Category Archives: neat things

The World of the Graphic Novel

The excellent New England Science Fiction Events blog has just alerted me to a necessary event for those living in the Massachusetts area who are interested in comic books. The Fitchburg Art Museum will launch a new exhibit at the end of September called LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel, which will run September 25-January 1, 2012. Here’s the description:

LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel will examine the use of sequential art as a significant form of visual communication, and place specific emphasis on the art of the contemporary graphic novel. This special exhibition will feature over 200 original art works, including paintings, drawings, storyboards, studies, books, photographs, and a documentary film, offering insights into the lives of the artists and the nature of their work.

I’ll be looking to head out there once the show opens.

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Giving Short Stories a Shelf Life

I stumbled across Anthology Builder recently–a new discovery for me though I think it’s been around a while. Customers can visit the site, design a custom anthology based on the short stories available there, and have it printed and mailed to them. If they like, they can put the anthology they designed into the library so that others can buy the same mix of stories.

The stories seem to be mostly works in the public domain or reprints that authors have uploaded. The site seems to have some editorial process–the requirement that stories be reprints keeps the noise-to-signal ratio from getting too high. I checked out the available stories and there’s some good stuff there, particularly in the SF/fantasy genres, with which I’m most familiar. There are a few stories from authors I’ve written about here before, including Rhonda Eudaly, Samantha Henderson, and Marsheila Rockwell. Funnily enough, I found an anthology put together by Therese Arkenberg–I’ve also written about her. Anthology Builder also has a partnership with the interesting Book View Cafe.

It’s a neat idea, but I’m a little uncertain about it. I love short fiction, and I like the idea of reading an anthology put together by people who interest me. In terms of building anthologies myself, I think I would only do it if I were intimately familiar with all the stories that went into it. The discovery aspect of the site and the anthology building aspect seem like they may not be entirely compatible. This has an almost-but-not-quite feeling to me. Still, I plan to try out some of the anthologies in the library, as well as building my own anthology. I can also see myself using the site to pick up “collected stories” of an author I like.

Authors get some small amount of royalties from the site–each book sold gives a $1.50 royalty, divided among the authors whose stories were included.

What is a Wovel?

Simon Drax’s “wovel,” Exit Vector, started today on the Underland Press site. First, I have to admit that I find the word “wovel,” which stands for “web novel,” incredibly irritating. That said, it’s an interesting experiment.

Exit Vector is essentially a serial, except that readers vote at the end of each segment about what should happen next. From what I can tell, Underland has published one previous wovel, though I can’t find an archive on the site, and I can’t figure out if the resulting novel will be published in print.

I’m not sure how much reader control a wovel will actually give. It didn’t seem to me that the choice at the end of the first segment would necessarily impact the plot to a large extent, but this was only the first installment.

So far, the story is about a drug-soaked teen who looks like she’s about to embark on some sort of noir/steampunk mystery quest. Pulpy, which can be a good thing. I’ll keep reading for now. I’m curious to see how the (possibly false) sense of control affects the reading experience.

Flood of Fiction

I recently discovered QuasarDragon, an incredible blog that posts daily about free, legal fantasy and SF available online. It’s eclectic, including not only short fiction but serials, audio, art, and more. It’s extremely comprehensive. I think this is a great service–though it reminds me how much great stuff I’m missing because there just isn’t time in the day.

Things To Do While Playing Legends of Zork

I’ve never been much for audio formats, mostly because I’m never sure when to listen to them. For a long time I’ve known there are good literature podcasts out there (regular shows featuring audio performances of fiction). I spend a lot of time reading on paper or on a screen during my commute and at home, however, and so, while I like podcasts, I’ve never found a good way to incorporate them into my routine. I like to listen to something while cleaning, but a podcast takes more attention than I can usually afford while doing something else.

And so, I’m proud to announce that I’ve finally found the way into podcasts: I’ve started listening to them while playing Legends of Zork. My character in this browser-based dungeon crawler, Nehana, is upwards of level 40 at this point, and, to maintain my position on the leaderboard, I must do a fair amount of grinding (For the uninitiated, “the grind” is time spent in an online roleplaying game mechanically killing monsters or collecting treasure. Think of it as a synonym for “paying your dues”). At this level, I don’t make decisions very often. I have long periods of grinding before I can buy the next super-awesome spell I want.

I’ve found some good ones, and I thought I would share the list with you. I’m sure this will be too basic for anyone who’s already into the form, but I think these are good starting places for any n00b. (And, speaking of n00bs, if you’re new to LOZ and want help getting started, feel free to friend me on the site–I’m happy to do what I can).

Escape Pod — science fiction short stories, both full-length and flash fiction

PodCastle — fantasy short stories, both full-length and flash fiction

PseudoPod — horror short stories, both full-length and flash fiction

The Drabblecast — weird fiction (each episode includes a 100-word drabble and a full-length story)

New Yorker: Fiction — I don’t always listen to or read genre fiction, and this podcast is interesting because one New Yorker author selects and reads a short story by another New Yorker author and then discusses it. It’s good for those interested in hearing about how stories get crafted.

If you don’t know how this works, there are good descriptions on most of these sites. The short version, however, is that in most cases you can listen straight from the sites, download stories to your computer and then to an mp3 player, or subscribe through iTunes.

I’m interested in any suggestions you might have for good literature podcasts, too — feel free to leave them in the comments.