There were some good stories, and science fiction is not dead. Yadda yadda.
The first story, or one that was very close to first, ruined a perfectly goThere were some good stories, and science fiction is not dead. Yadda yadda.
The first story, or one that was very close to first, ruined a perfectly good story with a completely frivolous, unnecessary use of the word 'tranny'. :P
A story shortly after that was all about sending kids with Asperger's into space to save the human race. It made no sense whatsoever. And while I am not on the autism spectrum or know anyone very closely who is, it struck me as not a very good portrayal. Very Othering.
Another story just past the middle (I checked, because I know the weakest stories are usually in the middle) was so completely long-winded and boring. It needed serious editing. Like, more than half of it could've gone and it would've been such a better, tighter story. Still not all that great, but better.
I have a fondness for these short short sf/f stories of old. It's mostly nostalgia, though. Because while many of the stories in here are okay, intereI have a fondness for these short short sf/f stories of old. It's mostly nostalgia, though. Because while many of the stories in here are okay, interesting, fun, funny, there are still plenty of others that make you roll your eyes.
The ideas are cliche, or telegraphed right from the start. Or the ending is a stupid joke. Or is a 'twist' that isn't a twist. Surprise, it's a girl! And then.. that baby turned out to be Hitler!
Part of that is because this is an old anthology, and the ideas were fresh at the time. Part of that is because, I think, Asimov loved the stupid jokes.
I really noticed a sharp contrast between the stories in here and the stories in Flash Fiction, a literary anthology. And I'm afraid it's a comparison that puts the literary one on top. Shocking, right?! But those stories have a better language flow to them and seem more character-oriented, perhaps. Are more interesting. Frequently made me go 'huh?' or 'what was the point?' but rarely or never made me roll my eyes at the end.
Before I conclude, I want to rant at these older anthologies, particularly Asimov ones. DON'T COMMENT ON THE STORIES BEFORE I'VE READ THE STORIES! Asimov (I assume) thinks he's being funny when he throws in a one-liner like 'don't judge a book by its cover' or something, which completely spoils the story. These stories are short enough as it is, can't you let me go into it without any preconceived notions about it?
I skip story intros unless I KNOW it's only talking about the author or something unspoily. But it's really hard to skip them when it's a few words or a sentence and it's right above the title.
Surprisingly, I don't think I'd read this anthology before. Even though I had read several short short story anthologies in my schooldays....more
This anthology was compiled 10 years after the first one. The one that coined the term 'flash fiction'. Not that they invented the format by any meansThis anthology was compiled 10 years after the first one. The one that coined the term 'flash fiction'. Not that they invented the format by any means. Defined it a little maybe. Made it easier to search for than 'short short stories'. Search engines hate that sort of thing.
The editors say that in the ten years since their first anthology, the format of flash fiction has really taken off, particularly on the web. I will not disagree. They then said they had a whole bunch of sources to search through to find good stories. And yes, they did draw from a... no, not diverse, no, not wide-ranging, no, not a wide variety.. they drew from a lot of online and print publications. Almost all of which I'd never heard of. Were any of these Science Fiction or Fantasy publications? No. Of course not. Imagine an sf/f story being good!
That aside, the book itself is an interesting read. Some individual stories are better and more enjoyable and make more sharding sense than others, of course. But at least even the duds are short and you can move on.
You do start to get a sense of what flash fiction is. Except.. that it totally isn't _just_ that. It's not always got a rhythmic sound to the language. It's not always wide-sweeping. It's not always in the present tense. It's not always about people's marriages falling apart. Just that.. a lot of the time it is. At least in these two books. ...more
Apparently this was the anthology that coined the term 'flash fiction'. Which is defined here as shorter than 'sudden fiction'. The stories included aApparently this was the anthology that coined the term 'flash fiction'. Which is defined here as shorter than 'sudden fiction'. The stories included are mostly from the 80's and 90's. There were 3 names I recognized: Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, and... drat, some white guy I forget. The rest of the names were unknown to me, but this was a clearly literary anthology and I am not a literary reader. A few of the stories were English translations.
I had the notion that I should take some short stories, distill the plot, and rewrite them. I figured the shorter the better for this exercise. So when I searched the library catalog, this is the best option that turned up. I did not do the exercise I had invented for myself. But I did read all the way through this in about a day.
Short short stories (as I came to know them, having been first exposed to them from Asimov anthologies) are pretty awesome. Get in, get out. It works particularly well for science fiction idea stories. Which these were not.
The first couple of stories were okay. Somewhat interesting. The first one was even sf/f-ish (gasp! don't tell them that!) But then I started to hit some real duds.
Why duds? Because I didn't sharding understand them. Did it mean this? Did it mean something else? Does the story mean exactly what it seems to mean and nothing else? Ie, rather trite. Does the story mean what I've guessed it means? I'm not sure. Does the story mean something else entirely and I'm just too dumb to get it? Or does the story not really mean anything at all?
I'm not so keen on uncertainty when it comes to stories. I'm fine with 'engaging' with the text and trying to work out what is meant. I just like to know I'm right! Or know that I'm probably not thinking what the author was thinking, and that's okay, because my idea is better.
But too many of these stories left me with a sense of 'wha? huh?' and an utter vagueness about the whole thing.
Still, there is something about the shortness and the sheer quantity of them that makes my brain start sparking. The problem is, to keep that up, you need more and more and more!...more
Lots of good, interesting articles and other things in here. Even a short story. It makes me more than ready to go to Wiscon this year!
But it also makLots of good, interesting articles and other things in here. Even a short story. It makes me more than ready to go to Wiscon this year!
But it also makes me feel dumb. Lots of very smart people talking about things at a level way over my head. Or past my head, because it's not a subject I've thought a lot about or developed much of an interest in.
This is sort of like a slice of Wiscon. If your slice is skewed towards the academic track and and some of the harder panels.
But it did make me feel like I'd missed out. I missed out on the 30th Wiscon, where tons of past guests of honor were milling about, participating in programming, and being smart and interesting.
This book is a little piece of Wiscon history and fascinating reading (even when it did go over my head)....more
No duds in this anthology! Short stories and a few poems based on fairy tales, in which we get to see the villains (and the heroes) of those tales inNo duds in this anthology! Short stories and a few poems based on fairy tales, in which we get to see the villains (and the heroes) of those tales in a different light.
Some awesome writers in here! Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman both make an appearance. As well as Holly Black and Kelly Link. Neil Gaiman and Jane Yolen. And well, other names I recognize and you'd recognize too!
So if you're a fan of fairy tale retellings, a fan of any of the authors included, know a tween who's an avid reader, or.. or.. just like Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling anthologies, it's well worth a read!...more
Four stories written by Deaf kids. One retells 'Please, But', the other a hotel story. The other two are original stories, about fishing in a toilet,Four stories written by Deaf kids. One retells 'Please, But', the other a hotel story. The other two are original stories, about fishing in a toilet, and cursed charm bracelets. The main characters in all of the stories are deaf, and so there's opportunity for the illustrations to demonstrate a few key signs from the stories. Ever seen a fish sign that it loves fishing?
It's short, and they definitely are stories for kids, written by kids. But I quite liked the book....more
I thought this would be more sf/f christmas stories. Or at least contemporary ghost stories. But it's mostly old stuff, even some Dickens. Which is fiI thought this would be more sf/f christmas stories. Or at least contemporary ghost stories. But it's mostly old stuff, even some Dickens. Which is fine, just not exactly what I was expecting.
I've abandoned it, after discovering a novella stuck in the middle of it that I was disinclined to read. Going back on the ILL van tomorrow....more
To get you in the Christmas spirit, a bunch of science fiction and fantasy Christmas stories. I'd say old and new, but no, it's more like old, older,To get you in the Christmas spirit, a bunch of science fiction and fantasy Christmas stories. I'd say old and new, but no, it's more like old, older, and oldest.
"The Star" by Arthur C. Clarke inevitably makes an appearance. And "Miracle" by Connie Willis, which is the title story in a Christmas collection of hers, is also included.
The Anne McCaffrey story "A Proper Santa Claus" isn't even too bad.
"La Befana" by Gene Wolfe was entirely incomprehensible the first time through. The second time, reading more carefully, I felt I finally understood what was going on. But I still didn't 'get' it.
I felt the anthology didn't end strongly.
Annoyingly, there's a story "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern. I started reading it, thinking it was a take on It's a Wonderful Life. But then I realized it _was_ It's a Wonderful Life. There's no information given about the story or the author. There's not even a copyright notice like there are for the other stories, so I can't even tell when it was first published or where. Am I motivated enough to Google it? I dunno. Connie Willis's story does put me off the It's a Wonderful Life thing. :)...more
How come in anthologies like this, there's never any science fiction or fantasy? It can be gay fiction for teens and be genre as well, really!
More ofHow come in anthologies like this, there's never any science fiction or fantasy? It can be gay fiction for teens and be genre as well, really!
More of the stories weren't bad. Nothing outstanding though. A lot of them left me unsatisfied. Like 'now what?' or 'so what?' or 'that's all?' I can't say they weren't technically stories, with a character change in them. But they were definitely small stories. The most important moment in a character's life? Not really. /An/ important moment, maybe.
I'm just left feeling like my genre would do better. So, 3 stars. It'd get more with some gay vampires and lesbian zombies....more