Not only do I enjoy writing short stories, but I love to read them. To me, reading a good collection of short stories is like opening a treasure chest filled with gems. One of my most recent reads, First Person Peculiar by Mike Resnick, is one of those rare chests that is filled with more gems than expected.
A few notes on Resnick: According to Locus magazine, he is the all-time leading award winner for short fiction. No other author, living or dead, has won more awards for short fiction than he has. Sadly, he passed away in 2020 after a battle with cancer.
This collection brings together twenty-three previously-published stories, with a few new ones to entice the reader. The theme of the collection is, if you haven’t guessed, stories told from the first-person perspective. However, there are interesting takes on that angle.
If nothing else, Resnick was one hell of a storyteller. I know it sounds cliche, but I found myself laughing out loud with some stories, then wiping away tears on others. And his imagination was amazing. Each story has a brief introduction by him where he explains how or why he wrote it and I found it fascinating to discover that he could seemingly come up with an idea and put it to paper in a few days. Or in one instance, four hours.
While the stories are all science-fiction, they run the gamut from pure sci-fi to speculative fiction, with a bit of historical and whimsical tossed in for good measure. There’s a Sherlock Holmes-inspired story in here, along with a story inspired by one of my favorite novels, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and a wonderful take on my all-time favorite movie, Casablanca.
But even while balancing the humor and drama, Resnick’s stories all have heart. The one I found the most moving was “Down Memory Lane”. It’s a simple, yet powerful, take on growing old, memory loss, and the power of true love. It’s one that will stick with me for a long time.
I enjoyed how Resnick could come up with such original ideas, as well as pay tribute to classics. It’s a shame that cancer got the better of him. His creativity will be missed. Of course, he left behind a lengthy bibliography of short stories and novels that should keep us occupied for a very long time.
Check out First Person Peculiar when you get a chance. It’s a fantastic collection.