During a conversation at work on 1 September, the Bob Shaw story "Light of Other Days" came up. I found an online version and shared it with my colleague; and then thought, why not share it more widely? So I pinged it onto Buffer to post to Twitter and Facebook at an hour of the day that I thought might get people looking; and then got all enthusiastic and found a few more great sf stories available and shareable online.
I must admit that part of my motivation for this was a reaction to the debate some are trying to wage about "real sf" vs "message fiction", but I was also just curious to see if posting links like that to Facebook and Twitter would engage people's interest.
The full list, as posted to Twitter, is as follows:
Time for a classic sf story, I think. Here's "Light of Other Days", by Bob Shaw: http://t.co/uwZwe2MzhP— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) September 1, 2015
More classic SF: The Nine Billion Names of God, by Arthur C. Clarke. One of the best final lines ever. http://t.co/zpxwypNolf— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) September 2, 2015
Octavia E. Butler's classic (Hugo and Nebula winning) "Bloodchild". Read it and reflect. http://t.co/d3SFsUNgnF— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) September 3, 2015
More classic SF for the evening: Roger Zelazny's "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" - an old favourite. http://t.co/srAMEaT6sE— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) September 4, 2015
"Love is the Plan the Plan is Death", James Tiptree Jr [Alice B. Sheldon]. Vivid non-human sex. (Alien? You decide.) http://t.co/eI29cHJI99— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) September 5, 2015
"Seventy-Two Letters" by Ted Chiang - rewrites genetics. http://t.co/D9fwrzgPI0— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) September 6, 2015
"The Faery Handbag" by Kelly Link: Hugo/Nebula winning fantasy. http://t.co/TVtt6vNRIc— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) September 7, 2015
Classic horror: "The Colour Out Of Space", by H.P. Lovecraft http://t.co/QgZIJHKAjW— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) September 8, 2015
Superb Ursula Le Guin SF story, "Nine Lives": http://t.co/IU4m3TjFNe— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) September 9, 2015
Brian Aldiss replies to Kafka with "Better Morphosis": http://t.co/TkdlRHvPTF— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) September 11, 2015
All pretty well-known stories (except perhaps the last). But I was a bit disappointed by the rate of clicking through. The "Seventy-Two Letters" link was mangled going through Buffer, and got a massive 99 clicks, none of which will have worked; apart from that, the best performer was the Pat Cadigan story with 19, most of which will have been because the author herself retweeted it.
It's a non-trivial effort to find a reasonably balanced selection of stories which are both reasonably well known and available online, and since this wasn't generating a lot of feedback I have decided to stop the experiment. On Facebook I got the odd comment, but basically I get better feedback from content that has taken less work to produce. Thanks to those who did comment - I did appreciate it..
The important lesson is that just posting a link to a story (or to any online content), without much in the way of explanation, isn't going to get a lot of attention even from the most devoted of my readers. If I'd planned and announced this mini-campaign in advance, with a hashtag like #SeptemberFreeSF, and perhaps with more of a unifying theme than "stuff I like", it could have caught a bit more resonance. Of course, it might not have - you never know - but the chances would have been higher. A lesson learned for when I start my grand rewatch of Here Come The Double Deckers.