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'A fiendish device'

24 July 2017

‘A short story...can be held in the mind all in one piece. It's less like a building than a fiendish device. Every bit of it must be cunningly made and crafted to fit together perfectly and without waste so it can perform its task with absolute precision. That purpose might be to move the reader to tears or wonder, to awaken the conscience, to console, to gladden, or to enlighten. But each short story has one chief purpose, and every sentence, phrase, and word is crafted to achieve that end. The ideal short story is like a knife - strongly made, well balanced, and with an absolute minimum of moving parts.'

Michael Swanwick, author of many short stories and a number of SF novels including Chasing the Phoenix, and who blogs at Flogging Babel