Pimping “Pimp My Airship”

You people don’t take me seriously when I tell you that my Twitter is basically just the gibberish that floats through my head during the sitcom written by drunken leprechauns that I call my life. Anyway, a few months back, I make this tweet: “I’m thinking about writing a Steampunk story with all black characters and calling it ‘Pimp My Airship’.”

I forget that editors actually read me. And that they might want to see the story.

Which means I actually had to write it.

It has finally found a home. The August issue of Apex Magazine features my story. You can go read it now. There are two possible scenarios as to how my story found a publication home …

(cue the harp flashback sound …)

I submitted the story to an anthology, but the editor decided that the story was so good that it demanded a bigger market. So that editor called Jason Sizemore and the thought of having a chance to publish me was what spurred him to pull Apex Magazine out of the mothballs to give my story the audience it deserved.

Or …

I found myself looking through the list of pro paying markets, saw that Apex had re-opened, debated whether I wanted to put myself through another round of being Sizemored (the official term for the editorial process he puts stories through when they aren’t quite up to his delicate standards), decided the pay was worth it, and took a leap.

I prefer to be the hero in my story, so I’m choosing to remember the first version. (Okay, the careful observer might note that I’m the hero in both). I probably would get a lot further in this business if I’d quit making fun of editors who publish me …

Anyway, go read the story. I’d love to hear what you think.*

I SUPPOSE I ought to mention who else is in this issue:
Kenny 149″ by Brad Becraft
Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster
and even a bit of non-fiction: “Game Fiction: Why It Works (and Why It Doesn’t)” by Monica Valentinelli

Here are a full set of links to buy the new issue:
DriveThruSciFi (ePub) — DriveThruSciFi (PDF)
Amazon (Kindle)
Apex Book Store (Print)


The Internet Review of Science Fiction: Alternate history/steampunk. America is part of the Albion Empire and slavery has been abolished but “those of an African bloodline” have been relegated to the drug-pacified undercities, where Sleepy and Knowledge Allah are involved in a plan to liberate their imprisoned brothers, led by an inventive co-conspirator, Deaconess Blues.

Entertaining mix of steampunk and revolutionary rhetoric, evoking the bygone days of the Black Power salute. Recommended

The Fix:

“Pimp My Airship” by Maurice Broaddus is an alternate-reality steampunk piece with an African-American twist. Blacks and other minority groups live as nominally free citizens segregated into “undercities” in a Victorian-era America in which the Civil War never took place. Despite the government’s efforts to control the population through the widespread availability of narcotics, a movement for revolt is rising. And a daring but unlikely trio will provide its spark.

This piece feels a little pulpy for my taste. Despite the gaslights and dirigible, I’ve read or seen this story before many times. Its focus on non-white protagonists is laudable, but I was disappointed in the flatness of its characters: the “loser” protagonist who finds he has more inside than he knew, the self-sacrificing mentor, and the beautiful and brilliant token woman to round out the trio. This piece feels like it should have been longer, or part of a larger work. Perhaps if it were, the longer narrative could provide time for more nuanced character development and a deeper understanding of the social milieu in which the characters find themselves.

*Not really. I’ve already been paid and that’s the only critique that really matters to me.**

**I’d probably get more fans if I’d quit being so openly antagonistic to them …

Look on my works, ye Mighty…

The Winter 2008 issue of Space and Time Magazine is out. It features my story “Rite of Passage.” Hunt down a copy and let me know what you think.

This is a sweet coup for me because this was a magazine I really wanted to appear in. A rejection from this magazine was one of my “ah hah” moments as a writer. It was the first time an editor took the time to give me a personalized rejection (hand-written, no less). Despite the actual rejection, the note let me know that I was on the right track in my writing. The next time I bumped into Gerard Houarner, I even thanked him for it. (Always what an editor is expecting. Be sure to do that often. It’s never too awkward.) Anyway, that was 2003.


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Life Catch Up and ANNOUNCEMENTS!

After what I hope is my final trip to the doctor for a while, my self-diagnosed case of post-MoCon SARS turned out to be cough variant asthma. Once again, she told me that I may want to consider backing away from the Internet when I have symptoms. After another battery of tests, including an MRI (MRIs suck and are much noisier than they appear on television), it also turns out that I have somehow managed to tear some cartilage in my wrist. I suppose that’s a decent result, since my doctor initially feared carpel tunnels. The downside is that I have to wear a wrist splint for a month … which truly sucks since I do the bulk of my writing long hand.

Speaking of me writing, I am pleased to announce that my short story, “The Ave,” will be in the Fall issue of Horror Literature Quarterly this October. This story will be available as a free download, which is great because if there’s one thing I know about fans of mine, it’s that they are broke. In fact, go register now because the magazine is great (and I believe there is a new Tim Lebbon story up exclusive to subscribers. Plus you get access to previous issues, including a story by Nate Southard).

Also in the good news department, October is shaping up to be a great month since I will be the Featured Writer in Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest. It will mean an interview as well as a reprint of a story of mine that you probably missed the first time around.

I will also be attending the Second Annual Apex Day in Lexington, KY, at the city’s Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Apex Day features authors and artists who contribute to Apex Digest; there will be author readings, book signings, art displays and other presentations. Several authors will be participating, including Gary A. Braunbeck, Lucy Snyder, Teri Jacobs, Geoffrey Girard, Alethea Kontis, Michael West, and Douglas F. Warrick (not to mention, artist Carrie Rapp). Plus you get to hang out with the fine Apex staff, Apex editor-in-chief Jason Sizemore and Apex submissions editor Mari Adkins. The event is free, and will go on all afternoon and probably into the evening.

Time and Location:
Saturday, September 22nd starting at 2:00 pm
Joseph-Beth Booksellers (800 248 6849)
161 Lexington Green Circle, Suite B1
Lexington KY 40503

If you can’t catch up with us there, you can find us the following weekend (September 28 – 30) at ConText 20 in Columbus, OH. Apex Publications will be hosting a room party September 29th.

Also, my friend, J.C. Hay was recently interviewed. Go check it out. And writer Richard Dansky asked Alice Henderson to participate in Five For Writing, a feature on his website in which he puts five questions to different writers. Go check it out.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.