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.
- 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.