Five for Friday: Short Story Collections

You know how sometimes, you don’t have the energy to read a full length book, and you just want something shorter? Well, this rec list is for those times when you just want to dip into a collection of short stories, whether it’s by the same author or a collection from different authors. 



Guardian Angels and Other Monsters
Daniel H. Wilson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In “All Kinds of Proof,” a down-and-out drunk makes the unlikeliest of friends when he is hired to train a mail-carrying robot; in “Blood Memory,” a mother confronts the dangerous reality that her daughter will never assimilate in this world after she was the first child born through a teleportation device; in “The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever,” a physicist rushes home to be with his daughter after he hears reports of an atmospheric anomaly which he knows to be a sign of the end of the earth; in “Miss Gloria,” a robot comes back to life in many different forms in a quest to save a young girl. Guardian Angels and Other Monsters displays the depth and breadth of Daniel H. Wilson’s vision and examines how artificial intelligence both saves and destroys humanity. 

Comments

Daniel H. Wilson writes the best kind of robot dystopia fiction, so I knew I would like this collection even before I started reading it. I was not disappointed at all.



Invisible Planets
Hannu Rajaniemi

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Inside the firewall, the city is alive. Buildings breathe, cars attack, angels patrol, hyperintelligent pets rebel. 

This much-anticipated first collection from one of the world’s hottest SF authors contains seventeen stories, a neurofiction experiment, and a selection of his Twitter microfiction. 

How will human nature evolve when the only limit to desire is creativity? What happens when the distinction between humans and gods is as small as nanomachines or as large as the universe? Journeying deep into inner and outer space the stories collected here explore the future in all its complexity. 

Comments

Some of these stories are just plain weird, but somehow they all work really well. If you like kind of strange science fiction and dystopia, then this collection will be for you.



Star-Touched Stories
Roshani Chokshi

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Death and Night 

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes. 

Poison and Gold 

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram’s new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love. 

Rose and Sword 

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth? 

Comments

OK, so maybe you kind of need to have read the whole duology first, to know who the characters are at the very least, so this is a bit of a cheat, but it was still a really good collection of short stories. And you should definitely read the duology. 



Just Between Us
edited by Maya Linden

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Empathetic, supportive and respectful…
Or competitive, manipulative and downright bitchy? Or somewhere in between? 

In Just Between Us, a host of Australia’s best-loved female writers bare all on this age-old quandary: Are female friendships all-natural and nurturing? Or are some more damaging than delightful? And most of all, what happens when female relationships go off the rails? And who is to blame? While falling in and out of romantic love is a well-documented experience, losing a friend rarely gets discussed. Which doesn’t mean the pain is less – quite the opposite, as we discover in this extraordinary collection of heartfelt fiction and non-fiction works that put female friendship in the spotlight. 

Nikki Gemmell looks at the hardwiring that keeps us bonded in tightly knit packs, but makes us feel oh-so-claustrophic in mothers’ groups and at the school gate. Melina Marchetta reveals the peculiar shame of being overlooked for the high-status netball positions of Centre and Goal Attack. Liz Byrski conducts a forensic examination of her own friendship history, and finds some uncomfortable patterns. And Merridy Eastman pens a letter from Helena to Hermia from A Midsummer Night’s Dream , which shines the light on one of literature’s most famously dysfunctional female friendships. 

Comments

I might be a bit biased, because this collection contains a short story by Melina Marchetta, and I would read Marchetta’s goddamn shopping list, but it’s still an excellent collection – not only of fiction, but also essays. And it’s all about female friendships too. 



Invisible Planets
edited by Ken Liu

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Award-winning translator and author Ken Liu presents a collection of short speculative fiction from China. Some stories have won awards; some have been included in various ‘Year’s Best’ anthologies; some have been well reviewed by critics and readers; and some are simply Ken’s personal favorites. Many of the authors collected here (with the obvious exception of Liu Cixin) belong to the younger generation of ‘rising stars’. 

In addition, three essays at the end of the book explore Chinese science fiction. Liu Cixin’s essay, The Worst of All Possible Universes and The Best of All Possible Earths, gives a historical overview of SF in China and situates his own rise to prominence as the premier Chinese author within that context. Chen Qiufan’s The Torn Generation gives the view of a younger generation of authors trying to come to terms with the tumultuous transformations around them. Finally, Xia Jia, who holds the first Ph.D. issued for the study of Chinese SF, asks What Makes Chinese Science Fiction Chinese?. 

Comments

This is probably the most consistently good anthology by various authors that I’ve ever read. And there’s also going to be a second one published next year, that’ll hopefully be just as good.

That’s it from this week’s Five for Friday. What are your favourite short story collections? Are any of them on here?

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