Literary Reviews, Page 35

“Lydia's Body," by Vylar Kaftan (continued)

In regard to another Clarkesworld offering entitled “There’s No Light Between Floors,” by Paul G. Tremblay, I must confess that I finished the piece as much in the dark as the story’s characters at the start of the piece, a state I was unable to extricate myself from even with the assistance of Ben Payne’s somewhat less than enlightening Tangent review. Contributor Jetse De Vries’s “Qubit Conflicts” is the sort of story that ordinarily I would have been intensely interested in, and at least I did get the gist of it. However, Mr. De Vries’s writing within the story is so arcane—even to one such as myself who has read numerous books on the subject of quantum physics written for laypeople—that I at times yearned for the services of an English-to-English language translator. I’m uncertain if one would properly write a review of “Qubit Conflicts” or a doctoral dissertation on it.

By waxing literary, Mr. Clarke and staff appear to be attempting to position Clarkesworld, ostensibly a genre publication, as a boutique magazine, attempting a synthesis between literary and popular literature. However, the tenor of such a proposition, at least thus far, is reminiscent of the perhaps apocryphal anecdote concerning a painting deemed to be a “masterpiece of modern art” that had hung upside down in a museum for two years before anyone noticed.

In regard to the Million Writers Award, as much as I admire Jason Sanford, the award’s originator, for his noble efforts to advance online literature and garner new respect for it, I find the efficacy of a single award for both online literary and popular fiction to be somewhat problematic in accomplishing these goals. As Mr. Sanford’s own zine (storySouth) is a literary journal, I’m afraid the deck might be somewhat stacked as to whom is aware of the award and chooses to participate by way of reading and voting, through no fault of Mr. Sanford's.

It must be noted that Mr. Sanford is most scrupulous and conscientious in regard to choosing stories as finalists that represent both types of literature. ("All the Way to Grangeville," (Eclectica Magazine) by A. Ray Norsworthy, a more popular type of piece in tenor, was the 2006 award’s second place finisher, gaining an impressive twenty-six percent of the vote.) Perhaps it might be advisable, if at all possible, for Mr. Sanford to consider categorizing the award into the two distinctive types of literature: literary and popular; though, admittedly, that might pose a problem in regard to pieces that straddle the lines between the two.

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