Showing posts with label Mystery Weekly Magazine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mystery Weekly Magazine. Show all posts

03 June 2020

Time Share


I have a story in the June issue of Mystery Weekly Magazine, and for that I must thank Barb Goffman, who was my inspiration.  Sort of.

I came up with the idea and the title for the story decades ago but I couldn't see a market for it so I never bothered to write it.  Then, last year, Barb announced that she was going to edit an anthology called Crime Travel, featuring crime-related tales of time travel.

And I realized my old idea fit. Sort of. It was about a physicist who hoped to invent time travel, only to discover that that is impossible - however, it turned out that he could travel through an apparently infinite number of universes.

I asked Barb if that concept might fit in her book, and she said it might.  So I wrote the story.  And Barb rejected it, as she had every right to do.

But heck, I had my story now.  Might as well look for a market.  Mystery Weekly Magazine had published one of my stories last year, a tale with a science fiction bent.  So I sent it to them and voila.  Decades after it was first dreamed up, "In Praise of my Assassin" is available now for your reading pleasure.

It's about time.

04 December 2019

I, Robot (Author)


I am delighted to have a story in the December issue of Mystery Weekly Magazine, my first appearance there.  "Robot Carson" is, I guess, the second time a story of mine began with what you might call a vision.  Not a dream, because I was wide awake.

The image that popped into my head was a woman answering the door and finding a chest freezer on her stoop.  Not literally a freezer, just an object of that size and shape.  Turned out to be a robot, working for the cops.

And as you may deduce, its name turned out to be Carson.

That's pretty much all I have to say about the story.  It's short.  Go ahead and read it and see what you think.  You can read the first page here.

My first encounter with robots (well, barring Lost in Space and similar kiddy stuff) was in the ninth grade when I bought a paperback of Isaac Asimov's I, Robot. It's a collection of short stories   (The movie of the same name, by the way, has very little in common with the book.)

The stories are loosely connected by an interview with Dr. Susan Calvin, who appears in some of them.  She is the chief robopsychologist for U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc.

Perhaps the most famous thing about these stories is the Three Laws of Robotics.  (And by the way, Asimov coined the word "robotics."  He assumed it already existed.)   Many other authors have silently adopted the Laws or otherwise played with the concept.  Here they are:

 First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
The worst from dozens of available covers.
Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
 
Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Asimov found many clever ways to play with these rules (Example: If a robot could read minds, would hurting feelings count as harming a human being?)

Asimov went on to write a series of mystery novels featuring a pairing of human and robots, beginning with The Caves of Steel.

His robot cop appeared to be human.  As far as I know, none of his robots were ever mistaken for a freezer.  So I can claim at least that much originality.










28 April 2018

When is a Mystery not a Mystery?


by Melodie Campbell

Homeless. Not me, luckily. I still have four walls and a roof plus dog on the couch. But my kick-ass story, A Ship Called Pandora, that had a wonderful future and clear economic security is now homeless.

The genres are tricky things. If I write a mystery and set it in the past, it’s considered a historical mystery. So, if we are classifying it, we would call it a Mystery first, and then Historical, as a subgenre of mystery genre. Everyone’s happy.

But what if I set it in the future?

This is exactly what has happened to me recently. For the very first time, I was asked to write a crime story for an anthology, without going through the usual submission process. The anthology had the delightful premise: anything goes. That is, I could write any subgenre, and set it anywhere, anytime. *rubs hands in delight*

A particular story had been percolating in my brain for weeks, pounding to get out. My friends and readers know that I like writing from the other side of the crime spectrum. In The Goddaughter series, I write from the point of view of a mob Goddaughter who really doesn’t want to be one, but keeps having to pull off heists to bail out her family. The books are fun, and weirdly, justice is done by the end, regardless of her family connections.

So this new story was going to feature a kick-ass female marshal from the witness protection program. Her job is to arrange the ‘hide’ after someone has testified in court. Thing is, the transportation is by space travel, because the plot is set far in the future.

I sent it to the anthology editors. They loved it. One of my best twists ever, they said. They liked the fact that it was hard-edged – unusual for me. I breathed a sigh of relief. And then two months later, they came back. The publisher was having second thoughts. He thought the science fiction setting would not be a good fit for a mystery anthology. *author reaches for gun*

So they asked if they could reprint one of my award-winning stories instead. I gave them a favourite (Hook, Line and Sinker) that was also hard-edged. This is the one that had me sharing a literary shortlist with Margaret Atwood (Atwood won.) It would have a second life, which is always nice.
Meanwhile, I had this story on my hands, one that everyone loved, written especially for an anthology, that was now homeless. *pass the scotch*

This was the time of Bouchercon 2017 in Toronto. I was hanging with the AHMM gang, who were recording me reading my own work, Santa Baby, for a podcast to go up on their site. (It’s there now *does happy dance*) So I asked if they would be interested in reading it.

Sure, was the answer. Sometimes they publish stories set in the near future. I didn’t think this one would qualify. I was right.

They didn’t take it. But they did suggest sending it to their sister Dell mag, Asimov’s Science Fiction Mag.  I might. But I'd rather have a mystery market.

My point is this: Usually, we classify a story as a mystery if the plot is a mystery. The setting comes second. A historical mystery is still classified as a mystery. A mystery with a strong romance element is still a mystery if the plot is a mystery plot. But in the case of a future setting, it doesn’t matter what the plot is. The setting is key to the classification.

I probed a bit among my author contacts. One said that he had written a series billed as sci-fi mystery, and this was his baffling and witty conclusion: he managed to alienate the mystery readers, and confuse the sci-fi readers. Sales were a lot better when they reclassified the thing as sci-fi only

So to answer that initial question: When Is a Mystery not a Mystery? When it’s set in the future.

What about you? Have you come across this before? Any suggestions?

UPDATE:   The intrepid editors at Mystery Weekly Magazine say they love A Ship Called Pandora.  It comes out soon. 

CODE NAME: GYPSY MOTH
on AMAZON


Here's another fun scifi crossgenre book: CODE NAME: GYPSY MOTH
It isn't easy being a female barkeep in the final frontier… especially when you're also a spy!
(Good thing I had a traditional publisher for this one. Because I have NO IDEA where to promote this.)