Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lazy Tuesday

Although not really. I've already written my daily 500 words, went to the bank, ate a donut (Long John, mmm), flicked through the first galley of The Sword and Laser anthology (breathe, breathe), tweeted a bunch, and various and sundry other tasks.

Hmm, it doesn't sound so impressive as a list.

Anyway, now I have to edit a few short stories. This is how I spend my days off.

More content later this week!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lazy Monday

I have the day off. I was going to blog large, but, eh, I didn't. Tomorrow, though, I'll post...something.

Until then:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Short Stories Read through Januay 24th, 2014

This week was very busy and I only read three short stories, and honestly, none of them were very good. Like very not very good. Like I don't even want to talk about them because of their very-not-goodness. Like I don't even want to mention what stories they were because of their very-not-very-goodness.

If they were awful, it would be easy to talk about them, but they weren't awful; they were mediocre to not-very-good. Not good enough to care about, not bad enough to rant about.

They were the type of stories that justify the public's perceived apathy of the short form. Hopefully next week will be better.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Op-Ed: Where are All the Short Story Nominations?

I don’t know if any of you can tell, but I’ve tried to stay out of Genre Politics for the past few months. It seems like there is a new “controversy” popping up on a blog or Twitter every other day. Sure it’s fun to watch the different sides over-inflate and over-state their arguments, only to have the debate fizzle with no more effect than both sides of the camp being even more entrenched than they were before the argument.

Anyway – sorry for the sidetrack there – this self-imposed moratorium on Genre Politics (with a brief break to complain about the recent SFWA decision to raise the minimum rate for qualifying professional sales to six cents a word) extends to Award Season as well. I’ve aired my grievances with the various awards before and have been forced to eat my words on more than one occasion. You’d think that would get me to stop flapping my gob, eh?

Well, no, although this post shouldn’t be upsetting because it’s an objective observation that I hope other people have noticed as well:

No one is nominating short stories.

This was a problem last year too, when only three short stories were nominated. The threshold for nomination is LOW, as in a few dozen votes (if that). The fact that only THREE were nominated last year is insane.

I’ve read and groaned at over a dozen “nomination” lists. All of them include nominations for Best Novel, Best Dramatic Presentation, Best Fan Writer. Not a single one has listed a short story. Not a single one has listed a novelette. Only one listed a novella.

I know this isn’t a very large sample of the blogging/nominating population, but with such a small award, it is still significant.

My questions is: why aren’t short stories being read? Anyone who knows even the surface history of our genres know that true creativity, true excitement, true experimentation thrive in the short story market. There are styles, structures, subjects that can be executed successfully in the short form that would whither and die in novel form. Short stories have been the proving ground for new generations of writers for the past hundred years or more, and although there are quite a few authors who are publishing novels before shorts now, there are many more who are going the other path. Some of the most influential and creative writers of recent memory – Ted Chiang, Ken Liu, Yoon Ha Lee – have worked exclusively in the shorter forms and made a name for themselves by doing so (although Liu has a novel coming out soon, and I think Lee is working on one as well).

Right now, we have a slew of FREE TO READ pro and semi-pro mags that appeal to a wildly diverse audience and give you new content on a consistent basis:

Traditional SF/F: Lightspeed
SF Strange: Interzone
Challenging and experimental: Clarkesworld
Literary secondary-world fantasy: Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Dark Fantasy: Nightmare
Really Dark Fantasy: Black Static
Novelettes and novellas: Giganotosaurus
Eccentric: Strange Horizons
Bizarre: Bourbon Penn
Genre-crossing: Interfictions
Big names: Subterranean

And that’s not to mention the mags you can get via print or online for a small monthly fee: Asimov’s, Analog, F & SF, Shimmer.

There are countless others, of course. Most all of these magazines specialize in stories between one and seven thousand words (short story length), with specialized venues like Giganotosaurus publishing longer works of short fiction.

Besides magazines, many authors are publishing short fiction on their websites and via Amazon. Original anthologies, though rare, still appear on a regular basis, often sporting the biggest of big names.

There is no reason that in this age of smartphones and tablets that short fiction should be ignored. Beyond the awards, I don’t see much blog/Twitter activity regarding short fiction unless someone publishes something unbelievably racist/sexist/etcist. Sure sometimes one of the larger blogs will talk about one of the theme anthologies edited by GRRM, Dozois, Strahan, Datlow or the Vandermeers, but these anthologies (with exception to the Vandermeers’ projects) are usually narrow in scope, and feature authors who are more comfortable working in the novel form than the short form. Most of these anthologies are well put together and quite entertaining, but do not represent the best of what short fiction has to offer, namely the experimentation and exploration of form (again, with exception to the Vandermeers’).

This blog has seriously gone off the rails. They seem to have a tendency to do that when I get all riled up about a subject I care about. I write short stories, I read short stories. Short stories are one of the only forms that get me excited about genre anymore.

So, to summarize: y’all need to read more short stories. It’ll do you good.