Improbable Journeys -- Robert Reed Interview

Aug 8, 00:57 by IROSF
Comment below!
Aug 8, 07:18 by Samantha Lynn
I think you don't have as many seventeen-year-olds writing

I'd suspect because nowadays they're online writing fanfiction, rather than alone in their own heads with the original stuff. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as such, just don't take absence of evidence as evidence of absence...
Aug 8, 07:34 by Bluejack
Possibly, although I think that with many more people writing, the professionalization of the major publishing venues, and a generally higher bar it's the exceptional teen who is actually ready with fiction for the main markets.

There are tons of web zines for original material, it's a thriving hobbyist market. But if you wade into those waters you will find parallels to the "old days": great ideas in rough literary vehicles without much in the way of life experience to inform the psychology or persuasive humanity of the characters.

As we know--rare genius aside--what makes a great author is generally practice and experience. Encouraged by "success" many of science fiction's big names have an awful lot of early dreck to account for. These days promising writers with their juvenile dreck simply don't get the encouragement and fall by the wayside. It's cool to see your name on a web-zine, but everyone knows that's play stuff.
Aug 9, 15:27 by Nader Elhefnawy
Great interview, Mr. Zinos-Amaro, with plenty of interesting questions-and plenty of interesting answers, and well worth reading even if your contact with Reed's stuff has been limited in the past.

As to the 17-year old issue: it certainly seems fewer authors have publications from that time of life in their bios the way Isaac Asimov and Robert Howard did, for instance, "breaking in" coming in later (certainly outside the "hobbyist" market).

And I agree that a big part of that is the shrinkage of the short fic market (e.g. fewer opportunities to get "pro" recognition), with all the implications of this for a "winnowing process." Additionally, when career=novels (as Richard Morgan recently advised aspiring authors), "getting there" will take still longer, making the loss of the encouragement that could have kept them going along the way (Charles Stross wrote very well about the role getting your short fic published can play in this in the intro to the new Wireless collection) all the more costly.

Put another way: having the chance to get some mileage out of the "juvenile dreck" that just about everyone's got lying around somewhere (even Shakespeare had Titus Andronicus) does a lot to foster careers, the same way that apprenticeships, internships and entry-level jobs do in other fields.
Aug 9, 22:21 by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Blue: Agree about the "generally higher bar" and some of the other forces you describe.

I think the level of pro HAS changed, and that's a good thing. Of course, what sticks over time is the truly good stuff. We shouldn't be too dismissive of the difficulties of being a pro in the Golden Age, though, either. I'm at WorldCon in Montreal right now, and as Bob Silverberg recently reminded us at a panel where the moderator made a comment about how much easier it was to sell stuff in the 1950s: "Yes, that's true. I was, after all, only competing against Ray Bradbury and Theodore Sturgeon and Jack Vance and..." or words to that effect.

Nader: Thanks for the comments, and I'm glad you enjoyed the piece! Any favorite Reed stories?
Aug 10, 04:11 by Blue Tyson
I can think of a collaborator for Mr. Reed. One T. Kosmatka. :)
Aug 10, 14:33 by Nader Elhefnawy
Agreed about not forgetting the challenges in earlier periods, too; and about the tendency to forget the mediocre stuff and just remember the good stuff.

As to Reed's body of work, I just know a bit of the Great Ship sequence, though I plan to read more of his stuff. (Incidentally one of his stories, "Hatch," was in the New Space Opera anthology I reviewed for IROSF last November.)
Aug 18, 20:39 by Ryder W. Miller
Eat Something Else!


NEWSFLASH

August 4, 2009 – Tejon Ranch to Release Secret Condor Documents At Long Last
SAVING THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR

A cherished icon of the West, the prehistoric-looking California condor remains one of the world’s most endangered species. North America’s largest avian narrowly escaped extinction in the mid-1980s when the last 22 wild California condors became star participants in a captive-breeding program. Thanks to those efforts, more than 140 condors flew freely in California and Arizona by 2007. But recovery is still in jeopardy: More than 40 percent of all released condors have died or been returned to captivity.

Poisoning by ingestion of lead shot — scavenged along with carcasses left behind by hunters — is one of the most widespread and preventable causes of condor deaths. The Center’s Get the Lead Out Campaign has called on California and Arizona to require the use of nonlead ammunition within the condor’s range, resulting in California’s historic Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act, as well as a settlement with California’s wildlife agencies eliminating lead ammunition for depredation hunting (the hunting of “nuisance” animals). When management plans by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service failed to protect condors in on public lands near the Grand Canyon, we took both agencies to court in 2009. We’re also campaigning to reduce habitat loss, leading a broad coalition to preserve Tejon Ranch (a biodiversity hotspot containing vital habitat for the condor) as a national or state park — even after other conservation groups signed a compromise with the ranch’s owners that would allow development in condor critical habitat. We’ve fought to block a series of sprawling developments that would forever change Tejon and moved against a proposal to grant the ranch’s owners a “license to kill” condors to make development easier. And when two condors were found shot with lead bullets in central California in spring 2009, we launched an in-depth investigation and announced a $40,000 reward to help bring the shooter or shooters to justice.

We opposed the Bush administration’s plans to expand oil and gas drilling in Los Padres National Forest, including surface drilling next to the Sespe Condor Sanctuary. We submitted a comprehensive conservation plan for Southern California’s four national forests to protect condors, and we’re challenging the Forest Service’s management plans for these forests, which would harm condor habitat. Our influence on past management plans for these forests has resulted in the inclusion of protective measures such as using nontoxic antifreeze in vehicles and retrofitting power lines to prevent condor electrocutions.
Aug 19, 01:54 by Bluejack

For the casual forum reader, this is in response to Reed's reference to hunting Condors for food, which is a somewhat different issue than the lead-poisoning and other environmental side-effect causes of Condor deaths.

   

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