Tue
Jan 6 2009 9:54am
Outshine: More short short fiction

As previously reported here, Twitter seems to be inspiring new forms of expression in the science fiction community. Joining Thaumatrope is Outshine, a new weekly Twitter fiction zine from Jetse de Vries, former editor at Interzone and editor of the Shine anthology, which concerns itself with near-future, optimistic SF.

Outshine will continue that theme, looking for “prose poems of optimistic, near future SF.” Prose poems will be posted once a week. There is also a limit on submissions—one a week per person.

It’s interesting to see someone else jump into the Twitter fiction market so soon, especially with both of them being paying markets. Outshine is paying $5 per prose poem, which ups the ante from the $1.20 that Thaumatrope pays.

It seems a smart way to call attention to the anthology and the concept of optimistic SF, as well as a means to embrace new forms of digital expression in a world where print periodicals are facing challenges.

If you are interested in more information on Outshine, check out the submission guidelines.

The Twitter web page for Outshine can be found here (though it’s currently empty).

What do you think—is this just a fad or does this kind of fiction have legs? Will we see a boom in online Twitter-length fiction markets, perhaps with specific themes similar to the situation with podcasts? Or will this be a flash in the pan? 

6 comments
Pablo Defendini
1. pablodefendini
I don't know what to make of these Twitter prose initiatives, honestly. I like to think that they are a cousin to the narratives being delivered via text and SMS that seem to be popular in Asia. I do like the fact that publishers are starting to realize that people are reading differently these days, and are trying to adapt.

Although as a Twitter user (am I a twit? Well, probably, but that's neither here nor there—I don't think that's what you call people who use Twitter.), I can say that there is a certain satisfaction to crafting that perfect 140 character message.
Rajan Khanna
2. rajanyk
I agree about the last point. I think, too, that as a writer, precision is important - finding the right words to say what you want to say. And Twitter poses a very specific challenge in that respect.

I'm excited to see people try new things in the realm of fiction, but I wonder if this has any real longevity. These tweets are fun to read, but they don't provide, for me at least, the same satisfaction that a longer flash piece would, just as a flash piece doesn't usually provide the same satisfaction that a longer piece might (depending, of course, on the quality). I do think that in this case, it does help bring attention to the Shine anthology and that as a promotional tool it can probably be useful.
Nathan Lilly
3. nelilly
It's a fun experiment but I don't see it lasting. How will they make any money from it? You crazy Internet kids.
Agnes Kormendi
4. tapsi
The Outshine invite is actually a prose poem invite on closer look.

I think anything this short could only work as a poem even if it was in prose form, and that's radically different from what we usually expect from fiction. It could be popular, just as haiku crafting is quite popular all over the world, but 140 characters is too limited for a real fiction experience. I do love such short poems, though, and I'm all for this idea.
Jason Ramboz
5. jramboz
Huh. So I guess even Nanofiction is considered long now. Do we need a new term? Picofiction, anyone?
Carlos Hernandez
6. Yokozuna
@ jramboz -- Picofiction = win!

I'm a big fan of Jetse de Vries and I really like this optimistic sci-fi thing he has going on right now.

I also think he and everyone else using Twitter-esque devices for literary delivery are capitalizing on the rediscovery of short-form writing that began -- what, 10-15 years ago? -- with the simultaneous advents of prose poetry and flash fiction. I don't know if it will make anyone any money right away, but there's proof enough that the form is capable of truth and beauty.

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