March 2023

It's been an odd winter around here. Mostly mild; except for that Saturday that was the coldest February 4th on record. Then it got warm again, and crocuses and chives were coming up; until they weren't. It snowed, and melted, then snowed again and turned to rain. We might be missing a snow/melt cycle or two.

We're working our way through the January submissions. As of Sunday night, we had 151 unread stories, 8 that had been read by at least one person and not yet rejected, and 4 advanced to the final round of consideration.

There's been a lot of talk in SF writer/editor circles recently about magazines being overwhelmed by AI-generated "story" submissions. This hasn't hit us too hard yet, but according to the linked article, it didn't really take off until February, when we were closed to submissions. 

While we're fairly certain that some of the stories we've rejected during this cycle were generated by chatbots, our issue with them wasn't that they were machine-written, but that they were bad stories. As far as we can tell, AI chatbots are still a long way from being able to produce fiction that either of us wants to read or publish. We're not going to make confident predictions about "never", because science fiction writers are almost always wrong about the future. But right now, it seems that the problem is more one of swamping publishers with low-quality spam submissions than one of outcompeting human authors for limited publication slots.

This is still a very real problem, especially if the number of machine-generated submissions continues to grow exponentially. If you receive 50 times as many stories, with the same staff, first readers have even less time to try to give a story by someone whose name they don't recognize a reasonable chance. 

It's currently only a minor nuisance for us. We'll see what happens when we open to submissions again in July.


Have we ever mentioned that we have a Patreon? We're holding steady from last month, with 22 active Patreon subscribers and $201/month. If you enjoy Mysterion, please consider signing up! Subscriber benefits include early access to all our fiction content (for $3+/month); bonus subscriber content, including book, movie and game reviews and exclusive cat pictures; and the opportunity to participate in monthly Discord chats with Donald and Kristin and some of our authors.

You can sign up for as little as $1/month, though benefits increase at higher support levels. And, since we're still not breaking even with our publishing endeavor, you can be confident that everything you contribute (minus Patreon and credit card fees, and possibly sales tax depending on where you live) is going toward paying authors and artists for their work.

If we can increase our monthly support to $275/month, we'll be able to start publishing 16 stories a year instead of 14. Only $74/month to go!

Current and Upcoming Stories

Our latest featured story is D.G.P. Rector's space opera "The Binding and the Ram", in which a conflicted Fleet Chaplain in an epic future war learns that her own side's ethical compromises have been even darker than she had imagined. And, if you enjoy it, be sure to read D.G.P. Rector's earlier story for us, "On Charis Station".

Later this month, we'll be continuing our recent science fiction streak with "MARY and Martha", by T.R. Frazier, as a robot helps an exhausted nursing assistant remember how to be human. Then, in April, Jamie M. Boyd's "Wicket 2.0" asks: if dogs can come back to life, what else might be possible?

Feline Update

Our new cat Belle is a lot of work. She's currently on three medications and won't eat anything except her special veterinary diet dry food (so we can't hide meds in canned food or treats). Since we started her daily medication regime, she's apparently decided that she lives under the guest room bed now and has no interest in exploring the rest of the house.

Belle in the days prior to her floorward migration.

Her health has improved a lot since she arrived. She had ulcers on her upper lip and inside her mouth (probably associated with an autoimmune disorder), that were making it difficult for her to eat and groom herself, and the swelling has now gone down significantly. However, she's had to be on antibiotics to address infections that flared up when we gave her an immunosuppressant to deal with the ulcers, and has early stage kidney disease (not uncommon in 16-year-old cats) that may be affecting her appetite.

Maxwell is very interested in visiting Belle, though we can't tell how much it's to make friends, vs. a desire to reassert his territorial claims to the guest room by eating Belle's food and using her litter box. Belle doesn't usually hiss at him anymore, and has even touched noses a couple of times. Marie is more skittish, and last time we allowed a supervised visit, she was the one who got spooked enough to hiss and growl.

On his own, Maxwell has been getting into all kinds of trouble. 

We've been going around catproofing kitchen and bathroom drawers and cabinets as he figures out how to open them. Though in this case, his real goal may have been to get behind the drawer into the mouse superhighway behind the cabinets. 

Of course, he and Marie still spend plenty of time snuggling together for warmth in our cold house!

Thank you for reading! Please consider subscribing to our Patreon if you haven't already, and be sure to come back here on March 27th for our next story!

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