The First 500 Words

From the comic strip “Peanuts” by the late Charles Schulz

Something new happened when I tried to submit a short story to a publisher via the platform Submittable. There was no option to upload my Word file. There was only a field to paste in up to the first 500 words of the story.

I looked at the publisher’s specifications again and they said they’d respond to submissions of the first 500 words in a few days, and then the entire story in a few months.

Of course I submitted the first 500 words (491 actually so I wouldn’t have things cut off in the middle of a sentence) and a day later, got this back:

Thank you for sending us the first 500 words of “XXX.” Your writing caught our attention and we would like to read your entire story. Please upload your full story and complete the requested fields in ‘Step 2’ under the Forms tab that now appears in your Submittable dashboard for this submission. We look forward to reading it in consideration for XXX.

I have since uploaded the file, but I think this illustrates an important point.

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The Latest From the Rejection Files

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from “The Hobbit” (2012)

I’ve received three story rejections within a relatively short space of time recently, which is disheartening. The first one was a long shot I sent to Uncanny Magazine. I wasn’t surprised when they sent a very speedy rejection email back to me, but I figured “worth a shot.” Of course that means the short SciFi story has been rejected three times so far.

However, the other two I actually thought had a chance. Here are excerpts from them both:

Strange Pawns

NOTE: The one requirement for this anthology was that both dragons and vampires had to be included. I set my tale in alternate versions of World War Two just for giggles:

Hodhas and Meldaborne personally led the 2nd Airborne Wing of Dragons on their fourth night of successive attacks against Berlin, supported by scores of RAF Mosquitoes. The city suffered from round the clock bombing runs, with the American Army Air Force assailing the capital by day.

The RAF insignia was proudly displayed by the dragons, each wearing a large sash that encircled their torsos. Jagi, however, had hers painted directly on her scales.

“Maintain formation in the dive, my cohorts,” ordered Hodhas, who seemed all but invisible against the ebony sky. “Our plunge to the Reichstag is coming up in moments.” Each of the dragons tilted their wings in acknowledgement, deftly avoiding flak from anti-aircraft guns on the ground, or those few that were left after the last twenty-four hours of perpetual bombardment.

“On my mark…dive!” The obsidian mother dragon curved her body downward, folding her wings back like a falcon, and in unison, 58 other dragons, one of six remaining attack forces, followed, screaming out of the ether like enormous birds of prey.

“I see something ahead. Too small to be aircraft, and we know the Luftwaffe has been destroyed…” Hodhas never finished her sentence as hundreds, perhaps thousands of bats surged upward from the city under cover of darkness, each with a wingspan of six feet or more. Their cries were maddening, and both fang and claw pierced the armor of the dragons, causing blood to be drawn from a dozen wounds in a matter of seconds.

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My Interview as Author of “The Recall” at Dark Fringe Radio

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Screen capture of the Dark Fringe Radio promotional image for my interview.

It’s here.

I probably mentioned that I was interviewed by William Martinez at Dark Fringe Radio. We previously discussed my then unpublished short story “The Recall,” which is now featured in the Cloaked Press science fiction anthology Spring into SciFi: 2019 Edition. He said if my wee tale ever saw the light of day, he’d like to interview me for one of his podcasts.

Well, it was published and I was interviewed and now, #60 in DFR’s series is available online. As my four-year-old granddaughter would say, “Ta-Da!”

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Livesteam of the Authors of “Impossible Hope” on YouTube

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Screen capture from YouTube

A.M. Freeman and the other fine folks from Superversive Press who organized the Bonnie Oliver anthology Impossible Hope, written for the benefit of Bonnie who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, invited all of the contributing authors to a livestream last Sunday.

I wasn’t able to make it for scheduling reasons, but each of the available writers were briefly interviewed by Ms. Freeman, talking about their stories and why they became involved.

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Review of “Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut” (1982)

 

blade runner

Promotional image for the film “Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut

Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut (1982) is the only version of this film I’ve seen, so I have no real idea what the original theatrical movie was like. On Amazon, I found this explanation:

When Ridley Scott’s cut of Blade Runner was finally released in 1993, one had to wonder why the studio hadn’t done it right the first time–11 years earlier. This version is so much better, mostly because of what’s been eliminated (the ludicrous and redundant voice-over narration and the phony happy ending) rather than what’s been added (a bit more character development and a brief unicorn dream). Star Harrison Ford originally recorded the narration under duress at the insistence of Warner Bros. executives who thought the story needed further “explanation”; he later confessed that he thought if he did it badly they wouldn’t use it. (Moral: Never overestimate the taste of movie executives.) The movie’s spectacular futuristic vision of Los Angeles–a perpetually dark and rainy metropolis that’s the nightmare antithesis of “Sunny Southern California”–is still its most seductive feature, an otherworldly atmosphere in which you can immerse yourself. The movie’s shadowy visual style, along with its classic private-detective/murder-mystery plot line (with Ford on the trail of a murderous android, or “replicant”), makes Blade Runner one of the few science fiction pictures to legitimately claim a place in the film noir tradition. And, as in the best noir, the sleuth discovers a whole lot more (about himself and the people he encounters) than he anticipates…. With Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, and M. Emmet Walsh. –Jim Emerson

I first watched this DVD (the director’s cut, as explained above, was released eleven years after the original) years ago, and found certain sequences so violent, that I haven’t had the nerve to view it since. However with the recent death of actor Rutger Hauer (who was so good in so many different roles) who played replicant Roy Batty, I felt compelled to borrow the disc back from my son.

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Review of Octavia E. Butler’s Novel “Parable of the Sower” (2000)

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Cover art for the novel “Parable of the Sower”

“THERE ISN’T A PAGE IN THIS VIVID AND FRIGHTENING STORY THAT FAILS TO GRIP THE READER”.

— SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

GRIPPING…POIGNANT…SUCCEEDS ON MULTIPLE LEVELS

— NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

This highly acclaimed post-apocalyptic novel of hope and terror from award-winning author Octavia E. Butler “pairs well with 1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale” (John Green, New York Times)–now with a new foreword by N. K. Jemisin.

I’ve heard the name Octavia E. Butler for some time now, and have been meaning to read one or more of her books. She has an interesting background and is generally considered one of the most important science fiction authors of her generation, particularly as a woman of color. Sadly, she passed away in 2006, although the cause is attributed either to a stroke or a head injury acquired during a fall.

Here’s more about her:

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Book Review: “SS-GB” (1978) by Len Deighton

Cover art for the 1978 novel “SS-GB”

Disclosure: I checked the hardback copy of this novel out from the public library.

Just finished Len Deighton’s 1978 alternative history novel SS-GB: Nazi-Occupied Britain 1941. I recall reading it decades ago, but remembered almost none of the content.

This isn’t actually science fiction, just a sort of “What if Nazi Germany won World War 2 and occupied Great Britain?” The tale centers around Scotland Yard Inspector Douglas Archer, a well-educated man who is fluent in German and works with the SS who have headed up Britain’s police agencies. He seems to get along with his superiors, unlike his partner, Sgt Detective Harry Woods, and many other of the nation’s beleaguered citizens, who chafe at the occupation.

While investigating was started out as a murder, Archer is plunged into a world of political intrigue, conspiracy, and assassination. It only gets worse when SS Standertenfuhrer Huth arrives from Berlin to supervise the investigation. Only then, does he learn the Germany’s secret atomic weapons development project is headquartered in Britain, and the dead man was a nuclear scientist. He also falls into a plot to free the King of England from imprisonment and clandestinely transport him to America, which has remained carefully neutral during the war.

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Are the Science Fiction “Culture Wars” Still Alive and Well?

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Image found at DragonCon.org

I’ve tried to steer this blog away from the more controversial and/or political topics I’ve covered in the past, but then I read Richard Paloinelli’s missive Wikipedia or WikiPravda?. Richard and I share some similar viewpoints, but I lack many of the wounds and scars he’s received in the past, such as those attributed to Mike Glyer at the File 770 science fiction fanzine. I think I was contended with there exactly once. It actually impressed me, since relative to Glyer’s readership, I’m pretty much a nobody.

In the recent past, I’ve heard that Wikipedia, Patreon, and YouTube have been accused of attempting to shut out politically and socially conservative creative voices through censorship and defunding. Since I’m merely a consumer of Wikipedia and YouTube and wouldn’t know what to do with Patreon, I’ve had no personal experience, but on the other hand, I have no trouble believing they are all biased left, either.

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What Not To Do When Submitting a Short Story

books

Found at insidenova.com

About five days ago, I submitted a short story to an anthology. The publisher (who shall remain nameless for now) has some pretty strict submission requirements and I thought I had them all covered when I pushed the “Send” button in Gmail, but a few hours later, I got this:

Dear Mr. Pyles,

Thank you for your interest in XXXX anthologies! We are unable to accept your story at this time due to the following:

– missing story summary

– author biography does not meet minimum requirements of 100-200 words

Please consider resubmitting after previewing these links.

I won’t include the links here bu there were five of them. Yikes!

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