Thursday, February 14, 2013

Short films vs short stories

I enjoyed this one. Moon Dust was a well executed piece, and I liked the classic science fiction twist at the end. Shades of Planet of the Apes or Soylent Green, but with out the over-the-top Heston acting.

via Io9

An Observation

The proliferation of four to twenty-minute films that range from fun to mind bending has got me thinking. Namely that short films on the Internet are the future of the science fiction short story.

Allow me to unpack that statement.

For several decades, short stories published in pulp magazines were one of the primary venues for literary science fiction. That began to change during the 1960s. Or at least that change accelerated in that period, with full-length paperback novels coming to dominate the genre, and magazines steadily losing readership ever since.

Recently there's been debate about magazines making a comeback with the introduction of the iPad, but I haven't seen hard numbers that I'd feel comfortable betting on, one way or the other. Even anthologies, book collections of shorts, tend to be bottom feeders, scraping along on the low end of sales in a field that's already lost a lot of market share over the past two decades.

As someone whose sole claim to fame in traditional publishing is a short in an anthology, it's a bit depressing that none of the genre fans whom I know (excepting other writers) read science fiction short stories in any format. I've never read much in the way of short stories either, despite having been a fan of speculative fiction  for almost 30 years now. Sure I'll buy a copy of Asimov's or Analog if a friend has a story in the issue, but that's about it.

Short films on the Internet? I watch a couple of those each week. Thanks to YouTube, I know that many shorts reach a viewership that's considerably larger than any circulations or sales numbers that I've heard for literary SF.

Which is something to think about.

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