On visibility and the potential of cyborgs
Welcome to one year of the SFRQ magazine and our new website look! What began as nothing but a dream for the editorial team has grown beyond our wildest hopes and we have you, our readers and supporters, to thank for it. In fact, we’ve grown so quickly that our original website design couldn’t cope with the additional columns we’re planning to incorporate (a Roundtable in this issue, for example), hence the need for a new format that will scale better. As you know, this is our Cyborgs issue and I’ll get to our wonderful contributors in a moment but, before I do that, I’d like to discuss visibility.
Earlier this year, I had a book coming out and I contacted six female SF/SFR writers, asking each if she would like me to include details from one of her books at the end of mine. There was no fee, no expectation of reciprocation, I just thought it would be a good idea. Do you know what happened? Only two writers said yes. The others either declined or didn’t reply. That’s two out of six. Interesting, wouldn’t you say?
The situation is not as rare as it seems. Women, as a sex, tend to be less self-serving/more restrained/ more self-conscious (whatever term you’d like to use) than men which—in this world of raucous marketing and self-promotion—puts them/us at a disadvantage. Which, in turn, puts SFR at a disadvantage as the majority of SFR authors are female. Can you see where I’m going with this? I think female writers, especially in less established or “recognised” genres, need to be more open to marketing opportunities. I know, it’s a big step for some who are uncomfortable with touting our own horn but, really, what have we got to lose, except our obscurity?
However, I need to add a caveat. If we’re going to court prominence, then we have to make sure that our books are the best they can be. I know the authors among our readers have heard this ad nauseam, but it bears repeating: thorough editing, good cover art, tighter blurbs.
Moving along, while writers may (and do!) have their own ideas on SFR and visibility, in the course of musing on this topic, I realised that there was a market out there we had never heard from before; people who knew, and know, more about SFR than any other group on Earth. I’m talking, of course, about SFR reviewers. With this in mind, the team compiled a short list of questions, turned our reviewers loose, and our inaugural Roundtable article is the result.
But, enough of that. What about cyborgs? The term “cyborg” is an abbreviation of “cybernetic organism”, a being that is made up of both biological and biologically-driven mechanical parts. Interestingly, the term is a relatively modern one, only first cropping up in 1960. My first exposure to cyborgs was through a 1989 Jean-Claude van Damme film (don’t judge me) and, later, the “Teen Titans” animated television series (2003-2006): strong men (and they always seem to be men, although Charlee Allden brings up an excellent, oft-forgotten exception!), augmented with wondrous pieces of machinery that catapult them to the level of superhero. Can they control their powers? Will they misuse them? What motivates them to use the tremendous potential available to them? The topic of cyborgs touches on all these very human issues, and magnifies them along with a cyborg’s strength. Any wonder cyborgs have made their way into SFR?
For a discussion on the duality of cyborgs, steel and flesh, logic and emotion, we are delighted to welcome Linnea Sinclair and one of her best-loved characters, Admiral Branden Kel-Paten, to this issue. If you wanted to know what was going through Linnea’s mind when she created Kel-Paten, now’s the time to find out! We reviewed C791 (a future SFR classic, for sure) in the last issue of the magazine and, this time round, have an interview with C791’s creator, the very talented Eve Langlais. Eve caters specifically for the cyborg crowd; if you love cyborgs, you’ll love Eve.
If you’re still not sure what all the fuss is about, Heather Massey gives us an invaluable primer in this quarter’s Cosmic Lounge column, and Charlee Allden wraps it all up in gooey chocolate and caramel in her Scopebox column, titled “I Like Big Cyborgs and I Cannot Lie…”.
And now onto some bad news. We would love to have included a cyborg fiction piece but, although there were some strong contenders, none of the submissions we received were strong enough to get our Fiction Editor, Diane Dooley, excited. (She’s a tough sell, our Diane.) Issue #5 is open (no special theme), so I encourage all writers to get polishing and submitting. But be sure to read the submission guidelines; Diane is equally ruthless with people who don’t know how to follow the rules. You’ll note that we have also increased our rate from a flat fee to two cents a word, all thanks to our sponsors. So get writing!
I mentioned our first Roundtable earlier on and we are also including an interview author Veronica Scott conducted with us at USA Today back in August. Ian Sales (SF Mistressworks) is back with a notable anthology edited by Pamela Sargent and we have an excellent swath of reviews that are sure to spark discussion!
All in all, it’s another jam-packed edition of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, so sit back, relax and lose yourself in an entire galaxy of “what-if”s.
PS For any SFR authors reading this, we have expanded our promotion opportunities to include full chapter excerpts of selected new releases. Please see the “Advertise!” tab on the website for more details.