It was Christmas Eve. I begin this way because it is the proper, orthodox, respectable way to begin, and I have been brought up in a proper, orthodox, respectable way, and taught to always do the proper, orthodox, respectable thing; and the habit clings to me. Of course, as a mere matter of information it is quite unnecessary to mention the date at all. The experienced reader knows it was Christmas Eve ... It always is Christmas Eve, in a ghost story.In Told After Supper (1891), Jerome K. Jerome parodied the tradition of telling Christmas ghost stories, but it's plain to see that he had fun writing them. And horror writer Ramsey Campbell, himself the author of a number of Christmas stories, recently dropped by /r/WeirdLit to list off a few places to find more. [more inside]
I try to do two things with my style. The first is to pay attention to how the words sound together ... The other thing is to juxtapose odd images.Sometimes ornate, sometimes economical, and always striking, Yoon Ha Lee's short fiction combines motifs from fantasy and science fiction with remarkable fruitfulness: "There are soldiers and scientists, space travel and dragons, leather-bound books, locked doors, and genocidal rampages. Each tale strains at the edges of possibility. No two of Lee's stories are alike, except for a similar pulse powering each word, each juxtaposition, each startling turn of events." Much of Lee's output is available online, including dozens of flash fiction fairy tales and two works of interactive fiction. [more inside]
PodCastle 328: The Old Woman With No Teeth
When The Old Woman With No Teeth decided to have children, she didn’t go about it in the usual way. Well, really, what else could you expect from The Old Woman With No Teeth? If she ever did anything the usual way, even boiling a pot of water, the world might start spinning widdershins on its axis.[more inside]
"Now you just stop that. I can read perfectly well, you impudent ragger. Set down what I told you, and don’t believe all the stories you’ve heard about me."
There are many stories about The Old Woman With No Teeth, but people should not believe all of them. The most popular one is that she wore away her teeth by chewing a tunnel to the six-sided world. Nobody knows if this story is true. Many people have looked for the passageway she is supposed to have gnawed through reality, but none of the venturers have managed to pinpoint it.
"None of the ones who’ve come back, you mean. Silly bastards."
Kenya's Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story, "My Father's Head." Many stories by other winners and nominees are available online. [more inside]
SF Signal today finished a top 50 countdown of short SF/fantasy podcast fiction: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1. The Parsec Awards for SF podcasts honor many other stories annually, as well as related non-fiction, comedy, and music: 2014 nominees; 2013; 2012; 2011; 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; and 2006. And since 2012, the Hugo Award nominees for Best Fancast have been two-time winner SF Squeecast!, plus The Coode Street Podcast, Galactic Suburbia, SF Signal, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, StarShipSofa, Tea and Jeopardy, Verity!, and The Writer and The Critic with the popular Writing Excuses podcast often appearing in another category. [more inside]
Diseased Gardens offers a selection of 20th C. weird fiction from Belgium and France as well as a checklist of strange fiction in translation. [more inside]
Velma "Velveteen" Martinez is a toy-animating super hero created by Seanan McGuire, a.k.a. Mira Grant. Over the past six years, McGuire's "Velveteen vs." story cycle has been released gradually on LiveJournal, achieving a dedicated following thanks to the story's overall emotional complexity. As fantasy author Tanya Huff has written, "Velveteen is about a young woman who fights crime in a pair of rabbit ears in much the same way Buffy was about a girl who killed vampires. That being, not so much." [more inside]
The Dollar Baby (also sometimes referred to as the Dollar Deal) is a term coined by best-selling author Stephen King (Previously) in reference to a select group of students and aspiring filmmakers or theatre producers whom he has granted permission to adapt one of his short stories for only $1. [more inside]
"It's a Good Life" is a 1953 story by Jerome Bixby, who also wrote It! The Terror From Beyond Space, said to be the inspiration for Alien, and the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror" (the one with evil bearded Spock.) It was made into a famous Twilight Zone episode, and is generally considered among the greatest SF stories ever written. Is "It's a Good Life" about God? Communism? 1950s suburban conformity? Or just about the horror of the self-contained world it creates in its few pages and the terrible realization that it would be possible to survive inside it, for a while?
Stories made from: microspores, fog maps, infected bass samples, mathematics, patterns of decay, broken machines, blood, code bugs…
Neil Gaiman has been busy lately, winning the Carnegie Medal, defending libraries, fighting Todd MacFarlane in court again, and admiting that his first book was about Duran Duran. He's also taken time to ask the question: Shouldn't good writing tell a story too?
A guide to Storyreading. "For over ten years now, various friends and I have been getting together on occasion to read stories aloud to each other. This activity—graced with the unlovely but utilitarian name "story reading"—can be a great deal of fun, but can also be rife with pitfalls of various sorts. This guide is an attempt to help others to run story readings. Note that reading stories is different from—and, generally, much easier than—telling stories; while people do occasionally tell stories at these gatherings (and it usually goes over well), that's not the primary emphasis...The origins of our approach to story readings are lost in the mists of antiquity. The idea may have sprung fully-fledged from a conversation I had with DH about a Delany essay called "On Pure Storytelling"; or it may've been derived from MK's reading The Princess Bride aloud, which in turn may've been inspired by folks at Yale who were doing much the same thing. Whatever the history, it's clear that other groups—notably one in Boston—have been having similar sorts of readings for at least as long as we have." [more inside]
Like others before him Benjamin Rosenbaum is making his debut short story collection, The Ant King And Other Stories, available from his publishers, Small Beer, as a free download. More than this though, he is holding a competition to find the best derivative work inspired by it. These include "translations, plays, movies, radio plays, audiobooks, flashmob happenings, horticultural installations, visual artworks, slash fanfic epics, robot operas, sequels, webcomics, ASCII art, text adventure games, roleplaying campaigns, knitting projects, handmade shoes, or anything else you feel like." [more inside]
You should read these three stories by Amy Hempel. (Oh, and maybe listen to her read, here.) While you're at it, read some of these idiosyncratic but beautifully-written stories by grammarian Gary Lutz.
a short story by David Langford.
a short story by David Langford.
Online SF Short Fiction. It's good and it's free. Sci-Fiction is the biggest name in the online field, publishing many big name authors (This week's story is by Octavia E. Butler for instance) and winning several awards. (Also check out Swanwick's Periodic Table of Science Fiction while you're there). But there are more sources for good online SF: The Infinite Matrix, Strange Horizons and Infinity Plus (reprints) for instance. And let's not forget that all the print magazines have put their Nebula nominees online (though Analog's stories are coming up as 404s). Let the reading commence!