My love of sci-fi/fantasy shorts continues and I’ve read a few more this week: Noah’s Raven by Kij Johnson in Lightspeed Magazine, and Blue Morphos in the Garden by Lis Mitchell and Sinew and Steel and What They Told by Carrie Vaughn on Tor.
Extinction can be as global as all, or as personal as me.
I listened to the audiobook version of Noah’s Raven by Kij Johnson, which was definitely unexpected. It’s a take on Noah’s Ark that, for me, brought to mind Snowpiercer (for reasons I won’t spoil, though I’m still like WHAT). Johnson’s writing is undeniably captivating and there were several lines in the story that really stood out for me.
Will be coming back to this issue to check out the rest of the stories, for sure.
Blue Morphos in the Garden by Lis Mitchell
“I know,” I say to him, taking his hand. “Butterflies aren’t the same.”
The premise of this story is so interesting and tackles the question of choice and death in a really unique way. I read it on a whim and ended up quite liking it! Available here.
Sinew and Steel and What They Told by Carrie Vaughn
We go out into the galaxy and collect stories, and then we bring them home.
I really liked this one. Graff is injured on the job and when he’s brought in and doesn’t die from what would otherwise be life-threatening injuries, everyone on his ship has a lot of questions, including his boyfriend, Doctor Ell. Definitely recommend! Available here.
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 Stationby 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.
Skinner Box by Carole Johnstone | available for free here. | science fiction, short story, romance, horror
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.
I’m so, so happy to share my new novella with everyone! In this story you shall find: space shenanigans, a grumpy cat and a grumpier MC, friendship and banter, no romance, lots of adventure, and one dastardly group determined to ruin everyone’s day.
Synopsis:In the near future, humans have gone beyond simple space travel. By the year 4054, multiple solar systems are inhabited, and taking a spaceship is as commonplace as taking an aeroplane.
Unfortunately, not everything about the future is so advanced. The central planets, led by Earth, have risen high at the expense of cheap labour on distant worlds. Dissent is widespread and arrests are common. Sometimes prisoners are released; sometimes they disappear without a trace, sent to labour camps in other solar systems.
When Ames Emerys receives a letter telling him that his brother Callum has died en route to the remote planet of Kilnin, he takes the first ship he can off Earth, desperate for answers. But the secrets Ames uncovers prove far more dangerous than he could have imagined.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.