Abyss & Apex : Third Quarter 2008: Editorial

Dear Cthulhu

(as told to Patrick Thomas)

 

Dear Cthulhu,

I am the managing editor of the online speculative fiction magazine Abyss & Apex. I’ve been a fan of Your advice column for some time and would like to extend an offer to You to write a guest editorial in the form of a typical column. I have many questions for You, Great One. Are You interested in sharing Your wisdom with our readers? We would of course pay You for Your time.

Yours truly,
Enticing Editor of Electronic Eloquence

]

Dear Deliciously Enticing,

Dear Cthulhu is always willing to share His wisdom with those less fortunate, which I’m sure covers most of your readership and humanity. A simple delivery of a living human sacrifice or two would suffice.

Yours hungrily,
Me


Dear Cthulhu,

Sadly, we are unable to provide a human sacrifice. Would cash suffice?

Yours truly,
Enticing Editor of Electronic Eloquence

]

Dear Indebtedly Enticing,

It will have to do. Even Dear Cthulhu has bills to pay. The monthly dry cleaning for My acolytes alone is enough to lease a new car. Blood is so hard to get out of cotton. Not to mention My supply of tentacle moisturizer. Chapped tentacles aren’t pretty and make Me cranky.

And Dear Cthulhu would once again like to point out that people should not kill people. That right lies squarely with Dear Cthulhu and His designated representatives. Delivery of said sacrifices however is acceptable should you change your mind.

So send your questions Dear Cthulhu’s way and they shall be answered.

Yours intellectually,
Me


Dear Cthulhu,

Many thanks. My first question is one that is near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons: what is the fate of short fiction online?

Yours truly,
Enticing Editor of Electronic Eloquence

]

Dear Fatefully Enticing,

Short fiction online shall endure for as long as the Internet does. However the quality shall continue to vary from the brilliant to the trite, from inspiring to repulsive. Not everyone will be as brilliant as Dear Cthulhu, but one can hardly expect that to be the case.

One limitation is of course financial, both for the publishers and authors. The sad state of fiction is that it is a labor of love for most of the creative people involved, but bandwidth and hosting must be paid for. Most authors support their craft with day jobs or understanding spouses. Why even Dear Cthulhu Himself does not make enough off this column to allow Him to live in the lifestyle He has become accustomed to. Luckily I have My cult to fall back on. The tax breaks alone on running a church are worth their weight in gold. My wealthier worshippers have no problem tithing large portions of their income and the poorer ones are always willing to sell flowers at the airport, bootlegged DVD’s on the street, Amway door to door and the occasional organ when times are tight or I am feeling peckish.

The reader of course can help by supporting their favorite sources of fiction anyway they can. Subscribe. Hit the Paypal button and donate a dollar or two or ten. If there are banner ads, click on them. All of them. You do not even have to look at them. Open them in a new window then close it. The site still gets credit for the click. Tell your friends. Mention it on your blog or post it on a message board.

And since it is often a labor of love, the editors and writers involved must have motivation to carry on. They sometimes will get discouraged and will need to feel the love they are laboring for. So if you read a story you like, drop the author a quick note to tell him or her via the editor. Love the entire issue? E–mail the editor. This makes them know that others appreciate their efforts and will inspire them to carry on.

And of course give your utmost support to those who carry Dear Cthulhu, for they are obviously far superior to the rest.

Yours omnisciently,
Me


Dear Cthulhu,

Normally at Abyss & Apex we try to steer clear of endorsing one politician over another, but I understand there is a movement to vote for You in the next presidential election. Why should we vote for You over the other candidates?

Yours truly,
Enticing Editor of Electronic Eloquence

]

Dear Patriotically Enticing,

Why one would vote for Me over any other should be obvious. As those running this campaign state, why should people have to vote for the lesser of two evils?

However, Dear Cthulhu would like to take this opportunity to state that while I appreciate the movement to have Me run for president, I have never actually sought the nomination. The politicians who win are actually responsible to various secret societies and corporations, and in theory the voters or computer hackers who put them in office. Dear Cthulhu is responsible to no one and in fact many of those secret societies and politicians are secretly trying to curry My favor. Ancient evil should not lower Itself to enter the fray. That is what lackeys are for. Dear Cthulhu just does not know what Vice President Cheney was thinking. Perhaps he was bored.

My only regret is that Obama Girl made the mistake of producing her video for another instead of for Dear Cthulhu. Still, she or any other incredibly hot woman can rectify that oversight and make a Dear Cthulhu Girl (or Dear Cthulhu Girls – Dear Cthulhu is nothing if not a visionary) video. E–mail Me and I will even consider a cameo.

Yours in Franchise,
Me


Dear Cthulhu,

Thank you for your answers, I have other questions that our readers have sent in. Would you please answer them as well?

Yours truly,
Enticing Editor of Electronic Eloquence

]

Dear Editorially Enticing,

Very well.

Yours magnanimously,
Me


Dear Cthulhu,

I’m obsessed with fighting. Not physically doing it myself, of course. I’m rather small and the only exercise I get is playing video games. My biceps may be puny, but my thumbs are massive. I was wondering who You think would win in a cage match between a dragon and a mech warrior?

Yours truly,
Nerdalicious In Nantucket

]

Dear Nerdalicious,

You need to get out. There is more to life that wondering how some imaginary fight would turn out. In fact, if you are interested in the real thing My cult has fight nights the third Tuesday of every month. We like to put different species up against each other while We nosh. It is available on Internet pay–per–view of course.

In answer to your question, the mech would have the advantage in a cage match since it would have greater mobility. In the open, with the element of surprise and mech armor that was built by the lowest bid contractor, the dragon would have the advantage. And since you have chosen to waste My valuable time with this inane question, Dear Cthulhu insists you make it up to Me. Since you feel your thumbs are so massive, I invite you to thumb wrestle in a cage match on Our next fight night against all comers. Of course, the tigers, cobras, and pit bulls technically don’t have any thumbs, so We may have to improvise. Congratulations on your exclusive lifelong contract with Dear Cthulhu Entertainment. Your new manger has already been dispatched to pick you up. Don’t mind the chloroform. We shall deduct its cost from your salary or your death benefits, depending on how your matches go.

Yours in anticipation,
Me


Dear Cthulhu,

I’m a writer who is having a lot of trouble getting published. I think I’m good and would sell well if only given a chance, but I just can’t get any editors to notice my work. How do you recommend that authors escape from the slush pile?

Yours truly,
Hopeful Wordsmith from Hackensack

]

Dear Hopeful,

Slush piles are often manned by low level editors who have taken the job in hopes of furthering their own writing careers only to realize that all the time they spend working on the work of others takes away from the finite time that they themselves have to create stories of their own. Some of these become bitter over their lack of personal writing success, so when they move up they become drunk on the power they have gained over other writers. They make it too difficult to submit by making ridicules requirements: double spaced manuscripts except for every thirteenth line which should be triple spaced except when it is a multiple of 1, in which case it should be single spaced, unless the first word begins with a vowel. Then it should be one and a half spaces. And the open reading period only allows for manuscripts received in pink envelopes at exactly 2:03am every other day, excluding those days ending in Y. It is enough to make anyone crazy. Why, if the Necronomicon were written today, Dear Cthulhu does not know if it would be considered publishable. Of course, the first reader would be driven mad, but the question is would anyone in the publishing world even notice the difference?

The key for the writer is to never give up and always work at getting better. Few people know that Lovecraft’s (Praise the Prophet’s Name!) first few stories were about fluffy bunnies and smiling ponies. They were not well received. Luckily he got better, found his voice, and you will too. Or the pressure of never being recognized for what you perceive as your greatness with eventually drive you mad, alienating you from family and friends who don’t want to read your seventeenth revision of the novel that was based on your “What I Did Over Summer Vacation” essay that you wrote in seventh grade. Things will progress until you start mumbling to yourself, lose your job and end up homeless on the street writing haiku poetry on empty alley walls in chalk you mixed from dirt, discarded flour, and your own blood.

Fortunately for your mental health, there are a few editors and even agents who truly care about the books and stories they publish, who rage against the corporate mindset that insists all work be similar and follow the same formula as their last four bestsellers. True, these editors and agents tend to be overworked, underpaid, and poorly appreciated, not to mention far behind on their reading, but these few are the hope of every writer trying to get published. They look into the apex of the abyss and when they see something good staring back at them from the slush pile, they smile and bring it into the light. Perhaps it shall one day happen to you.

Yours in darkness,
Me

 

Have A Dark Day ]

 


 

Dear Cthulhu welcomes letters and questions at DearCthulhu@dearcthulhu.com. All letters become the property of Dear Cthulhu and may be used in future columns.Dear Cthulhu a work of fiction and satire and is © and ™ Patrick Thomas. All rights reserved. Any one foolish enough to follow the advice does so at their own peril.

 


 

Editorial © 2008 Patrick Thomas. All other content copyright © 2008 ByrenLee Press 





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