More awesome free fiction to read elsewhere

Paul Raven @ 02-09-2010

Have you read Lavie Tidhar’s “In Pacmandu” yet? Well, why the hell not? It was published yesterday, and it is short, sharp and awesome, not to mention packed with computer game culture references – geek crack, in other words. So go smoke a rock, right now.

If you have read Lavie’s story, then perhaps you’re hungry for more brainfood… and the fictional pickings are particularly rich right now. Not only is the latest issue of Clarkesworld waiting for your attention (complete with gorgeous cover art), but everyone’s favourite mad professor Rudy Rucker has just released another issue of peripatetic weird sci-fi zine Flurb, which includes such luminaries as Madeline Ashby, Annalee “io9” Newitz, Chairman Bruce Sterling, ubercharming eccentric Ian Watson, John Shirley and (naturellement!) Rucker himself. There’s now ten issues of Flurb, all archived up and freely available to read, so tuck in. That should keep you busy for a week or two.

Now, if you like a little non-fiction on the side (and who doesn’t, right?) then you should check out Salon Futura, Cheryl Morgan’s new webzine devoted to the discussion and dissection of speculative fiction in all its guises. We can expect some excellent critical work to emerge there in months to come, but right now you can watch video interviews with the charming China Mieville and the lovely Lauren Beukes (two very Zeitgeisty novelists, and well worth your time).

(Like Futurismic, Salon Futura and Clarkesworld are free to read, but they pay their contributors… so if you enjoy what you find there, please consider dropping ’em a donation.)

And finally, a non-free fiction offering: the Neal Stephenson-piloted Mongoliad project (which we mentioned a while back) is now up and running, waiting for you to subscribe… and even caped copyleft crusader Cory Doctorow reckons it’s an impressive offer for the price:

It’s an epic fantasy novel about the Mongol conquest, told in installment form, with lots of supplementary material (video, stills, short fiction, etc), and a strong audience participation component in the form of a Wikipedia-style concordance, fanfic, etc. You can read the free samples without registration, but you need an account to edit the “Pedia.”

For $5.99 you get a six-month subscription to the main body of fiction; $9.99 gets you a year (you retain access to the fiction after your subscription expires, but don’t get any new material until you renew, which is a major plus in my view — much fairer than most online “subscriptions” that lock you out once you let your sub lapse).

The first (paid) chapter went up yesterday, and I’ve just read it. The word here is epic, a swashbuckling swordplay novel with the sweep, charm and verve of the major Stephenson epics, such as System of the World. A very strong start and well worth the price of admission. This is a great experiment in new fiction business-models that welcome audience participation and work in a way that is native to the net.

I doubt I’ll be the only person (webzine editor or otherwise) who’ll be watching closely to see how that business model pans out.

So get yourself along and do some reading! But do pop back here for more near-future archaeology and speculative ruminations of the random kind, won’t you? 🙂


Shine anthology contributors interviewed

Paul Raven @ 09-04-2010

The SF Signal gang have turned over the microphone (er, keyboard) to Charles Tan to publish a set of interviews with the authors whose stories appear in the Shine anthology of optimistic science fiction, mentioned here many times previously. Shine features a decent number of Futurismic fiction alumni, and hence regular readers may be interested to see the interviews with Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Jason Stoddard which have already appeared.

I’ll be reviewing Shine here at Futurismic just as soon as my life circumstances have handed me sufficient time to read it and bash out some words in response (things are still a little fraught, in case you were wonderin’). In the meantime, have any of you lot bought a copy of Shine and, if so, what did you think? And if you’re not interested in buying a copy (for any reason other than not having the money spare), why is that?


A brace of interviews: Richard Morgan and Neal Stephenson

Paul Raven @ 22-10-2008

It’s just like buses; you wait ages for a decent in-depth author interview, then two come along at once. Not that I’m complaining, mind you!

First up is a chat with Neal Stephenson on the Barnes & Noble website, which is mostly about Stephenson’s latest breezeblock novel Anathem, but contains other goodies too:

JM: You write with a fountain pen.

NS: Yes.

JM: Have you always done that?

NS: No. I started that with the Baroque Cycle. Cryptonomicon was the last thing I wrote with a word processor. What I was noticing was that I’ve become such a fast typist that I could slam out great big blocks of text quite rapidly — anything that came into my head, it would just dribble out of my fingers onto the screen. That includes bad stuff as well as good stuff. Once it’s out there on the screen, of course, you can edit it and you can fix the bad stuff, but it’s far better not to ever write down the bad stuff at all. With the fountain pen, which is a slower output device, the material stays in the buffer of your head for a longer period. So during that amount of time, you can fix it, you can make it better, you can even decide not to write it down at all — you can think better of writing it.

How many bad or boring blog posts would have been avoided if we all had to blog with fountain pens? Actually, no, don’t answer that… 🙂

Next up is Richard (K) Morgan, who provides what must be the longest article io9 have ever run, interview or otherwise. If you’ve read any of his fiction, you’ll probably be aware of the fact that Morgan has strong opinions regarding politics and governance and human nature, and there’s plenty of that sort of thing in between the more fiction-focussed material:

One of the great things about American culture is that it’s a great borrower. America sees something it likes and says, “Oh yeah, we’ll have that. How much money do you want to reproduce that for us?” Leone came in with what is a very Catholic vision of the American West. And was able to sell that template. In that sense the Western never looked back. And you see a similar second wave of revisionism with Unforgiven in 1992, and the same thing. What’s been taken apart is Leone’s mythology of these lightning fast guys with guns that can produce a Colt and shoot the pits off of an apple. And of course Unforgiven comes along and says no, no. There’s something very cleansing about that, about taking something that’s been mythologized and saying, “Let’s give this a wipedown and see what’s really underneath.” Part of the brief I gave myself [with The Steel Remains] was, let’s see if we can’t do a Sergio Leone on the Tolkien landscape.

Anyone in the Futurismic audience read Anathem yet, by the way? Or The Steel Remains? Both are still buried deep in my to-be-read pile, but they’re rising steadily…

[The Stephenson interview deserves a hat-tip to Big Dumb Object; in the interests of complete transparency I will point out that Richard Morgan is one of my clients.]


Interviews with Gibson and Vinge

Paul Raven @ 13-08-2007

Poor Bill Gibson – the publicity wagon for his current novel Spook Country is still rolling, and he’s probably sick to death of public appearances and interviews, itching to get back to researching his next book. Still, lucky for us – here’s another interview with Gibson by Rick ‘Agony Column’ Kleffel, in audio form for your mobile media player pleasure.

Meanwhile, Vernor Vinge has been chatting to French science fiction site ActuSF (don’t worry, text in English) about his recent (and highly recommended) novel Rainbows End. [Both links via BoingBoing]


Friday Free Fiction for 3rd August

Paul Raven @ 03-08-2007

Here’s your weekly serving of free genre fiction on the web:

Steve Libbey emailed to tell us about The Secret World Chronicle, a podcast novel series he’s been doing with Mercedes Lackey since last year; the whole of the first book is already available, plus some extras to tide us over until the next book starts being rolled out. Steve says, “the series is a sci-fi take on a world where heroic and villainous metahumans live alongside normal people. Needless to say, it is a blast to plot and write.” Sounds interesting. If you listen to it, why not email us a review here at Futurismic?

Nancy Jane Moore dropped us a line to let us know that she is among a batch of writers to have a story published in the latest issue of Farrago’s Wainscot, a free webzine featuring stories which are “quirky ones that might not quite fit other places,” in Nancy’s own words.

The first 63 pages of Joe Abercrombie’s novel The Blade Itself are available at Pyr’s website.

Project Gutenberg has added downloadable versions of an old Harl Vincent space opera, Creatures of Vibration, Project Mastodon by Clifford D Simak and Paul Ernst’s The Radiant Shell.

Via SF Signal: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Colours Of Space is available as a free ebook or audiobook.

Darker Matter #5 is live – and it’s apparently the last ever issue, too. Which sucks (though we understand the cause).

Clarkesworld #11 is also out and about.

Stephen Baxter’s classic short story “Raft” has appeared at InfinityPlus, and bestSF.net are hosting the full text of Chris Roberson’s “Companion To Owls”.

And the not-fiction-but-related-reads-of-note:

Locus Online has excerpts from an interview with short story craftsman Paolo Bacigalupi.


Writers, editors and anyone else – if you want something you’ve written or published on the web for free mentioned here, drop me (Paul Raven) an email to the address listed for me on the Staff page, and I’ll include it in next week’s round-up.

Also, I must acknowledge all the other blogs that I have cribbed and compiled this information from – cheers, folks! I’ll be adding you to the blogroll when I get a spare moment.


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