Friday, July 30, 2010

Short but Oh So Sweet

Has this ever happened to you?

You pick up a book on a whim. Maybe it was the interesting cover, or maybe the title struck you as interesting. Regardless, you buy the book. Upon reading it, you come to love the book, so much that you tell all your friends about this great book. Suddenly, POOF! You can no longer find that book at the store. Did you somehow reach into the aether and pull a book from a parallel universe, or did it just go out of print while you were reading it?

That happened to me about fifteen years ago, with a tome entitled Microcosmic Tales.

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First published in 1980, Microcosmic Tales is a collection of 100 short science fiction stories. Very short stories. As I recall, the longest tale in this collection is about five pages long, while several tales don't even fill a single page.

I absolutely loved this book from the moment I sat down in Cafe Espresso and read the first several stories over a nice cappuccino. The brevity of these stories belies their creative nature. These stories, which range from Faustian bargains to an interesting take on time travel, are wonderfully succinct, and speak rather highly of the authors' skill.

Unfortunately, this book had been out of print for quite some time (or maybe it never really existed in this universe until I brought it over). I bought my copy some time around 1993, and haven't seen it for sale since (in retrospect, I probably bought the last copy to be sold at that particular store). As near as I can tell, the final printing was in 1991, which would mean that Microcosmic Tales has been out of print for nearly twenty years. It can still be found on the secondary market, usually for a fairly good price.

If the opportunity ever presents itself...maybe you're in a used bookstore, or at a flea market, and you see a copy for sale...buy it. Trust me, you'll be doing yourself a favor.

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