What is The Alvarium Experiment?
‘Alvarium’ is Latin for beehive. The Alvarium Experiment is a unique collaboration of fourteen authors reinventing the short fiction experience.
Short story anthologies are becoming quite popular with readers. ‘Short is the new long’ is the new buzz phrase for any work of short fiction less than novel length, typically under 60,000 words. A ‘novella’ is 20,000 – 60,000 words, a ‘novelette’ is 10,000 – 20,000 words and short stories are under 10,000 words. This may mean something to authors but to readers, anything less than full length novel is a short story of sorts. So how can you reinvent the short story experience?
Short story anthologies are usually aggregated by picking a genre and a topic and soliciting contributions. Publishers do this but many writer’s groups like the FWA (Florida Writers Association) do this as well, annually publishing a collection of their writers’ short stories usually around a theme. There are science fiction anthologies with the theme of robots, or mystery anthologies with themes like hard-boiled detective stories or cozy mysteries. Steampunk and Dieselpunk anthologies exist largely to introduce readers to these ‘new-ish’ and sometimes quirky genres with the hope that these anthologies will generate new fans willing to purchase longer novels from the authors they discover.
What do these anthologies lack? The writers are writing independently and as such the story premise is independent as well. Characters and setting are different. The only tie that binds them is the theme. An anthology on robots is not going to contain two stories about the same robot. So a few colleagues from FWA and I started to kick around a very unique idea, a way for authors to collaborate while having enough independence to have very little idea about what each other plans to write. Doesn’t that sound experimental? My scientific background (I have a degree in metallurgy) has taught me that conducting an experiment never guarantees the outcome. If the outcome of an experiment is known beforehand, why conduct the experiment? Thus, The Alvarium Experiment was born, an experiment whose successful outcome will be as much influenced by the readers as it is by the authors.
So here’s what happened. Here is the reason The Alvarium Experiment will plow new ground in short fiction. We have come together and agreed on a central premise with a main character. The first series of short fiction stories will be in the science fiction genre but not all of the authors have written science fiction before. Having said that, we have multiple award winning science fiction and fantasy authors in our beehive as well as award winning authors in the mystery, thriller, historical fiction and romance categories. Between the fourteen authors, we have won sixty-five awards for writing excellence from national associations and peer-judged contests. Most of the authors are traditionally published while others are self-published. Some of the authors have written Amazon best sellers in their genres. So it is without a doubt the fourteen authors represent a high quality cadre of fresh voices and outstanding creativity. You will learn more about each one of them as we near the publication date for The Prometheus Saga, the first collection of short fiction by the authors of The Alvarium Experiment. This series may not be the last from this group of very talented authors. Expect to see the stories in The Prometheus Saga appearing on Amazon by the third week in January 2015.
Each author will be independently publishing their work. Two of the other authors have acted as editors to ensure the highest quality of prose. So any given author will only know the story they have written plus two others. Eleven of the stories will be just as much a mystery to the authors in the Experiment as it will be to the readers. The premise has been designed so that any story can be read in any order. That wasn’t an easy thing to conceptualize but I think we’ve pulled it off. I won’t reveal too much of the premise of The Prometheus Saga just yet, but suffice it to say that the storylines are set anywhere from prehistoric man to the modern day and include stories about the same character set in Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, the American Revolution, the Victorian era, the Third Reich and the hippy ’60s. How is that possible? The same character? Ah well, that is the magic and mystery we will ALL experience when the fourteen stories of The Prometheus Saga are published in January 2015.
I can’t be more thrilled and more proud of being a member of The Alvarium Experiment. Reinventing the short fiction experience.