Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Merigan Tales: The Anthology

Well, I'm pleased to say that we have an anthology. The title is "Merigan Tales," and I'll be writing a foreword in the next week or so and getting it to the publisher. You should hear from him about contract terms shortly thereafter.

Once again, I had more good stories than I could use -- is it just my imagination, or is there an astonishing number of really first-rate short story writers out there who just need a little encouragement, such as a contest? After much brooding and several draft lists, here are the stories I've selected for the anthology:

"The Second Coming" by Al Sevcik   
"Eight Stars of Gold" by Grant Canterbury  
"Tiny’s Legacy" by Troy Jones III       
"Silent Key" by Tony F. Whelks        
"Journey to the North" by Matthew Griffiths   

"Elwus Has Left The Building" by Catherine McGuire      
"Over the Top of the World" by Ben Johnson   

"The Heart of Winter" by Walt Freitag

If your story did not get chosen, please don't think that means you aren't a good writer! I sweated blood over some of the decisions -- this one or that one? -- and in a couple of cases, it came down to what seemed to make the best mix of stories in the anthology.  I would very much like to see the stories that weren't selected submitted to "Into the Ruins," so that they can be published there. If you're willing, please contact editor Joel Caris at <a href="https://intotheruins.com/submissions/">the submissions page</a> and he'll guide you through the submissions process. 

I'd like to thank everyone who took part in this project. It's one thing to write a novel; it's another thing to have the world of that novel come alive in the imaginations of others, and I consider myself very fortunate as a writer to have had the chance to see that happen.

With my best, JMG

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Finally Coming Together

I apologize to all who've submitted stories to the Meriga project contest -- it's taken me an unconscionably long time to get to reading them (in most cases, rereading them) and making a final selection. That's nearly done. I find, though, that I don't have current email addresses for many of the submissions, and in some cases I don't have a name for the author's byline!

If you submitted a story for the proposed anthology, please put through a comment to this post, marked "Not For Posting," with your name, the title of your story, and your current email address. That way, as I finish making a selection of the stories submitted, I can have everything set to hand over to the publisher.

I'm pleased to say that there are more than enough stories for a good-sized anthology. Unfortunately "more than enough" means that some submissions won't be included. There are at least two options for those stories that don't happen to get included. Option #1 is that Joel Caris, editor of the deindustrial-SF magazine Into the Ruins, has asked me to forward him any stories for which I don't have room in my anthologies. Into the Ruins is a paying market, and it's apparently picking up a good-sized readership -- I'd recommend anyone who has deindustrial-SF stories in mind or on paper to consider it as a market anyway.

Option #2 -- well, if this first anthology of Merigan stories does well, and I think it will, there may be a second anthology, and in that case we can see about including at least some of the stories that didn't make the cut this time in that second go-round.

I'll be posting something in a couple of weeks, I hope, with the list of stories that will be part of the first anthology. More soon!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Merigan Glossary

I've tried to compile all the place names, idioms, and terms in Star’s Reach here. If I’ve missed anything, post a comment with the page number and I’ll insert it. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Submissions Guidelines

I'm looking for eight to ten short stories (2500-7500 words) and two or three novelettes (up to 15,000 words) for a shared-world anthology set in the imagined future of Star’s Reach. Submissions from first-time authors, established professionals, and anything in between are all equally welcome. I would like to see quirky, lively tales with unusual characters and plots, drawing on the distinctive history and landscape of Meriga and the countries that surround it; if your story could be set just as easily in the Old West or in the early years of a Mars colony, it probably won’t be chosen for the anthology.

Note that the word “stories” appears several times in the paragraph above! I’m not interested in seeing vignettes, prose poems, experimental pieces, slash, non-slash pornography, or author lectures praising or condemning contemporary ideologies. Interesting characters in challenging situations, plots that go somewhere and then resolve in unexpected ways, vividly described events and settings, and colorful, compelling prose are the things most likely to get an acceptance email.

Stories may be set in any part of the world of Star’s Reach, though settings in Meriga and the nations around it are recommended, and may take place at any point in time from the drought years (roughly 2100-2200 in our calendar) to the presdency of Sharl sunna Sheren (2484-2539 in our calendar). As noted in the paper on Overview and Ground Rules, respect for the canon and the theme is a non-negotiable requirement.

Payment for stories chosen for the anthology will consist of a share of royalties. Each author will receive 1% of the publisher’s net receipts from sales of the anthology. There will be no advance, but once the anthology is published, you’ll get an annual payment as long as it stays in print.

Submissions may be made in one of two ways:

a) Post your story on a blog, and then post a comment here announcing where readers can find it. If you enjoy immediate feedback on your fiction and want suggestions for improving the story, this is your best bet.

b) If that’s too public an approach for your taste, put in a comment here labeled “not for posting,” giving your name and email address and telling me that you have a story you’d like to submit. I’ll be in touch, and you can then email me your story for consideration.

The deadline for submissions to the anthology is March 31, 2016. If there’s enough interest (and sales) to justify a second anthology, submissions received after that time will be considered for that, and so will any story that doesn’t get into the first anthology.

Please note: I am also open to the publication of original novels set in the Star’s Reach future. If this is something that interests you, please post a comment here and we’ll talk.

(Edit note 11/5/2015: the original deadline was January 30, but that's not going to work with my writing and editing schedule, so I've moved it back two months. I trust this won't discomfit anybody!)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Open Discussion Thread #1

Some lively discussions got started on The Archdruid Report once I raised the possibility of a Meriga anthology. The comments to this post are a place to continue those. Let's talk!

Overview and Ground Rules

Back in 2009 I started writing a novel, Star’s Reach, in monthly installments on a blog. It was the first really extended piece of fiction I’d written since my first science fiction novel, The Fires of Shalsha, appeared five years earlier. Since then I’d managed to launch a successful blog on the future of industrial society, and I wanted to put some of my intuitions about the future into narrative form.
The novel was finished in 2014 and, with slight revisions, was published that same year. Since then it’s found a lively audience among readers who are tired of the endlessly rehashed Tomorrowland future that dominates so much of contemporary science fiction, and also among those who realize that the hackneyed future just mentioned—the future of starships, zap guns, and limitless technological hubris—is not going to happen, not in our lifetimes, and not in the lifetime of our species. Those two audiences overlap, to be sure, and both of them seem to be growing fairly rapidly these days.

Since the novel came out, a great many readers of Star’s Reach have asked me for more stories set in the same future. It’s possible that I’ll return at some point to 25th-century Meriga, with its ruinmen, failed scholars, recovering ecosystems and crumbling ruins, but for the time being my fiction has headed off in different directions. I’ve therefore decided to try opening Meriga to other authors, and to assemble and edit at least one anthology of stories set in the world of Star’s Reach.

This blog will function as a headquarters and clubhouse for those involved in that project.

Some Basic Rules

All the authors I’ve met have much the same attitude toward their fictional creations that a mama bear has toward its cubs, and while I don’t take things that far—well, no, let’s be honest; I do take things that far, just like every other author. I’m perfectly willing to have other writers create stories set in the world that I’ve created, but I’m not willing to let anyone trash the place. Thus I’d like to ask authors who want to participate in this project to abide by two general rules and a few more specific ones.

The general rules are respect the canon and respect the theme.

Respect the canon: this is the easy one. It means that when the text of Star’s Reach or of the papers I post here as a sort of project bible says something about the future world in which these stories are set, that’s not open to negotiation. If you’re writing a Western, you don’t get to decide that the Rocky Mountains aren’t there because they’d be inconvenient for your plot; if you’re writing a Regency romance, you don’t get to decide that all the characters ought to wear 1920s zoot suits and flapper dresses instead of what people actually wore in the Regency era. A shared world project works the same way. The novel and the project bible are canon; your creations are welcome, but they need to fit in the (very large) blank spaces left open between elements of canon.

This means, among other things, that if your story is going to be considered for the anthology, you need to have some sense of the canon. I’m going to post as many details as possible here, but you’ll probably need to read, and reread, Star’s Reach as well. If that’s too unpleasant of a task for you, this project may not be well suited to your talents just now.

Respect the theme: this is probably going to be the one that upsets people, but that can’t be helped. The central theme of Star’s Reach is that what we call progress—the buildup of ever more complex technologies doing ever more extravagant things—was a temporary side effect of three centuries of reckless consumption of fossil fuel reserves, and it’s over. In the universe of Star’s Reach, there aren’t going to be starships or space colonies, or any of the other high-tech claptrap that’s been cluttering up science fiction for the last century; even the sort of energy and resource consumption that supports today’s technostructure is a thing of the distant past.

For the rest of our species’ time on Earth, according to the vision at the core of this project, human societies will have to make do with the much more modest energy supplies that can be provided by renewable resources, and that has sweeping implications for the kinds of technologies, and the kinds of societies, that can exist. How many people realize, for example, that railroads only became possible in the first place because fossil fuels in large enough quantities became available to turn iron ore into enough steel to cross continents with rails? How many people are aware of the energy inputs needed to make the concrete or the asphalt needed to make roads suitable for anything but the simplest vehicles? In the universe of Star’s Reach, those things don’t exist any more, and so railroads and high-speed vehicle traffic don’t exist, either.

A lot of other things that do exist in that universe, such as defunct nuclear reactors and toxic compounds in the soil and water supply, serve as reminders of the long-term costs of our current technologies. That means that one particular concept of the human future—the concept that most people nowadays think of as progress—has been closed off permanently.  The world of Star’s Reach isn’t headed for the kind of future most people nowadays like to imagine; it’s going toward its own, very different future. I ask writers to respect that, and not try to drag it back into familiar cliches. If you submit one of those hackneyed stories in which an inspired young technologist gets our kind of progress going again, in other words, it’s going straight into the trash can. If you submit a story in which an enclave has kept technology going so that our kind of progress can happen again, it’ll land in the same place, and so on. If you aren’t sure whether your story is cutting too close to that, ask me.

Those are the basic rules. Here are a few more specific ones.

Please don’t use my characters. I don’t mind if minor characters in Star’s Reach surface in other stories, but the main characters—Trey, Berry, Plummer, Eleen, Tashel Ban, Thu, and old Anna—are for all practical purposes personal friends of mine, and I’m going to ask that they not be included in your stories, except in the most minor contexts. (It's okay to have Berry's voice on the radio after his inauguration as presden, for example.) If and when I write more tales of my own in the Star’s Reach world, one or more of the major characters from the book may feature in those tales, and I’d hate to have to stomp on someone else’s vision if mine goes in a different direction.

Sex is fine; pornography, not so much. In 25th-century Meriga, for a variety of reasons, sex isn’t loaded with the same mass of moral panic that surrounds it in early 21st-century America; it’s simply part of life, and consenting adults who happen to be sexually attracted to each other face few taboos if they choose to do something about that attraction. (That’s irrespective of gender, by the way; same-gender relationships aren’t stigmatized in Meriga.) Stories that contain sex between consenting adults, in other words, are welcome. On the other hand, if the story’s just an excuse to get two or more people into a sexual situation, it’s not going to go into the anthology.

Put these two together, of course, and there’s a third rule:

No slash. Those of my readers who have managed to avoid the world of fan fiction may not know that there’s an entire genre consisting of sexual encounters between characters of the same gender, who are presented as straight in whatever original work is being fan-ficced. The term “slash” comes from the original version, which was K/S—that is, Kirk/Spock; you can fill in the blanks for yourself. (Back in the 1970s, before the internet intervened, this was an underground phenomenon, written by women for a female clientele, and you could get K/S only by knowing who to ask at certain stalls in dealers’ rooms in science fiction conventions.) What you do in the privacy of your own keyboard is your own business, but stories that 'ship characters from the book will go straight into the trash if they come over the transom here.

Those are the things that come to mind at this point. I’ll announce any further rules if and when those become necessary.