Viper Wire: Nanotales (2001-2003)

From 2001 to 2003 Richard Kadrey published 64 short stories (actually 63 and a picture) on the then thriving online-mag Infinite Matrix. Most of them are very short pieces, with a few reaching longer. I always planned to read them, but never came around until I bought an ebook Reader recently.

Overall, I really liked only a few (Iron Wit, Opener of the Ways, Surfing the Khumbu, Field Trip and Bad Blood), while most of the stories never worked for me. I was reminded of Swanwick’s The Periodic Table of Science Fiction, which originally was published on the now-dead SciFi-online mag and also was comprised mostly of very short stories with a similar approach (and to which I had a similar reaction upon reading).

Maybe my reaction to the stories comes from the format, they were never intended to be read in one go and doing so works against them. They aren’t really stories like most short fiction, but vignettes that highlight absurd or weird ideas (mostly fantasy, rarely science fiction and even then rarely convincing as science fiction) with not much plot or characterization to gnaw on.

They fit perfectly into the minutes between tasks, the spare time you don’t really use. They are a diversion, the appetizer, the little snack, not the main dish. Approached like that, they can be fun.