Monday, April 20, 2009

The 500 Pound Gorilla on My Back

I'm falling way behind on the 365 Short Story Challenge.

For a variety of reasons I haven't had a chance to plow through as many short stories as I'd like to. One of the main targets of blame is too many good novels. Since I made the 365 resolution, I've been trying to balance things out: read a short story every day or two to start, then allocate the rest of the day's reading time to a novel. Problem is, when you get into a huge monster of a book like Dan Simmons' "Drood" (more than half-way through now!) that's utterly absorbing, it's hard to ignore it and go for the short story anthology first.

As much as I may enjoy the short stories, they almost become a chore if they distract me from the novel. Sure, I recently enjoyed the hell out of rereading Charles Sheffield's "The Treasure of Odirex" for the first time in something like 20 years (Erasmus Darwin made for an interesting protagonist, never mind that he was a real person) in Isaac Asimov's Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction 6: Neanderthals - edited by Robert Silverberg, Martin H Greenberg & Charles G Waugh. But it was hard to make time for it when part of my mind kept wanting to get back to the misadventures of Charles Dickens & Wilkie Collins in Simmons' tome. I feel like a little kid who has to eat his veggies first. And I don't want to feel that way about reading the short stuff, because I love it.

The solution, of course, once I'm done with Drood, is to get in a couple of solid doses of anthologies instead of novels, like I did earlier with Jack Dann's Dreaming Again (a collection of Australian SF that's definitely worth adding to any collection), to bring the tally back up. And yet, there's still the siren's call of the in-box full of novel's that I can't wait to get to.

Another way to add a few more to the total is to download a couple of anthologies to my Iphone so I can read at lunch at work or when I've got some downtime when I'm on the go. Recently, those of us registered with this year's Worldcon, Anticipation, have been given access to many of the Hugo nominees' material, so I might be able to dump that onto the phone and kill two birds with one stone - adding another notch to the challenge belt and digesting this year's Hugo nominations so I can make an informed vote. As well, I'll have to find a couple of websites where I can download some SF anthologies in a format that Stanza can read for my Iphone (still trying to figure out all the ins-and-outs and functions of that device). Anyone got any suggestions?

In the meantime, I'll have to make a greater effort to getting back to reading at least one short story a day. I'm not giving up, but this is certainly shaping up to be a tougher slog than I first thought!

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