Tuesday, 2 August 2011

In Defence Of Short Stories #12: Mike Lewis

Today's guest blog is from Mike Lewis, whose Amazon Author Profile begins with the great sentence "Mike Lewis is a writer from Woking in England; the place that the Martians first landed in H G Wells' The War of the Worlds".

By coincidence I finished reading this book for the first time at the weekend - I was expecting a period-piece, but found it fascinating how modern some of it seemed. The destruction, the panic, the way a civilization could just crumble in hours...It must be interesting for Mike, reading the bits where his home village is set ablaze!

But great though The War Of The Worlds is, it's not a short story, so let's move on.

Product DetailsAs you might guess, Mike is a science fiction author, and his collection The Smell of Magic and Other Stories (UK | US) offers 8 short stories and 2 pieces of flash fiction and is on sale for just 99c on Amazon for the kindle until the end of August.

Take it away, Mike...

In the genre I write for, Fantasy and Science Fiction, the short story has never gone away. Despite journals such as the New York Time reporting that there are no longer any viable short story markets and that the short story as a commercial form is dead; the F &SF short story market continues to thrive with new markets added every month.

Science Fiction, as we know it now, started with short stories in magazines such as Astounding and Galaxy in the pulp era in the USA and some of those magazines are still being published today.
I think that one of the reasons that the SF short story is alive and well is that Science Fiction is very much a literature of ideas; and what better format to express one idea, cleanly and simply than in a short story? There is none of the clutter of a novel with the need to develop characters, handle subplots and bring the reader through a maze of multiple strands and multiple ideas. With the short story, the single idea works and works well.

Take some of the stories from my own collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction (The Smell of Magic and Other stories):

First Through the Post takes the idea of physically sending yourself through a vacuum parcel system and explores it through a race over rivalry and love.

Waiting for An Angel takes the idea of a man dying but not leaving until an angel comes to collect him to explore the world view of a slightly simple man.

Coopers’ Creek explores the possibility of redemption through a road trip.


takes a fairytale set in spaces and plays with the ideas and stereotypes.

And so on….

None of these ideas themselves are strong enough to sustain a whole novel by themselves but provide a perfect fit for a short story. A good short story takes a ten or fifteen minutes to read but can stay with you for much, much longer.

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