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My New Sovereign Era Short Story: The Story Behind the… Story!

Cover image for The News From Bewilder Pond, a Short Story by Matthew Wayne Selznick“The News From Bewilder Pond” is an epistolary short story largely told through the (fictional) partial transcript of an episode of a public radio show. It’s part of my Sovereign Era storyworld, a soft science fiction alternate history in which the sudden appearance of individuals with remarkable powers and abilities — Sovereigns — upsets the delicate balance of international power in the last decades of the twentieth century.

Pre-Order Right Now!

I hope you’ll pre-order the Amazon Kindle e-book edition of “The News From Bewilder Pond” for just $0.99 USD before its release on December 17, 2019. Your pre-order means the book will automatically appear in your Kindle app or device on December 17… and you’ll help the book (and me!) because all pre-order sales count toward the book’s ranking on Amazon. The higher the ranking on release day, the more visible the title, and that could mean more sales of “The News From Bewilder Pond” and all other Sovereign Era titles. Click right here to pre-order “The News From Bewilder Pond,” and thank you, in advance, for your pre-order!

I launched the storyworld way back in 2005 with the initial release of my first novel, Brave Men Run (volume one of The Charters Duology, which also includes Pilgrimage). Along the way, I’ve released an anthology of Sovereign Era short stories from a variety of authors, a stand-alone short story, an ongoing serial you can read for free, a novelette from the late P. G. Holyfield, and now… this!

About “The News From Bewilder Pond”

I love verisimilitude in fiction — the illusion that what you’re reading is a fully immersive world. This goes back to childhood for me; easily traced to the convoluted continuity found in 1970’s and 1980’s Marvel Comics, the subtly and not-so-subtly connected works of Stephen King, and the deeply influential shared world anthology spearheaded by George R.R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass, Wild Cards. The idea of a popular (if niche) public radio variety show addressing the Sovereign phenomenon tickles me, and adds a few tchotchkes to the house I’m building.

Speaking of public radio variety shows… “The News From Bewilder Pond” is a pastiche of “The News From Lake Wobegon,” a regular segment of A Prairie Home Companion, which ran for decades on many United States public radio stations. This is probably obvious to some of my friends and fans, and utterly outside of the experience of the rest..!

The host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” Garrison Keillor, was removed, and the show re-branded, in 2017 following dozens of allegations of his sexual misconduct.

Keillor’s alleged behavior is inexcusable and deeply disappointing.

It makes my appreciation of his art — perhaps thousands of hours of storytelling and worldbuilding — complicated.  Though I didn’t intend it when I wrote “The News From Bewilder Pond” many years before we all learned of Keillor’s actions, let’s just say Harrison Wheeler is an exercise in wish fulfillment; an instance where something in the complicated and often unpleasant Sovereign Era storyworld is preferably to reality.

Very astute, dedicated, and long-time friends and fans might be thinking to themselves, “Why does this story seems familiar?”

Fans of the author and podcaster Mur Lafferty might be thinking the same thing. That’s because I contributed an audio version of this story to help promote the publication of Mur’s superhero novel Playing For Keeps back in 2008.  The little piece was customized to fit Mur’s “Seventh City” storyworld, with references to the characters and locations in her novel. That audio, near as I can tell from a cursory search, is no longer publically available.

Now, “The News From Bewilder Pond” has been updated, adapted, and is part of Sovereign Era canon. Chronologically, it takes place in October, 1987.

It’s a folksy, homespun take on super-powered fiction, and unlike any other Sovereign Era story you’ve read.

Sound like fun? Pre-order “The News From Bewilder Pond” right now, with my thanks!

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  • Arioch Morningstar

    Why are so many of the stories I want to read in e-format only?!? Some of us still like paper. Will this (or has this) been included in a treeware anthology I can purchase?

    • A
      Matthew Wayne Selznick

      Hey there Arioch! This particular short story is very new, and isn’t part of any collection as of yet. Somewhere down the line, assuming demand, well, demands it, I may have enough uncollected Sovereign Era stories to create a new anthology in that storyworld.

      The only way my stand-alone short stories are available in print is as limited edition (to 100 copies) signed and numbered hand-made chapbooks. I make these available periodically and will very likely offer them again this year… but not until my next novel, Light of the Outsider, is out in the wild in June. Light of the Outsider will have a paperback edition, though, so you can get your hands on that very soon…

      I think you’re part of my mailing list community, so you’ll be among the first to know when the paperback edition of Light of the Outsider can be ordered (you can pre-order the Kindle edition now…) and when I bring back my short story chapbooks.

      Thanks for the comment, and especially thanks for always being interested in the stuff I make!

  • Rebecca Burns

    Marvelous idea! Used to listen to Prairie Home Companion faithfully and love that style of storytelling. Think its very fitting for your 80’s based world. Might make a good mini audio/podcast feature?

    • A
      Matthew Wayne Selznick

      Thanks, Rebecca! The story’s out now, so I hope you enjoy it and don’t mind writing a review on Amazon (even if you didn’t like it)!

      As for an audio / podcast version, as I wrote, that’s how the story started — as a promotional podcast episode in the marketing effort for Mur Lafferty’s novel Playing For Keeps back in 2008. Far as I know, that audio (representing a different, earlier, non-Sovereign Era version of the story) is no longer available online.

      I don’t have plans to do an audio version of “The News from Bewilder Pond” at this time. Too busy working on finishing my next novel, Light of the Outsider!

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