Sunday, January 20, 2013


Crisp Snow and Number Crunching

It snowed the day before yesterday, the first snowfall of winter, and a ‘red alert’ was issued by the Met Office for Wales. Red alerts are rare. When they are cooked they tend to be brown. People have been panic buying as consequence and the supermarkets are almost out of cartons of panic. However, a perfectly acceptable substitute for panic can be achieved simply by heightening some apprehension. Try this in the comfort of your own home!

Here is a wintry picture of the most recent BFS (British Fantasy Society) journal that slid through my letterflap last week. It’s the autumn issue, a complimentary copy despatched to me about four months late. I had to email five or six reminders to the official stockholder to receive it. The BFS seem to be damned incompetent at doing some simple things but because I have resolved not to get involved in spats this year I won’t say anything more along those lines. I’ll just remark that the organisation has been a bit tardy sending out copies of the journal to contributors.

The contents of this one include an interview with me that was conducted by ‘Old Peculiar’ himself, Mr Stephen Theaker, a wise and genial fellow. I enjoyed being lightly grilled by him. One of his questions is about how prolific I am, but the fact is that I’m not prolific really, not compared to many other writers out there. My annual rate of production did double in the past four years, but I feel sure it’s going to drop back again. So far this year I’ve only written two short-stories and both are less than 2000 words.

I’m rather glad about that. I fancy a more relaxed pace after the hectic flurry. I’ve just put all my completed fiction into a single massive document and done a word-count and the total is 2,662,990 words. Less than two years’ work for someone like Max Brand or Frank Richards! Extrapolating from this data, I have worked out that the average length of a Rhys Hughes story is 3893 words; and that Pandora’s Bluff (my integrated 1000 story cycle) will end up being exactly 3,893,260 words long. If I do ever finish it, I bet it won’t, though!

Thanks - you're very kind!

I rather hope the BFS knocks the journal on the head this year, or at least reduces its frequency or length to something more sensible. Dark Horizons was only forty pages long in the 1980s, eighty pages when I was doing it, and now it's two hundred each time. Just too much, I think.
Much too much.
Much too young.
You're editing a journal
when you should be
having fun.

Waiting for this journal was a pain in the arse, frankly; and although the BFS have slightly got their act together last year, they still are fundamentally impure, like all societies, I guess.
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