Master of Fine Arts
Date of Defense
"Stacked Knots" is a collection of short fiction in several forms: hint fiction, flash fiction, and short fiction. Hint fiction is a title of any length followed by a story of 25 words or less. Flash fiction is a story of 1,000 words or less. Short fiction is a story of between 1,000 and 7,500 words. Most of the hint and flash fictions in this collection are in the literary genre, while the short stories tend to be cross genre, blending elements of both literary and speculative fiction.
The first section, Stories from the Smilerverse, include three short stories set in an imagined near future in which a mysterious illness leaves its victims in a permanent comatose state. For reasons that aren't known, the Smiler virus follows a specific chronology of infection, starting with the oldest person in the world, then infection the next oldest, and so on until all humans are infected.
The second section, Hints, a Fifty Word, a Micro, Flashes, and Short-Shorts, includes hint fictions (25-word stories), a fifty-word story (50-word stories), a micro fiction (500-word stories), flash fictions (1,000-word stories), and a short-short story (1,500-word stories).
The stories in this collection explore themes of isolation, loneliness, marginalization, and the challenges of being Other. Each story has a protagonist who struggles with a specific internal or external conflict and who, through the story action, comes to a realization, makes a decision, or takes a decisive action which will have a significant impact on his or her future.
Houser, John C., "Stacked Knots" (2017). Theses. 311.