Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fencon chatter

Just heard a knock-knock joke about Harlan Ellison in the Fencon Consuite. The joke was rather straightforward, hence not very funny. Also heard a story about Harlan Ellison taking part in a dating game (a reality show). The highlight: Harlan's answer about his ideal first date involved taking a woman to a dump and shooting rats' eyes out. The tape never aired (big surprise :-))

Here's a funny term I heard at Jay Lake's "Slush pile live" panel. Rejectomancy: trying to figure out from a rejection slip what the rejection meant. For example, if you get a rejection from Realms of Fantasy, it is simple. If you get a blue slip, it means the first reader rejected it witout passing it up. If you get a yellow slip, it means it was passed up to the editor and she rejected it without giving it much thought. If you get a letter of rejection, it means the editor considered it before rejecting. With most other magazines, it's not that clear.

In "Slush pile live" Jay Lake talked about the nuts and bolts of how short story anthologies are created. Some of the considerations that go into putting together an anthology are amusing. For one thing, the stories must be ordered in such a way that they would vary in length, so that the reader could read some 2000-word-long story as a breather between 5000-world-long stories. Among the less obvious considerations, story titles should not accidentally make up a bizarre poem in the table of contents. Also, the editor must take care to not put together stories in such a way that the beginning of one story ties into the end of the previous story in an unintentionally humorous way. As an example, he used the stories from the writers' workshop he taught at this convention. One of them ends with "He took a deep breath and rang the doorbell." There is another one that starts with "The house was awake." Imagine how weird it would look to the reader if story B immediately followed story A. Especially if the end of A and the beginning of B were on facing pages.

It's little moments like that that make conventions fun.

Some pictures from the writers' workshop and from Fencon in general can be found in my photo gallery.

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