Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sci-Fi Short Stories

For this week, I chose to read two short stories: “Star Light, Star Bright”, by Alfred Bester, and “The Tenants”, by William Tenn. Both were interesting, a bit slow but with an ending that really made me go “OH!” (which probably confused my roommate at the time).

Star Light, Star Bright” introduced the characters, and then dragged me around there arguing for a while before introducing the actual plot, and then dragged me around even more before finally explaining everything in the conclusion. The concept of the genius children, in retrospect, is only mildly cool. What made the story work for me, though, was the way it lead me to the final realization of just what was going on with this wishing boy. It very successfully pulled me in, lead me around, and then made me think that I was clever for reaching the conclusion.

The Tenants” played out in a very similar way. It started off by introducing something very odd in an otherwise normal world, and then let me read for several pages, just as confused as the main character about what was going on. When he finally gained access to the room, and the two tenants left it, I was once again hit with the “oh, I get it!” feeling, immediately followed by an audible “Oh no!” when the character realized he was trapped in the room forever. Despite being short, both of these stories played my emotions exactly how they were intended to.

After listening to the discussion in class about The Stars My Destination, I wasn't entirely sure how the short stories I read fit into this topic of “the final frontier”. I did, however, see how they were a great lead-in to the genre of sci-fi. Even without robots, aliens, or even a mention of outer space, these stories still did what sci-fi should do: took a normal world and made it weird and new.

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