Book review: Selected Stories – Theodore Sturgeon

Book cover for Selected Stories by Theodore Sturgeon

I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a short story junkie. Between novels, I like to read a short story or two to break things up. The format is, well, different. It’s hard to explain, but a good short story captivates me. I enjoy how the characters are developed, and I really enjoy a short story with a strong plot twist. It’s especially satisfying when just enough is left unresolved that I get use to my imagination to complete the story.

I also find that short stories are a good way to explore different authors. If I like their short stories, then there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy their longer form writing too. That’s why I decided to read Selected Stories by Theodore Sturgeon. I had never heard or ready any of his works, so I figured it would be best to start with a collection of his short stories.

Theodore Sturgeon was a prolific writer with a career spanning almost 6 decades, starting in the late 1930s and lasting until his passing in the mid-eighties. During that time, he wrote well over a hundred short stories, 11 novels, and even a few Star Trek scripts. To be honest, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of him before.

Selected Stories is a collection of 12 of his short stories. As with any collection, there were some I enjoyed, some I found OK, and some that weren’t my cup of tea. Instead of reviewing each of the stories, I’m going to highlight the five I enjoyed the most.

  1. The Opposite Sex
    My favorite of the bunch, The Opposite Sex is a captivating story of how we discover those things that were right there in front of our face the whole time.
  2. Slow Sculpture
    A close second, and almost my favorite of the group. Slow Sculpture is a charming story of faith and love. I can see why it won both a Hugo and Nebula award.
  3. The Skills of Xanadu
    An interesting exploration of human nature, The Skills of Xanadu shows how those who seek unity and share knowledge triumph over those who try to amass and horde information for themselves.
  4. Mr Costello, Hero
    Written in 1953, Mr Costello, Hero, feels like it was written based on the events of the last 5-10 years by showing how easy it is to manipulate and pit people against each other.
  5. The [Widget], The [Wadget], and Boff
    This one was a little long for a short story. Sturgeon took his time developing the characters, but it was worth it. A bit similar to The Opposite Sex, it explores how what we want is often right there in front of us, if we’re willing to let go and allow things to be.

All of the other stories were well written, I just didn’t find them as engaging as the ones above. Still, if you’ve never heard of Theodore Sturgeon, Selected Stories is a great way to familiarize yourself with his work. For that reason alone, I’m going to put the book into my Fun Reads category. And while I’m not planning to explore more of Sturgeon’s works at this time, you may have a different opinion after finishing this collection.