This year due to lack of time, I have been reading more short stories and novellas. Earlier, I never felt short story collections were worth my time. But when you are in a reading slump or when you don’t have much time to read a huge novel, short stories are better. After reading them, you still feel accomplished.
I own few science fiction short story collections. Here are some of the books that I own from which I read the following stories:
The short stories and novellas that I read this year are –
Minority report by Philip K. Dick –
I loved this Tom Cruise movie and that was the reason for reading the story. It was amazing, especially the twist at the end. It had been a while since I saw the movie and I did not remember much about the ending so it was great. I need to watch the movie again soon. Philip K. Dick is really a great author.
This is a futuristic story where they are able to detect a crime before it even happens. Because of this, they are able to stop crimes from happening. It is a very interesting concept to even think of.
The sentinel by Arthur C. Clarke –
2001: A space odyssey was based on this short story – “The sentinel”. Enjoyed reading the story which was the starting point of what was to become a great novel. It talks about discovering the stone on Moon. In order to really understand what it was, you need to read 2001: A space odyssey I think.
Story of your life by Ted Chiang –
I read this story since the movie trailer (of Arrival) is amazing. I did like the story and the science aspects (Fermat’s equation) that it talks about. But the climax did not make much sense. This story felt somewhat similar to “Childhood’s end” by Arthur C. Clarke (where nothing happens, even though you are expecting something to happen in the story). But this was loads better than that book. I think this would make a great movie so I am really excited for the new movie that is coming out this year. I liked the writing style so I will read the other stories in this collection soon.
Some quotes I liked:
“The familiar was far away, while the bizarre was close at hand.”
“The existence of free will meant that we couldn’t know the future. And we knew free will existed because we had direct experience of it.”
“… knowledge of the future was incompatible with free will. What made it possible for me to exercise freedom of choice also made it impossible for me to know the future. Conversely, now that I know the future, I would never act contrary to that future, including telling others what I know: those who know the future don’t talk about it.”
“Every physical event was an utterance that could be parsed in two entirely different ways, one causal and the other teleological, both valid, neither one disqualifiable no matter how much context was available.”
All about Emily by Connie Willis –
This novella was great actually. This is my first Connie Willis’s story and it is about a broadway actress and some of the ‘artificials’ that are created by a robot scientist. This story had such an Asimov feel to it. It was kind of like the robot stories that Asimov writes. I loved it but the ending was something that I did not quite enjoy as it seemed unrealistic to me. Also the main protagonist was little mean and not very likeable. But the story as such was great and I am definitely going to read more from this author.
Nightfall by Isaac Asimov –
I just read the novella written by Isaac Asimov (not the full length novel which expanded this story later). I am not so interested in reading a book which was written by another author based on this story or maybe I will read it someday. But reading this story made me realize why Asimov is my favorite sci-fi author. Nobody can write science fiction like him. No other author can describe something so brilliantly. (At least for me)
This story is about a planet which has six suns so there is no time on this planet when there is no sun or when there is no daylight. One fine day, an eclipse occurs and it is dark on the planet. Astronomers predict this happening and everyone is dreading the darkness. They don’t even know what stars mean as there is always sunlight. You should read this story to know more. It was amazing.
Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu –
This story won Hugo award and it was so amazing. I had tears in my eyes when the story ended. Such a sweet story. It is about a boy whose mother can create magical creatures by folding paper.
“You know what the Chinese think is the saddest feeling in the world?
It’s for a child to finally grow the desire to take care of his parents, only to realize that they were long gone.”
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor –
This book won Hugo and Nebula awards. I had high hopes getting into this book. The plot is simple – it is about a girl who runs away from her planet in order to join an esteemed university. But something happens when she is on the spaceship to the university. Like many reviews have stated, the plot sounds pretty childish and underdeveloped. The story had a good start and had lot of potential but somehow it was not executed well. The writing was also not that good. I am surprised that it won so many awards. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either.
Have you read any of these stories? or any other short story/novella? Do you like reading shorter fiction?