Category Archives: Tidbits

What’s your Asimov number?

In math and science, we have the Erdos number. In movies, we have the Bacon number. But what about speculative fiction?

Behold, I bring you the Asimov number.

Your Asimov number is based on the shared appearance of original fiction in the table of contents of the same issue of a pro publication (nonfiction and reprints don’t count).  It can be calculated by perusing the invaluable isfdb.

My Asimov number is two:

(1) F&SF, Sept/Oct 2014- “Marketing Strategies of the Apocalypse” Buckram and “The Thing in the Back Yard” David Gerrold

(2) Galaxy Magazine, May 1972 – “Trouble with G.O.D.” by David Gerrold and “The Gods Themselves” (serial, part 3 of 3) by Isaac Asimov.

From this example, we can also see that my Gerrold number is 1 and my Buckram number is zero.

What’s your Asimov number?

Advice for C.C. Finlay

Congratulations to C.C. Finlay (CCF), who has just been named the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (FSF), taking over from Gordon Van Gelder (GVG) who will remain as publisher. Genius choice by GVG (I always said GVG has an eye for talent).

As CCF surveys his vast new empire, he faces a critical challenge, one that will define his literary legacy and help shape the future of our field. He must pick his rejection catchphase.

GVG’s catchphrase was “alas” as in “My assistant liked it but this story didn’t grab me, alas.” Let us pause to consider the dense layers of meaning that GVG packed into this 11-word sentence. There are characters in conflict: the good cop (assistant) vs. bad cop (GVG). There’s a twist: at first, everything looks good until suddenly the grabbing mechanism malfunctions and the hero goes into a death spiral. And after the tragedy, the single Shakespearean coda: alas.

Indeed, GVG’s rejections produced an entirely new word into the English language: the alas-o-gram. As in “Here comes the mailman with another alas-o-gram.” Alas, the term “alas-o-gram” (like the Hoboken post office) now faces a bleak future.

So with that in mind, here are my suggestions for CCF’s catchphrase.

  • No soup for you!
  • Close, but no cigar
  • What were you thinking?
  • tl;dr
  • My eyes! They burn!
  • I can’t unread that
  • After reading your story, I thought “That’s ten minutes I’m not getting back”
  • I’m accepting your story–NOT!
  • Welcome to Reject City. Population: you
  • F&SF needs this story like a fish needs a bicycle
  • To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee; For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.
  • This isn’t the publication venue you’re looking for. Move along.
  • Keep your day job
  • Your storification made me scratch my gulliver. I semifathom your newspeak horrowshow, but can’t glimmer your tellings. Doubleplus ungood.

As an added bonus, here’s a little something for aspiring writers. After sending a submission to CCF, try this prayer:

Now I Finlay me down to sleep

I pray CC my sub to keep

If he rejects before I wake

I do believe my heart will break