Recently, I received a very good rejection letter from The Future Fire, an online speculative fiction magazine that likes dark, noirish cyberpunk stories with social commentary.
I figured my story "The Snatcher" would be perfect for TFF--it's somewhat dark, has a definitive noirish feel to it, and is sprinkled with cyberpunk elements throughout.
Here's the rejection letter I received from them:
Dear six blocks east of mars,
Thanks for sending 'The Snatcher' for consideration by The Future Fire. Our referees have now read this story, and after some discussion we have finally decided not to take it for publication. Apologies for the longer than usual delay in getting back to you with this decision.
This was a well-written, convincing noir piece, and we all pretty much enjoyed it. It felt incomplete, however: on one level there wasn't really a climax to the story, there wasn't really a point to it. This reads well as the opening chapter of a longer piece, but for us it wasn't really free-standing. (A question worth asking, if this is indeed a free-standing short story, would be, "Why could this not have been a crime story set in Chicago in the 1950s of our own world, rather than an alternative future?" As it stands only the implants in the dead body could not be historical, and they are more of a plot mcguffin than a central part of the story.)
In any case, we wanted to stress that we didn't think this was a badstory, and we hope you'll consider submitting other work to us in the
The Future Fire
<http://futurefire.net>(Speculative Cyberpunk Dark) + Fiction
A bit of background on "The Snatcher:" it isn't a "free-standing" story, but part of a larger three-arc story that belongs to the collection of stories I'm currently writing set in a near future city-state Chicago.The first arc, "Built for the Kill," was published June 1 by down in the cellar, and the third arc has been accepted for the forthcoming Our Shadows Soar anthology.
However, I thought the story was written in a way that allowed it to stand alone, and its point (social commentary on political corruption that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer) was clear.A difference of opinions, but the editor's opinion does have some merit: the story's climax was, for the most part, non-existent.
Here is my response to TFF:
Thank you for considering "The Snatcher" and for your long, in-depth response. You and your referees are correct; the story isn't quite stand-alone and is the second part of a larger three-arc story that, in turn, belongs to a larger story set in the near future.
The world depicted in the larger story includes a city-state Chicago, and details the powers-that-be who encourage corruption to make the now city-state a black market center of the country.
I would argue there is a climax, albeit a weak one: Bino Spectre's winning the "snatch" of the body.
Ultimately in this world, the one with the most corrupt power or corrupt friends (in this case, Bob Kill) wins out, but Bino upped the stakes with severe blackmail. In short, the story is social commentary on the corrupt nature of politics.
Thank you again for your in-depth response, and I will definitely submit again in the near future.
six blocks east of mars
My main issue with the editor's response to the story is his misreading of the organ's being "snatched" at the end of the story as implants and his labeling them as a MacGuffin. The story explicitly states why Bino Spectre snatches the organs, as well as what he plans to do with them.
That being said, due to the nature of the story being the second arc, there is a MacGuffin: the body. It's never described or even explained how it got there.
So after a bit of thought, I've revised the story. It now has a more solid climax, is as stand alone as it can be, and even has stronger cyberpunk elements that no longer give the impression the body's organs are MacGuffins. I submitted the revision to TFF last night, and it should be interesting to read their take on the changes.
There is a slight problem with the revised manuscript I noticed this morning while making the changes to a backup copy. In my excitement to get TFF the manuscript quickly, and get my new ideas down before I forgot exactly how I wanted them worded, I neglected to change a detail regarding the organs. I don't believe it would be a story-rejecting mistake, but the mistake could cause confusion.Then again, TFF may take it as such; it was an issue they had with the initial submission.
Note for the future (pun intended): proofread again. And then again. And then again. And then once more.