Stories are vital to our lives from the time we are children. As a source of entertainment, education, and cultural communication, stories have existed at least 3,000 years, back to the days when the oral tradition of storytelling held sway. The storytelling scenario that readily comes to mind for many of us is the storyteller at the center of a circle of listeners, gathered around, maybe with a campfire burning nearby. That same scenario is replayed in similar forms even today. If you picture a group of campers surrounded by dark forest, listening to ghost stories or adventure tales after dinner, it's likely not that much different than a circle of Lakota tribe members 500 years ago connecting with the traditions, myths, and rituals of their culture, through tales told by a skilled storyteller.
In America in the latter part of the 19th century, short stories gained popularity as commercial products. Writers—including Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Jack London—refined short stories for collections, magazines, and newspapers, making money from the efforts, but also shaping what would become a literary art form.
Short stories enjoyed a heyday in the 20's and 30's as numerous magazines commissioned stories from leading authors at pay rates that allowed many to make a living writing fiction, often more so than novels. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie, and others fit into that model. Although short stories still exist today as an art form, they have dwindled in popularity, much as is the case for poetry, since few commercial outlets are available for them. Nonetheless, there are spirited practitioners of this unique art, including Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Ann Beattie, and others.
Today, digital media offers a new outlet for short stories. You can enjoy short fiction through audio narratives and epublished pages, as well as podcasts, articles, poetry, and other short works. To that end, we're setting out to build an ecosystem around the idea of revitalizing short fictional works, and other forms of short media, within a common framework that is accessible, stimulating, and enjoyable. We invite you to join us as we explore the possibilities of reviving this lost art.