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Here are Speculative Mystery Iconoclast issue #2’s slush pile percentages at the time of writing this post:

Science Fiction / Mystery = 23.8%

Horror / Mystery = 2.7%

Fantasy / Mystery = 17.6%

Dark Fantasy / Mystery = 4.3%

Science Fiction / Horror / Mystery = 1%

Science Fiction / Fantasy / Mystery = 23.1%

Dark Fantasy / Science Fiction / Mystery = 2%

Iconoclastic Speculative Fiction = 12.1%

Missed the mark (Did not read or simply ignored the guidelines) = 13.4% (These writers especially should really buy issue #1 – on sale at www.specmystery.com)

The first batch of rejections and hold responses have been sent to authors .

Keep writing and keep submitting! (Hint: mystery with a horror flavour is what we’re missing the most!)

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A few days ago, I learned that two of the authors, Justine Graykin and Lindsey Duncan,  whose stories are featured in Speculative Mystery Iconoclast #1ran into each other at World Fantasy in Calgary.  They had no idea that the other’s story had been published in SMI until Justine announced that she was going do a reading from ‘Ferrit and Faux’, her Fantasy/Mystery tale published in our debut issue.

What a coincidence!

It got me thinking though. Coincidence seems to be suspiciously commonplace in everyday life.  How many times have you picked up a ringing phone and it turns out to be a person that you were just thinking about?  How many times have you met a new friend who shares an interest or hobby with you at a location so far removed from said hobby (at least in your mind)?  For example, meeting a fellow Hell’s Angel at an Interior Design expo (okay, that was stereotypical of me – couldn’t think of a more contrasting example).

Coincidence is fascinating,  because of a number of reasons (or rather different reactions to it):

1. Some people point to the unseen hand of fate or the universe. I was meant to do x…

2. Others believe coincidence often has a logical explanation. Using the World Fantasy example, one could posit that because both Lindsey and Justine are Fantasy writers and the theme of the con was “Mystery in Fantasy and Horror” that it was logical that they would both attend. Their attendance and similar genre would influence the probability of them attending similar readings at the con, and would in turn increase the probability of them meeting.

It is interesting to play with the varied reactions of readers with regard to coincidence in stories.   Is coincidence just coincidence or does its occurence point to something more?  Writers may choose to lean towards reaction #1at one point of the story and then to reaction #2 at another.  It’s often entertaining to have these viewpoints present within the story’s characters – this may help readers relate to said characters.

Coincidence is a powerful tool for writers and when done well creates expectations (based on the reactions listed above). The fun part is deciding whether to meet these expectations or go in th opposite direction.

As always, keep writing and keep submitting!

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For those of you who into all mediums (or should I say media) Speculative Mystery, will find this interview very intersting. I especially like the procedural and fringe science mixture. As regular readers would note, the above is the sort of submissions we want for Speculative Mystery Iconoclast. Well, for a portion of the slushpile anyway.

Should be good!

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For those who are on the verge of submitting short stories to Speculative Mystery Iconoclast, I will be post regular/irregular Slush Pile Stats to help submitters get the inside track on what I’ve received in terms of submissions.

Some writers might find this info useful. Generally, these posts will take the form of:

Science Fiction / Mystery = %

Horror / Mystery = %

Fantasy / Mystery = %

Dark Fantasy / Mystery = %

Science Fiction / Horror / Mystery = %

Science Fiction / Fantasy / Mystery = %

Dark Fantasy / Science Fiction / Mystery = %

Iconoclastic Speculative Fiction = %

There might also be some specific notes on popular trope submissions or stories that I haven’t seen. 

Of course, I’m not saying only send a type of story that hasn’t appeared in the slush pile up until that point in time, but use own judgement…

Keep writing and submitting!

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It’s five days until the submission window for Issue #1 of Speculative Mystery Iconoclast opens…Pretty exciting, really.

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How do you induce suspension of disbelief in readers of Speculative fiction?

There isn’t really a simple answer to that question, but to illustrate one method I’d like to draw your attention to a former hit Television show called Alias.

When you mention Alias, most television viewers think of an Action Espionage Drama, but the show actually contained a hefty dose of speculative elements. In some respects, it was more speculative than some of the bona fide speculative shows currently on the box.

For example:

  • Milo Rambaldi (a central part of the show that introduced many Science Fiction and Fantasy elements to the plot – driving many of the characters’ motivations)
  • Present time technology (some of which were 100% Science fiction with regard to what’s currently possible)

That’s actually where the trick lies – getting people to accept the fantastic as the everyday. Here are some thoughts on the topic:

  1. Characterization helps in this regard. As previously mentioned, the quest for Rambaldi artefacts drove many of character’s motivation (either as personal obsession or as part of their jobs). During Rambaldi-related assignment, viewers got to see how these character’s minds worked, what principles governed their actions, and how far each would go to reach their goals. If you asked fans of the show to describe the characters Sydney Bristow, Jack Bristow, Arvin Sloane, Sark, Michael Vaughn, using the aforementioned aspects and provide some examples, you would no doubt have in-depth character profiles. The point is that in Alias the speculative often drove characterization.
  2. World-building is also important. In the case of Alias, viewers were immersed in a world temporally and aesthetically identical to our own, but that was different in the respect that the reality of Rambaldi was accepted by individuals, the bad guys, and authoritative entities like the CIA. The possibility of Rambaldi became not just plausible but real.
  3. The speculative must be juxtaposed in relation to the normal elements. For example, Sydney’s relationship with Vaughn, her father, and many of the other characters were at times as complex and turbulent as their assignments.
  4. Information must be shared not dumped – especially speculative information. Alias did quite a good job of avoiding crude info dumps. Instead, the show used briefings, because that’s what organisations in the intelligence community do: they brief those who need to know. At the same time, the briefing room (being a setting associated with serious information exchange) also gave the Speculative elements more believability. In addition, whenever the character Marshall explained some of the above-mentioned advanced technology and got bogged down in jargon, one of the other characters would stop him and in some cases complete the explanation in normal English, if they had the technical knowledge.

There are many other ways to create suspension of disbelief in Speculative Fiction, but I thought this short note would get people thinking about how to learn from other mediums like Television. It does not rot your brain.

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Sometimes I take a vacation from cyberspace and when I come back I do a lot of ‘bulk-blog-reading’. Well, I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a few days (blame the hectic pace of life), but since my return I’ve come across an interesting post at www.sheerspeculation.com/blog by JB Drydenco. It was a response to http://mundane-sf.blogspot.com/2007/10/why-do-science-fiction-writers-make.html .

The little I know about the HARDLINE mundane-sf people (I don’t want to call them a movement – hopefully, they’re not a movement yet) is that they want SF to be constrained by the science of today and yesterday but NOT be expanded by the science of tomorrow or possibility (OR extreme extrapolations of today’s knowledge).

I have to agree with most of Drydenco’s sentiments with regards to this group. I’d also like to read their Manifesto…Whichever way one slices their hard-to-pin-down stance, these Mundane-sf people seem to want to limit the scope of SF (one of the qualities that makes it appealing to both writers and readers). Some writers (mostly mainstream) say that there are only a few hundred original (untold) stories left to be told in Mainstream fiction (because they have to wait for the future and anything new to become the present), but several million original (untold) stories remain in Speculative fiction. If Mundane-SFers (new word) had their way the latter number would be greatly reduced.

We should probably start a counter-movement called ‘Imaginative-SF’J

I mean, really, what’s next?

  • Mundane Heroic Fantasy; or
  • Mundane High Fantasy; or
  • Mundane Sword & Sorcery? J

I wonder what the Mundane-SF folks would make of a recent story of mine: It featured a Technological Singularity in a historical setting.  They would probably not approve… J

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