All of my regular reader know who Maggie is. Yes, I meant to leave that noun singular. Maggie Slater is my only “net-friend,” meaning that we have never met and have no plans to do so, but we’ve corresponded so long and traded stories so much that I have a wad of neurons in my brain that are dedicated to Maggieness and nothing else. She’s my friend- and a very dear one. I am an old school geek and this part of my life is likely the largest part of me that I do not share publicly, but that is where the kid is so great and so valuable. She’s as big a geek as I am. So why am I writing this? Simply this- I am very antisocial, a hypochondriac, paranoid, I dislike physical contact and I really dislike social obligations, so there are not a lot of easy relationships in my life. My wife understands my… oddness, and that is why we work so well. Maggie asks nothing of me and I’m probably her second biggest fan so this is a paean of praise for my favorite person in all of Geekdom.
Part I: How I met the Maggie
I decided to start writing this blog about three years ago. I had been writing science fiction for about twelve years and did not manage to make a professional for the first seven years. I had learned so much in the process and I felt like I had a lot to share with other genre writers that were just getting started. When I started sending out manuscripts I didn’t even know what a “slush pile” was. I was easily discouraged, I had a piss poor relationship with grammar, and I felt very alone in my endeavor. Remember, when I first started it was the earliest days of online publishing and well before the days of online or electronic submissions, so I had developed as a writer along with the internet science fiction market, and I wanted to talk about it (and make lots of stupid lists). My favorite magazine was (and is) Apex. There are many reasons for this, though the primary are its love of Kentucky, its truly great stories, and its founder Jason “The Beast” Sizemore. Jason was very helpful to me over the years and so when I decided I wanted to interview a slush editor for this blog, I asked him to point me in the right direction. He sent me this message:
I don’t think you want to talk to our slush wrangler. He just controls the slush pile for us. I’m thinking you’ll want to talk to Maggie Jamison. She’s funny, she’s sweet, and gives great advice.
This was in 2009, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Part II: My favorite things about Maggie
1. She never questions my most recent disease: I mentioned that I’m a hypochondriac. That is true- to a point. I am also very unlucky and have a bad habit of putting inappropriate things in my mouth. For instance, on a trip to the Yucatan a couple of years ago I put an underground lake in my mouth. Well perhaps not an entire underground lake, but as much as would fit in my mouth/throat/lungs/stomach etc. The bottom of the lake was filled with an ice age’s worth of giant sloth and crocodilian fossils and a figurative ass-load of single celled organisms. Montezuma, vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. So I am always paranoid that some organism is settling in to dine on the constant flow of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cereal that is my diet.
2. She always reads the crap I ask her to read (and manages to say nice things about it without making me feel like I’ve won a “You Tried!” trophy): Seriously, this girl has a full lid of work, marriage, editing, writing and who-knows-what-else, yet still weeds through my garbage and gives good feedback.
3. Talent: Maggie has a Campbell or a Nebula in her future. Perhaps even a Hugo. If I had the evolved voice she has at that age then you would be going to see a movie someone adapted from me this weekend. I really can’t wait until I get to tell my niece that I know the author of that book she has in her backpack. It’s coming, and I got there first!
4. Video Games, and The Dark Lord that makes Voldemort look like Micky Mouse: She knows more about video games than is healthy. When I was a sprout (The Legend of Zelda was the big thing at the time) girls really weren’t aloud to play Nintendo. So pardon me for thinking that girls that love gaming are quite novel and wonderful. I don’t think she’s into D&D, but she would be. As for Dark Lords, she’s a fan. And she likes Dark Lords whose names have way too many consonants in a row. Girls that dig Yog-Sothoth are all right by me.
Part III: My plans for Maggie- The Manifesto
I started writing science fiction because I was a fan of science fiction. I had no major philosophical schemata; certainly there was no organic intellectual unity to my thinking. I was immature and so were my stories. About three years ago I realized I did have a specific world view, a theme, an approach. It was internally consistent, at least as far as anything human can be. I believe in a sort of Jungian approach to technological incorporation. In other words, technology finds its seat in human existence when it co-opts the profound mystical symbols that we use as the roots of language. Language being, of course, a technology. I won’t go into it too much here, suffice to say that the kid sends me an email the other day shooting me an idea for a new sub-genre that reeks of this, and now I’ve spent six days trying to hammer out a set of rules for her and I’m stuck. I will get unstuck, but stay tuned for the Fantechy Manifesto.
So that’s my “I Heart M.J.” diatribe. It’s time for bed. The dachshund is restless.
The Science of Fiction