Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match…

Find me a find, catch me a catch. It’s too bad this isn’t a podcast. I have a wonderful voice. Really, I do…

Today’s topic is matchmaking. We shall not concern ourselves in this small space with hormone-driven adolescent or even post-adolescent attempts at acquiring a suitable…suitor. We shall not mention Mr. Darby; nor Mr. Rochester. Nor shall we touch—not even for the briefest moment—the issue of Mr. Cullen.

No, indeed. We shall not. Shan’t, even.

Intergalactic Medicine Show is a speculative fiction magazine. We look for stories that contain some type of fantastic element: from aliens, to fairies; from starships, to Viking boats; toViking aliens driving starships rowed by Elven slaves. (“Row, you miserable little pixie vermin! It’s twelve hundred thousand light-leagues to Betelgeuse, and I’ll have your fore-wings if we aren’t there by mead-time!”)

In terms of genre labeling, we have printed science fiction, steampunk, fantasy, contemporary fantasy, urban fantasy, mundane science fiction, horror, psychological horror, far future science fiction, epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, cyberpunk, and magical realism. The Medicine Show has many booths, and varied and sundry are the goods therein.

Even so. We have submission guidelines for a reason. Some stories do not interest us; some stories offend even our cosmopolitan literary palates. Standards! Morals! Hygiene! Without these things, our world dissolves into so much sloppy mush. Literarily speaking.

I am not talking, necessarily, about offensive stories, or counter-culture narratives, or allegorical exposes of the underbelly of contemporary society. All those things are welcome in our magazine provided they contain some speculative content.

The truth is that no matter how well written your literary fiction short story is, it’s unlikely to be accepted by Intergalactic Medicine Show. And if we can’t find the speculative fiction element in your short story—say, within the first couple pages—we’re not likely to keep looking for it.

This isn’t, by the way, unique to IGMS. MOST science fiction and fantasy magazine editors and slush editors need to see the speculative content up front, just to keep reading. We have an implied contract with our audience—you wouldn’t expect to turn on the Sci-Fi channel and find yourself watching wrestling, would you? Or the History channel and find yourself watching a show about the impact of aliens on ancient culture?


In any case, matchmaking! How can you tell if your story is a match for IGMS?

1) Follow the submission guidelines.

2) Read the magazine. There is no better way to gauge a market. The submission guidelines are general guides to what we like; the printed stories are implemented examples.

3) Consider the advice given in the Freak Filter posts on this blog. The Freak Filter; The Freak Filter Redux.

Again, it’s a good idea to clearly introduce your speculative content within the first couple pages of your submission. That way, you meet the audience expectation for oddity right up front.

--Scott M. Roberts

Asst. Gentleman Caller

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