The Book Haul, 7/16/08

I thought I’d try something a little different. Let me know what you think.

Various and Sundry, 7/16/08

Some quick catch-uppery on various things regarding me and everything else:

* For only having been away for a couple of days, I sure got a hell of a lot of mail, although I suspect some of that mail was stuff I let slip before I headed off to Chicago. If you sent me mail since Friday, I may not have gotten to it yet. I hope to get to it all later today (Wednesday). Patience, please.

* This work week also promises to be work-packed, so I may still not be blogging full steam over the next few days. Hey, sometimes I need to write pay copy, you know? Sad but true (actually, not sad — I like to get paid. But still true).

* To the folks asking what I thought about the New Yorker magazine cover featuring the Obamas as flag-burning terrorist fist-jabbers in the White House: I dunno, I thought it was pretty funny, not in the least because I know enough about the New Yorker to know the point was satire, and I’m smart enough to know that enjoying satire is not tantamount to hypocrisy. And in point of fact the New Yorker is not actually a fully accredited house organ of the Obama presidential campaign, so it doesn’t have to not put covers on its magazine that a) fire up all the nonsense yet again and b) give Fox News, etc cover for the next time they punch the racist panic button on the Obamas (“Hey, the New Yorker did it, and it’s full of stinkin’ New York liberals!”). I think it’s a little sad we’ve all reached a point where the difference between racist dog-whistling and the satirizing of such dog-whistling is effectively lost on folks, but I guess we are at that point, and I also recognize the wisdom of the Obama folks handling all this stuff the same way. At this point I’m mostly just tired of it all, and we’ve got four months to go yet.

* Narrowing the focus of attention to science fiction, I’ve been asked for my thoughts about the recent Helix fracas, in which the editor of the Helix online quarterly used a bigoted epithet in a rejection letter (not about the person he was rejecting, but apropos to the story he was rejecting), the rejectee posted the letter online, and then everyone lost their mind about it, some folks who had their stories published in Helix asked to have them removed, and the editor then demanded payment ($40 a story) to expunge the stories from the database. That’s my understanding of the sequence of events, anyway; Tobias Buckell’s been on this rather more than I have, so head over to his site and catch all the action.

My short take on this is that the editor in question said something stupid and bigoted, was surprised to have that stupid and bigoted comment aired to the world, and has since gone out of his way to be obnoxious to the folks who have commented on his stupid and bigoted action and/or have decided that they didn’t want to be associated with such stupidity and bigotry, and he’s being obnoxious mostly out of the principle of the thing. My only real reaction to that is say, well, some people just have to piss up a rope, and this fellow in my experience of him seems to be one of them, and pretty much leave it at that. I feel sorry for the other folks who work on Helix that they’re getting caught in the middle of this, since I know a few of them and in general Helix publishes good stuff (it’s nominated for a Hugo this year in the semiprozine category).

There’s been a side issue here as to the fact the rejectee posted the contents of the rejection letter, and that in doing so he violated the copyright of the rejecting editor, not to mention breaking the sacred confidence of private e-mails between two people and so on (I’m aware of the editor complaining about the second of these, and others noting the first). To this my response is to roll my eyes very dramatically and say give me a goddamn break.

To the latter, please. As if there’s not a grand tradition, fetching back verily to the very first rejection letter, of a) airing the contents of the letter and b) bitching about them to everyone who will listen. If editors were not aware that rejections are often posted and discussed, they must be new to the writing world, and to 2008, in which we have wonders, including marvelous technology to talk to many people simultaneously. Toward the former, the bitching about the copyright issue is silly because the rejectee could have simply posted the line where the editor used the epithet in question, and that would have been fair use and still made the editor look a bit of an ass in public. The issue in this particular is not copyright, it’s the editor being outed as writing something dumb. What all this really boils down to is that if you don’t want to be outed as writing foolish things in a rejection letter, don’t write foolish things in a rejection letter.

What all of this really makes me feel is glad that I only write short fiction on commission.

* For those of you wondering how my Chicago trip went, I’ll likely post about it soon. But not too soon, I expect. Still have some pay copy to get through first.