How short is a good short story?
Authors tend to get sold on the idea that a “good” book is a huge tome running 300 pages or more, and taking a half a year just to write.
Yet the greatest writers I’ve chased up have started out with short stories first.
But no one I’ve talked to has said how long or short a short story needs to be – other than “just as long as it takes to tell the story”.
These “Short Flights” books are each designed to examine the short stories that are less than 6,000 words. We start with the shortest and then move along to those Golden Age Space Opera Tales that are nudging up against that upper limit.
All so you can decide for yourself if any story really has to be that long…
Space Opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology.
The term has no relation to music, as in a traditional opera, but is instead a play on the terms “soap opera”, a melodramatic television series, and “horse opera”, which was coined during the 1930s to indicate a formulaic Western movie. Space operas emerged in the 1930s and continue to be produced in literature, film, comics, television, and video games.
The Golden Age of Pulp Magazine Fiction derives from pulp magazines (often referred to as “the pulps”) as they were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the late 1950s. The term pulp derives from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. In contrast, magazines printed on higher-quality paper were called “glossies” or “slicks”.
The pulps gave rise to the term pulp fiction. Pulps were the successors to the penny dreadfuls, dime novels, and short-fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many writers wrote for pulps, the magazines were proving grounds for those authors like Robert Heinlein, Louis L’Amour, “Max Brand”, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, and many others. The best writers moved onto longer fiction required by paperback publishers. Many of these authors have never been out of print, even long after their passing.
Alien Equivalent by Richard Rein Smith
The Brides Of Ool by M. A. Cummings
Earthbound by Lester Del Rey
Two Timer by Fredric Brown
The Natives by Katherine MacLean
Earthmen Bearing Gifts by Fredric Brown
Guest Expert by Allen Kim Lang
Song in a Minor Key by C. L. Moore
Dogfight—1973 by Mack Reynolds
The Moon and the Sun by James McKimmey
Belly Laugh by Randall Garrett
The Eyes Have It by Philip K. Dick
The Masked World by Jack Williamson
Grim Green World by Roger D. Aycock
Keep Out by Fredric Brown
The God-Plllnk by Jerome Bixby
The Happy Homicide by Frank Banta
The Happy Castaway by Emmett McDowell
Beside Still Waters by Robert Sheckley
The Recluse by Mike Curry
A Bad Town for Spacemen by Robert Scott
Moment of Truth by Basil Wells
The Wheel is Death by Roger D. Aycock
Black-out by Joseph Farrell
1,492,633 Marlon Brandos by Vance Aandahl
An All-American Plague by Teddy Keller
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