Short interview 3: Marie Vibbert
Marie Vibbert has sold over 70 short stories to magazines such as Nature, Vice, F&SF, and Analog. Her debut novel, Galactic Hellcats, is about a female biker gang in outer space rescuing a gay prince and was on the British Science Fiction Association long list for 2021. Her stories have been in year's best anthologies and translated into Chinese and Vietnamese. By day she's a computer programmer in Cleveland, Ohio. Learn more about her at https://marievibbert.com
1. According to you and apart from the number of words, what is the main difference between a short story and a novel?
I remember a teacher of mine once saying that novels are like wars, you spend the first half just getting the troops into position, whereas short stories are like surgical strikes: get in, drop the bombs, and leave before they go off.
Novels can be messy in a way that short stories don’t get away with … they have a lot of room to wander, and are often more about building a relationship between the reader and the characters. Short stories have to fit character, plot, and meaning in a much tighter space. The great thing about short stories is that tight space works well for exploring a single idea, and that’s why I think the short story has always been so important to the science fiction genre.
2. What's your favorite short story?
That’s a very tough question. I fall in love with a new ones all the time. One of my writing workshop mates wrote an absolute killer urban fantasy story last month that isn’t published yet, so watch for that from Joelle Presby. “The City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin dominates my recent memory – I got to read it in two collections and for once wasn’t sad to see a repeat story! I dreamed for years of writing a story about the spirit of a city, and there she did it for me, and way better than I could.
3. What's your favorite short story written by you?
Would you pick from amongst your children?? Honestly, my favorites are unpublished. I have a haunting story about what it felt like growing up as a poor science fiction fan called “Flying Cars” and a noir crime time travel caper called “The Silver Dame and the Box of Mystery” – you can tell how much I love those stories because they’ve both gotten over 50 rejection letters each and I keep trying to send them out. But I feel like I ought to recommend something recent that’s online so your readers can enjoy it, so try “Things From Our Kitchen Junk Drawer That Could Save This Space Ship” on Daily Science Fiction (link).