Sunday, 24 May 2009

In praise of the novella

There is an interesting opinion piece in the latest issue of Death Ray magazine (#19) about the novella. Longer than a short story and not as long as a novel (obviously), according to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the novella is a work of fiction 17,500 - 39,999 words in length.

Staff writer Thom Hutchinson goes on to argue that it is the ideal form for fiction. I am certainly a fan of the novella, having just finished one. Entitled Conqueror Worm, it is to be published along with Evolution Expects (my fourth Pax Britannia novel), and comes in at 17,527 words.

For me, the novella presents me with the opportunity to tell a story that wouldn't stretch to a whole novel. The world of Pax Britannia has generated a host of ideas for stories, but not all of them warrant a 90,000 word novel, but I can still indulge in writing of many more of them through the novella. In the past, people have praised my short fiction, sometimes over the long form stuff, so in the novella I think I have found a happy medium.

As it happens, I'm also enjoying the novellas of another writer at the moment, reading as I am The Taint and Other Novellas by Brian Lumley (published by Solaris Books). And considering the subject matter of these Cthulhu Mythos stories, who's to say that Ulysses Quicksilver and his friends might not one day uncover hints of a world beyond our own inhabited by the Other Gods?

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