Patronage is a funny concept. See, for much of the history of the arts, many creative people had to seek out the financial support of those in higher stations above them–like noblemen or merchants for instance–in order to finance their creative vision. The inevitable compromise for much of this is that the sort of person who’d sponsor, say, a play, would not want either their name, family name or position in society to be ridiculed. This started who-knows-how-many centuries ago and continued at least through the 19th century (Historians, correct me if I’m wrong).
In the 20th and 21st centuries, we haven’t really had things like that. I mean, there are things like endowments, awards like the Guggenheim and donations to things like public broadcasting, but that’s a bit different, I think.
The reason I’m mentioning all this is that Blackberry, as part of their “Keep Moving” campaign to promote their new Blackberry 10, has enlisted Neil Gaiman–creator of novels like Anansi Boys and American Gods and the Sandman series for Vertigo and also my favorite author of all time–to write stories using their new 10 phone coupled with Twitter, as Gaiman is a rather prolific tweeter.
What Gaiman decided to do was to write very short stories, one for each month of the year, by asking questions about the months on Twitter and writing his story based on the best response. The result, A Calendar of Tales, just went up for free on Blackberry’s website a few days ago and…it’s fan-freaking-tastic!!!
I mean, you’d expect stories of such short length and written for very commercial reasons to be phoned in and lame. But Gaiman didn’t do that; instead, he went ahead and created 12 different little vignettes ranging from a man and boy fighting monsters (January) and a tale of a djinn and a young woman (October) to a girl with the strangest pair of parents ever (June).
Part of why I love and value Gaiman’s writing so much is because he has such a distinct voice that carries you through everything and can make you believe anything. That is definitely the case here. Seeing as how the PDF of this is free, you have no excuse. Check this out.
Also, if you’re the artistic type, as that link says, they are currently soliciting illustrations, photos, etc. to accompany the stories. Feel free to do that, enjoy the stories and let me know what you think!