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December 2001

Posted 16 December:

Posted 15 December:

Posted 11 December:

Posted 7 December:

Note: Return e-mail addresses will be posted only if you include it in your closing, or your subject matter specifically requests some sort of response; otherwise it will be omitted.

Holiday Fruitcake

Dear Locus Online,
     Decad will not save Science Fiction.
     It is a enterprise of transparent fraudulent haste. A fruitcake stuffed as laws and sausages with unspeakable indulgence. Call it "gobillypiffle". Or "estrangementese." Or perhaps "Clutesque tropisms of the otherweird." Dutch Leonard and Steinbeck call it, "Hoopdedoodle."
     I say: "Call it off."
     It is an embarrassment not only to the SF field and these fine writers, but to the otherwise innocent and accomplished critic, Nick Gevers.
     Only the wickedest of minds could concoct such cacophony. You would think at least Paul Di Fillipo, a man of great humility and humor, would have raised his hand and said, "Nay! Not Me! Go wanking into the night, but leave me out of it."
     God have mercy on us all.

Patrick O'Leary
16 December 2001

Undeniably Moving

Dear Locus Online,
     I can't begin to describe how profoundly I was moved by the excerpts from Nick Gevers' forthcoming anthology Decad. By the time I was half-way through the second piece, tears were streaming down my cheeks. No work of art has affected me quite so deeply since Krzysztof Kieslowski's Decalog.
     I would not normally describe myself as a spiritual person, but while reading these extraordinary works I was struck by an inescapable revelation: behind all these great talents there lies One Author, and His presence here was undeniable.
     Yours in awe at His magnificence,

Greg Egan
15 December 2001

Personal Tastes

Dear Locus Online,
     Let me first say that I really enjoyed reading Nick Gevers's list of the top ten SF short story writers. It takes a lot of guts to stand up in front of the Locus readership and speak your opinion on such a volatile (i.e. personal) topic. Like most readers, I don't agree with his choices 100%, but I still think the list is important in its proper context. Mr. Gevers is now a regular reviewer for Locus and this list is a benchmark of what I can expect from his reviews and how closely his opinions might match mine. For example, I whole-heartedly agree with his choices of Michael Swanwick and Andy Duncan. For several years now, I've considered Swanwick to be best short story writer in the field, and I think that Duncan is the best new writer to appear in over a decade. On the other hand, my personal top ten list must include James P. Blaylock (ranked at #1) and Terry Bisson. Based on Gevers's list I can easily conclude that either of these writers might fill his mystical 11th place.
     It is important to keep in mind that anyone's top ten list is a reflection of their personal tastes and we can all agree that there's no accounting for that. (I'm sure many readers right now are thinking, Blaylock? and slowly shaking their heads.) I encourage everyone to try to find something positive in Mr. Gevers's list. I had never heard of Charles Stross before, but in the last few days I have read several of his stories. He probably wouldn't make my top ten, but I am certainly looking forward to reading more.

Mark Wingenfeld
13 December 2001

Ball Bearings and Oranges

Dear Locus Online,
     We live at a time when we seem to have a rich diversity of voices in the SF/fantasy field. I honestly think you could draw up six or seven top 10 lists with totally different writers on each and only then begin to drop off in quality. The main thing is — this is all like comparing ball bearings and oranges. How could you possibly begin to compare Lucius Shepard's fiction to that of, say, Connie Willis? How could you really "rate" Michael Swanwick versus M. John Harrison? So how do you "rank" one writer over another?
     And then there's the question of careers. Longevity — sustained quality of work over time, not popularity over time — has got to count for something. Then you have to factor in the "mainstream" writers who have, from time to time, produced fantasy work of uncommon richness. Meanwhile, the number of non-English-writing fantasists producing work that is either published in the mainstream or not translated at all continues to grow, whether we realize it or not. So I feel lucky to be surrounded by such a diversity of talent — it emboldens me to experiment and to grow as a writer... At the same time, it is worth noting that most of us writing in the field today — applauded or not — will either be footnotes or completely "disremembered" or unread in about 60 to 70 years time, perhaps less. How's that for a long view?

Jeff VanderMeer
11 December 2001


Dear Locus Online,
     Like many other short story writers, I am outraged that I did not make Nick Gevers's TOP TEN list. But I think it is particularly horrifying in my case.

— Name Withheld by Request
11 December 2001

More on Nick's Top Ten List

Dear Locus Online,
     One feels somehow obligated to comment on Nick Gevers's choices for the best ten contemporary SF writers, though we quickly find, I think, that there are an awful lot of candidates for the tenth spot! So of course I will be self-indulgent and list a few more than ten.
     Before seeing Nick's list, I read somebody expressing general agreement but wondering where the heck was Kelly Link? I think she's as exciting as any of the most recent new writers — so I agreed, then I made my own list of ten more, prior to reading Nick's — it was the work of ten minutes, so take it with a grain of salt. My list included Wolfe, MacLeod, Chiang, Duncan, and Di Filippo from Nick's list, plus Link, and I added Eleanor Arnason, Robert Reed, Greg Egan, Bruce Sterling, and James Patrick Kelly. Which makes 11, oh well. In no particular order, although I am pretty sure that as of this moment I would list Ian MacLeod first.
     I don't really have an argument with Nick's other choices, either — the only one I really would not have included was Lucius Shepard, as I feel that aside from "Radiant Green Star" his recent work has been disappointing. But Le Guin and Swanwick are certainly good choices. I am less familiar with VanderMeer than I should be, but I've liked what I've seen. And I note that Nick cited Charles Stross as sort of resembling Sterling and Egan — I certainly agree, and I definitely like his stuff a lot — but I think Sterling and Egan have more established track records.
     Other candidates: Brian Stableford, R. Garcia y Robertson, M. John Harrison, Michael Blumlein, Eliot Fintushel, Kage Baker, Tony Daniel, Nancy Kress, Maureen McHugh, William Sanders, Gregory Feeley, Connie Willis. And perhaps I ought to mention some slightly newer writers who are definitely up-and-comers — besides Stross, there are Daniel Abraham, Mary Soon Lee, and Cory Doctorow. And we all know that one could be still more self-indulgent, and add a dozen more to the list without much effort.

Rich Horton
10 December 2001

Nick's Picks

Dear Locus Online,
     Imagine my chagrin after reading "The Best SF and Fantasy Short Story Writers: A Contemporary Top Ten" by the astute Nick Gevers. Here I think I'm doing pretty good work, only to discover that I'm relegated to his eleventh best slot. Then I scan Nick's picks and I realize, to my horror, their fatal demographic. There is only one woman; Ursula Le Guin crosses the Gever's line a distant eighth. That means I can't possibly be number eleven, since the next ten places must obviously be filled by women — something like (in alphabetical order, of course) Pat Cadigan, L. Timmel Duchamp, Carol Emshwiller, Elizabeth Hand, Gywneth Jones, Nancy Kress, Tanith Lee, Kelly Link, Kate Wilhelm and Connie Willis. Okay, so that puts me at number twenty-one. I can live with that. But then I look deep into my artistic conscience, such as it is. Am I really writing any better than Eleanor Arnason, Steven Baxter, Terry Bisson, Cory Doctorow, S. N. Dyer, Greg Egan, Eliot Fintushel, Lisa Goldstein, Michael Kandel, John Kessel, David Marusek, Maureen McHugh, Robert Reed, Mike Resnick, Geoff Ryman, Robert Silverberg, Allen Steele, Bruce Sterling, Ray Vukcevich, or Walter Jon Williams? I can't honestly say that I am. Which makes me, what? Forty-one? Meanwhile I've probably forgotten someone or two, or maybe fifteen other wonderful short story writers, which means now I'm in almost as much trouble as Nick is.
     And so I'm depressed. I think I'm going to click over to SF Weekly for a while and read the pre-release gossip about the new Lord of the Rings and latest on the Six Million Dollar Man remake.

James Patrick Kelly
5 December 2001

It's a Conspiracy

Dear Locus Online,
     I greatly enjoyed Nick Gevers' article putting forth his top ten contemporary genre short story writers. I don't take particular issue with any of his choices, but do think his list is at best incomplete since it doesn't include Kelly Link, Jeffrey Ford and Terry Bisson.
     In fact, the more that I think about it, the more I realize that the exclusion of these writers is nothing less than censorship! I suppose the Socialist J.K. Rowling will be on your top ten novelists list, eh, Gevers? You and your radical ilk will be the death of the genre!
     Sorry, just trying to work in all the compulsory components of a Locus Online letter.

Christopher Rowe
5 December 2001

Gevers' Top Ten

Dear Locus Online,
     Very much enjoyed Nick Gevers' Top Ten SF Short Fiction writers list, and a fine list it is, too. I was especially happy to see Andy Duncan and Paul Di Filippo included. But what about Greg Egan and Kelly Link? Perhaps a Top Twelve?
     And I guess I'd better go start catching up on Charles Stross.

F. Brett Cox
5 December 2001

Core Values

Dear Locus Online,
     I am grateful to Mr. Lucius Cook for his response to my recent letter. Open and honest debate, free of censorship, is truly the American way.
     I wonder how long Mr. Cook has been reading science fiction. A generation ago, much of the current output of the writers he mentions as being non-PC would have been regarded as left-leaning or middle-of-the-road at best. They are non-PC only in comparison with the present-day crop of writers. And that is my very point: science fiction writing has been tilting in a leftward direction for a very long time now. The core values of political correctness are becoming the core values of science fiction. I, for one, see this as a highly undesirable trend.
     With regard to "Star Trek," I agree that it is the epitome of political correctness, but I specifically excluded movies and television shows in my original statement. I was speaking of science fiction literature only (i.e., the stuff that literate people read). His reference is therefore not germane.

Carl Glover
5 December 2001

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