Thursday Thoughts?

Jeff VanderMeer • March 27th, 2008 @ 9:15 am • Culture

So on a Thursday when I’m writing my latest Realms of Fantasy reviews and have just realized, due to some pissed-off stares from the cats, that I forgot to change the kitty box last night (one second while I go do that…), a couple “thoughts” (inasmuch as the random neurons firing in my brain can be considered true thoughts). What Thursday thoughts do you have, beyond, “VanderMeer is a weirdo”?

MySpace – A few people asked why we chose MySpace to launch a New Weird site, and I’ll tell you true: it’s not because of the great functionality of the location. MySpace templates tend to be somewhat clunky. No, it’s because of the potential connectivity between different media, and the idea of reaching an audience of weirdos outside of the normal genre suspects. There are really amazing readers not allied to “genre fiction,” readers of weird graphic novels and lovers of strange art, who we want to reach out to. It’s a little too easy to continue with the received idea of MySpace-is-bad without realizing that is still a large and diverse community, with no more self-indulgence than any community.

The Hugos – On Scalzi’s blog, I commented on his disappointment about little io9 coverage of the Hugo finalists, saying basically that it’s tough to get too worked up about it knowing how few people vote, although I’m always happy for the finalists. But also saying the Hugos have zippo pop culture appeal, and mentioning that when I was a finalist I was thrilled about it. Is that contradictory? No. The pomp and circumstance of the actual Hugo ceremony at a World Con is addictive and wonderful. The people treated me great and I enjoyed the hell out of it. But you’ve got to look at these types of things in the context of the bigger picture. A Hugo win does sell some books, and some people outside of genre may have heard of it even as it continues to be an oddly arbitrary and inconsistent award (as just one example, irrespective of its quality, can you imagine the Chabon getting on the ballot if he was joe blow?). As for the announcement of the finalists not getting more coverage…I’m sure the Hugo folks are sick of hearing suggestions on doing a difficult job better (I sure wouldn’t want the job), but, that said…if you want pop culture coverage, if you want wider coverage period, it wouldn’t hurt to make an event of the actual announcement of finalists. If you can’t do a live video feed, at least do a dead one: hold a press conference. Who cares who attends or doesn’t? Film the event and put it up as a YouTube video and send that around. Do outreach to the youth. Hell, put up a MySpace page if you haven’t already. Recognize that you can’t have it both ways–you can’t not be proactive and then expect the world to automatically assign you the importance you had when you were the only game in town (30 years ago). This is a fragmented media world we live in, with a lot of different subcultures and power constituencies. In that environment, the Hugos are like an island losing little bits of coastline every year. Unless you shore it up, it’s going to continue its erosion. The Hugo ceremony itself, surrounded by the pomp of a WorldCon, still gets plenty of coverage, but that’s a single moment in time. That’s really not enough to get the job done. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t expect the totality of the rest of the world to care as much as you care.

18 Responses to “Thursday Thoughts?”

  1. Andrew says:

    My Thursday thoughts are…
    – I need to stop playing World of Warcraft.
    – I wish I could publish this story I wrote.
    – I wish I could a find a magazine with a 30-second response time.
    – Did I take my medicine last night?

  2. Andrew says:

    Another thought…

    -Wow, that story I wrote a year and a half ago is SO bad… it makes me depressed.

    Not that anyone cares about my thoughts! lol

  3. Sir Tessa says:

    IT IS FRIDAY. BOOYAH.

  4. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    You suck. It’s Friday already for you. Man…

  5. Jesse says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080327/ap_on_he_me/squid_beak

    and

    http://www.qwantz.com/archive/000493.html

    , mostly. Er, I mean, working and stuff. Like, you know, at work.

  6. Lane says:

    I’ve been having similar Thursday thoughts as you Andrew. How long before the publisher I mailed to today rejects my story? How bad will that story look to me by the time I receive that rejection?

  7. Andrew says:

    HA! Same as you, Lane. I sent this story 6 months ago, thought it was really good, and by the time it came back with a rejection I realized that it was pretty bad lol.

  8. Corey Redekop says:

    My Thursday thoughts, or rather, THOUGHT, since it’s all i care about today;

    Why, oh why could I not get any nominations in the Manitoba Book Awards?

  9. Larry says:

    My Thursday thoughts revolve around how to keep these three girls from each other’s throats during the school day. Nothing says “fun” like one girl blaming the other for her not getting a weekend pass from this residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed teens. Trust me, if you can learn to keep a straight face when this girl with a really pronounced Middle Tennessee accent claims that she was born in Mexico and that she didn’t learn English until the 4th grade, 5 years ago. Hardly anything that I’ve read in spec fic literature lately matches that level of weirdness.

    But who cares what a teacher thinks, right?

  10. GabrielM says:

    I thought the Chabon novel was pretty excellent, personally.

  11. Nadine says:

    Thursday thoughts? I never could get the hang of Thursdays, but let’s see what’s moiling about in my hindbrain:

    -Meticulously-directed violence is a vastly underrated method of resolving differences of opinions with one’s bill collectors
    -Portfolio website: yes? No? Ah, screw it. Unqualified maybe.

  12. Kater says:

    If there’s anything in this world cuter than day-old chicks, I don’t know what it is.

  13. jeff VanderMeer says:

    As noted in my post, Gabriel, that’s not my point.
    JV

  14. Jen A says:

    Kater- No. No there really isn’t. (Day-old chicks are so cute I can’t look directly at them for prolonged periods of time.)

    Thursday thought? I just checked out Amazon.com and Strange Tales of Secret Lives is ready for pre-order. Yay!

  15. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Yeah–it’ll be out in another month.

  16. EYErishprEYEd says:

    Well, its technically too late for a “Thursday thought”, but I thought you might find this amusing, especially if you happen to dabble with video games. Sometime this fall, the Nintendo Wii is coming out with a game titled “Mushroom Men: Spore Wars”.
    From what plot Ive gathered, a meteorite teaming with virus crashes into earth, infecting the populace and turning all things mushroom into mobile little warriors. Said mushroom warriors break off into various factions and proceed to wage war in our cellars, sewers, and all manner of dank, fungal places.
    Now I know you made a new year’s resolution to spend less time obsessing over mushrooms, but I thought of you immediately when I came across the news and figured Id pass it along.
    Anywho, keep up the good work. I absolutely consumed City of Saints and Madmen, then Shriek, and am now working my way through Secret Life. Great stuff!!

  17. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Hey–thanks. Someone sent me info on that one, the spore wars. Sounds weirdly interesting!
    Jeff

  18. EYErishprEYEd says:

    Certainly does. And who knows? Maybe in the game the gray caps – er, I mean, mushroom men – cross paths with a couple feuding human organizations, and one of the organizations seeks to selicit their fungal technology for nefarious means. How weird…..

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