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Update on the Willmeister....

...nothing.  While it's been a bit since last I posted, it's because simply its been a bit since I had anything really to say.  It's been somewhat a lackluster end to the old year and beginning to the new; hopefully my new year horoscope will prove true.  It predicts a very prolific writing year for Aquarians!

Well, assuming I remain that, if the group promoting the new 13 sign zodiac doesn't have their way - I'd be a Capricorn then.

Anyway, howdy all!  Talk to me - got plans for Worldcon?  Got excitement in your last 7 weeks and forthcoming?  Got any good low-no carb recipes for a T2 atkins dieter? 

Miss you.  Really do. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's best wishes for a fantastic Thanksgiving!


Interesting Interview series...

Over here, at wc_roberts  LJ, there is a new interview series beginning featuring the editors of poetry magazines that specialize in speculative fiction/genre poetry.  The first is up, featuring Marge Simon, editor of Star*Line -- if you have an interest in this area of writing, go over and give it a look-see!

Live at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly...

Check out "The Footman", now live at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly!

[NEWS] Heroic Fantasy Quarterly

My, but I've been away for some time!  Hello, all!

The news is for an --- ACCEPTANCE!  HFQ has accepted my poem, "The Footman".  Cool stuff!

[NEWS] Anthology Builder

I have a story there!  They have accepted my story, "Heartcry", as one of the inventory stories.  Some may remember it from the awesome Hadley Rille Books anthology, "Ruins: Extraterrestrial".  Now you can partake of some Will work in two different ways - get the HRB book, or buy the story in a personalized antho at Anthology Builder!

So, can't beat if if you like a cool story about evolved robots and conflicting human emotions!

[2010] P&E Reader Poll. Let's Vote!

Here we are, this fresh new year's Reader poll over at P&E!

Preditors & Editors Reader's Poll

All you voracious readers, all you Hadley Rille authors, everyone go vote!  I know I did.

[PROCESS] The Labels, Genre lists

It appears that its been some time since I've posted; now I give you a very old project (still unfinished) of mine wherein I address and attempt to define what we love to write in - genre.

I'm also looking for advice regarding anything that might be outdated now. 

The Classifications



“Fantasy is 'the impossible made probable'.”—Rod Serling


High Fantasy/Traditional Fantasy

Serious story involving well defined character(s) with a solid conflict to resolve, set in a mythical setting involving mythical creatures and/or magicks. Resolution of conflict often focuses on a greater, rather than individual, good.


Sword & Sorcery/Heroic Fantasy

Character's conflict include resolution by own skills, usually against evil magic/wizard/demon in a gritty, severe mythical setting. Often resolution of conflict benefits the individual more, with any benefit to a greater good being an incidental side-effect. Also, resolution often requires a hefty dose of luck to succeed. 


Contemporary/Urban Fantasy

Takes place in the author's here-and-now (plus magic). With one caveat -- pre WWII authors who set their stories in THEIR now were not around when the category was invented, and seem to get nudged into high fantasy in spite of a theoretical real world setting. 90% or more of contemporary fantasy is also big city, thus the second name. I think stories where contemporary people get transported into fantasy worlds and stay there for the whole story get shuffled into one of the other Fantasy categories more often than not.


Dark Fantasy

Character is up against a conflict that appears too severe to be overcome, and usually bears the vague feel of a horror story.   Occasionally the character will not overcome the insurmountable odds/evil wizards/evil magic he/she encounters -- a Dark Fantasy often focuses on the conflict rather than the character. Can be in a modern or mythical setting. A psychological suspense element is often beneficial, perhaps essential.



In the Humorous High or Contemporary/Urban fantasy the character conflicts include scenes capable of bringing a smile to the lips and a lightness to the heart.


Science Fantasy

Something impossible exists as a statement of fact, but all else is treated with scientific rigor. With this, the flavor of science fiction is combined with the impossible elements of fantasy, and often takes place on worlds that once were possible but now could never be.


Epic Fantasy

This is the broad, continuing narrative, usually spanning multiple volumes and which feature the struggles of good vs. evil in a highly-detailed fantasy world. Occasionally these novel runs are divided into individually-numbered sub-series.


Magical Realism

Stories in a contemporary setting, which include a hidden magical world which the author tries to make as plausible as possible. Perhaps plausible is the wrong word. By making magic an accepted part of the backdrop of the book, the magical element seems more plausible. In general, these books are "supposed to" have a more literary style.



Any fantasy based upon actual recorded mythologies, whether it is Roman, Greek, Norse, Celtic, Native American, Mesoamerican, etc.


Fairy Tale

A strong new mover in fantasy, this genre features new takes on the classic fairy tale. 



ESP, ghosts, vampires, even werewolves. Not severe as horror, this fantasy involves the abilities of the mind or passive non-aggressive supernatural. 


Romantic Fantasy

A relatively new subgenre (as these things go), romance drives the plot of the book, rather than any classifiable Fantasy theme.


Bear in mind that sub-genres tend to overlap. "Fantasy" covers ALL of the above, especially the ones that don't quite work with subcategories.


D&D-in-book-form fantasy is... well, if you think you played it as a role playing game once, or can hear dice rolling, or a group of companions meet at an inn... guess what. This isn't necessarily done by role playing companies, or with a game logo on the cover. I've heard a rumor of books like that that were done well, but it's only a rumor to date.




Science Fiction

“Science Fiction is 'the improbable made possible'.”—Rod Serling


Hard SF

This is the technical/science style of SF story. In this the science is completely essential to the tale, and without it the story would not work. Setting usually is the future -- whether near, far, or alternate, with character (s) human or otherwise.


Soft SF/Sociological SF

Character-driven SF. The focus in this is character development, with the technology/science not as essential to the integrity of the story as it is with Hard SF.   However, even though the focus is the character and the characters conflict, a SF-al element must be present. If not, then it is not SF. Additionally, Sociological SF adds the effect of the conflict on a society.


Space Opera

Often described as a fantasy or a western with SF trappings.   The SF-al aspects can often be replaced by similar fantasy/western elements (the lightsabre vs. {badly wielded} broadsword, or space station vs. sleepy western town) without affecting the plot. Rarely strives for strict realism. Characters are at their best iconic or larger than life, at their worst, stereotyped. Term is derived off "soap opera" and/or "horse opera".


Science Fantasy

Something impossible exists as a statement of fact, but all else is treated with scientific rigor.   With this, the flavor of science fiction is combined with the impossible elements of fantasy, and often takes place on worlds that once were possible but now could never be.



SF that involves society's response to an ever advancing technology that transforms life faster than culture can adjust to it in a time when information has more value than material goods. Cyberpunk traditionally presents a dark view of the future in which technology creates more problems than it cures. Cyberpunk is about technology/science that does not yet exist, but is portrayed in a plausible manner.



Alternate histories of the Victorian era in which modern inventions are pre-invented using the technology of the time (hence, "steam” punk). Also examines the potential effects such advances might have on Victorian society.

New Wave

Science fiction writing characterized by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, and reflecting a highbrow and self-consciously "literary" or artistic sensibility.


Alternate History

SF exploring the "what-if" theory. What if a major situation/decision had been different at some point in the past? How would today be affected if things had happened differently at some point in history?

Mundane SF

This subgenre focuses on stories set on or near the Earth, with a believable use of technology and science as it exists at the time the story is written. Usually takes place in the near future, with recognizable events and with modern technology logically extrapolated to this timeframe.  


Scientific Romance

Archaic term that included stories that were heroic, adventurous or mysterious and took place in another time or place than that of the reader. Term used before the phrase "science fiction" came into popular use in the early 20th century.


Sword & Planet

This subgenre features rousing adventure stories set on other planets, and usually featuring Earthmen as protagonists.

Military SF

Hard SF usually written with an exercise in strategy and tactics and the fortunes of war as the major focus. Usual setting is Future/Distant Planet.


Feminist SF

SF that examines issues of sex, gender, and sexuality, focusing on dealing with women's role in society. Feminist science fiction poses questions about social issues such as how society constructs gender roles, the role reproduction plays in defining gender and the unequal political and personal power of men and women, exploring cultures where there is no sexism, where contributions by women are as recognized and valued as those by men.


Adventure SF

SF where the focus is grand adventure, close escapes, and knock-down, drag-out fight scenes. Setting can be any SF; alternate, future, far future can all host an adventure SF tale. Can (and frequently does) include the SF quest.


Parallel Worlds/Other Dimensions

SF involving places and spaces not our own. Can be similar to Alternate History in that a different historical decision split off a similar, but different, Earth. Can be completely different to the point where even the laws of physics are not the same.


Romantic SF

A relatively new subgenre (as these things go), romance drives the plot of the book, rather than any sci-fi device.

Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic SF

Fiction that describes the end of the world as we know it and/or the aftermath thereof. Apocalyptic fiction generally concerns the disaster itself and the direct aftermath, while post-apocalyptic can deal with anything from the near aftermath to hundreds of years in the future to hundreds or thousands of years in the future.




 Horror/Dark Fiction
Horror fiction is the literature of the unnatural and supernatural, with the aim of unsettling or frightening the reader -- Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction)


Cutting Edge

Fiction that usually refuses archetypal, supernatural aspects -- unless those elements are used so originally they become antithetical to traditional horror. Cutting edge can be hard, soft, quiet, psychological, surreal, eerie, avant pop, post-modern, literary, alternative, have erotic, and sexual aspects, etc. The idea is that it is not exactly the same old thing -- even if the departure is only stylistic rather than purely thematic.



Based on the disturbed human psyche. Obviously psychos on rampage fall into this category, but it is just as often more subtle. Since the reader's perception is sometimes altered by exposure to an insane viewpoint, psychological horror can also deal with ambiguous reality and seem to be supernatural.



It's, well, extreme. It goes straight to the blood-and-guts and aims for the gross-out without hesitation. In guidelines you might find terms like "splat," "splatter," or "splatterpunk" and "gore," "grue," and "gross." (Most guidelines tell you to AVOID these things.) Splatterpunk, by the way, was just a label made up to describe the "young Turks" bringing a more visceral, gritty edge to horror 20-25 years ago. Splatterpunk -- Hack & Slash, bloody gore horror.



The rules of the normal world don't apply; ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, the occult etc. Within this sub genre is an ever-growing list of sub-sub-genres -- most of which deal with vampires.


Erotic Horror

Usually "erotic" means sensual sexual content integral to the story and can be as mild as "romantic suspense." Many editors and writers prefer the term "sexual horror" over erotic, as the sex in horror can be far from nice or arousing. "Erotic" can be stretched to mean graphic, intentionally explicit sex in a story meant for a pornographic market. The code word being "explicit."


Dark Fantasy

A term that could arguably be applied to most horror and sometimes is, but generally it means a fantasy story that can have supernatural elements but is not the supernatural fiction of vampires, werewolves. etc.



Endless love, unnaturally close siblings, fanatical and lecherous elders, forced isolation, and lies, lies, lies.


English Gothic

Characteristic theme is the stranglehold of the past upon the present or the encroachment of the '"dark'" ages of oppression upon the "enlightened" modern era. Enclosed and haunted settings (castles, crypts, convents, mansions), gloomy images of ruin and decay, episodes of imprisonment, cruelty, and persecution are used to express this.


American Gothic

Psychic breakdown plays a larger role. Although sometimes used as a synonym for "horror," it shouldn't be. Although there is academic debate, gothic can probably be identified by themes of a character being *trapped* -- by location, by family destiny, whatever. Joyce Carol Oates extends this to what she calls "assaults on individual identity and autonomy." An entirely different meaning arises when Gothic or Goth subculture is referred to in connection with horror fiction. Any attempt to define Goth winds up stereotyping an extremely diverse subculture. It's also wrong and probably stupid and calling fiction "Goth" is just the same. Since the stereotypical Goth wears nothing but black, too much eyeliner, and is full of gloom, pretension and angst, then I suppose "Goth fiction" is the first form of literature to wear make-up.


Vampire Mythos

Tales of terror featuring the undead.


Lovecraftian, Lovecraft Mythos, Cthulhu Mythos, etc.

Terrifying tales set in and around the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft. As long as you have some idea of who H.P. Lovecraft was and what he wrote, these probably make sense. Lovecraft's fictional premise was that the world was once inhabited by another race of dark powers. Although cast out, they live on somewhere always ready to take the world back. "Lovecraft style" is florid and never stints on adjectives.



Usually set in an urban underworld of crime and moral ambiguity. Dark, cynical, paranoid themes of corruption, alienation, lust, obsession, violence, revenge and the difficulty of finding redemption in a far from perfect world. An oppressive atmosphere of menace, pessimism, anxiety, suspicion, and dingy realism. You'll also find the term in combinations like neo-noir, future noir or noir sf, tech-noir.


Quiet (or Soft) Horror

Subtle, never visceral or too shocking, with atmosphere and mood providing the miasma of fear rather than graphic description. The opposite of "Extreme."



Not really sub-generic, it can be used just to mean unreal; strange or bizarre. Or it can be used to tie a style to the surrealist movement in art and literature that attempted to express the subconscious and move beyond accepted conventions of reality by representing the irrational imagery of dreams and bizarre juxtapositions.


Suspense/Dark Suspense/Thriller

 No supernatural elements, but a constant sense of threat coming from an outside menace. Add a strong investigative angle and becomes mystery more than horror. Add action and adventure to suspense and you come up with "thriller" -- except you can have "supernatural thrillers."



A term, not a sub-genre, that refers to earthier, more reality-based or supernatural fiction with a tendency to be "in-your-face" with descriptions of the bad stuff -- but not as extreme as Extreme.



Can be used in several ways. "Weird fiction" is sometimes used as a synonym for horror. It can also mean only strange, uncanny, supernatural stories or refer to a school of writing popularized by the pulp magazine "Weird Tales" that tended to be Lovecraftian or occult; more "traditional" horror. "Pulp" is also a word used to describe this type of tale, although "pulp" can also mean more action-oriented material.




Superhero/Supervillain Fiction

One with "extraordinary or superhuman powers" dedicated to protecting the public.


1. Mutation/Genetic 
2. Training
3. Science/Tech Enabled 
       a) Temporary
       b) Permanent 
4. Alien/Extraterrestrial 
5. God(s) Granted/Magical

6. Sidekicks





Adapted from the article by Stephen D. Rogers posted on Writing-World.com. More excellent Mystery references can be found at his website.


Cozy/Classic Whodunit
The cozy, typified by Agatha Christie, contains a bloodless crime and a victim who won't be missed. The solution can be determined using emotional (Miss Marple) or logical (Poirot) reasoning.


Amateur Sleuth

The amateur sleuth tries to solve the murder of someone close. Either the police have tried and failed or misread the murder as an accident/suicide. Both the loss and need for a solution is personal. These are usually single-shot stories and novels since lightning rarely strikes the same person again and again (outside of a television series).


Professional Sleuth

The professional sleuth is an amateur sleuth in a professional setting, preferably a setting which is unique and intriguing. Not only is inside information used, but solving the crime returns order to a cloistered environment. Think Dick Frances and the world of horse racing.


Police Procedural

The police procedural emphasizes factual police operations. Law enforcement is a team effort where department politics often plays a large role. If you plan to write one of these, you need to spend time with police officers and research the tiny details which will make your story ring true.



Lawyers and doctors make effective protagonists since they seem to exist on a plane far above the rest of us. Although popular, these tales are usually penned by actual lawyers and doctors due to the demands of the information presented.



Instead of the sleuth pursuing the criminal, in suspense the protagonist is the one being pursued. Here the question is not so much "Who done it?" but "How will the main character stay alive?"


Romantic Suspense

Add a hefty dose of romance to a suspense and produce a romantic suspense. Not only does justice prevail, but love conquers all.



Move your mystery into the past, near or far, and you've entered the realm of the historical mystery. Crime has always been in fashion and the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and ability to research.


Mixed Genre

Move your mystery into the future and you've entered the realm of the mixed-genre mystery. Although mixed-genre isn't confined to SF, science fiction is a healthy market which welcomes the marriage. Isaac Asimov's ROBOT series is one example of a future police detective.


Private Eye

The Private Eye is as much an American icon as the Western gunslinger. From the hardboiled PIs of the 30s and 40s to the politically correct investigators of today, this sub-genre is known for protagonists with a strong code of honor.



While much PI is Noir, Noir also covers stories from the other side of the fence. Noir is a mood: gritty, bleak, and unforgiving. The usual brutality is about as far from Cozy as you can get.



Suspense in the crime story comes from wondering whether the plan will work. We're rooting for the bad guys because they are smart, organized, and daring. The ride will be a bumpy one.


True Crime

These are non-fiction dramatic works based on actual cases, often centering on high-profile, shocking, and sensational crimes. The modern true crime story, which most often focuses on murders, is frequently marked by biographical treatment of the criminals and victims, attempts to explain criminal psychology, and descriptions of police investigations and trial procedures. While this isn't fiction, a sub-genre, Unsolved Crimes can speculate to the point of fiction.



A caper is a comic crime story. Instead of suave and calculating, the caper chronicles the efforts of the lovable bungler who either thinks big or ridiculously small. Finally we get to laugh.


Lucky Thirteen

Take your next idea and test how the different mystery sub-genres give shape to the story. Who knows, you just might produce thirteen of them.




Shared/Open/Franchised World

Can be either fantasy or SF. Pre-developed world/universe, usually popular and well known, that has been opened by original author/estate/publisher for work by other writers. Usually by invitation, but occasionally open to anyone. Examples: Wizard of the Coast's D&D, Lovecraft's Mythos, Star Wars, Asimov's Foundation, Sadler's Casca, Star Trek, Wildcards, etc.,




Cross Genre

If you can establish genre lines, then you can cross them. When genres -- horror, fantasy, science, romance, speculative, whatever fiction -- start slipping into one another the Brits call it (appropriately) "slipstream."


 And there we have them - a work of definitions that is constantly shifting as all the genre it hopes to define changes with the time.  One day perhaps I will have this complete.

[WotF] The Second Batch...

...of HM are posted, and while from the first batch I recognised but one name from my FList, in this batch I spot 6 names that I can congratulate!  So, to all of you and all of the other, non-LJ HM, congratulations on fine writing, and good luck with future efforts!

John Glover of Virginia
Rob Haines of Wales, United Kingdom
Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon of Michigan
Christine Lucas of the country of Greece
Joyce Reynolds-Ward of Oregon
Wendy Waring of New South Wales, Australia

Write on!


See, even schools are preparing for it!

Disaster Preparedness

The end is near!

[TV] More comments on watched shows

4) Dancing with the Stars
No real surprise with the eliminated.  Hamilton clearly lost ground from the lingering effect of his injuries, and Gray just did not have the attitude or flexibility to be outstanding. 

5) Fringe
While the ongoing storyline about the cross-dimensional effects and the hunter are interesting, the mole kid is so old hat that they really could have found a better episode showcase.

6) Hell's Kitchen
My ongoing beef:  Cummon people!  You KNOW what you are in for if you make this show.  You KNOW that this man is gonna be on your ass if you screw up, and that it is all part of the training to run a full, professional kitchen.  It you are thin-skinned, apply to Top Chef or something else.

Tonight there are quite a few shows I hope to check out.  Ghost Whisperer, Medium, Numb3rs, Dollhouse, Smallville...but one, at least, will take a back-seat to re-run season.  Friday is a crowded night for viewing, and we can DVR only so many in a single time slot, and not all channels have realized this to reshow the new stuff at a later time in the evening.
....and I see my name on it again!

Cool.  Is yours there too?  Or will we see it on the better lists, to be posted later?

Luck to everyone with subs to the third quarter batch!

[TV] Some comments on the new shows...

1) Heroes
First, anyone else notice the title of the book being read at the beginning?  A bit of cross-media dipping here, I think...

So far, and I do realize it's wayyyy too early to have a real opinion, this season (for me) is starting on a better note than last season closed on.  Claire: I DO hope she discovers a bit of the smarts she apparently left at high school. The dumb blonde thing is a stereotype.  Say it twice, thrice, and believe it.

2) The Forgotten
Pretty nice premise, and if the first pilot episode is an indication, it will be a good show.  The issue I can foresee is that the cases cannot get solved too "easily".  If these "Jane"/"John" Doe cases fall into the hands of the public because the cops can't work them from a lack of time and resourses, then they really need to be difficult for the outside groups to solve, too. 

3)  Dancing w/t Stars
Well, the women were a bit more impressive than the men.  This time I actually remained awake through the routines, whereas I left the men's night at half way from boredom. 

Anyway, that's all for now, folks!  Be back at the end of the week for the rest....

[PROCESS] Hear this voice in my words...

Voice.  Mine is grating and harsh, and hard to be around.  However, my bud S. Boyd has some pointers here to help refine yours!

Darrell Schweitzer is the author of over 300 published stories, many of which are collected in We are all Legends, Tom O'Bedlam's Night Out, Transients and Other Disquieting Tales, Refugees from an Imaginary Country, Nightscapes, The Great World and the Small, and Sekenre: The Book of the Sorcerer. His collaborations with Jason Van Hollander are collected in Necromancies and Netherworlds. He has twice been nominated for the World Fantasy Award for best collection (for Transients and for Necromancies and Netherworlds) and once for novella ("To Become a Sorcerer") and won it once (with George Scithers) for co-editing Weird Tales. His fiction has been published in Interzone, Amazing, Twilight Zone, Space & Time, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Postscripts, and numerous anthologies.


His three published novels are The White Isle, The Shattered Goddess, and The Mask of the Sorcerer (which contains the above-mentioned novella). He is also a non-fiction author, including book-length studies of HP Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany. He has conducted numerous author interviews, some of which are collected in SF Voices, and written reviews, essays etc. He has been a book review columnist in Aboriginal SF and in Science Fiction Review. A recent book of his essays is Windows of the Imagination (1998) which was a Locus "Notable" book.


As a poet, he is best known for having rhymed "Cthulhu" twice in a limerick and lived to tell about it. His light verse is collected (so far) in Non Compost Mentis, Poetica Dementia, and the aptly-entitled Stop me Before I do it Again! Recent collections of his "serious" poetry are Groping Toward the Light and Ghosts of Past and Future.


Q: Over your career you've worn many literary hats: author, editor, poet, and essayist amongst them.   Would you consider any of these areas to be more rewarding than the others? 


DS: I suppose my primary focus has always been fiction-writer, but as it works out the majority of pieces I have published have not been stories. I HAVE published rather a lot. According to my bibliography, "The Last Heretic," sold to Postscripts, is story #303. There is a 304, but I haven't sold it yet. This does not mean I am hugely prolific. I am 57. This count started when I was about 18. Included among those 304 stories are six novels, two of which were hack jobs and don't really count (See the essay, "My Career as a Hack Writer" in Windows of the Imagination.) But that is still less than ten stories a year.

    All these activities have their satisfactions. Editing is very different from writing, and something you can do when the creative imagination isn't quite sparking. It is also a noble calling, because it involves making opportunities for other writers. If I had the opportunity, I could go on forever compiling reprint anthologies, but that opportunity doesn't seem to have come my way. But if I can merely outlive all the other experts in the field, it might.


Q: Most writers can name a few authors who have influenced their development in regard to craft and technique.  How were you influenced, and by whom?


DS: Every writer is influenced by others. I may be more bookish than many, and, even in my "mature" years given to lifting something useful from another writer. For example, my recent novella Living with the Dead, which PS Publishing has brought out as a book, is very clearly influenced by Zoran Zivkovic's various story cycles. The influence is not so much the content as the form: a work of five episodes, all of which dovetail into one another, forming a larger whole.

    Otherwise I see a massive, early influence of Lord Dunsany. I can still go back to Dunsany and be moved to "write like that." Fortunately the result is not at all like that. I have learned various things at various times. I think I learned a lot of Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, and from Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun about how to write an imaginary-world story from the "inside," from the viewpoint of a native character. These are immersive fantasies. The story is told entirely from inside the world of the characters, with no reference to our own. Of course I had been writing this sort of thing all along, but both Le Guin and Wolfe showed me how to do it better.

    I think I have pretty much avoided the stylistic influence of H.P. Lovecraft, and I made no attempt to write anything in the Cthulhu Mythos until I was at least 40, but he has always been an important presence in my life, more so than many people I have actually known in the flesh. In effect, we've all been his correspondents for years and years now, and as more books of his letters come out, it isn't over yet. I reread "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" not all that long ago and was surprised to realize how much of this had been absorbed into The Mask of the Sorcerer. The character of Sekenre might be described as a fusion of Huckleberry Finn and Joseph Curwen.

    I have also been known to lift motifs, images, and ideas from writers as diverse as Jorge Luis Borges and John Mandeville. We all do this. It is what you do with the borrowings that matters.


Q: With being an editor you have probably seen many new writers and spec-fic poets enter the speculative fiction field.  Are there many that really stand out, newcomers that you admire in the genre world?  Any lesser known authors/poets come to mind deserving a shout-out?


DS: I can mention some writers I more or less "discovered" in Weird Tales who are clearly getting places. I don't think I bought the first sales of any of them, but I had them as regular contributors early in their careers. There's Carrie Vaughn, who is best known for a series of books about Kitty Norquist, a talk-show host werewolf. Two short stories from WT formed part of the first book. I also saw an obvious, early promise in Kelly McCullough, who's "Webmage" series began in WT. (Actually, I think that was his first sale.) I also encountered John Fultz early on in his career.  I think he shows great promise. Of course there were lots of other people who would sell us one or two great stories, and then disappear. That is one of the frustrations of editing. In the first issue of Asimov's SF (or IA'sfm, as it was called in those days, when edited by George Scithers; I was one of his minions) there is a splendid story by a woman named Sally Sellers. I can remember that she sent us a second story, which was supernatural horror, and I directed her to Charles Grant's SHADOWS series, but the story wasn't published there. I don't know if it was ever submitted. I don't know whatever happened to Sally Sellers either. I think she could have had a solid career if she'd stuck with it.


Q: As editor at Weird Tales you've doubtlessly seen many types of fiction pass through the slush.  I am curious; is there a change in the style of "weird"?  Is there a difference in classic weird fiction and what is being called, the "New Weird"? What do you think of the "New Weird"?


DS: I must point out that I have not been editor of Weird Tales since early 2007, and even when I was, I was almost always co-editor with someone. I am listed as sole editor around issue 300, but that is largely a fiction, because we had promoted George Scithers to publisher, and the editorial process went on as a balancing act between me, George, and others pretty much as before.  Then we ran out of money, handed the magazine over to Warren Lapine, and he became publisher, so George was listed as co-editor again.  I think that toward the end of this regime I was the dominant influence, but in any case the current fiction editor is Ann Vandermeer and the managing and non-fiction editor is Stephen Segal, and they are taking the magazine in a radically different direction. Obviously this has pleased someone because they just won a Hugo for it. Obviously, too, since John Betancourt of Wildside Press owns the magazine and it was his money that was being spent (and, for the most part, lost), he had every right to change direction and editors if he thought that would make the magazine more profitable. I am still involved as an occasional contributor of non-fiction, but I have no input into the magazine's design or content these days.

    As for "New Weird," I think it is going to crash and burn, rather the way the New Wave in science fiction did, and for the same reason, which is that it has given rise to too much pretentious, unreadable writing and it will cause readers to flock elsewhere. In the sense that it's a marketing term, "New Weird" means "books we can sell to the same audience that buys China Mieville, Jeff Vandermeer, and Kelly Link." I am sure that when it's all over,  Mieville, Vandermeer, and Link will be doing just fine, although their books may have to be reissued with new style covers to distance them from what no longer sells. It's the imitators who will come to grief. Remember Cyberpunk? The writers who actually invented it, like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, are still prospering. But any number of Gibson wanabes fell by the wayside, and a certain style of cover art perished with them.

    The problem with a lot of what proclaims itself as "New Weird" or "slipstream" or just "literary fantasy" is that it's infected with lit-mag values, and lit-mag writers do not know how to tell stories. Readers want stories. This is rediscovered, at someone's expense, in every generation. "Experimental fiction," I have always insisted, is one of the most conservative of literary forms, a real fossil, incapable of evolution. Whenever I encounter a young, new writer who wants to write "experimental fiction" I encourage them to move beyond that, into something more innovative. I know art school teachers encounter the same phenomenon quite a lot. You know, "I can't draw, so I'll do abstracts." This shows -- if nothing else -- a poor understanding of the nature of abstracts. Picasso very definitely COULD draw. Then he was able to do innovative things with his work. The same applies to literature.


Q: There's been much talk about the loss of short fiction markets and a decline in interest in short fiction. How do you feel about the present state of the speculative short story?  How is it different today than in the past? Any idea where we're headed creatively? What are your thoughts on electronic media vs. print?  Is it a killer?


DS: My feeling is that electronic publication is somewhere between newspaper writing and skywriting. It can be very widespread, but it is also very ephemeral. A well bound book, on acid free paper, if kept dry and out of the sun, could survive complete neglect for centuries. The oldest book I ever physically handled was an 11th century Bible. It was in great shape, but for a broken hinge. An electronic publication, if it falls into neglect for even ten years, and the standard format changes a few times, may disappear completely. If you had a story in F&SF last month, you have achieved "flea market immortality," which means that for well beyond your lifetime, used copies of that issue will not be hard to come by. A local (Philadelphia) fan named Hal Lynch had only two stories published in his lifetime, one in Astounding, one in F&SF, both in the early '50s. When someone asked for them, no problem. I had both issues.

    Markets come and go. New magazines start as often as old ones collapse. I've always thought that the short story writer is like the heroine of The Perils of Pauline, in that scene where she is leaping from one ice floe to the next to avoid being swept over a waterfall. Of course some ice floes are bigger than others. I managed to become a regular in Fantastic for exactly one year (1980). I leapt from there to Fantasy Book, which published several stories of mine, then folded. I leapt from there to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, which did me good service for about 5 years. Meanwhile I had been in every issue of Weirdbook for 23 years, and had actually first published in it as far back as 1971. (Weirdbook lasted for 30 years, 1968-98 and published 30 issues. I am in 3, 4, 6, 9-30.) But all of these markets are gone. My most steady market at the moment is Postscripts, which has only been in existence for a few years.

    I think what's an endangered species is the completely professional fiction magazine, which is published by a large corporation, with an office in New York, where the editor and an assistant or two are paid a living wage to edit a fiction magazine. We are instead in the age of the little magazine, published by an editor-entrepreneur. If you want to see the way forward, look to Postscripts or Cemetery Dance. The way to go seems to be to start a little magazine which is used as an advertizing base for a line of books. Talebones was one of these too, and has lasted 39 issues, although now editor/publisher Patrick Swenson is calling it quits. But he is also talking about resuming as an anthology series. He has a book line, which is apparently quite successful.  Postscripts is not, strictly speaking, a magazine anymore, but a series anthology, rather like Orbit. There are economic reasons for this, the most obvious of which is that if you take an object containing, say, 60,000 words of fiction, put it out in paper covers and call it a magazine, you can get, at maximum, about $8.00 a copy. But the same object, in the same covers, called a trade paperback, can easily sell for $15.00. Put a hard cover on it (which costs about a dollar more per copy) and you can get $20.00 or more.

    Remember, too, that if a magazine sells one thousand copies, that's pretty marginal. But if the publisher also does books, and through his magazine now has a list of people who will likely buy a hardcover book he publishes, and he sells a thousand copies of the hardcover book, he's doing all right.

    The problem with electronic publication -- i.e. websites as magazines -- is that nobody has really figured out how to make money off it. Clarkesworld has an interesting solution. They republish their entire contents as a series of anthologies, which CAN be sold for actual money. The internet is a powerful promotional tool, but I think it's a mistake to say that it is the product. Clarkesworld has the best of both worlds.


Q: What advice do you have for aspiring writers trying to develop their craft?


DS: Keep on writing. Do not stop. There is a profound difference between talking about writing and DOING it. Once you are doing it, the rest is refinement. I have always pointed out that Jim Theis, the author of the infamous and much-ridiculed "The Eye of Argon," probably could have become a professional writer if he had kept at it. He was a kid, about 16. He had FINISHED a story of some 12,000 words. He knew what narrative was. The story has a beginning, middle, and end, and something is always happening. Of course it is a total mass of cliché and awful prose, but that's something that improves with practice. He was like a beginning violin student who was making sounds that more resembled the disemboweling of a live cat than music. But at least he had picked up the instrument and begun the learning process.


Q: What are you working on now?  What are your plans for the future? Aspirations? Goals?  And for those rare few who might not have encountered your work, where would someone find a good source to sample some Darrell Schweitzer?


DS: I suppose my aspiration is to have temples to my fame all over the world ... but failing that, I would like to be read and would like to keep on producing something that people want to read. Whenever I seem to slow down and wonder if my best creative years might be behind me, I look at Gene Wolfe, who is 79 or thereabouts, and at the height of his craft.


Right now I am writing a new Sekenre story.


My books are easily available on the internet. Just Google my name. Or go to eBay, Amazon, or Abebooks.com and you will find plenty. You could always go to Wildside Press's website and order from there. I will get royalties if you do, which I will not if you buy a used book club edition on Abebooks. If you want signed copies, you can get a lot of titles from me directly. I have some stock nobody else does, remainders and out of print titles.


If you have not read me before, the two novels you want are The Mask of the Sorcerer and The Shattered Goddess. For short stories, probably the best single sampler is Refugees from an Imaginary Country. (Shameless plug: when the publishers more or less retired, most of the stock ended up in my garage. I still have the limited-edition hardcovers, signed by myself and Stephen Fabian. I think I have all of them, or nearly so. I offer these on eBay constantly.) Other good collections are Nightscapes, Tom O'Bedlam's Night Out, and Transients and Other Disquieting Tales. (This last is all modern-scene horror or urban fantasy, in the Twilight Zone mode. One of the stories is actually from Twilight Zone magazine, and several more are from its companion, Night Cry.) Necromancies and Netherworlds is a volume of my collaborations with the author/artist Jason Van Hollander, who brilliantly illustrated the book. It was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in 2000 for best collection, and he was nominated for best artist. He won.


If you want to read me as a critic and essayist, I can only recommend the new collections Windows of the Imagination and The Fantastic Horizon. As a poet: Groping Toward the Light and Ghosts of Past and Future. It goes on and on. Lately I have been editing anthologies with Martin Greenberg. Hunt up The Secret History of Vampires (DAW, 2007). There will be more, including an urban werewolf book from Pocket next spring called Full Moon City (I think that is the current title; it's been changed several times by the publisher). It contains a wonderful Peter Beagle story, and one from Gene Wolfe, among many others. I am currently editing Cthulhu's Reign, which is a book of Cthulhu Mythos stories that take place AFTER the Old Ones win and take over the Earth again. My aspiration as an editor is to become so respected that I can sell a non-gimmick anthology called DARRELL SCHWEITZER'S Book of Good Stories, but I do not think I have nearly reached that point yet.


Oh, I also once rhymed Cthulhu in a limerick. This and more such poetical effusions can be found in a series of chapbooks, beginning with Non Compost Mentis (1995).


Darrell Schweitzer's work can be found here, at Wildside Press:





[!] A sign of the times...

Ok, this is just sad, IMO:

Goodbye, Old Friend

Good for Amazon and Sony, though.

[OWW] Work posted --

For those amongst us here who are on OWW I have three works posted there seeking opinion - and I return any given!  Really!  So, if by chance you are a member there and haven't yet perused my little hardSF offerings, please stop by and jot a little something down.  They are (besides being listed under my member info):

The Good Child
Icebarge Downed (3k words - approximately the first half.)

I'm thick skinned and am really hoping to make these acceptable, so there is no need to sugar-coat, if inclined to. 

Hint Fiction

This one is interesting - see the guidelines behind the link.  They are open until 8/31, so dust off that summarizing talent and get cracking!  25 words or less - whoa!


[REVIEW] Sorta-- G. I. Joe

I go to movies for entertainment and for the effects - as such I have no problem seeing a remake (not that this one is).  I enjoy seeing older films with the newer effects, and cool effects is one thing we get here - non-stop action with sweet effects.  Seamless?  Eh...nearly so but there are a few moments where it wasn't - quite.

I recall just last week that this film wasn't released to the critics for a pre-screening.  I had to wonder, but once I saw it, I noted something that have been a point in this decision.  And here might, or might not, be spoilers -- was the director or producer also involved with the original "The Mummy"?  There are cameos by three of the main actors from "The Mummy".  I won't name them, but they leap out if you are a fan of that flick, like I am.  There might have been others, but if so they didn't stand out.  Thing is, I bet critics would see this...

It was quite good, entertaining, and I'm sure that there are many out there  that will harp on a perceived lack of plot or some other fallacy of the writers.  It seemed for this viewer to be well made, with a moderately cohesive story, fine effects, great action, and with a satisfying ending with an obvious opening for a sequel.  It was entertaining and non-stop.  As such it fulfilled my expectations, and I can recommend it.

I gave in and...

...set up Skype.  Just need a test call to see if it is set up ok.  I can be found on the directory.  Anyone game?

[REVIEW] The Coyote Road

Finally here, my take on 'The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales"!

This volume, delightfully edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, features 26 good reads, including mostly stories but also a few poems.  These works are based on, include, or based from Tricksters of lore and of those who were fond memories of the authors that could fit the tag of Trickster.  It is the third mythic anthology in this series, which includes "The Green Man" and "The Faery Reel".

First I have to note the attractiveness of the overall package.  This book is sweetly designed, from the layout to the cover & interior decorations by Charles Vess to the blurbs.  Clearly this is a volume deserving to be added to any collection, if not for the quality of the material included then for the pride of owning such a sweet book.

Inside is where I find the only real issue (for me).  I feel that the bio's on the authors with their commentary could have been shaved down.  These take up too much prime room, and while moderately interesting, eat up space that could have been better applied to another work or illustration.  This is really noticeable in the case of the poetry. 

Overall each story and poem in here is good, however,  there are a few tales in the volume that stand out for me.  Some notables are"One Odd Shoe" by Pat Murphy, "Black Rock Blues" Will Shetterly, which (for those keeping track of these things) features an African-American trickster, the only one in prose here, although the really great poem by Jane Yolen is from African lore, "Friday Night at St. Celia's" by Ellen Klagues, "Cat of the World" by Michael Cadnum, and a very thought-provoking story,  "The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change," by Kij Johnson.  Also I was quite taken with "Kwaku Anansi Walks the World's Web" by Jane Yolen, a tight short poem that drew me right in.

Whether you are into classic mythology, folklore, or just love reading modern fantasy, you will find a good read in thus.  I'll give it 4.5 Loki Chips out of a possible 5.

Superhero Fiction, redux

So, in looking at genre labels, Wiki sez that Superhero is a subgenre of Fiction; so I have to feel that it is classed as its own genre, much like SF, Fantasy Horror, etc.  So my breakdown in classifying it would be much like this:

   a) Mutation/Genetic 
   b) Training
   c) Science/Tech Enabled 
        1) Temporary
        2) Permanent 
   d) Alien/Extraterrestrial 
   e) God(s) Granted/Magical

Any additional suggestions/comments/enhancements?

[Q/A] A question for the Listmind...

Being a catagorizer who takes comfort in labels, where would Superhero Fiction fit into the SF/Fantasy catagories?  Would it be slipstream/alternate histoy?  Urban Fantasy?  Or is it in it's own catagory, and if this is the case would it fit under SF or Fantasy? 

[RoF] Cover Thoughts - again.

Ok.  Maybe this cover thing has been an issue with past issues of RoF, and now it is brought to the attention of the new management.  For me, personally, the only issue I have with the current cover design is the blocky font.  It has been brought up that women are the primary demographic of the readers of the magazine.  As such why not use a smoother font, set to frame the cover illustration instead of blocking into it?  The illustration is fine, and to me, indeed does reflect my conception of a mermaid.  Of course the eyes can shift lower to the sides of the head, but... 

Lets go back to the history of the mag.  Who does not realize that this magazine has been around for a long time?  In this time has it not been under the same management?  And yet there are some who are second thinking their new subscription because of - history?  Gimme a break.  This is new, (and from what I've read) more open-minded management.  If they don't live up to things after the first subscription time runs out then drop them then.  Don't just judge because of the past.  That's a bit narrow minded, IMO.

And the business of the mag.  Selling magazines is a business.  If you can't make the sales you don't make the bills, and can't afford to keep it going.  As such, you, as the business, seeks to draw in new readers. If the strategy in the past was trying to draw in a younger male demographic with chainmail bikini clad white babes, then forget it.  They would grab the mag, rifle through it for more pictures, then toss it back seeing mostly ads and fantasy junk.  It would be just the same as having chainmail semi-clad Asian chicks with tommy guns seated on a Harley with dancing fairys on the cover. 

However - recently I saw a post listing a recent top 10 selling books.  Fully half of these were fantasy, and 4 of these 5 were the Twilight series.  Now a question - how many ladies have teenage daughters and has read a story that makes them want to pass the mag to the child?  Thinking this way adds a readership boost potential to all this.  Cover: Illustrate a story involving vampire romance taking place in a teen-angst circunstance, with an entended-fang vampire having a swooning teen girl's head on shoulder.  Here you may just get new readers into the genre earlier.

Now am I dissing the current trend?  Nope.  What I'm saying in all this is to Ride The Wave.  Go with the current big things.  That will be a much better strategy, I'd think. 

And for other readers here - the cover thing?  Old news from old management.  Let it rest for a year, then blast it again if all this went in one ear and out the other.

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