Not as much fanfare as I might like to give them, but I realized I: (1) didn't even feature here a few more acceptances from issue #1; (2) never mentioned here a pretty long list now of acceptances for issue #2 and further. So, without, ahem, further adieu:
After deciding to make the move to a print magazine, I had one story firmly in my hands for this issue already, C. S. Fuqua's "Rise Up." Wanting very much to find a local author, and not having a terribly big budget left over for original fiction, I was very pleased indeed to have a story from Raleigh's Peter Wood in my submissions queue. Pete hadn't been published yet, another plus for me, and I was very much hooked by the TV-broadcast "conceit" of "Almost a Good Day to Go Outside" and the overall arc of the story really stuck with me: amidst the science fictional backdrop of a terraforming research colony, a timeless story of family dynamics unfolded and ended on a bittersweet if not pleasing note.
And I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't been able to reach out to then-Hillsborough, now-Raleigh author and podcaster Natania Barron for a reprint. "Doctor Adderson's Lens" was just what the issue needed: a shot of steampunkish fun. And, like Pete, Natania supported the issue (and magazine!) launch party at The Regulator Bookshop with a great reading. If you haven't listened to each and every episode of her Alderpod Podcast -- go. Go now.
I was lucky to have a strong "cornerstone" for each magazine issue in year one from having selected stories for their ability to stand alone. Melissa Mead's science fiction story "Hirasol" is a story which hit an absolute home run for me: an indefatigably optimistic voice and the kind of story I opened Bull Spec to publish.
Another along the lines of "the kind of story I opened Bull Spec to publish" is Uri Grey's "The Sad Story of the Naga." Part fable, part modern-set fantasy, Uri's distinctive (unique?) and definitively non-US perspective comes out in this short story of a world where an ancient goddesses from the Far East hitchhikes her way through the Holy Land.
I have read a few strong fantasy stories in my submissions queue, but my pick of the bunch ended up coming from an entirely different source entirely: the Crossed Genres Stories for Haiti project. I read a good number of the stories, and Kaolin Fire's for "By the Dragon's Tail" stuck with me for its voice, its setting, and its imagery. I was very glad when he agreed to let me include it in issue #2 and hopefully find a few folks who haven't had a chance to read it yet, and maybe even bring some belated attention to the excellent Stories for Haiti project as well.
Nearly finally, I turned to my submissions queue for some local stories, with an eye on the content already booked. The near-future dark science fiction of Gwendolyn Clare's "The Other Lila" was one of those stories which I couldn't get out of my head, and I was very glad to see that it really fit in the issue.
I said "nearly" finally above, as eventually I bemoaned the small number of locally written stories going into the issue and picked up a short further future science fiction story from Garner's Paul Celmer which I hope bounces around your head as it did mine.
Interviews: NCSU's John Kessel, Asheville graphic novelist and illustrator Hope Larson, and Dexter Palmer, talking about his first novel The Dream of Perpetual Motion, opera, gaming, ...
Featured: In what I hope is something I can continue to do, each issue is planned to "feature" a local author's recently released book with an excerpt and at least a little something else, whether it is an interview, a review, something. Issue #2's "featured excerpt" is Richard Dansky's Firefly Rain, along with an interview by J.M. McDermott.
Reviews: Natania Barron reviews Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perpetual Motion, and Joseph Giddings reviews Cherie Priest's Boneshaker.
Poetry: There are four poems in the issue, including J.P. Wickwire's "The Torturer's Boy" which at nearly 500 words is probably as long as a poem as I think I'll publish.
I don't want to talk in too much detail about the stories yet, but locked into issue #3 are: Katherine Sparrow (another one of those "cornerstone" stories I opened Bull Spec to publish) and David Steffen.
David Tallerman's "The Burning Room" is locked into issue #4, the last of my four original "cornerstone" stories.
Not yet scheduled:
Nick Mamatas, Erin Hoffman, Lavie Tidhar, and Melinda Thielbar. I'm so looking forward to seeing what people think of these stories, but it'll be a bit yet.