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What Else Are You Reading? > Short Swords and Long... Lasers?

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I went from reading Robin Hobb to reading Jim Butchers first Dresden File book and honestly the book felt to easy to read, its not that its a bad book but coming from the in depth books of Farseer and Traders to something I could read in a few hours was just weird. I feel I have to work for my books put in the hours, have a reading schedule so I can get through trilogies in good enough time for the next book pick.


message 2: by Pickle (new)

Pickle | 192 comments im reading a few short swords, mostly Poul Anderson books, its refreshing and prepares me for my next Tad Williams :)


message 3: by Alex (new)

Alex Ristea (alexristea) | 654 comments I agree with those who have commented.

I'm used to reading trilogies of thousands of pages, and now find it difficult to read a standalone or just a few hundred. I want to spend more time with those characters and with the world!

Give me door-stoppers any day of the week.


message 4: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Palmer | 35 comments It depends.

Some times long is just long. Tad Williams' Stone of Farewell, book 2 of the MEMORY, SORROW AND THORN series and sequel to The Dragon Bone Chair is a good example. I was bored to death with it and actually gave up, very rare for me. I tend to soldier on hoping the book will work for me. Every subsequent book Williams wrote was 4 inches thick and after SoF I wasn't willing to invest the time in one of his books until Dirty Streets of Heaven, and only then because it was a reasonable length.

The Harry Potter books on the other hand never felt long, even as they grew ever thicker.

From a series perspective I think that Robert Jordan could have cut quite a lot out of the Wheel of Time books. Don't get me wrong, I really like them and am looking forward to MoL this month to finally wrap it up. But still, it shouldn't have taken 14 books.

I loved everything David and Leigh Eddings wrote up until the last series, which wasn't interesting enough to get me past book one.

Terry Goodkind has gone to the well far to often on the Richard and Kahlan books as has Terry Brooks with the Shannara books and the many related tangents and offshoots.


message 5: by Warren (new)

Warren | 1556 comments Agree- The most logical platform for short stories is the smart phone.
That means ebooks & the publisher seem to be fighting hard to stop the spread of ebooks. They're certainly show not interest in selling
short ebook format stories. Imagine- 50 cents. Tap here for a short story. I'd end up buying several a day.


message 6: by Warren (new)

Warren | 1556 comments Not to my satisfactions. I guess it depends on what you read.
The short story use to be the training ground for future novelists.
The publisher seem to focus on the top selling "blockbuster" novels.
I guess that's where the money is.


message 7: by Ayesha (new)

Ayesha (craniumrinse) Over the years, I think I've gotten used to the fist-thick fantasy novels and just accepted that as the norm. There are examples of short, concise novels; Ray Bradbury immediately comes to mind.

The challenge with the shorter novels, I think, is probably that folks believe that fantasy novels need a lot of world-building. And that's just not the case (Ray Bradbury, again, comes to mind).

That's not to say that I haven't enjoyed Stephen King's massive info-dumping, or Robin Hobb's never-ending trilogies. I definitely have, but there is something delightful about coming across a good story that less than 500 pages.

Or, maybe, people just don't take a writer seriously unless he write books heavy enough to cause hernias.


message 8: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5138 comments Mod
While not traditional fantasy (or a short stories for the most part. Though there are several short stories in the series) the Dresden Files books are something I think does a good compromise on world building and length.

Jim Butcher set up the world across 5 or 6 books, each book focusing on a different thing (wizards, werewolves, Fae, ghosts, vampires, etc) while keep each novel in the 300-500 page range.


message 9: by Ayesha (new)

Ayesha (craniumrinse) Rob wrote: "While not traditional fantasy (or a short stories for the most part. Though there are several short stories in the series) the Dresden Files books are something I think does a good compromise on wo..."

I agree. I think Mr Butcher does a great job of providing back story in such a way that immediately explains how it will affect the plot. No info-dumping or long exposition, just "here's how it is" and then, best of all, he moves the f on.


message 10: by Eliste (new)

Eliste | 31 comments Ayesha wrote: " I think Mr Butcher does a great job of providing back story in such a way that immediately explains how it will affect the plot. No info-dumping or long exposition, just "here's how it is" and then, best of all, he moves the f on."


Really? You think so? I'm getting fed up with all his later books at the exposition every time you meet someone you already know. Even if they were in the book RIGHT BEFORE you have to suffer through 1-2 paragraphs of reminding you of who they are.

I'm actually quite sick of it and feel like I skip through half the first part of each new book. I don't like that.


message 11: by Warren (new)

Warren | 1556 comments Ditto on the Jim Butcher shorts. Those were exactly the type of stories I was looking for. For Scifi I'll probably go with an annual anthology.
For Fantasy I was trying to find something like the old Thieves World series. Multiple famous authors in a single world. Its slim pickens.


message 12: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5138 comments Mod
Eliste wrote: "Ayesha wrote: " I think Mr Butcher does a great job of providing back story in such a way that immediately explains how it will affect the plot. No info-dumping or long exposition, just "here's how..."

1-2 paragraphs bothers you that much? I don't find myself needing a refresher on characters either.

However, I understand why he does it, and it doesn't bother me at all.

Certainly nothing compared to the pages of descriptions of food in Song of Ice and Fire...


message 13: by Eliste (new)

Eliste | 31 comments Rob wrote: "1-2 paragraphs bothers you that much? I don't find myself needing a refresher on characters either. "

If it was 1-2 paragraphs per novel, I wouldn't mind. But its 1-2 paragraphs per person who shows up. It actually feels to me like he's padding his word count with the paragraphs- and generally they are almost identical to the one in the book before. It feels lazy and annoying.

If he thinks folks won't know who someone is, I'd rather have a reference in the back.

I'll be honest- I never noticed the food in Song of Ice & Fire. Probably because at least it is new material, not just rewording something he's already said 10 different books in a row.


message 14: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5138 comments Mod
Well I think it's more for the new reader on the chance they pick up the latest novel without having read the previous ones.

I've always considered it a minor point, so it's never bothered me. But everyone is different.


message 15: by Eliste (new)

Eliste | 31 comments Rob wrote: "Well I think it's more for the new reader on the chance they pick up the latest novel without having read the previous ones."

I'm quite convinced that is the reason for it. However I think you don't need to repeat so much just to do some explanations. And if a new reader is picking it up number 13 in a series, I kinda think they should expect to be a little confused. At least cut it down to a sentence, maybe 2. But when I'm skipping most of a page because its all rehash, that bothers me. I want to read new stuff, not reread the same stuff just because he can't summarize well.


message 16: by Ayesha (last edited Nov 18, 2012 10:33AM) (new)

Ayesha (craniumrinse) Eliste wrote: "Ayesha wrote: " I think Mr Butcher does a great job of providing back story in such a way that immediately explains how it will affect the plot. No info-dumping or long exposition, just "here's how..."

I see how that could bother your, but I like it. The cast of characters keeps growing and since I'm not Spock, I sometimes need to be reminded who that guy is.


message 17: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 5138 comments Mod
Darren wrote: "Aside from the Dresden shorts (anyone read any of those outside of/before their collection in Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files, I wonder?), "

I own Mean Streets, but the Dresden story from that was republished in Side Jobs (which I also own). However Mean Streets has short stories by 3 other authors.

At the time, I read 1 other besides Butcher (Simon R. Green's Nightside series). I ended up reading the Remy Chandler series by Thomas E. Sniegoski after enjoying the short story (which coincidentally is about an Angel detective..)


message 18: by Kevin (new)

Kevin | 700 comments I've been reading more and more short stories lately. I've read 3 anthologies this year, though I'm finding them to be a mixed bag in terms of quality. I'll probably wont be spending a lot of money on those anymore.

On the other hand this year I've also read (or am reading) 2 short story collections by a single author I already like The Inheritance by Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm and A Stark and Wormy Knight by Tad Williams which I absolutely love. It gives a great insight into what a writer is capable off. So I'll definitely be searching out more of those.

I've also recently been reading the free short stories on Tor.com (on my phone, during slow moments at work *cough*). There are some real gems on there. (I especially recommend the most recent one "How to make a Triffid" for all the lovers of science and the power of stories.)


message 19: by Robert (last edited Nov 23, 2012 06:49AM) (new)

Robert Collins | 101 comments I've thought that part of the overall trouble with short stories getting read is how readers usually find short stories, through magazines. There have always been a few pro magazines. Desk-top publishing hit big in the 1990s. As a result there are many SF/F/H magazines, from pro to paying in copies. But unless you were a writer, or met someone associated with those smaller publications, you wouldn't hear about them.

Every time the question of where to find genre shorts comes up, I post the link to Ralan: http://www.ralan.com/. It's a market site for writers, but it's the best way I know to find genre magazines (digital and print). There's several devoted just to fantasy, and a few publish in fantasy sub-genres.


message 20: by Louise (new)

Louise (louiseh87) | 352 comments I write short fiction, but I don't read it much. I find it often too truncated - the sentences just don't seem to flow because there's so much pressure to cut, cut, cut and make the story as short as possible. With the result that the first few paragraphs don't really hold my attention and I stop reading, I prefer stories to linger, to really draw me in.

However, as a writer, short stories are a good way in and a quicker way of getting my work out there to be read.

There are many short fiction markets out there with a sizeable following, many free to read (Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, to name a few in the pro field), and reviews for short fiction appear in Locus both online and print versions. And they get nominated for Hugos. So they're not invisible.


message 21: by Warren (last edited Nov 24, 2012 06:07AM) (new)

Warren | 1556 comments Amazon is offering Science Fiction Megapacks for only 99 cents.
(Kindle format) They up to #5. The authors are house hold names.
If the group was on the same megapack that would make for an interesting thread.
I think that Tom should use his dictatorial power and designate one.

I'm sure that their's a similar book on the fantasy side.
If Veronica pics one as well then we should be set for a while.


message 22: by kvon (new)

kvon | 558 comments There are bunches of anthologies of fantasy shorts out there, usually themed. I like to find collections by my favorite authors. Recently I've found some by Patricia McKillip, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and Sarah Monette. Some folks write exclusively in short stories, such as Kelly Link and Ted Chiang.

Of the Hugo nominees for short story this year, I count two fantasy and two sf, plus the Scalzi that's off in it's own category. :)

I'll disagree that you can't do short fantasy. But you can't do short epic, which seems to be the favored flavor of fantasy these days, without having the doorstoppers on the shelves.


message 23: by Louise (last edited Nov 24, 2012 06:48AM) (new)

Louise (louiseh87) | 352 comments I forgot to mention, if you're after just fantasy short stories, Beneath Ceaseless Skies is a free zine that only does adventure fantasy set in secondary worlds (they don't accept urban fantasy or anything set in the real world), and they manage to publish issues of two shorts and a podcast twice a month.

I don't know how much of what they publish is in the epic vein though. I'm not sure how much of today's fantasy is "epic". Epic often requires large numbers of character perspectives, and with a handful of exceptions omniscient POV doesn't seem to be in at the moment. With the exception of George R. R. Martin of course, I haven't really seen much *new* epic. High, yes, but epic, not so much. Yes, I know they're the same thing really, but they don't feel the same anymore.


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