25 June 2019

slipstream fiction

There's a relatively new genre of speculative fiction called 'slipstream.' Author Bruce Sterling is credited with first defining it in 1989, It is a contemporary kind of writing which has set its face against consensus reality. It is fantastic, surreal sometimes, speculative on occasion, but not rigorously so. It does not aim to provoke a 'sense of wonder' or to systematically extrapolate in the manner of classic science fiction. Instead, this is a kind of writing that simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the late twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility. Supposedly, slipstream falls between speculative fiction and mainstream fiction, so it's a sort of spec-fic 'lite.'

On the other hand, authors John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly say it's less about genre, rather, cognitive dissonance is what slipstream is all about. I've read quite a bit of fiction by Kelly Link that is considered slipstream. It's lovely. :) What do you think? What's slipstream? Who does a good job with it?

Whatever it is, we'd be happy to get some at Electric Spec. The deadline for the amazing August 2019 issue is July 15, 2019!

18 June 2019

similarities and differences: short stories and novels

I'm judging a novel contest right now while working on Electric Spec slush. So, I've been noticing the differences between short stories and novels. And, no, I'm not talking about the obvious one: length. :) In some ways short stories are similar to novel chapter ones and in some ways they're very different.

Today's short stories must grab the reader on page one. It's even better if they grab the reader in paragraph one, or, ideally, line one. There are myriad ways to grab the reader, some of which I mentioned here last week, including unique voice, engaging character, dramatic problem, etc. The pace of a short story often builds until the end of the story, the climax, and then relaxes in a short denouement.

Today's novels must grab the reader by the end of chapter one. Chapter one usually begins by setting the scene, introducing main character(s), building the world a little. The pace of chapter one usually increases until the end. Thus, ideally, chapter one ends with a dramatic cliffhanger. Obviously, what this cliffhanger is depends on the genre. In a murder mystery, for example, usually it's a body drop.

An effective writerly trick in both is an initial sentence of telling. For example, It was the best of times.... Another effective writerly tool in both is referencing other literary works either explicitly or implicitly. Literature has a long tradition of self-reference.

Whatever you're currently writing: good luck with it!

11 June 2019

so many stories...

We've started working on the awesome August 2019 issue of Electric Spec. I've been reading some of the many stories we've received. Wow! It seems like we're getting more and more really good stories! Thanks! Thus, instead of a list of 'don't do' from slush, I have a list of 'do do.' :) In your story:
  • Do start with a unique voice.
  • Do start with an engaging character.
  • Do start with a dramatic problem.
  • Do start with some amazing world-building.
  • Do start with some intriguing and realistic dialogue.
  • Do start with your_awesome_idea_here.
Thanks for sending us your stories! And keep them coming!

04 June 2019

Hurray for us!

We're still enjoying the fabulous May 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec! Hip, hip, Hurray!
How about that nice cover art, huh?

What's your fave story? Tar? Krarg the Barbarian vs. the Afterlife? A Mouthful of Mushies? Zhai Chengda's Wife? Kill Screen? Pride Goeth Before A Fall? Garder L'Equilibre?

We enjoyed them all and hope you did, too!