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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 07:21 pm:   

A section for anyone who wants to discuss what I'm doing, how I'm doing or why I'm doing with SCIFICTION.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 08:00 pm:   

I'm curious about the Periodic Table that Swanwick is doing. Are there plans to collect them up at some point?

Are there any plans for any "Best of" anthos?

Jason
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 08:39 pm:   

Hi Jason,
To tell you the truth, I don't even know how many more there are to go. They've become such an integral part of the site (and my life) that I'll miss them when he's done <g> I think there are another couple of batches.
Actually, I believe Michael is in negotiation for a book of them.

As for SCIFICTION anthologies we've been awaiting contracts from an editor who claims he's buying two since June. I'm currently trying to get our agent to withdraw the books and try again at some other houses.
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Laura Anne
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 06:00 am:   

Ellen,

Still? Oy. And people gripe about _our_ contracts department...

-- Laura Anne
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Ellen
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 07:18 am:   

Hi Laura Anne,
Yeah...if you've got second thoughts email me <g>
I frankly think you-know-who is hopeless.
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Ellen
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 06:59 pm:   

I've just bought a story by Maureen McHugh, which I'll be running in early April, and another novelette by Lucius Shepard, which I'll be running later in the year as I've got a novella by him, "Jailwise" that I plan to run in June.
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 01:28 pm:   

Ellen, I'm not sure where I came across your mention of Jeff Ford's "Empire of Ice Cream" (I've been web-surfing waaay to much at work), but I just wanted to say, yeah. I totally agree with you. This story is great.

I like that I thought it was going to end one way, and it did the exact opposite. And I love the way it was told. Great stuff.
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 03:26 pm:   

Mike,
Who knows? Maybe Jeff's topic? I've been raving about it wherever I can. Glad you like it too!
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Jay C
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 03:41 pm:   

Okay, Ellen. Here's a SciFiction question for you...

I recently saw a bounce posted somewhere where you were quoted as saying something like it wasn't the sort of Fantasy that you'd consider for SciFiction. What would you consider as appropriate?
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 04:14 pm:   

James,
I prefer hard-edged contemporary urban fantasy. And science fantasy, which is fantasy that feels like sf even though it isn't. (some of Michael Swanwick's work has been like that). Obviously, if a fantasy story comes in that's completely different from what I usually like but knocks my socks off I'll probably buy it.
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Jay C
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 04:43 pm:   

Thanks, Ellen. Interesting.
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Mike Simanoff
Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 01:28 pm:   

Hi Ellen,

I also love the classics on SciFiction. I read about how you handle new submissions in the interview you did with Max Keele on www.milkofmedusa.com, but I'm curious about how you select the classic stories. Do you regularly re-read old stuff, take suggestions, remember them, or deliberately hunt down obscure pieces? Are they sometimes new to you when you first consider them for SciFiction?

Mike
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Mike Simanoff
Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 01:47 pm:   

Sorry--SCIFICTION. :-)
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 02:05 pm:   

Hi Mike,
The early ones were favorites I remembered but now I take suggestions (anything 30 years and over) and skim various old anthos and collections for writers whose work I know is at least available for reprint. Some have uncooperative lit. agents handling estates so I don't bother. And if I know a writer is dead and like something of theirs I'll make an attempt to track down the lit rep. So various ways.

Definitely open to suggestions but not for Dick, Leiber, or Ballard as their reps won't sell their work.
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 09:52 pm:   

ok. Here's the tally of SCIFICTION stories that made various Year's Bests:

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Annual Collection edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling:
What I didn't See by Karen Joy Fowler
Swiftly by Adam Roberts

Science Fiction: Best of 2002 edited by Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber
The Discharge by Christopher Priest

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twentieth Annual Collection ed. by Gardner Dozois
A Flock of Birds by James Van Pelt
The Most Famous Little Girl in the World by Nancy Kress
Winters Are Hard by Steven Popkes,

Year's Best SF 8 edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer
I Saw the Light by Terry Bisson
The Names of all the Spirits by J. R. Dunn

Year's Best Fantasy 3 edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer
Cecil Rhodes in Hell by Michael Swanwick

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Thirteen edited by Stephen Jones
Doctor Pretorius and the Lost Temple by Paul McAuley


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Bob
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 12:35 am:   

Okay, you said you take suggestions for the classics:

Delaney's: Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones; High Weir

Sturgeon: Killdozer; Mewhu's Jet

Van Vogt: The Second Solution

Derleth: Halloween for Mr. Faulkner
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Luís
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 05:37 am:   

One suggestion for the classics:

"Fondly Fahrenheit" by Alfred Bester

Cheers,
Luís
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Gwenda Bond
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 07:31 am:   

Hey Ellen!

I wish we were going to be seeing you in Florida.

I really loved "The Empire of Ice Cream" -- thanks for publishing it!
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Lois Tilton
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 07:37 am:   

I suspect "The Empire of Ice Cream" will be on a few of next year's awards lists. Best SciFiction of the year, so far.
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Ellen
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 07:46 am:   

Bob,
Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones is too long but I just read "High Weir" and it's a good one. I'm surprised I haven't read it before.

I'm going to read more from those Sturgeon collections when I have a chance. Jed Hartman also recced one to me: "The World Well Lost" is in vol. 7 -- _A Saucer of Loneliness_.

I don't have anything by Van Vogt. Also don't know who his agent is--anyone know?
I'll check what Derleth I have.

Luis,"Fondly Fahrenheit" is a pretty popular one that seems to get reprinted a lot. I'd rather publish classics that are a bit harder to get. \

But thanks and keep em coming.
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Lucius Shepard
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 08:12 am:   

Hey, Ellen...

You ever republish Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons?" We're sort of living in that story now -- it's fairly prescient.

Lucius
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Luís
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 09:23 am:   

"Luis,"Fondly Fahrenheit" is a pretty popular one that seems to get reprinted a lot. I'd rather publish classics that are a bit harder to get."

Oops. No idea that was the case. The consequences of living in the middle of nowhere, that's what . . .

Best, Luís
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Ellen
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 10:43 am:   

Hi Lucius,
That one's pretty long too. We published it in OMNI once. Yeah. still not dated is it?
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Bob
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 11:18 am:   

Hey Ellen,
If you run across mention of a story you can't find, drop me a line. I've got about a hundred and fify pulps from the 30's, 40's and 50's with tons of stories by people like Bester and Van Vogt. Be happy to help.
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Saturday, March 08, 2003 - 05:56 am:   

I have to admit, I hate "The Marching Morons" which bears for me the faintest whiff of eugenics--or at least the hope for it, somewhere in the background. I mean, if the alternative is the forced breeding of Mensans, I'm not sure the world will be a better place.

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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, March 08, 2003 - 08:19 am:   

Bob, Is that Kruger? If not, which Bob are you? (so I can use your hoarded pulps <g>) Barry Malzberg has most if not all of them too.

Lois and Gwenda,
I agree that "The Empire of Ice Cream" is a dazzler.

Hey Maureen, your story is going up April 2nd--will be getting to the final line edit this week so I hope you'll be around.

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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Saturday, March 08, 2003 - 09:49 am:   

I'll be around, Ellen. Got the executed contract today.

I'm excited about the story going up. For the first time ever, my university students will probably actually read something I wrote.
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Martin
Posted on Saturday, March 08, 2003 - 10:45 am:   

I'd like to propose Sladek's Masterson And The Clerks if that's the story that ends "For a moment it looked as if it would miss." If that isn't that story I'd like the story that is from.
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, March 08, 2003 - 06:48 pm:   

Great Maureen. I'll get on the stick!

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Bob
Posted on Sunday, March 09, 2003 - 12:09 am:   

Bob is Bob Urell. You know, the other Bob.
Not so much hoarded, as...okay, hoarded works. I don't EVER sell or throw away books, they're too dear to me, even the ones I'll never reread, even the ones with broken spines from their interrupted flights -- yes I throw books that suck.
I'll be here.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, March 09, 2003 - 10:51 am:   

Hi Bob,
There are probably even more "Bobs" around than you and Kruger.

I meant hoarded in a good way. You'd understand if you saw the mess in my apt. <g>
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Bob
Posted on Sunday, March 09, 2003 - 08:49 pm:   

Oh, I took it in a good way. I've got a whole room devoted to books. Books and magazines on the shelves and floor and stacked on what I think was a desk, but since I haven't actually laid eyes on it -- I hear it groan under the weight now and then -- I can't be sure if my memory is all that accurate....
Tell you what. I'll look through the box and e-mail you the titles of the interesting stories. Might take me a while though.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, March 09, 2003 - 08:59 pm:   

Thanks Bob.
I have to eat standing up over my butcher block cabinet because my kitchen table is covered with books.

It's much worse than usual in my apt right now as I make an end run through all the books I haven't yet covered in my summary for YBFH #16.
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 04:10 pm:   

I've recently bought new stories by Ilsa J. Bick, James Morrow (the first I've ever bought by him), and Barry N. Malzberg, who says it's the first fiction he's written in a few years.

They'll be out in April and May.
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Andrew Breitenbach
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 04:01 pm:   

Was Malzberg's last story "Ready When You Are" -- the one you published at "Event Horizon" as a "two-fer" with "Pansolapia" by Jeff Ford? (I liked both of them a great deal, incidentally -- kind of reminded me of when "Omni" used to do those short-short clusters.) Thanks!


-Andrew J. Breitenbach
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 06:30 pm:   

Hi Andrew. I believe "What we Did That Summer" by him and Kathe Koja might have been his last story.
I don't know.

Thanks <g>
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 12:13 pm:   

Glad to see this board is hopping. Any bright, new authors for whom we should be watching?
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 02:08 pm:   

Hi John,
Sure--I've recently published or will be publishing stories by Jason Wittman, Greg Beatty, and Ilsa Bickman. All writers to watch out for if you haven't been already reading their work.

Also, in horror, Gala Blau, Marion Arnott, Don Tumasonis (I think that's the spelling), Steve Duffy, Chico Kidd, Glen Hirshberg, Daniel Abraham (also in sf), Eric Schaller, Christopher Rowe. John, you're probably at least aware of most of them.
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Friday, March 14, 2003 - 07:59 am:   

Ellen -- thanks for the tips on who's coming up in SCI FICTION. Looking forward to the Morrow and McHugh (Hi Maureen!) and especially the story by Ilsa Bick, who was a Writers of the Future TOC-mate with me back in 2000.

I also dug Greg Beatty's dinosaur-blood bar story. :-)
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Ellen
Posted on Friday, March 14, 2003 - 08:33 am:   

I've also just bought a lovely alternate history by Geoffrey A. Landis.

Mike, I liked "Midnight at the Ichnologist's Ball" by Greg as well. <g>
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Josh Lukin
Posted on Sunday, March 16, 2003 - 08:18 pm:   

I kind of share Maureen's unease about "The Marching Morons"; still, I can also empathize with Kornbluth's misanthropy, which strikes me as that of a frustrated idealist. But a Fifties story which strikes me as very timely, insamuch as it could be read as describing the personalities of some of the people in power today, is Davidson's "No Fire Burns." Thanks, Ellen, for having printed that one.
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Jonathan Strahan
Posted on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 08:59 pm:   

Hey Ellen -

Got any Howard stories coming up?

Jonathan
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 05:02 pm:   

Hi Jonathan
Howard claims he's busy finishing a few stories for various other editors and so will be tied up for a few more months. I keep nagging though, so eventually.

Maybe I'll do a classic in the meantime, but I'd much rather have an original.
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Lou Antonelli - East Texas
Posted on Friday, March 21, 2003 - 12:21 pm:   

Ummm, I was at ConDFW in Dallas Feb. 21-23 and there was a very good panel on the History of Science Fiction in Texas. About 40% was about Howard Waldrop. ArmadilloCon in Austin this summer will be celebrating its silver anniversary, and past GOHs have all been invited. Howard reportedly says he will return, and more to the point, there's talk he may move back to Texas. He moved away after Chad Oliver died, and lot of people would be VERY happy if he returned here. Not only is he a great writer, but as everyone knows, he's just a damn hoot.

Any possibility you could determine Howard's intentions??? The Lone Star State would welcome him back with open arms. There's a lot of new writers coming up through the ranks who would love to rub elbows with him!

Don't mean to put you on the spot, but it's on a lot of people's minds down here....
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 07:52 am:   

Howard's been back in Texas for several months and has recently moved back to Austin. So yes, he''ll be there.
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Lou Antonelli - East Texas, USA
Posted on Saturday, March 22, 2003 - 05:04 pm:   

Hot damn! That's the best news I've heard in months! See you both at the ArmadilloCon in August.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2003 - 10:47 pm:   

Yup. See you there.
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Robert Wexler
Posted on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 07:49 am:   

Hi Ellen,

Howard moved back to Austin? You sent me his Fort Worth address but I haven't written to him yet. Can you give me the new one?

Thanks,

Robert
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 01:42 pm:   

Hi Robert,
Email me and I'll give you Howard's new address.
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 01:45 pm:   

So what was everyone's favorite SCIFICTION stories from 2002? I of course, cannot show favoritism publically :-) but am curious to know what others think.
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 02:02 pm:   

Oh cool -- I'm first! Though I must admit up front I haven't read ALL the stories...

I liked Ray Vukcevich's "Wages of Syntax" a LOT, thought it was expertly plotted and hilarious. I also liked the style and old-fashioned feel of Karen Joy Fowler's "What I Didn't See" (and for the hackles it raised in certain quarters). I also dug Kit Reed's "The Last Big Sin."

But my favorite was James Blaylock's "In for a Penny." That one just hit me right, I guess.
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, March 24, 2003 - 02:24 pm:   

Hi Mike,
Thanks for the input. Terri was hoping to take the Blaylock for her half of YBFH #16 but didn't have the space.

I love the wackiness (kind of Connie Willis-type romantic comedy with a dark edge) in "The Wages of Syntax."

And the bruhaha over "What I Didn't See" got it a lot more attention than it would have otherwise received (although it was shortlisted for the Tiptree award and Terri's taken it for her side of YBFH).

Kit Reed is really good at nasty satire, isn't she?:-)
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Gwenda Bond
Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 09:00 am:   

I think "What I Didn't See" was my favorite story of last year, period, Ellen.

Off hand without going to look at the archives, I also liked Carol Emshwiller's stories from last year lots and lots. And Alex's too.

It was a very strong Sci-Fiction year.

Hope you had fun in Florida...
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 03:17 pm:   

Thanks Gwenda. I do too--but I'm biassed :-).

It was grand but I missed you and Christopher. Very humid and we all tried our best to ignore the war as much as possible.
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 03:27 pm:   

Karen and Carols' stories were certainly up there for me.
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Wednesday, April 02, 2003 - 01:07 pm:   

Hey Ellen -- just read Maureen McHugh's story, "Frankenstein's Daughter." Damn good story. Maureen's characters are amazingly real. And I loved the final paragraph.

Thanks!
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, April 02, 2003 - 03:04 pm:   

Thank YOU, Mike. Yes, it's a lovely, bittersweet touch.
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Bob
Posted on Friday, April 04, 2003 - 11:06 am:   

Oh wow. Am I glad you mentioned that story, Mike. I might have missed it otherwise, and that'd be a shame.
Excellent, excellent stuff, Ellen -- and Maureen, of course!
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Friday, April 04, 2003 - 08:41 pm:   

Hi Ellen

I'm reading my way backwards through Scifi.com.

The McHugh story is terrific. I guess the cloning makes if Spec Fic so we can't get publicity for it that way.

Rick
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, April 05, 2003 - 07:38 am:   

Hi Rick,
Yeah, I'm afraid so :-)--Dave's been offline for a few days now, and reportedly won't be back for another couple of weeks. Awfully quiet on the Tangent online topic in sff.net as a result, eh?
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lucius
Posted on Saturday, April 05, 2003 - 08:22 am:   

Maureen and Josh Lukin...

Re: The Marching Morons. With respect, I guess I don't see the threat of eugenics as being an immediate problem, or that a possible reference to it in a 50 yr old scifi story will suddenly popularize eugenics or infect young minds with the more noisome philosophical elements of National Socialism. When you read stories from different areas, you're going to get attitudes, political opinions, et al, that are not in line with contemporary thinking. Robert Frost was a spousal abuser, Celine was an anti-semite, Villon was a muderer , Hemmingway a jerk,
etc. etc. That doesn't, for me, invalidate their work as writers. I just read around the offending sections. I find, for example, much of Heinlien incredibly offensive as to its jingoism, but I can still have fun with an old Heinlein story. Personally I don't think Kornbluth had eugenics in mind -- I think he was lashing out at the intelligensia, at their lack of participation in the culture, the whole ivory tower thing, and his intimation of eugenics was inadvertant. What interests and impresses me about the work Kornbluth and Pohl did in the 50s was that of all the scifi writers of that day, they seemed to have a handle on the future evolution of a marketing dominated culture.

I guess that for the record I should state that I'm not pro-eugenics, pro-Nazi, or pro anything bad. I simply thought Kornbluth's story, read in context of his other work, was fairly prescient in its comprehension of how marketers have, over the past half-century, really worked at dumbing down their audience. Morons doesn't state this as succinctly as do his collaborations with Pohl, but it's relatively short, which was why I recommended it to Ellen.

BTW, Maureen, I recently read CHINA MOUNTAIN ZHANG and enjoyed it (I know, I'm slow at catching up on my reading). When I read I thought back to Westervelt, when you were just getting going. Long time, huh?

Lucius
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Saturday, April 05, 2003 - 09:21 am:   

Lucius,

It is a long time, isn't it. I even sort of miss New York. Well, I miss parts of New York. I'm glad you got a chance to read CHINA MOUNTAIN--I remember reading LIFE DURING WARTIME while I was writing it--which I still wish had been called FIREZONE EMERALD, a title I think is more evocative. (And it was fun being in POLYPHONY with you.)

I agree with you, I don't think that there's much of a chance of "The Marching Morons" making legions of disaffected youth turn to eugenics as a solution to the problem of, say, stupid people. I just think that the whole thing is dumb--I mean, having taught a lot of remedial stuff in college, I find definitions of 'stupid' pretty difficult. And I just find the story dumb. I get that it was written in a different era and I agree with you that its vitriole is aimed at the intelligensia, but I find that dumb, too. I mean, I teach at a university and I have even more troubles with defining 'smart' than I do 'dumb.' But then, I have to admit, I taught an sf class a couple of years ago and assigned THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, a book I love so much that I can still remember the riddle Mike tells Manny--How is a laser like a goldfish?* And I hated it. Hated reading it, was sorry I did so, found it impossible to re-read with pleasure. Ruined a memory. So now I'm more careful about re-reading my favorite books. So I don't like "The Marching Morons" or "The Black Bag" when I read them, I guess.

But I don't like much of Hemingway, either--except "Indian Camp" which still makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.






* Neither one can whistle. Okay, it's not a great joke, but Mike made it up.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Sunday, April 06, 2003 - 11:12 pm:   

Hi Maureen

Odd the way it works. I love your work.
FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER has not a wasted
word, not a character who isn't fully
rounded.

I've felt the same way about a lot of
Hemingway's short fiction. For instance,
MY OLD MAN. Though, yes, he does pretty
much define the term, jerk.
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Monday, April 07, 2003 - 06:08 am:   

Rick,

Thanks very much for your comments on FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER. And I have to say, Hemingway was a mjor influence on my writing when I was in college, and I conciously use a lot of the classic Hemingway techniques. But I can't read him anymore.
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 08:09 am:   

New story up today by Scott Westerfeld called "Unsportsmanlike Conduct"--for some reason I bought two stories in a row that were about sports and two about clones.
Scott's is the first about sports.

Also, just bought a couple of new stories by Octavia Butler (very different from what I usually like but I feel it works) and a long novelette by William Barton that's brutal and will probably offend some people. We'll probably put a little warning on it :-)
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 08:56 am:   

I can see why you bought "Unsportsmanlike Conduct." This is going to be a favorite of mine for years. I'm not even a sports fan, really. Especially not a fan of baseball. Those of you who are not a fan of baseball, read this one anyway--trust me, you're in for a very special treat.

The last section, still not certain on whether I liked where it went. I'm still mulling that over. But I won't go into details so as to not spoil it.

Also-- Maureen, "Frankenstein's Daughter" was a real treat as well. I recommended it as a great example of how SF isn't just about space ships and aliens to my molecular biologist father-in-law.

I never in my life thought I'd look forward to Wednesdays. Thanks Ellen!
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 09:30 am:   

Hi Jeremy,
Yeah. I'm not particularly a fan of baseball, which is why I was suprised by how much I enjoyed the story. I know what you're saying about the last section--it did go somewhere unexpected yet for me it works.

Delighted to have made Wednesdays more bearable :-)
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 10:30 am:   

Ellen:

Great story. For some reason, it brought up all sorts of nostalgic feelings of when I first discovered science fiction in grade school. I guess it read to me as a combination of golden-age SF (traveling to distant planets and meeting alien races) but had such a sour under-current of modern-day sensibilities (exploiting the planet for oil, using the aliens for PR of a corporation). I'm so glad that I've come to this board and become a regular reader of SciFiction. I used to read it now and again, but I think I've missed some great stuff.

I'm not sure what I think of "Frankenstein's Daughter." The ending seemed abrupt to me. I have to go back and read it again and see what I missed.

Keep up the incredible work.

JK
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 11:46 am:   

John, I agree with you on the ending of "Frankenstein's Daughter." The ending didn't really have the emotional impact for me that I wanted, and I just didn't quite understand why the mother wanted that so badly, as I seemed to be picking up. I'm not sure what the story was building up to, but I think it built up to something. I feel rather dense admitting it, but there it is.

-Jeremy Tolbert
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 07:50 pm:   

John and Jeremy,
I feel that the ending to FD was a lovely letting go by the mother--an admission that her son has been harmed by the existence of a "problem" child in the family and that his action at the end, although not "the answer" (and in fact, we don't of course, know what will happen next--but unlike the Tangent online reviewer I do NOT believe that he is becoming a juvenile delinquent) is for him...something completely necessary.

Does that make sense?

And John, glad to have you as a convert :-)
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 09:49 pm:   

Ellen,

Yes, OK-- in that context, I can see what you're saying.

From a personal standpoint, I don't see him becoming a delinquent either. I knew countless kids who did these things growing up and they turned out OK. Part of the reason I liked the story so much was how it portrayed the shoplifting. The oneupsmanship especially.

I should really get over my hangup with not reading anything more than once. On one hand, there's too darn much to read. On the other hand, case in point.

Thanks!
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 03:52 am:   

I thought the ending to Frankie's Daughter was one of those surprises that you didn't see coming, but when you look back at the story, it's all been foreshadowed. I loved it, in a sort of take-your-breath-away kind of unexpectedness.

And I like that it didn't tie everything up with a neat bow. Real life doesn't work that way. Especially when you're a teenager...
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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 06:14 am:   

Ellen & Mike:

I agree that is was an ending I wasn't expecting. I think that added to my problem with digesting it. I was looking for more closure, but as Mike points out, life doesn't work in nice little short-story sized chunks.

I think I was wondering if there was more to what I was reading than the mother hoping that by letting her son go maybe she could avoid the difficulties not letting go of her daughter created. A small part of me wondered if perhaps the son was a clone as well and I had missed something set up earlier in the text. Just an over-active mind, I suppose.

My wife teaches high school, so I get to interact with a LOT of teenagers. They are amazing. It's really a wonder that so many of us come through our teenage years and emerge as productive adults. I also didn't see this as the beginning of JD for this young man. His whole life has been torn apart by his sister's death and parent's divorce and he really hadn't had enough life experience to know how to handle such changes, so he rebels in small ways. I know in my deliquent youth I did things like stealing tapes from music stores and so on, but I don't lead a life of crime these days. The young man in the story is very resilient considering everything he has to deal with.

So, I guess I didn't miss anything. I'm just so used to fiction giving me a nice circular story and whenever I read something that mirrors reality more realistically my brain isn't sure what to do with it.

Glad to be converted.

JK
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 06:30 am:   

This discussion is a writer's dream. Thank you all so much.
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 08:21 am:   

Jeremy,
I don't read all stories more than once but I do read all stories I publish more than once--generally at least three times, two times reading it for editing purposes. And I read very closely those second two times.

I try not to hold other readers to the same standards of catching things that I hold for myself while editing.

I believe a story should "work" on one level for one read but that some of the best stories can be reread multiple times bringing more satisfaction to the reader each time.


Maureen, glad it's worked out this way :-)

I think this might be the best place to talk about SCIFICTION stories as I can't seem to get anyone to come to our BB on the site--it's clunky and not as easy to use as this one.
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JeremyT
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 09:02 am:   

I agree, this is definitely the best place to talk about SCIFICTION. I don't mind jumping into discussion, but I hate starting them. The SCIFICTION board always struck me as a bit of a wasteland.

I'd like to go back and talk about a story I haven't seen discussed here yet. "Senor Volto" by Lucius Shepherd is one of many reasons why I firmly believe SCIFICTION one of the two best magazines, online or not, publishing today. (I've got to give props to F&SF here too. Word, GVG, JJA ;) )

Right from the very beginning, the voice of Aurelio captured me. As the tale unwound, I found myself completely grounded in the setting-- so many evocative descriptions. Then the revenge element, played out great and didn't strike me at all as cheap like many revenge plots. But then, the part that will make me never forget this one-- the ecosystem in the sky.

I'm infatuated with biology, and any hint at new life forms catches my attention. If Lucius is around, I'd like to know if the whole "flying rods" phenomena was any inspriation for that?

A simpler writer (such as myself) might have left it with unusual critters, the revenge plot, but Shephard then deepens the story with the religious elements, the parallels to angels and so on. This was a story I've spent hours thinking about, pondering how it's put together, and why it strikes me as so powerful. I'm not even a fan of framing stories ordinarlly, but with this one, it's ending is wonderful in that it enriches the previous material and leads to me revisiting the beginning with new insight.

I'm going to go around telling people to read this story for as long as I live. It's the very ideal of weird SF that I seek to publish in the FB. On top of everything, I think this story wonderfully defies the SF/F barriers. You could call it science fiction, and be right. And I think you could call it fantasy, and be right. Science fantasy then? Not that I'm hung up on classifications, mind you.

You can bet on me putting this one on the Hugo ballot next year.

Sorry, if I come off a little fanboyish, but this story just blew my mind.

(As a side note, I've been getting that blown a lot lately by reading Silverberg's SF101. Just read Cordwainer Smith's "Scanners Live in Vain" last night. Wow. I have so much catching up to do. The price of youth.)

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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 09:35 am:   

Jeremy,
Thanks for your praise of the site--I hope we keep you reading :-)

Lucius is around here somewhere--I'm sure he'll respond (I'll even nudge him if he doesn't notice soon).

We had a Cordwainer Smith on our site for awhile but had to take it down after a given period.
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lucius
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2003 - 09:00 pm:   

Jeremy,

:"Senor Volto" is one of several stories I've set in the same little Honduran town. The obvious primary inspiration for the story were the guys who walk around carnivals in Honduras with car batteries strapped to their chests -- they have these eloquent raps that got my attention. The two things that fed into the aerial ecosystem were reef bioligy -- I've done a good bit of reef diving -- and, as weird as this sounds, watching cats and dogs stare at the ceiling or somewere and tracking the progress of something that I could not see. I've always believed that they were seeing something real, something that might be part of a spectrum of reality that the human sensorium isn't equipped to detect. Viewing it in that abstract way made it an easy leap to connect all the sky bestiary with the idea of the divine. After that it was just a matter of getting into Aurelio's head.

Anyway, I'm pleased you liked it.

Lucius
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 10:55 am:   

I read "Frankinstein's Daughter" as a literary story, meaning that it is an examination of characters in conflict and their efforts to resolve (or not) that conflict. The ending works perfectly for me because it portrays a woman who cannot fully admit her mistake, because to admit it is too horrifying and painful. There are some things we cannot bring ourselves to voice for a variety of reasons. Yet through her instruction to her son, she does acknowledge as best she can, how her decision has affected everyone.

The portrayal of family relationships was spot on. Wonderful story, Ms. M.
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Ellen
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 12:13 pm:   

Shhh. Leslie don't say that aloud. You know how some people feel about so-called "literary" stories :-)
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Robert Hoge
Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 09:11 pm:   

Just read Scott Westerfeld's 'Unsportsmanlike Conduct'. It was a bit of a roller-coaster ride for me. Scott's writing style is superb - so clear and collected. The first few hundred words really dragged me in nicely.

I can't say too much without giving away some spoilers (go read it now) but I did have to admit to feeling slightly jaded about another baseball story (that's not a spoiler). But I really enjoyed the way that aspect played out in the end. Perhaps the time Scott spends in Australia is starting to sink in. ;-)

The final bit though... Didn't really work for me. It provided what was probably an essential ironic ending but it came from a bit too far out of left field for me.

- Robert
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 09:16 am:   

Just read "In the Blood" by Ilsa J. Bick. A good story, and it brought to mind something that's been bugging me, which is whether or not there is any scientific precident or any research into the idea of advancing the age of a cloned cell. It's become a staple in clone fiction, but for the life of me, I can't think of any research that indicates it can actually be done. Just curious.

I kept thinking of Blade Runner as I read it.

Fun stuff!
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 02:57 pm:   

Glad you liked it Jeremy. First time I've bought a story by this author and I think it's a strong one.

I'm a scientific idiot--all I ask of my authors is that they can be convincing--Ilsa is a child and forensic psychiatrist so has some useful background. I'll see if I can get her to check out the BB here.
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Ilsa J. Bick
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 03:30 pm:   

Jeremy --

Glad you liked the story.

You ask an interesting question, and it's really two questions. That is, I'm not sure if you mean aging as in getting gray hair and wrinkles, or aging as in going from a single cell to a baby. They're two different processes; I'm going to take the liberty of assuming that you mean the latter (and because, as I get older, it's too PAINFUL for me to contemplate the former for very long <g>).

In this context, the type of accelerated aging you're asking about occurs naturally. If you think about it, the process whereby a single cell becomes a baby is a VERY rapid form of aging. That is, you have a single cell that divides very quickly and becomes multiple cells that then branch off to become multiple organ systems. The rate of cell division -- that is, aging -- in early pregnancy is much greater than it is in late pregnancy. Then, after you're born and for the first 20 years of your life, you are essentially making new and/or more of existing organs, and you're growing.

But that type of growth and aging stops, and you go from a phase of making new and more cells to making only replacement cells. That is, you enter a turnover phase -- another type of aging -- where you don't make more of a certain cell type that then enables you to grow a new heart or live. You simply make replacement cells, and for some cell types (notably, brain), there's pretty good evidence that you don't make any more at all (so enjoy it while you can and think about how many cells you're not replacing every time you have a Scotch <g>). No one knows why the rate of cell division and multiplication slows down to a turnover phase; it just does. Of course, this type of uncontrolled aging -- that is, rapid cell division -- is key to the study of certain cancers, but most cancers, short of a few very weird ones (where you crack them open and find tiny teeth or hair), don't do the second part of normal aging (in this context) by differentiating into viable organ systems.

Now, if you could tweak cells to continue their growth and aging at the same rate as they do in early embryonic and fetal life -- heck, yes, you could age something very rapidly. Theoretically, you could go from a single cell to a fully formed baby in a fraction of the time, and from a baby to a 20-year-old, by the same logic. But there is no work around this going on that time, so far as I am aware; and given the current political climate, my guess is that this type of work in mammalian systems, with reference to cloning technology, is a long way off.

I hope that answers your question.

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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 06:22 pm:   

Indeed it does. Thanks Ilsa, congrats on your story!
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scott westerfeld
Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 09:49 pm:   

Glad you liked "Unsportsmanlike Conduct," Robert. And you're right, living in Australia was the inspiration behind it. Watching alien sports on TV, trying to decode their rules and rituals by simple observation (with the sound off), made me think about sports as a context for first contact between intelligent species. Most everyday activities are relatively messy--they overlap in time and space, one blending into the next without a clear end or beginning. But organized sports have rituals to mark their beginnings and ends, and lines drawn on the ground that help clarify what goes where. Their repetitive, ritual nature, combined with the flexibility of new strategies within the framework of the rules, seemed like a fruitful avenue for interspecies communication.

So the aliens are really me, sitting on the couch and trying to figure out what the hell a "wrong'un" is.

As for the end, it may come out of left field in the narrative sense, but for me the politics of the situation compelled it. In other words, it's not so much an ironic ending as what the Victorians might call a moral ending.
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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 05:57 am:   

I agree. I saw the ending as Iain grabbing an opportunity that presented itself. Everyone, including his bosses and the governments that put this space exporation together, was distracted by the alien contact and the game. He was able to do whatever he wanted without anyone sticking their nose into his business.

I think a story about alien contact through baseball just isn't enough. I think the story needed more to make it more poignant. Yes, I also agree that I didn't see the end coming at all. But it wasn't an "I didn't see that coming, that isn't plausible" type ending. I feel the ending makes perfect sense within the context of what oil (or any fuel source) means to this planet and the reactions--good and bad--it causes in people.

JK
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 08:30 am:   

Barry Maltzberg's story was pretty good, although I have a feeling that the ending was lost on me. Anyone want to explain to me the significance of the last line through email? I don't want to spoil it for other forum readers. (jeremy@tuginternet.com)

I especially liked his writing style and mastery of voice. I'm looking forward to reading the next F&SF now, which seems to be a focus or tribute issue.
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 02:42 pm:   

Jeremy,
Glad you liked it despite not getting the ending (I've sent you an email about it) :-)
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, April 30, 2003 - 07:17 am:   

Ack! My week is off-kilter now. No New SciFiction on a 5th Wednesday?

I need my fix! ;)
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JeremyT
Posted on Friday, May 02, 2003 - 08:53 am:   

Ellen--
Is there any chance of the Avantgo version including the full story for the week, and not just the shortshorts?

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Ellen
Posted on Friday, May 02, 2003 - 02:30 pm:   

Hey Jeremy,
You can go back and reread one--have you read everything?

I don't know about Avantgo for the entire story. I'll ask the person who set the short-shorts up--I have no idea what's involved. I'll bring it up next time in the office Wednesday.
It was discussed once, but nothing came of it--I was really glad when the short shorts went up.
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, May 07, 2003 - 08:37 am:   

(You knew I'd be here soon enough, eh?)
Regarding The Eyes of America--
Wow. I've never been a big fan of alternate history stories that involve large numbers of famous people. There's always something a little contrived about them, but I got over my discomfort with this one the further we digressed from our timeline. This story is something I think I could accurately call a "riproaring good time."

I wonder if Landis wrote the opener to deliberately parallel Bester's STARS MY DESTINATION or if I'm just seeing things there.

It included just about every one of my favorite early 20th century people (and the one it didn't include, it assassinated, heh). I felt bad for Tesla in the end though. He was always my favorite over Edison.

Thanks Ellen. It is the kind of story that rekindles the young kid inside me who is fascinated with science and its early giants. These are the absolute best SF stories for me and you sure do publish a lot of them.

-JT
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, May 07, 2003 - 02:45 pm:   

I think it's a dandy too :-)
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Wednesday, May 07, 2003 - 10:43 pm:   

THE EYES OF AMERICA is utterly charming. And a terrific piece of satire. What's the word count?
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, May 08, 2003 - 07:59 am:   

Hi Rick,
11,200 words
I've already suggested it for the 2003 Sidewise Award judges.
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paulw
Posted on Sunday, May 11, 2003 - 09:57 am:   

And what a great copyediting job! Kudos!
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Sunday, May 11, 2003 - 02:36 pm:   

And that's something that so often gets overlooked!
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, May 11, 2003 - 04:57 pm:   

Yes, Paul is a most excellent copy editor as well as terrific writer!
Thank you Paul.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Sunday, May 11, 2003 - 07:18 pm:   

And a really good editor!
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paulw
Posted on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 02:52 am:   

Aw shucks!
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 09:25 am:   

And a terrific curator for the NYRSF readings. (Don't know whether to put in a more direct plug for that series, since the hostess co-curates the equally terrific, KGB rival readings.
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 12:37 pm:   

That's ok Rick. But I keep a record of these things you know ;-)
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Geoffrey A. Landis
Posted on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 05:18 pm:   

Thanks for the flattering commentary, guys. It's my first alternate history, so I'm pleased that you like it.

--I agree, a great job by the editor/copy-editor staff. (An anonymous fact-checker with the initials "ED," for example, caught my reference to moon pies as being an anachronism (don't look for it in the story; it was removed) and even pointed me to the moon-pie history url:
http://www.moonpie.com/hist_text.asp )
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2003 - 08:42 am:   

Wouldn't "Interview With an Artist" be considered alternate history? Anyway, absolutely fantastic story. I finally found some time, and it was well worth it.

What's up next Ellen?

JK
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2003 - 11:33 am:   

Hi John,
Upcoming:
The Fate of Nations by James Morrow --tomorrow

The Book of Martha by Octavia Butler--the 21st
When I was Miss Dow by Sonya Dorma classic--21st

The Man Who Counts by William Barton--brutal and I'm pretty sure it'll be offensive to a lot of people--the 29th

Jailwise by Lucius Shepard novella in four parts 22,500 Part 1 June 4th

A Full Member of the Club by Bob Shaw --classic

Lucius's novella continues of the next three weeks thereafter with Touchstone by Terry Carr, the classic for June 18th
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Geoffrey A. Landis
Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2003 - 06:04 pm:   

Well, I considered "Interview with an Artist" to be a time-travel story, but I suppose it could also be viewed as alternate history... the two sub-subgenres do overlap a bit.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 07:49 am:   

RE: James Morrow's "The Fate of Nations"

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA [wipes tears from eyes]

That was great!!

JK

PS--I was up late last night watching the LA Lakers lose to the San Antonio Spurs when my wife rolled over and said, "Why are you watching basketball?" Now we know why.
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 08:34 am:   

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Morrow's tale. I thought it was well-written, but absurd in a way that I don't find funny. I just wasn't able to suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy it.

Oh well! Looking forward to next week.
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Bob
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 07:45 pm:   

I liked the story...but do you think it wise disseminating our secret so indiscriminately?
Actually, I thought it was cute and comedic, which is a nice break from the more consequential stuff you normally publish Ellen.
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Bob
Posted on Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 01:58 pm:   

One of those really, REALLY great lines from Octavia Butler:

"Is that all you see?" God asked.

This confused her even more. "Don't you know what I see?" she demanded and then quickly softened her voice. "Don't you know everything?"

God smiled. "No, I outgrew that trick long ago. You can't imagine how boring it was."


God she's good...no pun intended.
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - 07:20 am:   

Bob,
Glad you like the story--it's an odd one and may turn some people off.

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JeremyT
Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - 07:45 am:   

I haven't made up my mind about the story itself, but I did enjoy the things it made me think about. It's an essential writer's question, "how would you change humanity?" In that sense, I enjoyed it, even if "conversations with god" style fiction turns me off most of the time.
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - 07:56 am:   

I found that this story and Jim Carrey's "Bruce Allmighty" movie coming out in the same week a strange bit of coincidence. As Bob pointed out, there was lots of delightful dialogue, as well as great vivid descriptions. This is actually the first thing I've ever read from Butler, and I enjoyed it a lot. What else would you recommend?

JK
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Bob
Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - 01:44 pm:   

WILD SEED is the only other thing I've read of Ms. Butler's, but it was excellent.
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - 09:50 pm:   

John, I'd recommend her stories "The Evening and the Morning and the Night" and "Bloodchild."

I noticed the Jim Carrey movie too and thought -synchronicity strikes again!
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Samantha Ling
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 08:53 am:   

I really enjoyed the Xenogenesis series from Octavia. It starts with Dawn. I first read it in a science fiction literature class at UCD.
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 11:14 am:   

"The Man Who Counts" was quite good. I'd say it ties with "The Eyes of America" as my favorite for the month.

I'd never heard of Barton, but I'll be looking for more of his work. His website is sadly under construction, so if anyone can point me to more of his work, I'd appreciate it. I see he has a few novels-- any more short fiction?

-JT
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 12:46 pm:   

Jeremy,
I've probably seen earlier mss by Barton but this is the first one that hit me the right way. I'm curious to see the reaction to it. I know already that Nick Gevers hated it and will say so when he reviews it for Locus.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 01:04 pm:   

Barton is one of the better writers in the genre.
Not a 'feel good' type which probably hasn't helped his popularity. I seem to recall stories in Dozois YBSF volumes. The Locus Awards site should give you some titles.

I never pass up a chance to read a Barton story. I'm not at work today, though, so I'll read this one tomorrow when I am.
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - 07:04 pm:   

*Minor Spoilers*

It made me very uncomfortable at times, especially to have me sympathizing with a serial killer, and an unreformed one at that. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of Alfred Bester's nasty characters, and how uncomfortable they made me.

I like it when fiction makes me uncomfortable though. I don't read speculative fiction to be comforted.

Rick, thanks for the tips.
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2003 - 08:55 pm:   

The Man Who Counts. Holy friggin shite!
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2003 - 10:10 pm:   

I like your reaction Bob <g>

Ellen
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2003 - 10:34 pm:   

If Barton's other stuff is as powerful, he's got himself a new fan. That was an incredibly well done story, Ellen. Congrats.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Friday, May 30, 2003 - 12:36 am:   

"The Man Who Counts. Holy friggin shite!"

I second that emotion. The guy can bring it.

The first thing I ever read by him was a chapbook called YELLOW MATTER, a novelette /novella length piece about a human on a big space station/commercial hub who can only afford his life-prolonging medical treatments by prostituting himself to large and grotesque aliens.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Friday, May 30, 2003 - 12:46 am:   

Jeremy T wrote: "Rick, thanks for the tips."

You're welcome but I meant to write LOCUS INDEX TO SCIENCE FICTION (linked from the Locus Onling home page) rather than LOCUS INDEX TO SF AWARDS - you can see where my head was at.
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, June 03, 2003 - 06:49 am:   

Ellen:

Finally got around to reading "The Man Who Counts" and I have to agree with Jeremy's thoughts on the reader's feelings towards Merry. I wonder if I would sympathize with him if Sparrow's situation--which Merry is striving to rectify--was less dire? And that's a strange place to put the reader, too. The way that Merry sees the situation, and therefore the reader, Sparrow obviosuly didn't deserve to be placed in the situation she was in. She was the victim of small-minded, greedy, horrible people. More horrible even, by the fact that they made it so that she not only wanted to keep doing what she was doing, but that she couldn't even stop herself from doing it.

I can only speak for myself, but for a large part of the story, I was able to justify Merry's current actions as he worked to 'save' Sparrow (one he succeeded, the 'woman' he knew would no longer exist, sort of). But towards the end when he receives his reward, Merry knows whay he is going to do. He knows he will return to his old ways. It gave me chills.

Is the reward of saving Sparrow and reversing her injustice worth the price of reviving Merry? While I can tend to be very utilitarian in my views, I have a tough time reconciling reconstituting Marry in my head. Especially as he recounts his different victims. It puts a face on to what he's done for the reader.

I'll paraphrase a quote we all most likely know: "One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic." -- Stalin. For Sparrow's husband, getting her back and overthrowing the system that injured her is worth the statistic of what Merry is capable of, but for the reader, we know many of Merry's statistics as individuals, which makes it nearly impossible to justify 'fixing' him.

Can you tell I liked the story? I read some Barton in Asimov's, I believe, and I enjoyed that, too.

JK
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, June 03, 2003 - 07:44 am:   

John,
I agree with you that there is a delicate balance of the good Merry has done with the bad he has (and very possibly will again do.) But he has done more than saving one person--he has --I think we're meant to believe--saved a society that has been hijacked by really bad people.

Also-and this can be interpreting several ways--will he go back to serial murder? Has his experience with Sparrow changed him? If they know that he will go back to murdering women would Sparrow's husband, et al just let him go back to that? I don't know if this is a _flaw_ in the story or an open-endedness allowing for a positive outlook for Merry....

I don't know the answer to any of the above questions. I guess I could ask Bill what _he_ thinks will happen next but that might be cheating.
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, June 03, 2003 - 07:47 am:   

By the way, PS Publishing will be bringing out the Periodic Table in 2004--at least six months after the last element runs on SCIFICTION--now scheduled for some time in November 2003.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Tuesday, June 03, 2003 - 08:03 am:   

A large part of the power of the story is that makes the reader 'see' things from the pov of a monster. I'm not sure how much redemption I see in what he's doing. A large part of the reason that he's able to escape is that he has Merry to pay his passage. In the end, he's done some good. But he's still a monster. Must we sympathize entirely with a narrator?
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 04, 2003 - 07:20 am:   

Rick, I don't think so. But we DO sympathize with him at certain points--and I think that's because of the skill of the writer.

By the way, the first part of Lucius's new novella, "Jailwise" is up on the site today. Great art for it!
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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 06:45 am:   

Read the first part of "Jailwise." At this point, I'm intrigued to see where the story goes. I'm refaining from making any guesses. Will this be finished next week, or will it go on beyond that? I just picked up JAGUAR HUNTER (Four Walls edition) so I'm suffused with Lucius fiction! A very good thing, I assure you.

JK
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 07:07 am:   

It's going to continue for three more weeks so it has a lot of places to go <g> a few very intriguing and unexpected.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 08:25 am:   

I may wait on this until it's all up.
Sometimes, though, I really like the Saturday-at-the-movies-serial effect.
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, June 09, 2003 - 08:28 am:   

July Fiction is:


July 2
Angels and You Dogs by Kathleen Ann Goonan
David’s Daddy by Rosel George Brown

July 4
Michael Swanwick's Periodic Table of Science Fiction--Mendelevium

July 9
Big House on the Prairie by David Prill

July 11
Michael Swanwick's Periodic Table of Science Fiction—Nobelium

July 16
You Go Where it Takes You by Nathan Ballingrud
What Now, Little Man by Mark Clifton

July 18
Michael Swanwick's Periodic Table of Science Fiction—Lawrencium


July 23
Daughter of the Monkey God by M.K. Hobson

July 25
Michael Swanwick's Periodic Table of Science Fiction-Rutherfordium

July 30
Holiday for fiction
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 07:35 pm:   

As Lucius pointed out to me, there is an error in week Two of his novella "Jailwise"--urm, there IS no week two. The link that's meant to link to week 2 instead takes the reader back to week one which luckily has both week one and two in it--don't worry, all will be fixed tomorrow by our trusty producer Michael Gerber.
Keep watching the net....
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 - 12:35 pm:   

Never mind. False alarm. We both misunderstood the way the novella is formatted each week. All is well.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Tuesday, June 24, 2003 - 11:15 am:   

Hey Ellen, I didn't want to hijack the F&SF board with SHIPWRECKER discussions. Again, I have a lot of respect for your pub, but I reserve the right to not like some stuff <g>.

Anyway, since you asked me what I'd do differently with the ending, I mulled it over.

There's too much deus ex machina going on in the last page, plus there's pretty much no resolution (i hated that word in college.) The entire sequence of him looking around his crib, at the picture of his mother, and reminiscing about this mythical world doesn't work. Hard to put my finger on, but it feels very tacked together. And any story that ends with the main character riding off into the sunset doesn't sit well with me.

Oh, and about considering filipo a "name" author. His bio says he's published over 100 stories and five novels. That qualifies as "name" in my book.

Gosh, this post sounds bitchy. Sorry. Making enemies, am I? Ah well, that's life.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Tuesday, June 24, 2003 - 11:30 am:   

I just reread that post, and I'm being an idiot. Un-freaking-professional amateur hack. Bloody hell. Ignore me. Ignore everything I say. This is no way to build a relationship with an editor. Idiot.
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, June 24, 2003 - 06:24 pm:   

Hi Tim,
You absolutely do have a right to your opinion. It doesn't sound bitchy. But I can disagree :-)

The alien was around throughout so I don't see how you can consider it a deus ex machina. The reader doesn't learn all that's necessary to know about it before near the end but I think that's legit.

The ending was changed a little. I asked Paul to have the character reminisce about the mythical world because otherwise his leaving just seemed too abrupt.

Originally, Paul had the Klom's best friend and girlfriend betray him instead of the person who does so and I thought that would alter the tone of the story into something way too dark. It's not as if he's riding into the sunset happily ever after. Even now. Klom's lost his girl and best friend. Hardly a happy ending for anyone. The resolution is that he's going to make his fortune-finally, with a little bit of the alien with him--so at least not completely alone.

I thought it a lovely, relatively lightweight space adventure with heart--something I rarely see done as well.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 06:36 am:   

I suppose what I meant pertains to the character's involvement in the solution. Deus ex machina isn't the right term. At the end there, Klom is too passive for my tastes. It's almost as if he's along for the ride, while the alien (tugger, is that right?) lifts him up out of certain doom.

Part of the problem here is that I'm not terribly good at lightweight space adventure, so I'm not sure how to go about rewriting it. Having tickets and money quite literally dropped into Klom's lap just doesn't sit well with me. Then again, the entire story had an undercurrent of darkness; the pathos of dying ships, the drudgery of the 'breakers life, the cultural divide between the two strands and their betters. Anyway, I'm comfortable with us not agreeing on this particular story. As long as we agree on the sheer magnificent quality of the story I just mailed to you...<g>
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 08:02 am:   

Tim,
Klom is passive throughout. He's always along for the ride although his love for tugger seems to draw him out more--he seems to care for tugger more than he has cared for his friend and lover. So, the ending seems perfectly in keeping with Klom's personality.

Sure, it could have ended much darker--with Klom not only losing his friend and his lover (through betrayal or death), his alien buddy, and getting nothing out of to boot. In my opinion, an ending like that would not be in keeping with the rest of the story.

But yes, we'll have to agree to disagree here.
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Snockgrass
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 09:57 am:   

Ellen,

I just finished reading "Jailwise" (I've been stomping at the bit, waiting for the last part to be uploaded since 12:01 AM Beijing time :-) . It's another great, emotional, character study by Lucius.

I'd say this story seems to be a pretty close cousin to "Over Yonder", sharing several of the same similes (things that look like punctuation _ the lakes in the marshland of "Over Yonder" and the walls of the sub-basement in "Jailwise". It kind of reminds me of how many stories contained the term "negative black" in early Lucius) and of course the river/mote theme. Once again, it's about folks living on the margin of society.

I need to re-read it now that it's all in one spot.

Thanks,
Snock


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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 10:22 am:   

Oops. Hi Snock,
Thanks for reminding me that I have to check that the last part went up correctly--although if you didn't notice anything I guess it's ok <g>

Glad you liked it. I think there are some wonderful touches in it--particularly the "plumes."
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 10:50 am:   

I too enjoyed "Jailwise" very much. On the strength of this and the previous novella by Lucius, I've purchased the Beast of the Heartland collection, e-version.

I've read "Barnacle Bill the Spacer" thus far and enjoyed it, but I did find myself drifting when the narrator got to pondering for several long paragraphs at a time. It seems that Lucius's characters have a tendency to give their nature and predicaments a lot of thought, but they don't go on for as long in his newer work, I think. It's probably the one thing about his work that I have any difficulty with.

Just an observation. Another great multi-part story for SCIFICTION.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 11:31 am:   

Yeah, Jailwise was spectacular. A very satisfying read.
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Snockgrass
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 11:44 am:   

Sorry, that should read "chomping at the bit" (from Texas A&M - "If it looks as though Trigger is trying to eat his way out of the stall, it's not because he needs bigger, tastier meals. "Cribbing," a nervous habit developed by some horses, can cause significant damage both to the horse's teeth and to his surroundings").

It's 2:40 AM here, I think it's time to go to bed :-)


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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 03:38 pm:   

Chomp stomp. Who cares? We understood. Nighty night Snock.

Jeremy and Tim(and Snock, of course)--delighted you like "Jailwise."
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Tim Akers
Posted on Wednesday, July 02, 2003 - 07:30 am:   

Did I see a nine day turnaround from Ellen on the Blackhole? My, my...
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, July 02, 2003 - 08:23 am:   

Tim,
Did you? That's pretty quick for me, actually :-)
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, July 02, 2003 - 02:10 pm:   

Ellen,

Liked "Angels and You Dogs." Not sure that I've read anything by Goonan before, but I found her style very readable. The characters were especially likeable and interesting. There were several moments where I wondered to myself why I was still reading despite the lack of speculative elements. Author did a good job of hinting that they would come, that they were there, I thought. Overall, not a heavy, deep piece but one that I thought showed me some interesting characters. I'm wondering if you'll get any hatemail because of the gay protagonist. I know that F&SF gets cancellations every time they run stories about gay characters.

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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, July 02, 2003 - 07:00 pm:   

Jeremy,

I've published Goonan's novella The Day the Dam Broke on OMNI online in 1995 and her short story "Solitaire" on OMNI online in 1996.

It hadn't even occurred to me re: hatemail. I guess we'll see.

I'm glad you liked the story. I'll let Kathy know.
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 08:13 am:   

Gay protagonists are a bad thing -- market wise?
Oh my, I just sent you one, Ellen. Timing is everything and nothing, I guess.
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 08:33 am:   

Bob,

It didn't seem to bother the market when I wrote a novel with a gay protagonist. The book did quite well, in fact.

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Bob
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 09:30 am:   

Maureen,
I was being ironical. Since I don't rely on my writing as an income -- good thing!!! -- I couldn't care less what the market thinks.
Now what Ellen thinks, that I care about very much.
Which book was that, by the way? I think I'd like to check it out, since I haven't read anything of yours yet.
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Mike Jasper
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 09:38 am:   

Bob -- go out and get Maureen's CHINA MOUNTAIN ZHANG, and I mean right now.
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 09:45 am:   

Hi Mike,
I think I shall. Thanks.
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 09:57 am:   

Bob,

I was being ironical, too. Irony doesn't really translate well on the screen, though, does it. I hope you enjoy China Mountain Zhang. There was an irony emoticon for awhile, <fe> but it didn't take.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 11:04 am:   

<fe> That's funny. I laugh.
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 11:54 am:   

Maureen,
Heh. Nice.
Actually, though I hadn't realized you wrote it, I've already heard good things about your book. I'm looking forward to it <fe>....
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Amy Sisson
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 01:05 pm:   

May I ask a quick submission guidelines question? The guidelines for Sci Fiction state:

"Please include an appropriately sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE). Contributors residing outside the United States should include two (2) international reply coupons and a letter-sized envelope for reply."

Does that mean that you specifically prefer people within the U.S. to use a full-size envelope for manuscript return, as opposed to marking manuscripts disposable (or recyclable) and using a letter-sized SASE?

I apologize if this has been covered elsewhere. Thank you!
Amy Sisson
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 01:31 pm:   

Jeremy T. wrote:

"I know that F&SF gets cancellations every time they run stories about gay characters."

I've had half a dozen stories with a gay protagonist published in F&SF was unaware that anyone cancelled as a result.



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Tim Akers
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 01:43 pm:   

There's reference somewhere to that survey they had. Apparently some people complained about that specific thing. It sometimes shocks me to hear the sort of things people find offensive. Then again, anytime an apparently "free" country is considering a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, you have to wonder...
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 01:57 pm:   

Tim

Did not get the impression from the survey that gay themed stories were any more of a problem than half a dozen other complaints most of which centered around the vague feeling that things were not as wonderful as they had been.
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 02:26 pm:   

Amy,
I don't care if submittors in the US want their mss back or not --as long as they provide the sase with it.

We no longer return mss overseas, which is I why I'm more specific about the reply envelope.
Ellen

>>May I ask a quick submission guidelines question? The guidelines for Sci Fiction state:

"Please include an appropriately sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE). Contributors residing outside the United States should include two (2) international reply coupons and a letter-sized envelope for reply."

Does that mean that you specifically prefer people within the U.S. to use a full-size envelope for manuscript return, as opposed to marking manuscripts disposable (or recyclable) and using a letter-sized SASE?

I apologize if this has been covered elsewhere. Thank you!
Amy Sisson
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S. Hamm
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 03:46 pm:   

Rick,

It was "Doc" Blumlein who prompted the sudden rash of cancellations with "Paul and Me."

Since your stories have been quite well-received, you are plainly doing something wrong.

Sammy
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 04:44 pm:   

Sammy

I guess so.

I find that very off-putting.
"Paul and Me" is one of my favorite F&SF
stories. I think Gordon told me it was one
of his first, if not his first, buy.

I guess to achieve a similar effect I should
have had Kevin Grierson getting paid for play
with George Washington.

Rick

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Rick Bowes
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 04:48 pm:   

Ellen

Sorry, this discussion should
be over in the F&SF newgroup.

Rick
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2003 - 05:01 pm:   

Rick,

Nah, fine here. Don't forget I've been in the F&SF site :-)

So far, I haven't gotten any hatemail at SCIFICTION.
Back in the OMNI days we did, mostly for obscenity. I remember getting a cancellation letter from someone who objected to the "bad language" in our excerpt of Frank Herbert's novel The White Plague. I think someone dying said "damn."
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JeremyT
Posted on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 12:40 pm:   

Glad to hear I've exaggerated the cancellation thing. Ellen when did you get cancellations for use of the word "damn?" I wasn't aware that you were editing OMNI in the 50s...

On a related topic-- I notice a lot of people talk about subscription numbers this time of year, probaby because Gardner mentions them in YBSF. Ellen, what's your feeling for readership numbers at SCIFICTION? Do you care? Does it really impact your job, considering your relationship with scifi.com?

-JT
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, July 07, 2003 - 01:35 pm:   

We published excerpts of The White Plague in the summer of 1982. So that was when we got the letter. But there were stories I thought we would get letters about--eg: Karl Hansen's "Dreams Unwind" which opened with a scene of torture--in 1985. Not a peep.

I don't know what our readership numbers are for SCIFICTION. When the program works (and I don't believe it does currently) it only brings up the top 100 areas and since we've got tons of bulletin boards and pages with tv series info that are far more heavily trafficked than fiction--the fiction may not even show up on the register. I personally would love to know for a fact that tens of thousands of people are reading the fiction but since I can't know that I'd rather not know at all.

Since I don't know what the SCIFI Channel execs care about other than ratings I can't say how the fiction fits into the equation. I just do my job, continue to get paid, and pay my authors. :-)
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JeremyT
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 09:40 am:   

Good enough for me!
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Tim Akers
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 08:04 am:   

Okay, seriously...what's up with prisons? I mean, great story and all, interestingly told. Maybe a little heavy handed, but the prison theme is starting to wear, eh? <g>
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 08:25 am:   

Tim
It's just what came in at the time. One month it was cloning and sports. Although I did hold "Jailwise" for awhile.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 08:39 am:   

Do you see a lot of that? Patterns in the submissions? Recently I had a story rejected by F&SF, and a week later GVG posted something on here about how he was receiving a lot of submissions having to do with memory, the manipulation of memory, etc. etc.

Holy crap, I thought to myself, *my* story was about the manipulation of memory. I can't pin down what inspired the story...it's really a massive revision of something I wrote years ago. There's no common thread, no t.v. show or movie or book that I read that sparked it. I just thought it was sort of strange. Maybe it's that darn global mind again, dreaming of forgetting. something like that.
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JeremyT
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 12:55 pm:   

This is so weird. I just bought a prison-related spec fic story for the Fortean Bureau too.

Zeitgeist and all that, I guess. I blame the HBO show "Oz." ;)

-JT
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Tim Akers
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 01:25 pm:   

There's one up on the preview to Talebones this month, too. Creepy.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, July 13, 2003 - 08:31 pm:   

I don't have a problem with certain "mini-trends" in submissions as long as the stories are different enough from each other. I would have preferred though, to have had enough inventory to NOT have put the "clone","sport", and "prison" stories so close to each other. But that's the way it goes.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Monday, July 14, 2003 - 06:36 am:   

well, that's good, because my "memory" story is in your mailbox.
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, July 14, 2003 - 04:10 pm:   

Upcoming stories that I've recently bought are:

"Flowers on Their Bridles, Hooves in the Air" a novelette by Glen Hirshberg

"Threads" a short story by Jessica Reisman

and "Liar’s House," a new, short Dragon Griaule novella by Lucius Shepard

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Tim Akers
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 - 07:17 am:   

Another good story, Ellen. Again, I'll be curious to see if you get any negative feedback from this one. But man, I liked that story. wOOt!
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 - 08:29 am:   

Glad you like it Tim. I'll let the author know.

Our copy editor thought it was very Raymond Carver. (in a good way).
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 - 09:14 am:   

I'm still seeing last week's story, the prison one. Is there no new story this week?
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 - 09:37 am:   

Ellen,

could I suggest you start a new SCIFICTION thread? SCIFICTION2. For those of us with lousy browsers, this one takes forever to load.

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Tim Akers
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 - 09:47 am:   

No, there's a new story. I noticed that the teaser text on the main page was still from last week, but the title has changed.
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 - 11:45 am:   

Sorry about that--it's been fixed.
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TCO
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 09:32 pm:   

How much money have you made for the publisher? If you don't directly make money, quantify how you make it indirectly. Use numbers.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 06:22 am:   

Oh, btw, TCO is a troll from the Asimov board. Absolutely ignore everything he says. I've met bigger idiots, but rarely. TCO, weren't you kicked off this board by the admin at some point?
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 07:38 am:   

Thanks for the warning, Tim. We've moved on to a different thread anyway--he probably didn't notice.;-)

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Anonymous
Posted on Sunday, February 06, 2005 - 04:10 am:   

Over on another board, someone mentions that they sent a submission to Ellen (via snailmail), and that the PO returned it to her as undeliverable. Could someone please provide the correct cubmission address here--- and any other pretinent details too? Thank you.

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, February 06, 2005 - 07:45 am:   

My mailing address is
PMB 391
511 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10011-8436

Which thread was that on, can you let me know so I can find the post?

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