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This was a self-consciously hokey story which I read in one of the magazines around 1989 or 1990. Primary POV character was a science fiction pulp magazine editor (I think… it may only have been a science fiction author with an established publication history) who is contacted and bewitched by a "witch doctor" (kinda racist overtones in the representation, but I did not finish the story, and the caricature may have been trying to make some non-racist point). The conceit of the story is that if the editor does not publish or help give feedback on the "witch doctor's" execrably-written stories, the nastier side of magical coercion would ensue.

I remember that the editor critiqued a manuscript in which Jovian (?) reptiloids were all hot and bothered to race to Earth and kidnap adult human females for their developed breasts by pointing out the absurdity of reptile interest in mammary glands. The "witch doctor" responded by making the antagonists something like Jovian (?) space guinea pigs instead, but leaving the otherwise godawful (and sexist) plot intact.

I have a vague sense that the magazine (do not recall which one) had probably been published in the 1980s, if not specifically in 1989 or 1990.

I would like to finish the story and see if it went anywhere.

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    This sounds absolutely ridiculous. I look forward to reading it :) Feb 5, 2021 at 7:01
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    I remember a different story with a very similar theme ... I think it appeared in Asimov's. The aspiring writer went through three or four revisions at the request of the editor -- adding sex, toning it down, changing this and that -- and finally in disgust he did something. The Editor's last missive asked who Asimov is, and signed it Arthur C. Clarke's Science Fiction Magazine. Mar 8, 2022 at 18:26
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    Aha! "One Rejection Too Many by Patricia Nurse" according to this Goodreads review of Space Mail. Not answer to this question because there's no witch doctor. Mar 21, 2022 at 18:15
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    @RossPresser And yet, I up-vote good honorable mention answers. :) (Not everyone is friendly to those though.)
    – Lexible
    Mar 22, 2022 at 3:04

1 Answer 1

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If you're off by a decade, this sounds like "The Curse of the Mohndoro Nkabele or The Revenge of Stanley G. Weinbaum" (1978) by Eric Norden, published as "The Curse of the Mohndoro Nkabele" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1980.

The story takes the form of correspondence between the editor, Edward L. Ferman, of Fantasy and Science Fiction and a would-be author O. T. Nkabele.

There is a reference to aliens and well-endowed women:

In a different vein, but equally jarring, the Gargons of Ganymede you depict in URSULA OF URANUS are, so far as I can gather, no more than oversized purple lobsters, and it's unlikely they would have the capability, much less the desire, to ravish Ursula and her friends. (Avoid euphemism as well as anachronism, as in "Ursula's mammoth mammary protuberances heaved in horror as she watched the slimy giant crustacean approach....")

Mr. Nkabele does in fact change the lobsters to giant gerbils:

Thus, I am enclosing a revised version of SLIME SLAVES OF G'HARN, tailored to meet your objection about the sexual preferences of the Gargons of Ganymede. They are no longer giant crustaceans but giant gerbils which, being mammalian, should have no difficulty consummating their lustful desires for Ursula.

There are definite suggestions that there is some kind of evil magic being worked on the editors (other publications are subsequently targeted as well):

Ellison rebuffed the African too, and look what happened to him. Christ, I may be next! The drums are getting louder every day, and I've developed sharp, stabbing pains in my chest and joints. This morning I found my parakeet dead in his cage, his little neck snapped like a twig. And the cage was locked, Isaac, I had the only key. I know you're a confirmed rationalist but I swear to you, I am being hexed! Or voodooed, or hoodooed or whatever the right African name for it is.

Mr. Nkabele steadfastly refuses to admit there's anything magical going on, but does admit to some familiarity with magic:

I have received your wire and am most sympathetic to your plight, although I cannot countenance the idea that multi, or witch-power, is at the root of your difficulties. Nevertheless, inasmuch as your welfare and happiness are so important to me, I have swallowed my doubts and performed certain uchawi rituals of cleansing or, in Western parlance, exorcism, that were handed down to me by my uncle, the Mganga of our people. If a vindictive mhondoro is indeed pursuing you, he is now banished to the Eternal Night from whence he came.

I have to say that his disclaimer of any attempt to do magic is somewhat undermined by his insistence on finding the barber of anyone who he wishes to deal with, viz:

P.S. I'm enclosing a list of the members of Science Fiction Writers of America, and most of their addresses. Under separate cover I've sent you a convention folio which has many of the photographs of individual writers you requested. They should be voting on the Nebula Awards in mid-April. I'm afraid I don't know where any of them have their hair cut, but I'm sure you'll find out.

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  • Well done! Thank you! Off to find a copy…
    – Lexible
    Feb 5, 2021 at 1:42
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    Get ahold of the anthology "Inside the Funhouse" It's there along with a lot of other SF stories about SF. I found the story quite amusing. The character in question had absorbed quite a bit of old SF pulps and flawless captured the tone and spirit of that era, but he was just unable to grasp that the market had moved on. Feb 5, 2021 at 1:57

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