Monday, November 21, 2011

Internet Shitstorm Highlights Fact That "Nature" Publishes Fiction

So. Womanspace. A lot of folks are pretty pissed about it, for various reasons. The short story, published recently in the science journal Nature's fiction section, is a lighthearted look at the differences between men and women, using hackneyed old stereotypes that were not especially funny back in the '50's when they were slightly fresher. Menz be shopping like this, but wimminz, y'all, they be shopping like this.

But I am not here to rip on Mr. Rybicki. Much. The Internet, cruel creature that it is, has not been kind to the author, and anyway, most of us who write have written some really dumb shit. Rybicki got luckier than most of us, though. He got paid for it. And that is what I want to talk about today.

Some of the commentariat wonders why a science journal would contain a fiction section in the first place, and calls for its elimination. By all means, Internet, use your power to get the editor fired, and to bring in someone who knows what they're doing. That second bit is the key, though. You see, back in the days of Bradbury and Ellison, there existed a good number of outlets for short fiction. A writer could, if properly motivated, earn much of a living wage writing speculative fiction and tales of the weird for periodicals.

No longer. The decline of the magazine has been well-documented. Writers must fight each other for a spot in one of the few publications left that pay for fiction. Another outlet for short science fiction, particularly in a well-respected journal, is good for the genre, its creators, and its fans. While it is unfortunate that Nature's editorial staff chose to publish a sub-par bit of controversy generation instead of high-quality speculative art, the upside is that readers and writers alike are all now aware that this journal publishes short fiction. This opens up the possibility for Nature to nurture the next Bradbury or Ellison.

So, let us not be so hasty, dear Internet, to throw out a good idea because it was executed poorly. Fresh eyes and ideas can turn this thing around.

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