Unlikely Theme Contest Finalists

Greetings and Salutations,

We’ve spent some time deliberating and weeding. You folks provided so many good ideas, that this was actually fairly difficult. There were some ideas we loved but felt had been done elsewhere too recently, or were a little too broad, or a little too narrow, or might be so obscure that we wouldn’t get enough submissions to fill an issue.

The finalists are:

  • The Journal of Unlikely Chronology / The Journal of Unlikely Horology
    Different aspects of the same basic idea. Credit to Kari Fay and Adele Jackson.
  • The Journal of Unlikely Gastronomy / The Journal of Unlikely Foodstuffs & Victuals
    Tim Burke presented the idea first, Deborah Walker rephrased it as a science.
  • The Journal of Unlikely Linguistics
    This was offered several times, the first of which was by Luna Lindsey
  • The Journal of Unlikely Cartography
    This was also suggested several times. Sarah Pinkser was the first to do so.

Honorable Mention goes to:

  • The Journal of Unlikely Likelihood
    Suggested by Greg Bossert
  • The Journal of Unlikely Musicology
    Suggested by Ada Hoffmann
  • The Journal of Unlikely Coulrophobia
    Suggested by Amy Boudloche Bush

So, now we need to think upon these last few choices to determine the winner. We’ll be doing that next week. See you then.


Reviewed again

When it rains, it pours. Fortunately, it seems the Journal of Unlikely Architecture has both a good roof and a good foundation.

We’ve received another positive review, here: http://www.sfrevu.com/php/Review-id.php?id=14932

Congrats to all our contributors.

The Journal of Unlikely Architecture Reviewed

The Journal of Unlikely Architecture has received its first review! Lois Tilton of Locus Online has declared our first non-buggy venture “fresh and crisp, surreal and weird, highly unlikely indeed.” You can read the full review here.

Congratulations to all of our authors, and particular congratulations to Mark Rigney whose story, The Latest Incarnation of Secondhand Johnny, received a coveted Recommended rating.

Unlikely Story #7: The Journal of Unlikely Entomology ToC

We’re delighted to announce the Table of Contents for Unlikely Story #7: The Journal of Unlikely Entomology. Without further delay, and in no particular order, we present our forthcoming line up of all new fiction.

The New World by Dennis Tafoya

The Psammophile by Maria Dahvana Headley

Found Items by Mark Rigney

The Years of the Tarantella by Sarah Brooks

A Superfluity by Helen Anderson

Strange Invasion by Darren O. Godfrey

Pompilid by Nghi Vo

The Wall Garden by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

The issue will be out in November, and we can’t wait to share it with you!

An Unlikely List of Unlikely Themes

From September 1st through the 15th, we ran an unlikely contest to help us with our unlikely theme for Issue 9 (appearing in early summer, 2014). We received 96 entries scattered between our blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, with only a handful of duplicates. And there are so many good ideas here, we’re going to have a really hard time choosing.

Thank you all for participating. We’ll be discussing these over the next couple weeks and will be announcing the winner and runners up on or around October 1st. (I’ll be traveling that week, hence the squishiness of the timeframe.)

Here are the entries, in the same order that we received them. (If you submitted an entry and don’t see it below, please let us know.)


1 The Journal of Unlikely Chronology
2 The Journal of Unlikely Ornithology
3 The Journal of Unlikely Palaeontology
4 The Journal of Unlikely Oneiromancy
5 The Journal of Unlikely Foodstuffs and Victuals
6 The Journal of Unlikely Accoutrements
7 Journal of Unlikely Gastronomy
8 Journal of Unlikely Lepidopterology
9 Journal of Unlikely Exobiology
10 Journal of Unlikely Herpetology
11 Journal of Unlikely Malacology
12 Journal of Unlikely Odontology
13 Journal of Unlikely Parapsychology
14 Journal of Unlikely Speleology
15 Journal of Unlikely American National Treasure
16 Journal of Unlikely Fisticuffs
17 Journal of Unlikely Coulrophobia
18 Journal of Unlikely Typography
19 Journal of Unlikely Cartography
20 Journal of Unlikely Ecology
21 The Journal of Unlikely Orthodonty
22 The Journal of Unlikely Theology
23 The Journal of Unlikely Hopology
24 The Journal of Unlikely Urbanology
25 The Journal of Unlikely Cartography
26 The Journal of Unlikely Craniology
27 The Journal of Unlikely Horology
28 The Journal of Unlikely Horticulture
29 The Journal of Unlikely Astrology
30 The Journal of Unlikely Phobias (or Phobiae)
31 Journal of Unlikely Pedology
32 The Journal of Unlikely Archeology
33 The Journal of Unlikely Paleontology
34 The Journal of Unlikely Theater (or Dramaturgy?)
35 The Journal of Unlikely Hypnotism
36 The Journal of Unlikely Criminology
37 the Journal of Unlikely Journals
38 The Journal of Unlikely Pathology
39 The Journal of Unlikely Epidemiology
40 The Journal of Unlikely Oceanography
41 The Journal of Unlikely Sociology
42 The Journal of Unlikely User Interface Design
43 The Journal of Unlikely Mathematics
44 The Journal of Unlikely Geology
45 The Journal of Unlikely Communication
46 The Journal of Unlikely Government
47 The Journal of Unlikely Transportation
48 The Journal of Unlikely Islands
49 The Journal of Unlikely Journeys
50 The Journal of Unlikely Mathematics
51 The Journal of Unlikely Kinesiology
52 The Journal of Unlikely Astronomy
53 The Journal of Unlikely Musicology
54 The Journal of Unlikely Microbiology
55 The Journal of Unlikely Eschatology
56 The Journal of Unlikely Gender Studies
57 The Journal of Unlikely Oenology
58 The Unlikely Journal of Malacology
59 The Unlikely Journal of Teuthology
60 The Journal of Unlikely Theology
61 The Journal of Unlikely Psychology
62 The Journal of Unlikely Methodology
63 The Journal of Unlikely Linguistics
64 The Journal of Unlikely Neuroscience
65 The Journal of Unlikely Geology
66 The Journal of Unlikely Herpetology
67 The Journal of Unlikely Espionage
68 The Journal of Unlikely Phrenology
69 Journal of Unlikely Museums
70 Journal of Unlikely Statuary
71 Journal of Unlikely Mycology
72 Journal of Unlikely Vilification
73 Journal of Unlikely Haberdashery
74 The Journal of Unlikely Somnology
75 The Journal of Unlikely Arctophily
76 The Journal of Unlikely Eschatology
77 The Journal of Unlikely Heraldry
78 The Journal of Unlikely Education
79 The Journal of Unlikely Characters
80 The Journal of Unlikely Zoology
81 The Journal of Unlikely Propaganda
82 the Journal of Unlikely Artifacts
83 The Journal of Unlikely Climatology
84 The Journal of Unlikely Anatomy.
85 The Journal of Unlikely Proctology
86 The Journal of Unlikely Podiatry
87 The Journal of Unlikely Trades
88 Journal of Unlikely Linguistics
89 Journal of Unlikely Geology
90 The Journal of Unlikely Reality
91 The Journal of Unlikely Morphology
92 The Journal of Unlikely Cake
93 The Journal of Unlikely Lycanthropy
94 The Journal of Unlikely Lichenology
95 The Journal of Unlikely Likelihood
96 The Journal of Unlikely Chimerology

Mark Rigney on Bugs and Bars

Photo by Mark Rigney

Photo by Mark Rigney

My associations with bugs — that is to say, entomology of all descriptions — have generally been benign. True, I was once chased off Colorado’s Grand Mesa by a horde of cantankerous flies, and the mosquitoes of the Boundary Waters have given me to understand, in no uncertain terms, that I am unwelcome. On the plus side, I have never had lice, the one bedbug I ever met kindly chose not infest my suitcase, and I survived a honey bee swarm intact and unstung.

My fascination with insects remains unabated, and since my imagination has a reprehensible talent for “what if” scenarios that end in macabre disaster, I tend to think most about bugs when considering future plagues. What if the boll weevil becomes immune to every developed pesticide? What happens to U.S. agriculture if “locust swarms,” otherwise known as grasshopper clouds, rise again? And what of mosquitoes? Those of us who came of age or were adults in the early nineteen eighties will certainly recall one of the stranger offshoots of the AIDS epidemic, to wit, the fear that the disease could become mosquito-borne — as West Nile virus, among many others, already is.

All these and more have tickled my fancy or horrified my sense of justice and order, so imagine my delight at discovering a journal that focuses so intently on the world of creepy crawlies.

Now imagine my confusion when the story I then submitted turned out to contain not a single insect, and fit, instead, into the more staid, blocky world of architecture.

“The Latest Incarnation of Secondhand Johnny” also proceeded from a “what if,” a kind of semi-political thought experiment. In Evansville, Indiana, where I reside, progress marches only to the slowest of drunken drummers; the coasts and more enlightened cities (Minneapolis, et al) passed no-smoking ordinances back in the ice age, but here? Seven years ago, when I wrote “Secondhand Johnny,” the concept of limiting smokers’ “rights” was a very new concept.

Speaking as a non-smoker who enjoys a nice tavern, provided it isn’t filled to the rafters with smoke, I decided to explore, in fiction, the idea that bars would, en masse, go out of business if even the most limited of no-smoking ordinances passed. I didn’t set out to write an essay — I’d already done that, in the form of a “Letter To the Editor” — never fear. What was it Samuel Goldwyn supposedly said? “If you’ve got a message, call Western Union.” Even so, an exploration of smoking legislation’s endgames is exactly what sparked “Secondhand Johnny.”

Time has passed. Evansville has at last boarded the smoke-free bandwagon. It remains the most obese city in the known universe, but at least one can now walk into a restaurant and not inherit a neighbor’s penchant for early emphysema.

And guess what? To the best of my knowledge, not a single liquor-serving establishment closed as a result.

As to Secondhand Johnny’s fate, you’ll have to read the story, published in Issue 6, August 2013.

As to why it took six years plus for this story to find a good home, well. Therein hangs a tale whose telling might well require a tavern (or two).

I must bring this to a close, so I can bear down and finish work on the sequel to The Skates and its soon-to-be-released companion, Sleeping Bear. I shall leave you with a hug — no, sorry, a bug. And a most beautiful bug it is, too, a (deceased) banded alder beetle that my boys found in a Santa Ynez canyon a few years back. A rarity, too, from what I understand.

And, to humans, harmless. So far.

Banded Alder Beetle by Mark Rigney

Banded Alder Beetle by Mark Rigney

‘Til next time!



Editor’s note: Looks like “next time” isn’t too far in the future: Mark has a story coming out on October 1st in Betwixt Magazine’s debut issue, and we’re happy to have an opportunity to publish another of Mark’s stories in our next issue, in November. This one actually does have bugs.


An Unlikely Contest

As you may be aware (or perhaps not--information in the Information Age tends to display a scattershot distribution pattern, much like a shotgun blast), Unlikely Story is now publishing three issues a year: The Journal of Unlikely Entomology (late in the year), The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography (early in the year), and The Journal of Whatever Tickles Our Fancy This Year (somewhere in between. Maybe July. Ish.).

We have, of course, discussed a number of ologies and ographies which we might focus on for Issue 9, but we’re not entirely satisfied with any of our clever ideas. Much more clever, we feel, is to call upon the collective cleverness of the Intarwebs, which is to say, upon you.

Starting September 1st and running through September 15th, we’ll be looking for suggestions for the theme/title of Issue 9. We’ll collect all the suggestions and pick some of our favorites as runner-ups (exactly how many will depend on what we receive), and a winner. The runner-ups and the winner will receive a thank-you gift from our not-yet-existent CafePress shoppe, and of course, the winner will get a bigger thank-you gift than the others.

How do you enter this fabulous competition?

There are three simple ways:

If multiple people suggest the same title, we’ll go with the first instance, based on timestamp. Also, just in case it isn’t obvious, please make sure that there is a way for us to contact you: follow us on twitter or like us on Facebook, use a valid email address on WordPress validation, etc.

We’ll announce the finalists in mid-October, and announce the winner and the submission guidelines for Issue 9 on November 1st.

Issue 6 available as free PDF

We’re pleased to announce that Unlikely Story No. 6, The Journal of Unlikely Architecture, is now available in PDF format, with a little bit of bonus content courtesy of John Welsh.

Go here for the link.


A couple days ago, Ellen Datlow released her Honorable Mention list for this year’s Best Horror of the Year anthology, and we’re pleased to see that Sunny Moraine’s story, Invasives, was listed. Invasives appeared in The Journal of Unlikely Entomology #4, in November of last year.

To see Ms. Datlow’s full list, go here: http://ellen-datlow.livejournal.com/408437.html

Peruse as long as you like, but don’t forget to come back and read (or re-read) Invasives before you go about the rest of your day.


Adventures in Cryptography

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The story behind our generous sponsor, HavenCo, involves pirates, cryptography, data security, and the royal family of most unlikely nation of Sealand.




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