How many pages are absolutely necessary to tell a gripping, frightening story? 50? 200? 400? 1200, in case your editor died? Editors are extinct anyways.
My favorite is the shortest science fiction story written by [a:Fredric Brown|51503|Fredric Brown|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1234483488p2/51503.jpg] called “The Knock”, only two sentences long and as it happens; has fewer words than this paragraph. Here it is, in its entirety: “The last man on earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door….”
17 words. And yet it implies toward innumerable possibilities, each and every one of them terrifying. The deeper you think, the chillier it gets.
Of course, Fredric Brown explained his story
[b:The Death of Grass|941731|The Death of Grass|John Christopher|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1309962069s/941731.jpg|797220], even though just about 200 pages long, packs a real punch which it delivers right to the reader's gut. This is not one of your cozy catastrophes but is in fact the darkest, grimiest post-apocalyptic fiction you will ever come across. It’s really sad that this book is not mentioned in the same vein as other grim PA books of the era and is generally ignored and forgotten.
Human empathy flourishes only as long as the civilization prevails. Once the norms are changed, only one thing matters – survival. At all costs. The book is unapologetic, brutal and devoid of any conscience. One thing you might have noticed in most PA fiction is that that despite facing myriad of odds, the protagonists remain self-conscious. Not in this case.
And that’s what makes this book different and in some ways, better than other post-apocalyptic novels.
Read this work, ye mighty, and despair!