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Short Fiction Friday: My Questions, Your Answers (A Short Fiction Meme)

I have been on this short fiction review gig for eight months now and it has been largely a one-sided affair, as these things are wont to be, with me sharing my thoughts and (hopefully…possibly) listening. In a week where work has taken its cue from episodes of The Twilight Zone, I have not had nearly enough time to read. This set me to thinking about our busy lives and the time we carve out for reading and what informs our reading choices. For none of us have the means by which to read everything we want to read every day.

Short Fiction seems to be an oft-maligned, or perhaps just oft-ignored, format though I do believe the sheer volume of short fiction magazines and print collections over the past years shows that its near-death has been greatly exaggerated. Thus I am curious, about you. About what you read. About the choices you make in regards to where you get your short fiction if short fiction is a part of your reading regimen. About why short fiction appeals to you and what stories you feel represent the best that short fiction has to offer.

So what I’ve done is put together a list of questions that you can cut and paste in the comments, in whole or in part, if you have the time to talk about you, your reading habits, and what about short fiction turns you on…or off.

  1. Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction?
  2. From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections?
  3. If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado?
  4. What about the format appeals to you?
  5. Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction?
  6. What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market?
  7. Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released?
  8. 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?

There you go.  In the interest of saving space here I believe I’ll take a moment to post my answers in the comments as well.  I welcome you to answer any or all of the questions and feel free to share even if you are vehemently opposed to the format and have nothing positive to say.  All opinions welcome.  It is probably obvious given that I try to read and review short fiction each week that I am passionate about the format and because reading is a very isolating activity I’m curious about the thoughts of both the casual and regular readers of SF Signal.

16 Comments on Short Fiction Friday: My Questions, Your Answers (A Short Fiction Meme)

  1. 1. Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction? Just under half at the moment it has always been at least a solid third of my reading time.

    2.From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections? Pretty much everywhere including author websites, online magazines like Clarkesworld, I have had subscriptions in the past to F&SF and interzone, best of year collections, themed and unthemed anthologies and I have bought individual and mini collections on Amazon.

    3. If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado? I read a broad spectrum of short fiction basically everything from Chekhov to Lydia Davis to Junot Diaz to a broad range of genre fiction.

    4. What about the format appeals to you? Can be consumed in one sitting. Can get an introduction to an author without needing to commit to a whole novel, many stories do not need a full novel to tell them in fact I would argue very few ideas need a full novel and many novels are full of padding. Also often there are ideas that are not marketable for a whole novel or I might not want to spend a whole novel with the characters (take most of Carver’s creations) but fit the short story world well. For instance how could Kij Johnson’s Spar be a novel? If it was I certainly would not want to read it but it works superbly as a short story.

    5. Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction? With a novel you can read as much as you want and then put it down. Short stories by their nature end and there is certainly more effort in starting a new work, getting used to new worlds, characters and writing styles than just reading the next chapter or starting the next book in a multi-volume series. Reading themed collections or more shorts by the same writer lessens this though. But if you take something like Gardner Dozois’ best of year collections how many people actually get through them all, great though many of the stories are it can be a bit of a slog.

    6. What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market? From a reader’s perspective it is great and varied – there are loads of great fiction available digitally for free, it is easy to subscribe at affordable rates to a wide range of excellent magazines, there is a huge amount of interesting work being produced and with sites like locus, sfsignal etc it is easy to be drawn to some of the more interesting work that is being produced. Kickstarter is also helping us fund work that we like that otherwise might not come into being. If I was a writer or a publisher I would need to think why should someone buy my story/collection rather than read much of the excellent free stuff that is available?

    7. Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released? SF speaks most strongly to the present and I think that is when it can be best enjoyed. It is also a great way to discover up and coming writers in the early stages of their career trajectory. Anyone who had read Paulo Bacigalupi’s short fiction would have been pretty excited when Windup Girl came out, they would get the benefit of anticipation and reading the novel at its most relevant. The more writers get support at the early stages of the writing the more likely they will continue and not need to make too many artistic compromises to make a living. Also there is so much great stuff being written at the moment to not read it would be missing out.

    8 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? I have already mentioned Kij Johnson, stories like Spar or Ponies show one side of the genre that many people do not really think about.

    Richard Parks writes modern fantasy stories in an interesting, satisfying and literate way that doesnt just feel derivative to Tolkien or the pulps,

    Nancy Kress consistently produces interesting stories that do not need a novel to say and contain as much as many novels do.

    Jeffrey Ford is unpredictable and original, you never know what his next story will do or be about. They are all very satisfying and fresh

    Lydia Davis can create a complete world in 20 words with wit and sophistication that are worth reading multiple times (not SF on the whole)

    Interesting work is coming out of other countries and being translated with perhaps greater frequency than there was before and I have enjoyed stories that people like Ken Liu and Charles Tan have brought to my attention.

    I love the oft overlooked Richard McKenna collection Casey Agonistes and Other Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories and great though each story is they are somehow more satisfying when read as a whole.

    • Great, thorough answers Ben. I too enjoy Nancy Kress, an author I first discovered because of her short fiction. Ken Liu is one whose work I enjoy but who also has brought me to read short works because of his name being touted as the translator.

      I agree that there are certainly novels that feel padded. On another note there are novels, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book springs to mind, that are structured like a series of short stories, with an occasional arcing thread, that end up being extra appealing to me because they feel like they are talking the best of both worlds and tying them together.

      I like a good anthology, but have to admit that I prefer a more reasonable length collection than the giant “Best Of” books that come out every year. As you mention, I think it is a difficult task to work in the time to read something that large when there is so much other current short fiction coming out daily, not to mention classic work that is worth checking out.

  2. 1.Do you read short fiction? Yes — 20% of time.
    2.From where do you partake of short fiction? Anthologies (author collections mostly but also themed) and online (Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Subterranean, and TOR.com).
    3.If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado? Mostly genre — although I’ve been eyeing the new Library of America John Updike collection.
    4.What about the format appeals to you? Short stories often hit on amazing ideas moreso than novels. They often take more chances and are usually not part of a trilogy or series. They stand alone.
    5.Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction? For collectors, you don’t ever own a short story. You can buy a collection, but these are already published reprints unless you buy a themed anthology from several authors.
    6.What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market? Probably not too strong. My guess is that aspiring writers are the main audience, but it doesn’t reach out to the broader audience unless you are a popular author. That is not to say that the quality is poor — that is not the case. It just doesn’t have the appeal that perhaps it once had.
    7.Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released? No. It’s too hard to keep up with novels and short fiction with the time I have.
    8.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? On my nightstand, I have Cordwainer Smith and James Tiptree’s collections. They both had fascinating lives that comes through in their fiction. The year’s best anthologies (Strahan or Dozois) are nice for people like myself who can’t keep up (I agree they are a bit overwhelming). Editors are crucial when it comes to short fiction. The content they select seems to be what drives short fiction the most. I read everything Ted Chiang puts out. I also try to read all of the Nebula/Hugo nominated works each year. Any writer can find themselves in contention, which is a cool thing about short fiction.

    • Beneath Ceaseless Skies is one I really need to check out. There is just never enough reading time.

      I agree that there are some really interesting chances taken in short fiction. And in a single-author collection I generally am more okay with that because I don’t mind if the story doesn’t work for me if others in the collection do.

      I agree in that there may not be as much “appeal” for short fiction. There certainly are a many passionate readers that I know, those who read and don’t read genre fiction, who don’t and won’t read short fiction. It isn’t always easy to convince them that they are missing out.

      James Tiptree, Jr. is an author I am way too under-read on. I need to just buy one of her collections.

      • I really like Beneath Ceaseless Skies and I also like how they are doing something different. They are publishing stories that I like and if they were not publishing them then the stories probably wouldnt appear in a major market. Everything there is well written, not pulpy/bad as is sometimes the case with adventure heavy stories.

  3. 1. Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction? Yes. At least 50% of my reading time.

    2. From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections? Online zines. Subscriptions? Best of year collections. Other kinds of collections.

    3. If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado? All genre.

    4. What about the format appeals to you? I can read a lot more stories than novels! short fiction that I read tends to be more about ideas than characters so its a great way to get to lots of interesting ideas.

    5.Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction? Well, I also like strong character development which you don’t usually get in short fiction. So I mix it up and read novels when I want that.

    6. What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market? I don’t really follow. Seems like there are lots of places online to get short fiction though, much of it free. I like that as a reader, not sure how good that is for the writers.

    7. Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released? Not really. I just look for things that sound interesting no matter when it was published.

    8. 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? That’s hard. I tend to not remember specific short stories the way I remember novels. Gardner Dozois Best of the Year books are probably my go to place to find a good mix of quality short works. Also I like Lightspeed and Subterranean and Tor.com.

    • I think I’ve probably approached the 50-60% range myself this year.

      I’m not sure if this is true in general, but for me personally my short fiction reading has increased exponentially because of the easy of getting it and carrying it around on an e-reader.

      It is hard to do great character development in a limited space, but I still find myself impressed that authors can make me care about a character, or characters, within the space limitations of short fiction.

  4. Okay, so here is me answering my own questions:

    1. Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction?

    Would be weird if I said “no”, right? 🙂 Yes I do. Over the past several years the amount of short fiction I read has increased exponentially and with my current gig here at SF Signal I end up reading short fiction every week and it generally dominates my reading time. Although I do continue to work in novels when I can.

    2.From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections?

    Prior to the purchase of a Kindle Fire HD last December almost all of my short fiction reading was done either from single author collections or anthologies and the issues of Asimov’s that I purchased. After getting the ereader I subscribed to Lightspeed and Clarkesworld and most of my short fiction reading is done on the Kindle. In addition I read online shorts from Tor.com and that often leads to discovering other online shorts by the same authors. I continue to purchase the print version of Asimov’s as I enjoy the nostalgic feeling of reading short SFF in a digest format.

    3.If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado?

    I am equal opportunity, though I have made a conscious decision to read more SFF this year and thus the scales have tipped from it being less genre focused to being more genre focused.

    4.What about the format appeals to you?

    This is where I’m going to go all screwy on you folks and say that I find that good short fiction has an indescribable “magic” to it. I often cannot say why a particular short story grabs hold of me and gives me an almost electric feeling as structurally they can be very similar to shorts that do not do that. I do know that whenever I feel a passionate connection to a short story I find myself marveling at the talent and skill, and maybe a little luck, that it must take for an author to accomplish what they do in a relatively small amount of words. Not that the same phenomenon is any less of an accomplishment with a novel, but I’ve always thought that a great short story is truly a work of art.

    As others have said the ability to actually start and finish a short story in a brief amount of time is certainly part of the appeal. And it truly is a great way to get a taste of an author’s work without an enormous time commitment. I’ve become a fan of many authors because of their short fiction.

    5. Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction?

    I don’t think the format has any drawbacks for me. It really is a story not being enjoyable that has the biggest effect on me. I will say that when an author is trying to do something experimental that promotes the experiment over story then the format is less appealing to me.

    6. What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market?

    I can only assume that it is good because of the sheer volume of short fiction publications out there. Now that may mean the “market” isn’t good financially in that it is flooded and authors repeatedly say that you don’t make any real money in short fiction. However I see it as a very healthy market in that really top quality fiction is being written by both established and up and coming authors and it is easy and inexpensive to partake of this wave of short fiction. That makes it so much easier to share with those whom you are trying to hook on short fiction. 🙂

    7. Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released?

    I never used to feel that way but I honestly approached John DeNardo about doing this weekly feature because I wanted to try to read more current short fiction and actually be able to have some informed, if not intelligent, discussions about short fiction come awards time next year. I also find it useful to keep up with the current work because these authors are also getting print books published and I’d rather have been able to sample some of their work and form an opinion before spending money at the bookstore.

    8.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?

    One of my true favorites is the story “Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin. I’ve pushed that story off on SOOOO many people over the years. “The Dead Lady of Clown Town” by Cordwainer Smith is one that made a deep connection when I read it several years ago.

    I’m a big fan of Asimov’s “I, Robot” shorts. I have a love/hate relationship with Neil Gaiman’s short fiction. I hate the stories that are overly focused on gore and deviant sex practices. I prefer the stories that are like “The Price” or “Chivalry”.

    Somewhat outside the genre, Steven Millhauser is a favorite literary short story author. His collection “Dangerous Laughter” is fantastic and his novella “Enchanted Night” is another must-read that I push on people regularly.

    Newer authors (with a broad definition of ‘new’) that always catch my eye in a table of contents are Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Ken Liu, Genevieve Valentine, E.Lily Yu, Aliette de Bodard.

  5. I shouldn’t–I haven’t the time. But… I just can’t resist.

    1. Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction?

    Sure. Maybe 1/3 of my fiction reading is short.

    2. From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections?

    I have a subscription to a paper mag, and another to an on-line zine. I sometimes read anthologies (most notably the ones I am either appearing in or reviewing). Plus a large chunk of random stories simply wander in from the ether. To me, the key thing is that I don’t have to go hunting for it. I already have too large a backlog to search aggressively.

    3. If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado?

    Mostly genre. No, make that exclusively. Although I also read short non-fiction.

    4…. 5….

    6. What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market?

    People say it’s dying, but I can’t keep up. I think it’s hugely varied, far too much so to risk a generalization (except there are not enough magazines that buy my stories).

    7. Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released?

    I used to, but I had to give up

    8. 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?

    Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” remains one of the most engagingly twisted time travel tales ever penned. Fritz Lieber’s “Space Time for Springers” still brings tears to my eyes. “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” by James Tiptree, Jr. is a brilliant cross of futuristic SF with the Frankenstein tradition. “When It Changed’ is a memorable space colony story, even aside from being PC. More recently, I thought Jim Aiken’s “An Elvish Sword of Great Antiquity” was a delight, without ever wandering far from the fantasy tradition. Kij Johnson’s “Ponies” is so truthful, it’s almost not fantasy. Ken Liu’s “Paper Menagerie” deserved every award it got.

    • 1. Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction?

      I regularly read short fiction, approximately split 50/50 between short stories, novelettes and novellas and novels.

      2. From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections?

      My short fiction diet is a mixture of paperback and hardback collections and anthologies; ebooks. About 90% Online zines about 10%

      3. If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado?

      My diet of short fiction is about 60% sf and 40% divided between crime, pulp, superhero, adventure and western.

      4. What about the format appeals to you?
      The format peals to for a number of reasons:
      – A well written short story/novelette explores perhaps one idea well.
      – A chance to sample works by authors who I have not read before
      – An opportunity to sample a genre I have not read before or have read little of
      – The short story/novelette can be read in oe session, on a journey, late at night when starting a new novel is not appropriate

      5. Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction?

      Only in as much that the short story/novelette often leaves me wondering whether it could have been developed into a novella or novel. This is not always the case but occasionally one gets te feeling that the author has more to say. Perhaps when there was a plethora of markets it was easier to publish a seres of stories which often were turned into a novel (fix-up)

      6. What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market?

      In terms of a market for new authors there is not the same scope as in days gone by. In science fiction terms not half the opportunity. There are less original mass market anthologies than in years gone by, similarly for single author collections of new authors. Publishers like Golancz with their sf Gateway titles are offering a wealth of back catalogue material. Similarly ebook publishers like RadioArchives are offering an ever increasing back catalogue of pulp msgazines. Publishers such as Altus Press and other small press publishers are offering an ever increasing range of short fiction material from the Golden Age of all genres.

      7. Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released?

      I try to keep up – I read ebook editions of Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF and also those published on tor.com

      8. 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?

      Too many to mention really: just a few that I go back to time and again:
      Ellison – I have no mouth and I must scream, Jefty is Five,
      Asimov: Nightfall
      Silverberg: Good News from the Vatican;
      Clarke: The Nine Billion Names of God
      Blish: Surface Tension
      I coud go on but hopefully a flavour of classic titles.

  6. 1.) Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction?

    Only rarely. If I look back over the past 5 years worth of reading material, I don’t believe I have read a single collection of short fiction. With a few exceptions, I have pretty much skipped the short fiction arena.

    2.) From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections?

    Most of my reading is print collections – HB, TPB, & MMPB. I do have the Kindle app. for my iPhone, and I have quite a few books downloaded to it, I rarely use it because it is difficult for me to read electornic books on an iPhone, iPad, or Kindle. Looking at my ebook collection … I have two(2) collections I downloaded (’cause they were free) – “Some of the Best from TOR.COM – 2011” and “L.A. Noire”, and no, I have not read either of them as yet. Way back in ancient hsitory, I did subscribe to the original Omni magazine which I truely enjoyed in its day. Then Omni disappeared and with it my interest in short fiction.

    3.) If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado?

    Mostly SF/F/H. Some mystery if it’s something that interests me.

    4.) What about the format appeals to you?

    Short fiction appeals to me particularly for trips – somethign else to read if I get bored with the book(s) I brought with me. I can dip in, pick up a story or 2 or 3 and get back out argain safely. There are exceptions (see #8 below.)

    5.) Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction?

    Too short for my tastes. Too varied within the same collection. Again, there are exceptions (see #8 below.)

    6.) What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market?

    There are a ton of short fiction collections avaiable out there, most of which have no appeal to me. I don’t think a year goes by when I don’t see a new Martin Greenberg or Harry Turtledove collection go by.

    7.) Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released?

    No, though I do keep tabs on a select few anthology editors.

    8.) 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?

    Any of the Newford short story collections by Charles de Lint, “Poe” and “Lovecraft Unbound”, both by Ellen Datlow, and just about any of the collections edited by Datlow and Terri Windling (fairy tales series, gaslamp anthology, urban fantasy, Years Best F&H collections.)

  7. 1.Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction? This year to date I have read 1 magazine and 1 individual short out of a total of 33 books, I plan to read 1 more single auther collection and one more magazine. Last year 2 single author collection and a multi author collection out of a total of 55 books. So I would say 5-10% of my reading is short fiction.

    2.From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections? With the exception of the single work of fiction, which was electronic, all the rest is in good old paper.

    3.If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado? Nearly everything was science fiction.

    4.What about the format appeals to you? I am not a big fan of the format. I tend to read collections by authors I like or magazines that contain stories by authors I like.

    5.Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction? Not enough depth for me.

    6.What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market? I don’t think its fair for me to comment as I don’t read enough short fiction.

    7.Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released? No, as I don’t read that much short fiction.

  8. Rick Lohmeyer // August 30, 2013 at 8:17 pm //

    1. Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction?
    The fiction I READ is almost entirely short fiction. I tend to listen to audiobook versions of novels and nonfiction.

    2. From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections?
    I read digital versions of Asimov’s and F&SF, as well as Lightspeed (a personal favorite), Clarkesworld, Tor, and Subterranean Online (another favorite).

    3. If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado?
    Roughly 60% speculative fiction (though aren’t ALL stories speculative?) and 40% “mainstream” or “literary.”

    4. What about the format appeals to you?
    The conciseness. I don’t in any way want to put down novelists, but telling a good story in a (relatively) has to be every bit as challenging as writing a good novel. Though, of course, both forms are difficult.

    5. Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction?
    Too often, SF writers leave their stories open ended because they obviously have sequels in mind.

    6. What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market?
    I was “away” from the short story arena until the last two or three years, but I’ve been enormously impressed by the number and quality
    of the online and print publications. I’ve already mentioned a few favorites above.

    7. Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released?
    I try to keep up – both because I like doing so and also as a way of supporting the authors and publications.

    8. What stories, classic or contemporary, would you recommend that most adequately capture your feelings about short fiction and/or highlight what the form is best at.
    Check out Lightspeed, vol 1. The range and quality of this collection is quite impressive.

  9. Jeff A Smith // August 31, 2013 at 10:09 am //

    Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction? Yes although it’s less than ten percent of my reading portion.

    From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections? Since getting an iPad last Christmas I find that I read over seventy five percent of all my reading electronically. Tor.com, author website or blogs, Lightspeed, Clarksworld. I’m finding it easier for me to read things off my iPad with the ability to adjust lighting and font sizes making it a more pleasure able experience over the dead tree format.

    If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado? All genre.

    What about the format appeals to you? I’m actually not a big fan of the format. Short stories I find are just like scenes. The good scenes I want more of which is why I prefer novels.

    Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction? See answer above.

    What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market? Poor. I don’t think authors in the past ever got rich on short stories but now days its even worse with most authors giving away short stories for free. Giving away so much work for free or next to nothing devalues the work and doesn’t allow the author to make a living. Unfortunately with the ease of so much material being available electronically often for free writing as a whole continues to lose its sense of worth. People do not value what they get for free as much as what they have to part hard cash for.

    Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released? No.

    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?

    I prefer the emotion driven stories like Cold Equations by Tom Godwin, The Price by Neil Gaiman.

    Collections I have enjoyed. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. Metatropolis by John Scalzi, Jay Lake, Tobias Bucknell, And two other authors I’m sorry I’m forgetting right now.

  10. What a great idea for a conversation post, there should be more of these on SFSignal.

    Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction?

    I’m trying to read more short fiction. Couldn’t you a portion, but it’s certainly much higher than it used to be, since it used to be near zero.

    From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections?

    oh how i love short story podcasts! Clarksworld, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Nightmare magazine. MP3 player FTW. I drive around a lot for work, so if I have a 40 minute drive, it’s easy to find a 30-40 minute short story podcast. I find that my attention span for “listening to someone talk” is about 45 minutes. I have to personally thank Stefan Rudnicki, he was the first narrator I listened to to any great extend, and I fell in love with his voice.

    If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado?

    you know me, I’m a SF/F and a little bit of Horror girl.

    What about the format appeals to you?

    Same as what everyone else has mentioned, the “read in one sitting” aspect. I like to read before bed, and sometimes I know I only have 15 minutes of awakeness left, so a nice little short story is the perfect way to wind my brain down before falling asleep.

    Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction?

    I really like knowing what I’m getting into. A novel has a blurb on the back cover, or a few reviews online, or cover art, or something. I’m not going in blind. With short stories, I feel like I”m going in blind. I wish short stories came with a few sentences of teaser, of what it is about.

    What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market?

    I don’t know enough about it to make an assessment.

    Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released?

    I find it more important than I used to. But I also find it incredibly overwhelming. Between my subscription to Asimov’s, and downloading monthly audio podcasts, it seems like so much to catch up on! Probably word count, it’s not much more than a few doorstopper books, but it does overwhelm me.

    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?

    My current favorite short story authors are Ken Liu and Karen Tidbeck. Liu’s The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species has become a go-to for me, when i need something comforting. It’s not a story about comfort, but i guess, at the end, that’s exactly what it’s about. I’ve enjoyed many of his other stories too. Tidbeck’s short story collection, Jagannath was simply stunning from beginning to end. I find both of these authors to be eminently accessible, you can dive in anywhere, and never feel lost.

  11. 1. Do you read short fiction, and if so how large a portion of your reading time is devoted to short fiction? ~20-23%
    2. From where do you partake of short fiction? Online zines? Electronic media? Print collections? Printed collections, anthologies, mag/journals with electronic media.
    3. If you do read short fiction do you mostly stick to genre fiction or are you an equal opportunity short fiction aficionado? Less the genre fiction (an area I am trying to expand upon).
    4. What about the format appeals to you? I like Poe’s one-sitting argument. And the short story is good for my busy schedule. Even if I cannot absorb it all in that short space, I can take my contemplations with me while I am doing other things. Also the challenge, the attention to craft; no lazy writing in a good short story and that excites me.
    5. Are there drawbacks to the format that affect your enjoyment of short fiction? There are those stories that feel somewhat impenetrable upon first read, so I will want a second. I love the complexity one can find (see #4), but some can be a bit too clever for me.
    6. What is your assessment of the current state of short fiction and the short fiction market? Not sure. There are a lot of contests and venues in which to get published if you can write short; and I am supposing there are readers of said venue, so…
    7. Do you find it important to try to keep up with the latest stories being released? Not really; although to be fair, keeping up with any of latest right now is difficult due to time and funds.
    8. 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? I’ve names: Poe, Chekov, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Sherwood Anderson, Stephen Crane, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Kate Chopin, Daniel Haslett, Sherman Alexie, Sandra Cisneros, LeGuin, Karen Russell, Megan Mayhew Bergman

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