Science fiction and short stories are two things that seem to go together perfectly. Short stories are a great way for a sci-fi writer to throw out thought-provoking “what-ifs?”, explore all sorts of themes and subjects, and give readers a peek into new visions of the future. And these days, you can find a lot of great sci-fi short fiction right on the internet.
I recently stumbled across Jake Jackson’s very cool blog These Fantastic Worlds, specializing in: “All things sf, fantasy, speculative and generally fantastic”. One part of the site is dedicated to Jackson’s series of “micro-fiction” – short short stories that are also presented in a podcast called These Fantastic Worlds SF & Fantasy Fiction Podcast, available on iTunes and Stitcher.
One of the micro fiction stories that caught my eye is called ‘Bone’, and is part of Jackson’s Robot Series. The plot is summed up in a short synopsis preceding the story:
A worker droid reports his discovery, but finds himself the subject of an intense investigation. Short story about paranoia and secrecy in a post-human society.
Jackson turns this seemingly straight-forward premise into a shiny gem of a short story. The entire story is essentially a conversation between three characters, so a lot hinges on the writer’s capacity to write good dialogue. Jackson handles this very well: the dialogue is witty and well-crafted with the distinct personalities of the characters coming through clearly in the brief time it takes to tell the tale.
Also, there’s a depth to the story that really pulled me in. While Jackson only hints at the structure and organization of the future society in which the short story takes place, he still manages to make this strange new world come to life quite vividly. And there’s a complexity and originality to that world and the main characters that made the story really stick with me.
If you’re a science fiction reader, I highly recommend checking out Jackson’s work. There are 18 other stories in the Robot series on his blog, and I know I’ll be back for more.
You can read ‘Bone’, or listen to the audio at Jackson’s blog: it is just as enjoyable either way.