Books, news, & views from Karen Traviss


After a brief flurry of stories when I first started writing, I gave up short fiction some time ago, except for specially commissioned work for franchises and other nice little earners from time to time. Apart from those rare exceptions, SF/F shorts are poorly paid (I'm talking pro rates, too) and the magazines seem to be read mostly by other writers and would-be writers. Fine if you want a mention in Locus: not fine if you want hundreds of thousands (and preferably millions) of bookstore customers to grab your work and hand over the cash for it. I'm not sure exactly when short SF started to decline as a market, but it was long before I started writing, and when I worked out exactly the level of loss I'd run at if I took time out from other stuff to write it, I had to lie down in a darkened room for a while.

The ideas that I once turned into shorts became either novels or comics. In the time it takes me to write a short, I can write a third of a novel, or two comics, or several levels of a game, or even a complete script. Up to now, shorts haven't paid enough to be worth the time, but now that independent publishing has rewritten the rule book on what's possible, short fiction seems to be thriving. I'm still not sure if I'll write any more shorts because I'd rather do serialisation at the moment, but who knows? In the summer of 2013, I had no idea that I'd have kicked over the traces and gone indie a year later. I like not knowing what I'll be doing a year from now.

Some of the stories below are now available as VIEW OF A REMOTE COUNTRY, a collection in e-book and paperback. See here for details.

ROF copy

A Slice At A Time – ASIMOV'S (July 2002) Honourable mention, Year's Best Science Fiction #20

View Of A Remote Country – ON SPEC (Spring 2004)

Suitable for the Orient – ASIMOV'S (February 2003) Honourable mention, Year's Best Science Fiction #21

A Game of Three Halves – SCHEHERAZADE (Issue 26 2004)

Return Stores – REALMS OF FANTASY (February 2003)

Agent of God – SCHEHERAZADE (Date unknown - sorry!)

Does He Take Blood? – REALMS OF FANTASY (August 2003) Honourable mention, Year's Best Science Fiction #21

The Final Demand of the Sun – SCHEHERAZADE (Issue 25 2003)

The Man Who Did Nothing – REALMS OF FANTASY (June 2003) Year's Best Fantasy & Horror #17. (Also Honourable mention, Year's Best Science Fiction #21) Listen to it here.

Omega Squad: Targets – STAR WARS INSIDER #81


A Two-Edged Sword – STAR WARS INSIDER #85

Omega Squad: Odds – STAR WARS INSIDER #87

Strings – REALMS OF FANTASY (October 2003) Honourable mention, Year's Best Science Fiction #21

Death, Taxes and Mackerel – ON SPEC Spring 2002

Orchids -– NEVERWORLDS, 1999

Chocolate Kings – ON SPEC (Fall 2002) Honourable mention, Year's Best Science Fiction #20

Nanny Estate – NEVERWORLDS, 1999

An Open Prison – ON SPEC (Winter 2003)

The Last Penny – published in SPACEWAYS WEEKLY and winner of its Readers' Choice award for August 2000.