Thar she blows

Quality Control issues a report:

Cover is great, binding nice and tight and as good as anything the major pubs put out, high-gloss back cover shows fingerprints a little too well but otherwise looks good.

Interior: good quality paper, pagination correct, good typography, consistent layout (no vertical or horizontal drift from page to page), odd and even pages are just as they should be.

In short, except for the lack of a barcode and an ISBN on the back cover, this looks at least as good as anything a major publisher might put out, and better than a lot I’ve seen.

I pronounce this experiment a success.

Nothing new under the sun

Paul Johnson writes of the Algerian war of independence:

The FLN strategy was, in fact, to place the mass of Muslims in a sandwich of terror. On the one side, the FLN killers replaced the moderates. On the other, FLN atrocities were designed to provoke the French into savage reprisals, and so drive the Muslim population into the extremist camp….

What they [the French] did not realize was that the FLN’s object was precisely to turn French generosity into savagery. [Governor-General Jacques] Soustelle saw the FLN as fascists. He thought he could defeat them by giving the Arabs genuine democracy and social justice.
– Paul Johnson, “Modern Times” p. 498. 1983

Sounds disturbingly familiar, doesn’t it? While George W. Bush did honor Johnson recently, it seems rather obvious that neither he nor any of his aides have actually read Johnson’s books. Or at least not more than 450 pages in….

Now, it’s interesting to note that the French were able to defeat the FLN by resorting to shocking savageries themselves. The Roman method works, after all. But, before the “we are at war” crowd wet themselves with excitement at the prospect of pursuing this strategy to victory in Iraq, it’s worth noting that the negative public reaction to this massive bloodletting so disrupted the French political system that it caused the fall of the Fourth Republic and nearly sparked a French civil war.

Smack that bitch up

There is a proverb, I believe, about how meeting people on the way down is likely to bite you on the ass if you’re a complete jerk to all and sundry. Or something to that effect, anyhow:

When the show was over and I was walking off the set past La Regan’s desk, my gracious host told me once again that I was grievously wrong to think that father absence was often not the fault of fathers. “Then why is it that it’s mothers who initiate divorces two-thirds of the time?” I asked. In response, Regan shrieked, “Because all those men are pigs! And I hope that some day, you marry a guy who chokes you and gives you a black eye!” (as she alleged her ex had done to her)….

My issue with her is not that she was rude to me, it’s that she’s an anti-father bigot…. Another sad thing is that women like Regan claim — and perhaps sincerely think — that they are disliked because our culture labels strong, independent, aggressive women as bitches. Unfortunately, sometimes the label fits.

There’s a lot more wrong with publishing than Judith Regan alone. But it’s pretty clear that “piece of work” doesn’t suffice to describe the woman. I have no idea if the above-mentioned allegations about were true or not, but given her post-marital behavior, I have little doubt that a black eye was more than merited. She certainly gave one to Mr. Murdoch’s empire.

We’re all equal now, baby. Women who talk and act like men shouldn’t be surprised when they occasionally get treated like one. And if you’re going to cry about a black eye, you’re not equal, you’re a child.

The death of SF

From the SFWA Bulletin:

Judith Berman suggests that the decline in SF&F magazine subscriptions may be due to their failure to appeal to young readers, being full of “…nostalgia, regret, fear of aging and death, fear of the future in general…” I suggest that the magazines may also fail to fully appeal to women who comprise half the population and nearly half of the SF&F fan base.
– Susan Urbanek Linville, “SF and Fantasy In the New Millenium: Female Characters in Short Fiction”

And later in that same issue of the Bulletin, the Market Report, courtesy of Cynthia Ward:

Publishing News:
“British Publisher Gollancz has announced the creation of a new SF, F and supernatural romance line, Gollancz Romance….

Bantam Dell publishes contemporary and historical romance, romantic suspense, romantic action/adventure, paranormal, and erotica and women’s fiction. They will publish their first erotica in 2007….
[Acquiring editors listed are Shauna Summers, Caitlin Alexander, Danielle Perez, Anne Groell and Juliet Ulman.]

Dorchester seeks paranormal romance for their Lovespell imprint… They do romantic comedy and humorous contemporary romance. They’ve had success with Chick Lit in both trade and MMPB….

St. Martin’s is publishing ‘more romance than ever’ and is looking for both contemporary and historical romance, comedy, suspense, light and dark paranormal, and erotica. Monique Patterson buys all of the above. She likes ‘sexy and funny paranormal, romantic comedy, erotica and paranormal.’

An Anthology of Lesbian Sleuths and the Supernatural (women writers only); Lynne Jameck, Editor….

It’s such a mystery as to why fewer people are reading science fiction these days… the evidence would seem to suggest that it’s because science fiction isn’t really science fiction anymore, it’s devolved into a pathetic sub-genre of romance. And men, I remind Ms Urbanek Linville, also comprise half the population.

Given that this mysterious devolution occurred simultaneously with a vastly increased number of women in the editorial and publishing positions where book signing decisions are made, I rather suspect that the two phenomena just might be related.

Obviously, if this is the case, attempting to increase interest in SF&F magazines by consciously adding more female-friendly content is likely to either a) kill them off entirely, or b) turn them into romance magazines. The poison is not the antidote.