Science Fiction & Spec Fic Sites

I've renewed my interest in writing over the past year, and I've been reading a lot more thanks to Dean's Lit Crit Nights, which have a short lecture and about four (4) stories that we now have to critique each week.

As I attempt to put together stories, my websurfing (ooh, is that term even current anymore?) takes me to a variety of places. Let me share some with you:

1. Phil Spec Fic Message Boards - an interesting site, though the traffic is currently limited to a few notables. Hopefully more conversations will spark interest, especially on the topic of writing or encouraging a local Spec Fic community.

2. Orion's Arm - a website for the the Orion's Arm world building community, it has a lot of resources for people attempting a hard science fiction story, but are hard-pressed to do all the research and relearning of science. It has a timeline, excellent details on travel, transhuman technologies, personalities and other aspects of the setting.

3. Grading Science Fiction for Realism - a webpage that lists criteria for grading Hard Science Fiction (Ultra Hard to Medium) and Soft Science Fiction (Soft to Mushy Soft).
Side-response: Fully-Rocked & Doctors

Let me make the following statements before I tackle the "doctors cannot judge other doctors" issue:

1. If you had been more polite, you might not have been banned.
2. If you had read posts more carefully, you might not have lost your temper.
3. If you had attempted to explain yourself more completely, you might not have been so thoroughly ridiculed.

Now, you've been polite in the comments so I will respond. Hopefully you will read this response carefully and if you choose to respond, please explain yourself clearly in either English or Tagalog. Clarity is important, or we may go off on some tangent.

Your statement that "doctors cannot judge other doctors" on another blog is simplistic and consequently wrong.

You state that

If a patient was misdiagnosed by Dr. Cruz, I cannot tell the patient that Dr. Cruz is a lousy docotr. BUT I can tell my friends and colleagues. Again I CANNOT announce this to the press, an audience, blog that Dr. Cruz is a lousy doctor who can't even write a good prescription.

First off, this argument is a bit clearer than your broad initial statement, but it does raise moral issues. According to this example, if Dr. Cruz had horribly misdiagnosed his / her patient, you wouldn't tell the patient, but you would alert your friends and colleagues? I certainly hope that includes the medical board who should stop that doctor from practicing. Otherwise, the poor patient who has been misdiagnosed and may end up dying. And if you could've done something to prevent that, isn't it still your moral responsibility to do so?

Second, it is fine in certain professions not to announce to the press, to an audience, on a blog that so-and-so is a lousy doctor. It does NOT apply to the entertainment industry however, where EVERYONE is allowed to express their opinions as readers with all sorts of biases. Professional and Amateur Reviewers and Critics abound in the U.S. and the Philippines and there is no ethical question about printing your opinion about someone else's work, especially work that has been released to the public. The ethics of the medical industry do not directly translate to other industries, and certainly not to the entertainment / literary industry.

Third, doctors DO judge other doctors under very specific circumstances. There is some peer review (doctors being evaluated and rated by other doctors)among physicians, which is usually done by the medical societies themselves (thus the importance of consulting only with accredited fellows of medical societies). In the US, there is Healthgrades, which rates doctors and hospitals based on their track record. (This, however, has a negative effect. Doctors and hospitals, to raise their success rating, will refuse to treat complex/difficult/dying patients.)

Finally, your logic does not apply to the evaluation of contestants in a writing contest. If it were in a medical arena, and various doctors were competing for a prize, you would not select judges who were from unrelated fields. You would select doctors who are qualified to judge the merit of the work of the competing doctors and most definitely these judges should be specialists in the specific field being tackled. Why put someone specializing in pediatrics or neuro-surgery when the competition concerns the future of gene therapy?

This was the concern of Dean in that none of the three judges (with the exception of Greg Brilliantes) struck him as writers of works that are "primarily speculative fiction in nature (as in short stories - not plays or films or poetry)."

Before you get angry again, please read the next few words that followed that comment: "unless Tony Perez and Peque Gallaga have collections of short fiction that are fantasy, scifi, horror, etc. that I am unaware of (and if so, then apologies again, that's plain and simple ignorance on my part)." (italics mine)

I certainly hope this makes things clearer for you, and I hope you continue to remain polite and attempt to express yourself more clearly.

When I go searching for a book to read, I naturally gravitate towards the Science Fiction / Fantasy sections. Or perhaps the Young Adult section. These books get lost sometimes, you know?

Hunting down stuff in that genre section increases the chances that I'll find something I'm looking for: interesting scientific extrapolation, a space opera or cosmic science fiction story, perhaps an epic fantasy novel that breaks out of the mold of Tolkien, and so on.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), these days there is a thinning of the walls between genres. Stories that could be considered fantasy or horror or science fiction tend to crop up in the general fiction section these days. Novels like The Club Dumas, Practical Magic, The Historian, and the like.

It may make it harder to find these things, but one is hopeful that it also means more (good?) writers are writing material that can be considered mainstream, that science fiction and fantasy elements are becoming accepted as part of that mainstream, and the memories of an imagination-starved trip to the bookstore will become a thing of the past.