I’d submitted my story “Here Is My Thinking On A Matter That Concerns Us All” to the special submission window for Lightspeed’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction, and Seanan (the guest editor) decided not to buy it, but apparently John Joseph Adams, the regular editor, was considering the submissions too, so he bought the story for the regular non-queer Lightspeed. Which is cool. It makes me very happy. Over the last 5-6 years I’ve accumulated 83 rejections from Lightspeed, Nightmare, and Fantasy Magazine (before it was folded into Lightspeed). Prior to that, I got maybe 25ish rejections from JJA when he was a slush reader at F&SF. And I think I have a few odd ones from his various anthology efforts. So that’s a lot of rejections to get from one of the major editors in the field, and it’s good to finally get in.
I quite like this story. Years ago, I said to myself that I guess I’m never going to write another story about spaceships, because, really, what was there that was left to say? But then, last November, I sat down and knocked out this story in a day. It’s a radio address by an alien spaceship that’s been hovering over New York for the last twenty years. I really like the first paragraph:
I am a spaceship. My insides are liquid, and my outsides are metal. If you were to cut me open with a laser-gun, then it would not precisely hurt, but it certainly wouldn’t be a nice thing to do. Your emissary, Abhinath, tells me that you have voted many civil rights for me, and every day I receive hundreds of messages telling me to run for President of the United States, but I do not want that. Because, you see, I am not one of you: I am the spaceship, twenty miles long, that has been hanging low and dark over the city of New York for the last several decades.
So that’s something good that happened. In other news, I finished Au Bonheur Des Dames and began reading George Gissing’s New Grub Street, which is a satirical take on literary culture in the late Victorian era. I’ve read books like it before (most notably Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel and Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now). It seems odd, to me, when writers write about how corrupt and populist their literary culture is, because nowadays we live in a time when even writers of commercial novels think of themselves as artists. Actually, the last publishing-world-satire I read had a chapter that was explicitly about this. I’m trying to remember the name of the book. It’s about a writer who sets out to write a bestseller and who explicitly models himself after a guy who he thinks of as a huge hack: a purveyer of homespun folksy wisdom.
Anyway, after the protag’s contemptuous view of popular literature comes out, the hack invites him to a televised debate, and there, onstage, the protag realizes that the hack is completely serious! The hack really does possess deep feelings that he’s attempting to put onto the page! And, what’s more, his audience responds to those feelings! And the protag is left wondering…well…if this hack had artistic aims, and if his readers respond to those aims, then how is he not an artist?
But whatever. New Grub Street is, at least thus far, somewhat diverting.