Category Archives: Short Story Reviews

Goodreads for Short Stories?

55 Short Stories from the New Yorker
55 Short Stories from the New Yorker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a fan of Goodreads – even before the website came out I was toying with a similar idea – not so much for the social networking aspect of it – but more as a way to record the books I’d read. Previously I’d done such things by the use of spreadsheets, but obviously a website and app that you can access everywhere and has a database of published books makes that take a lot easier.

Why record what you’ve read?

For me it’s because I’d forget what I’ve read otherwise and be doomed to start reading or even buy something that I’d already read before. I tend to read quite a few books from the library, so a quick glance at a bookshelf doesn’t always solve the problem.

Also I think its good to be able to rate titles – for instance if you’ve read a book by one author and did or didn’t like it then the next time you’re tempted by another book of their’s you can see what you thought of their previous stuff.

I tend not to write long reviews though – usually just a simple rating suffices for me. I’m more likely to leave a brief note for myself on Goodreads if I really hated a book and why so I can remember to steer clear in the future.

Short Stories?

Which brings me onto short stories. If you read a short story collection or anthology, or even an issue of a short story magazine, there’s no way on Goodreads or similar sites of recording what you think about individual short stories. You can only rate the whole book. You could then write a detailed review of each story, but that’s quite laborious and also wouldn’t enable you to search your reading history by author or story title to see if you’ve read a story before and what you thought of it. Given that short stories can pop up in different anthologies I think it would be very useful to do so.

What’s to be done?

I think for short stories there needs to be some way to have short story level meta-data so you could actually tag a short story once you’ve read it and provide a simple rating or a review if you want to. Ideally this should be linked to your ereader software if you read ebooks – then you can just rate a story as you read a collection and update your database that way. I’m sure Amazon must be thinking of linking Goodreads in that way at a book level – how about at the short story level?

What do others think? Do you come across this problem as well?

The Homecoming by Mike Resnick, Asimov’s April/May 2011

Quick Short Story Review: The Homecoming by Mike Resnick

This story is a nominee for the 2012 Hugo awards, and as such I expected it to be a good read. And Mike Resnick doesn’t disappoint.

The Homecoming was a well crafted story about a prodigal son who returns home. This is a twist on the everyday story of kids falling out with their parents. In this case the son hasn’t returned because his parents (well his Dad really) can’t handle the fact that his love of science has lead him to turning himself into an alien in order to study them better.

He’s returned to the family home, where Dad is looking after his mother who is suffering from Dementia. The story is told from the first person point of view of the Dad, and shows how he comes to terms with what his son has become.

A well-told tale. Nothing earth-shattering, but you can see why it’s been nominated.

There’s a free PDF available of The Homecoming – I would recommend reading it if you like a good punchy Science Fiction story with an emotional pulse.

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The Purring of Cats by Dave Hoing, Interzone #207 December 2006

Quick Short Story Review: The Purring of Cats by Dave Hoing, Interzone #207

About a counselor who falls in love with his patient. In this case the patient is actually classed as a criminal as she has illegally had sex with an alien.

The writing was alright, although for me it didn’t really come alive. I thought the Science Fiction was rather superficial though – it could have been in any era from the twentieth century onwards – apart from mention of aliens and spaceships there was very little futurism, and the societal background could well have been swapped for any totalitarian state.

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