Red Metal At Dawn

Longbox Graveyard

Mars Will Send No More is one of the oldest and most steadfast supporters of Longbox Graveyard, so when I learned he’d published a fiction collection about his Hell-raising space pirate, Meteor Mags, I knew I had to have a copy!

Red Metal At Dawn

I’m only part way through this volume, but I’ve been consistently delighted with Meteor Mags’ own particular blend of anarchy, optimism, bloodshed, artistry, action, nostalgia, punk rock, and cats! (Can’t forget the cats!)

To celebrate the release of Red Metal At Dawn, I caught up with Matthew Howard, book author (and secret master of Mars)

LBG: Tell us a bit about Meteor Mags and this new collection of stories.

MH: Meteor Mags is a space pirate in the near future where asteroid mining has created a new frontier, one ripe for plundering, smuggling, and rebel rock bands. In ten thematically related stories, we learn Mags is no ordinary pirate…

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Asteroid Underground Interview IV: Hyo-Sonn

This interview appears in the Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition.

Hyo-Sonn, welcome to Asteroid Underground.

Thank you.

Does your name have a meaning?

Yeah, I guess so. It’s Korean. It means gentle daughter.

Does it fit your personality?

Ha. I guess it used to. I don’t feel like it does so much these days.

You’re not gentle?

After what’s happened to me and my friends, I’m kind of pissed off a lot. And as far as being a daughter…

Yes? What happened?

It’s hard to feel like a daughter when your parents abandon you. When they just leave you at some “treatment facility” instead of listening to you. And then you try to tell them what really happens in this place, and they don’t believe you. Or maybe they just didn’t care. Fuck them.

It was, what? A rehab clinic for teenagers?

Yeah, that’s what they tell people. But really, it’s just a place where kids who didn’t do anything wrong get drugged up, beaten, and… other creepy stuff. If you try to speak up or have a problem with what’s going on there, they just drug you senseless. Strap you down. I can’t even talk about what they did to little Sarah. It’s so horrible. How could anyone who loves their kid do that to them?

Maybe they didn’t know?

Maybe they just didn’t give a fuck. Mags and Celina are different though. They’re more of a family to us than most of us ever had. They care about us.

How did you meet them?

Well, I’d heard of Mags’ band because of Sarah. She was super into that one song they did, you know.

Something to Destroy?

Yeah, that one. Where Mags sings. I think it meant a lot to Sarah. But we met Mags after we’d been captured by the lizards. They had us in some kind of pen. If Mags hadn’t rescued us… Mags and Tarzi, of course. And Patches. And Tarzi’s little seahorse.

Oh, so you know Tarzi, too. What do you think of him?

He’s nice and all, but I wish he would quit smoking. It’s so gross. And I don’t know how he can listen to that stuff he calls music. Sounds like a lot of noise to me.

What kind of music do you like?

I like all kinds of stuff. Mags and Celina have been playing us music we didn’t even know existed. Weird, old jazz, stuff from Africa, Japan, South America. I mean, I don’t like all of it. I like stuff you can dance to, or sing along with. Not like Tarzi’s bands.

Do you like The Psycho 78s?

They’re alright. I mean, they’re a fun bunch of guys. They talk all tough, but it’s just like a lot of hot air, you know? I thought maybe they were creepy at first, but you have to get to know them.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you do for fun?

I like to draw a little bit. But Kala’s so much better at it than me. She’s amazing. I think she was born to do it. Celina’s teaching me some dance stuff. And not just pole dancing but like all kinds of things. Pole dancing is… It’s a little too sexy for me. I just want to dance, not have men drooling all over me like a… I don’t know. Like some kind of chicken on a rotisserie.

(Laughs)

Seriously though. I mean, nothing against Mags and Celina. They’ve been dancing for like a gazillion years. It’s just not my thing. Other than that, I help with teaching.

You mean dance lessons?

No, no. Reading. And math. You probably wouldn’t guess from talking to her, but Mags is crazy good at math. I don’t even know what she’s talking about sometimes, differential this and integrate that. But she’s pretty serious about making sure all of us are putting our minds to work. So, I help some of the younger girls with basic math and algebra. And Mags has some crazy antique books I never even heard of before.

So it’s not just a constant party at Club Assteroid?

Oh, god no. Celina keeps us pretty busy. But, I mean, it’s not like awful work. Some of the girls bitched at first about, you know, cleaning their rooms and stuff like that. And helping in the garden or whatever. But Celina knows how to make it fun. I mean, Mags might be all like, “Just clean your fucking room!” Hahaha. But Celina makes it seem not like work at all.

How so?

Oh, you know, we have contests, or we have to do some stuff, but then we can pick our own projects to work on most of the time. We always work together, so you’re basically just hanging out with your friends and talking. And we make little groups of our own to do stuff. Kala is giving drawing lessons, and she’s planning out a big mural for the club with her group.

And do you have a group?

No, not really. I mean, I sit in on Kala’s lessons, especially the figure drawing ones. But I haven’t thought of a project I’d want to lead. Honestly, I’d rather just do my own thing most of the time.

Do you think the other girls look up to you?

Me? Hahaha. Maybe some of them. They must think I’m a total bitch sometimes. I might have been a little too hard on them before. But I was just worried about them. I’m trying to be more chill these days. More like Celina.

And less like Mags?

I don’t have anything bad to say about Mags. Except she should quit smoking. It’s so gross.

But she can be pretty rough on people, can’t she?

Yeah, I guess. It’s just how she is.

Why do you think that is?

Maybe how she grew up? I don’t know. I’m just glad she’s on our side. And most people don’t know her, I mean like really know her. They just see one side of her. Her pirate side or whatever. They don’t really know her like we do.

So, do you have any plans to return to Earth in the future?

Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe. Earth is so fucked up right now. I think I’ll stick with Mags and Celina for a while. Like I said, they really care about us, and things are so much better for us than they were before.

Asteroid Underground Interview III: Slim

This interview appears in the Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition.

Slim, Welcome to the Asteroid Underground.

Thanks, buddy. Glad to be here. You don’t mind, do you?

Oh, no. Go right ahead. That smells great! What is it?

Kung Pao chicken. A vegetarian version. We make it with seitan. It’s less traumatic for the chickens that way. Here. Try some. You don’t have a peanut allergy, do you? Okay, try this.

Wow, that’s tasty. Do you make all your own food at Below The Belt?

Oh, yeah. Our customers don’t just come for the loud music and sexy dancers, hahaha. We’re the only place outside the Martian Warehousing Zone where a miner can get a home-cooked meal.

Tell us how you got started cooking.

Oh, I don’t even recall when I started. I worked in Dad’s restaurant ever since I can remember.

Your dad was in the restaurant business, too?

No, no, hahaha. Dad was in the gambling business. Or more accurately, Dad was the gambling business in Chinatown. The restaurant was just a cover. A meeting place, a decent way to launder money, that kind of thing. Once he moved into imports and exports, it wasn’t so important, but we kept it open a few more years anyway. I don’t know if it was so he could always get a home-cooked meal, or if he just thought it would keep me out of trouble! Maybe both.

Does Meteor Mags still dance at Below The Belt?

No, though we’d love to have her back. She mostly dances at her own place now. When she has the time.

Is it because of the shootout?

Hahaha, no. Well, maybe just a little bit. Don’t print that, though. Mags is persona non gratis with the MFA, the Port Authority, and just about everybody else these days. So, it’s probably not a good idea for her to be in a little club like mine. She has to be more careful about hanging out now. We all miss her, though. She’s quite the dancer.

And you’ve known her a long time, too, haven’t you?

Oh, forever. Since Pearl Jam’s first album came out, anyway. I remember because she played the living hell out of the damn thing! I couldn’t listen to that album for a couple years after that.

So, 1991?

That’s right. Ah, I was just a kid back then. Good times. We still chat, of course. She’s got a new project in the works and, I don’t mind telling you, the math is pretty tough on it. I help where I can. Sometimes it just helps to have two minds working on the same problem.

A new project? What is she working on?

I can’t really give you the details. But I think it could be the most important thing since the GravGens, if we can get it to work. Revolutionizing life in The Belt, that’s about all I can say. And you know how Auntie Mags loves a good revolution.

She sure does. Thank you for joining us, Slim. Anything else you’d like to say before we go?

Yes! Come out to Below The Belt! We always have a good time, the dancers are always beautiful, and the meals are always cooked fresh to order! See you there.