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5 Reasons to Read Short Speculative Fiction Anthologies

It’s no secret to readers here that I like reading short fiction. Over at the Kirkus Reviews blog, I discuss why…using my recent read of Gardner Dozois’ The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Second Annual Collection as an example along the way.

Check out 5 Reasons to Read Short Speculative Fiction Anthologies.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

3 Comments on 5 Reasons to Read Short Speculative Fiction Anthologies

  1. Peter Nel // October 22, 2015 at 1:53 am //

    I agree with John—a lot of people look uncomfortable when I tell them I’m reading an anthology, or if I suggest that they read one.

    And yet, in speculative fiction, that’s virtually all I read. It’s become my main pastime. I love the fascination of a long list of intriguing titles and the option to dip in somewhere that looks interesting (rather than starting at the beginning).

    I also love the fact that I can go to bed after midnight, pick up a book, and finish a story before I get too sleepy (although I have to admit it took me three nights to finish a novelette earlier this week!).

    I index all my anthologies and collections, and make a brief note about each story—you more or less have to, otherwise you’ll never remember what you read before, and many new anthologies have stories that overlap with ones you read years ago.

    This means that reading an anthology is relatively hard work; it takes me a lot longer to get through a 400 page anthology than a novel of the same length. I suspect that having to “start over” every 20 pages or so is off-putting to a lot of people.

    Most SF/fantasy readers seem to be at the other end of the scale: not only do they want novels; they want series of novels. I disdain their reading habits. To me, series readers are lazy. They want to read almost exactly the same thing in book after book.

    So when I see kids excitedly discussing the latest “sci fi” epic at the local bookstore (usually they would be poring over the fourteenth volume of some saga with a hooded figure on the cover), I like to tell them that there are only one or two real science fiction books available there. And I would then point out a lonely volume titled “The Best …” or “The Year’s Best …”

    For me, that’s where the heart of the genre has always been, and always will be.

  2. Agreed on the length of time to read a book with the same number of pages. For each story. there is that slow ramp-up time to get accustomed to a story (plot, world, writing style, etc.). That happens once in a novel, but once for every story in an anthology.

  3. ” I love the fascination of a long list of intriguing titles and the option to dip in somewhere that looks interesting (rather than starting at the beginning).”

    This times a hundred. My enjoyment of anthologies skyrocketed when I realized I could read the stories in any order I wanted (much to the sorrow of the editors, I’m sure).

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