Fantastic Stories Launches Patreon Page to Continue Publication

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fsi-patreonFantastic Stories of the Imagination is now in its third year of publication. We’ve published fifteen issues of great fiction, reviews, and articles such as Nisi Shawl’s widely-read History of Black Science Fiction. We’ve paid our writers one of the highest rates in the genre and our readership has grown with every issue.

We have thousands of readers—but the magazine is not yet profitable. We’ve tried various ways to bring in revenue, but the results have not been what we hoped for. FSI exists because Wilder Publications, and our publisher, Warren Lapine, believes in the importance of short fiction. We’re proud of our work and want to continue to build our readership, but a recent downturn in book sales means Wilder can’t continue publishing the magazine at the current burn rate.

Wilder will continue to fund the magazine, but only if the community can bear some of the cost of maintaining a free-to-read, SFWA qualifying, professional-paying, always-open short fiction market.

To this end we’ve created a Patreon page. If Fantastic Stories can reach $1,000 per month in Patreon donations in the next few months, Wilder Publications will underwrite the remainder of the costs of the magazine indefinitely while we develop new revenue models.

So it’s up to the community. If you want Fantastic Stories to continue, please contribute. We love doing this work and we think its worth the effort. We hope our readers think so too.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE!

On Writing the Exodus Series

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By Doug Dandridge

12272898_10208404800697316_1421248271_nExodus was the second book ever that I wrote intentionally for self-publication.  Let me backtrack just a bit on that.  I have been writing novels and short stories since 1996.   At first they were pretty awful.  They got better as I wrote more.  The secret to becoming good enough that people want to buy your work is not really a secret.  Everyone who has made it to that place has learned it the hard way.  You get good enough to sell by writing, a lot.  I garnered a lot of rejection letters.  The letters got better, but I still wasn’t a selling writer.  In 2010 I decided to try something different.  I had read years before that a famous agent said that Space Opera was dead, but it didn’t seem that way to this reader.  After all, David Weber and John Ringo had huge followings.  So I decided to write an epic Space Opera/Military Science Fiction series and publish it myself.

This was a departure from what I had been doing.  I had written about sixteen novel length works by this time, some good enough to publish, and many now self-published.  All that I have self-published since embarking on that venture have received for the most part very good reviews, if not exceptional sales.  All had been written as stand alones, because that was what the publishers wanted, but all were left open for sequels, because that was what the publishers wanted.  Exodus was to be a long series from the outset.  I could only hope that each would sell a thousand copies or so to make the series worth continuing.   I had no idea.  I settled on the name Exodus, then added the Empires at War subtitle because I didn’t want people to think it was a bible story.  I later learned at a workshop that I had picked the perfect title keywords for military scifi.

I planned the series for about six months before I started writing.  I wanted something I would love to read.  Much of military scifi seemed to have a lot of lead up to the action, then boom, the action was over, or it was skipped over and we went directly to the aftermath.  As an amateur military historian, I wanted to read about the battles, not the aftermath.  I also wanted to avoid a lot of the common tropes of scifi, while making everything as accurate as possible as far as the science and tech went.  Of course I was going to have some McGuffins, FTL, inertial compensators and the like.  But I wanted the basic science to be right.  With that in mind, I developed my Universe.   I wanted a human Empire far enough from the space we know now that I could do what I wanted with the distribution of star systems and planets.  I used the idea of humankind fleeing an alien menace and reestablishing themselves ten thousand light years from Sol.  I have always loved Harry Turtledove, and used his template of lots of characters to tell a big story, and what could be larger than a war across thousands of light years.   I copied techniques from Jim Butcher and R A Salvatore to cover the action.  And then I started writing.

That year was my most productive, writing two hundred thousand words each of Exodus and my fantasy series Refuge, as well as most of three other novels, all while working full time.  Exodus finished at two hundred and ten thousand words, and I decided it was much too long for a single eBook.  Later I would split it into books one and two, and rewrite sections to make them more or less complete novels on their own.  If I could do it over today I would have put in more work making them almost stand alones, each with their own part of the story to tell.  When I started my Machine War spinoff series I did just that.  It was all a learning process, and I’m still learning.

EXODUS: Empires at War by Doug Dandridge

EXODUS: Empires at War
by Doug Dandridge

I put my novel The Deep Dark Well, written in 2005, on free promotion at Amazon and gave away forty-one hundred of them.  Two months later I put out my first Exodus book.  I said I would be happy if I had sold a thousand of them, and I did, in the first month.  Exodus 2 came out two months later, and I was selling three hundred books a day on Amazon in January of 2013.  Two months later I quit my day job and became a full time author.  In the last three years I have published twelve books in the Exodus Universe, nine in the Empires at War series, two in Machine Wars, and one in Tales of the Empire, a series of books telling some of the stories going on in the rest of the Empire, both before and during the war.  I have sold about a hundred thousand books across the line, compared with fifty thousand of all of my other books.  Along the way I have made some changes, sometimes based on fan requests, sometimes just because they made sense to me.  The technology is constantly evolving, and the stories evolve along with it.

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FSI available through Gumroad

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Our back issues available through Gumroad for $2.99 each

Gumroad is a new e-commerce platform used by large and small artists in the music industry to distribute digital music; it’s also a good platform for e-books and other digital media. We’ve made our back catalog available here, each $2.99 issue is a zipped archive containing three popular file formats which support reading on virtually any device this side of an abacus.

Like every magazine, we’re looking for new platforms, new ways to distribute our content. We’d like to hear from you, if you have any ideas or feedback. Our bookstore is in the shop for upgrades at the moment, but we wanted to make sure the back issues continued to be available, so we thought we’d give Gumroad a shot.

For those who aren’t crazy about Paypal, Gumroad isn’t a Paypal company; Paypal based subscriptions have created issues for others in the past; for this reason we are looking into using Patreon for subscriptions in the future. Look for more info on that in the next few weeks.

Oh, and issue 225# remains free for the time being, so check that out.

Fantastic Stories, May, 2015 #228 Ebook on Sale Now!

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fsi-228-cover-520tRead the complete contents of Fantastic Stories #228 on your device (e-reader, smartphone, tablet or PC), online or off.

DRM-Free Epub (iPad, Android), Mobi (Kindle) and PDF (acrobat) format included in every download.

Purchase securely online with credit card or Pay Pal.

BUY NOW
ONLY $1.99

FICTION

  • Original Short Story: Little Fox by Amy Griswold — Where oh where has Marissa’s clone sister gone?
  • Original Flash Fiction: This Side of Time by Sarah Grey — For fifteen year-old Emily, the future is serious business.
  • Novelette: The Stone Man by Sarah Totton — A little fear can be a very good thing.
  • Short Story: Herbert Hutchinson in the Underworld by Bruce Coville — Some choices are more important than life and death.
  • Short Story: Icarus Falls by Alex Shvartsman — An explorer pays an unforgettable price for the stars.

REVIEWS & COMMENTARY

  • The Fan: Ramifications of Imagination, Casting the World Aside by Carole McDonnell — Carole McDonnell’s reviews Beyond (2014), directed by Joseph Baker, Webjunkie (2013), directed by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia, After the Dark (2013-14), directed by John Huddles, the documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2014), directed by Mami Sunada, and Wolfcop (2014), written and directed by Lowell Dean.
  • The Magic Lantern: Of Plan Nine and other things by Adam-Troy Castro — Adam-Troy Castro discusses why Ed Wood’s notorious Plan Nine from Outer Space (1959) isn’t really the worst movie ever made, and discusses some other contenders that while vile, probably aren’t either: including Manos, Hands of Fate, and the horror that is the film Horror (2003). Honeymoon (2014), Housebound (2014) and Predestination (2015) are also discussed, in a not the worst kind-of-way.
  • Area 51 1/2, May, 2015 by Steven Sawicki — Our resident Alien considers A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias, Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright, The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, Impulse by Dave Barra, and The Mercury Men, written and Directed by Chris Preksta,
  • New & Noteworthy Short Genre Fiction, May, 2015 by Gillian Daniels — Gillian Daniels reviews “Those” by Sofia Samatar, “Thousandfurs, Or The King Who Wanted To Marry His Daughter” by Mallory Ortberg, “To Preserve Humankind” by Christina Nordlander, and “Let Baser Things Devise” by Berrien C. Henderson.

Removing the Whitewash: People of Color in FSI Illustrations

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by Jay O’Connell

 

square-columnist-jayI’ve been illustrating Fantastic Stories of the Imagination for about a year or so now. It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of work. It’s also been an education on whitewashing and representation in genre illustration as I’ve struggled with two opposing realities; SF and fantasy is increasingly diverse in terms of its readers, writers, and characters… but stock photo source libraries are horribly weak in POC.

I could avoid faces and work with landscapes and still lives and silhouetted forms, which could read as any ethnicity; I could use white people wherever a text was ambiguous; or, I could struggle to find POC in stock photo libraries where they are not only often in short supply, but also frequently costumed (or un-costumed) in perniciously stereotypical ways.

I poured through the stories looking for clues as to ethnicity, and finally, recently, came to the conclusion that I needed to simply speak to the authors about this and discuss the options. Also, I simply got the ethnicity wrong on several occasions, missing obvious cues, whitewashing a story accidentally; sometimes I caught myself; other times the editorial process caught my oversight.

As I sift though the hundreds of thousands of images, I am looking for matches in age, gender, ethnicity, attitude-facial expression, pose, prop, lighting and attire. Backgrounds can be changed, and in fact, almost always have to be. The process is strangely exhausting; you have the image you’d like to make (if you had an unlimited budget), and then the images that spring to mind as you look for stuff by keyword that matches your initial vision. You search for the most bang for the buck.

I include here a few of my whitewash mistakes, and the fixes, so you can see this process in action.

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This was my original, accidentally whitewashed illustration. the model reminds me a bit of the author, who I knew from a workshop. I was thinking of her, instead of the character, whose name gives us a better sense of a look for her.

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After showing the illustration to the author, and realizing, duh, the name, I came up with this; the story is about a Latina Michael Jackson impersonator, and this really worked for the story so much better than the image above.

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Fantastic Stories Launches Indiegogo Campaign

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Dear FSI Reader,

First of all, we want to thank you for being part of the FSI community, as a reader, writer, or potential contributor.

We’re proud of the work we’ve published to date, the speed with which we have responded to our contributors submissions, our production quality, and our  industry-challenging pay-scale of 15 cents a word.

We’re proud that our stories represent a more diverse face of SF, and we’re proud of the insight and multiple view points of our columnists, the breadth of experience and background they bring to all things genre; from unsung movie SF classics of the 50s to last months great short genre fiction, and everything in between.

We’re sending this note to you to give you the opportunity to help us bridge the gap, carry us through to a sustainable business model which our web-tracking data indicates is within reach, while preserving the vital components of web based fiction. Free content; professional payment for writers, and multiple funding sources including ebook editions, print on demand editions, subscriptions…

…and crowd-funding.

Crowd funding allows us to offer a large variety of perks to our supporters, and while yes, it does remind one of public radio support drives, that analogy is meaningful. Your donation will make an immediate impact, but even if you can’t donate right now please consider sharing this link to our campaign on social media or your personal blog to help us get the word out.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fantastic-stories-of-the-imagination/x/1796746

We care about short fiction; we care about genre fiction; we want markets for new writers to find their voices in, to be discovered in, to discover themselves in, and for all that to happen, we need your help to help us bridge the gap, from what we’ve done so far, to what we know we can do going forward.

So look over the perks, and see what you’d like to contribute. We’re grateful for our readers, for our writers, for this community, and so we’re reaching out to keep FSI going while we continue to grow into a self-sustaining enterprise.

Don’t forget to check out the March issue and the great stories we’ve got for you this month for free on the website. We’re also giving away the e-book version of the August 2014 issue. We’d like to thank you in advance and happy reading!

Comments enabled—again. Story comments easy; blog comments…

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The comments field on stories is easy to see, a giant box at the bottom of the page; the comments on blog posts are accessed by clicking above the title in the RIGHT corner, in that reddish text there in the little gray tab.

If you share the post instead of the blog page, just click on the post title, it looks like the page comments field, huge, open, inviting you to participate in commenty-goodness.

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The Racism of H.P. Lovecraft

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I enjoyed this article by David Nickel on Lovecraft’s racism.

This quote indicates that my opinion, stated in my column, that most the community is under no illusions about HPLs racism, was probably inaccurate.

A few months later, I found myself on another Lovecraftian panel in San Antonio at Worldcon–this one about Lovecraft’s international appeal. There, in the midst of an excellent and exhaustive power point presentation about Lovecraft’s portability to Japan, I tried again to talk a bit about race. One of my co-panelists straight-facedly claimed she had seen no hints of racism in the Lovecraft that she’d read and wasn’t sure what I was talking about. I cited a few obvious examples–the proto-Tea-Party anti-immigration text (one can hardly call it subtext) of “The Horror at Red Hook,” the horrific take on miscegenation at the heart of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” and a particular poem with a title that cannot be spoken, typed or spray-painted on a garage door in polite company–but didn’t push it much further.* Instead I spent most of the rest of that panel sitting back and taking in all those lovely slides of Lovecraftian manga panels and illustrations for translated stories.

Because really, it fast became clear that last year at least, not very many people at Lovecraftian panels wanted to talk about race as it pertained to Lovecraftian fiction.

The thing I wanted to add was that many of us have memories of having read HPL in a different time; the ‘man of his time’ thing is probably as much about the time the person read HPL as it is about HPLs time.

I’m 50 or so, I grew up in an era of great, casual racism, in the 60s and 70s. The Frito Bandito? A restaurant chain called Sambos? The Little Rascals, still on the air, with Buckwheat leading a parade in a white tuxedo in front of a truck of watermelons? Johnny Quest’s brutish bodyguard dude referring to the African natives casually as savages?

Racism! Still soaking in it!

For those of us most insulated, in white suburbs, in mostly white schools, I honestly think we didn’t have any clue what we were reading; we got the cosmic, existential horror of HPL; we didn’t get the racism. We enjoyed the scare. The racism permeated so much Golden Age stuff. The Lensmen? Jesus, is everyone white in Dune, do you suppose? Master races, breeding programs.. Eloi and Morlock…

Maybe HPL can no longer be read for pleasure by anyone sane. I can’t step into the same river twice.

I wanted someone to argue with me, that he shouldn’t be read anymore. I’m curious how that argument goes.