Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I write terrible sci-fi stories and submit them to real publishers under a fake name. This time round, I targeted the excellent online magazine ‘Strange Horizons‘.
To The Editors Of Strange Horizons Magazine—
Greetings and salutations! My name is Peter Munt, and I am a writer-slash-enthusiast of science-slash-speculative fiction. I also work at Pottery Barn, but that’s not really relevant unless you’re looking for tasteful home decor. I’m a writer first, Assistant Sales Associate second.
I hope I’m not embarrassing myself when I say that of all the great online sources of original sci-fi, yours is by far the most professional. Your submission requirements were clearly laid out, and very, very thorough. I especially appreciate that you’ve set out guidelines as to how to write a cover letter. If not for your consideration, I definitely would have made more than a few mistakes. For instance, I would certainly have provided a detailed summary of my piece, titled ‘Thanksgiving In Space’ (a no-no according to your guidelines page). I can see now that this would have been a waste of your time. You’re going to read the story anyway! I could have ruined an important plot point. What was I thinking? Thank you all for going the extra mile. This cover letter is as much yours as it is mine.
Per your request for any personal experiences that may be “directly relevant” to my story, I’m happy to report that I have eaten roughly forty-four Thanksgiving dinners in my lifetime (though, for the record, none have been in space). I also cook a mean yam and marshmallow soufflé, which I recently served to friends on this dishwasher-safe, glazed ironstone pheasant-print platter: (http://www.potterybarn.com/products/pheasant-sepia-ironstone-platter/?pkey=cplatters&) – on sale now at Pottery Barn for only $34.50, if you’re interested.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy my work. If you do, I have close to six thousand more in my portfolio (none published), including my latest pieces, ‘Moon Thumper’, ‘Anarchy on Planetoid Q’, and ‘Squid Mommy and the Splatter Bears’. Let me know if you’re interested!
Thank you in advance for your consideration,
Peter Upton Munt
‘THANKSGIVING IN SPACE’
by Peter Munt
The giant yellow star was very hot.
Colonel Gordon Sweetie could feel the brutal warmth pulsing through the soles of his Space Boots as he strolled along the star’s fiery surface looking for Sun Frogs, the sentient magma reptiles that were known to hop about the chromospheres of all the stars in the Jefferson Galaxy.
Sweetie spied a big one lying on top of a sunspot, recognizable by its wide ashy mouth, bulgy lava eyes, and by the jagged fire spines that poked out of its burning back like toothpicks on a tray of fancy hors d’oeuvres. Sweetie grabbed his Laser Spear, and with one swift, purposeful jab, he punctured the frog’s searing basalt heart. It expired with a hushed “ribbit”.
Unblinking, Colonel Sweetie picked up the dead Frog by its flaming legs, and plopped it in his Cosmic Bucket, which was almost full to the top with dead Sun Frogs and one stray Pulsar Clam he had found lodged in the star’s coronal hole. They were definitely going to eat well tonight on the U.S.S. Don Cheadle.
“Are you almost done foraging for sun food?” crackled a voice over Sweetie’s helmet radio. “Our stomachs are grumbly.”
“Keep your Astronaut Pants on, Lieutenant Choo-Choo,” said Sweetie, “I still haven’t claimed this star for Space America.”
“Roger that, Colonel. I’ll set the dinner table while we’re waiting.”
“Good idea,” said Colonel Sweetie. “Sweetie out.”
Colonel Sweetie pulled out a Quasar Flag emblazoned with the triumphant red, white, and blue of his home planet.
“For the honor of Space America, I name this star North Carolina the Fourth,” he shouted, then planted the Quasar Flag in the sun’s scorching outer shell. Sweetie gave a firm salute as the flag blew majestically in the solar winds.
Then, he picked up his bucket of frogs and pressed a nob on his bellybutton. A Teleportato Ray locked on to his position from the Don Cheadle’s titanium keel, and with a ZAP!, Sweetie disappeared in a cloud of sizzling blue atoms.
Back on the Don Cheadle, the entire crew was seated at the Holo-Table, which flickered gently under the weight of the savory, fresh-cooked Space Dinner. Positioned at the head, Sweetie swiveled his Robo-Chair to face Ensign Chick Spoot, who sat directly to his left.
“This all looks delicious,” he said, “but why are we using the special Laser Plates?”
“Don’t you remember?” asked Spoot. “It’s Space Thanksgiving today.”
“Oh my stars,” yelled Sweetie. “I completely forgot. I guess we’ve been exploring the crippling darkness of the cosmos for too long.”
Sweetie gripped his Plasma Napkin tightly. It was hard, but he couldn’t let his crew see him break down. Not here at the dinner table.
Not during Space Thanksgiving.
He cleared his throat, gave a quick sniff, then cracked a smile and winked. “Well, don’t just sit there, everybody!” Sweetie shouted. “Dig in!”
“Hold it, hold it!” yelled Sergeant Hampton Adidas. “Someone needs to say Space Grace.”
“Quite so!” said Corporal Margaret Brown-Blueberry. “It’s tradition.”
“Sounds good to me!” chimed Cadet Jimminy Spanko.
“Why don’t you do the honors, Colonel?” said Lieutenant Charley Choo-Choo, as he poured himself a glass of Space Water.
“Very well,” said Sweetie. “Let us all bow our heads.”
Sweetie took in a stilted breath, then placed his palms together and closed his eyes.
“Bless us, o Space God, for these thy gifts we are about to receive, through the Space Bounty of the Undying Pandimensional Celestial Parasitic Hive-Brain that dwelleth everywhere and nowhere, but also in our hearts.”
“Amen,” shouted the crew. Then the feast began.
“Please pass the Sun Frog Casserole,” said Cadet Spanko.
“Those Mashed Space Potatoes look delish,” said Sergeant Adidas.
“Mmmmmm, do I detect a hint of Pulsar Clam in this Gravity Soup?” asked Lieutenant Choo-Choo.
“This Synthetic Nutro-Gelatin Loaf is spicy!” said Ensign Spoot.
“You’re supposed to smear it with the Creamed Comet Spiders,” said Corporal Brown-Blueberry.
Colonel Sweetie chewed on a hunk of gamma-fried Nebular Seal meat. It almost tastes like turkey, he thought to himself. Almost.
But all the turkeys were back on Space America, trillions and trillions of light years away, just like everything else he had ever known and loved. Friends. Family. Turkeys. These things were now only evanescent, impalpable dreams that he would never taste or touch again for as long as he lived.
Licking his lips, Sweetie contemplated his existence in the frigid cosmic void as the Don Cheadle drifted on into infinity.
I’M STILL EAGERLY WAITING FOR A RESPONSE!
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