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Chapter 34-- Exquiro Corpus--went up (33 was backed up, and 34 was… - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Chapter 34--Exquiro Corpus--went up (33 was backed up, and 34 was just waiting). I took most of the advice on this one, making a scene where there was narrative, cutting an awkward line, and fixing the timeline a bit. (Though on a quick read-through, I realized I forgot to change a lunch to a dinner. Oops! Flint.)

I've been reading one of those "Year's Best Science Fiction" collections of short fiction (1995). I just don't seem to have a taste for short fic one-shots in original universes. My mind keeps wandering. And the one by LeGuin, about a slave system in space colonies... honestly, it irked me because there was no science fiction in it! It just had a couple of technologies that might as well have been horses and carts. But that's neither here nor there--it's very rare that I've actually liked a short story. I haven't disliked many vastly, either; I just can't seem to get into them. One or two Stephen King ones, but not even many of those. Most of the science fiction and fantasy ones I've read rolled right off my brain. I don't think I could name all six I've read in the past two days (one was about math, another was the LeGuin, and one was... terraforming, I think?), let alone anything I read years ago. Is it any wonder I don't write them all that well?

I don't know what it is, exactly. It's nothing bad about the stories. It just doesn't seem to especially resonate with me, in terms of form and feel.
14 comments or Leave a comment
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: February 7th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I miss reading your fic. What can we do to inspire more Fern-fic?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 7th, 2007 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm doing an entry in the hp_tarot community which should be up next week. Meanwhile, I think I'll just randomly write something soon. I've managed to finish off and submit an original story, so I can do some fanfic without feeling guilty now.
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: February 7th, 2007 03:29 am (UTC) (Link)
My favorite short stories are the ironic ones.

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

"The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant

"The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell

I read these over and over again in high school.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 7th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I've read all of them, but only "The Lottery" really sticks out... but, boy, does it!
keestone From: keestone Date: February 7th, 2007 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Lottery definitely sticks out. I think I read it when I was nine or so. It was stuck in one of those anthologies lying around the house. I had no idea who wrote it, but I certainly remembered it. Now, I'm going to have to track it down.

I'm not a big fan of short stories in general, but Ray Bradbury is the one who really got me to enjoy the SF short story. "The Foghorn" is one of those things of beauty that somehow remains lurking behind my consciousness to surprise me occasionally with its memory.
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: February 7th, 2007 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
"The Man from the South" by Dahl stuck with me for years. And some of Bradbury's stories do too.

A lot of time I prefer to read anthologies by a single author rather than collections -- unless the collections are done to a theme or I'm using them for bathroom/commuting reading the brain switch from one story/mindset to another can be jarring. But I like short stories generally, so your mileage may vary.

When it comes to science fiction or fantasy what I like best are short stories that form a series, like the Tarma and Kethry tales which Mercedes Lackey eventually turned into their own books. Zenna Henderson also did a nice job with her "The People" stories of building from one thing to another. Pretty soon the stories don't have to do the work of establishing this or that, they just get told.

If you've got a copy of "Chicks in Chainmail" around, it's got a couple of goodies. So does "2041". I've never been anything but disappointed in the "best of" anthologies though. Very seldom have I found a story that really stuck with me in that sort of thing. It's like the editors didn't put it together as a work of love.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: February 7th, 2007 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm with you, not w/ sci-fi (because I don't read it) but in general. I have a lot of trouble getting into short stories unless, as an earlier commenter said, they form a larger narrative together. "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros, for instance, or even "The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing." I don't mind a lengthy plot as long as I get to form a connection with the characters, so scenes from their lives are just fine by me, but I don't drop in easily.

Of course, lately I've had trouble even picking up anything new; I just keep rereading old favorites (including many from my childhood. Maybe I'm so up-in-the-air in my daily life that I can't risk anything in my imaginary life? Sad. /tangent
alkari From: alkari Date: February 7th, 2007 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I love short stories! There are classics in all genres - one of the favourite volumes on my bookshelves is the collected short stories of "Saki". His "The Open Window" is an absolute classic, and an object lesson to anyone in how to write a great short story with a twist! The ending is a true, understated gem. I have collections by GK Chesterton, Roald Dahl, various ghost and supernatural stories, including a fabulous volume with works by women writers over the last 200 years, and of course, several volumes of Australian short stories, because I grew up with writers like Henry Lawson.

In terms of sci fi, it is probably like taking casual photos of kids - you need to take about twenty of them in order to get one or two that are really good. I'd recommend grabbing an anthology of the Hugo winners or nominees - there is some stunning stuff there over the years.
redlily From: redlily Date: February 7th, 2007 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
For fantasy, have you tried either of Neil Gaiman's collections? If you've read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Clarke also published a companion volume of short stories.

In the non-SF realm, The Toughest Indian in the World (Sherman Alexie) is a great collection; as far as funny goes, you can't do much better than Without Feathers (Woody Allen).

I tend to be a bit leery of "best of" collections; I find that the ones I've picked up have been pretty disappointing. The poetry ones are always avant-garde and thorny, while the short story ones always seem to be just "songs in the key of despair."
sannalim From: sannalim Date: February 7th, 2007 04:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you've read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Clarke also published a companion volume of short stories.

She did? Oh, my, I have *got* to find that!
redlily From: redlily Date: February 7th, 2007 06:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's called The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, and I wrote a review of it on my book blog here. :)
From: tree_and_leaf Date: February 7th, 2007 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the only SF short story I can remember is an Arthur C Clarke one aboutsome Jesuit astronomers discovering that the star of the nativity had been a supernova which had destroyed and advanced civilisation. I am doubtful about the astronomical premise of this, but, you know, whatever.

I do remember lots of John Buchan's short stories. He's definitely worth a look - fine, under-rated writer. He didn't, despite 'The Thirty-Nine Steps' just write spy stories - a lot of his best work involves identity, the search for truth, the way the past informs the present - and he wrote some really good short stories with a well-handled supernatural element.
alkari From: alkari Date: February 7th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
There is also Clarke's wonderful "The Nine Billion Names of God" ... the last line packs quite a punch.

Some of the 'older' SF writers are superb - Asimov and Clarke of course, but there are names like Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Robert A Heinlein, James Blish, etc.

From: (Anonymous) Date: February 8th, 2007 09:27 am (UTC) (Link)
That Clark..." The nine billion names of God" is one of my favorites.

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