This story of a harried commuter who discovers a cage full of what might be guinea pigs—but this being a science-fiction story aren’t—came about as result (now it can be told) of learning that the editor of the magazine had a soft spot for stories about animals. I’d discovered this just after I’d heard a perhaps apocryphal anecdote that a writer had once sold a story to Anthony Boucher, an early editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, by combining three of that editor’s interests—opera, chess, and cats—in a single story. If such targeting could work in the ’50s, I figured—why not the ’80s? So I let my mind wander until I found a plot that centered around something furry.
Would the editor have bought a badly written animal-themed story? No. But all editors have their thematic soft spots. This was my first attempt to capitalize on one, and in this case the exercise was successful, and the story appeared in the May 1983 issue of Fantasy Book.
As a reminder to writers never to give up on a market, no matter how many rejections may have been received—this was the 10th story that I’d submitted to that market. Editors don’t reject writers, just words on a page, and if a writer can come up with the right story, the editor will bite, whatever their history up until then.