Wednesday, March 02, 2005

advance reviews are in

"Sikeston" has been spectacularly well-received. I was tearing my guts out after the first few reviews, because they were all from careless critters who wanted only to read something fast and get their MPC's in. They weren't negative crits, but they weren't helpful, either, and a lot of them confessed they didn't get it. Based on what's come since, I have to conclude they just weren't reading carefully.

I've had about fourteen Critters crits as of today, as well as five or six from civillians, and they all say the same thing: This rocks.

It's an important distinction from the last three Quinn stories. People said those were fine, very professional, but I didn't hear the same excitement and begging for more. Yes, begging! And a big part of it is the novelty of the genre juxtaposition. No one's ever seen that before.

Peter, one of my Critters friends, wins hands-down for the best crit. I wish I had a computer program that could do what he does. Forget the grammar and spelling: Pete checks internal logic, cultural relevance, triteness, obscure metaphors. He's like a copyeditor in a can. Plus, he just really seems to get it. Listen to this:

The mix of horror archetypes [. . .] and Western archetypes [...] came together in a way that really worked for me. It was nice to see you take some of the familiar elements and put your own spin on them, such as making the "whore with a heart of gold" deranged, periodically childlike (literally) and--well--dead.

I found Trace to be a very likeable, down-to-earth protagonist, in the vein of the "tortured hero" in one sense, but with so many more layers than that. Defrocked priest, traumatised war veteran _and_ he sees dead people? ... he tries so hard to represent himself as just a simple trailhand (even to himself) when there's so much more bubbling away beneath the surface. It gave me a real sense of how desparately Trace _wants_ to be an ordinary guy (even though, deep down, he knows he _isn't_ and never will be).

How can you not be grateful?

I am almost terrified to touch the prose, because everyone agrees it needs very little, but on the other hand one can always clarify and tighten. I have pledged to let Sikeston sit until this weekend, at least, and then do a once-over and send it out. I want to send it to Writers of the Future, first; they have the greatest potential for publicity and payment. After them, I'll try, and F&SF.

Oh, and I finally sucked it up and registered for the kung-fu tournament. That should give me something else to worry about.

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