Story Collection

These are collections of stories by one author.

The Secret Sharer and Other Stories: Silverberg achieves greatness

The Secret Sharer and Other Stories by Robert Silverberg

The Secret Sharer and Other Stories by Robert Silverberg is available on Audible and offers a top-notch performance by Robertson Dean. The title is a little misleading, I think. There are only three selections included, and only one is a short story. The other two seem to be novellas. However, based on the way Silverberg’s works have been repackaged and republished over the years, even those distinctions are difficult to make: For example, We Are for the Dark is included in both his collected short stories volume seven, We Are for the Dark: 1987-1990, and in the collection Sailing to Byzantium: Six Novellas. In listening to all three selections, I noticed that The Secret Sharer and We Are for the Dark are both much longer than "Good News from the Vatican." The short story is a good one, but I absolutely loved the two... Read More

Incredible Adventures: Savor it slowly

Incredible Adventures by Algernon Blackwood

Algernon Blackwood’s Incredible Adventures was first released in book form in 1914, and is comprised of three novellas and two short stories. The literary critic and scholar S.T. Joshi has called this book "perhaps the greatest weird collection of all time," and while I do not pretend to be well read enough to concur in that evaluation, I will say that the book is beautifully written... and certainly weird, in Blackwood's best manner.

The five pieces in Incredible Adventures are almost impossible to categorize. They're not exactly horror or fantasy tales, but they all share one thing in common: In all of them, Algernon Blackwood — lover of Nature (with a capital "N") and ever one to seek for the ultimate reality behind the surfaces of what we seem to know — gives us characters who are bettered for their glimpses behind "reality's" curtain. This is not an easy book t... Read More

Waldo & Magic, Inc: Two early stories from Heinlein

Waldo & Magic, Inc by Robert A. Heinlein

Waldo & Magic, Inc is a collection of two seemingly unrelated stories by Robert A. Heinlein (though both involve magic “lose in the world”). I listened to the recent audio version produced by Brilliance Audio. MacLeod Andrews, who I always like, narrates. William H. Patterson Jr provides an introduction to the stories and Tim Powers provides an afterword.

The first story, “Waldo,” was originally published in Astounding Magazine in 1942 under Heinlein’s penname, Anson MacDonald. The titular character is a man who has myasthenia gravis, a disease which leaves him physically very weak. Waldo’s brain, however, is in fine working order. He has been able to compensate somewhat for his unusable body by developing remote manipulators to do his work for him. In fact, he’s known on Earth as a mechanical genius and has become rich because of his inventions. (Interesting ... Read More

The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg Volume One: To Be Continued 1953-1958

The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg Volume One: To Be Continued 1953-1958 by Robert Silverberg

Though To Be Continued: 1953-1958 is the first official volume of the definitive collection of Robert Silverberg's short stories, it should be read after In the Beginning: Tales from the Pulp Era (1955-1959), a collection of short stories that overlaps with To Be Continued only in terms of chronology: There are absolutely no stories duplicated in the two volumes, and in To Be Continued, Silverberg makes frequent reference to In the Beginning which, like To Be Continued, has the same autobiographical introductions to every story.

Having now read these first two volumes, I am fairly certain Silverberg would want readers to finish In the Be... Read More

Dangerous Space: Gorgeous short stories

Dangerous Space by Kelley Eskridge

Dangerous Space is a revelation. I had no idea these gorgeous short stories were out there. Put me on the list of people who will now read absolutely everything Kelley Eskridge writes, because if these are characteristic of her work, I want it all.

Eskridge often makes creativity her subject, writing movingly about various forms of art, especially music. The opening story, “Strings,” posits a world in which the classical composers are revered so completely that any deviation from their scores, note by note, tempo by tempo, is punishable by loss of employment, and apparently by loss of the right to make music at all. Master musicians are named for their instruments, so that the world’s best violinist is known only as “Stradivarius,” the best pianist as “Steinway.” Being an instrument carries with it great prestige and wealth, but the musician who is cursed with an imaginatio... Read More

In the Beginning: Tales from the Pulp Era by Robert Silverberg

In the Beginning: Tales from the Pulp Era by Robert Silverberg

I've been enjoying reading Silverberg's early story collections lately, and I particularly enjoy that he, like his friend Harlan Ellison in his story collections, includes not only an autobiographical introduction to the book, but also memoir pieces before every story. As a result, his collections become two books in one: part short story collection and part portrait of the artist.To be honest, I think I like both parts equally.

In the Beginning: Tales from the Pulp Era consists of sixteen stories written from 1955 to 1959. It overlaps in time period with To Be Continued (1953-1958): Volume One of The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg (the definitive collection); however, the two books do not print any of the same stories.For Silverberg fans, then, both books are essential... Read More

The Compleat Crow: Short stories of Lumley’s master occultist

The Compleat Crow by Brian Lumley

Subterranean Press has gathered a collection of Brian Lumley’s stories in The Compleat Crow. As you’d expect, nearly all these tales feature Lumley’s occult detective, Titus Crow.

Crow is the main character of a couple of novels by Lumley. He is a “white wizard,” a force for good who struggles mostly against those in league with the Cthulhu-cycle elder gods. Lumley’s style skates between Lovecraft-lite and an almost Holmesian tone. These eleven short stories were published mostly in the UK and range from 1969 to the early 1980s. Most involve Crow as the main character. Some are third-person; in some Crow is the first-person narrator, telling his own tale, and in a few he is the story-teller, relating events that have nothing to do with him. Notably, two tales use a third person narrator that is not Crow.

“Inception,” the first story in the book, follows a fugitive ... Read More

Horrible Monday: Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft

Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft  H.P. Lovecraft

In the mood for some Eldritch horror? Feel like steeping yourself in Lovecraft’s frightening nihilistic dream worlds? Want to be read to by some of the world’s best story readers? Then give Blackstone Audio’s version of Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft a try. It collects Lovecraft’s entire Dream Cycle in 20 hours of high-quality audio narrated by some of my favorite readers including Robertson Dean, Simon Vance, Sean Runnette, Elijah Alexander, Stefan Rudnicki, Bronson Pinchot, Simon Prebble, Tom Weiner, Malcolm Hillgartner, and Patrick Cullen.

Here are the stories. (I’ve linked them to the excellent Lovecraft Archive where you can read them for free since they’re in the public domain, but please consider this audio version, because it’s really excellent):
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Born With the Dead: Three shorter pieces from one of science fiction’s best

Born With the Dead: Three Novellas About the Spirit of Man by Robert Silverberg

Born With the Dead gathers together three of Robert Silverberg's mid-career science fiction novellas into one remarkably fine collection. With a length greater than a short story or novelette but shorter than a full-length novel, these three tales clock in at around 55 to 70 pages each, and all display the intelligence, word craft and abundance of detail common to all of Silverberg's work in the late '60s to mid-'70s. Although subtitled "Three Novellas About the Spirit of Man" on its original 1974 release, the collection features a trio of tales that, strive as I might, I cannot find a common denominator among. Two of the stories concern how mankind deals with the subject of death, while the third has man's relation to religion and God as its central theme. OK, I HAVE thought of some commonalities among all three: They are all wonderful exemplars of modern-day sci... Read More

Horrible Monday: Eldritch Tales: A Miscellany of the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft

Eldritch Tales: A Miscellany of the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft

For those who just can’t get enough Lovecraft, Blackstone Audio has just released this lovely collection of a significant portion of his work. It contains 56 of his horror stories, poems, letter excerpts, and essays. Notably missing are his longer works (e.g., “At the Mountains of Madness” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”) and a few of his most popular short stories which are so often collected elsewhere (e.g., “The Call of Cthulhu,” and “The Dunwich Horror”).

Most of the stories in Eldritch Tales: A Miscellany of the Macabre are vaguely related to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, or at least his general premise that the universe is inhabited by a race of horrible ancient gods who sleep but are occasionally awakened by cultish worshipers from the darker regions of our planet... worshipers who usually eventually go mad.

Here are the stories... Read More

The Bread We Eat in Dreams: A mythological menagerie

The Bread We Eat in Dreams by Catherynne Valente

The Bread We Eat in Dreams contains thirty-five of Catherynne Valente’s short stories and novellas, caught out in the wild and arranged neatly for the paying public. Ranging from delicate, herbivorous poems to novella-sized megafauna, these creatures display the ecological diversity of the Phylum of the Fantastic and the continued resonance of the Kingdom of Myth. For gentlemen-scientists and enthusiastic students of all things speculative, Valente’s story-menagerie is worth the visit.

Thirty-five stories cannot be summarized in any meaningful sense, particularly when they are such willful, strange, and wild stories. There are warped retellings of fairytales — at least one witch plucks an apple from a tree, and little red riding hood has grown awfully postmodern and bitter over the years (“The Red Girl”). There are dystopian future-worlds ruled by women with a hundred ha... Read More

All You Zombies: Five classic stories by Heinlein

All You Zombies: Five Classic Stories by Robert A. Heinlein by Robert A. Heinlein

All You Zombies: Five Classic Stories by Robert A. Heinlein is a short (3 hours) audio collection of five speculative fiction stories written by Robert A. Heinlein and read by Spider Robinson. I like it a lot. This is a diverse set of tales (fantasy, science fiction, magic realism) that display some of Heinlein’s favorite themes as well as some aspects of Heinlein’s imagination that you may miss if you’ve read only his more popular novels. Here are the stories in All You Zombies:

“All You Zombies” — (first published in the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1958) A man in a bar is telling his strange story to the bartender. It involves a lonely orphan girl, a hermaphrodite, a sex change, and a kidnapped baby. And then it gets stranger. And since it’s Heinlein, there’s even some incest, but of the weirdest ... Read More

Horrible Monday: The House of Souls by Arthur Machen

The House of Souls: The Best of Arthur Machen by Arthur Machen

I had been wanting to check out Arthur Machen's 1906 collection of short stories, entitled The House of Souls, for quite some time; ever since I had read two highly laudatory pieces written about this work and its author. The first was H.P. Lovecraft's comments in his widely referred to essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature," in which he claims "Of living creators of cosmic fear raised to its most artistic pitch, few if any can hope to equal the versatile Arthur Machen." And, in Jones & Newman's excellent overview volume Horror: 100 Best Books, T.E.D. Klein, in his essay on The House... Read More

Tales from Earthsea: Fills in gaps in the EARTHSEA mythos

Tales from Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

In 1972 Ursula Le Guin completed The Farthest Shore and felt the EARTHSEA series was finished at three books. However, in 1994 she published Tehanu:The Last Book of Earthsea in an attempt to revise the gender and social roles she’d laid out in that original trilogy. Based on the title, this too was supposed to be the be-all, end-all. Apparently not satisfying enough; 2001 saw Le Guin publishing two additional books in the EARTHSEA CYCLE, The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea, that both complement and redress the original books. The former rounds out the entirety of Earthsea’s story into a nice whole, the latter is a collection of short stories that fills certain gaps Le Guin identified in Earthsea’s mythos. Here is a loose breakdown of those stories.

“The Finder” — The opening story in the collection tells of the boy Otter, his im... Read More

The God Tattoo: For the fans, not the newcomer

The God Tattoo: Untold Tales from the Twilight Reign by Tom Lloyd

Tom Lloyd shares stories from before his TWILIGHT REIGN series in this collection, The God Tattoo: Untold Tales from the Twilight Reign. I read it because I thought you didn’t have to have read any of the TWILIGHT REIGN books in order to understand what was going on. I would say that’s not strictly true. My ignorance of the series definitely hampered my enjoyment of these pieces.

These eleven stories follow various characters in the city and nation of Narkang in a land called The Land. Several seem to take place at or near the site of an epic battle in the past, which the last elf king Aryn Bwr (“Aaron Burr?”) lost badly, and which seems to be cursed now. Lloyd’s writing is reminiscent at times of a number of dark fantasy writers from the 1980s, most notably Karl Edward Wagner. Once in a while he nearly channels Read More

The Green Hills of Earth: A still enjoyable sojourn into Heinlein’s early work

The Green Hills of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein

I grew up a part of the baby boomer generation of young geeks that discovered science fiction around what the famous quote (attributed to one Peter Graham, later publicized and re-quoted by many, many others) said is the best age: “The Golden Age of Science Fiction is twelve.” For me and many others it was around that age that I was voraciously devouring a host of science fiction and fantasy writers, including Isaac Asimov, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Andre Norton, just to name a few. I loved each of the authors whose works I discovered during my pre-teen reading years, and it would probably be hard to say who my favorite is now that I’m older and look... Read More

The Voice from the Edge Volume 3: Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes

The Voice from the Edge Volume 3: Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes by Harlan Ellison & Robert Bloch

This is the third collection of Harlan Ellison’s short stories which he has narrated himself. Each of these Voice from the Edge audiobooks is quite excellent. I can’t say that I like every story — some of them are just to gross for me — but I can say that Ellison is a great storyteller and that there’s no better way to read his stories than to listen to him read them to you.

This collection contains:

“Between Heaven and Hell” — (first published in 1994 in Mind Fields: The Art of Jacek Yerka, the Fiction of Harlan Ellison) This is a very short piece (3 minutes) in which Ellison juxtaposes the wonderful and aw... Read More

Tell My Sorrows to the Stones: A portrait of the writer through stories

Tell My Sorrows to the Stones by Christopher Golden

Christopher Golden says in his introduction to Tell My Sorrows to the Stones (a quotation from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, perhaps Shakespeare’s cruelest play), “A collection of short stories is like the strange history of a period in a writer’s life[.]” This crystallized my thinking about short story collections, as I become more and more of a reader of short science fiction, fantasy and horror: a collection gives you a picture of a writer, and that writer’s concerns, at a particular time in his or her life. Not that there is anything autobiographical in the themes and variations; a writer's imagination is his or her imagination, not his or her life. But the attentive reader will note that in a collection the same situations arise (such as... Read More

Horrible Monday: Extremities by David Lubar

Extremities by David Lubar

On the back of my copy of Extremities, a new collection of horror by David Lubar, the author bluntly states, “This is not a book for children. Let me clear about that.”  Because much of his other work is so clearly aimed at children, I can see why Lubar feels the need to highlight this. Especially as there are some references to drugs and some graphic violence. But while I agree the book isn’t for “children,” I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone much older thirteen or fourteen, forming a relatively narrow audience.

The thirteen stories in Extremities, all centered on teen protagonists caught up in plots involving revenge, murder, magic, and strange creatures are uniformly dark, which one would expect from a horror collection. But they’re also surprisingly and unfortunately uniformly un-scary. I can’t say one ever truly gave me a shiver, a shock, or even a mildly cree... Read More

How the World Became Quiet: Wish I’d discovered Swirsky sooner

How the World Became Quiet: Myths of the Past, Present, and Future by Rachel Swirsky

I don’t read a lot of short stories, so it isn’t surprising that Rachel Swirsky wasn’t on my radar. Stories and novellas are what she is best known for. Subterranean Press has gathered 18 of her works into this collection, How the World Became Quiet.

Swirsky also writes poetry, which explains both her precise use of prose and her mastery of tone. This collection ranges from masterworks to pieces that are, in my opinion, interesting experiments. The book is broken into four sections; Past, Present, Future and The End, and the stories follow that, generally speaking; fantastical stories that could be set in Earth’s past or exist as folktales; stories set roughly speaking in the present day; tales, both science fiction and fantastical set in Earth’s future, and stories that discuss event during or after human extinction.
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