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February 8, 2005

Confession
Posted by Teresa at 01:24 PM * 81 comments

Okay, okay. I wrote Chapter 15 of Atlanta Nights. It’s one of the two chapters (the other is 12b) that were written from the same chunk of outline, the one in which Yvonne Perrin and Richard Isaacs wind up shagging each other at Callie Archer and Bruce Lucent’s wedding reception. Incidentally, the wedding is recapped in detail by one of the characters in Chapter 14, so there are actually three non-matching accounts of the same occasion.

Don’t get your hopes up. Chapter 15 is not awash in joyful errors. In fact, it’s the one chapter in the book that’s written in something resembling standard English, though Jim Macdonald did throw in a bunch of formatting errors plus a typo or two, just to keep it from looking like it belonged in a different book. I figured it would confuse the issue.

But that wasn’t the whole of my intent. What’s the matter with my chapter? Everything. Bear in mind that I don’t write fiction; I edit it. Chapter 15 may be written in passable commercial prose, but it sheds no light, tells no stories, leads nowhere, says nothing that hasn’t been said before, and in general has no damned reason to exist.

I see a lot of books like that.

And now for something completely different: a bit of Chapter 7!
The sun broke through the clouds then its brilliant golden disk burning a hole through the great puffs of water vapor to send a shaft of golden light zigzagging down through the layers of atmosphere and warm the earth in a way that no sunlight since the beginning of time had ever warmed the earth before. Somewhere a child was being born. Somewhere a dog was barking. Life was going on but in this one moment at this particular place in time and space. The two beautiful women, one twisting her hair into knots, the other sittings sideways, were not part of it. They were here only for each other and for the memory of a great man who had walked the earth like a rock in the sand. Life is like that sometimes, thought Margaret helplessly.
Comments on Confession:
#1 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 03:15 PM:

Vicki, you're the fastest gun in the Wikipedia.

#2 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 03:41 PM:

Given said description of the chapter's faults, I may just have to get out there and acquire the e-book version. These are the things we all strive to avoid and yet are the qualities that are often the most difficult to see in our own work; such a concrete example could lead to invaluable insights.

I haven't been able to keep up with both of the previous threads...has anyone announced an intention to use the book as an instructional tool?

#3 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 03:43 PM:

Yes, there have been queries about using the book as an instructional tool. Sean Fodera is handling sub-rights.

#4 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 03:58 PM:

I checked my status at Lulu.com and according to the USPS site, my copy of the book may well be waiting for me when I get home.

#5 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 04:07 PM:

It calls to mind the brief fad for "anti-patterns" in programming - careful delineations of how to botch your work.

Sadly they never lived up to their promise, but perhaps the literary equivalent will work better. Certainly, I've been reading Atlanta Nights, and I think I've learnt a little something about extraneous information which doesn't advance a scene. Having now seen it in it's primal form, I feel sensitised to it's more mundane occurences in Critters stories.

#6 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 04:11 PM:

"Whatís the matter with my chapter? Everything. [It] may be written in passable commercial prose, but it sheds no light, tells no stories, leads nowhere, says nothing that hasnít been said before, and in general has no damned reason to exist."

Teresa, do you mind if I print that out and tape it to my computer?

#7 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 04:37 PM:

Is anyone going to be selling copies at Boskone? I'm trying to decide if I'm too poor to go (really, I am), but the chance of picking up Atlanta Nights and possibly a couple of autographs in it could be enough to get me to scrounge for loose change in the couch cushions to see if I can supplement my funds enough to make the trip...

#8 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 04:37 PM:

My friends and I are trying to decide if this one is a similar attempt at parody, but I'm rather afraid that it's not. The About the Author blurb, though, is at least as amusing as it is depressing.

#9 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 06:09 PM:

Gadzooks. That's awful.

And here's the author...

"Lookit me! I write teh sexy soopernatral novells!"

#10 ::: ben ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 06:38 PM:

I've not been paying enough attention to who wrote what, so. please let the author of Chapter 7 know that his (her?) copy is deliciously bad.

I just finished dinner. That paragraph made a terrific dessert. Wow.

#11 ::: Sara E. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 06:41 PM:

So, what made you decide to come clean about which chapter you wrote? I thought you were going to make us all continue to guess.

#12 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 06:42 PM:

Sqwid --

You owe me a new set of eyeballs and about eighty five cc of replacement forebrain.

May I move the company assembled to adopt as terminology "id vortex lobotomy"? Is there a second?

#13 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 07:11 PM:

"Life is like that sometimes, thought Margaret helplessly. Life is like that sometimes, thought Margaret helplessly."

Books are like that sometimes, thought Madeleine helplessly. Fortunately, not often.

#14 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 07:15 PM:

An instructional tool...

I wonder if any instructor would be cruel enough to present it without saying that it's deliberately bad - and if any student would be brave enough to say that it's terrible.

#15 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 07:15 PM:
So, what made you decide to come clean about which chapter you wrote? I thought you were going to make us all continue to guess.

Well, she was getting cornered, if nothing else: Only 3 of 40 chapters were left unclaimed by the time she 'fessed up.

#16 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 07:43 PM:

Hey, Atlanta Nights was accepted for publication on December 7th? Someone somewhere had a sense of humor.

#17 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 08:08 PM:

On hindsight, it was probably a mistake to read The Da Vinci Code only two days after finishing Atlanta Nights.

Oy. My brain still hurts.

#18 ::: Rob Callahan ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 08:52 PM:

I have to know. Is the typical aspiring author's manuscript really this bad?

Do people who write like this actually entertain the notion that they are talented or gifted storytellers?

Please tell me you lot exaggerated fiercly just to make PA look that much worse when they printed it.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 09:16 PM:

Ray, the corner wasn't quite that tight. Some of the attributions on Darryl's list were wrong.

Regarding Miss Angelina Robinson: Something's unnatural there. Could be she's had some ribs removed, but I think she's been playing with PhotoShop. Start by tracing the path of her spine. Note its improbability.

Next, take a copy of the image, open it in a graphics program, and zoom in on her hips. See her hands? Those are hard to fake. So's the position of her arms. Also, if the hands were ginned up, they wouldn't look ten years older than the adjacent skin. So, assuming those are her real hands, they give us a pretty good idea of the breadth of her pelvis. I've never seen a human being who curved in that tightly from that narrow a breadth of hip.

Still looking at the hands and hips. Notice that the hands are significantly less brown than the skin on her abdomen. That's extremely unlikely. Your hands always get more sun than your bellybutton. It might be paler than your hands, but it isn't going to be more tanned.

The areas of flesh below her hands are a plausible color, and the skin tone looks about right for the apparent age of her hands and face. It's possible that someone else's midsection has been patched in. This might explain the slightly high position of her navel.

Getting a little less positive now. Look at the shadow along her ribs, just below the border of her sweater on your right/her left. It's a hard-to-account-for shade of red. If you're working in PhotoShop, a sample of it comes up spproximately C35/M84/Y77/K45. If you select Color Range under Sample, degree of fuzziness around 50, you wind up selecting a lot of edges and shadows that are likely areas for retouching. What you don't get are shadows in places like the folds of her sweater.

Finally, if you follow the probable line of those ribs up under the sweater, the point at which it intersects with the lower edge of her breast implies a remarkable combination of firmness and cup size.

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 09:27 PM:

Rob Callahan, Atlanta Nights isn't worse than the average slush. In general it's better than the slush it's trying to imitate. The writers make the errors they intend, but wherever they aren't paying attention, their good habits kick in.

#21 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 09:39 PM:

Even without putting that photo into photoshop, you can see that her left leg is too large to be attached properly to her hip. In fact, the whole left side of her body is just slightly off kilter, like it's either 2% larger than the rest of her body or simply at an improbable angle, like a half assed attempt at photo-cubism. It's hard to tell with that sweater but I'd wager money that her chest is also at the wrong angle to be properly biological.

All I have to say about her cheekbones is that she should sue her plastic surgeon.

#22 ::: Murph ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 09:40 PM:

I of course pulled the attributions from what people fessed up to at SFF Net. I'll soon do a correction, but I just drove for 8 hours and think I'll go walk the dog and then put my feet up.

Derryl

#23 ::: Gryphon ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 10:00 PM:

Sorry if this is a little off topic, but does arabian nights remind anybody of robert jordan's latest novel, Crossroads of Twilight?

Is ANYBODY editing that guy anymore?

#24 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 10:05 PM:

Also, the lock of hair flowing over her bosom is a mismatch in both length and color. While the shorter length would be about right for grown-out bangs, it seems to be rooted somewhere behind her ear instead of over her forehead.

#25 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 10:12 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden writes:

> Atlanta Nights isn't worse than the average slush. In general it's better than the slush it's trying to imitate. The writers make the errors they intend, but wherever they aren't paying attention, their good habits kick in.

Atlanta Nights, for all it's many sins, lacks the most important attribute of bad writing: it doesn't suck all the energy away from the reader's body, leaving them dull and listless.

#26 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 01:12 AM:

LOL, Steve. "Atlanta Nights, it doesn't suck?" Leading to the odd question: does slush suck because it's written by vampires?

(Way too fuzzy-minded & depressed tonight; the editors must have already gone to sleep.)

#27 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 08:04 AM:

On a side note, whenever I see you all refer to "PA", I automatically think of "Penny Arcade", the riotously funny, vulgar, and dada-ist webcomic.

The proper link for Penny Arcade is:
www.penny-arcade.com, which gets you the blog, not the comic. (Note that the language is sometimes not safe for work.) A sample of their demented comic, proper can be found
here

or
here
(I read blogs about webcomics every morning, and since PA is so very popular, I see it abbreviated as such constantly.)

#28 ::: Paul Arezina ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 08:09 AM:

Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 have known this for a long, long time: movies, books, or any form of entertainment can be _enjoyably_ bad. What's really dangerous is blandness. A technically competent movie with no soul in it is far, far more sucky than a B-movie shot with visible wires and boom mikes and a shag-carpet monster - but produced on the whole with enthusiasm.

#29 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 09:17 AM:

Please, please, please say the "Fanfic" section on the Travis Tea homepage isn't just some cruel joke. The songfic and crossover possibilities alone are simply -- breathtaking.

(And now I have a horrible image of a Travis Tea fandom developing its own beta readers and prestige archives, with a daily TravisTeaSues report on LiveJournal....)

#30 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 09:35 AM:

Janra wrote:

I wonder if any instructor would be cruel enough to present it without saying that it's deliberately bad - and if any student would be brave enough to say that it's terrible.

An English professor of mine assigned The Bridges of Madison County at the end of the semester. My group was assigned a presentation on it before the professor had lectured on it at all. We met, looked at each other, said "Can she really think this is good?" and decided that no, she couldn't. We did our project on how it was the antithesis of everything we'd studied that year, and we made an A.

Atlanta Nights is WAY more obvious than Bridges.

...on second thought, maybe only a little.

#31 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 10:18 AM:

Rhandir, I do the same thing almost every time, but then I also read SF as San Francisco 2/3rds of the time, at least, and I've never even been there.

Teresa, I'd noticed some of the same image defects but didn't quite feel comfortable pointing them out given some of the...less than polite hypothesizing about what the appearance of the author might be that a friend of mine and I made.

Gryphon, while I'm not so sure about Arabian Nights ;-), I think there might be a certain resemblance to pieces of Atlanta Nights...I'm thinking of one chapter in particular in which no light is shed, no relevant story is told, nothing goes anywhere, nothing new is said, and no reason for existing is evident.

OTOH, whom he's edited by might be a sore spot in this neighbourhood...

#32 ::: Tealuvr ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 10:42 AM:

OMG!!!! i heard u guys were talking about Travis Tea and ATALANTA NITES and i wanted to say that i heard that TRAVIS TEA IS JOS WEATON!!!!!! YES!!!!!!! But UPn wont let him say so because they own the rites to his name but i love jos so i will tell every body for him! I LUV U JOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#33 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 10:57 AM:

Steve Taylor wrote:

> Atlanta Nights, for all it's many sins,

This was either a slip of the finger or a very clever joke. ;p

#34 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 11:36 AM:

"JOS WEATON"

This would be the love child of Wil and Joss, I suppose?

Curse you, Tealuvr, for making me go there!

*shudder*

#35 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 12:46 PM:

Chapter 7 is Adam-Troy Castro's. (I tried putting in a link to his website, but it's blocked by our corporate firewall, so I can't confirm that it works.)

Teresa: I read the book on vacation, and certainly thought that it sucked the life out of my body at least one afternoon (of the three it took).

#36 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 12:50 PM:

Rhandir, I would be glad if 'PA' brought Penny Arcade to mind. Sadly, what I wind up thinking of whenever I see the abbreviation 'PA' is a particular body-piercing known as the 'Prince Albert'. Don't google for that at work, folks, or if there are easily-shocked aunts in the room. Suffice to say that it's a piercing that only a male can get, okay?

#37 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 12:51 PM:

I can't find Miss Robinson's picture on the Author House page. Am I missing a link or did someone out there remove it before I woke up this morning? Perhaps in response to comments here?

#38 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 12:54 PM:

I'm not sure I'd use Atlanta Nights in a writing or literature class, except as possibly an example of parody, and that's kind of iffy.

I used to teach using examples of what not to do, but I think it's better to teach from the positive than the negative. I'd especially avoid negative examples in writing classes; some of us seem to learn, without meaning to, to copy the negative examples. As a case in point, once I started teaching basic and remedial composition classes, reading around a hundred student papers a week, I started seeing it's and its used incorrectly more often than I saw them used correctly--and started sometimes missusing them myself [cringe]. I'd not confused them previously. I learned a bad habit. I've since discovered similar bad habits were learned by my peers in the paper grading trenches.

I no longer use negative exmples to teach with.

#39 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 12:54 PM:

Gryphon, that is indeed off-topic, but since you ask, I'll tell you that books by Jim Rigney/Robert Jordan are edited at every step of the way. Rigney is married to a very talented editor, Harriet McDougal, who's worked for Tor since approximately the dawn of time. To quote Beth Meacham, Harriet McDougal has forgotten more about editing than most editors ever know. I'll add that Harriet is not especially forgetful.

This arrangement is the source of Tom Doherty's line about Tor having Robert Jordan under 24-hour editorial surveillance.

This comment should not be taken as an invitation to ask a bunch of further questions about Robert Jordan.

#40 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 01:48 PM:

Lisa Spangenberg:

Teaching through negative examples is a methodology that my wife and I have both found effective in the classroom. I also tell students that I make a lot of mistakes myself, orally, in hand-outs, and at the blackboard/whiteboard. I encourage them to correct me, which they enjoy doing. Only twice have I been accused of a Machiavellian intent to make mistakes on purpose in order to provoke classroom response. I confessed that I don't need to do so. The point is to be unafraid of finding mistakes in one's own writing, and in that of others, and to welcome constructive criticism.

"missusing" might be edited to "Ms.-using?"

#41 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 01:54 PM:

Suffice to say that it's a piercing that only a male can get, okay?

Along the lines of what Pigafetta was amazed at when he got to meet the Philippine natives?

#42 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 01:56 PM:
Rhandir, I would be glad if 'PA' brought Penny Arcade to mind. Sadly, what I wind up thinking of whenever I see the abbreviation 'PA' is a particular body-piercing known as the 'Prince Albert'. Don't google for that at work, folks, or if there are easily-shocked aunts in the room. Suffice to say that it's a piercing that only a male can get, okay?

Clearly an overhaul of the old phone gag about "Prince Albert in the can" is called for, but I don't feel equal to the task myself.

#43 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 02:15 PM:

As I understand it, women can in fact get something conceptually similar to a Prince Albert, but it's called a "Marilyn Monroe."

Jason: the picture isn't on the Author House site, it's on the Pulse Weekly site linked to by Ben.

#44 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Lisa, I'd be open to the use of judiciously chosen bad examples that illustrate specific issues.

At a writers' conference in Boulder I once got to hear a couple of the organizers improvise a long exchange consisting entirely of the kind of bad dialogue that exists only to set up background information necessary to the story. They were wicked. I laughed so hard I had trouble breathing.

I'd happily play a videotape of their conversation for the benefit of writing students. Someone who can't yet spot the falseness of shorter or better-disguised specimens of such dialogue might well be enlightened by seeing it laid on with a trowel.

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 03:06 PM:

Clearly an overhaul of the old phone gag about "Prince Albert in the can" is called for, but I don't feel equal to the task myself.

As I've often said, there aren't enough condoms in the world.

#46 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 04:40 PM:

Try to remember to take your jewelry off before snowmobiling. The ER staff will thank you.

#47 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 06:16 PM:

The crowd: "I are Travis Tea!"
"No, I are Travis!"
"Me, me are Travis!"

Crassus (Lord Olivier carrying on his posthumous film career): "Look, people, all I want is some autographs."

#48 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 06:23 PM:

Thanks, Metal. Must've kept scrolling right by that one. Yes, that is indeed a very retouched picture. Very, very retouched.

#49 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 06:34 PM:

Looking at those photographs on the Pulse site, there's definitely seomething odd about them. And they don't quite look like professional-quality photographs. That one with the white top, and the black background is terrible, The model's hair vanishes, and whatever she has on her right wrist makes that vanish too.

And some "glamour" pics I've seen over the years have quite bizarre posing.

#50 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 08:34 PM:

Daniel wrote:

>> Atlanta Nights, for all it's many sins,

> This was either a slip of the finger or a very clever joke. ;p

Third alternative: I couldn't punctuate to save my life. And now I've been publically shamed :(

#51 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 10:00 PM:

Would the HQ (Virtual) of the Travis Tea Fan Club be the Travis Tea Room, on Travis Street (a bit north of the Texas Historic Landmark of Magnolia House - I can see a chapter or two set there if they move outside Atlanta) in Cameron, county seat of Milam County, Texas?

#52 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 11:59 PM:

Obviously it must be the Travis Tea Party. Division of the membership into Mad Hatters, March Hares, and Dormice is left as an exercise to others.

#53 ::: sGreer ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 02:50 AM:

I'd say something about the pulseweekly image--probably along the lines of "not hard to do, start with cut/paste the left side, and move slightly to the right, while skewing inward, and then merge as needed, with slight fade"--but I think my brain broke somewhere about two paragraphs into the author's biography. Because, of course, when I am published, I too will include my entire life story and family tree, with many sordid details like my father's arrest in that case with the vacuum cleaner. I'm looking forward to it. I plan to change my date of birth, location, and mother's maiden name according to the tides, my mood, and proximity to ambient light.

But man, I've read fanfiction better than this:

Running down from the stage, my mind exploding with anticipation, I feel his undying heart beat through my soul as never before. Passing Raven in a wind of silence, I leave her standing there. Her screaming inquiries of my destination fall upon deaf ears, as I fail to respond.

Okay, who brought this up again, why did I click on it, and is there soap strong enough to wash out my eyeballs?

#54 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 05:25 AM:

Steve:

Not so much publically shamed as publically proven honest. You COULD have taken my "very clever joke" forward pass and turned it into a "see, that's how clever I am" goal, but instead you came clean.

There are quite a bunch of its/it's mistakes in AN, and I cringe and groan with pleasure each time I spot one. I do tend to spot that kind of mistake; probably an advantage that comes with English being a second language to me. If you have to actually *study* that stuff, you're more likely to find phonetic faults. But I'm now seriously terrified by what Lisa said: what if AN rubs off on me?

#55 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 08:02 AM:

Steve: I believe I've had the pleasure of editing your work, and I don't concede at all that you lack punctuational wherewithal

#56 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 08:50 AM:

Whoever Photoshopped the picture must have run short on time: They forgot to paste in the pole.

#57 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 09:15 AM:

Obviously it must be the Travis Tea Party.
Set in Boston Harbor I presume?

#58 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 09:59 AM:

They forgot to paste in the pole.

Why _does_ everyone forget about Poland? Oops, sorry, wrong thread. :)

#59 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 11:17 AM:

That quote featuring Raven *obliges* me to give one quatrain from the illustrious Sir Richard Blackmore (as cited in Pope's mock essay-with-examples "Peri Bathous", which I mentioned in the previous "Nights" thread). It's a description of Hell from the epic poem "Job" -- minus the original italics, alas.

In flaming Heaps the raging Ocean rolls,
Whose livid Waves involve despairing Souls;
The liquid Burnings dreadful Colours shew,
Some deeply red, and others faintly blue.

Almost enough to make me seek out Sir Richard's "Job" and "Prince Arthur" in their full (um) glory?

#60 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 01:03 PM:

Xopher: Ouch. A belated ouch. Big ouch.

#61 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 05:07 PM:

In related news, Dave Langford reports (at http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/SF-Archives/Ansible/a211.html ) that the missing pages of Jim Theis' "The Eye of Argon" -- arguably the world's worst fantasy story -- have been found!

The librarian who found the complete manuscript reports that "the long-missing Page 49 begins: `With a sloshing plop the thing fell to the ground, evaporating in a thick scarlet cloud until it reatained its original size.' "

The incomplete "Eye of Argon" can be read here:
http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/SF-Archives/Misc/eyeargon.html

Enjoy... he he he! Ha, ha, ha! MUA HA HA HAAA... *cough* *hack*

-A.R.Yngve


#62 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 05:35 PM:

Not all that we hunger for is lost:

I gaze upon him with little fear, even though my eyes swell with tears, which transform into perfectly-shaped scarlet emeralds, as they fall from many faucets to the ground, dancing upon the stone.

#63 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 05:41 PM:

about the author picture: does it bother anyone else that what appears to be the bottom of her ribcage is peeking out from under her sweater on the side and it doesn't continue to the front of her body?

#64 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 05:46 PM:

A.R.Yngve: In related news, ...

Honest, I didn't know Yngve had posted that. I had loaded the page up to Laura's ouch, and when the "Free Preview" stirred strange resonances in my fanboy brane, I forgot to refresh before posting. Perhaps Yngve was also posting under the influence of emeralds.

#65 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 06:09 PM:

julia: about the author picture: does it bother anyone else that what appears to be the bottom of her ribcage is peeking out from under her sweater on the side and it doesn't continue to the front of her body?

Not too much. If I could tell "bottom of ribcage" from "cropped flab" I might find it unsettling. No, what bothers me is the idea that someone sliced off her hips. Even in Photoshop, that makes me wince.

#66 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 09:50 PM:

Jonathan Shaw wrote:

> Steve: I believe I've had the pleasure of editing your work, and I don't concede at all that you lack punctuational wherewithal

I can only assume that you're a time traveller from the future, and that one day I actually will get around to submitting something!

#67 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2005, 10:37 PM:

Daniel wrote:

> But I'm now seriously terrified by what Lisa said: what if AN rubs off on me?

I actually do worry about this. If I read enough bad writing in one go I can feel my brain start to shrink. Unfortunately, I don't feel the opposite effect with good writing.

#68 ::: JMKagan ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 12:30 AM:

Bad br-
eak! Ba-
d br-
eak!!
Oh, gawd, make it stop! Make it *stop!!!*
Janet K

#69 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 01:58 AM:

Steve Taylor: Either I have time-travelled in my sleep and now I'm awake, or there's another Steve Taylor living in Melbourne, and that one writes witty plays for performance by children. Probably the latter, sadly.

#70 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 04:32 AM:

Steve Taylor:

"It calls to mind the brief fad for 'anti-patterns' in programming - careful delineations of how to botch your work."

This relates to BEBUGGING. In that methodology, you put a known number of certain kinds of bugs in a system and see how many you can find by debugging. This stacking-the-deck for retro-blue-pencilling turned out to be less than wildly successful.

A. R. Yngve:

The Dave Langford report on the missing pages of Jim Theis' "The Eye of Argon" elates to a longer version of that story in The New York Review of Science Fiction. I am a card carrying journalist (National Writers Union), and my Mom had a B.A. in Englist Lit with a minor in journalism, magna cum laude, but reasonable minds may differ...

Remembering Stan and Ollie by Phil Drake, Staff Writer, Pasadena Star-News
"Later, Sheryl Busterno poked fun at me. As I was talking to another person she rushed up and screamed: 'Watch it, he's no journalist! He's an imposter!'"

"'Get in line, lady,' I shot back. 'My boss has been saying that for years.'"

#71 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 08:20 AM:

A.R Yngve proclaimed:

The incomplete "Eye of Argon" can be read here:
http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/SF-Archives/Misc/eyeargon.html
.

As of this morning, thanks to the arrival of the February NYRSF and its reprint of the long-lost finale, that can be amended to "complete". Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.

("... the weary, scarred barbarian trooted slowly off into the horizon ...")

Dave

#72 ::: A.R..Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 09:31 AM:

The horror... the horror...

-A.R.Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com

#73 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 02:44 PM:

Julia: you're right! I missed that. And somehow being able to see that allows me to also see that the little splotch of shadow just below the center of her sweater ribbing ought to line up with her navel, and doesn't.

Faren, when it comes to bad writing, Pope usually has the last word, and sometimes has it several times over—though of course we all imagine that he addresses the sins of writers other than ourselves.

For the present occasion I'd choose "The Necessity For Bad Poetry"—

FARTHERMORE, it were great Cruelty and Injustice, if all such Authors as cannot write in the other Way, were prohibited from writing at all. Against this, I draw an Argument from what seems to me an undoubted Physical Maxim, That Poetry is a natural or morbid Secretion from the Brain. As I would not suddenly stop a Cold in the Head, or dry up Neighbour's Issue, I would as little hinder him from necessary Writing. It may be affirmed with great truth, that there is hardly any human Creature past Childhood, but at one time or other has had some Poetical Evacuation, and no question was much the better for it in his Health; so true is the Saying, Nascimur Poetæ: Therefore is the Desire of Writing properly termed Pruritus, the Titillation of the Generative Faculty of the Brain; and the Person is said to conceive; Now such as conceive must bring forth. I have known a Man thoughtful, melancholy, and raving for divers days, but forthwith grow wonderfully easy, lightsome and cheerful, upon a Discharge of the peccant Humour, in exceeding purulent Metre.
And of course his "Essay on Criticism":
Of all the Causes which conspire to blind
Man's erring Judgment, and misguide the Mind,
What the weak Head with strongest Byass rules,
Is Pride, the never-failing Vice of Fools.
Whatever Nature has in Worth deny'd,
She gives in large Recruits of needful Pride;
For as in Bodies, thus in Souls, we find
What wants in Blood and Spirits, swell'd with Wind;
Pride, where Wit fails, steps in to our Defence,
And fills up all the mighty Void of Sense!
If once right Reason drives that Cloud away,
Truth breaks upon us with resistless Day;
Trust not your self; but your Defects to know,
Make use of ev'ry Friend—and ev'ry Foe.
Aside from observing that these hold for prose as well as poetry, I can't improve on either of them.

#74 ::: Jackmormon ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 06:11 PM:

As scary as those pictures are, this sentence, um, concerns me more:

It concerns me to be mere flesh and blood, set down upon the plate from which he will dine and sustain his thirsting presence for one nightlonger.

#75 ::: Steve Burnett ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 10:50 PM:

"Nightlonger" = "one who longs for the the night". It is a vampire novel, after all.

#76 ::: Steve Burnett ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 10:53 PM:

Ahem. The "the the" in my last comment should be interpreted merely as sloppy typing on my part, and not a clever reference to the 80s band. Thank you.

#77 ::: Bruce Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2005, 12:56 PM:

This discussion of Angelina Robinson's close encounter with Photoshop reminds me of a book cover for a foreign edition of a well known SF novel by a respected author in the field. Since that edition came out she's never been reprinted in the country it was sold in, and she uses her copy to win "my cover's the worst ever drawn" contests with other writers.

The best way I can describe it is that the cover artist did a brava job of drawing a woman despite the fact that he'd never seen one and was working off a a description via telephone. I mean, at least the misguided Gothic cover for Conjure Wife which was my previous standard for bad covers had a woman that was clearly the same species as the heroine.

I find the hips the most disturbing: for them to line up with the rest of the body when she's on her side in beach sand like that her spine would have to be snapped in two about nine inches above the tailbone and displaced three inches to the left.

And no, I'm not going to give the author, the book, or the edition. And Tom, no fair guessing! You've seen more mutant SF editions from around the world than anyone I know of and might actually have a copy...

#78 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2005, 08:00 PM:

Jonathan Shaw wrote:

> Steve Taylor: Either I have time-travelled in my sleep and now I'm awake, or there's another Steve Taylor living in Melbourne, and that one writes witty plays for performance by children. Probably the latter, sadly.

I prefer the time travel theory. I really do.

I haven't encountered the playwright Steve Taylor in my ego-surfing - just bunch of other programmers, a christian musician and a motivational speaker. All in all it sounds like he's lifting the tone a bit.

#79 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2005, 02:36 PM:

I'm so envious. If there were another Teresa Nielsen Hayden, I could blame her for particularly irresponsible posts in online forums.

#80 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 12:29 AM:

I'm so envious. If there were another Teresa Nielsen Hayden, I could blame her for particularly irresponsible posts in online forums.

Why not do it anyway? Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence...

#81 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2005, 02:52 PM:

There is another Seth Blumberg, living in the same city as me.

However, I think I'm the one he blames for irresponsible online postings.

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