Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published July 4th 2019
Quick reads for a busy lifestyle
A drabble is a piece of writing exactly 100 words long. It has become something of a popular form in recent years as story-tellers attempt to tell an entire coherent story within the drabble's limitations.
For those playing at home, the word "drabble" comes from a Monty Python book, and yet its comedic beginnings have been all but forgotten as some amazing works of 100 words have been produced. Many examples exist online – The Horror Tree prints a few each week – but now books are being produced that consist entirely of this work form.
Worlds from Black Hare Press, edited by D. Kershaw, is a collection of over 300 drabbles, all with a science fiction bent.
This sort of a book is really good. It is an easy read, with a new story on each page. A friend of mine describes it as perfect bathroom reading for that very reason. But it is also the sort of book you can easily read on public transport or while having a snack at work or something like that. I have a friend who likes to read them during each commercial break when she is watching television. You can read as many or as few as you like or that you have time for. There is no reason to finish part way through a tale, so if you don't get back to it for a little while, you will not have lost track of the story you were reading. Books of drabbles are quite good for those people who are time poor and yet want an escape.
Now, to Worlds.
Okay, first, some negatives. I kept tabs of this as I read it – 21 of the stories either did not make sense or I did not like. Less than 10%; for this type of a book, that's a pretty damn good strike rate. Then there were a number of stories that examined exactly the same themes in almost the same way. And finally, there were a couple that did not feel like actual stories, just opening paragraphs or incomplete in other ways, or else synopses of longer works.
Positives: the editing was top-notch. I think I found only five mistakes in the whole book, which is stunning (the last book I bought from a big name publisher had 5 mistakes in the first chapter!). Second, the little illustrations were a nice touch, dotted throughout the book. Third, some of the ideas explored in the very short stories were quite deep and it is amazing what can be brought out in just 100 words.
The positives far, far outweigh the negatives. See, that is another joy of a book of drabbles – if you don't like a story, it will be over very, very soon and you can go straight on to the next one. And, as regular readers will have guessed, the fact I am writing about it indicates that I do actually like it.
Now, there are way too many stories for me to detail all of them, and if I don't like one, I don't really want to upset the author. Authors were allowed a maximum of five stories in the book, and so special mention should be made of Jefferson Retallack whose 5 stories were placed together because not only do they stand alone, but they also read through as chapters of one long drabble story. Well done.
Anyway, here are my 25 favourites in the order they appear in the book:
'At The End' by Allen Stroud is a story with that really nice twist at the end that makes these sorts of things so satisfying.
'Drones' by Matt Lucas might not even be science fiction but a statement of pure fact…
'Immigration' by Alanah Andrews is a nice twist on the Ancient Astronauts theme.
'Castaway' by Adam Bennett is a well-written play on an old trope.
'Goodbye, For Now' by Andrew Anderson is a sad play on a trope used in many films over the years.
'Whispers On The Breeze' is a differently written aliens came to get us tale, and well done for that.
'Far From Home' by G. Allen Wilbanks is a desolate piece that is amazingly emotive for 100 words.
'Fruitless' by Rich Rurshell is a great take on the finding hostile aliens trope.
'A Waste Of Life' by Stuart Conover is an Earth invasion story that is mirrored by many others in the collection, but is told really well.
'No Meaning In A Vacuum' by Shawn M. Klimek is a well-written tale that explores something not mentioned in any other story.
'Hive Mind' by J. Farrington is a freaky little invasion story with a great ending.
'Midday' by D.M. Burdett is a quite cool take on the whole aliens eating trope.
'The Old Rusty Fence' by Hari Navarro is something that many sci-fi tales do – it mirrors our own world and does so simply and starkly.
'Contemplation' by S. Gepp is a depressing tale of space exploration.
'Key' by Adam Bennett is a really different take on the mega-weapon trope.
'Paradise' by Crystal L. Kirkham is a great take on the colonising a different planet tale, nicely written.
'Frank's Baby' by Rich Rurshell is an odd tale of an alien parasite and where the human mind tends to go.
'The Ark' by Brandy Bonifas looks at a trope examined often throughout the book, but with a really well-written denouement.
'Black Hole' by G. Allen Wilbanks is a sort of depressing look at a science exploration gone a little wrong…
'Evaluation' by Joel R. Hunt is a cool and different take on the alien abduction tale. This is probably my favourite tale in the book.
'The Best That Money Can Buy' by Diane Arrelle is a weird take on the alien pet story, like something out of an old Amazing Tales comic.
'Overpopulation' by G. Allen Wilbanks is a story about… well, it's there in the title. But I didn't get it until the very end. Nicely done.
'My Four Fathers' by Sinister Sweetheart is, again, there in the title, and is really well done.
'Jason's Late-Night Jog' by Stuart Conover is a creepy tale of aliens and a human.
'Space Battle' by Owen Morgan is a quickie about a space fight… with the ending causing a groan but bringing a smile to the face.
You may notice more than one author appears multiple times. As I was taking notes, I didn't really pay attention to this, but as I typed this up and realised, I guess it shows some authors resonated with me more than others.
Again, these were my 25 favourites. Talking online to someone else who has read it, we agree with about two-thirds of this list, so there really is something for everyone.