Locus Spotlight On: Scott H. Andrews

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    In this month’s issue of Locus they turn the spotlight on Scott H. Andrews publisher of Beneath Ceaseless Skies:

    Locus: Give us some background on your magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

    SHA: I started BCS in 2008 because the F/SF short fiction field had no dedicated home for literary or character-driven secondary-world fantasy. There were lots of great literary fantasy, slipstream, and magical realism, and decades of great literary SF, but rarely were magazines publishing character-centered or stylistically bold fantasy set in invented worlds.

    Read on

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies 2017 Subscription Drive

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    beneath-ceaseless-skies-issue-225-cover

    by Scott H. Andrews

    Our BCS Issue #200 Subscription Drive last year was such a success, we’re having another subscription drive this year!

    Since BCS debuted in October 2008, we’ve published 225 issues, 475 stories, and 220 audio podcasts. We’ve been a finalist for five Hugo Awards, six World Fantasy Awards, four Nebula Awards, one BSFA Award, and numerous Aurora, Aurealis, Ditmar, and Parsec Awards. We’ve become the field’s go-to home for character-driven fantasy in secondary-world settings. Locus online says BCS “revived secondary-world fantasy as a respectable subgenre of short fiction… Not a trivial accomplishment.”

    And there’s more to come! BCS this year will feature new work by Richard Parks (two stories set in a new world), Margaret Ronald, Rebecca Campbell, Marissa Lingen, Stephen Case, Charles Payseur, Ryan Row, and many promising newcomers. Plus a new Science-Fantasy Month and a new Birdverse novella this summer by Nebula finalist Rose Lemberg, twice as long as any piece BCS has ever published.

    Ebook subscriptions to BCS are only $15.99 for a full year/26 issues. (That’s less than 30 cents a story!) Subscribers can have issues delivered directly to their Kindle or smart phone, and they get new issues early, a week before the website.

    From now until June 2, when you buy a BCS ebook subscription or renew your existing subscription (you can renew at any time), you will help unlock our drive goals.

    Since BCS #1 in 2008, over a third of our fiction has been novelette-length or longer. Longer stories work great to show awe-inspiring fantasy worlds, like you’ll find in every issue of BCS. Our word-count limit for submissions has always been among the longest of pro-rate online magazines, and last year as a goal unlocked by our subscription drive, we made it even longer: 11,000 words.

    With your help, this year we’d like to make it longer still!

    • At 25 new/renewing subscribers, BCS will raise our submissions word-count limit to 12,000 words.
    • At 50 new/renewing subscribers, we’ll raise our word-count limit to 14,000 words.
    • At 100 new/renewing subscribers, we’ll raise it to 16,000 words.
    • At 200 new/renewing subscribers, we’ll raise it to 20,000 words!

    Every subscription makes a difference in helping us pay our authors, for their great stories of all lengths. Thank you for your support of BCS!

    38005-cover-200x26625-back-issues-of-beneath-ceaseless-skies-1-25-bundle-cover-200x26625-back-issues-of-beneath-ceaseless-skies-51-75-bundle-cover-200x266

    Wikipedia 1-Day F&SF Special

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    Wikipedia is featuring The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction today (May 15) and we’re happy to join the celebration!

    Today only, the current issue (featuring Shannon Connor Winward, Richard Bowes, Matthew Hughes, R. S. Benedict, Brian Trent, Kelly Jennings, Gregor Hartmann, Zach Shepard, John Schoffstall, Leah Cypess, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Mary Soon Lee, Charles de Lint, Elizabeth Hand, Paul Di Filippo, Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty, and David J. Skal) is 50% off and a subscription is 25% off.

    F&SF @ Wikipedia

    Uncanny Magazine Subscription Drive 2017!

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    by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas

    Uncanny Magazine Issue 11The Hugo Award-winning Uncanny Magazine is once again recruiting for its Space Unicorn Ranger Corps! We named the Uncanny Kickstarter backers the Space Unicorn Ranger Corps after our amazing Space Unicorn mascot. Now, you can become a member of the Corps by subscribing here at Weightless Books!

    This is the perfect time to join because Uncanny is going on sale! From May 2-16, a year’s subscription to Uncanny Magazine is $2 less than the typical current cover price (only $21.88)! It’s the least expensive way to subscribe we offer.

    Each bimonthly issue of Uncanny contains new and classic speculative fiction, poetry, essays, art, and interviews. We seek out and share pieces we can’t stop thinking and talking about, because of how they make us feel. We’re also deeply committed to finding and showcasing fantastic works by writers from every possible point of view and background.

    We debuted Issue One of Uncanny in November 2014 and we’ve been thrilled with Years One, Two, and Three so far. We’ve included original contributions from phenomenal authors such as Neil GaimanMaria Dahvana HeadleyMax GladstoneKen LiuChristopher BarzakSam J. MillerSofia Samatar, Catherynne M. Valente, Alyssa Wong, Elizabeth Bear, John Chu, Kameron Hurley, Charlie Jane Anders, Ursula Vernon, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Chris Kluwe, Hao Jingfang, Mary Robinette Kowal, Seanan McGuire, Mark Oshiro, Rachel Swirsky, E. Lily Yu, and Amal El-Mohtar, plus many newer voices.

    Uncanny won the Best Semiprozine Hugo Award in 2016, while Hao Jingfang’s story “Folding Beijing” (translated by Ken Liu) won the Best Novelette Hugo Award. This year, Uncanny is once again a Best Semiprozine Hugo finalist along with the Thomases for Best Editor- Short Form. Plus, Uncanny stories by Alyssa Wong (“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay“) and Brooke Bolander (“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies“) are finalists for both Hugo and Nebula Awards. We can’t wait for you to read what’s coming next!

    New or renewing subscribers to Uncanny Magazine from May 2-16, 2017 will be eligible for giveaways and a whole bunch of Uncanny swag!

    • uncanny-magazine-issue-10-coverFirst 50 subscribers: Your choice of a back issue, and an EXCLUSIVE Weightless Books Uncanny Space Unicorn Full-Color Vinyl Sticker, a cover art postcard, AND a Space Unicorn temporary tattoo based on Galen Dara’s Uncanny Magazine Issue 10 cover (a finalist for a Chesley Award)! Plus, we’ll randomly draw 2 winners for Uncanny mini-swag packs: a Space Unicorn Ranger Corps patch and a set of cover art postcards!
    • At 100 new/renewing subscribers, every new subscriber will receive an EXCLUSIVE Weightless Books Uncanny Space Unicorn Full Color Vinyl Sticker, Galen Dara’s Space Unicorn temporary tattoo, and an ebook of your choice of 2 back issues. Plus, we’ll draw for a spiffy prize pack of a Space Unicorn Ranger Corps patch, a set of 3 signed cover-art posters, and an official Uncanny Magazine t-shirt!
    • At 150 new/renewing subscribers, all new/renewing subscribers will receive: an EXCLUSIVE Weightless Books Uncanny Space Unicorn Full Color Vinyl Sticker, ebooks of your choice of 3 back issues, a Space Unicorn temporary tattoo, and we’ll draw 4 winners for their choice of signed books by: Jeff VanderMeer, Sarah Kuhn, Elizabeth Bear/Sarah Monette, or Amber Benson, or custom-blended Uncanny Magazine tea based on specific Uncanny Magazine stories, plus a Space Unicorn Ranger Corps patch for each winner!
    • At 200 new/renewing subscribers, we’ll draw for a mega-swag pack that includes an EXCLUSIVE Weightless Books Uncanny Space Unicorn Full Color Vinyl Sticker, a Space Unicorn temporary tattoo, postcards, a patch, signed cover art, custom-blended Uncanny Magazine tea based on specific Uncanny Magazine stories, an Uncanny Magazine t-shirt and a tote bag!
    • At 300 new/renewing subscribers, we’ll draw for a SECOND mega-swag pack that includes an EXCLUSIVE Weightless Books Uncanny Space Unicorn Full Color Vinyl Sticker, a Space Unicorn temporary tattoo, postcards, a patch, signed cover art, custom-blended Uncanny Magazine tea based on specific Uncanny Magazine stories, an Uncanny Magazine t-shirt and a tote bag! And we will add a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0″ 16GB (T-Mobile), Smoky Titanium to that swag bag!

    There may also be random prize drawings throughout the subscription drive. You never know with the Space Unicorns . . .

    Uncanny Magazine Issue 15 Uncanny Magazine Issue 14 Uncanny Magazine Issue 13 Uncanny Magazine Issue 12

    “Unmaking the Post-Truth World With Global SF”

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    Mithila Review – Issue 8 coverSalik Shah, the founding editor of Mithila Review has a guest post on the Locus Roundtable about where the impulse came to found the review and how it has grown. They get hundreds of submissions every month and due to sales here and on other sites as well as their Patreon they are now paying authors.

    Mithila Review is first and foremost an international community movement. Our Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy group on Facebook includes prominent writers, editors and publishers from around the world, or those with a meaningful connection to the region. As a global community of readers, writers and scholars in the field, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to have some of the world’s best minds on our platform.

    Read on / Get Mithila Review

    Congrats Nebula Nominees!

    SFWA just released the final ballot for this year’s Nebula Awards: congratulations to all the nominees! Love to see how these change from year to year. Here are the short fiction nominees with some links:

    Novellette

    Short Story

    Interzone & Black Static on Sale

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    This week only pick up the new issues of Interzone and Black Static at 40% off!

    Interzone #268 cover - click to view full size Black Static #56 cover - click to view full size

    Give the Gift of DRM-free ebooks!

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    Re-posting this as holiday sales are going through the roof: Give the gift of DRM-free ebooks — or you can always send a Weightless Gift Certificate.

    How?

    1) Add ebooks to your cart
    2) Check the box above the Checkout button (see screenshot at right) that says This is a gift order
    3) Enter the name and email of the person you’d like to send ebooks to
    4) Check out.
    5) The lucky gift recipient gets download links sent to her email address and you get a receipt and the warm fuzzies of generosity.

    Caveat: Your browser must allow JavaScript for gift orders to work. The NoScript plugin for Firefox and Chrome’s built-in script blocker will cause your order to go through as a regular purchase. If this happens, just let us know and we’ll fix it.

    Happy Gifting!

    Welcome: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

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    The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction – November/December 2016 cover - click to view full sizeSharp-eyed* readers might have noticed that a huge new addition to Weightless: as of the current November/December issue, we are now selling DRM-free single issues and subscriptions to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Single issues are currently $7.99 and six-issue subscriptions are a great deal at $29.97 and both are available in DRM-free mobi, epub, and pdf formats.

    The current issue table of contents is below and shows the great range of stories. There are links below to the nonfiction, all of which is included in the magazine, of course:

    NOVELETS
    The Cat Bell Esther M. Friesner
    The Farmboy Albert E. Cowdrey
    The Vindicator Matthew Hughes
    Passelande Robert Reed
    SHORT STORIES
    Between Going and Staying Lilliam Rivera
    The Place of Bones Gardner Dozois
    Lord Elgin at the Acropolis Minsoo Kang
    Special Collections Kurt Fawver
    A Fine Balance Charlotte Ashley
    The Rhythm Man James Beamon
    Merry Christmas from All of Us to All of You Sandra Mcdonald
    DEPARTMENTS
    Books to Look For Charles de Lint
    Books Chris Moriarty
    Films: Getting High David J. Skal
    Competition #92
    Coming Attractions
    Index to Volumes 130 & 131
    Curiosities Graham Andrews


    CARTOONS: Arthur Masear (3), Bill Long (2), Nick Downes (3), S. Harris.
    COVER by Kristin Kest for “The Cat Bell”
    * Ouch!

    Apex Magazine 2016 Subscription Drive

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    apex-magazine-issue-89-cover11/10/16: Suspended.

    Apex Publications is happy to announce our dates, goals, and rewards for the 2016 Apex Magazine subscription drive.

    Note from Michael: Subscribe to Apex Magazine through Weightless during the subscription drive and get your choice of a free Apex Publications title: I Can Transform You by Maurice Broaddus, Convent of the Pure by Sara M. Harvey or the Apex Book of World SF Volume 1!

    This year’s drive will run for three weeks – October 24th to November 15th. Full information and updates on how we are doing can be found at http://www.apex-magazine.com/apex-magazine-2016-subscription-drive/

    After a very successful subscription drive last November, 2016 has been an absolutely amazing year for Apex Magazine. Looking to 2017, we want build on this year’s success and make it even more spectacular!

    To do this we’ve set this year’s Apex Magazine subscription drive goal at $10,000.

    By hitting this goal we would be able to go from 12,000 words of original fiction to 16,000 words in each issue. We could also raise the rate that we pay for original fiction and for cover art.

    We feel this goal is well within reach, but not without the support of our readers and fans. As an added incentive, we’ve set up rewards that will unlock additional content for the January, 2017 issue of Apex Magazine, creating a double issue as a thank you to all of our supporters.

    36167-cover-200x313We already have an impressive lineup of original fiction scheduled for January. Stories by James Beamon, Lia Swope Mitchell, Iori Kusano, and J.J. Litke. The issue will feature two poems, a reprint, and interviews with an Apex author and our cover artist. Our cover artist for January will be Aaron Nakahara.

    As we reach goals in our subscription drive we will add the following to the January issue, as well as a couple of rewards that will continue in every issue all year long:

    • $500 – a third original poem will be selected by our poetry editor Bianca Spriggs
    • $1,000 – a second reprint will be added to the issue
    • $2,000 – a new story by Ursula Vernon!
    • $2,500 – a fourth original poem
    • $3,000 – an interview with Nisi Shawl
    • $4,000 – a new story by Nisi Shawl!
    • $4,500 – a third reprint
    • $5,000 – a second story podcast performed by Mahvesh Murad!
    • $5,500 – an interview with John Hornor Jacobs
    • $6,000 – a new novelette by John Hornor Jacobs!
    • $6,500 – an interview with E. Catherine Tobler about her circus universe
    • $7,000 – we will add an additional 2,000 words to each issue of Apex Magazine in 2017, bringing the total up to 14,000 words per issue.
    • $8,000 – a new story by E. Catherine Tobler set in her circus universe
    • $10,000 – we will add another additional 2,000 words to each issue of Apex Magazine in 2017, bringing the total up to 16,000 words per issue.

    the-apex-book-of-world-sf-cover-200x300Wow! That is a lot of bonus content with some seriously amazing writers! Help us publish the most epic issue to date and ensure that 2017 will another amazing year for Apex Magazine!

    How? Between October 24th and November 15th:

    • Subscribe! Yearly subscriptions through Apex and Weightless will be only $17.95 during our drive. Monthly subscriptions are available through Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK).
    • Share the love of Apex by purchasing a gift subscription for the scifi lover in your life.
    • Become a patron on Patreon. Pledge as little or as much as you want for each issue.
    • The tip jar! Chip in one-time to help push us toward our goals!
    • Buy past issues of Apex Magazine! Individual issues are available, as well as bundles to get you caught up on any issues you may have missed.
    • Join our Thunderclap (http://thndr.me/m0Fve2) and help us spread the news!


    APEX PUBLICATIONS
    (www.apexbookcompany.com) is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the thrice Hugo Award-nominated Apex Magazine. The Apex catalog contains books by genre luminaries such as Damien Angelica Walters, Catherynne M. Valente, and Brian Keene.

    Lontar 7 Interview: Zen Cho

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    LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction – Issue 7 cover - click to view full sizeTo celebrate the seventh issue of LONTAR, we have an exclusive short interview by editor Jason Erik Lundberg with Zen Cho, whose “七星鼓 (Seven Star Drum)” is the lead-off story. Cho is the award-winning author of Sorcerer to the Crown and Spirits Abroad, and editor of Cyberpunk: Malaysia.

    Jason Erik Lundberg: Your story “七星鼓 (Seven Star Drum)” is a companion piece to “起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion–The Lion Bows)”, which was published by Strange Horizons and also features lion dancers who bust ghosts. What is the cultural importance of lion dancers in Malaysia and other parts of Asia?

    Zen Cho: The kind of lion dance that’s most common in Malaysia is the Chinese Southern Lion style. You see it most at Chinese New Year, but also when a new Chinese business opens. It’s meant to bring good luck, and I think maybe the lion chases away bad spirits as well. I might be mixing that up with fireworks, though. I never thought too much about the cultural importance of lion dance when I was growing up; I just liked watching it. There’s something really exciting and special about seeing a lion dance—I tried to capture some of that feeling in these two stories.

    Q. You’ve mentioned that you were a member of the Cambridge University Lion Dance Troupe from 2006 to 2008. How did your experiences there inform the conceit of this story? And what role did you have in the troupe?

    We performed at a hotel once for a company Christmas party they were hosting, and because it was quite a new hotel the owners, who were Chinese, had us bless some of the rooms while we were at it. There weren’t any ghosts, but that was the experience that inspired “起狮,行礼(Rising Lion–The Lion Bows)”. I wrote “七星鼓 (Seven Star Drum)” while I was chewing over that story, to explain how the ghost-busting lion dance troupe had been founded.

    When I was in CULDT I was mostly on the cymbals, which are a really easy job you can give a rank beginner. I think I only played the drum in a public performance once, and I never did the lion—you have to hold that kungfu horse stance the whole time, which is really tiring! I was also the secretary of the troupe, which meant I managed the emails.

    Q. Before Boris encounters lion dancers as a child, he is terrified of the spiritual world, which he can sense because of the “extra membrane around his brain that filtered in things other people didn’t see”. How integral is the everyday relationship with the supernatural to ordinary Malaysians?

    I can’t answer questions on behalf of ordinary Malaysians! I can only speak for myself. I do have a friend who has an extra membrane around their brain which gives them supernatural powers. I stole their membrane for the story.

    Q. Are there any plans to write more stories about these characters or within this premise?

    No. I wrote the stories mainly because I thought it would be a shame not to use all this useful jargon I’d learnt from being in a lion dance troupe. Now I feel I’ve made good use of that life experience.

    Q. Which authors either from Southeast Asia or writing about Southeast Asia do you enjoy reading? Could you give examples of particular works?

    I like Farish Noor’s essays on Malaysian and Southeast Asian history—they’re academic but really accessible—and I’m really excited about Komik Maple’s comics. I’ve only read Mimi Mashud’s Kuala Terengganu in Seven Days and Amir Hafizi’s Scenes of the Father so far, but I’m looking forward to picking up the collection they’ve done of the webcomic Komik Ronyok, as well as Stephanie Soejono’s Tale of the Bidadari. When it comes to novels, I’m looking forward to reading Selina Siak Chin Yoke’s The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, a historical novel about the life of a Peranakan woman in Malaya, and I admire Preeta Samarasan’s work—she’s got such a mastery of language. I’m really interested to see how she’ll follow Evening is the Whole Day.

    Q. Shameless self-promotion time: what is next on the publication horizon for Zen Cho?

    I’m working on my next novel! I can’t talk about it too much as it’s still at a fairly protean stage. I’m hoping it’ll be a worthy follow-up to Sorcerer to the Crown!

    BCS 8th Anniversary Sale

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    the-best-of-beneath-ceaseless-skies-online-magazine-year-seven-coverIt’s BCS anniversary sale time again! See below for details from editor Scott H. Andrews. – Michael

    To celebrate the eighth anniversary of BCS and our new ebook anthology The Best of BCS, Year Seven, we’re having an Eighth Anniversary Ebook Sale!

    Buy or renew a BCS Ebook Subscription or buy Best of BCS Year Seven at Weightless Books, and you’ll get a free BCSanthology of your choice.

    Best of BCS Year Seven has eighteen great BCS stories by authors such as K.J. Parker, Carrie Vaughn, Yoon Ha Lee, and Aliette de Bodard, including “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” by Rose Lemberg, a finalist for the Nebula Awards.

    BCS Ebook Subscriptions are still only $15.99 for a whole year/26 issues (that’s less than 30 cents a story). Subscribers can get issues delivered directly to their Kindle or smart phone (any device with an email address), and they get new issues early, a week before the website. You can renew at any time, no matter when your subscription expires.

    A free BCS anthology is a $3.99 value. Choose any of ourBest of BCS anthologies (which include stories by Aliette de Bodard, Yoon Ha Lee, Marie Brennan, Richard Parks, Gemma Files, Seth Dickinson, E. Catherine Tobler, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Gregory Norman Bossert and more) or our theme anthologies Ceaseless West and Ceaseless Steam.

    The sale will end soon, so make sure you buy your BCS subscription or Best of BCS Year Seven at WeightlessBooks.com now!

    Portraits at an Exhibition Receives a 2016 Art in Literature Award

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    Portraits at an Exhibition cover - click to view full sizePORTRAITS AT AN EXHIBITION, published by Lethe Press, has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Art in Literature Award, co-sponsored by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The award goes to “an outstanding book published in the previous year that is written primarily in response to a work (or works) of art while also showing the highest literary quality as a creative or scholarly work.

    The Art in Literature Award is named in honor of author and journalist Mary Lynn Kotz, a longtime contributing editor for ARTnews magazine, whobuilt a career interviewing, researching, writing, and lecturing about art and artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe and John Cage. Her critically acclaimed book Rauschenberg/Art and Life (Abrams) balances deft observations of craft with a biographer’s chronicle of the American artist. Through her service to cultural institutions and initiatives, including many in Virginia, Kotz has shown a lifelong commitment to making the arts a vital presence in society.

    Uncanny Wins a Hugo!

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    Uncanny Magazine Issue 11 cover - click to view full sizeCongratulations to the editors and contributors of Uncanny Magazine which just picked up its first Hugo Award!

    It was double good news for Uncanny as “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) from the second issue received the Hugo for Best Novellete.

    You can see the full list of nominees and winners on Locus.

    We CoSigned This Letter to the FCC

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    The Electronic Frontier Foundation just sent a great letter to the FTC in the US asking them to get retailers to label electronic products that are DRM’d. Why does this matter? Have you ever bought a book, song, or video (or even a cat litter box!) and tried to play it 5 years later only to find the software is no longer supported and the manufacturer does not exist? It happens surprisingly often. If your book/song/movie is free of Digital Rights Management software guff then you’re home free. But if it’s locked into some long dead system: good luck.

    We are proud to cosign the letter. You can read more about it here, “EFF to FTC: Online Retailers Must Label Products Sold with Digital Locks” and read the letter below,

    Gavin J. Grant
    Michael J. DeLuca
    Weightless Books

    The Hemingway/Wilde Fallacy

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    This post from the editor of Lackington’s, Ranylt Richildis, describes a false dichotomy and describes what the magazine exists to publish. It was originally posted here.

    wildeWhen I taught English, there was only one Rule of Literature I wanted undergrads to take away from my classes: different readers want different things, and different writers want to write things in different ways, and good literature comes in all shapes and vowel sounds — don’t let Aristotle tell you otherwise. To illustrate this, I coined the “Hemingway/Wilde fallacy,” inspired by arguments about whether prose should be clear and simple vs. poetic and textured and complex. Hemingway fans tend to hate Wilde and any other writer they accuse of “florid” style, finding little to enjoy in Woolf, say, or Garcia Marquez. That preference is just that, of course, and has no bearing on the degree of Wilde’s skill or the value of his work, and yet that preference has edged perilously close to universal ruledom — a vestige of twentieth-century taste that emerged in a particular but hardly timeless aesthetic context.

    As someone who appreciates Hemingway and Wilde, I’ve always been mystified by this skirmish. So I drew up a lesson based on the two names that most frequently came up as benchmarks of — or anathema to — Good Literature in these Eurocentric diatribes, using names most students on a Eurocentric campus would recognize. I pulled a passage out of The Sun Also Rises and another from The Picture of Dorian Gray and demonstrated just how precise both authors were with their words, and how poetic both results. Put simply, the Hemingway/Wilde fallacy operates under the misapprehension that there’s only one way to ink a cat.

    You’d think post-modernism would have jolted us out of aesthetic philosophy cum moral certainty, but no. The Hemingway/Wilde fallacy is embraced by editors, not just scholars, and it confuses even seasoned writers, who are nervous about writing fiction in the present tense, writing from second-person or even first-person POV, using frame stories, using long paragraphs, using adverbs, or daring to tell rather than show (is the folktale completely verboten, then? a pity). It’s fair for editors to post, on Submission pages, that certain styles will be hard sells for their press (as someone who dislikes second-person POV, I get it); an editor’s own preferences shape each publication, and that’s a good and inevitable thing. From where I sit as scholar, writer, and editor, however, I contend that it’s not fair to tout our preferences as Universal Ruledom for Good Literature, to the point where writers feel corralled within a single tense, a single POV, and a single more conventional prose style for fear of being labelled “bad” writers. It’s heartbreaking to see exciting and capable authors Twitter-worry that the novel they long to write in present tense “isn’t allowed”; and it’s liberating to read commentary by Raya Wolfsun and Matt Moore (to name the two I read just today) that defends heterogeneity in writing and publishing.

    Lackingtons Issue 11 (Summer 2016)Maybe these laments and defences are signals that the twentieth-century template isn’t as valued or authoritative as it used to be. It may be true that writers must honour the wider taste if they wish to sell their work — but taste is partly a product of what we’re used to seeing, so let’s expose ourselves to contrast before we doom ourselves even further to sameness. It may also be true that editors see a lot of bad fiction written in present tense, or second-person, or florid language — but let’s acknowledge our selective perception and admit we see even more bad fiction written in past tense and third-person POV, full of “masculine” nouns and verbs, and short on “feminine” adjectives and adverbs. Weak writers also write weakly in the common template, and I’ve accepted second-person POV stories for Lackington’s despite my bias because they were well done. Popular fiction continues to be published in first-person or present tense or both, so why this reluctance, this anxiety? Why this haste to “vilify,” as Wolfsun puts it, non-template writing features when these features are skillfully used? Advice that may be of use for rookie writers shouldn’t guide all writers and shouldn’t shape the bulk of our literature, for pity’s sake. I’m grateful to writers who create off-template, and to the editors who appreciate variety. Every time I see a well-written story that refuses to toe the line, I smile a satisfied smile and grow a little as a reader. More of that, please.


    Lackington’s publishes speculative fiction and art four times a year and is looking for:

    Stylized prose can be sparse and simple, diamond-cut like the writing of Ursula K. Le Guin. It can be sumptuous like the writing of Oscar Wilde. It can be epic, archaic, experimental, mythic, rhythmic, and it can be quiet and subtle, too. Story and character are indispensable, but so is wordcraft. We trade in aesthetics, so make us gasp with unexpected words and give us inventive voices, structures, and narratives. Many editors reject heavily stylized prose out of hand. We welcome it.

    It is available in DRM-free single issues or by annual subscription.