Last night, I received an email from a reader that included a quote and a link:

"Dr. Clarke is having apoplexy right now regarding that comp,tee piece of garbage published by a magazine that bears his name and ostensibly bears his legacy. " —Absolute Write forums (8/13/2010) on "Spar" by Kij Johnson from the October 2009 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine.

Clarkesworld Magazine has never made any claims to having a connection with Arthur C. Clarke. In fact, it bears the name of a bookstore I started over ten years ago (now closed) and that name came from the family domain I owned at the time. I know. Totally unimaginative. 🙂

Anyhow, "Spar" is a story we’re quite proud to have published. When we received this story from Kij, we knew it would trigger some passionate responses. The folks at Absolute Write haven’t said anything we haven’t before. In fact, it’s pretty tame. When "Spar" won the Nebula, one author said that Clarkesworld was killing the genre by publishing crap like this (despite that, he still submits stories to us) and a couple of people decided to make personal attacks (deleted, as per our policy) on Kij in the comments area for that story. Poke around the internet and you’ll find some very hateful comments about "Spar" that will cause these to pale in comparison.

On the flip side, "Spar":
– won the Nebula Award
– is a current Hugo nominee
– placed 2nd in the Locus Poll
– was a finalist for the Sturgeon Award (Kij withdrew it, she’s a judge)
– included in Strahan’s Year’s Best
– has received countless positive reviews and praise

If you want to kill the genre, you don’t do it by publishing controversial stories. In fact, you’ll know we’re all in trouble when no one is publishing them. Love or hate them, we need to celebrate these stories.

So, what are some of your favorite controversial stories?