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A short story collection by Alex Shvartsman.
A short story collection by Alex Shvartsman.
A short story collection by Alex Shvartsman.
208 backers pledged $5,101 to help bring this project to life.

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Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories

$5,101

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Thanks to achieving our stretch goals so far:

* All backers who pledge $10+ will receive four e-books: Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma, Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse, Coffee: 14 Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic, and H.G. Wells, Secret Agent: The Case of the Weather Machine.

* All backers who pledge $25+ will receive the audio book narrated by Parsec Award winner Tina Connolly in addition to their selected rewards.

* All physical-copy backers will receive bookmarks

* See more stretch goals below!

  •  When a snow globe-shaped pocket dimension containing the Great Old One ends up in the world's oldest magic pawn shop, proprietor Sylvia experiences the difficulties of Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma.

  • Sylvia's adventures continue in High-Tech Fairies and the Pandora Perplexity. A mysterious object hidden inside a Pandora's box is sought after by the Fae. Will it go to the Tooth Fairy--a short, brutish half-elf who works as an enforcer for the Unseelie Court--or Puck, the iPhone-wielding, social media-addicted ambassador of Queen Titania?

  • A cybernetically-enhanced assassin who can't feel pain faces his most dangerous adversary yet, and discovers that an operative's greatest weakness is Doubt.

  • Conrad Brent is an agent of The Watch; he protects the ordinary residents of Brooklyn from supernatural threats. Learn his greatest secret in A Shard Glows in Brooklyn, then find out what happens when he must confront a toupee-wearing real estate magnate with a penchant for pasting his name everywhere and firing people, in Requiem for a Druid.

  • Humanity must choose sides in the first intergalactic war in recorded history. Will they remain loyal as the junior members of the Galactic Union, or throw their lot in with the rebels in hopes of acquiring advanced technologies? What is the ultimate Price of Allegiance?

  • In Fate and Other Variables, a computer hacker and a mystic team up to break into the metaphysical Book of Fate and change their futures.

    Want more? How about:

  • Vatican miracle investigators in space.
  • Giant alien, telepathic spiders that sing.
  • Spaceships that look like dragons.
  • Love strong enough to extinguish stars during the heat death of the universe.
  • A demon that uses a pentagram to summon an accountant from New Jersey.
  • Ward magic powered by the size of the practitioner's library.
  • An invading armada of alien space cats.
  • & the strangest poker game you've ever heard of!

ABOUT ALEX

I'm a lifelong science fiction fan. I wrote my first short story by hand when I was about ten years old, and had plenty of ideas for more. But, when I was thirteen, my family and I emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States. I spoke barely enough English to ask for directions (and not quite enough to understand the reply), and gave up on the idea of writing fiction.

Many years later, I finally found the courage to try my hand at it again. I wrote, submitted, and sold my first stories in 2010. In four short years, I've managed to sell over seventy original short stories. Around 60 of them are now published. My fiction has appeared six times in Nature's Futures, three times in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, three times in Mike Resnick's Galaxy's Edge and ten times in Daily Science Fiction. You can also find my stories in Weird Tales, Buzzy Magazine, Drabblecast, On Spec, and a variety of anthologies, including a couple from Tor and Baen Books.

Galaxy's Edge #1, includes Requiem for a Druid (a 2013 Tangent Online Recommended Reading List selection)
Galaxy's Edge #1, includes Requiem for a Druid (a 2013 Tangent Online Recommended Reading List selection)

My short stories have been translated and published in Russia, Poland, Romania and Spain. Two of them made the 2013 Tangent Recommended Reading List with the highest possible rating of three stars. The title story of this collection is the IGMS 2013 Reader Poll finalist. Over a dozen of my short stories have been produced in audio by various podcasts. One story was selected by the New Jersey Board of Education for use in a standardized reading comprehension test for 8th graders.

Nowa Fantastyka Jan 2013 issue, includes Polish translation of "The Field Trip"
Nowa Fantastyka Jan 2013 issue, includes Polish translation of "The Field Trip"


I've edited several anthologies, including Coffee: 14 Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic and Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse, but my best-known work is as the editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects annual anthology series of humorous science fiction & fantasy. UFO volumes have included fiction by Robert Silverberg, Piers Anthony, Esther Friesner, Mike Resnick, Jody Lynn Nye, Ken Liu, and many other established authors, as well as talented newcomers. The third volume in the series is releasing this October.

UFO3, releases October 2014
UFO3, releases October 2014

WHAT YOU'LL GET

The trade paperback version of this book will collect, for the first time, approximately forty of my best short stories, totaling eighty thousand words.But why stop there? In the e-book version, you get everything. Every short story of mine that has been published in the four year period between 2010 and 2014, and had the rights reverted in time for this book's February 2015 release date.

Each story will include brief author notes, sharing some anecdotes about the writing and publication history of that story.

On top of that, both the physical and e-book volumes will include at least one original, never-before-published short story. And each backer of this campaign will get to vote on which story or stories are included, based on the title and opening lines! I will post titles and opening paragraphs of at least three stories in the comments during the campaign and ask you to cast your vote for each story you would prefer to see included.

The amazing Ken Liu, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, agreed to write the introduction to this collection, thereby ensuring that at least some brilliant writing will appear within its pages.

Other perks include copies of the anthologies I've edited over the last several years. At higher tiers you can grab story critiques, have your name immortalized as a character in one of my future stories, and even get a sneak peek at my novel-in-progress!

This and other anthologies edited by Alex are available as backer rewards.
This and other anthologies edited by Alex are available as backer rewards.

But wait, there's even more. Every backer of this campaign, even with a pledge of a single dollar, will get an e-book of Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse space opera anthology I edited for Deorc Enterprises. Special thanks to Deorc for allowing me to share the book in this manner.

Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse -- free to ALL backers
Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse -- free to ALL backers

WHY KICKSTARTER?

Putting together my own short story collection is way less expensive than packaging an anthology of work by many different writers.

For one thing, I don’t have to pay anything to the author (although I might buy him an iced French Vanilla coffee if he behaves himself). The content is free! I was also fortunate enough to receive wonderful cover art from Dixon Leavitt. Other friends have pitched in to help with graphics design, proofreading, etc.

Which is why I'm only asking for $2000 to fund this project.

"But Alex," you might say, "two thousand dollars is still a lot of money. That's like a thousand cups of French Vanilla coffee. Or maybe two dozen cups of French Vanilla coffee, if you shop at Starbucks."

Fact is there are still plenty of costs associated with putting together a book. I would like to pay a book designer to create the layout for a physical book in InDesign, an e-book designer to code the EPUB, and a copy editor to go over the text and make sure I don't embarrass myself more than usual.

I would also like to hire Barry Munden to create interior art by illustrating some of the stories. Fans of the UFO series are already familiar with his work.

Barry Munden's illustration for Ken Liu's "The MSG Golem" in UFO2
Barry Munden's illustration for Ken Liu's "The MSG Golem" in UFO2

And, of course, there's the cost of printing and shipping physical books.

There's also the matter of time it will take to write author notes for all the stories, go over the copy edits and galleys, and the price of a small goat I must sacrifice to publishing gods as I pray for this independently created book to be picked up by libraries, physical B&N stores, etc. Have you seen the price of goats lately?

"That's a baaaaad joke!"
"That's a baaaaad joke!"

FREE SAMPLES

If you haven't read any of my stories yet then, first, thank you for getting this far into the crowd-funding campaign of an author who's unfamiliar to you. Second, I would love for you to read a couple of my shorter stories, and see if my writing might be appealing to you.

There are loads of my stories available online, but I feel these two, while very different from each other, are a good representation of my writing range.

Many of the stories I write are flash fiction. That is, they're very short -- under 1000 words each. It's actually rather difficult to tell a complete and emotionally satisfying tale in so few words, but I seem especially drawn to this form. I consider "The Rumination on What Isn't" to be the strongest of my flash stories. It was originally published in the journal of Nature (click on the link above to read it). They also produced an audio version. Another audio version is forthcoming from Drabblecast, and the story will appear in Futures 2, an anthology of selected Nature's Futures stories forthcoming in September 2014 from Tor Books.

I also love to write humorous stories. Especially humorous stories that involve the Internet, pop-culture references, and subverted memes. The title story in this collection and its sequel are among these, but another short, good representation of such is "How Earth Narrowly Escaped an Invasion from Space," which debuted in Daily Science Fiction earlier this year.

Thanks for reading, and please help make this short story collection a reality!

In conclusion, here's a photo of me and George R.R. Martin at the 2013 WorldCon. It has absolutely nothing to do with this collection but, come on, if you had a photo of GRRM grabbing Ken Liu's Hugo like he's about to snuff out several Starks with it, you'd totally put it here, too.

This campaign is in no way endorsed by GRRM.
This campaign is in no way endorsed by GRRM.

STRETCH GOALS

Stretch Goal #4 - $5000

All $10+ backers will receive a free novella.

Stretch Goal #5 - $6000

All $25+ backers will receive a *print* copy of the novella.

Details here.

Stretch Goal #1 - UNLOCKED!

I will add a second original, previously unpublished story to the book (selected by the backers!) and every backer who pledged $10 or more will receive a free e-book of Coffee: 14 Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic.

Stretch Goal #2 - UNLOCKED!

All backers who pledged $25+ will also receive a free complete audio book of "Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma & Other Stories" via download link.

Stretch Goal #3 - $4500 - UNLOCKED!

All backers will receive a free additional e-book humor short story; physical copy backers will receive a bookmark.

Risks and challenges

The stories are written, the book cover is made, and I have a lot of experience working with printers, illustrators, and other professionals needed to see this project through in a timely fashion.

While there are always potential challenges, I will do everything possible to deliver the book on time, and ensure it's of the quality people have come to expect from UFO Publishing projects.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    THANK YOU! Every little bit helps! Pledge any amount to this project, and help select the original story to be included in the book by casting your vote in the comments. Also, ALL BACKERS will receive an e-book of Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse anthology in EPUB and MOBI formats.

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    E-BOOK! Receive the e-book of "Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma" in PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats. EPUB and MOBI versions will include the 'extended cut' with 20+ additional stories not available in the print version.

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    PHYSICAL BOOK! Receive both trade paperback and e-book versions of "Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma."

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    SIGNED! Same as PHYSICAL BOOK!, but it will be signed by the author!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    E-BOOK BUNDLE! Receive the e-books of Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma, UFO1, UFO2, UFO3 and Coffee in PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats. I'll send the existing e-books right away, then UFO3 and ECTG when they're released.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    ELOPUS! I will write a story of approximately 100 words featuring you or a person of your choice (similar to the Elopus stories in the updates). I maintain the copyright on the story, but you're welcome to post it wherever you want. I will also post this story for all the other backers to read. If you select this tier. You'll also receive the e-book of the collection + all applicable stretch goal extras.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    2-BOOK SPECIAL! Same as the SIGNED! reward level, plus a copy of any ONE of the following anthologies: UFO1, UFO2, UFO3, or Coffee, in both print and e-book. They'll be shipped together in February but I'll send out the existing e-books in September. (October for UFO3).

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    THE HARDCOVER! I will print NO MORE than 100 copies of the special hardcover collector's edition of this book. Each hardcover will be hand-numbered and signed. They will not be available for sale in bookstores. Backers who select this tier will also receive the e-book and the audio book.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    3-BOOK SPECIAL! Same as the SIGNED! book reward level, plus copies of any TWO of the following anthologies: UFO1, UFO2, UFO3, or Coffee, in both print and e-book. They'll be shipped together in February but I'll send out the existing e-books in September. (October for UFO3).

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    CRITIQUE! Alex will critique your short story or a novel excerpt of up to 6,000 words. You will also receive a signed trade paperback and the e-book of Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma.

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    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    STACK-O-BOOKS! You'll receive 10 copies of the trade paperbacks. Perfect for a retail store, a convention bookseller or anyone in the market for great gifts for their bibliophile friends! You can mix and match among all 5 UFO Publishing titles. Books will be shipped together in February.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    COLLECTOR'S BUNDLE! You will receive signed trade paperback, and e-book copies of ECTG, UFO1, 2, 3, and Coffee as well as a very rare, numbered copy of the UFO1 hardback edition. Only 100 of them were ever printed and 70+ were distributed as backer rewards for UFO or given to associate editors. It was never offered for sale and there is presently no other way to obtain a copy of this edition. All books will ship together in February.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    TUCKERIZATION! Alex will name a character after you in one of his short stories. You will get to read the early draft and will be updated on the status of the story. Although there's never a guarantee that any one story will be published, Alex's track record is pretty good with 70+ original story sales since late 2010. You'll receive a signed trade paperback and e-book of ECTG as well.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    BACKSTAGE PASS! In addition to a signed and personalized copy of the book, you will also receive an Advance Review Copy PDF (around December), an Advance Review Copy PDF of UFO3 at least two weeks prior to its release AND you'll get to read Part 1 of Alex's novel-in-progress, "Eridani's Crown." He refers to this book as "the politics of Game of Thrones meets the character arc of Breaking Bad."

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    WRITING WORKSHOP! On a mutually agreeable date in 2015, I will fly to any reasonably accessible location in the continental United States or Canada and run a one-day writing workshop and/or do a live reading for your writing or reader group. I will cover hotel and travel; you provide a venue for the workshop. Depending on location and timing, I may be able to do a weekend-long event, too.

    As there are lots of logistics involved, I must reserve the right to turn down (and refund in full) any such request, but I promise to be reasonable. Please feel free to message me if you're interested in this and we can work out the details.

    Of course, you get a signed copy of ECTG also.

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Funding period

- (30 days)