Sunday, June 20, 2021

The State of the Loon • 20 June 2021


Work is chugging along on SS#24, albeit more slowly than I’d like. While my ultimate goal is to grow Stupefying Stories to be a monthly magazine, at this point I’ll be happy when we can hit quarterly release targets on a consistent basis.

Yes, that is the cover teaser for SS#24. More teasers to follow as we ramp up to release.


I have been watching the metrics very closely these past few weeks, and the metrics are very clear: what readers most want to see from us is more fiction, and less blather. Accordingly, this week we will be running eight new short-short stories from the latest Pete Wood Challenge, per this schedule:

Monday, 6/21/21
“Have Earthlings, Will Travel,” by Jonathan Worlde
“The Family Business,” by Carol Scheina

Tuesday, 6/22/21
“Day Trips to Purgatory,” by Alicia Hilton
“History is Alive and Well,” by Roxana Arama

Wednesday, 6/23/21
“How Not to Save Your Marriage,” by Cécile Cristofari
“Roy’s Playland,” by Eric Fomley

Thursday, 6/24/21
“Far Side of the Moon,” by Zack Lux

Friday, 6/25/21
“Crush Depth,” by Hayley Stone

If some of these names seem familiar, they should, as Zack Lux and Hayley Stone are the newcomers on the list. Jonathan Worlde, Carol Scheina, Alicia Hilton, Roxana Arama, Cécile Cristofari, and Eric Fomley have all shown up as winners in previous iterations of The Pete Wood Challenge—Carol Scheina twice!—so if you haven’t read their earlier stories, you can find them all at this link:

The Pete Wood Challenge

In particular, if you haven’t read Roxana Arama’s story, “For Sale: Used Time Machine. No Refunds!” you owe it to yourself to do so now. It makes great poignant Father’s Day reading.


One inexplicable thing in the metrics is that every two days the 2014 Campbellian Anthology release announcement gets a specific number of hits, even though the book has been out of print for six years. The Campbell Award isn’t even called the Campbell Award any more, so I can’t explain this, except to guess that some bots somewhere have developed a fixation with the thing. 


Another thing the metrics reveal is that readers want to see lots more “how to” articles on writing and marketing your writing. That, and they seem to want more articles discussing the works of famous dead SF/F authors. We are working on producing more of the former, but as for the latter, we are hampered by the limited supply of famous dead SF/F authors. Tempting as it sometimes is I refuse to produce any more of them.

If you are interested in writing a “how to” article on writing and/or marketing your writing, contact me at and pitch a topic.


One thing the metrics have shown is that most of our readers do not want to see more movie reviews. Accordingly, we’re going to stop running those. I do so with some reluctance: I was growing quite fond of Clash of the Schlockmeisters! and had lots more spleen to vent. However, the readers have spoken—or more accurately, not read, which in its own way is a form of speech. Therefore, adios, movie reviews. 


Finally, anent Notes towards a manifesto: I have one more of those to post, and then I think I’m done for now. If you have specific questions to ask, send them to, but otherwise these columns seems to have turned into a series of rambling reminiscences: in other words, more blather, which no one needs. 

An old friend recently asked, “Why don’t you just write a manifesto and be done with it?” What stops me is that I don’t like manifestos. More to the point, I don’t trust editors and publishers who operate according to their socio-political manifestos. Far too often I’ve seen them put their personal agendas ahead of the quality of the work they publish. 

As for me, if I had a agenda, I suppose it would be this:

Now do me a favor and buy an issue of the magazine, wouldja? Thanks.

—Bruce Bethke


~brb said...

And now to bury one more thing in the comments, to make it harder for the bots and spiders to find: another thing the metrics show is that people are really interested in when we will be reopening to unsolicited submissions.

We have decided to reopen to submissions on Tuesday, September 7th. However, don't jump the gun, as we will be rewriting our submission guidelines before then and making some significant changes in our standard contract and in the way we do business with authors. These will all be to the good (we think), but they will be changes.

ray p daley said...

I've already added you to my September Submission Challenge, you can be part of our 2nd birthday celebrations. Pretty sure I already know what I'll sub if it doesn't sell before then.