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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2003 - 08:55 am:   

What's with all these slow stories lately? Is it just me or are the short stories from the literary end of SF really dragging ass, pacing wise?

Trampoline is a good example. I like most of the stuff in there just fine, but Christ, not much happens. And it takes a while to get there. What's the aesthetic behind this? Finding the fantastic in everyday life? I'm unsure, since many of the stories are absurd or uncanny in significant ways, so the slow revelation doesn't really hold up.

I've noticed that a few of the writers spent formative years in the American south -- is it a regionalism? A lot of your classic southern literary writing is also fairly molasses-assed.

Or am I just missing the fast-paced stuff out there? I read the nerdc0re material, but what's pop on the literary end of things these days? Perhaps it is just a reaction to pop in the rest of the genre(s).

Inquiring minds want to know.
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JeffV
Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2003 - 09:29 am:   

I actually found Trampoline a relief from the fast-paced stuff. I did find a few stories dragging, or not doing much for me, but a lot of them were kind of soothing. Not "reassuring" or "escapist" but soothing in a good way. It is possible the anthology is too long, but almost every anthology is.

I'd hold up Greer Gilman's long novella, Crowd of Bone (sic), as an example of a work where there's tons of action occurring in every sentence in terms of the vocabulary, in the way the words interact with one another. It's just happening on a micro-level. It's an incredible story.

But, I don't disagree that action's nice, too.

Jeff
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Kristin Livdahl
Posted on Saturday, June 21, 2003 - 10:26 pm:   

<<I've noticed that a few of the writers spent formative years in the American south -- is it a regionalism? A lot of your classic southern literary writing is also fairly molasses-assed.

Or am I just missing the fast-paced stuff out there? I read the nerdc0re material, but what's pop on the literary end of things these days? Perhaps it is just a reaction to pop in the rest of the genre(s).

Inquiring minds want to know.>>

It sounds like a case of Jersey-itis to me.

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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, June 21, 2003 - 11:16 pm:   

Does Jersey-itis make me faster or just warp my perceptions, re: slowness?
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Liz Williams
Posted on Sunday, June 22, 2003 - 09:00 am:   

Someone said of my first novel (curses) that it was like watching paint dry.

They are as fast or as slow as they are...It's like the length of a piece of string. I try and maintain a decent pace usually, but it depends entirely on the piece.
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Haddayr Copley-Woods
Posted on Friday, June 27, 2003 - 02:04 pm:   

Well, speaking as someone whose only published fiction involves a girl standing very, very still for hundreds of years and listening to the trees grow, I'm going to have to blame anything Nick says about stories being too slow on his being from New Jersey, hoping to cleverly duck the fact that I am from New York. I'm with Kristin!
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, June 27, 2003 - 03:22 pm:   

Actually, the multi-columnar style of your story helped the pacing, immensely I thought.
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Haddayr Copley-Woods
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2003 - 10:17 am:   

Most kind of you. Now, for the newbie here -- where can I get Trampoline?
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Haddayr Copley-Woods
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2003 - 10:30 am:   

On Southern regionalism: I never understood why so much of the Southern canon is so slow. My mother is Southern, and she is so hummingbirdesque she makes me dizzy. Perhaps it's just that she's still not quite over all the cool, fresh air up here, but my Granddad is awfully fast-moving, too, and he never left the South.
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Jason Erik Lundberg
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2003 - 11:35 am:   

Trampoline will be out in August from Small Beer Press. You can preorder it from their website now. I'm assuming Nick has an ARC like me, for purposes of review.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2003 - 02:16 pm:   

I bought mine at Wiscon.

The "street date" of a small press book is often quite different than the release date -- the release dates are moved back so that books can be sent to trade review journals like Publishers Weekly on time (they need a three month window).

I bet if you contact Small Beer, they might even admit to having one to sell to you, especially given that you're a rat bastard.
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Haddayr Copley-Woods
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2003 - 02:47 pm:   

Thanks for the link and the info: Nick -- let me get this straight: the small press books start selling books before the official release date in order to get themselves reviewed? I'm just trying to figure out the logistics, here, and I think I'm confused.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2003 - 04:22 pm:   

The trade journals (PW, Kirkus, etc) need bound galleys of a book three months or more prior to the pub date in order to review a title. Frequently a publisher will not have galleys ahead of time, so will make up a bogus publication date so that the galley can get reviewed. So even though the book is out in January, the galley will say April so that it can get a review.

Not, ahem, not that we've ever done that. Cough.

Jason
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Jed Hartman
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2003 - 07:10 pm:   

Isn't "it's too slow, and nothing much happens" one of the standard complaints that sf readers have about litfic?

...From another angle, we'd love to publish more fast-paced action stuff, but we don't receive very much of it. (And what we do receive often doesn't have as interesting characters or writing as we'd like.)

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