Sunday, June 3, 2012

Short Story of the Week (June 2012)


Back in March of 2010, when I started moderating the discussion of a short science fiction story each week, I didn't know much about short stories, but I knew that the stories we used had to be available online for FREE or the whole thing really wasn't going to work. One of the first websites that became a real resource for me was Best Science Fiction Stories because it not only had links to the stories online, but it also had reviews of the stories. Anyway, one day Rusty the man behind Best Science Fiction Stories joined my message board and at first I admit I felt like we had a celebrity in our ranks. But now I've gotten to know him a little bit and I no longer feel intimidated, now I feel like he's one of the guys.

Rusty is picking this month's short stories; here is what he had to say about himself:


Rusty is a person whose life is entwined with and dependent upon the Internet. Not only does he make his living as a web developer, but he uses the World Wide Web to further his passion of reading novels, short stories, comic books and ethnographies. (And he considers the Internet the ultimate way to do his Christmas shopping as well!) 

His first love affair with reading started with fantasy novels: "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant," however once he discovered the great Asimov he has only had eyes for science fiction.  He considers the "Foundation" series to be the greatest science fiction novels ever written, followed closely by the books of several other great SF authors, including Gene Wolf, Alastair Reynolds and China Mieville.

You can find Rusty reviewing a science fiction short story each week at his web site Best Science Fiction Stories, or you can learn more about him on his somewhat new and only occasionally updated personal web site The Rusty Boat.

Week # 1-  "Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain" by Yoon Ha Lee (2010)

This is the story of an old woman who possesses an ancient weapon that is both extremely powerful and exquisitely unique. I read this story last year when I was a pre-judge for The Million Writers Award, and it has stuck with me ever since. And apparently I'm not the only one who liked it, because it was a finalist for the 2011 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and it also appeared in 4 best of anthologies for 2010! An unbelievably cool story from an author whom I had never read before! This story, about some very creative weapons, was an absolute joy to read, and my only complaint was that it was too short! I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves great science fiction – you won’t be disappointed. 

Week # 2 "A Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury (1952)

Well, I had different story all picked out for this week, but in light of Ray Bradbury's passing I figured it would be appropriate to honor his memory by reading one of his short stories. This is the story of a man who travels back in time to hunt a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and the "little" mistake he makes while there. I first read this story in English class over 20 years as a sophomore in high school. I was blown away by it, and it helped spur my lifelong love affair with science fiction short stories. So, yeah, you could say it influenced me a little bit!

Week # 3 "Discerning Women" by William Highsmith (2009)

This week is a bit of a break as we take a look at a flash fiction piece about a woman who is called in for a bizarre interview by the ruling Braxian aliens. This is a funny story and is only a few pages long - so relax and let it put a smile on your face.  Then come back here and tell us what you thought of this little gem!

Week # 4 "Little Lost Robot" by Paul J. McAuley (2008) 
A story about a huge robotic war machine that cruises the galaxy destroying all intelligent life forms it can find.
Here are some orders of magnitude for seconds that may come in handy when reading the story:
120 Kiloseconds = 33 hours 20 minutes
.6 terraseconds = 19,013 years
1 terrasecond = 31,688 years
81.577 terraseconds = 2,585,012 years

Week # 5 Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Mike Resnick (2001)

It is about a company that creates a genetically engineered animal that will solve all the world's hunger problems... if people can overlook one small thing...

Book cover is from is from Books Should Be Free


  1. I'm glad you got a photo of Rusty because it corrects very wrong image of him as a very old man with white hair.

  2. Thanks for the kind words John! That was funny about the "celebrity" part - you can still think of me as one if you want to... but I'm afraid you'll be the only one!

    @Jim: Old man? With white hair?? I know I'm wise beyond my years, but I hope you'll now realize that I'm just a very wise young guy! ;-)


  3. I guess I thought since you loved such old SF that you'd be old yourself.