Short story discussions

I recently speculated that people generally don't seem to have a lot to say in online discussions about individual short stories, beyond "I liked it" or "I didn't like it." (Reviewers do often have a lot to say, of course, but that feels different to me than discussion.) For example, the forums at SH don't tend to contain a lot of discussion of the fiction.

And discussions of short fiction on mailing lists tend, in my experience, to be relatively brief—three or four people comment, then move on.

But it turns out that my hypothesis was wrong; it turns out that in at least some contexts, it's possible to have a lengthy, detailed, and even fairly passionate online discussion of a short story.

Over at Torque Control—"the blog of the editorial staff of Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association"—they've started a "Short Story Club," where each week they read a short sf story (freely available online) and then discuss it.

The first week, two weeks ago, the discussion was about Daniel Abraham's "The Best Monkey," published in The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume 3. I read the story as primarily a response to Ted's "Liking What You See," but the discussion (84 comments so far) focuses primarily on a variety of other topics. I started skimming around halfway through the discussion, but only because there was so much of it; a lot of interesting stuff there. And down in the last few comments, Daniel himself showed up and engaged with various of the topics.

Week 2's discussion, of "A Tiny Feast," by Chris Adrian (published in the New Yorker a few months ago), has only 33 comments so far, but that's still a pretty substantial discussion. I haven't yet read that story or the comments.

This week's discussion is of "This Must Be the Place," by Elliott Bangs, published back in February in Strange Horizons. There are 32 comments so far, after only a day or so of discussion. Stop on by and join in!

I'm disappointed that so many people in that discussion didn't think much of that story, because I quite enjoyed it. But I'm nonetheless delighted that there's so much discussion of it. Many thanks to Niall for setting up the book club, and to the participants for engaging with the stories.

I'm looking forward to seeing future discussions. Next week, for example, is another SH story, Benjamin Crowell's "The Rising Waters."

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