Friday, August 11, 2017

[Link] 100 Must-Read SFF Short Story Collections

by Margaret Kingsbury

While classic authors like Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells wrote some of the earliest SFF fiction, the popularity of SFF as a genre started with short stories. Both the Pulp and Golden Age eras of science fiction and fantasy (from about 1920-1960) were steeped in short stories, with publications like Amazing Stories and Astounding Science Fiction publishing the first works by SFF giants like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury, among many others. SFF short stories were hugely popular with the public, and its thanks in part to these short story writers and magazines that we have epic SFF franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek.

Nowadays, short stories take the back burner to novels and epic series for most SFF fans. However, many fantastic SFF writers write short stories, for many reasons. Some get their own start in shorter works and later turn to novels — like Ken Liu, Yoon Ha Lee, and Theodora Goss. Others prefer writing short stories — like Kelly Link and Carmen Maria Machado. Still other SFF authors readily switch back and forth between long and short works — Catherynne M. Valente, China Miéville, and Neil Gaiman, among others.

I read SFF short stories for many reasons. I love their brevity. They encapsulate the emotional impact of a single moment much like a poem does, but unlike poetry, they still give richness and depth to character and setting. And hey, I like that feeling of being completely immersed in a new world for 20 minutes, and then being finished. I love my epic series like any other SFF fan, but sometimes I crave bite-size pieces. It’s like chocolate. And short stories are great places to discover new authors. It requires less commitment than reading a novel, and I love discovering authors through their short stories before they’ve written their first novel.

Also, shorts are often far weirder than novels. And I do so love weirdness.

I’ve compiled 100 must-read SFF short story collections so you can set out devouring these bite-sized chocolaty treats of weird worlds and astounding stories too. I tried to pick newish authors and collections, so you won’t find any of the Pulp and Golden Age writers on this list (well, I snuck in an Ursula Le Guin, but it’s a new release!). There are 60 collections of individual author’s short stories, and 40 anthologies of multiple authors. For the anthologies, I only used an editor once. Many editors compile a ton of anthologies, like John Joseph Adams, Terri Windling, and Ellen Datlow. But I wanted to give as diverse a list as possible, so I only listed one by these editors.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I!

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