Notes from The Buffer Zone: The Analog Couch

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Notes from The Buffer Zone:

The Analog Couch


Kristine Kathryn Rusch


First, before I tell you this story, I must tell you that I’m a member in good standing of the Analog Mafia. When I earned my Analog Mafia button—by selling to Analog magazine—I became one proud, validated science fiction writer. You see, I’d been told at Clarion by other writers that my science was bad, and I would never ever be a science fiction writer.

Mind you, the writers who told me that my science was bad were post-docs in various scientific fields and one was already working at NASA. (My husband later said to me, You were trying to compete scientifically with them? Really? Point taken.) Still, the words stung so badly that no sf sale ever made me feel better. Not until I sold to Analog when it was edited by Dr. Stanley Schmidt, who once rejected a story of mine because “your (made-up) planet’s name does not fit into the nomenclature.”

Okay! Got it!

Shortly after Clarion, I moved to Eugene, Oregon, where I often attended the monthly story critique sessions at the home of Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm. The critiques were unfettered there; if someone had the floor, they could have it as long as they wanted it. (And if you’ve never heard a beginning writer expound about commas for twenty minutes, well, then, you probably have no idea why all of the workshops Dean Wesley Smith and I ran had a time limit on critiques.)

The long critiques led to a lot of note-passing among the bored writers. And a bunch of us noticed that writers tended to congregate in groups. Fantasy writers huddled next to each other for warmth, newbie writers sat as close to Damon or Kate as possible, and hard sf writers sat on the hardest sofa in the world.

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