rushthatspeaks: (sparklepony only wants to read)
rushthatspeaks ([personal profile] rushthatspeaks) wrote2017-03-28 03:31 pm

slush as a form of meditation

The line I return to over and over about the slush pile is that all of human life is there, and I don't think I'm going to get sick of saying it. If I'm feeling particularly depressed about humanity, all I have to do is read slush for a while, and I will find something to make me feel better. Of course, if I'm feeling particularly good about humanity, all I have to do is read slush for a while, and I will find something that makes me despair for our future and, indeed, past and present as a species.

I feel as though at some point some ancient and secret confraternity of editors has codified the guidelines of slushomancy, and I hope someday they let me in on it: next year will be heavy on space squid, say, with a chance of light pastiche storms. I'm not sure you could use it to predict real events, although it certainly has about as much randomness included as any yarrow stalk or marrow bone.

There are a few trends that have become clear, of course. More fantasy than science fiction, always, always. Sad lesbians, or lesbians in romances that don't work out for one reason or another, are very in. People who write excessively effusive cover letters have frequently never learned how to use spellcheck. Every so often there will be a story I absolutely love which is simply completely wrong for the magazine, and I will have to write a very sad note reading Dear X, this is amazing, there is nothing wrong with it, I love it, have you tried a mainstream lit mag/a horror magazine/an erotica anthology? I always fear they won't believe me, is the problem with that.

Also, every so often we get actual answer stories, stories written in direct response to and in conversation with other works in the field. What fascinates me about these is which works people choose to respond to. I mean, more than fifty years on we are still getting direct replies to 'The Cold Equations'. That's a sub-genre of its own, people who object to something or other about 'The Cold Equations'. Which is fair, except that at this point I suspect it has all been done. There's that, and then responses to Ender's Game are a subgenre (one which has become more impassioned since Card proved to be... the kind of person he is), and then responses to 'The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas'.

We do occasionally get really good response stories. I'm not inherently against the idea of publishing them. But the problem with response stories is that you don't just measure their quality against your own standards, you measure them against the original, and while that isn't a horrific problem with Card or 'The Cold Equations', I feel bad for people who are directly attempting the prose style, let alone the story structuring, of Ursula K. Le Guin. Probably the best way to go prose-wise with an Omelas response would be to be as different as humanly possible, because direct comparisons are going to be odious. Unfortunately, this memo has not reached many of the writers in question.

Ah well. You can't make an Omelas without breaking a few egos.
yhlee: soulless (orb) (AtS soulless (credit: mango_icons on LJ))

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-03-28 07:41 pm (UTC)(link)
You can't make an Omelas without breaking a few egos.


Okay, you have justified that story's existence.

(I'm the only person I know who hates that story. Passionately, even. It's a great story, a thoughtful story, an important story, an influential story. But that has nothing to do with my raw visceral hate for it. :/ )
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2017-03-28 09:31 pm (UTC)(link)
moon_custafer: (Default)

[personal profile] moon_custafer 2017-03-28 10:37 pm (UTC)(link)
I wouldn't say I hate it, but every time I read I devil's-bargain one-single-child-sacrificed scenarios, my reaction is "that's hundreds of times better than real life, and I'd probably take that deal if it were ever offered." Assuming I could keep it secret from the rest of society so the guilt would be on me alone.
genarti: Me covering my face with one hand. ([me] face. palm.)

[personal profile] genarti 2017-03-28 11:17 pm (UTC)(link)
Ah well. You can't make an Omelas without breaking a few egos.


(Well played!)

I do like some response stories, but I tend to like them best when they're fairly well disguised as standalones, and require some squinting to discern their origins. That does have exceptions, like everything else regarding story preferences!
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

[personal profile] davidgillon 2017-03-29 09:43 am (UTC)(link)
I'm not certain I want to read a reply to 'Those Who Walk Away from Omelas'! The webcomic Stong Female Protagonist, recently constructed an analogous situation, with the protagonist ultimately doing something even she finds unforgivable to ensure the continuation of that, and I'm finding the fan attempts to justify her actions very disturbing.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: some guy (Default)

[personal profile] larryhammer 2017-03-29 06:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Heh. Good one!