1.14.2008

Novella vs. Novelette and Cory Doctorow

The Science Fiction Writers of America define a novella as a work of fiction between 17,500 and 40,000 words in length. A Novelette checks in between 7,500 and 17,500 words. Not to go definition crazy on you, but it's an interesting distinction that has a fair impact on your ability to market your work.

I mentioned in a previous post that most markets cap their fiction at 4,000-5,000 words. It's a nice short story length, but for those of you writing stuff a bit longer, you know it's difficult to find a home for the stories. Asimov's, Analog and Fantasy and Science Fiction magazines all have strong track records of purchasing novelettes, and they'll serialize novellas also.

I mention this because I read a great story by Cory Doctorow last night. "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" is a novelette I came across in Wastelands, an anthology of stories chronicling life after the apocalypse. This is an exciting, heart-wrenching little tale about the system administrators behind the scenes--the guys and gals that keep this electronic super-highway up and running. When the shit hits the fan, it's a group of twenty or thirty dorks holed up in the clean rooms that decides to take matters into their own hands to rebuild civilization. And the meek shall inherit the earth and all that...

Doctorow's voice is excellent and he blends the esoteric language of "dot.this" and "dot.that" with the straight science fiction. He writes about the techies in a complimentary fashion, always self-deprecatingly, and hits the nail on the head for creating a world where all the major cities are in ruins.

He's a Canadian and the Toronto skyline he describes, with the toppled CN Tower, is harrowing. He edits this website and here's another link to his info. I'm going to grab a collection of his short stories next time I hit my local Books a Million.

Wastelands is a great anthology (review on Friday), and I know these writers were contacted to contribute and not the other way around. This is how it goes, in most cases. But for those of you wanting to get your stuff into themed collections, try this link. Ralan.com is a great resource, meticulously updated, and the anthologies link in the menu has a lot of markets searching for work.

And last but not least, have you heard these commercials about yanking the Whopper at Burger King? Sheesh! If this stuff is for real it really burns me up. Americans can't get passionate about politics enough to select competent leaders and supposedly a quarter of us didn't read one (1!) book last year, but we can get fired up over a stupid hamburger.

Ok, ok. It's a good hamburger. But still...

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