Editorial – May 2017: Searching For The Super-Geek.

April 30, 2017 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone,

Another month of not knowing what is going to be chucked our way that could influence what I write here. A general election in the UK or a nuclear war elsewhere. I’m still wondering when the alien invasion is going to happen? Everything else seems to be happening and reality owes us one at least. It’s going to be a close call which will create Armageddon. As the third option doesn’t seem likely and I’ve delayed writing in case anything serious happens, let’s pick a subject that came to my mind after a discussion with Pauline Morgan, one of my reviewing team, which leads into a different subject.

Something that is often apparent in most of the articles I write is that I’m very hard to argue with. In fact, back in my early fandom days, that was the single ever complaint I ever had about my articles in that I cover all the points my topics raise. Less so much about heavy thinking and more to looking at any problem properly. In that respect, I haven’t changed much over the years other than having a little more space for expanding my articles. No one ever argues with my articles and I can’t believe that I’m that perfect just thorough.

The only real secret to that comes from my knowledge of General Semantics and looking at things from all angles. Whatever I write about I make sure I haven’t missed anything. In doing that, I look for flaws that have to be accounted for. I don’t seek to put an opinion on anything without evidence. If that makes me formidable then it’s a system that could make any and all of us formidable.

Oddly, you would think this would be more common amongst fans of our genre but across the world with all kinds of different backgrounds, I doubt if there will ever be consistency in that. Even so, the geek attitude tends towards not being in step with the general population so all things are possible if all we seek is truth.

An odd thing, though, as unlike the pre-Net days, when geeks and other descriptive named people such as ourselves were spread out, we invariably saw ourselves as more one or three of a kind than in the Net age, grouping has grown. Oddly, it also seems to have been affected by the group ethic that affects all other groups. Namely, individuals tend to conform too much and lose their own voice which seems an odd thing to do for people like us. It might also prevent you developing as a geek because you can let other people do the thinking for you or can’t add anything to the discussion because someone said what you were going to say first. It’s up to you as to whether this is a good or bad thing but it does raise the question of are we in a world of different geek grades now?

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t some conformity. It’s a bit difficult to get on in society by ignoring all the laws and rules. By and large, geeks aren’t anarchists. For geeks, the standard definition is an enthusiasm for SF that extends beyond the likes of the latest SF/horror/fantasy film release but to seek out things in our genre to feed our interest and expand our knowledge. We are supposed to be innately curious with an element of problem-solving in many things. As our genre has always made a lot of discussion points in many subjects, it’s hardly surprising we’re most associated with SF.

Of course, with the Net community, you can get beholden to what’s currently available and don’t want to get caught out by not being able to discuss it which limits how much you can afford to digest at any one time. Oddly, that hasn’t made any difference here. It’s also getting confusing because SF, especially films, has edged towards being mainstream without knowing it. Look at how many non-geeks understand or have some general knowledge of our genre these days compared to when we were young. When you see, say, someone wearing a super-hero picture on their clothes, do you go beyond identifying the character but who drew it and maybe which comic it was sourced from and whether you still own it? Now that’s geek thinking.

Now, here’s a contradiction. We at SFCrowsnest don’t conform to being part of group and yet we have the second highest Net hits to the SciFi Channel so we must be doing something right for the inner geek. I think to some extent, it’s this variety of reviews not necessarily following what others do that is probably the attraction. Even so, this does make it harder to attract more reviewers because you need to have our slant on things plus the ability to write or the ability to learn to write well. It needs that ability to be a super-geek really. A super-geek is someone who maintains that individualistic tendency through thick and thin. They might play with the groups and possibly have a voice there but not beholden to the views expressed.

With that in mind and the possibility of me doing a piece about how geek you really are, I really do need to track down some genuine super-geeks right now.

Although we’re pretty much limited to physical book copies in the UK, with ebooks and such these days, it does open us up a little more for reviewers from abroad now. As with any job, starting with reviewing books is the gateway in. In an odd contradiction, it is the lesser geeks listening to us and might take up or not our choices of books or whathaveyou to read or watch but we don’t impose the choice, just show what else you might be missing. That’s true of any review site if you think about it.

Now, you can’t just email me and say you want to review. It works a lot better if you write a review of something you’ve read recently, especially if it’s done with SFC in mind. If it’s good and we haven’t done a review of it yet, then it also stands a better chance to be used. This won’t preclude you being used at all, but it does indicate that you’ve been paying attention to the website’s contents and know your way around our site and search engine. That’s a super-geek attitude by the way although you might not see yourself as a super-geek by doing so because its second nature.

Any review should be a précis of the plot and significant characters without giving away too many spoilers. The more important thing is how you express your opinion and analyse what you’ve read because it has to come from you and not anybody else or anything you’ve read. We’re never afraid to call a spade a shovel here. Other teams watch what we write, not the other way around. It isn’t the nature of the beast, we are the beast or rather the friendly template at the top of the tree or SFCrowsnest if you’d rather.

You can often tell from the enthusiasm of our reviewers when they find something good. It comes out in the writing. If something is poor quality or disappointing, then that comes out, too. We are here to seek out material and I need more people to seek especially as we are offered so much at the moment. I even match to your tastes so you’re not just chucked something and told to get on with it.

Being a super-geek doesn’t mean you can’t be normal. In this case ‘normal’ means above average but with a mostly unbiased perspective. You can often see the mistakes in film critics in they see so many films they forget the average viewer might, if lucky, see a couple new films a month if that. If just go in with no preconceived biases but in analytical mode to see if the product works or not.

Everyone, even reviewers, have to start somewhere. A lot of the time, I’d rather work with someone new to reviewing because there’s a lot less to unlearn. Mind you, looking at my team, they come from across the board and it doesn’t take that long to develop some expertise before I hone in on any specialities or tastes that you might have and try to accommodate them.

If you feel you have that super-geek quality or not being crowd-driven, then email me. You might need me as much as I need you. The email address is below. Did I say you must love reading?

 

Thank you, take care, good night and, remember, geeks aren’t inept we lead.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: SFCrowsnest.org.uk

 

A Zen thought: Life is life and it’s better to be with than without.

 

Observation: You never see fat Daleks, so where is the Dalek Diet book?

 

Observation: Considering Batman uses a batarang, you have to wonder why if never returns to him once thrown. Shouldn’t it be called the batstick?

 

Observation: Although not strictly our genre, something to have a think about is why are kitchens seen as thoroughfares when you consider how much dirt is brought in on people’s feet.

 

Feeling Stressed: So is everyone else!

 

Missed Opportunity:

            If you aren’t seeing the types of book you would want to read, chances are that I don’t have any reviewers who do them. I’m stocking up on reviewers right now. The extended info is below but essentially, if you can write and breathe and make good observations, you stand a chance. Email me at: gfwillmetts at hotmail.com

NOTE: Although there are details below, please observe the bigger message elsewhere on site. I’m always recruiting reviewers and this is the time of year to recruit as the nights are shorter and so you might be sleeping less!!! I’ve got two more reviewers in the past couple months and always need more. If you’re living in the UK, love books and feel a bit geeky then read the notes below. You have to love reading anyway. You might be what I’m looking for and I do train people up and it’s good for your writer’s CVs and books to feed your reading habit. As some of my team are discovering, they can also interview writers and write articles as well. You can do that without reviewing as well but reading and reviewing is a good discipline. We’re a good team to belong to.

Polls: We did have them for a time but the new version was causing a mess in WordPress so until a new version that doesn’t cause conflicts comes around, we’ll have to do without them but please use the answer option at the end of any material to express comments because we do read them.

For the record: For the odd query I have about being linked to media contacts. I do not have either a personal twitter or facebook account. There’s enough of me here to not outstay my welcome. I’m also puzzled why some people see SFC as a blog site when we’re not. We were in this format long before blogs. It’s getting to the point that people can’t tell the difference between blog and butter.

Beware Of Virus Attacks: December 2012, even though I hadn’t left an active link to my email address, it got solidly attacked and then blocked from everyone, including myself. By necessity, having a form of open contact to me comes as part of the editor’s job. I’m still seeking reviewers and new material so follow the paths through the website and go where no spam-bot dares. I’ve yet to see them write anything. Humans and aliens can apply, providing they live in the UK. Monsters need to prove they can read and write. We could do with some reviewers who like fantasy right now. Don’t be scared of the instructions, you’d be surprised how easy it is to learn. So, if you want to contact me, build these words into an email address: gfwillmetts at hotmail dot com I won’t bite, especially as I’m hunting for fantasy reviewers right now, although that doesn’t preclude others. In fact, I’ll settle for any more willing reviewers who love to read. Did I say I was after reviewers?

NB: We do get digital books and if you live abroad, then this avenue could be open to you. I’m not putting it in as a link to avoid spam. Just copy and paste into your emails to contact me with my address noted in the paragraph above. I’m always recruiting and details are through a link on the top of the SFC main page and in the SFC Forum for this and articles and stories as well. Just because it’s sunny, doesn’t mean you’re going to read any less. We could do with some more fantasy readers right now!

If you’ve on a budget, a book for a review is a good bargain and I can teach the nervous how to do it by seeing what you do when you present a sample. It’s a good deal. We get books in a variety of formats these days so all things are possible to those with the knack for putting words into sentences and saying what they think.

PPS Don’t forget to join the SFCrowsnest Forum. Join up and express your thoughts in leaving typed words that make sentences. I’ve noticed many of you are joining up but the Forum isn’t supposed to be a passive site. If you want convention news and other things like that, it can be handy and some publishers even hand out their schedules for signings and such. Remember the editorial above. I’m not advocating a vow of silence. Well, unless you’re a monk but I doubt if that precludes typing. Are you going to be a lurker or a typer??!! Remember the editorial above, passivity is for sheep not a sentient species. The number of hits shown on the Forum aren’t daily, but for every ten minutes! Write something and others will respond if you have something to say. Equally, you could just be a guest and look around, especially as we release a lot of news that way, but the more the merrier when you have something to say. You don’t have to sign up to have a look as to when these things are happening and I’ve yet to hear of a flash crowd turning up for such things but there’s always the first time. We’re not libel for that if you do such a thing, just to keep my boss happy.

Don’t forget, I’m always on the lookout for new reviewers as well as articles, interviews and stories and after some recent changes, let’s see if the full details about that appears below. If they don’t then look in the new Forum or on the link line at the top of the main page. For potential book reviewers in the UK, it’s a good way to keep up your reading habit and show you can write. There are detail links scattered over the website and on the forum. If you don’t think you’re up to scratch, you’ll discover why I’m the dutch uncle. Repeating this several times is for those who only scan and who don’t want to wind back up the page.

Another real Zen thought but this time for potential writers:If you can express an opinion independently of others and aren’t likely to bend to the masses then you might show potential as a writer.

Zen for those who are scared by all the instructions below: Many of the instructions are things you should be doing automatically if you’re developing your writing skills. If you do them already then focus on the ones that you don’t get right. They are there to help you as much as me to get the best writing from you. If you think you’re 80% there then I’ll help you get the final 20%. Trust me, I’m an editor and I can get things right.

BOOK REVIEWS    – Don’t feel intimated by all the info below or linked to. If you’re any good as a writer, much of it should be second nature already.

Do you love books? Do you like curling up and reading a book in preference to socialising, even on the Net? You might not even want to curl up, that’s only an option. Do you have a preference for fantasy, SF or horror? We really could do with some fantasy readers!!! Do you find it the greatest pastime you have next to being on your computer?

Are you very vocal about what you like and don’t like in what you read?

Would you like to share your thoughts with others about books?

Would you like an endless supply of books to do this with?

Do you live in the UK?

Can you spare an hour every day to read?

Do you think you can write about what you’ve read?

Are you finding the recession is hitting your book buying habit?

If you’ve been nodding your head up to this point then link in below and see if you have what it takes to be a reviewer at SFCrowsnest. If you have that special knack to read and write or want to develop said skill then the only way you’re going to find out is to take the plunge yourself rather than wait for others to do it first. Reading a lot of books is a requisite for any writer. Being able to say what makes them good or bad hones your own skills. Even if you’re just happy with reading with a little writing on the side then this might be for you. It’s got to be better than waiting for the sun to come out in this weird summer and now cold winter. It’s also amazing how much you can read in an hour a day.

If you’ve survived this far in the editorial, let me reiterate something from the website newsletter and the above editorial. As you can see from the main page, we have one of the biggest SF/fantasy/horror monthly reviews columns on the Net. Our success has increased the number of books that comes in and our policy is to read everything and give it a roadtest before giving a review so you have some idea of what you’re letting yourself in for. You want the bottom line about what you’re going to choose to read. That means we need people actually willing to read the book and tell others they’re opinion in reviews. For that, we’re always on the outlook for more reviewers.

Do you think you have what it takes to review a book? It’s a skill that can be easily mastered and we need a few more. If you love fantasy, we have more than enough to keep you busy for instance.

Apart from the ability to put words into sentences, you also need to know how to précis, do a little research on associated subjects and can express opinions constructively about the good and bad points about the books you read. We even let you choose from our pile of received books rather than foster something on you that you wouldn’t normally read. You’ll even get a little editorial help in how to write good copy and that can always lead to other things. I’m not as scary as I sound editorially and it’s better to do the test review and see how you fare than not attempt to see how well you did. I did say you have to love books and willing to read beyond your favourite authors, didn’t I?

If you like reading books in the genre and can average two or maybe three a month, can really think and show you can write a decent review and, most importantly, live in the British Isles (sorry, expense, time and distance travelled mostly prohibits elsewhere), then use the link below and see our requirements. We can’t pay you but writing a review has to be cheaper than buying a book and a good incentive to see if you have what it takes to develop your writing skills.

Do you think you’re up to writing a review? If you think you can, then you’re really going to think you’ve landed your hands in the biscuit tin. It won’t hurt to try and see if you have the right stuff by sending me a sample review to show me you can write. If you want an added incentive, it can also be good for your CV.

Look up the Review Guidelines by linking here: <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_reviews.php”></a> with a press of a mouse button.

SHORT STORIES

We always have an interest in running short stories which can be anything from one to thirty or so pages long. We’re always willing to give short story writers a chance to be seen if they can withstand my scrutiny even if we can’t pay for their efforts, your material will be seen by a lot of people if it’s shown on the SFCrownest website. If you can get a short story written well then it’ll make it easier to move up to novel-length.

Look up the Short Stories Link by linking here <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_bigfiction.php”></a> with your mouse.

FLASH OR ONE-PAGE FICTION

We’ve also a teaching ground of one page stories, so check out the rules elsewhere on the website. It’s a lot tougher than it looks and far too easy to just write and write and hope something good comes out of it. What writing a one page story does is test your ability to control your word count and still tell a story in a concise way. This doesn’t mean we don’t accept stories of different lengths – a short story can be anything up to 30-40 pages long after all – but opens up the means for really short stories from ideas that don’t need as much space.

Flash fiction stories by linking here: <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_flashfic.php”></a> with your mouse.

NOVEL-LENGTH SAMPLES

For those keeping track, I’m actually now caught up but don’t tell everyone as I’m undecided as to whether to keep looking at novel-length story samples, move over specifically to short stories – which we do anyway for the website – or get a couple of my own book projects completed. The latter, I still intend to do anyway and now actually working on but don’t let that put you off too much. If you want me to look over a sample, you can contact me through the links on this website.

Before you submit, study the next section below as it’s there to help you do some of the right things and reduce the number of times I’m repeating myself over silly grammatical errors and spelling mistakes that you shouldn’t be making if you’re serious about becoming a writer. It makes editing a lot easier if any editor has less work pointing out poor English which you should have been sorted out in the first place and more focused on other areas of your work that deal with plot and the other serious elements of storywriting. As a writer, it is your command of the English language and its grammar that will show how serious you are about writing.

There might not be much of a wait unless I get a deluge, however those sending in ebook samples, please read the Guidelines by linking here <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_bigfiction.php”></a> with your mouse here or through the bottom line menu on the opening page of the SFC website.

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING BUT AFRAID TO ASK

General advice for those who want to become writers of any sort: There’s an old editorial adage: If you can’t aim for perfection why should an editor nurse-maid you to that state? Nominally, my job is to catch minor glitches not total mishaps. If you’re a writer, then you should understand the words, sentences and grammar of the job you’re supposed to be writing or are you considering it as mundane and boring as any other job to get right? Fall in love with making every sentence the best you’re ever written, read up and understand the rules of grammar. Put the time in researching any subject you’re using in the story. Be prepared to put a story away for a few weeks and go back to it for a self-edit until it’s as good as you can make it. Even I do that. You look good. I make you look better but you have to start off with good.

A lot of the time, errors will just stare you in the face when you didn’t see them the first time round. Once you know where your weaknesses are, they can be sorted out and allow you to move a little higher up the ladder towards making your material look its best and more importantly, getting your material seen by readers.

The link here will show you the Common Problems Link page and what I see mostly <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_commonprobs.php”></a>

with your mouse. It’s the smart writer who doesn’t get caught out with these.

Good luck.

Geoff

Category: Culture

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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