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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bloody Rain, and the future of short stories on Kindle

Recently, I had the pleasure of reading a short story by the author of Hell Around the Horn

It's called Bloody Rain.

And (as you guessed) it was written by Rick Spilman, and published by Old Salt Press.

On Kindle.

This is a great yarn, in the authentic voice of the seafarers of the time.  This was my short but sincere review:

Set in the 1880s on the Hoogly River, this is another example of Spilman's fine background research and feel for authenticity. Not your usual murder mystery, this is a gripping yarn, not a mental puzzle. Highly recommended.

The blurb says it all:


Bloody Rain is a short story set on a sailing ship in the 1880s.

The Queen Charlotte was anchored fore and aft off the Calcutta wharves in the Hoogly River, waiting for cargo. She was a fine, three masted iron bark; trim, low and fast on a reach - in all respects, the perfection of the shipbuilder's art. If she had a single great flaw, it was on her quarterdeck in the man that the owners had chosen as captain.

Captain John McPherson maintains absolute control over his ship and those who sail upon her. The only one that he cannot control is himself, slipping into murder and madness in the face of the relentless monsoon.


While I urge you to buy this little gem, it also made me think about the future of the anthology, in this digital age. With Amazon's Kindle, it is easy to publish either (a) a collection of short stories by one author, or, (b) a single story.

What is not easy is to publish an anthology of short stories by a number of authors. Unless the book is free, dividing up the royalties among the contributors and sending them out is an administrative job that none of the authors might want to take on -- and yet publishing a multi-author anthology that reaps royalties isn't possible without a volunteer to do exactly that.

In a weekend newspaper, I read an interesting comment by a well-regarded reviewer, who said that an anthology by a single author is overkill.  Each individual story might be a gem, but to have a whole lot, one after another, dulls the impact. 

For really brilliant short story writers, such as Ray Bradbury, I don't believe this happen, but I can certainly see his point. Recently I bought a collection by Michael Connolly, and found that it was a couple of short stories, and a teaser for a novel. The teaser worked -- I bought the novel.  But, strangely, I can't bring myself to read it. The mindset needed for reading short stories hasn't carried over to the full length book.

So, I agree that an anthology of short stories is best to have multiple authors. How can we get over the problem of dishing out the money? With a writers' collective, perhaps?

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