A Commitment to Reviewing Short Fiction
Yesterday I tweeted the following:
No better rec for a story than Tangent bigoting at it. Read @sentencebender‘s WE ARE THE CLOUD http://t.co/gdRiXvr1zQ pic.twitter.com/08AXcOBw19
— Amal El-Mohtar (@tithenai) September 30, 2014
I hadn’t yet read Sam J. Miller’s “We Are the Cloud”; I was just so furious that some twit at Tangent — the same twit, as it happens, whose ravings about Women Destroy Science Fiction I responded to here — thought the shambling homophobic incompetence excerpted above constituted a review that I wanted to make sure the story reached a wider audience.
Then I sat back for a minute and felt bad that it took a bigot panning a story by an author I like to make me read it.
This happens all the time: bigots are a dime a dozen, their disconsolate mutterings easy targets. We can pat ourselves on the back and feel good about rising to the occasion of sticking it to some jerk who thinks two seventeen-year-olds having sex with each other requires a warning label because they share a gender. But I don’t know if that moment of self-righteousness actually translates into sea-change without further, sustained effort; without praising the things we’ve enjoyed for their own sake and creating an environment in which discussions and recommendations of short fiction can flourish outside of award season.
I’m aware of a few people reviewing short fiction online with some regularity; by all means add more in the comments, as this list is not at all comprehensive:
- Bogi Takács used to be the gold standard for this so far as I’m concerned, but is now too busy with other worthy concerns; still, e keeps a treasure trove of short fiction reviews here.
- K Tempest Bradford does a wonderful weekly round-up at io9.
- Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow has reviewed every issue of Apex magazine since April 2014.
- Brit Mandelo and Niall Alexander write and curate an excellent short fiction spotlight on Tor.com.
- Charlotte Ashley reviews short fiction for Apex every month; links to those reviews are aggregated here.
For myself, I want to respond by actually reviewing short fiction the way I think it ought to be reviewed. Reviewing is how I make a living at the moment, so I don’t have much time to spare to do this for free, but I think I can probably cut an hour out of social media faff every day and let that add up to reviewing at least a couple of stories a week. Maybe I’ll stick up a tip jar or something if I succeed in achieving regularity.
So, starting today, Wednesdays will be Short Story Review days hereabouts (at least until I decide whether or not to start a dedicated review blog). I’ll call the series Rich and Strange in the hope of contributing to the aforementioned sea-change. I’m going to focus on magazines as much as possible, and have the reviews slanted towards recommendations unless I think there’s something constructive to be gained from pointing out a story’s failings.
I’ll start with “We Are the Cloud.”