Not quite a year later… video for the John Kessel interview.

Filmed on 25 March 2010 and printed in Bull Spec #2, the video is finally posted. Enjoy:


Looking for a few good people.

So. Thanks to Dan’s excellent job of completely taking over poetry, and Melinda’s amazing job of completely taking over advertising, I’ve had a few moments to actually think about what else needs doing around here. While that list is long, long, long, I’m ready to start the process of “filling out” the Bull Spec staff. Two right off the top which are big needs are Art Director and Digital Editions Editor. More after the jump.

What do I see an Art Director doing? Primarily: Taking a budget from me and getting cover art and story illustration. If it is someone who wants to get more hands-on with the layout (internal and/or cover), fonts, overall design, we can definitely talk. On the going deeper front, getting away from Scribus isn’t really an option (so that worst case I can take what’s there and work), so if you are married to Adobe it just probably won’t work out for us. But someone who can speak the language of artists and has an eye for covers and illustration… I need it. It’s not something I feel very good at, and I didn’t do nearly the job I wanted to do on it in issue #4 — too many stories left without illustrations. Somebody with a strong vision, even a complete redesign of what Bull Spec looks like for year 2, I’d like to talk.

What do I see a Digital Editions Editor doing? Taking the Scribus file (which has the final copy edits for text) and accompanying art for the issue and producing functional ePub and Kindle and similar versions, and uploading them to the various e-bookstores. It’s something I’ve needed to do since issue #1, and as more and more people are reading on their iPads, Nooks, Kindles, and other devices, the ship is about to sail without Bull Spec on board. This one is definitely more grunt work level, with none of the more fun “spend Sam’s money on art!” or cachet of the first item. I get that. Definitely can work out some kind of revenue sharing here, plus some small flat fee per issue, etc. Update: since I’ve been asked, ideally it would be somebody who’s already experienced in formatting for Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, etc. Or at least somebody with more time to play around with Sigil ePub authoring than I have!

On the horizon is a Podcast Director but the above are higher priority for me, and before I can take on getting any other projects off the ground, I need to either find people who want to help out with the above, or embrace doing it myself. Time will tell! If you are interested in the above, or know somebody I should beg, please let me know at sam at bullspec dot com. An incredibly, incredibly strong preference (if not outright requirement) for local folks.


Bull Spec Teen Writing Contest judged by Ann VanderMeer!

“Imagine two vast armies separated by a plain. Gryphons. Dragons. Mech walkers. Knights. Wizards. Rows of muskets. Rows of laser rifles. Rows of cannons. Velociraptors. Robots. Chariots. Hovercraft. Between these armies stand two teens. Siblings. A brother and sister. They hold outstretched hands, stretching out their other hands toward the armies, willing them to stop…”

So. I’ve wanted to figure out some way to help send a young writer in the area to the incredibly awesome Shared Worlds summer writing camp for teens at South Carolina’s Wofford College for a while. Next summer’s (2011’s) program is scheduled for 17-30 July, with (among others) instructors Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, Nnedi Okorafor, Will Hindmarch, &c. Yeah, wow! You can read about Jeff’s thoughts on teaching there via Matt Staggs at Suvudu. Yeah, wow! While it’ll take further fundraising to make it all the way, it’s time to get things started, as registration is already open.

What: A flash fiction contest for area teens, with stories inspired (in part, very loosely, or not at all!) by the opening paragraph in this post, on the theme of: teen siblings trying to stop a war. Magic. Technology. Either/Or/Neither. Fearlessness. Hope?

Errata: Stories must be at least 500 words and at most 1000 words, not including the title. (Stories may also be untitled, that’s fine.) One story entry per person. Stories must not have been previously published.

Eligibility: Residents of the Triangle area of North Carolina who this coming summer (2011) will be rising 8th graders through rising 12th graders. So, currently in 7th grade through 11th grade.

Prize: $50, publication in Bull Spec #5 (around late March, 2011), and a contributor copy of the issue. Further, if the winner is accepted to the Shared Worlds program, a partial scholarship ($200) will be provided along with fundraising efforts to get as close to the full tuition ($2000) as possible.

Note: You don’t actually have to want to (or be able to, you may have summer plans already, etc.) go to Shared Worlds to enter and win the $50 and publication. The age/grade requirement above still stands, however.

Judges: The judge for the contest will be award-winning editor Ann VanderMeer. YEAH, WOW!

Runners-Up: Outstanding runners-up, if any, will be mentioned by name and title of their submission.

How: E-mail your story either in the body of the e-mail or as an attachment, whatever, to [contests at bullspec dot com]. Please include your legal name, the name under which you want the story mentioned or published (if different), your mailing address, and your age and current grade level at which school, or if homeschooled or unschooled. Please use the following subject line: TEEN CONTEST ENTRY: <Insert Your Name Here>.

When: Deadline for entries is high noon EST, Friday, 25 February 2011. So you’ve got a little less than six weeks. Winner and runners up (if any) will be announced by high noon EST, Friday, 11 March 2011. Update: If this deadline is looming a little too largely and you are working on a story, please let us know and ask for an extension.

Other: Please, spread the word! Libraries, high schools, middle schools, etc. If you’ve got questions, drop me a line at [sam at bullspec dot com].


A nice review of Bull Spec #3 in Mark Watson’s Best SF.

Mark Watson recently reviewed Bull Spec #3 in Best SF and had some nice things to say, along with introducing me to some British zine terminology like “sides” rather than the pedestrian “pages”, and says, “There’s a lot in the magaze to like.” Thanks, Mark!

Best SF

A great article on the first year of Bull Spec in today’s Independent Weekly.

The Independent Weekly’s Brian Howe has a very nice article in this week’s issue, which is free to pick up all over the Triangle. Somehow he turned 90 minutes of rambling, disorganized nonsense into a no-nonsense article which hits on what speculative fiction is, a year of publishing and getting to know local authors and readers, how the zine has hopefully grown, and I’m really, really thrilled with it.

So, that’s it for me today. Go read the article!


Hugo pandering, part two: local focus.

In part one, I ran down the stories and writers published in Bull Spec this year which are therefore eligible for the appropriate Hugo (and Nebula!) award categories. In part three, I’ll take a look at the wider world of stories and writers. But this? This is part two, where I’ll try to highlight the local (and regional) novels, stories, and writers who are eligible to be nominated for the 2011 Hugo Awards.

First, the locally-written books eligible in the Best Novel category, alpha by author:

  • David Drake, The Legions of Fire
  • Kelly Gay, The Darkest Edge of Dawn
  • Clay and Susan Griffith, The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire: Book I)
  • Mary Robinette Kowal, Shades of Milk and Honey (ex-local alert!)
  • Warren Rochelle, The Called (ex-local alert!)
  • Lisa Shearin, Bewitched & Betrayed
  • Mark L. Van Name, Children No More
  • Tim Akers (ex-“deeply rural” NC), The Horns of Ruin
  • Note: Richard Dansky’s Firefly Rain is not eligible, as while it did come out from Simon & Schuster last year, it was originally published in 2009

On a side note, while the Hugo Awards do not have a separate category for YA and YR books, the Nebula Awards do, the Andre Norton Award. This is a juried award, but (mainly because I want to mention them!) the locally-written and eligible books are:

  • John Claude Bemis, The Wolf Tree
  • Stephen Messer, Windblowne
  • Cate Tiernan, Immortal Beloved
  • David MacInnis Gill (Wilmington), Black Hole Sun
  • Hope Larson (ex-Asheville), Mercury (graphic novel)

I am aware of only one locally-written novella published in 2010 and thus eligible for Best Novella, and that is Mur Lafferty’s Marco and the Red Granny. Update: Greensboro’s Fred Chappell also published a novella this year, “Remnants” in Cthulu’s Reign (DAW Books).

I am aware of only one novelette written by a (now) local writer published in 2010 and thus eligible for Best Novelette, and that is Eric Gregory’s “The Earth of Yunhe”, published in the Shine anthology edited by Jetse de Vries. Update: Thanks to a post on John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, I now know to categorize Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Water to Wine” (from METAtropolis: Cascadia) as a novelette.

In the Best Short Story category, there were so many stories I will be unable to mention them all. But I will do my best, alpha by author:

  • Dale Bailey (Hickory): “Silence” and “Eating at the End-of-the-World Cafe” in F&SF
  • Natania Barron: “Sand” in Bull Spec #3, “Dead’s End to Middleton” in Crossed Genres, “Without a Light” in Fantastique Unfettered #1“A Dear, Lovely Thing” – Faerie Magazine #20, and “The Monastery of the Seven Hands” in Dark Futures
  • M. David Blake: “We Don’t Plummet Out of the Sky Anymore” in Stupefying Stories
  • Erik Bundy (Tryon): “Einstein’s Last Calculation” in Aiofe’s Kiss and “A Reluctance to Kiss” in Bards and Sages Quarterly
  • Monica Byrne, “Five Letters from New Laverne” in Shimmer #12 and “Nine Bodies of Water” in Fantasy Magazine
  • Paul Celmer: “Echoes of the Bouncing Ball” in Bull Spec #2 and “A Crowded Place” in Bull Spec #3
  • Fred Chappell (Greensboro): “Thief of Shadows” and “Uncle Moon in Raintree Hills” in F&SF
  • Gwendolyn Clare: “The Other Lila” in Bull Spec #2, “Driving X” in Warrior Wisewoman 3, and “Uttu’s Garden” and “Prelude to Battle” in Abyss & Apex (Note: while “Ashes on the Water” appeared in Asimov’s on newsstands in late 2010, it has a cover date of January 2011)
  • C.D. Covington: “U8 Alexanderplatz (1989) in Retro Spec
  • Richard Dansky: “Mad Eyes of the Heron King” in Dark Faith
  • Alexandra Duncan (Asheville): “Amor Fugit” and “The Door in the Earth” and “Swamp City Lament” in F&SF
  • Jaym Gates: “First Step, Last Breath” and (with Fadzlishah Johanabas bin Rosli) “The Shadow of Phrixos” in Aether Age: Helios
  • Joseph Giddings (Greenville, NC): “The Duel” in Golden Visions Magazine
  • Rebecca Gomez Farrell: “She Could Be Me” in Flahes in the Dark
  • Denali Hyatt: “Cityscape” in Bull Spec #3
  • Michael Jasper: “Devil on the Wind” (with Jay Lake) in Black Gate Winter 2010
  • Kij Johnson: “Ponies” in Tor.com and “Names for Water” in Asimov’s
  • Brenda Kalt: “Cradle Song” in Daily Science Fiction
  • John Kessel: “Iteration” in Strange Horizons and “The Closet” in F&SF
  • Mary Robinette Kowal: “Ring Road” in Dark Faith, “Salt of the Earth” in Redstone Science Fiction, “Birthright” in 2020 Visions, and so many others that she has a whole journal post just on that!
  • Andrew Magowan: “Freedom Acres” in Bull Spec #4
  • Rich Matrunick: “Full Circle” in Every Day Fiction
  • James Maxey: “Message in a Bottle” in Shimmer #11, “Where Their Worm Dieth Not” in Masked and “Greatshadow” in Blood & Devotion
  • Gray Rinehart: “Memorial at Copernicus” at Redstone Science Fiction
  • Melinda Thielbar: “You’re Almost Here” in Bull Spec #3
  • Mark Van Name: “Lobo, Actually” in Jump Gate Twist
  • R.E. VanNewKirk: “Syd’s Turn” in Rigor Amortis
  • Henry Vogel: in Stupefying Stories
  • Jeremy Whitley: “A Crisis of Purpose” in No More Heroes
  • Alex Wilson: “Nervewrecking” in 2020 Visions
  • Peter Wood: “Almost a Good Day to Go Outside” in Bull Spec #1
In the Best Fan Artist as I mentioned in part one, Carrboro artist Jason Strutz provided cover illustrations for both Bull Spec #3 and #4, as well as an additional interior illustration in #4. He also provided the cover for the No More Heroes anthology.
For Best Fan Writer see my write-up in part one for Durham’s Richard Dansky, and (ex-local alert!) Jason Erik Lundberg.

For Best Graphic Story the only one that comes to mind is from ex-Asheville’s Hope Larson, whose graphic novel Mercury was featured in Bull Spec #2. Generally speaking, serial works are eligible when they wrap up, and both The Order of Dagonet (Carrboro’s Jason Strutz and Jeremy Whitley) and TURF (Tommy Lee Edwards) and the web/electronic comic In Maps & Legends (Wake Forest’s Mike Jasper) are still ongoing to end 2010.


For Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form there is actually a film with a local connection. Artist Tommy Lee Edwards did concept art for The Book of Eli.

For the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer you’ll have to cross-reference the short story list above with my write-up in part one for local Bull Spec contributors. Sorry, time to cut and run. But for those not published in Bull Spec this year, Gray Rinehart and Monica Byrne (first year) and Eric Gregory (second year) are also eligible, along with YA novelists Bemis (second year), Messer, and Gill. I’m not sure about Alexandra Duncan (Asheville).

OK! Part two is down, though I know I missed more than a few things. Tomorrow: part three, a look at the wider world of stories and writers and editors and more.

Hugo nominations are now open! And now, some pandering, part one.

The nomination period for the 2011 Hugo Awards is open. Folks who either were members (attending or supporting) of Aussiecon last year, or who are members (attending or supporting, and there’s still plenty of time to sign up for either!) of Renovation this year, can nominate up to five persons or works in each category. You have until Saturday, March 26th to do so.

I’m going to run three posts on this. The first will deal with stories and writers published in Bull Spec in 2010. The second will deal with other local authors and artists and their eligible books and stories, etc. The last will deal with the wider world of authors and artists who did amazing work in 2010.

So, first, the list of eligible works of fiction published in Bull Spec in 2010, all in the Best Short Story category, all of which can be found in the pay-what-you-like (even free!) PDF versions or, of course, in print:

Issue #1, March-April-May 2010:

  • C.S. Fuqua, “Rise Up”
  • Peter Wood, “Almost a Good Day to Go Outside”
  • Note: Natania Barron, “Doctor Adderson’s Lens” is not eligible, as it was previously published in Gatehouse Gazette #8, 2009

Issue #2, June-July-August 2010:

  • Melissa Mead, “Hirasol”
  • Uri Grey, “The Sad Story of the Naga”
  • Gwendolyn Clare, “The Other Lila”
  • Paul Celmer, “Echoes of the Bouncing Ball”
  • Note: Kaolin Fire, “By the Dragon’s Tail” is eligible, though it was first published on his blog as part of the Post a Story for Haiti project at Crossed Genres.

Issue #3, September-October-November 2010:

  • Lavie Tidhar, “The Story of Listener and Yu-En”
  • David Steffen, “Turning Back the Clock”
  • Denali Hyatt, “Cityscape”
  • Katherine Sparrow, “Like Parchment in the Fire”
  • Melinda Thielbar, “You’re Almost Here”
  • Natania Barron, “Sand” is eligible, though it was first published on WUNC’s The State of Things
  • Paul Celmer, “A Crowded Place” is eligible, though it was first published on WUNC’s The State of Things

Issue #4, December-January-February 2010-11:

  • Andrew Magowan, “Freedom Acres”
  • Nick Mamatas, “O, Harvard Square!”
  • David Tallerman, “The Burning Room”
  • Don Norum, “A Mathematician’s Apology”
  • Erin Hoffman, “City of Shadow and Glass”
  • Note: James Maxey, “Tornado of Sparks” is not eligible, as it was previously published in The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, 2007

Secondly, while Best Fan Writer does not exclude fiction writers, historically the award goes to writers for their non-fiction in (particularly) fanzines and semiprozines of that year. Here is a partial list of such writers eligible via Bull Spec in 2010:

  • Blue Tyson, who contributed a review (and should be considered for his significant efforts at FreeSF and NotFreeSF)
  • Charles Tan, who contributed a review (and should be considered for his significant efforts at both Bibliophile Stalker and The World SF Blog)
  • Richard Dansky, who contributed several reviews, and also reviews often at The Green Man Review
  • Paul Kincaid, who contributed several reviews, and also reviews quite often in a number of semiprozines, such as Interzone, The NYRSF, etc.
  • Jason Erik Lundberg, who contributed a review, and also reviews often in a number of semiprozines, such as Strange Horizons, SF Site, etc.
  • Note: Technically I guess I’m eligible for the interviews, etc., but, well, that would be silly. (See also Best Editor, Short Form as that would be by leaps and bounds even sillier. Wait until part 3 of this series, where I’ll talk about the real editors of 2010, like John Joseph Adams, Cat Rambo, Ann VanderMeer, Jonathan Strahan, Andy Cox, etc. But not Neil Gaiman, ‘cuz as far as I can tell, he ain’t eligible for that one, yet. Though I could be wrong. More on that, later.)

A partial list of those whose artwork appeared in Bull Spec in 2010 and who are eligible for Best Fan Artist:

  • Mike Gallagher, who contributed two illustrations (for “Rise Up” and “Like Parchment in the Fire”)
  • Jason Strutz, who contributed three illustrations (for “O, Harvard Square!”, “Freedom Acres”, and “The Story of Listener and Yu-En”)
  • Joey Jordan, who contributed two illustrations (for “By the Dragon’s Tail” and “Turning Back the Clock”)

Bull Spec published one graphic story in 2010, making Mike Gallagher’s “Closed System” eligible for Best Graphic Story.

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer is voted for along with the Hugo awards and is for writers whose first professionally-published work of science fiction or fantasy was published in the previous two years, in this case 2009 and 2010. Of the writers published in Bull Spec in 2010, the following are, to the best of my knowledge, eligible. Where noted it was their publication in Bull Spec which was their qualifying work, which also makes 2011 the first year of eligibility:

I’m not yet sure about the eligibility status for Natania Barron, Kaolin Fire, or Andrew Magowan. Only Andrew would be BS-qualified, as the stories from both Natania and Kaolin were previously published and, unfortunately, were not paid the requisite nominal amount. (And Bull Spec is nowhere near 10,000 print copies!) Though I’m not sufficiently proficient in legalese to be able to know for sure.

Lastly: while it would again be silly (see “silly” above) for Bull Spec to be considered for Best Semiprozine, I know I’d be flattered if anybody brought it into the conversation, and I’m darned proud of the stories I’ve been fortunate enough to have published this year.


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