The short stories, as previously mentioned, are “A Quadrillion Occupied Planets” and “Take Up Your Cross”. A brief excerpt of “A Quadrillion Occupied Planets” was posted here earlier. It is a little less than 1000 words long. I give a bit of information about “Take Up Your Cross” in this post. This story is about 6500 words long, technically the length of a novelette.
The stories have been accepted by the Sci-Phi Journal (a fact I did little to hide besides giving myself plausible deniability). The first one (which one is first is to be decided) should be featured in issue 4, which will come out around January. When the second story will be published has yet to be decided, or at least yet to be discussed with me.
As was my suspicion, the editor was hoping I could make my story more “generically Christian” as opposed to Catholic (Mary is a character in the story). After some discussion I made some minor changes after agreeing with the editor that the terms I used to describe her were both highly honorable and acceptable to non-Catholics. The sticking point with me is that, as a Catholic, Mary really is a highly revered figure, and I didn’t want to minimize her or her role in the story. At the same time I got the editor’s point that this magazine was going to be read by a lot of people, many of them Protestants. The compromise we reached I thought was a good one that preserved the Virgin’s honor while not offending non-Catholic sentiments.
By the way, the story was rather brazenly inspired by John C. Wright’s excellent story “Nativity” (which can be read for free online), about a time traveler who ends up at the Nativity of Christ. At the beginning of the story he heavily implies that the main character had ended up at the Nativity by mistake and meant to go to the Crucifixion. I just took it and decided to run with the time traveler’s original plan.
Of course, the characters and plot are completely different. It’s only the premise I took.
I am awaiting more news about publication dates and things of that nature. In the meantime, please check out the journal. It is excellent, an each issue is under four dollars. Lots of strong stories and few weak ones, and all of them fascinating.