28 June 2007

Celebrate Heinlein's 100th Birthday

Many of us were first interested in space by the novels and writings of Robert Heinlein. Now, the 100th anniversary of Heinlein's birth gives us all a chance to reflect on the influence of this great author.

The Heinlein Centennial will be held July 6-8 in the honoree's hometown of Kansas City, MO, and will recognize the influence that Heinlein's writings have had, from The Man Who Sold the Moon to Stranger in a Strange Land to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Hundreds of presentations, panels, and debates will allow attendees to discuss the ins and outs of Heinlein's work and its influence on life today and in the future.

Planning to attend the convention are Apollo 11 moonwalker Dr. Buzz Aldrin; NASA Administrator Mike Griffin; the first winner of the $500,000 Heinlein Prize for Accomplishments in Commercial Space Activities, Dr. Peter Diamandis; X PRIZE winner Brian Binnie; and other science fiction writers who have been inspired by Heinlein's work, such as Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ray Bradbury of The Martian Chronicles.

Read more at the centennial website.

I love time travel, but....

We've been poring through the new stories folks have been kind enough to send us at Electric Spec. Thank you very much, by the way! Recently I read a time travel story, but sadly, I had to pass on it. I LOVE time travel. However if you are at all familiar with the history of science fiction, time travel has been done to death.

I would love to see a time travel story with a twist and a dramatic human element. Actually, a good example of this in recent times is the novel The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger. The twist here is the protag has a genetic disorder that makes him time travel, and he cannot control it. Take note: the time travel does NOT work in the standard way. The dramatic element is the story is actually a LOVE story between the time traveler and his wife. Take note: the novel is NOT primarily about time travel; it is about the love story. Of course, the time travel is an integral part of the story, which is why I enjoyed it. :)

What dramatic human element/situation can you fix/solve using non-standard time travel as a MEANS (not an end)?

25 June 2007

I agree--critique rocks!

I totally agree with Editor Betsy. Critique rocks! I hope all you aspiring Electric Spec writers have a critique group. As I mentioned 19 June 2007 in the what-we-want-review, concentrate your story. Critique partners can help you with this. This concentrating idea was from the 18 Dec 2006 posting. What I didn't retread from that posting is I used that idea to concentrate a short story I was working on--with help from my critique group. I sold that story to Analog Science Fiction and Fact, my favorite SF mag--after Electric Spec of course. :)

23 June 2007

What are they saying about YOUR stories?

My latest short story is about an assassin named Lucia who finds redemption in motherhood. How does she achieve said motherhood? By adopting the infant of her last victim. How does she adopt it? By performing an impromptu, bloody c-section on said dying victim. The child is her saving grace because he is the offspring of killers--one of whom tried to impregnated Lucia. They, Lucia and the baby's parents, belong to a caste whose business is death and so cannot create life.

I recieved a harsh crit of the story from an editor, which most of my critique friends said was bullhonky. If you think because they are also my friends they cannot be honest critters, you obviously were not a fly on the wall at the library last Tuesday while my recent chapters recieved a sound thrashing. My crit group, some of whom are fellow editors, are a (sometime cursed) picky, knowledgable lot. I've suffered much angst at their hands. The more painful the crit, the closer it is to the truth. However, I believe in honest critique, and there are jewels even in idiocy. This editor's critique was not very emotional for me, but still, I set the story aside for a few days and then tackled it again with a fresh eye.

It's a better story for it. I developed more levels. Several themes crash into that moment when the baby is pulled from its dying mother's womb. I also strived to find ways to make Lucia more sympathetic. Lucia just wanted redemption, and through hearing even a clumsy critique, I learned that.That's the power of critique, and it's the greatest gift a writer can recieve.

21 June 2007

Tentative schedule for Sept 2007 issue

We are still working it out, but very tentatively we will cut off submissions for the Sept 2007 issue of Electric Spec in the beginning-ish of August 2007 and make our story selections at the end-ish of August 2007. I sent out some emails to authors with incorrect dates yesterday. Sorry. My bad. I will post the firm dates here and on the website when we get them.

What style do we want?

We had a writer ask what style we were looking for at Electric Spec. The answer to this question is: we accept any style--as long as it's well-done. Super-helpful, right? :)
But seriously, there are a myriad of styles and I think we have accepted a large variety. Recall style can include such things as sentence structure, pace, vocabulary, use of dialog, point of view, tone, character development, time sequencing/chronology. So, pick whatever style you like and send it in!

19 June 2007

What we do want, a review

I have thought A LOT about short stories since we've started Electric Spec and I have learned some things. Many of these things we have mentioned on the blog. Way back on 13 Dec 2006, Betsy said Put your story on a diet. This is very good advice. I added to it on 18 Dec 2006, when I posted concentrate your story: just put in the essential bits. I stand by this.

I also stand by my comments on 8 Feb 2007: Stories should be about more than one thing, and Add a dramatic human component. Betsy built upon this comment on 2 March 2007 when she introduced her Big Bang Theory of Writing in which Good stories are about more than one thing and all these things impact at the resolution. This is VERY good advice.

Thus, to summarize, Good Stories
  1. are concentrated, with nothing extraneous
  2. are about more than one thing--one of which is a dramatic human element
  3. all the bits impact at the resolution
So there you have it. If you write a story like that, we will buy it (even if it is about global warming).

Piece of cake, right? :)

I understand

I understand why our writers are submitting global warming stories as Dave mentioned earlier this week. We have mentioned global warming a few times on the blog--specifically five times (4 May 2007, 5 Feb 2007, 15 Dec 2006, 27 Nov 2006, 8 Nov 2006)! I must admit that's probably the influence of my day job creeping in--and the fact that I still get people arguing with me about it! But I'll try to refrain from mentioning it in the future.

Dave's comment about adding a twist definitely holds, however. See my next post.

14 June 2007

Global Warming Stories

I've been going through our latest batch of Electric Spec submissions, and I've noticed a number of science fiction stories themed around global warming. The message about the horrible impact of global warming is important, but selling us a story based on that theme is a long shot. Why? First of all, it has been done, and perhaps overdone. The concept of global warming is hardly cutting-edge science. Second, the idea that in the future, nature will be paved over, or the living environment on Earth will be nearly unbearable, or that nobody will have heard of a tree isn't that original. A story with such a "revelation" will not grab me.

Still want to submit a story about global warming? Fine--just make sure you put a twist on it nobody else will think of.