, Belgium (Mars only), and Italy (Venus only), whilst Japan and the United States maintain economic and scientific enclaves on Mars. There are no colonies or bases on the Moon. Only the United Kingdom maintains a (scientific) base on Mercury.

The inner planets reflect an evolutionary progression, the planets nearest to the sun being younger than those farther out. All planets have life, and most bear native sentient species. Mercury is primeval, tide locked and possesses only rudimentary lifeforms. Venus is a vast swamp world dominated by hulking reptiles and lizard men.[1] The Moon is an airless dead world, but with mysteries hidden deep beneath the surface. Mars is an ancient desert planet in decline, divided into warring decadent city-states clinging to a failing system of canals. Vulcan has died and become the asteroid belt. Due to limitations in technology the outer worlds remain unreachable and unexplored. There are also hints that some worlds may have terrain hidden beneath their surface.

But that's not the good news. The good news is that there are three "seasons" of stories by various authors that accompany this universe! Published only as ebooks by Untreed Reads, they are available for a dollar or less each, which means I feel compelled to at least give a few of them a try!

Mr. Chadwick also published a paperback book set in his OSS, called "The Forever Engine".

I may at least have to read until I get to "A Prince of Mars", just because I love a good Barsoom reference.

Here's a link to "season 1":

"Season 2":

The (short) "Season 3":

And "The Forever Engine":

I'll be diving into these as soon as I finish my current read (a collection of Weinbam stories), but I thought I'd leave them here for any passer by looking for "new takes on the old worlds". I hope they are enjoyable!

[Comment from Zendexor: wow, it sure seems we are not alone in our OSS tastes. There are some sound ideas out there. Now all I need is a year's sabbatical while I investigate all the promising stuff]

Mar 03, 2016
progress in genre-terminology
by: Zendexor

Looks like we're evolving a range of useful terms. Following OSS = Old Solar System and NSS = New Solar System, we now have:

NOSS = New contributions to the OSS

and I suggest in view of Dylan's observations we add the following:

NHOSS = New Historical-fiction contributions to the OSS.

That's to say, stories set in the historical past, but also science-fictional and OSS. A blend of OSS and historical fiction, in other words.

This NHOSS genre-label would cover the book Dylan has mentioned, "The Daedalus Incident", and also one of the stories in the anthology "Old Mars": David D Levine's "The Wreck of the 'Mars Adventure'", an interplanetary tale set in William III's reign.

Feb 27, 2016
Found Another Book: The Daedelus Incident
by: Dylan

Looking through my collection, I've discovered another NOSS book I had forgotten about - and it is perhaps the most unique book of its type I own.

It's called "The Daedelus Incident" by Michael J. Martinez. It is the first in a series of three books, the other two I've yet to purchase, and I think the best adjective for it is "charming".

The story flip-flops between two universes; one like ours, and one OSS. The two influence each other throughout the book, mostly in that our dead Mars begins to mimic the live one.

The OSS universe is set during the American Revolution, although it is instead the Ganymedian Revolution, and His Majesty's Navy boasts alchemy-driven ships which sail the void between the Known Worlds.

The OSS tradition is strong in this one: Venus is a jungle planet populated by Lizardlike people, Mars features the remains of extinct natives, even Saturn boasts a native pan-Saturnian race of "alchemical" might, who worship Saturn, calling it "Xanthar". The overfull asteroid belt is present as well, being dubbed "The treacherous Rocky Main".

The OSS is combined in some places with modern knowledge. This is a notion I approve of heartily. For example, Io is mentioned to be a habitable but unpleasant Volcano world.

My only complaint about the book is its reliance on character cliches. The serving girl who is in fact a woman of extraordinary ability and intelligence, the drug-addicted acadamian, the honorable and capable hero, the gruff and stupid miner - all are present. Benjamin Franklin is also involved in the plot, and while ordinarily it irks me when a story about ordinary people in a historical setting features the major players of that period (what are the odds that the hero should just happen to know these people?), in this book, the author finds a good excuse for including old Ben.

So, while not without its flaws, "The Daedelus Incident" was good enough that I intend to read its sequel. It ought to be included on our list, I think!

Feb 27, 2016
Jandar, Thanator and Barsoom
by: Zendexor

The Lin Carter Callisto series is definitely NOSS - the question is, is it worth the trouble of reading? I have just finished all eight books of it. The most I can say in the series' favour, is that it does create a version of its world, Callisto, which has a definite character of its own. That is something. But I find the narration mostly tedious - especially from book four onwards. And yet though I can't call them enjoyable, they are likeable books; I kept on reading (in small doses - something to read while the computer is warming up) in the hope that they would become more interesting, in my unfulfilled yearning for more ERB-quality stuff.

It would be a very useful task (but a lot of work if it were done properly) to undertake a meticulous comparison between one of ERB's texts and one of Lin Carter's, in order to discover the key to the one's success and the other's failure.

Many thanks to "Anonymous" for the reference to the collection of Barsoom stories by modern authors. We live in a vast sea of information - so big that it often defeats its own ends so that we remain in ignorance of what we want to know - and anyone who succeeds in catching a big fish is urged to share it around!

But I also empathise with Anonymous when he adds that it failed to satisfy his desire for 'new takes on the old worlds'. We want more visions which spring from fresh inspiration - as Burroughs' and Brackett's tales themselves did.

Feb 26, 2016
by: Anonymous

Is Jandar of Callisto technically NOSS? I understand it to be a mediocre Pastiche, but since it is a Space Age story, it might belong on our list.

I remembered encountering a collection of Barsoom Stories by modern authors, and after searching a bit found it on Amazon.

So there's another one. But this sadly fails to satisfy my desire for new takes on the old worlds. Thankfully, I've not yet worked through all the OSS literature out there already.

I have a particular liking for Leigh Brackett and her Solar System. It would be nice to see another author take up her mantle as well.

Feb 26, 2016
Recent OSS stories
by: Zendexor

Dylan's list is a vital starting-point - can anyone help to expand it? I myself can only make the "borderline" addition of Christopher Priest's 1970s Wells tie-in, The Space Machine, a sort of prequel to The War of the Worlds. The 1970s is not really "recent" any more, although it is well into the Space Age.

But who knows what literary treasures are lying around waiting for people to find and appreciate them? And how is treasure found? Luck, I suppose. So, readers, if any of you have got lucky, let us know about it, and this website can then help to spread the word. This in turn will help the kind of authors whom we want to succeed; it will augment their sales, pay their bills, and encourage them to concentrate on producing more of the kind of stuff that we like - which means we all get happier and happier...

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to join the conversation.