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Bewildering Stories

Year Out, Year In

by Don Webb

Hello, faithful readers!

In traditional “Bewildering” fashion we celebrate the end of the calendar year at the same time as the midpoint of Bewildering Stories’ Year 6.

Our year-end Quarterly Reviews normally appear in two parts: the first at Christmas, the second at New Year’s. We figure our readers are as busy as we editors are at this time of year. That’s why we give you a chance to relax and look back over the fall season and catch up with anything you may have missed.

To help with that, this Fourth Quarterly Review has a couple of “stocking stuffers” for you: links to the most highly rated issues of 2007 appear at the end of page 2, and links to the most “bewildering” issues are appended to the Order of the Hot Potato, at the end of page 3. But more about the “4QR” in a moment.

* * *

This past year has been more tumultuous than we’d have liked. In the summer we were set back a week by a server crash. Our publisher Jerry Wright moved Bewildering Stories to a very fast and — so far — reliable server in England. Would that the transition had been as easy as it sounds: it was plagued by faulty external Net routers that had everybody navigating in circles for a while. But all’s well that ends well.

In January, we’ll have some big housekeeping projects. We need to provide for regular incremental backups of Bewildering Stories; we also need to figure out where the Bewildering Press website is and how Bewildering Press is going to proceed in the coming year.

Jerry hates even to appear to complain, although he has reason to. He keeps up a grueling travel schedule in his day job and has been suffering from ill health for the past year. He says he’s recovering, but whenever I receive an e-mail from him, I heave a sigh of relief and thank our lucky stars that, like Bernard Gilboy’s boat, he may be awash, but he’s still afloat.

One of our Review Editors, Carmen Ruggero, had a serious operation and, as part of her recovery, has taken a leave of absence for the winter quarter of 2008. She’ll remain as our Spanish-language editor, but her position remained to be filled.

Since it was impossible to choose between the well-qualified candidates, I invited all those who, we understood, might be available. In the past week we’ve had the good fortune to be able to welcome Bertil Falk, Tamara Sheehan, and Lewayne L. White to the Review Board. All are well known as pillars of the Bewildering community and are represented in previous Quarterly Reviews by stories that are purely and simply all-time favorites.

In midsummer, the growth of Bewildering Stories made the e-mail and submissions too big a job for one person — i.e. me — to handle. Bill Bowler graciously accepted the position of Coordinating Editor. Thanks to Bill’s diplomacy and managerial skills as well as the outstanding work of our very talented reviewers, Bewildering Stories has gotten back on an even keel.

In response to the invitation, Clyde Andrews sent his regrets and tells us that he’s moving cross-continent from Perth to Melbourne. I hope he’s gotten a promotion, too. Clyde says that Contest 4 may slow down for a couple of weeks. Please be patient.

* * *

As we like to say, the Quarterly Reviews are the place to be at Bewildering Stories. Of the 132 titles published this fall, about one-third qualified for the Fourth Quarterly Review.

That proportion reflects the Review Board’s high standards and the review editors’ very serious and thoughtful consideration. Every week they vote on which works should qualify for the next Quarterly Review. The discussions are very candid, and I’m always learning things!

Now, that doesn’t mean you’d be wrong to like a story, poem, or essay that isn’t on the list: the Quarterly Reviews are the editors’ choices. But we like to think our selections represent a cross-section of public opinion.

Readers are free to write and tell us why they think something may have been overlooked. It doesn’t matter whether we agree; if the reasoning is sound, we’ll publish the letter in The Critics’ Corner.

* * *

The Order of the Hot Potato is, as always, even more “bewildering” than it may appear. In some cases, a work received one or two “average” votes while the other votes were low. That accounts for many titles that appear on the “Hot Potatoes” list but not in the Editors’ Choices.

Still others received a wide range of high votes. That explains, for example, why the most highly rated Editors’ Choice in the fall quarter — that is, Number 1 out of 132 — also appears in the Order of the Hot Potato.

An impromptu mini-contest: write and tell us which work you think it is. If I receive enough guesses by the time issue 273 goes on line, I’ll announce the results of the “contest.”

Meanwhile, Happy Holidays in any way you celebrate them, and a Bewilderingly Happy New Year!


Copyright © 2007 by Bewildering Stories

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