In the age of fat fantasy series, doorstop thrillers, and historical epics it’s often impossible to find a short, satisfying read. Gone are the days of the 60,000 word science fiction novel, or even the novella doubles series Ace once put out. Long a standard of genre fiction — both the worlds of SF and of fantasy having a host of renowned novellas and short novels considered classics in their respective fields — these short, sharp stories are increasingly ignored for multi-book works of massive length. But, sometimes, it’s nice to get a book done in a day or two, it’s nice to explore an idea, premise, or setting without committing to dozens or hundreds of hours with it.
Which is why I was very interested to see indie game company Blackwyrm’s new fiction line of novellas and short novel chapbooks. With an ambitious schedule of a book a month last year, Blackwyrm produced books ranging up and down the genre spectrum — from military fantasy to psychic thriller, from slipstream SF to crossgenre mashup. In fact, all of the Blackwyrm titles I’ve seen do something a little bit different with genre tropes, and indeed they’ve billed their line as ‘Experimental Fiction.’