30 July 2019

l’arrière de la scène

Hi there! The Electric Spec Editors are hard at work on the awesome August 31, 2019 issue. I thought I'd give you a look l’arrière de la scène ...

We've finished reading slush for this issue. I think everyone who submitted has received at least one email. If you haven't heard from us, it's possible your story was lost in cyberspace. (Sorry!)
Now, we're working on the hardest part of the issue process: picking the stories. Generally, all the stories that get into hold-for-voting are publishable. So, if you've made it in there: congrats! Each editor ranks the stories in hold-for-voting from best to least-best.

I must admit, this process is subjective. Up until now, I try to be very objective; a good story is a good story. But when you have several good stories how do you pick between them? I think you have to be subjective. For this particular editor what goes into this ranking?

  • Number of words. Stories between 1500-words and 4500-words are my favorite length.
  • Less ick factor. If I'm grossed out or feel horrible after reading a story, I'm less likely to pick it.
  • Less common genres. If the story is from a genre we get rarely, I'm more likely to rank it higher. What would be an example of this? Steam-punk. Any of the obscure genres I blogged about in the last month.
  • Beautiful writing. This will entice me no matter what.
  • A very grabby opening paragraph.
  • Quantum physics and/or time travel. My favorite genres involve quantum physics and/or time travel. So, they do tend to end up higher on my list.
  • Don't offend me. Anything sexist or racist will be at the bottom of my list.
If your story doesn't match up with the above list too well, don't worry! There are a bunch of other editors...

Next time: I'll tell you about the Production Meeting!

23 July 2019

entre bastidores

As you know, we closed submissions for the awesome August 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec July 15, 2019. Consequently, we are working on the issue entre bastidores. We received many, many lovely speculative fiction stories. Thank you for sending us your stories!

All the editors are currently going through slush and sending out rejection emails or notices of hold-for-voting.

Here are some recent sugestions I've gleaned:

  • Do send us your file as an attachment in the correct format (rtf).
  • Do send only one story at a time.
  • Do include a brief cover letter.
  • Do proofread for grammar and spelling issues. A few mistakes aren't a big deal, but a lot of mistakes will get you rejected.
  • Do obey our word-ount rules, namely, 250-words to 7,000-words. A further tip: it's difficult to tell a story in less than a thousand words. Another tip: a story with more than 5,000-words makes editors tired; if your story is over 5,000-words make sure you need all those words!
  • Grab the reader (aka the editor) on the first page. Short stories don't work with 250-plus words of setup--at least at this market.
  • Do set the scene on the first page. As a reader, I don't want to be confused about where we are and/or who or what is there.
That's it for now. Next time, more entre bastidores!

16 July 2019


The deadline has passed for the awesome August 2019 issue of Electric Spec. If you got your story in: Thanks! If you didn't get your story in: consider submitting for the notable November 2019 issue. :)

In our continuing series of obscure sub-genres of speculative fiction, today we consider fabulism. Fabulism is a form of magical realism in which fantastical elements are placed into an everyday setting. If you're thinking that sounds like magical realism, I agree. Some people consider fabulism to be a type of literary, rather than genre, fiction. In this context, Gulliver's Travels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Life of Pi would be considered fabulist.

In my graduate studies of popular fiction the consensus was fabulism is a bridge between fairy tales and magical realism. Magical realism is more real than fabulism. Fabulism is more real than fairy tales. Make of all that what you will.

Bottom line: send us your magical realism, your fabulism, or your fairy tale. We enjoy them all!

What's your favorite obscure sub-genre of spec fiction?

09 July 2019

Fairy Tales

We've all read fairy tales and know they often involve fairies (!), dwarfs, dragons, gnomes, goblins, and other similar fantastic folk. "Wait a minute," you're saying. How does this differ from fantasy? Doesn't fantasy involve stuff like gnomes, trolls, elves and the like? Yes, it does.

Fantasy, or fantastic fiction, is any kind of fiction with fantastic (not realistic) elements. It's worth noting fantasy is not based on reason or rationality. There should be some element of irrationality, such as magic.

Epic fantasy is sub-genre of fantasy with some element of epic-ness: setting, plot, or similar. Often it involves the whole good versus evil battle. Often there's a quest. High fantasy is differentiated from this by focusing a little more on character than on plot. Often there's one main protagonist. Both epic and high fantasy usually involve a secondary world--an imaginary world. Not our modern planet.

Fairy tales, then, have many similar elements of epic and high fantasy. Fairy tales are also called magic tales or wonder tales and are based in myth and/or folk tales. The main thing that differentiates fairy tales from other fantasy is the element of fable, namely, a moral lesson. There's a huge literary trove of fairy tales from Cinderella, to the Little Mermaid, Snow White, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, etc. Consequently, there have been many fun modern riffs on all aspects of these tales.

Consider sending us your fairy tale before the upcoming July 15, 2019 submission deadline for the awesome Auguest 2019 issue of Electric Spec.

02 July 2019

magical realism

Magical realism is another genre that's a little difficult to pin down. One possible definition is: modern-world fiction with magical or fantastic elements added. Often it's quite liminal, just on, or over, the boundary of the fantastic. Sometimes, the prose itself can be distorted or unreal in some way, e.g. utilizing nonlinear time.

Traditionally, its goal has been to make the reader question reality, to make some point (often political or social) about reality. I think this intention is crucial for something to be classified as magical realism. Of course, the most famous magical realism novel is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Latin American literature has a rich history with magical realism.

How do you create it? One way is to create a story with a very detailed realistic setting and let the strange invade. This strange could be fable or folk tale brought to life. Alternately, it could include supernatural powers such as telepathy or telekinesis. You begin to see how this could be difficult to differentiate from straight fantasy.
What do you think? What is magical realism? What's the best way to create it?

Consider sending us your magical realism story before July 15, 2019 if you want to get in our awsome August 2019 issue!