Waxing Lyrical : Online Fiction

On the subject of online fiction, we welcome Jenny Barber. 

Waxing Lyrical: Online Fiction by Jenny Barber

So there I was, not at Worldcon and living vicariously through everyone’s tweets, when reports of the short fiction panel started popping up. Specifically, the view that print magazines were going to die and hopefully online providers would start selling short fiction.

Start selling?  Start…?  (Looks at calendar. Sees that it is, in fact, still 2017. Shakes head.) If I had been drinking tea, it would have sprayed all over the screen.

I don’t remember exactly when I discovered that online magazines existed (I started slushing for the late Fantasy Magazine [http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/] around 2009-ish so it was probably a couple of years before that), but I do remember the rampant glee at finding so much quality short fiction available for free. Free was important back then as I couldn’t afford print subscriptions to the magazines I knew about, but still had a short fiction addiction that needed feeding. 

What really cinched my newfound love for online fiction was the sheer range of stories available.  I’d spent a good decade or so reviewing predominantly UK horror ‘zines for the British Fantasy Society and while I do enjoy a good horror story, online fiction opened the SFF world up much wider.  New authors, new styles, stories from all over the world and all a mouse click away! Amazing!

Since then, the online markets have expanded: bigger, better, and more beautiful, there are more magazines, more diversity, more ways to support the publications and more ways to read (and listen) to their fiction. 

Online fiction and their venues regularly win Hugos, Nebulas, British Fantasy Awards, British Science Fiction Awards, World Fantasy Awards, Locus Awards, Aurealis Awards, Shirley Jackson Awards, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards & Parsec Awards (to name but a few!) so you can be sure of the highest quality fiction for the low, low price of (mostly) free!

But if you have the spare cash, you can get handy subscriptions (with bonus and/or advanced content) or single issues of titles delivered in the ebook format of your choice – available either directly through the magazines own sites; or from digital stores like Weightless Books [https://weightlessbooks.com/], Smashwords [https://www.smashwords.com] or Amazon.  Those that don’t have subscription options usually have ways to donate via paypal or funding sites, so watch out for the publisher patreons and kickstarters to show your love and pick up some fantastic fiction to boot.

But where can you find some of this award-worthy, affordable, accessible fiction?

::Link-fest mode engaged, Cap’n!::

Strange Horizons [http://www.strangehorizons.com/] is one of my firm favourites and Beneath Ceaseless Skies [http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/] is another top one. Uncanny Magazine [http://uncannymagazine.com/] is not to be missed and if you want some Chinese translation (and other) SFF head over to Clarkesworld [http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/].

Lightspeed [http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/] publish some awesome fantasy and science fiction, and their sister magazine Nightmare [http://nightmare-magazine.com] is perfect for the horror aficionados, with more horror shorts found at The Dark.  [http://thedarkmagazine.com]

But also! Have a look at Apex Magazine [http://www.apex-magazine.com/], Shimmer [https://www.shimmerzine.com/], Holdfast [http://www.holdfastmagazine.com/], Abyss & Apex [http://www.abyssapexzine.com/], Heroic Fantasy Quarterly [http://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.com/], Fireside Fiction [http://firesidefiction.com/], Kaleidotrope [http://www.kaleidotrope.net/], and Tor.Com [http://www.tor.com]

If you like longer fiction, then may I point you at GigaNotoSaurus [http://giganotosaurus.org/] for all your novella pleasures. If you prefer flash, then Daily Science Fiction [http://dailysciencefiction.com/] will give you flash fiction five days a week (and free subscription if you want the stories delivered via email.)

Don’t want to sit staring at a screen? No problem! Many magazines do audio versions of their stories, and if you really want a treat, go check out some of the excellent dedicated podcast magazines.  The Escape Artists clutch of ‘casts are highly recommended and cover a broad range of genre in Escape Pod [http://escapepod.org/], Pseudopod [http://pseudopod.org/], PodCastle [http://podcastle.org/] and Cast of Wonders [http://www.castofwonders.org/].  Also check out StarShipSofa [http://www.starshipsofa.com/], Toasted Cake [http://toastedcake.com/] and The Drabble Cast [http://www.drabblecast.org/] for more audio goodness.

shameless book plug

So whatever the current state of print magazines may be, online short fiction is ready and waiting to welcome you into its digital folds!

Revisited : The Pseudopod Tapes Vol 1

In 2012 Alasdair Stuart collected his outro’s for horror podcast Pseudopod into a book sub titled ‘Not the end of the World, just the end of the Year.’ It’s a collection that showcases Alasdair’s deep genre knowledge and his very personal and honest style of journalism.

FINALAMZPSeudoTapesVol1

Pseudopod Tapes by Alasdair Stuart
Cover Art by S.L. Johnson

‘Not the end of the world, just the end of the year’

Alasdair Stuart, one of the UK’s most knowledgeable and passionate genre journalists has finally decided to do a book. And not just any book, he’s not just offering up his in depth genre gems for your delectation, it’s better than that.

In the Pseudopod Tapes, Alasdair gathers a years worth of outro’s from one of the worlds leading horror podcasts and collects them all together for you in this volume. Stuart hosts Pseudopod with a sharp wit, clear insight, tremendous honesty and warm humour. It translates extremely well to the page.

‘Alasdair Stuart, host of the must listen Pesudopod just became a must read!’ -Steven Savile

If You Like Books Vol 1 :  Stuart acknowledges that the zombies scratching at your door might be real or imagined, but if you don’t escape them they will eat you alive. The goosebumps and raised-hairs on the back of your neck might just be an evolutionary quirk, or they might be the very thing that keeps you safe from the monsters under the bed.

BFS reviews : Each little piece is a gem: insightful and intelligent, and I often find myself re-evaluating a story, or examining my own opinions or my whole life, based on Alasdair’s little snippets of wisdom

Opening Paragraphs

Sunday in the Park With Bruce

(Originally appeared on episode 264, January 13th 2012, A Study in Flesh and Mind by Liz Argall)

Let’s talk about comics for a minute. Grant Morrison, Scottish comics writer to some, electric wizard of the post human post millennium new fiction zeitgeist to others, is engaged in an interesting experiment with his current work on Batman. Morrison is telling a multi-year story, across multiple titles, exploring the character from every possible angle as he delves deeper not only into the psyche of a man who dresses like a flying rodent to frighten poor people, but also into the nature of fiction and fictional reality. He’s done this before, the fiction suit idea toyed with in The Invisibles for one, but he’s rarely done it in more detail and at more length than he has with his Batman work. Batman is, after all, a man with a lot more history and life experience than pretty much everyone reading him. To borrow a quote from another Scot, and horribly mangle it, Batman and Gotham City, his home has been mapped out of obscurity into street by street reality.

Don’t believe me? There is a map of Gotham City, initially designed for the No Man’s Land story years ago which has now been modified and adopted by the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movies and the Tracy Hickman written novel, Wayne of Gotham. A fictional city is not only mapped down to individual blocks, that map is carrying across different media. Morrison talks, a lot, about fictional reality and is on record as saying he believes the DC universe is sentient and it’s only a matter of time before we make first contact. He’s been saying that for a few years now, and whilst I think if we ever do make fictional contact it’ll be with a certain madman in a blue box, but I can see his point. After all, Gotham City is now the same across three media. It’s growing, extruding, reaching out, the amalgamated geography of hundreds of creative teams’ work, a city made of stories, gleaming in the early morning light. A model ecosystem made of fiction.

But where does the model end and the art begin?

A few bits of news

First of all this Saturday is Edge Lit 4 at Quad in Derby. The skulk will be out in force and Aunty Fox will be on panels about Grim Dark at 10:30am and Short Stories at 5:15pm. We are launching ‘A Pack of Lies’ in a Fox Boo collaboration at 12:20 with readings, cookies and wine.

Jo Jo the Dog Faced boy and the bearded lady
Jo Jo the Dog Faced boy and the bearded lady larking about at Edge Lit 2

Next up a really good article on Editors, who they are, what they do, why they matter from the amazing Julie Crisp.

Finally Fantasy Faction has a facebook page now for talking all things fantasy, tied to the soon to launch podcast. They want to know what authors you’d like to hear from and well, it would be rude for me to message them to say ‘The Skulk’, but you should all feel free Foxy Folk.