Monthly Archives: October 2011

A Taxonomy of Very Short Fiction

If our attention span, as some experts have claimed, has shortened, and is now somehow inversely proportional to a lengthening life span, perhaps the speed at which data streams and changes has made us impatient to the point of frustration with any wait at all, even a wait for a conclusion, should that take more than a page to occur. And this trend to compact information sometimes provides us gloriously dense neutron stars for stories that provide as much satisfaction as Willy Wonka’s four-course-meal bubblegum.
In fact, so many variations of stories of this abbreviated length have proliferated in the last decade that a need for a taxonomy of such work has arisen (not really, but why buck the trend to pigeonhole everything into nice neat little buckets). Enlarge the diagram on the right for a derivation of the genus fabula brevissima and its constituent species from of the phylum I have classified as communicationis arogantis (all self-edifying works, which does include infomercials and French films).

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