Sybil’s Garage Reviews & Radio Show

A few reviews and mentions of Sybil’s Garage No. 7 are starting to trickle in from the interwebs.  The bold emphasis below is mine.

Hugo-nominated fantasy author N.K. Jemisin, over at the Whatever Blog, says, “It’s been awhile since an anthology had this kind of emotional impact on me…this one is highly recommended.” ; link

Multiple World Fantasy Award winner Richard Bowes says, “Beautifully designed and printed as always, Sybil’s Garage which has been one of the best small press speculative fiction journals, graduates to anthology status….[The] fiction and poetry are getting attention and deserve more.” ; link

Hugo Award-winning editor of Electric Velocipede, John Klima, says Sybil’s Garage is “One of my favorite magazines.” ; link

And blogger and writer Kristin Janz says, “I think #7 is the best issue yet.” ; link

Some of the editors and authors of Sybil’s Garage will be on the radio this Saturday for Jim Freund’s Hour of the Wolf.  Guests include editors Matthew Kressel (me!), Paul Berger, Devin Poore and Mercurio D. Rivera.  We will be joined by authors Kathryn E. Baker (known in the podcasting world as Kate Baker), Barbara Krasnoff, and E.C. Myers.

The show airs in the New York region from 5 – 7 a.m., Saturday, August 28th, on WBAI 99.5 FM.  If you miss the show, or aren’t in the NY region, the show will be available as a podcast immediately after at archive.wbai.org.

Hope you can tune in!

Praise for Sybil’s Garage No. 7

As Kristin Janz admits on her blog, she’s a friend of mine.  But I promise all the showering of gifts and flowers sent to her house had nothing to do with her praise of Sybil’s Garage No. 7.  She says, “I think #7 is the best issue yet.”  And “One thing that I’m really impressed by, looking at the whole issue, is the diversity of content…I like not knowing what to expect next when I turn the page.”

Read her full review here.

Sybil’s Garage Stories Selected in Multiple “Best Of” Lists

Richard Larson’s “The Noise,” which appears in Sybil’s Garage No. 7, has been chosen for Wilde Stories 2011, The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction (link).

Also, James B. Pepe’s “I am Enkidu, His Wild Brother,” from Sybil’s Garage No. 6, made the shortlist for the Best American Fantasy Stories (link).  (Unfortunately, the anthology won’t be published for reasons described on the site.)

Congratulations to Richard and James, whose excellent stories are getting the attention they deserve!

An Anthology or a Magazine?

A few months back I mentioned how I would release the latest issue of Sybil’s Garage in trade paperback format.  Prior to this release, Sybil’s has been a digest-sized magazine.  I had modeled its size and content after the ‘zines I loved to read, like Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Electric Velocipede.  This was enormously fun, watching the magazine grow from a staple-together thing I produced at a local print shop, to a perfect-bound, color covered publication.  But there were limitations.  For one, the magazine was only available through the Senses Five Press website and wherever I sold it at conferences.  This limited sales.

I believe that Sybil’s deserves a wider audience.  I also believe that most people feel more comfortable buying from well known websites like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or Powell’s, etc.  When I published Paper Cities, I saw how selling through a book-distribution channel (IPG) allowed us to sell many more copies than I could have sold otherwise.  It seemed obvious then to sell Sybil’s Garage through similar means.  So I changed the size to a trade paperback, used an ISBN instead of an ISSN, and printed/distributed it through Lightning Source.  So the latest issue (or, perhaps, “latest in the series”) is a print-on-demand title, yes.  But now — and especially in the next couple of weeks — it is and will be available through dozens of online booksellers all over the world.  And this just makes sense from a cost perspective.  It cost me the same amount to produce.  And also because the authors of Sybil’s Garage are from such diverse places as India, South Africa, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and other countries.  So it just makes sense to make it available to people all over the world through international booksellers.

I remember at Worldcon last year watching Electric Velocipede win the Hugo Award for best Fanzine.  It was a great win for editor John Klima, and I took vicarious pleasure in it because I’ve watched EV grow in popularity as well and feel kin to it.  And I have to say that it made me think differently about Sybil’s Garage.  Could this little ‘zine also win at some point?  Of course, switching to an anthology format places the ‘zine in a new category, a category with a lot more competition (and I can probably no longer call it a ‘zine).  But I think that, as a publisher, it’s my responsibility to make sure the publication is available in as many places as possible.  So it was a tradeoff.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about awards.  I think it would be wonderful if Sybil’s Garage even were nominated.  But I understand how that might be more difficult now, given that the anthology categories contain many more eligible works.  I think Sybil’s Garage easily ranks among the best of them, but that may just be my editorial pride.  I suppose time will tell if my decision was the right one.  I think it is.

And now, with most of the leg work behind the latest release complete, I have time to write again.  For several months now I’ve been doing research for a novel.  Some of you may remember me talking about reading books about Jewish mythology.  So far I’ve read (or plan to read) the following books: Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, Great Jewish Short Stories, The Tel-Aviv Dossier, Jewish Folk Tales, A Treasury of Jewish Folklore, The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-Six, Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean (!), The Travelers Guide to Jewish Landmarks, Hebrew Punk, and a whole slew of books on Kabbalah.  Admittedly, for some of the larger works, like the Tree of Souls, I’ve only read portions of the text.  There’s an awful lot of information to absorb, but I find the reading highly enjoyable.  As a kid I was forced to sit through long services in a language I didn’t understand.  I often found myself bored.  My interest was in fantasy and science fiction.  And now, through reading of Jewish mythology, I’ve found a link between the fiction I love and the 3500-year-old heritage of my ancestors.  Jewish mythology is just as rich as the Greek and Roman traditions (and in many ways overlap), and it’s incredibly fun discovering, for example, that in certain Jewish mythologies, God has a wife (the Shekinah) and so does the devil.  I am finding that the “monotheistic” faith, which abhors any form of imagery of God,  is chock full of anthropomorphisms, and a bewilderingly complex hierarchy of angels and demons.  It is my hope to mine all of this into a fictional story about a Lamed-Vavnik, one of the thirty-six righteous souls who sustain the world.  I hope, as all good fiction intends to do, to challenge some of the assumptions we have about faith, righteousness, morality and the elitism of one belief-system over another.  I also hope to make one damn fun adventure story too.  Anyway, this is all speculation as I’ve only just begun.  It should be a fun ride.

Sybil’s Garage Editor Spotlight – Rajan Khanna

This is the second part of our editor spotlight series where I attempt to highlight the contributions of the editors behind the scenes of Sybil’s Garage. Today’s editor is Rajan Khanna.  Raj, as we call him, is responsible for introducing me to various excellent species of craft beer and because of that pretty much ruined me for any beer with less than 7% alcohol.  Raj is one of those easygoing fellows whom you feel you’ve always known even when you first meet him.  Such was his introduction to Altered Fluid, our writers group.  Everyone had felt he was already a part of the group before he had joined.  Raj is also a talented fantasist, often wowing the group with his stories of faerie noir, gay-themed Sherlock Holmes stories, and assassins who kill with magical playing cards.  Rajan has started to sell a lot of stories recently, some to very big markets, and I’m quite sure you’ll be hearing his name spoken a lot in the next few years.

Rajan KhannaRajan Khanna’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Shimmer, GUD and The Way of the Wizard and has received an Honorable Mention in the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. He is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop and a member of the writing group, Altered Fluid. He sometimes narrates for Podcastle and Starship Sofa and writes for Tor.com. His website is www.rajankhanna.com.


Rajan Says:

“This was my second year helping out with Sybil’s Garage and my respect for the magazine has only grown in that time. I think it was really hammered home recently at Readercon when Matt had an informal reading of stories from attending contributors and I found all of the stories so powerful and I was proud of my humble contributions to the overall finished product.

To be honest, though, my contributions were small and primarily composed of reading slush, and doing some copyediting. As far as the reading slush part goes, it can be trying of course. I think sometimes the hardest to take are the stories that have such promise, but don’t manage to deliver on that. Or those that start out with an interesting premise and then go in the direction of well-worn cliche. Something I definitely appreciate about the slush process for Sybil’s, however, is that Matt encourages all the slush readers to give some story feedback in the rejections that we send out. I can’t say that we’re able to do that in all cases, but it can be incredibly gratifying when you receive an email back from someone saying that they appreciated the comments you gave. A friend and fellow writer of mine who submitted to Sybil’s agreed that it was one of the best rejections he’s ever received.

Then there are the acceptances. It’s also a great feeling to have something land in your queue and to realize that it’s special. That there’s something impressive there. Slush that we like is always passed on to Matt for his final word, but when one is accepted, it’s exciting. In the end we’re just gatekeepers, but to be able to let something brilliant through is what makes the job worthwhile.

I should end by saying that Sybil’s Garage is truly the baby of Matthew Kressel. While we help, Matt does all of the heavy lifting. We mostly just run around trying to move things out of his way to clear his path. His is the final word on the stories, he handles the design of the cover and of the interior art and interstitial pieces. He sets up the printing and shipping, manages subscriptions, handles the bulk of the promotion and manually formats the electronic editions. I think it would be fair to say that each incarnation of Sybil’s chews up a big part of Matt’s life. But his passion for creating it, his vision, is what makes it so excellent and unique in the industry. I could say that I feel the industry is better for it being around, but the truth is that I know it is. That I can help in any small way is my pleasure.”