Saturday, August 12, 2017

Geek Gab, Superversive, & The State of Short Fiction

Geek Gab Prime and Superversive had big podcasts on today. The Gab gang talks about E.T. and has on blogger Vlad James to talk short stories, their demise as a commercial fiction vehicle, and why that's been bad for both the business and the art of science fiction in the West.

The Superversive SF Roundtable got together to talk about the Hugo Awards (briefly), the Dragon Awards, and plenty of commentary on the respect (or lack thereof) for genre boundaries in the world's markets for commercial fiction. There was some criticism in the live chat, valid ones, about how the roundtable went too far afield and covered material that the audience would already know (and thus wasted time).

This is not the first time talk about the demise of the short story market and its impact on genre fiction of all sorts has come up, and it likely won't abate soon, so it is important to observe that the attempts by Storyhawk, Cirsova, Lyonesse, et. al. to revive the market for short fiction in science fiction and fantasy.

I am not convinced that this is the only option. Themed anthologies are also an option, and can be sold for that $0.99 price that many independent authors of all genres use at Amazon's Kindle store. (But they are competing with huge boxed sets that often go at that price, so there is a risk.)

Furthermore, in the digital realm there isn't much of a difference between a magazine and an anthology. Functionally, they're the same in digital format: a product featuring multiple authors' stories published in a single volume. Only in print does that distinction actually mean anything and thus make a difference, and with digital now taking prominence it may be time to do away with formats that don't recognize that fact.

Just as the Big 5 suffer daily due to the paradigm shift that Amazon dominates, so does everything attached to that legacy model. Borders is done, Barnes & Noble hangs by a thread, and the wave will hit Half-Price Books in due course. We would be foolish to be likewise too-attached to that which no longer serves our interests. If the magazine is not the place for short fiction anymore, then consider that the magazine should go for a good reason.

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