I’m finally writer enough, I guess, to have had this adventure the last couple of years: a story I loved and almost everybody else who read it loved it, but it couldn’t get published. It was never exactly right for the editors who loved it, not for the magazines they edited, and I sent it to every science fiction magazine, on and offline, it remotely fit.
And every editor didn’t love it. The story was referred to a Big Name Editor by another Big Name Editor for an anthology, which produced one of the most unusual email exchanges with an editor ever. We argued about how to write alternate history for an afternoon, back and forth. She did not like my alternate history sauce very much, I must say, but it ended cordially.
Enough readers did love the story, though, that I thought about giving it an ebook release myself, the way I had previously — with some minor success – released another unsellable-but-loved story and a reprint of an older, published story.
In the meantime, I kept coming up with ideas for 1960s stories, for some reason. More 1960s stories, I should say – “The Live Lady of Down Town” is set in another Earth’s 1967 London, and features Delia Derbyshire, early electronic music innovator and the wizard behind the Doctor Who theme, getting a much better life via science fiction than she had in this world of ours.
And after coming up with a few of these ideas, I realized I had other ideas around I wanted to write that were set in the same time period, already, and that…I had ten stories. Enough to make a decade. And some of them were very specific to years, but none of them conflicted with the others, and other stories I could drop into open years — the specific year didn’t matter so much.
And that’s when 666ties was born — as an idea, anyway.
I can’t explain the title, except that it came from this song:
People have already asked, people have already been offended (my religious mom wasn’t offended, so: good enough for me). For a while, I had a rapture/end times story in the collection. It didn’t stay, it didn’t really grab me. And then a whole freaking slate of rapture spoof movies came out this year (all of them, inexplicably, seemed to star Craig Robinson) and…I ended up replacing it with the 1968 story, “Finest Kind.” In which Otis Redding and Elvis Presley are superheroes.
The number has a lot of meanings outside Christian apocalyptic stories, at any rate. Wikipedia is your friend. I did not know before I started this project that all the numbers on a roulette wheel added up to 666, or that Carbon-12, the basis of all life on the planet, had six of each: protons, neutrons, and electrons. That’s neat. Pick one of those if you need a meaning.
So the title of the collection stayed 666ties after the rapture story made way for superheroes. It fit. And now I had a long story involving Aleister Crowley, “The Great Beast 666” himself, front and center. (Plus it was plainly going to make for such a cool cover and logo.)
So I started working on these stories in earnest, and sweated a little about I Should Really Submit This Stuff as I worked, but ultimately…I was so into that title, and the concept. And I have lots of other stories and ideas to submit to magazines.
666ties is not a themed or linked or shared world collection. Every story, every year, is set on a different Earth. Mostly. It’s a mixed bag, fantastic genre-wise: horror, science fiction, fantasy, superheroes mashed together– “weird,” I guess the kids are calling it these days.
Anyway, the first 666ties story, a…horror?…novella called “Califormication,” will be out on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords tomorrow. “Califormication” is the 1969 story, because the stories are going backwards, because that’s why. IT’S 666TIES. “Finest Kind” will be out November 8th, two weeks from tomorrow, and the rest of the stories will release every two weeks after that until February. (Edit 2014: pretty much everything about life except pregnancy happened at once and the schedule changed some. — RNL)
“The Live Lady of Down Town,” the story that started all of this, will be out the week of Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary show. So that worked out pretty perfect.
(All the stories are not about famous people. Also: There are no real people in these stories.)
I need to thank Julia Sevin, whom some of you may know from her work with Creeping Hemlock or Print Is Dead, the small horror presses she and her husband run together. She was a booster on the project from the first time she heard the idea, and she’s also a terrific editor, so I was very happy when she agreed to act officially as Editor-with-a-big-E for 666ties. Writers do need editors, I am also writer enough to know that by now, I guess. If you like any of these stories, the credit goes in some large part to Julia; if you don’t, the fault is all mine.
So…666ties. Hope somebody who isn’t my mom or my girlfriend likes it.