|Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 04:55 pm: |
What are the guidelines as far as sexual content in submitting to F&SF? Your site says you don't have enough SF or Humor, and would a SF sex farce be printable?
PG, PG-13? Something in there?
|Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 01:38 pm: |
Lots of funny seminal fluids.
|Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 04:59 pm: |
Unacceptable (other than noses, eyes, ears or limbs) are aliens with galactic-sized protuberances.
John Joseph Adams
|Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 06:56 pm: |
We publish plenty of stuff that would be considered "R" rated. We're not going to publish erotica or anything, but we'll consider submissions with sexual content in them.
For recent examples, see "Droplet" by Ben Rosenbaum, "Pervert" by Charles Coleman Finlay, "Serostatus" by John Peyton Cooke.
Concord 'Mature Reader' Newfree
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 09:53 am: |
John, are there any plans to place a discrete 'For Mature Readers' warning on the cover?
Apparently Asimov's is facing a situation in which a 13-year-old girl was shocked by the adult content of a recent story, leading to the removal of the digest from her school's magazine sale fundraiser and bannishment from her school's library.
Did you guys get lucky and dodge a bullet that could have hit you as equally as it hit Asimov's? If you think about it, it really could have been you getting the bad press.
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 12:28 pm: |
My tastes don't run very far in terms of sexual content or extreme violent content--I removed "Pervert" from my copy of that issue. Thus, I might appreciate a discrete note at the beginning of the story as to whether it has any adult content or intense violence/horror, just to let the reader know if its something they'd rather not read.
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 12:29 pm: |
As Sam Goldwyn is alleged to have said, "Publicity is good. Good publicity is even better."
Gregory Bernard Banks
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 01:02 pm: |
As I've never seen a warning label on any magazine, spec fic, literary, or otherwise, pretty much any magazine (or book, or anthology, etc., for that matter) could potentially be subjected to this kind of thing, couldn't they?
John Joseph Adams
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 05:15 pm: |
You removed "Pervert" from your copy of the issue? How so? You mean you actually tore the pages out?
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 05:50 pm: |
Er...yes. That is correct. I don't mean any offense, but after skimming a few pages I decided it wasn't something I wanted to read.
John Joseph Adams
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 06:05 pm: |
Well, I'm not offended. It just seems like a strange thing to do. Why not just skip the story? Why actually tear it out of the magazine? I mean, hey, it's your copy, do what you want to it. Just seems odd to me, that's all.
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 06:19 pm: |
Actually, I feel strangely honored. Thanks, Sean.
I hope my next story provides just as strong a response in the opposite direction.
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 06:58 pm: |
LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL
Sean Sean Sean, tsk tsk
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 06:58 pm: |
Er...you're welcome. I hope so too.
On a more positive note, I really enjoyed the three sci-fi novellettes, particularly "Mastermindless". I liked the issue as a whole, but the content of "Pervert" really turned me off, so...
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 07:05 pm: |
Actually, can someone tell me what issue that was in. I don't have it seemingly (I just purchase from Fictionwise on a sporadic basis if I have the time to read): I've got to read that story.
Otherwise, regarding the Asimov's situation, and whether they should do anything, my answer is the same as posted there; that is:
"On the common sense notion that intelligent people should never cave in or pander to idiocy, I think Asimov's should do nothing about it.
The mum concerned will soon move her attention to something else: ie, the adventure playground is too dangerous, the 10 foot pool fence is not high enough as a mutant nine foot, five year old may get over it, the school shouldn't be providing pencil sharpeners as obviously sharp pencils are a hazard, etc
You get the picture.
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 07:21 pm: |
I ripped out a cover once because I hated it. That made a certain sense to me. I mean with a cover I have to see it every time I get the issue out. If it's truly hideous who wants that?
However like JJ it seems odd to do that with a story. I'm not having to see it or read it if I don't wish. The closest I've came is crossing out the stories title in the table of contents to indicate I never want to see it again. Even that was when I was a teen.
However he's happy, and Finlay's happy who am I to judge?
John Joseph Adams
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 07:35 pm: |
"Pervert" is in the March 2004 issue.
I don't think there's any way to delete it from the electronic edition though....
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 08:02 pm: |
I'll just masking tape the screen of my PPC when 'that' story is paging through
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 08:21 pm: |
Hey! My stories have WAY more sex and violence than Charlie's! How come no one is ripping MY stories out of their copies?
Shucks! What's a fellow got to do?
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 10:11 pm: |
On a more positive note, I really enjoyed the three sci-fi novellettes, particularly "Mastermindless"
Thank you, Sean.
|Posted on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 10:42 pm: |
Ben, give them more shocking titles. I mean Droplet sounds poetic. Now if you'd called it "Sex slaves of the Apocalypse", maybe you'd have gotten your story ripped out
Gordon Van Gelder
|Posted on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 09:57 am: |
I'm sorry that the story title "Pervert" and the description of the story as "provocative" in the header notes weren't enough to warn you off of the story. I do try to note such things in the headers, try to tip off readers when a story has horrific or adult elements, but since there's no telling what will offend any particular reader, it's hard to warn everyone away from everything. (In the 1950s, for instance, a story with open homosexuality like John Peyton Cooke's "Serostatus" would have probably offended most of the magazine's readership, and even in 1997 Michael Blumlein's "Paul and Me" brought several angry letters. It's now four months since we published Cooke's story and I'm happy to say we've gotten nothing but positive feedback about it.)
But to get back to my main point, I want to thank you for not trying to force your moral or aesthetic position on anyone else. The fact that your dislike for "Pervert" didn't diminish your enjoyment of "Mastermindless" says a lot to me, all of it good.
I try to keep the magazine around a PG-13 rating overall. I started reading F&SF when I was 13 or 14 and I try not to publish anything inappropriate for teenagers.
But I also think that speculative fiction is intrinsically a provocative art form---designed to push the boundaries of the universe, sometimes literally---and if I were somehow banned from publishing anything provocative, I wouldn't want to publish the magazine at all.
Which is why I'm alarmed by the news about QSP. I haven't yet seen the television news clip about the Ohio incident with ASIMOV'S (if anyone has a good link to the site, please let me know; the link I found on the ASIMOV'S message board didn't work).
Several times a year we get letters from parents asking for a refund on their child's subscription---they've read the issue and think it's inappropriate for their kid. We always send those refunds promptly, usually with a recommendation for some more appropriate YA reading, like Sharyn November's FIREBIRDS anthology. I respect those parents and their opinions. And in fact, when we get sample issue requests from school libraries, we try to send them issues like the March 2004 issue or the July 2002 issue, copies with stories that show about how far we'll go in the way of adult situations.
But I sure don't like it when people start trying to pass blanket rules or legislation to keep people from reading or seeing art they might enjoy. I realize this country was founded by puritans, but I also think that our society has changed a lot over the past three-plus centuries.
QSP, Inc. is a company run out of Des Moines, Iowa that runs a lot of fundraising subscription drives with schools, girl scout organizations, etc. We've had nothing but good experiences with them and I hope that continues.
QSP is a division of Reader's Digest. If anyone feels compelled to write to them in support of ASIMOV'S, their President is a man named Gary Rich. I believe he works in their Pleasantville headquarters, so you should be able to reach him at:
Reader's Digest Association Inc
Reader's Digest Road
Pleasantville, NY 10570
Phone: (914) 238-1000
Fax: (914) 238-4559
I mention this information because I keep seeing entertainment companies yield to the slightest pressure from any organization calling itself an advocate of morality, but I rarely see anyone with an attitude of "live and let live" speak out in support of more diversity.
So, Sean, thank you again. Here's hoping you like Charlie Finlay's "After the Gaud Chrysalis" when it runs in our June issue.
|Posted on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 12:22 pm: |
I ripped pervert out of my issue of F&SF and glued it into my issue of Watchtower.
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 01:44 pm: |
Well, the title and heading did warn me off, and the skimming was just to confirm.
You're welcome. I am glad to hear that "Pervert" isn't the norm, even if stuff like that comes up occasionally.
|Posted on Saturday, February 14, 2004 - 03:31 pm: |
I ripped out "Pervert" so I could wipe up. Happy Valentine's Day!
Did Dozois stop running those little smut advisories in his intros ("WARNING: This story contains scenes that may be disturbing to some")? I thought they were a genuine courtesy to all the 13-year-old subscribers who otherwise wouldn't know which stories to read first.
|Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 01:07 am: |
Benjamin, what makes you think we don't rip your stories out?
|Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 04:31 am: |
Here's a link to the Asimov's news report:
I like the fact that in this discussion most everyone here is taking this with a certain dose of humor, but OTOH, while I was watching that report, my stomach was getting queasy. Laughing and feeling sick at the same time.
It's scary, the missionary zeal of folks who think of themselves as journalists.
|Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 09:00 am: |
Ruth, that was what disturbed me most about that news report. Not the fact that some mother got offended--people get their panties in a bunch all the time about what they consider offensive content here in Flyover Land, but mostly its a lone parental nut and they tend to be ignored. Rightfully so, because one person should not dictate the behavior of a company or magazine.
But when you get pissant infotainment shows like Channel 8 manufacturing their own news by taking a parent's outrage and blowing it into spectacle, they've crossed the line from journalism into activism.
They misused their power of media to force the will of one woman upon two different companies not because they thought it was right, (which would still be wrong) but because it would make _good ratings._
Its a dangerous trend here in the U.S. with local news to manufacture their own titillating content. Yet another reason to just turn the television off.
|Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 04:00 pm: |
I grew up in Ohio and I know how ridiculously uptight people can be around there. My high school drama department was banned from producing Coward's BLITHE SPIRIT, that old standby of church basement theatre, because it involved a floating cigarette box. Sheesh.
On another note, Gordon, I'm finishing up a SF story with some sexual content. Nothing outrageous or X-rated, but this whole discussion is motivating me to get it finished so I can send it in.
|Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 05:28 pm: |
It's funny the way this local news "investigative reporter" implies that she is pretty much responsible for the the little warnings about adult content that Asimov's uses.
|Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 06:30 pm: |
Yeah, it does sound like Asimov's had never had any warnings before, the way they are spinning it.
|Posted on Sunday, February 15, 2004 - 09:47 pm: |
Not to jump into the sexuality fray one way or another, but that last scene was extremely well done. I really don't remember any offensive sex material, but maybe if Gordon and Gardner put black plastic wrapping around their issues and beefed up the sex stuff, they might sell more copies.
Much as I appreciated Finlay's story, I do respect Sean's decision.
Hughes' story was a fun trip as well--fooled me.
|Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 04:39 am: |
I don't know. I do think the lone parent was wrong, but as an ex-journalist I think good journalism is precisely when the lone individual is covered. It's easy to cover groups, but I've always thought this greatest thing about this country is that it isn't built on groups, but on individuals, and individual rights.
If such reporting is enough to make two companies change policy, then the problem lies with the companies, not with the journalists or the individual.
And if I remember correctly, that "lone individual" found an awful lot of public support once her story was aired.
But heaven help us if we ever reach the point where journalism stops covering the views and beliefs of the individual. That is journalism, and it is what makes both democracy and freedom work.
|Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 06:53 am: |
It doesn't bother me that they covered the individual-- it bothers me that they then went and told all the other schools, called all the companies, and forced them to make changes, all in the name of journalism. If they had simply reported the mother's finding and allowed the reaction of their report to cause changes, that would be journalism to me. But they took a story and "beefed it up." In my opinion.
|Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 07:34 am: |
I like how in this news report the implied belief that science fiction is "for youngsters" is revealed without anyone meaning to betray that idea. The really insidious thing about the portrayal of "this publication" in the report was how they made it out to sound pornographic, as if Asimov's and science fiction and fantasy in general is really nothing but lurid naked photographs of people exhibiting sexual positions divorced from any reality of sex, wrapped up in a package "for kids". It's disgusting what passes for reportage.
|Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 07:41 am: |
I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan where WOOD TV 8 is located and they ran a 60 second version of the piece as a commercial all weekend promoting their local news. I'm going to write a letter to the station complaining that they're totally unfair to "Asimov's" because they don't bother to explain that it's one of the most prestigous forums for imaginative fiction, that it has an award-winning legacy, that some of the biggest names in the genre are published in it's pages and that if they really want to get pissed they should check out "Pervert" in the March issue of "F&SF." (Just kidding on that last point.) Maybe a few of the stories in the "Asimov's" issue aren't for immature kids, but WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS "ASIMOVS?" From the perspective of WOOD TV 8 it's gutter slime. And THAT's the problem, not the parent or the scaredy cat school system.
They distort the reality of what "Asimov's" truly is. (And, boy, I can't wait to get home tonight and read "Pervert")
|Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 07:44 am: |
"It's easy to cover groups, but I've always thought this greatest thing about this country is that it isn't built on groups, but on individuals, and individual rights."
You don't honestly believe this, do you? I mean, that's what America is supposed to be, but it's not what it is. There's a gap between what it says and what it actually is, and I would like to think that reporters would be a certain kind of person who would try to fill that gap rather than feeding into sterotypical ideas. Individual rights is fine and good, is great in fact, but I more often see individuals crushed by group pressure. America's divide is in its formation. We're told to be individualistic, but then often reprimanded from deviating from the norm. America is one big mixed message. A good reporter would have covered this story in way that the lone individual had her say, but the TONE this reporter used in covering it was completely biased and divorced from any reality of what literature is, especially what science fiction is. And because of this, covering the lone individual's story becomes a witch hunt instead of an investigation trying to explore our ideas about what we assume children should be reading, and why in fact we seem to think science fiction and fantasy is assumed to be for children and teens, as if it's something we leave behind as we enter adulthood. LeGuin wrote an essay on this decades ago, "Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?" and although it seems like Americans are in love with dragons right now, they only want a certain kind of dragon. They're still under the assumption that dragons are for kids. Hence the completely reactionist mother who finds her child's Asimov's has sex in it. She seemed so scandalized and victimized. I find *that* attitude to be absurd. And why calling in the press? Isn't that a bit over the top? Wouldn't the responsible sane thing to do if you found your child reading material you found unsuitable for them be to take it away from them. This is really only a few steps removed from censorship, her reaction.
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 08:31 am: |
I agree, R. Wilder. Even if I might object to one story, "Pervert", on moral grounds, I can still appreciate the overall picture of F&SF as a forum for quality science fiction and fantasy of all kinds--I can still enjoy "Mastermindless". If that sort of story were commonplace, one or two in every issue, I might reevaluate my readership.
|Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 09:05 am: |
Uh, oh. My next story has a certain leavening of sex to it, though I think it's genteelly handled. Still, the giant, vibrating phallus may trouble the more delicately constituted.
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 09:19 am: |
Don't worry. I'll give it a fair chance--and there's always skimming for an isolated part.
Gregory Bernard Banks
|Posted on Monday, February 16, 2004 - 12:21 pm: |
Let's not forget that for those of the hyper-conservative, totally narrowminded sect, F&SF is pretty much as morally bankrupt as porn and any number of things. We still live in a world where the very notion of evolution being taught in our schools is a controversial issue, for pete's sake.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 07:32 am: |
Thanks for the comments on the last scene, Trent. For the record, I respect Sean's decision too. You can't make people read your stories.
Sam, I like the way you get to the bottom of the issue there.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 07:45 am: |
Read "Pervert" last night and I hated it. Just wasn't perverted enough...
Just kidding, Charlie! Very cool story, especially since it was launched from that nifty first sentence. I found it an imaginative mix of sex, politics and religion.
I don't understand why someone would be offended by the story, though.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 10:03 am: |
I haven't gotten to "Pervert" yet, but I just finished "Ultraviolet Night." I've got to say that to a biochemist, the image of two suits entering a war zone in a race to offer a job to a biochemist was stimulating enough for me. I doubt very much that Charlie's story is going to top that.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 10:47 am: |
I haven't gotten to "Pervert" yet, but I just finished "Ultraviolet Night." I've got to say that to a biochemist, the image of two suits entering a war zone in a race to offer a job to a biochemist was stimulating enough for me.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 04:47 pm: |
We still live in a world where the very notion of evolution being taught in our schools is a controversial issue, for pete's sake.
Um... We live in a country where teaching evolution is controversial (at least in some states). Most of the rest of the developed world (read: Europe, Canada, and Australia) thinks we're nuts for thinking evolution is controversial.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 07:53 pm: |
Did I mention I was on the bus at the time?
Gelatinous egg clumps! MMMMMmmmmmmmmm.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 08:01 pm: |
Sam, dare I ask: Greyhound or city line?
And that's caviar if you put it on a cracker.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 09:02 pm: |
Even at that many of the creationist types don't want evolution out entirely, but listed as "one of many possibilities." I think very few states have taken evolution out of the classrooms and when Tennessee convicted Scopes, he did lose, they were a laughing stock even back then.
Mahesh Raj Mohan
|Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 07:14 pm: |
"Just kidding, Charlie! Very cool story, especially since it was launched from that nifty first sentence. I found it an imaginative mix of sex, politics and religion.
I don't understand why someone would be offended by the story, though."
Yeah, I totally agree R. Wilder. I wasn't offended by it in the slightest. I found it thought-provoking and sad, but not offensive.
|Posted on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 07:39 pm: |
Actually, I found it a bit icky. But thought provoking as well. Sort of a "Eeew...Hmmm."
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 01:13 am: |
"Actually, I found it a bit icky."
I take it you're not a biologist or nature enthusiast, Matt?
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 04:51 am: |
Curious that the trigger here seems to be sex. I wonder if Sean and the offended mother would have torn out/spoken out against a story featuring graphic violence - and if not, why not?
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 05:07 am: |
Trent, you know, I am a biologist, and I do enjoy nature, and yet the final image of that story left me in want of a shower. Hey, maybe it's just me.
I did like the way the word hydrosexual was a mystery right up to the very end. Nicley done, Charlie.
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 05:23 am: |
I generally have a higher threshold for violence, but that could turn me off as well if it was too graphic.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 05:42 am: |
Why do you have a higher threshold for violence, Sean?
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 06:18 am: |
I'd point out that there's no graphic sex in "Pervert," only graphic ideas. But then maybe people would stop reading it.
Thanks for all the comments, R., Mahesh, Matt, everyone. They're very much appreciated.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 07:32 am: |
Charlie Finlay, my friend, now I have *got* to read "Pevert" -- it sounds rather wonderful! I am not a subscriber, but will try to get my hands on an issue ASAP! :-)
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 10:26 am: |
Graphic - another curious piece of phrasing. Let's strip things back to the machinery here a moment - graphic violence would be violence that the writer has enabled you to see as if in pictorial form in your minds eye (presumably by providing minute or telling detail). Ditto graphic sex. So my question is - what the *hell* is wrong with that? Is it not the job of the writer to inject pictures into your mind's eye? Is it not a measure of said writer's skill that you find the writing "graphic"? Would sex and violence that are described so badly you can't imagine them be better?
I also have to confess to a burning curiosity re "Pervert" now and will try to track it down! So I guess Sam Goldwyn was right!
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 11:40 am: |
Do you want to be able to perfectly envision brutal murders? I sure don't. I think that truly good writers will use their skill to tell good stories--not make you nauseous with the gore and sex they slop around in vivid detail. (No, I am not saying anything against Finlay in general.) To sum up, I don't want just any vivid image injected into my mind.
Do you want me to outline my moral system in detail, and how it affects my choice of reading matter? I'm not sure if this is the place for that. I don't want to start fights. (Although it's probably too late for that...)
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 12:38 pm: |
richard, the job of the writer is to give the reader a good time. Even when the writing is provocative, even when the story is bleak or disturbing, the writer has only done a good job if the reader concedes that it was worth reading the story.
I wanted to say other things, but deleted them since they were either more nitpicks with your post, or amounted to "don't be a prick." So I think I'll settle for this.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 12:49 pm: |
Someone mentioned that Asimov's has already been putting warning tags before sexually explicit stories. True, but not all stories with any sexual element; only on a handful of the most explicit ones. I don't recall F&SF doing the same recently. I would not think it a bad thing if such stories were preceded by such warnings.
I am behind on F&SF but I have read the March Asimov's. There were a couple of stories with a strong sexual element (child sexual abuse in "What She Left Behind" by Sarah Hoyt; a teenage girl having sex with a man in order to get a dimension-hopping drug from him, in "Tammy Pendant" by Chris Becket) that had no such warning label as a few extremely explicit stories have gotten in recent years (like "Mind's Eye" by Robert Reed in Oct/Nov 1997). Since the sex in the stories in the March issue wasn't explicitly described (though it wasn't offstage between scenes, either) I guess Gardner thought, correctly, that the (mostly adult) readers of Asimov's could handle it.
Re: "Serostatus"; if I remember right, that is the only story in F&SF in the last two years or so that I couldn't finish. As someone else said, if such stories got to be really frequent I would think twice about renewing my subscription. But occasional such stories don't bother me.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 12:55 pm: |
>>Do you want me to outline my moral system in detail, and how it affects my choice of reading matter?<<
I don't see that morality has anything to do with this. On the whole I'm against murder, but it doesn't stop me reading crime novels, or for that matter watching the evening news. You don't refuse to go and see a production of King Lear because you believe that torture and mutilation are wrong, you don't turn off the Good the Bad and the Ugly because you personally wouldn't gun people down for money. It's art, not participative reality.
>>I think that truly good writers will use their skill to tell good stories--not make you nauseous with the gore and sex they slop around in vivid detail.<<
Bizarre! Sex makes you nauseous? Ahem, but let's leave that aside a moment. If there is gore or violence in a piece of fiction, *shouldn't* it make you nauseous? Violence in real life *is* sickening, ergo if I as a writer set out to describe some, that's the effect I want to create as effectively as possible (similarly, most sex scenes I write are intended to be arousing because in real life that's what sex does to you). Good storytelling involves, among other things, an engagement with reality - anything else is at best dishonest, at worst dangerous.
Of course it is possible to tell a story (and a good one)without sex or violent conflict and that's fine, but since these are the two staples of human existence, there is a limit to what you can achieve in this direction. And if you are going to involve sex and violence, then please let's have it for real, not some namby-pamby Victorian blenching-at-detail coyness
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 01:04 pm: |
Hey ET, very good. You called me a prick while at the same time pretending that you were above such name calling. Have some cojones, man - either insult me or don't!
As to giving the reader a good time - if I read some piss poor piece of trash in which violence is skated over in the it's-all-good-clean-fun manner of an A team episode, and sex is signalled by a coy little line of dots at the end of a chapter - well, then I haven't been shown a good time, I've been ripped off.
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 01:26 pm: |
It has everything to do with morality. My morality dictates what I will and will not read, watch, etc. If King Lear was an R-rated movie featuring intense scenes of toture and brutal violence, I would object to it. In a sense (at least for violence) it's not what, it's how. In King Lear, the toture and murder are handled tastefully and discretely--not presented in graphic detail, with computer enchanced gore, for the shock and tillation of the audience.
For the record, let me state that most of the books I enjoy and the ones I write contain a lot of battles, swordfights, gunfights, spaceship fights, etc. I really like to read this sort of thing. But I would NOT like a battle scene if it vividly described every splash of blood, every impalement and eviceration and beheading and gruesome mauling. And it may be true that, in real life, violence is sickening--but do you read to be sickened? I, for one, read to be entertained. If sex and excessive gore don't entertain me, and in fact disgust me, why on earth should I read them?
As for morality: I object to sexual tillation in literature, film, music, etc. on a moral level. No, I am not objecting to all sexual content--but I like it handled tastefully (I define taste) and, preferrably, off-screen. I also have definite moral beliefs on sex in real life, and if a work supports things contrary to my beliefs, that will give it a large black mark in my book.
I'm also a firm believer that fiction is not reality--it's a simulation of reality. Also, I can be selective about the areas of reality read/write about--just because something horrible is done or exists somewhere doesn't mean I have to read about it and plumb its depths, and just because an author can concieve of something doesn't mean that I should read it.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 02:23 pm: |
Hey, I thought I asked you not to be a prick. Damn, it never works.
richard, if you enjoy graphic violence and sex, and think that stories that skirt around them are bad, that your taste and you're entitled to it. If Sean has another taste, he's also entitled to it. There's no absolute standard.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 02:52 pm: |
Sorry, richard, I'm in a somewhat sarcastic mood tonight.
But my point is, trying to shove your own morality down Sean's throat won't do any good. You're too vehement to argue your side effectively.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 04:52 pm: |
"Out vile jelly, where is thy lustre now" - Shakespeare lacked our special effects technology (and indeed most modern stage effects), so audiences of the time were used to listening acutely to the language of the play to provide imagistic content. That line is the Elizabethan equivalent of CGI gore - the audience would hear it and, in effect, see it. The idea that torture and murder should be presented "tastefully and discreetly" is a remarkable one, and begs the question who here is *really* in favour of titillation. Let's see, shall we?
>>let me state that most of the books I enjoy and the ones I write contain a lot of battles, swordfights, gunfights, spaceship fights, etc. I really like to read this sort of thing.<<
I'm sorry, but in a swordfight people get cut up, blood spurts, guts hang out, people scream and weep and die horribly. Gunfights aren't much cleaner, and as for spaceship fights, while there may be a lot of lovely clean nuclear vaporisation going on, I imagine there'd be a few explosive decompressions and shrapnel deaths too. But you don't want to hear about all that because it'll spoil you titillationary experience. You might run the risk of realising the violence was unpleasant instead of uplifting and fun.
Your extremely unhealthy attitude to sex I'm not even going to *touch*, except to say it's curious you want fictional violence *not* to mirror reality, but in sexual matters you want your strong moral outlook in the real world to be echoed exactly in the pages of the fiction you read. Could it be that you like to think your bloodless sword and gunfights *do* mirror reality, at least as you think it should be lived, and that you object to graphic violence because it insists on disabusing you of this illusion?
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 04:56 pm: |
ET - now you're really beginning to irritate me - another insult, then an apology. Get a grip, will you. And while you're at it, read my posts properly - I don't have a problem with stories that don't deal with sex and violence, I just have a problem with the ones that pretend to deal with it and actually just mythologise a cartoon evasion of consequence. Yes, Sean is entitled to his neoVictorian, extra-milk-and-cookies-for-tea literary taste. But I'm equally entitled to call him on it. That's how a free society of ideas works. Come to that, you're entitled to your rather limp attempts at insult, and I would be entitled to hit you with something a bit more direct and honest, if I could be bothered. But I can't.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 05:20 pm: |
I think you're responding a bit too harshly to ET, but whatever.
Sure you can berate and belittle people for having a different mindset, but you should expect that to get disapproval. In least some of the time.
Maybe Sean shouldn't have brought morals into it, but he did. Big deal? I'm sure there's certain kind of stories you would morally dislike. Let's say Orson Scott Card had a story of a community of Mormons, and the tale explicitly defended their most controversial views. Would you have no irritation about reading that? Well if so it's the same for Sean and certain things. If not I concede you really are more open minded.
(With that said I doubt you'd rip such a story up)
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 05:39 pm: |
To quote Patrick Stewart (more or less) on this one: To say Shakespeare was written for the masses is a whole lot of nonsense. He wrote for the rich and powerful who kept him in business. No one spoke in verse, even then.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 05:42 pm: |
You're right, I wouldn't rip up that story. And if it was an accurate portrayal of Mormon life, then I wouldn't have a problem with reading it. But if it was an accurate portrayal of Mormon life then it would have a hard time making a positive case for the faith - crushing sexism and moral hypocrisy (I'm thinking here specifically of the Mormon influence in Las Vegas) are pretty hard to sell to an intelligent reader. I think you're confusing descriptive power (in sex and violence) and heavy moral didacticism, which I'm not generally in favour of in fiction. My normal working practice is to show the harsh reality and people will make up their own minds (but they'll have to do so without evasion).
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 05:53 pm: |
Unfortunately I have the same reaction to caviar. That's why you seldom see me at the swankier parties.
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 06:24 pm: |
I really can't defend myself in this matter without morals. That's why I brought them in--I have my reservations about a lot of literature because of my moral code. (Taste comes into play too but, again, that's defined by my worldview.) If I'm attacked, that's the explanation I can offer for why I do and do not read certain things. I removed "Pervert" because I liked the other stories in the issue, but wanted a "clean copy", so to speak. If it had been a book, I wouldn't necessarily have ripped it up--I would have merely rid myself of it.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 06:50 pm: |
For my own part, I find some sexually provocative or explicit material is literary, ie worth reading beyond pure shock or pornographic "value" and some isn't. It has a lot to do with the capability and *intention* of the writer.
Hence, I could read quite happily through say, John Varley (mixing sexual dynamite *with* adventure fiction) or Greg F. Gifune, who is a wonderful writer, quite capable of adroitly juggling sexual themes and even 'perveted" ones, so to speak. Or China Mieville's "Perdido Street Station" with "remade" perversion! In fact, *most* writers eventually deal with some form of perversion and sexual taboos in (and often out!) of their written work.
On the other hand, I've read a disturbing number of heavily sexual SF stories recently where the sex and "perversion" did indeed seem sensationalized and not very well handled...
Finlay's story isn't one of them -- I haven't read, "Pervert", but I have objected to stories on supposedly thematic grounds before only to welcome the same themes or textures in another writer's work. I don't think you can get anywhere trying to limit the scope of a SF writer's imagination even if that imagination leads to dangerous/taboo ground. That's the whole point of a certain arm of SF, to *be* provocative, whether satirically or not.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 07:16 pm: |
Good response, but this struck me
if it was an accurate portrayal of Mormon life then it would have a hard time making a positive case for the faith - crushing sexism and moral hypocrisy
I largely agree and don't have a very good view of Mormonism on many points. I chose it as kind of neutral ground. I'd considered Jehovah Witnesses, but they're even more out there IMO.
However I think there are many intelligent readers who would find a positive portrayal of Tibetan Buddhism, Unitarianism, polyamorous relatoinships, Social Democracy, Libertarianism, etc. hard to accept. Yet you did respond well and I admit you're view of such things is appropriate. Good show!
BTW: I don't quite get ripping a story out myself, I just get squeamish when things threaten to get too heated. However as he seems okay with that kind of reaction to his position, my reaction was unnecessary.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 10:06 pm: |
Here is Asimov's specific response to the Michigan station's claims--they actually misrepresented a lot more than was even apparent to readers. For instance, QSP had ALREADY ended their agreement with Asimov's a few months more for financial reasons.
P.S. Notes on Shakespeare
Among his other bloody scenes, Shakespeare has a character's eyes ripped out onstage in King Lear. I don't know how that CAN'T be considered gory. They used pig's bladders filled with blood under their costumes in several Elizabeth death and wounded scenes so they looked very realistic.
Shakespeare also had a delicate line to tread between pleasing the rich and the common people. Everyone doesn't talk in verse in his plays, for example.
Sorry, you unleashed an English major who is a little bit of a Shakespeare nerd.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 10:29 pm: |
A rich audience didn't necessarily mean an intellectual or literary elite audience either, not even then. The Tudors were very well educated, but I think Shakespeare got big under the Stuarts who were more mixed. In several parts of Europe in the Renaissance many nobles, even the ones with vast libraries, were more or less illiterate. The books were there for display and prestige.
Also varying kinds of verse were popular with common folk in many periods. I think the Q'uran was largely in verse because it made it easier to remember for illiterates.
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 03:50 am: |
richard, it's impossible to edit messages on this board, which is why I did what I did. You're the kind of person I find pleasure in annoying, but my morals tell me it's not a nice thing to do, which is why I apologised. I believe that I do understand what you're saying and feel that your understanding of what a story should be like is flawed, but I imagine that I won't be able to argue completely civilly with you, so I think I'll abstain from this discussion.
Sean T. M. Stiennon
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 05:56 am: |
Yes, from what I saw of "Pervert" it seemed like it was the ideas that were graphic, not the sex, but I still didn't want to read those ideas. I'm sure that, artistically speaking, it's an excellent story. SF writers can write what they like, but I'm not under any obligation to read it.
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 08:31 am: |
ET - sorry to spoil your pleasure but you haven't succeeded in annoying me - mild irritation was as high as you got. And whether you can argue civilly (it appears you can't) is hardly the point - what's very clear is that you can't argue *intelligently* either. I won't be answering any more creepy little snipe-shots, but in the unlikely event you think of something to say with substance, I'll address it.
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 09:07 am: |
If you can't be a ham and do Hamlet
They will not give a damn or a damnlet
Just recite an occasional sonnet
And your lap'll have Honey upon it
When your baby is pleading for pleasure
Let her sample your Measure for Measure
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kow-tow
Cole Porter, from Kiss Me Kate (1948)
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 12:36 pm: |
Richard ... I agree with your points. Well said.
Mind you though, quid pro quo and all that, you realise in a world charging toward the politically correct left, big nanny governments everywhere will soon be censoring anything with graphic violence and sex In the socialist republic of New Zealand the chief censor (read, big nose, who actually happens to be a Canadian) has just R-18 rated the first video game to be pulled into the yoke of 'those who know better than the rest of us what is good for us'.
Couldn't resist. Sorry.
(I will get back to that other thread soon (like April)).
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 02:10 pm: |
As much as I respect freedom of the press, I do wish there were some recourse for those defamed by egregiously inaccurate reporting. I tend to doubt that Asimov's is going to lose much business as a result of some podunk television news station. Still, it does rouse the desire to start breaking bones when I see self-righteous assholes perpetrating rank ignorance as fact.
And it happens all the time.
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 03:19 pm: |
I, for one, hope (and actually assume) that Asimov's will gain as much new readership from their conroversy as Charlie is apparently gaining from his. Maybe someone should contact FOX News about "Pervert" and see what shapes up.
(Because, you know, I first subscribed to F&SF through a school magazine drive in the 80s. At a Catholic school, no less.)
Ben-ben, if it will make you feel better, I'll tear out the next story of yours in F&SF. I'll even try to bribe the pre-press guys at the printer to do something dastardly to it that gets to press. Maybe a label: "This story deleted due to explicit content" slapped on each page with just bit of text visible around the edges. Will that suffice?
"In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but now heaven knows, Anything Goes." --Cole Porter
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 03:49 pm: |
Boucher was Catholic, pretty strong one as I recall. Several of the early FSF stories had some Catholic, big C this time, perspectives. At the same time he wrote under serial killer names & had some stories considered risque for the times. Weirdly this brings to mind to things.
"How could this man, who claims to be Catholic even, publish obscene material like Lot by Ward Moore. It's an outrage and I suggest this, fairly new, magazine 'FSF' not last the decade"
"What do you expect their editor is obscene! In Quest for St. Aquin he had robot theologians, such beings can not even have souls, and a Catholic priest fondling a Martian woman. Is this the kind of filth our impressionable youths should read. Disgraceful!"
|Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 - 06:02 pm: |
I haven't gotten my March 2004 issue, so I haven't read "Pervert," I'm dying to. All this talk! Very interesting. Hey, I'm not a pervert. Lol. It's just that if a lot of people are saying a story is shocking, I want to read it! Stephen King said to a group of kids at a school that they should immediately rush out to find whatever the 'adults' said they shouldn't.
Speaking of King, he has had a few shocking stories, to say the least, involving sex and violence. If he submitted one to F&SF and it fit the content of the magazine--and maybe if it didn't--they would snap it up faster than a shark would snap up a fish if given the opportunity. They'd be fools not to, of course. My point is, if it's a good or even great story, it should be published if it fits with the magazine.
I recently looked at old covers of Weird Tales on the net, and every one I saw had a naked girl on it. Sex sells. Playboy's circulation is so large because of its sexual content, in part, at least. Perhaps making it more sexual would sell more mags. I dont know.
I just want to say that I like sex and violence in a story. It gets the heart pumping. I love sword and sorcery.
One question about content. I have written a piece about why unicorns are so excited about virgins: because they need the innate power that their virginity carries. It is kind of graphic. The unicorn in the story is basically using itself as a toy. Would this be inappropriate for F&SF? Thanks.
Gordon Van Gelder
|Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 08:39 pm: |
I don't mean to make an example out of you, but since you practically answer your own question in paragraph 2, let me say that our guidelines ask writers not to query because of questions like this. How can we tell if it's appropriate without reading the scene?
|Posted on Monday, February 23, 2004 - 10:12 am: |
Thanks for personally answering that. I considered submitting the piece, but it is erotic, though short, and didn't want to waste your time. Now that I think about it, it was silly to think you could tell from what little I said. Perhaps I will submit it. You can read it in the span of time it takes to blink, lol.
|Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 07:48 pm: |
I actually haven't written sex into any of my stories at all, I havenít thought of it until now really.
I suppose I merely skip it over or just suggest it happened. It kind of makes me uncomfortable to write something with sexual scenes in it because as a child I was beaten for writing a character that said damn-it and at another point touched a womanís breast... but hell, praise the crazy mothers.
Now, not to put down parents, I may be one someday (hopefully not), but I do think that there is a big difference between saying to your child, "Don't read/watch/listen to this!" and trying to impose that upon others is vastly different. Great if you don't want your child play Final Fantasy VII (One of the best games ever) because some kid claimed it was the game that motivated him to "accidentally" shoot his fathers girlfriend seven times in the stomach. (Happened somewhere over here a couple years ago)
|Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 10:42 pm: |
Really? I thought that FF7 was a fantasy game? Wouldn't it have encouraged him to stab her or something?
|Posted on Saturday, March 13, 2004 - 08:05 am: |
There are two ways in which sex appears in American genre science-fiction: explicit and "between the lines". The latter is more interesting, because it speaks volumes about the cultural climate in which it was written.
I won't name names... but if you re-read older novels and stories by quite famous writers, you may find stuff between the lines that is quite, er, surprising...
J. D. L.
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 08:19 am: |
As a teenager, I have to agree with AR; going back now and reading some of my favorite novels I discover some implicit sexual content that I didn't notice before.
This sort of sexual innuendo is common in our culture, in which it is taboo to state "sex" and related ideas outright.
For example: strong, heroic females that are skilled in the use of swords can match or even beat men. That is a common theme in heroic fantasy, along with the sexual tension between the opponents.
Now, I don't want to go overboard with the cliche Freudian analysis, but that is an common use of layers of innuendo and euphemisms, or whatever the word is, covering up the idea of sex.
But when an author makes the sexual content rather overt and obvious, people are shocked because they expect it to be covert.
I find Sean's reaction very interesting.
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:21 am: |
A dilemma unique to SF publishing. There's no "age rating" on SF books. The unspoken agreement between writers and publishers: "SF books should be suitable for all ages."
So if you wanted to write a science-fiction book with explicit sex as a part of the story? With an age-rating label on the cover? "18+" or "PARENTAL ADVISORY: Adult Content".
Would any mainstream SF publisher want to touch it? I don't think so. We've still got this deep-seated notion that SF, like comic-books, is "for kids only".
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:05 am: |
I don't believe such an agreement exists. There are any number of SF novels (and anthologies, and short fiction) that are not in any way suitable for all ages.
Look at an anthology like DANGEROUS VISIONS, which set out to break taboos and wouldn't be considered "kid-friendly" (though I know a lot of fans read it in their teens and somehow still became productive members of society--imagine that).
Also, I haven't read the Laurel K. Hamilton books, but I've heard them described as a series of porn scenes--that the vampire plot exists only to take the reader from one sex scene to the next. (Again, not my opinion -- just what I've heard.)
And besides sex, there are plenty of novels that are way too violent to be considered suitable for all ages. See Richard K. Morgan's novels ALTERED CARBON and BROKEN ANGELS. I personally liked them both very much, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're appropriate for teens or pre-teens.
Yet all these things were published, so I don't think your "unspoken agreement" exists. It may have once existed, but it certainly doesn't now, and DANGEROUS VISIONS was first published (I believe) back in the 60s, so that barrier was broken a long time ago.
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:49 am: |
If all SF was supposed to be for all ages that would be horrible.
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 11:00 am: |
I read Dangerous Visions as a teenager and the book had a formative influence on me as a reader and editor.
Most of the sf I've published over the years is for adults--with dense structure, a sense of style, and adult themes. SF is definitely not for children, which doesn't mean children can't read it and get something out of it.
As a child, my parents took me to lots of movies--some with adult themes I enjoyed even though I was too young to get the innuendos. So what? I still enjoyed the movies. Later when I saw them again I gleaned the more adult implications.
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 11:08 am: |
One of the reasons I loved Ellison and writers like him back when I was a thirteen year old SF fan was because of the sexual content. It wasn't(usually) gratuitous or out-of-context from the plots and jazzed my mundane Junior High School reality. I certainly wouldn't begrudge some young teen a few paragraphs of juicy passion.
J. D. L.
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 11:32 am: |
Err.. Huh. No comment on your statement, Wilder.
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 12:55 pm: |
"I read Dangerous Visions as a teenager and the book had a formative influence on me as a reader and editor."
Me too. It made me what I am today!
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 02:20 pm: |
No comment ;-)
J. D. L.
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 03:39 pm: |
Pardon my ignorance, but what is Dangerous Visions?
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 03:49 pm: |
It's a groundbreaking and kickass anthology, edited by Harlan Ellison.
Check out this link
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 04:08 pm: |
I also very much liked Again, Dangerous Visions, published a couple of years after the original.
Robert Burke Richardson
|Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 06:12 pm: |
Again, Dangerous Visions made me into what I'll be tomorrow.
|Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 09:57 am: |
Ellison signed my copy of Dangerous Visions at Forbidden Planet when he was there this year . I was a little disappointed that he did not yell at me for anything.
|Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 03:12 pm: |
"Again, Dangerous Visions made me into what I'll be tomorrow."
It's sporting of you go give everyone fair warning.
|Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 08:15 am: |
Fantasy and science fiction has been labeled "kid stuff" in much the same way that animation has been labeled "kid stuff".
Why don't we readers and authors of fantasy and science fiction get any respect?
|Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 08:23 pm: |
Personally, I don't think I'd like it if SF were suddenly elevated out of the 'genre ghetto'. It would lose a lot of things; cheif among them the feeling that writers, fans, editors, whatever we are--we're doing this together, and we'll be supportive.
An example: the first time I submitted, I mentioned it to a litfic writer. The reaction I got was along the lines of 'you wannabe little snotnose'.
Later, I mentioned it to a fellow geek who's been querying for awhile. The reaction I got was 'well, it's tougher than you'd think, but this is how you format a query and here's a link to the rules...'
As for kid stuff? It's my firm belief that kids today are too sheltered. The world's harsh. Learn to deal. I'll confess I didn't love "Pervert" (didn't hate it, either)... but the sex didn't bother me.
|Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 03:34 am: |
> It's my firm belief that kids today are too sheltered.
Not enough sex and violence on TV, internet and games, huh?
|Posted on Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 10:12 am: |
I mean from a realer version than porno movies where every has sex 24/7 or gets wasted in da club.
|Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 05:34 am: |
Concord said "Apparently Asimov's is facing a situation in which a 13-year-old girl was shocked by the adult content of a recent story, leading to the removal of the digest from her school's magazine sale fundraiser and bannishment from her school's library.
Did you guys get lucky and dodge a bullet that could have hit you as equally as it hit Asimov's? If you think about it, it really could have been you getting the bad press."
Concord's librarians seem intent on stirring up debate rather than doing their jobs. A quick scan of each issue coming in should be enough to determine if any content ***in that particualr issue*** might be unsuitable for young viewers. The solution is simple: censor issue-by-issue, if prudishness demands it. Don't damn a whole collection for one single story. Do you pull all your teeth, if there's a cavity in one ?
If SF is forced to be prudish, it will most certainly loose the edginess and speculative nature that we crave.
P.S. Loved the recent edgy, hilarious "O and W" story, which included a same-sex marriage. Keep up the good work, F&SF ! That one had me laughing throughout and underlining favorite bits.