Deadlines are kicking my butt, so this space will be quiet until Monday. (I will be on facebook for fun, though.)

In the meantime, tell me what you’ve been up to.

What’ve I learned the last couple of weeks?

—We need more, and more varied, best-of and reprint anthologies, with as much difference of approach in them as possible–not fewer. These are the arks of our common reading culture and outlive the magazines they often cull from. Without past anthos, the book of the weird would be impossible. Even with the internet, these anthos are crucial. The fewer we have, the more of an oligarchy of taste, and the more good work we consign to history’s dustbin.

—Some stories and authors are in part more popular or remembered because either their work has fallen into the public domain or their estates are nice about reprints.

—No editor putting together a large-scale retrospective should ever be criticized too severely for choices, as many things are beyond their control.

—A lot of the work popular now will be forgotten in 20 years, and much of it rightly so. As it ever was.

Finally, a few people expressed condolences that Finch wasn’t on the Hugo finalist list. That’s very kind, but not only do I not expect to be on any list, ever, I do not lobby for awards (why would you want something you can influence like that?), and I do not set my goals for success around them, although this isn’t meant as a repudiation of awards. Still, if you need anecdotal evidence of how in the long-term awards don’t always matter, and I’ve been up for my share of them, City of Saints didn’t win anything it was up for and is in print and remembered/cited more than many award-winning books of the period–or at the very least equated equal status. It’s nice to be up for an award, but it shouldn’t be an expectation (indeed, my fiction has never been up for a Hugo and I’m doing just fine). I am thrilled to be up for a Nebula, would’ve been thrilled for a Hugo or anything else, but not getting something that’s a perk is like crying about not having chocolate sprinkles on your ice cream. And being too wrapped up in stuff like that is detrimental to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The work is the important thing, and making the work as good as humanly possible is the goal.


25 comments on “….O_O….

  1. Natania says:

    Ah, the weird haze will lift at some point–but it’s been fascinating to read along with what you’ve been doing. And your words about the not-Hugo are inspiring, absolutely.

    Here… mostly writing, agent searching, and waiting on lots of things! ‘Tis the writer’s life.

  2. Larry says:

    Well, I’ve been reading quite a few lit journals/anthologies and reviewing older fiction of all sorts on my blog. Studying for the GRE (again!). Trying to decide if Squirrelpunk is a viable subgenre or not. Weighty matters, more or less.

  3. Jaym Gates says:

    Squirrelpunk. YES. Please.

    I’ve been learning the nuts and bolts of both magazines and anthologies. And my respect for what you are doing right now has pretty much become too big for words.

  4. Larry says:

    Well Jaym, there was a post about Squirrelpunk, with a mock cover, if you’re truly interested in it ;)

  5. Hellbound Heart says:

    ..speaking of ‘literature’ that will be forgotten in twenty years’ time, what about the glut of young adult supernatural/vampire stuff that’s out now? i’d imagine it’d be ten times worse over in the states with the volume of it being released…makes me ill just thinking about it, pure crap……

    peace and love…..

  6. Sam says:

    I’ve been:

    1. Pounding the pavement. Bull Spec is in 12 stores now. What has shocked me is not that the local stores have said “yes” — it is that when I finally decided to ask the local Barnes and Noble stores (there’s 6 in the immediate area) that (1) each store can make its own decision, unlike Borders which only goes through national and (2) every store was excited about carrying it, though final regional approval hasn’t happened yet and even more so (3) they are set to give as good a cut of sales as my “best” local store, which is 33% better than the vast majority of stores. So, yeah, B&N has surprised me this week.

    2. Mailing. A lot of mailing. I don’t know what I’m doing at all, so I’ve borrowed some lists from folks and have sent copies to reviewers, anthology editors, whomever would say “yeah I’ll at least flip the pages.”

    3. Learning the hard way that just because a shared world / creative commons licensed world means I can write and publish a story if I want, it doesn’t mean that any actual publishing market out there wants to deal with that and take a look at the story.

    4. Collecting rejection letters for fiction and, bizarrely, acceptances for poetry. It’s been weird that way lately.

  7. CTHULHU’S REIGN hit the stories yesterday, featuring my story “This Is How the World Ends,” along with great tales by Jay Lake, Brian Stableford, Ian Watson, and eleven others. I’ve just finished reading my contributors’ copy–it’s an excellent collection that goes where no Lovecraftian fiction has gone before.

    John R. Fultz

    PS. Interviews with most of the authors in my 3-part article at http://www.blackgate.com

  8. Cora says:

    Regarding the current wave of vampire and supernatural fiction, both YA and adult, a lot of it will indeed be forgotten in twenty years time (and a lot will be forgotten deservedly), but some books and series will remain. Twilight will almost certainly be remembered for a while, simply due to its massive popularity. But I hope that some of the genuinely good examples of the genre will survive as well.

    As for what I’ve been up to, I’ve been preparing teaching materials, working on my PhD, working on a scholarly article related to my PhD, writing fiction, translating an offer for a filter system, etc…

  9. John T says:

    I’ve been trying to persuade myself that spending the Easter weekend speculatively doodling for a friend’s short-shorts a) makes me an “illustrator”, b) could work as a job, c) excuses my poor efforts at getting any other (notably, paying) kind of job. Ugh, ah, gn’yarg. The brain… will… submit…

    I agree with everything you say about anthologies. Some niggling thing in the back of my mind likes to preface the words “Year’s Best” with “Oh, Another”, which is probably somewhat unfair, but yes, it would be nicer to have more anthos catering to different tastes. I’m very much looking forward to this giant Weird antho.

  10. I actually just bought The Best of Strange Horizons 1 over teh interwebs. Looking forward to reading it.

  11. Perpetual Student says:

    What’s the etiquette on appending a list of stories you would have loved to have seen included, circumstances permitting? That way, of course, interested readers could seek them out from their local libraries and bookstores and worthy work wouldn’t disappear into those “dustbins of history.”

  12. Perpetual Student: We should have a recommended reading list in the back of the book, and would post that online on publication, if possible.

    Also, we’re doing several anthologies and so some of the stories will wind up in those. There are probably a few contemporary writers who’re going to be irritated they’re not in the book of weird, but some of them don’t fit as well there as in other projects we’ll be doing…

    Julie–Awesome! Love Strange Horizons. Didn’t even know they’d done one!

  13. Jetse says:

    Agreed on the variety and difference in approach of anthologies, but hopefully not only in the *reprint* ones? Obviously, I’m biased and got a horse in the race, but should variety and originality in approach not also be encouraged in *original* anthologies?

    Yes, I know: two different things. One is capturing the near past, while the other is paving the near future. Still, don’t they feed off and need each other?

  14. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Sure, of course, but that’s not the context in which I’ve been reading.

  15. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Which is to say, there are many more editors of mags and original anthos than of year’s best anthos.

  16. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    And why I think it’d be good to have a few more year’s best anthos with rotating editors, like Best American Fantasy. It right away proves the idea of taste–Ann and I wouldn’t have taken some of the stories in BAF3, although we enjoyed all of them, and Kevin Brockmeier wouldn’t have taken some of the ones we took for BAF1 and BAF2. This year, Minister Faust will pick stories that neither Ann/I or Kevin would’ve taken. Whereas if Ann and I edited it year after year, you would be seeing “the best” always through the same eyes. This isn’t to say year’s bests with the same editor year after year are a bad thing–just that we need some also that aren’t set up that way.


  17. Larry says:

    I’d add that it also helps when there’s an anthology whose very title leaves so much up for individual interpretation that defining what is “best,” what is “American,” and what is “fantasy” can lead to anthologies that some of the people will like all of the time, many people will like some of the time, and sometimes quite a few who’ll hate it all of the time!

    Universal love for every single story in an anthology could be grounds for worry rather than celebration, it would seem.

  18. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    I should note that the urgency level on anything in this post should be somewhere around Code Pale Green.

  19. Larry says:

    Code Kermit Alert? That serious? :O

  20. “The Pretty Good Mostly-American Fantasy-like Shortish Story-shaped Objects of Approximately 18 Months Somewhere in the Vicinity of 2010”

  21. Jeff VanderMeer says:


  22. Tim Keating says:

    Re: City of Saints, that’s a bit disingenuous, isn’t it? I mean, it has a WFA-winning novella in it. (Or is it two?)

    WFAs seem to me to be vastly more prestigious than the Hugos. Maybe because the Hugo is a populist award, and I know nothing about the WFA process. Which, come to think of it, is probably identical save for the con involved.

  23. Yeah, “Martin Lake” won a WFA in 2000, so probably relevant but I can tell you the effect of short fiction awards not really the same as winning for a book. I didn’t really think about that, to be honest, so less disingenuous than possibly lazy on my part. Happy to use another example–I just used one close to home. Finding plenty of examples throughout the last 50 to 100 years.

    WFAs are by jury with 2 in each category voted in by those who attend the con the year before, and the judges then decide from that final ballot.

  24. Conor says:

    It’s been great hearing updates on your work on the collections – especially what you learned from the process. I finally bought a copy of The Situation at Borderlands when I was in SF, and it was beautiful, funny and surprisingly heartbreaking. I couldn’t help but re-read my already very worn copy of Secret Life as a result. Can’t wait for The Third Bear!

  25. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Thanks, Conor!

Comments are closed.