Oh, long posts, how I have missed you.
They haven’t been feasible for a while. I’ve been in – and still am in – the middle of reviews, longer writing projects, and critical non-fic related projects. So, there may not be another long post around here for a little while, though I do expect to be announcing a new story availability in the next couple of weeks. And I’m waiting on a contractual confirmation (or the posting of a final ToC online) of a new sale. So, things are going on around here.
And there are some things currently available to announce. First, the new issue of Sol Rising (Summer 2012) is out, and is now being distributed around the stores in Toronto that are nice enough to carry the Friends of the Merril Collection’s newsmagazine. Admittedly, online distribution is, um, slightly more problematic right now. The Friends website is currently down, though the old one is still up and kicking, but isn’t really being updated. The Friends are redesigning and relaunching the new website, but there’s no firm date on that yet.
However, if you have a Facebook account, you can go to the Friends of the Merril Collection FB group and download the online .pdf of Sol Rising that I have uploaded there. This might require that you actually be a member of the Friends of the Merril Collectiom FB group. I’m not really sure if it’s a requirement (if you do actually have to do this to get at the file, you should totally join – we’re really nice, and we have a bevy of decidedly smart people who love speculative fiction, and love to talk about it, in the group). Honestly, I gave up trying to figure out how the hell FB works almost immediately after I created my account. The design of FB’s system is so absurdly arcane that I feel I should either be accessing it by practicing haruspicy using goat entrails, or using the system to play a MUD.
[Your deity, deities, or absence thereof, of choice] help you if you understand either of those references.
In any case, for those who can’t download the file for the latest Sol Rising through FB the least I can do is post the cover for you. Here you go:
The second announcement is the fact that I and the other organizers of the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest are close to finalizing the rules changes for the coming 2012-2013 contest year of the FoMSSC. We’ll be keeping to the same timeline (contest reading period will be November 15th through February 15th), but the prize structure and a number of the other aspects of the contest are changing. I’ll be announcing those changes, on the contest website, either at the very end of this month or in the first few days of September.
There are other things I want to talk about, as well, and I hope you’ll forgive me for ranting. It’s not really my intention, in part because I’m so tired of being angry at the world of spec fic fandom (though some of the things talked about in that post have, at least in part, had some resolution), which I also ended up talking about in the latest Sol Rising in an article titled “Moving Beyond Insular Headspaces: Fan Culture, -Isms, and Fiction That Presents Honest Cultural Narrative.” And in part because I’m tired of having new things to throw my hands up in the air and shout “WTF?” about so frequently, as of late. Things such as the kind of unbelievably bad publishing decisions like the one Weird Tales made (apparently a ways back), and then walked away from (awkwardly, and not fully enough) on Monday (you absolutely must read the comments, though I’m depressed by the level of extreme ignorance shown by commenters like whoever “Croaker1995″ is – and I’m assuming, given that person’s comments, that the numeric string at the end of their tag is their year of birth … ), like even contemplating running material from Victoria Foyt’s god-awful “Save the Pearls” series (Yes, it’s real; yes, I, too, thought originally that this had to be some kind of deranged spoof.) in WT. Which makes no sense, no matter how you spin it.
It’s also telling that Jeff VanderMeer, in talking about why this potential disaster was actually worse than it appeared to be from the outside in a post titled, wait for it, “Weird Tales, Ann VanderMeer, and Utter Stupidity,”revealed that Ann had warned Marvin Kaye and John Harlacher (WT‘s current editor and publisher, respectively), that publishing the excerpt – the, ahem, freely available (online at Amazon) first chapter of Foyt’s first book in the StP series (Though that excerpt may or may not have been available on Amazon when Ann mentioned this to Kaye and Harlacher; I’m not sure.) – was a really bad idea for several reasons. Nobody listened.
In any case, WT is suffering mightily as a result of the debacle – they were already taking fire as a direct result of Kaye’s bid to buy out WT and turn it into a throwback to the original magazine. This was a stupid decision for so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that a lot of the material printed in the original run, the one that ended in 1954, put out under several editorial teams and publishers was really, really bad, and the material Ann VanderMeer had selected, and the new writers she fostered, under her tenure moved the magazine in an entirely different, and far more engaging, direction. Ann VanderMeer developed a whole new strata of weird fiction in the process. So what did Kaye do when he and Harlacher bought the magazine? Dumped all of the staff who had made it a Hugo-winning magazine.
Yup. Kaye fired (let go?) the staff who had made WT an award-winning magazine. WT quite literally went from having an all-female editorial team (Ann VanderMeer, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Paula Guran, among others – though I think WT might have won the Hugo before that full team was in place; don’t recall who, except, Ann VanderMeer was on the editorial staff when WT won the Hugo.) to Kaye, and whoever else Kaye is currently relying on. And that’s just gone so fucking well, hasn’t it?
And you can see just how much of a difference Ann’s team made to the community through posts like N.K. Jemisin’s “This is How You Destroy Something Beautiful” – which has links to some other blog posts you absolutely should read, like Foz Meadows’ “Racism, Revealing Eden and STGRB“, and a whole host of related links (trackbacks) at the base of Jemisin’s post; Jemisin has also put up a link to a cached version of the original post made by Marvin Kaye on the WT website since Kaye’s original statement was taken down and replaced with Harlacher’s sort-of-kind-of-maybe-but-not-really-apology.
Still, there has been something good to come out of this mammoth fuck-up on WT‘s part.
Mary Robinette Kowal and Beth Wodzinski stated that, because of the large number of stories that are being pulled from WT‘s slushpile in protest (yeah, I did that too, and included a letter of protest in my submission withdrawal, along with making it clear that I would be boycotting the magazine until an editorial changeover) there should be a professional-rate-paying home for the kind of fiction that Ann fostered through the revamped Weird Tales.
With some help from Mary Robinette Kowal, Beth Wodzinski has made Shimmer that new pro-rate home. (You can read Mary Robinette Kowal’s statement here, and the Shimmer announcement here). This is absolutely wonderful news under any set of circumstances - Shimmer is a gorgeous publication, with intelligent staff, and they publish fiction I love reading because it’s well-written and intriguing, so it’s a win for this magazine to finally be able to provide pro rates to its contributors – but in a situation like this, where someone had to pick up the baton that wasn’t so much dropped as set on fire and chucked out the window, I’m so glad this could be Shimmer, and that Mary Robinette Kowal, who has been art director for both publications, was able to make this happen.
If you haven’t ever submitted anything to Shimmer, now is the time to start. They have an excellent staff of readers, and I’ve always found their feedback to be excellent as well. And, of course, now they pay pro-rate, so for those of you looking to get into SFWA that’s another magazine you can use to help you gain entry. Good luck
All right, I think that’s enough ranting from me. For now, anyway. Hopefully there will shortly be more good news forthcoming on my own fronts. Like I said earlier, there should be announcements of a couple of different things over the next few weeks.