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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Speculative Short Story Club

   
Author Topic: Speculative Short Story Club
Phobos
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It occurred to me that some here at Hatrack might benefit from analyzing short strories currently being published in our genre.

Book clubs have emerged simply for the entertainment of reading and discussing modern novels, so I thought we could borrow from them and use it as an application in which we can evaluate and study material from the very publications in which we desire to be published.

I suppose if we can find enough people interested in this endeavor, we should then start a thread in discussing published hooks and books. I also ask that our just and kind moderator give us any guidlines to which we must adhere.

I read and subscribe to just about eveything so I am very open to the material we review, but I propose that it be from(Is it SFWA?) markets. I propose Asimov's, Analog, F&SF, IGMS, Fantasy Magazine, and Strange Horizon's to Start. Perhaps a Flash Fiction Online would be another valuable and interesting addition since many of us write flash and from what I gather many of those responsible for that publication are members here.

I also propose that the thread not become despoiled with off topic banter about how they feel about certain publications, editors, etc... I ask that if you are interested, we keep it soley for the discussion of elements within the designated story ei... plot structure, prose, theme, etc...

We can have Q&A. Having some teaching background I will develop a short "Curriculum" with some questions that will generate some deeper analysis of the stories, and I propose that we begin our post, which I feel should be done on a weekly basis, with a discussion of the first thirteen. (Correct me if I am wrong, Kathleen) I think this is Ok as long as we give the material proper attribution.

So Beginning the week, I will post the story and publication source as well as the first thirteen. For a day or two, we can discuss (Much as we do in F&F) the intro. Then I will post some study questions and we can also at that point have open discussion within the thread. By the end of the week we will discuss the candidates for our next story and determine what it will be. Then we start a new week.

I feel this will be a very beneficial tool. Primarily it will encourage us to read published stories within the markets in which we aspire to become published. Secondly, we will excercise a more analytical approach to this endeavor. Lastly, I think it could be fun. Afterall, Oprah's book club seems to be a real 'hoot'

So anyone interested?


-Finnias


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Dark Warrior
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I started one for IGMS on the published works forum and posted the first 13...I think it got lost in the shuffle though, not many responses to it. I thought maybe most people were wrapped up in Nano
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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It could as easily go in the Hatrack Groups area as in the Discussing Published Hooks and Books.

As long as all you quote are the first 13 lines, it should be okay.

Some short stories are available online after they have been published in a magazine issue (I'm thinking of one by Hatracker Eric James Stone), so you may be able to discuss stories that are no longer available on newstands.


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LlessurNire
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I think this is a great idea and I would participate!

I second it being under the group section as KDW suggested.

I would love to discuss stories from F&SF, (being the only magazine I subscribe to currently... but if the group would want to alternate magazines that would be worthwhile as well....


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Phobos
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Thanks for the feedback, Kathleen.

I think a great way to start by using an online Publication. This would make it readily available to anyone wishing to Participate. There is no excuse for not being able to go down to Borders and picking up an Asimov's when you can simply go to the website and read it in fifteen minutes. I suggest we at least start off this way. Llessurnire, we can do something from F&SF. I also subscribe,but we will see what happens with anyone else interested.

Let's keep this post alive for a while (if it is OK with you, Kathleen)in order to grab a few more interested people. I will start a new thread in 'Groups' tomorrow(Sunday). I think Sunday would be a good day to start the week. We can go Sunday through Saturday with one story

Hopefully we can establish a good core base of particpants so it does not fall to the wayward.

Dark Warrior, does that mean that you would be interested in particiating? I haven't been around long enought to know, readily if you are a novelist or a short story writer. I would love to have you on board.

So if you are interested, please include what you would be interested in starting off with. Cast your first 'Vote' for an online publication and then list a printed publication that you subscribe to or are interested in starting a subscription to.

[This message has been edited by Phobos (edited November 29, 2009).]


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KayTi
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I'd be up for some discussion, but don't count on me for anything specific. More of a "hey, if you guys get talking I may stop by sometimes..." kind of thing.


I prefer sci-fi, sub 5k stories, free online.


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Phobos
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Thanks, KayTi. I look forward to seeing you around. I know that once you get involved you will get hooked.
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extrinsic
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http://www.freesfonline.de/index.html

Many short stories accessible through Free Speculative Fiction Online. Indexes nonpirated fantastical genre short stories as well as novellas and novelettes, novels available online. Two short stories at my last look by Eric James Stone, one in Webscription and one as a pod cast audio from PodCastle, mp-3 format.

Freesfonline has tightened their linking standards recently due to an explosion of online accessible fantastical fiction. They're now using selection standards similar to SFWA's membership requirements.


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Phobos
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Thanks, extrinsic. This could prove to be a valuable resource for us in the future. Finding free stories online will help us a great deal.
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Teraen
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I'm in. All I subscribe to is F&SF, and the first issue hasn't even arrived yet

I would think the best way to make sure everyone participates is to link to short stories available online, unless everyone gets access to the same magazines. Asimovs and Analog both post stories online, as well as some publishers. Fore example:

http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=stories

I would suggest whoever organizes this takes story suggestions from the members, then makes an "assignment" of a story everyone could read before discussing, so that we are all on the same page.


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genevive42
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Count me in. This will get me to keep reading like I should be doing. This sounds like an interesting discussion.

I have to write 3000 words today but once that's done I will have completed NaNo and will free and clear to navigate.

I agree with keeping it to things that are available to everyone online. I think it will just make things easier. Any of the speculative genres are fine with me. I'm sure we'll find a good mix.


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extrinsic
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It has been my experience that the more dynamic discussions of stories are ones where the participants operate within a shared understanding of literary attributes' terms and the terms' connotative senses or denotative meanings. With there being multiple meanings of most terms, if not all, and differences abounding, a discussion of a particular feature like plot, theme, tension, suspense, empathy, etc., benefits from a prearranged vocabulary glossary or lexicon of terms' relevant meanings, especially when a singled-out topic of discussion is defined for the purpose to hand straitforwardly and up front.

In my studies, I've encountered five or more distinguishably different meanings for plot, for example. Two primary ones that have large but separate and divisive consensuses, and three lesser consensuses that orient around differences of application in relation to other attributes, like character, setting, and discourse, etc.

The term point of view and its attendant abbreviations has even more distinguishably different, and frequently divisive, meanings in the larger realm of writing discussions.

Also in my experience, principal influencing factors that diminish, derail, and divert discussions of this sort, and fosters divisiveness, is vague understanding or rigid adherence to one or another of the multitude of senses of literary terms' meanings and applications.

For purposes of engaging, dynamic, reasoned, and productive discussions, I suggest that not only a story be decided upon, but also decide areas for discussion focus based upon discrete, distinguishable literary attributes. The elementals of plot, character, setting, discourse, theme, tone, rhetoric, and resonance, for example, and their senses of meaning and application at play in a story under discussion. To that end, a discussion moderator rubric and prompt might include a set of terms and defining their assorted connotative senses as applicable to the story under discussion.

I.e., character, two principal senses; sense one, a "dramatis personae," "a fictional individual within a larger imaginary situation"* inhabiting a story; sense two, the characteristics that depict a dramatic persona in a story: physical traits, personality traits, social traits, and a dramatic person's ethical traits of vices and virtues, and methods of how one or another trait type depicts characters. In other words, characterization, which has become shortened to "character."

*From Critical Concepts by Lyman A. Baker.
http://www.k-state.edu/english/baker/english320/cc-character.htm

In brief then, a preliminary discussion and consensus decision on the shape of the writing conference table would be a noble idea. I like round, well-rounded tables.


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Teraen
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Very arthurian of you, extrinsic
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philocinemas
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I would be interested in participating. I will be getting a subscription to Asimov's sometime after the first of the year, but I also agree that stories offered for free online would be ideal. I am not sure if my participation will be continuous or intermittant; it all depends on my future workload.

I do fear that moderating the discussion could possibly put extra stress on Kathleen, and though she has already blessed this endeavor, I believe we should ask for feedback from her on how to govern whether something is on or off topic and within defined parameters.


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Phobos
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Shall we begin with something from Strange horizon's since it is a free online venue?

If no one diagrees I will set up the post tonight


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extrinsic
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If I might suggest "Love Among the Talus" by Sarah Bear Elizabeth Wishnevsky, Strange Horizons 11 December 2006, because she's "a winner of the 2005 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Short Story for 'Tideline,' and the 2009 Hugo Award for her novelette 'Shoggoths in Bloom.'" Wikipedia: Elizabeth Bear. Thirty-five of her stories are linked at the Free Speculative Fiction Online index, including the above.

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2006/20061211/talus-f.shtml

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited November 29, 2009).]


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Phobos
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That is a great choice, extrinsic. I have read "Shoguths in Bloom" and I heard "Tideline" on EscapePodThey are both really good fiction. I am posting it now. Thank you, Extrinsic for your valuable insight.

[This message has been edited by Phobos (edited November 29, 2009).]


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Phobos
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Ok, The thread is up and discussion has already begun on the first thirteen of, "Love Among the Talus", by Elizabeth Bear.

I hope you all will join us inHatrack Groups

I look forward to this excersise and meeting new people.


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Unwritten
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What a great idea! I'll be there.
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extrinsic
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Coincidentally, Ms. Bear posted a movie review today of Fantastic Mr. Fox at Tor.com.

http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=blog&id=58371


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I would recommend that discussions of literary definitions be confined to this topic or given their own topics (in the Open Discussions on Writing area), and discussions of particular stories be kept in the Hatrack Groups topic for the story.
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