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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The State of the Loon (Updated)


In case I’ve seemed more distracted than usual lately, the short answer is yes, I have been. Stupefying Stories #23 failed to launch on schedule because of a technical glitch of the stupid and self-inflicted kind, which at root turned out to be yet another case of “Just because it worked on Windows 7, don’t assume it still works that way on Windows 10.” I have it figured out now and remain one solid working day away from having the print and ebook builds ready to upload to Amazon, but in the meantime—

In the meantime, a huge problem involving our medical insurance erupted at the same time as I was trying to wrap up the book builds. The most condensed possible form is to say that there was an administrative slip-up somewhere in the process when my former employer terminated my benefits coverage last December, with the result being we were caught between two medical insurance companies both insisting the other was responsible for my wife’s bills. The administrative mistake was made in mid-December but took six weeks to percolate through to us, meaning that a bit over two weeks ago we were suddenly blindsided by an enormous medical bill—and the promise of more bills just like it to come every month going forward—that threatened to change the entire set of assumptions on which my decision to retire and go full-time on Rampant Loon Press was based.

I could go into this in greater detail—and may, someday, as some of what developed from this was quite hilarious, in a very perverse way—but fortunately, while it took two intense weeks to do it, we did eventually get the problem with the insurance companies sorted out and my wife into a study program that promised to pick up the cost of her most expensive medication for the rest of this year. Crisis averted... 

Or so it seemed.

Ironically, once we finally did get the insurance kerfluffle resolved, the latest round of diagnostic imaging revealed that the insanely expensive designer drug at the center of all this drama was no longer effective for her, so she needed to quit taking it.

•   •   •

Longtime friends and followers of Stupefying Stories know that ever since the first issue, the fortunes of the magazine have been tangled up with my wife’s ongoing battle with metastatic cancer. When the Big C last returned, in 2019, she was put on a then brand-new and fantastically expensive drug that had just been approved by the FDA and promised miraculous results. For a while, it delivered them.

This past Monday afternoon we learned that her cancer has returned, in three new places. I guess the half-life of miracles isn’t what it used to be.

We have been through this drill enough times that it isn’t even a shock anymore. My wife’s first reaction was, “Yes, I felt like there was something wrong.” Then we started talking with her doctors about options and new treatment plans. Later, when we got home, she cried a little, then got on the phone and started informing our kids, her siblings, and gradually an ever-wider circle of family and friends. Hence this post.

•   •   •

It’s a setback, yes, but not the end of the world. While there’s life, there’s hope. We take a day to absorb the news, collect our thoughts, look at our options, and then pick ourselves, dust ourselves off, and get back to work. The mission of Rampant Loon Press goes on. We have books to release, stories to publish, authors to take care of—

And this website to redesign. Good grief, we’ve been living with this same basic design since 2005. We had been looking at migrating to a new hosting service and doing a complete site redesign to turn into the proper webzine we’d always wanted it to become, but no, in the end we decided we have too much content and history here. will remain on blogspot for the time being, but we will be giving the site a major facelift very soon. Expect things to break while remodeling is in progress, but the preliminary results look very promising.

Also expect to start seeing a lot more contributions from other writers, as we work to turn into a gathering place for writers and readers. Guy Stewart has just turned in a 12-part series on writing career development; we’re going to launch that just as soon as we figure out the best way to present it. Likewise, Pete Wood has just turned in what began as a single question for living legend David Gerrold and ballooned into an hour-long ten-thousand-word conversation covering Gerrold’s work as a screenwriter on Star Trek, Land of the Lost, and the short-lived Logan’s Run TV series, among other things. I’m very excited to be publishing this one, as Gerrold is a walking, talking, living encyclopedia of science fiction television, and he’s full of fascinating behind-the-scenes information. 

We have lots of other things in the pipeline, and more new voices to be revealed, but today we’ll begin our new approach to this site with paranormal romance urban fantasy novelist Julie Frost, talking about a subject that is very near and dear to her heart. Her post goes live at noon Central time.

Per aspera ad astra!

—Bruce Bethke 


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