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Aug/Sep Editorial

(89 posts)
  • Started 5 years ago by John Joseph Adams
  • Latest reply from BrianJackson

  1. John Joseph Adams
    Assistant Editor

    Because there's been some discussion of the F&SF workshop online, as a result of advanced copies being sent out to reviewers, I wanted to post the editorial from the Aug/Sep issue so that people can read it in full.

    Editorial

    Gordon Van Gelder

    There are several items of news to note with this issue.

    First, the process of switching to a bimonthly schedule caused a glitch in our subscription system. Nobody's subscription was affected, but the mailing labels for April/May issue had the wrong expiration dates on them. I think it's fixed now, but if you're in doubt about your subscription expiration date, check the label on your March 2009 issue or contact us.

    On a related note, we've had more reports of subscribers who have been deceived by subscription offers from rogue agents. These offers come through the mail and they're often designed to look like renewal notices, but they're not authorized by us. They usually have high rates and stringent terms (like charging a fee if you want to cancel a subscription). If you receive a renewal notice, check to see that its return address is P.O. Box 3447 in Hoboken, NJ. If it's not, the renewal notice is not authorized by us.

    For ebook readers, the news here is that we'll be available for sale through Sony very soon (I think we'll be available by the time you receive this issue, but I'm not sure). Check our http://www.FandSF.com Website for more info. (And if you still have http://www.fsfmag.com as our site, please update your records. We sold that domain name to a fishing magazine earlier this year.)

    The last news item is the most exciting. I don't know why we never tried this before, but F&SF is going to begin hosting a writing workshop.

    We're fortunate to have the great Gardner Dozois running the show. I'm sure most of our readers know Gardner already, but just in case, he's the author of dozens of short stories (his most recent F&SF story is “Counterfactual,” which appeared in our June 2006 issue) and he edited Asimov's Science Fiction magazine from 1984 to 2004. He also has decades of experience with writing workshops and is widely considered one of the best story doctors in the field.

    All F&SF readers should benefit from Gardner's workshop work, because he's going to have the option of selecting stories from the workshop for publication in F&SF. We're currently planning to run Gardner Dozois selections three times a year. (Writers, fret not: I won't be reading the workshop stories myself, so you can still submit your stories to F&SF regardless of what anyone in the workshop makes of the story.)

    The workshop will be administered by Lisa Rogers, a former editor for Gollancz and Little, Brown.

    Initially, the workshop will be available online only and the site will have a private message board to go with the critiquing.

    Until the workshop is firing on all cylinders, we're limiting the membership to 100 people. You can find the membership prices and other information at http://www.FandSFworkshop.com.

    Frankly, I'm very excited about the prospects for this new project and I think all of our readers will benefit from it.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  2. SamHidaka
    Member

    Hmm . . . a writers' workshop sponsored by a fiction magazine . . . and the best stories passing through the workshop being selected for publication.

    The concept seems vaguely familiar to me.

    Anyway . . .

    I wish you the best, Gordon and Gardner. I hope it works out well.

    Sam

    Posted 5 years ago #
  3. Having benefited a few times from Gardner's keen perceptions, I can without reservation recommend this workshop for anyone interested in improving their craft. I don't think there's ever been a more gifted story doctor.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  4. rreugen
    Member

    Except that this one will not be free, it seems, Sam.

    Looking forward to seeing it.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  5. BrianJackson
    Member

    Burp.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  6. SFMurphy
    Member

    I'll chime in with my ditto on Jack's post. Gardner's advice in his responses cut years off of my development as a writer. I'd scrounge up what money I had to participate.

    Respects,
    Steven Francis Murphy

    Posted 5 years ago #
  7. jason
    Member

    Interesting. Very interesting.

    I look forward to hearing more on all this. Sounds like a fascinating workshop and, depending on the cost and structure, I may try to take part.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  8. jason
    Member

    There's some bored people with way too much time on their hands trying to create controversy around this workshop. See Scalzi's post at http://whatever.scalzi.com/2009/07/02/fsfs-writing-workshop/ for more (I should note he's partly debunking the controversy). Perhaps JJA or Gordon can clear up the issue of F&SF paying for the workshopped stories Dozois picks.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  9. SFMurphy
    Member

    I see the standard actors are involved. Again. Nice that we have these self appointed arbiters of professional conduct (from the same people who have no qualms about posting rejection letters no less).

    I already blogged about it. Personally, I think it is just another case of people who have a vendetta against both Gardner and Gordon. The argument is pretty flimsy.

    Respects,
    Steven Francis Murphy

    Posted 5 years ago #
  10. JohnWThiel
    Member

    Company Sto policy in charging for writer development, I'd think.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  11. BrianJackson
    Member

    Double burp.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  12. BrianJackson
    Member

    Hypothetically, would it be ethical for Wal*Mart to charge unemployed people to take classes on how to run a register, stock & straighten shelves and collect baskets out in the parking lot, hosted by former heavyweight clerks with years of experience; and in the end offer no assurance that they will be hired?

    It's sort of like making donkeys pay to follow a carrot at the end of a stick, isn't it? Justified by telling the ass that you're training it to walk a straighter line, to focus more intently on the orangeness of the vegetable.

    Sure, the slush-pile gang are the easiest marks to squeeze a buck out of, they already spend all their money on paper, ink and postage; all their free time daydreaming & writing toward the modest hope of a nickel a word and an audience for their fantasies. But just because the smallest kid at school is the easiest to beat up, should I do it?

    I dunno about this type of thing. But I wish The Magazine and its staff the best in all ventures that help put F&SF over and keep it great.

    Brian Jackson

    Posted 5 years ago #
  13. GusG
    Member

    Anyone who sees an ethical problem with this workshop has obviously never been to college. You don't get paid for your years as a trainee. You pay for them. And at the end, there is no guarantee of employment. The professionals who take their time and share their expertise are paid, and the students benefit from the classes are paid with the feedback they receive, which is far more valuable than most people realize.

    I would glady pay for the privilege of having Mr. Dozois review my work, and the chance to be published is a nice bonus. Those who are serious about becoming published authors understand the time and financial commitment it takes to get there. If you expect to be paid immediately, or to have some guarantee of being published and paid at the end, then you do not understand the process of becoming a professional of any kind.

    I do not think F&SF is obligated to pay writers from this workshop if their work is published. If it is printed, the feedback from Mr. Dozois and the publicity from having your name in the magazine should be ample compensation.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  14. BrianJackson
    Member

    I have an ethical problem with college, also.

    Why pay Mr. Dozois to review your work when Mr. John Joseph Adams is already paid by Gordon to do it?

    I'm all for giving it away, but I'd hate to have it taken.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  15. rreugen
    Member

    Whatever has a cool subtitle today. I don't think it's anything wrong with mr. Scalzi's questions. He just says that some required information is missing, that is all.

    BJ :

    When I was a student there were lots of workshops available where students could practice their skills. (studying acting, by the way) Usually we found the announcements with dates, places and fees posted in the Uni main lobby, right at the beginning of the summer.
    Not one of those workshops offered jobs, only the opportunity to practice the craft and exchange experience. Some were taught by reputed professionals. Some were more helpful than others, but word got around.
    Do you think that there was something unethical about it? I don't.

    You go to a workshop to learn, and that is what you get.

    Basically, you pay a certain amount of money to get into an online class taught by Gardner Dozois. Apparently, he is a great story doctor, which in this conjecture is far more important than his editorial record.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  16. BrianJackson
    Member

    rreugen-

    Yes, I think workshops are gimmicks, and I think that the people who put them on know that they are gimmicks, and I find that reprehensible. I also think that college and the military are gimmicks. You may not agree, and I would fight and die for your right to be naïve about this.

    In ancient Greece, philosophers let young boys pay for their educations with sexual favors. Was pederasty ethical?

    Taking advantage of knowledge seekers is one of the worst things you can do. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  17. BrianJackson
    Member

    GusG-

    You wrote: "I do not think F&SF is obligated to pay writers from this workshop if their work is published. If it is printed, the feedback from Mr. Dozois and the publicity from having your name in the magazine should be ample compensation."

    When Tyson was released from prison, he was very angry. Amped up at a press conference for one of his next bouts, he yelled at his opponent, "I'll F**k you 'til you love me, punk!"

    I found this striking, and I can't help but think that it's a prison mentality. I understand that you could conceivably rape me until I achieve orgasm, yet is it not still a rape?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  18. rreugen
    Member

    Brian, you make it sound as if the "knowledge seekers" are a bunch of sheep. In my experience, they are not. I only met a few of them, but none of those seemed to be naive about what they were doing.

    I suppose you had bad luck with the workshops you joined, if you have such a low opinion of them and of those who held them. But that doesn't mean all of them are "gimmicks." I'm afraid that it only means that you made bad choices.

    As for:
    "In ancient Greece, philosophers let young boys pay for their educations with sexual favors. Was pederasty ethical?"
    Yes, it was ethical. Actually, it was a huge part of their culture.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  19. rreugen
    Member

    "I do not think F&SF is obligated to pay writers from this workshop if their work is published. If it is printed, the feedback from Mr. Dozois and the publicity from having your name in the magazine should be ample compensation."

    I do think that F&SF and ANY OTHER professional magazine MUST pay their contributors.

    Let's make a clear distinction. I think it's fine when someone pays (by his own will) for getting education. I really don't think it's fine when a writer pays to have his name in a magazine.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  20. BrianJackson
    Member

    rreugen-

    I've never, nor would I ever; join any workshop of any sort. I should be *teaching* workshops, after reading the average poster's messages compared against mine.

    As for your opinions on pederasty: It was a huge part of German culture at one point to gas Jews and burn them in fire pits. It was a huge part of American culture at one point to buy & sell black people and use them as farm equipment. Being a huge part of a culture does not elevate a concept's ethical status.

    Brian Jackson

    Posted 5 years ago #
  21. rreugen
    Member

    Genocide, slavery, he he. But it all comes back to the greeks. Their teachings were roots to slavery, that german philosopher (there must be one), and pederasty. And workshops. Those happened when a philosopher had more than one young lover, I suppose.

    As for the modern workshops - especially those teaching some form of art: you say you never went to one. I have went to about twenty. They're fun. Really. You also can learn stuff, if you're one of those "minds seeking for knowledge," or you can just have fun. Online workshops? Not so much fun, but still plenty of learning, Again, if you're inclined to do so.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  22. BrianJackson
    Member

    rreugen-

    You mind if I ask how many times you've been paid for prose by national publications per workshop attended? I'd say that the cost of 20 workshops should've at least made you your money back in professional writing gigs. If not, then you've only proven that you're a super-mark; and that workshops are in fact gimmicks.

    I will teach you some carny for free:

    A "shoot" is the truth. If I'm a straight shooter, I'm telling you the truth. A "work" is a lie or a gimmick. If I'm working you, I'm probably running some kind of con on you. Boxing is a shoot; while pro-wrestling is a complete work.

    If I get you vapor-locked and spun into a circle over something I wrote goofing around in a message at an online forum, I just "worked you into a shoot".

    Be wary of anything that flat-out calls itself a work. Like a "workshop". That's workers just rubbing your nose in your unabashed markdom. Watch out for that word, "work". I try and avoid work however; wherever I can.

    Brian Jackson

    PS.) Writing "I have went to about twenty" shows everyone that you should've gone to about 25.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  23. GusG
    Member

    Yes, it is best if the authors are paid, even from the student pool. My point was that FSF has the right to declare the terms. If potential authors do not like them, they can choose not to participate. My hope is that student authors are paid the same rate as other slush contributors.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  24. BrianJackson
    Member

    I have strong feelings on this topic, obviously.

    I'll bet that GVG is throwing this Gardner Dozois a bone by giving him some work, and truth be told is probably more of a saint than a sinner for it.

    It's a gimmick that seems to make everyone happy, like pro-wrestling, or the autograph thing; so who am I to take a crap on it? I just won't be joining up.

    I would respect the opinion of Yoon Ha Lee, who I think is F&SF's greatest talent in many a year. She has posted in here before. I'd love to know how many workshops she attended before writing such kickass material.

    Brian J.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  25. rreugen
    Member

    Okay. You're giving me some semantic argument. I'm not a native English speaker, so maybe I misunderstood - you said that because the enterprise's name is "workshop" (containing the "work" thingie) instead of being called, well, "bvugva," you are avoiding it?

    If it's okay with you, I won't argue about it.

    As for the workshops I attended. Those where acting, stage directing, and the like. I never got paid anything by anyone for attending them, of course. What I learned during my studying years, though, helped me get some sort of career, so I did some theatre and some movies. Which was actually a bit of a surprise. They also got me the shaking financial security that allows me now to learn something new, just because I like it. So I suppose that, all in all, I did get a lot.

    I did join an online writing workshop. It's the Baen's Bar workshop. It's free and you can register there and check for yourself exactly how helpful that place has been to me. You can search for my stories submitted there, read some of the first, then some of the second. That should be enough for you to judge if I've made any progress. Do that if you're really curious about how helpful it has been. Or wait 'till they'll call them "bvugva."

    Posted 5 years ago #
  26. BrianJackson
    Member

    "Carny" is carnival lingo. It's how the people who work at carnivals talk smack about the people who go to carnivals without the patrons knowing it. They have a secret language. Pro-wrestling used to run on a carny circuit, so they co-opted the dialect in order to talk about faking matches without the fans catching on, back before everyone knew that the outcomes of wrestling matches are decided before the bout. They call the fake performance and convincing an audience that they're seeing something real "working". Also, it's their job, so it has double meaning.

    For someone to work you, it would mean that they are sapping you dry for every penny you have by running a con-job on you or confidence scam.

    Like this,

    Here is the classic "Company Sto" (or Wal*Mart) work that Thiel alluded to way up there many posts ago:

    I offer you low pay to sell bags of chips for me. At week's end, I tender your pittance, which you promptly hand back over to me for a bag of chips.

    Do you get it now? You understand being taken advantage of, right? That any 'philosopher' who would do sexual acts on you as payment for getting to listen in as they ponder over things from an archaic perspective is actually just a randy old guy who wants to get serviced while he speculates? You see that, no?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  27. rreugen
    Member

    They might just call it "bvugva," I suppose.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  28. BrianJackson
    Member

    It's not as funny as you think, that.

    Go back and read my posts. You could learn a lot from a dummy.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  29. BrianJackson
    Member

    SFMurphy-

    When you wrote: "Nice that we have these self appointed arbiters of professional conduct", I really didn't know if you meant the cranky bloggers or the workshop story doctor. Isn't it sad that your comment was so ambiguous it could be taken either way?

    I think you could use a workshop. Some clarity in your prose would be like proper enunciation is to speech.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  30. SJT
    Member

    Sometimes ambiguity is purposeful.

    Posted 5 years ago #

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