Short Fiction : Gems from the North Carolina Digital Library

As a reader, I’ll read fiction and nonfiction in approximately equal amounts.  And when I just have snippets of time to indulge, short stories are hard to beat.

The North Carolina Digital Library has you covered if your yen for fiction goes for the shorter works, and whittling down your search to short story specifics is easy – just click on the Subjects link on the upper left hand side, and then scroll down to the link for short stories, and you’re there.  You can sort by popularity, author, title, and more.

Here are some suggested titles to get you going.  Some of the authors you might recognize.  Included are collections by specific authors and some anthologies (collected works by different authors).   Genres include general fiction, westerns,  science fiction/fantasy, and mystery.  This list is not comprehensive, but a jumping off point for further reading adventures.

Dear Life by Alice Munro – winner of the Nobel Prize in 2013, Canadian writer  Munro continues honing her craft of the short story in this collection.

Ford County by John Grisham – proof that the writer of courtroom thrillers can try  his hand at shorter fiction, and succeed.

The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2019 edited by John Joseph Adams and Carmen Maria Machado – sometimes you might want to switch up your authors, and have your reading to be more…otherworldly.

Tenth of December by George Saunders – the acclaimed author in Lincoln in the Bardo shows his prowess in the short story form.

Unexpected Stories by Octavia Butler – two stories previously unpublished by the author of Kindred and Parable of the Sower.  Also, take a look at Bloodchild and Other Stories.

Law of the Desert Born by Louis L’Amour –  for those readers who like the Western genre – the king of them all shines in this collection.

For the Sake of the Game edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger – this anthology reimagines the world of Sherlock Holmes through the eyes of a variety of authors, who either stick to the Holmes/Watson script, or go off on their own tangents.

A People’s Future of the United States edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams – another collection of speculative fiction, with an emphasis on new visions for our country.

Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch – the author writes of children, outcasts, and the desperate in this startling collection.

Where the Light Falls : Selected Stories of Nancy Hale edited by Lauren Groff – mid-twentieth century writer Hale gets her due in these twenty five tales that showcase the talent of a writer who won several O. Henry awards in her time.

As I mentioned before, this is not a comprehensive list of short story collections, but a beginning point for lovers of short fiction.  All of these and more are part of the ebook collection of the North Carolina Digital Library, accessible through the Greensboro Public Library.

(William Hicks, Information Services)


Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

Academy 7Academy 7 is a futuristic science fiction novel centering on the interconnected lives of Aerin Renning and Dane Madousin.  Aerin opens up the novel by surviving an escape from a planet where she has been enslaved for the past 7 years.  Dane first appears by diving in to save a life from a forest fire in an unauthorized spacecraft, ending up in jail for a few hours until a good old friend of the family comes to bail him out.  As the story moves forward, the two find themselves in a school for the most gifted called Academy 7.  They maintain the top two marks: one a general’s son, the other an illegal immigrant to the Alliance.

The Alliance was formed to protect the peace among the planets following the rapid expansion of intergalactic travel and colonization.  There is another organization called the Trade Union.  The Trade Union is negotiating with the Alliance, fighting this large organized body of government; similar to labor unions formed in most occupations to fight for equal rights for the workers.  They view the rights of each planet as being neglected.

This novel does not center so much on the developing romance between the two characters, which is refreshing in itself.  It is more focused on uncovering the mysteries between Aerin and Dane, relating to their parents and their government’s secrets.  The novel is directed at young adult readers, but anyone who enjoys a peek into intergalactic development may find this interesting.  It is a short but interesting read that may lack in some areas, but packs a punch with the plot itself.

Lift off, readers!

(Amanda Sanson, Central Library)

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

flawedYou may be familiar with Cecelia Ahern as a fiction and romance author with novels such as P.S. I Love You and The Time of My Life.  This is Ahern’s first swing at writing Young Adult novels.  In Flawed, Celestine North has a perfect life.  She is in love with the perfect boy who has a powerful father in a society where perfection is mandatory.  For those who have not been perfect, they are branded with a red F for Flawed for everyone to see.

When Celestine takes a risk and helps an older gentleman who is Flawed, she is suddenly in court facing her boyfriend’s father to see if she will be a Flawed citizen.  However, Mr. Craven has different plans when Celestine will not apologize for helping a Flawed man when he was dying.  Celestine’s world is turned upside down when she suddenly becomes a Flawed, has to have a handler, cannot eat any lavish food, and her loving boyfriend suddenly wants no part of her.  But Celestine has a secret that only few know. Can one Flawed change the whole system?

If you are a fan of The Hunger Games or Divergent, this might be the perfect read for you.  The second book in the duology, Perfect, is also available.

(Michelle Colbert, McGirt-Horton Branch Library)

Troika by Alastair Reynolds

I was reading an article about hard science fiction and found a reference toTroika the author Alastair Reynolds, and a list of his books.  This particular title caught my eye because it was a novella.  As I am not usually a big fan of science fiction, but like brevity, I figured it would be a quick read.  It was, and was surprisingly accessible.

Troika brings us to a future second Soviet Union, in which Mother Russia has topped, technologically, anything else in the world, especially in the field of space travel.

Dimitri Ivanov is one of three cosmonauts charged with discovering the mystery of what is known as the Matryoshka, an immense space object that reappears in orbit once every twelve years.  There have been other attempts, some disastrous, to fathom the purpose behind this machine or entity.  Apart from its massive presence and imperviousness, though, the Matryoshka doesn’t appear to be a threat to Earth.

Dimitri and one of his co-workers actually gain entry into the Matryoshka, although it’s very touch and go.  And what they find is — well, you’ll have to read it.

The book begins with an escapee from an institution, somewhere in the dead cold of a Russian winter, and goes from this, presumably the present in the book, to the retelling of what actually went on with the exploration of the Matryoshka.

At least, we can presume this.

(William Hicks, Information Services)