Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Madness of Gordon Van Gelder


I opened my post office box today and discovered  a royalty check, which seemed an auspicious way to start the year.

Not half so auspicious as the first mail day of the year 2000, however.  A few weeks earlier, I'd sent Gordon Van Gelder, the brilliant and occasionally snarky (deny it if you can, Gordon!) editor of F&SF, a short-short story titled "The Madness of Gordon Van Gelder."  It was not a submission to his magazine.  A series of incidents involving him, which I spelled out in the story, had occurred and on a whim I jotted down an admittedly witty tale about him discovering that he got a sexual kick out of buying bad fiction.

So I sent it to Gordon with a note saying, in essence, "Here's something pleasant for you -- a story which you neither have to buy nor reject.  Read and enjoy!"  Then I forgot about it entirely.

(Gordon disputes parts of this story, by the way, because he thinks it implies that I gamed him into buying the story and he's very watchful about being gamed.  But he's wrong in his suspicions.  I sent him the story knowing there was not a chance in Hell of him buying it.  No games involved.)

On January 2 or 3, 2000, whichever was the first mail day of the new Millennium, I went to the post office, opened my box, and  discovered a familiar-looking envelope, that which contains a check from F&SF.

I didn't sent Gordon a story, I thought in puzzlement, and opened the check.  Then I saw that he'd bought a story I'd never tried to sell him and had honestly forgotten existed.  Half because it was (to be honest) a good story and half because he has a Puckish sense of humor, Gordon had bought my short-short.

A surge of megalomania filled me. I OWN this century! I thought.

Which is my New Year's story.  May your new year be equally filled with madness and joy.

And because we all make resolutions this time of year . . .

I have resolved to limit my blogging to three days a week, in order to free up more time for serious writing.  I can't guarantee to keep to this resolve.  Things keep happening which I want to share.  But I'll be doing my best to keep to it.

And as always . . .

I'm on the road again.  But I ought to be able to post on Friday anyway, fingers crossed.  Wish me luck.



Ken Houghton said...

Great. So there will be a story in F&SF that will be shorter than the interview. ("Michael, what research did you do to discover 'The Madness of Gordon van Gelder'?" "Well, I've known him for more than twenty years...")

Dr Paisley said...

[pedant] The old millennium ended on 12/31/2000, not 12/31/1999. No year zero. [/pedant]

Michael Swanwick said...

Yeah, I knew that. And I decided at the time to go along with the majority of everybody and misapply the term deliberately. It's just that kind of millennium, I'm afraid.