the Little Red Reviewer

Miniatures by John Scalzi

Posted on: December 23, 2016

miniatures_by_john_scalzi_500_780Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi

published Dec 31, 2016

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (Thanks Subterranean!)




Wanna know the balm for doorstopper books and series that don’t have an end in sight? Super short stories that are super satisfying.  Stories that get in, make a point and maybe make you laugh, and get out. It’s like those delicious bite-sized Milky Way mini candy bars that (the best) people give out at Halloween.


Miniatures is John Scalzi’s new collection of very short stories.  Inspired by everything from travel boredom, the bureaucracy of superhero management, overly intelligent yogurt, a very bitter Pluto, the design limitations of twitter, people being idiots, how to be polite to aliens,  having some fun at Wil Wheaton’s expense and more, these mostly humorous and mostly ultra short stories are the bite sized milky way minis of spec fiction.  Covering 25 years of Scalzi’s long career in journalism, review writing, and fiction, this collection is a must-have for Scalzi fans. Oh, you’re not familiar with John Scalzi, but you like to laugh?  You’ll like this too!


A handful of the stories deal with interactions with aliens, but these aren’t “first contact” stories, not by a long shot. These are millionth contact stories, when interactions with aliens have become as commonplace as seeing a stick-figure family sticker on the back of a mini-van.  Two of my favorite stories in the collection are of this variety – “New Directives for Employee-Manxtse Interactions” and “Important Holidays on Gronghu”.  Both are presented as company wide memos, and both of these companies are about to be holding massive open interviews.  I’ve read “Important Holidays on Gronghu” probably four times and it gets funnier every time.

Some stores in here come in two parts, such as “Denise Jones, Superbooker”, and “the State of Super Villainy”. Denise Jones books appearances for superheroes, and if your city doesn’t already have a super being on retainer, you better have her on speed dial. Oh, and don’t make the same mistake Tempe did. Albert Vernon is a super villain asset management analyst, who tallies up insurance costs and how much percentage the lawyers are going to take. Who knew the lives of super beings had so much paperwork and bureaucracy?  Played totally straight and with genius timing, it’s hilarious.


Another one of my favorite stories is “Your Smart Appliances are Talking About You Behind Your Back”, which is basically the flash fiction equivalent of “that escalated quickly”.  This one also gets funnier every time.  I tried reading it out loud to a family member, but couldn’t get through it I was laughing to much.


Scalzi gives a sentence or two at the beginning of each story often telling when it was written, where it was previously published (a few stories are original this collection), and maybe some other fun trivia.  Personally, I got a huge kick out of the intro to “When the Yogurt Took Over”, where Scalzi pokes fun at a novel that was once a favorite of mine while seamlessly connecting it to a scientifically plausable-ish method by which yogurt could conceivably take over the world. Please John Scalzi, Will you please turn this short story into a novel loosely based on the novel that triggered the story’s creation in the first place?


These stories are short enough that you can zip through this 139 volume in no time.  But take my advice and don’t do that.  Don’t zip through it. Don’t eat the entire bag of Milky Way minis in one sitting.  Read these one at a time. Read them in any order you please. Read them in public and watch people around you get infectious grins on their faces as you giggle through your teeth.


Sometimes life sucks, so let this skinny volume put a smile on your face.

The last story is not a story, nor is it humorous. But it will also put a smile on your face.

2 Responses to "Miniatures by John Scalzi"

I saw it, but passed. I don’t know why, I love Scalzi, I guess I just thought there might not be enough substance in it. But your enticing review has me rethinking that, and I’m hoping I can add it to my Christmas list in time. Probably not. Well, there is always the Martin Luther King Day gift. :heh:


these are super quick stories, not really designed for novel-flavored substance, you know? Each one is fast and very fun. But taken as a whole? Yes, lots of substance.


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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