Posterity Can Kiss My Posterior

Yoshino-1Lately it’s felt as if the sf/f field is under a curse. Within the space of a few months we’ve lost Lucius Shepard, Iain Banks, Jay Lake, Graham Joyce, and just this week, Eugie Foster. Nor was it that long ago that Kathy Wentworth left us. I think it was Kathy’s passing that hit me the hardest. Even though we’d been drifting in and out of touch as geography and our separate directions pulled on us, I considered her a friend. Then she was gone before I even knew she was sick. Cancer, like most of the above. All of them gone too soon no matter their ages, but Eugie especially in that regard. She was only forty-two (And for anyone out there who considers forty-two old, all I can say is—wait a while). Continue reading

Zen and the Art of Beating Your Head Against a Wall

Subtitle: What Do You Think You’re Doing?

On another forum not too long ago, a well-known editor was expressing puzzlement. There was a very fine writer whose work he’d been promoting for years, buying their stories, featuring them prominently, doing all that was reasonable to do in an attempt to get readers to understand that this writer is worth paying attention to. And it wasn’t a complete bust by any means–the writer has done well by most standards: prolific, won several awards, publishes all over the place. Yet despite it all, they have no “career” to speak of. Sure, nearly every writer in the short-story field knows their work and most have high respect for it; if you follow the sf/f field at all in short stories, you’d recognize the name. But they have never developed the readership or name-recognition that the editor thought they deserved, and why is that?

Later in the thread the editor, in my opinion, answered his own question–it’s because the writer’s stories are too different. Not too different from what’s being published in the field; so far as I can see the sf/f field has a huge tolerance for the different, especially at short story level. Rather, the problem is that the writer’s stories are too different from each other.  Tone, theme, subject matter, you name it. Any reader could read three or four of the writer’s stories, all excellent, and never once realize that they were all written by the same person. Continue reading