March 24, 2013


Somewhere around thirty years ago, I met Bruce Bethke for the first time – when I responded to an ad in a newspaper for a science fiction writers group seeking new members. I called, then sent in an “audition story” and was invited to join the group at the ORIGINAL, original Loft Literary Center (before grant money started flowing) in Minneapolis. One of THEM reviews books now, the other published a few books and short stories but no longer writes. Bruce doesn’t write much lately except for non-fiction; he is currently executive editor of STUPEFYING STORIES, an irregular anthology of new speculative fiction, he mostly works for a super computer company as well as presiding over Rampant Loon Press. These nuggets of wisdom can be found here: They are used with the author’s permission.

7. We humbly hope our new publisher will not find out what we said about our last publisher.

An example of something like this happened several months ago. I posted a rather disappointed review of a writer’s SF novel for young adults that concluded:

"Worst of all, the first book The Comet's Curse is written in a less-than-stellar style…Filled with...tropes...[he] doesn’t even manage eloquent writing. Rough sentences...ancillary inclusion of cultureless Canadians, Mexicans and Swedes...But because he’s a “Celebrity”, has a slick website and a well-managed and funded marketing campaign...The people who came before him (he never once mentions reading SF as a kid or an adult) and those whose lives are spent “in the trenches” with teens will continue to work hard...without an advertising campaign.” (If you’re interested in the entire review, it’s here:

After that was posted, the most unusual thing happened. These posts appeared first:

DSRDenton – “...I've never heard of Dom Testa or Guy Stewart, but it seems like Testa has some loyal supporters who have seen his work. All of this made me interested so I googled him and found a lot of sites…I ordered his book today and will give it to some of my best readers. No offense but I don't usually go by reviews for teen books when they are written by adults…”

luv2teach70 – “...a deflection point. It's most often employed by one who otherwise has no defense. It's also, by the way, condescending. It infers to your readers that my comments are based on emotion, rather than facts and/or experience, which is insulting...”

Then Henry posted – “No, you're not wrong, topher. Both comments are from the same IP address. While I'll readily admit that I don't entirely agree with Guy's column, resorting to sockpuppetry as a response is childish in the extreme and, among readers of this blog, likely to lend credence to the position Guy has taken. At the very least, Guy has the courage to post his opinions under his own name.”

What’s this have to do with the point of the day?

Be careful what you say and to whom you say it because people know each other and talk. If I am less than professional in what I say – and I confess, I lost my cool (though I still think the books are less-than-stellar (so to speak) and that celebrity sometimes supplants skill) and should have used the tools I’d laid out in a previous essay (“Heirs of Heinlein” here: and kept it more clinical. I am emotional where my writing is concerned and doubly so when it comes to writing for young adults. I continue to wonder how it is some of them write for a group of people with whom they have minimal contact...

Be that as it may, I reiterate the Wisdom of the Wise when I say, “Don’t dis on people in the industry (or out of it for that matter!).” As far as I can tell, SF/F author Julie Czerneda is a stellar example of a positive attitude toward everyone. She regularly ends her posts on Face Book, “I love my life”...

And there you go.

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