Novels that Are Short Stories

A year ago or so I read a book series entitled Coyote, which was a retelling of the Mayflower story in science fiction terms. Some political dissidents steal a space ship intended to start a colony on a distant planet and start their own colony. The story develops from there in many different, interesting ways. It’s a good series.

But what the writer in me found also interesting was the way that the story was written. The first book–and the several succeeding books–were actually a series of short stories that are set in the Coyote universe, but tell individual tales about people who are influenced–or influence–the main story. In all my talk of the difference between short stories and novels, this is an exception. Another well-known novel that fits this mold is The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. The story is set on Mars, showing the impact of Earth’s first spaceships to Mars, and its subsequent colonization. But once again, it is told with consecutive individual stories.

I have a story in mind that I am considering using this technique for. It’s called Infinity’s Reach and is a retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress set in apocalyptic America. The original used a journey to a distant land to parallel the spiritual journey all Christians make on their way to heaven. Mine would do the same, but with individual short stories and in my more modern setting. I’m still mulling over the idea in my mind….

But for those writing students considering the leap from short story to novel, this opens an alternative that they might consider.