Correspondence from readers

This is our letter column. Usually we have not been hearing much back from readers of Surprising Stories. Your letters are not unwelcome, though. We’d like to hear comments about our publication and about what appears in it—we’re interested in what readers think of us and our netzine. If you have any comments on anything, email us at .  This issue we have only one letter commenting on the September issue, a response to that issue’s editorial:

JOE NAPOLITANO: Who decides what’s avant-garde? It’s really just advertising presented as opinion. In the case of SF  magazines the editor says something is new and presumably better.  By following, you, as reader, become part of the in-group. You have special knowledge that supposedly makes you better because you are different, more advanced, etc., by agreeing with the promoter. Usually this doesn’t last very long and a “new” avant-garde is created to keep business going. The ad campaign runs its course and a new one takes its place.

     The creators of the avant-garde movement define what is or is not avant-garde, which is a conscious attitude toward what is being created. No one is part of the avant-garde who does not follow the avant-garde standards, and these are pointed out when they appear in print or in art or music. From this comes, of course, an avant-garde tendency, which need not be identified because it is not part of the movement. Writing which is influenced by the avant-garde is apt to be superior to that produced by those actually calling themselves the avant-garde, because those are innovators more than they are writers. Science fiction is an advance, but its being avant-garde might constitute a sort of double entrance, always gauche and always sticking out. However, the avant-garde might be an advance over traditional approaches. Harlan Ellison has used this approach, and lately it is found in Brian Stableford’s work.

We also heard from George Phillies, the President of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, calling it a fine issue.