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Night Shade Message Boards » Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction » General Magazines Discussion » F&SF Circulation figures in the latest Locus « Previous Next »

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Andrew Nicolle
Posted on Wednesday, February 04, 2004 - 09:30 am:   

I opened up the February issue of Locus the other day and the first thing I did was skim through the Recommended Reading list for 2003. I also looked over the discussion about the various mags, including the circulation figures.

While the circulation figures for most magazines were down overall last year, the figures for F&SF shocked me! In 2003, paid circulation dropped by 10% and this trend has been going on for a couple of years now (with lesser drops before 2001). Compare this with the 3-4% drops for Asimov's and Analog for 2003, and the 14% drop for Realms of Fantasy for 2002. If anything, I would've thought the renewed public interest in Fantasy would've helped F&SF sales figures! Any ideas as to why we're seeing such an unsettling trend for F&SF?

I also noted with interest the 30.9% gain in 1991 which seemed to be mainly from subscriptions (although sell-through did increase too). Gordon - can you comment on why '91 was such a good year for F&SF?

Cheers,
Andrew
http://www.journalscape.com/AndrewN
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Rich Patterson
Posted on Wednesday, February 04, 2004 - 09:47 am:   

Is it possible circulation figures don't capture the electronic or audio formats? Of Analog, Asimov's, and FSF... in 2003 only FSF offered a bi-monthly audio version.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 05:42 am:   

The drop in subscriptions remains a mystery to me---it came after we did a subscription mailing and it came all at once, making me think that the problem might have been simply some fulfillment error (like a problem with the renewal notices that usually go out).

I believe the 1991 increase was a result of (a) subscriptions that came via the Publisher's Clearing House (remember them?) and (b) some promotions tied in with the special Stephen King issue.

The circulation numbers are solely for the print edition and don't include electronic or audio formats.
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ET
Posted on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 09:00 am:   

Losing subscribers because of a technical problem is a real pity, although I can understand how this can have a serious effect, since subscription problems are definitely one of my reasons to stop a subscription.
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Andrew Nicolle
Posted on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 09:46 am:   

This drop in numbers for F&SF seems to be happening at about the same rate (10%) every year. Is it possible that fulfillment errors are a big problem every year???

What's the deal with Publisher's Clearing House anyway? Was that something to do with discount subscriptions? I've heard of them, but I don't know anything more than that (I wasn't living in the US back then).

I don't suppose you could get some SK reprints like "The Plant" or something? ;)
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 11:46 am:   

I know that I have not received a subscription renewal notice for two years in a row, and noticed it only when the magazines stopped arriving.

I've also checked with two friends who got subscriptions when I started selling stories to the magazine regularly. Both of them say they never received a subscription renewal notice, and both of them let their subscriptions laspe as a result.

(On the other hand, both of them now pick up more newstand copies. And it's very encouraging to see the newstand/bookstore sales go up so much.)

Three data points from Ohio, for what it's worth.
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Gregory Bernard Banks
Posted on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 02:35 pm:   

Last year I got a "final" renewal notice, even though I hadn't received the previous two or three they claimed to have sent. I sent a note to this effect with my payment, and soon after the missing notices arrived in quick succession. This year I got received my notice in a timely fashion.

Sound like there is, or at least was, a very serious problem here.
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David Smith
Posted on Sunday, December 26, 2004 - 01:30 pm:   

i think the reason that f and sf mag is losing subscribers - is that the world is moving on but f and sf has stayed the same. In particular the physical look of the magazine is the same as it was 30 years ago.
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Dario
Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 12:40 pm:   

David echoes my thoughts on the appeal -- or otherwise -- of the 'digest' format and cover layout, and of course this applies also to Asimov's and Analog. That said, F&SF has moved to a far nicer cover stock with a slick 'feel' to it. The cover art is also of a consistently high standard. It's a pleasing publication to hold, and rarely embarrasing in public ;-)

I think the dilemma for a publisher must be that while on the one hand the digest format is very inexpensive to produce, and old-time readers may well be traumatized by major format or layout changes, the current format/layout is very dated and, I imagine, has substantially less appeal to browsers at newsstands. However, many very slick-looking, full-format magazines have failed to attract big newsstand sales. So it's probably safer to leave well alone than make the mags more expensive and risk upsetting the regulars. Circulation and sales are probably not terribly dependent on the physical appearance. . .

As far as renewal notices go, I get them all the time, the last being the 'free issue for each year renewal' offer.

Random thoughts follow.

One thing I'd like to see is a gift subscription card in the magazine which offers two options (check box): (i) bill me for renewal or (ii) bill giftee for renewal. There are many people I'd have bought subs for (Xmas, birthdays) but for the fact that that I don't want to give it in perpetuity! This would be a very easy idea to implement -- just for goddness's sake make sure that the giftee doesn't get billed for renewal before the fisrt several issues arrive! This last is one of the most infuriating things about all the big three's subscription systems, and IMO turns off more subscribers than anything else. Gordon, if there'd been such an option on the gift sub, I'd have likely bought several as gifts for friends over the last couple of years (and the same for Asimov's, if Sheila Williams is reading this). That, IMO is one way to get *new* subscribers.

Leaving aside circulation, let's consider another aspect of viability -- profitability.

While few will agree with me, I think that the three mags I mentioned are all underpriced -- not on the newstand price, but on the subscription price. American society has unfortunately developed this 'Home Depot' mentality, where the price point is always the perceived problem. The race to the bottom ensues, guaranteeing catastrophe for all. But we expect the costs of many things to notch up at least level with the inflation rate every couple of years -- why not books and magazines? Would F&SF really lose subscribers if it raised its one-year sub rate from $32.97 to 36.95? How many (where do the curves intersect)? Maybe the extra revenue could finance some external advertising or promotion, which in turn could attract more readers.

Or maybe I'm just being very naive, and the problem is that there's a hard, and declining, ceiling on the number of readers for the genre mags. In which case, leave well alone. . .

Keeping the faith,
Dario

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Dario
Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 01:32 pm:   

And a huge THANK YOU for finally putting that darned address sticker on the back -- I always wondered why nobody did this!

Dario
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 06:03 pm:   

So you two -- Dario and David -- are saying that you don't like the format of the magazine? Or are you saying you like the format, but you're convinced we'd sell more if we went to a different size?

I'm not averse to change, but I like the digest format. The larger trim sizes of SF AGE and the last three launches of AMAZING haven't convinced me that bigger is necessarily better (nor has the success of REALMS OF FANTASY). Frankly, I prefer reading fiction in digest format than in the format that THE NEW YORKER uses.

Dario, you are being naive if you think we can jack up the subscription price by 12% and not lose 15% or 20% of our subscriptions. We've done tests on those direct mail subscription drives and I can assure you that price point matters. As it is, I'm dreading the fact that we'll have to raise our rates next year if the post office hikes rates again, as expected. (Last I heard, they're shooting for an increase of more than 10% on postal rates.)

It's not that there's a hard and declining ceiling on the number of readers for the genre magazines. There's a declining ceiling on the number of readers for magazines period. The only magazine launches that have done well in the past five years have been mags like COSMO GIRL that are aimed at teens. Changes in distribution and the internet have really hamstrung the magazine business.

But we carry on.


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Dario
Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 07:00 pm:   

Gordon,

Thanks for the reply.

I'm ambiguous about the format. In a sense I do prefer it because it's more book-like and handles more easily than a full-size. And the interior text layout (in F & SF) is nicely uncrowded. I do think it looks rather dated, though.

Hoo. So forgive my ignorance then, on the cost question -- as I said, just random thoughts. Plus I've seen enough businesses suffer because of a visceral fear of raising prices (even to cover increased costs) to always question the assumption that a periodic or justifiable price increase will substantially hurt business. It's *amazing* to me that people are that sensitive to pricing that a 36 cent per issue/month increase will scare them away. Wouldn't it be nice if the healthcare market were as price-sensitive?

Point taken about declining magazines sales.

"But we carry on"

And we remain faithful readers. Here's to good things happening in 2005. I'll be sure to give a couple of gift subscriptions.

Dario
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Patrick M.
Posted on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 04:30 pm:   

Have you considered coating the pages in a caffeine or nicotine resin to be absorbed into the skin? Seems that you can increase the price of either significantly and people will continue to pay for it. Plus think of the reviews "It set my heart racing"
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Steven Martin
Posted on Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 05:28 am:   

Gentlemen,

I think the digest format is great, because you can drop an issue in a cargo pocket and go. One thing that does bother me about the size is the frontage at stores. The digest-sized magazines often get tossed in with all of the other magazines, making it easy to miss them in the shuffle. Given the fact that they are tossed in (here, anyway) with the rest of the writing magazines, art magazines, and photography magazines (which are often huge), it is problematic picking a digest-sized book out of the crowd. Surely there has to be a way to improve newstand exposure/placement?

As far as overall numbers are concerned, maybe an exposure program directed toward high school upper classmen/college students would be a good idea? Because there are so many outlets for entertainment for young adults, print media often gets lost among the choices. I had not even heard of F&SF until 6 months ago, having only heard of the two Dell labels(Please, do not crucify the new guy), and many of my friends who have read science fiction and fantasy for years are in the same boat. It wasn't until a writing professor told me that seeing the names and information in Writer's Market wasn't good enough, we needed to actively read the magazines that defined our chosen genres in order to get the necessary familiarity to compose publishable pieces. THAT is the kind of exposure needed for periodicals.

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Andy Buschmann
Posted on Monday, March 14, 2005 - 05:45 pm:   

I feel a little ill at ease knowing circulation is declining and I got a lifetime subscription in
1973 for $70.00. It's like I'm not doing my part........

Out of curiosity, is a lifetime sub still sold and
at what price?
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Monday, March 14, 2005 - 06:09 pm:   

Lifetime subscriptions are now $1,000.00.

Incidentally, there's a famous incident in the history of another magazine (I'm pretty sure it was Galaxy) when they sent out letters that said, "We're sorry to inform you that your lifetime subscription has expired.

We haven't tried any such thing.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 06:36 am:   

How much was an annual subscription in 1973?
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S. Hamm
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 12:19 pm:   

In 1973 the cover price was 75 cents. A 12-issue sub went for $8.50.
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Brian Plante
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 12:59 pm:   

So, in 1973, you paid in advance the equivalent of eight and a quarter years ($70/8.50 per year), and got a lifetime subscription.

But today, you have to pay for the equivalent of 30 years ($1000/32.97 per year) for the lifetime sub.

Quick, fetch me my time machine and set it for 1973.
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TCO
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 01:36 pm:   

Do a net present value calculation to figure what the cost is. It is almost never worth it to the customer (except for the hassle factor and for having an unbroken susbscripoption.) Putting lifetime at 30 years equivalent is insane. Implies to me that the owner has no clue about business. Dropping that to 8 years and making a big sales push on it, would be a very quick single initiative to help the biz.

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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 02:45 pm:   

Damn straight I don't have a clue---I flunked out of Bernard Ebbers's business course.

If anyone really cares for my explanation of the rate---tough. Discussing it just reminds me of more important things to attend to.

(Which is an answer in itself, I suppose.)
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Andy Buschmann
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 02:55 pm:   

I never figured out for sure if the lifetime is mine or F&FS's: can I leave my sub to my child as long as the Mag is in business? What if my heirs are shifty & don't tell you I'm expired?? (I hope to have at least 30 years left to read it.)

In 1973 I was just married and made $1.35/hr as a bank teller and $70 was enough to make me pause, but I decided that no matter what happened in the future to my disposable income I would at least have F&SF. Best $70 I ever spent. ( I'm still married to that gal)
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Nuke
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 06:12 pm:   

Andy, make sure to have your heirs tell them when you die, so they'll know when to stop the subscription.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 07:22 pm:   

Thanks, Sam!

Brian, in 1973, the average life expectancy of an F&SF reader (from the date of subscribing) was eight years, thus making the whole venture profitable. Advances in medicine and an exercise program for F&SF readers (featured some time back in a Plumage for Pegasus column) have now increased the life expectancy to twenty-nine and three quarters years. You're probably better off in the present.

Andy, that's a terrific story. Congratulations on all those happy years of marriage and reading.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 06:03 am:   

TCO does seem to have a point. $1000 doesn't seem like a price one would set if one actually wanted anyone to take up the offer. Or have some people done so nonetheless?
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 01:45 pm:   

Yes, some people have done so.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 02:50 pm:   

I'll have a lifetime subscription. Just give me a few years, four tops.

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Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2005 - 06:37 pm:   

I have a few questions. Could a big name science fiction or fantasy author who sells lots of books have in the back of their own books a couple pages of impassioned appeal perhaps followed by ordering instructions to subscribe to magazines like F&SF, Asimov's, and Analog? Furthermore if you get someone like Piers Anthony, Robert Jordan or someone like that to do that, would it likely make much difference in circulation? Also, would a book publisher ever go for such an appeal even if the author who has a great sales record insists on it as part of the contract or would the book publisher likely just drop the hot-selling author? Just curious, at least for now.
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snapdragon
Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2005 - 07:46 am:   

It used to be possible to buy F&SF in the UK but none of the magazine/newspaper chains like Smiths do it any longer and neither does Forbiddden Planet which mainly sells merchandising from TV/Films now. How would someone in the UK go about getting a sub?
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2005 - 08:22 am:   

Snapdragon---

Since you have online access, you can subscribe via our Website at www.fsfmag.com.

You can also buy copies in the UK from Ken Slater's Fantast (Medway) Ltd. business or from Andromeda Books.

We do have some other distribution in the UK, but smallish magazines like ours keep getting squeezed out of interntaional distribution.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2005 - 08:26 am:   

Byron B.---

Most publishers have it in their contracts that there cannot be any ads in the books for anything except the publisher's own books. The last time I made an inquiry into something of this sort, I never even got a response.
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snapdragon
Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2005 - 08:40 am:   

Thanks Gordon. I did think that Andromeda had gone out of business some years ago though?
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2005 - 09:16 am:   

One of my local Borders (Batley, near Leeds) stocks F&SF. The other one stocks Asimov's and Analog. Not sure why they do it like this, but it would be nice if they both stocked both. That reminds me to ask next time I go in.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2005 - 10:11 am:   

"Most publishers have it in their contracts that there cannot be any ads in the books for anything except the publisher's own books. The last time I made an inquiry into something of this sort, I never even got a response."

I suspected that but still, I can't help wondering if someone with a lot of clout and financial impact to the publisher like Steven King, Robert Jordan, or someone else could say to the publisher and get away with it, "Look, this is important to me and if you guys won't do it, I'll with the greatest reluctance have to find a publisher that will. And by the way, if you do it, I might be willing to take a cut to my advance."
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david
Posted on Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 10:41 pm:   

Ciruclation for SF magazines is dwindling. In SFWA's The Bulletin (Winter 2005), Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg discuss the declining circulation and list Analog, Asimov's, F&SF, Realms of Fantasy and the UK publication Postscripts as the only SF magazines left (obviously the small rags were'nt included, but their survival is marginal at best). What was surprising was that Analog's recent pink sheet records 38,000 subscribers, down from the 100,000 it had in 1972 when Ben Bova took over and added 20,000 subscribers. How does a magazine lose so many subscribers over thirty plus years and not do anything to retain or replace those lost? The mystery deepens.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 01:25 am:   

In 1972 they didn't have VCRs, video-games, personal computers, or Internet. Listening to stories on tape was just beginning and television SF/F was generally poor. Granted with SF on TV going down the drain you'd think that could help, but there's the other things so probably not. Added to that most of what people think of as "the Sci-Fi future" is past tense now. Going to the Moon? Past tense. Human-like robots? That actually is reviving in the real word, but for decades there it seemed old-hack. Aliens? Relativistic limits make communication unlikely between us. (I'm not saying most people understand relativity, but I think there's a growing sense out there it's unlikely in least based on the problems we have just communicating with each other) Galactic Empires? Both SF and even cinema seems to have given up on that. At the moment the imagination of the future is that it's going to be bleak, it's going to be creepy, and it's going to last you for the rest of your life.

Oddly I think that seems to be true for various groups. The idea of a hopeful vision for the future now seems almost laughable by most intelligent people. I believe Paul Theroux said the future will be a gutter, and that was long before 9-11. As the literary world is very much to the Left of the US, which is so too many studies confirm this, the future of the US is increasingly disconnected from their dreams. Likewise the scientific world sees the real or perceived rise of religious fundamentalism or environmental disasters as encouraging some bleakness too it seems. Lastly religious types themselves seem to see the world as becoming increasingly morally relativistic or spiritually bankrupt. Hope is to be found in the new Caliphate, the return of Jesus, the Falun Gong enlightenment, the great conjunction hailing the blessings of Vishnu, etc. And as most people read for pleasure visions of war, repression, pain, poison, the death of all dreams, etc are all only occasionally popular.

But FSF is also Fantasy right? People these days seem to want fantasies that are long and deep to take them away from their problems.

(Okay it's not that bleak, but honestly what major figure even tries to even sell a positive vision of the future these days? I think "it won't be as bad as you think" is about as happy as things get. Even the latest Star Trek was almost intentionally depressing)
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Jetse
Posted on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 03:38 am:   

"Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg discuss the declining circulation and list Analog, Asimov's, F&SF, Realms of Fantasy and the UK publication Postscripts as the only SF magazines left"

Well, special thanks to Messrs. Resnick and Malzberg for considering Interzone, well, *not* an SF magazine.

I suppose the article was only about print magazines, because there are quite some internet SF magazines out there...
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TCO
Posted on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 12:35 pm:   

It's part of the general decline of SF. The great stories have been done by Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke. It's no longer any fun to read the new ones.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 12:49 pm:   

How long will you spit out that tired old canard TCO? Even you know perfectly well there was plenty of successful SF after Heinlein died.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 02:58 pm:   

TCO, have you renewed your subs to F&SF and Asimov's? I did last week, third year in a row.
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TCO
Posted on Monday, April 11, 2005 - 03:54 pm:   

1. Actually...I was sort of trolling for effect there...but I do sorta think some of it is true...and that some of the denial of it is not based on feel for the genre but on denial of something unpleasant...an interesting analogy is the book THE END OF SCIENCE which raised howls but has a very reasonable philosophical contention.

2. You're a better man than I, Gunga RW.
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Marcus
Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 10:03 am:   

The rise and success of the U.S. has always been a story of the victory of a secular, pluralistic, liberty-drenched, science-oriented society vs. the fundamentalist, class-based, top-down societies of the rest of the world.

How is that against the dreams and aspirations of the left?
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 01:52 pm:   

The Left is traditionally about reducing econnomic inequality through redistribution and providing social services. As I understand it's socialist in economics and progressivist or experimentalist on social issues. The US has one of the highest economic inequality indexes in the modern world and the current leadership is socially conservative. Traditionally the Left has never been that fond of the US. While the US has not been fond of the Left as there has not been a significant socialist or labor party since the 1920s. Although the Left would be much less enthusiastic about the US after 1994 what with NAFTA and the Contract with America.

Anyway I was just in the mood that night. I am basically correct as I understand it, the current US culture and leadership is almost antithetical to the Left, but it was largely irrelevant to this.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 03:52 pm:   

"The rise and success of the U.S..."

As Chou En Lai said when asked what he thought of the French Revolution, "It's too early to tell."

Couldn't resist.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/black-brillion
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 07:01 pm:   

You want to know why circulation is going into the toilet, Gordon?

Let me give you a clue.

I occasionally buy a copy of your magazine at Borders if I find something interesting while skimming through. I don't subscribe because I'm not big on fantasy and there's so much SF out thre and and so little time....

Today I picked up the latest and saw there was a short story by Harry Turtledove, "Bedfellows."

Let me ask you something, Gordon. Just what the hell do you and HT think the goddamn point of this silly, unfunny piece of shit was? Showing the moral and mental clarity of a held-back 7th-grade thumb-sucker, you say in the blurb the story is - giggle-giggle- politically incorrect, which proves only that you don't have any idea what the term means.

I voted for Bush - twice. I like him and I respect him and I think he's done a great job against vast odds (no major terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11), all the while putting up with semi-literate testicle-challenged boobs like you and HT. That you would even think stupid and offensive crap like "Bedfellows" belongs between the covers of a popular fiction magazine gives me a great insight into your (and HT's) psychological makeup and taste.

Shit, why do liberals always, ALWAYS have to inflict their politics on us whenever - where ever - they can?

Okay, Gordon, consider this now, and be sure I'm not the only one, just the one pissed up enough to apply fingers to keyboard:

Since you don't give a rat's ass about offending readers like me, I in turn no longer give a rat's patootie about you or your faltering rag.

I'll not buy another copy of MF&SF while you're the editor.

I've also purchased my last Turtledove book. A shame, a substandard writer at his best he could come up with an interesting idea now and then, even if the execution sucked. He's now on my shitlist, too.

In closing, Gordon, this former reader and purchaser says fuck you, your magazine, and Harry Turtledove.

Oh, and God bless President Bush.

Gee, sorry if I offended you.
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:03 pm:   

Oh God, it's Bromfield! Right-wing lunatic who fought with "liberal" old me at Asimov's.

Oh well if any place can give him a smack down it'd be here.

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peterpan
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:34 pm:   

Whats a patootie? oh i'm so confused.
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RVS
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 08:52 pm:   

I don't think he really needs a smack down. That was very funny.

I do love the way that "testicle-challenged" is an insult. No sexism there, of course.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:28 pm:   

Sorry you didn't like the story. I knew when I bought it that humor and politics don't always mix right, but I thought the story was funny---still think so, in fact. The exchange about the burka still makes me smile.

I can't tell how much else in your post is actually looking for answers and how much of it is venting, and since I haven't time right now for a raging political feud, let me apologize for the fact that one story has ruined your pleasure in reading F&SF. Please---I mean this---just take whatever you would have spent on F&SF and donate it to the Republican Party or to another cause you consider worthy.
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:35 pm:   

I don't think he really needs a smack down.
________________
TR: Not yet. Hopefully not ever. However he can get attached to places he hates and stick to them like a barnacle. I think this place would chew him up and spit him out pretty fast if he went too far though.
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BANDWIDTH EATER
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:41 pm:   

I pity the fool.
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Alexander
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 09:53 pm:   

Gordon Van Gelder. I read the story bedfellows. I probably would have been offended if it was more vivid, but it felt like it was being acted out by toys or stick figures. I mean they didn't outrage me - Mr.O and Mr.W {raises eyebrows}, and I won't stop buying Turtledove because of this story, but I do wonder would you publish a Republican Story. I mean, yes I know it would have to be good writing and all, but would you publish it if it had conservative content? Or have you already done it?
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Hel
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 10:01 pm:   

Deciding to give up on a magazine based on one story seems awfully silly... But maybe that's just me.

For what it's worth, I'm a new subscriber to F&SF and while I haven't enjoyed everything I've read, occasionally an issue will come along where I like several of the stories a great deal. Same thing with Realms of Fantasy. Whether or not I renew the subscription later this summer will have more to do with money (grad student afterall) than anything else.
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 10:25 pm:   

He's published OS Card and Gene Wolfe since I've subscribed.

Now Card insists he's Democrat and in his recent article on the Pope dying I guess he stated Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a hero of his. From the standards of the Mormon Utah culture he lives in I think it'd be fair to say he's mostly a moderate. From a national perspective that seems to fit with aligning to the conservative wing of the Republican party. (I know of no county in Utah that went against Bush, but I can check again.) From an SF perspective that's Religious Right and finally from the perspectives of the forums here that's Fascism of some kind.

Gene Wolfe was a Buckleyite Republican for a time. I have no idea what he is now.

In fairness though FSF has been kind of Democrat from the beginning. I think Boucher was a liberal Democrat back in the 50s. Granted then that meant like opposing segregation, nuclear war, McCarthyism, and supporting the New Deal. Most Republicans of today like Truman and would agree with much of that. You have to get into Ann Coulter territory before you get defense of McCarthyism and ending the minimum wage.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 05:13 am:   

Alexander---

I would. I probably have. An interesting case is "Nine Whispered Opinions about the Alaskan Secession" by George Guthridge from the July 2004 issue. I have no idea what George's own politics are, but I thought the story was interesting and provocative.

I am like most people in that I filter what I read through my own experience. So a story that puts forth something that differs greatly from my own experience has to work harder to convince me. For instance, if I received a story that suggested without irony that it would be good for humans to kill off every bird species on Earth just for fun, that story would have to work harder to sell me than would a story that suggests that it's good to study and preserve birds. (We just bought a story with the latter premise.) When I was on jury duty last year, one of the extreme cases was about a guy who told everyone his twelve-year-old daughter was his wife and he treated her that way. I was thinking this morning that it would be tough to sell me a story that suggests something like that is okay . . . and then I realized that F&SF did publish just such a story and I certainly would have bought it if I'd been the editor. (I can't decide if it's a spoiler for me to name the story---it's a classic from the 1950s. If you've read the story, you know which one I mean.)
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Patrick M.
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 05:42 am:   

Bromfield said "testicle-challenged boobs"


RVS said I do love the way that "testicle-challenged" is an insult. No sexism there, of course.

I generally prefer when boobs come without testicles, but who am I to be picky?

I'm really behind in my FSF subscription reading. Now I have to hunt this down to see what the fuss is about. Seems like Bromfield is a known quantity though so it might just be a lot of hand waving.
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Brian
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 07:53 am:   

Boy, can't wait to read that Turtledove. Anything that gets old Bromshit's panties in a wet twist has got to be worth a read.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:26 am:   

Once again Gordon reveals his own inane, simpleton political outlook:

"I am like most people in that I filter what I read through my own experience. So a story that puts forth something that differs greatly from my own experience has to work harder to convince me. For instance, if I received a story that suggested without irony that it would be good for humans to kill off every bird species on Earth just for fun..."

Given this was a response to Alexander's inquiry if he would accept a "Republican" story similiar to "Bedfellows," Gordon immediately translates "Republican" to "ecological terminator" and later, by implication, child molestors. No biases here, right Gordon?

Think I could get a pro-life story in Gordon's rag, no matter how "well written"? Sure....

Well, Gordon, at least you're no longer at St. Martins strangling promising new SF novelists in the crib. A declining pulp shows you have Peter Principle'd out.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:42 am:   

Patrick and others, I'll spare you the effort and cost:

"Bedfellows" is about two men, one "conservative," Christian, rather slow-witted but darn likable, named "W" (get it? get it?) who's getting "married" to a tall bearded Moslem named "O" (get it? get it?). They cuddle, they kiss.

O the irony!

It's all so damn clever and funny, don't you think?

I'm sending in a story of mine where Hillary Clinton get buttfucked by Jerry Farwell while blowing a St. Bernard.

It's an allegory.

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R.Wilder
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:46 am:   

Gordon, if F&SF's circulation is declining because of your politics, don't fret. That's not as dire as Bromfield's assertion that Gardner Dozois has single-handedly ruined the entire genre of SF. All you need is a political conversion (g).
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Brian
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:48 am:   

"I'm sending in a story of mine where Hillary Clinton get buttfucked by Jerry Farwell while blowing a St. Bernard"

Sound pretty durned entertaining. You should send it to Larry Flynt, the guy who publishes that other magazine you read.
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Harry Turtledove
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:49 am:   

There is a technical term for a reader who tries to infer a writer's politics from his work, especially from any one story. That term is "idiot." (Thank you, Larry Niven.) Mr. Bromfield unfortunately demonstrates why this is so.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:50 am:   

Beauty!
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Anonymous
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:52 am:   

I agree with Bromfield on this:

Mocking George W. Bush is hardly politically incorrect.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:56 am:   

Not just this story, Harry, and Niven stole that line from Heinlein.

You should be as ashamed of writing "Bedfellows" as much as Gordon for publishing it.

You're better than that. Not much, but better.

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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 08:58 am:   

R., I never said "single-handedly."

He's had lots of help.
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Patrick M.
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 09:26 am:   

Please do nothing for me. I have a subscription. I am relatively happy with it. It is a matter of finding the time and that particular issue to catch up. While I can appreciate that you have an opinion on the story, that doesn't supercede my need to read it. In fact, this somewhat increases my need to read it to determine if you are indeed a frothing lunatic or if you have a valid point. I'm drifting into not-caring though because you are beginning to sound like a frothing lunatic.

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Tim Akers
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 09:39 am:   

Ah, free speech. Don't like a story, either for political or literary reasons? Skip it. Don't agree with someone? Discuss it. Argue it. But don't act like a child about it. And don't insult someone just because you don't agree with them. Don't close your head off to dissent, or end a conversation just because you don't agree with someone. Dissent is the most American of values. Right up there with free speech and the right to dream.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 10:17 am:   

Ed Ferman published Phil Dick's "The Pre-Persons," to name the most thinly veiled classic sf anti-abortion story I can recall, and I'm pretty sure Gordon would have published it if it were offered to him. The story is classic Dick.

The most angry response, as I recall, came from Joanna Russ, but it was aimed at PKD. I don't remember any of the public anger being aimed at Ferman, but he probably got a few letters too.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:22 am:   

Mr. Bromfield---

I understand that you feel insulted by the story and need to retaliate in kind. Point taken.

I understand that you don't have an F&SF subscription to cancel and so you need to declare that you'll never spend a penny on the magazine while I'm editor. Point taken.

But why you need to taunt me and try to engage me in a flame war, that I don't get. I published the story, you didn't like it, I'm sorry. So it goes.

Marc---

"The Pre-Persons" is a good example. I can't know without having been there, but I do think I would have published it. And yes, Joanna Russ did publish the angriest response. I've never asked Ed about it, but I remember that when I first interviewed for the job, I told him I have a tendency to publish controversial stuff and that I definitely would have published Connie Willis's "All My Darling Daughters." He nodded and said he didn't have a problem with that.
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T Taylor
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:34 am:   

Gordon - not to hijack this thread but the comment about "filtering what you read through your personal experiences ..." made me think of a novel I just finished - Octavia Butler's Wild Seeds. She deals with normally abhorent practices like incest, slavery, and murder, yet through the story manages to present them in such a way that by the end the reader is almost conditionally accepting. I was wondering, if you have read the book and, if so, would you have been inclined to publish it?
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:41 am:   

Then there was Michael Blumlein's homoerotic Paul Bunyan story...

But for all I know, Gordon has a thing for lumberjacks.
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Harry Turtledove
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:55 am:   

Mr. Bromfield, you don't get it. I have a story in ALTERNATE GENERALS III (which came out maybe a month before "Bedfellows") called "Shock and Awe." It's an a-h, where Jesus says "I come not with peace but with a sword" and raises a rebellion against the Westernizers corrupting Palestine--i.e., the Romans. They squash him for his trouble, and are presented far more approvingly than not. If you want to read this as a not too veiled allegory of the Iraq war, you may. You don't have to, but you may.

So . . . Which of these represents my true views of George W. Bush and his policies? Do both? Does either? You don't know. You can't know. And I'm not going to tell you. Want to know why not? Because it's none of your goddamn business, that's why.

They're stories. It's fiction. They look at the world and say, Hey--here's a strange corner of it. That's all. Get over it.
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jim
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 12:12 pm:   

Well said, Harry!!!
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 01:16 pm:   

Nice try, Harry, but an author does reveal himself in his stories, esp. choice of theme, more often than not. And I don't give a tinker's damn what you or Nevin or Bob Heinlein say.

Having read most of your work, I pretty sure I know where you stand and might come down on important issues. I submit, admittedly not having read "Shock and Awe," that if you present the Romans more "approvingly than not," it's because of a dislike of religion more than a preference of order over chaos.

I think it's safe to say a supporter of Bush and his policies would never have even thought of writing something so juvenile, disrespectful and vulgar as "Bedfellows." He/she just wouldn't. You did. It doesn't come out of a vacuum, Harry.

If I were the editor of a popular fiction magazine, I wouldn't publish anti-Democrat "satires," either. It's really not appropriate, so why piss off some of your customers? It's like when some Hollywood "star" spouts off his/her political beliefs. Taken too far he loses his ability to disappear into the role because I can't (and its not MY fault) disassociated him/her from their idiotic comments.

You, sir, placed yourself in that same position with me and no doubt many others. I might have let something less offensive, less - yes, downright nasty - pass, but "Bedfellows" is by far the most tasteless, mean-spirited, unfunny and inept story I've seen in a professional magazine in over twenty years.

And as that covers the reign of error of Dozois at Asimov's, it's quite a feat.

By the way, GUNS OF THE SOUTH is one of the greatest SF novels of all time, despite some flaws.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 01:25 pm:   

Gordon,

I'm not "insulted" by the story, I'm offended.

Lordy, how do illiterates become editors of science fiction magazines?

Do you understand the distinction between being surprised and being amazed?

No flamewar desired here. I just continue to be distressed and saddened by the decline of a once-great genre.
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Patrick M.
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 01:32 pm:   

Yeah, it is just like when Jay Leno makes fun of Bush. Or when he made fun of Clinton. Wait, can he do that? That doesn't seem right. Pick one side. Jay Leno is funny when my guy isn't in office...

This is a story, right? Not an article or editorial? Where is that damn issue...
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The Lone Republican
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 01:48 pm:   

"I'm not insulted by the story, I'm offended."

Right on!

And Gordon thinks Dubya's the stupid one!

(guess Gordon's "misunderestimating" him!)

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SteohenB
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 01:54 pm:   

First of all Jay Leno isn't funny.

Secondly, Jon Bromfield, you're the one being juvenile here. You expect an editor not to have personal bias'? That's ridiculous considering every human has some sort of personal bias', and you have definitely shown yours.

But I wouldn't take anything this man says seriously, as I'm sure anyone who has delt with him before knows. He hates Gardner, partly because he feels his stories, which have all been rejected, are better then what Dozois published. He's stuck in a different era and incredibly bitter about the genre.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 02:02 pm:   

At their most picky level, they are slightly different. However, in definitions of both words you'll find the other as a synonym. So, maybe arguing points like that isn't the best way to express yourself.

What it might be worth pointing out is that someone could be a supporter of Bush without being blindly devoted to the man. And someone could be a supporter of Bush without being offended by that story. Radical supporters, extremist supporters...no. But moderate folks, people who might go either way in an election, who consider the issues at hand at the individual level rather than just mashing the all red/all blue button, they might like the story. And I know plenty of those people.
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StephenB
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 02:06 pm:   

Don't you think American politics sucks anyway? You've got a choice between two corrupt, self serving puppets, that are both basically conservative.
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Tim A.
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 02:53 pm:   

Nope. But then again, I haven't completely given up hope.
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Oliver Dale
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:19 pm:   

Other opinions totally aside (I'm a bit sick of reading liberal-pamphlets disguised as fiction, too), I just wanted to applaud you, GVG. You're a class act.
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Claudia OKeefe
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:25 pm:   

"If I were the editor of a popular fiction magazine...."

I'd say many of us here are rather grateful that you aren't.

"I wouldn't publish anti-Democrat 'satires,' either. It's like when some Hollywood 'star' spouts off his/her political beliefs."

As opposed to some ill-mannered twerp who needs to start a flame war to bolster his ego? I shudder to think what you would deem appropriate to publish. What is it about the concept of satire which eludes you so?



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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:28 pm:   

This is so sweet!

sweet

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Brian
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:32 pm:   

I guess that cliche about a picture being worth a thousand words is sometimes apt...
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Harry Turtledove
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:33 pm:   

If you already know the answers, you don't need the questions. Convenient, isn't it? Beats thinking. Btw, you don't know my views on religion, either, which approaches making it a clean sweep.
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Harry Turtledove
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:35 pm:   

Love the pic. Good thing I wasn't drinking coffee--would've snarfed it all over the keyboard when that came up.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:48 pm:   

"I think it's safe to say a supporter of Bush and his policies would never have even thought of writing something so juvenile, disrespectful and vulgar as Bedfellows.' He/she just wouldn't."

I gotta say, evidence to the contrary is all over the internet. Here's one of the more literate and entertaining writers of material that occasionally stoops to be J, D and/or V. I read her columns faithfully, howl in indignation, disagree heartily, and sometimes barely restrain myself from throwing my computer across the room. So far as I can tell, reading these opinions with which I disagree has not caused me the least bit of harm.

Anyway, here she is.

idolworship

You go, girl!
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:58 pm:   

Sorry, that picture is smaller than I thought. Have to dig up that Ann Coulter centerfold. Meanwhile, here are a few comments I'd consider juvenile, disrespectful and vulgar. Some of them were actually made about the then-president of the United States. They didn't appear in fiction magazines, though. Looks like they were on TV. Strangely enough, I still have my TV. I don't watch every channel though.

"[Clinton] masturbates in the sinks."---Rivera Live 8/2/99

"God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.'"---Hannity & Colmes, 6/20/01

"I think [women] should be armed but should not [be allowed to] vote."---Politically Incorrect, 2/26/01

"I think we had enough laws about the turn-of-the-century. We don't need any more." Asked how far back would she go to repeal laws, she replied, "Well, before the New Deal...[The Emancipation Proclamation] would be a good start."---Politically Incorrect 5/7/97

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0111.coulterwisdom.html
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 03:59 pm:   

How are those circulation figures in the latest Locus, btw? Seems like this conversation should go into the Religion and Politics thread.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 04:03 pm:   

Patrick, Jay Leno makes fun of everybody. Please hold your breath waiting for Gordon to publish some "satire" similiar to "Bedfellows" about a liberal Democrat.

Keep holding...

Oh, I get it, Claudia. Gordon and HT can savagely mock the sitting president of the United States, yet when I raise objection as to the appropriateness of this in a popular...er, semi-popular...er, DYING fiction magazine I'm causing a flamewar. Which definition of "dissent" are you having trouble with?

Gordon, I am amazed (not surprised) that you are offended by my posts. When I wrote them I thought my remarks were funny, still do. I did err using "strangle" to describe how you handled novelists while you were at St Martins. Too active a verb. More accurate would be "neglected" [the baby] while you were watching television and raiding the fridge, eh?

Harry: sorry, not buying it. I'll keep my own counsel about this. It is true that a writer is the worst judge of his own subtext, don't you think?

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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 04:13 pm:   

I want to have Ann Coulter's baby!

Thanks for the pix, however small, MarcL, however MUST I have to point out:

1 Ann is a known political commentator and conservative gadfly who often uses hyperbole and acid to stir things up.

2 She does her thing on news and discussion shows, or in her columns that appear on the opinion pages - NOT IN FRIGGIN FICTION MAGAZINES!!!!!

That Clinton masturbated into a sink near the Oval Office is a documented fact. I don't think you can bitch about someone stating a documented fact.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 04:14 pm:   

Hey, folks, can anyone point me to the thread where Gardner Dozois is held responsible for the demise of science fiction? I'd love to hear how he's culpable. Previously, I always blamed the end of the Golden Age on my having turned 18.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 04:19 pm:   

marcLHey, folks, can anyone point me to the thread where Gardner Dozois is held responsible for the demise of science fiction?

TR: It can't be accessed. In least I don't think so. I went to the Wayback Machine and no connection was doable. That happens with some old threads.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 04:30 pm:   

MarcL,
Oh and here Dave Truesdale blamed me for the demise of sf. I guess Gardner and I will have to duke it out!
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 04:31 pm:   

*sigh*

Only partly responsible, folks, that's all I ever said. But as the editor of one of the Big Three for almost twenty years, yes, his legacy will be with us for a long, long time.

Tough concept for Libs to understand, responsibility.

It's to be hoped that Gordon doesn't get that much time to fuck things up even more.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 04:35 pm:   

Answer to JB's 1: At risk of sounding juvenile, um, Duh.
Answer to JB's 2: Uh, yeah. It doesn't follow that a fiction magazine should never run a piece of gadfly fiction.

Regarding Clinton's sink habits, factual or otherwise, the mention of it is vulgar, as would be a detailed factual piece describing President Bush taking an enormous and perfectly legal dump in an approved White House toilet. Coulter gets a lot of mileage out of the entertaining ploy of casting herself in a superior light, then swooping in with a low blow. Vulgar is a legitimate ploy, used by many.



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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 04:56 pm:   

Okay, Mark, if you think vulgarity and political bias in a mass-market fiction magazine is appropriate and legitimate, fine, but don't wonder why circulation is falling.

"Bedfellows" may be gadfly but it's also obvious and decidedly not funny. If you examine it closely you'll also realize it doesn't even make internal sense. It's a vile piece of writing by a writer who shot his wad years ago and sells only by his name now.

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Patrick M.
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 05:08 pm:   

OK, finding the issue and the story was easier than I thought it would be. It was in today's mail. (making me suspect that Bromfield is actually a subscriber. a lotta bark but I guess no bite...)

Anyway, grabbed the mail on the way to my parents for dinner. I had my wife read the story without giving her any warning other than here's a story which caused a lot of comment.

She snorted with laughter. Twice.

That is worth the price of admission...THANK YOU MR. TURTLEDOVE!

My bigger concern is that I don't have page 35-66. Did the government confiscate them? Were they attempting to confiscate the HT story and just missed?( for some strange reason, I have two copies of pages 99-130) I'm sure there is a more appropriate place to mention this and have the situation rectified, but I was here and it was on my mind.

Jon - I'm sure, if you could write a story that was against Gordon's politics but really funny, he would publish it. Just as he stated though, it would be an uphill battle. Regardless, even if Jay Leno was biased, as some comedians are, that wouldn't make the jokes less funny. If you can't have a laugh at the expense of 'your guy' then you are weak and probably close-minded. Loosen up. If it bothers you, move on to the less dangerous stories by Mr. Hughes or Mr. Finlay. Or move on to the romance stories because the genre seems to be willing to move on without you.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 05:10 pm:   

The Weekly Standard or The National Review really needs to put out an SF magazine to make you happy. Or maybe someone could make Ayn Rand's SF magazine for you someday. In fact why don't you do it? I remember how brilliant and well connected you are, get some of your Objectivists friends to whip up something like that.

That's not entirely a joke. I know Salon and some Left-wing e-zines publish SF. It might be interesting to see what the Right-wing political journals could do. More importantly it'd be a much more pleasing venue, Jon Bromfield, to hear rejected you.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 05:19 pm:   

Patrick M.---

Sounds like you got an issue that was messed up at the printer. Email us through the fsfmag.com Website with your subscription info and we'll take care of you.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 05:24 pm:   

Since when has vulgarity ever been coupled with a decline in something's (anything's) popularity?

I'd love to see the study that correlates falling mass-market fiction magazine circulation with instances of vulgarity and political bias. Be sure to explore whether there is a similar hard connection between the plummeting circulation of newspapers. You might want to exclude the internet and other forms of new media from the list of related factors.

While you're at it, go ahead and chart audience numbers for something like MTV during the same timespan. For all I know, it's been declining at the same rate, with steep plunges whenever the vulgarity quotient rises. It'd be interesting to know if MTV's numbers come up dramatically whenever the channels spends more time on politically neutral matters such as "Rock the Vote."
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Alexander
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 05:30 pm:   

I wanted to talk a little bit about the story "Of Silence and the Man at Arms." I was reading it just trying to get one step closer to finishing the magazine. Well it turned out to be an okay story (although it sounds like a sequel and me not having read the first part was sort of lost). The Imp was interesting, and I thought the main character was pretty cool with all his martial arts moves. But there was this one line...... Anyway it was the thoughts of the mid-wife, and it sounded like she was expecting to give an abortion to the main characters Jing-Jing girl. I don't want to point fingers, but if it is I think it would be just the same and wouldn't effect the story if they put something about giving birth instead. In fact that is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word(s) mid-wife(s).

I'm not getting after anyone and I don't want anyone to think I'm a lunatic, but maybe some slight censorship that'd keep things peaceful would be okay? I mean that especially in non-political stories that are meant for whimsy.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 05:46 pm:   

You might want to start a separate thread for that. For people coming here to talk about the contents of F&SF, a discussion of circulation figures might not be the first thread they visit.

Ditto for the "Bedfellows" post. Until I clicked on the thread out of boredom, I thought it was just a lot of people arguing about whether to round circulation numbers to the nearest hundred or thousand. Little did I know....
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 09:02 pm:   

Tim Akers writes:

"At their most picky level [I assume you mean the words insulted and offended], they are slightly different. However, in definitions of both words you'll find the other as a synonym. So, maybe arguing points like that isn't the best way to express yourself."

You're wrong, Tim. The difference is huge and important; they're not at all interchangeable. If you're referring to surprised and amazed, you're still wrong. The difference there is more subtle but still important. Here's the classic example:

Noah Webster is caught diddling the maid by Ms. Webster.

"Mr. Webster, I'm surprised!"

"No dear, I'm surprised. You're amazed."

Get it? There are very few pure synonyms in English, which is why it's such a great language.

Harry Turtledove writes:

"Love the pic. Good thing I wasn't drinking coffee--would've snarfed it all over the keyboard when that came up."

Yep, your politics are as opaque as Waterford crystal, Harry. How could I have been so wrong?

Who is Ellen Datlow?

Patrick, I found the issue at the Borders on El Camino Real, San Mateo, California, yesterday. Ask the circulation dept. why subscribers don't get 'em earlier than the bookstores.

Also, so your wife is the kind of woman who thinks it funny trashing the man resposible for freeing fifteen million other women from having to wear the burka and being able to pursue education and careers, not to mention just being able to leave one's house without male escort? What can I say? Human depravity knows no bounds.

Sex with her must be a real 30-second laugh riot for you.







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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 09:20 pm:   

Jon Bromfield,
Just another editor specializing in short fiction, who hangs out on the BB a lot.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 09:23 pm:   

Alexander writes:

"I mean that especially in non-political stories that are meant for whimsy."

Alexander, you must understand: with Liberals EVERYTHING is subverted to political ends, especially the arts because the arts are so subjective and Libs usually don't have the brainpower necessary to excel in the maths and sciences.

This is changing, though. Just as the Left is losing its monopoly on the dissimination of news, the SF print media is being made obsolete by alternate forms of publishing. The next five years will be quite interesting.

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 09:27 pm:   

Well, I'm afraid this little progressive has been busily disseminating lots of sf/f via cyberspace for the past five years.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 09:58 pm:   

I think you left something off your sentence, JB. When you say, "subverted to political ends..." you might want to add "I don't like."

Or are you objecting to political ends altogether? Surely you have some political ends of your own?

What would you consider nonsubversive political ends?

I ask because at this point it sounds like your definition of "subversive" simply means "any opinion that is different than my own."
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Thomas R.
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 10:08 pm:   

To be less combative you aren't entirely wrong Jon. FSF is a politically Left or Liberal vehicle. The forums here are likewise. The only threads on conservative groups or subjects are there to disparage them. Even a comparatively mild conservative like Ben Nighthorse Campbell or John Danforth I imagine would be treated with disdain to venom.

That being said the other side will certainly do the same. Much of the libertarian SF I've read is so ranting about bureaucrats, feminists, and environmentalists it's gag worthy. Heinlein and middle period Poul Anderson could get really bad about that. The last chapters of Poul's Boat of a Million Years are so politically preachy they downright ruin a book I was loving up to then, and I really like Poul at his best. (Less so with Heinlein)
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 10:18 pm:   

Anyway, JB, it seems like the existence of F&SF, or non-Bromfieldcentric fiction altogether, is a continuing affront to you. However, Gordon & Co. have no access to your head, heart or wallet unless you give it to them.

It's unfortunate that you burned yourself so badly on a slim magazine you actually paid for, when you could just as easily have read the entire story standing up at the magazine rack, then walked away shaking your head in disgust, but still with that $3.99 in your pocket, not a single penny of it having gone to subversives...

(Wait a second...$3.99? Are we talking $3.99 here? I thought, from the intensity of the reaction, someone must have skinned you for at least $5.00. Anyway...)

So instead of insulting these people (and their spouses) whose thoughts and impulses you cannot in any way control, why don't you go off and one-handedly rescue the genre in the only way that matters: by example. And after you've made a name for yourself outside a few message boards, you can get on some panels at conventions and discuss political subtext in science fiction in the more meaningful and interesting way of someone who has actually practiced it.

And please let us all know when you'll be appearing, in case anyone wants to swing by and meet you in person.
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RVS
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:14 pm:   

I don't think it's fair to assume that Patrick's wife must dislike a specific story because of her gender and associated assumptions about her politics.

And even if it were - As missionaries and anthropologists working with female circumcision in Africa have experienced for years, freeing women from practices that seem oppressive isn't always easy or just a matter of removing a single kind of leadership.

I don't like the burkha, but I don't know that governmental overthrow is the best way to go about eliminating it. And in any case - just because one likes a single facet of something, does that mean one must like the whole? Because I like the result of increased women's liberty in Afghanistan, does that mean I have to approve of all the methods that accomplished that end (and I'm not necessarily convinced it is accomplished)? Further, if I criticize part of Bush's policy, does that mean I must dislike *everything* he's done, intentionally or secondarily?
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S. Hamm
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 01:05 am:   

"Also, so your wife is the kind of woman who thinks it funny trashing the man resposible for freeing fifteen million other women from having to wear the burka and being able to pursue education and careers, not to mention just being able to leave one's house without male escort? What can I say? Human depravity knows no bounds."
____________

Where do these fifteen million women live? Certainly not in Iraq, which was, under Saddam, a secular state, and among Middle Eastern countries one of the most liberal in its approach to women's rights. From a Human Rights Watch briefing paper entitled
"Background on Women's Status in Iraq Prior to the Fall of the Saddam Hussein Government":

The primary legal underpinning of women's equality is contained in the Iraqi Provisional Constitution, which was drafted by the Ba'ath party in 1970. Article 19 declares all citizens equal before the law regardless of sex, blood, language, social origin, or religion. In January 1971, Iraq also ratified the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which provide equal protection under international law to all.

In order to further its program of economic development, the government passed a compulsory education law mandating that both sexes attend school through the primary level. Although middle and upper class Iraqi women had been attending university since the 1920s, rural women and girls were largely uneducated until this time. In December 1979, the government passed further legislation requiring the eradication of illiteracy. All illiterate persons between ages fifteen and forty-five were required to attend classes at local "literacy centers," many of which were run by the GFIW. Although many conservative sectors of Iraqi society refused to allow women in their communities to go to such centers (despite potential prosecution), the literacy gap between males and females narrowed.

The Iraqi government also passed labor and employment laws to ensure that women were granted equal opportunities in the civil service sector, maternity benefits, and freedom from harassment in the workplace. Such laws had a direct impact on the number of women in the workforce. The fact that the government (as opposed to the private sector) was hiring women contributed to the breakdown of the traditional reluctance to allow women to work outside the home. The Iraqi Bureau of Statistics reported that in 1976, women constituted approximately 38.5 percent of those in the education profession, 31 percent of the medical profession, 25 percent of lab technicians, 15 percent of accountants and 15 percent of civil servants. During the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), women assumed greater roles in the workforce in general and the civil service in particular, reflecting the shortage of working age men. Until the 1990s, the number of women working outside the home continued to grow.

Women attained the right to vote and run for office in 1980. In 1986, Iraq became one of the first countries to ratify the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). While this represented a positive step for Iraqi women, the reservations entered in regard to articles 2(f), 2(g), 9, and 16 undermined the guarantees of equality at the heart of the convention. Namely, these reservations sought to justify continued application of national laws that discriminate on the basis of sex, especially those in relation to women's and girls' rights within the familial structure, on the grounds that they are largely dictated by Islamic law. As with other countries in the region, most advancement in the status of Iraqi women has thus occurred within the public sphere.


Women's rights in Iraq took a hit after the first Gulf War (The most significant political factor was Saddam Hussein's decision to embrace Islamic and tribal traditions as a political tool in order to consolidate power. In addition, the U.N. sanctions imposed after the war have had a disproportionate impact on women and children [especially girls]. For example, the gender gap in school enrollment [and subsequently female illiteracy] increased dramatically due to families' financial inability to send their children to school), and appear to be taking a worse hit since the recent invasion. With the Shiites assuming power, sharia and the burqa are coming back. Women cannot walk the streets of Baghdad at night because murder, kidnapping and rape are rampant.

What can I say? Human ignorance knows no bounds. (Which explains how Bush is able to maintain a 43% approval rating.)
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RVS
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 01:14 am:   

I took Mr. Bromfield to be referring to Afghanistan.
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 01:36 am:   

In Iraq in 1990 the ratio of literacy for men compared to women was worse than in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Sudan. The level of female to male pay was also not good.

Also a 43% approval rating is not good. In fact 43% is about the lowest a re-elected President gets at this point. Remarkably low considering there is now a growth of democratic efforts in Islamic nations like Kyrgyzstan and Lebanon. (Although explicable as American politics is generally national and there are economic concerns linked to the fact he's largely an idiot.)

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Claudia OKeefe
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 04:59 am:   

Mr. Bromfield--

Until recently, dissent was considered an American right. Since Mr. Bush took office you can find yourself hauled away in handcuffs for daring to wear an anti-Bush T-shirt in public (re: last year's Presidential election rallies).

Crude, personal attacks, on the other hand, do nothing to serve a cause.

I'm curious, though, why do you feel compelled to complain so vocally when conservatives already own most major networks, newspaper syndicates, radio stations, and television affiliates in this country (i.e. Rupert Murdock's News Corporation, GE, Disney, and Time Warner, largest conservative media coorporation)? When the White House uses taxpayer money to hire supposedly impartial journalists to sell their views? When conservatives already control all three branches of government, thus eliminating any chance of the checks and balances intended by the framers of the Constitution? If Frist has his way, any right to "dissent" in Congress will soon be abolished should he win his campaign against the filibuster.

The way I figure it, you should be out celebrating and toasting your fellow neo-cons, not here annoying us with expletives and other tired vulgarities.
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Claudia OKeefe
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 05:04 am:   

"Time Warner, largest conservative media coorporation" should read:

Time Warner, parent company of AOL and CNN, the largest consevative media corporation in the world
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Claudia OKeefe
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 05:13 am:   

conservative, not consevative.

Sheesh. Is there a copyeditor in the house?
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Patrick M.
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 05:55 am:   

From Jon Bromfield - Patrick, ... so your wife is the kind of woman who thinks it funny trashing the man resposible for freeing fifteen million other women from having to wear the burka and being able to pursue education and careers, not to mention just being able to leave one's house without male escort? What can I say? Human depravity knows no bounds.

Sex with her must be a real 30-second laugh riot for you.


OK, now I have read the story. Not just my wife. I fail to see how anyone is interpreting that as anything other than a Saturday Night Live skit. So how this says anything about Mr. Turtledove's politics or my wife's is beyond me. I've only been a subscriber for two years so I honestly don't know if Gordon ran any mockeries of Clinton. I'm sure if they were funny, he would have. Lighten up.

Oh and regardless of quantity and quality of sex with my wife, I find the important thing is that it hasn't been outsourced to Raul the poolboy.

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Tim Akers
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 06:47 am:   

JonB: I disagree with your politics, so I will make a childish comment about your sex life.

see also...

JonB: I disagree with your politics, so I will make a pedantic argument about your englishs. I am so much smarter.

c.f.

JonB: I disagree with your politics, so I will make a disparaging remark about liberals not being smart enough to do the one plus one and the biologies. I feel better about myself now.

Finally:

JonB: I disagree with your politics, so I will mourn the heat-death of the great and powerful science fiction, about which I am very, very learned so you should listen to what I say. Additionally, who is this editor person? One of the major editors in the field, you say? How many Hugoes? I have never heard of her. Learned.

Bedfellows is a good story, Jon. Can you tell me what the message in it is? Can you get past men kissing long enough to see the subtext, or is all you see hatehatehate?
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Tim Akers
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 07:12 am:   

Oh, and the 15 million women he's referring to? That would be these women here:

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?storyID=8273175&type=worldNews

So yeah. Mission Accomplished.
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Pablo the Gardener
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 08:09 am:   

"Oh and regardless of quantity and quality of sex with my wife, I find the important thing is that it hasn't been outsourced to Raul the poolboy."

My name is Pablo and I'm the gardener.

Raul is my younger brother, senor.

Muchas Gracias, Dona M!
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 10:19 am:   

This has been fun but I'm all out of troll food.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 10:54 am:   

The latest posts remind me why I rarely look at these forums anymore.

MarcL, I didn't buy the rag, I picked it up at the bookstore and turned to the Turtledove story first because, as I said, while he's a pretty bad writer he does come up with original ideas a lot of times. Luckily I read "Bedfellows" first or I may have indeed purchased a copy.

Imagine how pissed of I'd be if I had spent my hard-earned lucre!

As it turns out, I will be buying a few copies. I plan on sending them out to various school watchdog groups to let them know what type of material Gordon thinks suitable for wide distribution, including school libraries.

Dozois in his arrogance and bad taste got Asimov's banned from some schools. Maybe I can do the same for MF&SF. It's worth a shot.

To forestall all howls of "censorship!" let me remind my Lib brothers that free expression doesn't give you immunity from the consequences of unpopular speech. I would do the same about a pro-Nazi or pro-Klan story.

In other words, you have the right to publish any anti-Bush crap you want, however lame. And I have the right to protest it.
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TimA
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 11:09 am:   

What that really is is fear of dissent. Any opinion the far right doesn't like, it blocks out. It's a whole segment of the population with its hands over its ears, singing to itself. Teach discernment, not censorship.

And when you say Lib brothers, do you mean liberal or libertarian? Because they would both have an argument with you.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 11:11 am:   

Have fun storming the library!
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 11:27 am:   

Gordon shouldn't be selecting his fiction based on pre-emptive concerns about school libraries. That would be the job of the editor of a Scholastic Fiction Magazine, perhaps. Talk about a chilling effect: "All submissions should be suitable for grade school children."

If you're taking on this task as your responsibility, then take it on personally. Why turn it over to an organization?

I suggest you go talk to some school librarians directly, person to person, instead of siccing a third party on them. Organize the protests yourself, since it is your own children being threatened. You do have children, don't you? You're certainly not doing it for the sake of my children. I'll take responsibility for them, thanks.

Play your cards right and you could find yourself getting a serious platform from which to air your views, and maybe a program on one of the few remaining programs with distribution channels that are not controlled by the liberal media.

It's the responsible thing to do.
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EM
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 11:34 am:   

If anyone wants to check out what great science fiction really is, you can look at:

Jonny hisself is the author.

http://davidross.info/archives702.html
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 11:44 am:   

If this is indeed "our" JB, then it amply demonstrates his point about subtext belying the author's intentions. There's no conflict between the world of 1984 and the world where watchdog groups go after school librarians for shelving political satire. So while the excerpts on that site seem to bewail the coming of Big Brother, JB's actions serve to quicken it.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 11:44 am:   

Oh, what a surprise! Jon Bromfield is a shitty science fiction writer!

Some of my favorite quotes:

"Winston was happy to excuse her, especially as it allowed him to watch her work without the burden of maintaining his end of a conversation. He hadn't had a woman in his flat in over ten years, and he welcomed the faint irritation of sexual desire her womanly figure aroused, like a querulous old friend almost forgotten. "

and:

"I am often sick," said Winston, "but never agitated."

and:

"She shuddered and resumed shooting the new telescreen with her bullets of light."

and:

"Julie giggled and winked at the telescreen. Winston had to sit down. This display of youthful lust was more unsettling than the news about private companies."

and:

"His eyes followed her as she descended the stairs, her large but firm breasts bobbing charmingly; he then returned to his room."

Gordon Van Gelder, I now see why you have declining circulation. If you want to save your magazine, offer to reprint Jon Bromfield's "REINVENTING BIG BROTHER" immediately!!!!
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Patrick M.
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 11:53 am:   

The latest posts remind me why I rarely look at these forums anymore. -- because of Trolls who make comments about someone's wife? I wasn't offend and neither was she. I suppose I should also state that we weren't insulted either.

Imagine Will Farrell dressed as Osama. It really is funny. What's not funny about it? What impact can it really have? No matter how hard you try, you can't re-elect him again...
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EM
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 12:06 pm:   

You should see what he has taped to his computer monitor.

She was wild to have his penis in her vagina, to taste his ejaculation

That must be a real conversation starter!
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EM
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 12:08 pm:   

But Simon, wait until his novel STEELE BEACH hits the stands. It's sure to be a bestseller. :-)
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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 12:16 pm:   

That story is Jon's. I remember he defended it at Asimov's.

He seems more unhinged then ever with his attempts to actively try to ruin you. I don't think they matter, but possibly it's a sign he's at the meltdown point. Maybe professional help can come in at that point.

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SimonO
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 12:19 pm:   

He actually defended that piece of shit?

wow oh wow, I wish I was there to read it.
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Patrick M.
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 12:20 pm:   

By John Varley? It was an award winner wasn't it? One of the alltime best opening lines, some thing like "In 5 years the penis will be obsolete."

Or am I reading something wrong?

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wandcoker
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 12:21 pm:   

Bromshit is so predictable. At first he offers up his umbrage at a story that he finds offensive or crappy. When people engage him in dialogue he starts insulting them. And he always follows with a self-righteous snub, as in "The latest posts remind me why I rarely look at these forums anymore." Soon he'll make a grandiose announcement that he's leaving and never coming back... and he'll do so again and again.

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EM
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 12:30 pm:   

And Jon is not BANDWIDTH EATER either. They just happen to show up at the same time whenever either of them posts. Pure coincidence.

Come on, Jon, let's hear it. Anytime now he's going to threaten to leave and never post again--EVER. And then he'll be back 5 minutes later.
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EM
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 12:33 pm:   

Ahhhhh, you beat me to it wandcoker. :-(

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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 01:31 pm:   

He actually defended that piece of shit?

TR: I believe so. I don't think he saw it as his best or most serious effort, but he did defend it. The threads where he did or said these things are inaccessible from what I can tell.

He once told me he had that line from James Patrick Kelly's Bernardo's House(the She was wild to have his...) taped to his monitor to constantly remind him of his enemies. When I expressed concern or bemusement about how a basically small magazine based thousands of miles from him could possibly be his "enemy" he said something about his mission being to defend SF or something. Anyway he doesn't have that line pasted on his computer because he is a middle aged male living alone on a boat or because he likes that kind of thing, heavens no:-)
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wandcoker
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 02:32 pm:   

Jon Bromfield
Address:


Jon Bromfield
xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx
xxxxxxxx , xx xxxxx
e-mail: xxxxxx@xxxxx.xxx


Age: 45
Sex: Male

Other Experience and Qualifications:

GOURMET CHEF with San Francisco Bay sailing experience (I own a 27 ft. O'Day berthed in Oyster Point), currently working in Honolulu, would like to work my way home. Looking for larger yacht (40 ft up), skipper and crew who would appreciate cuisine rather than chow on their passage. Trade cooking duties for bluewater experience.



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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 02:53 pm:   

Is that for real? If so I have to say I personally don't approve. As loopy and potentially harmful as Jon is I don't like the idea of giving out people's addresses without their permission. It strikes me as violating their privacy.
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wandcoker
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 03:00 pm:   

Thomas, it's out there for all to see. All you need to do is google the monicker. Old Jon bantered about his boat and his Hawaiian and SanFran digs, remember?
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wandcoker
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 03:04 pm:   

Pity the fool that ends up on the open seas with this yahoo.
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EM
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 03:05 pm:   

Ooooh, we're going to be in sooooo much trouble when Jon reads this. He'll probably . . . he's going to . . . well, he'll write a big, long mean message telling us off. (I'm trembling already.)

My goodness, he might even say something mean about my grammar.

But seriously, I'm with you Jon. <wink> As a starting point I think you should call WOOD TV and get them in on this. That's sure to have a big effect. I think next we should all start a writing campaign to get that evil rock and roll music off the airwaves. At least anything after 1958. Anything harder than Pat Boone sets my teeth on edge.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 03:13 pm:   

Thomas R.---

I agree that this isn't the place to be posting someone's address without their permission, which is why I've altered the text. I'm sure other people can find Mr. Bromfield's contact info as quickly as you located it, wandcoker, but I'm not going to help them do so.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 03:48 pm:   

Thomas, it's out there for all to see. All you need to do is google the monicker.

TR: It wasn't really about him, I was just concerned on principle. There are people who have legitimate reasons not to put their address up at forums, but their address may well be out there. I think it'd be bad to get into the habit of putting up addresses without people's permission.

There are certainly people, not just Jon, that I'd rather not give the ability to write me. For me good old fashion junk mail bothers me more than spam. I live alone so I can erase spam without problems. Lunatics start mailing me weird things without my permission people will know and the effect could be real.
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Nick
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 05:37 pm:   

This thread made me curious about the story, so I ran out and bought a copy of F&SF, and read "Bedfellows" while walking home.

I thought it was so funny and clever that I logged on to SFWA.org and recommended it for a Nebula award.

Keep up the great work, Mr. Turtledove!
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 05:39 pm:   

Whoops, forgot my surname.

Nick "Allah Ahkbar" Mamatas
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 06:54 pm:   

Ah, the tolerance of the fascist Left!

A lot of you have an odd idea what dissent and freedom of expression is or should be in an open society.

Again, I do not seek to censor Gordon or Harry Turtledove or David Duke or anyone. Publish and be damned, I say. If I find what you publish in a general circulation magazine to be beyond the pale, unfair, or merely vulgar I will point this out to others and let them decide for themselves. No threats, no intimidation. Sunlight, you see, is the best disinfectant.

Anyone who thinks I'd be embarrassed by linking or quoting (even out of context) my short story "Reinventing Big Brother" is making a mistake. I'm very proud of it; but please note I did not write it for popular consumption. It was written at the request of a friend to address certain critiques of 1984's backstory and technological background. It was for his Orwell dedicated website and I expect it to be read only by fans and students of the novel. Obviously my old friend Simon Owens has never read the novel, or if he did he didn't understand it. Consider, as illustration, one line he plucked out as an object of derision:

"I am often sick," said Winston, "but never agitated."

Why he thinks this is a bad sentence is beyond me. In context of the story it is a response to the girl installing the new super-duper telescreen, who has just finished letting him know that now Big Brother will be able to not only monitor his movements but also his health and emotional state. Ain't that great! If Simon had read the book he would know that Winston Smith did suffer from various minor illnesses. That Winston would also mention he is never agitated is a sign he is emotionally beaten to a point nothing bothers or excites him - even a lovely young girl in his apartment. This is no doubt a bit too subtle for Simon and others. Again, it helps to have read the novel

The other quotes I won't explain. You may of course read the full story yourself. I invite you. Please do not read it at the David D. Ross "ThoughtCrimes" website, however. The formatting there got messed up and some sentences were dropped. You may find a better version at the Memory Hole, an international George Orwell website. The folks there, Orwell scholars and fans, found it worthy to post and keep for the past 3 or 4 years now. I have received many kind emails from people who read it there, mostly academics. But then, they have all read the book and understand it.

I'll try to post a link, but for now you can Google "George Orwell reinventing big brother". That should get you a link to The Memory Hole. Good luck and good reading!

I don't know what Wandcoker thinks he's accomplishing by posting my post in a sailing website looking to crew from Honolulu to the West Coast. I'm an experienced coastal sailor and want to get some what we call "bluewater" experience. For you landlubbers that's ocean passages. Since such berths are highly sought-after I also note my cooking skills, which are indeed gourmet caliber. By the way the address is no longer valid. If anyone wants to spam my email site, well that's the risk I take making a controversial, principled stand on an issue. No whining here.

Finally, I will be doing all I can to expose "Bedfellows" to those I think need to know what their children may be exposed to. I'm also going to write to the publishers to express my disgust. I realized that making a fuss will only bring attention to a story that few are ever going to read in the first place and which will be forgotten a month from now anyway. But one could say that about any public obscenity.

As been said: the only way evil can triumph is for good people to do nothing.

One final note. I deliberately mocked and insulted Gordon and Turtledove to give them a taste of mockery and contempt, just to see how they liked it. What, you think George W. Bush doesn't have feelings, too?
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 08:04 pm:   

For all your ranting about how your complaint is being mischaracterized as a call for censorship, a simple Find shows only four instances of the use of "censor" in the thread. One reader called for 'slight censorship', you used the term twice in declaring that you were weren't calling for censorship, and TimA agreed that there shouldn't be censorship.

A search on this thread for "free speech" also revealed only one person, Tim Akers, using it, in the context of a misplaced plea for you not to carry on like the fool you are.

Same with the term "dissent." TimA used it, you used it, and Claudia O'Keefe used it.

The vast majority of the discussion has nothing to do with censorship, free speech, or dissent.

Conclusion: like many conservatives, you enjoy claiming victim status when you're just being a moron.

On the feelings of the President, any public person necessarily invites mockery upon himself or herself. Feelings don't enter into it. As far as your mocking and insults of van Gelder and Turtledove, I suspect neither of them are crying into their silk sheets tonight.

Btw, if you have to spend a paragraph explaining why a sentence is a good one, it isn't a good one. The dialogue doesn't ring true, and someone that totally beaten down would hardly be that vigorous (or stilted) in his denials.

And now, a question: your short story isn't a parody, nor is it a pastiche or homage with the serial numbers filed off. Your story is a clear derivative work based on a novel still under copyright.

Would you care to reconcile your conservative ethos with your casual disregard for property rights for us? Thanks.
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 08:37 pm:   

JB: Ah, the tolerance of the fascist Left!

TR: "Fascist Left" I'm pretty sure is an oxymoron. Many Fascists were former socialists it's true. However as I understand it it's basically right-wing ultra-nationalist, imperialist, and corporatist.

Were you looking for the word Stalinist or possibly Maoist?

By the way the address is no longer valid. If anyone wants to spam my email site, well that's the risk I take making a controversial, principled stand on an issue. No whining here.

TR: Oh I don't much care about that. I just thought in principle it's a bad idea to start posting addresses without permission. You're one of the rare people where I don't much care if you personally get spammed or weird catalogs or any other non-violent nuisance. Whether you were actually bothered wasn't that important to my objection then.

JB:As been said: the only way evil can triumph is for good people to do nothing.

TR: Edmund Burke must be rolling over in his grave. I don't think some story in a magazine read by a small group of people is what he had in mind at all. I think he was thinking the excesses of the French Revolution. Unless Harry Turtledove personally decapitates Paris Hilton or Gordon Van Gelder lobbies Congress to end all tax exemptions for churches it's not remotely analogous.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 08:52 pm:   

Unless Harry Turtledove personally decapitates Paris Hilton

Dibs on submitting this as a story!
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Tim Akers
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 06:03 am:   

You realizes what this means, right? It means that I must be the fascist left. What a shock to my friends and family.

JB, old boy, you realize you're the only one here advocating the banning of books you find offensive? Thought control much?
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 09:21 am:   

Gordon, have you considered online versions of F&SF especially for schools, with sort of a cafeteria style selection menu for school librarians? You could give stories an appropriate age level rating, based on content, and then let school librarians pick the stories they want to receive or filter out based on their district's (or school's) policies. The content could be tiered appropriately for grade school (probably not that many grade school kids read F&SF anyway), high school and university levels. A subscription based F&SF ezine might be neat if there were an inexpensive way to maintain it.
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Anna Mouse
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 10:26 am:   

>> Winston Smith was sitting in his chair...
>> when he heard a knock on his door.

Good snappy opening.

>> His guts suddenly felt full of ice water,
>> his heart leaped against the confines of his
>> ribcage as his testicles tried to crawl
>> into his belly

Not so good follow-up sentence. For one thing, you're overdoing the active organ business to the point where these images sound silly. If you want to convey his actual emotional state, I suggest you cut at least one of these. (I'd also suggest going for a more subtle approach, which would be in keeping with the Orwell's style.)

>> for a happy moment he both welcomed the
>> terror and eagerly awaited the endless
>> black peace soon to follow.

like the phrase "happy moment"
"endless black peace" however sounds like a stock phrase, and does nothing

>> Then he heard a second knock.
>> They never knock twice.

Nice sharp shock, except for the grammar glitch (s/b "never knocked twice")

>> He got up, shuffled across the
>> splintering floorboards of his flat,
>> and opened the door.

Beware the urge to tell the reader every single tedious step that your POV character takes.

>> The girl was barely out of her teens...

Generic pretty girl.

>> The cap matched her jumpsuit, which was
>> strangely clean and crisply pressed.

Her cap was crisply pressed?

>> Equally strange

Why is this equally strange?

>> the red ribbon.. was missing from her
>> slender waist.

"slender" seems an odd detail to throw in here, unless you are emphasizing W's fixation on the girl's body. More important, I'm wondering why everything is happening so slowly.

>> Instead, a broad leather belt loosely
>> hugged her hips; tools and things
>> Winston didn’t recognized hung from it.

Another verb tense glitch -- s/b "didn't recognize"
Also, the description of the girl and her tools is rather generic. He might not recognize the tools, but a few specific details could make the description stronger and more vivid. Think about how Orwell used specific, concrete details in his writing.

>> “Good afternoon, sir. My name’s Julie,
>> and I’m here to install your new Oceania
>> Protective Systems A-4000 Series SuperViewer!
>> May I please come in?”

Yea gods, does anyone really talk like this? With exclamation points??!!!

>> Winston felt his jaw drop stupidly, shocked
>> that a member of the Party would make a
>> request rather than a demand - and that so
>> politely!

More exclamation points. Suggest you cut them entirely as they make the prose sound even more stilted.

>> He stood aside without a word...

Suggest you trim this paragraph mercilessly. It's dead weight, and we really do not need to hear about every single step W takes.

Also, suggest that you cut the word "shabby" and instead, take a few sentences in the first few paragraphs to show us how his apartment is shabby.

>> “Wow,” she said, “this is a real antique...

More stilted dialog that verges on info-dump. Geeks do talk like that, but usually only to each other.

>> “Yes,” Winston replied. “Over twenty
>> years now.”

You're losing me here. The conversation is leading nowhere slowly, and the info-dump that follows doesn't help. Suggest you cut these paragraphs to the bare minimum, because they aren't adding the story or the characterization, and their value as world-building is minimal, imo.

>> Winston was happy to excuse her...

Winston as a saggy creepy old loser. Erm, well, if you say so. In the original, he was reserved but with a hidden core of rebellion, which made him interesting. Here, he's rather pathetic.

>> The girl opened a thin but wide case she
>> had carried in with her; it looked rather
>> like an artist’s portfolio.

Wordy. Try:

The girl opened a wide thin case, rather like an artist's portfolio.

>> She withdrew what appeared to be sheet of
>> cardboard

Muddled and wordy, imo, though I like the bit about the lizard's eye. (But are you saying the girl's eyes look like cardboard?) Suggest you rework for clarity.

>> The girl held the telescreen up for inspection.

Possible POV bobble. We were in Winston's POV, and judging from the previous long description, he didn't know what she had taken from the case. Here, however, we suddenly get the word "telescreen."

>> Seeing Winston’s curious look, she said...

Good lord, you have a serious case of info-dump here. Long, dense, and tedious. Adds nothing to the story.

>> “I am often sick,” Winston said, “but
>> never agitated.”

This isn't necessarily a *bad* sentence, but it's dull. Also, coming after the long-winded info-dump, it makes for even duller reading. It also makes W appear dim-witted.

>> The girl smiled and ignored his comment...

Tight snappy paragraph. Not fancy, but does its job. My one quibble would be the phrase "She turned and approached the old telescreen", which is another case of showing every-damned-step.

“Jus’ about!” the girl responded.

What's with the sudden shift into dialect?

>> “The Series A-4000 connects to...

More info-dump. To be honest, if I were reading this in a magazine, I would have stopped reading a few paragraphs ago. There appears to be no point, no forward movement in this story, just a series of info-dumps.

>>Winston was stunned. “What is this ‘OPS?’” he asked. “What ministry is it in?”

Why is he stunned? Either you are deliberately making him pathetically stupid, or you are using his ignorance as a thinly-veiled excuse for more info-dumps.

>> “The Party allows private businesses?”
>> “Of course, sir. Since 1997, the year
>> of the Great Accommodation.”

And the answer is: you wanted an excuse for more info-dumps. Sorry, but this is not a story, and here is where I stopped reading.

However I did skim ahead to this particular gem:

>> “Hi yourself!” the young man responded.
>> “You’re looking good, babe, like I could
>> lick you right through the plexiglas!”

To be blunt, this is truly awful dialog, almost approaching Eye of Argon status.

And here is where I would sum up my reactions and make suggestions for improving the story. Obviously, since you've already "published" the story online, you won't be revising it, but I would strongly suggest that, if you do write more fiction, you work on your pacing, your descriptions, and your dialog. Think story, not "rilly kewl idea, dude." Be true to Orwell's concern with the language.

Best of luck with your writing.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 10:41 am:   

Here's a great interview with Norman Lear:

http://www.theonionavclub.com/feature/index.php?issue=4117

Think of the letters he must have received, Gordon.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 11:06 am:   

Wow, Anna! Thanks for the critique; however, some of your "gotchas" are mere proofreading goofs and stylistic differences of opinion.

I am not sure if you have read 1984 or quite understand it, some of your objections suggest you are a bit of ignorance of backstory and subtext, but yours in the only intelligent response to the story I've received outside of direct emails for the websites that carry it. For that I am in your debt.

Any comment or criticism of the main point(s) of the story? Can you tell me what they are?

Look, I'd like to respond in full to you on each of your comments, but I don't think I should do it on this thread. Why waste bandwidth when most of the people here wouldn't be able to follow the discussion? If you'd like, I'll be happy to exchange email addresses with you. Let me know.

Nick, I wrote the story instead of an essay because I thought it would be more fun. It was. Since I didn't seek to publish it for monetary gain and it's only on free websites, and done as commentary on the novel, I'm pretty sure I'm okay with the current copywrite laws. If the Orwell estate had any objections, I'd have heard from them by now. They monitor the international site, I know.

Tim, you're about the join the ranks of those I won't bother to respond to if you're unable to grasp even a bit of what I'm saying. Banning unsuitable material from taxpayer-supported grade and high schools is often appropriate. What's unsuitable? That's up to the school boards to decide. I will only bring to their attention a story I find reprehensible. Okay?

Once again, with feeling, HT can write all the anti-Bush, anti-American, anti-feline shit all he wants. Gordon can pay for it and publish it. Fine with me. I'm the one getting doo-doo thrown at me for saying "Bedfellows" is a partisan political attack inappropriate in a science fiction/fantasy mass market magazine.

That's all, folks.

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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 12:00 pm:   

Comedy gold.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 12:28 pm:   

I'm pretty sure I'm okay with the current copywrite laws.

You can be as sure as you like, but you're wrong.

And it's copyRIGHT (as in the right to make a copy) not copywrite.

Head for those international waters as soon as you can!
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 12:46 pm:   

"And it's copyRIGHT (as in the right to make a copy) not copywrite."

And to think some people call me pedantic.

I thought forum courtesy called for ignoring obvious typing flubs. NO QUARTER FOR BROMFIELD, EH?!

So cite for me the copyRIGHT law, wiseguy.

MarcL, devastating reposte. My guts are on the floor. How do you do it?

Oh, I get the trick: just assume you're so brilliant, an intelligent response is beneath you. A little meaningless verbal fart passes for argument.

There's a word for people like you, Marc,

Chickenshit.

I can see why you're a regular here. Only place in the world you can be the biggest turd.
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wandcoker
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 01:02 pm:   

Aren't you supposed to working on your Hugo winning short, Brommy?
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 01:11 pm:   

As you say, JB, it's not an argument or a riposte. I couldn't possibly add anything to your last few posts. You've put the finishing touches on an awesome self-portrait, and I can only stand here slack-jawed (an expression you may interpret however you like).

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wandcoker
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 01:16 pm:   

It leaves a wet trail, doesn't it? You can smell it even over the 'net.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 01:20 pm:   

By the way, I don't think the writing in that piece is as bad as some say. It's not great, but for something tossed off for a friend's website, it's not that bad either.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 01:22 pm:   

According to Bromfield, we all need to go back and reread 1984 in order to understand his brilliant story.

And here we are with dozens of posts in this thread and he still hasn't explained why partisan political science fiction doesn't belong in the digest magazines. Jon, there's a whole sub-genre called Political Science fiction which inserts politics into the story. Either you're stupid or willfully dishonest with yourself. Fiction magazines insert politics all the time.

To say that this is the reason why the digest magazines are losing subscribers is also stupid because there are so many magazines publishing contemporary fiction that push leftist ideas. Just like your previous Asimov's ranting, we're over a hundred posts into this thread and your argument still boils down to "I don't like this kind of fiction so therefore this is why the magazines are failing." You accuse people of taking cheap shots at you, and you still haven't produced any real evidence to support your claims, so in essence your entire argument is nothing but a cheap shot.

You also have created a nifty way of convincing yourself that entire message boards are run by lefties and that must be why sometimes up to thirty people are arguing against you while you're forced to defend your ideas by yourself. Even on the Asimov's forum, where the number of right-wingers is much higher, people rarely come to your side.
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Tim A.
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 01:40 pm:   

"Tim, you're about the join the ranks of those I won't bother to respond to if you're unable to grasp even a bit of what I'm saying."

You're not very good at polite conversation, Jon. Even in responding to Anna's solid critique of your work, you spend most of your words in condescension and bile. But whatever.

"Banning unsuitable material from taxpayer-supported grade and high schools is often appropriate. What's unsuitable? That's up to the school boards to decide."

Fair enough. Though I really think institutions of learning should strive for inclusion rather than exclusion. Teach kids to think for themselves, rather than simply trying to shield them from thinking. But again, whatever.

"I will only bring to their attention a story I find reprehensible. Okay?"

You do that. But since I'm a fan of local gov't rights, I'll ask you to do that only at schools where you have children. I don't want you deciding what my kid can and can't read.

"Once again, with feeling, HT can write all the anti-Bush, anti-American, anti-feline shit all he wants. Gordon can pay for it and publish it. Fine with me. I'm the one getting doo-doo thrown at me for saying "Bedfellows" is a partisan political attack inappropriate in a science fiction/fantasy mass market magazine."

A private mass market magazine. Funny, that. Which is how this conversation got started, isn't it? You posited that F&SF was failing because it produced leftist pap, that F&SF's downward numbers were due to GVG's liberal buying selection. A more likely reason seems to be a technical problem with their fullfillment (c.f. Mr Finlay's post) but that didn't stop you from hauling out the crusade. But by your own public statement you feel that Dozois is also, perhaps moreso, guilty of this leftist agenda. But their numbers didn't come down as much.

So, to summarize. Whatever.



One more thing. I'm tired of getting called anti-american by the right. It's my damn flag too.
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Thomas R
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 01:58 pm:   

SO:Even on the Asimov's forum, where the number of right-wingers is much higher, people rarely come to your side.

TR: This is a good point. Many of those who basically told him to scram at Asimov's were certainly not "lefties." I remember I got into terrible fights with him and it'd take a real leap to think I'm Left or even liberal. (Although I still insist I'm nowhere near as Right-wing as some around here believed)

As for the decapitating Paris Hilton idea it's anyone's. I was just trying to think what we have that's closest to French aristocrats.
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Patrick M.
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 02:12 pm:   

I'd really love to see the rejection-- "Nice story but unfortunately we already have enough Turtledove decapitates Hilton stories in inventory."
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Anna Mouse
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 02:29 pm:   

Jon: You're welcome. I gave you the same kind of critique as I would give anyone in my critique circle, so my comments included not just nits about grammar and punctuation, but also suggestions on style and larger elements such as pacing, plot, and characterization. Of course opinion and taste do color my reactions -- they will with any reader. Your job is to filter out what doesn't work for your story.

As a data point for you -- yes, I have read 1984, and yes, I do understand the story. My feedback is based on whether your story worked for me. Alas, it did not.

Any comment or criticism of the main point(s) of the story? Can you tell me what they are?

Sorry, no. As I said, I stopped reading partway through because it didn't engage me.


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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 04:37 pm:   

Typing "write" for "right" is not a typing flub, as that would involve mistyping five letters in a row and just happening to come up with a common homophonic error.

What you meant to say, instead of your pissy-panty whine about pendantism is "Oops, sorry about that! Thanks for correcting me, pal o'mine!"

As far as quoting copyright law, first, what a derivative work is:

A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.

Clearly, your little story matches the above. Then, we should ask, what does the law say about who gets to create derivative works:

Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:

(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;

(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work

So, the owners of 1984 can create derivative works, and they can authorize others to do so, and they have the exclusive right to do so. Do you own the copyright to 1984??
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 11:00 am:   

Damn, Anna, the ending is a killer, esp. the last sentence! Yikes! You must read the ending to understand why I wrote the beginning the way I did! How can you honestly pass judgement on a piece if you haven't read it all?

I particularly like how the girl is jazzed that the Bureau of Executions is outsourcing their backlog to a corporation (SOMA -get it? get it?) and they (SOMA) will be "up to speed in no time!" Let's hear it for privatization!

Nick: well, everybody's different. I find my most common typing flubs do come from typing homophones. My brain heres "rite" ann the fingers will type "write" oar "right" if I'm going two fast ore am distracted. Fare enuff?

Wadchoker, the Hugo-winning short has bloomed into a novel. It happens. Half-way through now. I've given myself to Sept. 6th (my birthday) to finish. Thanks for asking.

By the way, I've found a cache of Dozois's "Best" (and boy does that word need quotes!) Of, and am trying to read all of them.

The wreckage is worse than I thought.



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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 11:03 am:   

Oh, and Nick, my lawyer says I'm in the clear about the copyRIGHT thing, esp. as the estate hasn't raised any objection.

But thanks for your concern.

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Anna Mouse
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 11:21 am:   

Jon: If you want me to read through to the end, then you should make the beginning and middle more interesting. I've told you why I stopped reading, and while I would be surprised if you rewrote *this* story, perhaps my suggestions will prove helpful for your next one.

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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 11:25 am:   

For crissakes, Anna, it's not that long a story. Please read it, to the end.

Thanks!
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 11:45 am:   

I think Anna was quite fair. I didn't see how she was being different to your story then critiques I've read of other stories. That you think this or that part is great isn't really what matters in fiction writing. Added to that editors do pass judgment on stories before they finish. That might seem unfair, but that's how it's done. They don't have the time to read every submission to the end.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 12:02 pm:   

Jon, maybe you should get yourself into a workshop situation. The first rule of a workshop is that you must listen to all the criticism without responding or defending. The reason you don't get to defend your story is because it must stand on its own. It doesn't get to go out into the world with its author holding its hand.

Now, you don't have to take the criticism to heart. In fact, in a circle of a dozen other readers, you will be lucky to find one or two who understand what you were getting at; and doubly lucky if they can express some way that will help you see how to get there as you revise.

I agree with Anna that there's probably not much point in revising this story, especially since it's one that would be very difficult to actually sell anywhere without permission of the Orwell (and perhaps now the Huxley) estate. (Although obviously Huxley didn't coin "soma.") If you find some value in her advice, take it and see if it applies to what you're working on now. That's energy far better applied than shrieking at her for not finishing this one, or pleading with her to see it through. No reader is ever going to see a story exactly as you do; and sadly, some of the things you like the most may be the things that are most in need of being cut. But take the advice or disregard it as you see fit.

Sometimes it is legitimate workshop feedback to say, "I couldn't finish reading this."
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 12:36 pm:   

Who said anything about the estate raising an objection?

I just pointed out that your casual disregard for property rights runs counter to your declared conservative ethos.
Infringement is infringrement, whether your Imaginary Internet Lawyer patted you on the head and said "There there, it's only infringement if you get caught" or not.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 12:45 pm:   

MarcL, as I said, I didn't write "Reinventing..." to sell. It is a fictionized essay, a response to a wit's famous remark that we don't have to worry about Big Brother-type telescreens because, being government built and maintained, they wouldn't work most of the time. As a German professor noted in an email to me, the essential horror of Oceania's government is not its brutality but its cynicism - nothing mattered to it expect power and its hold on power.

I was inspired to write the story on hearing about Al Gore's Reinventing Government campaign (do you see in the story how I "honor" him?). Do we REALLY want government to be very efficient? I didn't think so at the time, but this was pre-9/11, things change. Certainly I want anti-terrorist agencies to be super efficient.

Anyway, I postulated that, like the Soviet Union, Big Brother would have to privatize critical agencies and private enterprise would have no problem serving totalitarian government. See, I'm suspicious of the profit motive myself, despite having Objectivist leanings.

By the way, Anna criticises my dialog, but remember Oceania included North America. Why wouldn't some citizens, esp. younger citizens, speak American-like inflections. The line about "licking you through the plexiglas" is shocking to Winston because sexual repression is public policy. Remember the Junior Anti-Sex League?

Anna is entitled to her opinions of course, but I really don't think it fair not to finish a short story that's 8 or so standard pages long.

Thanks for the comments, though, MarcL.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 12:53 pm:   

Nick, if I thought I was appropriating the Orwell estate's property rights I wouldn't have written and posted the story. Certainly I didn't think I was doing so at the time and my lawyer ( a Harvard man, by the way and quite real judging by his fees!) doesn't think what I did violates the copyRIGHT in any way. I have not heard any objection from the Orwell estate (maybe the novel is in the public domain now)and have not received any lucre from the story, only misinformed shit from some on this site.

No harm, no fowl ;-)

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Anna Mouse
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 01:10 pm:   

Jon: I stand by my comments about the dialog. There are other, less clumsy ways to get your point across about the new sexual freedom. And no, I'm not obligated to finish your story to judge how effective the beginning is. Sorry if that bothers you.

But your responses here make me curious. Are you aiming for professional publication? If you are, I would urge you to join a regular writing workshop. I think you could benefit by having your work thoroughly critiqued, and by critiquing others' works.

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Byron Bailey
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 01:13 pm:   

Well, if my Yeats story based on a couple of his poems isn't in the public domain thereby preventing me from doing it even though I strongly want to, I highly doubt that 1984 is in the public domain. I'm just counting the years until those Yeats poems drop into the public domain, though. Eventually, if I live long enough, I will get to write that story!
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 01:19 pm:   

Okay, Anna. I would think you must not get a lot out of mystery stories.

No, I'm not aiming at "professional" publication, if you mean like MF&SF. At least not while Gordon's at the helm.

Regards and goodbye, all.

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Simon Owens
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 01:33 pm:   

Jon, Nick has worked for various publishers for years. He's, you know, what they call a real writer and a real (previous) editor. If anyone would know anything about copyright law, it would be him. You're proving to be your usual self and never back down to anything, thereby making whatever you say irrelevant, even on the few times you're right, because even a broken clock is right two times a day.

"It is a fictionized essay,"

No it isn't. An example of a fictionized essay is something like Lucy Snyder's "How to Install Linux on a Dead Badger." What you wrote is a short story, even if you're trying to push your ideas into it.

As others have said, the very fact that you have to plead with someone in order to get her to the ending to realize how brilliant it is, is a good indication that your story has failed. That's beside the fact that you're full of shit because I read the entire thing and the ending wasn't brilliant at all, mostly you jacking off to your big-breasted character. Oh, and in your response, spare me the explanation that that wasn't what it was at all (with long detailed rehashing of your ending), because I get it.

And as Nick has already pointed out and yet you chose to ignore, it doesn't matter if the estate went after you, what you did was illegal and wrong. Just because the estate doesn't feel like wasting money on lawyer fees to go after you and your nameless "Harvard lawyer," doesn't mean that you haven't cheapened the work of Orwell and wrote a story in a world you didn't own the rights to.

I still haven't figured out why you keep reading stuff edited by Dozois, since you've expressed time and again how much you hate them. Obviously you're going into every story with a previously held bias. There's thousands of old pulp magazines and anthologies left over from what you view as the golden age of SF, there's no way you've read all of them. Go on ebay and used book stores and you can have yourself a thousand stories with all plot and no characterizations and all the white, big-breasted characters you can eat. I even hear tell they didn't let those queers into most those old stories, too, you can have yourself a feast!
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Anna Mouse
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 01:40 pm:   

Jon: On the contrary -- I enjoy a good mystery story. I'm afraid that I just didn't care for your writing.

And perhaps it's just as well you aren't aiming for pro publication. This is going to sound harsh, but...

In my experience, new writers who spend this much time and energy defending their writing seldom work as hard at listening and learning and striving to improve their craft.

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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 01:56 pm:   

Simon, you one funny guy!

Every hear about the "appeal to authority" logical fallacy?

Good luck with puberty!
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 02:00 pm:   

I just wanted to demonstrate that if you stroke JB where he's tender (i.e., on the part of his ego attached directly to his narrative apparatus), he will roll over and show lipstick, even if he considers you both a chickenshit and the biggest turd in an admittedly tiny bowl.

This was exactly the "comedy gold" I was referring to earlier. I figured it was so obvious at that point, after the performance in the several previous posts, that a two-word reference would suffice.

You don't have to compromise your ideals by thanking a turd, JB. I give pretty much the same advice to everyone who sends me stories hoping for advice.

I honestly don't think the copyright issue is a very big deal. The internet is clogged with fanfic of all varieties. Does anyone go after the various magazines publishing Cthulhu Mythos pastiches? Does Lovecraft's estate demand tribute from every paying mythos anthology?

It's interesting that poets are so hardcore, though. Just try getting use of a line of Emily Dickinson if the estate doesn't think you're literary enough. Might be because the standards of fair use are more stringently applied when two lines of a poem might be the whole thing.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 02:13 pm:   

Like I said, it also doesn't matter what you THINK you did, you did infringe on the copyrights.

Perhaps 1984 is in the public domain? I'm sure that would surprise AM Heath, the agency that administrates the estate.

Perhaps you need a phantasmal Yalie and not an imaginary Harvard man for your Internet Lawyer.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 02:15 pm:   

I think we should turn the Lucas lawyers onto this.

http://starwarschicks.com/fanfiction.shtml
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 03:10 pm:   

I wasn't going to jump into this, not being part of US politics, but I can never resist an obvious bit:

I've read George Orwell. George Orwell was a favorite of mine. Mr. Bromfield, you're no George Orwell.

With apologies to Lloyd Bentsen.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/black-brillion
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 04:29 pm:   

Careful, Matt. This is Insult Tetris.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 04:30 pm:   

And Bromfield enters with yet another cheap shot without offering any real response once again.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 05:58 pm:   

Also Bromfield, in your extremely lame response, you ask me if I've ever heard of the "appeal to authority" logical fallacy. The answer is yes, but you obviously haven't.

The appeal to authority logical fallacy is based on when you appeal to an authority to prove something that the "authority" has no expertise.

For instance:

"Albert Einstein supported Marxism."

Albert Einstein is certainly an authority, but only in science, so his opinion on political views doesn't have much worth.

But saying something like:

"Albert Einstein proved that black holes exist," wouldn't be a logical fallacy because he is actually an authority on the subject.

As I said above, Nick has worked as both a professional writer and editor, so he should know something about copyright, and even quoted copyright law to you. Your only response was to quote a logical fallacy that you obviously know nothing about.

Hey Jon, ever hear of the "worthless blowhard" logical fallacy? It's time you started applying it to your arguments.

Besides that, you failed to publicly notice all the other things I caught you on, for instance, the fact that you referred to your story as a fictionized essay when it was nothing of the sort. We're still waiting for you to acknowledge being wrong at least once.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 06:12 pm:   

In fairness Jon Bromfield is an Objectivists. I think they believe about all authority is invalid in all things.
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Patrick M.
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 06:28 pm:   

You know, if we all stop posting on this thread, he may go away for a while again... Although, I thought Bush did sound more confident this evening, now that Mr. O is his domestic partner or husband or whatever you want to call him...
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 06:48 pm:   

If he felt that authority was invalid Thomas, you'd think he wouldn't have appealed to the legal experience of Rufus T. Flywheel, Imaginary Internet Lawyer (and Harvard man!)
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 08:09 pm:   

"Albert Einstein proved that black holes exist."

On a side note, I think Einstein denied the existence of black holes until the day he died even though he couldn't point out exactly what was wrong with the math suggesting their existence. He just thought that the universe or God or whatever wouldn't allow such an abomination to exist. I'm not saying you're wrong. His theories did point to the existence of blackholes but he couldn't accept it.

Also, in my opinion which probably isn't worth much, an appeal to authority is an accepted rhetorical strategy depending on how relevant the authority is to the argument.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 10:01 pm:   

Well, I didn't really look up whether or not he proved they exist, I was just saying that in that instance, Albert Einstein would have been an authority on the subject. I probably should have issued a disclaimer after that.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 10:58 am:   

Simon, your appeal to authority is fallacious because:

I don't know this Nick guy, I have no idea of his competence in proofreading or copyright law, or anything related to publishing. Certainly his posts don't suggest any great narrative talent.

I submit there are no "authorities" on subjective art forms. Consider the career of James Joyce.

I do know my lawyer, and he says the august Mr.Mamatas is wrong about the copyRIGHT laws. I'd put them in touch but my shyster would charge me for it. Sorry, convincing you is not worth $500 an hour.

So, risking being accused of running away, I think we've exhausted this topic. Enjoy reading MF&SF...

...while you can.

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wandcoker
Posted on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 11:16 am:   

Run, walk, scoot, motor or whatEVER away!! Puh-lese!
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StephenB
Posted on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 02:23 pm:   

Skulk away, works best.
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N. Sequitur
Posted on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 03:05 pm:   

Thank you all for a hugely entertaining thread. It has everything. Character! Conflict! Comedy! Drama! Heroes! Villains! Cussing! Kissing! Yiddishisms! A cameo by Matt Hughes! And exclamation marks! Heck, at the very least, we should be grateful to JB for making it all possible. What a guy!

What made it particularly enjoyable for me was the fact that John Bromfield was a B-movie and TV star in the 1950s, appearing in two SF/Horror classics, "Revenge of The Creature" and "Curucu, Beast of the Amazon". I kept thinking that, despite the different spellings of the first names, this JB and our JB were one and the same, rising from the obscurity of showbiz retirement to unleash The Creature and Curucu on F&SF.

Hold firm, Gordon! Hold firm.

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Simon Owens
Posted on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 09:43 pm:   

"I submit there are no "authorities" on subjective art forms"

What does a subjective art form have to do with anything? Nick's argument had barely anything to do with the quality of your story, but with copyright law. Unless you're suggesting copyright law is a subjective art form.

Oh, you don't know who this Nick guy is? Hey STUPID, ever here of a thing called google? It's this magical thing that takes two seconds to use and verify if someone is an authority. You know, that thing that if you posted the name of your imaginary lawyer, we could take the two seconds to look him up and email him to find out if you're actually a client of his? Google is also the thing we used to find your story which you think is wonderfully brilliant if only us mouth breathers could understand it.

Once again, you've posted an insanely stupid response that you'll take no responsibility for if you choose to return to this thread.
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Oliver Dale
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 09:27 am:   

"
On a side note, I think Einstein denied the existence of black holes until the day he died even though he couldn't point out exactly what was wrong with the math suggesting their existence. He just thought that the universe or God or whatever wouldn't allow such an abomination to exist. I'm not saying you're wrong. His theories did point to the existence of blackholes but he couldn't accept it. "

And to take that sidenote further, there's nothing saying ole Al was wrong in his denials. Blackholes are still not proven and there is recent evidence (although, still yet to be verified) that the speed of light (previously postulated to be constant, which Al based his theories on) is slowing.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 11:15 am:   

Hey, thanks for the advice, Simon!

I did Google (I think the company prefers you cap the "g" as it is trademarked, like Coke. Get it?

Googling Nick Mamatas popped up some interviews and references and reviews of his works. Seems the most "famous" is something that blends Lovecraft and the Beat movement.

Wow, and I'M criticized for placing a non-commercial fictionalized essay (yep, Owen, I'm defining the term) within the world of Orwell's 1984 ?!

What an inspired trick: taking Lovecraft's original creation and crossing it with a brief, largely forgotten American literary movement, then having the fools who read this type of stuff call you original! Cool!

I'm waiting for Nick's latest burst of individual creativity, say blending THE BRADY BUNCH with THE AVENGERS!

Oh yeah, and reading the vapid interviews shows Nick to be your typical psuedo-intellectual Lefty humanist type who just cannot stand the fact that stupid George W. Bush has accomplished so much more in his life than unknown author Nick will ever come close to. No wonder Nick likes "Bedfellows."

For the record, Simon:

People liberated from tyranny by Dubya: 50 million and counting

People liberated from tyranny by obscure rip-off fantasy writers: 0

Now I'm off to Google "Simon Owens."




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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 11:39 am:   

From the mind of Simon Owens, heir to the Algonquin Round Table.

From his on-line journal:

3:27 am - Prank calls
I prank called Senator Rick Santorum's office today. One of his phone people picked up and I said, "Hello, I would like to find out if Rick Santorum is running for reelection," and when she said "yes," I then said, "Well then you better go out and catch him!"

Really, Simon, and I'm supposed to be embarrassed if people read "Reinventing Big Brother"?

Google "Simon Owens" to find more of this rapier wit from a true world-class boob.

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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 11:56 am:   

What an inspired trick: taking Lovecraft's original creation and crossing it with a brief, largely forgotten American literary movement, then having the fools who read this type of stuff call you original!

Hmm, a day ago there were no authorities when it comes to subjective art forms. Now, one not even have read a book to declare those who like it (including the host of this forum, who published it) fools.

Also, if the Beats are forgotten, why do dozens of their books and books about them remain in print; why were several more published in the last few years? Whoops, there I go, allowing facts back into the argument again.

And if you read the interviews and came away with the conclusion that I'm a humanist, you've fairly well demonstrated a complete inability to read. Perhaps Rufus T. Flywheel can explain where you went wrong for only $350 an hour.

But of course, someone who believes that Afghanistan and Iraq are not still under the rule of tyrants by definition has nothing going on in the comprehension department. Funny how so many conservatives, whose personal accomplishments equal exactly zero not only have to find little heroes for to identify with, but have to make up accomplishments by those heroes too.

Losers love losers.

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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 12:37 pm:   

Nick writes:

"Now, one not even have read a book to declare those who like it (including the host of this forum, who published it) fools."

Yikes, what a sentence! My eyes cross...

That the host of THIS forum published it doesn't surprise me.

As to the Beats, I'd wager big bucks that if we asked 100 people on the average American street what was the Beat movement, maybe 5 would know something about it. Hell, I live in the Bay area and I think that figure would hold here. Indeed, I think maybe a bit more (but just a bit) would know who Lovecraft was.

That five figure might hold if we asked a million people who Nick Mamatas is.

And what an asinine comment about Afghanistan and Iraq. So people (esp. women) in those countries are not more free now than under the Taliban and Saddam? Don't spout morally bankrupt comments like than and expect anyone to think you've got a lot goin' on in the comprehension department, Nick. Sheesh!

By the way, wasn't Groucho's shyster character named Rufus T. FIREFLY?

Nick, I'll be attending Baycon this year. Do me a favor and try to avoid me.


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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 12:55 pm:   

Simon Owen discusses the present geopolitical situation and offers sage and practical advice:

#

From the on-line adventures of Simon Owen, complete idiot:


4:40 pm - Poop for Peace Day
Today, humanity stands on the brink. Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Sudan, Beslan, Chechnya... across the world, violence and anger overwhelm any progress towards peace and liberty. We are a divided species, basing our hatreds on even the most arbitrary classifications, unable to move past our quarrels to embrace common humanity. Since difference is all we can see, suffering is all we can expect.

That's why you should go poop right now.

Because today, April 15, is Poop For Peace Day.

Poop For Peace Day is not about protest or partisanship or politics. Poop For Peace Day is about acknowledging the fundamental basis of shared humanity: black or white, liberal or conservative, Christian or Muslim or Jew, we are all united in struggle against the tyranny of the bowel.

#

Well, I would have said the fundamental basis of shared humanity was Man's rationality, but each to his own value system, Simon!

As MarcL would fart, "Comedy Gold."





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Thomas R.
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 01:04 pm:   

Jon you're an embarrassment to Republicans everywhere.

As one who generally votes Republican, and certainly does believe Afghanistan is a freer society now, I'd like to again distance myself from this sleazy lunatic.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 01:47 pm:   

The Beat movement and H. P. Lovecraft? I need to get a hold of Nick's book!
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 01:49 pm:   

As to the Beats, I'd wager big bucks that if we asked 100 people on the average American street what was the Beat movement, maybe 5 would know something about it.

5% of the 300,000,000 people in the US is 15,000,000. Sounds far from forgotten to me.

So people (esp. women) in those countries are not more free now than under the Taliban and Saddam?

Correct. The transition from the Taliban to warlordism in Afghanistan has not made the people more free, nor has the installation of a puppet government in Iraq made the people there any more free, except for the Kurds, who'll likely be betrayed as they have been repeatedly over the last century once they begin expressing their nationalist inspirations again. It's especially ridiculous for you to mention Iraq and women in the same sentence, as Shia predominance is reducing the status of women. And of course, both nations are currently occupied by a foreign power that doesn't answer to the population in any way. That's virtually the definition of tyranny (a rigorous condition produced by some outside agency).

You can rant and rave all you like, and maybe Thomas R will even be inspired to run to Google and find some ridiculous, context-free facts, but you're as wrong about Afganistan and Iraq as you are about copyright and your own ability to write.


By the way, wasn't Groucho's shyster character named Rufus T. FIREFLY?

In film, yes. The old Groucho/Chico radio show was named Flywheel, Shyster & Flywheel.

Nick, I'll be attending Baycon this year. Do me a favor and try to avoid me.


I spent a few minutes reading and rereading this in an attempt to interpret this as anything other than a threat. I can't, so I'm forwarding it to the concom.

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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 02:01 pm:   

For those of you who want to enter the silly cesspool that is Simon Owens's mind, here's a link to his on-line journal:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/sdowens/

Check out the photo of our pudgy boy boogying to the beat with his gay buddies and a poor blind girl. I spritz some good cabernet onto my flatscreen!

Byron, you are no doubt the average Nick Mamatas reader and fan. No doubt at all, buddy.




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Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 02:03 pm:   

"I spent a few minutes reading and rereading this in an attempt to interpret this as anything other than a threat. I can't, so I'm forwarding it to the concom."

Pesonally, I don't see, "Nick, I'll be attending Baycon this year. Do me a favor and try to avoid me," as anything approaching a threat. I see it as more of an oblique way for Jon Bromfield to say he finds your company disagreeable. It's a statement I might very well make towards some people without any intent or thought on my part of doing them wrong. It's basically saying that I want to enjoy myself and your presence interferes with me enjoying myself so please be kind and stay away from me.

Am I missing something?
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 02:06 pm:   

"5% of the 300,000,000 people in the US is 15,000,000. Sounds far from forgotten to me."

And now you show you have no comprehension of statistics. Wow.

You view of the situation in the Mid-East just absurd.

Wasn't a threat, Nick. Don't be such a wuss.



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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 02:07 pm:   

On the nosey, Byron!
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 02:25 pm:   

Am I missing something?

Yup. He can avoid me fairly easily (my schedule will be in the program). Why tell me that I should avoid him? If I'm on a panel and he's in the audience, what does that mean? That I should leave for his sake, as I might otherwise explain what copyright means or point out that authors whose books have been in print for 50 years straight by commercial publishers are by definition not forgotten?

And now you show you have no comprehension of statistics.

This, from the guy who offers as proof of his claim that the Beats are forgotten a wager over a haphazard sample. Why not stand outside City Lights in North Beach and ask who remembers the Beats? You know, that bookstore off the corner of the alley named Kerouac Street?

Plain and simple: you said the Beats were forgotten. I pointed out that their books are in print and that books about them continue to come into print, which is sufficient proof that they are not forgotten. The conversation actually ended there. The rest was just another opportunity for the world to point and laugh at you.

You view of the situation in the Mid-East just absurd.


Nope. Yours is. Wow, maybe you're on to something here Jon. Just denouncing that you disagree with as "absurd" and those you disagree with as "fools" without actually putting any facts or reasoning on the line is much easier than actually tackling a subject.

Wasn't a threat, Nick. Don't be such a wuss.


Then you should have no problem with me pointing it out the concom.

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Thomas R.
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 02:48 pm:   

some ridiculous, context-free facts

TR: Yeah if you can't twist the facts to support the political ideology you already have then what's the point?

Not that your side is alone on it though. I cited something in a totally different group showing the erosion of press freedom under Bush. The other side of course also did the same thing. They created a "context" so Bush comes out good despite the evidence.

Facts, evidence, truth, who needs it?
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 03:14 pm:   

Well Thomas, as any student of history should know, there are ways to compare contexts as well, by making predictions and seeing them play out, or by finding pre-existing but novel facts that can augment or undermine a claim.

For example, a context that defines liberalism as pro-intervention and protectionist and conservativism as pro free trade wouldn't get very far in explaining Bush's pre-election position on protecting domestic steel. A context that sees the Dems as supporting the interests of certain elements of capital and the Reps as supporting other elements based on historical and regional factors, on the other hand, would explain it very well.
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Deirdre Saoirse Moen
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 03:14 pm:   

As the head of programming for the concom in question, in general, concoms would prefer to know about problems both real and potential. Better to be ready for things that don't happen than be sideswiped by the one thing you never prepared for.

I'm hoping that both Nick and Jon can enjoy BayCon without the distraction of each other's company.
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Patrick M.
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 03:46 pm:   

Wouldn't it be the perfect opportunity for them to kiss and make out? errr... up?

Just to show how two people can entirely despise the opposing view points of another and still embrace in a manly kiss. I'd love to see a picture of that from BayCon.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 03:51 pm:   

Let's see, Jon's range of arguments towards me spans from:

1. Using a single humor link I provided that dozens of blogs linked to one day as some kind of proof that I'm an idiot.

2. Repeated the same Republican knee-jerk stock phrases about Bush "liberated" 50 million people and counting.

3. Made fun of my physical appearance, or more specifically, the fact that I'm about 20 pounds overweight.

4. Proved to us that he's a homophobe by suggesting that because I danced within an arm's length with gay people is something to scoff at. I'm not even sure what your reference to a "blind girl" was, but I'm pretty sure it involves you applying your bigoted views into interpret the environment around you.

Yep, typical Jon Bromfield.

Oh, and btw, there's already such a thing as a fictional essay, you didn't invent the term. And your shitty story doesn't count as one.
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N. Sequitur
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 03:56 pm:   

...Just when I thought it couldn't get any better.

I'm starting a pool to see who gets the last word here. Any takers? A dime is all it takes.

I'm picking Simon.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 03:57 pm:   

And this is all besides the fact that none of your arguments against me had anything to do with my arguments on this thread. This is exactly what happened in the Asimov's thread when people pounded your arguments to the ground. You went to their blogs in an attempt to make fun of them and then when people called you on it you claimed that it did have to do with the argument because if people post blog entries that you don't like that means their remarks on the thread are invalid.
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Patrick M.
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 04:18 pm:   

You went to their blogs in an attempt to make fun of them --- Well, didn't someone go to Jon's published illegal story in an attempt to make fun of him? I mean, let's be fair.

My money is on Jon because I doubt he will stop posting until we, those who think he is a frothing lunatic, stop... I think Simon is a little more rational.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 04:30 pm:   

" Well, didn't someone go to Jon's published illegal story in an attempt to make fun of him? I mean, let's be fair. "

Patrick, his debut into this thread involved him bashing a writer's (who happens to visit this message board) story that was published in F&SF. How is someone turning around and doing the exact same thing to him with one of his stories just a cheap attempt to make fun of him?
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 04:37 pm:   

"I'm starting a pool to see who gets the last word here. Any takers? A dime is all it takes.

"I'm picking Simon."

My money is on Gordon Van Gelder.

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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 04:41 pm:   

Exactly. Bromfield is a hypocrite for saying I think it's safe to say a supporter of Bush and his policies would never have even thought of writing something so juvenile, disrespectful and vulgar as "Bedfellows." He/she just wouldn't. You did. It doesn't come out of a vacuum, Harry.

If I were the editor of a popular fiction magazine, I wouldn't publish anti-Democrat "satires," either.


...when he already wrote something that juvenile, disrespectful, and vulgar, and published it online. And, of course, it is a satire, albeit a miserable failure of one.

On the other hand, Simon is not a hypocrite for a) pointing out this hypocrisy while b) eating too much pie for his girlish figure.

As far as manly kisses from Bromfield? Not at Baycon; he'll need to invite me out to his boat and make me a gourmet meal first, just like any other 45 year-old bachelor from the Bay Area would. I'll post the pics on Simon's blog.
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 04:44 pm:   

Jon mostly gets what he deserves. He's crass, combative, and almost deranged. As mentioned he didn't start here with some gentle criticism than get exasperated by an unfair response. He started with foul mouthed trashing of writers and unfair stereotyping that "liberals always, ALWAYS have to inflict their politics on us whenever - where ever - they can?"

I probably shouldn't have said anything political myself. I could defend my position on Afghanistan, but this isn't really the right thread for that. (I changed my mind on the Iraq war, but what I recall ever supporting it kind of makes one persona non-grata)
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Patrick M.
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 05:08 pm:   

It's a flame war you are engaged in, how is anything considered cheap? You are perpetuating it as much as he is. I'm not defending the lunatic. Heck, somehow, mentioning my wife finds the story funny deserved a comment towards my sex life... Ok, whatever. I'm rather amazed that someone who supports Bush can't also laugh at Bush. I didn't realize that a President who goes to war should then be exempt from being mocked. Sometimes the people with opposing views are funny too.

If you continue the conversation, you get what you get. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve your comments, I'm saying that you guys know better. You proved your point about 10 posts ago each.

TR - we're cool with you. This isn't republican bashing. It's lunatic bashing. Someone could support the war and still find the story funny...

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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 05:19 pm:   

Well, then, Patrick, if we're engaged in a flame war, why can't we call foul based on the advantages of initiative or framing a debate?

If nothing is too cheap, then calling something cheap isn't too cheap. As it happens, Brromfield is infinitely cheaper than the rest of us (I don't see anyone mocking his appearance, for example) so it works out on the level of fact too.

What complaint, exactly, do you have?
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Patrick M.
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 05:29 pm:   

Uhhh... Right. Nevermind... Carry on. Cheers.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 05:35 pm:   

My personal experience with arguing with Jon Bromfield is that it's a waste of effort but if you want to keep bashing that corpse over the head in the hope that it doesn't rise from the grave once again, be my guest. I can't help thinking that somewhere out there exists a person with the silver bullets, stake, holy water or what not to put this unholy creature down for good. If that person happens to be you, I'll want to shake your hand but my experience has been that flame wars don't work. The entity known as Bromfield feeds on flames. Unless you have something special in that flamethrower of yours, you're only going to make him fat.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 05:43 pm:   

Byron, those are some of the best metaphors I've ever seen to describe a flame war ;-P
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 05:44 pm:   

The entity known as Bromfield feeds on flames. Unless you have something special in that flamethrower of yours, you're only going to make him fat.

Yes, but you've seen his attitude toward fat people!
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Thomas R.
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 05:59 pm:   

I might agree with leaving him alone, but after recent acrimony he gives one of the precious few things where all here can join together. Christian, Jewish, Atheist, Republican, Democratic, Green, Socialist, Young, Old, Male, Female, etc.

We all unite in disliking Bromfield and agreeing he's a jackass.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 08:59 pm:   

I'm months behind on FSF, but as it's being talked about I read Bedfellows.

It does in fact strike me as very weak, if not outright bad. Like a poorly thought out sketch from Saturday Night Live. This isn't especially upsetting or surprising though. Most of the satire in FSF I'd say the same thing about. This is a bit disappointing because I'm not sure I've ever read a Turtledove story that's this lame or obvious.

However it's just a fluff piece, it's not really worth this kind of debate. I feel a bit silly having been on it now.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 12:12 am:   

I picked up and read Beadfellows as well. As with Thomas, I really didn't think it was that strong a story. But not liking a story and entering a public thread to say "fuck you" to a professional editor are two completely different things. The fact that this entire flame war has come from it is beyond me.
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wandcoker
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 08:40 am:   

On Brommy, I told you so.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 10:07 am:   

Perhaps the story everyone should now take time to read is Uncle Remus's "The Tar Baby."

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/black-brillion
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 01:32 pm:   

Nick, I'll make you a deal. I may do a reading from one of my novels-in-progress at Baycon. I'll not attend any of your panels ("Ripping off Dead Writers and Obscure Literary Movements for Fun and Profit") if you don't attend my reading(s).

Deal?

All else are welcomed to attend. It will be a blast!

(Qualifier: I'm informed they may not have an open reading room this year. If not, I see no reason for me to attend - Hey! that should give you an incentive to arrange this for me, Nick! Wouldn't you just love to have Bromfield humiliate himself in public? Your spies could even get a photo to disperse over the internet!)

By the way, Nick, I did say "largely forgotten." Watch those adverbs!

"...when he already wrote something that juvenile, disrespectful, and vulgar, and published it online. And, of course, it is a satire, albeit a miserable failure of one."

Not a "satire," Nick. Check any good college-level dictionary if you need help understanding words. You will find this practice helpful in your attempts at writing. Good luck!

Oh, and I saw your photo on the internet. You're safe. I only kiss guys that look male.

See you (maybe) at Baycon!




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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 01:44 pm:   

From the continuing adventures of Simon Owens, master of ennui:

From his on-line Laugh-a-thon:

#

3:49 pm - drunken bike rides
Ugh, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to go ride my bike while drunk at 5 o'clock in the morning. Ended up eventually at Ashlie's apartment and slept there. Woke up with a slight hangover.

#

Stay tuned for tomorrow's episode, wherein Simon's burrito lunch at Taco Bell results in his professor of forensics mistakingly congratulating our chipmunk-cheeked boy on the most intelligent thing he's ever said in class!



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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 01:55 pm:   

And if you didn't think he could be any more boring....

From the on-line "journal," More-Than-We-Need-To-Know section:

#

1:26 am - Freckles
Ashlie periodically counts the number of freckles on my back to see if I've grown anymore.

The current number is 25.

#

What kind of warped, emotionally-stunted, self-absorbed mentality would post this?

What next, he reports to us the number of herpes sores on his dick this month?

And you guys suspect MY mental health?

Yikes!

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Thomas R.
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 02:05 pm:   

JBWhat kind of warped, emotionally-stunted, self-absorbed mentality would post this?

TR: Considering he wasn't the one to post it for a general audience to see, you were the one who did that, I guess you'll have to tell us.

What kind of warped, emotionally stunted, self-absorbed mentality are you?
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Simon Owens
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 02:26 pm:   

I don't understand what you're criticizing Jon. You seem to be just reposting random entries from my online journal.

For instance you say:

"What kind of warped, emotionally-stunted, self-absorbed mentality would post this"

... about a two-lined post in my journal that simply says how many freckles I have on my back. How the hell does that mean I'm a warped, emotionally-stunted self-absorbed person?

You also reposted (for no apparent reason) an entry in which I go on a drunken late-night bike ride.

These are just posts on an online journal that my friends read. Of course you would find them boring, they're not really made for consumption by anyone who doesn't know me. And even if my own friends find them boring, most of them are short and they could just skim right over them.

You, however, have once again created several more posts that only try to attack me on things that have nothing to do with your argument. I think we almost have a complete Jon-Bromfield-Flame-War here. Let's consult the checklist.

1. Started a thread by personally attacking a professional editor using ad hominem methods ---- check.

2. Claimed the death of science fiction based on no apparent logic or reason other than you didn't like the story----- check

3. Probably lied about a Harvard lawyer you don't have in order to prove your points, proving that the only way you can make an argument is based on imaginary sources. ---- check

4. When someone cites direct copyright law to prove you wrong, you still manage to claim you're right ---- check

5. Claimed that partisan political stories shouldn't be published by Gordon van Gelder only to find out that you're a hypocrite because you published a story that obviously pushes political views. --- check

6. Decided to google and find people's blogs to attack their blog posts which have nothing to do with the argument --- check.

7. Announced at least 6 times that you're leaving this thread forever without actually leaving ---- hmm, I guess we're still waiting on this one. Looks like this flame war will be lasting at least another day or two.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 03:16 pm:   

A satire is a literary work that holds human vices and follies up to ridicule and scorn. Your story, Jon, qualifies as that as it treats the concept of a surveillance state as human folly (and as hubris, as you claim that the market would necessarily undermine such a state).

Whether it's a GOOD satire or not is a different story.

As far as where I go and what I do at Baycon, there's no reason for me to make any sort of deal about anything. I will do whatever I like and attend whatever event I please. If you wish to ignore me, you may. As I am not an overgrown child, I see no reason to alter my behavior because you're a dope.

And of course, the Beats aren't LARGELY forgotten either. If the Beats were currently in print thanks to university or specialty presses with print runs designed to satisfy the academic need for primary sources, you might have a point. In FACT, major presses continue to put and out and make a great deal of money by publishing material on and by the Beats, and Beat material makes up a valuable part of the perennial backlist of more than one publisher.

And of course, you said a bit more than they were simply largely forgotten. You said "I'd wager big bucks that if we asked 100 people on the average American street what was the Beat movement, maybe 5 would know something about it. Hell, I live in the Bay area and I think that figure would hold here."

Great. I accept the wager. As you made the wager, I get to choose the specific terms. The average street in the Bay Area I propose you take your survey is the corner of Columbus Ave and Kerouac Street in North Beach. Have Rufus write up a contract with these terms and I'll have my own imaginary Internet lawyer, Yoda Q. McLibelous, check it over, then I'll sign.

You can pay up at Baycon. Leave the cash with the concierge.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 05:02 pm:   

Quick, Jon! I just posted a new entry about a new episode of Family Guy in my journal. Run over to it and copy and paste it into this forum for no apparent reason!
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Patrick M.
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 05:09 pm:   

I may do a reading from one of my novels-in-progress at Baycon.

Why would you do that? Why would anyone want to hear a novel-in-progress? Wouldn't that make it a draft? Why wouldn't you read from your published body of work? I've never been to a conference before, is this a common practice? What purpose does it serve?
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Simon Owens
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 05:59 pm:   

I was rereading through this thread and found this quote from Bromfield that I hadn't seen before:

" I would do the same about a pro-Nazi or pro-Klan story."

Bromfield has invoked Godwin's Law. He's lost the argument and this thread is over, although I suppose Bromfield will come back to mock and argue over the law, which is always to be expected (as you'll see in the link).

Good game, everyone. See you in the next flame war.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 06:23 pm:   

I admit I don't much care for Godwin's Law. There are times bringing up Nazis is relevant. Besides that the original point of it sounds more like saying it's a "jump the shark" moment. That a conversation will get so long people will run out of ideas and invoke the Nazis. Not that invoking the Nazis automatically ends a debate. Besides that it's a Usenet rule and we aren't on Usenet.

(Lastly I know of know debate anywhere that just stos because Nazis were invoked. Certainly not at Nightshades)
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 07:05 pm:   

Simon must have skimmed the FAQ and missed this part:

5. What should I do if somebody else invokes Godwin's Law?

The obvious response is to call them on it, say "thread's over", and declare victory. This is also one of the stupidest possible responses, because it involves believing far too much in the power of a few rules that don't say exactly what you wish they said anyway.


So anyway, about that F&SF circulation. I recommend mostly-naked women on the covers.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 07:29 pm:   

Ok then, flame on!
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Thomas R.
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 08:18 pm:   

Nahh. We should probably quit on this. I just don't like Godwin's Law for other reasons.

As for declining circulation, Americans love food. Some of the biggest magazines right now involve cooking. Instead of naked women the covers should be food related and the science in the science section should be about food. Nutrition, recipes, food history, etc.

The other alternative is more partisan political content. It's a very partisan age so that seems to sell. Make F&SF like The Nation, but with science fiction and fantasy stories. I'd dump it in a heartbeat if that happened, but it could get attention. Especially if you go really out there. I know in SF I've seen advocacy for legalizing polyamorous marriage, sex-selectively aborting male fetuses, illegalizing astrology, and various kinds of anarchism.

Or on the opposite front make it all children's fantasy with a bit of SF. Appeal to the Harry Potter.

More seriously I think the death of print SF magazines is just inevitable. Since the advent of Internet and video-games it's fast becoming an anachronism. I doubt there's anything anyone can do that will keep this or any print fiction magazine from dying within a decade or two. Although I guess you could try to get appearances on fantasy or Sci-Fi TV shows and go for colorful covers.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 08:21 pm:   

In a related idea to the partisan one you could send some of the more controversial stories to Bob Jones University or Pat Robertson's group. Being denounced by one of them could give you some attention.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 08:59 pm:   

"More seriously I think the death of print SF magazines is just inevitable. Since the advent of Internet and video-games it's fast becoming an anachronism. I doubt there's anything anyone can do that will keep this or any print fiction magazine from dying within a decade or two."

My personal opinions are that video games are probably hurting fiction in general. It's anecdotal but I have two brothers who used to read a lot of science fiction and fantasy but lately, I literally have to beg them to stop playing their games to read a good story -- I could never get either of them to read Charlie Stross's "Lobsters," for example (Wrong magazine, I know). They just want to play their video games. Both my brothers used to be SF geeks reading wise like myself and now they're not. I also have another more distant relative who is still in middle school who used to read a lot of SF from Hartry Potter to LOTR and so on but since he's gotten playstation, he hasn't touched a book outside of class. It's sad.

Still, I can't help thinking as a new generation gets used to computer technology, there will be something of a revolt at least in some circles away from computer games and back towards reading, perhaps as kind of a generational revolt -- don't stick your head in the sand like ma and pa and play Doom while Washington D.C. burns. Even better, more people might be able to find some kind of balance in their leisure activities.

It could happen, hopefully. Or not.
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 10:06 pm:   

Darn, I was hoping that "Godwin's Law" meant that once a flame war reached a certain point, you jettison the flamer out the nearest airlock, so that the suffering of the masses might end.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 10:11 pm:   

I like that better JJA. That's a Godwin's law I can support:-)
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 12:32 am:   

Rules and "Netiquette"

When writing your messages, please use the same courtesy that you would show when speaking face-to-face with someone. Flames, insults, and personal attacks will not be tolerated. It's fine to disagree strongly with opinions, ideas, and facts, but always with respect for the other person.

http://www.nightshadebooks.com/cgi-bin/discus/discus.cgi?pg=instructions#rules

Because I got to the point where I was no longer abiding by this myself, I stopped posting. But it's unfortunate that it's gone this far. People act as if they can't be banned from the boards for anything they say, because it is tantamount to censorship; but by the rules of the board, they can and should be banned as soon as the personal attacks begin. No good comes of it.

From what I can see, the first personal attack (as opposed to an attack on an idea/story found objectionable) starts in the very first (flaming) post:

"Showing the moral and mental clarity of a held-back 7th-grade thumb-sucker... [snip] ... semi-literate testicle-challenged boobs like you and HT..."

The board moderator would have been within rights to truncate the flaming right there. Why tolerate the continued participation of someone whose sole intent on this board is to cause destruction and sow argument and hate?

JB's reference to Objectivism ultimately sent me to the Objectivist Center's own website, much as the words of terrorists claiming to represent Islam have caused me to take another look at the Koran. I have to conclude that even Ayn Rand would consider JB's behavior unhealthy:

"Objectivism holds that the fundamental standard for all relationships is the trader principle. This principle holds that we should interact with people on the basis of the values we can trade with them - values of all sorts, including common interests in art, sports or music, similar philosophical outlooks, political beliefs, sense of life, and more. Trade, in this broad sense, is the only proper basis of any relationship...."

This being the case, why would anyone with so-called "Objectivist leanings" deliberately choose to remain on this board, pursuing arguments among those with whom clearly he shares no values? There is nothing at all of worth being traded here. The negative behavior borders on pathological.

The reason I spend time on this board, as opposed to any of the thousands of others on the internet, is not because I enjoy inventing insults or watching disgusting acid slop flung about, but because I have friends here. It is an enjoyable complement to private communication and face to face meetings. It's a way of staying in touch with people who share many of my values. No one really needs any more reason than that to participate on this or any other board. There are plenty of message boards devoted to insults, gross-outs, and personal attacks. According to the netiquette definition stated above, this is not one of them.

It goes without saying that people should abide by the rules of the board or stay away from it. But even beyond that, empty adherence to the rules is not enough in itself. If you're not engaged in some kind of fair trade, you're wasting everyone's time and energy.

The first complaint about "Bedfellows" was a fair criticism, as are most of the opinions posted on this board with regard to stories people personally disliked. But the instant it stopped being about the story, and went on to insult the author, the editor, and other readers of the story, red flags should have gone up.

I hope they'll go up in the future.
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Minz
Posted on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 07:14 am:   

WELL SAID!!!
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Patrick M.
Posted on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 06:49 pm:   

I'd like to cite "Revelations and my stupidity v. N. Mamatas" Flame war:

And John said:

http://www.nightshadebooks.com/cgi-bin/discus/show.cgi?tpc=378&post=53154#POST53 154

Thus declaring an end...
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Patrick Swenson
Posted on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 10:06 pm:   

So how ABOUT those F&SF circulation figures in Locus, Gordon? <vbg!>
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 12:13 pm:   

Byron and the always grammar-challenged ThomasR prove my point.

"Bedfellows" is a third-rate story published only because it fits Gordon's political bias.

Here's one that wouldn't get past the First Reader at any of the Big Three:

"TO NOT TO BE"

by Jon Bromfield

The child had floated impatiently in her amniotic universe for almost nine months. Her body was now fully formed, the bones hard, internal organs all functioning. The synapses that filled her brain had a few more connections to make, but their number and efficiency were set, her intellectual potential determined and ready to be realized.

The soul that animated her physical body since sperm met egg was tired of waiting for birth. God had created her spirit to match her sturdy body and fascile brain, and she longed to get on with her life, to escape the confines of her mother's womb, to leave its dull darkness with it unvarying warmth and the same old sounds of her mother's beating heart and unceasing digestion.

It didn't bother her that she was leaving the safety and comforts of the womb to enter a world unknown and dangerous. God had made that world too, to be a stage bounded by space and time, for her to live out her life and to do those things she was created to do.

It would be a busy and mostly happy life, full of accomplishments and good works. God has also given her empathy for those less fortunate and gifted than herself. She would used her brains and talents to care for and protect them. With her healthy body she could expect to do so for many, many years before returning to her Maker.

It was time. While she last slumbered, God had turned her so that her head was down, pressed against a firmness that now was yielding. Suddenly she felt something external against her, grabbing her, turning her around! Then she felt that same something enclosed her ankles, holding them together and pulling. This wasn't right, she somehow knew, but was powerless to do anything. She next felt a coldness on her feet. The coldness spread to her legs, from her legs to her bottom, from there to her back and near her shoulders. There it stopped. Where was the light God had told here she would see?

She felt a long cold thing moving up her back. Its hard coldness was even more unpleasant as it make its way past her shoulders, stilled enclosed in wetness and warmth. It stopped at the soft indentation at the base of her skull. After the briefest of moments, the child experienced a very bad feeling and heard a whirling sound....


The husband sat in a chair in the hospital waiting room reading the afternoon edition of the Chicago Tribune. A dour, pessimistic man, the news only confirmed his view of the world.

Italy had gone communist, just a few weeks after Greece, and it looked like France was next.


"Should have kept the army in Europe, once we kicked Hitler's ass," the husband muttered. President Wallace was a fool to have promised Stalin immediate American demobilization at Potsdam.

Th re-constituted Surpreme Court was at it again too, ruling 12 to 3 that America's treaty with the new United Nations obliged it to share its atomic secrets with all members of the Security Council. That would come to no good, the husband knew.

Shitty world to raise a girl in, the husband thought. Luckily, now that that President Wallace had legalized by executive order abortion on demand anytime during gestation, he wouldn't have to.

He had a choice, his wife too of course, even if it had taken months for her to come around.

He looked up over his newspaper at the sound of footsteps. A nurse in starched whites stood over him.


"Your wife is awake. You may see her now, Mr. Rodham."
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 01:11 pm:   

If this is meant to mark a contrast to Bedfellows, you're right--it is in marked contrast. One indulges (however ironically) in a far-fetched vision of peace, in which implacable enemies embrace. The other indulges in the retroactive annihilation of a living person.

Fair enough. I'm sure it's not the first fictionalized deathwish sent in the direction of Hilary Clinton.

I do like the way it messes with the right-wing theo-political mindsight, though. Because while there are no doubt many people who wish that Hilary Rodham had never been born, those who are opposed to abortion will find this story both gratifying and horrific at the same time. This is a pathological paradox not unlike that which possesses bombers of abortion clinics: "Choose Life -- Or I'll Kill You!"

As far as the writing goes, you're certainly right it wouldn't make it out of the slushpile, but not for the reasons you think. As social satire, it's as pointed as a spoon. It's an exercise, a checklist, rather than a story. The fetus's internal monologue is exceedingly unconvincing. The lack of any attempt to actually evoke the mental processes of a fetus shows a failure of imagination--not to mention nerve. In this respect, and also in the way it completely trivializes the concept of God, it reminds me of that novelty song purportedly sung by an about-to-be-aborted fetus, but which is actually sung by a grown man who has sped up his voice to a squeaky pitch, like some demented version of Alvin and the Chipmunks. The punch line, far from sending me reeling, simply had me thinking, "Rodham...why does that name seem familiar?"

For that reason alone, this story is likely to be forgotten far more quickly (and have a much smaller immediate impact) than "Bedfellows," because Hilary is a much less significant figure. That might change, and this story would gain a bit more longevity, if you published this during her presidency. (There's another parallel history tale for you to tackle.)

Anyway, I appreciate the creative effort that went into this vignette, even though it was so obvious where it was heading that one needn't read so much as skim it. At least there's nothing in this story half as offensive or shameful as the sight of a 45 year old man bullying a 20 year old with his own blog, so good luck with this positive new angle on life!
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wandcoker
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 01:12 pm:   

Don't give up your day job, Jon.
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jh
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 01:18 pm:   

Could it be that Bromfield is actually in love with W and jealous of O?
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 01:27 pm:   

"Byron and the always grammar-challenged ThomasR prove my point.

"'Bedfellows' is a third-rate story published only because it fits Gordon's political bias."
***
Hey, I don't think I mentioned anything about "Bedfellows." If I have, I'd be more than curious to see it.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 01:50 pm:   

Hate to change the subject but I don't think it matters much because this thread is already destroyed but since everyone has been so kind to comment on Bromfield's flash fiction and short shorts, I'd appreciate a little honesty on one of my flash pieces which I couldn't sale to a paying market. It's been published in a nonpaying one so I'm not losing any rights, I don't think by posting it here. If you got the time and the inclination, feel free to tear it apart or not. Or if that doesn't, feel free to flame mefor posting it here. Anything would be better than this Bromfield crap.

Baal Hammon Ponders the Third Punic War
by Byron Bailey

What kind of God do these Carthaginians think I am? They kill their children in my name and then place the corpses into the arms of my idol. I want to hug those children to my chest and bathe their pain in my tears but my idol is not me. Instead, my idol merely grins idiotically as their bodies slide from its arms into the sacrificial flames. When the children burn, the flames lick away at their muscles, limbs contracting and mouth opening like they are laughing. They are not laughing, though. They are crying. I can hear them.

I never asked for this sacrifice! It is my consort Tanit, the moon, who finds the aroma of cremated children pleasing.

It all started with Dido. If the Romans conquer, they will undoubtedly change the story, say that Dido was crucified or killed with a sword. The Romans are a violent people. And they will probably have poor Dido pining away for one of their blood-thirsty heroes. After all, isn’t it every lice-infested centurion’s fantasy to have a Carthaginian woman lusting after him? The truth, though, is that Dido didn’t want any mortal’s bed. When she threw herself on top of that burning pyre, she gave herself to me.

The moon is a very jealous lover, though. With every cremated child, Tanit makes certain that the women of Carthage remember with their anguished tears that I am hers and not theirs. But I am not Tanit’s and I will not be appeased by burnt children. If the Carthaginians want to be saved from the wrath of Rome, they are going to have to start pleasing me!

All I want is what every male wants — beautiful women. Just make sure that when they are thrown into the flames that the moon is not in the sky to see.


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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 02:48 pm:   

Jon's wasn't comedy. The standards I've noticed are only lowered for comedy. Try something funny about a thinly veiled Barbara Boxer or Michael Moore. In fact I might have to try something like that as I keep thinking I'll try one last time to send something to FSF.
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T Andrews
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 03:52 pm:   

Byron Bailey: Maybe because it comes on the heels of an unsatisfying description of a womb, but I think it has a tone of mysogyny that iritates me.
Other than that, it's interesting and I like the players: Tanit, romans, etc...I think perhaps your Baal sounds too conversational. He doesn't sound like he's pondering.
Now, if you're lucky, someone with some cred will take a shot at it. I'm just a poser.

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Simon Owens
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 05:18 pm:   

Who knew that this would become an all-day critique thread.

I agree mostly with what MarcL said about the posted story. For awhile there was some neat imagery you used, but like most flash fiction it died easily because you focused on the surprise punchline too much from the very beginning, almost as if you're trying to hold off an orgasm.

Plus it's really just a two-dimensional caricature set-up of a liberal. Most liberals (or rather, people who consider themselves to the left of the center) don't believe in late-term abortion, certainly I don't think Hilary Clinton has expressed support of on-demand late term abortions, so really it just proves that you have these specific, paranoid guidelines of what makes up a liberal, something obvious from the very beginning.

This is why most your arguments fail is because you lash out at everything that isn't an extreme conservative (you even attack Thomas for his personal views sometimes, even though he's a moderate conservative) which makes even the few times you're right worthless in the grand scheme of things.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 05:48 pm:   

We lost a child at 5-1/2 months; I have been present at several D&C's for reasons that are nobody else's business. My thoughts about abortion are impervious to being summed up neatly, let alone as part of someone's political platform; JB hasn't admitted to any experience with the topic he's chosen for his piece, but given the flip, parodic attitude in the story, I would guess not. I will say that it is so far from being any kind of actual expression or well developed statement of a coherent thought or emotion that it doesn't affect me on any level except as parody. (I didn't see any neat imagery in it either, just a lot of borrowed assumptions. For instance, what's with this whole "God" character?)

Byron: Speaking of mythological monomaniacs, I liked the voice of your narrator, I liked the imagery and the density, and I liked the twist at the end. There are some grammar (problems) that an editor would have helped with if you'd had a good one. It's very slight but I read every word, I read it to the end, and thought it effective for what it is. I don't think this is the place for these things, though.

On other threads, people have recommended critters.org and other online writing groups. Those are almost certainly better places to take stories for feedback.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 07:13 pm:   

Thanks T Andrews and MarcL for your comments. Yeah, critters is better for soliciting feedback but I don't want to wait in the queu for a story this short, particularly when it's already been published. I know. It's bad form on my part but there's been a lot of bad form on this thread so it shouldn't be too out of place here
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 03:00 pm:   

For a second I was wondering why a relative of Ham Hammond's would be thinking about the Punic Wars... then I snapped into focus. Wrong classic!

Quibble: "The Romans are a violent people..."

Eheu, people are violent people. I don't think one can make the case that the Romans were more violent than the Carthaginians (or that one ethnicity is more violent than another).

More broadly:

The general idea is interesting, but somehow the execution lacks a certain snap. Maybe, if you're thinking of doing more stuff like this, a dialogue would be better, allowing for some cut-and-thrust between the characters-- like Lucian's Dialogues of the Gods, but with non-Greco-Roman deities.

JM("Marduk")P
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Thomas R.
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 03:49 pm:   

It makes sense for the Carthaginians, or one of their Gods, to see the Romans negatively. The Romans saw Carthaginians as a violent people who sacrificed children and oppressed conquered peoples.

That being said I think Byron knows he's not quite ready for the pros.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 10:58 am:   

"That being said I think Byron knows he's not quite ready for the pros."

Oh ye of little faith. :-(

"The general idea is interesting, but somehow the execution lacks a certain snap. Maybe, if you're thinking of doing more stuff like this, a dialogue would be better, allowing for some cut-and-thrust between the characters-- like Lucian's Dialogues of the Gods, but with non-Greco-Roman deities."

I actually agree with you, James M. Pfundstein. If I were to write the story now, I would have done things a bit different. Still, I probably wouldn't do it all in dialogue. I like those touches of description that say a lot. I think I probably made it weaker, though, by having so much of the story as backfill. I would have been better to start with Baal Hammon's initial contact with Dido and gone in a more chronological order, showing a lot more of the conflict between him, Dido, Tanit, and the women of Carthage with the Romans as kind of an ever-present cloud of doom to contribute to the mood. Still, doing it this way, would have required a lot more words but I think I could have turned it into something fairly good with around 1000 words or so but who knows? Lately, I'm getting away from artificial cutting my stories short to make flash fiction and having them be as long as they need be. The latest piece that I'm working on was envisioned as a flash piece but it's current at around 5000 words in rough draft form.

Well, anyway, thank you very much for the commentary James M. Pfundstein and Thomas R. I appreciate it.
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dalani
Posted on Friday, May 06, 2005 - 07:44 pm:   

I read the thread beginning to end and will not comment on the obvious..how a bully in a school yard should be ignored..but this thread shows me some wouldn't even qualify. I see patriots who do more damage to their own country then anyone outside ever could..how sad
thanks Byron and others for pointing this out...I'd be curious to know where your story was published.

My reason for even dropping in this thread was the circulation figures and Gordon's views on that subject. The pulp genre is something I grew up with to some degree. Now someone long ago on this thread suggested a format change. All things being the same, what strikes me about pulp genres is how the graphics always looks the same: that figurative realism of fantasy paintings. FrnkFrazetta and Boris established the style fairly well. But no innovations since. In my view, graphics is something worth experimenting with Gordon. I don't resume to tell you anything but what gives?..there's video games out there that do the imagining we do when we read. TV and internet complete the glut. When I was a teenager, there were few such distractions-a paperback, some music and an acive imagination was all we needed. But consider that visual literacy is part of culture also.

There's new artists out there. Why doesn't SF&F feature them? I've done some artwork myself over the past 10 years, would SF&F be open to cover art cast in a different light?



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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Saturday, May 07, 2005 - 05:07 am:   

Dalani---

I take your point, but I've used a lot of new cover artists in the last four years. I just haven't made a radical change to the look of the magazine. I think that it's good to have a fairly consistent look for the mag. If you study The New Yorker through history, for instance, you'll see that while the look has changed and evolved over time, it's still basically consistent and you can identify a magazine from 1935 as being the same publication as a magazine from 1975 as being the same publication as one from this month. (Incidentally, if you look at the F&SF covers through time -- you can see them all here: http://www.sfcovers.net/ -- you'll see that the first issues did have a different look. The designer was the great George Salter, who gave the magazines a very literary, New Yorker-ish tone. I gather that look didn't work and they switched to more spacescapes and representational covers. It wasn't Frazetta and Boris who established that look, by the way. Both of them are great artists, and I particularly recommend the Frazetta documentary Painting with Fire [http://www.razor3donline.com/frazetta.html], but credit for the F&SF look goes more to Ed Emshwiller than to anyone else, with credit due too to Kelly Freas and others.)

I have to confess also that a lot of the newer graphic designs don't do much for me, especially the computer-generated images of humans. Too many of them look good in computer games but appear clumsy to me and leave me thinking, "I wouldn't pick up a magazine in the store with that on the cover."

Interzone magazine made a radical graphic shift when Andy Cox took over from David Pringle. I've been following their covers with great interest and one thing I hope to discuss with Andy and co. at WorldCon is how well their approach is working commercially. As for F&SF, though, we might tinker a little with the design, but I think our overall look should say, "Herein you'll find great pleasures of the imagination." I think that's what our design does say, so I'm planning to stick with it.
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dalani
Posted on Saturday, May 07, 2005 - 09:52 am:   

Yes of course it is a graphic layout that should not change. After all, brand recongnition is crucial and irreplacable. sfcovers.com shows F&SF's cover title got bigger and more visible. But within those bounds, the cover design hasn't changed.But the 1991 cover art was different though-have another look. If the art could be framed and hung on its own in a living room then it's art. If not, it is an illustration. Most of 1991 covers were artworks with good composition and figure/ground abstractions (Walotski,Rapnicka, Gervais).

"the newer graphic designs don't do much for me, especially the computer-generated images of humans. Too many of them look good in computer games but appear clumsy "

I was thinking more along the lines of fantastic art by HR Giger and other artists though unknown, doing art in a unique style. OMNI magazine, if you remember, was innovative in that way, showcasing some very talented artists while their graphical brand remained constant. (Too bad Kathleen isn't around to continue the project)

But I'm saying these things thinking "what would catch my eye at a magazine if I was looking for a good read?" I've seen a fantasy mag that shows live action film stills on its cover which NOT the way to go in my opinion.

I am maybe discussing this too fervently but I am a designer so these things matter to me. But I agree that F&SF's cover art announces the imaginative content quite well over the years...

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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Saturday, May 07, 2005 - 10:29 am:   

http://www.sfcovers.net/

Wow! What a great site. Is there a link to this with the F&SF bibliography? It's cool to put covers to some famous issues and stories. The "Mairzy Oats" cover took me by surprise, for example.

Thanks for the link.
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Libling
Posted on Saturday, May 07, 2005 - 11:13 am:   

I second Charlie's wow. What a great site all around! Thanks for posting it, Gordon.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, May 07, 2005 - 10:04 pm:   

"I'd be curious to know where your story was published."

It's an online publication called Bewildering Stories. It's not much of an accomplishment getting published there although they do have the occasional good story. Steven Utley's even been published there so I'm not in too bad of company. I do have other stuff published there, some of it very bad and written 10+ years ago and some of it semi-okay. I haven't given them anything that I consider to be my better work, though.
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dalani
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 06:44 pm:   

Bewildering Stories: better published there than nowhere. Small press as its place. Small ponds you know...
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robert eggleton
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 02:57 pm:   

Ebooks?

My first novel, "Rarity from the Hollow," will come out as an ebook this summer. Frankly, I didn't have the money to query traditional publisher's slush piles, so I only sent the manuscript to a few of those which would accept email submissions. Are people reading ebooks yet and is this phenomena included in the downsized statistical outcomes of traditional fantasy publishers. Robert Eggleton, robert_t@charter.net
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Kalessin
Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - 09:40 pm:   

Personally, I like the digest size and format. I rather like the "feel" of it.
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Jeff Rensch
Posted on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 08:11 pm:   

Hello - I've read F&SF off and on since June 63 issue featuring "no truce with kings" (and Jack Vance, according to the cover). All and all it is as good a magazine today as it was under editorship of Avram Davidson and Edward Ferman (and better than under Rusch). This thread has been so weird -- all because of one scabrous story just a few pages long! Forget it. Let's go back to reading Robt Reed, Matthew Hughes, B. Denton (best of them all) and all the other modern masters, grateful that this weird little magazine has somehow survived! (Also people shd exercise restraint and not answer that Bromfield guy.)
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R.Wilder
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 07:34 am:   

Bravo, Jeff Rensch! My sentiments exactly.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 08:52 am:   

So I'm a modern master? Why doesn't anybody tell me these things? Or is it just that I never read the memos?

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/black-brillion

BSP: My first collection, The Gist Hunter & Other Stories, launches in 12 days
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Irving forbush
Posted on Saturday, September 03, 2005 - 08:50 am:   

The original intent of this thread, the circulation of the magazine, seems lost. My copy of F&SF comes from a local Borders at a centralized location of a large, and growing city. The three surrounding towns include blue collar and professional people. The store is quite busy. The magazine is displayed prominently (5 copies) near the store's restaurant appearing regularly about the first of each month in a suspended rack projecting out toward the aisle. Within a week 2 copies are sold, mine and one other to someone I have never seen, the remaining copies languishing, and I might add collecting dust along the top margin. Now...these facts seem to indicate a small fraction of people from a sample of tens of thousands visiting the mall are interested in the magazine or its contents. Even if ten copies appeared only 2 would sell. And, by accident, the clerk displayed F&SF with the sf movie mags situated just below the "girly" mags (you know, the type young fellows seem to like so much) and the sales did not seem to improve. These copies WERE SEEN. Today, I'm going in to obtain your double issue (BEAUTIFUL COVER, again ruined by the bar code) and I will be saddened to see them languish as usual. Often, I listen to the pseudointellectual conversations among the young folks at the racks, conversations so filled with all knowing phrases, loud voices, and condesending attitudes toward contrary views, and so oblivious of anyone else in existence. They already seem to know so little, learning more is impossible. Across the store at the Science Fiction racks, a few kids are clustered - more older people - rarely selecting a single volume...whether they know about F&SF??? Near PHILOSOPHY, fans are talking loudly about the authors read, and carefully mispronoucinging each author's name. What about young people who say they are interested in SF? I visited my high school's Science Fiction Club, only to find the discussion limited to role playing games, and preposterous discussions of the meaning behind Star Wars, Star Trek, or 2001. In short, I conclude there is nothing wrong with Fantasy and Science Fiction, except that its is out of contact with the present generation - much the way Woody Allen's recent movies with emphasis on the 1940's, jazz or Big Band have been, resulting in flops of high quality material.
Chas
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Saturday, September 03, 2005 - 01:35 pm:   

Chas---

Thank you for your post. A couple of quick points:

1) Don't be saddened by the unsold copies. Our aim is to distribute more copies than we sell. If we shipped five copies and sold five, that would be great for one month . . . but not for two months. Those extra copies "languishing" there are actually our single best form of advertisment. If we're shipping five copies a month and selling 2-3, we're doing okay in your store. (Sure I'd love to see those numbers double or triple, but those numbers aren't bad for one store.)

2) I think dinosaurs are cool and I am content with the fact that F&SF is one.

3) I take your point, but I think the comparison to recent Woody Allen movies isn't as accurate as you do. I don't know if I'm in synch with today's diverse youth culture, but I do think our subject matter changes with the times. For instance, I think Kelly Link's "Magic for Beginners" (in the Sept. issue) strikes me as being more in touch with "the present generation" than Miller's "A Canticle for Leibowitz" was in the late 1950s.
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Paige
Posted on Monday, September 05, 2005 - 09:22 pm:   

I think the attitudes toward young people on this board are pretty frustrating at times. I'm 23 and have been reading F&SF since elementary school (along with many other SF magazines and novels that I pilfered from my dad's bookshelves). It gets really tiring to hear older people constantly complain about my generation. My friends and I really don't sit around at Borders posing as intellectuals and pretentiously discussing Aristotally and Can't. ;) (Although, since we're all med students, we really shouldn't be at Borders anyway.) Talk about "condescending attitude"- your post reeks of it!

I think F&SF does a fantastic job of being in touch with my age group- "Magic for Beginners" is a great example- and at the same time has definitely helped me grow personally by exposing me to material that isn't necessarily aimed at my demographic group. It's a good balance. I can assure you that quite a few young people I know read the magazine and enjoy it. Sure, lots of us are into discussing the meaning behind various pop-culture flicks and RPG's- who doesn't need brain candy?- but we don't spend all our time trying to deny contrary worldviews and reading media tie-ins. I promise. ;)
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John Thiel
Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2005 - 07:05 am:   

I just picked up the latest Locus at Barnes & Noble(it has Janis Ian on the cover). That thing looks like it's still a fanzine to me.
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E Thomas
Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2005 - 02:37 pm:   

Paige: I think the attitudes toward young people on this board are pretty frustrating at times. I'm 23 and have been reading F&SF since elementary school (along with many other SF magazines and novels that I pilfered from my dad's bookshelves).

I know what you mean. I'm 22 and have been subscribing for a few years and hanging out on online forums for fantasy and science fiction for about the same length of time. Obviously there are a lot of younger people out there who don't know about the mags or aren't interested, but that doesn't mean that our generation needs to be written off by everyone. A lot of older people don't read F & SF, but the assumption there isn't generalized to the entire generation. :-)

On the topic of covers, I want to say that F & SF always has beautiful covers and art. I have great respect for whomever obtains them.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2005 - 05:52 pm:   

Thanks for the great feedback, Paige and E. I'm especially pleased to hear you confirm my sense that "Magic for Beginners" was right on target.

I was thirteen or fourteen when I started reading F&SF and a part of me always feels like I'm editing the magazine for my younger self.
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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, September 07, 2005 - 01:26 am:   

I just want to add that a big part of why most of the stories in the genre in general, don't seem to represent the younger generation, is simply that the writers writing the stories are from older generations. Fiction writing isn't exactly a young person's profession. Not that young people can't do it. They can. Just that most writers are usually over thirty, at least, when they really find their voice. So, it's only a matter of time before writers who're in their early to mid twenties start getting published so younger readers can read their stories.
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Irving Forbush
Posted on Saturday, September 10, 2005 - 12:45 pm:   

Gents:
I did not single out the "youngsters" for ridicule...I merely described what I saw...That's quite different...I did not mention they were all dressed in black with numerous buckles and pins hanging down. Incidentally, in the past school year I read about 30-40,000 answers on high school lab reports in my chem classes...and talk to youngsters during study periods at length. I think I know something about kids. The 20 year old individuals you fellows are mentioning do not provide as reliable a basis for generalization as my 41 years of experience with these people I was describing. In fact, I praise teenagers widely and defend them against criticism. Routinely, I see the people I am describing reading Stephen King's books - practically to the exclusion of anything else. Fellows, would you agree with a youngster that a career in "body piercing" is an excellent way for a person to express individuality?
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E Thomas
Posted on Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 09:31 am:   

First of all, I'm not a fellow or a gent. :-) (I can't speak for Paige, but it sounds like that might be a woman's name to me.) I was mostly responding to Paige's comment, not yours, but I don't think you should write off our opinions so quickly because you have been a high school chem teacher. It was but a few scant years ago that I was a teenager, and I still count myself in the "youngster" category. I can say that a lot of people I know read more than Stephen King books and while many of them play RPGs, video games, and watch movies, that does not mean it is all that they do. Nor is it entirely fair to generalize readers on a few people in Borders mispronouncing philosophers' names. Did you ask your school's science fiction club if anyone would be interested in a raffle for science fiction books or a subscription one of the magazines? I bet even if they weren't talking about it, someone would be interested.

This subject on the generations is probably worthy of a new thread, I might start one up and move the relevant posts.
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Irving Forbush
Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 02:29 pm:   

Gents, Fellows, Ladies, Aliens Et Cetera:

I think I will move on as well. The people who respond on this site seem quick to react in a mean spirited, defensive, sophomoric manner - quite unlike the more cultured people with whom I associate. Neither defending nor ridiculing young people was my intention. If you do not like a position defended by observational facts then stick to fantasy which the magazine specializes in. One must avoid the trap of "allegience bias", where one defends a position against all contrary arguments no matter how valid. Younger people often (rarely otherwise) have short memories and fewer first hand experiences than older people. Just listen to their spoken thoughts... Mention an event having taken place before their birth and they seem free to ignore it: "Hey! I wasn't born until l982!" According to them, their culture developed "de novo" with no debt to the labors and subsequent contributions of earlier generations. If this cognitive state is not descriptive of young folks - then what possible value could experience and education have? In their state of partial ignorance young folks in sciences and humanities can and do make important contributions by seeing things without the constraints of the language and points of view of the past...However, that creative population of the younger folks making such contributions is vanishing small (but vitally important). The remainder are largely fad-chasing imitators with shallow points of view based on little but a desire for novelty even if such novelty is derived from nothing more than stylistic exhaustion. I cannot imagine many of the youngsters I know enjoying some of the stories in the Oct/Nov issue of F&SF. For instance, what teenager would understand the position of Helen as she experiences her first wrinkle? Similarly, English teachers tell me that kids cannot understand the thrust of DEATH OF A SALESMAN for the reason just mentioned. Just now in the library where I am seated a group of 6 teenagers are making noise...referring to each other as "Dudes"..running around...monopolizing the computers with chat and video games...and being told by the librarian "you will have to leave if you do not behave yourself." I think I will engage them in a conversation about Helen and her wrinkle...(HA!) Incidentally, I did engaged a 16 year old (with an intelligent face) reading CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR for a "book report" in a study period conversation. After a 30 minute exchange, I convinced him to read one of the following instead: PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN...SPEAK MEMORY...ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE or lastly, THE DIVINE INVASION. And, I asked him to get back to me to explain what he read. I am looking ahead to what he thinks.

IRVING
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 08:57 am:   

Irving, during study halls in high school I read many collected plays such as those by William Inge, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, John Synge, etc.
I loved them and they instilled in me a love of theater that has stayed with me. Your argument is assinine. You give kids far too little credit.
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Irving Forbush
Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 03:20 pm:   

Dear Responders:
Ok! Ok! Assinine it is!!! So I retract all comments...I did not see any of the kids I reported...have not known all the teens over the last forty years...instead they were all mature intellectuals reading PHD dissertations...after having won Pulitzer Prizes for their own writing or the Nobel Prize for Science Fair Projects....Study halls are filled with poetry reading...theater going enthusiasts.. with huge libraries filled with all the Great Books recommended by Mortimer Adler...and loads of back issues of F&SF boosting the circulation to at least 2 million....and here I sit a senile, old hulk suffering in a continual delusional state. Ha! That should straighten out a few things around here!
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 04:28 pm:   

Assinine it is then.

Are you really a teacher? If you are, I have to pity your class. Maybe it was just me, but when I was training to become a teacher -- never become one except as a substitute -- I had to take a required class on human development with Freud, Piaget and the rest of the gang discussed and one thing I learned and it's something you should have learned too is that this entire adolescence thing is just a stage and not the end product. Even if the students are as you described, then it's just a stage they're going through. Don't worry. Most of them will grow out of it.

You also make an unusually big deal about what happens in a study hall. I got news for you. From the perspective of a former student, albeit quite a few years ago, studying in a study hall is usually the last thing you want to do, particularly in a study hall that's not at the end of the day. The reason is that for some assinine reason, the administration and counselors invariasbly pick study hall as the time to summon you into their presence, usually without any warning. In one foul stroke, your chemistry homework has been superceded by the capricious administrative gods. Furthermore, even if the administrative gods don't turn their baleful eyes your way, it was still always a crap shoot if you could get your homework done within the confines of one study hall. If you actually cared about your grade and having your homework done, the only safe way to do it was out of study hall, usually at home. Personally, I never took study halls unless I had no choice and a lot of the people I knew didn't either. Maybe the kids you need to talk to are the ones not in study hall.

"The remainder are largely fad-chasing imitators with shallow points of view based on little but a desire for novelty even if such novelty is derived from nothing more than stylistic exhaustion."

What's changed in the last 2000+ years.

"I cannot imagine many of the youngsters I know enjoying some of the stories in the Oct/Nov issue of F&SF. For instance, what teenager would understand the position of Helen as she experiences her first wrinkle? Similarly, English teachers tell me that kids cannot understand the thrust of DEATH OF A SALESMAN for the reason just mentioned."

I had a teacher friend (he died of cancer a few years ago) with a doctorate in American literature who chose to continue teaching at the high school level rather than college level because he believed that you could teach a high school class, even a noncollege prep class, anything you could teach a college class if you could sneak it past the administration and parents. He regularly taught Faulkner's _As I Lay Dying_ to sophomores and he did a good job at it.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 04:47 pm:   

See, I loved study hall because I could read what I wanted to then :-)
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 05:29 pm:   

The first study hall I had in high school, I had the misfortune of having a teacher who believed that study hall actually meant study. If you made the mistake of saying that you didn't have anything to study, you had the misfortune of finding yourself copying entries by hand from an encyclopedia. I don't know how many fantasy and science fiction novels that man confiscated from me. Because my F&SFs and Asimov's were much smaller, though, I could frequently get away with reading them if I concealed them between the pages of my algebra book, maintained a tight frown on my face, and kept a pencil in my hand.
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Irving Forbush
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 09:34 am:   

Friends:
Thanks for the posts. Playing Devil's advocate is a hobby of mine....Over stating a case is a way of making a point...You folks are all defending yourselves (I guess) by describing your own experiences. There is, however, a cognitive state unknown to many called "another person's mind" which means to me you cannot extend your own point of view to everyone else's head...Today, study halls are called (in some places) "DIRECTED STUDIES" where the teacher in charge engages students in discussions about what they are reading or calculator game they are playing. or what they are studying in class. Quite often I read their poetry, term papers, etc. for insight into their thoughts. And, I might add, the students often tell me such studies are their favorite time of the day. Nonetheless, I find what they are doing (as Francis Bacon writes in his famous preface) is encompassed in the phrase, "the boyhood of knowledge". Here, one can read, speak, but not generate. Disputations are common, deriving largely from thinking with feelings rather than facts. Common faults in the process of advancing the pillars of knowledge abound: Hero worship and the admiration of knowledge as if it were statuary among them. What they do say is both interesting and original - but the parts that are interesting are not original nor are the original parts interesting. Recently, a young woman reading Gulliver's Travels said, "I do not like this, because the people are not nice." After some Socratic questioning, she concluded that a "nice person" doesn't get in the way of me getting what I want. She wanted also to send art work to a foreign dictator to convince him to be nice to his subjects. Hmmm! The emphasis on self esteem practically cripples one's ability to make constructive criticism, even though the Sci.Amer. demonstrates in recent articles that "self esteem" though desirable is not crucial to academic advancement. Let us face facts - all ideas are not equal. We are entitled to our own opinion because nobody else wants it. I teach students. My classes are "hands on" and "brains on". A no nonsense atmosphere pervails, but humor is not lacking. A kid can learn if he wants to. I like teenagers because of their honesty and innocence rather then their clarity of thought or the value of their "creations". To the best of my ability I try to contribute to their living a "good life well lived". That's all. Their personal predilictions are their own business and not of general interest. They know I will tell them when an idea is "half backed". No hypocrisy allowed.
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Miss Eduacated
Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 - 03:37 pm:   

I often ask, "Is our children learning?" How do you know if you don't measure if you have a system that simply suckles kids through? We want our teachers to be trained so they can meet the obligations, their obligations as teachers. We want them to know how to teach the science of reading. In order to make sure there's not this kind of federal cufflink. Reading is the basics for all learning and if you teach a child to read, he or her will be able to pass a literacy test. The public education system in America is one of the most important foundations of our democracy. After all, it is where children from all over America learn to be responsible citizens, and learn to have the skills necessary to take advantage of our fantastic opportunistic society. I love the idea of a school in which people come to get educated and stay in the state in which they're educated. And that, of course, includes study hall!
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E Thomas
Posted on Monday, September 19, 2005 - 11:50 am:   

Irving Forbush I think I will move on as well. The people who respond on this site seem quick to react in a mean spirited, defensive, sophomoric manner - quite unlike the more cultured people with whom I associate. Neither defending nor ridiculing young people was my intention.

I think you are reading too much between the lines. I don't see anyone responding in any of these ways. Paige did say that your post had a condescending attitude, but that was about the worst of it. I think we are all trying to engage in a reasoned debate here. Disagreement with your post from our own life experiences does not mean that I do not think you should stay on the forum and keep discussing with us issues that you think are important. I started a thread on the possible generation gap in this forum entitled "Young People and SF: Generation Gap?" based on some of our comments here, if anyone wants to discuss it some more. Organically, a discussion of "Magic for Beginners" has also blossomed on this thread:
http://www.nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/378/4958.html?1127154970
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Alicia Martin
Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 10:17 am:   

"It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in an argument." William G Mcadoo

The same would apply to debates.
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Lukedjlaw
Junior Member
Username: Lukedjlaw

Post Number: 114
Registered: 05-2007
Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 - 02:25 pm:   

Strange, this discussion comes up as the first link under F&SF's wikipedia entry.

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