The Wonder of Short Stories: Writers of the Future Volume 30

 

WOTFThe thing about I like about short stories is that you don’t have to commit much to get a certain amount of satisfaction.

Any novel worth reading will spend a certain portion of time introducing conflict, stringing together a plot, creating characters and relationships, and, if were in science fiction or fantasy, building a world. After all, in these genres, the world is as much a character as the characters all. It’s what makes science fiction different from science fact.

With a short story, you’ve got anywhere from 3,500 words to up to maybe 30,000 to build that world, create conflict and tension, introduce empathetic characters, spin a plot, and tie it all up. Done well, it can be as satisfying as a full novel, albeit with less depth and, of course, far less commitment.

With Writers of the Future Volume 30, edited by Dave Wolverton, you can count on a full slate of fulfilling stories, each crafted with a deft touch to provide a full and satisfying meal of a story. Comparing it with even last year’s crop (which I also reviewed), it’s a truly excellent group of writers that the contest has discovered.

A caveat, though: don’t open the collection of twenty short stories and essays with your expectations set. Book marketing departments may craft covers to help reader predictions, but nothing can prepare you for each story. And, in a sense, that’s refreshing. Too many of us go to the writers and genres that we like, whether it’s selections from military sci-fi like David Weber’s Honorverse, epic fantasy like Patrick Rothfuss’s or Brandon Sanderson’s thousand page tomes, or the urban fantasy of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. As readers, we tend to find what we like, devour it, and then cast about for more by the same author or in the same world or universe. Even better if it’s the same characters. We get to escape a little longer with the characters we know.

Short stories, especially in a collection such as Writers of the Future Volume 30, offer no such comfort or safe harbor. You will be constantly facing new situations, new worlds, new characters, and–here’s the clincher–new writers.

And you should embrace them all. They’re the future of science fiction and fantasy.

In “Animal” by Terry Madden, you’ll find a dystopian future where humanity has pushed all wildlife into human controlled preserves underground, where a child is so valuable that a would be mother will risk everything to have one.

Megan O’Keefe’s “Another Range of Mountains” and Paul Eckheart’s “Shifter” both introduce systems of magic as clever as anything out of Sanderson’s Cosmere, and including twists just as fulfilling and heart wrenching.

“Rainbows for Other Days” by C. Stuart Hardwick asks what it means to be human, examining how losing our natural world, and becoming transhuman, might wreck damages on our humanity that we would rather die than give up.

One author from whom I expect a lot more from, because of how well the story seemed to shadow so much more to come, is Leena Likitalo. The Finnish author’s “Giants at the End of the World” allegedly has a whole novel beyond the short story, somewhere, and I would love to see it in print. If anyone from Tor, Baen, or Orbit is reading this, please pick it up.

“Long Jump” is a dark trip down the rabbit hole of virtual reality, space travel, and the end of the world, and Oleg Kazantsev absolutely nails it, giving me chills that made me want to go outside, roll on the grass, and soak up the smells of the real world.

One of my favorites was “The Shaadi Exile” for author Amanda Forrest’s protagonist, Daliya, the emissary of a wife to her future husband in a universe where marriages between people light years apart are arranged decades before either spouse meets.

There are more, including a clever tale by the legendary Orson Scott Card, called “Carousel,” another, “Beyond All Weapons,” by L.Ron Hubbard. Each is worth the experience, a trip to another universe and a glimpse at some writers who may just be the future of science fiction and fantasy.


 

Writers of the Future Volume 30: The Best New Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year
L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future (Book 30)
L. Ron Hubbard (Contributor), Andrew Sonea (Illustrator), Vanessa Golitz (Illustrator), Cassandre Bolan (Illustrator), Michael Talbot (Illustrator), Kirbi Fagan (Illustrator), Bernardo Mota (Illustrator), Trevor Smith (Illustrator), Adam Brewster (Illustrator), Sarah Webb (Illustrator), Kristie Kim (Illustrator), Vicent-Michael Coviello (Illustrator), Seonhee Lim (Illustrator), Timothy Jordan (Author), C. Stuart Hardwick (Author), Oleg Kazantsev (Author), Megan E. O'Keefe (Author), Paul Eckheart (Author), Leena Likitalo (Author), Liz Colter (Author), Orson Scott Card (Author), Randy Henderson (Author), Mike Resnick (Author), Robert Silverberg (Author), Val Lindahn (Author), Dave Wolverton (Author), Terry Madden (Author), Amanda Forrest (Author), Anaea Lay (Author), K.C. Norton (Author), Shauna O'Meara (Author)
Science fiction, Fantasy
Galaxy Press
May 6, 2014
Paperback
400
Publisher Provided Copy

This is your window into incredible worlds of wizardry, warfare and wonder.

This is your escape into fantastic realms of the human mind lurking just beyond your imagination…and reaching deep into your wildest dreams.

This is your ticket to tomorrow.

Celebrate the future of science fiction and fantasy…now.

 

About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog PubliusOnline.com where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.