When Birnam Wood is a collection of short stories by TJ Radcliffe. They’re an eclectic bunch that don’t fit any particular theme or genre: they range from historical, to speculative fiction, to fantasy, to just plain weird. One of them is even a kind of a western. There’s low humour and cosmic horror, death and delight, large characters and strong narratives.
The thing that unites them is word-count and structure: each of these stories has precisely 1600 words, and each one is broken into precisely 400 word segments. These segments mostly follow the 3.5 act structure of screenplays: Act I, Act IIa, Act IIb and Act III, where ideally there is a turn between Act IIa and IIb that shifts us from “exploration” to “opposition”.
“Form is liberating” says the proverb, and formal structure can free the imagination: motile trees, debugging code underground and underwater, lost cities, the secret of the finest nosh on the West Coast, and more! None of these ideas would have seen the light of day had it not been for an author desperate to say something interesting under hard constraints.
Available world-wide as a low-cost e-book for Amazon Kindle, and in paperback as well!