I'm asked pretty often by non-writers what speculative fiction is. My answer: all fiction is speculative. But according to Wikipedia:
"In some contexts, it has been used as an inclusive term covering a group of fiction genres that speculate about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways."
Some people view the term with negative connotation because Sci-Fi/Fantasy isn't highbrow enough, not "Literary." Well, to anyone who thinks SF/F is not literary, I say bullshit. Create an entirely new world without making a comment on the real one. C'mon, I dare you. Of course those genres are mostly about telling a story. That's what stories should be about: The Story.
Speaking of The Story, I am currently doing the best part of being an editor: reading the stories in our YES box. It's a pleasure because they are all just so damn good. Unfortunately, we fund this little venture ourselves and cannot buy every great story that comes our way.
How they get to the yes box is almost as enjoyable, of course, and they travel as many different paths as there are stories. I rarely sit down to read my intake box without being amazed. I might not accept a particular story because I am human, and therefore fickle, subjective, and sometimes itchy, but I love every minute of it.
Our production meeting is scheduled. We sit down in a bar or restaurant and hash out which are the best of the best. (Professional of us, eh? Well, hell, most writers write in their jammies, so it's par.) Sometimes we work hard at plugging a particular story against a bit of opposition, and sometimes we all just say, in the same breath, "It's in." Lots of hilarity ensues, but only at our own expense, trust me. There's a lot to work with there.
And speaking of the editors, the greatest part of all is working with them. We seem to be on the same page. (Hahahahaha--ok, couldn't resist. Oh! I think I peed myself a little.) I think it comes from reading each other's stuff so often and really knowing our genres. We've got widely varied tastes and backgrounds, and our qualities mesh into instinctively similar ideas about what our little zine should be. But really it's the stories that keep coming and making it so. It's an amazing honor to be there. Not because Electric Spec is huge or someday will be, but because it's real storytelling, that other oldest, lower paid, profession. I'm priviledged to tell stories and have one person read it, much less select them for others' enjoyment.
I am the "Dark Editor" because I truly enjoy the tale of unstoppable evil, especially when that evil is as natural to the world as air. Not easily done, but I read one tonight that crawled up my spine. The writing is damn good, of course. Pacing, characterization, description all just right, and effectively handled for so much narrative.
If you've gotten a rejection from me or anyone on our staff, please try us again. If you haven't submitted, please do. Most of all, keep writing and keep reading. We owe it to each other to keep the stories alive.