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Literature Review

Shiny – A young adult speculative fiction periodical


It’s the 21st century. Why are we still killing forests to make crappy magazines that become landfill after one reading? Why aren’t we downloading the content we want to our portable devices, reading them where and when we want, and leaving the trees to soak up all that CO2?

Ah. Wait. This is a website. Evidently you, at least, have entered the present. You’re not alone, though. May I introduce Miss Shiny? Just ËœShiny‘ to her friends. After reading the first four issues, I suspect there will be many.

Shiny is a new-era fiction periodical. (A “magazine”, in the old world – but without paper, it becomes something new. And I don’t want to call it a “webzine”. It isn’t, and I completely hate the term anyhow.) It publishes science fiction and fantasy in simple, easily read pdfs. It’s cheap: an issue will cost you $3, and you can bundle issues to bring the price down farther. They take Paypal. And the whole thing is operated out of a simple blogspot website, which is updated by a range of rather good writers and fans talking about all sorts of stuff to do with speculative fiction. On top of that, the fiction is very bloody good: three nice, long, completely original stories per issue, by writers who definitely know what they’re doing.

Issue one features Trent Jamison (Loose Change), Eugie Foster (Close To Death), and Sue Isle (“The Sun People). The stories orbit around death, and death, and climate change, and they are all well written, all enjoyable. The editor of Shiny ” full disclosure here: I’ve worked with Alisa Krasnostein before ” has a knack for getting good stuff out of people, and it shows. For me, the standout piece of Issue One was Trent’s story. Revolving on an unusual encounter with the Ferryman of the Dead, it’s the writing and the tone of the piece that make it special. Trent manages to make the fantastic seem personal, close-up, perfectly ordinary; and in the same breath, he turns the most mundane parts of a life into something unique, sad and special. The man is talented.

Trent pops up again in issue 2, with Cracks which has been nominated for an Aurealis Award. Of course, if he wins it I’ll have to kill him because he’s up against one of my stories ” but to be fair, Cracks is a beautifully written, powerful piece of work. Once again, it deals with death and the connection between the dead and the living, but it’s stylish and simple and thoughtful and Trent, if you’re listening, quite cordially I hate you… Issue 2 also features Tina Connolly with The Goats Are Going Places, which is a sharp and wickedly written teen high-school fantasy comedy of sorts, in the best American tradition of such. Bren MacDibble’s well-composed and unusual time-travel tale Blurred Horizons rounds out the issue, and there are some useful reviews in place from Tansy Rayner Roberts.

Since I’m covering the first four issues of Shiny all at once, I’m going to restrict myself to highlighting the absolute standouts from here on, but please: believe me when I say this is good reading. The nice thing about Shiny is that the stories are all of a uniformly high standard. That’s a hell of a thing, these days.

Issue 3 features Katherine Sparrow with The Future Is Already Seen, Lisa A. Koosis with Light On Water, and Some People’s Kids from Sarah Totton. Interestingly, there’s not an Australian amongst the lot of Ëœem. Another interesting thing: I think this is the most overtly Young Adult issue, the one that comes most perilously close to Ëœtalking down’ to its intended audience. (I didn’t mention that ËœShiny’ is supposed to be for Young Adult fiction, did I? That’s because good fiction is good fiction no matter where you get it, and these are good stories for anyone, of any age.) I wonder… I’ve noticed before that Australian kids are allowed to grow up and be responsible more quickly than American kids. Seems to me that the American writers are more likely to pitch their Young Adult stories down a level. My favourite story of the issue ” because of my warped sense of humour ” was Sarah Totton’s. Although it should have been called The Ass Factory. Really.) Sarah is a Canadian writer, by the way, and of the three, hers is the most relaxed about it’s YA-ness, which in turn makes it the most enjoyably readable of the three, for my money.

Issue Four sees a return from Bren MacDibble, in Being Bella Wang. A tale of identity, sibling rivalry, and the struggle to escape parental domination, the prose crackles nicely, and it takes advantage of an unusual setting to play some nice cross-cultural games. I liked this one a lot. All The Leaves Your Bed a fantasy from Michael Merriam. and Skitter Skitter by Rhonda Parrish complete the roster. Parrish’s piece is horror-based, and I’m not much good with horror. I don’t horrify easily. Still, Skitter Skitter is creepy, which is worth the price of admission.

So there you have it. Four issues, nice and regular. Good fiction at a fine price. What I like best of all is the fact that Shiny is very much dedicated to the fiction. There’s no illustration, little advertising, and the layouts are simple and clear. This is a publication designed to let you read and enjoy the works that it showcases.

It’s a great idea. It’s a brilliant idea. It’s simple and it’s gorgeous, and you owe it to yourself to give it a visit. You like science fiction, fantasy and horror? You get off on the movies and the games they make out of this stuff? Then you should take the opportunity to visit the wellspring, the place it all comes from, the written words that lead to all those Shiny moving pictures and images and the rest. Go find Shiny, and see the next generation of games and movies before they happen. Oh ” and save a few goddam forests while you’re at it.

Check out Shiny at: http://shinymag.blogspot.com/

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About The Author


Dirk Flinthart is a mildly notorious writer, raconteur and sometime rakehell bunkered in the forbidding hills of north-east Tasmania. He's probably best known as an occasionally fictitious character in John Birmingham's books, but the reality is both stranger, and far more coherent. Flinthart's recent works include Angel Rising (with Twelfth Planet Press), Canterbury 2100 (as editor, courtesy of Agog! fiction) and he has a story shortlisted to the 2008 Aurealis Awards. Having just completed his black belt in ju-jitsu and begun his studies of Iaido, Flinthart is confident of surviving the coming Zombie Apocalypse in fine fashion, and expects to continue writing speculative fiction long after the undead have eaten your rich, gooey brains...

Article Information

  • Posted: Friday, January 9th, 2009
  • Author: Dirk Flinthart
  • Filed Under: Literature,Review


3 Responses to “Shiny – A young adult speculative fiction periodical”
  1. avatar S. G. Kiner says:

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  2. avatar L.Clarke says:

    G,day I am a sci-fi fan and love science fiction horror themes such as trinity blood and aliens. Games and movies are a must for me, though I believe pc games offer a real area where the imagination has created some brilliant worlds which we can all be a part of and interact in. I am a writer too and have a novel called Doom Of The Shem.
    This novel is a science fiction story that uses a military theme to bring out a gritty futuristic war chronicle, it is easy to read. I have created a small mini environment and it grows on readers as the situation deepens. I think any person who likes science fiction writing and the whole alien species who clash will enjoy this book. It is an in depth view of war with many hand to tentacle fight scenes and various comical twists here and there through the plot which help to develop the characters and their personalities. doomoftheshem.blogspot.com

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