By Carl Slaughter: Fantastic Fiction at KGB needs your help. By June 14th, 2017, Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel want to raise a minimum of $4,500 to host the famous, longstanding, monthly reading in New York for 3 more years — and they’ve launched a Kickstarter to do it.
The reading series features luminaries and up-and-comers in speculative fiction. Admission is always free. The series brings together the greater New York community of writers, editors publishers, agents and fans into one location each month. We also publish a monthly podcast audio of the readings so people who cannot attend the physical event can still enjoy the readings. Fantastic Fiction is a great place to hear and meet talented new and veteran authors, as well as make valuable connections and meet new friends. Many lasting friendships and professional connections have been made through the Fantastic Fiction reading series.
Past readers: Joyce Carol Oates, Lucius Shepard, Jeffrey Ford, N.K. Jemisin, Scott Westerfeld, Kelly Link, Paul Tremblay, Laird Barron, China Miéville, Nancy Kress, Peter Straub, James Patrick Kelly, Victor LaValle, Joe Hill, Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Samuel Delany, Holly Black, Michael Swanwick, Kit Reed, Andy Duncan, Richard Bowes, Catherynne M. Valente, Jeff VanderMeer, Naomi Novik, Elizabeth Bear, Lev Grossman, and a host of other talented authors. Click the link for the full list.
Quick history: Terry Bisson and Alice K. Turner started the KGB Fantastic Fiction reading series in the late 1990s, attempting to bring together mainstream writers with writers of speculative fiction in order to show, in Alice Turner’s words, “that at a certain level they were plowing exactly the same field.” In the spring of 2000 editor Ellen Datlow took over for Alice K. Turner and in August 2002 Gavin J. Grant, publisher of Small Beer Press, stepped in for Bisson when he moved to California. Author Matthew Kressel stepped in for Gavin in April of 2008.
Ellen Datlow answers a few questions.
Carl Slaughter: Where does the money go?
Ellen Datlow: Each month we give the authors a small stipend, we tip the bartenders (who always give the authors free drinks), and we take the authors out for dinner after the reading. Since it typically costs us around $120 per month, we need $1500 per year to maintain the series.
CS: What’s the criteria for inviting an author to read?
ED: We try to pick two readers whose work might complement each other-also at least one better-known writer with a relative unknown. We try to make sure we have at least one reader who will bring in more of an audience than our regulars.
CS: Is there a cost for getting into the bar or listening to the readings?
ED: No -we get the use of the bar for free for two hours a month. The bar in turn hopes that attendees will buy drinks (soft or hard) during that period of time.
CS: Is there a charge for accessing the podcast?
ED: No-it’s free on the website
CS: Have you ever thought about charging to ease the financial burden?
ED: No – even if we wanted to, we could not without a different deal with the bar.
CS: What about selling an audio?
ED: No – we haven’t really though about it, although if we did, we’d have to contact all the readers and ask their permission.
CS: Do you pay travel expenses for out of town authors?
ED: No we don’t.
CS: What books are on display?
ED: Word Bookstore supplies books for the readers if they are available through a wholesaler. If not, the readers can sell copies of their own books before the reading, during intermission, or afterward.
CS: Suppose an author who hardly ever visits New York will be in town on a reading night? Or just wants a memorable experience and is willing to pay their own way?
ED: They’re welcome to join the audience. We’re scheduled several months in advance, so anyone coming to town needs to query us wayyyy in advance.
CS: Who’s on the horizon?
ED: Sunny Moraine, Catherynne M. Valente, Karen Heuler, N.K. Jemisin, Rajan Khanna, Chris Sharp, Katherine Vaz, Kai Ashanti Wilson, James Patrick Kelly, Grady Hendrix, David Rice.
CS: Is there a CD or website with an archive of readings?
ED: The audio files are our archives: http://www.kgbfantasticfiction.org/.