Delaware native Sean Patrick Hazlett feels he’s “the one person in the world” who could conceive and edit an anthology about a third world war, a weird American-Soviet war that involves the astral plane, parallel dimensions and the Moon.
The book jacket promises “haunted Cold War visions.”
Hazlett pitched the idea in 2017, spurred by political upheaval that continues today, and the book is published by Baen Books this month, a time that his blog calls the California apocalypse.
“Man, I couldn’t have picked a better year to release an anthology called ‘Weird World War III,’ ” he said.
From noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 3 Saturday, he’ll be signing copies, along with T.C McCarthy, one of the book’s 19 writers. Between Books 2.0 in Arden is hosting the outdoors, socially distanced and masked signing across the street in the parking lot of Jupiter Records, 2200 Marsh Road, Brandywine Hundred.
“It’s H.P. Lovecraft meets Tom Clancy,” Hazlett said as he gave the elevator pitch for his first anthology as an editor, referring to the horror and thriller masters.
Back in 2017, he recognized that “Russian influence was in the zeitgeist,” and he hopes the short stories “evoke the feeling of growing up during the Cold War, in a bipolar world, where the consequences were existential.”
Hazlett started writing fantasy when he was in fifth grade at St. Joseph’s in Aston, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Salesianum School in 1994 and wrote a novel while serving in the Army.
“I really enjoyed creating worlds,” he said, citing ones with complex, Tolkienesque backstories.
He began submitting short stories to magazines in 2011, and his first paycheck for fiction was in 2012. He entered the quarterly Writers of the Future contest 17 times before winning in 2017.
He lives in California. His parents, Ted and Ann, and siblings, Brendan and Erin, live in Delaware.
Hazlett’s MacGyver-like background that grounds the fiction in the anthology includes four college degrees in four subjects (history, electrical engineering, business administration and public policy) from two prestigious universities (Stanford and Harvard) and work with a future U.S. secretary of defense on strategic options for confronting Iran’s nuclear program.
His stint in the Army included working as an intelligence analyst focusing on strategic war games and simulations for the Pentagon, plus “playing laser tag with real tanks on a base the size of Rhode Island.”
McCarthy has an equally impressive background, including a doctorate, a Fulbright fellowship, work as a weapons expert in the CIA and expertise in future warfare.
Hazlett is vice president of corporate finance in the Silicon Valley, and in the interview he dropped multiple references to weird but true things, like the danger of shotguns to dirigibles and Nazi soldiers on methamphetamine.
As the editor, he asked the writers to considers the effects of an epic war between the United States and the Soviet Union, between the 1945 end of the second world war and the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union. Some tales took liberties with that time frame.
“How would the world have changed?” he writes about the book on his website. “What wonders would have been unveiled? What terrors would have haunted mankind from those dark and dismal dimensions? Come closer, peer through a glass darkly, and discover the horrifying alternative visions from some of today’s greatest minds in science fiction, fantasy and horror.”
“Weird World War III” is dedicated to Mike Resnick and Jay Harting.
Resnick is a contributor to the book and mentor in writing and editing. He died earlier this year.
Harting was killed by a suicide bomber in 2005.
“Jay graduated from Salesianum with me in 1994,” Haslett said. “He also served with me in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fort Irwin, California. I dedicated the book to him because he gave his life for his country in Iraq.”