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yucky meteorology

It's so entirely February out there, you'd think the month would realize how cliched this is, would begin to feel like a self-parody, and proceed to lighten up a little. Rain. Cold. Dreary. Cloudy. Icky. The mammoths have built a small fire beneath my desk and invited a family of musk oxen in. I hope that's only temporary. Mammoths are one thing...

Much to my surprise, I did 1,488 words on what I sincerely hope will be the preface for To Charles Fort, With Love. I'm giving it one more day. It's a strange sort of preface, which may (or may not) befit this collection. I can only hope it isn't dull.

On Thursday, we're expecting the delivery of fourteen boxes, containing 500 copies of Silk. I have no idea where we're going to put them all.

Back in 1988, Stephen Jones and Kim Newman did a really delightful little book together, Horror 100 Best Books. The title's fairly self-explanatory. Authors of dark fiction were asked to write short pieces on one hundred of the field's best and most influential titles. Contributor's included Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Peter Straub, Neil Gaiman, and David Schow. Now Steve and Kim are doing a follow-up, a second best one hundred, and this time I've been asked to contribute. Which is drad. I'll be writing a piece about Kathe Koja's 1993 novel, Skin, which had a very great influence on my own work. Sadly, as is the case with all Kathe's early novels, Skin is now out of print.

Yesterday, I received the following in an e-mail, regarding the practice of writing authors to inform them of published typos:

I have never done this.  I always figured authors were way too busy to get involved in such things.  However, I did once go to a con (BayCon 04) when a PANEL actually *advocated* this practice.  I kept waiting for the punchline: like, "okay, write this big long letter to get it all off your chest (the fact they're incensed at a typo in a work that took at least over a year to produce that they paid 8 bucks for), but don't actually expect the author to read it or anything."  But no, they seemed to fully expect the authors to read these idiotic rants and be somehow affected by them--as they kept insisting the panel attendees do it.  Anyway, just to tell you, as noble as your intent is, there are actual sources of misinformation out there; this is not just passive stupidity that causes this behavior. So you miiight have to be jeeest a little bit more creative than being rude.

Personally, I think anyone who goes to any panel at any con and uncritically accepts such ridiculous advice from panelists is certainly exhibiting "passive stupidity." Who were these panelists? Why should you take their word on this? What makes them authorities? Were they themselves professional authors? Were they publishers? Editors? Regardless, it's absurd. There are always sources of misinformation. But I expect people to be able to recognize foolishness for what it is and to think for themselves. I've heard many, many foolish things from panelists at cons. For example, I was on a panel at last year's Dragon*Con where a published author insisted that the one thing that distinguishes fantasy from all other fiction is that it absolutely must provide the reader with a clear resolution. This is, of course, not true. It's baloney of the worst sort, and I'd hope that people attending the panel wouldn't accept it as so just because this writer happened to say it. However, I expect some of them did. But maybe that's not "passive" stupidity. Maybe that's active stupidity.

Okay. I guess it's time to make the doughnuts. Please, please, please check out the copy of From Weird and Distant Shores we have on eBay, the very last item in our auction to fix Spooky's broken molar (she's at the dentist as I type this). Thanks.


( 8 comments — Have your say! )
Feb. 2nd, 2005 04:29 pm (UTC)
'Who were these panelists?'

They were of that most noxious species of panelist — the Anti-Writers. They're also the ones who sneak into fans' bedrooms at night and whisper into their ears that writers love it when you tell them you can't find their books anywhere, or when you ask them where they get their ideas.

So, for the record: You have never frelled up X on page Y; I've seen rows upon rows of your books in supermarkets and drugstores and laundromats, and witnessed people beating the crap out of each other for the privilege of paying full retail for your work in hardcover; and I don't give a flying fuck where you get your ideas, unless there's a particular anecdote you wish to share regarding the genesis of a particular story, in which case we're all ears.
Feb. 2nd, 2005 04:34 pm (UTC)
in which case we're all ears.

I bet that makes walking a little tricky.
Feb. 2nd, 2005 04:38 pm (UTC)
No, because we just wheel around on our hoop earrings.
Feb. 2nd, 2005 07:00 pm (UTC)
The book is no longer available (mine mine mine)

I was curious who was on that panel too.. and the person who said fantasy (and no other form of fiction) must have a clear resolution. This is a bizarre thing to say, given the human propensity to read meaning into the simplest of things, or to miss intended meaning entirely. Clarity of resolution would all bein the mind of the beholder, and no writer can control the reader's mind.

It sounds like the kind of weird idea an engineer would get into their head and then apply across the board. Like the one who wouldn't let his wife use the windshield wipers on their car (or use them himself), ever, because he believed they were slowly "wearing away" the surface of the windshield at a microscopic level. Meanwhile they couldn't see where they were going half the time. This obsession of: "for god's sake, we must save the windshield!", while completely ignoring what really matters about driving a car, was such a product of a good mind gone haywire that I never forgot it. Creative people can get like that and it scares me.
Feb. 2nd, 2005 07:42 pm (UTC)
Skin is a friggin masterpiece. Her description of Bibi at the last show is one of the most amazing things I've ever read.

The first time I pikced up The Cipher I had no idea what to expect. Induced instant Koja fanaticism. I wish the Abyss line had continued, they managed to put some great novels out.
Feb. 3rd, 2005 12:44 am (UTC)
Wow. It's rare that I ever hear anyone say that the Abyss line put out great books. I still feel like most of the books released by Abyss have been neglected by critics.

Does anyone know if The Cipher or Bad Brains was ever released in hardcover? I've been trying to fill out my collection of Abyss books, but I can't find a complete list of what was released.

Thanks in advance for any information.

Feb. 3rd, 2005 12:47 am (UTC)
Does anyone know if The Cipher or Bad Brains was ever released in hardcover?

They were not.
Feb. 3rd, 2005 03:46 am (UTC)
<< They were not. >>

Humbug, I say. We saved Farscape. And not that Kathe Koja needs any saving, far from it, but there has to be something we can do. Which is no doubt supremely naive of me. Bah.
( 8 comments — Have your say! )

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