31 January 2007

Woo hoo! New Issue is out!

Woo hoo! Our new issue of Electric Spec is out! It's our best issue yet with an interview of the 2007 SFWA Grand Master James E. Gunn, six wonderful stories (more below), and beautiful art by Cile Bailey. The six stories are: Possession Is Nine Parts by TW Williams, The Comfort of Mirrors by Thomas Braun, Any Given Shadow by Justin Stanchfield,Perfect Soldier by Todd Thorne, The Rainbow Bridge by Hank Quense, and Death by Submission by Betsy Dornbusch. Check them out!

I want to give a shout-out to our excellent authors and artist, as well as my fellow editors, and our technical assistants Moe and Perry. Thanks everyone!

30 January 2007

...3,2,1 blastoff!!

I think I can safely say I'm the procrastinator of the group. Hence, my pushing it to the wire for promoting the stories I edited. I did Comfort of Mirrors and Rainbow Bridge. One makes you think, the other makes you laugh. I don't know what more we can ask of an issue of our zine.

Truly, I enjoy spec fiction because it makes me think, but I must admit a good laugh is welcome when I'm kneedeep in stories that take themselves too seriously (mostly my own). I recently ran across a passage in one of my older books in which the characters are giving each other shi--, well, teasing each othe. (Sorry. We're a family blog here at ESEB, of course.) I laughed out loud. Then I read it to someone else, and he laughed out loud. Very rewarding.

I'm hoping there's something amusing in my extremely full inbox. Apologies to those who've been waiting a month or more for me to read. It's snowboarding season here in Colorado, but the inbox is going to the mountains with me this weekend. Good to know your stories are taking a trip to the Rockies even if you're not, eh?

28 January 2007

Sneak Preview

I wish Electric Spec could put out trailers like they do for movies. That way, people would get a taste of the shockingly good stories that are coming out, and hoards of people would anxiously wait by their computers for the next issue to go live.

Electric Spec might not have a Hollywood budget, but if you read the following in a deep, dramatic voice and play background music with lots of trumpets and violins, it will be almost the same.

The first trailer is an excerpt from "Any Given Shadow" by Justin Stanchfield:

Without cue, Kimmy tipped her head to the side and slipped the violin beneath her chin. She drew the bow down the strings. As she had done earlier, she tapped the pedal and let the note drop so low and loud the air pulsed with vibrato. Lost in the strangeness, Jon watched the dancers near the stage. A slender woman, her cowl thrown back to reveal a cap of short blonde curls, stood near the speaker column. As the computer enhanced note dropped further, her cloak seemed to melt and the person behind the screen was revealed. Jon stepped back, shocked. She turned toward him and smiled before the illusion reformed. He felt sick.

The face he had seen behind the mask was not human.

Intrigued? Read the rest of this amazing story on January 31!

The second trailer is an excerpt from "Possession is Nine Parts" by TW Williams:

Mekkukh slipped past the spell meant to trap him, riding it like a cork bobbing in a maelstrom. He chortled, causing his skin to blush then fade. Parmian would fight, just like all the others had.

Mekkukh was counting on it.

He needed the hot, sweet nectar of frustration-horror-fear-panic-helplessness-rage. He burbled in anticipation. After Parmian, the woman. And after her, the world.

Tingles running down your spine? Where can I read more, you ask? Electric Spec. January 31, 2007. Be there. (Fade music).

25 January 2007

Interview with Betsy!

So, I'm sitting here in cyberspace with Betsy Dornbusch, author of "Death by Submission" which will appear in the new January 31 Issue of Electric Spec. Betsy, it's quite a coup to be chosen for the prestigious Editor's Corner.

Thanks, it's an honor, of course.

How does it feel?

I'm very exited about seeing my work in Espec. Or, maybe it's because I'm looking forward to watching the Xgames live and snowboarding in Aspen this weekend. Hard to tell.

Can you tell us about the arduous selection process for Editors Corner?

As I recall, the rest of the editors lubricated me with several beers and
suggested it was my turn to put something in. This piece is the only finished thing I don't currently have in circulation.

What was your motivation for this story?

Whiskey and Robitussin.

Wait, is "Death by Submission" a true story?

Parts are. Of course, my dog would sleep through my murder, so I had to make myself up a dog who wouldn't.

You didn't actually eat any lo-cal salad dressing did you?

Salad dressing? Hell, I don't even eat salad.

So...are you a ghost now?

Er... that's kind of personal, isn't it?

What's that like?

Really, I thought we agreed before the interview not to broach incriminating subjects.

But seriously, I really enjoyed "Death by Submission" because it's the most Betsy-like thing I've ever read! How did you get your writer's voice to shine through in this story?

Gee, do I really sound like this, so cynical and rude and deserving of murder? I mean, it's what I'm always going for as an editor, but I had no idea that I'd achieved it. :) Actually, I wrote it as a joke for my critique group. Apparently, some of them took it seriously!

Aren't you primarily a novelist? Do you think novelists should write short fiction? Why?

Yeah, I primarily write novels. Of course, as the short story is one of the most difficult genres, I think it's a great exercise for any writer. It also has a better potential for quicker pay-off than novels.

My short stories are usually about the larger themes in my novels. It's a way to explore them within manageable confines and define them more succinctly. But then, whenever I have trouble with my writing, I tend to throw more writing at it. Maybe other, smarter writers take a walk or something.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Thanks for reading! Writing is like pregnancy, the piece isn't really born until someone like you reads it!


Thank you. This was a lot of fun!

24 January 2007

Exciting interview here tomorrow!

Check back here tomorrow for some exciting blodder!
Right here I will be interviewing one of our own Electric Spec Editors, the fabulous Betsy Dornbusch! Betsy was lucky enough to have her story Death by Submission chosen for the prestigious Editor's Corner in the January 31 Issue of ElectricSpec.

Find out things such as: what she's doing this weekend, what it's like to be a ghost, and if she eats salad. It promises to be VERY exciting!

23 January 2007

Highlight of upcoming Electric Spec issue

A few days ago (16 Jan), I mentioned the excellent art we have in the upcoming January 31, 2007 issue of Electric Spec. Did you know this will be our 1st anniversary issue? In honor of that we have a VERY exciting special feature, which I touched upon here on January 3rd: an interview of the SFWA 2007 Grand Master James E. Gunn! Wow! It is an in-depth interview in which we learn all kinds of things including how science fiction (SF) has changed in the last sixty years, how the SF market has changed, the role of ezines, the difference between SF and fantasy, unique challenges of SF writers, and much, much more!

Check it out on January 31st at Electric Spec!

18 January 2007

Will you see Electric Spec at Colorado Gold?

We, the Electric Spec Editors, are submitting a workshop proposal for the 2007 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW) annual conference, Colorado Gold. It will be held Sept 14-16, 2007 at the The Renaissance Denver Hotel.

We'd like to discuss why novelists should write and publish short stories, what editors look for, and the elements of a good short story.
I, for one, am VERY curious to see if our proposal will be accepted, since RMFW is focused on novel-length fiction.

This workshop info would make excellent blog material--keep an eye out for it here too!
Wish us luck!

16 January 2007

New ElectricSpec Issue coming together!

I'm super-excited about the new (Jan 31, 2007) issue of Electric Spec for MANY reasons, but for right now I'm going to focus on our super-fabulous artist: Cile Bailey. I just got my first glimpses of the pix for this issue and they are great as usual. She is amazing!
Hurray Cile! We are so lucky to have found her. I think it was actually Dave that tracked her down? Kudos, Dave!

11 January 2007

2006 Preliminary Nebula Ballot

I see the 2006 Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot is out over at SFWA. Somehow I managed to miss most of the nominated pieces. How did that happen? On the bright side, I have a lot of fun reading ahead of me.

But what I really wanted to say was the publication venue of the short stories are surprising. Sure, there are 3 from F&SF, but there's also one from Strange Horizons, and one from SCI FICTION. There are also venues I'm not familiar with such as Helix and Subterranean. I think this bodes very well for an up-and-coming ezine like Electric Spec.

What would you nominate for best spec fic of the year?

08 January 2007

a short, incomplete definition of the difference between trope and fresh

I like fantasy, and I like much of my fantasy traditional, with cloaks, horses, feudal relationships and swords. A recent rejection said my story was too much like “regular” fantasy. Well, duh. (And yeah, it happens, editors get rejected.) While we’re on the subject, I’ve not seen all that many submissions of traditional fantasy at this ezine.

Not that I’d ever speak against urban fantasy, which often has that wonderful sexy, dark slant, or even SF, which broadens my world every day. (And horror gives my brain delightful tingles.) But, I primarily like to write and read fantasy set in a vaguely medieval world. I like the play of world-building against reality, the known rules of "archaic trope," and that creative slant that makes me really want to be there.

I sometimes discriminate against the use of magic in fantasy, though, because it’s so powerful that an author might write herself into a corner trying to define it and put limitations on it. Commonly used tactics: Magic uses life energy. Magic takes training. Magic requires physical elements. OR, it’s uncontrollable. There might be that tempting dark side, or even amusing side-effects. I don’t immediately discount such mechanisms for storytelling, so don’t worry if yours has any of these, but I think the best limitations are based firmly in the nature of the character rather than some world-building rule. Spec writers often get so caught up in their world that they forget to fully flesh out the people inhabiting it. Characters need internal as well as external conflicts, and somehow the two need to be linked in a way that makes a reader know it could have only been done in that particular story.

I think trope can work when the sacrifices required to make the Great Leap, via magic or pure, rabid strength, makes the character face his worst demons, and makes him a better person for it. Not to say I must have the quintessential happy ending (bite your tongue, for I am the “dark editor”), but such connections between internal and external struggles make me believe a kitchen slave can become a king, a farmer can tame a dragon, or a blacksmith can save a city from destruction.

Who killed science fiction?

Apparently in 1960 a fellow named Earl Kemp published a fanzine in which he asked Who Killed Science Fiction? Many SF lumaries commented on the topic. There's a new edition! Check it out: December 2006: The Compleat and Unexpurgated Who Killed Science Fiction?

What do you think? Is it dead? Sickly? I would argue that now speculative fiction is more alive and ubiquitous than ever before.
The most popular movies and tv shows are all Horror, SF, and Fantasy.
Moreover, the internet is crammed full of spec-fic. Look at our own fabulous ezine Electric Spec for just one example. I'm glad I wasn't alive in those dark days when SF was struggling!

05 January 2007

Free Will?

Betsy tells me in a blog 'content is good, links are less good'. So I shall try to keep that in mind as I discuss a fascinating article in the New York Times: Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t.

In it, the author says "A vote in favor of free will comes from some physicists, who say it is a prerequisite for inventing theories and planning experiments.

That is especially true when it comes to quantum mechanics, the strange paradoxical theory that ascribes a microscopic randomness to the foundation of reality. Anton Zeilinger, a quantum physicist at the University of Vienna, said recently that quantum randomness was 'not a proof, just a hint, telling us we have free will.'”

I am particularly intrigued with quantum mechanics, so this is very provocative.

There is an important and often misunderstood point here. Physics is NOT deterministic when you get to the subatomic level. And in fact quantum mechanics appears to have a special role for the conscious mind.

It's definitely an interesting article. What do you think? Are we just deterministic meat machines or do we have free will?

03 January 2007

Reading Fiction is Like Sex!

How is reading fiction like sex, you might ask?

Never fear! This and many other fascinating questions will be answered in our Electric Spec January 31, 2007 issue in which we interview the SFWA 2007 Grand Master James E. Gunn!

In addition to addressing the above question, Jim discusses topics including why people read fiction, why the human psyche is drawn to the idea of extraterrestrial intelligence, how ezines compare to fanzines and prozines, tips for writers, and the most profound science fiction novels of the last twenty years.

It is an extremely intriguing article and we're fortunate that Jim let us interview him. Thanks, Jim!

So, don't miss this Special Feature in our next Electric Spec issue, hitting cyberspace on January 31, 2007!