Letters on this page
Posted 13 September:
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Send a letter to Locus
My short story, ‘‘Evolution Never Sleeps,’’ by Elisabeth Malartre was reprinted without its final two pages in the first printing of David Hartwell’s Year’s Best SF 5. The second printing has corrected the mistake, and probably the SF Book Club edition, although we do not know for sure. If the story does not end with a poem by Henry Treece it is not complete. I would be happy to email the end of the story to anyone who requests it. Just let me know at EMalartre@AOL.com.
10 September 2000
[ Hmmm... As it happens, I picked up a 2nd printing copy of this book recently, and observed, after receiving your letter, that this copy has pages 17 through 48 missing in their entirety. That's all but the first 2 pages of the Malartre story, and several of Kim Stanley Robinson's following story too. Let's hope my copy is a fluke!
Dear Mr. Kelly (and Locus),
Please withdraw your "invitation" to prospective fantasy and horror reviewers to send in reviews even (and especially!) if it means that a more science fiction-oriented reviewer winds up giving up his place in Locus. Mr. Kelly, you are the last person on the Locus reviewing staff to be offering to give up his position!
There's damned little real science fiction being published today, and what is SF and worth buying gets lost in giant chain store stacks or pushed aside by the stuff that used to accumulate along the fringes (fantasy, horror, Arthurian rehashes, ad nauseum), and now make it almost impossible to find the core stuff. The reason why I buy Locus, or SF Chronicle or the NYRSF or others is to find out what's out there, and whether it sounds like it's worth taking a chance on with my time and my money. Unfortunately, Locus seems to be becoming less and less relevant to my interests with every issue, and no, my interest in SF or rate of purchasing books is not declining; I'm simply finding other periodicals more useful in making me aware of what I want to buy. Locus seems to have become a magazine that finds science fiction an interesting subject only when it's possible to talk about how to make a fast buck off of it; when it comes to reviews or interviews, any other genre or literary hobbyhorse seems far more fascinating to the editors, staff, and reviewers. Also, the publishers' advertisements seem to be getting worse all of the time as they describe the brilliance of the author or his writing, or useless praise from his or her pals or drinking buddies, but more and more often don't tell what the books' stories are actually about!
My letter isn't the first to comment on this problem, and yes, you can probably get and run contrary views alongside mine from the hangers-on, but you really should take a good look at yourselves and honestly consider if you're not alienating your core audience even as you're trying to broaden your readership. Your circulation rate isn't getting any better.....
Keith B. Kurek
11 September 2000
[ I assure you that Locus does not consider science fiction of declining interest. Also, to clarify my offer to prospective reviewers, it applies to this website only; there are no plans for Locus Magazine to run additional short fiction reviewers, nor do I plan on abandoning my monthly column just yet.
If Locus were still seeking essays on the state of wrestling today, the one
I'd be interested in seeing is "Why Locus Hates Analog."
The premise seems hard to refute, if you look at how Locus covers Analog.
* Analog has the largest readership of any SF magazine (about 44% higher
than Asimov's). You would think the "Newspaper of Science Fiction" might
provide coverage. Number of Analog stories reviewed so far in the year 2000
* Mark Kelly has freely talked about some annoying tendencies he finds in Analog (belief in cold fusion, tendency to regard Analog as a wellspring of 20th
century scientific publishing, the naming of characters). Although I agree
with most, they seem like awfully minor reasons to ignore the magazine
entirely. Plus, the categorization of the writers as the "Analog Mafia"
seems unfortunate. Many of the same writers who Kelly praises in other
magazines also appear regularly in Analog.
* Lest anyone think my only complaint is with Mr. Kelly, let's try a few
other examples. I thought the February year end summary was hilarious. Analog and Asimov's both are published by Dell. Dell ran special sales for both
magazines. According to Locus, these special sales accounted for about 37%
of Analog's newsstand sales, thereby inflating the sales figures. The
identical promotions for Asimov's resulted in "minuscule" sales, so that Asimov's newsstand sales were probably accurate. If this were true, I think it
would require a much better explanation than provided in the article.
* I know, I know, I keep talking about sales. Locus is talking about
quality. Let's revisit the year end summary. According to Locus, Analog had 13 recommended stories for 1999. This is over a 200% rise since 1997 (when
there were 4), and the most since at least 1991 (I only checked back as far
as 1992), although neither achievement was emphasized. However, in reading
Mark Kelly's year end summary, he managed to mentioned only 1 Analog entry
(Harry Turtledove's "Twenty-One, Counting Up," which he had already
categorized as inferior to its companion piece in Asimov's). It is also
interesting to note that Turtledove's piece was beaten by quite a large
margin in Analog's own reader's poll by "The Astronaut from Wyoming," a piece
never mentioned in Locus, except for its listing on the Recommended Reading list. Since Mr. Kelly had already expressed his opinions about Analog, I thought it was a good idea that Locus presented a second year-end wrap by Michael Swanwick. Unfortunately, Mr. Swanwick failed to mention a single Analog
story for the year.
* Am I making too much of this year? Let's revisit last year's Locus poll.
You tout that Asimov's scores with 9 entries in the novella poll. This is
true, only because you listed Analog novella "Aurora in Four Voices" as being
published in Asimov's. You compound the error by listing 2 Analog novelettes ("Zwarte Piet's Tale" and "A Life on Mars") as being published in Asimov's. It's been well over a year now, and no correction has been forthcoming.
The end result is that when I see Locus poll results that show figures like
24% of Locus readers read Analog, while 38% read Asimov's, I am not surprised. The Locus explanation is that Analog readers are a small, core group "out-of-touch" with what is going on in science fiction today. I think
maybe they were just sick of being disrespected.
So, is there an article to be had on this topic? Have I made a case, or am I
just imagining things?
3 September 2000
[ Locus, of course, regrets the factual errors in mis-attributing stories from Analog. As for my reviews, the same comments apply to the lack of coverage, at the other end of the SF/F spectrum, of Realms of Fantasy: that I don't review something doesn't mean I didn't like it or that I hate it, it means I didn't read it, almost always because of lack of time, not because of some calculated disregard. In 12 years of reviewing, I've never been able to read more than 1/2 of the many pro, semi-pro, and amateur fiction magazines that I've been sent for review (or have purchased); this past year it's closer to 1/4, and like any reviewer I choose to read what I expect I am mostly likely to find worth reading and worth commenting on. (Does anyone expect a single book reviewer to comment equally on all varieties of SF and fantasy and horror? Why then a short fiction reviewer?) Analog may have the highest circulation, but the point of reviews isn't to validate popularity, or we'd review nothing but bestsellers. And it's not as if Locus is the only short fiction reviewing game in town -- there's Tangent and SF Site, for instance.
--Mark R. Kelly ]
Lately, I've been listening often to the piece "The Use Of Memory" by Franz Koglmann, but to not avail: I can't seem to remember the titles and authors of tales I read when I was a teenager and which I'd very much like to read again, so can someone help me here, please?:
Thank you very very much.
- The first one is a "last man on earth" type: there are some bats on it,
is all I remember.
- The second one is in epistolary form, about some researcher and his
daugther (or husband and wife), and some gifted children that get just a
second ahead in Time with the collective power of their minds and end up
inside a crystal (or time) bell with the researcher (Ballard?).
- And lastly, this one is about a prisoner who's sent to an asteroid-jail
where he is visited every five years by a supply ship. In the last visit he
had asked for a female companion. When the ship arrives, it brings a robot
female companion who is as perfect as a robot can be. He falls in love with
her. Five years later, the ship returns with the news that he has been
pardoned and he must go back to earth, but without his "wife", no place for
her on the ship. He decides to stay.
Octavio P. Cox
7 September 2000
[ The third one you describe is the very first episode of The Twilight Zone that was broadcast back in 1959, called "The Lonely". As for the other two... readers?
Each year, in commenting on the Survey results, you comment on the ‘‘graying’’ of the audience. Is it SF readers or Locus readers that are getting older? The answer is probably a third alternative: the Locus Poll and Survey respondents are aging. I would suspect that if you kept track of such things, you would find that you have a great many regulars that respond evey year, year in and year out. I first subscribed in September 1987. I have responded to every Poll/Survey since Feb 1988. I expect that I’m not the only regular. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find that half to three-fourths of your responses come from regular or frequent responders. If you have 200-300 habituals, obviously that means you’re going to see age climb regularly and gradually (at least until someone makes time run backward). In Feb. 1988, I was 28 and I’m now 40. Next Survey, I’ll be 41. The only way to avoid this is to die. I don’t much care for that idea. Younger people don’t generally take the time to fill out boring old Surveys. At 20, I wouldn’t have and I was a boring 20 year-old! As Bugs Bunny said, ‘‘I don’t ask questions. I just have fun!’’
7 September 2000
There is a Public Service Announcement currently airing designed to get people to vote in the upcoming election. It is called "Clarence" and promotes the "Y2 Vote" campaign. It features a slovenly male with "nerd glasses" and ill-fitting clothing sitting in the dark. His monologue is about how he has read over 9000 science fiction novels and is better qualified to make public policy. He also goes on about how he has yet to meet a woman who is his intellectual peer, wants a woman who can cook, and has a brief fantasy sequence where he is being nominated.
I have seen plenty of satires and caricatures of Star Trek fans and fandom in general, but never a outright jab at science fiction readers. This generalization of a genre reader having a tenuous grasp of reality as well as narcissistic megalomania borders on the offensive. There are still people who believe science fiction was responsible for Charlie Manson, Heaven's Gate, and to a lesser extent Columbine. This "Public Service Announcement" will not help fight this perception.
6 September 2000
With reference to who is the all-time youngest SF/F novelist may I suggest Patrick O'Brian whose novel Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda-Leopard, was written when he was 11(?) and published when he was 14 or 15 (I'm not sure Amazon is correct in its data).
4 September 2000