Songs of Valor came out on Friday, and boy, do we have a bunch of readers to thank. We hit number one new release in a couple of categories and were top ten overall in some categories as well. A worthy start to a great book.
As part of the lead-in to release date, I did some story sketches, along with some fun nicknames for our authors. I thought it’d be cool to gather those sketches together. Plus, I didn’t do the nicknames for the initial three authors, because it sort of happened in that post and then a number of people enjoyed them.
So here we go:
The first story is by the Grand Admiral, David Weber, and is called The Dragon and the Drunkard. Such an honor to work with David, and this was one of his first stories ever. It’s perfect for a release this week, as this story involves a leprechaun, a dragon, the Rainbow Bridge, and an interesting legal situation. And scotch. Lots of scotch. I like scotch, by the way.
Next is the Beerzerker, Jon Osborne. This story, Smoke and Shadow. is another from his really cool urban fantasy Milesian Accords series. In general, I love stories that mix mythologies and look at them in new ways. This is something Jon does really well. Also, spoiler alert, buy some jellybeans. You’ll find out just how important they can be in this story.
Third is Benjamin Tyler Smith‘s On a Wing and a Train. Side note here, one possible name is the Shirker, because he clearly planned for their baby to be born on the same day as Songs of Valor just so he didn’t have to help promote everything. Clearly. Some people will do anything to get out of promo work.
Anyway, Benjamin’s real nickname is Speaker to Dead Things because I love his fantastic Necrolopolis series, and this is another story in that series. The elevator pitch: The mean streets of the City of the Dead are no place for an honest necromancer, even if he is drinking buddies with the God of Death. Especially when he has a partner who really puts the fatale into femme fatale. By the way, this is the first of five stories in the anthology that are winners of the FantaSci short story contest. Also, he says he’s got a Necrolopolis novel on the way, and I’m really excited to see it.
Next comes from the Big Boss, Chris Kennedy himself. This is a great coming of age story called The One You’d Least Expect. I love stories where someone grows into the challenge. This is one of those, and it’s especially interesting because of the nature of those in question. Also, just saying, this is an *origin* story, so maybe one day I can nag him into a full-length novel. Or series. Because he’s not busy doing other things, of course.
Next, the Bright Newbie, Melissa Moroney Olthoff. I call her the bright one because she’s so cheerful and enthusiastic. Even so, Oathbreakeris a tough, gritty story of love, strength, and courage. It will leave you wanting more, as it did for me. This was the second of the winners of the FantaSci short story contest.
Who else could the Crusty Old Sergeant be but Kevin Steverson? Changes is a story in his Balance of Kerr universe, and I really like it because it gives him a chance to expand that world and add some really cool characters with his normal fast-paced sort of adventure. It will come as no surprise to those who gamed with me in the RPGA back in the 90s that Londar is my favorite character.
Captain Mohawk is, of course, Quincy J Allen and he wrote another Rellen story entitled What the Eye Sees. This is high end swords and sorcery stuff, with a hint of noir. Spoiler alert. I foresee huge things for Rellen in 2022. Huge with a capital huge.
Next is Songbird by the Mountie, who is obviously Jamie Ibson. Now he wrote this story while he was still living in British Columbia and hadn’t yet leveled up to New Brunswick in Atlantic Canada. Even so, this is a great origin story of a guy finding his magic, and more importantly, his purpose. The third winner in the FantaSci contest.
Following that is Backup by the Renaissance Man. Dave Butler is annoying talented. Reads like 80 languages. Is a musician. Has a law degree. Is now a teacher. And he writes stuff. Great stuff, in fact. This is another Indrajit and Fix story, and I think these are modern versions of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, which are, not surprisingly, some of my favorite characters ever.
Side note: I almost chose the Mustachioed Loomer for Dave, but I figured that was too obvious.
Dama Quixote, Sarah A. Hoyt, gave us One More Flight, a story about old soldiers trying to make their way after their service time should be done. But sometimes, old soldiers have to get back in the saddle, and stand up to mighty foes.
Next is the Evil Eyebrow. On second thought, maybe I should have called Casey Moores the EEEEVIL Eyebrow. If you’ve seen him, you know what I mean. Anyway, his story A Quaint Pastime is also about an old soldier. This one is trying to find his place in the next war. With a twist. Lots of aerial action and dogfighting in this one, and this is the fourth winner of the FantaSci contest.
Next is a story by J.P. Chandler, the Legal Beagle. The third of three in a row about old soldiers, this story is about a warrior who has fought and fought and fought and he’s done. He’s got a last stand left in him, though. And it turns out there are others ready for that stand. This is the fifth of the stories that the FantaSci crew are going to have to pick from.
Chandler’s story hit me in *all* the feels. I cried when I read it the first time, the second time, the third… well, you get the idea.
Next comes the Arrogant Editor. Let’s just say today’s launch success didn’t make me any less arrogant. My story in this, Magnum Opus, let me delve into Katarina, one of my favorite characters in the Edward series. What happens when evil has to be the good guy?
Then is the Ancient Master. Glen Cook‘s not really ancient but he sure he is a master. I’ve loved his stuff for years and was very happy to have a Black Company story here. Cranky Bitch has all the cynicism and War weariness you’ve come to expect from that series.
What a great lineup that was, and they gave me fun stories. I was honored to get to edit all this.
I’m also proud at being a part of the FantaSci short story contest. They are going to have a heck of a time selecting from the stories from the winners.
Thanks to all involved in what turned out to be an awesome project.