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Author Topic: PodCastle Bonus Material: Fantasy Magazine Micro-Fiction Winners  (Read 7960 times)

Heradel

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PodCastle Bonus Material: Fantasy Magazine Micro-Fiction Winners

By Kelly Stiles, Caren Gussoff, and Lane Bowen.
Read by Marguerite Croft.
Presented in partnership with Fantasy Magazine.

PodCastle is proud to present these three excellent micro-fiction stories in conjunction with Fantasy Magazine. These stories won their recent contest for ten sentence fiction. You can read text versions of them, along with the other seven finalists, at at Fantasy Magazine.

We hope PodCastle listeners will enjoy these stories and consider heading over to Fantasy Magazine for more excellent fiction!

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


stePH

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These stories were for no.  They were made of fail.  Only the third showed a glimmer of ... something.

But I rarely like the shorts on Podcastle, and they don't get much shorter than these.  I'm sure I'll be in the minority here if anybody else cares to sound off.

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-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Rachel Swirsky

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These stories were for no.  They were made of fail.

Criticism is one thing, but this really is not constructive.



eytanz

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These stories were for no.  They were made of fail.

Criticism is one thing, but this really is not constructive.

It is, however, entirely accurate. The only result of listening to this is that any little desire I had to check out Fantasy Magazine is gone. Which is probably unfair, but it is true.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2009, 03:47:16 PM by eytanz »



Anarkey

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While I liked two out of three of these, I find they aren't terribly representative of what is published at Fantasy, somewhat like the Escape Pod Flash Contest winners aren't terribly representative of what runs there.  So if you made your yay or nay on the basis of these stories, eytanz, you might want to check out Fantasy Magazine anyway.  I recommend "Watermark" as a decent place to start. 

Though I also gotta say, while I'm talking Fantasy Magazine, that I don't love their offerings as frequently as I love Clarkesworld's or PodCastle's or Strange Horizon's.  I don't think Mamatas' fantatwee label is unmerited, and I think you generally have a sweetness aversion, so it may never be to your taste. 

Meanwhile, there is no universe in which I would have thought Steph would ever have liked anything at Fantasy, and also no universe in which I thought he might have refrained from saying so.  So, score one for the multi-verse's utter predictability.

Winner Nash's 1000th member betting pool + Thaurismunths' Free Rice Contest!


Heradel

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[...]

Meanwhile, there is no universe in which I would have thought Steph would ever have liked anything at Fantasy, and also no universe in which I thought he might have refrained from saying so.  So, score one for the multi-verse's utter predictability.

This isn't really directed at StePH, though he uses it, or this thread, but since we're discussing constructive comments - I have come so, so close to a 'meh' ban because of its overuse. I have literally twice gone to modify posts to bracket it out and then stopped myself. This fits into the pet-peeve department of moderation, but it's been used in around 210 threads across the various episode comment forums (and 420ish forum-wide), and I don't really think I've ever seen a constructive use for it. At best it's a signifier that the story wasn't attention-grabbing, at worst it's dismissive without explaining why in a constructive manner. I'm not saying every comment here needs to seriously analyze the story, but 'meh' just smacks of lazy.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


DKT

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Heradel, I agree with what you're saying about lazy writing. And as criticism, I imagine it's incredibly frustrating. But to be honest, people writing meh just kind of makes me gloss over what they say in the rest of that post anyway.


DKT

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I recommend "Watermark" as a decent place to start. 

I know that link wasn't directed at me, but I clicked anyway.

Holy crap that story starts off great! And stays pretty great all the way through the end. Thanks for linking to it.


stePH

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These stories were for no.  They were made of fail.

Criticism is one thing, but this really is not constructive.

There's just so little there to criticize.  They're hardly stories; they're little vignettes of nothing.  The middle one was so forgettable that I can't even remember a thing about it (while I can at least recall that the first was about a wood fairy or something, and the third was some bizarre occurrence in the cereal aisle.)

I prefer more substance than what was offered here.  Sue me.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Rachel Swirsky

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"I prefer more substance than what was offered here" works.

FYI, Escape Artists has been losing creative volunteers because of the forums and blogs.



Ocicat

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FYI, Escape Artists has been losing creative volunteers because of the forums and blogs.

How's that?  Are people not wanting to submit stories because of the criticisms? 



Rachel Swirsky

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We may lose some authors because of that, but mostly I think we're losing narrators. They don't get paid and sometimes the criticism crosses the line into abuse. Since people volunteer because it's fun, and being abused isn't fun, they lose their interest in volunteering.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2009, 11:14:10 PM by Rachel Swirsky »



izzardfan

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We may lose some authors because of that, but mostly I think we're losing narrators. They don't get paid and sometimes the criticism crosses the line into abuse. Since people volunteer because it's fun, and being abused isn't fun, they lose their interest in volunteering.

I agree, abuse is NOT acceptable, and I hope I've never posted anything that qualifies.  I know I've voiced my opinion here on both sides of the fence regarding readers, and I really REALLY don't mean this to sound harsh, but...   if a reader receives multiple complaints about their reading, then maybe they shouldn't be reading.  While I would love to try it if I had time, I have no doubts that I'd be terrible at it.



eytanz

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We may lose some authors because of that, but mostly I think we're losing narrators. They don't get paid and sometimes the criticism crosses the line into abuse. Since people volunteer because it's fun, and being abused isn't fun, they lose their interest in volunteering.

Question: is the fact that narrators don't get paid a matter of the EA budget? Or some sort of in-principle decision?

I really think narrators should be paid, and I'm wondering what kind of fan-action (raising more money? anything else?) would be helpful here, if any.



Rachel Swirsky

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Izzardfan: I like you lots, and I think you're generally a super positive awesome force, so please don't take this as an insult. But actually, I did think it crossed the line when you said that while Mur Lafferty could make a phone book sound interesting, James Trimarco was the opposite. I'm pretty sure that was you.

And whether or not you're correct that narrators should give up if they receive too many scathing comments (and I'm not willing to concede that; for instance, I think Diane Severson has a stunning voice)... it isn't just the narrators who get those comments who are affected. There's a chilling effect. Other narrators see how their peers are treated and become hesitant to work with us.

We as the moderators of the forums haven't been good about calling out stuff, so I think we're going to try to be better. As one step in that process, the blog commenters are going to be directed here so there's always a moderator around.

And again, we really do want criticism. It's just that there's a line between "I don't like this" and "She must be blackmailing the Hugo committee" (as was recently said on EP's blog about Kij Johnson). For me, I think the easiest ways to avoid this line are to express things as opinion rather than fact ("I don't like this" versus "This is the worst narration ever recorded in human history") and avoiding some kinds of extreme hyperbole.

The line isn't absolute, certainly. And it would suck if we got rid of all biting commentary, because biting commentary can be awesome. It's just a matter of finding that line and keeping it drawn. I hope we can come to some understanding together, as intelligent people who would like to make this a hospitable community for everyone involved in it.

*

Narrators are unpaid because of Escape Artists budgeting concerns. Actually, Escape Artists is not doing well at the moment, financially. The economy is rocky and so are our donations. While it would be awesome if fan action could help us pay narrators, right now we're primarily concerned with making sure that we can continue to meet financial obligations toward authors, editors, and administrative staff. I mean, I don't expect everything to fold overnight or anything dire like that -- and a new advertising manager has been brought aboard to search out sponsorships -- but for several months now, our accountant has been overtaxed by having to squint at the books to make everything come out.



eytanz

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Narrators are unpaid because of Escape Artists budgeting concerns. Actually, Escape Artists is not doing well at the moment, financially. The economy is rocky and so are our donations. While it would be awesome if fan action could help us pay narrators, right now we're primarily concerned with making sure that we can continue to meet financial obligations toward authors, editors, and administrative staff. I mean, I don't expect everything to fold overnight or anything dire like that -- and a new advertising manager has been brought aboard to search out sponsorships -- but for several months now, our accountant has been overtaxed by having to squint at the books to make everything come out.

Fair enough. And thanks, actually, as this is a good reminder to get off my ass and sign up for the $5 a month subscription thing as I've been meaning to do for a while now (as I can finally afford it).



izzardfan

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Izzardfan: I like you lots, and I think you're generally a super positive awesome force

As said privately, thank you.

But actually, I did think it crossed the line when you said that while Mur Lafferty could make a phone book sound interesting, James Trimarco was the opposite. I'm pretty sure that was you.

As mentioned privately, I've edited my original post to reflect the current guidelines.

And whether or not you're correct that narrators should give up if they receive too many scathing comments (and I'm not willing to concede that; for instance, I think Diane Severson has a stunning voice)... it isn't just the narrators who get those comments who are affected. There's a chilling effect. Other narrators see how their peers are treated and become hesitant to work with us.

I didn't know who Diane was, specifically, so I did a forum search to see which pieces she had narrated.  One of them was PC063: Daughter of Botu, which I have just finished.  I adored her reading of the story (and the others she has done prior), and even commented to my daughter that her pronunciation of Chinese words made it all the more enjoyable and engrossing.  I was drawn into the story more.  I noticed that most of the negative comments on the blog regarding her reading were from people who spoke Chinese fluently.  As I speak German (though not quite fluently), I suppose I might take exception to a reading of a German-set story where the accent and/or German words were mispronounced.  But I agree, Diane has a great voice, and I would hate to see her quit reading based on the comments.  So I withdraw my suggestion.

But then, how do you propose to address the issue?  If, going back to James Trimarco's reading, I were to be specific about what bothered me, without crossing the line, and everyone else who posted a negative comment did the same, do you think he'd still be willing to read again?  Would you want him to read again?  And if so, would you ask him to change his style?  (e.g. I said there was little to no emotion in his voice.  Would you ask him to put more emotion into it?)  If a second story produced similar comments, what then?

And it would suck if we got rid of all biting commentary, because biting commentary can be awesome.

I don't pretend to have the answers, and as I am not a narrator or an author, I don't know if I can put myself in their shoes.  As I've said in a post months ago, I'm not that hard to please.  But certain stories and certain readings leave me cold.  It's a subjective experience (e.g. I never finished listening to The Fiddler of Bayou Teche because of the voice, but I don't fault the reader, because she did exactly what the story called for; it's just something that I couldn't handle, personally).  I have to be honest, but I will try to be kind at the same time.  I don't envy you your job, and wish all the editors and moderators good luck, sincerely.




stePH

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The line isn't absolute, certainly. And it would suck if we got rid of all biting commentary, because biting commentary can be awesome.

I dunno.  I broke a tooth last time I bit commentary.

Narrators are unpaid because of Escape Artists budgeting concerns. Actually, Escape Artists is not doing well at the moment, financially. The economy is rocky and so are our donations. While it would be awesome if fan action could help us pay narrators, right now we're primarily concerned with making sure that we can continue to meet financial obligations toward authors, editors, and administrative staff. I mean, I don't expect everything to fold overnight or anything dire like that -- and a new advertising manager has been brought aboard to search out sponsorships -- but for several months now, our accountant has been overtaxed by having to squint at the books to make everything come out.

I don't have money to spare for EA, but I've volunteered to narrate.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Kanasta

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I wasn't able to get past the first story, simply because I found the sound quality really bad. Maybe I just have over-sensitive ears, but to me, the sound was so trebly and whistly that I actually found it uncomfortable to listen to... Just me? Do I need to toughen up my ear drums?  ???



Unblinking

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Reply #19 on: November 17, 2009, 10:11:39 PM
I like flash fiction, but I think micro fiction may just be too short for me.  There's just not enough space to get a complete story in so few words.  That said, I liked the images invoked by these--if they were expanded into longer stories I think I might enjoy those stories.