On a scale of 1-10, here are my eights and nines, the nines being starred. No tens this month.
- Fantastic Stories does more reprints than originals (I’m trying to skip the reprints so I have more time for originals), but the two originals were both eights this month.
- Nightmare does half and half on reprints; both their originals pleased me quite a bit this month.
- Fireside Fiction was an eight, a nine, and two sevens. High-five.
- If you are looking for surreal fantasy, Lackington’s is the way to go this month. They didn’t all hit for me, but man did they commit to their subgenre.
- This month was a good reading month, with lots of sevens supporting these eights and nines. Not a lot of “I normally hate this kind of story but…” stories, unlike last month. Not a lot of straight action stories this month to get the blood pumping, let alone ones that knocked it out of the park. Hm.
“Heirloom Pieces” – Lisa L. Hannett, in Apex Magazine, Issue 69. SF. “Catering was potluck. Potluck, for God’s sake.” A nice, twisty story.
“The King in the Cathedral” – Rich Larson, in Beyond Ceaseless Skies, Issue 166. Fantasy. Personally, I like to think the game they’re playing is really Settlers of Cataan and that’s how the plot of the movie’s going to go. It should.
“Meshed” – also by Rich Larson, in Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 101. SF. Shares a lot of subtler elements with the previous stories. I should look this guy up; I like his stuff.
“Weight of the World” – Jose Pablo Iriarte, in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Feb 2015. SF. “We weren’t going to Earth to bury my boy. We weren’t.”
“She Opened Her Arms” – Amanda C. Davis, in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Feb 2015. Fantasy. “Just think how smart he’d be if he were normal.”
*”How the Grail Came to the Fisher King” – Sarah Avery, in Fantasy Scroll Magazine, Issue 5. Fantasy. “Sir Percival spurred the borrowed police horse as far as the corner of York Avenue and 67th…” Especially good.
*”To Fall, and Pause, and Fall” – Lisa Nohealani Morton, in Fireside Fiction, Issue 20. SF Horror. Wolfian, with the ending of the plot buried in the middle. Suggest reading it twice, if you like stories you have to read twice.
“A Silly Love Story” – Nino Cipri, in Fireside Fiction, Issue 20. Fantasy. “There is something haunting Jeremy’s closet.”
*”Duplicate” – Crystal Lynn Hilbert, in Flash Fiction Online, Feb 2015. “On the stand, I plead the fifth. A day passes while they argue whether I am able to.
I am a copy, they say. I am not the real woman. She is nearing thirty; I am barely three years old.” Especially good. More pure story in [cough] words than I can usually pack into ten thousand.
“Unravelling” – Julia August, in Lackington’s, Issue 5. Surreal fantasy. ““Follow your dreams,” she said and flicked her spindle so that the crosspieces blurred. It was a Turkish spindle of the sort that comes apart into wooden fragments. I couldn’t see her eyes, which troubled me. ‘Yes. That sounds good.'”
“After the Rain” – Polenth Blake, in Lackington’s, Issue 5. Surreal Fantasy, weird timey wimey things. “I’m ten or seven when it starts to rain.”
“The Garden” – Karen Munroe, in Nightmare Magazine, Issue 29. Horror. There’s a particular element in the story I just always like, but…yes, I think it’s a good piece regardless.
*”Descent” – Carmen Maria Machado, in Nightmare Magazine, Issue 29. Horror. It saves the impact for the last line. Especially good.
*”The Ticket Taker of Cenote Zaci” – Benjamin Parzybok, in Strange Horizons, 2 Feb 2015. Horror. I originally read this and gave it an eight – but it’s the story that’s still stuck in my head at the end of the month, so I bumped it up.
“Love Letters to Things Lost and Things Gained” – Sunny Moraine, in Uncanny, Issue 2. SF. About an artificial arm.
Honorable mentions: “Nostalgia” – Bonne Jo Stufflebeam, in Interzone, Issue 256. Addicted to the past. It’s an eight, but ach, this issue says it’s from Dec. 2014, so I guess an honorable mention it is.
“Daily Teds” – Ron Collins, in Analog, April 2015. Although I had issues with the frame story and ending and so can’t give it a proper eight, this is the story that made me laugh out loud. Hard SF with a sense of humor.