Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Scotsman Abroad | Introducing the Short Fiction Spotlight

Yesterday was a big day for your resident Scotsman!

In addition to the third instalment of the British Genre Fiction Focus—wherein I touched on the rebranding of Guy Gavriel Kay in the UK, the impact of the cold snap we've had on high street retail, the rise of "artisan authors" via The Guardian, and the announcement of The Time Traveler's Almanac—yesterday also saw the debut of the other feature series I've been working on for

Wonderfully, this once I wasn't working alone, because the Short Fiction Spotlight is a team effort between myself and the brilliant Brit Mandelo. Both of our first editions hit the front page at the same time yesterday, but from here on out we'll be sharing the Spotlight equally, which is to say one week Brit will curate the column, and the next week I will; then her again, then me once more, and so on and so forth—for all time if it takes off.

Long story short—and isn't that the point?—the Short Fiction Spotlight is live, and I'd love it if you took a look.

Here's how my half the whole starts:
Much as we like to tell ourselves otherwise, size absolutely matters. 
What? I’m a shorty; I get to say these things! 
But I mean the size of stories, of course. There are no two ways about it, I’m afraid: whether because of price or presence, viability or visibility, short fiction is the person at the party we politely ignore, or outright rudely overlook. 
I’m as guilty of this telling offence as anyone. In the second installment of my ongoing British Genre Fiction Focus column, I talked up the British Science Fiction Association’s Best Novel nominees—amongst many and various other subjects—yet neglected to mention the six short stories up for one of the BSFA’s other awards. I am appropriately penitent, as we shall see, but this sort of treatment is simply all too typical of the short shrift short fiction is given.
In order to address the problem head on, Brit Mandelo and I will take turns discussing a selection of short stories. As we alternate weeks, Brit will be writing about magazines, primarily—whether physical or digital—meanwhile I’ll be going wherever the wind takes me. This week, for instance, in a timely attempt to correct my earlier oversight, I’ll be running through two of the six nominees for the BSFA’s Best Short Story award, and in subsequent editions of the Short Fiction Spotlight, time permitting, we’ll consider the remaining contenders together. 
After that? Well. I’m sure we’ll see... 
You are, of course, cordially invited to read along with us. We’d adore it if you did! And though not all of the shorts we mean to talk about in this column are available to read for free, where possible we’ll be providing links to the texts themselves, and failing that, advice on how to get hold of certain stories. If you keep watch on the comments, I’ll try to give you advance warning about what we’re reading next, as well.
I'm already hard at work on weeks two and three of this feature, and let me tell you, I've never read so many short stories in such a short space of time. Not in me tod!

Be they great or merely good—there certainly hasn't been a bad 'un in the bunch thus far—committing to co-curating the Short Fiction Spotlight has given me a glimpse in a whole other world of genre goodness, and I'd be over the bloody moon if did the same for a few of you.

So click through. Show your support for short fiction. And while you're at it, why not suggest a few choice stories for Brit or I to read and review?

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