Short Fiction Meme
I love to read. When I was growing up, I’d make frequent trips to the library and come back with a stack of thick hardbacks. Then my mother would steal them because she liked to read too. At the bookstore though, one of the places I always visited was the anthology section. Sci Fi Signal has a meme about short fiction, so I couldn’t resist. Please feel free to steal the questions and answer them yourself!
Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction?
Yes, I read short fiction. I couldn’t tell you what my reading time is, though. It’s just folded up into reading.
From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections?
All of the above. One of the most fun things was going to a con and finding all these small press anthologies like 13 Mermaids with glorious covers that promised good stories inside. It made me think, “How do I get invited to one of these?”
If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado?
I roam around different genres primarily. I’m afraid I don’t particularly enjoy literary stories.
What about the format appeals to you?
I like that they can be a little more experimental. A novel has to fit within certain perimeters, like genre and structure. I read a short story called “26 Monkeys, Also to the Abyss” (in Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Tent), and it was comprised of very short scenes that took place over an extended period. It made for a haunting story. But in a novel? In the longer form, it would have been choppy and gotten tiresome.
I also like being able to scan through an anthology and pick what catches my eye. I don’t have to start at the beginning, and I don’t have to read the whole thing right away.
Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction?
Format, no. But I have been disappointed to pick up an entire magazine or anthology of short fiction and have no women writers and no women characters.
What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market?
I think ePublishing has given us wonderful opportunities, but it’s also brought out the worst. I reviewed an anthology of short stories for an author. The stories were fantasy, and were world building light. From the comments by the author in the back, his critique group told him description was boring and instead of making it interesting, he removed it — and all the world building. Then he noted that every magazine he’d sent the stories to had rejected them and he didn’t know why — but was publishing them anyway. I started thinking, “And I’m getting your slush pile rejects?” I want writers to give me give good stories, not just try to make money off me in desperation.
Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released?
I liked to read, but frankly, if I tried to read everything, I’d never have time to write!
What stories, classic or contemporary, would you recommend that most adequately capture your feelings about short fiction and/or highlight what the format can do?
“26 Monkeys, Also to the Abyss,” which I mentioned above. “Sleep with One Eye Open,” is a wonderful story about a woman coming to terms with who she is in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s long out of print, but I liked the way it brought details into the story in a way I still struggle a lot with. I also really enjoyed the early Sword and Sorceress anthologies. Marian Zimmer Bradley looked for stories about women, which is still sorely lacking in fiction today. Unfortunately, the later books in this series suffers from having a small clique of writers, so I feel like I’m getting stories I’ve already read.