The Path We Walk…

“It’s very important that we start creating new content again. We can only build on nostalgia so much before we have nothing left to build on.”
-Joss Whedon

It’s not about nostalgia. It’s about vision.

We think it’s great that so many people remember SPI’s magazine, Ares. But we’re not SPI and it’s not 1983.

We aren’t trying to recapture our teenage years and we’re not trying to clone a T-Rex. We have not come down with the nostalgia bug. We’re driven by something different. We have a vision.

The vision is of a new product — one that makes sense in 2014.

Recreating an exact copy of a 30-year old periodical doesn’t make sense. Given the advanced state of technology and expectations of our target demographics, a continuation of SPI’s model would be a bit of a disaster.

SPI’s magazine contained hard science news, movie reviews, and other content that just won’t work for a contemporary audience. The internet provides readers with science news, reviews, etc., essentially immediately. The fastest we could turn around a printed magazine is maybe 60 days. That’s not like publishing yesterday’s news. That’s publishing news from two months ago.

Our magazine will focus on the fiction and the game at the expense of some of the other content that was fashionable during the Reagan administration. Readers can expect about 60 pages of new science fiction, or fiction from a related genre, in each issue. Some additional pages will host non-fiction content, like interviews with, or articles written by, appropriate smart people. We will try to fill any remaining space in the magazine’s 80 pages with advertising because we’re capitalist exploiters of the proletariat. To this we add a complete board game, composed of a rule book, a few hundred die-cut playing pieces, and a large map. We’ll wrap it all up in a gorgeous package and deliver it to your door.

We will also publish an e-reader version of the magazine without the game materials. There’s no reason to make your phone or tablet feel left out.

So if this vision incidentally pays homage to Ares, Amazing Stories, The Space Gamer, or Tales from the Crypt, that’s fine with us. We’re even in touch with some of the original Ares staff, not to recreate SPI’s product, but to take advantage of points where their expertise and enthusiasm aligns with our vision.

We hope you share our vision. Can you see it?

The Die is Cast

Our Kickstarter project is now online!

What are we feeling? Exhaustion. Exhilaration. Anticipation. Other things — we’ll let you know when we have worked out the vocabulary for them all.

Now it’s up to you. Please go to the Kickstarter page. Buy an issue. If you’re generous, escalate your reward level. We have a pretty big goal to meet, or exceed, and we need everyone’s help to do it.

Thank you, one and all, for your collective patience and enthusiasm.

This marks a new year for all of us. Let’s make the most of it.

-The Ares Magazine Team

We’re Under Attack!

False alarm. It isn’t us. It’s the British…in the 1880’s.

War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds is a new game from Bill Banks’ and is scheduled to print as the in-magazine game for the premier issue of Ares Magazine.

War of the Worlds is a two-player game of the conquest of Earth and the survival of humanity! The military forces of Queen Victoria gather to repel an attack by the diabolical Martian forces under the command of the evil Martian overlord.

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The Martians have huge, mechanical tripod walkers, flying saucers, death rays, missile bases, and giant monsters at their disposal. They can also elicit help from sympathetic (read gullible) human proxies.

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The humans rely on conventional infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and perhaps a hero, for their main defense. Fortunately, the human player may get assistance from a mad scientist who can field an Infernal Machine that the Martians won’t find amusing.

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The Martians have a choice of five different victory conditions. Part of the challenge for the human player is to determine the Martian overlord’s true objectives so they can be best thwarted.

Play Time: 60 Minutes

Ages: 12 and Up

Solitaire Suitability: Low

You Should Care What Other People Think. Some of Them Have Hammers…

In the interest of galactic peace and providing cool content, we have composed a new Interviews page on the Media menu.

The relationship between science fiction and its propensity to stimulate technological development is an idea that has been around awhile. But Yasser Bahjatt, an engineer in Saudi Arabia, takes that idea a step further.

In a 2012 Ted Talk and an interview on a blog of the American bimonthly magazine Foreign Policy, Bahjatt suggests there is a correlation between regions with high concentrations of research and development and those regions’ comparatively robust science fiction scenes. In his Ted Talk, Bahjatt says that if we want to advance science, we have to have a strong science fiction culture—a very intriguing idea.

We tracked him down and asked if he’d be willing to share a little more about his idea, his top selling science fiction novel and his role in eSports. Read the interview here.

The Final Countdown

Our KickStarter launch begins in four days.

Tick…tick…tick…

We decided to remind the Universe to mind the calendar. As long as we were going to do that, we might as well give everyone a peek at some bits of the first issue. We made another movie. It’s more of a commercial, really.

Watch it. We know how much you love commercials.

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Point of No Return

Hero’s Journey

If Joseph Campbell were here, he could undoubtedly paint a broad mural of context around this moment.

Today, we posted our public commitment to our Kickstarter commencement date — 1 January 2014.

Our announcement is in the form of a short YouTube video. It’s cool. You can view it here.

The Road Ahead

Our vision for the magazine has solidified. We will publish Ares in a 96-page print format that contains a stand-alone board game. We will also publish an 80-page digital magazine, without the game component.

If our audience expresses enough interest in a print version without a game, we will provide that as an option, as well as the game sans the fiction component.

We’re researching means of optimizing production processes and methods so we can provide you with the finest final product. Our next movie will show some sample pages and our core staff and contributors. Yes, I know. Such a tease…

Solid Foundation

Bed rock and steel-reinforced concrete — a great project arises from a solid foundation. The last two weeks have seen all of us pouring metaphorical concrete. The Facebook link now works correctly. We even have a Twitter account, and the website’s homepage is linked to it.

Gads.

You’d think this was the Jetsons.

Refined Expectations

Expectations

For most people, expectations are the toughest and strongest thing they will ever produce. Expectations compose a diamond-hard foundation for most people’s perceptions of how they fit into the Universe. When reality contacts a person’s expectations, and is not aligned with them, the resulting impact can be seen from light-years away. This is usually bad. Unless you’re an observer, in which case it can be hilarious.

When I first pushed this project out of the gate — maybe dragged is a more accurate metaphor — my primary concern was whether we could gather enough content. I can fix printing issues. I can fix finance issues. I can fix game design issues. But if no one sent us material for publication, this project was dead. And I couldn’t fix it.

I was also mindful that even if we received sufficient material, based upon my past experience, the lion’s share of it would not only fail to meet publication standards, but would be agonizing to evaluate. In years past, I have been exposed to “It was a dark and stormy night…” more times that I care to count. Even published novels with positive reviews frequently fail my Bulwer-Lytton test.

But I didn’t form any expectations. That is my normal MO. The future will resolve into the present irrespective of my expectations, so I endeavor to have none. I fail, but I endeavor.

We posted calls for content, and content we got. We are receiving a half dozen or more submissions every day. Quality does not seem to be a major challenge, either. Only about 20% or so of our submissions really miss the mark. We probably have collected enough publishable material for two complete issues.

Some people would jump up and down amid shouts of “Huzzah!” Yeah, um, I don’t do that. It goes back to not doing that “expectations” thing. I don’t suffer the lows, but I don’t get the highs, either. Saves wear and tear.

That, and there is an issue, and it has to do with “vision.”

Vision

My vision of what I want to publish is reasonably well crystallized in my imagination. Ares is the name of the Greek god of war. He is bold. He is brash. I want the magazine bearing his name to be bold and brash. The stories we have collected thus far are solid, quality stories. But too few of them could be characterized as real action-adventures. Personal stories are great, but I would like to see more swashbuckling and more derring-do.

To that end, I am updating and clarifying our submission guidelines. Perhaps I should clarify what I mean by action-adventure fiction. What I would like to liberally salt every issue with are stories involving danger, heroics, and intrigue. Action stories will be graded along our normal curve, but going forward, stories that are not well-characterized as adventure stories will be graded on a steeper curve. We will still publish more introspective stories, but only the finest of this latter group will make the cut.

Don’t let this dissuade you from sending in anything on our Preferred Genre list. Just be mindful that if it is rejected, that may have less to do with the quality of the fiction and more to do with our desired focus. And if you have some action-adventure pent up inside you, waiting for an opportunity to sneak out of your fingers onto your keyboard, now would be the time to look the other way and let it go. We’ll find the best home for it.

The Mission

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

I am an engineer. I don’t feel things — waste of time and effort. But my coworkers and vendors feel something. They are energized about this project. They’re broadcasting the energy. And I feel it.

We’re on a mission.

What are the mission parameters? What are we trying to accomplish? Where are we going? How long will it take to get there?

All good questions, and I hope to find answers as we venture down the path set before us.

The big idea is to fill a void — to publish a new magazine that combines a stand-alone, unique, playable board game in every issue with a collection of fiction. The focus is science fiction, but we aren’t zealots. We will publish select other genres, including pulp adventure, fantasy, and alternative history.

We would like to squeeze out at least four issues per year, with each issue crammed full of enough amazing content to keep you busy until you receive the next issue.

We are soliciting content — games, fiction, and art — we need it all.

Our first attention is to funding, and our first method of funding the project is Kickstarter. We’ll let you know when our Kickstarter release is getting close.

If our Kickstarter effort is successful, we should go to press on Issue 01 within about 90 days of its conclusion.

Thank you for your interest. We look forward to rewarding it, in spades.