Thursday, January 9, 2014

Proposal for an sf writers' strike

Though I know I have no authority whatsoever with which to make this proposal, nevertheless: I propose that all sf writers should go on strike, effective immediately. I don't mean that they should stop writing, or even that they should stop submitting what they write to publishers and magazines.

Instead, they should all immediately stop writing, and certainly stop submitting what the publishers and magazines want. Imagine it: all the big science fiction publishers suddenly find themselves without a single bloated first volume of a trilogy in their submissions piles, without a single plucky teen protagonist, without a single paranormal police procedural. What would they publish? When none of the publishers have even a single thing they know they want to publish before they even receive it, what will they do? Why, they'll have to publish something they didn't want to publish, or stop operating entirely.

Or imagine: one day, all of a sudden, maybe even today, all of the online sf magazines stop receiving stories with hooky single-sentence opening paragraphs.* What would they publish then?

*That last one technically doesn't count but I had to include it because in a way it's even MORE what I'm talking about than the rest.

UPDATE: On Twitter @waterandfruit pointed out to me that the majority of the stories I link to in my final complaint are written by women. First off I want to straight-up apologize for that. My "method" was just to pick the most recent story at each magazine that met the criterion (and in no case did I have to back far to find one!); I didn't even look at the stories themselves or who wrote them. I should have thought to, though, because coincidence (or, as @waterandfruit speculated, possibly the greater pressure on women to conform and pigeonhole themselves) led to the sample being heavily skewed. I also want to clarify that I'm not by any means complaining about the specific stories linked, most of which I haven't read, or even saying that no good story can start this way. I'm just complaining about the current ubiquity of that specific way of opening.

No comments: