Jo Walton, Maya Chhabra, and Many More Authors Present the Decameron Project: Free Fiction for the Social-Distancing Era

The world is a scary place right now, but science fiction and fantasy authors and fans are fighting back with the power of stories. Over on Patreon, award-winning author (and Tor.com contributor) Jo Walton, poet and author Maya Chhabra, and librarian, singer, and SF/F fan Lauren Schiller recently launched the Decameron Project, which aims to provide readers with a new donation-supported short story or novel excerpt every day as long as the world is under threat by the coronavirus.

The project is inspired by its namesake, The Decameron, a 14th-century masterwork by the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio written while Europe was deep in the throes of the Black Death.

The Decameron is a collection of 100 tales ostensibly told by a group of young men and women hiding out from Death in a deserted villa outside Florence in the 1350s, passing time while waiting for the plague to subside by sharing stories, which vary widely in tone, subject matter, and scope (confession time: I have not read it, but the Wikipedia page makes it sound fascinating.)

Today, as humanity faces another plague—albeit one that is, thus far, less existentially terrifying—the authors behind the Decameron project are creating new stories in the same spirit: confronting a plague year in that most human of ways, by using suffering and uncertainty as fuel to fire art, and hope.

In an email to Tor.com, Walton said she and the other authors have already collected some 25 stories and plan to continue to post a new one every day “while the plague lasts.” According to a list posted yesterday, participating authors will include Daniel Abraham, William Alexander, Mike Allen, Leah Bobet, Maya Chhabra, Pamela Dean, Max Gladstone, Heather Rose Jones, Rosemary Kirstein, Naomi Kritzer, Rebecca Kuang, Ellen Kushner, Marissa Lingen, Usman Malik, Ada Palmer, Laurie Penny, Shiv Ramdas, Alter Reiss, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Effie Seiberg, Robert Silverberg, Caroline Stevermer, Sonya Taaffe, and perhaps more…

The stories are freely available to all readers, with the Patreon contributions acting as an optional donation to support the authors and the project for the duration. The first three—by Walton, Leah Bobet, and Rosemary Kirstein—are available now.

Let us begin and tell stories, and in this manner one person will entertain the whole company; and by the time it has gone round, the worst part of the day will be over, and then we can divert ourselves as we like best.

— Boccaccio, The Decameron

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