Author Topic: Loser's Lament  (Read 29870 times)

GoodDamon

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on: February 26, 2007, 04:30:01 PM
So... Your last entry has been voted down, after getting picked apart by the ravenous forum-wolves. What now? Write an ode to fallen words? Rewrite the story and post the new and expanded version elsewhere? Hide under a rock and whimper?

What are you planning to do with your 300 word gems?

Here's what I'm going to do...

These are very short pieces. To get them down to length, many of us trimmed and cut, cut and trimmed, and in the process we might have cut too much, removing the heart of the story along with the fat. Or we left incomplete bits in, lines that reference nonexistent characters or actions that serve no purpose. When the voting is finished, when the winners are chosen, and when Steve has picked the stories, if any, that he intends to buy outright, I'm going to take these three stories of mine (The Neighbors, Asylum, Sunburn) and polish them until they shine.

Then I'm going to submit them to other markets. Rinse and repeat.

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #1 on: February 26, 2007, 04:40:14 PM
Are you going to keep them at 300 words, or expand to 500?

*wants to see fatted versions of Asylum & Sunburn*



GoodDamon

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Reply #2 on: February 26, 2007, 04:58:01 PM
Are you going to keep them at 300 words, or expand to 500?

*wants to see fatted versions of Asylum & Sunburn*

Expansion is definitely in their futures. There's plenty of room for it in Asylum. Sunburn could probably use some extra clarification and a light edit, but it's really a story about the will to survive, not specifically about the aliens on the other side of that ridge. I'm not sure going into depth about the setting would do the story justice. If I go that route, it'll be essentially a different story.

I may very well write that story later, though.

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


Alasdair5000

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Reply #3 on: February 26, 2007, 05:23:54 PM
   Count me in for an expanded version of Sunburn.  One of my favourites of the contest:)



GoodDamon

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Reply #4 on: February 26, 2007, 05:35:58 PM
   Count me in for an expanded version of Sunburn.  One of my favourites of the contest:)

Thank you very much!  :D

Are you planning to expand any of your entries?

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


Laieanna

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Reply #5 on: February 26, 2007, 05:44:06 PM
Usually when I've written a short story, I'm done with it.  But I might keep the idea of a crazed vampire who fears the sun in such an extreme way and use him as a character in a vampire story, should I ever write one.


I did read all my stories on my podcast.

Working on my comeback


Swamp

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Reply #6 on: February 26, 2007, 06:04:22 PM
I'm going to take these three stories of mine (The Neighbors, Asylum, Sunburn) and polish them until they shine.

I enjoyed all three of your stories.

As for my stories (The Fall of Humphrey the Wise, Bad Environment), it's a mix.  I think Bad Environment will probably just [MikeWazowski] go away [/MikeWazowski].  I could try to tone it down and expand it, but I doubt I will.  

With Humphrey, however, I think I am going to start over and tell the story of Humphrey as a “lowly farmer” where he first discovers the magic stone and is led to the enchantress’ castle.  That is the part of the story that I enjoyed telling the most and where I did most of the cutting (and thus the part that didn’t make it to the contest).  I plan to let the readers in on Humphrey’s true identity from the beginning.  I’m sure the word count will grow considerably.

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GoodDamon

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Reply #7 on: February 26, 2007, 06:06:35 PM
I did read all my stories on my podcast.

Just so you know, that has implications for selling the rights to them in the future. If you weren't planning on selling them, that's fine, of course.

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


GoodDamon

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Reply #8 on: February 26, 2007, 06:08:18 PM
With Humphrey, however, I think I am going to start over and tell the story of Humphrey as a “lowly farmer” where he first discovers the magic stone and is led to the enchantress’ castle.

That sounds like fun! Without that part, it suffered from the punchline-story syndrome.

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


amyr

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Reply #9 on: February 26, 2007, 06:17:36 PM
I really enjoyed The Fall of Humphrey the Wise.   I would love to see more done with that.



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Reply #10 on: February 26, 2007, 06:19:22 PM
There's a long list of stories I've read here that a- I'm sure will find a home as it is or b- would absolutely be wonderful as a longer, more detailed story and I'm looking forward to reading them all in their eventual publications.


As for my two tales - one (fireworks) I'm not sure what I'll do with but I may do something because I still like the voice - very much like my fatherinlaw... With Venus though - I'm may expand it to include all the stuff about the crime and her psychosis and play around some more with the themes in the painting - give it some foundation. Unfortunately, knowing me, it'll wind up being too long.

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Alasdair5000

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Reply #11 on: February 26, 2007, 06:29:16 PM
   Count me in for an expanded version of Sunburn.  One of my favourites of the contest:)

Thank you very much!  :D

Are you planning to expand any of your entries?
   No problem:)  Yeah, I've been doing some thinking about that.  'Sun Down', I think, might go well as a flash piece up in the 900-1000 word range.  'Oak Island' I think is going to be bigger.  There's the makings of a bigger idea there that would take in the Money Pit on Oak Island as well as the pre-apocalyptic' element which could be a lot of fun.



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #12 on: February 26, 2007, 06:48:37 PM
Quote
Expansion is definitely in their futures. There's plenty of room for it in Asylum. Sunburn could probably use some extra clarification and a light edit, but it's really a story about the will to survive, not specifically about the aliens on the other side of that ridge. I'm not sure going into depth about the setting would do the story justice. If I go that route, it'll be essentially a different story.

I may very well write that story later, though.

For what it's worth (and it may not be worth much) when I asked about expansion, I was thinking character development within the arc as it stands. Andrew was skirting stock to me and I wanted more from him.



ClintMemo

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Reply #13 on: February 26, 2007, 06:49:38 PM
Of my three entries, I thought the first one (Problem Cycle) was "ok" but I later realized that the interesting ideas that caused me to write the story all got chopped out from the story while I was getting it down to 300 words.  I've already taken one of the ideas and used it to write a completely different piece.  The other idea, I'm not really sure what to do with.

My second entry (Attention Span) was a flash-contest specific joke, so I'm not sure what else I could do with it.  And that's fine. I already got more pleasure out of writing it and reading the comments than it probably deserved anyway. :P

My third entry (No Scars) is the one I liked the most, and I've already looked at some people's comments and thought about how to make it better. That one I'm sure I'll fix up some more, maybe out to 400 or 500 words, and try submitting it somewhere.

IIRC, Steve said something about starting a forum where people could post longer pieces for reviews/comments/help and I am REALLY looking forward to that.  I have two things I'd like to drop in that meat grinder, if it ever develops.  (Hopefully after the contest). One is about 3400 words and the other is about 1600.  I've already made some minor changes to the 3400 word piece after reading comments on the contest boards as well as the "Pet Peeves" thread in the writing lounge.

I'm also looking forward to another escape pod flash contest, if one happens.

Life is a multiple choice test. Unfortunately, the answers are not provided.  You have to go and find them before picking the best one.


GoodDamon

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Reply #14 on: February 26, 2007, 07:24:32 PM
For what it's worth (and it may not be worth much) when I asked about expansion, I was thinking character development within the arc as it stands. Andrew was skirting stock to me and I wanted more from him.

That's where most of the clean-up would come in. I imagine after I round Andrew out, the story will clock in at 400 words, or thereabouts.

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


J.R. Blackwell

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Reply #15 on: February 26, 2007, 07:40:54 PM
You might want to consider submitting some of your stories to 365 Tomorrows, the daily science fiction site I co-founded.

They don't pay, but they are always looking for flash, the site gets upwards of five thousand unique hits a day (that's good exposure) and they have 365 slots to fill with stories every year.

You can visit them at www.365tomorrows.com

There are lot of other great markets out there too, but 365 will always have a special place in my heart.

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ClintMemo

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Reply #16 on: February 26, 2007, 08:04:26 PM
You might want to consider submitting some of your stories to 365 Tomorrows, the daily science fiction site I co-founded.

They don't pay, but they are always looking for flash, the site gets upwards of five thousand unique hits a day (that's good exposure) and they have 365 slots to fill with stories every year.

You can visit them at www.365tomorrows.com

There are lot of other great markets out there too, but 365 will always have a special place in my heart.

(edited to remove the unintentional impression that I was being a jerk and dissing 365tomorrows - the opposite of what I intended)
Oh believe me, I've thought about doing that LOTS of times.  I just haven't been brave enough to hit "copy", "paste" and "submit" all in the same sitting.  Being a master procrastinator, my excuse for not fixing anything, writing anything new, submitting anything or doing any anything to further (hell, start)  my career as a writer has been that I was waiting for the contest to be over.  Well, it is over, for me anyway, so I guess I better do something (or come up with another excuse.) :P
(and I've been reading from that site almost every day for a few months now - good stuff!)
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 08:30:26 PM by ClintMemo »

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Laieanna

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Reply #17 on: February 26, 2007, 09:13:40 PM
You might want to consider submitting some of your stories to 365 Tomorrows, the daily science fiction site I co-founded.
They don't pay, but they are always looking for flash, the site gets upwards of five thousand unique hits a day (that's good exposure) and they have 365 slots to fill with stories every year.
You can visit them at www.365tomorrows.com
There are lot of other great markets out there too, but 365 will always have a special place in my heart.


Even if I don't submit, now I have another Scifi storytelling podcast to add to my listening list. *giddy handclapping*

Working on my comeback


tom.d

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Reply #18 on: February 27, 2007, 03:40:15 AM
The two pieces that I submitted (Bob: Employee of the Future and Metamorphosis) were the first things that I've submitted anywhere, and the feedback I got on them was great.  At this point, I don't have much interest in selling them, rather, I think that I need the feedback more than anything at this point, and so I decided to set up a site to post my stories.  When I first posted this, as a reply to one of my stories, I was reminded that it would constitute first publishing, but it still seems the right thing to do, for me, at least.  In addition to thanking the entire community who made this whole thing possible, I might as well give myself a shameless plug, so here it is.  http://pawnstorm.blogspot.com



degan

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Reply #19 on: February 27, 2007, 04:21:36 AM
MS Blackwell,

I just visited your 365 tomorrows site.  Very nice.  I am curious, where did you get the radio telescope pictured.  It looks very like the educational telescope here at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory here in Green Bank West Virginia.  We have much larger telescopes if you would like to use a picture of a bigger one.  ;)

http://www.gb.nrao.edu/

Dennis Egan
author of Fuel Pressure



J.R. Blackwell

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Reply #20 on: February 27, 2007, 02:45:24 PM
I am curious, where did you get the radio telescope pictured.  It looks very like the educational telescope here at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory here in Green Bank West Virginia.  We have much larger telescopes if you would like to use a picture of a bigger one.  ;)

You know, I actually have no idea. One of the other authors, Kathy, put together the graphic for our site. She may have very well snatched it from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

I am very jealous that you get to work around all those telescopes. Telescopes are sexy. Big ones are even sexier. <---Nerd

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slic

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Reply #21 on: February 27, 2007, 05:11:03 PM
I'll be pretty much leaving mine alone.  Pendulum Swing was just an idea, not a story, and bThere goggles was specifically written as a joke advert/podcast promo.  All for one... may turn into a much longer story with the character's ability more of a background trait than a driver for the story.  In writing the story, I spent alot of time thinking about the character and her environment, (what her job actually is, does she get lonely, what are her ambitions, how she interacts with others (including other Multis), how society sees her, etc.).  But that sure seems like a lot of work - I have the most fun inventing situations and creating universes, telling individual stories is the hard part.



GoodDamon

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Reply #22 on: February 27, 2007, 07:54:52 PM
...telling individual stories is the hard part.

Amen to that!

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


tatterbelle

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Reply #23 on: February 27, 2007, 11:05:15 PM
I really enjoyed the stories in this contest and hope to see them again in different forms. I don't know what to do with my stories (Infestation, the Movies, Dream Date) other than to post them on my deviantart page.



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #24 on: February 28, 2007, 01:03:37 AM
Bear in mind that if you post them on your personal website you limit your ability to sell them at a later date.

~P



tatterbelle

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Reply #25 on: February 28, 2007, 02:09:11 AM
How so?



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #26 on: February 28, 2007, 02:31:20 AM
Posting them on your website, unless it's password protected, counts as first publication rights.



tatterbelle

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Reply #27 on: February 28, 2007, 02:43:02 AM
Ah, thanks for the warning. Good thing I didn't post them. Any suggestions on what I should do with them then?



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #28 on: February 28, 2007, 02:51:11 AM
There are a few online writers workshops that have password protected sites where writers share their work. They work with reciprocity systems so you make sure that you get feedback, and the communities will span from people just starting out, to people with a few sales, to sometimes people with distinguished records (like Ruth Nestvold, Elizabeth Bear, or Eugie Foster).

I highly recommend joining one. It's a great way to improve faster than most people can on their own. Plus, it yields a guaranteed amount of criticism, whereas by posting stuff on your site (for instance) you're not only giving away first publication rights, but also counting on people's good will to spend their time critiquing your work rather than working on their own stuff.

Here are two of the most popular online critique sites:

The Online Writers Workshop:

http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/ - I like the system of this one better, but unfortunately it charges $50/yr to maintain the site and staff. Still, if you have the money, I think it's worth it.

Critters:

http://critters.critique.org  - Free! But a system that, IMO, works slightly less well.

If you have more questions about them, I'll be happy to answer.

Best,
P



ajames

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Reply #29 on: February 28, 2007, 09:23:24 PM
I've already thoroughly reworked one of my stories [The Stranger], based largely upon seeing what worked and didn't work in the other stories I read and reading all the feedback on all of the stories.  I think it is a much, much better story now but I'd still like to get more feedback, so I am hoping something comes of the discussion of providing a mechanism for that here on this site.  Otherwise I may check out one of the sites palimpsest suggested.  As for the other two stories I submitted, one was solely written for the contest and the other had some ideas I will pursue at some point, but not in flash fiction and not immediately.

I do hope to see some form of Sunburn and Venus of the Station, and others, in print, and hope the authors give a shout out to the Escapepod.org community when this happens.



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #30 on: March 01, 2007, 12:28:35 AM
The two pieces that I submitted (Bob: Employee of the Future and Metamorphosis) were the first things that I've submitted anywhere, and the feedback I got on them was great.  At this point, I don't have much interest in selling them, rather, I think that I need the feedback more than anything at this point, and so I decided to set up a site to post my stories.  When I first posted this, as a reply to one of my stories, I was reminded that it would constitute first publishing, but it still seems the right thing to do, for me, at least.  In addition to thanking the entire community who made this whole thing possible, I might as well give myself a shameless plug, so here it is.  http://pawnstorm.blogspot.com

It's spooky how close this was to verbatim "what I was going to say"!
My three: Rehab; Presence of Mind; Stage Fright
No interest in doing marketing.
Posted at Tad's Happy Funtime

As for the "cutting" process:
I wrote each of my four stories (I decided not to submit one called "Ask the Dust") purposely for the contest.  I knew I was shooting for <300 words, so I put the "important bits" down, and then tinkered with phrasing and such to get them within the limit.  Rehab suffered the most (as was reflected by its comments) from my decision to downplay the virtual reality part of the story; and Presence of Mind benefited, since I saved the "poetic" stuff in the middle for last.  I wrote the frame of the story, and then filled in the "grand, universal awareness" bit after I knew how much room I had to play with.

Stage Fright pretty much came out as is in about 45 minutes.

I have enjoyed seeing everyone's comments, and was extremely pleased with my modest vote counts.  This has been a real confidence builder, and has made me really think about doing more writing.  But, I'm far too busy with other things (four little kids, demanding/enjoyable job) to worry about selling what I write.  Another word for that is probably "lazy", but there you go.  Anyone volunteering to act as my agent is welcome to give it a whirl!

I know I've said it, and others have too, but thanks again to Steve, the Escape Pod staff, and the Mysterious Benefactor for making all of this possible.  And thanks to all of you who read AND write, and talk about reading and writing, for making this a community.

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


ClintMemo

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Reply #31 on: March 01, 2007, 02:30:30 AM
Maybe you should start SF Flash blog network.

Life is a multiple choice test. Unfortunately, the answers are not provided.  You have to go and find them before picking the best one.


Heradel

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Reply #32 on: March 01, 2007, 12:32:06 PM
I had two stories in the contest, one of which (The Truth) I've rewritten and have put aside for a few days to look back over.

The other one's idea I've decided is better suited to being a regular short story instead of flash. So now I have to think of a plot that'll work for a few dozen pages without becoming an excuse for a dog and pony show with the idea.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Gary

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Reply #33 on: March 07, 2007, 01:50:34 AM
I had initially thought I would rewrite my story "Happily Ever After, More or Less" to put some of the stuff back in, that had to be thrown out to get down to 300 words.

However, the short version was accepted well beyond my wildest expectations so I am now wondering if I should "mess with it".

I originally had more story to establish the prince as a "gallent, brave, and extremely shallow"  character  who is more embarrassed by the indignity of his final predicament then anything else.

I also had more story on how the presence of the "mad princess" was causing such a disturbance throughout the Prince's Castle and court.

Maybe it just doesn't need all that though.

I wonder if there is anything to be gained in rewritting this into a "proper" flash fiction piece of 600 to 900 words?

Maybe I should just retire it as is, basking in the glow of satisfaction that comes from creating something that others enjoyed!  :)



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #34 on: March 07, 2007, 11:33:46 AM
I had initially thought I would rewrite my story "Happily Ever After, More or Less" to put some of the stuff back in, that had to be thrown out to get down to 300 words.

However, the short version was accepted well beyond my wildest expectations so I am now wondering if I should "mess with it".

I originally had more story to establish the prince as a "gallent, brave, and extremely shallow"  character  who is more embarrassed by the indignity of his final predicament then anything else.

I also had more story on how the presence of the "mad princess" was causing such a disturbance throughout the Prince's Castle and court.

Maybe it just doesn't need all that though.

I wonder if there is anything to be gained in rewritting this into a "proper" flash fiction piece of 600 to 900 words?

Maybe I should just retire it as is, basking in the glow of satisfaction that comes from creating something that others enjoyed!  :)

"It ain't what I play,
It's the way that I play it!"
-B.B.King, "The Power of the Blues"

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


Gary

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Reply #35 on: March 07, 2007, 04:53:33 PM
"It ain't what I play,
It's the way that I play it!"
-B.B.King, "The Power of the Blues"

"It ain't what I play,
It's the way that I play it!"

Nice ... B.B.  was just one line away from giving us a Haiku!

  ;D



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #36 on: March 07, 2007, 05:13:28 PM
Speaking personally, the story woudl have worked for me better if the narrative had taken a distinct stance in re: the prince. It seems to me that the goal in rewriting the fairy tales was to explore the character ramifications of the situation, and I didn't really get a sense of that from the story as it is.



GoodDamon

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Reply #37 on: March 12, 2007, 05:01:55 PM
Now that all the voting's over, it's time for some post-mortem analysis. First, the facts:

  • In the first rounds, it looks like an average of about ~65 (extremely rough estimate) people voted.
  • In the semi-finals, it looks more like ~75 (again, extremely rough estimate).
  • In the final round, a whopping 136 people voted.
  • Two of the three winners were contemporary/urban fantasy stories.
  • The first-place winner was a science fiction story.
  • There were a total of 21 stories in the finals.
  • By my count, 8.5 of them were science fiction and 12.5 of them were fantasy.
  • The half-and-half story is one I thought qualified as slipstream. Your results may vary. Take only as directed by a physician.

So what does all that tell us? I have some theories, but I'd like to hear yours.

Edit: OK, actually, never mind until I've had the time to finish gathering statistics. This'll take a while.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2007, 05:20:17 PM by GoodDamon »

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Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #38 on: March 12, 2007, 05:06:59 PM
Hard to analyze without knowing the initial counts for SF versus F.

What did you qualify as slipstream?



GoodDamon

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Reply #39 on: March 12, 2007, 05:16:24 PM
Hard to analyze without knowing the initial counts for SF versus F.

Whoops, didn't think of that. Eeurgh... It'll take a while...

Quote
What did you qualify as slipstream?

I thought "Hoarding Colored Rags" was ambiguous enough to fall in either category or neither.

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #40 on: March 12, 2007, 05:25:01 PM
Ah! How interesting. I totally thought cyberpunk.



floatingtide

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Reply #41 on: March 12, 2007, 07:09:36 PM
Quote
Quote
What did you qualify as slipstream?

I thought "Hoarding Colored Rags" was ambiguous enough to fall in either category or neither.

I could see "Hoarding Colored Rags" as being slipstream or cyberpunk in style, but I read it as SF enough that I wouldn't think it needed a new category.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2007, 11:01:53 PM by floatingtide »



GoodDamon

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Reply #42 on: March 12, 2007, 08:19:14 PM
Ah! How interesting. I totally thought cyberpunk.

Neat! I didn't get any sort of cyberpunk feel from it. I imagined the recordings of memories being the kinds of things we can do today: digital cameras, camcorders, etc.

But I think I like your interpretation better. :)

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er