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.

BLT: Black Leather Times in Fandom

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amelia-g-DSCBLT05696web2by Amelia G

 

The zine revolution had its roots in science fiction fandom. When my unsavory pals and I first starting putting Black Leather Times (BLT for short) together, a lot of our social lives revolved around going to science fiction conventions, where we gave out a couple thousand free copies of each issue. We even did a new issue for each time we attended a DragonCon, EveCon, CastleCon, and BaltiCon. As well as the occasional Disclave or Phenomicon or other event which seemed like a good excuse for a road trip in outlandish garb.

Each issue of BLT featured cool artwork, insightful humor, and a special theme. Our themes included Conventions, SF&F, and D&D/B&D, as well as more mundane topics such as Back to School, Valentines, and Cannibalism. Some of the fandom-related topics included convention sex-checklists, fannish lexicons, how to tell if you are dating a vampire, and deconstructions of the debate on differences between elf ears and Spock ears.

Author Shariann Lewitt worked on many of the early issues of BLT. She and I co-wrote a lot of appalling (but funny, and sometimes helpful) advice, regarding dystopian SF and travel and special occasions and mohawks, for the black-clad crowd in the con circuit. Shariann once convinced me that we had to eat at every sushi restaurant in the DC area because our zine totally needed a page of sushi reviews. She and I did co-write a DC sushi round-up, so I guess all that deliciousness was sort of work and possibly some of the most reasonable advice BLT ever offered. Unless one considers it more reasonable to have a PhD write an academically sound set of instructions for making shrunken heads from one’s enemies.

BLT is about to turn 25 years old. For its silver anniversary, we’re doing a Kickstarter to publish a giant, 400 page retrospective omnibus book. It will contain every hilarious issue of the BLT zine, some reminiscences, and technical information on production for fellow zinesters. If you feel like checking it out, the Kickstarter page features a couple sample pages and I’ll be adding more to the Updates section over the coming week.

Thanks for reading!


 

Amelia G is a publisher, editor, writer, and photographer. She generally writes about, and photographs, people with unusual lifestyles. She has been published by Playboy, Rolling Stone, Blue Blood, Simon & Schuster, Circlet Press, and hundreds of other venues. Amelia loves new places and conventions, and has been a guest speaker at World Fantasy, DragonCon, SXSW, and many others. Learn more at http://www.ameliag.com.

The Many Amazing Stories of Leading Ladies in SFF Fiction

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by Rebecca Roland

HeadshotDuring a recent conversation on Twitter, my publisher asked me if it was ever a conscious decision to write a female fantasy lead. My immediate answer was a resounding yes. I love reading about women doing cool, important things, so I wanted to write about that, which got me thinking about some of the reasons an author might write about a female lead in a fantasy novel.

1. It’s fun to read — and write — about strong female characters. Sometimes when the term ‘strong female character’ is mentioned, it brings up images of women who can kick serious butt, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Brienne of Tarth. And certainly sometimes a strong character of any gender is one who can lift a lot, fight well, or maybe run a marathon. But mental toughness is a large component of being a strong character as well. If you have the muscles but flee in terror when a dragon shows up to eat everyone you’re supposed to protect, then you’re not strong in all the ways that matter.

Incidentally, I always think of Django Wexler’s excellent essay on women warriors when I think of physically tough women in fantasy. If you enjoy history, or if you’re looking for some good thoughts on world building, then this essay is for you.

2. To make an understatement, motherhood is often a struggle, often a pleasure, and always a challenge. It can make life … complicated. Motherhood is often unrealistically portrayed in many mediums, and it’s become something of a competitive sport in the real world, with each parent trying to outdo the other. Fantasy is a great way to explore the family dynamics, the power struggles, and the challenges and joys of being a mother. From Cordelia Naismith in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series to Cersei Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire, mothers struggle to do what they think is best for their children. And it is truly glorious to experience a mama bear showing her teeth and claws to protect her kids.

3. I’ve been working in the same field for fifteen years, which makes me feel a bit old, but also says something about how much I enjoy my job, so it’s great to read about women who are good at their jobs and who derive a sense of accomplishment from them. I think urban fantasy serves this well, like Kara Gillian of the Demon Summoner series. She’s a competent police officer who enjoys helping people and catching bad guys. I love to read about Women Doing Their Jobs Well.

4. When I was a teenager, a family member actually told me, “Don’t rock the boat” when I was angry over something and wanted to change the situation. I think a lot of young women are given the same sort of message. “Don’t cause trouble.” “You need to be nice.” You know, stuff that doesn’t help you navigate through life unless your goal is to be a doormat. So I love, love, love reading about young women who challenge the status quo because I wish I had more of that message when I was young. That’s part of the reason I love Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. And Hermione Granger was powerful not because of her magic, but because she was brilliant and that she stood up for what was right.

I want to read about women doing cool, important things. I want to read about women who work in fulfilling careers, who parent, who are amazingly strong (not just physically, but also mentally). I want to read about women who push for what’s right, who know how to have fun, who laugh, who cry, who care for their friends and family, and who care for themselves.

And I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

 ❑

Rebecca is the author of the Shards of History series and The King of Ash and Bones, and Other Stories. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Nature, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Stupefying Stories, Plasma Frequency, and Every Day Fiction. She is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. You can find out more about Rebecca and her work at rebeccaroland.net or follow her on Twitter at @rebecca_roland.
Her most recent novel, Fractured Days (World Weaver Press, 2015), is available at many online retailers (along with the previous books in the series).

Crowdfunding Update

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by Warren Lapine

 

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First off, let me tell you how honored everyone at Fantastic Stories is that so many people contributed to our campaign. That tells us that you value what it is that we are doing. As you know we did not reach our goal. That left us with some difficult decisions to make.

As we mentioned in our last update, because of your support we’ve decided to keep this magazine alive. We also said there would be changes. Most of the changes you will not notice as they will happen in the background and should have very little effect on what you read when you come to the pages of Fantastic Stories. The one change that you will notice is that we are going to move from being a monthly magazine to being a bi-monthly magazine.

If one of your perks was a one year subscription we’ll be converting that to a two year subscription so that you get the same number of e-pub issues as you were promised in the campaign. Again, thank you very much for helping us keep the dream alive. You will begin to receive your perks the second week in June.

We’ll keep you updated as to when they go out and when future perks will go out. And we’re also considering other ways of thanking you for being there when we needed you.

Thank you again, and look for a new issue in July!

Sincerely,

Warren Lapine
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

 


 

Reposted from: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fantastic-stories-of-the-imagination/x/10170707#/updates

Reblog: A Tribute to Roger Zelazny

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by Trent Zelazny

Happy birthday, Dad.

“From far, from eve and morning
and twelve-winded sky,
the stuff of life to knit me blew hither:
here am I.”

I never thought I would ever be sitting here at my computer writing something like this. The story I would like to tell is far too complicated. So I shall tell another story, and shall attempt to be brief.

Most children, at an early age, look up to their mother or father, see them as heroes, as mythical demigods, invincible beings, what have you. They are our providers; they take care of us. In a sense, they are gods. I was not an especially weird child for seeing my father in this light. When I was a little boy, Dad was the greatest man in the world. He was my hero. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up (more on that in a minute). Unfortunately, when young innocent children reach those dreadful teenage years, for whatever nebulous reason, these same all-powerful adult figures are suddenly, in the eyes of adolescence, regarded as uncool. They become the last people in the world some teenager wants to be seen with. I don’t know why this is, but most of us know that it is.

I would be lying if I said I was not guilty of this same outlook. I was nothing special, just another naïve kid who foolishly thought I could rule the world (with what, I don’t know). Sometimes, though, I’ve wondered if there was more to it than that.

My older brother Devin and I were both very much into horror films and comic books when we were kids. I still love horror now. My father noticed this interest we had and encouraged it in both of us. He rented us scary movies any sane parent wouldn’t let their kids watch even after they had kids of their own. He bought us comics, told us spooky stories. I can remember being so young that I was barely able to write and I wanted to write stories like Dad. But I wanted to write scary stories. I wanted to remake Friday the 13th Part 3 or something, only in words. Hell of a goal, huh? But hey, that’s how these things develop, right?

My father gave me this old clunker of a word processor typewriter, the kind with the little LED display about the length of a stingy stick of Juicy Fruit and the body shaped like a reject from George Lucas’ model spaceship department. Where he got this machine, I do not know. I do know that I typed on it a lot, never much of anything special (I was just learning to write, let alone type) until the day at my grandmother’s house when I completed my very first short story. It was called, I believe, “Ax Killer,” and it was a six-year-old’s conglomeration of bits from different horror films, sewn painfully together with no plot, no characterization, nor anything else of literary value. Basically lots of “AAAHHHH!” with misspellings and little to no grammatical usage. Still, I was proud of all two and half double-spaced pages I had cranked out.

After discouragement from my grandmother, I didn’t write again until I was almost in high school, close to the end of my eighth grade year. It was quite a while yet before it would have any true significance. My English teacher, Lynn Woodard, decided to take a break from the usual this and that, and told everybody to take out their notebooks. For the first half of class we were to write a short story about anything we wanted. For the second half we were going to read them.

I don’t know why it was that, for one of the only times in the past ten years, I decided to put pen to paper that day. Maybe I was just inspired. Whatever it was, I wrote a story, connecting a random string of events with random nonsensical dialogue. I understood stories. I didn’t understand writing them. I’d given up on that when I was six. Continue reading

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.

wg2

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.

Continue reading

Fantastic Stories Launches Indiegogo Campaign

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indygogo-blog-illo

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!

Reblog: Nomination, Globalization, & Mermaids That Will Eat Your Face: on being nominated for a 2014 nebula award

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Alyssa Wongby Alyssa Wong

I am incredibly honored and excited to announce that my short story, “The Fisher Queen,” originally published in the May/June issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, has been nominated for a 2014 Nebula Award, one of the biggest awards in science fiction and fantasy! The full list of nominations is here, and I’m so glad to see such a range of brilliant, biting, heart-holepunching stories on it.

I was also incredibly excited to find out that I’m the first Filipin@/person of Filipin@ descent to be nominated for the Nebula. It’s humbling, more than a little terrifying, and a huge honor. It’s also a sign that American SFF, a field that was once very white and male, continues to broaden to include, nurture, and provide space for people of color, people in non-Western countries, and people who write in languages other than English. This year alone, the Nebula slate includes French-Vietnamese award winner Aliette de Bodard; indomitable Cixin Liu, writing in Chinese and translated into English by the brilliant Ken Liu; and newcomer Usman T. Malik, the first Pakistani Nebula nominee. It’s heartening and beautiful to see.

However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t still have to fight for our space in American SFF. There have been a lot of loud voices this past year (and many years before that) complaining about the changing landscape of science fiction and fantasy. The aftereffects of colonialism and preferential attitudes toward Western writing influence the literary landscape in many non-Western countries, creating environments with damaging systems for local writers. That being said, this past year has brought many concrete landmarks of progress, including Continue reading