Sunday Shorts – Discovery: QSF’s Second Annual Flash Fiction Contest anthology

I often feel very self-serving when I talk about anthologies in which I have a story included. I generally discuss them without mentioning my story at all. In this particular case, not including myself there are over a hundred other authors, so I’m feeling very little shame in talking about this anthology.

The blurb really covers the structure, so here it is: The rules are simple enough. Write a complete story—either sci fi, fantasy, or paranormal. Make sure it has LGBT characters and/or an LGBT vibe. And do it all with just 300 words.

The stories in this volume run the gamut, from platypus shifters to alien slug monsters, from carnival horror stories to haunting stories of ships with souls. There are little jokes, big surprises, and future prognostications.

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Discovery, from Mischief Corner Books

Broken into a few chapters, each of these flash fiction pieces clocks in at 300 words or less. There are two sections of Science Fiction that bracket sections of Fantasy, Horror, and the Paranormal. With over a hundred entries, I can honestly say there’ll be something in here you’ll enjoy. As we all know how squeamish I can be about horror, there was a whole section I was actively dreading, frankly, but even that piece had entries that caught my attention and made me smile.

Are there reoccurring themes? Yes and no – I noticed quite a bit of romance tied into the various flash fiction pieces, and there was a larger ‘G’ component from the LGBTQ spectrum than any of the other letters (though I was super-stoked to see an Ace story, and that’s not to say there were no L’s or B’s or T’s in there).

Here’s the thing, though – I’m not usually a reader of flash fiction, and I have to admit that reading it was quite relaxing. Maybe that’s not the right word for it – there was not a lot of effort required. Each story was there so briefly that I got to enjoy it and smile, and then I was ready to turn the page or turn out the light (it was my bedside book for a couple of weeks) and I didn’t have to remember anything for my next reading of the book.

It’s fun to read that way. I couldn’t do it every time, but I really appreciated the book for the opportunity to do so. Especially while my house is under renovation and concentration is limited, this was the perfect book. It’d be great for a book-bag, work breaks, or any other “Catch-as-catch-can” reading time.

And even when I didn’t connect completely with a story it wasn’t a big deal. Investment wise, I’d spent very little time, so I didn’t feel as let down as when I’m fifty pages into a book and decide I’m done (that’s my own personal rule: if I’m not there by page fifty, I stop). And for all that there are over a hundred stories here, I didn’t have that moment very often. I liked them.

Perhaps because they all have that “discovery” theme, there’s most often a little sideways twist involved in the micro story, and as such, it feels like reading a series of “aha!” stories. Micro mysteries, almost, or cunning reveals. And I like those.

Did I have favourites? Of course. I really got a chuckle out of Storm Grant‘s “A Rock and a Hard Place,” where a man’s ex attacks the new boyfriend, and the poor guy discovers things are not at all what they seem in a very big way. I also really liked Astrid Amara‘s “Anomalous,” and Jenn Burke‘s “Self Actuating,” which won the contest – both were a little dark and sad, but so clever.

So, I’m stoked I took part, happy that the anthology includes my little story, and really quite pleased to have discovered what was – to me – a very different reading experience.

(Oh, and as always, when I get a new book out, I do a Goodreads Giveaway – if you click that link, you can enter yourself into the draw.)

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Until next week, keep it short…

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