6 | From the Editor: Introduction
Bruce Pennington & Children of Tomorrow
Welcome, dear reader, to the Bruce Pennington issue! To say that I am absolutely overjoyed to be able to present to you the magnificent art — and writing — of Bruce Pennington in this, the second installment of The Flying Saucer Poetry Review, would most certainly be an understatement! Bruce is truly a legend in the world of science fiction and fantasy art. When attempting to describe his accomplishments in this field, even bold hyperbole wouldn’t do it justice. He has created the cover art for more than two-hundred books and countless magazines, working with the biggest names in the industry. From Herbert’s Dune series, the bestselling science fiction books in history, to those by Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Anderson, Simak, Aldiss, Smith, Silverberg and so very many more. It is a supreme honor to be able to present some of Bruce’s beautiful work in this magazine, and further, to have his art grace the front and back covers! It is quite surreal and something that would not have occurred to me as even being a possibility when I began this publishing house a couple of years ago.
I remember, as clearly as though it were yesterday, when my thirsty eyes first beheld the cover of Children of Tomorrow, A. E. van Vogt’s science fiction novel, with the magnificent cover art by Bruce. I was wholly and instantaneously transported to another realm. Bruce’s supernova imagination provided passage to a seemingly ethereal sojourn light-years within the science-fictional mind, yet I’ve never in fact fully returned to this realm, nor would I have it any other way. Much like the spiritual journey into the innermost psyche described by Joseph Campbell, we emerge from the great fantastical as shamans of science fiction. Forever changed. Forever illuminated. Bruce’s art isn’t the peyote, and it is beyond the vision, rather, it is the magic itself.
As I processed the inexplicable possibility that fixed my gaze, I stood hallucinatory, imagining such a thing in all of its thrilling wonder, feeling the cool, ocean breeze on my face as my friend and I run fearlessly towards the spacecraft in the sky. My mind ablaze with a starfire conflagration of ideas. At that very moment, in a used bookstore in Nevada City, California, I had met the profound on a dusty bookshelf, providing forevermore a creative catalyst bright aglow in the imaginarium of my life. And I’ve been looking to the sky ever since.
Children of Tomorrow had been published the day before my birthday, in 1970, and a few years later with Bruce’s iconic cover. To have then, this work of art by Bruce on the cover of this magazine some fifty-years later, resonates almost mystical, as though the very bell of my being has been struck by a great and science-fictional clapper. The story that we live writes itself in many meaningful and mysterious ways. This is a genuine honor. Thank you, Bruce!
In this magazine, you will be presented with splendid art and poetry about the enduring and ever-intriguing mystery that is the UFO phenomenon. The closer we seem to get, the further it moves beyond our comprehension, and our scientific analysis. It is all still as utterly mystifying as it has ever been, with new developments adding to the bedevilry. At times, when we seem to be drawing nearer to understanding the phenomenon, it then recedes. We are, collectively, Tantalus. And here we stand, forever thirsting for the big reveal. Forever baffled. Forever perplexed.
Be sure to read Bruce’s excellent essay about his fascination with UFOs, on the next page.
Revel in the art and poetry found herein, for in this way we may gain some measure of comprehension, or at least a measure of fulfillment, in our negotiation of this grand mystery, through the endeavors of our creative energies. In this literary journal, you will find work by award-winning and ultra-talented masters of their craft, including two poets laureate. This is a very exciting issue with a special feature on New York Times bestselling author Leslie Kean’s book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record. Special thanks to Leslie for granting me permission to publish this content from her website!
Many plans in the works as always with the magazines and the publishing house. Of note, I will slowly but surely be creating PDF versions of each issue of the various magazines, available as free downloads (obviously — thank you, Severus) from the website.
My Most Humble Thanks
Thank you to all of the incredibly talented folks who have honored this and the other literary journals of this publishing house with the special work of their exquisite imaginations! Thank you also to everyone who voted in the recent 25th Annual Critters Readers’ Poll, where Starship Sloane Publishing (meaning all of us, obviously) received ten wins in ten categories and numerous spots in the top three, the top five, the top ten, and so forth! It was quite a remarkable showing, a real tour de force by high-voltage, dangerously electric minds! Bravo to each of you and bravo to the whole lot of us!
You’ll notice that I have put various awards received, titles, and the names of publications and organizations in the TOC bylines of the contributors to this magazine (thus creating what are quite possibly the longest and most impractical of these ever seen, but thoroughly enjoying the process). This may jazz things up a bit, sure, but more so, I love to highlight the accomplishments of talented folks, beyond the obligatory author and artist bios, whenever possible. I hope that the inherently humble of sensibilities in such matters do not mind. I also felt that providing a little extra publicity for other literary entities in the field, speculative or otherwise, might encourage a few more submissions here and there and a further cross-pollination of the inspired imaginations within this grand sphere of creativity — as has kindly been done for this publishing house by many generous souls who were in the position to do so. The cultivation of such is a most robust good in my view.
Further to this, one such kind supporter being H. E. Wilburson’s The Martian Diaries trilogy, the award-winning sequel to H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Social media manager Anita Dow routinely boosts Starship Sloane Publishing projects on Twitter to their very sizeable following, and it is very much appreciated. Thank you, Anita!
On a Personal Note
Putting this magazine together has been part of the fabric of my life for months now.
I even worked on it a little in South America while on a wonderful and long overdue visit with my in-laws in Ecuador.
Later, here in the States, I was working away furiously on this magazine on February 1st, amidst a severe and days-long ice storm that had gripped the area. I was fueled in part by a steady and engulfing wave of anxiety, punctuated by adrenalized dashes outside Starship HQ to survey the environs for damage. The great and sustained weight of the ice finally having caused large branches of trees — and in the neighborhood, sometimes whole trees — to split, snap and rip asunder, falling as giant chandeliers of ice to the frozen ground. Over the course of a day and night, the sound of crackling, crashing thuds was almost constant, battering my concentration from every direction. It was like being on a field of battle between the Ents and ice giants. I had many and pressing concerns, but beyond a tree falling on the roof, I felt most badly for the trees themselves. I expected the power to go out any moment, halting my chaotic but still-inspired momentum. I needn’t have worried, it was St. Brigid’s Day, after all! When I mentioned the event to Jean-Paul a couple of days later, he said that it sounded like a Ballard story outside my window.
And . . . there was heartbreaking tragedy. A lifelong friend of my daughter, my former student, Ethan Wallace, died in an automobile accident. He was in his senior year of high school and a truly inspiring young man with a very bright future. This magazine is dedicated to Ethan and to his memory. I think he would have liked that. St. Brigid, too.
Continuing work on this magazine has helped to put the wind back in my sails. I thank each of you for that gift.
Enjoy the magazine! It has been a real and genuine pleasure putting it all together for you, dear reader. I am more inspired than ever, and that’s a great feeling. Decades of bottled-up creative carbonation have finally cracked the glass and popped the damn cork! And it was about time, too. Expect to see much, much more from this small, eclectic, and hopefully, electric, publishing house.
Thank you, contributors, for your commitment to seeing your work appear in this magazine.
Thank you all for being here, you are very much appreciated.
Justin T. O’Conor Sloane — Editor
February 6, 2023
~ For Ethan ~