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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stupefying Stories Update #5

by Bruce Bethke

Okay, as far as I can tell everyone who submitted a story for Stupefying Stories #2 has been contacted with either an acceptance, a rejection, or a few, rare, "We're still holding onto your story and thinking about it" replies, so now it's time to break the news to the rest of the world:

We're changing everything.

The original vision for Stupefying Stories was that we were going to put together a series of quarterly, print-oriented, "theme" anthologies, and then, in about a year's time, when we felt we had all the bugs worked out of our processes, we were hoping to be in position to cut over to doing a monthly e-book only magazine. We've since had cause to reevaluate our plans, and have concluded there's nothing to be gained by waiting.

Therefore, effective immediately, STUPEFYING STORIES is going to a monthly release schedule, switching to a direct-to-ebook only format, dropping the concept of "theme" anthologies, and dropping all plans to do a print version.

Also effective immediately (and retroactively, for our original contributors—thank you!), we are raising our base word rate to 1-cent/word. I would much rather put the money into the people who write the words than the dead trees upon which those words are printed.

Obviously, this change in plans also means we're going to be publishing lots more original content, and we're going to need to be seeing new submissions sooner rather than later. So again, effective immediately, we are open to reading new submissions. If you have a story you want us to consider for publication, you can submit it either by emailing your story file to slushpile@thefridaychallenge.com, or else by mailing your manuscript to:

Rampant Loon Press
P.O. Box 111
Lake Elmo MN 55042

What types of stories are we looking for?

This question kind of took me by surprise. I guess, because of the "Halloween" theme we were planning to use for SS#2, a lot of people got the mistaken idea that STUPEFYING STORIES is only interested in publishing horror.

To repeat: we have dropped the idea of "theme" issues. We are now open to reading quite literally any kind of mind-stretching story. Science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, horror, mystery, edgy mainstream, adventure, cyberpunk, cipherpunk, khyberpunk, fiberpunk, sabermetricpunk, steampunk, slipstream, zipstream, dipstream, dripstream...

The truth of the matter is, I hate labels. As someone who has sold science fiction to mystery magazines, political satire to horror magazines, and vampire and pirate stories into the hard SF market, I think that for a writer to think in terms of marketing labels is tantamount to intentionally putting on a crippling set of blinders and crawling into a narrow pigeonhole. Remember, I'm the guy who wrote "Cyberpunk" thirty-some years ago because there wasn't a label for the kinds of stories I wanted to read, and write.

That's what I'm looking for now. By my reckoning, I figure we're about ten years overdue for the next revolution. I want to be the editor who finds and publishes the story that leaves readers thinking, "Wow! I've never read anything like that before! I don't know what the heck to call it, but I want to see more stories like that one!"

So, show me a story that grabs me, keeps me reading to the end, and stuns me with its imagination and originality. We'll let the critics worry about what kind of marketing label needs to be slapped on it, long after it's been published.

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