PDA

View Full Version : Is it just me or does anyone else think short fiction...



bluejester12
02-07-2005, 09:13 PM
in this genre tends to be abstract or confusing. At least half the short fiction I read I can't figure out what's going on or dont know what the point really is.

ChunkyC
02-09-2005, 02:00 AM
Could you elaborate? Are you finding this trend in mags like Asimovs, etc., or anthologies, etc., or from other sources?

I read Asimov's and find their selections to be quite coherent and enjoyable. I also have a few collections of short stories from Asimov himself, Arthur C. Clarke, and others, and some anthologies edited by folks like Gardner Dozois. There are definitely some unusual stories in there, but generally I 'get' what they're trying to say. Mind you, I do gravitate toward mainstream science fiction and much of my own collection is of that ilk and at least ten years old.

bluejester12
02-09-2005, 09:06 PM
I'll try.

Keep in mind Im not good at science and gravitate to fantasy.

I havent read a mag in awhile because Im overseas. From what I remeber from Asimov's and Magazine of SF&F, they have a mix--I understand at least half, thought most of the stories aren't to my taste. I remeber one feature by Lucius Shepard awhile ago (Radiant Green Star?) in Asimov's that was so confusing I couldn't make it past the first page! Here was a feature by a supposedly great author and I couldnt figure out the first run-om paragraph.

Lately Ive been checking out www.strangehorizons.com Go check out the fiction tehre for exzamples of what I'm talking about. I read 2.5 stories and I couldnt gather why things were happenign the way they are. Most of the people post say "I love this story!"


It makes me feel partly stupid. Ive never been good at "complicated" writing, images and symbolism. Im more into classics like Blade Runner, Ender's Game and Martian Chronicles.

Im only reading short fiction to see where to market my fiction, but many times I dont think I'll make it because my stuff is pretty straightforward.

Do you have to write abstractedly to be accepted nowdays or to be original? I hope not.

Wow, sorry for the rant. Thanks for reading!

veingloree
02-09-2005, 11:07 PM
I haven't found this problem. It depends on the magazine. Some are more literary, others more entertainment oriented.

ChunkyC
02-10-2005, 03:18 AM
I get where you're coming from now, bj. As far as trying to find a market where you feel your work will be a good fit, I guess you just have to keep searching around. Dozois recently stepped down as the top editor at Asimov's, so perhaps there's been enough of a shift over there that your stories might have a better chance. Every editor has their preferences.

I'll check out that site, I'm always on the lookout for good stories and possible markets!

spacejock
02-10-2005, 10:54 PM
I'm part of a group of SF and F writers who got together almost 4 years ago to publish an SF/F mag. It's a print magazine, and I won't mention the title because I'm not posting this as some kind of underhand promo.

Anyway, the reason we got the mag going was because the lot of us - about 14 in all - were fed up with dark, angst-ridden post-apocalyptic tales. We wanted to return to the pulps of the 50's, with humour, a bit of zap-pow and fun.

I'm posting this to agree with ChunkyC - 14 other people felt just like you do, that SF had become so abstract and confusing that it was driving casual readers away. In fact, our whole subscriber base agrees with you, so you're not alone out there ;-)

ChunkyC
02-10-2005, 11:35 PM
Howdy, spacejock. I sure do love spaceships fighting it out in stories like David Webber's Honor Harrington books, exciting universes like those created by Larry Niven, David Brin, etc.

I read Dahlgren by Samuel R. Delaney (arguably a precursor of the cyberpunk (http://www.sff.net/people/moriarty/cpunk.html) movement) many years ago and it was a slog. I don't even remember much about it, other than it was really tough to get through. I found myself plowing along through some strange fear of "not being up to the task" if that makes any sense. Then William Gibson and others came along and brought it into the mainstream.

Writers do have to experiment if the genre is to grow, but sometimes it just doesn't work. However, and without reading much of the kind of thing bluejester is talking about, I wonder if we might be at the beginning of another of those 'branching-out' phases, and at some point in the not-too-distant future, a writer will pull together the best attributes of these new types of stories and create something truly fresh and exciting.

spacejock
02-13-2005, 05:33 AM
Well, there's room for every style when it comes to writing, and those who want to use SF to explore their ideas about the future of our species are welcome to do so.

If you like a certain style, the best bet is to read reviews or to see what other titles the publisher compares it to. E.g. 'in the style of...', 'reminiscent of...' or 'a blatant copy of...' No wait, that last one is for fantasy trilogies :-)

I think the worst thing is misleading cover art, where you might see battling spaceships on a book exploring the impact of neural implants on an orchid breeder's house plants. That's obviously an extreme example plucked from thin air, but you know the kind of thing I'm talking about. Marketing types sitting around trying to shift as many copies as possible by throwing out the stylised cover with brainy orchids and bringing in gun-toting robots.

ET3D
02-13-2005, 02:16 PM
Yes, that unmentioned Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is recommended if you want stories you can understand. :)

My favourite mag is Black Gate. There are others you might like -- it's a matter of finding them. I liked Dreams of Decadence, but DNA Publications mags are mostly dead now. I find Realms of Fantasy understandable, and also Analog. F&SF and (in particular) Asimov's do have quite a few stories that I don't enjoy (although they also occasionally have some very enjoyable ones).

Jamesaritchie
02-18-2005, 11:25 PM
I'll try.

Keep in mind Im not good at science and gravitate to fantasy.

I havent read a mag in awhile because Im overseas. From what I remeber from Asimov's and Magazine of SF&F, they have a mix--I understand at least half, thought most of the stories aren't to my taste. I remeber one feature by Lucius Shepard awhile ago (Radiant Green Star?) in Asimov's that was so confusing I couldn't make it past the first page! Here was a feature by a supposedly great author and I couldnt figure out the first run-om paragraph.

Lately Ive been checking out www.strangehorizons.com (http://www.strangehorizons.com/) Go check out the fiction tehre for exzamples of what I'm talking about. I read 2.5 stories and I couldnt gather why things were happenign the way they are. Most of the people post say "I love this story!"


It makes me feel partly stupid. Ive never been good at "complicated" writing, images and symbolism. Im more into classics like Blade Runner, Ender's Game and Martian Chronicles.

Im only reading short fiction to see where to market my fiction, but many times I dont think I'll make it because my stuff is pretty straightforward.

Do you have to write abstractedly to be accepted nowdays or to be original? I hope not.

Wow, sorry for the rant. Thanks for reading!

I'd guess these stories just aren't your cup of tea. I think Lucius Shepard is one of the best writers going, and I think Radiant Green Star was a Hugo nominee. Anyone who wants to read it can find it here: http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0202/radiantgreen.html

I'd say Blade Runner has more symbolism in it tha Radiant Green Star, but in a way, I share your love for stories such as Martian Chronicles and Ender's Game.

But I'd also say that you have to love reading short stories in order to write them well.

Anaparenna
02-19-2005, 07:10 PM
I'm thinking you might be sensing the embrace of the "New Weird," or the "New Wave Fabulists" that is and has been emerging for a while. Strange Horizons leans a lot toward experimental fiction, IMO, which I enjoy for the complexity, but which, as you mention, sometimes takes a while to wrap your head around. Doug Lain's recent story "Coffe Cup/Alien Invasion Story" caused a lot of talk that I'm still piecing through about metafiction and spec-fic.



Luckily, there are still plenty of markets and places to read that feel-good "classic" style you mention, as well as room for more experimental works. And ultimately, nothing takes the place of a good story told well.

bluejester12
02-22-2005, 05:30 PM
Doug Lain's recent story "Coffe Cup/Alien Invasion Story" caused a lot of talk that I'm still piecing through about metafiction and spec-fic.
.

I didnt even want to finish it. :Shrug:

Im glad people at least know where Im coming from so I have some hope for myself. Spacejock, feel free to email me about your publication.

Im sticking with short fiction mostly because Im not good enough to write a novel and it seems that the best way to write a novel is to learn short fiction. Luckily, most novels are understandable. Im into Tad Williams right now.

Blackgate is indeed usually pretty good as is Talebones (my fav). Mag of SF&F has a mix of confusing/understandable stuff so I got a few issues on my shelf.

HConn
02-22-2005, 10:26 PM
I liked Dreams of Decadence, but DNA Publications mags are mostly dead now.

Actually, DNA is doing pretty well.

DaveKuzminski
02-22-2005, 10:41 PM
It's my understanding that there was an internal personnel problem at DNA and one individual made false reports about DNA's viability in the marketplace.

HConn
02-23-2005, 04:33 AM
That's weird and unfortunate.

Jamesaritchie
03-03-2005, 08:30 AM
I didnt even want to finish it. :Shrug:



Im sticking with short fiction mostly because Im not good enough to write a novel and it seems that the best way to write a novel is to learn short fiction. Luckily, most novels are understandable. Im into Tad Williams right now.

.

Actually, I think you have to be better to write a publishable short story than to write a publishable novel. At least to paying markets. There's room for error in a novel, but a short story has to be extremely well written, almost perfect, in order to sell to good markets.

I don't think you learn much about writing novels by writing short stories, either. They're two very different forms of writing, and many very good short story writers can't write a publishable novel, and some excellent novelists can't write a good short story.

I think the only way to learn how to write a novel is to write a novel. And all in all, I think it is easier to write a publishable novel, simply because a novel doesn;t have to be as good, or as consistent, as a short story in order to sell.

Writing Again
03-03-2005, 11:27 AM
I would not say a short story has to be better than a novel. A short story has to be good at what it does in very specific ways and is very unforgiving if it is not.

A novel can be strong in any given area and weak in any other and the two will balance out. If you happen to be brilliant in one or more areas, say great dialogue, then you can be weak in several other areas and it may not even matter. In this manner a novel is very forgiving.

bluejester12
03-03-2005, 07:11 PM
Well, in my reading the short stories tend to be abstract and overdosed with images then the novels I read. Far harder to digest.

Structure-wise, they are different, but better IMO to learn craft of dialogue descriptions etc. in a short story then do an entire novel over several times.

Jamesaritchie
03-04-2005, 02:22 AM
I would not say a short story has to be better than a novel. A short story has to be good at what it does in very specific ways and is very unforgiving if it is not.

A novel can be strong in any given area and weak in any other and the two will balance out. If you happen to be brilliant in one or more areas, say great dialogue, then you can be weak in several other areas and it may not even matter. In this manner a novel is very forgiving.

Yes, that's probably a better way of putting it. Thanks.

Jamesaritchie
03-04-2005, 02:31 AM
Well, in my reading the short stories tend to be abstract and overdosed with images then the novels I read. Far harder to digest.

Structure-wise, they are different, but better IMO to learn craft of dialogue descriptions etc. in a short story then do an entire novel over several times.

Yes, that's the way many look at it. I can only say it very seldom seems to work this way in practice.

I began by writing and selling short stories, and I believed this would surely help me with writing a novel. I believed it right up until I started writing a novel.

It isn't just the structure that's different, it's pretty much every aspect of the writing. Even dialogue. Pace and flow alone make writing dialogue in a novel a very different thing from writing dialogue in a short story.

When I started writing a novel, I found that the short stories I'd written and sold were more a hindrance than a help. Nor did writing half the novel or three fourths of the novel help much. I really learned almost nothing about writing a novel until I typed "The End" and looked back at what I'd done, and realized what I would have to do differently next time.

Everything was different, and I had to unlearn everything writing short stories had taught me before that novel was right.

Even if you could learn something about writing a novel from writing short stories, you'd still probably be better off writing the novel. You would have to write a lot of short stories to really learn much, and it's almost surely easier to write one novel than it is to write twenty or thirty or fifty short stories.

For ever short story you need a new story, new plot, new theme, etc. With a novel, you need only one of each.

Roger J Carlson
03-11-2005, 11:11 PM
I don't think you learn much about writing novels by writing short stories, either. They're two very different forms of writing, and many very good short story writers can't write a publishable novel, and some excellent novelists can't write a good short story.

I agree that you don't learn much about writing novels by writing short stories, just like you don't learn much about playing the violin by playing the tuba. But you CAN learn a lot about writing by writing short stories and that can help your novel writing, just as playing the tuba helps you learn about music, which can help you learn the violin.

I've written two novels (neither yet published - sigh) and then tried my hand at a short story. One of the things I had to learn was economy. A good short story can grow into a boring novella very quickly. I went back again and again to hack away unnecessary words and replace them with the right words.

Looking over my novels now, I see that they could be improved by some of the same treatment. Maybe this is why they haven't sold. Writing is writing and every kind of writing will help you grow as a writer.

--Roger J. Carlson
www.rogerjcarlson.com (http://www.rogerjcarlson.com)

Roger J Carlson
03-11-2005, 11:29 PM
in this genre tends to be abstract or confusing. At least half the short fiction I read I can't figure out what's going on or dont know what the point really is.

I've been reading SF since the late 60s and that era canalized my tastes. Back then science fiction by-and-large meant adventure fiction. When IASFM (Asimov's) came out in the 70s, it was headed by the George Scithers/Isaac Asimov/Joel Davis triumvarite and had a pretty adventure-fiction orientation.

After Scithers left, Shawna McCarthy took over followed by Gardner Dozois who changed the orientation to a more literary-style. This coincided with the New Wave movement in the late 70s. About that time I lost interest in SF magazines.

For a long time I lost interest in SF altogether -- preferring fantasy. I believe a lot of people did this. If you look in the book stores, fantasy far out-weighs SF on the shelves. I believe it is because fantasy stayed true to its adventure fiction roots.

The rise of 'military-SF' (ala Drake and Weber) is a return to adventure fiction. Is it really a coincidence that military SF is the fastest growing sub-genre of SF?

No, bluejester12, it's not just you. A lot of people feel this way.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed here are those of an old curmudgeon who thinks everything ought to be the way it was when he was a kid. Don't snicker. Wait till you're his age and see if you don't feel the same way!

--Roger J. Carlson
www.rogerjcarlson.com (http://www.rogerjcarlson.com/)

spacejock2
04-05-2005, 08:03 PM
Spacejock, feel free to email me about your publication.

Sorry about the 6-week delay. I've had to re-register with a slightly different username because my browser lost my password and the 'send password' feature doesn't work.

Someone already mentioned the mag I'm involved with higher in the thread: Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (http://www.andromedaspaceways.com)

There's more info on the site than I could possibly cover here. Basically we're trying to put the fun back into SF while still promoting new authors wherever possible. We're getting over 200 submissions a month now, and only publish 8-10 stories every 2 months, so you can see there's an awful lot of writers out there...

Cheers
Simon