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.

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[identity profile] 2017-03-28 07:49 pm (UTC)(link)

[identity profile] 2017-03-28 07:52 pm (UTC)(link)

Ruth has now bitten me for this pun many times: mostly just now, sitting here, reading this, but also once at five o'clock in the morning when I sat bolt upright in bed and then had to get up and go tell it to them while they were just sitting there innocently with the baby. Their life is sometimes very hard, what with having to do all the biting.

Every word of the post is true, mind you.

[identity profile] 2017-03-28 07:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh yes, I think that was what made it worse, you were writing a serious post about something and I was nodding along and then. AND THEN.


[identity profile] 2017-03-28 11:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Hee hee hee hee hee!

[identity profile] 2017-03-29 06:20 am (UTC)(link)
They did. They really did.

[identity profile] 2017-03-28 08:32 pm (UTC)(link)



*tea blurp!*
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)

[personal profile] rosefox 2017-03-28 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)

[personal profile] sovay 2017-03-28 11:02 pm (UTC)(link)
I read the comments just to find out if your wife bit you.

[identity profile] 2017-03-28 11:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I support the biting!

[identity profile] 2017-03-29 04:40 am (UTC)(link)
There is a koosh ball at our house, now going on 20 years old, that we save for throwing at people who make really bad puns. I shall have to remember to pack it for our next Boston trip...

[identity profile] 2017-03-29 10:45 am (UTC)(link)
In high school/college ours was a tiny stuffed fish. It got to the point where people would say, "Fish me," in glee before making the puns.
weirdquark: Stack of books (Default)

[personal profile] weirdquark 2017-03-30 01:29 am (UTC)(link)
At our college, it was a frog.

[identity profile] 2017-03-29 06:25 am (UTC)(link)
I know there's something in *some* mag's guidelines, not sure if it's Strange Horizons or not, about not having stories that are set-ups for puns....

Myself, I like your yarrow stalk and marrow bone--yarrow-marrow, very nice! Maybe very accomplished slush readers ought to be given the title of slushomancers prospectively, and the divining talent will descend upon them.

[identity profile] 2017-03-29 10:26 am (UTC)(link)
Is this a response story to Ferdinand Feghoot?

[identity profile] 2017-03-29 10:24 pm (UTC)(link)

Nemesister arrives on Saturday. With trout.


[identity profile] 2017-03-29 10:31 pm (UTC)(link)
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.

That -- is not where I thought you were going. That breaks my brain way more than the Omelas pun.

[identity profile] 2017-03-29 10:42 pm (UTC)(link)