A modest proposal: Short science fiction month

One of the great things about the art form of written science fiction is that, at it’s heart, it’s all about the short story. I love the short story form and I have science fiction to thank for that. I love the limits that it imposes, the challenge it provides. A short story, like a minimalist painting, can be so much with so little.

Usually, the Big Three s.f. magazines have lots of novelettes and novellas, and a handful of short stories. The differences between a short story, novelette and novella are more or less arbitrary and probably don’t matter to most people. Most people consider this all to be “short” fiction. But currently, I’m in a short story kind of mood and would like to see more of them. Part of the reason I think that we don’t see more of them is because they are so hard to do well. The more room you have, the less compression is required, the bigger the canvas, the more paint that can be applied.

Still, I think the Big Three should band together for a “Short science fiction month”, and what better month than February. In that month, I’d like to see issues of the Big Three with nothing but short science fiction stories, that is, stories that are 6,500 words or less. Aside from having 8-10 stories in each magazine that month, it would be interesting to see our genre flex its literary muscles and show just what can be done in an art form that would be long dead were it not for science fiction.


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