I was absolutely delighted to hear an upcoming story of mine mentioned on Episode 31 of the Rocket Talk podcast, especially since I listen to Rocket Talk regularly. The last time I got this excited while listening to a podcast was when Tom & Veronica mentioned my Visual Guide to Boneshaker on the Sword & Laser. Anyway, in this episode, Justin Landon (of Staffer’s Book Review) interviewed the Book Smugglers about reviews, publishing and other things.
At one point Landon mentions something he calls “the Clarion Effect”—he claims that science fiction and fantasy stories published in professional venues tend to follow similar structures and display similar voices thanks to the enormous influence of the Clarion Writer’s Workshop on both writers and editors. This is the first time I’ve heard “the Clarion Effect” used this way; usually when a similar phrase pops up it’s in relation to the networking opportunities available for Clarion attendees i.e. meeting future editors and other writers, leading to a (arguably) disproportionate amount of Clarion graduates populating the highest-paying markets.
Of course, that also might be because the Clarion selection process is so rigorous that only the most talented writers who can afford the tuition and Greyhound ticket make it to the workshop in the first place.
I’ve never attended Clarion, so I can’t vouch for the networking or instructional benefits of going there. But I am curious about Landon’s “Clarion Effect”—have any of you noticed a sameness to voices and story structures in sff magazines, particularly American ones? Do you think a workshop can have such a large ripple effect in Anglophone fantastic literature? And do you think this is helpful or not-so-helpful effect to the current state of the field?
(I will note that in this context Landon was praising the Book Smugglers for avoiding the “Clarion Effect” and not automatically choosing big-name authors out of their slush pile—which was fortunate for me! So I’m probably more sympathetic to his argument than I should be.)