February Reads, Part 1

Forgiveness, by Leah Cypress (Asimovs February) is a thoughtful and well-characterised YA story of relationship violence, and the impact on the mental state of the victim. It’s a smart, emotionally complicated story.

The Sound of Useless Wings by Cecil Castellucci (tor.com)  is a nice SF/fantasy story about a young alien, bullied by his bigger brothers and doomed to a life of drudgery, and his dreams of better things. A sweet story with an engaging alien species, well told.

Karma Among the Cloud Kings by Brian Trent (Analog March) is an interesting story about a future society of Jainists trying to reconcile their moral code with life on an alien planet. I found the climax a touch contrived, but nonetheless, found it an enjoyable story, with an engaging central premise.

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January stats

Just in case anyone is interested, a couple of stats.

During January, we recorded 213 short stories published in the venues we follow.

Of those, I’ve read or partly read 73.

The distribution of my scores for the stories I’ve read looks like this:

5 – 1

4.5 – 2

4 – 4

3.5 – 5

3 – 46 

2.5 – 5

2 – 10

As you can see, 3 is my default score, for a story that’s competently written but for whatever reason, doesn’t grab me. A story has to be particularly hard to read to score a 2 or a 1, and has to be above average to score a 4, and a great story to score a 5

Anyway, it’s February! Onward…

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January Reads, Part 3

I enjoyed Headwater LLC, by Sequoia Nagamatsu (Lightspeed), a sad fantasy story about a young girl who discovers a group of mythic creatures and winds up being the cause of their enslavement. Gentle and well-characterised, with some nice fantasy touches.

In Animal Magnetism by Shannon Peavey (Urban Fantasy), Harry has a ghost in his throat, and his wife Della is seeking a cure. They are given snails to help them communicate, but the cure is unusual and complicated. I loved this story; a really imaginative idea, and some lovely ambiguous touches, and really nice writing. Another new author I’ll be keeping an eye on.

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January Reads, Part 2

The Apartment Dweller’s Bestiary by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld) is a list of imaginary pets, pests and other creatures that share the apartments of people. It’s not so much a story as it is a snapshot of various moments and feelings. It’s a nicely written, evocative story.

Sometimes there’s an element of sychronicity in a  writer’s career. Every so often a writer seems to come out of nowhere and suddenly they appear to be everywhere. It’s partly perception, of course. And it helps if they have as memorable a name as Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam.

I enjoyed He Came from a Place of Openness and Truth (Lightspeed), a real-feeling love story about two young guys, one of whom is an alien. Some lovely relationship moments.

Even more enjoyable was her story, Nostalgia, in the January issue of Interzone. It’s a story about a young woman and her addiction to a nostalgia drug. As with the previous story, it’s not so much what happens as how it’s told that makes the story stand out. Believable relationships and some interesting gender concepts, written with a subtle but powerful touch. Moving.

Definitely a writer I’ll be keeping an eye out for!

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January Reads Part 1

So it’s the new year! Welcome to 2015, gentle reader. (/s?)


Here are a couple of stories I’ve enjoyed in the very early stages of the year.


Ninety-Five Percent Safe by Caroline Yoachim (Asimovs January)

A sad YA-feeling story about future Earth and its colonies, a young girl who wants to get away, and the consequences


Cabaret Obscuro by Julian Mortimer-Smith (Crossed Genres)

An evocative imagining of life in a fantasy city where non-humans are oppressed and converge on a small cabaret/strip club for community. A well written story with some imaginative fantasy touches.

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*tap tap*

Is this blog still working? It’s been a while, right?

Is anyone still following it, or did you all lose it when bloglines shut?

I’ve suddenly found myself reading short fiction again, after a long break. So I thought I’d share a couple of stories I’ve enjoyed.

Sixty Years in the Women’s Province by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Giganotosaurus) is a lovely story about a woman in a world that moves at a time-scale at odds with Earth’s, so time moves faster her than there. It’s an all-women society where women marry and reproduce by drinking from a river. It’s a fun story with lots of cool ideas, but it’s the characterisation that really stands out; the central characters are really well drawn and their relationships are poignant. 

I also really enjoyed the author’s story in the latest Solaris Rising anthology, so she’s definitely an author I’ll be looking out for more stories from.

Somewhat different in tone, I also enjoyed A Marriage of True Minds, by Samantha Memi (Birkensnake). It’s pretty much an absurd nonsense story, but it made me smile.

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Brave New Love, edited by Paula Guran

My short story reading has dived badly this year, but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up! In particular there are a bunch of anthologies I’m keen to get through, so I am hoping at least to put a solid list of favourites together by the end of the year.

Brave New Love, edited by Paula Guran, is a solid YA anthology looking at dystopian love stories. I was impressed at how cohesive the tone of the book felt, considering that the range of dystopian societies is quite wide and varied. And I was very pleased at the diverse interpretations of what ‘love story’ entailed.

The standout story for me was Diana Peterfreund’s “Foundlings,” which takes the current societal/media trend of publicly shaming and distrusting pregnant women, and extends it to what should be absurd proportions but, um, aren’t actually that unrealistic. In a world where teen pregnancy is outlawed, and pregnant teens are “disappeared” from society for their own protection, one girl has to risk everything to keep her twin sister safe. I thought this was a rich, thoughtful story which prioritised sisterly love over romantic (though there’s a hint of that too) and added another important story to a growing body of YA science fiction dealing with themes of fertility and biology.

Another standout story for me in this anthology was William Sleator’s “Eric and Pan” which presents a love story between a US boy and a Thai migrant boy in an only slightly-future where homosexuality is outlawed. I thought that the culture of fear and illegality was conveyed well, as was the different vulnerabilities/privilege levels of the two boys. Plus a rolicking good story.

I also really enjoyed Nisi Shawl’s “Otherwise,” Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s “The Up,” and Elizabeth Bear’s “The Salt Sea and the Sky.”

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