Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi
Published by Subterranean Press
Publication Date : December 31st, 2016
Available as eBook & hardback – 144 Pages
Source : NetGalley (thank you!)
The ex-planet Pluto has a few choice words about being thrown out of the solar system. A listing of alternate histories tells you all the various ways Hitler has died. A lawyer sues an interplanetary union for dangerous working conditions. And four artificial intelligences explain, in increasingly worrying detail, how they plan not to destroy humanity.
Welcome to Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi.
These four stories, along with fourteen other pieces, have one thing in common: They’re short, sharp, and to the point—science fiction in miniature, with none of the stories longer than 2,300 words. But in that short space exist entire universes, absurd situations, and the sort of futuristic humor that propelled Scalzi to a Hugo with his novel Redshirts. Not to mention yogurt taking over the world (as it would).
John Scalzi has always been a winner for me. There are just some authors I can read and it’s… comfortable? I guess that’s definitely what you’d call a comfort read author. Typically with him I know what I’m going to get and I get it plus a little more. I trust he’s not going to do something horrific or offensive to me, and so I’m just ready to have a good time. Miniatures was exactly what I wanted (and let’s be real, needed this year around November time). Bite sized Scalzi stories to make the days better.
I read one or two of these a day, they were all super short little things as the title indicates, but all of them were light and fun. They helped to bring a smile to my face each day. Though I wouldn’t say that there are any drop dead amazing ones in there, I’d say this collection has a consistently good level to it. All of these were good with a few I really, really enjoyed. That’s impressive for a short story collection, especially so for one with stories that were so short! Some of these were hardly more than 5 or 6 pages. It’s hard to fit a good story in that short a format.
By far my favorite (and really, if John Scalzi was to start a weekly blog of these little columns I’d read it religiously) was Alien Animal Encounters. He talks something common and ups it, injecting that science fiction flair into it. People are simply writing in to a publication talking about their encounters with alien animals, some of them aliens writing about OUR animals (that particular story made me laugh out loud in the office, which is fine, my coworkers already think I’m a little special in the head). A+ on that one, this is the kind of stuff I really love reading in my SF/F magazines and collections.
The close second to that is Pluto Tells All. Again with the common cultural thing, this time confession stories/blogs, but turned into something better. I definitely got a chuckle out of this, especially since I watched the Pluto debate with some mild interest when it was pressing news (though, to confess, it was only because Sailor Pluto was my favorite Sailor Scout of Sailor Moon so I felt some sort of weird fangirl allegiance too it).
There was a great series of interviews with Superhero/villain schedulers, a sentient yogurt, an employee memo about alien encounters daily in a grocery store (I would work in that grocery store), and the series of tweets about the airplane gremlins (this was also solid gold). This stuff is what I like to read and recharge on. The current climate can get pretty… dim with all the changes coming down the pipes for us. It’s things like this that keep me going honestly. I really, really enjoyed this collection and really recommend it if you’re like me in that respect. Miniature injections of happy juice.
Note – I’m not sure if the hardback is available anymore (pretty sure it is) since Sub Press does limited runs but you can definitely find the eBook. Their catalog has links out to your chosen platform.