A novella is shorter than a novel and longer than a novelette. Definitions vary, but the Tor.com line of Novellas uses a word count of 20,000-40,000 words. (For comparison, an average novel is about 100,000 words.)
Tor.com novellas offer a great cross-section of modern science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Because the line emphasizes diversity, you’re apt to find books full of fresh ideas seldom seen in other SF work. At the same time, you can also find great examples of “cozy” old mainstream SF (like the Murderbot stories by Martha Wells that I mentioned last week).
What’s so great about novellas? It’s been said that the novella is the “natural” length for SF: long enough to develop an idea in detail, but not so long as to wear out their welcome. Also, let’s be honest, novellas are cheaper and faster to read than full-length novels. In addition, novellas cost less to print, so the publisher can take risks on stories that may be more cutting-edge than conventional tales.
One way or another, I’ve enjoyed all the Tor.com novellas I’ve read. In addition to the Murderbot stories, here are some of my favorites:
- The Binti stories by Nnedi Okorafor
- The Tensorate stories by J. Y. Yang
- The Innsmouth Legacy stories by Ruthanna Emrys
- The Wayward Children stories by Seanan McGuire
- The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
- Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
- The Lychford stories by Paul Cornell
- The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson
- The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
To be honest, I didn’t realize how many Tor.com novellas I’d read until I started making the above list…and that’s not counting a number of books that I have on my Kindle waiting to be read.
So by all means, check out the line. All the novellas are available digitally as well as in trade paperback; many (or maybe all) are also available as audiobooks.
And if you don’t usually read science fiction/fantasy/horror, these novellas are a great place to start.