Friday, 17 June 2011

In Defence Of Short Stories #6: Peter Salisbury


Today's defence is mounted by Peter Salisbury, a science fiction writer from the UK. He writes both serious, intelligent sci-fi, such as Passengers to Sentience, and has also published a book of robot limericks. He's the only person I've come across to say the original version of Bladerunner is the best version of the film, but he defends this viewpoint strongly on his blog...






Take it away Peter:

Passengers to SentienceIn my teens, twenties and thirties I tended to avoid short stories. However when I was around twelve, I recall having a short story anthology which made a particularly strong impression. Those were also the days I read Marvel comics and Dan Dare, all of which effectively were short stories and cracking good adventures they were too. I think many of us enjoy short stories without realising it. Tin Tin, Captain Pugwash - all short story favourites. How many popular magazines today don't have at least one short story per issue? Very few, I would guess.




The Old Store: A Science Fiction Anthology
We are all surrounded by short stories. When we meet a friend and ask how they're doing, we don't expect a detailed report of the last six months, we expect, effectively, a short story. Here's another: the TV news anchor person Ms Reids-Knightly speaks in a series of headlines before announcing, 'And here's Brian with the story.' Again, it's a short story. Then we have podcasts, newsfeeds and newspapers themselves. Does a newspaper consist of a stack of book-length treatises on a range of subjects? No, it's full of short stories!

'Ah,' you say, 'but these are not fiction.' Oh, really? Change channel, chose a different newspaper and you'll get a different version of the same thing: 'The country is going down the tubes.' or 'The country is on the up.'. Who was it said 'Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.'? There's that word again.

In the past, many Science Fiction writers began with short stories which were published in magazines or collections. Later they developed the ideas further and from them grew full-length novels. In that sense the short story had a purpose as a developmental tool. Another way in which short stories can be very effective, is to set a scene involving a set of conflicting personalities and/or events, then leave the characters hanging, with a problem to solve. I like those sort of short stories as much as the ones that come to a neat or unexpected conclusion. With the short story which has ended with everything still up in the air, the ideas linger and go around in your head. Then you have the additional pleasure of examining the different possibilities of how things finally played out.



Check out Peter's stories via his Amazon author page, or his blog.

8 comments:

Agnieszkas Shoes said...

Science fiction shorts have also spawned some of the best films out there, of course.

billie said...

Just popped over to say hello and also that I love short stories but am too long-winded to write them myself!

And that I am woefully behind in reading - the Kindle is packed with books and yours included. I'm getting closer to it, and am looking forward to reading!!

Peter Salisbury said...

This is my first guest blog appearance. Thankyou for your comments.

Agnieszkas Shoes, I'm sure there are lots of SF stories of every shape and size waiting to spawn and become films! Do you have a favourite SF short which has been made into a movie?

Billie, I write both long and short stories. I find some ideas take off for a long stint, others wrap themselves up in a much snappier fashion. Hope it's my book you're getting closer to and that it lives up to expectations.

James Everington said...

Hi Billie, hi 'Agnie'...

I'm also "woefully behind" on my reading too; running this series and finding lots of new short story writers like Peter has not helped!

Cheers again for the piece Peter.

Peter Salisbury said...

Thanks, James. You're a most hospitable host!

Alain Gomez said...

Great post!

alisonwells said...

The title of this series immediately appealed and I'll be back to catch up on the rest. Really enjoyed the points here about us constantly telling stories to each other and about stories being where we can explore things for further development in the future although short stories are enough to aim for in themselves, done right, there's nothing better. One of my fav stories of all time is Aldiss'Supertoys last all summer long' on which of course AI was based.

James Everington said...

Thanks Alison; I never actually knew that about AI..!