Fifth Dimension

I had an odd approach to writing back in the early ’80s. (Some would say that I still have an odd approach to writing, but we’ll talk about that some other time.) Back then, I wanted to make sure my stories were judged only by the words on the page, and not by the power of my personality. Though I attended science-fiction conventions, I avoided meeting editors face-to-face.

For example, when I was submitting stories to The Twilight Zone magazine and getting positive and friendly responses from editor Ted Klein, we both noted that my day job at the time was only a block or two away from the magazine’s editorial offices. But I avoided getting together for lunch. I didn’t want him to buy a story because he was biased to like me; I wanted him to buy a story because he liked the story.

And so it wasn’t until after he bought “Fifth Dimension,” later published in the April 1983 issue of The Twilight Zone, that I finally allowed us to meet.

Aspiring writers, do not follow my boneheaded example. I was operating under a false theory. No editor I know has ever bought a story he didn’t like just because he liked the writer. The story stands on its own. And while it might not help your story to be friendly with an editor … it sure doesn’t hurt.

The story that won Ted over, written in epistolary form, concerned a battered TV that picked up episodes of the original series that Rod Serling was continuing to film from the famous location referenced in the title. At the time, it was my highest-profile short-story publication.

“Fifth Dimension” was included in my 2001 short story collection These Words Are Haunted.