Ahoy, Critterfolk!
New entry Dec 07

Critter Notices

Critters is 22!

Yes, 21 years ago Critters was born. Wow! Thanks so much to all of you, who've made it such a resounding success!

Books from Critters!

Check out Books by Critters for books by your fellow Critterfolk, as well as my list of recommended books for writers.

How to Write SF

The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells by Ben Bova, best-selling author and six-time Hugo Award winner for Best Editor. (This is one of the books your ol' Critter Captain learned from himself, and I highly recommend it.) (Also via Amazon)

New Book from a Critter Member

**NOW IN PRINT EDITION TOO!** Awesome new book, HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SPECULATIVE FICTION OPENINGS, from a Critter member whose unearthed a shard of The Secret to becoming a pro writer. Really good piece of work. "...if you're at all concerned about story openings, you'd be nuts not to read what Qualkinbush has to say." —Wil McCarthy, author of BLOOM and THE COLLAPSIUM

P&E Seeks New Caretaker

Unfortunately, much of the data on the P&E site has become stale and outdated, and needs a new caretaker with the time required to update the site. The listings are being removed until they can be updated by a new caretaker.

Note that the P&E/Critters Annual Readers Poll will run as usual in January.

If you are interested in taking the reins of P&E, and possess what's needed — at least 20hrs/week to volunteer, excellent investigative skills, in-depth knowledge of the publishing industry, ability to detect scams from not-scams, thick skin, good web site skills, good writing ability — please get in touch. Thanks for your interest!


I'm being interviewed live on public radio for Critters 20th birthday. For those who want to listen, it's on the 10am (Mountain time) show on Thursday, 11/19/16, on Colorado Public Radio - has streaming on the site or it's 90.1 FM in the Denver area. [Interview is done, you can listen on the site]

Free Web Sites

Free web sites for authors (and others) are available at

ReAnimus Acquires Advent!

ReAnimus Press is pleased to announce the acquisition of the legendary Advent Publishers! Advent is now a subsidiary of ReAnimus Press, and we will continue to publish Advent's titles under the Advent name. Advent was founded in 1956 by Earl Kemp and others, and has published the likes of James Blish, Hal Clement, Robert Heinlein, Damon Knight, E.E. "Doc" Smith, and many others. Advent's high quality titles have won and been finalists for several Hugo Awards, such as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Heinlein's Children. Watch this space for ebook and print editions of all of Advent's current titles!

Network speeding up

I'm switching the connection over to a new, shiny 10X faster network because of all the load. There might be bits of downtime as your boxes learn new addresses and things. Should be brief. Let me know of any prolonged outages you see.

Preditors & Editors Changeover

With the very sad passing of Dave Kuzminski, who ran P&E, I've taken over the P&E duties. Lots of what I hope are improvements; check it out at

Critters Server is Dying has been Replaced

See important details here in my blog. Let me know if you find anything that isn't working right. (Manuscripts are now available for this week, FYI.)

Book Recommendation

THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock

Announcing ReAnimus Press

If you need help making ebooks from manuscripts or print copies—or finding great stuff to read—look no further! An ebook publisher started by your very own Critter Captain. (And with a 12% Affiliate program.) [More]








Weekly Notes

Notes for 13-Dec-2017...

Helping out ye olde Critters Fund Drive this week, we have yet another new release from SFWA Grandmaster Robert Silverberg:

	THE GATE OF WORLDS by Robert Silverberg - $3.99

		ReAnimus Press Store:
		 (available in both ebook and paperback)

	An Alternate History adventure...

	From Turkish dominated Europe, across the high seas to the land of opportunity--the Aztec Empire-- Dan Beauchamp is a young Englishman whose heart longs for fortune and adventure. But industrial Mexico is a long way from primitive Britain, and Dan has a lot to learn.
	From the city of London--better known as New Istanbul--to the untamed wilderness of North America lies a high adventure not to be missed.

And a 99 cent ebook sale on--

	STAYING ALIVE - A WRITER'S GUIDE by Norman Spinrad - 99 cents

		ReAnimus Press Store:
		 (available in both ebook and paperback)

	 How things really work in the art and commerce of publishing by a three-time SFWA President.


Donations have sloooowed down rather frightfully of late... I'm wondering, would y'all prefer something like a kickstarter campaign style of donation structure? (It'd be more work for me, and we'd lose a cut, but right now "twice nothing is still nothing", as it were.)

I don't want to get in-yer-face with popups on the web site that block the whole page like Wikipedia etc. do. (Though I presume they're effective.) I've always disliked the "we're holding your program hostage until we get enough pledges" of public radio/TV, so I've tried to steer away from that to more moderate hints like in these weekly notes, and the ReAnimus tie-ins. (We get a small amount from the google ads on the site, but, not really that much.)

It's clear other people are way better at fundraising than I am, so all thoughts & ideas are welcome.


Question for the group mind... Would y'all be interested in sending/receiving your critiques as (carefully) marked-up Word .DOC files in addition to the current method? Every so often I get requests like, "It would be so much easier to enter my critiques directly into a Word .DOC file." (Usually with the additional comment that everyone in the world uses Word and why can't Critters move into the 1900s.) :)

The reason Critters uses text in email is partly historical (at one point, I had great pushback to the idea of .doc files since quite a few people didn't have Word), and the other part is technical -- the Critters minions have only a very limited understanding of the insides of .DOC files and how to do their automated processing. In particular, it's very hard for the minions to identify commentary edited into a .DOC file -- and they have to be able to count how many words of commentary a reviewer added, to determine if it was a skimpy critique or not, for credit purposes. The minions don't know how to do Word "document compare" directly, since they can't actually run Word. I could recode the minions to understand some sort of syntactic markup, however, like if the rule was, any commentary you add must be placed inside "[[ ... ]]" -- e.g., 

	"How many lambs are on your farm?" Tom asked sheepishly.
	[[ While clever, a Tom Swifty here in the middle of a dramatic scene didn't work for me. ]]

This would allow the minions to identify commentary; but it would require y'all to actually type in the "[[...]]" square brackes. (To the linuxly inclined, alas, no, "diff" doesn't cut it. As a side note, this would also make it clearer to recipients what the commentary is, since "compare documents" can often produce cryptic results. And just editing out a comma would take more than just hitting del, you'd have to mark it up, "[[ this comma feels redundant to me ]]" -- which is clearer to the recipient than squinting at a compare-docs bubble with a red comma in it; and also explains the reviewers thought process behind why they didn't like the comma.) 

So, question #1 is -- would you accept .DOC files as critiques?  (Clearly if an author can't read .doc files, a critiquer shouldn't be allowed to send them)

Question #2 is, if you had to mark up your .doc critiques with "[[...]]" syntax, would you still be enamored of sending .doc file critiques, or would that syntax burden just kill it for you?

[[ Thanks! ]]  :)

Woohoo!  Congratulations to...

	- Anna Salonen, who sold her (Critter'd) short story, "Waiting
	for the Dawn" to Apparition Lit .

Please report your Woohoo!s via the web page.


This week's Most Productive Critter award, for 5 critiques (at time
of judging), averaging almost 600 words each, goes to...

	Mark Suplinskas

To redeem an MPC, visit:

Congratulations!  To everyone else -- Crit early and often!

(For an explanation of the MPC award, see the page.)


Recommended Reading...
One of the best writing books - Secrets from the 6-time Best Editor
Critters Workshop

This week we have... [get from ]...
     Title                      	Author
Week of 13-Dec-2017 (Crits due 20-Dec-2017):
 SF  The Last Luddite                   [mpc] Jeffrey Abrams -#27303
 F   Roger and Hester - The Early Years  Richard Zwicker -#27304
 F   A Light in the Forest              [@] Chet Gottfried -#27305
 SF  Rentals                            Kevin P. Hallett -#27306
 SF  Audra, Chapter 5                   Chris Turner -#27307
 SF  The Sentinels                      Katherine R. Miller -#27308
 F   Where Authors Really Get Their Ideas  Chris Baker -#27309
 SF  The Frederick Douglass Guy         Douglas Kolacki -#27310
 F   Grayland: Lucky in Love            Terry Volkirch -#27311
 H   I Know the Day You Die             Christian L. Campbell -#27312
 F   The Bitter Root of Power           Pennell Paugh -#27313
 H   The Doctor and his Patients        Mark Keane -#27314
 F   Sky Piercer Chapter - 1            Jorge Rodriguez Soto -#27315
 SF  VRO                                Dave Leack -#27316
 SF  An Overdose of Honesty             Ulrich Minnaar -#27317
 SF  Outcast, Chapters 1-5              Kelsen Chau -#27318

Recommended books on writing:

	ReAnimus Press Store:


STAYIN' ALIVE - A WRITER'S GUIDE by three-time SFWA President Norman Spinrad
	How things really work in the art and commerce of publishing |

	(A 99cent essay on SF and writing) |
A great collection of Native American Science Fiction. Yes, you read that right. Nebula finalist!
Pieces up for critique in other workshops...

In the lit workshop - :
 L   Femme Fatale                       Dave Schultz -#27144

In the mystery workshop - :
 T   The Man Next Door                  Michelle Godard-Richer -#27302

In the nonfiction workshop - :
 NT  The Significance of the Fronting of the Prepositional Phrase in the Text of Genesis 01 01  Rebecca Miller -#26818

In the script workshop - :
 SC  The Happiness of Chez Feliz        Jerry Sexton -#27163

In the kids workshop - :
 YL  The Sylvan Stories, Chapters 1-2   Nayana Wagle -#27164

In the comics workshop - :
 CG  Metropolise, Chapter 1             Carina Mchardy -#26473

In the western workshop - :
 W   A Message to Santa Fe, Chap 1-3    Frank Coombs -#25375

In the romance workshop - :
 R   Beauty and the Werebeast           Charmaine Seifts -#26692

In the video workshop - :
 VS  The Gallery of Henri Beauchamp     Jay DeTalente -#21424

In the music workshop - :
 MP  The Shade Riders and Nocturnal Ned song  Beth Zurkowski -#21675

In the photo workshop - :
 PH  Dry Mud and Cinder Cone            Bill Wight -#19627

In the art workshop - :
 AI  The Dark Jester in an Archway      Joy Landa -#25620

In the website workshop - :
 WW  Ax-yZ The Creative Projects Platform  Charles Gull -#27088

In the critters workshop - :
 SF  The Last Luddite                   [mpc] Jeffrey Abrams -#27303
 F   Roger and Hester - The Early Years  Richard Zwicker -#27304
 F   A Light in the Forest              [@] Chet Gottfried -#27305
 SF  Rentals                            Kevin P. Hallett -#27306
 SF  Audra, Chapter 5                   Chris Turner -#27307
 SF  The Sentinels                      Katherine R. Miller -#27308
 F   Where Authors Really Get Their Ideas  Chris Baker -#27309
 SF  The Frederick Douglass Guy         Douglas Kolacki -#27310
 F   Grayland: Lucky in Love            Terry Volkirch -#27311
 H   I Know the Day You Die             Christian L. Campbell -#27312
 F   The Bitter Root of Power           Pennell Paugh -#27313
 H   The Doctor and his Patients        Mark Keane -#27314
 F   Sky Piercer Chapter - 1            Jorge Rodriguez Soto -#27315
 SF  VRO                                Dave Leack -#27316
 SF  An Overdose of Honesty             Ulrich Minnaar -#27317
 SF  Outcast, Chapters 1-5              Kelsen Chau -#27318

You might also like... THE EGG OF THE GLAK by HARVEY JACOBS
Some of Harvey's best, believably fantastical short stories

Standard notes:

If you need help with anything, see -- there
are FAQs and a form to ask questions.

Critters is donation funded & volunteer run, so if you'd like to
help out with our current fund drive or otherwise, please visit -- Thanks!!

Remember to send the critiques directly to me,, so
I can forward them to the authors _and_ give you credit for your effort.
Please send only one critique per mail message (makes it easier to
archive).  Please make sure the "#" symbol and manuscript number are in
the email Subject: line, like Subject: #1234.  (Conversely, if you want
ol' Aburt to personally read the message, i.e., it's _not_ a critique,
don't put a "#" in the subject or I won't see it.  Also -- put my current
anti-spam code word in there: see .)

You may also send your critiques via .

Note that all critiques will be available to everyone to read the next Saturday.

Remember, authors and critiquers, we're all friends here.  Be polite.  Be
considerate.  Be tactful.  You can say you thought a story was drivel in a
courteous way.  Try to point out the good and the bad; offer alternatives
if you can.  Never, ever, attack the author -- only the story.  Authors:
Remember that some reviewers may lack tact.  Try to be understanding,
but if you get any that you feel are just plain mean-spirited, too short
to be of any use, or too "feel good," let me know and I'll withhold the
reviewer's "credit" for that story and/or cajole them into something
more insightful.  See for more...

If you want to send a short critique that you know is too short for
credit (200 words or less of your own meaningful content) please put
"NC#" in the Subject (NC=No Credit, like Subject: NC#1234) -and- say
something like "not for credit" inside your critique.  (Remember also that
for MPC purposes, a critique must be 300 words or more.)

Comments -other- than critiques (such as discussion of the critiques,
or Woohoo! announcements, or chit chat) should be posted to one of the
official Critters discussion forums (See the
web page for full info, guidelines, etc.)  Don't post stories or critiques
(mail those to

Please pare the ms. down if critiquing in-line (don't quote the whole ms.!).
Other format rules are at .

Past reviews are on the web page.  The current week's manuscripts are
also there, as are prior mss. and even some rewrites.  There's a Master
Page Index (site map) with tons of links to common items.

Authors for this week -- if you aren't getting email'd critiques from
me (as they come in) within a couple days -- ask me and we can verify
I'm sending them to the correct address.  (Send me a phone# in case I
can't get email to you.)  Check the format of your story ASAP to make sure
it's all there and readable.

If you want to change your email address or preferences (# mss. emailed,
SF/F/H type, or whether you get the huge critique batches at week's end),
point your browser to .  Please don't
ask me to do this by hand, it's quite a chore!  (E.g., if you're going
on vacation and want to suspend mail from me -- do this before/after
your trip.)

If you're unable to reach to get manuscripts, I've set up
an emergency backup site at where you can get the
week's manuscripts (but not much of anything else :-).  Speaking of backups --
don't forget to back up your own manuscripts so you don't lose them!

If you want to quit or go inactive, drop by .

Critters is funded by donations, so visit
if you'd like to help out.

Because you might enjoy it... MEXICA by NORMAN SPINRAD
Montezuma meets Cortez in an acclaimed historical novel

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