Triangulation: Seven-Day Weekend – Parsec Ink Explores Labor Automation

Triangulation: Seven-Day Weekend

Parsec Ink Explores Labor Automation

By Angelique Fawns

Parsec Ink published Triangulation: Seven-Day Weekend, its 20th collection of short stories in July of this year. The theme embraces what life would be like if we could all live a seven-day weekend. Containing 37 stories and poems from around the world, including one from yours truly called “The Time Modules”, this anthology draws on multiple genres, like fantasy, science fiction, and horror for its exploration.


Humanity craves efficiency, subconsciously forming habits to make each portion of our day more comfortable, allowing us the time and ability to expand our horizons. From Neanderthals learning migration patterns for hunting food to coding scripts to streamline processes to the dream of roads filled with fully autonomous vehicles, we push boundaries to make our lives easier. What does the world look like when jobs are automated to the point that the labor force is non-existent? What happens when our lives become as easy as they can be?


Greg Clumpner, the editor, is a fellow speculative writer and member of Parsec, Pittsburgh’s premier science fiction and fantasy organization. He has a Mechanical Engineering Degree and MBA. I sat down with him to learn more about the genesis of this project.

AF: Tell us about your inspiration for this project.

GC: The two volumes prior to Seven-Day Weekend focused on sustainable housing and sustainable energy. Since I work with companies that have faced significant labor issues since the pandemic, I immediately thought of tackling sustainable labor issues. The idea of dark factories was then introduced to me by John Thompson, a prior editor and someone who was a fantastic mentor through the process. From there, the idea of automation overtaking our working lives made too much sense.


AF: What was it about the stories that you chose that really stood out to you?

GC: As with anything that stands out, they were each different, in some way. We can’t fill the anthology with thirty stories about automated vehicles. We took two of those and they were highlighted by something beyond the anthology’s theme, like a strong character, fantastic setting, funky blend of ideas or killer plot twist. Sometimes it was just about the fit with the rest of the stories. The most difficult part of the decision-making process was paring it from 100k words of amazing writing that was all worthy of the pages down to 65k.


AF: Any hints for authors hoping to submit to Parsec’s next anthology?

GC: The theme of next year’s anthology is Hospitium, the Greco-Roman concept of hospitality as a divine right of the guest and divine duty of the host. My Co-Editor next year, Brandon Ketchum, and I think the topic is an invitation to instant conflict, with hope for resolution. Think about a foreign traveler in enemy territory, Anthony Bourdain interacting with little-known cultures around the world, future space explorers navigating the customs and rites of species we can only imagine. Dip those concepts in F/SF/H and I think we have a recipe for a fun collection of tales. Along these particular lines, I’m looking for culture shock and relationship management. I’m also looking for whatever I haven’t thought of yet. I was astounded by the concepts I loved in Seven-Day Weekend that didn’t exist in my brain when I developed the prompt. Surprise us!

As far as other hints, the biggest one is to differentiate your stories from the others with the things I mentioned before: character, setting, plot, and blending of concepts. A strong narrative voice is important and can carry a story on its own. We take any length up to 5000 words, but if your story is on the longer side, it has to be a killer and still be tight. Economy of words is important and was part of the decision-making process when choosing the final stories for Seven-Day Weekend. Submissions for Hospitium will open December 1, 2023.


AF: How did you get involved in Parsec Ink?

GC: It started with an acceptance into Triangulation: Habitats, my first story sold BTW, and then I asked if I could slush read for the next year. It snowballed from there. I loved being a first reader, seeing what worked and what didn’t, and I learned so much. I highly recommend it to any writer. Anyway, I made a point to read and comment on every submission that year, and I loved it the whole way. That intensity must not have been a turn-off because Triangulation: Energy’s Co-Editor, John Thompson, asked if I wanted to be Co-Editor of the next anthology.


AF: What kind of writing do you do yourself?

GC: I started with non-fiction and business writing. I’m all over the place right now. I’ve been focusing on short fiction with the aim to experiment and improve. It turns out, my last three stories I sold were horror fiction, though I would have never considered myself a horror writer. It may only be one-quarter to one-third of what I write. I’m also experimenting outside of F/SF/H, although I’m still unfamiliar with potential markets for those pieces.


AF: How does your day job influence your creative hobby? 

GC: Labor issues obviously played a huge role in Seven-Day Weekend. I tend not to use specific people in my work-life, but I recently wrote a main character who struggles as a Project Manager, and she’s an amalgamation of several people I’ve worked with. The biggest influence comes from inspiration as I travel for work and experience new settings, cultures, and people. I also may be working on a short-fiction humor series that focuses on a start-up incubator. 


AF: What advice do you have for writers beginning their creative journey? What would you tell yourself if you could go back to the first year you started submitting stories?

GC: Those two questions are one and the same for me. Write and submit, early and often! Writers write, it’s as simple as that. When I say submit, I don’t necessarily mean submitting for publications. Get your work in front of eyes that aren’t your own and be ready to absorb every bit of criticism. The iterative process is so crucial for learning, both as a writer and in life. Take the leap!


AF: As this anthology deals with the future, what do you see for the future of the short story?

GC: The short story isn’t going anywhere. If anything, I see the short form expanding its presence in the mainstream. Audio and podcasts are exploding as we turn our listening ear to the short form. I love what outlets like EscapeArtists and Creepy are doing, focusing on audio only. Clarkesworld does print, electronic, and audio for their stories, hitting all angles. I think there’s an opportunity for audio/visual complimentary styles as well. Calliope Interactive is trying to do something along those lines, and I’m excited to see what they’ve come up with when they launch.

A sub-genre that’s blowing up right now is hopepunk and all its variants. Coming out of the pandemic, I think there was a clamoring for more positive stories, both for readers and for writers to write to stay sane. The markets are still catching up to the need, led by outlets like DreamForge and Solarpunk, and I expect more to come.


I do hear authors talk about outlets closing, unable to sustain the business side of things. It’s a tough industry, for sure, but I’ve also seen so many new markets open over the last couple of years, and they’re attacking new angles of the business side.

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