Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Golden Age for Short Fiction?

Am I the only one who feels overwhelmed when I think about trying to keep up with all of the short fiction that gets published? There are so many sites publishing crime fiction on a regular basis that it is impossible to keep up with all of it. When one site hangs it up, there's always another one you can start reading. And if you decide to try to include print publications in your reading, there's even more variety out there.

Of course, it's not like the days of the pulps when such stories were considered mass entertainment,of drugstores were filled with Gold Medal paperbacks but the Internet is essentially unlimited in the amount of content it can hold, so there is room for everything, but a lot of pulp fiction was completely forgettable. For every Hammett or Chandler, who knows how many undistinguished writers there were? And let's face it, a lot of stuff that sold a ton of copies is, in final analysis, less than worthy of being remembered (I'm looking at you, Mr. Spillane.) I think that being a niche product has, overall, helped the quality of the stories that are available, especially with short stories, which are now largely a non-commercial endeavor. (Even though, there are plenty of anthologies you can buy.) I just wish I had the time and energy to keep up with all of it.


Gonzalo B said...

I believe the fact that most of these online contributions are not being paid - as sad as it is - has in a way improved the quality of the submissions. Now the writers are more mindful of quality concerns because: a) They are in all likelihood trying to attract an editor and an audience instead of just churning out words to make a living; and b) the fact that they are not being paid by word actually acts as a deterrent to the temptation of making a story longer via superfluous subplots.

On the other hand, it would be great if some of these writers were paid. Some of the stuff from Hardluck and others is far superior to a lot of what you see on the stands these days.

Anonymous said...

As a writer myself (trying to break out), I appreciate the large short fiction market. And I agree with Gonzalo that the free nature of the 'net is focusing many writers to be better than our golden age ancestors were. It's exciting...but quite daunting.