So, after almost a year, I screwed up enough courage to send off another manuscript to Asimov's magazine. Longtime readers will recall, my previous two attempts ended in rejection.
This story, however, was presented to the local writers group, and has had the benefit of informed criticism. It may be the best science fiction short story I've ever written. That's a long way from qualifying for publication by one of the Big Three SF magazines (the other two are Analog and Fantasy & Science Fiction), but a brother can dream, right? If I flunk out at Asimov's, I'll submit to the latter (Analog is for strictly hard SF, and this story doesn't qualify), and then maybe one of the online mags.
Look at that--I'm talking about perseverance. Weird.
In any case, I really feel I've come a long way since this and this, though I've still got a long way to go. Fingers crossed, I'll have an answer in 6-8 weeks.