There was an article in The Guardian the other day by a writer who made the bizarre assertion that while brick-thick fantasy novels are a dime a dozen, it’s “very difficult” to find fantasy short stories – or, at least, ones that don’t rely on associated novels to have done their world building for them. Presumably the author means “very difficult to find” without turning on the internets or leaving the house and going to, oh I don’t know, a library, a bookshop or a newsagent. Plenty of people have already gone to town on the ridiculousness of the central claim in the offending article’s comments section, so there’s no need to say any more about that here.
The author’s secondary assumption, however, is illuminating. Her deduction from the purported absence of fantasy short stories (in her house, with the internets off) is that they don’t exist because you can’t build a fantastical setting in a few thousand words. What this seems to betray is a fundamentally arse-backwards understanding of the relationship between world building and story.