Hope everyone is staying safe and well during these mad days! What’s everyone been reading this month? Mine are below!
What’s everyone reading? Any recommendations?
I have fallen in love with sci-fi short stories. There’s something quite fun about a short, to the point story with a punchy setting. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to sit down with a big ol’ book of sci-fi even when you’re in the mood, so the short ones are really good for giving you something fun to read that you can finish in under an hour. I started the year with The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin and The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S.A. Corey, and then I was directed to Tor by a friend of mine a month or so ago, and have since I’ve found so many wonderful short stories. I also don’t know why it’s taken me so long to discover the awesomeness that are online science fiction magazines! I feel so behind, honestly.
Some of my favourites from Tor have been A Kiss With Teeth by Max Gladstone, Skinner Box by Carole Johnstone, The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging by Harry Turtledove, Into the Gray by Margaret Killjoy, These Deathless Bones by Cassandra Khaw, The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin, and His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light by Mimi Mondal. They’re all available online and I definitely recommend checking them out.
After Tor, I found Uncanny Magazine. They often offer audible versions of the stories, too! I haven’t had the chance to read loads, but I really, really liked And All the Trees of the Forest Shall Clap Their Hands by Sharon Hsu and The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander. I’m going to dive more into the stories soon. I can’t wait!
There’s also Clarkesworld Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, and Asimov’s Science Fiction. I just listened to the audible version of Her Appetite, His Heart by Dominica Phetteplace. Lots of free stories, lots of audible versions. It’s just a plethora of sci-fi/fantasy goodness. Additionally, a kind-hearted soul on Goodreads created lists for Tor shorts, Lightspeed Magazine shorts, and Clarkesworld Magazine shorts that are really helpful if you want to go back to the beginning. 😉
Does anyone have any short stories magazines they love? Share them with me! I’m on a roll.
Mini Review Roundup:
Can a cognitive neuroscientist be fooled? Can an expert in the field of deep learning and AI evolution be unknowingly coerced? Can a genius be corrupted? Can a manipulator be manipulated?
Wow. This started out one kind of intense and then turned into a whole other kind of intense and I’m fairly darn impressed. Be sure to mind the warnings at the top, but I definitely recommend this! A very dark, riveting sci-fi short.
All Around the Watchtower by Ben Haskett | science fiction, short story
As soon as we awoke to those alarms, I just wanted to go back into the pod.
What a great sci-fi short!
And All the Trees of the Forest Shall Clap Their Hands in Uncanny Magazine by Sharon Hsu | available for free here. | fantasy, short story
War, it turns out, is the easiest thing of all to make anywhere.
This was utterly gutting, but so beautifully written.
This is super cute and the art is wonderful. ^____^
Now, the King’s subjects knew all about this particular forest, and avoided it like the plague, and if the Prince had thought to ask them they could have easily told him why this was so. If you know a blessed thing about royalty, however, you’ll have already guessed that he had bothered doing no such thing.
What an absolute delight this was! This is a humorous short story about three raptors and a princess against an awful prince.
An Angry Earth by Michael Poeltl
A world like ours is alive. We share it with the plants, animals, fish and insects. We share it. Every living thing is important to sustaining life as we know it …
I’d liken this story to The Wump World, which is one of my all time favourite books, and the one that made me an environmentalist before I could even spell the word. Impressing upon everyone the fragility of our world and the damage that’s being wrought by thoughtless greed is so, so important.
Bonus points for the use of the library in the story. Everyone should be encouraged to go and dig through their tomes to find information. The drawings, too, were very well done.
Ponies by Kij Johnson
This one honestly broke my heart and really horrified me. I mean, I think that was the point. And if you like horror stories that are trying to teach a lesson, this one might be for you, but it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.
Cold Wind by Nicola Griffith: It was one of the most pernicious fallacies, common the world over: old ways are best. But old ways can outlast their usefulness. Old ways can live on pointlessly in worlds that have no room for them.
A good dark fantasy tale about predator and prey.
These Deathless Bones by Cassandra Khaw: Bones do not lie.
Well, that disturbed me on EVERY. POSSIBLE. LEVEL.
A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong: If I could knit you a crown of potential futures like the daisies you braided together for me when we were young, I would.
This had a really interesting premise and the prose was lovely, though I do wish there was a bit more detail.
Worth Her Weight in Gold by Sarah Gailey: Winslow Remington Houndstooth, creator of the best and rarest breed of hippo in the United States of America, notorious outlaw, handsomest heartbreaker in the American South.
I liked the hippo, but I wish there was a bit more to the story.
Into the Gray by Margaret Killjoy: I only led the foul men with filth on their tongues, the rich men who contrived to rule other men. I only led the men with hatred in their hearts and iron in their hands.
A quick, engrossing story about a thief, the mermaid she’s in love with, and the men they lure to the water’s edge.
A Forest, or a Tree by Tegan Moore: There was something awful, May thought, awful in the original sense of the word, about looking up.
The cover totally caught my eye, but I felt like the story itself needed more.
The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging by Harry Turtledove: “We had to wear yellow stars on our clothes, with Jood on them. That’s Jew in Dutch,” Anne said. “We couldn’t use trams. We had to give up our bicycles. We weren’t allowed to ride in cars. We had to shop late in the afternoon, when there was next to nothing left to buy. We couldn’t even visit Christians in their houses or apartments. We couldn’t go out at all from eight at night to six in the morning. We had to go to only Jewish schools and Jewish barbers and Jewish beauty parlors. We couldn’t use public swimming pools or tennis courts or sports fields or—well, anything.”
This story is an alternate WWII history tale that hit me like a punch. It’s such an important read. Let us never forget the past. Let us never forget what was done to innocent people who deserved life. But this story does something beautiful – rather than painting a grim future, this gives us such a lovely change to the past. In the best, most heartbreaking way. It follows an elderly woman recounting to school kids about how she and her family survived. And the twist will make you cry. I know I did.
This is one of those stories you really wish was real (and perhaps a heartbreaking side-effect of alternative history – all the things that should have been). You know that feeling of joy you get when you reach the end of Inglourious Basterds and just start cheering? It’s that sort of closure.
Selfies by Lavie Tidhar: In some cultures they believe that every photo takes away a little bit of your soul.
I wish there’d been a bit more in terms of detail and explanation, but overall I liked it.
A Kiss With Teeth by Max Gladstone: He wants to be her monster.
I really liked the way this story played out.
The Girlfriend’s Guide to Gods by Maria Dahvana Headley: You stand at the mouth of your own cave, looking out over your own kingdom. You step off the cliff when you feel like it, and you spread your wings and soar.
This was just awesome.
Lullaby for a Lost World by Aliette de Bodard: You do not rest. You cannot forgive. You are not safe—you never were.
This really reminded me of The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. The overall tone is quite depressing, though the writing was good. It’s really, really bleak though. 😦
The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin: What good does it do to be valuable, if nobody values you?
Well, that was just badass.
**I really recommend Tor’s original fiction section. There are some truly good ones there!**
When Red Cried Wolf (Happily Ever Asher #1) by Nash Summers | lgbt, short story
His roommate, Morgan, had been like an elusive baby deer, skittering off into the woods at the first sign of human life. Asher usually made sure not to make direct eye contact or any sudden movements around him for fear of scaring him off.
I thought this was a cute start to the trilogy and it definitely left me wanting more, but Asher was a bit too much at times. Dude needed to chill about how much he loves love, haha. Morgan was my favourite and I’m excited to see how their relationship develops in the next two.
His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light by Mimi Mondal | lgbt, short story
And then there was an arm around my waist, holding me upright again, there was a hand wiping dust, blood, and tears from my eyes. It was Shehzad Marid—ever loving, ever loyal, always on my side in my hour of need.
This was a really good short story about a trapeze master and his jinni. Available online here.
Lovers (Voyeur #2) by Fiona Cole | lgbt, romance
“I miss you. You won’t touch me, or kiss me, or sit with me, or hold me. Nothing. And I fucking miss you.”
I haven’t read the first one in the series and I’m not sure I’m bothered to read the rest of it, but I did enjoy this one. It follows Jake, Jackson and Carina in a love ménage à trois that becomes increasingly complicated due to Jake and Jackson’s past and their intense friendship.
Variations on an Apple by Yoon Ha Lee | lgbt, short story
It smelled of diesel hearts and drudgery and overcrowded colonies; of battery acid gone bad and bromides and foundered courtships. Intoxicating, yes, but in the way of verses etched unwanted upon the spirit’s cracked windows.
The imagery and descriptions in this are gorgeous. Available online here.
The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu | lgbt, short story
This is the man who seconds ago risked going insane in order to feel soul-rending pain for fun. How can he suddenly look so vulnerable?
This was so random and quite good, if a bit too abrupt. I feel like I needed more information and development on the rain and on the sister. I’ve rarely hated a character so much who appears so briefly, but I wanted that addressed more in depth because she was horrible. Available online here.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns – I’m loving this so far. It’s about the rise of an evil queen and she’s honestly so enjoyably unlikeable, haha. The main character, Xifeng, has been told all her life that she’s going to be the Empress one day. Her aunt’s abusive, but can access dark magic that involves blood and sacrifice. Her boyfriend, Wei, adores her, hates her aunt, and wants a simple life with a wife and a good living. Xifeng wants more, though. She wants what her aunt says she deserves. She wants to be the Empress. She wants magic and power. I’m about 1/3 of the way through it and find her intriguing, though deeply troubled.
Adrift – This one is awesome, I just need to actually spend more time with it. I keep getting distracted by other books that I’m going through this one slower than I otherwise would. But it’s great. The premise is a tour group in outer space are left stranded after an unknown attacker destroys every other ship in the area. The who or why isn’t clear yet, but it reminds me of Firefly and The Expanse. Can’t wait to see how this ends.
The White City – Set in a dystopian London besieged by endless winter, this story follows Hera after her brother is arrested. I only just started it, but it’s really intriguing and I’m curious to see where it goes.
What’s everyone else reading?