'Tis the Season

Much like the Christmas tree picture we posted in last year's December column.

There's always some debate about when the Christmas season begins and ends (and when it's reasonable to start playing Christmas music), but most who celebrate the holiday on December 25th would agree that, at a minimum, it should include either all of Advent (which started this year on November 29th), or all of December.

It wasn't always so. Advent was originally a season of fasting in preparation for Christmas; the celebratory Twelve Days of Christmas begin, rather than concluding, with Christmas Day. And even in today's less fasting-oriented church culture, Advent traditionally has a dual focus. We prepare to celebrate Christ's first coming while looking forward to his second, at which point the Bible promises that all that's wrong with the world, and with us, will be set right.

This is a promise that can sound a bit fantastical, even for a speculative fiction magazine, and not especially joyful to those who disagree with the Christians who most like to talk about the Second Coming as to what, exactly, is wrong with the world. But they won't be the ones making that call (either the Christians, or those who disagree). At their heart, Biblical promises of future judgment are promises made to the poor, to the marginalized, to the oppressed, and to the sick that their suffering is temporary and that those responsible will be held to account. They emphasize that human attempts to fight injustice and suffering are always inadequate and morally ambiguous, but still our obligation if we're trying to serve God, and that God will redeem our feeble and misguided attempts to fix what's wrong, bringing light out of darkness. Even though it will take a miracle.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:5, NRSV)


We have now responded to all the July submissions, so if you sent us a story and haven't heard back, please contact us (editors@mysteriononline.com) ASAP. 

We will be open to submissions again for the month of January. Keep in mind that each submission period is tied to a particular publication window. From the July submissions, we chose the stories we'll be publishing between January and June of next year. The January submission window is intended to supply the July through December stories. So if you have a Christmas story (or are inspired to write one this December), January is not, in fact, too early to send it to us. July will be too late. This also applies to Halloween and Thanksgiving stories (American or Canadian). 

We are, perhaps, a little more open to pandemic-related stories than we were in July, though they still aren't high on the list of what we're looking for. Do try to avoid obvious clichés: the Catholic priest who loses his faith in God because of the pandemic, COVID vaccines being used to deliver microchips with the Mark of the Beast on them, the real source of COVID being aliens or time travelers, etc.  

When we say "not looking for pandemic fiction", that does not mean your science fiction stories, especially near future, need to take place in an alternate timeline where COVID-19 never happened, or that having characters wearing masks and social distancing will get you an instant rejection. We are skeptical that any story centered on the theological implications of the current pandemic is really going to be our thing. But who knows, you might surprise us!


The reprint anthology is (tentatively) scheduled for publication on December 15th. This is the anthology of stories we published here in the Mysterion online magazine in 2018 and 2019. We just ordered the pre-publication proof for the paperback edition today, so if that looks acceptable, it should be ready in time for you to be able to buy copies as Christmas gifts (for yourself or others!). It will also be available in ebook version for all your favorite devices.

We're immensely grateful to author Sarah Smith, who shared with us her how-to guide on print book layout (though of course you should blame us, not Sarah, for any deficiencies in our final product). Kirk DouPonce did the cover design (we weren't ready to try that on our own), and the cover art is by Rob Joseph.

Here's the full cover: 


Come back on December 28th to read our next story, Barbara A. Barnett's "This Is the Way the Prayer Ends", in which a pianist and a lover of poetry meet in a crumbling recital hall at the end of the world.


If you enjoy classic cocktails and are looking for new recipes, consider following Kristin on Twitter (@KristinJanz), since that's mostly what she's posting lately (that and Mysterion announcements). 

Kristin's most viral blog post ever, long before Mysterion, was actually about how you could use Monin pomegranate syrup as a substitute for grenadine, since most commercially available grenadine is pretty terrible. She's since moved on to making her own, and there are other good options available online if you don't want to go that route, but Monin will still work better than what's available at most grocery stores.

We wish you all a joyful holiday season despite present circumstances, and hope you are able to find meaningful ways to celebrate with those closest to you!

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Scripture from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright (c) 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.