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The Fiction Liberation Front Manifesto

By Lewis Shiner

It's hardly news that the Internet Revolution has toppled the traditional short story markets. If you look through the periodical racks at one of the big chain bookstores (what passes for a newsstand in most of the US these days), you'll be hard pressed to find a magazine devoted to fiction. It's been a slow decline since the heyday of the pulps, true, but the last few years have seen even the remaining SF and mystery digests falling back to a subscription model.

What we don't know is what comes next. Some magazines, like Subterranean, have moved online; many have just gone under. Even the idea of a magazine may cease to be relevant. The only thing that seems likely is that whatever future the short story has, the Internet will be involved in it. The thing that's least clear is how--or whether--artists will be compensated for their efforts.

There's been no living to be made from short stories in my lifetime. But short fiction endures because it provides a way of introducing writers to new readers, and because there are stories that need to be told at that length.

For all these reasons I've decided to open myself to this uncertain future. Starting now, I plan to make all my short fiction and articles available on the web, both in HTML for easy browsing and in typeset PDFs for those who might want to print them. The process of conversion will take a while, but I hope to get to everything eventually, including a number of previously unpublished pieces and even some unsold screenplays.

I'll also be adding new short fiction, music reviews, and articles from time to time, though I won't guarantee that I won't also publish short pieces elsewhere. I'm launching the site with three previously unpublished stories ("Straws," "Fear Itself," and "Golfing Vietnam") plus a major story from 2004 ("Perfidia") that's had only limited circulation. As a special launch bonus, I'm also putting up my previously unpublished screenplay, THE NEXT.

Everything on the FLF website, regardless of original copyright, carries a Creative Commons license. That license says, essentially, that you can do whatever you want with the material as long as you don't change it and republish it, or charge money for it.

So please feel free to download anything on this site, print it, make up your own custom Shiner collections and hand them out--all I ask is that you give me credit for my work.

The dramatic title I've given this project--Fiction Liberation Front--is a blatant attempt to attract attention. The main reason I write these things, after all, is for people to read them. I hope you'll come back regularly to see what's new.


© 2007 by Lewis Shiner. Some rights reserved.

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