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!