Image courtesy of NASA and the University of Arizona
From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
This isn't the first time we've featured images of Mars. It's hard to believe it's already been six years since I excitedly dedicated v13n4 to "our next opportunity to better ourselves, to build that city, or in this case, planet, on the hill." Now as v19n4 hits the web tubes, the movie The Martian is inspiring viewers including myself to get even more enthusiastic about someday exploring our sister planet. As these photos breathtakingly show, Mars isn't all just red dunes and rocky buttes a la Monument Valley. There truly is an amazing variety of "stuff" there, and with the recent revelations of liquid water, who knows what possibilities await us to expand the human experience?
In the meantime, there's quite a bit of texture, color, and perspective to be gained from perusing this issue right here, which features Spotlight fiction author Roger Mensink, whose story "Lone Pine Says Howdy" might be set in a landscape similar to one found somewhere on Mars, and whose two characters might as well be from two different planets. We've got plenty of other fiction on board, five from authors who have graced our pages before, five from authors we hope will become regulars. I never know just how strong a fiction section is until I've had a chance to edit and proof all the stories and let them germinate in my mind for a few days or weeks. I can tell you this batch has germinated into one of my favorites overall.
Congratulations are in order for Mensink and our two runners up, Margaret Holley for poetry and Ben Daitz for nonfiction. As has been the case for some time now, those three will be receiving modest cash awards for their contributions. The nominal fee we charge for authors to use our Submittable tool provides just enough funding to cover the tool and $100 in prizes each issue.
Speaking of congratulations, kudos to Nicholas Hogg for the release of his novel TOKYO.
And speaking of anthologies and publishing books in print, Eclectica will soon be combining those two ideas into a four-book, 20th anniversary-celebrating event. As of this writing, an LLC has been formed, ISBNs purchased, mock covers created... It's too soon to set an exact date, but the plan is to initiate a Kickstarter campaign in early December and start shipping books in the spring. There will be a best-of edition for poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and speculative lit—the latter will feature some poetry and nonfiction and a lot of the fantastic (in the literal sense of the word as well as the laudatory) fiction we've published in the last two decades.
In addition to the four anthologies, we will also be releasing a collection of nonfiction/travel pieces William Reese Hamilton has published over the years. Look for Tales of Choroni in time for the holidays.
Anne Leigh Parrish has been our fiction editor since the July/August 2012 issue. It is with great appreciation for her invaluable contributions that I wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors. It would be nice if our severance package was more generous than a few words from me in this editor note, but such as it is with a no-profit, all volunteer publication. I know Anne will continue to write great things, and I hope we will hear from her now and then about them.
In large part thanks to Anne, there are some wonderful pieces to read in this issue. I'll sign off and let you get to them.
From Gilbert S. Purdy, Review Editor
Thanks, as always, to Ann Skea for her many fine reviews. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to do reviews of eBooks this issue. I hope to return to it for the next issue. I still intend to do a column of short eBook reviews each issue along with some insight and commentary about aspects of the electronic publishing world.
I have also been interested to offer historical reviews as time permits. The first appears in this number. Jonathan Swift's satirical review of The Art of Political Lying is perhaps the first of its kind. There was never actually a book bearing the title. For all it is almost unknown these days, the "review" is something of a minor classic. Perhaps the subject is as timely, as we approach 2016, as it was in 1712.
I would like, as always, to invite anyone who might read this to send along reviews of books, art, music, cultural organizations, companies and events—local, regional, national, and international—and cultural crit pieces on the same. Feel free to do so as a one-off or more or less regularly as works for you. I look forward to continue to expand the Review/Interview Section during the months ahead, to include a wide range of lively, insightful (even quirky) cultural crit. I hope you will stop by to read and/or submit.
From Jennifer Finstrom, Poetry Editor
There is so much exciting to say about this issue and about Eclectica contributor news in general, that I hardly know how to begin. I imagine a good place to start is by welcoming you to issue Number 4 of Volume 19—the very next issue will be the first one of Volume 20! This issue's poetry section is a big one, with ten poets represented in the regular poetry section and nine in the Word Poem Special Feature—including Margaret Holley, our Spotlight Runner-Up, who is included in both. The Word Poem section has been particularly thriving in recent issues, and I absolutely encourage you to give it a try!
In a communication with me, Holley said of writing her Word Poem that "it felt impossible at first, but then phrases began slowly whispering their way in the back door." This is very much my own experience with writing Word Poems, which I did for many years when Julie King was poetry editor and still do now. Elizabeth Kerper, another Word Poem contributor, said something similar in that "having the assigned words to start with helps me figure out a way into poems I've had in my head but haven't been able to actually write." Compelling reasons to give the Word Poem Special Feature a try—see the section for the four new words!
To return to Holley's work, her three poems are all thematically varied. Two of the poems, "Sonoita Inn Serenade" and "I See My Long Dead Mother in the Shop 'n Save," conflate past and present into a dream-like state. The latter poem begins with "[f]ifty years gone, and yet here she is, / exactly her profile, every wave and curl / in place." Even if we haven't experienced something like this literally, I think that many of us can relate to that fleeting moment of recognizing someone who isn't there. Holley's third poem (not including her Word Poem), "We Have a Little Mozart," is also dream-like. It's a catalogue poem of what the speaker is seeing in an office environment. The items are specific yet universal—[w]e have a turkey sandwich on the desk / and some fruit salad with a plastic fork in it"—but the place where the poem takes us at the end was wholly unexpected for me. Please do give Holley's work a careful read!
Next, I would like to officially announce Eclectica's poetry nominees for Best of the Net awards. The nominees were drawn from issues published between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, and I should tell you right away how bewilderingly difficult this always is! I love all of the work published here so very, very much, and while it is a pleasure to revisit a year of publishing, there are no easy choices when it comes to picking six poems. So, many, many congratulations to the poets whose work was nominated. They are listed here with links:
"Iowa Summer" by Gary Dop (Vol 18, No 3)
"From the Fire" by Mark Magoon (Vol 18, No 3)
"Dog Poem" by Elizabeth Kerper (Vol 18, No 4)
"November, 2013" by Marc Frazier (Vol 19, No 1)
"Love and Sickness in the Time of ISIS" by Jillian Merrifield (Vol 19, No 1)
"Cosmos" by David Oestreich (Vol 19, No 2)
And if you enjoy these poets' work, you might find more from them in our archives and elsewhere. Four of these poets have recent or upcoming books that you can dive into as well: Gary Dop's Father, Child, Water from Red Hen Press, Mark Magoon's The Upper Peninsula Misses You from ELJ Publications, Marc Frazier's Each Thing Touches from Glass Lyre Press, and David Oestreich's Cosmophagy (forthcoming) from Folded Word. I have been fortunate enough to read all of these but Dop's book, but I'll be sure to pick that up without delay!
I'll let you get to the new issue now, but do please be on the look out for upcoming information about four exciting Eclectica print anthologies. If picking nominees for Best of the Net was difficult, I can scarcely begin to fathom what it will be like to draw from almost twenty years of poetry publishing! Nevertheless, I can't wait to get started.
From Anne Leigh Parrish, Fiction Editor
What makes a good story? Put simply, one that acts. Which means inspires, engages, stuns, shocks, soothes, enlightens, stirs. Bad stories sit back and do none of these things. They leave the reader with a sense of wasted time. The stories in our fall issue leave the reader refreshed and reminded of things forgotten, or seen now, for the first time. Most of all, our fiction pieces make the reader glad for the time spend in another time, place, or aesthetic.
Our pieces seem to follow some common themes this time around. The lives of couples is one. "Skopje 2011," by Elena Tuparevska gives us not only a love triangle, but a marvelous account of frustration and ambivalence. Age, loss, and fear of the unknown come with both love and a touch of redemption in Kiare Ladner's "Leftovers." Humor, disappointment, and the shock of realizing what one knows but can't quite yet see make for a great read in "Lone Pine Says Howdy," from our Spotlight Author Roger Mensink.
We move now to crime, conflict, and asserting one's dominance. For a taste of old-style hard-boiled detective fiction, you'll particularly enjoy "De Minimus: A Cold Case in California" by Jascha Kessler. Will the force of good triumph over evil? Rudy Koshar's "Into The Old Testament" invites you to find out. The stakes of life and death are translated into the need for acceptance and finding one's place in the social scheme in "Boy Wonder" by Robert Roman.
We then visit Africa in two stories which explore the murkiness of human nature. Ovo Adagha's "Crossing Chamomi Creek" asks us to consider bravery in the face of known danger; while "Pure Water" by Chikodili Emelumadu shows a cynical, almost jaundiced view of the opposite sex.
No issue could be complete without a touch of magical realism. The results of heartbreak, the inheritance of it, if you will, are finely portrayed in "Fred's Massive Sorrow" by Christopher Allen. A unique point-of-view and perspective are charming in Jesse Minkert's "Window and Walk." And in "Sugarbush Lake" by Amy Kenyon we meet a woman experiencing age, powerful memories, and the acceptance of mortality.
We're excited about these stories, and know you will be, too.