Roundtable: The Silliest Thing…

I know that we’re all busy with year-end stuff: year-in-review bits, best-of-the-year bits, and for the academics, grading! Always fun. As such, I’d like to throw out a fun topic to polish off the year:

What’s the silliest thing that: a) an editor has said to you (for the writers); b) a writer has said to you (for the editors); or c) a student or teacher has said to you (for the professors)

Graham Sleight, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Cat Rambo, Nancy Kress, Gardner Dozois, Elizabeth Hand, Cecelia Holland, Paul Witcover, Andrienne Martini, Gary K. Wolfe, Terry Bisson, Ellen Klages, Stefan Dziemianowicz, Gwenda Bond, John Clute, Karen Joy Fowler, Brian Evenson, Stacie Hanes, Andy Duncan, Rachel Swirsky, and N. K. Jemisin all contribute to this, our last Roundtable of the year.

As always, this discussion is broken up into multiple pages for ease of reading. If you’d like to read it all on a single page, select ‘View All’ from the drop down menu above. If you don’t see the drop down menu, please click here.

Graham Sleight

I was once mistaken for China Mieville. Does that count?

Karen Burnham

That’s not silly, that’s just flattering!

Maureen Kincaid Speller

Walking down the street with Paul Kincaid can be quite interesting in the winter, when he’s wearing his fedora. On the basis that he also has a beard and glasses, he has been mistaken for Terry Pratchett a number of times, which can be quite entertaining. So far, at least …

Cat Rambo

From a wanna-be writer: “I would love to write, but first I need to exorcize some inner demons.”

See also: the guy who kept wanting me to write his novel about parasitic wasps for him.

Nancy Kress

The dumbest thing a student said to me when I was teaching college-level courses in SF as Literature occurred just before we began Stan Robinson’s RED MARS.  This was not a dumb kid, but the level of science education in his high school must have been abysmal.  He said, “Ms. Kress, I’ve heard that Mars has a really thin atmosphere, and it only comes up to your knees — is that true?”

Gardner Dozois

That’s why Martians have evolved lungs in their kneecaps.

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4 thoughts on “Roundtable: The Silliest Thing…

  • December 21, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I once wrote to a famous author and offered to bring several of his early books back into print. Since I proposed to reset rather than photo-reproduce the texts, I indicated this would give him the chance to make any changes he felt desirable. He wrote back outraged I should think any of his work would need changes. All his books were perfect as they stood and he would rather not allow a philistine like me to publish any of them.

  • December 22, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I once had a physics student argue that gravity on Venus had to be stronger than Earth’s because it was closer to the sun.

  • December 24, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    As a neophyte writer I am at the mercy of editors. I recently submitted a story in which the subtext dealt with college level math and included an alien name with a superscript number in it. The editor suggested that it just looked sloppy and that words should only contain letters. When I provided several examples of similar words by some giants in the field he replied that he had dozens of stories to edit and didn’t have time to argue over a single word that really wasn’t that important anyway.

  • December 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    If you’re discussing teachers…when I was in grade school, the teacher wrote “PENISULA” on the blackboard and we took turns mispronouncing it. It was over twenty years before I realized is was supposed to be “PENINSULA” with another “N”…

    As for editors…well, probably the silliest thing an editor told me is that I have talent.


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