My pal Russell has a new anthology heading towards the presses at Chez Ticonderoga. This time it’s Worker’s Paradise, a collection of stories by Simon Brown and a whole bunch of other neat folks, inspired by the Howard government’s recent IR laws, Russ has co-edited with Nick Evans. They’re both pretty savvy guys, so you should definitely check it out. It’s also nice to see that Russ is going to publish an expanded edition of Lew Shiner’s collection Love in Vain. It’s basically a ‘best of Shiner’ collection originally printed in a very small edition a few year’s back. A larger, and more affordable, edition is a very cool thing indeed. If you like the idea of reading great short stories by one of the field’s best short fiction writers, then this too should be on your ‘must buy’ list.
A quick one: all reviewers of science fiction should be banned from using the phrase ‘what it means to be human’. If they were, then they might explain what it is they think they see in an SF novel without dropping into safe cliche.Â I’ll never forget when I was maybe fifteen years old, an English teacher of mine said it wasn’t enough to say that something in a book was evocative, you had to say what it evoked and what that meant. This phrase, which I’ve used often myself, is SF’s equivalent of ‘the imagery is evocative’.Â Surely we can be smarter than that?
I’m curious. Greg Johnson over at SF Site doesn’t deserve to be singled out, but in his review for Al Reynolds’ Zima Blue he says ‘Hard science fiction, and space opera, are styles of SF that tend to work better at lengths longer than short stories’. I’ve just edited a volume of space opera stories, and have another that contains some hard sf and space opera stories coming shortly, and they’re all short stories pretty much, and I’ve heard this view before, but is it true?Â I do think the novella may be the best length for science fiction, but wasn’t science fiction founded on the short story? If you run through Bob Silverberg’s The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, isn’t it filled with short stories? And, aren’t a lot of them hard SF or space opera?Â When did it become popular wisdom that sf works better at longer lengths? And why? Is there something that we were doing, back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, that we’re not doing here in the Oughties?