« April 1999 | Main | June 1999 »

May 31, 1999

A Pleasant Memorial Day To You All

The following is from "An Oath for Science Fiction Writers," by Leland Sapiro, from Writer's Digest, September 1965. I find this remarkable, especially since some of the following are still listed in magazine guidelines today as stuff editors don't want to see. I would be lying if I said I'd never written one of these (in my defense, mine eventually sold). Enjoy!

An Oath for Science Fiction Writers
I swear that I will not write a story in which:
  1. A human being makes a pact with the Devil,
  2. A skeptical materialist
    a) obtains a love potion or voodoo charm and finds that it works after all,
    b) buys a shunned house and hears groans or rattling chains at night,
  3. A sleeper dreams he is in Mu or Atlantis, where he forcibly separated from his dream girl--and awakens to find in his hand a piece of cloth from her dress,
  4. A representative from Mars (or Atlantis) arrives in order to give Terrestrials the benefit of his superior civilization,
  5. Two interplanetary explorers
    a) are the first colonists on a new planet, with their names at the end of the story turning out to be Adam and Eve,
    b) land on a new planet, only to be frightened away by monstrosities who walk erect, but only have one pair of arms and legs, only one head, and only one pair of eyes,
  6. A boy or man makes people disappear by pointing with his finger and shouting "Zotz!" or the equivalent.
In addition, I promise not to write a story about:
  1. Extra-terrestrial visitors who
    a) serve as representatives of a Galactic Union, which is keeping an eye on terrestrial atomic explosions,
    b) contact a mutant superman (hero of the story), the possessor of unknown powers he cannot control,
  2. Terrestrials who visit another planet--a Counter-Earth, in the same orbit as Earth but hidden from us by the Sun--and find it exactly like ours, except that the drinks are tastier, the men handsomer, and the women sexier.
I will avoid writing stories concerning:
  1. A mad scientist, a mad professor, or a mad robot,
  2. Giant electronic brains, or transplanted human or animal brains,
  3. Kingdoms under the sea, inside volcanoes, or on the other side of the Moon,
  4. A future civilization in which Caucasians are the victim of racial prejudice.
Finally, I will not under any conditions write a story which involves:
  1. An individual with a love-problem, who at the end of the story discovers himself or herself to be a robot,
  2. A human being who is caged in a menagerie by extra-terrestrials,
  3. A Martian who comes to Earth but cannot anybody to believe he is from Mars--or an earthman who visits Mars and cannot get anybody to believe that he is from Earth,
  4. The tyrannical spaceship captain whose behavior, modeled on that of Captain Bligh, turns out to have been planned in advance, to stimulate his crew into reactions that will insure their survival,
  5. Man's struggle to repel invaders in the form of giant insects, giant reptiles, giant plants, giant brains, or giant robots,
  6. Man's struggle to rebuild after the thermonuclear holocaust--and in particular, the band of survivors whose spirits are revived by a Wise Old Man who has preserved some artifact from the pre-atomic age.

May 28, 1999

Phantom Misgivings

My take on Phantom Menace: it was about what I expected: a setting up movie. There were things I liked (Liam Neason, special effects) and things I didn't (Jar Jar Binks, slightly contrived ending). My biggest concern is: at the end of Star Wars I, Anakin Skywalker is a happy, cheerful 8 year old child. At the beginning of Star Wars IV, Anakin has become Darth Vader, a man so evil and vicious he strangles people because they annoy him and tortures women (and he's even worse in Empire Strikes Back). My major concern is: how do you get Anakin from good happy child to evil nasty adult, make it believable, and not lose the sympathies of the audience? It'll be a feat of characterization, and frankly, I have my doubts if Lucas can do it, based on his other work. And that's all I'm going to say.

May 25, 1999

Dreams and Nightmares No

A one day email rejection from Dreams and Nightmares for a couple poems of mine. Drat the luck! I've also been forced to lop this journal into a couple of pieces, as it has grown a bit unwieldy at times. Not for me, with the pretty cable modem, but for others, languishing with the 14.4 and the slowness and the World Wide Wait, ahem.

May 24, 1999

Analog, Dark Regions Rejections...And Acceptance!

Two nopes in the mail today, one a 33 day 'say-nothing' rejection from Analog (but they did type my name at the top, which I like), the other a 12 day friendly rejection from Dark Regions for a couple poems I sent them. Dark Regions has very good response times when it comes to poetry. With fiction, it isn't quite so impressive, but I believe they route fiction submissions through a couple editors before deciding. So.

Evening Update: After going to see The Mummy (rather amusing, and a snap to get into since Phantom Menace opened), I return home to find an email from Dark Regions. After 117 days of (barely semi-)patient waiting, I'm thrilled to say they've accepted my story, "What Price, My Brother?" for their all-fantasy issue coming out in December. Especially thrilled, because this story had originally been accepted by Troll Magazine (quick, raise your hand if you remember Troll - I know Kurt does) but they busted first. Ten other editors passed on it, most calling it too horrific for fantasy or too fantastic for horror. But now it'll see print after all. Hot damn!

May 22, 1999

Flesh & Blood Contracts, Pulp Eternity Word

Today in snail mail, the contracts from Flesh & Blood magazine for my poem "Gargoyle in My Kitchen," due out in F&B #6. And in email, a note from Steve Algieri of Pulp Eternity, announcing the TOC for the next several issues. My story, "Three Nights in Big Rock City," will be in issue 6, Women of Empowerment, sharing a TOC with Vera Nazarian (hi, Vera!). Coolness.

May 20, 1999

Pass From Absolute Magnitude

After a strangely painful dry spell at the mailbox, today came a 36 day rejection from Absolute Magnitude. Said it was good, but never pulled him in. Hm. Also asked to see more work, which is always nice to hear (read). Is the editorial drought ending?

May 19, 1999

Expected Purchase, And Unexpected Gift

Well, today brought my shipment of free books from Wildside Press (see the March 2nd entry for details if you've forgotten). Fresh titles for my reading include: Bear's Fantasies, by Greg Bear; Swashbuckling Editor Stories, edited by John Betancourt; Slab's Tavern and Other Uncanny Places, by John Betancourt; and Alternate Skiffy, edited by Mike Resnick and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Alternate Skiffy features a story by the NAW's own Linda J. Dunn, something I hadn't realized when I ordered it. The rest of it, Lord Dunsany's Ghosts of the Heaviside Layer and the reissuing of Barry Longyear's Science Fiction Writer's Workshop I, is on back order.

The mail also brought something I hadn't expected: a Christmas gift (many months delayed) from my brother-in-law Brian's fiance Brandy. Brandy lives in Louisiana, but she doesn't have our address in Iowa, so things get routed through Lisa's folks in Atlanta, so... Delayed, but still welcome: a $50 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble! Aw, she read my mind.

If it wasn't for that sort of thing coming in the mail, I'd swear someone unplugged my mailbox. Two, two I say, responses I've gotten this month. Who kidnapped the editors? Or do they just have Spring Fever?

May 18, 1999

Water, Water

Well, the river has crested (meaning: it shouldn't rise any higher without more rain), but the weather folk are thinking there'll be more rain on Thursday. But it's not all bad news. The Governor declared our county a disaster area! Bring on the National Guard!

May 17, 1999

When The Levee Breaks

Still no word from the Nine Overdue Editors (or any others).

The most exciting thing here at the moment is that the river running through town is flooding. It's expected to rise seven feet over flood stage this evening, and we'll be getting more rain the rest of the week. Several smaller towns in the county are flooded, and they expect a few streets here to be closed because of the water. The north bank overflows first, while most of the town is on the south bank. Our house should be ok, but since I don't really know what to expect, the whole thing makes me a bit...antsy.

I've never lived anywhere I had to worry seriously about flooding. Hurricanes while growing up in Georgia, fine. Tornadoes when we moved to Indiana, also fine. Floods are a new natural disaster for me. Let's see, that leaves earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, monsoons, avalanches, mudslides, nor'easters...

May 14, 1999

"Many Thanks, But" from F&SF

Ha! I knew it! A nine day return from Fantasy & Science Fiction. He called it "a pleasant fantasy," but it isn't what he's looking for. Oh, and he says "alas." This still does nothing about the Nine Overdue Editors, but it's something...

May 13, 1999

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

I've got stuff out to sixteen different magazine editors, magazines both great and small, print and electronic, professional and small press. Sixteen. I'm overdue to hear back from nine of them, some by less than a week, others by as much as three months. Three months. What is the hold up? Did they even receive it? Are they buried under the slushpile? Are they considering buying it, but stalling just in case something similar (only better) comes in? Are they disorganized, recently ill, abducted by aliens, dead? What in heaven's name is taking them so long to decide? Who lives, who dies. Who gets a check and a contract, who gets a coffee stain and a form slip. The longer I wait, the more I just want to know something so I can get on with things. Of course, since I'm griping about it here, tomorrow I'll hear from all of them, just you wait and see.

May 10, 1999

Dragonlaugh Payment

Today in the mail, the check and contract from Dragonlaugh for my story, "The Homecoming of Grimwolf the Fierce." Yee hah.

May 09, 1999

Clarion Review

I've no news to report (it is Sunday, after all, a traditional no-mail day), except I finally saw The Matrix (so I'm slow, BFD), and that Michigan State is trying to decide if they're going to keep hosting the Clarion workshop or pull the plug on it. For a few more details, go visit the official notice at the SFWA News section.

May 07, 1999

More Stuff To Read, More Time To Write

Nothing new on the mail front, except a complementary copy of Flesh & Blood #4, from kindly Jack Fisher. Very slick looking.

Made a trip to Barnes & Noble yesterday. Amongst our purchases was Our Dumb Century, from The Onion. Hysterical. A selection of my favorite speculative related headlines:

  • Thursday, February 2nd, 1922 - Nosferatu Elected Chancellor of Germany: Vampire Committed to Ending Economic Crisis (story continues on page 6)
  • Friday, April 30th, 1937 - Nation Escapes Depression Through Fanciful Works of H. P. Lovecraft: Fantastical Tales of Better Times Allow Readers to Forget Troubles
  • Thursday, February 20th, 1947 - Japs, Nazis Victorious in Alternate Philip K. Dick Universe: President Discloses Tragic Outcome of War in Parallel Reality
  • Friday, October 4th, 1957 - U.S. Populace Now 85 Percent Body-Snatcher Pod People
  • Saturday, June 10th, 1967 - Harlan Ellison: 'Not Everything Coming Out of the Lab is Good and Beautiful and Why Can't Someone Do A Good Radio Show Like The Mysterious Traveller You Bastards' (page 21)
  • Thursday, May 1st, 1975 - Earth Under Attack By Paper-Mache Aliens; World Leaders Plead, 'Save Us, Doctor Who' (page 6A)
  • Wednesday, November 2nd, 1994 - Spielberg Reveals the Two Secrets of His Success: Monsters, Jews (Movies, page 12C)

Finally, today was the last day of my temporary appointment at the library. I'm now gainfully unemployed, and will be for the next two to four months! How exciting (and terrifying)!

May 03, 1999

Dragonlaugh Acceptance

A 6 day email acceptance for my story "The Homecoming of Grimwolf the Fierce" from Mark Johnson, editor of the webzine Dragonlaugh.