Last night (Wednesday, July 20) I participated in “Story Slam of the Fantastic” with OnSpec Magazine at the Haven. It was MC’d by the fabulous Roxanne Felix, who did a great job of ad-libbing and providing kind remarks for the courageous writers. The OnSpec editors were present and gave out free copies of their magazine to anyone who had never heard of them (I should have feigned ignorance). They also gave out a free one-year subscription to the winner of the Slam, and a free one-year subscription on a random post-it note on page 42 of one of the copies (which copy remains unknown).
I read a story I recently wrote called “The Quantum Idiot”. I was hard-pressed to trim it to the five-minute cutoff of the Slam, and ended up losing 2 points for taking 5:35 +/- 10 (you know when you’ve been doing too much thesis writing when you give error bars for EVERYTHING). Roxanne drew names out of a hat to determine who read, and I ended up going last. It’s pretty nerve-wracking when you’re waiting to see if you get called, and being last when everyone’s tired isn’t the most ideal situation. It was still fun to try and go for a humorous sci-fi story, a goal I believe I achieved from the few bursts of laughter I got from the geeks in the audience. It’s a strange crowd, with scores fluctuating widely and unpredictably. I’ve heard that you can’t really target a certain type of audience in a slam, because it has a huge standard deviation (damn you, thesis!). The stories which I thought were very good did not get the recognition they deserved, in my opinion, and tonight the winner happened to be a comedian rather than a good short–story teller. It also had nothing to do with speculative fiction, which cracked my nerdy heart a little bit, but the series of jokes was not without its merits. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again — I’m still trying to grok the experience.