By Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll
When I was a teenager in the 1970’s my brothers and I loved to backpack.
On one trip we were hiking through the hills of Point Reyes National Seashore and came across a campground with toilet facilities.
Inside the small wooden building, among the rest of the typical graffiti was a message that I have remembered ever since. Someone had written on the wall directly in front of where any young man would stand. It said, “We aim to please. You aim too, please.”
I liked how the two phrases sounded so similar yet meant something so different, but still applied to the function of the facility where I stood. If we all did our job, then I would have a more pleasant experience; they, presumably, the cleaners/caretakers, and I the user. In fact, the pleasantness of my experience was ultimately in the hands of myself, and the other users.
Why do I bring this up here?
Well, when I was a teenager, back in the 70’s, you might remember if you were paying attention, I took an interest in reading science fiction and fantasy. Later in the 80’s a favorite author was Piers Anthony and his very popular Xanth series. After several of his books came out, he started including reader feedback at the end of the book, after the story. He would share comments from readers and which puns he added to the story from reader input.
Back then, all we really had to communicate to author, or anybody else, was the telephone and mail. Since I couldn’t get Piers on the phone, my only real option would have been to write a letter. (Too much work.)
Authors are much more accessible now.
My current favorite is Nathan Lowell who I not only like his writing, but I like him, because he is such a nice guy. I know this because I have spoken with him on twitter. I can let him know what I thought of how his last “Solar Clipper” story ended. Was it Article 31? Or I can tell him how much I would like another Tannith Fairport story. One time he put out a call for names in his “Double Share” story, and I even got in there.
Now more than ever, we can effect the authors of the fiction we like and encourage them to produce the product those in the market like us will buy.
As a side note, we just opened forums at Flying Island Press so that the readers can have direct input into what kinds of stories we will put into our future issues.
So, take aim and be pleased.