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February 26th, 2015

04:27 pm: Rabid Puppies Short Fiction Book Bomb

And the slate of Lord Voxdimort:

 

BEST SHORT STORY



Both Rabid Puppies recommendations in the Short Story category can be read for free at the following links. I can attest that Sci Phi Journal #2 is quite good and I think the Big Book of Monsters looks particularly interesting.



I've also got a short story you can read which is not part of either slate, but I promised to make it available for free reading, so here it is:



BEST NOVELETTE



“The Journeyman: In the Stone House”by Michael F. Flynn, Analog, June 2014

“Championship B’tok” by Edward M. Lerner, Analog, Sept 2014

“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show



And the Rabid Puppies recommendation in the Novelette category:



"Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" by John C. Wright, The Book of Feasts & Seasons



The Book of Feasts & Seasons is presently ranked #15,271 54,462 on Amazon and has a 4.9 rating on 18 16 reviews. It's genuinely that good, so I'd highly recommend reading it if you haven't yet, and posting a review if you have. 

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

February 13th, 2015

12:37 pm: Superversive Blog: Interview with Abyss & Apex editor: Wendy S. Delmater

 

Subversive Literary Movement

Today we have a delightful treat, an interview with Abyss and Apex editor, Wendy S. Delmater.

Wendy was superversive before the rest of us ever heard of it. She is friends with Tom Simon, the gentleman who uses Superversive as an online name and who wrote our opening post. She brings her superversiveness to bear upon her work as the editor of Abyss & Apex Magazine, a long running semi-pro magazine of speculative fiction. A&A has been in print since 2003. The magazine’s name comes from quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: “And if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

Wendy says of the stories she publishes: “We look for the unique: stories that stand out in a genre that pushes the envelope of unusual. We take special delight in detailed world-building: we like slipstream, YA, hypertext fiction, dark fantasy, science fiction puzzle stories, magical realism, hard science fiction, soft science fiction, science fantasy, urban fantasy, military science fiction, ghost stories, space opera, cyberpunk, steampunk… there is very little we will not look at, although we have a severe allergy to zombies, elves, retold fairy tales, sports, westerns, vampires, and gratuitous sex and violence. We have no subject/topic preference, beyond a requirement that the work have a speculative element. We are happy to read stories that don’t quite seem to fit elsewhere.

She also points out: The Urban Dictionary gives the following definition of superversive: Nurturing; supportive, building up — opposite of subversive.

Below is our interview with this perceptive and crusading editrix.

Q. Why do you consider yourself a superversive editor?

A. It's not because our stories are all rainbows and happy endings, although we occasionally run such content. But some of our fiction is quite dark. I suppose it is because I choose to handle themes that are positive, more often than not. For example, even a recent story about horrific, graphic  murder stalking a bleak prison asteroid has a surprisingly positive message at the end – a message of family loyalty and cheating death via quick wits and technology.

Other stories ultimately have themes like the importance of loyalty, justice, and honor; conversely, our fiction also talks about the follies of greed, pride, lust for power, or over-reliance on technology – or on magic.

 

Q. Are you ever criticized for being too positive?

A. Oh, sure. Humor is subjective, so I tend to be less concerned about those who complain about stories with a punch line or gentle sense of amusement, but critics can be quite upset about what they consider to be A&A's general lack of bleak “realism.” I think that there is more than enough grating evil and unhappiness in the world, so there is no need to add to it. If they want bad news, they can read a newspaper or a news site, or watch an actual newscast. Abyss & Apex is meant to be entertainment. We do literary-style stories as a part of the science fiction and fantasy genres, but only if they are also cracking good stories.

As to thinking of genre short stories as primarily entertainment, I'd like to channel Kristine Kathryn Rusch, here.

When literary tropes hit sf in the 1960s, solid characterization, good sentence-by-sentence writing, and dystopian endings became commonplace. “Realism,” both in character actions and in scientific approach, became more important than good storytelling.

Fantasy continued its heroic ways, promising—and usually delivering—those uplifting endings, those fascinating worlds, and those excellent (heroic) characters. But science fiction started resembling the literary mainstream. The novels became angst-filled. The protagonists, demoted from their heroic pedestals, lost more than they won. The worlds became as ugly or uglier than our own.

Suddenly, sf became unreliable. Readers had no idea if they would find uplifting stories or dystopian universes. They didn’t know whether, once they plunged through six hundred pages of nasty, ugly world-building, they would ever emerge into any sort of light. Sometimes, the sf devolved into one long scientific exposition. Or into jargon-filled, hard-to-follow stories that realistically explored situations set up in the bad old days of pre-literary science fiction.

- “Barbarian Confessions” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0612/thoughtexperiments.shtml

I'd like to think a story can be literary as well as entertaining, such as our homage to Bradbury or one of our Islamic fiction offerings, A Hundredth Name. All I know is that Booklist said of our anthology that, “The quality of the contents is consistently extraordinary.

 

Q. Can you give me examples of what you consider to be superversive stories that have been published in Abyss & Apex?

A. Sure. It would be a long list if I mentioned them all, so I will pick examples from subgenre categories:

 

Do you find that people's definition of what is superversive is pretty similar? Or is there a wide variety?  

No one even knows what “superversive” is.

 

You've given us a wonderful treasure trove of superversive stories to investigate here. Are there any pointers you might want to share with authors who might wish to write a superversive piece?

Let's talk about what “superversive” means; I think it might be a new term to some of your readers. It's a fairly new word. The Urban Dictionary defines Superversive this way: nurturing; supportive, building up — opposite of subversive. 

Nurturing also includes tough love. Sometime science fiction and fantasy peels back the gloss of civilization and the everyday to remind us that human nature can be cruel or selfish or flawed–what the Judeo-Christian tradition calls “fallen.” Our story, “Snatch Me Another,” shows the consequences when the world's economy becomes totally dependent on theft from other universes. It's chaos. Tough love always has consequences, and that's why stories of “What if people had this magical power” or 'What if we had a technology that could do “X”?' are so often cautionary tales.

 

What is the hardest part about your job as a superversive editor?

*Grin* I ditched the hardest part when I decreed we would not look at horror stories. We do not like hopelessness, unless, of course, it is a consequence earned by intentional, unfortunate actions. Even  then, stories of redemption are satisfying. Very satisfying. Or why did we all get choked up when Darth Vader chose his son over the Emperor, even though it meant death?

 

What is the most rewarding part?

I love helping those who paint pictures on the minds of men – with words. There is a rush in finding a story I know will resonate with others, and a real joy in helping the new writer get across the story that is in their head, or showing them where they've made a wrong turning.

 

Do you have trouble finding enough superversive stories? And, if so, do you ever find yourself under pressure to accept a well-written story you don't really care for to fill the space?

We have trouble finding enough exceptional stories, things worth publishing. This is entirely our fault, since we take unsolicited manuscripts, and that means kissing a lot of frogs before you find a prince! We also do not pay more than $75 per story, so when writers get really good they tend to leave us for better paying gigs. That's okay.

As to pressure? Pfft! I run this mag, I print what I want, end of story. The only times I've ever felt the slightest push to publish something was years ago, when under pressure from a staff member, who simply thought they knew better than me I  published a story I knew would bomb and the critics completely agreed with my warning analysis. That person has since moved on, their lesson learned. 

I've noticed certain unnamed genre critics having a propensity toward [not] recommending stories that had happy endings or humor. I'm not there to reinforce their negative world view, though.

 

You mentioned a Muslim superversive story, which sounds intriguing. Do you get many submissions with a Christian theme, or do SF and Christianity tend to shy away from each other?

We get all religions. That Muslim superversive story would be “Mind-Diver,” by Vylar Kaftan, which tells about a Muslim doctor who enters wounded psyches, to heal. Or would it be “A Hundredth Name,HYPERLINK a story about a Muslim man in space coming to grips with his wife's death?  We've done some Jewish SF, too: Lavie Tidhar's “Out of the Blue” , a few golem stories (most notably Emmet, Joey and the Beelz) and  Joanie Steinwachs' “The Number of Angels in Hell,” which tells a story of a fall and personal redemption in a rather horrific way (consequences, again.)  Buddhist SF stories include “Bodhisattva Breath,” and “Incarnation in the Delta.”  And we get Christian stories. “The Third Attractor,” for example, has a priest as a major character, and is about AIs and mathematical proof of an eternal soul. Then there's the overtly Christian “GodHYPERLINK “http://www.abyssapexzine.com/archives/abyss-and-apex2003/abyss-apex-septembernovember-2003-gods-guitar/”'HYPERLINK “http://www.abyssapexzine.com/archives/abyss-and-apex2003/abyss-apex-septembernovember-2003-gods-guitar/”s Guitar.”  There are even alien theologies in stories like “A Time To Weep” and “Nine Thousand Four Hundred Ninety-Four Days.”

When you start avoiding the Big Questions, it get boring. But in all the above cases imperfect humans ran up against their flaws, blind spots, and misconceptions, and grew.

Fantasy is the genre that seems to shy away from Christianity. Unless you're Tolkien writing about Christ-figures like returning kings and faithful servants, or C.S. Lewis writing about Christ, period (Aslan), there seems a tendency for fantasy writers to make up their very own pantheons of Godknowswhat. One of the real challenges in picking fantasy stories out of the slush is to find tales that incorporate anything that is not a made-up religion, or avoids religion altogether. I usually chose things based in on historical religious setting or traditions, such as the druids in “The Fifer of Moments” and the Japanese celestial in “The Heaviest Dream.” A good find was “Affairs of Honor” as it talks about how magic would affect Revolutionary war-time America, a deeply Christian environment. But, A&A fantasy picks just don't talk about their religions as much as in our SF.

In all cases, values like honor and trustworthiness being rewarded and dishonorable behavior being punished seem to resonate with our readers. Call it Karma, if you will.

 

Do you think superversive stories can help those going through dark times find the light at the end of the tunnel?

You mean, like restoring their faith in humanity? Maybe. All I know is that JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Asimov,  Lois McMaster Bujold, Anne McCaffrey. Cj Cherryh, Connie Willis, Phillp K Dick, Kelly Link, Will McIntosh, Nancy Kress, and other writers keep pulling me out of dark times. They graciously let me inhabit the worlds they've created and I am richer as a result.

Tolkien, in his essay “On Fairy Stories” said that the work of fantasy was to, basically, get us outside of this world so we can get a good look at where we are: perspective. When times are tough it's good to rest the mind on favorite books or nibble on new adventures in new lands. Whether it's a trip to Faerie or outer space, A&A hopes to be your travel agent.

 

In closing, we are very grateful for Wendy’s insights and grateful to know that Abyss & Apex Magazine may hold many yet undiscovered gems to delight the superversive-yearning heart.

 

Check out Abyss & Apex

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

12:37 pm: Superversive Blog: Interview with Abyss & Apex editor: Wendy S. Delmater

 

Subversive Literary Movement

Today we have a delightful treat, an interview with Abyss and Apex editor, Wendy S. Delmater.

Wendy was superversive before the rest of us ever heard of it. She is friends with Tom Simon, the gentleman who uses Superversive as an online name and who wrote our opening post. She brings her superversiveness to bear upon her work as the editor of Abyss & Apex Magazine, a long running semi-pro magazine of speculative fiction. A&A has been in print since 2003. The magazine’s name comes from quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: “And if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

Wendy says of the stories she publishes: “We look for the unique: stories that stand out in a genre that pushes the envelope of unusual. We take special delight in detailed world-building: we like slipstream, YA, hypertext fiction, dark fantasy, science fiction puzzle stories, magical realism, hard science fiction, soft science fiction, science fantasy, urban fantasy, military science fiction, ghost stories, space opera, cyberpunk, steampunk… there is very little we will not look at, although we have a severe allergy to zombies, elves, retold fairy tales, sports, westerns, vampires, and gratuitous sex and violence. We have no subject/topic preference, beyond a requirement that the work have a speculative element. We are happy to read stories that don’t quite seem to fit elsewhere.

She also points out: The Urban Dictionary gives the following definition of superversive: Nurturing; supportive, building up — opposite of subversive.

Below is our interview with this perceptive and crusading editrix.

Q. Why do you consider yourself a superversive editor?

A. It's not because our stories are all rainbows and happy endings, although we occasionally run such content. But some of our fiction is quite dark. I suppose it is because I choose to handle themes that are positive, more often than not. For example, even a recent story about horrific, graphic  murder stalking a bleak prison asteroid has a surprisingly positive message at the end – a message of family loyalty and cheating death via quick wits and technology.

Other stories ultimately have themes like the importance of loyalty, justice, and honor; conversely, our fiction also talks about the follies of greed, pride, lust for power, or over-reliance on technology – or on magic.

 

Q. Are you ever criticized for being too positive?

A. Oh, sure. Humor is subjective, so I tend to be less concerned about those who complain about stories with a punch line or gentle sense of amusement, but critics can be quite upset about what they consider to be A&A's general lack of bleak “realism.” I think that there is more than enough grating evil and unhappiness in the world, so there is no need to add to it. If they want bad news, they can read a newspaper or a news site, or watch an actual newscast. Abyss & Apex is meant to be entertainment. We do literary-style stories as a part of the science fiction and fantasy genres, but only if they are also cracking good stories.

As to thinking of genre short stories as primarily entertainment, I'd like to channel Kristine Kathryn Rusch, here.

When literary tropes hit sf in the 1960s, solid characterization, good sentence-by-sentence writing, and dystopian endings became commonplace. “Realism,” both in character actions and in scientific approach, became more important than good storytelling.

Fantasy continued its heroic ways, promising—and usually delivering—those uplifting endings, those fascinating worlds, and those excellent (heroic) characters. But science fiction started resembling the literary mainstream. The novels became angst-filled. The protagonists, demoted from their heroic pedestals, lost more than they won. The worlds became as ugly or uglier than our own.

Suddenly, sf became unreliable. Readers had no idea if they would find uplifting stories or dystopian universes. They didn’t know whether, once they plunged through six hundred pages of nasty, ugly world-building, they would ever emerge into any sort of light. Sometimes, the sf devolved into one long scientific exposition. Or into jargon-filled, hard-to-follow stories that realistically explored situations set up in the bad old days of pre-literary science fiction.

- “Barbarian Confessions” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0612/thoughtexperiments.shtml

I'd like to think a story can be literary as well as entertaining, such as our homage to Bradbury or one of our Islamic fiction offerings, A Hundredth Name. All I know is that Booklist said of our anthology that, “The quality of the contents is consistently extraordinary.

 

Q. Can you give me examples of what you consider to be superversive stories that have been published in Abyss & Apex?

A. Sure. It would be a long list if I mentioned them all, so I will pick examples from subgenre categories:

 

Do you find that people's definition of what is superversive is pretty similar? Or is there a wide variety?  

No one even knows what “superversive” is.

 

You've given us a wonderful treasure trove of superversive stories to investigate here. Are there any pointers you might want to share with authors who might wish to write a superversive piece?

Let's talk about what “superversive” means; I think it might be a new term to some of your readers. It's a fairly new word. The Urban Dictionary defines Superversive this way: nurturing; supportive, building up — opposite of subversive. 

Nurturing also includes tough love. Sometime science fiction and fantasy peels back the gloss of civilization and the everyday to remind us that human nature can be cruel or selfish or flawed–what the Judeo-Christian tradition calls “fallen.” Our story, “Snatch Me Another,” shows the consequences when the world's economy becomes totally dependent on theft from other universes. It's chaos. Tough love always has consequences, and that's why stories of “What if people had this magical power” or 'What if we had a technology that could do “X”?' are so often cautionary tales.

 

What is the hardest part about your job as a superversive editor?

*Grin* I ditched the hardest part when I decreed we would not look at horror stories. We do not like hopelessness, unless, of course, it is a consequence earned by intentional, unfortunate actions. Even  then, stories of redemption are satisfying. Very satisfying. Or why did we all get choked up when Darth Vader chose his son over the Emperor, even though it meant death?

 

What is the most rewarding part?

I love helping those who paint pictures on the minds of men – with words. There is a rush in finding a story I know will resonate with others, and a real joy in helping the new writer get across the story that is in their head, or showing them where they've made a wrong turning.

 

Do you have trouble finding enough superversive stories? And, if so, do you ever find yourself under pressure to accept a well-written story you don't really care for to fill the space?

We have trouble finding enough exceptional stories, things worth publishing. This is entirely our fault, since we take unsolicited manuscripts, and that means kissing a lot of frogs before you find a prince! We also do not pay more than $75 per story, so when writers get really good they tend to leave us for better paying gigs. That's okay.

As to pressure? Pfft! I run this mag, I print what I want, end of story. The only times I've ever felt the slightest push to publish something was years ago, when under pressure from a staff member ,who simply thought they knew better than me I  published a story I knew would bomb and the critics completely agreed with my warning analysis. That person has since moved on, their lesson learned. 

I've noticed certain unnamed genre critics having a propensity toward recommending stories that had happy endings or humor. I'm not there to reinforce their negative world view, though.

 

You mentioned a Muslim superversive story, which sounds intriguing. Do you get many submissions with a Christian theme, or do SF and Christianity tend to shy away from each other?

We get all religions. That Muslim superversive story would be “Mind-Diver,” by Vylar Kaftan, which tells about a Muslim doctor who enters wounded psyches, to heal. Or would it be “A Hundredth Name,HYPERLINK a story about a Muslim man in space coming to grips with his wife's death?  We've done some Jewish SF, too: Lavie Tidhar's “Out of the Blue” , a few golem stories (most notably Emmet, Joey and the Beelz) and  Joanie Steinwachs' “The Number of Angels in Hell,” which tells a story of a fall and personal redemption in a rather horrific way (consequences, again.)  Buddhist SF stories include “Bodhisattva Breath,” and “Incarnation in the Delta.”  And we get Christian stories. “The Third Attractor,” for example, has a priest as a major character, and is about AIs and mathematical proof of an eternal soul. Then there's the overtly Christian “GodHYPERLINK “http://www.abyssapexzine.com/archives/abyss-and-apex2003/abyss-apex-septembernovember-2003-gods-guitar/”'HYPERLINK “http://www.abyssapexzine.com/archives/abyss-and-apex2003/abyss-apex-septembernovember-2003-gods-guitar/”s Guitar.”  There are even alien theologies in stories like “A Time To Weep” and “Nine Thousand Four Hundred Ninety-Four Days.”

When you start avoiding the Big Questions, it get boring. But in all the above cases imperfect humans ran up against their flaws, blind spots, and misconceptions, and grew.

Fantasy is the genre that seems to shy away from Christianity. Unless you're Tolkien writing about Christ-figures like returning kings and faithful servants, or C.S. Lewis writing about Christ, period (Aslan), there seems a tendency for fantasy writers to make up their very own pantheons of Godknowswhat. One of the real challenges in picking fantasy stories out of the slush is to find tales that incorporate anything that is not a made-up religion, or avoids religion altogether. I usually chose things based in on historical religious setting or traditions, such as the druids in “The Fifer of Moments” and the Japanese celestial in “The Heaviest Dream.” A good find was “Affairs of Honor” as it talks about how magic would affect Revolutionary war-time America, a deeply Christian environment. But, A&A fantasy picks just don't talk about their religions as much as in our SF.

In all cases, values like honor and trustworthiness being rewarded and dishonorable behavior being punished seem to resonate with our readers. Call it Karma, if you will.

 

Do you think superversive stories can help those going through dark times find the light at the end of the tunnel?

You mean, like restoring their faith in humanity? Maybe. All I know is that JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Asimov,  Lois McMaster Bujold, Anne McCaffrey. Cj Cherryh, Connie Willis, Phillp K Dick, Kelly Link, Will McIntosh, Nancy Kress, and other writers keep pulling me out of dark times. They graciously let me inhabit the worlds they've created and I am richer as a result.

Tolkien, in his essay “On Fairy Stories” said that the work of fantasy was to, basically, get us outside of this world so we can get a good look at where we are: perspective. When times are tough it's good to rest the mind on favorite books or nibble on new adventures in new lands. Whether it's a trip to Faerie or outer space, A&A hopes to be your travel agent.

 

In closing, we are very grateful for Wendy’s insights and grateful to know that Abyss & Apex Magazine may hold many yet undiscovered gems to delight the superversive-yearning heart.

 

Check out Abyss & Apex

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

12:37 pm: Superversive Blog: Interview with Abyss & Apex editor: Wendy S. Delmater Thies

 

Subversive Literary Movement

Today we have a delightful treat, an interview with Abyss and Apex editor, Wendy S. Delmater Thies.

Wendy was superversive before the rest of us ever heard of it. She is friends with Tom Simon, the gentleman who uses Superversive as an online name and who wrote our opening post. She brings her superversiveness to bear upon her work as the editor of Abyss & Apex Magazine, a long running semi-pro magazine of speculative fiction. A&A has been in print since 2003. The magazine’s name comes from quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: “And if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

Wendy says of the stories she publishes: “We look for the unique: stories that stand out in a genre that pushes the envelope of unusual. We take special delight in detailed world-building: we like slipstream, YA, hypertext fiction, dark fantasy, science fiction puzzle stories, magical realism, hard science fiction, soft science fiction, science fantasy, urban fantasy, military science fiction, ghost stories, space opera, cyberpunk, steampunk… there is very little we will not look at, although we have a severe allergy to zombies, elves, retold fairy tales, sports, westerns, vampires, and gratuitous sex and violence. We have no subject/topic preference, beyond a requirement that the work have a speculative element. We are happy to read stories that don’t quite seem to fit elsewhere.

She also points out: The Urban Dictionary gives the following definition of superversive: Nurturing; supportive, building up — opposite of subversive.

Below is our interview with this perceptive and crusading editrix.

Q. Why do you consider yourself a superversive editor?

A. It's not because our stories are all rainbows and happy endings, although we occasionally run such content. But some of our fiction is quite dark. I suppose it is because I choose to handle themes that are positive, more often than not. For example, even a recent story about horrific, graphic  murder stalking a bleak prison asteroid has a surprisingly positive message at the end – a message of family loyalty and cheating death via quick wits and technology.

Other stories ultimately have themes like the importance of loyalty, justice, and honor; conversely, our fiction also talks about the follies of greed, pride, lust for power, or over-reliance on technology – or on magic.

 

Q. Are you ever criticized for being too positive?

A. Oh, sure. Humor is subjective, so I tend to be less concerned about those who complain about stories with a punch line or gentle sense of amusement, but critics can be quite upset about what they consider to be A&A's general lack of bleak “realism.” I think that there is more than enough grating evil and unhappiness in the world, so there is no need to add to it. If they want bad news, they can read a newspaper or a news site, or watch an actual newscast. Abyss & Apex is meant to be entertainment. We do literary-style stories as a part of the science fiction and fantasy genres, but only if they are also cracking good stories.

As to thinking of genre short stories as primarily entertainment, I'd like to channel Kristine Kathryn Rusch, here.

When literary tropes hit sf in the 1960s, solid characterization, good sentence-by-sentence writing, and dystopian endings became commonplace. “Realism,” both in character actions and in scientific approach, became more important than good storytelling.

Fantasy continued its heroic ways, promising—and usually delivering—those uplifting endings, those fascinating worlds, and those excellent (heroic) characters. But science fiction started resembling the literary mainstream. The novels became angst-filled. The protagonists, demoted from their heroic pedestals, lost more than they won. The worlds became as ugly or uglier than our own.

Suddenly, sf became unreliable. Readers had no idea if they would find uplifting stories or dystopian universes. They didn’t know whether, once they plunged through six hundred pages of nasty, ugly world-building, they would ever emerge into any sort of light. Sometimes, the sf devolved into one long scientific exposition. Or into jargon-filled, hard-to-follow stories that realistically explored situations set up in the bad old days of pre-literary science fiction.

- “Barbarian Confessions” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0612/thoughtexperiments.shtml

I'd like to think a story can be literary as well as entertaining, such as our homage to Bradbury or one of our Islamic fiction offerings, A Hundredth Name. All I know is that Booklist said of our anthology that, “The quality of the contents is consistently extraordinary.

 

Q. Can you give me examples of what you consider to be superversive stories that have been published in Abyss & Apex?

A. Sure. It would be a long list if I mentioned them all, so I will pick examples from subgenre categories:

 

Do you find that people's definition of what is superversive is pretty similar? Or is there a wide variety?  

No one even knows what “superversive” is.

 

You've given us a wonderful treasure trove of superversive stories to investigate here. Are there any pointers you might want to share with authors who might wish to write a superversive piece?

Let's talk about what “superversive” means; I think it might be a new term to some of your readers. It's a fairly new word. The Urban Dictionary defines Superversive this way: nurturing; supportive, building up — opposite of subversive. 

Nurturing also includes tough love. Sometime science fiction and fantasy peels back the gloss of civilization and the everyday to remind us that human nature can be cruel or selfish or flawed–what the Judeo-Christian tradition calls “fallen.” Our story, “Snatch Me Another,” shows the consequences when the world's economy becomes totally dependent on theft from other universes. It's chaos. Tough love always has consequences, and that's why stories of “What if people had this magical power” or 'What if we had a technology that could do “X”?' are so often cautionary tales.

 

What is the hardest part about your job as a superversive editor?

*Grin* I ditched the hardest part when I decreed we would not look at horror stories. We do not like hopelessness, unless, of course, it is a consequence earned by intentional, unfortunate actions. Even  then, stories of redemption are satisfying. Very satisfying. Or why did we all get choked up when Darth Vader chose his son over the Emperor, even though it meant death?

 

What is the most rewarding part?

I love helping those who paint pictures on the minds of men – with words. There is a rush in finding a story I know will resonate with others, and a real joy in helping the new writer get across the story that is in their head, or showing them where they've made a wrong turning.

 

Do you have trouble finding enough superversive stories? And, if so, do you ever find yourself under pressure to accept a well-written story you don't really care for to fill the space?

We have trouble finding enough exceptional stories, things worth publishing. This is entirely our fault, since we take unsolicited manuscripts, and that means kissing a lot of frogs before you find a prince! We also do not pay more than $75 per story, so when writers get really good they tend to leave us for better paying gigs. That's okay.

As to pressure? Pfft! I run this mag, I print what I want, end of story. The only times I've ever felt the slightest push to publish something was years ago, when under pressure from a staff member ,who simply thought they knew better than me I  published a story I knew would bomb and the critics completely agreed with my warning analysis. That person has since moved on, their lesson learned. 

I've noticed certain unnamed genre critics having a propensity toward recommending stories that had happy endings or humor. I'm not there to reinforce their negative world view, though.

 

You mentioned a Muslim superversive story, which sounds intriguing. Do you get many submissions with a Christian theme, or do SF and Christianity tend to shy away from each other?

We get all religions. That Muslim superversive story would be “Mind-Diver,” by Vylar Kaftan, which tells about a Muslim doctor who enters wounded psyches, to heal. Or would it be “A Hundredth Name,HYPERLINK a story about a Muslim man in space coming to grips with his wife's death?  We've done some Jewish SF, too: Lavie Tidhar's “Out of the Blue” , a few golem stories (most notably Emmet, Joey and the Beelz) and  Joanie Steinwachs' “The Number of Angels in Hell,” which tells a story of a fall and personal redemption in a rather horrific way (consequences, again.)  Buddhist SF stories include “Bodhisattva Breath,” and “Incarnation in the Delta.”  And we get Christian stories. “The Third Attractor,” for example, has a priest as a major character, and is about AIs and mathematical proof of an eternal soul. Then there's the overtly Christian “GodHYPERLINK “http://www.abyssapexzine.com/archives/abyss-and-apex2003/abyss-apex-septembernovember-2003-gods-guitar/”'HYPERLINK “http://www.abyssapexzine.com/archives/abyss-and-apex2003/abyss-apex-septembernovember-2003-gods-guitar/”s Guitar.”  There are even alien theologies in stories like “A Time To Weep” and “Nine Thousand Four Hundred Ninety-Four Days.”

When you start avoiding the Big Questions, it get boring. But in all the above cases imperfect humans ran up against their flaws, blind spots, and misconceptions, and grew.

Fantasy is the genre that seems to shy away from Christianity. Unless you're Tolkien writing about Christ-figures like returning kings and faithful servants, or C.S. Lewis writing about Christ, period (Aslan), there seems a tendency for fantasy writers to make up their very own pantheons of Godknowswhat. One of the real challenges in picking fantasy stories out of the slush is to find tales that incorporate anything that is not a made-up religion, or avoids religion altogether. I usually chose things based in on historical religious setting or traditions, such as the druids in “The Fifer of Moments” and the Japanese celestial in “The Heaviest Dream.” A good find was “Affairs of Honor” as it talks about how magic would affect Revolutionary war-time America, a deeply Christian environment. But, A&A fantasy picks just don't talk about their religions as much as in our SF.

In all cases, values like honor and trustworthiness being rewarded and dishonorable behavior being punished seem to resonate with our readers. Call it Karma, if you will.

 

Do you think superversive stories can help those going through dark times find the light at the end of the tunnel?

You mean, like restoring their faith in humanity? Maybe. All I know is that JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Asimov,  Lois McMaster Bujold, Anne McCaffrey. Cj Cherryh, Connie Willis, Phillp K Dick, Kelly Link, Will McIntosh, Nancy Kress, and other writers keep pulling me out of dark times. They graciously let me inhabit the worlds they've created and I am richer as a result.

Tolkien, in his essay “On Fairy Stories” said that the work of fantasy was to, basically, get us outside of this world so we can get a good look at where we are: perspective. When times are tough it's good to rest the mind on favorite books or nibble on new adventures in new lands. Whether it's a trip to Faerie or outer space, A&A hopes to be your travel agent.

 

In closing, we are very grateful for Wendy’s insights and grateful to know that Abyss & Apex Magazine may hold many yet undiscovered gems to delight the superversive-yearning heart.

 

Check out Abyss & Apex

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

February 6th, 2015

10:16 am: Superversive Short Fiction — And To The Republic by Rachel Kolar

Hey folks,

A special treat: an alternate history Superversive story by author Rachel Kolar (who explains that early attempts to write this story with a Christian protagonist didn't work.)

 

And to the Republic 

by Rachel Kolar

I tried to keep my face calm as I read the attachment, even though on the inside I was screaming curses to Jupiter. I couldn’t send Antonia an email from work about the problem – centurions had access to the work computers of Republic employees, everyone knew that, and even though I’d been a model employee for my entire life you never knew when they were going to do a random sweep – so I waited until the end of the work day to call her. I didn’t hurry out the door, since that would raise suspicion. Instead, I stopped at the shrines as I always did, lighting my incense to Mercury for a safe commute and to Washington, Lincoln, and the paters patriae for the health of the Republic, before sliding behind the wheel of my car and punching my sister’s number into my cell phone.

“Hello?” Antonia’s voice was cheery. That wouldn’t last long.

“Hey, it’s Lavinia.” I unclipped the badge with the fire of Vesta from my jacket and slipped it into my pocket. “We need to talk.”

“We’re talking now.”

“Toni.” I tried to keep the annoyance from my tone, and the fear. “You’re being inspected next week.”

“What? Why?” There was a jagged edge of panic to her voice.

“I don’t think anyone suspects anything. I’d never have been allowed to see your name on the list if they did. This is a random inspection, and as long as we get your shrine up to date before Monday, everything should be fine.”

“How do you know it’s random? Maybe they’re testing you. Maybe the vestals bugged your phone.”

Read more.

 

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

February 2nd, 2015

05:53 pm: Rabid Puppies: the Enfoaming! — the Slate

Here is the Rabit Puppies slate. Take your pick, or add your own!

Rabid Puppies_508

BEST NOVEL

Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia, Baen Books

The Chaplain's War by Brad Torgersen, Baen Books

Skin Game by Jim Butcher, ROC

Lines of Departure, by Marko Kloos, self-published

The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson, Tor Books


BEST NOVELLA

"One Bright Star to Guide Them" by John C. Wright, Castalia House (Spanish)

"Big Boys Don't Cry" by Tom Kratman, Castalia House (German, Italian)

"The Jenregar and the Light" by Dave Creek, Analog October 2014

"The Plural of Helen of Troy" by John C. Wright, City Beyond Time / Castalia House

"Flow" by Arlan Andrews Sr., Analog November 2014


BEST NOVELETTE

"Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" by John C. Wright, The Book of Feasts & Seasons

"The Journeyman: In the Stone House" by Michael F. Flynn, Analog June 2014

“Championship B’tok" by Edward M. Lerner, Analog Sept 2014

"The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale", by Rajnar Vajra, Analog July/Aug 2014

"Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium" by Gray Rinehart, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show


BEST SHORT STORY

"Turncoat" by Steve Rzasa, Riding the Red Horse

"The Parliament of Beasts and Birds" by John C. Wright, The Book of Feasts & Seasons

"Goodnight Stars" by Annie Bellet, The Apocalypse Triptych

"Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer" by Megan Grey, Fireside Fiction

"Totaled" by Kary English, Galaxy's Edge


BEST RELATED WORK

Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, by John C. Wright, Castalia House

"The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF" by Ken Burnside, Riding the Red Horse / Castalia House

"Wisdom From My Internet" by Michael Z. Williamson, self-published

"The Science is Never Settled" by Tedd Roberts, Baen Free Library

"Letters from Gardner" by Lou Antonelli, Sci Phi Journal #3


BEST GRAPHIC STORY

Reduce Reuse Reanimate (Zombie Nation book #2) by Carter Reid, (independent)

 

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (Long Form)

Coherence, James Ward Byrkit

Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn

Interstellar, Christopher Nolan

The Maze Runner, Wes Ball

The Lego Movie, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller


BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (Short Form)

A Game of Thrones: "The Mountain and the Viper"

Grimm: "Once We Were Gods"


BEST EDITOR (Long Form)

Vox Day, Castalia House

Toni Weisskopf, Baen Books

Jim Minz, Baen Books

Anne Sowards, ACE/ROC

Sheila Gilbert, DAW


BEST EDITOR (Short Form)

Vox Day, Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House

Jennifer Brozek, Shattered Shields

Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Shattered Shields

Mike Resnick, Galaxy's Edge

Edmund R. Schubert, Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show


BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST

Kirk DouPounce

Carter Reid

Jon Eno

Alan Polack

Nick Greenwood


BEST SEMIPROZINE

Sci Phi Journal, Jason Rennie

Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show, Edmund Schubert


BEST FANZINE

Black Gate, John O'Neill

Tangent SF On-line, Dave Truesdale

SF Signal, Jon DeNardo

Elitist Book Reviews,  Steve Diamond

The Revenge of Hump Day, Tim Bolgeo


BEST FANCAST

"The Sci Phi Show", Jason Rennie

Dungeon Crawlers Radio

Adventures in SF Publishing


BEST FAN WRITER

Jeffro Johnson

Matthew David Surridge

Amanda Green

Cedar Sanderson

Dave Freer


THE JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD

Eric S. Raymond, "Sucker Punch", Riding the Red Horse

Rolf Nelson, The Stars Came Back

Kary English

Amy Turner Hughes

Jason Cordova

 

 

 

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

January 28th, 2015

10:11 am: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Unfinished Work: The Notions Club Papers

For today's Superversive Blog, we have a guest post by British professor Bruce Charlton, who happins to be one of my husband's favorite authors.

Notion_Club_Papers__The_Club_by_Afalstein

The Notions Club — as envisioned by Afalstein

 

JRR Tolkien’s fragments of a novel called The Notion Club Papers:

and my attempt to finish some of his unfinished business

 By Bruce G Charlton

 

Few people know that, just as the second world war was ending, JRR Tolkien broke off from writing The Lord of the Rings and spent about a year and a half working on a modern novel called The Notion Club Papers (NCPs). 

 The draft novel material can be found on pages 143-327 of the Sauron Defeated, which is The History of Middle Earth Volume Nine, edited by Christopher Tolkien and published twenty years ago (1992) – and in addition there are a further hundred pages of drafts of the history of Numenor which was intended to have been integrated into the story. This is a big chunk of writing, done at the peak of Tolkien’s powers, so it may be surprising that it is not better known – but of course the Notion Club Papers forms merely one part of a scholarly volume also dedicated to charting the evolution of Lord of the Rings, so few Tolkien fans are even aware of its existence.

 Furthermore what we have of the NCPs is a mere fragment: a scrappy ‘set-up’ for a very ambitious fiction which is mostly unwritten. Furthermore, the novel is not just un-finished, but hardly begun in terms of its action. Most novel readers are looking for a complete and coherent story with clear characterisation – and the NCPs do not offer anything of that type.

 *

 Why read it then? I can only try to explain what draws me back to this tantalising work again and again.

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

January 21st, 2015

01:00 pm: Superversive Art Imitates Life

Subversive Literary Movement

Atheists love criticizing religion, and religious folks enjoy discussing how their spirits have been uplifted; however, very few people seem to want to hear about prayers actually being answered. Because of this, I normally don’t post this sort of thing. However, while at Marscon, I dreamt that I wrote this post. When I woke up, I thought: what the heck, why don’t I actually write it.

*

Sometimes people say that stories of wonder and magic are unrealistic. Because they never happen in real life.

But this isn’t true.

You just have to know where to look.

Below are just a few examples of real life stories where people lived the kind of experience that Superversive stories strive to imitate. 

1) I answered my doorbell one day, and a nice-looking young man asked for some directions. I told him what he wanted to know, and as I turned to go back into the house, he shoved me forward into the entry, followed me inside, and slammed the door shut.

I found myself facing a pistol he had thrust at me. First he told me he wouldn't hurt me or my baby. Then he forced me into a back bedroom where he ordered, "Take off your clothes."

Stunned and horrified, I answered, "No, I can't do that. Please, let me talk with you."

"No!" He jerked at my blouse and gestured angrily with his gun. "Lady, you've got five to start undressing. One!"

No human means of protection or rescue was at hand, and I couldn't succeed in engaging him in some sort of dialogue through which I might dissuade him from his intentions. Our big collie was out "protecting" the back yard. My husband was at the office. And even if the man was bluffing with the gun, I could see no chance of overpowering him, since he was built like a football player.

Struggling to keep my thinking above hypnotic waves of fear, dismay, and hopelessness, I mentally gave myself—and my situation —up to God. I shook my head at the man's demand.

"God is my Life," I managed to say.

"No, He's not. Two!"

"Yes, He is." The strength was returning to my voice. "And He's your Life, too."

"Three!"

"God loves me, and God loves you."

"Four!"

"God is my Life. God is my Life.

I never heard him say "five," but I heard a click as he pulled the trigger, and the gun did not fire. The man smiled and shook his head in disbelief. He reached out and patted me on the head. Then he said in a subdued voice, "Lady, you're great. I'm sorry."

He turned and started to walk out, and as he did, I felt a tremendous surge of compassion and love for this individual, who perhaps had recognized something of the ever-presence of Christ, Truth.

"Wait," I called. "I have something for you."

He turned at the front door. "Lady, all I need is love."

"I want to help you." Taking copies of the Christian Science Quarterly and The Christian Science Monitor from the mail table, I gave them to him. "Here is something that will help you." He took them, apologized once more, and left the house.

Good Is Our Defense

CATHERINE F. HALEY

From the March 11, 1972 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

 

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

January 20th, 2015

12:55 pm: Guest Post: Special Needs in Strange Worlds

A post about Cornelius Prospero, Miranda's blind brother from the Prospero's Daughter series, and his journey through Hell at Bookworm Blues's Special Needs in Strange Worlds column at SFSignal:

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/01/guest-post-special-needs-in-strange-worlds-l-jagi-lamplighter-on-meditations-on-a-blind-mans-journey-through-hell/

 

 

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

January 14th, 2015

10:12 am: Superversive Guest Post: Magic: The Superverting, or, Superversion isn’t just for literature anymore

Today we have a guest post by Mr. Pierce Oka — showing us how flexible Superversiveness truly can be!

This post first appeared at Pierce's blog Dragon's and Dogma.

Magic: The Superverting,

or,

Superversion isn’t just for literature anymore

By Pierce Oka

 

In middle school, my friend Ethan introduced me to what would become my favorite game of all time, Magic: The Gathering. I had heard about it here and there before; it was an “older kids” game by the same people who made my Pokemon cards, but I had never seen it. We had a blast with it for a brief time. Every few years I would return to it briefly, but it wasn’t until college that I found a group to play with consistently. Presently, I’ve competed in a Games Day, a prerelease, and a Pro Tour Qualifier, and play competitively on a semi-regular basis; Magic is my favorite tabletop game, bar none. Yet, from the handful of games I played in my youth, why did I keep returning to this game, even when I had barely anyone to play it with? The excellent design and enjoyability of the game is a satisfactory enough answer, but I believe there is something more. Truth. That which mens’ minds and hearts are naturally drawn to with an inexorable force. To borrow a phrase from Tolkien, I believe Magic, like all great works with enduring appeal, contains in it a splinter of the Light, whose shining beckons to something deep in the hearts of all men, even if they do not realize it. Yet this Light is indeed splintered, refracted, “to many hues, and endlessly combined

in living shapes that move from mind to mind”. The full Light would be too powerful, too blinding. Few, if any, could approach. Many might flee it. So the Light goes out in the guise of a fairy-story wizard, gathering a crowd with fantastical displays of fireballs and fairies, conjurings of goblins and great beasts; and with the crowd so enthralled, imparts a bit of itself to them. In a word, I believe Magic: The Gathering is superversive.

 

Art by Greg Staples</p>

 

 

 

Art by Greg Staples

Superversive is a term coined by essayist Tom Simon in The Art of Courage as an antonym to subversive. Superversion is, he proposes, the proper response to combat the subversion of morality and truth that has been occurring in the arts over the past decades. We must write stories praising and uplifting that which is good and true, stories about courage, and these must be stories, not sermons, for one only preaches sermons to an already invested congregation. Anyone can read a story.

So far, the Superversive Movement has been a literary movement. I propose there is no reason why it should not also branch out into other forms of art and media, and offer Magic: The Gathering as an example of a superversive game. Authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter offered three marks of a superversive story that, with modification, can be used to assess whether or not a game is superversive. Lamplighter’s three signs are:

1.A Superversive story has to have good storytelling.

2.The characters must be heroic.

3.Superversive literature must have an element of wonder.

My three signs, modified for games (tabletop, video, or otherwise):

1.A Superversive game has to have good gameplay. It must be fun to play, and, ideally, be well designed.

2.Heroism must be praised. I say the game must promote heroism, rather than that the characters must be heroic, because in games, the decisions of the characters rest in the hands of the player, and a game can often demonstrate the goodness of heroism despite, or even because of, a player’s decision to have a character act in an unheroic manner (for example, Bioshock, or Telltale Game’s Walking Dead games).

3.Superversive games must have an element of wonder. To quote Lamplighter:

Specifically, the kind of wonder that comes from suddenly realizing that there is something greater than yourself in the universe, that the world is a grander place than you had previously envisioned. The kind of wonder that comes from a sudden hint of a Higher Power, a more solid truth.

There might be another word for that kind of wonder: awe.

I would also ponder these words of Lamplighter’s husband, and fellow Superverter, John C. Wright. Here he is using the word poetry in a broader sense to refer to all forms of story, and so I would apply these words to superversive gaming:

It is not natural (that is, not instinctive) for a boy to feel it is sweet and decorous to die for the ashes of the fathers and the altars of the gods; but this must be inculcated into him, along with a sense of honor that forbids him to steal even when he is hungry and even when no one is looking. Otherwise, in a land of no patriots where all theft is licit, the soldiers will not march and the workingmen will not work.

Poetry, when it is licit, is the attempt to train the young imagination to prefer fit and decent metaphors and images, and to have the decent and apt emotional reactions to objects, concepts and events he may encounter.

Now, I said I believed that part of Magic‘s enduring appeal is its superversive nature. How does it stack up against these criteria?

1.Good gameplay.

Magic passes with flying colors. The longevity of the game (20+ years), its comprehensive rulebook, legions of players, popularity of competitive level play, and depth of strategic scholarship all attest to the strength of Richard Garfield’s original game design, and work of all those who came after him. Let any who doubt give the game a try.

2.Promotes heroism, goodness, truth, etc.

Let’s take a stroll through the Gatherer, and see how Magic treats of such things as heroism, courage, and the forces of goodness (all images from Wizards). I’m limiting myself to seven cards here, but where they have come from, there are many more.

 

Serra</p>

 

 

 

A beloved and iconic card

 

Heroism, courage, and goodness are common themes in Magic, and are always depicted positively. But, some might object, does not Magic also depict such things as demons, death, necromancy, and the undead? Does not putting these things in the hands of players as resources to win the game with count as subversion? On the contrary, I would argue that both the inclusion of these things in the game, and the way in which Magic depicts them, contribute towards its superversive nature. To quote from the newest member of the Superversive Movement, April Freeman:

But it’s not only about the good and the light. To have a story you must have conflict, so there must be struggle and darkness. The light must have darkness to fight against. For that is the reality of the world.

Let us consider how Magic depicts the forces of darkness, both artistically, and mechanically. Is there any danger of confusing the good with the bad? Is evil clearly depicted as such? (all images from Wizards)

The classic demon card, now with flavor text to really ram home just how dangerous working with this fellow is. Note use of classical imagery. No sexy, sympathetic demons here.</p>

 

 

 

The classic demon card, now with flavor text to really ram home just how dangerous working with this fellow is. Note use of classical imagery. No sexy, sympathetic demons here.

I do admit that the darkness may be too much for some, but I believe that on the balance, the depictions are consistent with the reality of things, and serve by contrast to make the good things shine all the brighter. What good is an Elite Inquisitor without any vampires to stake?

3.Wonder

Image from Wizards</p>

 

 

 

Image from Wizards

Joke aside, an element of wonder can be found in Magic in two ways. The less common way is for gameplay to just happen to work out in a way that creates a scene of awe. Example: I play Army of the Damned, you drop a Sunblast Angel on me the next turn, driving them away in blaze of angelic glory. In the course of the hobby, such occurrences are rare (unless, I suppose, one tinkers one’s decks to lend themselves to such occurrences. I built a rather nice Catholic-themed humans and angels deck I enjoy playing), thus making them even more special. However, the chief way in which Magic achieves a sense of wonder is through its excellent art direction. There is beauty to be found here, and leaps of imagination into far off lands. Nothing quite inspires awe so much as beautiful vistas and fantastic creatures. I tip my hat to Magic, and SFF gaming in general, for keeping classical realism alive and in the hands of the common man in the face of so much 21st century ugliness. The following images, I do believe, speak for themselves (all images from Wizards).

The counsel for superversive Magic: The Gathering rests its case. Fellow members of the Superversive Movement, what say you?

For more from Pierce, visit his blog.

I recommend in particular, his extremely funny review of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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