|Description: A wastebasket, overflowing with crumpled up pieces of paper and trash.|
- Weird things happen, but it turns out they're not real.
- In the end, it turns out it was all a dream.
- In the end, it turns out it was all in virtual reality.
- In the end, it turns out the protagonist is insane.
- In the end, it turns out the protagonist is writing a novel and the events we've seen are part of the novel.
- An AI gets loose on the Net, but the author doesn't have a clear concept of what it means for software to be "loose on the Net." (For example, the computer it was on may not be connected to the Net.)
We often receive stories that match items on this list but that have cover letters saying "This matches something on your list, but I've done something new and unique and different with it." Such stories almost always turn out to be very similar to other stories we've seen. If your story is a close match to one or more items on this list (especially if it's a close enough match that you feel the need to include a cover-letter disclaimer), you may want to consult some friends who are well-read in the genre before deciding that it's probably different from what we see all the time. (And by the way, we often don't read cover letters until after we've read the story.) One more thing: We know it's tempting to look at this list as a challenge. Please don't. In particular, please don't send us stories that intentionally incorporate one or more of these items.The whole list is instructive, illuminating and also kind of awesome. Read the whole thing.