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Founding Daddy

Me in a powdered wig, looking silly.

I was sent a powdered wig today. Because why not? I’m not sure it’s an everyday look for me, but, honestly, it could be worse.

“Hey, baby. Wanna found a nation with me?”

Oh, yeah. It’s a look, y’all.

— JS

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2021 Dragon Awards Finalists

It’s a pretty good year:

Best Science Fiction Novel

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

Best Alternate History Novel

Best Media Tie-In Novel

Best Horror Novel

Best Comic Book

  • Immortal Hulk, Al Ewing & Joe Bennett (Marvel)
  • Once & Future, Kieron Gillen & Dan Mora (BOOM!)
  • X-Men, Jonathan Hickman & Mahmud Asrar (Marvel)
  • Monstress, Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda (Image)
  • Invisible Kingdom, G. Willow Wilson & Christian Ward (Berger)
  • Daredevil, Chip Zdarsky & Marco Checchetto (Marvel)

Best Graphic Novel

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

  • The Expanse
  • Loki
  • The Nevers
  • Resident Alien
  • Shadow & Bone
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • WandaVision

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

  • Bill & Ted Face the Music
  • Godzilla vs Kong
  • Justice League
  • The Old Guard
  • Space Sweepers
  • Tenet
  • Wonder Woman 1984

It’s been interesting to see the Dragon Awards evolve over their relatively short lifetime. The first couple of years the awards were dominated by relatively obscure and/or niche titles, particularly in the book categories. Now the finalist pool appears to be both wider and deeper, which is to the benefit of the awards in general; it makes them a better sample of what’s going on in the genre at at large, and by and large a fine reading list for those folks dipping their toe into the genre for the first time.

Congratulations to the finalists, and I’m looking forward to seeing who gets to take home the pretty trophies over Labor Day weekend!

— JS

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Big Idea

The Big Idea: Josh Rountree

Author Josh Rountree believes in bringing the reader the best of both worlds. Or, in this case, many worlds. Dive into his Big Idea as he tells you about all the different genres that have played a part in crafting his diverse collection of short stories, Fantastic Americana.

JOSH ROUNTREE:

Here’s my problem.  I’ve never been able to stick to one genre. 

I read dozens of paperback westerns before I was in middle school. My nightstand was loaded with horror anthologies and epic fantasies and books about teenaged detectives. I came home from the library every week with World War II histories, science fiction movie novelizations, and books about portals to worlds that were more interesting than mine.

I loved reading all of this when I was a kid, and I still do.

More than that, I love writing all of it.

So, when I got the Big Idea to put together a collection of my strongest short stories published over the past fifteen years, I felt like I had a bunch of puzzle pieces that didn’t necessarily fit together. Maybe a few pieces had gotten lost or chewed up by the dog. But when I found all the corner pieces — the stories that would anchor the collection — and started filling in the middle, I realized it was an image of an alternate America, both its past and its potential future.

This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. A friend of mine told me years ago that she considered most of what I wrote to be Fantastic Americana, and I put that title in my hip pocket and saved it for a rainy day.

But with my whole body of work laid out in front of me, I realized how right she was. America is a character that fights and claws and screams its way through most of my stories. Sometimes a hero and sometimes a villain. Broken but hopeful. Trying to figure things out. 

All the best characters are flawed, right?

A lot of the people in my stories are stuck.  They understand something better is waiting for them, maybe just beyond the horizon, but they aren’t sure how to get there. A few of them want to hold on to how things have always been, afraid to face their own history, unwilling to own what they’ve done and strive to be better.  But the strong ones ask themselves questions that might lead to a better tomorrow.

I do my best to follow a path carved by some of my favorite writers, who don’t take our history at face value. Writers who ignore the mythic Hollywood version of America and examine it through a more critical lens.  History isn’t easy.  Your mythology might have overwritten someone else’s mythology, and there’s no use in trying to ignore that and sweep it under the rug.

The people in these stories are on the move. They race down pitted backroad highways on the run from supernatural killers. They work in post-apocalyptic video stores and sing rock and roll songs at the top of their lungs. They defend their log cabins from fairy tale monsters and cry when their grandchildren leave for Mars. They break people’s hearts and have their own hearts broken in return.

The America they live in is grand, but their lives and troubles are intimate.

The mythologized American West calls to them, a promise made to some, but one that can never really come true. Not without a high cost to someone else. I set out to write stories about ghost chickens and forest wolves, river witches and cosmic horrors that will melt your brain if you think too long about them. These are things I love. These are fun things to write about, and hopefully things that people will have fun reading. But putting this collection together, I realized all the characters are chasing their own skewed version of the American Dream, even the ones who should know better. The American landscape they inhabit is a place of old bones, secrets, and realities they don’t always want to face.

So many of them try to go backwards, but time only moves one way.

My nightstand is still stacked with books. Music biographies. Crime novels. Science fiction anthologies and ghost story collections.  And I read a lot of history, but I don’t live there. Stories help us figure out the world, and the good ones can teach us things about ourselves. The kind of people we are, and the kind of people we could be.

A lot of these stories have that kind of meaning to me, and hopefully will to others.


Fantastic Americana: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Visit the author’s website. Follow him on Twitter.

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