I will admit that I used to be prejudiced against short stories. I loved big books, the fatter the better. I liked to enter a world and not leave it for days and days. But reviewing has exposed me to more short story collections and I have come to realize that brevity can be beautiful. Instead of resenting the fact that in a collection I usually don’t love every single story, I have learned to appreciate the ones that work, and the great stories often hang in my mind long after I’ve closed a collection. You can dip in, enjoy a story or two, and set it aside – something I can’t really do with a novel, making story collections ideal for when I am crushed with other work.
Not only is the short story an important part of the tradition of several of my favorite blending genres – science fiction, fantasy, horror and mystery all have story-heavy pulp roots – but it’s especially well-suited for blends in some ways. Whimsical or unsual blends that would wear out their welcome if stretched to 300+ pages sparkle like dainty jewels in short form. You could get blends in single author collections, especially from authors known for blending like Caitlin Kiernan or Neil Gaiman (try Fragile Things for a terrific horror take on Sherlock Holmes, as just one fun example). But there are dozens of anthologies that give readers a taste of popular authors in blended genres with stories in their established worlds. If these kinds of collections are your catnip, you can find a more complete list over at goodreads or The Best Reviews, but I’ve picked out a few that I have enjoyed or which feature more unusual blends. Between themed anthologies and single author collections with some quirky blended selections, short story collections can be a great way to try a blend. (more…)