Bewildering Stories in Pinstripes
by Don Webb
On a couple of occasions within the last month or two, I’ve received queries about author blurbs. The idea seems to be that they would consist of brief bios and be inserted as a preface or postscript to the author’s work. One contributor pointed out that another webzine does that. And I can add that many print anthologies do something similar.
Now, I cheerfully agree that such pleasant little notes do benefit readers unfamiliar with the authors in question. But we haven’t gone that route, for a lot of reasons, especially:
We already have an equivalent. In every copyright line, the author’s name is underlined. That means it’s a link. Click on it and see what happens.
Why don’t we make the byline a link to the author’s bio? I’ve tried that: it looks awful.
The bios are often longer than the works themselves. Go to Bewildering Info and click on the name of any of the Review Editors; you’ll see what I mean. And that’s just a small sample; some contributors have bios that are even longer. Who’s going to summarize them? “Not I,” said the Little Red Hen.
Another contributor suggested having the issue indexes and Readers’ Guides link the authors’ names to the bios. Not only is that an impossible amount of work, it’s redundant, and it would clutter the pages with so many links that readers wouldn’t know where to start.
We already have pleasant little Welcome messages for all new contributors who send a bio.
I understand that other webzines may not keep a directory of authors’ bios and may be satisfied with what I consider a more ephemeral approach. But we try to set a standard: Bewildering Stories is not only an e-zine, it’s an on-line library; and, as we like to say, it’s all on line all the time. If you can count the number of names in our Biographies & Bibliographies, please let me know; I lost track long ago.
And those bios are constantly being updated. Can you imagine what would happen if we posted pleasant little bio sketches along with the authors’ works? We’d get messages like: “I recently had a personality transplant and am now somebody else. Can you please update my bio sketch in my ‘Red Sands of Mars’, ‘Red Hands of Mars’, and ‘Rubber Bands of Mars’?” Honestly, you’d be amazed...
And no, we couldn’t do that. True, we might make the hypothetical little bio-blurbs server-side includes and store the files in — guess where — the bios directory. But that puts us right back where we started.
Sure, we’ll consider changing our format — after the New York Yankees lose the pinstripes on their uniform. It ain’t gonna happen; and when it comes to e-zines, we’re the Yankees.
Don Webb, managing editor
Copyright © 2009 by Don Webb
for Bewildering Stories