I’m planning on working my way through parts or all of these:

Photo1

I’ve read a few out of some of them but not got through all of them. And The Weird I’ve been (very) slowly working my way through) for ages. This might take  some time. But it an illustration why I’m not seeking out new books for the foreseeable future. 

Solaris MagicAnthology4

 

I know books are all about the contents rather than the covers but you have to agree that being black and white does make Magic an intruiging read and that’s before we get to the list of authors, some of whom are at the bottom of the press release that I’m borrowing this off Graeme:

International best-selling author Audrey Niffenegger is to pen her first ever story for a commercial trade anthology, after signing to Solaris’ forthcoming short story collection, Magic.

Solaris are proud to announce that Niffenegger, whose novel The Time Traveller’s Wife has sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide, is to produce a story for the themed anthology of the occult and arcane, due for release in November 2012 in North America and the UK, in both paperback and ebook. The story marks Audrey’s first ever appearance in any commercial trade anthology and is the third themed collection from Solaris editor-in-chief Jonathan Oliver. The previous critically-acclaimed anthologies include The End of the Line, which featured stories set on the Underground, and House of Fear, which rebooted the haunted house for the 21st Century. The titles garnered ecstatic reviews, with The Times describing End of the Line’s stories as “exceptionally good”. “I’m delighted to be involved in this project,” said Audrey Niffenegger. “My story is called The Wrong Fairie and is about Charles Altamont Doyle. He was a Victorian artist who was institutionalized for alcoholism. He was also the father of Arthur Conan Doyle, and he believed in fairies.” “It’s really very exciting to be working with Audrey, whose novels The Time Traveller’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry show an author with a great talent for subverting genre norms and delivering the unexpected,” said Jonathan Oliver. “Audrey’s story is sure to make a great addition to Magic.” The line-up for Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane is set to include other high profile authors, including Richard and Judy Book Club-choice Alison Littlewood, NYT Bestseller Dan Abnett, and celebrated authors such as Christopher Fowler, Storm Constantine, Robert Shearman, Paul Meloy, Sophia McDougall, Will Hill, Gemma Files, along with new writers such as Sarah Lotz, Lou Morgan and Thana Niveau and more.

UPDATE 23/08/12:

Table of Contents:

“The Wrong Fairy” by Audrey Niffenegger
“If I Die” by Kill My Cat” by Sarah Lotz
“Shuffle” by Will Hill
“Domestic Magic” by Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem
“Cad Coddeu” by Liz Williams
“Party Tricks” by Dan Abnett
“First and Last and Always” by Thana Niveau
“The Art of Escapology” by Alison Littlewood
“The Baby” by Christopher Fowler
“Do as Thou Wilt” by Storm Constantine
“Bottom Line” by Lou Morgan
“MailerDaemon” by Sophia McDougall
“Buttons” by Gail Z. Martin
“Nanny Grey” by Gemma Files
“Dumb Lucy” by Robert Shearman

I pronounce 2012, for me at least, the year of the short story.

A book buying ban does make you look around your own shelves as does a bit of book culling and one thing I have noticed is that I have a lot of short story collections, mostly anthologies but a few by a single authors where I’ve got random bookmarks and I’m not sure how much progress I’ve made through them.  So this year I’m going to correct that. I’m making this year my year of the short story (#yoss2012) I had great fun a couple of years ago running a short story month so I hope this will be fun too.

Keeping notes as I go

I don’t mean reviewing-related thoughts but recording or keeping a diary of my views and reading as I go. I’ve free-wheeled a lot this year in my reading and not got as much traction as I wanted in certain areas so this year I hope to be a bit more aware.

It’s not just for reading. Awareness is part of my integration of minimalist ideas (minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important) and as I’m trying to be more minimalist I hope this will help me focus more.

Podcasting

Since Simon nagged (I mean convinced) me that we’d make a great podcasting duo and I’ve been having a blast with The Readers. We’ve recorded 14 episodes this year and the plan is to carry on doing one episode a week throughout 2012. Talking about books is different from writing about them. Here I can randomly stop, make a cup of tea and return to my posts as if nothing has happened. When you’ve got make a conversation flow you have to be on strong coffee, at least that’s what I’m do.

I’m hoping to get a few more interviews done next year for The Readers, and I might be doing a special series of interviews over Skype for another project with a bit of luck.

Fun times!

Striking a balance

Another reason I want to keep a more detailed record, I know a blog is a record but it’s a slightly more censored one , is that I’m entirely happy with myself as a reader this year. It’s partly from recording The Readers each week. I’ve been letting some really good books pass me by but at the same time not diverting myself and getting through some of the authors back catalogues I’d have liked.

So I have some rough targets for the new year:

  • 50/50 female authors to male though not 50/50 books read (partly as I want to read lots of books from the same author).
  • Complete a beginning to end read of The Weird (and I’ve broken my book ban to just that as I wanted the ebook to make it more achievable).
  • Celebrate the short story (see above) as it’s different way of approaching the field (eg SFF).
  • 50/50 new books to old books and ideally the new books are read/reviewed in the month of publication. I feel I’m missing a bit of the conversation sometimes by not always reading/reviewing books in good time but I don’t want to be dominated by new books either. It’s a balance and 50/50 seems fair.
  • Rely less on Amazon. I’m lazy I admit it. Amazon has several positives like being reliable and having easy access to a great number of books and ebooks but it’s not the only place you can get them. I can get Kindle-friendly ebooks as well as physical copies from loads of other places so I’m going to try to do that more in future. Though I have to have completed my book buying ban first.
  • And finally, slightly more controversially, act a bit more like a blinkered horse. I’ve already had a good look at books coming from Jan to June 2012, and chosen 15 which you’ll hear on The Readers first podcast of the new year, so I’ve already got an idea of what’s going to around. And very exciting they are too. But as I can’t buy any books at the minute I’m going to focus on the books that I have access to and catching up with what I have on the shelves at least until I’ve read my 33 bought books so I can end my book ban.

Though saying that I’ll still be hanging around twitter so my blinkers my not last long!

What about you? You have any resolutions?

I pronounce 2012, for me at least, the year of the short story.
A book buying ban does make you look around your own shelves as does a bit of book culling and one thing I have noticed is that I have a lot of short story collections, mostly anthologies but a few by a single authors where I’ve got random bookmarks and I’m not sure how much progress I’ve made through them.  So this year I’m going to correct that. I’m making this year my year of the short story (#yoss2012) I had great fun a couple of years ago running a short story month so I hope this will be fun too.
Keeping notes as I go
I don’t mean reviewing-related thoughts but recording or keeping a diary of my views and reading as I go. I’ve free-wheeled a lot this year in my reading and not got as much traction as I wanted in certain areas so this year I hope to be a bit more aware.
It’s not just for reading. Awareness is part of my integration of minimalist ideas (minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important) and as I’m trying to be more minimalist I hope this will help me focus more.
Podcasting
Since Simon nagged (I mean convinced) me that we’d make a great podcasting duo and I’ve been having a blast with The Readers. We’ve recorded 14 episodes this year and the plan is to carry on doing one episode a week throughout 2012. Talking about books is different from writing about them. Here I can randomly stop, make a cup of tea and return to my posts as if nothing has happened. When you’ve got make a conversation flow you have to be on strong coffee, at least that’s what I’m do.
I’m hoping to get a few more interviews done next year for The Readers, and I might be doing a special series of interviews over Skype for another project with a bit of luck.
Fun times!
Striking a balance
Another reason I want to keep a more detailed record, I know a blog is a record but it’s a slightly more censored one , is that I’m entirely happy with myself as a reader this year. It’s partly from recording The Readers each week. I’ve been letting some really good books pass me by but at the same time not diverting myself and getting through some of the authors back catalogues I’d have liked.
So I have some rough targets for the new year:
50/50 female authors to male though not 50/50 books read.
Complete a beginning to end read of The Weird (and I’ve broken my book ban to just that as I wanted the ebook to make it more achievable).
Celebrate the short story (see above) as it’s different way of approaching the field (eg SFF).
50/50 new books to old books and ideally the new books are read/reviewed in the month of publication. I feel I’m missing a bit of the conversation sometimes by not always reading/reviewing books in good time but I don’t want to be dominated by new books either. It’s a balance and 50/50 seems fair.
Rely less on Amazon. I’m lazy I admit it. Amazon has several positives like being reliable and having easy access to a great number of books and ebooks but it’s not the only place you can get them. I can get Kindle-friendly ebooks as well as physical copies from loads of other places so I’m going to try to do that more in future. Though I have to have completed my book buying ban first.
And finally, slightly more controversially, act a bit more like a blinkered horse. I’ve already had a good look at books coming from Jan to June 2012, and chosen 15 which you’ll hear on The Readers first podcast of the new year, so I’ve already got an idea of what’s going to around. And very exciting they are too. But as I can’t buy any books at the minute I’m going to focus on the books that I have access to and catching up with what I have on the shelves at least until I’ve read my 33 bought books so I can end my book ban.
Though saying that I’ll still be hanging around twitter so my blinkers my not last long!
What about you? You have any resolutions?

I haven’t talked about ebooks for a little while so here is a few snippets:

Short UK Orbit

Finally Orbit are releasing some short fiction outside the US:

Last April, Orbit US launched Orbit Short Fiction, publishing digital editions of original short fiction written by its authors. Starting in 2012 Orbit UK will be joining the initiative. Stories published under the program will be released simultaneously in the US, UK, and other markets in which its e-books are routinely distributed.  Anne Clarke, Editorial Director, Orbit (UK) said: “The digital short fiction market is clearly gaining momentum, and I’m delighted that we’ll now be able to make our authors’ stories available internationally. The success of the program in the US has been very encouraging, and we’re very much looking forward to working with our authors and colleagues in the US on this next stage in its development.”

Press Release: ORBIT SHORT FICTION TO LAUNCH INTERNATIONALLY

To tell the truth I wasn’t that bothered. That was until I saw the release of The Butcher of Anderson Station was US only. I’m not really keen on missing out. And shortly we won’t be.

Flashman… aha…. ebook read every one of them…


And if you don’t know much about Flashman here you go:

For more than a century the fate of history’s most notorious schoolboy, Harry Paget Flashman, remained a mystery – until, in 1966, George MacDonald Fraser decided to discover a vast collection of unpublished manuscripts in a Midlands saleroom…Expelled from Rugby for drunkenness, and none too welcome at home after seducing his father’s mistress, the Flashman series follows the scandalous saga of Harry Paget Flashman; scoundrel, liar, cheat, thief, coward – and, oh yes, toady – in a series of bestselling memoirs in which the arch-cad reviews, from the safety of old age, his exploits in bed and battle.

What makes ebooks exciting for me is that it makes works of all sorts available to new audiences and it doesn’t stop at Flashman

George MacDonald Fraser’s other novels, short stories and nonfiction will follow in ebook format in 2012.

And Finally: Bradbury gives in to ebooks

Science fiction legend Ray Bradbury, who at 91 has long been one of the last bastions against the digital age, has crumbled, with his classic novel Fahrenheit 451 finally published as an ebook.

Fahrenheit 451 ebook published as Ray Bradbury gives in to digital era | Books | guardian.co.uk:

 

The author’s agent Michael Congdon told the Associated Press that “we explained the situation to him (Bradbury) that a new contract wouldn’t be possible without ebook rights. He understood and gave us the right to go ahead.” With ebooks now accounting for 20% or more of sales, Congdon said, the digital deal was inevitable.

 

HarperCollins, which publishes Fahrenheit 451 in the UK, said it was “in discussions” with the author about releasing an ebook of the novel but had not yet finalised a deal.

This is interesting as even Bradbury who resisted ebooks of his works has had to relinquish to commercial realities.

One thing is sure is that we’ll never be short of ebooks.

pandemonium-fiction.com

We’re very pleased to announce our first anthology of short fiction, Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse.

The collection features stories set at the end of the world, as imagined by some of the biggest names and hottest newcomers in science fiction.

Pandemonium collects over a dozen original stories inspired by the art of John Martin, and will be released this October to coincide with the Tate Gallery’s new exhibition of his work. Martin (1789 – 1854) was a Romantic painter with a taste for sweeping Apocalyptic scenes. Although he never received much positive critical attention, his huge and wildly imaginative paintings were popular with the masses. Since his death, Martin’s reputation has gone through periods of complete insignificence and others of great renown. In short, he’s our type of guy.

Pandemonium will be edited by Pornokitsch’s Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin, with a foreword by Tom Hunter, director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Pandemonium will be available to purchase as an ebook through Amazon or the project website. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the UK’s most prestigious prize for science fiction literature.

For more information and to join the mailing list, check outwww.pandemonium-fiction.com. A partial list of contributors is already on display, with several more to be announced soon.

This is mega exciting for a couple of reasons. Firstly it’s being edited by Anne and Jared and if their blog is anything to go by then it’s going to be a cracker and secondly it’ll contain my mate Tom Pollock, whose debut novel as been picked up by Jo Fletcher Books. I’ve not read any of his stuff yet so I have high hopes for his short story.

Pandemonium will be on sale in October 2011

I volunteered to be a preliminary judge for the storySouth Million Writers Award and now that the Notable Stories of 2010 list has been up a little while I thought I’d share the ones that I put forward:

Raising Tom Chambers by Daniel Powell (Redstone Science Fiction)
http://redstonesciencefiction.com/2010/05/raising-tom-chambers/

The Seal of Sulaymaan by TRACY CANFIELD (Fantasy Magazine)
http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/fiction/the-seal-of-sulaymaan/

Hokkaido Green By Aidan Doyle (Strange Horizons)
http://www.strangehorizons.com/2010/20101101/hokkaido-f.shtml

Mademoiselle and the Chevalier by MARI NESS (Fantasy Magazine)
http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/fiction/mademoiselle-and-the-chevalier/

Arvies by ADAM-TROY CASTRO (Lightspeed Magazine)
http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/arvies/

Disquieting Postcards I’ve Recently Received from My Future Self by Mark A. Rayner (aescifi.ca)
http://aescifi.ca/index.php/fiction/35-short-stories/177-disquieting-postcards-ive-recently-received-from-my-future-self

Blood, Blood By Abbey Mei Otis (Strange Horizons)
http://www.strangehorizons.com/2010/20101115/blood-f.shtml
http://www.strangehorizons.com/2010/20101122/blood-f.shtml

The Black Sheep of Vaerlosi by Desmond Warzel (Abyss & Apex)
http://abyssandapex.com/201004-black.html 

I was reading these in late Feb & early March. I read a lot of short stories to get it down to under 10 I could nominate. What I discovered is that Instapaper and my iPad make a great combination for reading short fiction.

I hope you find something you like and if not there is always all the other short stories on the notable list to check out!

Who writes your favourite stories? Which shouldn’t I miss?

Title: Tag, You’re It
Author: Melissa Mead
Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/story/melissa-mead/tag-youre-it
Collection: n/a
Publisher: Daily Science Fiction
Release Date: This story was first published on Thursday, September 9th, 2010

 

….Something else rose out of the mist below the skylight. A lost soul, indistinct, almost translucent. The soul turned and smiled at the old devil.

“Let’s play Hide-and-Tag,” it said. It pointed over the edge of the storage platform at the blue-green dot of the Earth below. “You go down there and hide, and I’ll find you.”

 

One of my favourite Disney moments is from Sword in the Stone where Merlin and Mad Madam Mim challenge each other to a Wizards’ Duel with each trying to out transform each other.

Tag, You’re It takes on that same feeling of mental challenge as the two devise ways of hiding from each other as only a devil and a lost soul can. I enjoyed the mythic quality to it as well as playfulness of the ideas. Not a lot more I can say as it’s just about 700 words long but worth a read.

Title: A Woman Naked
Author: Christopher Priest
Collection: Real-Time World
Publisher: New English Library [now available from GrimGrin Studios - gav]
Publication Date: February 1976

Christopher Priest sold his first short story in 1966. A Woman Naked first appeared Science Fiction Monthly in 1974. Which makes it a relatively early piece. Certainly it is a far more obvious story than the novels for which Priest is now known, such as The Prestige or The Separation.

A Woman Naked is a simple but powerful story. It makes no effort to describe its world, or explain how it came about. The reader knows only “that men outnumbered women” and women are “accorded special treatment in society”. It could be our own world. Except the opening line of the story makes it clear that it is not:

“The crime was sexual promiscuity; the punishment was probation. Now she walked to the courthouse for her appeal, a woman naked.”

The protagonist of A Woman Naked is referred to using the “temporary name” Mistress L—-. Her crime was adultery: at a party, she had been given “illicitly-distilled liquor”, and then seduced. A week later, she was arrested. Someone at the party, she later realised, must have been a police informer.

The walk to the appeal is dangerous, as there is “no penalty for the rape of a woman naked”, but Mistress L— is protected by her brother. Not openly – that would be illegal; but he does his best to ensure his sister comes to no harm.

She eventually arrives at the court, to witness a young naked woman being ejected. She had lost her appeal. The procedure is explained to Mistress L—-. If her appeal is upheld – which depends entirely on whether her confession matches that of the prosecution witnesses – she will be given a “one-piece, grey dungaree, made of rough, badly-cut material” to wear when she leaves.

She enters the courtroom. “Everyone present was male.”

A Woman Naked is frightening in its simplicity, in the way it presents with no commentary, no histronics, the subjugation of a sector of society. Priest gives no argument, no justification or rationalisation, he simply recounts what happens to Mistress L—-. He describes a system so despicable the only hope of salvation for the victims requires them to collude in their victimisation. Mistress L—‘s crime is not adultery; her crime is being female, being a member of a minority that is different. The “seduction” was not the only rape she suffered; her entire life has been a violation.

And still the ordeal is not over: “She opened her mouth and started the account of her crimes. The rape had begun.”

Ian Sales is a man of many talents it seems – he is both writer and critic and you can find more about him in these places amongst others:

http://iansales.com/

A Space About Books About Space:
http://spacebookspace.wordpress.com/

Sferse:
http://sferse.wordpress.com/

Title: Dirae
Author: Peter S Beagle
Anthology: Warriors
Editors: George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Publisher: Tor US

When I read The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, I was enchanted by the lyrical quality of the prose and the vivid imagination of the storytelling. It was a novel that stayed with me long after the last page had been turned, and, even though I’ve only read it once (something that needs rectifying), I recommend it fiercely as one of those fantasy novels people MUST read.

So, when Gav announced SSAM and I realised that the Warriors anthology contained a short story – Dirae – by Peter S. Beagle, I decided that this should be my contribution.

Over the course of 20 pages, Beagle introduces us to a strange character – someone who is dealing revenge and retribution, rescuing the needy and the weak, but who does not know their own name. This character fades in and out of darkness, always appearing where they are least expected and most needed.

The writing is superlative: starting off staccato and yet dreamlike in our first introduction to the character. We are confused alongside the main character – the “warrior” – as we wonder who this person is, why they are drifting through darkness, how they appear in different locations around the city. As each passage expands and our understanding grows, the writing becomes vibrant with unspoken anger and passion. Throughout the whole story, there is a sadness and distance which fits perfectly with the final few paragraphs.

Beagle has written a tight, taut story which can be enjoyed and savoured many times to find true understanding as to the nature of this character we spend all-too-brief a time with. Highly recommended.

Amanda is one of those infectious people whose passion from books really rubs off – I’m currently jealous as she’s read 5o books so far this year. She runs a mean blog at Floor to Ceiling Blogs packed full of treasures