Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gay Marriage: Will Fletcher appoint Supreme Court?

BREAKING—Anonymous sources confirm that M-Brane President-for-Life Christopher Fletcher is about to announce the formation of a “Supreme Court” which he claims will have “planet-wide jurisdiction over the question of the legality of gay marriage.” For months, sources within the Brane’s administration have indicated that Fletcher has become increasingly impatient with “the sheer idiocy of the anti-marriage-quality position and the slow pace of reform by conventional Earth-based governments. And also dumbassity.”

Said one member of the administration, speaking on condition of anonymity, “It’s all he talks about anymore. His entire throne room is acrid with the smoke of burning Maggie Gallagher and Jim Demint in effigy.”

Though the composition of this new court remains unknown, critics fear that Fletcher will stack the tribunal with judges sympathetic to his own position on the matter. Possible nominees to the new court include the following:

Theodore “Teddy” Altman (aka “Hulkling”): Superhero and member of the Young Avengers. Conservative critics of the M-Brane regime claim that Altman cannot be unbiased on the matter of gay marriage since he himself is gay. It is unlikely that this argument will gain much traction within M-Brane Tower.

Jonny Quest: Raised by same-sex parents, Quest is thought to be sympathetic to marriage equality, though his own sexual orientation is unknown. Conservatives insist that Fletcher would never consider Quest for appointment to his new court if he were not already confident of Quest’s bias on the matter of gay marriage. Also, Fletcher’s recent frequent visits to the “Questworld” compound in a subset of aetherspace have drawn much attention.

Magneto: Possibly the most controversial choice; conservatives decry his attempt of a few years ago to use the “Cerebro” device to find and possibly kill all of the “humans,” which they read as code for “straight people.” Also, suspicions linger that Fletcher has recreated a Cerebro machine at the apex of M-Brane Tower. Fletcher’s close relationship with the rogue mutant has been a subject of controversy for years.

Jeff Lund: It is assumed that Fletcher’s life partner would be a guaranteed vote for the government position. Liberal critics, however, point to Lund’s frequent condemnations of marriage as a concept (for all people) and suggest that he is a loose cannon whose vote cannot be predicted.

Legal scholars remain divided over whether M-Brane Tower, as an extra-planetary domain, can in fact assert worldwide jurisdiction on the issue of marriage rights. They also differ in opinion on a recent “legal finding” by the regime which decrees that a new court, if constituted, may not hear arguments based on religion or “the Bible,” as these would be ruled automatically to be not “rational.” It is expected that when the court is convened, opponents of gay marriage will have thirty days to prove their position “rationally.” It is assumed that they will face an uphill battle if religiously-based arguments will not be heard. Also, it is expected that the “gay sex is icky” argument will be excluded from consideration.

Monday, February 21, 2011

M-Brane SF #25 released

We have released the twenty-fifth issue, which happens to be the first monthly issue of our third year of monthly publication. Table of contents:

Anna Caro "The Shape of My Wife"
Catherine Batac Walder "Of the Magdiwang that Never made it to Baguio and other Studies of Trains"
Grey Valleau "Tiger"
Michael Ray "Alchemy"
Shaun O. McCoy "Electric Blues"
Peta Freestone "Neverspring"

The individual issue PDF can be had for a donation of $2.00 using the Pay Pal button below. Funds raised in this way support future issues.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hear the new OUTER ALLIANCE podcast!

I feel like I've neglected the Outer Alliance lately. This is a terrific association of writers, editors, publishers and other kinds of creators that I was fortunate enough to have had a small role in helping to found and promote about a year and a half ago. Our mission statement: "As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work." We have hundreds of members now, and while our level of activity varies a lot, it's always a great resource. One of the coolest newer things going on is the podcast, hosted by the great Julia Rios (who has also conducted scores of written  interviews with people for posting to the site--most posts anymore are her "Spotlight" interviews).

The fourth installment of the podcast is made of win, featuring in its first half an interview with Nora Olsen, discussing her YA book The End: Five Queer Kids Save the World. And in the second half--this is awesome!--an interview with M-Brane Press's own Brandon Bell discussing his zine Fantastique Unfettered and our antho The Aether Age, and (very informatively) his Creative Commons licensing concept. He is joined by writer Frank Ard, author of "Small Fish in the Deep Blue Sea", his really great story from FU #1. It was very interesting listening to Frank discuss his fiction, and also to hear my collaborator Brandon discuss and promote our various projects (including the Double--coming soon!). Also, I don't recall ever having heard myself mentioned in a group discussion on a podcast before, so that was cool and weird, too, that sense that stuff that I do actually emanates outside of my library somehow.  Check it out, and subscribe it in your iTunes player or however you get your podcasts.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

M-Brane #25 ToC announced

The cover image is not ready yet, but the story contents are final for M-Brane SF #25, the February issue due out on about the 20th. Prepare for these fine items:

Anna Caro "The Shape of My Wife"
Catherine Batac Walder "Of the Magdiwang that Never made it to Baguio and other Studies of Trains"
Grey Valleau "Tiger"
Michael Ray "Alchemy"
Shaun O. McCoy "Electric Blues"
Peta Freestone "Neverspring"

(actual order of this ToC may be different)

Readers will find this to be an interesting mix of stuff, ranging from straight-up hard sf to a couple of items that are a bit harder to classify. All six of these writers are new to M-Brane SF, and most are new to me as well, though I know a couple of them by reputation and their other work. Also, I am delighted to have ended up with a majority-female ToC after several months of not having very many women in our pages. As I've said before: while I like boys, that doesn't mean they need to dominate the zine's pages all the time.

Michael Ray is editor of Redstone Science Fiction, a fairly new and well-regarded periodical. Shaun McCoy's a martial artist about whom one ought to think twice making fun of for playing D&D. Grey Valleau is also a martial artist as well as a neuroscientist, devoted now to fiction writing. Peta Freestone's night job is editing Scape, a new sf ezine for young adults. Catherine Batac Walder, a native of the Philippines, resides and writes in England and has given me an item of that Filipino-influenced speculative fiction that I have come to love. Finally, writer and editor Anna Caro is well-known in the New Zealand spec fic world, and I know readers will love her contribution to this issue.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The "two spaces" "controversy," and other notes on manuscript format

I was going to comment on this on my Live Journal instead of here, but it occurred to me that it might be edifying to writers who write for M-Brane SF. First, read this article by Farhad Manjoo on Slate about why one should never, ever EVAR! use two spaces after a period (or "full stop," as folks in some of the other Englishes prefer to call it). While the information in it is largely correct and even mildly interesting, it does make me wonder exactly why this is such a big damned deal, for Manjoo's essay on this topic is not by any stretch the first screed on two-spacing I have seen in the last year or two. It pops up all the time. Editors and writers rant about it on Twitter. Embarrassed, degraded two-spacers apologize for it and try to change their silly old ways. And it seems that when this topic arises, it is not sufficient to just point out that it's an outmoded typing convention that held sway during the manual typewriter era, and that it's preferable to not do it anymore. No: the people who still do it are not merely stuck in an old habit or ignorant of the new correct convention, they are actually frakking jackasses, they are destroying the world of typography, and they may as well stick their heads in their ovens in a state of abject shame.

Let me tell you something: Every single month when I format M-Brane SF, after I have all the edited story docs compiled into a single file, I do a two-second find/replace operation telling the word processor to find double spaces after "full stops" (jeebus, I can't get used to that term) and to replace them with single spaces. And each time, I get a report from the word processor that says something like "Word has finished searching and made 876 replacements." That's a lot replacements in the 20 or 30 thousand words of text that usually comprise an issue of M-Brane SF. The 876 number is just an example, but it is always in the hundreds. Which means that many, if not most, of the manuscripts that were the source documents for an M-Brane issue were originally typed by those bloody, scurrilous two-spacers. I do not look back to figure out who the offenders were. I do not care, because it took me two seconds to fix all of them. I, like most publishers, have a typographic house "style" which I apply to all text that I publish, but I do not expect my writers to somehow know all the details of this and send me manuscripts complying with it. Just as I do not care if they two-space, I do not flip my lid when they use double hyphens instead of dashes. I just fix it it another quick find/replace maneuver. I don't even fret about how nearly everyone uses paragraph tab indents that are way too deep, a wholly unsightly full half-inch. I just fix it. It's part of my job.

[An aside: It strikes me as funny that there are probably more than a few of my colleagues who bristle at the two-spacers but who still ask to see manuscripts in 12pt Courier. Talk about out-dated: this is the very font that caused the whole two-space-after-the-full-stop problem in the first place! Really, y'all, the whole "standard manuscript format" convention, while it has its advantages as an industry standard, is wholly based on outmoded typewriter-era stuff. Why double-space the lines? It sure as hell does not make it easy to read on screen. It's so someone can go at a paper copy of it with a pencil and write notes to the typographer on it. Here, there is never a paper copy of anything except when someone buys one of our finished print books.]

If I were going to be a serious pain in the ass about this kind of stuff, here are a few things that I'd like to see no more of in submissions to my magazine:

1) Use of sans serif fonts such as Helvetica, etc. Look at a "real" book (ie. a print or even most electronic ones produced by a major publisher) or a professionally-produced print magazine, or even one of the more nicely designed webzines, such as Rudy Rucker's Flurb (deliberate that the example of Flurb to which I linked is Adam Callaway's story; I really enjoyed it). You will find almost nowhere long-form stuff printed in sans serif fonts (except in small press books, more on that in a second). Since M-Brane is presented primarily as a PDF, and since its content gets printed in book form in the Quarterlies, I eschew sans serif fonts for body text. Because it makes it look like it's supposed to be something brief on a computer screen. These fonts are favored for online uses because they tend to be readily readable at even very small sizes (such as in those tiny little notes on Facebook and Twitter where they tell you where and when an update originated), and they are fine for short blocks of text. For long stuff, or anything printed, they are kind of unsightly. (By the way, I had a short story published last year in a print book which used throughout a sans serif font (and way-too-deep paragraph indents). This is common micro-press error, and it makes me wonder why, even if you are an amateur (like me), you can't just look at what someone pro has done again and again and make it more like that).

2) Formatting a manuscript in "web" style, with no paragraph indents and double spaces between paragraphs (like the way this blog post looks). Again, this is a convention for online stuff, and I don't object to those applications of it. But my magazine and my books do not look like this, and never will. It's ugly in print. Look at a "real" book. It's not formatted like that. But since so many of my fellow publishers actually want to see submissions formatted in this style because it probably makes it easier for them to transfer them to their websites, I just live with it. This is one thing, however, that is not always just a two-second fix for me. It varies depending on how much embedded bugginess is in the writer's source file, and sometime I have fought with it a bit.

3) Emphasis indicated by underlining or, gods forbid, bold text. This is an also an outmoded typewriter convention, because generally one could not change font style on a typewriter. When I was a high school journalism kid in the just-barely-pre-computer days, we indicated font style for the typographer (who worked on a fancy electronic Xerox MemoryWriter) with underlines and squiggly underlines, etc., on paper manuscripts. But those days are long gone. Like most people, I print emphasized words and things like internal monologue in italics, and it would make my life a lot easier if they were that way in the first place when I get to the point of preparing a story for publication. I'm not in the typing biz, yo. When your story is accepted, it is literally the document that you sent me, with edits and format changes, that is used to create the final printed version, and the fewer old typewritery traits it bears, the better. But again, I know that for some reason many of my colleagues want emphasis to be indicated by underlining. In my humble opinion, they are acting like the two-space-after-a-period crowd and they need to enter fully the post-typewriter age.

But none of these biases will, by themselves, deny a submitter a fair reading and possible publication. These problems are too pervasive to contain now anyway. I am used to it all, and I accept that it is my job to make M-Brane's text look the way I want it to look (classy).


M-BRANE SF Copyright © 2010 Premium Wordpress Themes | Website Templates | Blogger Template is Designed by Lasantha.