Short Fiction Second Quarterly Survey + Roundup

Vote for your favorite short fiction of April, May, and June here. The deadline is Monday, August 17 — which means that if you would like to catch up with issues of zines you missed, you’ve still got a bit of time to do it! And while my ability to write up monthly story roundups is on (hopefully temporary) hiatus, here’s a quarterly roundup of some personal favorites in case you need a place to start looking.  Continue reading

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Sexual Violence in Epic Fantasy Follow-up & Linkspam: Sansa Stark

My reaction to the Game of Thrones episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” is very personal and very meta. And I didn’t even watch it because similar problems rendered me unable to watch that show long ago, but witnessed my Twitter feed explode on the night that the episode aired and read the devastating news: Continue reading

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Belated But Obligatory Reaction Post: Hugomaggedon

Well… maybe not so obligatory. I’m going to skip over the summary and the bits that are probably obvious (e.g., that No Award will likely overwhelm my ballot) to address a few points along with my personal response. Going to go ahead and warn up-front that this is only my second year of organized fandom and my first year voting in the Hugos, which flavors my reaction; I’m probably not as upset as many. And I haven’t kept up with all the various posts and counter-posts, because that is boring. But I am ass-chapped enough for a post with headings.

This post assumes that you are familiar with the arguments of Brad Torgersen — who I had not heard of before the Melancholy Canine debacle, but who has convinced me very thoroughly that I ought not read any of his books; reasoning follows. Reasoning, that is, besides the whiny entitlement of manbabies throwing a shitfit at not seeing themselves and their own views reflected in the narrative every single time. The rest of us had to get over that as children. Continue reading

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Sekrit Project Announced: Quarterly Short Fiction Survey

The plan, in a nutshell:

Renay and Jodie of Lady Business, Jonah Sutton-Morse of Yelling At My Bookshelf, and I will be aggregating the responses to this quarterly short fiction survey — in which you can name up to five favorite short stories, novelettes, and novellas — over the next three weeks, after which we’ll produce a PDF of the entirety and a list of the top ten or so results.

The idea is a sort of grassroots, organic recommendation engine for short fiction in which everyone in fandom can participate.

Signal boosts appreciated!

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Sexual Violence in Epic Fantasy (TW)

Illuminating conversation on Twitter yesterday about sexual violence in epic fantasy and the narrative choices around it. Also, CG of Black Girl in Media poses a question of whether there’s been an increase of violence against women in media depictions in part due to backlash over feminism, and if in part it rests against a need to punish the “strong female character” trope.

I’m interested in how these two ideas may intersect, and ponder how much gratuitous depictions of sexual violence in epic fantasy are used not just to titillate but to punish female characters for being too strong, too powerful, too subversive. It’s pretty familiar territory and there’s a lot of conversation around it, so I shall piggyback with A Song of Ice and Fire and some deeply problematic ways in which it portrays sexual violence (apart from: a lot). Continue reading

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Stuff I’m Up To

My February short fiction post is up at Skiffy and Fanty. Some powerfully emotionally evocative ones this month.

I also decided to start trying to cover at least one novella a month, because if there aren’t enough sources to filter and discover short stories, holy shit is the situation critical for novellas and novelettes. So in the column thus far are reviews of Genevieve Valentine’s Dream Houses and N.K. Jemisin’s The Awakened Kingdom. I liked the first one a lot, loved the second (and wow is my ass chapped it hasn’t shown up on any award short lists so far; if you are looking to fill out that section of your Hugo ballot and only have time for one, make it this one).  Continue reading

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The Drama Around

I’ve been doing some thinking and discussion lately about short fiction and what sorts of forces elevate some stories to be discussed, included in best of anthologies, and nominated for awards. Looking at examples from last year and the early ones for this year, in my judgment they often aren’t very good and certainly aren’t the best. And as a group, they tend to exhibit certain patterns.

Additionally, since I started a short fiction column and thus widely increased my zine reading — I’m going to have to get more mercenary about my reading soon because mental health is important — I’ve read some utter dross, emblematic of the same pattern.  Continue reading

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Happy Birthday To My Blog

Manic Pixie Dream Worlds is one year old today (give or take a week or two; I’m not good with dates). The endeavor began as something of a lark, escapism after the worst year I’d ever had, and it kept me going through the second. I never expected that book blogging would result in so many new friendships, so many new ideas, so much intellectual expansion. So many great things.

Hence the blog makeover, and a few randomly assorted announcements/thoughts/whatever: Continue reading

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Diverse Short Fiction Discussion Group

There’s been much discussion lately of the lack of filtering mechanisms for short fiction in SF/F. Dozens of short fiction publications publish hundreds of stories each month, which is overwhelming for people who aren’t immersed or well-versed in short fiction already. The only way I can think of to filter short fiction is to find a regular reviewer or editor that shares your taste — the inherent problem being that you don’t know whether you share their taste until you’re actually reading short fiction regularly.

We’ve got a signal-to-noise ratio problem, folks. Continue reading

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Two More Lovely Stories, and Ringing in the New Year

Once there was a little girl, born at midnight during the Feast of the Sacrifice, in a certain city of Arabia. The baby’s mother, sighing, named her Dunya. Dunya means “the world,” but what her mother meant by that, no one ever knew…

So begins Catherine F. King’s “The Ninety-Ninth Bride,” the last and longest of the stories from Book Smugglers Publishing last year, and a transformation of the frame story in One Thousand and One Nights. There are several changes from the original tale: historical details and fantastical and mythic elements are added; the primary characters’ roles are shifted, slightly at first and gradually more as the narrative progresses; and most notably, the protagonist is not Shahrazad — more familiar to Western readers as Scheherazade, and named Zhara in this retelling — but Dunyazad. Dunyazad, the younger sister present in some versions in which she hides in the marriage chamber and asks for a story — the ancillary, clandestine character who begs for a tale to be told to spare Shahrazad from the bloodthirsty Sultan, one night at a time. Continue reading

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