This is a sponsored post by James Wylder. If you’re interested in having your project featured on Eruditorum Press, you can e-mail me at snowspinner at gmail dot com.
History can be fascinating, you just need the right storytellers.
One thing that always frustrated me growing up as I read science-fiction and fantasy was the tendency for there to be massive detailed backstories to some of my favorite universes that could only be read in summary. The stories that hung at the edges of another story, propping it up but forever remaining elusive. Of course, getting older, I began to realize why telling those stories often wasn’t a good idea: they were often piecemeal, a series of interlinked events that couldn’t easily be formed into something good. Trying to shove them into a traditional narrative was a recipe for disaster. As my friends and I started working on our own series of sci-fi books we called “10,000 Dawns”, I began to wonder…what if we could find a way to tell those stories?
After some playing around, I came up with the idea for my new anthology, “10,000 Dawns: Poor Man’s Iliad”: an anthology of stories by different writers, where the stories were as long or short as they needed to be. Characters could cross between stories, or stay in place. Different narratives could run in tandem, and then collide. Some could dead end, or end up somewhere totally unexpected. We could create a book where we could explore different lives and perspectives, and give readers something quite unique they’d never read before.
The resulting book is an 802 page monster, with 44 stories by 16 writers, featuring illustrations by 6 artists. There are 33 short stories, 8 novelettes, 2 novellas, and one story that accidentally became a short novel. All of them fit their length, and there’s a wonderful variety to them. War stories, art heists, family dramas, introspection, and weird experiments are all part of it.
There’s some amazing talent in this book, Doctor Who and Faction Paradox author Simon Bucher-Jones contributed a tale, while Star Wars Tales writer Nathan P. Butler did as well. Tim Sutton who worked on Marble Hornets and Slender: The Arrival is there too! Plus there’s great stuff from Trevor Allen, Eric R. Asher, Kevin Burnard, Evan Forman, Nicholas Scott Kory, Kylie Leane, Colby McClung, Michael Robertson, Jo Smiley, Sarah E Southern, Jordan Stout, and Elizabeth Tock. Oh, and me, James Wylder. I wrote the Doctor Who poetry book An Eloquence of Time and Space, plus nine other books, and you may have seen me knocking about the Eruditorum Press comment section over the last few years.
If you like the sound of the book and what we’ve tried to do with it, please give it a shot. The ebook is a bargain at $5, and the print version is $30, which is very pretty looking.
Let’s talk long term goals though, for a second. I’m not going to divulge anyone’s private or public life, but there’s a fairly significant LGBTQ+ presence in the group who helped put this together, and if this book is a success I’d like to bring them back for another go, and pay them better. You’re reading this post on Eruditorum Press because it’s always a place I’ve felt safe, even when it challenged my thinking. I made a lot of friends here, and that a lot of them turned out to be LGBTQ+ isn’t surprising. El made a space in non-fiction that nurtured that, and a lot of things bloomed out of it. I’d like to make a space in fiction publishing to be able to allow new talent to grow who might not be otherwise given a chance, and the pay that comes from that. That’s the dream anyways. Maybe I’ll fail at it, but I’m definitely going to try my best.
If you like the sound of the book, you can find it here:
Here’s the opening of the book for you to try out, a little piece I wrote called…
Prologue: A Night
“In the future, I’m sure people will still be idiots,” the woman standing by the ledge said.
Her companion shrugged, “Things can change.”
“We’ve been around for hundreds of thousands of years, Arch, there have to be some constants in life.”
“Thank you,” the woman looked up at her, two glints coming from under her orange hood, which had a sun on the crest. She thought she was going to shut the elevator door, but instead she had stared. The woman was wearing a blue blazer and matching skirt with the hoodie, her companion wore a trench coat and seemed to be clad head to toe in a material that resembled a television that had been left off while you pretended your family was going to talk to each other.
“Who are you?” the woman said, “And don’t close the elevator door.”
“Han,” she said, “I live here.”
The fellow in the trench coat shook his head, “You’re scaring the poor kid, Grae. Artemis on a high horse. Hey, kid, come on over here, we don’t bite.”
The woman let out an exasperated moan, and dramatically sat down on the ledge.
He ignored her, and squatted down to Han’s level, “Whatcha doing up here Han?”
She looked him up and down. It looked like he was wearing some sort of armor or something, there was a single camera like an eye on one side of his masked face.
“I came up here to see the stars. That’s what I always do.”
“You can’t see the stars tonight kid, I’m sorry. Looks like they’re blackening the air above the dome again tonight. Making ozone ain’t easy.”
The woman, who she could now see was wearing black sunglasses at night, leaned back, her ponytail hanging down, waving gently in the dome’s re-filtered air, “Arch, could you stop associating with the locals? I’m tired and I want a doughnut and to go home.”
Arch shook his head, and a friendly looking emoji appeared on his face—his mask? The screen lighting up the shadows. “Don’t worry about her, she’s grumpy today—”
“Not just today!”
“—cause our last job didn’t go so well. So we’re doing something easy tonight.”
Han looked between them, clutching her blanket and bag of chips tighter, “What do you two do?”
“We’re helpers. We go around and help people, and places,” his face and chest lip up with a fantastic array of images of the two of them, going through countless adventures, in places Han could only dream of.
“Really? Do you explore places?”
“Oh yeah, totally, we’ve been everywhere you can imagine.”
“I want to explore. It’s one of the reasons I want to join the Centro Marines when I’m big,” her voice trailed off, “as well as, well…”
“It’s okay, why else?”
The child looked up at the black sky, “I…It’s stupid.”
The woman sat up, pulling her sunglasses off, her demeanor awkwardly sympathetic, like she’d been practicing it in the mirror, “It’s not stupid, whatever it is.” She rose from the ledge, and came over to her, “We’re listening. We’re strange grownups you shouldn’t be talking to, you can trust us.”
She shrugged, he sighed.
Han closed her eyes and took a breath, “I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I don’t want to be afraid of the sky. I…” She clenched her fist, “I want Mars to feel safe again.” She cried out, and threw her blanket and chips down, tears welling up in her eyes.
Graelyn’s eyes went wide, Arch carefully went in, and wrapped his cold arms around her, “hey, its okay kid. You’re safe right now okay?”
She cried a bit more, while Graelyn pulled out her tablet and looked up what had happened this month in Martian history. (“Oh, well shit,” she muttered.) She held the tablet out to Arch who nodded.
“Okay, Han right?” Graelyn said, the little girl nodded, “Want to watch our job? You have more power than you think. We’re about to change the world. Are you ready?”
Han tilted her head to the side, wiping tear tears on her sleeve.
Graelyn gestured for her to follow her. She led her to the edge of the roof, and pulled out a credit chip, pressing the display button so it showed the balance.
Han, for whom a lot of money meant getting two bags of chips rather than one at the corner store, stared wide eyed, Graelyn grinned.
Then Han lunged forward, reaching out, as Graelyn dropped the credit chip over the side of the building. Arch caught Han by the scruff of the neck, but she kept pulling.
Graelyn leaned in front of Han, and pointed behind her at Arch. Han turned her head, and saw what looked like a live video feed from the street level of their high-rise. She stopped pulling.
On the screen, a man and a woman were walking down the street, from opposite sides. Right before they would cross paths, the woman reached down and picked up the credit chip, turning her back to the man, who kept walking.
“Those two people will never meet now. Their story, their lives, they’ve been forever changed. Whatever happens now, their lives will go on without that moment where they bump into each other, laugh, and go out for a drink. We just changed the future.”
Han looked up at her, her jaw trembling.
“People are idiots, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change things.”
Something touched her neck, and Han woke up from her dream. She rubbed her eyes, and patted her TeddySheep as she checked the time. She didn’t have to be up for a few more hours. Still a chance to dream a little more.