Speculative Friction 2: Zero Degrees of Separation

Continuing the discussion of Christian F&SF begun in the last installment…something interesting emerged as I spent a little more time browsing through Mr. Copple’s website. Most of his published works are published by a few closely-related entities, some created by him, and some in which he participates directly in a decisionmaking role. For example, many of his short stories appeared in Dragons, Knights, and Angels and The Sword Review, which have since merged into MindFlights, and all of these publications were/are under the aegis of Double-Edged Publishing, which sponsors his poetry webzine, Haruah, where he is Managing Editor. All these sites are hosted by Web-Net Solutions, out of Cordova, TN, where Double-Edged Publishing also resides.

Is this a problem? No, I don’t think so, for at least three reasons:

1. There’s plenty of precedent. Nobody gets too exercised over the way John W. Campbell and his coterie did business during the glory days of the SF pulps, and some of John W’s own stuff got marquee treatment along the way.

2. Trying to break into the market as a new fiction author is next to impossible, even if you’re good, and even if you’ve got a few connections. It’s like trying to make it big with your garage band. Christian SF&F is a niche market within a niche market, and the big publishers pretty much already have a supply of what they want. If you want to do anything new and different, and you’re not already making coffee for the publisher, you’re going to have to do it yourself, even to the point of self-publishing. The success of Christopher Paolini and his Eragon books is a notable example.

3. Double-Edge doesn’t look as if it’s merely a vanity press for its creators’ projects. There are a lot of different contributors, and many of the stories are, in my opinion, pretty good.

What is a little bothersome to me is that when Mr. Copple announces that one of his writings has been published, particularly in one of these outlets where he’s a decisionmaker or staff member, there’s really no acknowledgment that this is the case. It’s kind of like owning a grocery store and getting excited about your wife’s strawberry preserves now being featured on Aisle 3. There’s a difference between having your stuff published by Ace, Tor, or Baen versus your own webzine, even if it’s a pretty good webzine.

Double-Edge’s products are starting to get some attention. Ray Gun Revival, a ‘zine dedicated to the Golden Age space opera genre, was recognized by Sci-Fi Weekly last year as a “Site of the Week,” garnering a nice review. Its sister podcast site, Ray Gun Radio, was recently re-started after a hiatus of several months. Their new host is…R.L. Copple. I plan to listen in soon, spark gun and secret decoder ring at the ready.

Excelsior!

Update: Ok, RayGun Radio is officially a hoot. Adding a link to the blogroll.

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