gagravarr reminded me that I've been meaning to do this for a while. There's a whole pile of fiction out there on the interweb, and some of it deserves a much wider audience than it's getting. There's plenty over at Sci Fiction, for instance:

  • 'New Light On The Drake Equation' by Ian R Macleod tells the story of Tom Kelly, an aging astronomer who's spent his life searching for alien life. As the story opens, he's living a reclusive and bleary life in the French Alps, such that when he receives a vistor from the past it's not always easy to tell what is fantasy and what is reality...which is very much the point of the story. This is about mystery, and searching, and longing, and loss, with Macleod's ever-beautiful prose binding things together.

  • 'Over Yonder' by Lucius Shepard recently won this year's Sturgeon award, and it's easy to see why. A tale of hobos (which the author researched by actually living as one for several months), black trains and the worlds between the cracks of the world, 'Over Yonder' is a brilliantly realised fantasy. The prose is less obviously beautiful than Macleod, but no less controlled, and no less effective.

  • Adam Roberts' 'Swiftly' is a fun tale that imagines a world in which Gulliver and his travels were real. Lilliputians work as slave labour in factories; Brobdingnagians are hunted like elephants, for their bones; and His Majesty's Cognisant Cavalry bring glory for Britain on the field of battle. The ending is slightly disappointing - you feel there is more that could be done with the concept - but whilst it lasts, it's a fun ride.

Stories I haven't gotten around to yet include Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow's collaboration, 'Jury Service', and 'The Scab's Progress', what looks to be an utterly mad collaboration between Paul di Filippo and Bruce Sterling. The story comes complete with a glossary, and opens thus: "The federal bio-containment center was a diatom the size of the Disney Matterhorn..." On the other hand, I have read a couple of the classics that Sci Fiction also put online, notably James Tiptree Jr's infamous 'The Women That Men Don't See'.

If that's not enough, you could always busy yourself reading this year's Hugo nominees; read some vintage Stross or Chiang at Infinity Plus; or try Rudy Rucker's collaboration with Rudy Rucker Jr.

I'm thinking I may never have to buy another novel again. Of course, the downside is that on my currently-in-progress-pile I've already got The Master And Margarita, Palestine, Y: The Last Man and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. This many distractions is perhaps less than helpful...