Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fast Forward: A Review

I just finished reading Fast Forward, a science fiction anthology.

I really didn't care for it, which distresses me a little bit. I'm not entirely sure if it is because I was sick for the majority of the time I was reading it or if I was simply reading it the wrong way, though I suspect the latter simply out of principle.

I think that reading short stories is different than reading novels -- it requires more concentration and, at the same time, less concentration. More because a reader needs to really pay attention to catch all the little details, less because it is usually less complicated than a novel. I, however, read the anthology like I read a novel: plopped myself on the couch and just started to read.

Reading an anthology all in one go is probably like eating an entire plastic jack 'o' lantern full of Halloween candy in an entire evening. Perhaps I should have read one story per night instead of several stories in one sitting because, even though I knew it was an anthology, I kept waiting to get to know the characters better and then the story was over and it was time to begin a new story with different characters created by a different author with a different writing style.

I fancy it was a bit like speed dating though this is perhaps a faulty analogy since I've never actually been speed dating.

Whatever it was, it was dizzying and not in a good way.

I think my aversion to anthologies is probably the same reason why I prefer tv shows to movies. A short story is limited. You really have to cram a lot of information and emotion in one short story -- it is exhausting to read and even exhausting to write.

For me, I need to be in a certain mental space if I want to read a short story. It was something I always suspected, but I also had to take into account that most of the short stories I read was in an academic setting instead of a free-time luxury (which also requires a different type of reading -- reading is actually a very complicated activity not to be taken lightly).

Anyway, I didn't enjoy all of the stories either. Even though it had science-ish gadgets, it didn't feel like science fiction. According to Asimov,

The core of science fiction, its essence has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all

and I just didn't get that feeling at all. There wasn't that exploration of the soul that I really wanted to experience. Maybe it was because it felt like any other kind of story with the desktop set to SCIENCE FICTION. Like paper dolls with electron dresses or something.


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