About Stupefying Stories & Rampant Loon Press

stupefy (ˈstü-pə-ˌfī) • to stun, astonish, or astound

STUPEFYING STORIES™ and Rampant Loon Press™ are the conjoined brainchildren of Bruce and Karen Bethke. Bruce Bethke, as you may already know, is the world-famous and award-winning science fiction writer best known in SF/F circles either for his 1980 short story, “Cyberpunk,” or else for his 1995 Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel, Headcrash. Karen Bethke, however, is not just a fashion accessory and a great cook, but also the driving force behind RLP, the business, and a lifelong science fiction, fantasy, and horror fiction fan with a four-novel-a-week reading habit. 

When Bruce and Karen launched Rampant Loon Press in 2005, it was with two very simple goals in mind:

  1. To use the attention people wanted to pay to Bruce, because of all the novels and stories he wrote and saw published in the 1980s and 1990s, to encourage them to pay attention to newer and younger writers who are writing great new fiction now, and

  2. To build a successful small-press publishing company, without publishing books they would be embarrassed to have their parents or children read.

    Having had a long history in the non-profit arts sector and having been on the Boards of Directors of three different 501(c)(3) corporations, including a few terms on the SFWA Board of Directors, Bruce then insisted on two more conditions:

  3. That the company not get into the usual non-profit foundation grants fund-raising game, because that road invariably led to producing vast and fetid heaps of unreadable books, unwatchable plays, and unlistenable music more reflective of the sociopolitical beliefs, religious attitudes, and personal sexual hangups of foundation grant committee members than of anything any sane and normal person would want to read, watch, or listen to, and

  4. That the corporation be named Rampant Loon Media, because, with one eye on the future and other on his deep personal history in audio and video production, Bruce wanted to be certain the company had the flexibility to go far beyond publishing written words printed on dead trees, when the technology evolved to the point where it was practical to do so without going broke.


That was in 2005. Since then Rampant Loon Press has had its ups and downs, and more than a few times when everything seemed to be going sideways. The company has published around 50 books to date, and showcased the work of hundreds of writers. Some RLP books have been huge successes, selling thousands of copies and continuing to sell for years, while others have flopped so hard they left smoking craters in the ground. Along the way, point 2 of the mission statement changed from “parents or children” to “children or grandchildren,” and also along the way cancer became an integral part of the Rampant Loon Press story, as Karen was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2010, literally between the time they signed off on the printer’s galleys for the first issue of Stupefying Stories and the time the bindery delivered the finished books. Bruce and Karen no longer look the same as they did when they first launched the company—

But their mission remains the same. There are many ways to measure success, and if you look at all the writers who got their start with Stupefying Stories and Rampant Loon Press, and then went on to become established professionals, successful novelists, and featured names on the covers of major magazines, Rampant Loon Press has succeeded beyond Bruce and Karen’s wildest dreams. They seem to have a genuine knack for finding, coaching, encouraging, and publishing the new writers that everyone else is going to be talking about in another five to ten years.

The future of Rampant Loon Press is uncertain. Under the circumstances, it can’t help but be. But the mission continues.


“This is perhaps not a publication for those whose tastes fall within narrow boundaries, as the stories can fall pretty much anywhere within the broad scope of speculative fiction. It’s fairly obvious that Bruce Bethke’s only criteria for the magazine is that the work should be of a uniformly high standard.”

—Dave Brzeski, SFCrowsnest.info