Hack Those Stories!

There are only a few hours left to nominate stories for the 2018 Planetary Awards, so it’s time for me to get my short story nomination in.  I have a potentially career-changing event happening tomorrow, which is good, but it means I don’t have much time to devote to tonight’s post.

I originally wanted to post my thoughts on a dozen or more short stories, but I’m going to grab my top three based on a quick gut feel and just mention those.  I considered stories from Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Broadswords and Blasters, and Storyhack.

I got too far behind on my Cirsova reading to consider any of their stories for this year’s award.  I’m going to make it my belated new year’s resolution to catch up.  For those of you who’ve been following Cirsova, they’re moving away from the kickstarter model and offering new issues for pre-order on Amazon.  The first issue of 2019 can be ordered now.

I also haven’t yet read the latest issue of Red Sun Magazine, back after a year-long break from publishing.  I’ll be catching up with that along with my Cirsovas.

It turns out that when I quickly picked my top three short stories of the year, they all came from Storyhack:

storyhack threeStoryhack, issue three

Shoot First by Jay Barnson was the first story I picked.  This is a sequel to the author’s previous story in an earlier issue of Storyhack.  The series is about agents who try to recover magical artifacts before they fall into the wrong hands and cause too much damage.  That situation makes for a nice setup, and I really like the main character.

However, as I mentioned in my best novel nomination, I’m not considering sequels for my picks.  So, although I love this series of stories and hope I’ll get more of them, I have to choose something else.

storyhack twoStoryhack, issue two

Junior Partner by Brian Lowe is a story where the superhero is taken down, so only the sidekick is left to save the day.  To make things worse, the bad guys are blind aliens who “see” with sonar, and the sidekick’s powers all involve manipulating light.

Junior Partner was a fun story, but I’m choosing another story because it really brought me into its setting:

Kakerlacs by Alexandru Constantin gets my nomination for best short story of 2018.  This story had a slow, gradual build-up to the final action which I thought worked really well.  I’ve read a lot of stories that tried to pull this off but just left me bored.  In Kakerlacs, it really set up the character (guy, ex-military if I remember correctly, returning home after a long absence) and setting (smaller town in a state of rapid decline).

Of course, the final part of Kakerlacs had action, a fantastic element, and a resolution to the story.  No matter how great a character or setting is, I won’t give a story more than three stars if it isn’t driving toward something at the end.  Ultimately, Kakerlacs gave me a nostalgic, B-movie kind of vibe that I really enjoyed.

Feel free to leave me a comment below if you have thoughts on any of these stories or on any of the magazines I mentioned.


  1. “Kakerlacs” is one of the stories that was submitted to my 21st Century Thrilling Adventure project. My goal was to create a collection of stories that had a pulp feel, but took place in modern real world settings. The publisher I had lined up for the anthology had to bail out, but I have found that most of the stories that were submitted for it have been published in other markets.

    1. Where else have the stories ended up?

      1. A couple of them in Millhaven’s Tales Of Suspense, and two of them are in Duel Visions. Not sure about the others.

  2. Good for you for keeping on subscribing to those magazines.

    1. Looks like I’ll be doing a Cirsova binge-read this year.

  3. ps,
    Good luck with The Event today!

  4. Whatever career changing event you are facing, I hope it works out wonderfully for you.

    1. Thanks. It doesn’t happen until near the end of the day, and it may be several more days before I learn the results.

  5. Aaaaaahhhh! I’m embarrassed that I let myself get so busy that I missed that you’d announced these!

  6. Reblogged this on Cirsova and commented:

    From throwing my back out at the end of december through the mad dash of making sure that Duel Visions, the Spring Cirsova, and the Illustrated Stark were all ready to go, I somehow missed the announcement for the Planetary Awards!

    If you’re a book blogger of any sort, you can nominate something!

  7. […] Planetary Scale Arms Dealer would like to know “how do the ASC 606 standards for revenue recognition impact your […]

  8. […] reviews and tallied the final scores.  I’ve written posts about StoryHack Issue Zero and some of my favorite stories from Issues Two and Three.  I’ll write full reviews of Issues One, Two, and Three some time in […]

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