Teaching the Short Story

Part of the series Teaching the New English pp 96-116

The Science Fiction Short Story

  • Andy Sawyer


Edgar Allan Poe wrote that at the heart of the short story was ‘a certain unique or single effect’ (Poe, 1950: 450). He himself can be seen as one of the originators of the science fiction (SF) short story (as well as the detective and horror stories), but while studies of the short story naturally include Poe, science fiction and its relatives seem to have got short shrift. Charles May’s The Short Story: the Reality of Artifice (2002) mentions Poe, but no other SF writer—if we exclude Kipling and a tangential comment on Wells—other than Ray Bradbury. Yet few genres have helped to keep the short story alive as much as science fiction which is par excellence an example of ‘effect’.