Friday, November 16, 2012

...can you hook me up for the night?

Arc Magazine pulls no punches at battering my heart. Gorgeous. Ambitious. Principled. And it's the fiction arm of New Scientist, which basically makes it the new Omni. And look at the slate of contributors—Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling, Lavie Tidhar, China MiĆ©ville, Frederick Pohl, etc, etc.

(Needs more women, but we can work on that.)

I was lucky to find them at issue 1.1. Apparently so did Intel, who asked them to host the fiction competition for their Tomorrow Project (which is simultaneously as cool and wine-and-cheesy as it sounds)—a Big Idea about getting scientists and engineers together with writers, artists, and philosophers to Get Cool Shit Done. This is not unlike another favorite zine of mine, Seed, which takes as its mission statement that science is culture and the two work best when they interact. It also reminds me of the Edge conversations.

So basically my Carl-Sagan-loving heart does flip-flops for Arc and is stupidly optimistic about the Tomorrow Project. You might think this would have led me to submit to the competition (or at least to Arc alone), but I've been dragging my feet finishing stuff that wouldn't fit them anyway.

Here's where things get serendipitous.

My wife wrote a story that wanted to be a perfect fit for the major SF zines in ways that most of her fiction isn't (she writes like Barthelme and eschews emotion like Brecht, which pretty much means Asimov's et al read her work like comp sci majors reading Joyce, or Harlan Ellison reading Dhalgren). She was really trying with this one, although I can tell you she Did Not Succeed. Those who want something concrete don't go looking in liminal spaces.

Probably the sex didn't help her chances either.

She had trunked it after submitting it out of the market, but that didn't change my conviction that it was quite good, great even, the kind of fiction that sticks in your head, against which you measure elements of your real life (I'm biased, yeah, but I'm also a tremendously mean reader of science fiction). Then I saw the theme for the Arc/Intel 1.3 competition, which with not too much stretching fit her story. So I told her to submit it (at this point she had not yet heard of Arc).

She won.

You can see this isn't really my story and that I'm shamelessly taking credit by framing it this way, but I have once again with my editorial savvy connected an author to a market (previously Cat Valente to HiLoBrow).

Check out the story on the Tomorrow Project site now and in Arc 1.4 when it releases—from Romie Stott, "A Robot Walks Into a Bar and Says..."