(or possibly opinions that are actually popular, but no one informed me because I live under a rock, and also this parenthetical statement is too long for its own good)
I've been sick half this week and my concentration is shot, so why not?
1. Story vs. writing. I think there is a useful distinction to be made between story and writing; between the essence of the tale, and the language it is clothed in. I came to this opinion partly because of Joe. Joe is much better at story
than I am, in the sense that he comes up with plot mechanisms that I find interesting. (I've mostly seen this in action in an RPG context.) I sort of cobble my stories together. I have a hell of a lot more practice with the language-clothing end of things. (It's as well it's just one of us with this specialty, because this way Joe earns money with physics, and we all eat.)
This is one of the reasons why, although I can tell the difference between good and bad prose (or what I
consider good and bad prose, anyway), bad prose doesn't automatically eject me from a story. If a particular piece of fanfic hits my trope kink buttons? I will put up with all sorts of bad prose. If you're writing giant robots and smashy battles and your female characters don't suck? I will put up with your bad prose. Feed me a story I like--hell, not even a story but a bunch of happy trope kink buttons mashed up together--and I'll keep reading.
That being said, when I was reading slush , I would, in fact, bounce stories for bad prose. If I'm recommending something to the editor upstairs, I want the story to be good at both
 I am no longer a slush reader, although I miss it and wouldn't mind doing it again someday.
2. I'm still bitter that real-time strategy completely killed turn-based strategy for the PC. But that may just be because I want to play M.A.X. for the rest of my life. And hey, there's Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, even if I expect to cause the planet to die horribly. I've played Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, but not any of the "regular" Civilization games. And even when I played SMAC, I would do it on one of the easier settings. But that's okay because SMC:BE is now on my hard drive, mwahahahaha.
3. I like Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations." It's manipulative! Tear-jerking! Sexist in that old-timey way, with the helplessness of the young girl! God knows, I highly doubt Godwin would have described a boy of equivalent age with such doelike innocence and tear-jerkitude, or possibly even used the word "boy" at all. And yet every time I read that damn story, I get to that one line and I cry
You don't have to tell me all the things that are terrible about the story! I agree with you! I found this essay by Paul Kincaid on the story
and his follow-up essay
to be very illuminating. And yet, I like
the story, in that way that I frequently like things that are not objectively good.
God knows, I cannot call it an unsuccessful
story either. I knew the entire plot of the story, and its title, and its author, at least five years before I was able to track it down, from reading sf literary criticism essays that I scraped out of my high school library. (Yes, there were some.) I can mention the story to Joe and he will know what I am talking about. I bet I could start a flamewar about it. (Please not here, or anyway, not while I'm still kind of sick.) I am personally indifferent to the idea of an sf literary canon because I am too lazy to read things for homework because, sorry, I dreamt last week that I had to write an exam for IBH World Literature and I am so done
with taking lit courses anymore. But is it a story that I would expect to find litcrit discussion of, skiffily, somewhere? Sure.
4. While I'm at it, I enjoyed slush reading.
I may just not have done it long enough to become completely jaded and cynical about it, though.
5. It is okay to spend just two hours writing your 1,000-word Yuletide story (plus a few minutes for tweaks). I've done that. As far as I can tell, no one has ever been able to tell the difference between the fast stories and the ones I slave over forever
while gnawing my fingernails ragged (or I would, if I still chewed my nails). In fact, this is true of more than fanfic. Stories are weird. Some of them take more effort than others, and I've never ever been convinced that the reader on the other end can reliably tell the difference without external evidence. If only effort were correlated with quality--but it isn't. Not usefully, in my experience.
6. So I didn't actually think Meyer's Twilight
was a good book (I read it because a friend sent it to me as a joke, and in fact it's pretty amiable airplane reading, which is what I used it for). I mock the sparklepires. Rather a lot, if you must know. (Not that a Yoon would mock anything, least of all a Yoon.) But it irritates me tremendously when people diss the people who like
Twilight and talk about how people buy bad books and how other books deserve to be bestsellers and cry me a river
. People read the books they want to read, people enjoy the books they enjoy, I may think Twilight
is kind of terrible but I will defend to the death
your right to think it is awesome, or to enjoy it despite thinking it's kind of terrible, or anything in between. This applies generally to romance (for me); romance is not my genre, I will mock individual romance novels (and I don't expect to stop), but we all have different tastes and I do not find romance novels inherently
more mockworthy than giant robot novels (Battletech tie-ins) or grimdark (Warhammer 40k tie-ins, Paul Kearney's Monarchies of God) or over-the-top mind-bond space opera (Margaret Weis's Star of the Guardians), all of which are things I've read. I am sure this applies generally all over the place. I am long past the point where I care much about literary merit anymore. De gustibus