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Author Topic: Who reads short stories?  (Read 7366 times)

Offline Overlord

Who reads short stories?
« on: December 15, 2011, 02:54:01 PM »
Out of interest, who on Fantasy-Faction reads short stories?

If you do read short stories, what is it that you enjoy about them?

If you do not read them, why not? What do you think they lack?

In regards to anthologies, do you think a good variety of stories works (e.g. traditional fantasy) or do you prefer them to have a more specific link (e.g. assassins or magic or warriors, etc).
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Offline Sam Browning

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2011, 03:01:17 PM »
I do occasionally read short stories, Mark Lawrence has three terrific ones on his website, and I've book marked T.C. Simpson's to read when I finish my current book, I find them to be a nice space filler whilst I decide which novel I want to read next.

Offline ColinFBarnes

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2011, 03:17:38 PM »
I'm a huge fan of short stories both reading and writing them.

In terms of anthologies, there seem to be two types:

1/ The random collection on a wide theme. These can be a lot of fan as you get a nice variety of subjects/styles, but if not done well can be a bit of a roll of a dice as to whether you're going to enjoy a story.

2/ The tightly focussed anthology on a single theme. These are usually my favourite. If the them is a strong and focussed one, the stories tend to be stronger IMHO.

You also get the 'collected works' from an author, and again these can be hit or miss. The one I'm reading and enjoying at the moment is Ramsey Campbell's 'Alone with the Horrors'.

I don't think fantasy is particularly well suited to short stories, however. I think it's because for me, one of the appeals of fantasy is the world building, the quests, the involved storylines. But it's very difficult to do this within a short story. Horror, thriller and Noir particularly make excellent short stories, so for me, there is an issue with genre.

Offline Elspeth Cooper

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2011, 03:18:23 PM »
I don't read them, but not because I dislike them or find them lacking - to make those kind of judgements I would have to have read some. They just don't interest me. I contemplated buying the Swords and Dark Magic anthology, but i know for a fact that I would have only got it because I am a hopeless Abercrombie fangirl, and would have read The Fool Jobs then put it down again, but that would have felt vaguely disrespectful to the other authors, so I didn't*.

Short form fiction is simply not something that has appealed to me, either as a reader or as a writer. I read the Dresden Files shorts Side Jobs recently, but that felt more like the deleted scenes and extras reel on the DVD of a favourite film: it was characters I knew and loved, in settings that fit with the rest of the Dresden canon. I guess I'm just not interested in investing energy and emotion in characters and a milieu that I'm not going to be with for the novel-length haul.

* Yes, that means I haven't read The Fool Jobs yet, and still call myself a hopeless Abercrombie fangirl. Stop looking at me like that; I'm a woman, I don't have to make sense.
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Offline Gothos

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2011, 03:40:44 PM »
The best short stories are usually the ones that are set in worlds I am all ready familiar with. I do on occasion read random short stories online and many of them are often really good. I would say that what they lack is obvious, unlike a novel you don't have much time to get to know or even care for the characters involved. I like the Warhammer short stories because I'm already familiar with the world, the races and many of the characters.

As a writer I would say that writing short stories is usually a great way of testing out characters. Almost like an audition. Its also a good way of getting a grip on a culture as well.
I saw them on the shores
the deepening pits of their gaze
vowed immortal war
against the sighing calm
of Jaghut seas . . .

Gothos’ Folly
Gothos (b.?)

Offline Ken

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2011, 03:52:03 PM »
Sometimes when I'm not in the mood to tackle a new book I'll read some short stories. I'm not a fast reader so short stories provide the thrill and entertainment I need without a huge commitment from me. For example the stories in Skyrim are quick and they add flavour to the game.

Since we're on the topic of short stories, Angry Robot is running a series of short stories by their new authors on their blog for those interested.

Offline ChristinaJL

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 04:05:59 PM »
I hardly ever read short stories, as I'm not very interested in them either.  I have read short novellas by Brent Weeks and Peter V. Brett though and enjoyed them, but I think it was because I already knew the characters featured in them.

Offline AnneLyle

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2011, 05:50:21 PM »
I don't read many short stories these days. I used to, when I was younger - I devoured everything I could find by Asimov and James White, and read lots of other anthologies. But this was all SF. As Colin says, fantasy is much harder to do as short fiction, because you don't have the space for worldbuilding.

The one exception I make these days is for short stories featuring characters from novels I love. I have a copy of "Glimpses", a short story collection by Lynn Flewelling based on her Nightrunner series, waiting on my shelf... :)

Oh, and I second the recommendation for checking out Angry Robot's Christmas blog posts. Not all the author contributions are short stories (mine isn't, for reasons that may now be clearer) but Madeline Ashby's is excellent. Probably because it's like a really dark modern-day Asimov story. Which brings me back full circle!
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline rocktopusjones

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2011, 06:27:21 PM »
I enjoy the occasional novella or short story.  I just read Tisarian's Treasure by JM Martin last night and I immensely enjoyed it.  One reader remarked that it's like a short vacation, and that was how I felt as well.  As an added bonus, it's only $.99 on Amazon. 

Offline xiagan

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Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2011, 08:51:56 PM »
I love writing them more than reading, but Neil Gaiman's Smoke & Mirrors brought me to writing them in the first place.
At the moment I am reading John Cheever's famous collection.
I released a short anthology of eight short stories in May (see below) and it has a single theme (the theme is time, so it is a very wide one) - something I prefer about a random collection too (most of the time at least).
And I agree with Jezrien: Short stories set in universes/worlds I'm already familiar with are the best (no fanfic, though). Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Terry Goodkind, Raymond Feist, Peter V. Brett, Ursula K. LeGuin, Robert Jordan, Douglas Adams, Tamora Pierce - they all do/did it. :)

If you are interested in my ebook "Fictional Times - a Fabulous Anthology of Wondrous Stories", you can find it here:,, itunes, smashwords, Barnes & Noble. A story's sample can be found here.
Its bulp reads: A child suddenly remembers his past lives in full, a young man wakes up after a ten years lasting sleep, a man relates his encounter with an immortal, and somebody is faced with the possibility of changing the past to save the one he loves but has to pay a terrible price for it... What if time were not the mysterious dimension we think it to be now?
This short anthology holds eight intriguing stories about time in one way or another.


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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2011, 09:19:43 PM »
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Offline Jen

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2011, 09:24:40 PM »
I love reading short stories, especially fantasy shorts which there really aren't enough of as horror and SF seem to dominate the anthology market.  Luckily the online magazines give a handy fix of lovely stuff - like Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Abyss & Apex, Lightspeed & Fantasy Magazine (actually, I'm a bit biased on that last one as I slush for them - but then, I slush for them because I love their stuff... ;D )

What I like most about short stories, apart from them being a quicker read, is that a really good writer can build a fully detailed world behind the story with just a few well chosen lines.  Plus it allows the opportunity for some gorgeous character stuff to be done.  And, when done well, comic fantasy works better in the short form - the Esther Friesner Chicks anthologies are a good example.  (Which I might be a bit of a fangirl of... ;) )

RE. anthologies, I'm easy either way.  The variety of stories you get in things like the Years Best books give an interesting mix of stories, some of which I probably wouldn't have found otherwise.  But then themed anthologies can be a lot fun if the theme is interesting enough - you've just got to hope the editor can pick enough different takes on the theme to keep it interesting otherwise they start to blur into each other.


Offline Noona

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2011, 09:33:18 PM »
I do read short stories sometimes but have found that, mostly, the only ones I really enjoy are ones connected to a world and/or set or characters I already know. The exception is Neil Gaiman's short stories - Snow, Glass, Apples is an amazing thing.

Offline Jeni

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2011, 11:29:27 PM »
Any book that is less than 400 pages is a short story, right?  :P

By that definition, I've read and enjoyed lots of short stories!  ;D

Offline pornokitsch

Re: Who reads short stories?
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2011, 08:17:14 AM »
I do! Although not very often - I read a LOT of them when I was a kid and first getting in to SF/F. Book club anthologies and back issues of Asimov's were easy to find at flea markets so I'd devour them like crazy.

Thanks to the Pandemonium stuff, I've really gotten obsessed with them again. Keeping up with all the new short stories is impossible (there are so many sites, magazines, web-magazine-things, etc), but that just means there's a lot to choose from.