Sunday, April 02, 2006

April 2

Well, in the spirit of April's Fools I took advantage of the calendar and some blunt Texas talk to intersperse some amusingly abusive comments towards Rich Horton in amidst my AggieCon comments yesterday - April 1. Today, April 2, in the spirit of fairness, I'll devote some space to reprinting his email to me. Fair's fair - I lambasted him, so here's his response. Honestly, I feel nothing he said falls beyond the bounds of fair comment. I've included a few gentle footnotes:

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I must confess myself astonished at your apparent hate, or at least contempt(1), for my work. Indifference I can understand, certainly I can understand disagreeing with my taste, but this ...For one thing, you have, I believe, rather comprehensively misread me(2).
It is certainly your prerogative to feel I like the wrong stories, to feel that I am missing good stories and promoting bad ones. Indeed, I welcome your opinions on which good stories I missed and which bad ones I am trumpeting. But which authors do you mention as writers who "didn't get the recognition" they deserved?
James Van Pelt, Steven Utley, Tom Purdom in your response to Derryl Murphy's post. In your own post you also mention Howard Waldrop and Robert Reed. These are five of my personal favorite writers! These are writers whose stories I HAVE been recommending in Locus, and picking for my Best of the Year books.
This year I didn't, as I recall, pick any Utley stories, but I have recommended his work in the past. As for Purdom, "Bank Run" is in My Year's Best, and was on my Hugo ballot. Quite frankly I do not think any reviewer has supported Tom's work more than I have in recent years.
I called loudly for a Hugo for "The Path of the Transgressor", for example. Jim Van Pelt's "The Inn at Mount Either" is also in My Year's Best this year, as are Howard Waldrop's "The King of where-I-Go" and Robert Reed's "Finished". I do not precisely recall calling 2005 a weak year for short fiction. Perhaps I said something of the sort somewhere sometime, but I sure don't recall it, and I don't think I would have -- I don't think it a particularly weak year -- nor, necessarily, an amazingly good year. (3)
I did say that the 2005 Hugo short story short list was fairly weak. But then, so did you, by implication, in your blog(4). Indeed, you complained quite a lot more than I about the whole short fiction ballot, seems to me. The only story you were happy about being included was Howard Waldrop's, as far as I can tell.
Oddly enough, Howard's story is one I did include on my recommended reading list,and one I did choose for my Best SF of the year book, and one I did nominate for the Hugo. So what's your complaint there? Otherwise, I proposed an alternate Hugo short story ballot that included, for example, Robert Reed's "Finished".
As to my neglect of "A Rocket for the Republic", what can I say? Deal with it. I have about 1700 words a month to cover the field's short fiction. It's hard. I have to cut mentions of a lot of stories. I thought "A Rocket for the Republic" a fine story, an enjoyable piece. But, no, not one of the best 6 or 8 that month, and not a Hugo nominee. Sorry about that, but that's what I think(5).
Are your tastes different from mine? Heck if I know so far. But maybe they are -- fair enough. I can handle that. I'm still going to act, to the best of my ability, as a "self-appointed arbiter of what's appropriate" -- I think every reader should act in that way. By which I mean we should all push stories we like and, yes, complain when stories we don't like get awards. I am forced to wonder -- do you actually have any idea what I really like?
It's not like any of this isn't public knowledge -- I have to believe I make my likes and dislikes about as well known as anyone. But your issues with me seem oddly unrelated to my likes and dislikes,at least as far as you have articulated them. At any rate, the writers you mention as liking are writers I like and have recommended.
Good luck with your future writing. (6)

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(1) Probably closer to disrespect.
(2) That's always a possibility.
(3) I'm not unhappy with the standouts - it's the selection of lesser stories and authors that puzzles me.
(4) I expressed my choice about what would have constituted a better ballot in my own nomination form. I thought it was actually a very good year - which why I was so surprised at the weak ballot line-up.
(5) The First Amendment backs you up there.
(6) Thinly-veiled threat. Well, maybe I misread you and you're sincere.

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Anyhow, what the heck do you, a big shot reviewer, care a fig for my opinion? I'm a nobody. I almost feel sorry you wasted all that time writing the email. Well, since you care enough to take the time to write, I read it, and I will think about it. Meanwhile, now that it's April 2 and I've had my rant, I'm completely played out on the subject. I'm not going to discuss the Hugos for this year any more, I feel I've said everything I could possibly say.

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