01 March 2011

gotta love short fiction

When asked about writing short fiction, an award-winning author said something recently I've been pondering a lot "if you're a novelist, don't lose focus on writing your next book." Hhm. It's possible I should focus less on writing short fiction. But it's not possible I should read less short fiction. I love short fiction. It rocks! I've said before short fiction can be like a perfect jewel--a story encapsulated in a world that exists for a short while only in space, time and imagination. To prove my point, let's look at some good short fiction...

The Untold Tale of an Executioner by Dawn Lloyd is a chilling tale set in a very dark world. Dawn does an excellent job starting her story: I waited until the pulse ceased and left the body lying on the ground. Wow! Aren't you just dying (sorry) to find out what happens next? In this story--like most good stories--the protagonist is profoundly affected by the events that transpire.

End User by A.L. Sirois is a horrific story with a character that definitely doesn't follow Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. I must admit, this story really creeped me out. A short exerpt will show you what I mean: The head of a pretty young Japanese girl was pillowed on the couch, a slender torso below it, with wires and tubes feeding in from various canisters and IVs. Draped across the drobe, clasped in its smooth, strong arms, was the body of a man. Dried blood had pooled under him, across the drobe's thighs and legs, soaking the couch. Flies feasted there, and on the corpse. And the head-thing was still alive! It just gets creepier from there. That's a mark of a good story, when it provokes a strong emotional reaction in the reader.

Birth of a New Day by Fredrick Obermeyer is a unique fantasy in which daybreak requires a special kind of midwife. I loved the new original idea of this piece. Here's an intriguing exerpt: Evanar collapsed on the sand, pain ripping through his side. He reached under his beige robes and tried to pull the sides of the dayslit open wider, so he could push it all out. WTF is going on here? Better read it and find out.

What Eats You by Sara Kate Ellis is a near-future adventure involving role-playing and political correctness taken to the extreme. This story has a great opening: It was an ordinary Friday night when Mollie Barker exploded in the snacks aisle of Pirate Pat's. Her head popped off with the quicksilver efficiency of an action figure, trailing a graceful arc into a sampler bowl of Waldorf salad. I love the drama and the humor.

A Touch of Poison by Jaelithe Ingold is a traditional fantasy in which a power struggle has a very unexpected outcome. There's something lovely, dramatic and maybe naive about traditional fantasies. The moment she'd been tested, everything had changed. The Catevari had claimed her. Don't you want to know what or who the Catevari are? Exactly what trouble is the protagonist in? And how will she get out of it?

Gotta love that short fiction!

Keep sending us your stories.


A.L. Sirois said...

I admit, I didn't start out to write a sf/horror mash-up. I had wanted to explore the idea of human slaves working in a robot factory (riffing on the reports of suicides in the Foxconn sweat-shop factory) but in reducing the scope from the general to the particular I found a different story, which became END USER.

lesleylsmith said...

Interesting, A.L.! Thanks for sharing. :)

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