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2014: The Changes Ahead

Editorial by Bruce Bethke

And then December arrived, and The Year When Nothing Went As Planned lived up to its name right up until the end. In December we learned that Otogu the Insatiable, Devourer of Days, had been saving four last surprises for us—three merely time-consuming, but one very expensive—and while we kept scrambling to get books released before Christmas, ultimately, for the sake of our collective sanity, we had to stop, step back, take a deep breath, and think.

Whoa. If we don’t make some serious changes around here, we’re going to burn out.

Okay, first off, we’ve shifted all books that were scheduled for release in December 2013 into Q1 2014 instead. Sorry, but it was necessary. Secondly, we’ve added four more special issues to the schedule, and we’ll have more to say about them in the weeks to come. Third, I’ve just spent two weeks wading through the slush pile with a plunger in one hand and a drain auger in the other, getting things flowing again. I promise, this is the last time we’ll let the slush pile flowage get backed up like that. Our goal is to get down to a MTTR (Mean Time To Reject) of 14 days and a MTTA of 42.

Fourth—but in a sense, first—we’re going to be making some major changes to SHOWCASE, beginning this month.

There is a lot I like about SHOWCASE, and a lot more I’d like to do with SHOWCASE. I love the Badger & Vole movie reviews—when they come in on-time. I’d like to add more columns and op-ed pieces by other writers. I’m especially interested in writer-to-writer articles, of the “How I Made This Sale” or “How I Fixed This Problem in Rewrite” variety. I’d like to resurrect two old features that were pretty popular in their day: The Slush Pile Survival Guide and Splattering Guts for Fun & Profit. Heck, I’d even like to add a cartoon or two. Anybody out there know a cartoonist? I mean, a reliable cartoonist?

I would really, truly, deeply love to bring back The Friday Challenge in some updated form. Old hands around here will remember the Friday Challenge, how good it could be, and how tightly intertwined it was with the original launch of Stupefying Stories. For the newcomers, you’ll find the gist of it here.

In fact, now that I’ve re-read it, I’m going to repeat the link. Everybody, take two minutes right now to go read the (nearly) last Friday Challenge post, Closing Time. (And while you’re at it, you might also want to consider reading “A Manuscript’s Odyssey,” parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five—and what the heck, this example of the old Slushpile Survival Guide, too.)


There, that’s enough of gazing fondly into the rearview mirror. The road goes in one direction only—forward, into the future—and while we’ve done some fun and interesting things in the past, right now, I need to focus on where we’re going.

That means publishing more fiction. That means increasing our readership. That means redesigning SHOWCASE, to both a.) integrate it more tightly with our marketing/promotional effort, and b.) improve the way it looks on smart phones and tablets—because frankly, it looks pretty shabby right now.

That means driving Stupefying Stories to the point where we’re putting out an issue a month, consistently, so that we can get into places like Amazon’s Kindle Newsstand. Because that effort, to be honest, is what will either make or break us.

Our goal is to be there by July 1.

So hang on: the next six months are going to be a bumpy ride. And if it seems as if I’m no longer the chatty and genial guy I used to be, remember, I’m looking at everything related to SHOWCASE, Rampant Loon Press, and Stupefying Stories with two questions in mind: Will it help us publish more fiction? and Will it help us increase sales?

And now, enough talk: back to work. We’ve got a magazine to publish.

Kind regards,



Bruce Bethke is best known for either his genre-naming 1980 short story, “Cyberpunk,” his award-winning 1995 novel, Headcrash, or lately, as the editor and publisher of Stupefying Stories. What very few readers have known about him until recently is that he actually started out in the music industry, as a member of the design team that developed the MIDI interface and the Finale music notation engine (among other things), but now works in the supercomputer industry, doing stuff that is absolutely fascinating to do but almost impossible to explain to anyone not already well-grounded in massively parallel processor architectures, Fourier transformations, and computational fluid dynamics.

Bruce has a long-neglected personal web site at brucebethke.com, but if you’re looking for more information about him you’re better off reading the interviews at Wag the Fox, Six Questions For, or Strange Horizons. You can try to reach him through facebook.com/bruce.bethke, and that sometimes works, but you’ll have better luck going through facebook.com/StupefyingStories or use the feedback [at] stupefyingstoriesshowcase [dot] com email address.