I’ve held for a while that the online sources for short fiction are providing quality fantasy and science fiction, and in many of a quality at least as high as, if not higher than, the traditional print sources. Apparently I’m not alone in this view. Karen Burnham, at the Locus Roundtable posted a list
of the works which have received more two or more award nominations this year. While (not surprisingly) none of the novels on the list were published online, the short fiction of all lengths is a different matter. Two of the four novellas, all three novelettes, and two of the three short stories on the list were published online.
There are multiple sources of online fiction. In fact the online landscape can change suddenly. New websites arrive and disappear quickly. If you’re not paying attention, you could miss something. I thought this would be a good time to survey some of the sources of short fiction on the web.
There are several reasons behind the timing on this. One, I’m not going to start any novels for a couple of weeks. I’ve got some anthologies I need to read (not to mention the new issue of Black Gate, which arrived yesterday), and since I’ll be reading short fiction, it won’t be a huge deal to mix up the sources of my reading. I haven’t kept up with the online fiction markets the way I should over the last year. Since it will be to my benefit to broaden my online reading, I thought I’d share with you what I found in the hopes that you might find it useful as well.
So, what exactly are the ground rules going to be?
First, I’m going to look at one source of online fiction a day for the next seven days. Or rather I’m going to post one look a day. I’ll probably need to get a little ahead since I may be on the road before the end of the seven days. The first post will go up later today, and if all goes according to plan, the next will go up tomorrow, the third on Monday, and so on. We’ll see if I can pull this off.
Second, since this blog emphasizes fantasy and historical adventure more than science fiction, there won’t be much science fiction, if any.
Third, I’ll choose which sites I visit by a complex system of analysis involving mood, time available, fatigue level, and the phase of the Moon. In other words, it will be pretty random. While I’ve got some in mind, and have already looked at the first one, which I’ll post later today, I’m not aware of all the sites out there. If there’s a site you want me to look at, please feel free to let me know.
Fourth, because my time is somewhat limited, I’ll restrict myself to the current “issue” of the sites I visit, and not consider anything in the archives. This will remove the temptation to go read the award nominees I’ve haven’t gotten to yet. Furthermore, I don’t promise to blog about more than a single story per site. Time is a factor here, after all. While I might, if time allows or the stories are short enough, examine more than one per site, I only promise to look at one. I may go back later and blog about the other stories. Also, I will try to avoid discussing any stories that are parts of series simply for the reason I don’t have time to go back and read the preceding stories.
Fifth, I will restrict myself to sites that are free. That way everyone who reads these posts can access the stories if they wish.
This should be a lot of fun. Of course I thought that a few months ago when I got on my son’s ripstick and ended up pulling a groin muscle. But I really don’t think this will be that bad. If it’s not a total disaster, I’ll try the same thing with the print magazines in a month or two (assuming I can find seven print magazines that publish fantasy).