An afternoon at the bookstore

To those who celebrate it, Happy Easter.  To those who don’t, back to work tomorrow with ya.


Today, I spent the afternoon sitting in a large chain book store.  Not to mention the name but it starts with "B" and ends with "arnes and Noble."  Yeah, I did the pseudo-snotty thing and had a Starbucks coffee while there.  For someone who bucks the "in-crowd" trends, yeah, yeah, I am a sellout.  (In all fairness, it was just an ice coffe.  I can’t drink a frappa-cappa-latte-expresso-whatever.)

While there, I had a couple of revelations.  I perused a fantasy mag and read a couple of stories by authors that are in one of my peer review circles.  At some point, I’ve either reviewed their stories or they have reviewed mine.  So when I saw their names on the mag, I thought, "Cool, I will check those out right now!"  Well, I was a little disappointed.  The first story had the pulpy feel I really dig but the plot meandered all over the place and never settled into a good grove.  The second story, while throwing some neat world-building twists in there, was almost a direct violation of one Strange Horizon’s "stories we see too often" tenets – and was so predictable, I actually laughed (not in a nice way).  Both stories were well-written from a prose perspective but honestly, had I been the slush reader who received them, I would have kicked them both back.  That’s not my ego talking; these authors both got a major publication to buy their work, which I’ve never done, so absolute kudos to them.  They rock and I am admittedly jealous.  But neither story really hooked me, or struck me as memorable.  The first suffered from a lack of plot identity and the second had a bad passive-aggressive character situation.   However, the prose of both appealed to someone in the publication chain.  I knew luck and timing play an immense role in this business but this was a stark illustration at just how much tastes differ.

While I was chewing that cud, I got up and strolled to the fantasy section and glanced at a few of the anthologies in the "New Fantasy" section.  There is a series of books out there, collecting short stories on various themes (zombies, vampires, post-apoctalyptia),  by well-known spec fiction writers.  What was disappointing was not that the stories were reprints, as anthologies often are, but that I recognized so many of the stories had already appeared in other anthologies – sometimes more than one!  WTF, publishing industry?  Look, without being contrary to what I just said, there are plenty of good stories out there being published very month by new authors, that deserve a second look.  I read so much good spec fiction on my peer review circles and on e-zines (pro and otherwise).  There is a wealth of story-telling available.  Do you guys (publishers) need to recycle the same exact stories by well-known authors to make a buck?  Ah #&%^(*, I just answered my own question.  Dammit.  Someone said that, "History doesn’t repeat itself-historians merely repeat each other."  I’m starting to think the same can be said about publishers.

I’m glad I write for entertainment (mine and the readers) and not for the paycheck. 

Even with all that, it was still a good day at the bookstore.  Ciao!


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