As you may have noticed, I have been absent from these pages for a few weeks now. This was a confluence (see what I did there? Confluence is Parsec’s annual Pittsburgh SF & Fantasy Convention) of various issues. First, I had reached the end of the slush pile and it was time to get a consensus on the stories we held. Second, I was in the midst of nine weeks of almost daily gout attacks, an unprecedented achievement for me, and while that didn’t keep me from working (since I don’t type with my feet – I save those for my mouth) it did keep me from sitting at my desk for more than a few minutes at a time. And, finally, it was important to turn my attention to a final revision of a massive fantasy tome that our agent believes she can sell this spring IF WE FINISH THE DAMNED THING. Since our bank account is running on fumes at this point, I hope you’ll understand the necessity to turn much of my fragmented attention in that direction.
So, where now, Slushy? We have a rough consensus on stories, which means I’ll be sending out the final rejections, starting today, and working up the list to stories we believe can fit the collection with some revision, and on to stories we’re certain we want to take. You should all hear from me this week, with apologies for taking longer than I should have. Basically, I have 29 stories in hand, for 10-15 slots, depending on word count of the stories we take.
Here’s how we reached our consensus. I asked each of our editors (four assistants and myself) to order-rank the 23 highest regarded stories, keeping in mind:
1) We want a balance between SF and Fantasy (with a dash of horror)
2) We want stories that are ambitious, even if they will take some revision to reach their potential. On this point, I asked editors to rank stories first on how close they are to their potential, then on how strong a story can be after prudent revision. (In other words, we’ll generally value a potentially ambitious story over a serviceable filler story, even if the latter is closer to its full potential). Our goal is to publish the strongest collection of stories possible, and if that means working with authors through a revision or two, that’s what it takes.
3) All things equal, we want a balance of “voices” and approaches. We like regional and international approaches, if the story is ambitious (see last year’s “Zafir, the Saudi Superhero” and “The Charnel Pit” as well as “In Ruins” and “Twilight’s Last Gleaming”)
We will publish stories based on the consensus ranking from all editors, with one exception. Each year, I make a commitment to our editors to publish the story they select as their top pick (so long as it’s not a story they wrote or someone close to them wrote). This can lead to inclusion of a story that might not have made the cut. This year, it appears we’ll have two stories that would have barely missed the cut otherwise.
At this point, we have $1250 to invest in creative content. I’m planning on 65,000 words, which brings us close to the 2 cent per word level. If we raise more funds prior to July, that will go higher. If we raise significantly more, I’ll include another few stories, even if I have to go back and ask for them after the fact. Our matching funds offer remains on the table (donors will match the next $575 we raise). If you know someone who supports short speculative fiction, let them know they can really help us – their donation will be doubled. See the Triangulation page for further details.
Finally, I made a commitment to Parsec to hold two slots for stories from Parsec members, so long as I did not have to sacrifice our publishing standards (i.e. in a close race, I would give the nod to Parsec members). Sadly, we received only two stories in that category, and neither made it through the editor gauntlet. Fortunately, we also received a few stories from Parsec members through the standard submission category, and two of these did make the cut. I backed into that promise, apparently.
Thanks, everyone, for your contributions to another strong year at Triangulation.