Interview with John Joseph Adams

This is another interview that was slated to take place at the 2009 World Fantasy Convention. However, due to scheduling mishaps and illness, it did not occur. John Joseph Adams took the time to answer my questions via e-mail. At the end of 2009 Adams will be leaving The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction where he has been an assistant editor for about nine years to be the editor of Lightspeed, an online science fiction magazine. He’s also made a name for himself as an anthologist, at least partially due to a number of reprint anthologies he put together for Night Shade Books including the immensely popular zombie anthology The Living Dead.

Can you give us a little background about yourself?

I’m a geek. I love sf and fantasy. I listen to metal. I follow the Oakland Raiders and the Orlando Magic. (One of these teams is currently quite good; one of them is quite not.) I’m obsessed with Rock Band. I have an illogical affinity for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Desolate post-apocalyptic landscapes and zombies are currently paying my bills.

I was born in New Jersey, but grew up mostly in Florida. My dad died when I was 8. My stepdad was an asshole. (He probably still is, but he’s not my stepdad anymore.)

I used to be really fat, but now I’m not. I used to have hair, but now I don’t. I used to be able to see without corrective lenses, but now I can’t. One of these this is exacerbated by the fact that I’m an editor. One of these things is true despite the fact that I’m an editor. One of them has nothing to do with me being an editor. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

I got started reading sf/fantasy at an early age, though I never identified as a genre-reader until I was much older—18 or so—so several years past the “golden age” of sf. As a kid, I read lots of sf and fantasy, like A Wrinkle in Time, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, and Robert Asprin’s Myth books, but my sister was my primary supplier, and others I received as gifts, etc., so I never did much book shopping of my own. So when I grew up and had to start buying things for myself, I kind of poked around in other sections and it took me a while to get back to sf. Robin Cook’s medical thrillers are an important factor in leading me back to sf, though they also sent me on a detour through the mystery section. But Cook lead me to Michael Crichton, and my mom happened to have a copy of Jurassic Park laying around the house. I’m not even sure if she ever read it, but I stole her copy and devoured it, and subsequently devoured the rest of his work. At some point, I ran out of Crichton’s sfnal books, and was at a loss where else to get that fix. My then brother-in-law suggested I try some sf. I balked at first, as I had a lot of strange assumptions about sf, despite having read much of it as a kid, including the idea that it would be too difficult for me to understand. To which my brother-in-law helpfully pointed out: If you can handle all the science in a Crichton novel, you can handle the science in pretty much any sf novel.

So, with my brother-in-law’s guidance, I got back into sf with Mars by Ben Bova. We chose that book in particular because it’s basically a medical thriller on Mars. From there I read all the Bova I could get my hands on, and branched out to Robert J. Sawyer with The Terminal Experiment, mainly because I saw it in the bookstore and the caduceus on the spine caught my eye. Sawyer would have been a more natural author to latch onto, given that he generally writes books very similar to Crichton’s, except that in his, science is not necessarily the bad guy, as it always is in Crichton’s books. (A realization that soured me on Crichton’s work to some degree in retrospect, and then some of his public comments and his later novels soured me further.)

During this time when I was doing this exploring of sf, I was working at a Waldenbooks and reading books at a rate that I look back upon and envy. But during my time working there—this was back in the mid-90s, before Amazon was really big, and people still actually often ordered books at the bookstore—a bunch of customers started ordering this book called The Stars My Destination. I hadn’t heard of it, or its author, Alfred Bester. The sudden popularity of it confused me; it was being ordered as if it were something that had just been featured on tv. So I asked the next person who had ordered it if she knew why it was suddenly being ordered so often, and she explained that it had been out of print for a long time and had just come back into print. (I would later learn that it was out of print for a long time, despite being a science fiction classic, because when Alfred Bester died, he left his literary estate to his bartender, who didn’t know how to manage it.) The cover of that edition—the Vintage trade paperback edition from about 1996, with the hand holding the ball of PyrE—doesn’t necessarily scream science fiction, but the vaguely fantastical imagery on the cover and the word “stars” in the title prompted my curiosity to see what the book was all about. And when I read the cover copy and saw that it praised it as a classic and labeled Bester as a master of science fiction, I figured I’d give it a shot.

It BLEW MY MIND. After reading that book, my reading life became all about finding other books like that one. Up to that point, I’d read a number of sf novels that I liked a great deal, and still to this day remember fondly, but it wasn’t until The Stars My Destination that I realized the heights that science fiction was capable of attaining, and it wasn’t until then that I narrowed my reading focus almost exclusively to sf in my efforts to find more books that effected me in that same way.

There’s a paragraph in the book from the early part of chapter one that describes “common man” protagonist Gully Foyle’s state of mind. He’s been stuck, as the lone survivor, on a spaceship for 170 days, and watches as another ship approaches his, ignores his distress call, and leaves him to die:

He had reached a dead end. He had been content to drift from moment to moment of existence for thirty years like some heavily armored creature […] but now he was adrift in space for one hundred and seventy days, and the key to his awakening was in the lock. Presently it would turn and open the door to holocaust.

So that’s the key to Gully’s awakening. I think of The Stars My Destination as mine.

How did you get the job at F&SF?

After graduating from the University of Central Florida with an English degree in December 2000, I moved up to New Jersey with the intent of getting a job in science fiction/fantasy publishing. I was born in New Jersey, and still had family here, so that’s why I went to Jersey instead of straight to New York, which is where most of the publishing jobs are. (I figured Jersey was close enough.) Anyway, I spent the first couple months up here looking for a job, which was what I had planned to do, so that I could find something I actually wanted, rather than just take the first thing that opened itself up to me.

In February of 2001, I sent a cover letter and resume to Gordon Van Gelder at F&SF, and to Asimov’s, and Analog, figuring that getting a job at one of the magazines would be an easier way to break into the business. Gordon wrote back and said he didn’t have any openings at that time, but I should check back later in the year. So for the next couple months, I kept investigating other options, and then in May, when I still hadn’t found anything, I decided that it was in fact later in the year, and so I tried querying Gordon again. As it happened, his previous assistant had just given notice, so he suddenly had an opening and invited me to come up to Hoboken for an interview.

So I drove up to meet Gordon, and we went over to the Malibu Diner down the street to talk over lunch. Or rather Gordon ate and I drank soda, because I had already eaten, not knowing we’d be meeting over lunch. But we sat and talked about science fiction and books and movies, etc. I confessed that I enjoyed Michael Crichton’s work, and I’ll always be grateful to Gordon that he hired me anyway. Of course, that literary sin was somewhat offset by the fact that I stated that my favorite novel is The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, which was and is entirely true, though at the time I had no idea how good an answer that actually was. I also offered some strong and opinionated thoughts about sf movies, which Gordon at some point told me that that was one of the things that made him decide to give me a shot. Among other things, I trashed The Matrix for its flaws (which seem to bother me more than most people) and mentioned how I very nearly walked out of the theater when I went to see The Fifth Element.

Was F&SF your first editorial job?

Pretty much—it was certainly my first sf/fantasy editorial job, and my first connection to the field at all. I didn’t know anyone in the field, had never been to a con, had never done the least bit of networking. I say F&SF was “pretty much” my first editorial job, because when I was in college, I worked for about a year as a technical writer for a company called Electronic Sales Guides, which produced electronic technical documentation for companies like Lucent Technologies. F&SF was certainly my first editorial job that had to do with fiction. Shimmer Magazine presented me with my first opportunity to be the man in charge of the fiction when they asked me to guest-edit an issue of their magazine, which ended up being like a very short theme anthology about pirates.

How long have you been at F&SF?

I’ve been there almost nine years. I started in May 2001—I want to say around the 22nd of the month or so. It was a Tuesday, I know that. (A quick look at a 2001 calendar confirms the 22nd was a Tuesday, so it must have been that day.)

Are there any stories that F&SF passed on that you wished it hadn’t?

Any time you have two editors working with the same material, you’re going to have one react more positively (or sometimes completely differently) than the other from time to time. One of the reasons I stayed with the magazine for so long is that Gordon and I work together quite well, and have similar tastes. But sure, on occasion, there were stories that I wished he would not have passed on, and there have been stories that F&SF published during my time there that I didn’t care for. Some of the stories that I liked that Gordon passed on I’ve been able to publish since I started doing anthologies, though decorum dictates I not mention which ones.

Of course. Speaking of anthologies, how did you move from working on F&SF to putting together anthologies?

I think anyone who works in editorial in a field they’re passionate about at some point will yearn to be the person in charge—in this case, to be the person selecting and editing the fiction. When I got to that point, I thought about anthologies as a way to pursue that.

One of the triggers that got me thinking about it was an article I wrote for The Internet Review of Science Fiction—well, I originally wrote it for 3SF Magazine, but although they accepted it, the magazine folded before it was published—about post-apocalyptic fiction. It was sort of a primer on the sub-genre—an introduction to it and a selected reading list. To write the article, I did a lot of research on the sub-genre, which I had been a fan of for a long time, ever since playing the video game Wasteland on my Commodore 64 as a teen (and interest which was greatly fostered by the subsequent video games Fallout and Fallout 2). Although I knew a lot about post-apocalyptic fiction, I didn’t know quite enough to do the article, so I launched myself into research mode and scoured the internet to find other books on the subject, and spent way more money on ordering copies of used books from Amazon than I received for writing the article.

The reason the article was a trigger was because in my research, I discovered a distinct lack of anthologies about post-apocalyptic fiction. There was one great “best-of” post-apocalyptic fiction anthology called Beyond Armageddon, and a few minor original (and mixed reprint/original) post-apocalyptic anthologies, but very, very few for a sub-genre that was such a large part of science fiction.

The other primary trigger was that post-9/11 in the submission piles at F&SF, Gordon and I were seeing a huge increase in the number of post-apocalyptic stories being written. I joked at some point that if we were seeing so many that if we published all the good ones we had received, we’d have to change the name of the magazine to Mutants & Marauders Monthly. But given that so many writers were interested in the topic again—which had pretty much fallen out of favor since the end of the Cold War—I thought that there must be readers out there who would be interested as well. So I set about putting together a proposal for an original anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction.

Obviously that didn’t pan out, and it took several more years for publishers to realize that the public wanted more post-apocalyptic literature. At some point, Bison Books reissued Beyond Armageddon, which had been long out of print, and when I saw that, I thought it would be a good idea to do a sort of follow up volume to that anthology—a “best of” post-apocalyptic fiction volume that would collect the best material published since Beyond Armageddon was published in 1985. And so that’s how my first anthology, Wastelands, was born. I sold it to Night Shade Books, and the rest is history.

Did you expect the response to your anthologies to be as strong as it is?

No, and I’m sure no one did. I was confident I’d put a good book together, but all I’d ever heard about anthologies is how poorly they sell, and how publishers were so reluctant to do them. The advance for Wastelands was not very large, but even so, I was asking Gordon all sorts of questions like: “How many copies would it need to sell to earn out that advance?” etc. I was concerned it wouldn’t earn out the advance, since I wanted to be able to do more anthologies in the future, and having the first one fail to earn out would have certainly made it more difficult for me to sell more. It seemed miraculous that I had managed to sell an anthology at all, considering how few anthologists there are working in the field, and how rarely new ones seem to break in, so it seemed even more miraculous to hope that the anthology would hit the ground running as if I were an established anthologist and then to do so well. Despite all that, I was hopeful it would at least sell well enough to make it worthwhile for Night Shade to do another book by me, given that I had lined up several prominent authors for the book (which is an important factor in getting bookstore chain buyers to stock an anthology) and the fact that post-apocalyptic fiction was hitting the peak of its popularity.

As it happened, it did incredibly well, beyond everyone’s expectations. I think it was one of those situations where everyone involved with the project basically just did everything exactly right. Subsequently, with The Living Dead, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that zombies were popular, and again, I was confident I’d put together a good book, but I had no way of anticipating how successful it would be. I think that its huge success has a lot to do with the prior success of Wastelands, since it sort of paved the way for getting us good placement in and orders from bookstores. The Living Dead is one of those books where if you stumble across it in the bookstore and you’re a fan of zombies, it’s the kind of thing that you take one look at the cover and think OMG I HAVE TO HAVE THIS.

Of course, that only addresses the commercial aspects of your question. Both books have been critically acclaimed as well, which is gratifying—especially when you have legendary authors and anthologists telling you what a great job you did. The World Fantasy Award nomination for The Living Dead was a pleasant surprise as well.

Anything you’re hoping to do in the future in regards to anthologies?

I’d like to continue to do more books like I’ve been doing, and maybe do more all-original projects, though I expect doing Lightspeed will satisfy much of my desire to do all-original projects. But I’ve got one coming out from Tor called The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, and I’ve got some exciting writers lined up for it, so I’m hopeful that does well and I’m able to do a few more projects like that. I’ve got several ideas for anthologies that wouldn’t work as reprint anthologies because there just aren’t enough good stories on the theme but are books that I would love to have as a reader.

Tell me about Lightspeed; where did the idea come from, what is your vision for it?

Lightspeed came about as the result of many discussions I’ve had with Prime Books publisher Sean Wallace. He’d mentioned to me some time ago—probably more than a year or more ago—that he had been thinking about launching an all-SF companion magazine to Fantasy Magazine. At that time, it was just a sort of nebulous thing, and I had no idea that I’d be on the top of his list to edit it. Having been really pleased with how my two anthologies for him (Seeds of Change and Federations) turned out, Sean has said to me many times that as much as he appreciates the reprint anthologies I’m doing he wished I had more of an opportunity to edit original fiction. So once Sean decided to do the magazine, he sort of felt me out, asking me what I thought an online sf magazine should be. It was clear from the start that our ideas were in line with each other, and he asked me if I’d be interested in editing it, so at that point I came on board and together we flushed out the structure and scope of the magazine.

At the most basic level, I want Lightspeed to be the premiere destination for short science fiction, not just online, but the premiere destination period. That probably sounds like I have delusions of grandeur, but everyone starting a new project like this one should start off with such a goal (if it isn’t, you’re not doing it right). What I hope to do with the fiction is bring readers challenging and innovative yet accessible science fiction. We want to reach out to the casual sf fans who maybe don’t read all of the short fiction digests or the best of the year annuals. There’s lots of fans out there who don’t realize short fiction exists, and subsist mainly on movies, television, and novels for their sf fix. So ideally, the stories we present will be accessible to those fans but still be interesting to the hardcore short fiction aficionados.

What do you bring to the field that might be missing?

We’ll be publishing four stories per month, two originals and two reprints, and since the demise of SCI FICTION and Infinity Plus, I don’t think there’s been a good online reprint venue for short sf; at least not in text form—Escape Pod and PodCastle are doing a fine job of filling that niche in podcast form. Doing that will, I hope, allow us to use Lightspeed to show those new or casual readers we’re hoping to attract where sf comes from, where it is, and where it’s going.

As for me personally? Well, that’s a hard question to answer. But I think my editorial taste is a good combination of literary and commercial that lends itself to creating good, diverse tables of contents that are accessible to a large audience.

Do you have guidelines set? Any limitations on the length or content of fiction?

The guidelines are set, and depending on when this interview is published, there’s a good chance the guidelines will already be up on Lightspeed‘s website. As for length, we’re looking for fiction of 7,500 words or less (with 5,000 words or less being our preferred length). As for content, there will be no limitations there, except that we’ll be publishing only science fiction (no fantasy). Within the scope of science fiction there will be no limitations, and in the guidelines I encourage writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope.

Are you going to be soliciting any stories for the magazine or purely working on submissions?

I’ll be doing some of both. For the reprints we publish, I’ll mostly be soliciting those directly, but we will be open to reprint submissions. Of course, given that I have the whole of sf history to choose from, I’ll be choosing my reprints very selectively. Which is not to say that I’ll be focusing exclusively on classics or stories by well-known writers; I’m hoping to bring some great stories by lesser-known writers some greater attention by featuring them in Lightspeed, as well.

For the original fiction, I’ll be doing a lot of soliciting, but we’ll very much be an open market to new writers. I expect that a typical month/issue of Lightspeed will consist of one story by an established writer and one story by a newer writer, so I hope all writers, both established and new will keep Lightspeed high on their list of markets to submit to.

Do you have anything lined up already for the launch?

I’ve got two stories in inventory—one by newish writer Vylar Kaftan, and another by Adam-Troy Castro. I’m not sure if either or both will actually be in the launch issue, but those are the two stories I have in inventory. The launch issue will be special in a couple of ways, most notably that for the launch issue we’ll be featuring four all-new original stories, instead of two reprints and two originals. We’ve also got some cool stuff planned for the launch, but it has to stay secret for now.

Have you been wanting to edit a magazine for a while?

Oh, for about 8 years now. I mean, it didn’t take me long working at F&SF to know that I wanted to make a career out of this. And when you’re going through the slush pile and giving the editor second opinions on manuscripts, and seeing everything that goes into putting a magazine together from the editorial side of things, I think it’s inevitable that you want to end up in the big chair some day. Unfortunately, there was no room for advancement for me at F&SF; with Gordon being both the editor and publisher, I figure he is not likely to fire himself or step down, and he’s only 10 years older than me, so if I was going to wait for him to retire, I’d be waiting a long time.

Where do you think Lightspeed fits in among genre periodicals/magazines?

Hard to say at this point since it doesn’t really exist yet except in concept. Ask me this time next year and maybe I can give you a better answer. But I hope, certainly, that it’ll be among the leading venues for short fiction, and contributing to award ballots and readers’ lists of favorite stories for years to come.

Do you get to read much short fiction?

Not solely for pleasure, though I guess any story I read is kind of for work to some degree, so it would be almost impossible to read a short story solely for pleasure. Although I do feel compelled to re-read stories sometimes just because I start thinking about them, or because I was talking about them with someone.

Like the other day, Nick Mamatas blogged about how a high school teacher was suspended for assigning to his class Chuck Palahniuk’s story “Guts.” Just reading about it made me want to re-read the story, and since Nick helpfully linked to the story online, I just clicked through and started re-reading. “Guts” is one of those stories that if you dig it, you probably really, really dig it, and once you start reading it, you’re not going to stop. A love it or hate it kind of story, I think, and I’m in the love camp. I often say that I don’t believe in horror as a genre—that I see it as only a descriptor you can apply to other genres—i.e., a horrific fantasy, or a horrific science fiction story, or a story of psychological horror—but does not exist independently as a genre unto itself. But reading a story like “Guts” makes me rethink that idea. It’s utterly compelling and COMPLETELY FUCKING HORRIFYING (sorry, you just kind of have to swear when talking about it), and reading it is such a visceral experience that I find myself actually tense and cringing as I read it—even when re-reading it, knowing how it ends! (And once you know how it ends, you’ll NEVER FORGET HOW IT ENDS.) You were asking me earlier about story guidelines and my vision for Lightspeed—if I can find the science fictional equivalent of “Guts”—something that effects the reader on such a visceral level, something that is so indelibly memorable, then I feel I’ll have done my job as editor.

But anyway—most of my pleasure reading happens to me like that, because of some tangential reason. Another example: I read a couple Hemingway short stories (something I haven’t done since college, probably) because I recently read Stephen King’s story “Ur,” which is about a Kindle from an alternate reality that can access fiction from a seemingly infinite number of alternate realities, including one in which Hemingway did not kill himself and lived to write more fiction (which King provides a delightful sample of). Otherwise, I do pleasure reading if I’m out and about and want to read something but might not have time to read a whole story, so I don’t want to start a submission (those I like to be able to read all at once), though it’s usually contemporary stuff by authors I’m interested in, so it’s not purely for pleasure.

Much to my dismay, I find myself unable to keep up with all the new stuff being published, despite my best efforts, though I try and I do my best.

What’s the last book you read?

Assuming you’re talking about things other than anthologies, of which I’m constantly picking through, I think the last novel I read was Dead City by Joe McKinney, a couple weeks ago. It’s a couple years old, but his publisher is reissuing it and he asked me if I’d consider blurbing it. He’s got a story forthcoming in my anthology The Living Dead 2, so I agreed to look at it. I quite liked it, though I haven’t figured out what I’m going to say about it yet, but basically, it’s a kick-ass zombie novel, and I really liked it.

I don’t have much time for anything other than short fiction reading. I mean, I play video games and watch tv and stuff like that, but I sort of need that kind of entertainment to give my brain a rest, otherwise I’d probably just read all the time. Lately, I have managed to make time to read a bunch of graphic novels, due to my recent trip to San Jose/San Francisco. On the trip out, I found it really hard to get any work done on the plane, which is a common problem for me; I can almost never do any work on a flight, and I can never sleep, so for the trip back, it occurred to me that graphic novels might be the way to go, given that they’re full of pictures and thus might be easier to focus on. Turned out to be a great idea, and I plowed through a bunch. I owe a debt of gratitude to my editor at Night Shade, Jeremy Lassen, for recommending a bunch of good stuff to me. On the flight, I read collections of: DMZ, Scott Pilgrim, The Exterminators, Powers, and 100 Bullets. That was all stuff that was new to me. If I had them with me, I would have caught up on The Walking Dead, which is my favorite comic going right now (I’ve got three trades or so to catch up on). But it was cool to check out some new stuff, see what I’ve been missing. Years ago, I was reading an equal amount of comics and books, and at some point I just had to make a decision to pursue one or the other because I was sinking way too much money into both. I went with books, and gave up on comics, and have only tentatively dipped my toes back in over the last couple years, reading certain select titles after they’re collected in trade paperback. I absolutely refuse to get back into superhero comics, though; not because I don’t like them, but because that way lies madness—if I start reading one, I’ll be tempted to find out what’s happening in the rest of the Marvel and/or DC universe, and then I’d be doomed.

Come to think of it, I’ve actually consumed several other novels recently, but I didn’t read them—I listened to them. One of my freelance gigs is providing “expert” reviews for [ed. note see reviews here]. So I find audiobooks I’m interested in, and if I think they’re really well done, I’ll review it for them to draw more attention to that title. So, because of this, I’ve listened to several good ones recently, including Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn, Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard, Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler, and Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg.

What piece of technology can you not live without?

I don’t know if I could pick just ONE thing, man. The internet is the big thing for me. I’m not sure I could have the career I do if not for the internet. I hate talking on the phone, so just being able to email people is huge for me, especially in terms of all the contacts I’ve made whether it be for interviews or to arrange reprint permissions or to commission an original story. But the internet is also huge for my anthology research, and it’s even enabled me to do some crowdsourcing to get recommendations from colleagues and strangers that have lead me to stories I may not have found otherwise.

Otherwise, my iPod is a lifesaver—I almost always have music on as I’m working (or reading blogs and Twitter, etc.). It’s not just that it’s a portable music player—it’s also that I can create playlists and set them to random, in essence programming my own radio station. I long ago gave up on the radio, given that I listen to a somewhat eclectic and not particularly popular type of music, so the iPod was essential for me in not just giving up on music in some ways. The internet helps a lot here too—in terms of hunting down or sampling new artists I might like, and the great recommendation engines on sites like Pandora or And of course being able to download an album on a whim for $9 or $10 is nice too.

I also have to give a shout-out to my Tivo. I can never go back to watching live tv after having one. It’s not just about skipping commercials (though it’s partially about that)—it’s about watching tv WHEN I WANT TO. I’m done being a slave to tv schedules. A friend of mine is building me a custom DVR as we speak, so I’ll be moving beyond Tivo shortly, but it’s served me well all these years. Not that more tv is what I need necessarily. I watch way more tv than you would think an editor might. Those who follow me on Twitter may recall that I’ve been rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation on DVD. So in addition to keeping up with new stuff my Tivo’s recording, I’ve also been watching that. (I just finished up that rewatching project today, in fact. Next up: Deep Space Nine!)

So, I don’t know how to answer your question. I’d be lost without technology. (I’d literally be lost without a GPS or my iPhone or Google Maps.) One of the many reasons I would definitely not prosper after an apocalypse (zombie-induced or otherwise).

Will you be reading submissions on your iPhone?

I will occasionally, certainly. When I’m out and I’m stuck in a line or in a waiting room, I’ll whip out my phone sometimes and read a few submissions. When I make one of my frequent trips into Manhattan for geeky activities, that’s about a 45 minute commute, so I often use that time to read subs on my phone. I’ve just been using the Mail app to go to my inbox and open up the attachments that way. Stanza is my preferred ebook reader on the iPhone, but it’s too tedious to download everything and transfer it to Stanza. (I wonder if the new Droid phone could pull off something like that—using a specific external program to open up RTF or DOC files from your email—since it can run more than one app at a time . . .)

I’ll probably read most of my submissions at home on my Mac. I found a handy app for manuscript reading called Tofu. It’ll open up a DOC or RTF file and reformat it to my specifications by default, and it’ll even put the text into multiple columns onscreen, and lets you turn the page with one click (as opposed to scrolling manually if you were reading it in Word or using Gmail’s “read as HTML” feature).

What is your opinion of the short fiction market/scene these days?

I think we’re in what could be called a golden age right now. There’s a terrific wealth of excellent short fiction being written and published currently, in a wide range of genres and sub-genres, and there are so many exciting (and prolific!) voices currently working in the short form that it’s a challenge just to keep up with them, let alone discover all the great new voices coming along.

John Klima is the editor of the Hugo-winning Electric Velocipede as well as the forthcoming science fiction and fantasy fairy tale reprint anthology Happily Ever After.


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