Books, news, & views from Karen Traviss


A collection of my short stories from waaaaay back is now up on Amazon (Kindle and paperback), iTunes, and Kobo. VIEW OF A REMOTE COUNTRY is 13 shorts that were published in various magazines like Asimov's and Realms of Fantasy between 1999 and 2003. It's 60,000 words, a mere shopping list by my standards, but a full-length book whichever way you cut it.

It's a mixed bag: most of these stories were written at Clarion or for another workshop, One Step Beyond, so there's a wide variety of approaches in there including fantasy. (Look, I was young and I needed the money, okay? But I swear there are no dragons or mages.) As I said the other day, this is the stuff I was trying for size to see what my true style was, so things like first person POV and present tense were dropped as soon as I started on novels, while other elements like parallel character arcs stayed the course.

There were more stories than that, but I couldn't find the files. I wanted the stories to appear as they did on publication, so apart from making it consistent UK spelling throughout (the files were a mix of UK and US) they're what magazine readers saw at the time.

I have some of the original art: Return Stores, for example, was illustrated by the late John Berkey, truly wonderful stuff, and I have the final painting plus the three preliminary colour sketches that he did for it. If I work out how to get decent images without wrecking the UV glass and frames, I'll post pics here some time. The fact that magazines were spending money on commissioning top artists like Berkey to do real paintings still stuns me. It's lovely, but I have no idea how the mags managed to afford it.

I'll be honest, I didn't enjoy writing shorts because they're not substantial enough to really get into developing characters. Shorts as a spin-off from an established novel or series is another matter entirely, though. It's a kind of sandbox for stuff that might not fit logically into a novel. So I haven't ruled out doing more shorts again one day, because money is money, and mobile devices lend themselves to reading fiction in smaller chunks, but the stories will probably be part of a greater whole.