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It's funny.  Laugh. Sci-Fi Books Media

SF Writers Sting Supposedly Traditional Publisher 474

deeptrace writes "A group of SF writers all submitted purposely awful stories to a publisher that purported to publish only selected high quality works. They created the worst story they could come up with, and it was accepted for publication." Their press release is pretty funny -- and if you'd like a sample of their insane prose, it's available through the book's Lulu site. (Where, Yes, you could also buy the whole thing.)
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SF Writers Sting Supposedly Traditional Publisher

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  • Nothing new... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Didn't the same thing happen a few years ago
    with the people on one usenet group submitting intentionally
    bad manuscripts to some company and get most of them

    Oh yeah, not first post!

    • I believe it was 5 years ago when this psychologist submitted a paper to a peer review paper written by his cat.

      Another fake paper was submitted to a humanities magazine deliberately written by a physicist as obstuse as possible.
      • Re:Nothing new... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @08:33AM (#11589021) Journal
        Another fake paper was submitted to a humanities magazine deliberately written by a physicist as obstuse as possible.

        I think you are referring to the Sokal Hoax []. The Sokal Hoax was more important, IMO, because it took place in the heart of academia, and was an attack on the abuses of post modernism, or at least on some of the people who practice such abuses. In the words of Alan Sokal (a physics professor at NYU):

        So, to test the prevailing intellectual standards, I decided to try a modest (though admittedly uncontrolled) experiment: Would a leading North American journal of cultural studies -- whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross -- publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions?

        The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

        If for no other reason, this hoax is important because it points to the deep cultural divide between the Sciences and the Humanities. I think that it's also a terrific flame war, taking place on the pages of the New York Times, newspapers around the world, as well as academic journals. (Sure, the Empire of Meow is great, but did they ever cross post to the NYT?)
        • by MisterSquid ( 231834 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @11:37AM (#11589628)

          If for no other reason, this hoax is important because it points to the deep cultural divide between the Sciences and the Humanities.

          Sokal's hoodwinking of the editors and readers of Social Text is more complicated than the real split between what C. P. Snow termed "The Two Cultures" of humanites and science. The issue is in fact complicated enough that it does not compress into anything nearly attractive as the sensational claim that postmodern intellectuals don't know their anuses from a hole in the ground. Still, I'm going to try to point out ways that the popular reading of the Sokal affair ignores some important features of the events which led to the publication of Sokal's article as well as some important questions regarding the final signficance of the debate.

          To start, one of the features regarding Sokal's hoax and also GLARINGLY ABSENT from the wikipedia entry [] is the initial efforts by Social Text's editorial board to have Sokal revise his article. Andrew Ross and Bruce Robbins respond to Sokal's hoax in a subsequent issue of Lingua Franca (news of Sokal's hoax was published in May/June 1996 and Ross and Robbins' response in July/August 1996). That response does not seem to be available on the web, but from what I remember it details the dodgy back-and-forth of Sokal and Social Text's editors about publishing the article. Sokal refused to conduct any of the revisions and so the editors of Social Text--perhaps a touch too eager to have a scientist speak on matters normally of interest only to postmodern humanities scholars--published the article without revisions. As Jack Slater would say: "Big mistake."

          In other words, the editors of Social Text smelled that the fish was bad, but ate it anyway. It wasn't so much that the article was considered a good one as much as the editors wanted the prestige of publishing a credentialed scientist's views regarding postmodernism, even if those views were a bit cranky.

          The issue becomes much more complicated than Sokal's cheer of "egg on your face" circulated by the popular media (especially the web). For one, the editors of Social Text to this day maintain that Sokal's article does in fact have some good points, especially to the extent that it raises problems of authority and validity regarding how disciplines like science produce what is taken as knowledge and fact.

          Some of Robbins' articles regarding the aftermath are available on the web, such as his "On Being Hoaxed []" and a later article entitled "Anatomy of a Hoax. Both were originally published in separate issues of Tikkun"

          The real points of this Sokal affair, in my opinion, are 1) a bad editorial decision was made by editors of a humanities journal, 2) Sokal's unethical trick is now enshrined and will probably be his greatest claim to fame as a "physicist," and 3) the primary tenets of postmodernism remain unchanged because it is too easy to see how culture and dogma shape what people perceive as truth, something that is true not only in religion, philosophy, and cultural studies, but also to some extent in the sciences.

          A final real question which tends to get ignored is what would have happened if Sokal had waited a year or two before revealing his hoax. Would a humanities academic have given the lie to the nonsense? I'm guessing the answer is yes, but given the tendency to cull a quick headline from a very complicated series of events, such a question and many others simply get ignored.

          • by Anonymous Coward
            What matters isn't that they felt something was up, but that they published it. If they 'smelled the fish was bad' they shouldn't have published. There's not exactly a lot of integrity in rushing to press because the article was written by a scientist. If the standards of Social Text were anything like a decent scientific journal, reviewers would have taken it out to the trash until it was at least evaluable.

            The tenets of postmodernism can change or not. From what standpoint are you going to argue that the
            • Why so angry? (Score:3, Informative)

              by MisterSquid ( 231834 )

              it's pretty clear that postmodernist attacks on science are just penis envy from a pseudofield which has no purpose except to give people jobs.

              You are clearly defensive about what postmodernism has to say regarding science. You need not be because a deeper understanding of what most postmodernist philosophy has to say about science cannot be characterized as "attacks on science." In particular, the postmodernist assertion that all human systems of knowledge, science included, are affected by dogma and c

    • I seem to remember a physicist or chemist that made up a bunch of hogwash and managed to get it published in a psych journal.
      • Re:Nothing new... (Score:5, Informative)

        by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer.alum@mit@edu> on Sunday February 06, 2005 @03:18AM (#11588310) Homepage

        I think parent is thinking of the Sokal hoax, in which Alan Sokal [], a physicist at NYU, wrote a completely non-sensical physics paper and submitted it to Social Text [], the leading journal of postmodern pseudo-intellectuals. Social Text accepted the paper and published it, thereby demonstrating their complete ignorance of modern science, which they purport to understand and be in a position to critique. Sokal then exposed their foolishness in a piece in Lingua Franca (sadly defunct). He has links to the hoax article, his Lingua Franca article, the statements by the editors of Social Text, and much other material here []

        • This is, of course, a very inaccurate characterization of the so-called Sokal Affair. Wikipedia does much better, as usual.

          A more accurate characterization is that Sokal, through deliberate fraud,and playing on his legitimate reputation within physics, got the _Social Text_ editors to publish an article that they themselves did not think was of high quality. But the editors felt that allowing a professional physicist to publish positions--which they presumed he was expressing, because he said exactly suc
          • Nice spin. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by rjh ( 40933 ) <> on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:19AM (#11588631)
            Sokal, through deliberate fraud...
            Such as writing a paper that he knew was bogus, in order to see whether or not Social Text would publish it?
            and playing on his legitimate reputation within physics, got the Social Text editors to publish an article that they themselves did not think was of high quality.
            The very fact he was able to do that at all is strong evidence that the Social Text editors are incompetent.

            I'm a graduate student, the lowest rung of professional academic, in a hard discipline. Before I submit a paper anywhere, I submit preprints to experts within whatever field I'm writing about. I do this because I know the journals will do the exact same thing, and it's far better on my reputation if my reviewers find them than if the journal finds them. I know that it doesn't matter if my name is Alan Matheson Turing or Paul Erdoes--whatever I or anyone else submits goes through a formal vetting process which involves having experts pore over my paper with a magnifying glass.

            The Sokal Hoax had glaring errors, errors so large that a college senior in mathematics, economics or physics could have spotted them--not only spotted them, but conclusively proven them to be false.

            Social Text didn't catch this. Does it really matter if they thought the paper was of poor quality? They published it, and by publishing it put their imprimatur on it. "Here," they said to the academic world, "read this, we think it's worth your time."

            Social Text was right. It was worth my time, in that it demonstrated to me precisely why I'm going for a Ph.D. in a discipline where rigor and peer review actually mean something.
            • Re:Nice spin. (Score:3, Informative)

              by the gnat ( 153162 )
              I know that it doesn't matter if my name is Alan Matheson Turing or Paul Erdoes--whatever I or anyone else submits goes through a formal vetting process which involves having experts pore over my paper with a magnifying glass.

              I wish this were always the case. Unfortunately, there certainly are cases where the senior author is famous and/or well-connected and can get a publication because of his name or connections. These articles range from very good (but might not have been high-profile without that ex
          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2005 @05:28AM (#11588650)
            It's true that LitCrit professor are not physicists. Nor do/did they claim to be. They deferred to someone who really was in a position to share expert knowledge, and put it in a context of postmodernist theory.

            The postmodernist literary criticism school of thought held that all forms of human understanding were best understood through the microscope of literary criticism. That is, literary symbols and imagery were supposedly a valuable way to study sociology (especially gender and race relations), politics, and even the 'hard' sciences such as physics.

            So you had Jacques Lacan writing:

            "Thus the erectile organ comes to symbolize the place of enjoyment, not in itself, or even in the form of an image, but as a part lacking in the desired image. [...] That is why it is equivalent to the square root of minus one of the signification produced above, of the enjoyment that it restores by the coefficient of its statement to the function of the lack of signifier -1."

            Or, from Katherine Hayles, a proponent of the philosopher Luce Irigaray:

            "The privileging of solid over fluid mechanics, and indeed the inability of science to deal with turbulent flow at all, she attributes to the association of fluidity with femininity. Whereas men have sex organs that protrude and become rigid, women have openings that leak menstrual blood and vaginal fluids... From this perspective it is no wonder that science has not been able to arrive at a successful model for turbulence. The problem of turbulent flow cannot be solved because the conceptions of fluids (and of women) have been formulated so as necessarily to leave unarticulated remainders."

            In short, you mischaracterising Sokal's complaint and the whole point of his hoax.

            For more details, please see this book review [] by Richard Dawkins.
          • Re:Nothing new... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tm2b ( 42473 )
            Do you understand that the behavior that you're describing from the _Social Text_ editors is the very antithesis of peer review?

            An intellectually honest journal will NEVER rely upon the credentials or reputation of a paper's author.

            What Sokal did was actually science: he formed a hypothesis ("The _Social Text_ editors don't know what they're talking about"), made a prediction ("so they will accept bogus papers"), and tested that prediction. And then he published his results, much to the _Social Text_
            • Re:Nothing new... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @08:46AM (#11589045) Journal
              Do you understand that the behavior that you're describing from the _Social Text_ editors is the very antithesis of peer review?

              Just for the record, Social Text is not peer reviewed, nor did it ever claim to be. Quite the opposite. However, they could still have checked the science.

              The only thing that Alan Sokal's credentials got him (and should have gotten him) was his foot in the door of Social Text. The reason they published his parody was because it pandered to their ideological bias.

              The grandparent poster unfortunately has let the academic apologists of Social Text brainwash her (or him), rather than examine the evidence objectively.

              Had the _Social Text_ editors not been charlatans, they would not have even been harmed by this experiment.

              Had they not been charlatans, they would have admitted their goof and engaged in some self reflection. Instead, they circled the wagons.
            • Re:Nothing new... (Score:3, Interesting)

              by cbr2702 ( 750255 )
              Do you understand that the behavior that you're describing from the _Social Text_ editors is the very antithesis of peer review?

              _Social Text_ is not peer reviewed for a reason. They believe (and still do) that by not having a peer review process they will get more creative and innovative articles published, because the peer review process is just a mechanism for protecting and extending current scientific orthodoxy.

          • Re:Nothing new... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @09:04AM (#11589081) Journal
            You've bitten the apologia hook, line, and sinker. The point is not that they deferred to someone who really was in a position to share expert knowledge, but that they didn't bother to check this "knowledge" because it conformed to their prejudices.

            It's true that Sokal doesn't really understand modern science studies and postmodernism.

            He apparently understood enough to fool the editorial collective at Social Text and demonstrate their intellectual dishonesty. They were the real frauds in this case, which was proven not so much by the publishing of the parody, but by their responses afterwards. And by supporting and repeating the accusation that Sokal is the fraudster, you've brought your own intellectual honesty into question. You're buying into ideological fundamentalism that is just as corrupt as the Christian or Islamic equivalents.

            Social Text was hoisted on it's own (Lacanian) absence of the Father, if you will.

            I am a legitimate expert in a number of things, for example. I could certainly get journals or magazines concerned with other subjects to publish my deliberately misleading characterizations of those subjects I know, particularly if they were journals in other areas that had an interest in cross-discipline discussion. So what?

            So maybe those journals lack integrity? Besides which, Sokal didn't write "misleading characterizations", he wrote things which were blatantly and obviously and absurdly (to even an undergraduate) false as part of his parody.

            Perhaps you are so blinded by the text that you cannot read the words.
          • Re:Nothing new... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Aardpig ( 622459 )

            They deferred to someone who really was in a position to share expert knowledge, and put it in a context of postmodernist theory.

            But that's the whole point of peer review: you find someone who is expert enough to judge the new work.

            Your drivel is written like a true postmodernist. On the one hand, you feel in a position to make pronouncements about subjects you know nothing about. And on the other hand, you deflect all criticisms of postmodernism, on the grounds that they are made by non-experts. Funn

          • Re:Nothing new... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by belmolis ( 702863 )

            As other posters have already shown, my characterization of the Sokal Hoax was entirely accurate. The only deception on the part of Sokal was that he did not explicitly inform the editors of Social Text, at the time he submitted the paper, that he did not sincerely believe in its content. That was of course necessary in order to carry out his experiment. Since the good of demonstrating that the emperor has no clothes outweighs a minor and temporary deception, I consider his behavior to have been ethical. T

  • "A note of caution: reading this thing may cause temporary brain damage."
  • Then no claims of finding it in "editorial review."
  • But I wish they'd publish the whole thing (all that was accepted, that is).

    "just monitor his sign's". Ha ha. Soooo sexy.
  • by zephc ( 225327 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:07AM (#11588090)
    copy-paste any chapter of Battlefield Earth
  • No surprise here. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpaceCadetTrav ( 641261 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:07AM (#11588091) Homepage
    How do you think stories get published on Slashdot?
  • by jaiyen ( 821972 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:08AM (#11588095)
    Maybe the editor who accepted the book for publication could fill michael's position at slashdot - sounds like he'd fit right in !
  • Weird acronym use (Score:2, Insightful)

    by papaskunk ( 718169 )
    I understand that SF can be meant to stand for "Science Fiction," though I don't think I've ever heard anybody say "I like to read a lot of SF." However, when we have virtually unlimited screen real estate, is it really necessary to shorten 'SciFi' to 'SF'? It's just a difference of three letters. Living in the Bay Area, I immediately thought this was an electic group of liberal-minded San Francisco writers publishing something scandalous under a "traditional" publisher. Guess the joke's on me.
    • Re:Weird acronym use (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anubis350 ( 772791 )
      remember, its not shortening "scifi" to SF it's shortening "Science Fiction" to SF. The abbreviation does come in handy, for example I belong to a group on my campus known as the "Science Fiction Forum", abbrev. to SF4M, :-).
    • The abbreviation "SF" for speculative fiction arguably includes fantasy as well.

    • Re:Weird acronym use (Score:3, Informative)

      by quarter ( 14910 )
      some posters above give the speculative fiction answer, but i read a long time ago (and i wish i could remember who wrote it) that SF was used by (serious?) science fiction writers to distance themselves from SciFi movies about giant brains attacking people.
    • I live in Detroit, I thought of San Francisco and not Science Fiction...
    • Re:Weird acronym use (Score:5, Informative)

      by SEE ( 7681 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:54AM (#11588235) Homepage
      You clearly have never been the subject of the traditional rants of the written science fiction community about how they do not write "sci-fi" or "skiffy", which is the domain of bad '50s monster movies. They write "science fiction" or "speculative fiction", which is SF if you must shorten the term.

      To understand, think "Linux" vs. "GNU/Linux".
    • I never heard of SciFi before the net and before the infamous scifi tv channel was born. It was always referenced as "SF genre", in bibliothek under the "SF thema" and we wrote about SF book. Heck it was sometimes SPOKEN as S.F. but first time I heard of it as SciFi in the last 25 years was in the late 99 on the net. Now granted it could also be a country/culture difference on how you name it.
    • SciFi or 'skiffie' has a strong association with television and franchise potboilers with a futuristic setting.
    • Re:Weird acronym use (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @03:49AM (#11588406) Homepage
      There was a time when real science fiction fans, the ones that actually read books rather than just watched movies or flipped through comics, considered "scifi" (as Ellison pronounces it, "skiffy") to be a term used either derogatively or only by wannabes, and the real abbreviation was SF -- which could also stand for "speculative fiction", as the New Wavers were inclined to call it.

      A few old timers still feel the same way, but those who were still in diapers when the original "Star Wars" first appeared on the big screen have grown up with "sci fi". "SF", though, is still easier to say and shorter to write.
    • No, plenty of people do use 'SF', perhap not in your circles though. This is a case of your not being familiar with the history of the genre, no offense meant, papaskunk. Actually, 'SF' was the main term used for the genre up until the time when the malapropism 'Sci-Fi' was coined by Forrest Ackerman. Sci-Fi as a term verbally analogous to 'Hi-Fi' is of course a lazy unthinking bastardization of language. Anyway, quite a few in the field with an ear for language use objected to 'Sci-Fi' but Gresham's Law se
  • Editorial quotes... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mhrmnhrm ( 263196 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:17AM (#11588119)
    Forget trying to read the very short sample... it hurts. The quotes at the end, however, are a hoot. All of them are things someone could easily say about a true masterpiece of any literary era. Verne, Asimov, Clarke, Hemingway, Chaucer, Homer... and coming to a bookstore near you, a genius named Travis Tea who will soon be storming the NYTimes bestseller list!
  • This book is better than any book ever written. It is better than any book that will ever be written in the future. And I haven't even read it yet.
  • Precedent (Score:5, Informative)

    by clem.dickey ( 102292 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:26AM (#11588142)
    An earlier effort by 25 Newsday staffers produced the 1969 best seller Naked Came the Stranger [].
  • by infonography ( 566403 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:26AM (#11588144) Homepage
    Good or bad doesn't matter. If you sync with their expectations you get published. Karma whores here have realised that. The Slashdot process is impartial to a degree and otherwise blind. The decline has encouraged Group Think and UNPOPULAR opinion is caught by the mechinism.

    Like here at slashdot there isn't a variety of styles mingling. One theory has won the darwinian battle and thus realising it they have gamed that system.

    Entropy is a law after all.

  • Vanity publishers (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dmala ( 752610 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:28AM (#11588149)
    I worked with a guy once who fancied himself a writer of love poetry. I thought it was pretty awful, saccharine stuff myself, but he had a couple of fans on some amateur poety website. Who was I to criticize?

    I always felt bad, though, because he put together a book and found some vanity publisher to publish it for him. He apparently didn't know how the publishing business worked, though, because he was convinced that he was being published for real, and that the book would be his ticket to fame and fortune. I remember him being very excited when they "accepted" his book, and would publish it as soon as he came up with $4000. He then started hitting up everyone he knew to "invest" in his book, which he was sure would be a bestseller. I never had the heart to explain to him that real publishers pay you when they put out your book.
  • by strider44 ( 650833 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:28AM (#11588150)
    This is an example of the brilliant hoax first devised by "Naked Came The Stranger []" (first link in Google), where a group of reporters wrote a book deliberately designed to be bad to show the crap and lack of taste that was coming out of the trashy romantic novel genre. At least 2 explicit sexual acts per chapter, the more deviant the better. Good writing and grammer were to be thoroughly sponged out of the book. They hired the sister of one of the writers I think to play the author and go around on TV shows saying rediculous stuff supposedly to promote the book.

    The funny thing was that the book was published and then became so popular and the money grew so much that they spilled their guts and told the world about the hoax.
  • preview (Score:3, Informative)

    by Opie812 ( 582663 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:30AM (#11588157)
    Whispering voices.
    Pain. Pain. Pain.
    Need pee--new pain--what are they sticking in me? . . .
    Whispering voices.
    "As you know, Nurse Eastman, the government spooks controlling this hospital will not permit me to give this patient the care I think he needs."
    "Yes, doctor." The voice was breathy, sweet, so sweet and sexy.
    "We will therefore just monitor his sign's. Serious trauma like this patient suffered requires extra care, but the rich patsies controlling the hospital will make certain I cannot try any of my new treatments on him."
    "Yes, doctor." That voice was soooo sexy! Bruce didn't care about treatments. He cared about pain, and he cared about that voice, because when he heard the voice, the pain went away, just for a few seconds, like.
    • Re:preview (Score:5, Funny)

      by Vampyre_Dark ( 630787 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:39AM (#11588193)
      Whispering voices.
      Pain. Pain. Pain.
      Need pee--new pain--what are they sticking in me? . . .
      Whispering voices.

      Woah.. slow down... is this a preview of the story, or a first hand account of reading the front page of Slashdot?
      • Re:preview (Score:3, Funny)

        by ocelotbob ( 173602 )
        No, it's the firsthand account of a server being slashdotted

        Whispering voices.

        The initial few; a mere trampling by a few hundred people, commenting amongst themselves before the story goes live to the masses

        Pain. Pain. Pain.
        Need pee &#151;new pain&#151; what are they sticking in me? . . .

        The slashdotting. Lots of people, the server is trampled into jelly


        until the admins pull the plug.

        Whispering voices.

        Afterwards, a few people looking at the site, some commenting, the se

    • Re:preview (Score:2, Funny)

      by Kufat ( 563166 )
      The last time I read something that bad, I was surrounded by Vogons.
      • Funny. The last time I read something that bad it was on Slashdot.

        Oh well, Slashdot, Vogons it's all the same.

        Except that on Slashdot you keep coming back for more. Addictive Vogon poetry. That will be the day :-|
    • Re:preview (Score:5, Funny)

      by starling ( 26204 ) <> on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:51AM (#11588225)
      We will therefore just monitor his sign's,

      Aieee!!! Feral apo'strophes. Oh noe's th'ey're spr'ead'ing !!!'!' G'et the'm o'ff!!''!'
      TH'E'Y'RE A'LI''V'E''''''''''''''''''''''

    • Re:preview (Score:3, Funny)

      by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )
      Dear sweet mother of God! That's so wretched!

      I've seen better writing from bad high school students. Though, on the flip side, it's likely on par with most of the romance novels out there.

      Oh, what suffering.
  • "Atlanta Nights" goes on to become the best selling novel of the year.

    You know how dumb the average american is, just remember, statistically, half of them are even dumber.
  • more information (Score:3, Informative)

    by jaiyen ( 821972 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:39AM (#11588192)
    The Washington Post also has a very interesting article on the likes of PublishAmerica at 05Jan20?language=printer
  • You'd think someone would have realized something was wrong with the pen name Travis Tea...
  • Here's the free blurb from the publisher:

    Atlanta Nights
    Travis Tea

    Chapter 1

    Whispering voices.
    Pain. Pain. Pain.
    Need pee--new pain--what are they sticking in me? . . .
    Whispering voices.
    "As you know, Nurse Eastman, the government spooks controlling this hospital will not permit me to give this patient the care I think he needs."
    "Yes, doctor." The voice was breathy, sweet, so sweet and sexy.
    "We will therefore just mon
  • coming soon (Score:3, Funny)

    by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @02:58AM (#11588249)
    I hear WB bought the rights to the stories and have hired Travolta.
  • When will they make the movie?
  • This could simply support my own theory that science fiction is like flan: there's no difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff.

    Actually, I'll amend that: reading nearly any science fiction is like eating flan, but reading Neal Stephenson is like eating flan from between Jennifer Connelly's breasts while you're high.
    • I'm not sure why, but I suddenly wish to visit the cafe section of my local Target store. I have also amassed a large collection of quarters. Can someone explain this???
    • > Actually, I'll amend that: reading nearly any science fiction is like eating flan, but reading Neal Stephenson is like eating flan from between Jennifer Connelly's breasts while you're high.

      Flan or flarn?

      Watching Star Trek is like eating flarn. Watching B5 is like eating flarn out from between Mira Furlann and Claudi*ahem*, uh, never mind. We have always eaten flarn.

  • by Sundroid ( 777083 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @03:14AM (#11588300) Homepage
    Associated Press has an article about it and points out: "Some writers organizations will not accept PublishAmerica authors or offer only limited memberships. Those organizations include the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the Mystery Writers of America and the Authors Guild, whose members include Stephen King and Scott Turow. The organization gets about 50 membership requests a year from PublishAmerica authors. All are rejected, said executive director Paul Aiken." Here is the link to the article:,1413,2 09~23371~2682604,00.html []
  • Sorry, Mr. Beckett, but you need a more coherent story.

    An alternative weekly sent [] stories by famous writers (Beckett, Garcia Marquez, Angela Carter) out to 20 literary magazines under different names. 12 were rejected and 8 got no reply. Choice quotes from the rejection letters:

    "Not quite, but it's a convincing bit of ventriloquism. I think the Beckett's a bit too loud, especially in the first two pages."


    "Musical writing; need a more coherent story."

  • I cannot see the point with this. It is difficult to write good literature. Everyone agrees on that. If it had been easy to say what's good in literature, everyone would have written master pieces. Here are some people who put a lot of effort into a book. Someone else realises that a lot of effort has been put in there, and that it is highly original. That the intent of the effort was to "be bad" was not obvious, because the writers simply did not know what "bad" was in the eyes of the reviewer. Your book
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rusty0101 ( 565565 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @04:01AM (#11588423) Homepage Journal
      The general concept is that people who write 'good' stories regularly, as well as journalists, editors, and posibly even critics, can at least recognize when something has been written poorly.

      It may be really bad use of the english language, consistently transposing the words 'to', 'too', and 'two'. It may be telling the story in one long paragraph, possibly with chapter marks every 2000 characters. There are many other possible indicators that a story is either written poorly, or is otherwise not worthy of the time necessary to read it, or for that matter spend money on it.

      The publication process, outside of vanity press, makes a very strong effort to weed out the stories that are submitted that carry those indicators. They know that if they print it, distribute it, and try to get book stores to sell it, they are going to have two things happen: Extreamly low sales, with high returns; and customers writing letters (to the publisher, newspapers, etc.) rightfully berating the publisher for letting the story see the light of day.

      If a writer deliberatly writes a bad story, gets it printed in a vanety press, then lets the public know that the vanity press is doing this sort of stuff, while claiming to be part of the legitimate publishing business, the publishing house pretty much deserves the reputation it is going to get.

      You can bet that the author has gone through 'The Elements of Grammar' and 'The Elements of Style', to make a concerted effort to violate every rule of writing they can. I suspect that they had some fun doing it as well.

      If they spent $10,000 in the process, I would suspect that to them it has roughly the value of a vacation to you or me.

      No I have no illusions that abiding by every rule from the 'Elements' collection insures a good story. Nor do I believe that violations are a sure indication of a poor story.



  • .pdf []

    Now can anyone tell us who the SF authors are?

  • by infonography ( 566403 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @04:09AM (#11588445) Homepage
    "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

    --Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

    Yes yes, karma-whoring again, go ahead and say it.
  • by eric76 ( 679787 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @04:30AM (#11588493)

    I'm surprised noone has brought up The Woodside Literary Agency.

    The Woodside Literary Agency spammed certain Usenet newsgroups looking for authors.

    For a fee, they would represent an author to get his work published.

    They apparently never met a manuscript they didn't like.

    So some of the participants in one of the misc.writing newsgroup had a contest to see if anyone could get a manuscript rejected.

    For example, see Even Hitler got the blues []

  • by Maniac47 ( 531490 ) on Sunday February 06, 2005 @09:49AM (#11589212) Homepage

    Yes, I am one of the thirty-odd writers who collectively make up "Travis Tea," a pseudonym (and a pun -- say it outloud). :-)

    Here is some background on this wacky collaborative sting project [] that we cobbled together.

    Several months ago, in response to a claim by a certain publisher that writers working in the SF/F genre believe it "does not require believable storylines" or "does not need believable every-day characters," genre writer James D. Macdonald [] got approximately 40 mostly science fiction and fantasy writers to cobble together an intentionally horrendous monstrosity of a novel (read it here as an FTP download in RTF [] and PDF [] format) and then submit it, in order to display the less than discriminating tastes of that same certain publisher in regard to the kind of work they accept for publication.

    Earlier last week, the sting has been revealed, the publisher fell for it (retracting the acceptance as soon as news spread, of course), and I proudly own up to having authored Chapter 13 of ATLANTA NIGHTS by Travis Tea [].

    Here's a bit of an excerpt from my chapter:

    "Actually, I think I am ready to order now," said Isadore, firmly ignoring it all, flipping back his red forelocks out of his face and beyond the back to where the bulk of the abundant and suggestive ponytail rested against his wide strongly utterly virile back -- a back that could do the beast with two backs so well, when one of the two backs came into question and under scrutiny (but the other back of course depended on the woman writhing with him, under him and on top of him ah, the beasts they would make!).

    Yes, you can even buy your own copy at [] to read for gut-wrenching hilarity and educational purposes (lessons on how not to write can be derived from the perusal of this book). Here is the stellar lineup of blurbs [] from the back cover. And that's just the ones that fit the back cover. There are twice as many additional blurbs inside the front matter of the book. Some of them are truly classic....

    I predict this will replace THE EYE OF ARGON [] as midnight panel reading material at science fiction conventions. This book, is purely and genuinely bad. So bad that it's great. In all seriousness, The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest [] should give it a special achievement prize. :-)

    For more detailed coverage, including a list of contributors, of the ATLANTA NIGHTS atrocity -- or should we say, travesty -- see the Cold Ground blog [], and Tor Books editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden's Making [] Light []. ..

    Also, looks like the LA Times has picked up the story [].


    Vera Nazarian

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.