I normally avoid short story collections, since for some reason my brain does the opposite of what you would expect, and refuses to concentrate on any story that is less than one hundred pages long. Thankfully that wasn’t the case with Miniatures. I found this very short fiction collection extremely entertaining, and the perfect light read to distract me from real life stuff. Each story is 2,500 words or less. Some of them were published previously but a good majority of them were new to this collection. And all of them (excepting the last story, more on that in a moment) are very funny.
- “Alien Animal Encounters”: This one is told in interview style as humans have encounters with alien life on Earth, only the aliens are a pretty normal every day occurrence. This is a theme Scalzi revisits several times over the collection, and he is very good at mining humor from the normalization of alien/human interactions.
- “Missives from Possible Futures #1: Alternate History Search Results”: Probably my favorite from the collection, or close to. There’s a search engine that can tell you all the possible alternate histories if something in history had changed, i.e. if Hitler hadn’t died, or died differently.
- “When the Yogurt Took Over”: Sentient yogurt takes over and is the best of all possible rulers. This is a frighteningly effective commentary, I think.
- “New Directives for Employee-Manxtse Interactions”: This is the other story in the running for favorite. It’s essentially a manual for humans in a corporation on how to interact with their alien counterparts. I LOLed on multiple occasions.
- “Your Smart Appliances Talk About You Behind Your Back”: The title is pretty self-explanatory.
I listened to the audio version, and I can highly recommend it. It’s just a couple of hours long and the various narrators work well with Scalzi’s voice, especially the very talented Luke Daniels, who I find personally hilarious.
The only thing that didn’t work for me was the last story in the collection, which was not a story or even humorous, but a serious poem about Penelope, she of The Odyssey. I didn’t think it fit the tone of the collection at all, however Scalzi may be proud of it. He would have been better served putting another story in its place.
Overall, definitely worth checking out for Scalzi fans, and probably works great as an intro to Scalzi’s writing as well, if you’re interested in checking him out.