The Sword and Laser discussion

Science Fiction Short stories

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message 1: by Joe (new)

Joe Osborne | 94 comments Science Fiction really got its start as short stories, novellas etc. I think these are a great way to supplement the monthly group read and could be made into a regular segment on the podcast. Any short fiction has a much lower bar in terms of time commitment and could bring in many readers with time limitations, i.e. everyone. There is certainly plenty to pick from. I got my start in a HS English class that used the collection Science Fiction Hall of Fame as its text and I've been hooked ever since. Personally I'm very turned off by the massive tomes and series that publishers market. Thoughts?

message 2: by Ben (new)

Ben Nash | 200 comments Short fiction is great. I subscribe to a few short fiction magazines (Clarkesworld, Crossed Genres, Lightspeed) and love the content in each of those. I also keep my eyes open for collections from authors I like (e.g. Gene Wolfe) and anthologies from editors I like (e.g. Ellen Datlow or Jonathan Strahan).

I'm not turned of by tomes, though.

message 3: by Ben (new)

Ben Nash | 200 comments Oh yeah. If you're a fan of short fiction, check out Spenculative Short Fiction Deserves Love!. Discussion is a bit sporadic, but the more people we get, the more discussion we can have. :)

message 4: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8467 comments This is so weird -- I just finished another excellent short on and thought to start a thread here linking to stories we especially like.

I'm a huge fan of short stories. It's long been a truism that readers don't buy story collections; apparently I've been the exception to that rule all these decades.

So I think it's an excellent idea.

message 5: by David H. (new)

David H. (farrakut) Trike, I usually don't buy collections unless it's part of a larger series or something (like Mercedes Lackey Valdemar anthologies or "Side Jobs" by Jim Butcher).

However, I love getting them from the library, and I did happen to get "Jagannath" by Karin Tidbeck which was most excellent.

message 6: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8467 comments I've long been a reader of the various "Best of the Year" collections, and I own at least a hundred story collections just by single authors. I wonder if I really am that rare? No one ever talks about actual sales numbers when it comes to collections.

message 7: by Phil (new)

Phil | 1140 comments Yeah, short fiction is where most of the greats got their start and some say it's harder to write well. I've always thought the group should read The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume 1 just to get a good grounding of where science fiction came from.

message 8: by David H. (new)

David H. (farrakut) Some people really don't like short stories. My sister is one of them, for example. I think her explanation was that she likes to really immerse herself in a story, and when they end after 10, 20, or even 50 pages, they seem abrupt or whatever.

I really think enjoying and getting into short stories can be a--maybe "skill" is the wrong word, but it's something one has to practice. I always mentally fill in any "blanks" as necessary, though so many stories leave me wanting more. I really freaking liked Scott Lynch's "In the Stacks" for example & would love a whole book on that, and "The Bicentennial Man" is one of my favorite stories, just for the emotional impact it personally has for me.

message 9: by David H. (new)

David H. (farrakut) If we're talking about good stories over time, I think the VanderMeers' The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories is a great anthology model--it's a reprint anthology going covering the whole of the 20th century with representative pieces throughout. Great look at weird fiction.

Anyway, the VanderMeers did something similar with The Time Traveler's Almanac and they've announced they're working on a specific 20th century SF anthology, which should come out--I dunno, next year?

"Muse of Fire" by Dan Simmons was another SF novella I still think about--Shakespearean actors in the far future, haha.

message 10: by Eric (last edited Jan 30, 2015 11:43AM) (new)

Eric Mesa (djotaku) | 617 comments The good: If the short story is tedious it'll be over soon

The bad: If the short story is great it'll be over soon.

The special: Some stories can only be told in short story format. Otherwise they get dragged out or you start to question the premise.

I enjoy listening to Clarkesworld and Escape Pod.

The only real bad thing about consuming so much short fiction, there are certain tropes that govern the way the stories are told that can get annoying or tedious when heard one after another. Biggest one seems to be variants on maintain mystery/surprise ending that seem to be way more common in short fiction than long fiction.

message 11: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (einahpets_reads) Starting about 6 months ago, I've been trying to make a habit of reading a short story or two every week. (It helps that I was pretty consistently reviewing them then on my blog.) It helps me learn about new authors I might like, and there is a lot of fun things short stories can do differently than a novel.

I second checking out the Speculative Short Fiction Deserves Love goodreads group -- I really like Charlotte Ashley's reviews of short stories for Apex as well -- she points readers to some really great stuff!

message 12: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8467 comments I joined that group. So many hot tips!

message 13: by Tom (new)

Tom Wright (tomdwright) | 84 comments I love the different viewpoints here! For myself, I can offer both a reader perspective and a writer perspective.

As a reader, I tended toward novel-length stories from the time I was a kid, but there were some short-story writers that I loved as well, especially Bradbury of course.

My preference would probably be more toward novel-length because I want to explore the world in more depth, especially if it's one that draws me in by both feet. But a good short story can be satisfying as well, provided it has a strong resolution. One of my favorite short stories was "The Menace From Earth" and "I have No Mouth and I Must Scream" certainly is haunting.

As a writer, for a long time I believed I could *not* write short stories, but started doing so as a means of honing my craft and now am at a point where I enjoy writing short fiction as much as novel-length.

In fact, I find now that when I finish a novel-length project, I'll write two or three short stories as a sort of palate cleanser before I start on my next novel-length project.

In terms of difficulty, I'm not sure I would say one is harder to write than the other. Many of the same principles apply, just in a different way.

message 14: by Lena (new)

Lena Fickle (unicronq) | 16 comments I love reading short stories, novelettes, and novellas! It gives me more variety in my reading. I've been a subscriber to Clarkesworld for a while, and am getting a Lightspeed subscription via the QDSF Kickstarter. I'm also going to subscribe to Neil Clarke's new magazine "Forever" soon.

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