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Bewildering Stories


Thematic Indexes?

with Viacheslav Yatsko

Dear Don,

I looked through BwS trying to find detective stories and was surprised to find out that your journal lacks genre classification. A reader is interested not only in literary forms (short story, novel, drama) but also in genres, such as detectives, science fiction, fantasy.

My impression is that BwS abounds in science fiction, and fantasy. Can you prompt the titles and authors of the best detective stories published in BwS?



At Bewildering Stories our first love is science fiction, but as you know, it is by no means all we publish; we’re all over the place, and we’re glad to publish detective stories as well.

We do have a Title, Author, Genre index maintained offsite by Michael E. Lloyd. However, we have no indexes of works by content. I agree that thematic indexes would be very desirable; I wish we had some. In addition to detective stories, time travel and horror also come to mind as readers’ favorites. Unfortunately, compiling even one such index would be an enormous undertaking. I can’t do it.

But I can imagine how a set of thematic indexes might be done. A team of about forty researchers could each read ten issues and send to the index coordinator the author, title and URL of each detective — or other — story they find. The coordinator could compile the data into lists alphabetized by authors. Then I could handle it; the results would be easy to format.

There’s another consideration: any thematic index would necessarily be somewhat arbitrary, and some stories would fall into more than one category. For example: what if a detective story happens to use time travel? Do we also classify it as a time travel story? I would say so: the more data, the better, and we needn’t rule out overlapping.

To get such a project under way, then, we would need:

  1. A large number of indexers. Forty would be ideal, but thirty might be able to do the job without too much strain.
  2. A coordinator, to compile the data in the various lists as it’s received.
  3. An agreement on the categories, e.g. detective and crime fiction, time travel, androids, straight fantasy, horror, etc. The indexers themselves would be free to propose categories.

Two of our editors are particularly fond of detective fiction: Bill Bowler and Bertil Falk. Bill’s “Charlenes 2 and 3” might be classified as a kind of mystery, but it falls mainly into the category of stories about androids, which is one of Bill’s favorite genres. Bertil’s most recent detective story is “The Cross Murders,” and he has published many other enjoyable works of a similar nature.

I hope this helps!


Copyright © 2010 by Viacheslav Yatsko
and Bewildering Stories

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