Fifty Egg Timer Stories by Richard Bunning is a short story collection that engages the readers’ short attention span. Each story is approximately 750 words and, according to the author, should take about three minutes to read. I will admit, I was dubious about the idea at first (his first story explains his method), but I warmed to it as I continued to read. Bunning did not limit himself to one particular genre for these stories, but rather took on as many as he could.
This style of story collection is an interesting concept and allows both the reader and the author to dabble in fields unexplored. By including a variety of genres, the reader can experience a small example of what historical fiction, speculative fiction, or philosophical thought (to name a few) might be like. The author even includes a story in outline format, and a short play. Interestingly enough, the author could have broken down each genre into several sub-categories. The reader will notice that the stories are also anecdotal, allegorical, life lessons, or educational. The range displayed in Bunning’s collection gave him an excellent opportunity to try his hand at writing from a variety of character perspectives, points of view, and setting descriptions. These stories are told through the minds of young men or women, aliens, scientists, philosophers, and adults under duress.
As the stories are so short, it is difficult to describe them without giving too much away. The readers will find themselves riding on a train in Sardinia, donating their body to science, hitchhiking on the moon, being written out of a will due to a fashion choice, learning that deceased loved ones are never far away, and many more places. Two of the stories contained trigger warnings for sexual violence. I applaud the author for recognizing the necessity of announcing this.
By limiting himself to 750 words, the author did miss several opportunities to turn very creative ideas into meatier stories. Though many of the stories play out well, a few seemed halted unexpectedly to meet the length criteria and others didn’t have enough time to flush out characters or purpose. Regardless, the collection is a well-rounded variety and contains something for everyone.