Strange Science: The History of Blood Transfusion

We may think of blood transfusion as a very modern scientific development, but as this timeline shows, the use of transfusions in medicine goes back to the seventeenth century, when physicians identified the circulatory system. What follows is a fascinating history that includes such oddities as transfusion from animal to human, transfusions using milk instead of blood, and more! The various topics covered in this timeline are great fodder for science fiction stories!

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That Man Behind the Curtain – November 2019

Photo of three cats curled up next to each other.

Feline interns on a mandatory break.

November saw the last of the anthology shipped out and the final prep work for Winter 2020. Let’s look at what the numbers were like.

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Even More Alumni Short Stories, Games, and More!

Initial cover art for the Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, vol. 6Our MSJ alumni have been busy, with even more new publications!

Cliff Winnig has a story in the recently published Straight Outta Deadwood from Baen Books.

Author Matt Moran has published a game called A Bitter Gambit, a rules-light game of sword and sorcery.

Patrick Hurley recently had his story, “Whispers in the Garden,” reprinted at Frozen Wavelets. And he’s not the only one of our alumni that Frozen Wavelets has published–Deborah Davitt, Stewart C. Baker, Anatoly Belilovsky, and co-editor Dawn Vogel also have poetry in the first issue of Frozen Wavelets!

Andrew K. Hoe, who will have a story in the final issue of Mad Scientist Journal, has an essay on monster movement in the December 2019 issue of ParABnormal.

Andrew K. Hoe also has a story in the recently released Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide (volume 6), which also includes stories from Wendy Nikel, Holly Schofield, Deborah Walker, and co-editor Dawn Vogel!

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Winter 2020 Out Now!

Disaster photography, mental health assistance from unlikely sources, and talented velociraptors. These are but some of the strange tales to be found in this book.

Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2020 collects thirteen tales from the fictional worlds of mad science. For the discerning mad scientist reader, there are also pieces of fiction from Maureen Bowden, Amanda Cherry, Sam Crane, Madison Estes, Larry C. Kay, K. Kitts, Fiona Moore, George Nikolopoulos, Mere Rain, Darren Ridgley, dave ring, J. Rohr, Holly Saiki, Connor Sassmannshausen, Alyssa N. Vaughn, Chris Walker, and Cliff Winnig. Readers will also find other resources for the budding mad scientist, including an advice column, gossip column, and other brief messages from mad scientists.

Authors featured in this volume also include Joachim Heijndermans, Genevieve McCluer, Nick Morrish, Cory Swanson, Arnout Brokking, Franko Stephens, Megan Dorei, Judith Field, Rain E. Day, Holly Schofield, Blake Jessop, Michael M. Jones, Andrew K. Hoe, Han Adcock, C. R. Anderson, E.D.E. Bell, Andy Brown, James Cummins, Lillie Franks, Joan Hudak, Alexander Nachaj, Edward Punales, Angelica Rosenthal, Sophie Sparrow, Johnny Townsend, DJ Tyrer, Lucinda Gunnin, and Sean Frost. Art provided by Leigh Legler, Luke Spooner, Errow Collins, Scarlett O’Hairdye, America Jones, and Justine McGreevy.

Buy it now at:

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Fiction: Poor Girl

An essay by Jackie Rivera, as provided by Traci Castleberry
Art by Errow Collins


From across the cobbled street, I watched the rag-clad girl who huddled on the leeward side of the Dolphin Inn. She held one trembling palm extended toward a passing gentleman. “Spare a copper, mister?” The man, like all the other passers-by gave the girl a wide berth, especially when she let out a barrage of coughs.

She was perfect for what I needed. The difficulty breathing was bad enough to be indicative of pneumonia or consumption, either of which would probably kill her soon. From the livid red scar and the fused fingers clutching at the collar of her worn dress, she’d been burned, and not all that long ago. No one would miss her, and she was near enough to death that if she passed on, I wouldn’t feel bad.

My missing hand itched as it always did when I was excited. I wound my way through the crowd and crouched in front of her, ignoring the stares of those walking past. “Spare a copper, mister?” she asked me.

I touched the knuckles of my good hand to my cap. “Morning, miss. I don’t have a copper, but I do have a hot bowl of stew to fill your belly and a nice warm bed to rest in.”

It was hard to make out her expression beneath her dirt-stained face, but her eyes widened as she gazed suspiciously at me. “I don’t have nothing you want. I got the consumption. Ain’t fit to lie with.”

“I don’t want to lie with you.” I held out my hand. “I’m just trying to be gentlemanly and help the less fortunate.”

“You ain’t no gentleman.”

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Strange Science: Giant Penguins

A paleontologist in New Zealand has found fossilized penguin bones that indicate the existence of a penguin as tall as a human.

Crossvallia waiparensis is the name given to this newly discovered species, which features leg bones that indicate this penguin’s feet were more involved in swimming than those of modern penguins.

Scientists also believe that this penguin species shows connections between New Zealand and Antarctica. You can read the summary here or the scientific article here.

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More Ornithology and Some Cryptozoology

If you enjoyed this week’s story about unusual birds, you might also enjoy these stories!

“Cryptoid Sonics: An Investigation into the Use of Cryptozoological Sounds” by Andy Brown (considerations of cryptids for military and other applications) (available in MSJ Spring 2018)

“The Wing Collector” by H. Pueyo (an unusual species of bird and the person who collects them) (available in MSJ Winter 2018)

“Excerpts from the Diary of Theodore Miro” by Zach Bartlett (hunting and cooking the chicken-legged hut of Baba Yaga) (available in MSJ Winter 2018)

“The Observer’s Paradox” by Judith Field (an unusual species of bird and the woman he protects) (available in MSJ Autumn 2017)

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An Interview with Madison Estes

Today, we’re chatting with Madison Estes, who will have a story in the final quarterly for MSJ!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!
Madison Estes: I’m a horror addict who comes from a family of horror fans. My dad and I went to Las Vegas this year so we could do the Saw Escape Room, which was one of the coolest and most intense experiences of my life. Several of the rooms are duplicates of traps from the movies, and they got Tobin Bell to do narration in each room. My mother and I went to Texas Frightmare several years ago and we got to meet some of the Saw stars, plus Robert England, Sid Haag, and Sean Patrick Flannery. With two parents who are horror fans, I had a lot of horror influences growing up. I remember the crypt keeper from Tales from the Crypt used to scare me, but when I got a little older I’d watch reruns of it whenever I could, in addition to The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. Like most contemporary horror writers, I read a lot of Stephen King when I was growing up, starting with The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, which is still one of my favorites. I also read On Writing sometime in the fifth grade. It helped me connect with literature in a way that I hadn’t before, and I believe it shaped me into the writer that I am today.

I live in southeast Texas and I have three dogs, two black and white Chihuahuas, a boy and a girl (Leo and Mayhem), and a Shih Tzu named Mika. When I’m not writing, I’m usually snuggling with them and reading or watching movies. In addition to my obsession with horror, I’m a huge nerd for Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel, DC and some of the old school anime shows like Yu Yu Hakusho.

DV: You’ve got a story coming out in February in Strange Girls: Women in Horror Anthology that sounds like it will be of interest to our readers. What can you share about your story without giving too much away?

ME: My story “Revival” is about a medical student who believes the cadaver he was assigned to dissect is coming back to life. He’s grieving the loss of his sister and suffering from nightmares and sleep deprivation, so he’s not mentally stable. He doesn’t trust his own judgement, but since he couldn’t save his sister, he’ll stop at nothing to save this girl if she really can be saved.

DV: You’re also working on a horror writing guidebook with other authors. Tell us more about this project.

ME: I’m working with five other writers on The Complete Guide to Writing Horror Vol. 1, commissioned by Dragon Moon Press. I’m in charge of five chapters, which cover topics such as horror subgenres, horror basics, the history of horror, business etiquette, and market resources. At the moment, I’m still working on subgenres. I’m designing this chapter to help writers learn how to categorize their own writing, and to give them an idea of what is out there so they can find their niche or niches within the horror genre.

In the basics chapter, I’m covering character struggles, decisions, consequences, and other related topics. One subject of special interest to me is character agency. I feel that in horror stories, character agency is often lacking. It’s tempting to write a passive, reactive character in a genre where the villain is often the star, but characters should have some control over their lives, or at least the appearance of control, even if by the end of the story you’re going to pull the rug from under the reader and reveal the characters had little to no chance at all. Think about the movies In the Mouth of Madness, Knowing, or Cabin in the Woods. The main characters in these stories are active. They fight back, but more than that, they ask questions and investigate. Even if they fail, they make efforts to take control of their lives. It makes stronger characters and a more entertaining story than a character that only runs from the maniac with the knife.

In the business etiquette chapter, I cover topics such as communication and conflict management with editors, and how to write cover letters, query letters, author bios, and more. Market resources covers topics such as networking opportunities, horror writing conventions, critique groups, where to find submission calls, and a list of active horror publishers. I haven’t started writing the history chapter yet (please don’t tell my editor!), but I plan to cover the origin of horror and the movements that have shaped the genre, such as the invention of film, video games, and the internet, as well as how certain authors like Stephen King forever changed horror.

I’ve very excited about this project. I can’t wait to share my knowledge and help aspiring horror writers. It takes me back to being in fifth grade with On Writing and the way that book filled me with excitement for writing. I hope to not only help writers elevate their craft, but to inspire that feeling within them as well.

DV: What’s the coolest thing about being an author?

ME: When I go on Amazon and read a review from someone who enjoyed my story, or when a book blogger reviews an anthology I’m in and singles out my story as one of their favorites, it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. It makes all the hours of writing and revising worth it.

DV: What’s on the horizon for you?

I just had a short story called “Crossroads” featured in Horror USA: California (Soteira Press) about an actor who goes through a midlife crisis when his girlfriend gets pregnant. His mental stability and fears of fatherhood are worsened by his Porsche, a haunted car that carries a terrible secret. I recently published my first paranormal romance/erotica story in The Devil’s Doorbell (HellBound Books) called “Visions of Blood”. A psychic has visions whenever he touches people or certain objects, but it comes with a side-effect of searing pain. A beautiful vampire convinces him to use his ability to help her track down the vampire who murdered her friend. Sexual tension leads to some very creative sex scenes between them despite the character’s disability.

My short story “Servant of Death” is going to appear in the last issue of Mad Scientist Journal. It’s about a child dying from cancer who is stalked by a shadow creature that he perceives to be Death. After he escapes the grim reaper’s clutches, his cancer goes away, but when he grows up, he finds out that remission came with a price.

I have a short story coming out next year in a time-themed anthology by Transmundane Press. My story is called, “The Time Loop Loophole”. It’s a horror comedy about a guy trapped in a time loop who thinks the only way to escape may be to kill his best friend. The premise sounds really dark, but the story is mostly humorous. The main character is kind of a self-described loser. At the beginning of the story, his biggest regret about being in the time loop is not being able to finish his video games or see the ending of Game of Thrones (a blessing in disguise according to most fans, not that he could know that). He’s not even that bothered by the time loop until the girl he has a crush on starts showing interest in him. Secrets come out, and everything gets complicated as he starts to wonder just what he’s willing to do to be with the girl of his dreams.

Thanks, Madison!

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Awesome Finds: Science Fact of the Day

If you’re looking for a collection of science facts, check out these archived Science Facts of the Day. Though this project seems to have ended in 2012, there’s still a ton of great information included here that could be used for trivia or education, or just for something to read if you’ve got some free time!

The same website did a Weekly Science News feature in 2015 with even more cool science facts. So although it’s a few years old, there’s even more awesome stuff to find on this site!

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Fiction: In Communion with the Invisible Flock: Erasmus Karl and the Nidificant Manuscript

An essay by Luisa Sontag, as provided by George Salis
Art by Leigh Legler


“If thy heart were a nest, thou would begat many birds.” –The Purloined Philosophia by Boris of Aventaria

There has been much controversy, even mythology, surrounding the so-called “nidificant manuscript.” A few notables, including the biolinguist Norman Mast, have clamored to call it “an anachronistic masterpiece of scientific literature” (34), suggesting it has been passed down to us from the future, or an alternate past. Many others have deemed the work “a hoax of adolescent caliber” (Mare 25). But by studying the work and delineating its influence on human society, we can say that the truth exists somewhere between fantastic worship and ignorant dismissal. First of all, we know that this some 1,600-page manuscript was composed in the early 19th century by the naturalist, or “supernaturalist,” Erasmus Karl, and details the existence of a species of bird-human that inhabits an archipelago called the Beak-born Islands. A number of its pages include baroque maps of the islands in question, along with illustrations of alien flora and fauna and, most importantly and prominently, the winged beings themselves.

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