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As I've mentioned before, I rarely read new books. Most of what I read was probably written during the first seventy-five years of the twentieth century. I'm particularly fond of books from the forties and fifties. Gold Medal type crime novels and science fiction from that era. Maybe it's just because those books are written in the style current when I started going to the library. To me they are what writing ought to be.

For one thing most of those novels are concise. What is it with novels today? Does every sf story need to be 600 pages long and every fantasy 800? Do today's authors really have ideas that are that much better than the ones Alfred Bester and Michael Moorcock, for instance, packed into narratives of modest length? The same bloat has infected the mystery field in which masters like Agatha Christie and Georges Simenon somehow contrived to write masterpieces in 60,000 words or less.

Mary's tastes are no more up to date than mine, as demonstrated by the fact that, like me, it never occurred to her that it might not be the best idea to set a mystery series in the sixth century, which no one cares about, featuring a eunuch, which no one wants to even think about.

Believe or not we didn't choose to make our detective a eunuch for any fancy literary psychological reasons. He started off in a short story as a practically anonymous Lord Chamberlain to the Byzantine emperor and the office of Lord Chamberlain was traditionally filled by a eunuch, as was a large portion of the government administration.

When we wrote longer stories and finally novels we didn't bother to change his sex, or lack thereof, because...well...we were writing classic puzzle mysteries which don't involve sex.

You see our error, I'm sure. Thinking we could get away with writing a modern novel with no sex in it. Even a mystery novel. Ha! I'm sure that if John Dickson Carr were writing today and had Gideon Fell investigating a locked room murder he'd be sure that someone had sex in the locked room prior to the murder. Probably he'd solve it while having sex, although I'd prefer not to read it. Is that why modern mysteries and fantasies are so long? All that sex? Anyway, John does have a love scene in the first novel, but it apparently wasn't enough.

Sex. Sex. Sex. That's all readers want these days.

I'm going to have to speak to Mary about this immediately.

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