Update on ASIM #53

I’m editing issue 53 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, which will be out at the end of the year.

I have so far accepted four stories, so there is a bit more to go. Three are slush pool stories, and one is a story I sourced from another workshop (yes, I do this, on occasion). Three are science fiction, one, a short piece, soft SF, the other two, longer stories, are hard SF, one with crime elements. We slush blind, but somehow I managed to pick four stories that were written by women.

OK, what does all this mean? Well, obviously I’m looking for more stories. What sort of stories?

– They must absolutely be well-written
– We’re listening to our subscribers who are telling us that they want less horror. We are not a horror market, although we have occasionally published horror and probably will continue to do so on occasion. Midnight Echo is an excellent market for horror in Australia. ASIM set out to publish light-hearted stories. If your story has horror elements, we want the funny side. See ‘Dig Up The Vote’ in issue 47.
– I’m no great fan of demons and angels and devils
– I’d like to see some good-ol’ adventure fantasy
– To me, light-hearted does not mean slap-stick

I stress this is just me, and I’m not speaking for the editors of issues 52 or 54.

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12 comments on “Update on ASIM #53

  1. Your subscribers are actually saying they want less horror? Just out of curiosity, how many complaints on these grounds have lobbed in? Would be a shame to see ASIM turn its back on horror altogether, considering that many of these pieces have recently been listed in places such as Datlow’s HM list, and considered for all the local writing awards. It also seems strange to hear that ASIM is “not a horror market”, considering it always *has* been, always listing the standard SF/F/H umbrella as eligible works for submission. Was some sort of announcement made about this new policy, and did it come from the co-op? I only mention it because it seems a rather definitive statement, and this greatly concerns me as a sometimes-horror author (and ASIM subscriber).

    • Yes, they are saying just that. We’ve had a number of subscribers not renewing because of it, and it’s what we feel as well, privately, behind the scenes. I can’t see it as a problem. Australia is rife with horror venues. Midnight Echo is the prime place for horror in Australia. It’s not that we want to turn our back on horror completely, but we simply want less of it, and our subscribers want that, too.

      • I think the problem was the lack of balance, Patty, Jason. There were a couple of issues that were rather heavy on the horror – that, and the fact that the kind of horror was not the kind of “light” fiction for which ASIM had been created. We’re fully aware, Jason, that you’re a valued ASIM contributor and a fabulous writer. But we’ve been, in the past, careful to keep balance – some SF, some fantasy, a little horror, preferably not too dark or nasty – the guidelines explain whatever you need to know here. The complaint might just as easily have been about an issue overflowing with fantasy – or SF, for that matter, though it might have been from a different subscriber. I seem to remember some complaints about Issue #5, which was, by chance, all women. Nobody is perfect or makes no mistakes, eh?

  2. I’m just curious, but how soon before the issue goes out do you have to finalise stories? I guess what I’m asking is when, for you as an editor, is your deadline?

  3. Cool, many thanks for the clarification Sue and Patty. I got the impression the whole genre was going to be marginalised by your fine mag (or shipped off holus bolus to a horror ghetto ie Midnight Echo), and briefly saw red. Sorry! 🙂

    I have also heard a rumour that an unofficial slushing policy at ASIM is resulting in all/most horror stories are being arbitrarily zapped in the 1st round slush based solely on genre, and not being allowed to get to the final round via merit, where individual issue editors could make the call on genre content levels. Is this true? I really hope not! Again, only a rumour, but a concerning one.

    But definitely a fair call re the truly squicky splatterpunk style horror, it probably doesn’t suit the pulp ethos of ASIM. Would be a shame if you folks were passing on some of the gorgeous psychological horror like what Deb Biancotti and Terry Dowling have written recently, or the quirky B-grade stuff that is mostly tongue in cheek.

    Anyways, keep up the good work and please forgive my “someone is wrong on the internet!” moment 🙂

    • Jason, my apologies, too.
      I probably contributed to the ‘too much horror’ as editor of 47, with three stories possibly classified as such. Although I’ve had the most positive comments from Patrick Tomlinson’s ‘Dig Up The Vote’, and although there were zombies, I thought the story was very, very funny.
      I agree with Sue, and this has been discussed in the co-op and most members agreed, that there has been just a bit too much horror lately. Especially of the eeew-inducing kind. When there is such an excellent horror venue as Midnight Echo, should ASIM champion the genre as much? I don’t think so, and neither do most of the active co-op members, even if only because ASIM was set up as a light-hearted magazine, and that is the main tone we’d like to convey.
      There is no slush policy, and certainly none that excludes horror. That said, we have discussed the ‘maybe we should publish less horror’ line, and we have decided that we are not a prime venue for splatter. I passed a horror story up the food chain last week.

      • Cool, glad to hear that rumour isn’t true! For that would truly suck.

        Midnight Echo is a gorgeous mag that has produced some quality fiction, but isn’t without its own issues – ie the difficulties in getting local female writers to sub, plus only bi-annual release. I’d be wary of saying “all dark fiction should go there, thanks” given that it only leaves ASIM and Aurealis (I think?) as alternative local markets for those who don’t want to do Midnight Echo for whatever reason.

        That being said there have been some great horror-themed anthologies from the various indie publishers, but again, these have all been themed, which leaves general horror shorts not so strong locally as it might appear. The impression that one of our regular generalist markets is restricting a genre was (and is) of some concern. Another argument is that, done correctly, horror is one of the pulpiest genres of all, and more than deserving of meeting the original ASIM credo 🙂

  4. So, you’re after light stuff? Doh, that leaves me without a market for the story I was going to send you. It’s fantasy, but with a serious theme, but too short for Aurealis. If you’re still looking for stuff I might send it in? Attention you at ASIM?

    • As discussed in this thread, we won’t stop publishing horror, but we want to stay true to the more positive feel the magazine was set up to publish. Feel free to submit anything to the submissions address, as long as it’s specfic. We’ll make a decision when we see the story. Any stories submitted will go through the normal slush process.

  5. Oh, oops – I put attention to you in the subject line. Sorry. I did send it in, though probably way too late for this issue. I had another look through your submission guidelines and it seemed to fit. Thanks for writing on this Patty (and replying so quickly). It’s good to get an insight into how an editor thinks. Much appreciated.

    PS – would it be all right if I added you to my blogroll?

    • Sure. Add away 😉

      When submitting to ASIM, what you put in the letter doesn’t make much of a difference. Unless I’ve notified the slushmistress, she will feed all submissions into the slush-o-matic program, which strips all identifying features and spits out the story in an email to one of our 20-odd slush readers at random.

  6. As a slusher, I’ll put through to the next round anything that is well-written enough, even if it’s not my cup of tea. If I really, really can’t handle the story I’ll ask for it to be re-assigned to someone who is hopefully not biased. Keep submitting, Jason! I’d suggest those of you who still aren’t sure get hold of Issue #50. It will give you a good idea of the range of stuff we publish when we can. There’s SF, fantasy, some horror, humour, serious stuff. If you read this, then the guidelines on the web site you can’t go wrong! 🙂

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