Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi [in Library Journal]
John Scalzi (Redshirts) explains in his snappy introduction, which he reads, that he has “two natural [writing] speeds”: novel-long and “really short.” This 18-piece collection showcases his “fast, punchy, and to the point”-shortest. For such a “miniature” book, it’s got quite a full cast: Allyson Johnson, Dina Pearlman, Oliver Wyman, Fred Berman, Greg Cope White, Khristine Hvam, Peter Ganim, Luke Daniels, and the author, as well.
At just under three hours, the short-shorts move so quickly that identifying who’s reading what is frustrating. Listeners will wonder why each story couldn’t have included the title followed by “read by.” Between shorts, Scalzi shares tidbits about narrative origins, being lazy, and his writing goal of creating worlds in which alien and human encounters are part of everyday life.
To that end, his narrators are superbly fluent in alien-speak. Standouts include the multi-voiced confessionals “Alien Animal Encounters” and “Your Smart Appliances Talk About You Behind Your Back.” His interviews-as-stories are uproariously funny: “Denise Jones, Superbooker” (she trots out superheroes to save the world – or save a kiddie birthday party) and “The State of Super Villainy” (starring an asset management analyst for the worst-of-the-worst).
Verdict: Who doesn’t need a few hours of giggling and guffawing, especially now?