MT VOID 02/16/96 (Vol. 14, Number 33)

MT VOID 02/16/96 (Vol. 14, Number 33)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 02/16/96 -- Vol. 14, No. 33

Table of Contents

Upcoming Meetings:

Unless otherwise stated, all meetings are in the Middletown cafeteria Wednesdays at noon.

  DATE                    TOPIC

(none scheduled)

Outside events:
The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-933-2724 for details. The New Jersey Science Fiction Society meets on the third Saturday of every month in Belleville; call 201-432-5965 for details.

MT Chair:        Mark Leeper   MT 3F-434  908-957-5619
HO Chair:        John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  908-957-5087
HO Co-Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  908-949-7076
MT Librarian:    Mark Leeper   MT 3F-434  908-957-5619
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
                 Rob Mitchell  MT 2D-536  908-957-6330
Factotum:        Evelyn Leeper MT 1F-337  908-957-2070
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

Gregor Samsa

When I was growing up I very much used to enjoy certain themed anthologies, particularly those edited by Groff Conklin. Ones that come particularly to mind are his SCIENCE FICTION ADVENTURES IN DIMENSION and INVADERS OF EARTH, and Clifton Fadiman's FANTASIA MATHEMATICA and THE MATHEMATICAL MAGPIE. These days I don't care so much for theme anthologies. Occasionally when I used to read anthologies I would find one or two stores would be ones I had read before, but often they were worth rereading or could be skipped. Then I started finding anthologies in which all the stories were original and that allowed me to avoid the minor problem of repeating of familiar stories. These days, however, things have swept in the other direction and I will rarely spend time and money on a themed anthology of original stories. I want stories that are reprinted from elsewhere.

What I think is happening is that somebody gets the idea that people would buy an anthology of alternate history Elvis Presley stories goes out and commissions a bunch of such stories. Once the editor has requested such a story he or she needs darn good cause to reject it. After all, if it does not make it to the anthology that author really cannot sell it any place else. First, there just was a whole anthology of stories written about alternate history Presley stories so the public who would be interested in the subject is probably glutted with them, and also it is relatively obvious that this story was commissioned for the anthology and rejected or why else was the author writing on the subject. So it would not pay authors to write for theme anthologies unless it is pretty darn sure the stories will be accepted regardless of quality.

In addition, it is a lot easier to write a story on an idea of your own choosing. An author may be full of interesting ideas but may have only the most mediocre and dull ideas on a concept as uninspiring as alternate histories of Elvis Presley. Nevertheless, that is where the money is and the story is unlikely to be rejected because it is just not very entertaining. So an Elvis Presley alternate history is what is written. The result is that we get a lot of what I find to be dull anthologies. I find when I read these anthologies, more often than not I have checked at some point what is the final page number of the story and increasingly I am aware how many pages off that is. When I get there what I feel is more relief that I got there than excitement about what was in the story. It is, in fact, very difficult for me to imagine what could be exciting about an Elvis Presley alternate history and reading such an anthology generally does not answer that question.

Evelyn can seemingly read no end of stories as long as they are on a certain set of topics that she finds exciting, such a alternate history, Sherlock Holmes, etc. I probably have a list of topics like that, but I find that I have a very narrow band of stories that I will unconditionally read based on subject matter. And certainly most of the theme anthologies that are coming out now are nowhere near my narrow band. Now if someone would do an anthology of interesting mathematical ideas, maybe something like the old FANTASIA MATHEMATICA, that would interest me. But I can't see that happening. The field of mathematical stories has been left to Rudy Rucker and an increasingly limited set of authors. I have an advanced reading copy of a set of stories set during the invasion from WAR OF THE WORLDS and I may give that a try and get back to you. I do like the Wells novel. But thinking about that led me to also think about why I was so reluctant to start a book that fifteen years ago would have excited my interest. I will get back to you. Now I guess I have committed myself to reading the book. [-mrl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   MT 3F-434 908-957-5619

Quote of the Week:

     The better the radio reception, the more religious
     the station.
                                   -- Richard Kosterlitz