On the Tenth Day of Christmas...

It's hard to say what annoys liturgical calendar nerds more: playing Christmas music in early November, or thinking you have to stop playing it on December 26th. (Kristin recently saw a photo posted on social media of a store that already has its Valentine's Day candy display set up--the horror!) Christmas has twelve days, and December 25th is the first of those days, not the last. Fortunately, the City of Quincy offers curbside Christmas tree collection on both the last week of December and the first week of January, so we don't have to take ours down until Twelfth Night.

Of course, the real liturgical calendar nerds also insist on a distinction between Advent and Christmas music, but Kristin has not yet traveled so far into that particular fandom.

And a fandom is what it is, really. When Paul wrote that the Galatian church was "observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years" (Galatians 4:10), it wasn't to commend them; though his instructions to the church in Rome suggested it was fine that "some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike." (Romans 14:5) In both cases, the larger context carries a sharp warning against feeling superior to other Christians who place a different level of importance on how the religious calendar should shape one's observance. 

So, while remembering and celebrating the traditional seasons and festivals of the church can be helpful in developing one's own devotional practice and in building community with other Christians, it's important not to turn these devotional aids into the object of our worship. We celebrate Christmas, yes; but as a way of trying to wake up our hearts of stone and remind them that God took on frail human form to unite us all as those who follow where Jesus led, and to break down the walls of hostility between those who celebrate differently by turning all our celebration, in all its diversity, toward him.

Even if that means playing Christmas music at the wrong time.

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let Earth receive her King.

Mysterion Year-End Review

'Tis the season for posting lists of all your award-eligible stories, just in case any of your readers would like to nominate some of them for major awards.

These lists can be helpful, as people may remember a particular story but not the author's name, or know whether--for longer pieces--it belongs in the short story or novelette (>7500 words) category. They may also not be certain whether it first appeared in the venue in which they saw it last year, or is a reprint (stories are usually only eligible for awards covering the year in which they were first published).

All our 2021 stories were originals, appearing with us for the first time, so they're all eligible to be nominated for most general awards in the speculative fiction field. We've also indicated the genre of each story with SF and/or F, since some awards only cover one or the other.

Within each category, we've listed the stories in the order in which they appeared in our publication. Like all parents, we pretend to love all our children the same.

Short Stories

"Did You Hear the Angels Sing?" H.L. Fullerton (F)
"Devil Dog", Len Bailey (F)
"Salvation", John Nadas (SF)
"Milestone and the Fifth World", Marissa James (F)
"The Cure", A.J. Cunder (F/SF)
"Bearing the Flame", C.A. Barrett (F)
"Ceiling Snakes and Slithering Saints", Barbara A. Barnett (F)
"Vocation", Jessica Snell (SF)
"Kirishitan", Marshall J. Moore (F)
"The Inksmith", Katherine Briggs (F)
"Soul's Wager", K.J. Khan (F)


"Breaching the Distance", Hannah Onoguwe (F)

We were excited to see that half of the fourteen stories we published last year appear on the Tangent Online 2021 Recommended Reading List: "The Cure" (A.J. Cunder), "Bearing the Flame" (C.A. Barrett), "Vocation" (Jessica Snell), "Kirishitan" (Marshall J. Moore), "Soul's Wager" (K.J. Khan), "Milestone and the Fifth World" (Marissa James), and "An Exchange of Values, Conducted in Good Faith" (David Tallerman).

Finally, although this is just as much about 2020, and although we've already mentioned it here, one of our 2020 stories was a finalist for the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award for Short Fiction. Congratulations once again to Caias Ward, author of "Reformed"!


As we write this, Arisia is still planning to go forward January 14-17 as an in-person convention here in Boston. They're supposed to announce "a final update on the con's in-person status" on January 5th.

We probably don't need to tell you that Massachusetts is in the middle of a massive COVID surge right now. Hospitals are overwhelmed. A friend of ours who was hospitalized recently for non-COVID reasons languished in the ER for several days because they didn't have an available room for her. The New Year's Eve party we'd planned to attend was canceled at the last minute because the (fully vaccinated and boosted) host came down with COVID.

Arisia was always planning to restrict attendance to those who are fully vaccinated, and Boston will now be requiring everyone 12+ entering public event spaces or restaurants to show proof that they have received at least one dose, starting January 15. But the sheer number of cases, even among fully vaccinated people, often asymptomatic, means that it's hard to rely on this as much as we might once have wished to.

We're currently planning to attend, if the convention isn't canceled and neither of us is sick. Kristin is scheduled to be on the following six panels:

Speculative Laughs: Funny Business in SFF
Friday, 8:30 pm (Douglas)

Scientists, Engineers, and Mathematicians in SFF
Saturday, 1:00 pm (Marina 1)

Crafting Memorable Villains
Saturday, 4:00 pm (Marina 1)

Dialogue that Sings
Sunday, 10:00 am (Marina 2)

Plagues in Fantasy and Science Fiction
Sunday, 4:00 pm (Marina 3)

Aging in SFF
Monday, 11:30 am (Marina 1)

If you're attending, be sure to say hello if you see us! Though perhaps from six feet away.

Stories and Submissions (and the inevitable appeal to subscribe to our Patreon)

Our most recent story is K.J. Khan's "Soul's Wager", an unconventional reimagining of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. You'll see why it's our Christmas story this year.

Coming in January, on the 10th we'll have flash fiction "The Gift of Tongues" by Annaliese Lemmon, about a Mormon missionary with an unusual gift. Then, on January 24th, Cathy Smith's story "The Remnant" imagines a future where humans can migrate to a more durable android body; but there will always be people, human and android, who refuse to let others do their thinking for them. Finally, on February 28th, Marshall J. Moore (author of "Kirishitan") returns to Mysterion with "Moral Panic 1986": what if roleplaying games and heavy metal music really were as threatening to the prevailing social order as those in power imagined?

We say "finally", but of course we'll have stories for you in March and April as well!

Although you might assume from the F/SF breakdown in the stories we published last year that we are more interested in fantasy than science fiction, this is not entirely true. We always want to publish more science fiction. We just don't receive as many science fiction submissions that really appeal to us. Too many of them retread overly familiar ground--Jesuits in space, Mars colonies, time travel--without doing anything distinctive with it. We're just as interested in stories that imagine the consequences of Earthbound near-future science as we are in those set in space (perhaps more interested), and would love to see more stories about plausible nearer-term futures (next ten to 100 years) grounded in possible scientific advances (i.e., medical technology, AI).

We reject many, many stories for either not having any speculative fiction content, or not being about Christianity in any obvious way. While we recognize that we do occasionally publish stories where either the speculative or the Christian content is fairly marginal, your odds are much better if you make it more central to the story.

We still pay 8 cents/word for original fiction (stories that have not been published anywhere else), and 4 cents/word for reprints (stories that have been published elsewhere, including as rewards for your newsletter subscribers or Patreon supporters). How can we afford to pay those rates, you might ask, when we're posting all these stories on our website with no paywall? Well, primarily, because of Donald's day job, and because we only publish fourteen stories each year.

But our second main source of funding for Mysterion (after Donald's day job) is our Patreon page! Or, more accurately, the 22 wonderful people who subscribe to our Patreon to support the work we're doing here. We try to offer a few rewards to make it more worthwhile--monthly Discord chats with Mysterion editors and authors, early access to all our stories, Patreon-exclusive posts about the business of publishing--but, ultimately, our Patreon subscribers are sending us money each month for stories that everyone can read for free online, to help us sustain this project long-term.

Our goal is to eventually be 100% subscriber funded, at least for what we pay our authors and artists. We're still a long way off from that goal. We would need $700/month, and we're currently at $217/month.

Every Patreon subscriber moves us closer, though, even those contributing $1/month! So if you like the stories we publish, and appreciate having a speculative fiction magazine dedicated to exploring Christian ideas, please consider supporting us.


It wouldn't be a Mysterion update these days without at least one cat picture.

Maxwell and Marie enjoying the box for the trash can we got because they kept getting into the old one.

Or maybe two.

Maxwell and Marie sharing the tent we bought when we first got them. They weren't too interested until the weather got colder.

Merry Christmastide to all, and a Happy New Year too!

Support Mysterion on Patreon!