The following market report on Redstone Science Fiction, as well as the follow-up interview are courtesy of Market Scoops by D.L. Snell.
Publisher: Redstone Science Fiction
Editors: Michael Ray and Co-Editor Paul Clemmons
Pay Rate: 5¢ / word
Response Time: expect 1 month, query after two
Deadline: Temp closed since 4/4/10, will reopen in a few weeks
Description: Redstone Science Fiction will publish quality stories from across the science fiction spectrum. We are interested in everything from post-cyberpunk to new space opera.
Complete Guidelines: Writer’s Guidelines
Note: Horror author D.L. Snell conducted the following interview to give writers a better idea of what the editors of this specific market are seeking; however, most editors are open to ideas outside of the preferences discussed here, as long as they fit the basic submission guidelines.
1) What authors do you enjoy, and why does their writing captivate you?
Michael Ray: Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, which I only read five years ago, makes my head swim. Neal Stephenson is, of course, a genius. Although, sometimes I think I’m the only person who actually read and loved every page of the The Baroque Cycle. Among newer authors I like Charlie Stross, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi. They have grown up with the current technologies and their extrapolations fit into what I think of as the “new science fiction future”.
Paul Clemmons: Too numerous for a short list. Some of my all-time favorites are by Zelazny, Haldeman, Pohl, Card and Niven, but there is so much good stuff over the last few years by guys like Stross, Doctorow, Wilson, and others that it is all but impossible to pin down a hard and fast favorites list. These guys, among so many others, have captivated me with well-written stories that are built around speculations on changes in technology/society which are followed to rational ends.
2) What are your favorite genres? Which of these genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
Ray: I like near future extrapolations about pervasive computing & technology and I like Space Opera grounded in science. That’s what I’d like to see more in our submissions. (I also love epic fantasy, like Wolfe & Martin and Jordan, but those are for our next online magazine.)
Clemmons: Our thrust with RSF is Science Fiction, though we are both also big fans of well-written and rational heroic fantasy.
3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
Ray: I don’t think which setting is important. Stories are always a better read when you feel like the characters are somewhere specific, wherever it is, and that it is part of the characters’ lives, not just an empty stage for a read-through of the writer’s pet ideas. But, simple details as we go along can tell me what I need to know. I’m not a travel reader.
Clemmons: I love a good story, regardless of temporality or location. I believe that all great sci-fi stories started with the thought “What if…” and are then shaped by thought and reason. Of course, if you are writing a sentient bugs from the planet Zarkon, just make sure to put some thought into the psychology and motivations of your subjects — don’t just make them humans with antennae and bizarre mating practices.
4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
Ray: I am of the grab me by the throat school. Something has happened to make this a story. What is it? Fill me in on everything else as we go along. Rising tension is great, but I need to know why, and I need an ending. Please.
Clemmons: I’m a sucker for the stories that grab me from the first line, but I’m open to any pacing, so long as the pacing is part of a good overall execution.
5) What types of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
Ray: Problem solvers, who don’t bemoan their fate. Or insane singularity-uplifted AI’s taking over human space. Both are fine! I like to see individuals. Again, simple details about what a person does or likes are much more revealing to me than the color of her hair or the set of his jaw.
Clemmons: I like most any well-developed character, but I tend to be less interested in the terminally whiny, or characters who exist soleysolely to represent a particular political/social idea, set forth to be skewered.
6) What is your policy for vulgarity, violence, and sexual content?
Ray: If it makes sense for the story then fine, but we want science fiction, not shock theater or erotica.
Clemmons: So long as they are pertinent to the story, we’re willing to take a look at it, but we’re certainly not in the pr0n business.
7) In general, do you prefer downbeat or upbeat endings?
Ray: I just want an ending. Any ending. And not always a twist. It seems like so many stories are just a vehicle for a twist or gotcha ending.
Clemmons: Neither one over the other, so long as there IS an ending. Endings are the hardest part of short fiction, imho.
8) What are the top three things submitters to this market should avoid?
Ray: Get off the soapbox – we all have our political and religious beliefs, but I want a story about resisting a totalitarian theocratic government, not about what evil guys the political party/church you don’t like are.
Don’t put me to sleep—make something happen. Info dumps, endless detailed descriptions, conversations that do not move the story along—I know you did a ton of research, but a lot of times that means you get one scientific term right in one sentence, and that’s all I need to know.
Romance or Fantasy masquerading as Science Fiction – Relationships and a sense of wonder are important aspects of sci-fi, but I want stories that about how science changes a society and how people deal with that change, not how a guy meets the girl of his dreams, but she’s a robot (well actually, if you think about that for a minute).
Clemmons: Submitting a story that is not well “thought-out”. Submitting a fantasy, or other non-sci-fi story. Failing to provide a satisfying ending.
9) What trait are you seeking most in submissions to this market?
Ray: Originality. We all know the tropes and sub-genres. If you don’t invent something new, try to have a different take on the situation from the ten other Star Trek-like stories that have a Twilight Zone twist at the end.
Clemmons: Readability, with rationality coming in a close second.
10) Any last advice for submitters to this market?
Ray: Follow the guidelines. Use spell-check. Punch me in the face and keep hitting me as hard as you can until I can’t take it anymore, and I will publish your story.
Clemmons: Have an ending.