UFO4 was officially released on October 15 though it took a few days for it to post to all the e-book stores. If you haven’t purchased your copy yet, here is where you can find it:
You can also find UFO4 on GoodReads (not a sales site, just for reviews/catalog purposes.)
We’ll give away some copies at SF Signal and Goodreads next week — I’ll post those details once the giveaways are live.
I had three boxes of UFO4 books ship directly to the hotel so we’d have them in time for Capclave! My first time holding one of those babies will be tomorrow. You can be among the very first to get your hands on it as well as receive two free e-books: Funny Science Fiction and H. G. Wells: Secret Agent. That’s right, free. I will give those two e-books to everyone who attends the launch party.
The launch party will take place at Capclave, in the Gaighersburg Hilton Hotel Suite 1209 this Saturday 5pm-7pm. Authors Fran Wilde, Lawrence B. Schoen and Andrew Kaye will be on hand to read from their works published in UFO and Funny Science Fiction volumes. Copy editor Elektra Hammond and I will talk about the editorial side of things at UFO and, of course, answer any questions folks might have. And there will be books!
I’m doing readings, signings, MCing an award ceremony and otherwise planning to have a great time at Capclave. Here’s where you can find me this weekend:
|Friday 5:00 pm: Crowdfunding & Alternative Funding for Writers (Ends at: 5:55 pm) Bethesda
Panelists:Bill Campbell, Neil Clarke, Barbara Krasnoff, Alex Shvartsman (M)
Traditionally, publishers gave authors an advance on royalties in exchange for the completed manuscript. Today, some writers are receiving alternate revenue streams including crowdfunding of anthologies and novels in advance by the public, serialization in which the author releases a chapter (or story) as long as readers continue to fund it, and electronic self-publishing. What methods have you used and what works? What new methods do you see in the future? How will this change the creation of books?
|Friday 7:00 pm: Translating Speculative Fiction (Ends at: 7:55 pm) Bethesda
Panelists:Neil Clarke, Jim Freund (M), Shahid Mahmud, Alex Shvartsman
Many non-English countries get much of their science fiction in translation. And English readers are finally being given access to more Chinese, Japanese and other non-English works. Why is this happening now? What are some of the special challenges with translating genre works? How do translators cope with invented words and concepts? What about different storytelling methods and literary techniques?
|Saturday 1:00 pm: Reading – Alex Shvartsman (Ends at: 1:25 pm) Frederick
|Saturday 4:00 pm: Non-Western Influences In Fantasy (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Salon B/C
Panelists:Day Al-Mohamed, Ann Chatham, Alex Shvartsman, Michael Swanwick (M)
Traditionally, most fantasy has been based on Western folklore, usually with a medieval-inspired setting. However, alternative settings and concepts are becoming more common with writers mining Asian, African, Native American, and Middle Eastern sources. What writers do this most effectively? How do you decide what traditions/concepts to adopt and how do research/use them? Is it cultural appropriation when writers incorporate themes from other traditions, and how do you so appropriately?
|Saturday 5:00 pm: Book Launch – Alex Shvartsman (Ends at: 6:55 pm) Suite 1209
Unidentified Funny Objects 4
|Saturday 9:00 pm: WSFA Small Press Awards (Ends at: 9:55 pm) Salon A
The WSFA Small Press Award winner will be announced. The Guest of Honor Gifts will also be presented.
|Saturday 10:00 pm: Fiction With A Laugh Track (Ends at: 10:55 pm) Bethesda
Panelists:Brenda W. Clough, Andrew Fox (M), Larry Hodges, Alex Shvartsman
What are the tips and tricks in writing humorous SF and fantasy? What can an author do to avoid the obvious pitfalls, and spot the not-so-obvious ones? How do you maintain a reputation for writing humorous SF or fantasy, and what is the benefit of doing so?
|Sunday 11:00 am: Is the Anthology Dead? (Ends at: 11:55 am) Bethesda
Panelists:Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Bill Campbell (M), Bernie Mojzes, Alex Shvartsman
DAW used to put out an anthology a month, now they seem much less common. What happened? Did the themes get too esoteric or were too many stories mediocre? Why are they more common among small press and Kickstarter books? Have online magazines taken their place?
|Sunday 12:00 pm: What To Do After The Rejection Letter (Ends at: 12:55 pm) Bethesda
Panelists:Sunny Moraine, Alex Shvartsman, Allen Wold (M)
You’ve written the best thing ever. But the editor sent it back rejected. Now what?
This is shaping up to be a rather spectacular week in terms of announcements, so here are a few more:
My story “How Gaia and the Guardian Saved the World” is one of the finalists in the Gernsback Writing Contest. It will be published on the Amazing Stories website and then collected as part of their anthology, release dates to be determined. The contest was judged via blind reading (aka judges did not know who were the authors of each story) and those are always especially satisfying to do well in as the story is only judged on its own merit. Congratulations to my fellow finalists, and especially to the winners.
Today also marks my first appearance at the storied StarShipSofa podcast. Episode 404 (insert every conceivable Error 404 – Not Found joke here) and it features an interview Jeremy Szal conducted with me as well as the narration of two of my stories: “Price of Allegiance” and “Doubt.” There was also supposed to be a flash piece, “Ravages of Time” but it was accidentally left out (hey, there’s the perfect spot for the Not Found joke!) and will be included in the next week’s episode. You can listen to episode 404 here.
Think I’m done? I’ve only just began to brag! “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma” has been adapted into a short play by Matt Haynes and will be performed at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland at noon this Saturday by the Pulp Stage. If you plan on attending the festival, check it out here. Matt has made some very interesting changes to the original story (with my approval and blessing!) to adapt it to their format, and my favorite narrator Tina Connolly is going to be reading one of the parts so I am sure it will be great fun.
Finally, the first review of Unidentified Funny Objects 4 has been published at Tangent Online and it is really positive — the sort of kind words any editor loves to hear. Check it out here.
The printer is shipping out UFO4 books on Friday and they should arrive in about a week. I’m also getting about 100 copies UPS’ed over so that I can host a launch event at Capclave next weekend! I will post more details about this event soon, but there will be readings, and giveaways, and every single person who attends will get two free e-books, so mark your calendars for 5-7pm on Saturday, October 10!
I will also participate on several program items at Capclave and will be the presenter at the WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction this year.
Okay. Now I’m done bragging. At least for today.
The fourth annual Unidentified Funny Objects anthology will contain 23 stories totaling approximately 86,000 words. Cover art by Tomasz Maronski. Interior illustrations by Barry Munden.
“We Can Get Them for You Wholesale” by Neil Gaiman
“The Time-Traveling Ghost Machine of Professor Jaime Peligrosa” by Andrew Kaye
“Please Approve the Dissertation Research of Angtor” by Caroline M. Yoachim
“Match Game” by Esther Friesner
“The Transformation of Prince Humphrey” by Brent C. Smith
“In the End, You Get Clarity” by Laura Pearlman
“Project Disaster” by Tim Pratt
“Hello Hotel” by Piers Anthony
“Bob’s No Kill Monster Shelter” by Ian Creasey
“Board Meeting Minutes” by Oliver Buckram
“Armed for You” by Anaea Lay
“The Unfortunate Problem of Grandma’s Head” by Karen Haber
“My Mother Loves Her Robot More than Me and I Feel Bad” by Eric Kaplan
“The Worm that Turned” by Jody Lynn Nye
“Department of Death Predictions, Final Notice” by Tina Gower
“Champions of Breakfast” by Zach Shephard
“Keeping Ahead” by Mike Resnick
“So You’ve Metamorphosed into a Giant Insect. Now What?” by James Aquilone
“Confessions of an Interplanetary Art Fraud” by Michael J. Martinez
“Texts from My Mother about an Alien Invasion” by Tina Connolly
“Support Your Local Alien” by Gini Koch
“Topics to Avoid on a First Date with Yourself” by Jonathan Ems
“The Monkey Treatment” by George R. R. Martin
First, I’d like to thank our Kickstarter backers. UFO4 raised nearly $8500 during its campaign, enough to buy full slate of stories. interior illustration, and some exciting initiatives to be announced soon.
To date we’ve received nearly 200 submissions. Approximately 150 of them have already been responded to. We’re still considering a handful of stories from the first week of submissions and several have been advanced into the hold pile, to be decided on at the end of the submissions window. I post fairly regular updates on Twitter as to the status of the slush pile, so folks could query if the response has gone awry. Most authors should hear within 1-3 days.
If you haven’t submitted yet, please keep sending your stories! Don’t wait til the last minute. We always see a huge upswell of submissions in the last day and that’s fine, but consider this: if a story is pretty close but needs a rewrite, we’re more likely to ask for one if there’s time for the author to deliver. If we’re at the very end of the reading period and are on the fence about the story, there may not be enough time to ask for a rewrite. Of course, if a story truly wins us over, that won’t be an issue at all — but submitting earlier is good strategy in this case.
I’m very excited to report that UFO4 has already reached its initial funding goal of $8,000 and we’re now working toward our $10k stretch goal of a second, reprint anthology of humorous science fiction.
If you’re inclined to support this project, please visit the Kickstarter page and see if there are some rewards you might like?
I can also report that we’ve received a bit over 150 submissions to date and have responded to over half of them. I’m inclined to concentrate on the crowdfunding campaign over submissions today and tomorrow, but will catch up soon. Even at our “slow” times we tend to respond to an overwhelming majority of submissions in under a week, and often in 1-2 days. So send your stories — we won’t waste your time by sitting on the manuscripts for months before they’re even read!
This is not what I wanted to write about today.
Terry Pratchett, best known for his series of Discworld novels, was one of the most important voices in speculative humor. His work had a profound influence on generations of writers, and brightened lives of millions of readers worldwide. I never personally met him or got an opportunity to work with him, and feel there is little I can say to add to the loud chorus of voices more eloquent and more relevant on this subject than my own, but I will say this: whether you are a long-time fan or are learning about him now, should you wish to honor his memory, the best way to do so is by reading (or re-reading) one of his books.
A few years ago I reached out to Mr. Pratchett to see if I might be able to acquire a reprint (or, who knows, even an original story!) for one of the UFO volumes. His agent got back to me and declined to sell me a reprint, because there would be a short story collection coming out soon and he wasn’t interested in shopping short story reprints around, at least not at the rates UFO could afford. And so I didn’t get to publish Terry, but although this collection took longer than expected, it is actually coming out in less than a week.
I’ll be picking up a copy of “A Blink of the Screen” and humbly suggest that you do so as well.
There is a number of much happier news I’d like to share as well:
* The Unidentified Funny Objects 4 Kickstarter campaign is going well. After three days, we have nearly 120 backers and are only a few hundred dollars away from 50% of the funding. There’s always a slow-down in the middle (offset by lots of activity in the first few and last few days of the campaign), but momentum counts, so if you plan on backing this book, please don’t wait for the last day!
* I accepted a flash story by Brent C. Smith titled “The Transformation of Prince Humphrey” for UFO4. I read an earlier version of this story in a contest we both participated in, and out of 200+ stories I read for that contest it was my favorite. So I reached out to him and, after a few rounds of edits, accepted the updated variant of the story for the book. Don’t worry though: there’s plenty of room for stories that will come in during the open submission period next month!
* Two of my own stories found new homes (well, the same home, actually.) Mike Resnick accepted both for publication in Galaxy’s Edge.
“Islands in the Sargasso” is an 8000-word space opera novelette in the shared world setting regular readers of Galaxy’s Edge are already familiar with. I had the pleasure of advancing the setting by 200 years and allowing humans to finally escape the confines of our solar system — but you’ll have to read the story to learn the details.
“Dreidel of Dread: The Very Cthulhu Channukah” is one of the silliest humor flash pieces I’ve ever written. It makes fun of saccharine Christmas specials, uses copious amounts of Jewish humor, quotes both Einstein and The Ghostbusters film… and, of course, there’s Cthulhu!
Both stories should be appearing in GE later this year.
Today I launched the Kickstarter campaign for Unidentified Funny Objects 4 – the 4th annual collection of humorous science fiction and fantasy. This will be our first themed volume, and will feature stories by George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Piers Anthony, Esther Friesner, Mike Resnick, Karen Haber, Jody Lynn Nye, Gini Koch, Karen Haber and Tim Pratt.
There will be a submission window in April so that newer authors have a chance at sharing the table of contents with these established pros. All authors will be paid at pro rates.
And, of course, there’s a gorgeous and funny cover, by Tomasz Maronski:
Please check out the campaign page, and help me spread the word of it to others? #SFWAPro
On April 1 the floodgates will open and submissions to UFO4 will pour in. As with previous years, I hope to respond to most submissions in well under a week. To do this, I rely on a team of awesome associate editors/slush readers.
Those of you who’ve been submitting fiction to the UFO series already know how this works: I look at each incoming story. If it passes muster (aka I don’t find a reason to reject it in the first thirty seconds to a minute) it is then forwarded to three readers. Those readers are not aware of who the author is, so they judge the writing purely on its merit. Each reader is asked to provide a YES or NO vote as to whether the story should be seen by the entire team.
Stories thus advanced to the second round are read by all the associate editors who then proceed to comment on it for me and to provide their YES or NO vote as to whether they feel the story should be included in the book. I’m the final arbiter and the decision is mine, but I do take their votes and opinions into consideration. I’ve been talked into (and talked out of!) buying specific stories by my team.
This year, we are a little understaffed. for various reasons. As such, I’m looking to add two more slush readers.
The readers would need to be able to commit to 3 stories per day on average during the month of April, with a slightly lower work load in the few weeks leading up to it and the few weeks afterward. It’s perfectly okay to skip some days, but the assigned stories need to be turned around in 24 hours so we can maintain our response times as they were.
If this doesn’t sound too scary and is something you would like to try, feel free to reach out to me via e-mail: ufopublishing at gmail dot com. I will then send you a “sampler” of a dozen stories, asking you to share your opinion on them. This will probably take you 2-3 hours of reading/commenting time.
I look to select the readers on or shortly after March 15th, so you can apply at any point until then, so long as you feel you can turn around the slush sampler in time.
Couple of things to keep in mind:
* There are no “right” or “wrong” answers. It’s perfectly okay for you to love the story I hated, and vice versa. Because I am ultimately going to be the one buying the stories, I want to find readers whose tastes match mine as close as possible, so that they don’t reject something I might like (and, optimally, don’t send me too many things to read I might not like.)
* I will only select two readers, so don’t feel bad if you are not picked. I hope this will be valuable to everyone, including those not selected, as it will given them a sense of how the slush process works.
* It goes without saying that familiarity with the Unidentified Funny Objects series and the kind of material we publish is a huge plus and very nearly a requirement.
So, if this sounds like something you would like to try, drop me an e-mail.