18 Wheels of Science Fiction:
A Long Haul into the Fantastic Genre: Science Fiction Anthology
with Stories by Eric Miller, editor, John DeChancie, Del Howison, Bond Elam, Lisa Morton, Paul Carlson, Janet Joyce Holden, Michael Bailey, Carla Robinson, Jeff Seeman, Kate Jonez, Gary Phillips, Lucio Rodriguez, Terry Bisson, Eric Miller, Edward M. Erdelac, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Sean Patrick Traver
"...Definitely fun." --Analog Science Fiction and Fact
Take a trip through the imaginations of 18 visionary writers as they explore the future of trucking in this new science fiction anthology! There's something for every genre fiction fan in this follow-up to the hit "18 wheels of Horror - a Trailer Full of Trucking Terrors."
From the back cover: An alien fuel additive shows just how fast a big rig can go... A disembodied driver wages war on self-driving trucks... A haul through time takes an unexpected turn... Reality shatters for a trucker using an experimental delivery device... Stargazing gives an overweight driver a new lease on life... A young girl risks her life to hitch a ride out of an apocalyptic wasteland...
The highways of the universe will never be the same!
THE WRECKERS by JOHN DECHANCIE
“The Wreckers” is a continuation of DeChancie’s highly popular “Skyways” trucking Science Fiction novel series, in which legendary driver Jake McGraw (now an AI) and his son Sammy find new adventures on the mysterious skyway between worlds.
SPEED TRAP by JEFF SEEMAN
In “Speed Trap,” a chicken hauler’s misfit co-driver buys an exotic alien fuel additive at a truck stop, and the two find out just how fast their Big Rig will go.
THIN ICE by BOND ELAM
In “Thin Ice,” A trucker running mineral ore on an ice planet gets caught in a rebellion, and learns a terrible secret about her past that affects not only hers and her beloved daughter’s lives, but threatens humanity itself.
Q-BITS by LUCIO RODRIGUEZ
A trucker’s reality fractures in “Q-Bits” due to an experimental quantum delivery device, and has to make a choice that could re-unite him with his son, or take him to a unknown future.
I, TRUCK by GARY PHILLIPS
“I, Truck” features an unemployed trucker who signs up for an experimental driving program, but a cyber-attack by hackers turns him into an revenge-fueled ghost in the machine.
OVER FLAT MOUNTAIN by TERRY BISSON
In the classic SF story “Over Flat Mountain,” which appeared in OMNI Magazine, a trucker helps out a young hitchhiker as they travel over the miles-high mountain that an apocalyptic seismic event has thrust through the heart of America.
WHEELS OF WRATH by JANET JOYCE HOLDEN
In “Wheels of Wrath,” a breakdown stops the massive train carrying hundreds of trucks through the blasted wasteland of middle America, and a group of drivers discover a secret that could change the world—if it doesn’t get them killed first.
SHOTGUN SEAT by PAUL CARLSON
In “Shotgun Seat,” a trucker and his new trainee learn to cope with the robot drivers that threaten to take over human jobs—and who also yearn for freedom.
JOB NO. 34264 by LISA MORTON
“Job #34264” features two truckers who travel back through time to find water for a droughtriddled future, but encounter a time paradox threatens to destroy everything they know.
ESSENTIAL OILS by MICHAEL BAILEY
In “Essential Oils,” a trucker hauling tankers full of essential oils deep into the Arctic tries to find out what the Canadian government is doing with the odd cargo.
BIG RIG, BIG RIP by ALVARO ZINOS-AMARO
The pilot of a long-haul space cargo carrier in “Big Rig, Big Rip” flies through a hidden wormhole and winds up thousands of light years from home. Scared and lost, he struggles to find a way back to his family.
A FLICKER OF BRIGHT LIGHT by DEL HOWISON
“A Flicker of Bright Light,” is about a young girl living in an apocalyptic wasteland, who risks her life to stow away on a truck that could carry her to freedom.
HIT/RUN by EDWARD M. ERDELAC
In “Hit/Run,” a trucker runs from two mysterious men who are chasing him years after he committed a hit and run accident. But things are far from what they seem...
EVERYTHING LOOKS SO SMALL by CARLA ROBINSON
An overweight trucker in “Everything Looks so Small” gets a new lease on life thanks to the fantastic things he sees while looking at the stars.
SILENT PASSENGER by KATE JONEZ
In “Silent Passenger,” a driver on her last run finds the experimental technology propelling her truck has somehow brought back a ghost from her past.
INDICA ASTERION & THE WIZARD OF OZYMANIDAS by SEAN PATRICK TRAVER
In “Indica Asterion & The Wizard of Ozymandias,” a trucker falls afoul of a government agent when he tries to smuggle contraband alien technology, and his fugitive sister in-law works to save him with a seemingly magical interdimensional artifact.
HUMAN, TRAFFICKING by MICHAEL PAUL GONZALES
“Human, Trafficking” is about a trucker who signs his life—and body-—away when he goes to work for a high-tech autonomous trucking company.
DRIVE by ERIC MILLER
“Drive” follows the Greatest Driver Alive as he takes a tanker full of volatile rocket fuel through gang-war torn Los Angeles, and nothing, not bullets, bombs, or bad luck, will stop him from delivering his incendiary cargo.
...Parked off by itself, as no one was brave or stupid enough to park near it, Jimmy’s rig was a monster. The massive triple-axle tractor seemed to melt into the sixty-foot long tanker trailer, swooping slabs of Kevlar and titanium fairings protecting both front and rear units from the fuel-robbing forces of aerodynamic drag as well as
more aggressive threats such as bullets and bombs. A flexible section of molding stretched between tractor and trailer, hiding the serpentine mix of thick cables and hoses and hydraulic lines that joined the two together in an almost holy mechanical matrimony.
The rig towered high in the air, every section covered with sinister bulges, access panels, remote control doors, insulated pipes, and strange-looking antennae. What was visible of the eighteen tires revealed great chunks of Kevlar-reinforced rubber with treads that looked as if they would be as comfortable climbing a mountain made of broken glass and barb wire as they were chewing on the baby soft asphalt of a newly- paved freeway.
The basic color of the truck was black, but bright yellow warning labels covered the skin front to back; the familiar icons for Biohazard and Nuclear Waste and High Explosive were enough to make normal people keep their distance, but the distinctive sign for the Hi-Test usually cleared the area quicker than a pin-free hand grenade...
**scroll through the slideshow to find out more about the authors!!**
Answers by Eric Miller, editor and contributor to 18 Wheels of Science Fiction from Big Time Books.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’ve worked in the Entertainment Industry for over 30 years, in a variety of jobs from screenwriter to production executive to truck driver. I’ve traveled all over the US and the world thanks to the business, and met some incredible people. Not many jobs allow you to do that.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was bone in Oregon, moved back to the family home of Indiana when I was a baby, and have lived in Los Angeles for over 30 years, but traveled a lot during that time. Living in a variety of places has helped me learn a lot about the world and the people who fill it. We are all more alike than different, no matter what fear-mongering politicians and sensationalistic news stories try to say.
Who is your hero and why?
Stephen King. He not only writes a prodigious volume of work, but pretty much everything he writes is ridiculously good.
What are you passionate about these days?
I am always writing and reading and trying to help others achieve their dreams.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I recently visited the Kurt Vonnegut museum in Indianapolis, and loved learning more about one of my literary heroes. And I hope to travel to James Herriot’s real hometown in Yorkshire soon. He was a gifted storyteller, and his book are something I return to often.
What inspired you to write this book?
I have been a writer from an early age, and along the way I’ve had a few stories published and some films made from my screenplays. I have also been around trucks and truckers my whole life, from family and friends to just being on the road a lot with travel, and am a commercial driver myself, working in film and TV Transportation for over 25 years on films such as the Taken series. And movies like Duel, Smokeyand the Bandit, and Maximum Overdrive heightened the allure of trucking fiction for me.
Reading Terry Bisson’s classic trucking SF story “Over Flat Mountain” in a magazine back in the day planted the seed of an idea in my head, and reading John DeChancie’s Skyways trucking SF novels helped that seed grow. So after I edited and published my first two horror anthologies, Hell Comes to Hollywood 1 & 2, that idea came to full bloom when I put my love of trucks and writing together in the 18 Wheels of Horror. That anthology was a big success, and calls for more trucking genre stories brought me to 18 Wheels of Science Fiction.
What can we expect from you in the future?
As an editor and publisher, I am looking at new books in the 18 Wheels series in different genres, from Romance to Apocalypse, to Westerns and more. As a writer, my first novel is going out to publishers now, and I’m always working on new screenplay projects in Hollywood. I’ve got the usual gaggle of short stories in various stages of completion and submission.
What did you enjoy most about editing this book?
The best parts of editing an anthology are seeing your idea for a book come to life in the stories from various other authors, and getting to work with the authors themselves. I am always amazed at the wide variety of ideas and worlds the writers come up with on a common theme. In this case, I was worried that is a lot of self-driving trucks stories were submitted they would all be too similar. My fears were unfounded, as the stories were all markedly different and unique.
Getting to work with some writers who are old friends and who have been in my previously anthologies was a blast, as well as working with people I grew up reading. I had loved Terry Bisson’s stories for years, so was thrilled to get a reprint of his classic trucking SF story “Over Flat Mountain” for this book. And I grew up on John DeChancie’s Skyways trucking SF novels, so having him create a new story in the same universe for 18 Wheels of Science Fiction was a total thrill. And just getting to hang out with him and the other writers and talk about books and science fiction and life is the best part of all.
Who designed your book covers?
I have to give huge credit to Keven Carter from www.Car-n-art.com for coming up with the kick-ass logo and cover design for 18 Wheels of Horror. I had a rough idea of what I wanted, but he really did all the hard work and made it pop off the page. Cover Artist Brad Fraunfelter picked up the torch for 18 Wheels of Science Fiction and took the original idea to the next level and launched it into orbit. I am really lucky I got to work with two such amazing artists, and I really think they did the writers proud with their covers and title design. .
How did you come up with name of this book?
I wanted this to be a series of genre anthologies from the start, and incorporate the same look and design and logo across all the books, and of course I wanted the genre of each book in the title so the readers would know what they were getting. And since there are 18 wheels on most big rigs, I wanted to have 18 stories by 18 writers in each book to continue the trucking theme.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
Sharing the great stories and ideas with other people.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
In my story “Drive,” and I am sure all the others, the characters are a mix of people I’ve known and just pure fantasy. My hero Jimmy thinks he’s the Greatest Driver Alive, because he is. He’s not arrogant, it’s just a fact. And he proves it. I’ve know people like that in many walks of life, who were just plainly The Best at what they did but not full of themselves, and it’s humbling and fun to be around them. So I wanted to capture that feeling in my story.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Two reasons. First, science fiction is not only fun to read, but it lets us look at our world through the lens of the fantastic and make us think. Second, trucking and truckers have universal appeal, as they are generally common people with uncommon skill sets who are often put in lonely and adverse conditions and have to figure out how to survive. It’s not easy out there on the road alone. How they confront the literal and figurative roadblocks in front of them is fodder for great storytelling, and we can all relate to them and their situations. Truckers are everyday heroes even if they aren’t fighting off monsters or aliens. They are people do a hard, lonely job to put food on the table for their families, and racking up endless miles to try and find a better life. I want to honor those sacrifices in these books, and thrill and entertain them and others with some fantastic fiction as well.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
My first novel is out to publisher now.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be? 18 Wheels of Science Fiction would be a Roman Candle, with the scent of burning rubber and Diesel exhaust.
What did you edit out of this book?
Not much. I trusted the writers to give me their best work, and they delivered as usual. Of course, I gave notes here and there, like, punch this up or trim that a little, but by and large the stories are close to the first drafts that were submitted. I am lucky to have gotten to work with such talented people book after book. Makes me look like I know what I am doing as an editor.
Is there an writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I always wanted to have a cup of coffee with Kurt Vonnegut. I am a big fan of his work, as he is one of the writers that transcends the written word and became a cultural icon. He said so much about the human condition in his books and in person, and more people should listen.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Fiction: Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Tim Powers, Neil Stephenson, Terry Pratchet, David Weber, Peter F. Hamilton, Robert A. Heinlein, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Roger Zelazny, and Robert E. Howard. That’s 11, but who cares? And there are so many more writers who inspire me every day. like Bill Bryson and Carl Sagan and Shirley Jackson. .
As for books, people are tired of me talking about how great “Snow Crash” is, but I don’t care. I just love that book. And I am in awe of “The Dreaming Void” trilogy and all of the books in the Commonwealth Saga. I also love R.A. Meluch’s “Tour of the Merrimack” SF series that started with “The Myriad.” It’s just damn fun and though provoking SF with terrific characters, kind of a cross between Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica but much more. So many more, I could go on for hours.
What book do you think everyone should read? A Brief History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It is a brilliant and hilarious look at the science behind our world and everything we think we know about it, filled with portraits of the often eccentric geniuses who discovered the knowledge that is so critical to the who we are. It proves the adage that the more we find out, the less we know, and shows that the pursuit of facts and truth is not always a noble cause, but sometimes absurd as well. The book is entertaining and educational too, what more could you want?
How long have you been writing?
Since I was five or six I think. And I’m still learning how to do it right.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I had to do a lot or research for 18 wheels of Science Fiction to make sure the trucking, AI, and self-driving vehicle tech was plausible. That’s a whole new world that’s coming down the highway far faster than people realize. There are going to be big upheavals in technology and society due to it, and no one is quite sure what it will look like. For the regular old science stuff I relied on my old friend James Heath, who unlike me, actually has science degrees and teaches and researches on the university level in addition to being a huge Science Fiction fan. He caught a few things we corrected, but even though a few things might have slipped through that aren’t exactly true, I erred on the Fiction side of SF and let them go.
Do you see writing as a career?
I wish, but it’s hard to make a living unless you are a top name. Sadly, lots of best-selling writers still have day jobs. But I’ll keep writing and editing no matter what, like every writer. We do it to tell stories and inspire others, and hopefully make some money along the way.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
Fractured, chaotic, marvelous, scary, all at once. Anyone can put out a book now, hell, I did, but not everyone should. It is awesome that people can make a living with nothing more than a dream, but you also have to put out quality, edited, readable books too, with good cover art. You can’t always tell if your own stuff is good, so in that respect, traditional publishers and editors are a big help. I think most writers want to be published by a big New York publishing house, for the professional gratification if nothing else, but there’s nothing wrong at all with going by yourself and using Amazon and Nook and Kobo and all the other platforms to get your book out there via self- publishing. I love that technology makes that viable for anyone to get access to readers.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I am a massive genre reader, Science Fiction and Horror of course, but I love historical fiction and literary fiction as well, and also non-fiction. A good book is a good book, and I am amused by people who sneer at a genre or category they think they don’t like. Just read, damnit.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
Advice they would give new authors?
Take classes, learn grammar, relentlessly edit and get better every draft, but in the end, just write what YOU want to write. Tell the story you want to tell. Take advice from friends and editors and agents etc., but follow your heart.
Describe your writing style.
Entertaining with flashes of brilliance.
What makes a good story?
Many answers to this, but I think great characters that the reader can relate to anchors every good story.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Saying you are a writer but not writing. Put in the pages, whether they sell or not. You get better with every story.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write for myself, and hope other people want to read it.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Ignore all the people will try to tell you what you should be writing. No on l knows what is good or what can sell. So tell you own tales and be true to yourself.
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