Thursday, September 09, 2004

The End of the Tale

Is it me or are good short stories losing their touch?

Despite my being a neophyte in reading short fiction, I know when a story is good, when it's good but it doesn't touch me, and when I just plain don't like it. So at the onset, at least I know where my limitations and strength lie when reading.

Thus, I ask the above question after I finished reading last night Paolo Bacigalupi's The Fluted Girl from Science Fiction : The Best of 2003, a science-fantasy tale that has appeared in more Best of the Year anthologies than any other single story from 2003.

Overall, it was a good story: eye-brow raising, hackle-rising. Yet when I came to the certainly ambiguous ending, I was feeling unsatisfied.

This was not an uncommon feeling I've been having. A number of stories from Lucius Shepard's The Jaguar Hunter, despite being excellent, also lacked the punchy ending a good story should have. Ditto with Harlan Ellison's Angry Candy. So what gives?

Or do these two factors-- a good story and a good ending-- necessarily run together?

Food for thought.

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