Short Stories: We Need More Venues For Discovery, Recs, and Discussion

John Chu Hugo Speech

John Chu accepting his Hugo Award, courtesy Scott Edelman on Instagram.

If you’re interested in the Hugo awards or just SFF awards in general, Justin Landon does an excellent job of breaking down the Hugo votes over at his blog. It’s fascinating to see how the instant run-off ballot affects who wins and provides insight into what voters are thinking (a little). It’s a long read but well worth it.

In the section discussing the short story ballot, this caught my attention:

Given the number of short fiction venues today, the Short Story category is becoming increasingly scattered, making it harder and harder to have a digestible slate of stories to choose from. Hopefully, the Hugo Awards can get a handle on this challenge and ensure a full nomination ballot in future years.

I’m not convinced that this is something that the Hugos or Hugo voters as a group can really change. There will continue to be a ton of great markets and plenty for people to read. There’s about to be an all-new magazine (Uncanny) that could, down the road, complicate the matter further.

What’s needed are more short story reviews and recommendations.

Locus reviews short fiction, of course. But Locus is for people involved in the business of writing and publishing and not so much for the average SFF reader and fan. Tangent still exists but I have no idea how relevant it is. The Fix is long gone. And I just plain don’t hear about most other short fiction review outlets, and I can’t be the only one.

This is one of the reasons why I started my favorite fiction posts. I read a lot of great fiction over the course of a year but might not be able to recall all my favorites once it came time to nominate. And I wanted a way to share stories I thought deserved attention and award consideration in a compact yet concrete way.

I’m really glad I have a high profile venue for those posts now in the form of io9[1]. This is the easily digestible list of recommendations Landon is looking for, I think. I would love for there to be more of them.

I wish that it was possible to have a Goodreads for short fiction so that people could rate, discover, and recommend with the same energy as novels get. I know there are some shorts with their own entries on Goodreads, but the last time I poked around it didn’t seem like the platform wanted that and there’s not a big community push behind it. I’d love to be wrong about that.

Is Goodreads itself the best place for this kind of thing? It’s a site and community that already exists, and I’m sure plenty of people who love novels are also down with shorts. Since I don’t spend much time on the site I honestly don’t know if it would work.

Is there a place to create such a community easily? As in not having to build something from scratch (who has time for that–no one)?

The short story/novelette categories in all our major awards could benefit from more discussion and engagement, I agree[2]. I just wouldn’t leave it up to the Hugos to figure that out.

Footnotes

  1. Don’t forget to head over today and look for the new post![]
  2. Don’t get me wrong: I love the story that won and agree that it deserves the honor.[]

Comments

  1. Sarah Pinsker says

    A couple of months ago this same question came up and a few of us – fifty now – started a goodreads group on short fiction. We kept it private for a while – you have to apply to join, but we’ve only refused a couple of people. We wanted to see if it would work and then make it public at the end of the summer.
    It does work, but it is what you put into it, I guess.
    https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/136341-speculative-short-fiction-deserves-love

  2. AndyHat says

    Current policy on goodreads is that entries may be created for short stories published online, but not for stories published as parts of anthologies or print magazines (see https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1092825-extras-short-stories-excerpts?page=2#comment_69170622 ), so that probably doesn’t work as a forum.

    Librarything has no such restrictions, so some users there (notably bluetysonss) do index short stories, and it has a pretty good forum. Unfortunately, there’s still no notion of a shared table of contents for anything, so everybody has to manually enter all the short stories on their own if they want their library to reflect the stories.

    SFSignal does a pretty good job of posting ToCs for magazines and anthologies both print and online, but I don’t think they have any sort of community functionality.

    So, sadly, I don’t think there’s a perfect site out there yet.

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