Fantasy and Science Fiction - arggh

These guys are probably the most popular market, since they are a newsstand staple. I have sent two stories there and both got prompt rejections (same wording, even) that made me feel they didn't even open it.

Leafing through the submissions, I saw that maybe one story out of every second or third issue comes from an unknown author. Most of their stories come from authors that have been regulars for years. I guess they can afford to be picky.

Some of the stories are excellent. However, most of the stories from their "regular" authors have vague, nebulous endings. That appears to be the fad nowadays -- leave the reader confused.

What is wrong with a story that everyone can follow? I think the fuzziness covers up a lack of premise. The reader has to make up the story's message for himself, in which case, you might as well make up the whole story too. The author can just describe the characters and setting and let the reader do the rest. :roll:

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Re:Fantasy and Science Fiction - arggh

Alas, I have received my share of rejections from F&SF Magazine as well. Back when Gordon Van Gelder was personally reading each submission, I always received a prompt and personal rejection letter from him. He always had encouraging words about my work, making it seem as though I narrowly missed a sale because a story that was a notch better came in before mine.

"Fuzzy" endings, I think, are more a product of lazy writers than editorial preference. To cover up the fact that they don't know how to end their stories (a common problem with writers like me who don't plot), they serve up a mishmash of words that are intentionally designed to confuse readers. The reader thinks that he missed something and is just too dumb to understand the "brilliant" writer. What the writer is really brilliant at is bullshit. I think editors fall for this gimmick all too easily, or perhaps they are in on the con from the beginning.

To err is human. I am not human.

Re:Fantasy and Science Fiction - arggh

Sent another story to F&SF, got another rejection within 11 days. That is including the mailing time and two weekends, so... let's see... 3 days to get there, 3 days to get back... 4 days on weekends...

They read it in 1 day? On top of the thousands of other submissions they get?


Plus it was EXACTLY the same as the last two, the only change was the title in the rejection.

So I figured out there submission process:

Q: Do we know this guy?
A: nope
Q: Has he gotten anything published before?
A: nope
Q: is he related to anyone on the editorial staff?
A: nope
R: type story name into computer, print form letter, insert into SASE, mail

This process is pure genius! It saves all that time reading and everything. Plus it is very considerate -- less waiting for your rejection.

I'm not a complete idiot -- some parts are missing.

Re:Fantasy and Science Fiction - arggh

The closest I've ever come to acceptance at F&SF was a form rejection letter signed by Gordon Van Gelder instead of one of his underlings...
That closing line, "just didn't grab me", has me itching to draw a cartoon (if I could actually draw). Fantasy beast, with the shoes of some poor soul sticking out of its slavering maw, facing a grungy-looking guy who shouts into its mouth,
"So did [i]that[/i] story grab you, Mr. Van Gelder?"

Pohl's Law: A sufficiently advanced form of technology is indistinguishable from magic. Programmer's Corollary: A sufficiently rigged demo is indistinguishable from magic.

Re: Fantasy and Science Fiction

When submitting to a magazine, a person has to consider whether the story he/she has will fit in with the stories bought by the editor of the magazine.

The stories bought by Gordon Van Gelder tend toward the literary side. I had the chance to meet him at Clarion 2004 and saw how he worked.

Gordon Van Gelder has definite tastes that aren't commercial.

A writer should write what he/she likes then find the market that'll buy his/her story.

Before meeting him, I hadn't been particularly interested in the editions of F&SF that I'd skimmed. After having met him, I know I won't be taking the time to send him anything I write.


"You must kill your darlings."
-William Faulkner


F&SF argh

I got my most interesting rejection slip ever from GVG. It was for a story set in the Mooser world. He said, 'this is the oddest story I've ever read since graduating from Whatchmacallit U." or somethng like that. Regretfully, I do not have it anymore. Lost in the move, ya know.
Mostly his rejections are "it just didn't grab me, alas" or "it did not hold my interest."
No way I'll stop trying to sell to him

DaveK's picture

Fuzzy endings

I too am completly fed up with those inconclusive endings. It's like that old TV show - Soap. These and other questions will be answered next week. Only there is no next week. Have the authors written the story without an ending in mind then get there and just ship it?

I call these idary stories, or "day in the life" stories. very unsatisfying and in my opinion a major reason why these mags are losing circulation.

Dave K