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Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Friday Challenge - 4/27/12

The Friday Challenge arrived on Sunday this week.

Honestly, a week ago I believed I'd be announcing the release of STUPEFYING STORIES 1.6 today. Instead, things got exciting—and then frightening—and then alarming—and then wet. So tonight I am announcing only the triumphant return of running hot water to my house, along with the resounding defeat of the Minnesota DNR's attempt to have my office declared a protected wetland. I can also say with a high degree of confidence that I now know more about residential water heaters and their associated gas and water pipe fittings than any reasonable person should ever have to know, and that when the plumber you've hired begins to laugh out loud, you should be afraid; be very afraid.

The sound of a plumber laughing is an expensive sound. It's not quite on the same order of magnitude as when your daughter calls to say, "Daddy, the car is making a funny noise," but it's close. A plumber laughs not because of anything that you might find funny, but out of a sense of relief, as he suddenly realizes that he now knows how he's going to be able to afford that new fishing boat he's been thinking of buying.

I believe there is a book in this: The Laughing Plumber. It's a home remodeling/horror story. "It started with just one tiny leak..."

But enough on that. We also have some good news to announce this week, and a picture being both worth a thousand words and much easier to type, we'll go straight to the visual:

World, meet Hollas Goodman, newest son of Stupefying Stories Art Director David Goodman and his lovely wife, Rachel. Hollas arrived in the wee hours of Friday morning, weighed 8 lbs on the dot, and both mom and baby are doing very well. (Dad is a bit frazzled, though.)

We'll have more to say about Hollas in a minute, but first...

In the matter of the 4/20 Friday Challenge, "What Earth Day Means To Me," we received four five entries. 
Obviously, the traditional "let's discuss this over the weekend and announce a winner on Sunday" thing isn't going to work, so instead, look over the entries, vote for your favorites, and we'll announce a winner on the evening of Tuesday, May 1st.

As you read the entries, by the way, don't be afraid to leave comments on the authors' sites. Authors love to know that people are actually reading and thinking about their words.

Now, as for this week's challenge, it's a simple one:

"For Hollas, Who Will Be 20 In The Year 2032"

This week's challenge is to write a letter, to a child newly born now—Hollas has graciously volunteered to be the representative infant, if you don't know anyone else who is having kids these days—to be read when the child reaches adulthood, in which you tell this child...

Well, that's the challenge now, isn't it? What is the most important message you can think of to put in a bottle and cast upon the sea of time, to be found and read a generation from now?

Think it over; jot it down; post your answer here or on your own site and post a link here; and let's all meet back here again on Friday, May 4th, to compare results.

And remember, have fun. Always, have fun!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Open Mic Saturday

Good morning all, and welcome to Open Mic Saturday. This is the place to share your news and perhaps do a little bragging. If you're writing a novel: how much progress did you make this week? If you're writing short stories: did you finish anything or submit anything this week? If you've sold or published anything recently, when is it coming out and where can we find it? In short, as a writer, what kind of progress did you make this week?

Or what else is on your mind, that you feel like sharing with the group here?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Please Stand By...

The normally scheduled Friday Challenge post will be posted later today, as we are awaiting confirmation of one detail. In the meantime, for those of you who thought about posting an entry but didn't get around to it, this is an excellent opportunity to snowdog in a last-minute entry.

Say, there's another name we haven't seen on the blogroll in a long time: Snowdog. Do you suppose he finally got tired of his name being a synonym for late?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Deadline Reminder

Just a reminder that the deadline for the 4/20/12 Friday Challenge, "What Earth Day Means To Me," is 8 a.m. CDT tomorrow, Friday, 4/27/12. I'm sure we've all spent this past week thinking very profound thoughts about our relationship with the Earth and stuff, so let's see some entries, folks!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Slushpile Survival Guide

How to be an Alpha Reader
by Jason R. Peters

When I submit unpublished work to friends, family, writing groups, ex-girlfriends, my landlady, the bartender and my mailman, I’m only interested in one thing:  

Did you keep reading?

But of course you kept reading. You’re my mailman, for Zeus’s sake; you owe me that much.

Wrong. If you kept reading out of obligation, you’ve done us both a disservice: wasting your time on a story you don’t like, and giving me a false impression. Worse, some people assume they must read the whole ten-book series, and because they’re busy, they never read a word. (NOTE: New authors typically should not submit epic series, but that’s another issue.)

Neither is any help. Instead, I implore you:

Read the first sentence.

That’s all. (Still too busy? If you have a television or Facebook account, I don’t believe you!)

Jason, I can’t judge your whole story on just one sentence!

Sure you can. People do it all the time. They decide to see a movie based solely on the preview, pick up a book based on the title and cover, or spend $60 on a videogame they’ve never played. This is comparatively more fair.

But to ease your conscience, don’t judge the whole story. Just the first sentence. Don’t even analyze it in detail. Just consider one thing:

Did it prompt you to read further?

If not, tell me why. You don’t even have to figure out what needs to be fixed, just tell me what you experiencedWere you bored? Confused? Disbelieving? Annoyed?

This is why I don’t accept “I’m unqualified” as an excuse. If you’ve ever liked or disliked a book or movie and could articulate why, you’re qualified. I’m not looking for MFAs. I’m looking for readers.

What if I read past the first sentence?

Cool, I got one thing right; only a million more to go. However, you’re still not obligated to read the whole story. If the first sentence gripped you, try the first paragraph. Still undeterred? Read the first page.

And then, only if you cannot put it down, read the first scene or chapter.

Don’t do me any favors.

If you read my story to the end, it should be because — and only because – you loved it. There's no other reason. This is why ”I’m too busy” is a poor excuse. If you liked it, I’ve given you free entertainment. You can now return the favor by telling me what to improve.

If you didn’t like it, why are you still reading? Stop and tell me why.

This is how editors and agents read unsolicited manuscripts, with one difference: usually, they’ll give the author at least one page in which to hang himself. Properly formatted, this is just 13 lines of text. If these 13 lines don’t astonish, delight and impress, the story goes in the trash and the author gets a form rejection.

The Bottom Line

I am not trying to determine whether you think I should add a scene, remove a character, switch point-of-view, or cut words. That all comes later. (Though if you can tell me now, feel free to do so.) I’m just trying to determine one thing:

Can you put it down?

All other considerations are secondary. When you read my story, my career is on the line, and there is only one wrong answer.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Open Mic Saturday

Good morning all, and welcome to Open Mic Saturday. This is the place to share your news and perhaps do a little bragging. If you're writing a novel: how much progress did you make this week? If you're writing short stories: did you finish anything or submit anything this week? If you've sold or published anything recently, when is it coming out and where can we find it? In short, as a writer, what kind of progress did you make this week?

Or what else is on your mind, that you feel like sharing with the group here?

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Friday Challenge - 4/20/2012

Good grief. Has it really been 42 years?

This coming Sunday, April 22, is Lenin's Birthday the 42nd anniversary of the first Earth Day.

I remember the first Earth Day, in 1970, mostly because it was a nice day and Earth Day was a good excuse to cut school and go run around outside. One of my more achievement-oriented friends tried to organize a group to go pick up trash along the river, but that business was too filthy and too much like work for most of my fellow Earth Day celebrants. They mainly wanted to be seen caring about the Earth, and demanding that someone (preferably someone else) do something. Even today, that particular bit of the memory collage makes me think of Matthew 6.1: "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them..."

Still, before you dismiss Earth Day as being mere simple-minded tree-huggerism, know this: it was needed.

I remember what it was like when cities and factories dumped their effluent straight into the skies and waters. I remember when you couldn't see a mile in the daytime in Los Angeles, because the air was so thick with smog your eyes burned. I remember being in harbors that looked and smelled like backed-up truck-stop toilets that hadn't been flushed or cleaned in a week, because municipalities dumped their raw sanitary sewage straight into the local rivers. I remember not needing a compass to navigate in the daytime: you could be twenty miles offshore and still fix your location just by spotting the plumes of smoke from the coal-fired power plants.

I remember years when the beaches were closed all summer long because of water pollution, and the center of Lake Erie was a biological dead zone, and rivers in Ohio were so polluted they sometimes caught fire. I remember being out in deep water and coming across rafts of dead fish that some caprice of the wind and waves had pushed together. Try to imagine that: a ribbon of dead fish so thick it almost looked as if you could walk on it, fifty yards wide and three miles long. Try to imagine the smell...

No, bad idea, don't do that; at least not before breakfast.

In my more cynical moments, of which I have plenty, I've been known to say that western civilization peaked on July 20, 1969, coasted at apogee for nine months, and then began its long, unstoppable, steadily accelerating plunge back into ignorance and barbarism on April 22, 1970.

But that is a topic for another time. Today's topic—and the subject of this week's Friday Challenge, of course—is this:

"What Earth Day Means To Me"

That's what I want from you this week. Maybe you want to write straight-faced essay on the topic, taking it completely seriously. Or maybe you want to write a short story, imagining that you're—oh, a schoolchild in Kansas in 2070, or one who's grown up on a space habitat and never seen the sky—assigned to write this essay. Or perhaps you're a young Martian, who's grown up in a culture still smarting from that catastrophic defeat in 1898, and "Earth Day" has an entirely different meaning for your people.

Anyway, that's this week's assignment: "What Earth Day Means To Me." Think it over, write something, post it on your blog or website or send it here, and let's all meet back here again next week to compare and discuss the results.

Have fun!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Critical Thinking

I started writing fiction in November of 2007. Wrote a few novels over the span of a couple of years, then switched to short stories for a year. Never sold a novel (rarely got a response from an agent), but that's okay. Well, it's okay now.

About a year and a half ago, I set aside fiction writing. I got a new job that required a lot of non-fiction writing, and Maj Tom pointed out that the endless cycle of write-submit-get rejected (or ignored) wasn't something I actually considered all that much fun. I'm not usually a quitter, and I had several books half-written, so it was a hard decision.

A few weeks ago, I figured that was enough of that. I had a quarter of a book that had too many good ideas to set aside forever. I took a sabbatical from Stupefying Stories and locked myself up with the laptop. Here are a few things I've learned since picking it up again.

- I have as many words as I choose to have. I once told one of my writing mentors, Donita K Paul, that I couldn't write fiction after writing non-fiction all day. She said, "Yes, we only have so many words." But I realize now I have more words than I thought. Or maybe it's because I'm more used to writing on demand, now. Writing is this sadistic, twisted thing, and there comes a point where if you're going to do it, you just have to dig in, quit making excuses, and do it.

- Creative outlets are good, but writing's better. I now have purses made from embroidered or beaded Army map cases all over town. Baby Isaac (BTW, my sister had her baby!) has hand-painted Kinderkrakens hanging above his crib. But there really is something different about writing. I've mentioned before how fiction writing helps control my (mild) depression. I had forgotten how much.

- Ughhhh, I am such a sappy writer! Is it normal for your eyes to well when you're editing your own book? For pity's sake! I need to go back and reread The Hunger Games to figure out how to express deep emotion without getting ridiculous.

- Taking a break helped me realize a little better where I need to improve. I think I got too myopic. It's unhealthy to read too much of your own writing.

- It doesn't have to be finished right this instant. Before I had a job, my goal was to sit down and shell out 5000 words every day that I wrote. One day, I think I hit 8500. I never have writer's block (I can always write something, although it may not be the right thing), so there's that. But that's not feasible right now. My friend Evangeline Denmark (who happens to be Donita's daughter) decided that she only needed to write 1000 a day. Any more was gravy. I'm taking that to heart. If I can get 4000 words over the weekend and another 1000 words during the week, I can get this puppy finished by...whenever.

This book is dangerous. It deals with Aspergers, trafficking, attachment disorder, and abuse--all in a metaphorical way. I don't know if I can pull it off without falling into cliche or disrespect. I don't know that anyone would want to publish it. But it's demanding to be written, dangit. I'm hoping that's a good sign.

For this novel, I have succumbed to the time-sink that is Pinterest. To see the pictures I'm using to inspire this puppy, click here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


There's an old saying in the software business: sometimes a new product is released, but other times, it escapes. Well today, after a long series of complications and delays, it gives me great...relief...to announce:

STUPEFYING STORIES 1.5 (a.k.a., "the March issue") HAS ESCAPED!

"Red Dust and Dancing Horses," by Beth Cato
"Emissaries from Venus," by Jason Wittman
"Lincoln's Revenant," by Chuck Bordell
"Induction Day," by J. R. Johnson
"Perchance to Wake," by Paul Dixon
"Cog Noscenti," by Aaron Bradford Starr
"Greater Love," by Kersley Fitzgerald
"Stellar Dust and Mirrors," by Richard Zwicker
"The Last Testament of Henry Halleck," by Vox Day
"A Brief Respite from Eternity," by Alex Shvartsman

STUPEFYING STORIES 1.5 is now available for:

Amazon Kindle editions
US market
UK market

Barnes & Nobles Nook edition

Apple iTunes edition
(Okay, we still don't know what's going on with the Apple iTunes edition. But when Apple finally gets around to releasing it, it should be available at this link.)

And now, on to edition 1.6...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Open Mic Saturday Arrived on Friday This Week

Sorry, it's been a busy week here at Casa Calimari, so no Friday Challenge today.

What's on your mind, that you feel like talking about today?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ultimate Geek Fu: How the Experts Hated GREEN LANTERN and Why I Disagree

Far be it from me to disagree with the expert movie rankers at io9 (http://io9.com/5812464/green-lantern-wants-to-be-star-wars-but-its-more-like-the-star-wars-prequels), but in this case I have to.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this site 95% of the time! More often than not, I agree with their assessment of the world, except when it strays into the political and they grant themselves “expert” weight on their opinions.

But I have strong feelings about Green Lantern and I’m going to try and take one critique at a time and give a bit of evidence to counter it.

1)      “Ryan Reynolds keeps comparing Green Lantern, out today, to the original Star Wars.” While this is certainly a grand opinion, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the merits of the movie itself. In truth, what do you expect? He’s the star, he SHOULD be comparing it to something great; while hubris probably led him to link it with a classic, this isn’t really a strike against the movie per se.

2)     “Total lack of plot logic”. This is a pretty strong statement. On my personal scale, Moonstruck (and Gosford Park) rank at the bottom as the least comprehensible movies that reached the most incomprehensible endings I’ve ever seen. Stranger Than Fiction is the movie for me with the most complicated plot that reached the greatest surprise ending. While GL isn’t STF, it’s not M or GP, either. (Movie reviewers are allowed to be cryptic!) Somewhere between, I think it’s better than STAR WARS 1, 2 and 3 but less than Back To The Future I.

3)     “Lack of any meaningful character progression for its hero, Hal Jordan”. This accusation can be leveled at pretty much every movie produced in Hollywood today including several that have won Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes (I don’t believe those Expert critics ever tender unanimous opinions, either). On the other hand, it’s incumbent upon me to note that Hal goes from being a total douchebag at the beginning of the movie whilst sleeping with some airhead or other and offering her lukewarm tap water as a post-coital breakfast; to a different man at the end, willing to make a serious attempt at growing up.

4)     CG overload, which reduces Ryan Reynolds to a human head floating in a sea of cheese; “Ryan Reynolds' disembodied face spends large chunks of Green Lantern floating around in an ocean of computer-animated cheese.” See #10

5)     “It has no story to tell. The makers of this film made a bold choice, to throw away the traditional ‘superhero movie origin story’ paradigm in favor of something more ambitious. And unfortunately, they showed why the "origin story" formula works so well, and why it's so hard to find alternatives. Also, they went overboard trying to stuff as many elements from the comics into one film as possible, instead of taking a scalpel to the[m]…” I would agree. But can an attempt to do TOO much be held against a film? Batman didn’t hit the right note until recently despite starting in 1966 (eight times until the current highly anticipated movie [http://www.superheroeslives.com/indexbatman.htm]). There’s plenty of story to tell and plenty of stories to draw from – otherwise the strip wouldn’t have lasted for 61 years. The first attempt shouldn’t stop the whole thing cold!

6)     The “overgrown GL mythos.” See #5.

7)      “…dull, soulless and smothered with computerized blandness. Not to mention a ‘Lake of Naboo’-style romance and dull character conflicts.” Because they don’t punch each other constantly does that make it dull? Truth be told, I very rarely beat my friends these days. Most of the conflict I experience is internal and involves speaking and hardly ever giant green Thor hammers. While there is absolutely room for improvement, I DO know Ryan Reynolds is capable of good acting (Buried, The Proposal and Wolverine). He needs a solid script that explores his powers and his reactions to them – and maybe he can try again. I’d be HAPPY to see it. As to the romance – while hardly the depth of Bogie and Bergman in Casablanca – he went from sleeping around to an attempt to grow a relationship that stalled because he couldn’t get past the daddy issues. He’s got the will power, now we need to give Hal and Carol a chance to work out their relationship in the shadow of his father’s violent death – and whatever skeleton’s she has in her closet. As to the accusation of being ‘soulless’, it had enough soul for me. But then, I’m not an Expert.

8)    “Reynolds' face tells the entire story, he works overtime to try and convey what's actually going on. Reynolds' face looks freaked out, or determined, or sometimes kind of constipated” The critique answers itself a few words later, “Hal has to defeat the monster by getting past his own emotional hang ups. This is kind of hard to convey on the screen”. So he gets creamed for not being able to convey an internal struggle? Hmmmm – I believe Keanau Reeves has been accused of that at least once. Or twice. Or more…hardly a deadly indictment. Again, we know he can act. He needs a script to act with, a director who can pull greatness out of him and some coaching to sharpen the facial movements. Maybe from Buster Keaton (if only!) or Jim Carey…

9)     “Abstract art about daddy issues.” And the problem is...that everyone on Earth deals with “daddy issues”. It’s why most of our gods are male father figures – we get to rant at them because we can’t bring ourselves to confront our own fathers (or for those of us who are fathers, we can’t bring ourselves to rant at ourselves). (also see #10 below) Neither one of these is the basis for panning a film. What Green Lantern NOW needs is someone with proven skills who can write a script in which Hal Jordan can deal with his issues, like say for instance the writer of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

10)  “most of the time when we see Hal using his power, it's a computer-generated effect against a computer background. So it just looks like a bunch of CG effects bouncing off each other.” And Toy Story and Harry Potter and the Blah, Blah, Blah was…what?

11)  “this film is low on thrills, especially in its final act. There's nothing on the level of the final duel with Darth Maul in this film.” *WHEW!* and for that we can be thankful! I’d hate to have watched 80 minutes of drivel to reach 2 minutes of spectacular. Again.

12)  “the movie's main villain a big sentient cloud”…and THE ABYSS’s main villain was a big sentient water bed. The problem is? It’s not that I liked Parallax, I’d have preferred a humanoid at least. The problem was that the writers didn’t take as much time fleshing out the villain as they should have. The thing was moderately satisfying, but I’d like to have seen more...(See #8)

13) “…they were also the generation that gave us awesome 1980s action movies, in which fight scenes were bloody and brilliant.” This is written as if the mentality that brought us “buckets-o-blood” HALLOWEEN (1-7 million), TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and FRIDAY THE 13th (1-7 million) was a good thing, right?

All in all, I’m willing to admit that Green Lantern wasn’t Downton Abbey. I am NOT willing to admit that it ranks as low as Eragon.

No doubt there’s another opinion out there lurking, so let the arguments begin!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Slushpile Survival Guide

A Tale of Two Cover Letters
The following two cover letters landed in our inbox recently.
Y hallo thar!

I am [name redacted], sent from the far off land of [locale], bringing forth literary enjoyment of difficult-to-categorize ingenuity! Attached, you will find my short story of 4648 words, entitled "Rosie Palm and Her Five Sisters." It tells the bold tale of Sir Collin and his adventures in masturing the dreaded bation, yet being foiled by the young princess Kore! However shall he slay his one-eyed monster while still retaining the affections of the prettiest lady in all the land?

You are about to find out.

I bid thee a toodle-oo,
[name redacted]
Compare and contrast that cover letter with this one:

I am submitting my short story for review in your publication. It's a humorous story with just a touch of self-realization in the main character, Collin.

When Collin meets Kore, his life is changed. He is introduced to an entirely new way of living that even his anti-social past had barely known existed. The most changed however, is his imagination. Suddenly, Kore is popping up at the best moments, but then morphing into the worst things.

This story is not suitable for children based on language and sexual themes, but will have a death-grip on the heart of any geek or geek-lover. [...]

"Rosie Palm" was workshopped in a graduate-level Creative Writing course. MA in progress.

Thanks for your time!
[name redacted]
And now, if you please, kindly answer a simple question: which of these two cover letters is more apt to make you turn the page, and more likely to be willing to give the story that follows it at least half a chance?

"Wait!" I just heard some sharp-eyed reader shout. "Collin? Kore? Rosie Palm? These two cover letters are both for the same story!"

That is absolutely correct, and they are reprinted here with the kind permission of the author. These two letters, taken together, illustrate a vital principle:
The entire point of a cover letter is to get the editor to read your story.
We are only a tiny market, and yet we average ten new submissions daily. Larger markets exceed our inflow by several orders of magnitude. Editors and slush pile readers, like everyone else, always seek to get the most work done with the least amount of effort. Therefore, anything in a cover letter that gives the editor an excuse to reject the story without reading it will be seized upon, more often than not.

Here endeth the lesson. Now beginneth the discussion.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Friday Challenge - 4/6/2012

This being either Easter weekend or the start of Passover, depending on which of us you ask, THE FRIDAY CHALLENGE crew members are taking the weekend off to spend time with their respective families.

Catch you on Monday.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Critical Thinking

I'm going to a book-signing on Saturday. It's for a friend. We were in the same writers' group for a while, and I got to read the book in process. When I first met her, she struck me because she looked like and has the same name as a classmate of mine in college. Turns out she's actually from Vancouver, across the river from where I grew up. In addition, her great aunt and uncle homesteaded my neighborhood. Nobody knows my neighborhood, and those who do never have positive thoughts about it.

Anyway, her book is impossible. It's a YA Christian fantasy story. She wrote it while working in the horticulture section of Safeway. It got picked up--it and two more--very shortly after she finished it. And now it's published.

How did that happen? I have no idea. But if there's anything to take away it's this: there is always hope.

The Prophet by R.J. Larson

Kersley Fitzgerald is still impatiently awaiting the arrival of her nephew. He's over a week late and seems to be little affected by the drugs that are supposed to hurry him along. As of this writing, her sister, Cheesentoast, is resting comfortably and watching MythBusters.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ultimate Geek Fu

One of the things which draws us to science fiction and fantasy is the lure of new worlds, places to explore different than our normal old twenty-first century earth. And certainly science fiction and fantasy offer up some truly compelling settings. Just consider...

What fan of The Lord of the Rings wouldn't love to visit Middle Earth? Sure, there's plenty of danger and darkness. You might open your door and find a Ring Wraith waiting outside. Or a band of orcs or goblins. But you might also find tall, ethereally beautiful elves, short, stout dwarves, or even shorter, jolly hobbits.

What Trekker (note that I know not to use "Trekkie") wouldn't want to attend the Star Fleet Academy in San Francisco or serve on a Federation starship as it sails through space on its five year mission?

Maybe you'd prefer to live in Asimov's caves of steel, or on Trantor at the height of the Galactic Empire, or maybe be part of the Foundation as it struggles to keep the torch of civilization alight in the far reaches of the galaxy.

What red-blooded teenage boy wouldn't want to travel to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom and become a virtual superhero simply because of his earthly origins? Who can resist the lure of wielding a longsword with one hand while the other holds tight to the hand of a beautiful (naked!) woman of Barsoom?

Perhaps you'd rather step through a wardrobe and find yourself in Narnia or get carried to the land of Oz by a cyclone or travel through time and space in a blue police phone box.

There are worlds upon worlds upon worlds one can choose to live in for a short while, transported by the author's words or the director's images. But what if you didn't have to just live in such worlds briefly, seeing them through the eyes of the author or director? What if you could pick up, take your family and friends, and just go live in any world you wish? I know where I'd go.

Last fall, I picked up the DVD set for the first season of a science fiction TV series I had never watched. In typical fashion, once I realized I really enjoyed the show, word came that the series was being canceled. Fortunately, there are four seasons, so I've still got more than forty shows left to watch, but in the show I've found the place I'd truly like to live in. The show is Eureka, which is also the name of the town.

Eureka is a small town somewhere in the Pacific northwest. A government town where virtually everyone works at a top secret government research facility. Everyone in the town has at least an above average IQ, most have an IQ significantly higher than that. Sure, there's the periodic evacuation due to strange chemical spills or space junk drawn into the atmosphere by powerful magnets. Yeah, sometimes people die in mysterious, sometimes gruesome, ways. But Eureka has the small town bit down perfectly. Everyone eats at the same diner, takes their clothes to the same cleaner, sends their kids to the same school, and most everyone knows everyone else. It kind of reminds me of my childhood days growing up in the university town of Clemson, SC (unsurprisingly, home to Clemson University), except with higher IQs, quirkier citizens, and more interesting things going on around town. If Eureka actually existed and I could get a job there, I'd move in a heartbeat.

So, where would you go and why?

Let the arguments begin!

Monday, April 2, 2012

And the winner was...

...completely forgotten about in the crush of STUPEFYING STORIES business this weekend. We'll pick that up later, if you don't mind.

Sometimes even the guy running the show has to snowdog one in, once in a while.

STUPEFYING STORIES 1.5 Released March 31st 32nd Real Soon Now!

We're still in the final throes of proofreading STUPEFYING STORIES 1.5 before releasing it. In the meantime, here's a small foretaste.

From the Editor's Desk
by Bruce Bethke
...and this is why we call STUPEFYING STORIES an anthology series, not a magazine: because as an anthology series we can adjust our release schedule, when needed.

Two months ago, as we were first starting to pull this edition together, a pair of unfortunate coincidences exposed the weaknesses of our "lean staffing" model at the same time as our ever-growing slush pile became sentient, chained itself to the front doors, and demanded our full attention. Thus what began as a simple Valentine's Day edition of STUPEFYING STORIES became a Love and Presidents edition, and then a Sex and Presidents edition, and then a Sex and Dead Presidents edition (but the less said about that one, the better), while we launched a major recruiting drive and wrestled with a plethora of back-office issues that aren't terribly interesting to read about now, but solutions to which were needed urgently if we were to stop our out-of-control slush pile from conquering the world.

Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce that these efforts have been entirely successful. We have more than doubled the size of the STUPEFYING STORIES crew, and thanks to the tireless work of Erin, Ricky, Karen, Paul, Eli, Tyler, Jason, Barb, Allan, Yvette, and Guy—hereinafter to be referred to as the Fearless Slush Pile Reader Corps—we have not only defeated the growing slush pile menace, reduced Slush Mountain to manageable dimensions again, and stand ready to release STUPEFYING STORIES 1.5 (a.k.a., "the March issue"), but we also have 1.6 ("April") and 1.7 ("May") in production and are very close to wrapping up our first theme-issue Special Edition. To the members of the FSPRC: I salute you, and "Induction Day," by J. R. Johnson, is for you.

Speaking of the contents of this edition: I'm about out of space now, but would be remiss if I did not call special attention to our cover story, the brilliantly mad steampunk vision that is "Cog Noscenti" by Aaraon Bradford Starr, and especially to my personal favorite in this entire collection, "Red Dust and Dancing Horses" by Beth Cato. If this story doesn't wind up on several Best of 2012 lists and on the short list for at least one major award, I will be disappointed.

And with that said, until STUPEFYING STORIES 1.6, I can only add—

Hi-yo Silver, away!

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