The Higgs Boson Anthology: Yours to Keep and Share

All this week, some amazing writers have come together to bring you the Higgs Boson Anthology, a series of pieces dedicated to and inspired by the search for the elusive particle.

The project was the brainchild of Marcella O’Connor, our resident physicist, after Daisy originally posted her Protracted Series of Mildly Humiliating Events that Lead to the End of the World. The idea coalesced after comments by PD and others, and the beautiful response to Daisy’s piece, posted again here, by Marc Horne, and then Marcella whipped our butts and those of writers everywhere, and this is the result.

Now, Marcella has turned the collection into a bookbuzzr, which means you can read it on screen in this wonderful book-like format at any time you want, simply by clicking the widget. And once you’ve done that, all you need to do is click “share” and you can make it magically appear on your blog or your Facebook or in your e-mail signatures (you can create a bookbuzzr widget for your own worsk as well).

The pdf is available to download here for free, so  have a browse, and a read, and see what happens when art and science collide – and don’t forget to introduce it to all the scientists you know :):


Scientists are the front line in the struggle to explain our world, but scientific knowledge belongs to everyone. It is the job of the artist to find a home in the collective conscious for new information.


Nonfiction by Bradley Wind

Untitled by Stuart Estell

LHC by Marc Horne

No Matter What by Tom Bladon

The Unknown Proof by JCH Slaton

Gone Gorilla by PD Allen

Where are You by Sarah Snell-Pym

The Originas of Mass by Sheena Ignatia

Say Hello Wave Goodbye to the Particle God Function by Marc Nash

Dancing Higgs Particles by Andrew Meek

Higgs Boson by Lev Parikian

The Protracted Series of Mildly Humiliating Events that Lead to the End of the World by Daisy Anne Gree

Solid by Dan Holloway

Supersymmetric: Almost but not Quite by Alison Wells

The Theory of Everything by Marcella O’Connor

To kick off the anthology, please enjoy this nerdcore rap video from FERMI NATIONAL ACCELERATOR LAB :

~ by yearzerowriters on April 24, 2010.

27 Responses to “The Higgs Boson Anthology: Yours to Keep and Share”

  1. I’ll post the pdf link around Amazon with FREE BOOK pronounced prominently. Kindle readers should gobble it up.

  2. Fab, thanks. Will probably be Monday/Tuesday – I think it would be good to get some brief bios to goin if people want to add them.

  3. […] The Higgs Boson Anthology: Yours to Keep and Share « Year Zero Writers […]

  4. […] the details are here and the links to bookbuzzer.  There will shortly be a downloadable PDF> When I get my non scientific brain in gear […]

  5. Okay, I’m gonna be the bad guy. This anthology is very uneven in quality [i think]. It feels like some of the stories were done in about five minutes and written without any real compulsion.

    There are some really good ones, but also some really bad ones. I think if we do anthologies in the future then we must be careful about what goes in and have the courage to say no to anything that isn’t good enough.

    But maybe i’m too harsh. Maybe others like all of the stories. What do you guys think?

    Sorry for being a prick.


    • Yeah, I found the efforts to be a little uneven. But it can be difficult filtering submissions without reflecting your own personal preferences. Editing can be such a subjective process. I mean, just because there’s something I don’t like doesn’t mean that others might not find it to be the crowning achievement of the anthology.

      I guess its a question of defining your standards before the submission process even begins.

      • I believe there are standards. I mean, there are differences in taste, but generally, even if you don’t like a story, you know if it’s well written or decent. Don’t you? Or you know if it needs more work? Or if it doesn’t fit?

        I don’t know, it’s hard to talk about this without sounding arrogant. I think i might be digging myself into a hole of prickness.

  6. […] The Higgs Boson Anthology […]

  7. I agree with Oli, and like him I don’t feel good about saying it, partly because I know how difficult these tasks are, and I’m highly aware of problems with my own work. But lately our content has been highly uneven, and that can take away from the really excellent stuff on the site.

    • Is it just the Higgs Anthology that was uneven? Or do you think other things posted on YZ have quality issues as well?

      • Just to be absolutely clear, it’s a broad issue and not a veiled attack on you. I love your work and want to see more of it on here. I’d be happy seeing your last book serialised, so I could read a chapter a night.

  8. Personally, i think in general the quality is uneven, but i think that might stem from us posting stuff every day on site. I know i’ve thought about posting old stories that probably aren’t very good. I also think it’s natural for things to be uneven and like PD said, everything is a matter of taste…

    But the thing i’m worried about is that people are just praising and not saying anything when they think the story might have problems. And that could be damaging for us as a site, as any other online site lives or dies by the discussion it raises, and people disagreeing with each other. How often do we have disagreements here?

    I could be wrong, maybe people really do love all the pieces put up, but i doubt it. It’s not logical.

    The thing about the anthology is…i don’t know, i guess i can put it into a question: Did you accept every story you got?


    • Yes. I accepted every story I got. I didn’t think of it as a serious anthology that would be shopped to literary agents and the like, but more of a bit of craic. I thought it would be a fun way to reach out to people who read Year Zero who aren’t in the collective and give them a chance to feel like they’re participating as well. Plus, I only received 12 submissions and didn’t feel I could afford to be picky.

      I don’t think I’d ever be up for the job of editing a serious anthology. I wouldn’t feel comfortable rejecting pieces because I’d always wonder if the rejected piece genuinely wasn’t good, or if it just didn’t suit my taste.

      There are a lot of pieces posted here that don’t suit my taste, but I hesitate to criticise them because I don’t think my taste is or should be the be-all and end-all. Also, I can see how some people whose stories are weaker (in my opinion) bring something else to the table.

      • You should criticise if you feel like it. It’s a good thing isn’t it?

        I didn’t understand Marc’s writing so I asked him about it. At least i hope that’s what I did. I think it’s important that we can do that without worrying about offending people.

        The anthology was a good thing to do, but i’m wondering if it was a good idea to link it so heavily to year zero? I’m in two minds about this. One part of me says, ‘be exclusive’, and the other says, ‘who the fuck do you think you are, and who the fuck is reading anyway?’ I mean, it’s not like we’re the NEW YORKER or anything, so maybe i’m overreacting and the anthology was fine.

        And Marcella, I’m not doubting your talents at anything. I know the position you were in, as i’m always in the same position with Gupter mag. This one guy sent me a story about a drunk Pluto [Disney Pluto] walking around a shopping mall and i almost felt obliged to print it because he sent it, even though it was fucking awful.

  9. I tried to run Mountain Sentinel briefly as a literary website. I only received a handful of submissions and all of them were terrible. I hung onto them for months without posting anything. Finally I emailed the writers and told them there weren’t enough submissions to work with so I was giving up of the ezine endeavor. And I thanked them all for submitting.

    No way would I ever take a job as editor.

  10. First of all I’m very grateful to Marcella for bringing the whole thing together and putting in all the work involved. Any anthology is going to have variegation of work and for that matter, taste. We might have thought a bit more about how it was presented, eg a rapid response to the HB/LHD, guerilla lit almost – ie read these before we disappear over the event horizon type of schtick. But the work itself I think is just fine.

    I wasn’t an original member of YZ, so I missed its founding fathers & mothers’ mission statements expressed through their works. When I joined, it was very much based around this newly launched website, collective/shared marketing of self-published books that were all about to come out, while many of the original memebrs seemed to have moved on, or at least lessened their activity within the collective.

    As far as this site is concerned, there seem to be what 7/8 hardcore members who have contributed consistently since the site went live. We’ve started performing together in some cases. Collaborations are emerging. So yes, inevitably we’re getting very comfy around each other and that reflects in our comments. Whisper it, but we’ve become friends damn it. YZ has opened its doors to guest contributors, so maybe that will help move the tendency away from comfortable shoes. But it brings in a whole load of other dynamics.

    There is an issue of producing new stuff every day on the site. I myself have slackened off the initial feverish pace of my contributions. So maybe Oli’s post here is a good opportunity for review of where we’re at right at this point.

    1) Creatively
    2) Marketing
    3) Fan interaction
    4) Critiques

    marc nash

    • 2) Marketing
      3) Fan Interaction

      I do worry that I don’t see much fan interaction here. It seems to be mostly us commenting on each other’s work, along with a few other friends. If this collective is not to stagnate, then we need to reach outside our circle.

      Dan & I have an idea that might be a big boon for items 2 & 3. But I’ll wait until Dan’s ready to make the announcement.

    • ‘There is an issue of producing new stuff every day on the site’/ There is, and it could make us feature stuff which isn’t quite up to scratch. This issue has arisen now that the pace has slackened off, and we have opened our doors – and just to be clear, it is not a criticism of Marcella, but of recent trends. But there’s a positive in all this, which is the open and non-defensive way in which people have responded to Oli’s post: as Marc says, let’s treat it as an opportunity.

  11. Personally I find you guys put too much stuff up and it would take up too much of my reading time to get through it all – I had the same problem which is why I now have multiple blogs. You could just keep stuff in readiness?

    As for the anthology – I can’t get the book to work so I haven’t read it but with the comments here, those of us who have come from the outside will feel automatically that our work is basically crap which after being happy about getting in, is a big crushing blow.

    There isn’t a problem in rejecting work that doesn’t fit – you just say it doesn’t fit. I feel that whats happened here is more damaging.

    The other thing is it takes me longer than the submission time given to normally construct a story or a poem as I find sitting time very important.

    • Sarah, please don’t feel as though the comments here reflect on your work or any of the work that we were lucky enough to get from people for the anthology. Art is extremely subjective in nature, and the appreciation of it even more so.

      For instance, I hate the Mona Lisa. I think it’s a piece of shit – but people are queueing up at the Louvre to see it. Also Oli thinks the first chapter of my book Babylon is utter shit, and the first review I ever got on it said it was awful and it didn’t deserve to be published.

      I think the comments here are directed to Year Zero members and weren’t meant to make anyone feel as though their contribution was crap. We were very lucky and excited that people got involved. This is more a discussion of where we are as a group – a discussion that we’ve been having on and off for a while.

    • Well lads, now I feel a bit guilty. I didn’t go about this thinking I’d make it like a big competition where the best writing got in and it was The Paris Review of the indie lit world. I thought of it as more of an experiment, like, “Let’s tell a load of writers to be creative about the Higgs Boson and see what they come back with.” I went into in the spirit of a jam session or open mic rather than looking to create a perfect symphony.

      • That’s how I saw it and again I utterly thank you for it and all your work bringing it together.


      • There’s nothing to feel guilty about Marcella. I view the anthology as a raw gemstone. It is the flaws and trace elements that give it it’s beauty. And there is some really good stuff in the collection.

        No harm, no foul.

  12. I’m glad this has come up. Stagnation is def not what we want.
    It is not about the HB, I took that as open mic. (I didn’t submit coz, like Sarah, I need loads more time.)
    I’m interested to hear what PD & Dan have come up with re:marketing & reaching out to new readers & I do agree w/PD that comments bothersome in that only from ourselves & the (much appreciated) hardcore.


  13. The Higgs Boson Anthology was a wonderful idea of Marcella’s (with a bit of PD’s encouragement as I remember) that arose from Daisy’s piece and the fantastic reaction that it sparked from Marc Horne. It was a great way of getting lots of authors involved in doing something interesting, challenging, fun, and spontaneous – unplanned, unreflective, and just for the writerly hell of it. It clearly captured the imagination of a whole bunch of authors from outside our group who every one of them responded in exactly the spirit of the project to create something I am deeply proud to be part of.

    I think possibly some of the guys who were extremely busy with their own stuff didn’t realise what we were doing.

    I think making guests of ours who have been so generous and giving of their time and their talent, and so supportive of the project feel unwelcome, unvalued, and criticised is utterly and wholly unacceptable, and goes against everything this group stands for and one of the major rationales behind setting it up.

    I would say in defence that all groups of writers are volatile and have diffeerences of opinion as to the direction a collective enterprise should take. I say “would” because here I really don’t think that is a justification. If that were the issue, everyone has my e-mail, and everyone has Marcella’s e-mail and all comments to that effect should have been sent in private (and, of course, even in private should not have contained any criticism of the contributions to this project). We owe not justification but apology and thanks, and everyone involved in this fantastic project has my unreserved both.

  14. It’s unacceptable to offer criticism??

    Man, are you serious?

    I didn’t name names. I said that the anthology was uneven. I appreciate what Marcella has done, it’s active and it will get some attention, but the fact is, we’ve heavily assoicated it with year zero, and it will reflect upon us.

    No disrespect to any of the writers, but i think we have to be careful not to accept everyone who comes knocking, because the harsh truth is, not everyone is of the right standard. I know that sounds arrogant, but i believe there is a standard and we have to accept that. Like i said before, i don’t like everything posted here, but i’m pretty sure of what’s decent and what needs more work. Am i wrong in this?

    I don’t see why any of this has to be private e-mailed. Open discussion is fine.


  15. […] – And for me, that collaboration is 80%+ of what I’ve loved, so one of THE highlights was the Higgs Boson anthology. I’m not going to do a where now at this stage, because whatever I say, reality will prove it […]

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