Monday, November 6, 2023

The Never-ending FAQ • tearing up our Q4 2023 schedule

This was always going to be a difficult month. 

The events of a year ago are still very much with me, very much on my mind, I’d just made a choice to stop talking about them in public. If you’ve been following Stupefying Stories for a while you know what I’m talking about. If you’re a newcomer, you’ll find the gist of the story here and the conclusion here. I’d unpublished these posts because I’d gotten tired of seeing them in the “Most Popular Posts” widget in the right column. I expect I’ll unpublish them again in about a week, but for today, I’ve made them visible again.

I had thought that if I threw myself into work and built up momentum with issues 24, 25, and 26, I’d be able to plow through October and November with barely a hitch. Doing 26 as a double-issue was, in hindsight, a mistake. By the time it was finally out the door I needed a few days’ break from work, to rest and recuperate, so I took those days off.

And then the terrorist attack on October 7th happened…

I had been doing a lot of spelunking through my old archives recently. With issue 27 in the works and the 40th anniversary of “Cyberpunk” coming up, I was getting interview requests and invitations to speak and the like and wanted to refresh my memory as to just exactly what was in my mind when I came up with the idea, 43 years ago. One thing that stood out in my notes, and that I’ve spoken about only rarely, was that cyberpunk in part began as a strong and cynical negative reaction. In the late 1970s, a lot of very authoritative people were going on and on about what a wonderful future lay ahead of us, once the whole world was wired and we had the free flow of information to and from everybody everywhere. It would usher in a new age of peace and understanding, they said, as we all got to see how much we were alike and how much we all shared. 

No, I’d decided then, that wasn’t how it was going to play out. Instead, I wrote, “In the future, anyone with a television camera, an AK-47, and a willingness to commit atrocities can be a player on the world stage.”

I hate it when my most dark, cynical, and misanthropic ideas turn out to be not dark, cynical, and misanthropic enough.  


October thus turned into a washout. The whole idea of filling the month with “fun” horror stories on SHOWCASE seemed to be—well, in questionable taste, to say the least. There were stories I had scheduled that I elected to delay or defer, at least until I wasn’t getting my daily dose of horror from watching the evening news. As for work on issue #27—well, I’m back to work on it now, but my usual sense of humor and optimism took some serious hits in these past four weeks, so I’m behind schedule.

Ergo, here’s where we stand, as of today.

STUPEFYING STORIES 27 • The 40th Anniversary of Cyberpunk issue is in progress. I’m hoping to have it ready to release by the 15th but will be happy if it’s out by the 20th.

STUPEFYING STORIES 28 • This was originally planned to be “Clankalog,” but we received so many outstanding stories for #27 we decided to do two back-to-back cyberpunk-themed issues instead. This one is also currently in progress, and I’m hoping to have this one ready to release on December 1st. I’m also hoping that spreading the release out to be what is essentially #27, Volume 1 and Volume 2, won’t be quite as exhausting as just plain doing a double-issue.

STUPEFYING STORIES 29 • This is “Clankalog,” the hard sci-fi issue, previously planned as SS#28 and scheduled for December 1st and now planned as SS#29 and scheduled for a January 1st release. If all goes according to plan—yeah, right, like that ever happens—we should have it buttoned-up by mid-December. 

We’d better have it done by then. Because at that time—here’s your last-paragraph bombshell—I’ll be going in for eye surgery and will be unable to work on anything that requires being able to read for a period of one to two months.

Nil desperandum,
Bruce Bethke


GuyStewart said...

Bonum est. Nolo.


Richie said...

Wishing you all the best for your eye operation, Bruce. Take care.

Made in DNA said...

I am reminded of a calligraphy "painting" in our house that reads 「剣道 この道を行く」-- Kendo - this the path I walk.) Replace "kendo" with anything, or simply remove it: This is the path I walk.
Walk your path. We'll be here. Hell, walk with you if you like...

Karin Terebessy said...

Horror, as a genre, is marvelous at asking what a human's personal limits are - whether it's our capacity for cruelty or our ability to survive. Even zombies and vampires ask us to question the limits of human mortality, and werewolves, the limits of our civilized restraints on our primal instincts. All of that is terrific in its own right, but when the world is hurting and we are viewing actual horror day in and day out, and maybe even experiencing some personally, horror might not feel helpful. I think we all understand a need to take a step back from horror right now. Science fiction, on the other hand, shines a spotlight on our humanity. Whether it's humans on another planet suddenly seeing themselves critically or the alien observer on our planet who can distance themself and ask why humans laugh or why we persevere. I think Stupefying Stories needs a "sci fi humanity" issue on the horizon...