The short story form is one of the staples of science-fiction and, arguably, has given it its greatest expression and continue to be popular to this day.
With just a week to go until Solaris Rising 2 launches at Waterstones Gower Street in London, editor Ian Whates has spoken to Upcoming4.me about the story behind this latest collection and about his love of short SF stories: "In the mid-2000s, when I first became involved in the SF community, there was a lot of talk about the short story being a dying form – sales of such flagship magazines as Asimov’s and Analog had fallen alarmingly. In retrospect, I’m not sure the threat was ever that great. While readership undoubtedly declined to some extent, I think much of it simply moved elsewhere, as the internet provided new formats and venues."
So, reports of the death of short stories were greatly exaggerated - but what is it about the short story that makes such a staple form of SF? Previous anthologies like Solaris Rising, The End of the Line and Magic have all explored different aspects on the given theme. So maybe that's it - rather than short stories in general, perhaps it's anthologies and their ability to explore multiple aspects of the same idea within one book? Different authors, different ideas, different takes.
I've always loved SF short stories - I grew up reading the short works of Issac Asimov in chunky collections, invariably bought from second hand book stores and smelling of a combination of dust and tobacco smoke. Because different editions were released over a number of years, I could never keep track of what I had read and what I hadn't, but one always stood out - Runaround. I won't spoil the plot but it's the first time Asimov explicitly mentioned his Three Laws of Robotics.
I loved it because it was simple, yet in a few short pages the grand master of SF managed to illustrate some insanely complicated ideas about free will, computer programming, space travel, mining, engineering, and morality.
That's why I love it - it can often impose a restriction on the author that promotes brevity, clarity, and not a small amount of wit.
Mike the PR guy