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In Which Edmund Schubert Withdraws From the Hugos

Edmund Schubert is a dear friend and has been since IGMS was but a twinkle in Orson Scott Card’s eye. For this reason (and because he has no true platform of his own from which to speak), I am posting this on his behalf.

I fully support Edmund in his decision. He continues to have my love and respect.

–Alethea

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Hugo AwardMy name is Edmund R. Schubert, and I am announcing my withdrawal from the Hugo category of Best Editor (Short Form). My withdrawal comes with complications, but if you’ll bear with me, I’ll do my best to explain. I am withdrawing because:

1. I believe that while the Sad Puppies’ stated goal of bringing attention to under-recognized work may have been well-intentioned, their tactics were seriously flawed. While I personally find it challenging that some people won’t read IGMS because they disagree with the publisher’s perceived politics (which have nothing whatsoever to do with what goes into the magazine), I can’t in good conscience complain about the deck being stacked against me, and then feel good about being nominated for an award when the deck gets stacked in my favor. That would make me a hypocrite. I can’t be part of that and still maintain my integrity.

2. Vox Day/Theodore Beale/Rabid Puppies. Good grief. While I firmly believe that free speech is only truly free if everyone is allowed to speak their mind, I believe equally strongly that defending people’s right to free speech comes with responsibilities: in this case, the responsibility to call out unproductive, mean-spirited, inflammatory, and downright hateful speech. I believe that far too many of Vox’s words fall into those categories—and a stand has to be made against it.

3. Ping pong. (Yes, really.) A ping pong ball only ever gets used by people who need something to hit as a way to score points, and I am through being treated like a political ping pong ball—by all sorts of people across the entire spectrum. Done.

Regrettably this situation is complicated by the fact that when I came to this decision, the WorldCon organizers told me the ballot was ‘frozen.’ This is a pity, because in addition to wanting ‘out’ of the ping pong match, I would very much have liked to see someone else who had earned it on their own (without the benefit of a slate) get on the ballot in my place. But the ballots had already been sent off to the printers.

Unfortunately this may reduce my actions to a symbolic gesture, but I can’t let that prevent me from following my conscience.

So it seems that the best I can do at this stage is ask everyone with a Hugo ballot to pretend I’m not there. Ignore my name, because if they call my name at the award ceremony, I won’t accept the chrome rocketship. My name may be on that ballot, but it’s not there the way I’d have preferred.

I will not, however, advocate for an across-the-board No Award vote. That penalizes people who are innocent, for the sake of making a political point. Vox Day chose to put himself and his publishing company, Castalia House, in the crosshairs, which makes him fair game—but not everybody, not unilaterally. I can’t support that.

Here’s what I do want to do, though, to address where I think the Sad Puppies were off-target: I don’t think storming the gates of WorldCon was the right way to bring attention to worthy stories. Whether or not you take the Puppies at their word is beside the matter; it’s what they said they wanted, and I think bringing attention to under-represented work is an excellent idea.

So I want to expand the reading pool.

Of course, I always think more reading is a good thing. Reading is awesome. Reading—fiction, specifically—has been proven to make people more empathetic, and God knows we need as much empathy as we can possibly get these days. I also believe that when readers give new works by new authors an honest chance, they’ll find things they appreciate and enjoy.

In that spirit, I am taking the material that would have comprised my part of the Hugo Voters Packet and making it available to everyone, everywhere, for free, whether they have a WorldCon membership or not. Take it. Read it. Share it. It’s yours to do with as you will.

The only thing I ask is that whatever you do, do it honestly.

Don’t like some of these stories? That’s cool; at least I’ll know you don’t like them because you read them, not because you disagree with political ideologies that have nothing to do with the stories.

You do like them? Great; share them with a friend. Come and get some more.

But whatever you decide, decide it honestly, not to score a point.

And let me be clear about this: While I strongly disagree with the way Sad Puppies went about it… when the Puppies say they feel shut out because of their politics, it’s hard for me to not empathize because I’ve seen IGMS’s authors chastised for selling their story to us, simply because of people’s perceptions about the publisher’s personal views. I’ve also seen people refuse to read any of the stories published in IGMS for the same reason.

With regard to that, I want to repeat something I’ve said previously: while Orson Scott Card and I disagree on several social and political subjects, we respect each other and don’t let it get in the way of IGMS’s true goal: supporting writers and artists of all backgrounds and preferences. The truth is that Card is neither devil nor saint; he’s just a man who wants to support writers and artists—and he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of that.

As editor of IGMS, I can, and have, and will continue to be—with the full support of publisher Orson Scott Card—open to publishing stories by and about gay authors and gay characters, stories by and about female authors and female characters, stories by authors and about characters of any and every racial, political, or religious affiliation—as long as I feel like those authors 1) have a story to tell, not a point to score, and 2) tell that story well. And you know what? Orson is happy to have me do so. Because the raison d’etre of IGMS is to support writers and artists. Period.

IGMSOrson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show—is open to everyone. All the way. Always has been, always will be. All I ask, all I have ever asked, is that people’s minds operate in the same fashion.

Consider this the beginning then of the larger reading campaign that should have been. To kick it off, I offer you this sampling from IGMS, which represents the essence of how I see the magazine—a reflection of the kind of stories I want to fill IGMS with, that will help make it the kind of magazine I want IGMS to be—and that I believe it can be if readers and writers alike will give it a fair chance.

If you have reading suggestions of your own, I heartily encourage you help me build and distribute a list.

(Yes, I know, there are already plenty of reading lists out there. But you will never convince me that there is such a thing as too much reading. Never.)

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The Princess in Ender’s World

I am so excited!

I was invited by SmartPop and Orson Scott Card to be a part of ENDER’S WORLD — a collection of essays about the Enderverse compiled and edited by the creator of Ender himself.

ENDER’S WORLD will be available February of 2013. It’s not up on Amazon just yet, but you can check out what’s happening at the Ender’s World SmartPop book page here.

My contribution is “Mirror, Mirror”, an essay on four of the main characters of the Enderverse, their counterparts in the world of fairy tale, and what that means to the reader.

SmartPop is going to be doing some really fun promotion around this one–be sure to check back. I promise to keep you posted!

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From the Ender’s World site:

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is a classic of science fiction. Though it began its life as a short story, it was later expanded into a Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel, served as a springboard for a much larger universe of stories, and finally, in March 2013, will become a feature film.

Ender’s World conscripts almost two dozen writers of science fiction, fantasy, and young adult books to offer new perspectives on the 1985 novel, along with insights gleaned from other Ender stories that fit within the Ender’s Game chronology, including Ender in Exile and Ender’s Shadow. In addition, military strategists Colonel Tom Ruby and Captain John Schmitt offer insight into the human-Formic war. A contribution from Aaron Johnson, the coauthor of the Formic Wars prequel novels, is also included.

The collection’s insightful analyses and moving personal essays are rounded out with short pieces answering more technically oriented questions about the Ender universe, including: Why is the Battle Room a cube? and Why did the military recruit their soldiers as children?

Edited by Orson Scott Card himself, who also provides an introduction to the anthology as well as to the individual essays, Ender’s World is aimed both at readers who have kept up with the many books that came after and at those who have not, but who loved and want to re-visit the original novel.

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MoA&A Interview #3: Scott Roberts

Hello, everyone! Welcome to July, and the Month of Artist and Author Interviews here on the website!

Today’s interview features fellow SF writer, Northern Virginian, Codexian, and Orson Scott Card Boot Camper (Class of 2003) Scott Roberts!

(I swear, it’s like we’re twins or something. Or something. And seriously…he NEVER AGES. Look! I present 9-year-old photographic evidence below. Then again, Eric & Uncle Orson and I all pretty much look the same too. Hmm…)

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Author or Artist?
Author. I can’t draw worth spit.

Who are your professional role models?
Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury are my strongest influences.

What’s your favorite writing/sketching weather?
There was a character in Huxley’s Brave New World who summed it up best: someplace gloomy, rainy and cold. There’s a reason NaNoWriMo takes place in November…

Set your current playlist/musical device to “shuffle all” and hit PLAY. What’s the first song that comes up?
Girl with the Red Balloon, by the Civil Wars. You have no idea how grateful I am to be able to say that honestly. In my family, we share all our music, which means I’ve got some pretty embarrassing kids’ tunes on my iPhone.

If you could win any award, which would it be?
World’s richest, sexiest, most talented, most admired, and best Dad ever for all eternity.

Would you rather have magical powers, or a spaceship?
Magical Powers. I don’t like driving on Earth, and I don’t expect that I’d be able to truly appreciate the intergalactic version of the experience. There are a number of clever things I’d do with magical powers, but I’m going to refrain from elaborating as I don’t wish to incriminate myself.

What was your favorite book as a child?
Age 8: Encyclopedia Brown
Age 10: The Shannara Series
Age 14: Les Miserables

What thing do you wish you could go back in time and tell your 10-year-old self?
Don’t let fear of immediate dismemberment stand in the way of standing up to Mike ‘Hacksaw’ Logan.

What’s your favorite constellation?
Orion.

What’s your favorite fairy tale?
The Ice Queen, without a doubt.

What thing are you most proud of?
I have a family that is pretty fantastic. I can’t take all the credit for this, but seriously– there’s nothing else I’ve accomplished that even comes close to how excited I am to share my life with my kids and wife.

The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: Name 3 things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
1) Gain magical powers.
2) Go back in time and stand up to Hacksaw Logan. Also, stop him from dismembering me. It will take all my newfound magical prowess.
3) Learn to enjoy driving.

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Scott M. Roberts is a man who has done despicable things with a spoon. In addition to tableware debauchery, he writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His work has appeared in many places, and sometimes in languages even humans can read.

Scott lives in northern Virginia with his family and a motley troupe of wizards, detectives and crazy persons.  Online, you can find him at www.LordOfAllFools.com.

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Still Not An Award-Winning Author

But I still get to be part of this anthology! It includes the top four Intergalactic Medicine Show readers’ choice stories, some more award winners, and other favorites. I’m a favorite! And in seriously good company. AND I’M ON THE COVER.

Table of Contents:

“Trinity County, CA” by Peter S. Beagle
First appeared in IGMS issue #18

“Sister Jasmine Brings the Pain” by Von Carr
First appeared in IGMS issue #17

“The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived” by Keffy R. M. Kehrli
First appeared in IGMS issue #19

“The American” by Bruce Worden
First appeared in IGMS issue #20

“Silent as Dust” by James Maxey
First appeared in IGMS issue #7

“Horus Ascending” by Aliette deBodard
First appeared in IGMS issue #8

“End-of-the-World Pool” by Scott Roberts
First appeared in IGMS issue #12

“A Heretic by Degrees” – by Marie Brennan
First appeared in IGMS issue #10

“The Never Never Wizard of Apalachicola” by Jason Sanford
First appeared in IGMS issue #20

“Beautiful Winter” by Eugie Foster
First appeared in IGMS issue #13

“Blood & Water” – by Alethea Kontis
First appeared in IGMS issue #9

“Mean-Spirited” – by Edmund R. Schubert
First appeared in IGMS issue #16

“Robot Sorcerer” – by Eric James Stone
First appeared in IGMS issue #10

“Aim For The Stars” – by Tom Pendergrass
First appeared in IGMS issue #15

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[Update: You can preorder the anthology here from Spotlight publishing — it will ship mid-December.]

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SFWA and OSC Signing Pics

I went to NY on Monday afternoon. Came back to DC Tuesday night and went straight to the OSC launch of Pathfinder at the Borders in DC. (I haven’t seen Scott in forever, I wasn’t going to miss that!) Wednesday morning I got up, packed, and that afternoon drove to FGB’s parents’ house near the coast. Of course, I packed the wrong cord to upload the pictures, which is why it’s taken me so long to post this. (Well, that and I didn’t want to be horribly rude and spend the whole time on the computer, trying to juggle files.)

New York was wonderful, and a whirlwind. Dearest Leanna collected me off the bus and we went straight to her television studio dressing room so I could change for dinner. (Because The Big Apple has a dressing room every ten feet — my second choice was a phone booth, of course.) From there we caught a cab to the Aspen Social Club for the Codex Writers Dinner, where we met Lawrence & Valerie Schoen, Mary Rodgers, and Jamie Todd Rubin.

From there we walked the short block to Planet Hollywood for the SFWA “Mill & Swill” soiree. What with the move from TN and everything, I’ve been considerably off the SFF radar, so I admittedly spent more time catching up with old friends than I did meeting new folks. (Which is typically what happens when one puts a bunch of introverts in a room with too much liquor and not enough quiet spaces.) I did a tad bit of schmoozing, however, and ended up spending most of my time with my two new best friends: Kelly and David Forbes. Thank you, Murphy, for introducing me to them AFTER I left PA, where I was about twenty minutes from their house. Grr.

Mary Robinette Kowal was far too busy doing the VP thing with the entire room, so I only managed to speak with her for about five minutes, long enough to pass on my love to her parents and snap this picture of us so I could show all of you her smashing red dress. I covet.

It was both a long night and not long enough, and I was so dizzy when I got back to Leanna’s apartment that I simply fell into bed and passed out…waking up pink windows full of a magnificent sunrise. Leanna and I stopped at the Dorchester offices for coffee on the way to the bus stop so I could say hi to some old, dear, and much-missed friends, and then a fairly-late bus stopped for boarding in the middle of the road and whisked me away back to the Emerald City of DC. I survived both the bus trip and the metro, and–somewhat worse for the wear–got picked up at the station by FGB to be whisked away again to Orson Scott Card’s Pathfinder signing at the Borders in DC.

As tired and miserable as I was I might have skipped it, but I haven’t seen Scott in a ridiculously long time (read: years), and I felt like the bad niece for not catching up with her favorite uncle. Of course, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a signing that lasted three hours, so Scott and I didn’t get to talk much, and we had to wait forever to do so because we didn’t realize that buying the book FIRST is what gave us a spot in line until it was far too late.

The best part, though, was during the Q&A, when a woman in the front row raised her hand and asked about Scott’s role as a teacher. She mentioned that she had been to a signing a few months ago by one of his students, and asked if Scott had similar success with many other students. I immediately shoved AlphaOops: H is for Halloween in the air (I had brought a copy to give to Scott) — when he noticed, he laughed and asked me to stand up and brag to the audience. It couldn’t have been better had I planned it. And all the waiting was worth it just for this hug.

Check out the rest of the pictures from my NY trip and the signing here!

(And no, before you ask, I will not be reviewing Pathfinder for IGMS. We sort of see that as a conflict of interest. Which means I get to read it and enjoy it…and then maybe tell you what I think of it here on the blog. But only if I feel like it.)

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Brought To You By The Letter A

I often get asked where I got the inspiration for AlphaOops. It’s true, it did really come out of a discussion at Orson Scott Card’s Boot Camp, but the seed of the idea has been germinating inside me all my life. If your name starts with “A”, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Those of us whose names start with “A” get special privileges. We get to be first in line. We get picked first to give our reports in school. We’re not shelved first in the bookstore, but that’s okay, because we get called first when the one we ordered comes in. And as “L” is in the first half of the alphabet, only Abigail, Adelaide, and Agnes get their books before I do.

We’ve heard the intimate moments and jokes at business dinners when you’ve accidentally pocket-called us. And while I will never tell the now happily married couple that I cried when I heard them arguing in the car, I have called my father back and asked him to repeat the punch line so I could tell it to a friend.

We get all the invitations on Facebook. ALL the invitations. I get so many freaking invitations I can’t block the applications fast enough. I’m okay with it — some of them are fun, when I have the time…which is rare. But if you ask me to be a fan of your page more than ten times, I will defriend you just because it’s easier. No hard feelings — they just haven’t come up with a better way to block that yet. Or maybe they have. The new Facebook interface hasn’t rolled out to me yet.

The most fun, though, is the emails. I get accidentally emailed all the time. Most of the time, I just ignore it and delete it. If it’s a newsletter, I’ll simply unsubscribe (you should ALL have an unsubscribe option in your newsletters). If I notice that it was misdirected, I will email the sender and mention that it should have gone to someone else.

But sometimes…I’m torn.

For instance, a friend of mine is a teacher at a university here in the US. A few weeks ago, I got an email from him with the subject line “For Tuesday.” Attached were two powerpoint presentations. I thought perhaps he had taken a trip and was sending us slides…until I opened it and realized I had accidentally been put on his class email list. I forgot to tell him, and laughed when the next one came in, with everything I needed to know for the test. I couldn’t think of a great joke to send back…and now it’s too late.

I received another one today. I kind of like getting them. They’re very informative, and for a writer that’s pretty valuable. It’ll only last a semester anyway.

So the question is…do I tell him?

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

Do you think she looks like me?

Do you think she looks like me?

Princess Alethea’s new book reviews are now up at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. This month I discuss:

Title: Quatrain
Author: Sharon Shinn
EAN: 9780441017584

My friend Gayle held this book tight to her chest on the day she gave it to me. “I know you really like Sharon Shinn,” she said, “but I have to say, it’s a bit creepy how much you look like this girl on the cover.” Beyond the cover, however, four goodies lay in store like a Whitman’s chocolate sampler for any fan of Sharon Shinn…

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
EAN: 9780439023498

I got Hunger Games and Catching Fire at the same time. I polished off Hunger Games — the first novel of Collins’ trilogy — in one sitting. I allowed myself to stay up until 3 a.m. on a school night just to get to the end. I waited almost a whole week before starting Catching Fire, and I forced myself to read only one part at a time (there are three parts) to space it out a bit (and so I wouldn’t yawn all the way through work the next day). As folks who follow me on Twitter will attest, I finished it right around 3 a.m. as well on that third day…

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Genre Chick Interview: Davis Macinnis Gill

David MacInnis Gill and I first met at Orson Scott Card’s week-long literary writing boot camp back in 2003. As an assignment, we all had to write a story in 24 hours. Mine was about a magical society of Victorian Lady Etchers. David’s was about space crabs. He won all the points for originality.

I can’t tell you how proud I was to hold the advance reader’s copy of David’s debut YA novel in my hot little hands. I knew that no matter what deal Bug Smoot made with the devil for her car, she was going to keep surprising me all the way to the end. And with a title like Soul Enchilada, David still wins all the points for originality.

Alethea Kontis: What make & model was your first car? What kind of car do you drive now?

David MacInnis Gill: My first car was a very used 1970 Buick Regal with a four barrel carburetor and a V-8 engine. It could flat-out fly. Sadly, it caught fire driving up Lookout Mountain and burned to the frame. I now drive a Toyota RAV-4. There’s nothing fiery about it.

AK: What was your dream car back then? Now?

DMG: 1958 Chevy Apache Short Bed Pickup. Then and now.

AK: How spicy do you like your food?

DMG: Hot. Very hot. So hot that the menu warns you not to touch your eyes while eating.

AK: People always ask about the genesis of ideas, but what inspired this novel in particular?

DMG: The idea came from a fellow writer, James Maxey, who gave me three story seeds as part of a competition to tell the most original Halloween story: A chocolate crucifix, the anti-ghost, and blistered roses. My job was to construct a tale using those elements, and the first image that came to mind was of a young man holding a pair of Twix bars to fend off a vampire. Except a vampire was way too easy. I tried to think of some other supernatural creature, one that would be offended by chocolate. Clearly, it had to be a demon, because chocolate is everything good in the world.

AK: What was your first job?

DMG: House painter. I started when I was six years old. I worked for my father. The first thing I ever painted was a door. I think it took two hours.

AK: Have you ever promised someone something you wish you hadn’t?

DMG: I once promised my father he could drive my Buick Regal up Lookout Mountain…

AK: What temperature would you guess would constitute a “cold day in Hell”?

DMG: -1 degrees Kelvin.

AK:  What sort of research did you do for this book? (Repo men, car washes, lawyers, witches, priests?)

DMG: Quite a bit, now that I look back on it. I’ve never celebrated Dia de los Muertos or been to El Paso, where the novel is set. So I used travel books, National Geographic, newspapers, and local forums (to get that authentic flavor of grumpiness that only natives can lend to a locale). My critique partners were a huge help, too, especially with smells, flavors, and sounds. To create the fusion of mythology, religion, and pop culture, I studied the Bible, the Testament of Solomon, and Old Scratch folk stories such as The Devil and Tom Walker. I also made several trips through a car wash and spent two hours in a convenience store examining its shelves and blocking out a food fight scene. The cashier thought I was shoplifting Cheez Whiz.

AK: Have you ever witnessed any supernatural events?

DMG: I wish. I’ve gone on ghost walks, stayed in haunted hotels, and eaten in spooky restaurants. I witnessed nothing scary, not even food that was a danger to my eyeballs. I have, however, seen UFOs and met Bruce Springsteen in person.

AK: What were your favorite books as a teen?

DMG: Logan’s Run, Lord Foul’s Bane (I seemed like to titles with possessives in them), Goodbye Columbus, The Amityville Horror, everything Stephen King (especially Salem’s Lot), and of course, Lord of the Rings. You know, books full of repo men, car washes, lawyers, witches, and priests. Not to mention hobbits.

AK: In your opinion, who was the most talented student in Orson Scott Card’s 2003 Literary Writing Boot Camp? (Other than you, of course.)

DMG: That would be the Amazingly Awesome Angel-Among-Demons Alethea Kontis.
Could there ever any doubt?

AK: If you could be any superhero or have any superpower, who/what would it be?

DMG: When I was in fifth grade, I wanted to be Captain America. I even practiced slinging a shield like him. Unfortunately, the shield was actually a rusted out washboard, which I had to stop slinging when I wounded my cousin in the forehead. Now, I would like to be Ghostrider. A kick-butt chopper AND a flaming skull? Who could ask for more?

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Genre Chick Interview: Edmund Schubert

In October of 2005, Orson Scott Card launched Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show—an online magazine featuring spectacular science fiction and fantasy tales, gorgeous professional artwork, and an original story from Card’s Ender universe in every issue. Less than a year later, he named SF bad man Edmund Schubert editor of the now-quarterly ‘zine. A new anthology compiles a selection of fantastic stories from IGMS (written by Tim Pratt, David Lubar, David Farber, among others), as well as all of the scenes from the Enderverse.

I honestly don’t know what else to say. I’ve been waiting for an interview like this for four years. Enjoy!

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Alethea Kontis: How did you meet Orson Scott Card?

Edmund Schubert: In the summer of 2004 we were both in Antarctica, at McMurdo Station. Orson had been invited down by the American commander to do a reading and signing, and I happened to be in the area researching the mating habits of snowflakes for a BBC documentary. At dinner that first night, it turned out we both had a taste for fire-roasted penguin. But there was only one left in the station’s larder so the commander made us arm-wrestle for it.

AK: How did you get the gig as IGMS editor?

ES: I won the penguin arm-wrestling contest. Orson really wanted that last penguin pretty badly, so he said, “How about I make you the most powerful man in the world and hire you to edit my online magazine?” I was tempted. Being an editor had been a lifelong dream of mine for almost four years. When I found out just how extensive the god-like powers of being an editor were, I knew that penguin was as good as his.

AK: What are the best and most challenging parts of your job?

ES: At first, the biggest challenge was learning to read. But once I realized I didn’t have to know how to read in order to be an editor, I just settled in and had fun with it. At this point I‘d say the most challenging thing is figuring out what to do with all the money. You wouldn’t believe how much money editors make, especially in the field of short fiction. When my wife and I had to build a new room over the garage to hold all the money, I thought I was going to go crazy. It was terribly inconvenient.

The best part of the job? I’d have to say doing interviews like this. The opportunity to open up and share my innermost thoughts without having to worry about being judged is exactly what my therapist says I need.

AK: How does IGMS work?

ES: You buy it, you read it, you love it. Pretty basic, really. Probably you should start by logging onto the Web site. It also has pretty pictures (no extra charge).

AK: How do you choose the stories for the magazine?

ES: It starts with my cat, Patches. We call him Mr. Patches now because people always assume that cats are female and he was getting a little gender-confused, showing up in evening gowns and that sort of thing. The other cats were starting to make fun of him and when the mice started mocking him too, I knew we had to take action. But to get back to the point, Mr. Patches is in charge of the first round of decision making. I print out all of the manuscripts, fling them across the floor, and then he plops down in the pile and starts gnawing on them. At first I thought it was random, but it turns out he was chewing up the bad ones at a prodigious rate, so I put him on the payroll.

The second round of reading is done by my children, Roweena and Uganda, who are 164 and 99 (we started counting in months when they were born and it was so cute that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to stop). Anyway, they take the rest of the stories to school and let their friends pick out their favorites. This tends to slow down the process in the summer months, but we live in an imperfect world and have to make the best of what we’ve got. It’s either that or I to learn how to read, and nobody wants that.

AK: What are the pros and cons of having an online magazine?

ES: The pros are the people who write for the magazine. There is an organization called the SFWA, which sets certain minimum levels of pay and distribution to qualify as a professional magazine, and IGMS meets those criteria, so the writers are considered pros.

The cons are the weekend-long meetings that take place in cities across America where people go to meet their favorite writers, buy editors drinks at the bar (my favorite part), play games, and dress up in costumes. I think the official term is “conventions,” but somewhere along the line somebody decided it was too big a word so they shortened it down to “cons.”

By the way, this was an odd, one-off kind of question. What’s up with that?

AK: How were the stories chosen for the print anthology?

ES: At first I was going to try to balance things out; you know, a certain number from each issue, a certain number of SF stories and a certain number of fantasy stories. But then I got this box in the mail. All it contained was a freshly roasted penguin and the business card of one of the authors from issue four. Once word got around that he was going to have two stories in the anthology (you’re welcome, Mr. Eric James Stone), suddenly the penguins started coming out of the woodwork. At that point it simply became a question of who could season the penguin the best, who used the most creativity on concocting penguin-based meals (who knew penguin ala mode was best with rum-raisin ice cream?), and who simply could get their hands on the most penguins (high tally was 16, by James Maxey, who would have never made the anthology otherwise).

AK: Tell us about Side Show Freaks.

ES: Wow, talk about a loaded question. I think I’m going to go for the unexpected and reply with a straight answer. Side Show Freaks is my blog. Usually I write about things related to either IGMS or writing in general, but once in a while I’ll also delve into personal things. For instance, I rode the length of the Sky Line Drive and part of the Blue Ridge Parkway on my bicycle last summer and posted a few photos from the trip.

I think my favorite thing on Side Show Freaks is running essays from the authors in each new issue of the magazine. I invite them to write about the creation of their stories (much the way I did in the IGMS anthology). I have always been fascinated by the stories behind the stories. Plus, it was a good way to trick the authors into writing extra words for me with out having to pay them extra money get extra exposure for these valued authors and their brilliant stories.

AK: Will this be a yearly event?

ES: I try to post to Side Show Freaks about twice a week. No one would read a blog that only had one post each year. Again, an odd, one-off kind of question. Where do you come up with these?

AK: There are certain authors you’ve published more than once or twice…do you have a “stable”?

ES: Wow, that’s really sweet. It’s been a long time since anyone called me “stable”–or even used that word in a sentence that had anything to do with me…

AK: If you could be any superhero, who would it be?

ES: Penguin Man, Penguin Man,
Does whatever a penguin can
Swims in seas, full of ice
Catches fish, just like Japanese fishing trawlers chasing whales in clear violation of international law but hiding behind the flimsy veneer of “science”
Watch out

Here comes the Penguin Man.

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