Bewildering Stories News
A Contest, Serials, and the Quarterly Reviews
by Don Webb
Graham Storrs kindly brings to our attention storySouth’s annual contest.
Thank you, Graham. We at Bewildering Stories encourage everyone to nominate their favorite story to the storySouth contest in progress during the month of March. Of course we’d love for our contributors to win $100 and fame.
E-zine editors are entitled to submit three nominations, and Graham rightly points out that we might do so. The opportunity is attractive but not very practical. Who really is the editor? The Review Board has nine members, and their collective decisions make up the Quarterly Reviews.
I suppose the three top-ranked short stories in 2008 might qualify, but it’s far from easy to determine which they are. Besides, the number three is comfortable for e-zines that appear quarterly and publish maybe two or three dozen titles a year. That’s what I suspect storySouth has in mind. For us, that’s science fiction; it’s just not our reality. Bewildering Stories appears weekly and publishes hundreds of titles a year. I think it’s simpler and fairer that each reader nominate a favorite.
Much as I wish to reward our contributors, I look upon storySouth’s contest as a slightly monetarized mini-variation on the Preditors & Editors contest, back in January. It is at least in part a straw poll; and pious disclaimers notwithstanding, there is no way to prevent campaigning and ballot-box stuffing.
I challenge any e-zine or contest on the Net to equal Bewildering Stories’ Quarterly Reviews in fairness. And the quality of the Quarterly Reviews’ contents will give anyone else a very good run for — pardon the expression — their money. Rather than apotheosize one story and author — or a very few — we give credit where it’s due. If we had any money, we wouldn’t issue prizes; we’d declare a dividend and reward all those who place in an Annual Review.
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Bewildering Stories keeps evolving under our very eyes; it’s a sign of life. I thought you might enjoy knowing how some editorial decisions are made.
Our Submissions guidelines discourage unfinished works; we really do not like to end anything with “Continuation pending.” But the rules are there to serve us, we’re not here to serve the rules. Content is what counts. A few cases in point, by way of example:
Julian Lawler’s Battle Seer is an unfinished novel published in 2004, but the individual chapters are interesting in their own right.
Bertrand Cayzac’s Floozman is a complete novella — or, more likely, novel — but it has been appearing as what we call an “intermittent serial” because each episode or chapter is a complete story in itself.
Likewise, Bill Bowler’s Upwyr has been appearing as an intermittent serial. Although it is incomplete, the chapters can almost stand by themselves as individual stories.
Glenn Gray’s “A Day in the Cornfield” started as flash fiction, but Glenn has expanded the story. As an intermittent serial it will continue as new installments become available. However, the chapters cannot stand alone. It will be eligible for election to a Quarterly Review when it’s complete.
Gabriel Timar’s “Gabriel’s Tsunami” started as a single essay. It was soon joined by Bertil Falk’s “Pragmatism with a Human Face” and Elaine Graham-Leigh’s response and then by Bertil’s and my responses to Elaine’s response. Meanwhile, Gabriel Timar has sent responses to Challenge 327, which should keep the pot simmering well into issue 329.
Since Discussions are open-ended collaborative works, they are eligible for the Quarterly Reviews as a Department.
If you’ve ever wondered why we’re called “Bewildering” Stories, now you know. And as we like to say, there is no story so truly bewildering as reality.
Copyright © 2009 by Don Webb