Thursday, February 20, 2014

Short stories

I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like short stories all that much.  Yes, that surprised me too, considering that I've written, and published, a bunch of them, in such places as Daily Science Fiction, Nature Futures, and Black Gate. But the thing I realized is that I don't read short stories for pleasure.  I generally only buy anthologies or fiction magazines if I'm either trying to sell them a story or I want to support them, and then I'll read a few stories, but rarely do I get all the way through.  I don't follow short story authors, or buy their collected stories.  I want to like short stories more, but I always find myself drifting toward longer works, novels or even novel series.  I guess that most short stories just aren't long enough for me to really get attached to the characters, and I prefer stories where I can get to know the characters, where there's room for them to breathe and develop, and I don't feel like I really get that from short stories, with the rare exception of a series of stories about the same set of characters (which I find I do enjoy).

So what does that mean?  Despite my modest success selling short stories, I'm probably never going to be a really successful short story author if I don't actually like short stories. And, in fact, the stories I've had the most success selling are either short, funny stories--more like blog posts or Cracked.com articles than short stories, in fact--or really long stories, novelettes or novellas or even serial short novels. And I think perhaps I should focus on my strengths.  I'm not going to say that I'll never write and try to sell a short story again--when story ideas come, I need to write the form that fits them.  But most of my ideas, and most of what I want to write, are novels.  It's the fiction I love to read, and it's the fiction I should be writing.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Black Gate Review

My most recent review for Black Gate, this time of E. Nathan Sisk's Sorcerer Rising, is now online.  A small taste:

Sorcerer Rising falls firmly into the fantasy noir tradition, most akin to the Harry Dresden books. It has the cynical first person narrator, down-on-his-luck and regarded with suspicion by his peers, trying to make his way in the world while retaining a modicum of self-respect (and usually failing). However, Virgil is not a Harry Dresden knock-off. For one, while Harry’s a powerhouse, even when he’s overmatched, with a host of skills and a ton of power, Virgil’s something of a magical weakling. The Brand has taken away his knowledge and the incident which led to it has taken away most of his power. He gets by on a host of tricks, including a magical shotgun named Abigail. The lack of knowledge and power forces Virgil to rely more on his wits and on his familiar, Algernon, a separate part of his own mind with a knack for processing information unhindered by the filter of a superego.