Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Alphabetical Discrimination

Okay - let's try something here.  Start listing some war-horses of sci-fi.  Who comes to mind?  Here are a few big names.
    Isaac Asimov
    Arthur C. Clarke
    Orson Scott Card
    Michael Crichton
    Douglas Adams
    Terry Brooks
    Philip K. Dick
    Ray Bradbury
    Edgar Burroughs
    Piers Anthony
    Michael Crichton
Are you noticing any patterns here?  Let me spell it out to you: Adams, Anthony, Asimov, Bradbury, Brooks, Burroughs, Card, Clarke, Crichton, Dick.

Yes - you see it now!  They all start with A, B, C, or D!  Coincidence?  I don't think so.  Let me relate an actual experience.

I went with my friend to Edward McKay's used book store in Winston Salem.  My friend wanted to get some good Russian books.  While I waited, I thought I'd try out the sci-fi section.  What did they have?  I started in the beginning with the A's.  I got stuck in that section because that's where all my favorite sci-fi authors are.  I saw Card (had to check out his whole collection), Asimov, Crichton, Clarke.  There was a lot of good stuff.

Then my friend tapped me on my shoulder and said, "Okay Mel - it's time to go.  I got my book."

Dang!  I didn't make it past the D's.  I looked down and saw how far the sci-fi section went.  It wrapped around a corner.  Then it hit me.

"Oh no - the W's are all in that dark corner over there!  That's where my books would be!"

Yes - I'm doomed.  If I ever do get published, no one will ever buy my books, because they'll get stuck at the end of the alphabet where all the cobwebs live!

Not convinced?  Well, ask yourself - where do all the "W" fiction books sit in the library?  They're in the back where the graduate students study - and boy do they hate to be disturbed.  "Hey, could you stop turning pages over there?!  Researching over here!"  No wonder people are always checking out the "ABCD" books!

Still not convinced?  Well, think back to elementary school.  Where do the "W" kids sit?  In the back of the room, because the teacher arranged the kids in alphabetical order!  And when you went to lunch, where were the "W" kids in line?  You guessed it - at the end.  By the time I made it to the drink station, they were always already out of chocolate milk!

Still, still not convinced?  Here's another gem from the Mel-o-vault.  One January, I flew out to BYU after Christmas break.  The plane was full of B-Y-zoobies.  There was a big snowstorm, and I knew that traffic would be crazy.  I made a beeline to the baggage claim, and then to the Provo Shuttle.  I got there well before anyone else did.  The dude wrote down my name and said it would be at least another hour before the next shuttle came back.

An hour!?

I went over to the chairs and I sat.  I watched as the other B-Y-zoobies came over to reserve a spot on the next shuttle.  That line got long, and I was so glad I got there first.  Then came the moment of truth.  The dude announced, "The shuttle is here," and he proceeded to call out names.  My name wasn't first.  It wasn't second.  Everybody else got on the shuttle, and then the dude stopped calling names.

I wasn't on the shuttle.

I went up to the dude and asked, "Hey - why didn't you call my name?"

He said, "The shuttle's full.  You'll have to wait for the next one."

"When will that be?"

"Two hours in this weather."

I said, "Well, I was here first."

He answered, "There were so many of you, we had to put you in alphabetical order."  And thinking back I realized - yes he did call the names in alphabetical order.

I ended up taking the city bus.

Yes - alphabetical discrimination is real!

I just know that some editor or publisher (or Orson Scott Card's agent) is reading this right now thinking: Duh!  You're never going to get published with a name like that.  Don't you know we sort our slush pile in alphabetical order?  If your last name starts with anything higher than a "P" we go ahead and place your manuscript in the circular file.  Believe me - it saves us time, and it'll save you time.  Mr. Windham - you might as well give up now.

Well, I'll tell you what.  One way or another, I'm going to get published!  Go ahead and sort your slush piles all you want.  Do you want to know why?

Because beginning today, my name is Melvyn Aardvark, and I'm your next #1 author!

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