After some debate, I have determined that I just have to read what’s available–there’s just no way I can conveniently handle the whole issue-that-came-out-in-January-but-says-it’s-the-March-issue thing that the Dell Magazines do.  I just can’t.  Also, I think I’m behind a few stories from various places…they’ll have to show up as I get to them.  I’ll make sure to mark the correct month.

I’m also not going to tell you the total short stories that I read every month, because working that out would be more time spent given my current, otherwise convenient setup than it’s worth.

I rate on a scale of one to ten, with one to five essentially being “did not finish.”  The stories here are eights and nines, with the nines being starred.  No tens this month.

A note: Freakin’ Fireside, man.  All three of their stories were an 8/10 for me this month.

Blah blah blah–onward to the stories!

“On the Night of the Robo-Bulls and Zombie Dances” – Nick Wolven, Asimov’s Feb 2015.  A literally sleep-deprived future, filled with stress and madness as people work more…and more…  The story lurches weirdly but appropriately in places.

Pocosin” – Ursula Vernon, Apex Magazine, Jan 2015.  One of those quasi-humble/folksy godling stories that should be too cheesy to read, but is instead really excellent.

The Apartment Dweller’s Bestiary” – Kij Johnson, Clarkesworld, Jan 2015.  A list of monsters to be found in one’s apartment, if one were living in a world of monsters.  A lovely mythology, Kafkaesque if Kafka had a gentler sense of humor.  Took a big risk on losing the reader due to apparent repetition, but I think it works.

Tuesdays with Molokesh the Destroyer” – Megan Grey, Fireside, Jan 15.  A solid YA fantasy, full of danger and sweetness.

She Waits” – Laurel Halbany, Fireside, Jan 15.  I am so sick of mythological retellings, because they’re usually told with sledgehammers.  But this one, about Medusa, is non-ranty and subtle, short but dense with ah! moments.

Who We Once Were, Who We Will Never Be” – Brent Baldwin, Fireside, Jan 15.  A just-so story of surpassing sad-but-trueness.  I normally hate these mini-episodic stories with pretentious titles, mostly as a method of keeping me from constantly writing bad ones, I think.  But this flash piece was excellent.

Cliona’s Coat” – Leslianne Wilder, Flash Fiction Online, Jan 15.  In the interest of not spoiling it, I won’t say.  But filled with scent and memory.

Beautiful Boys” – Theodora Goss, Lightspeed, Jan 2015.  A handy SF myth for something you see all the time.  Goes down smooth as whiskey.

*”The Absence of Words” – Swapna Kishore, Mythic Delirium, Jan 2015.  A family inheritance of anger.  Excellent.

Returned” – Kat Howard, Nightmare, Jan 2015.  The opening was, to be honest, more of an eyeroller than a grabber, but I pushed on because I like Kat Howard: poor dead woman, her man done her wrong blah blah blah…but that ending.  I’m a sucker for a good ending.

*”The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History” – Sam J. Miller, Uncanny, Jan 2015. Mostly these fake oral history stories don’t work for me, but this one knocked it out of the park.  On the Stonewall riots.  I espeically loved the unromanticized descriptions of the place.  Excellent.

Honorable mention: “Folding Beijing” – Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu, Uncanny, Jan 2015.  Certainly the most inventive idea I ran across this month:  a timeshare story, where the city of Beijing is divided between the haves and have-nots by a) stasis and b) literal folding of the city.  However, I kept drifting out of it, and finally left after a major section break.  This will probably get a bunch of awards because of the idea, but the telling couldn’t pull me through personally.

Personal observations:

  • If you don’t write fiction that pulls me through the story, then I don’t care about your ideas.  I really don’t.  As soon as I catch myself start skimming, I’m out.
  • As a result, I think I’m biased toward smaller stories that hit heavily on character and setting and mood, which tends to mean contemporary fantasy.  Ironically, in novel-length I love high fantasy best.  Form.  It’s wonky.
  • As much as I hate certain types of stories, when they’re good I love them.  I noticed that a lot this month.  “I normally hate this kind of thing but…”
  • I need more horror.  Gaaaaah.