I have caught up on Clarkesworld and Fantasy for the year so far! Woohoo! Since everyone else is getting geared up for proper Last Short Story reading now rather than panicking in July like usual (I don’t count Mondy, starry eyed greenhorn that he is, the cynicism will hit him next year!), I thought I’d better pull my own socks up.
Here then are my picks so far for 2011 from both mags. For the record, it’s 2/10 for Clarkesworld and 3/14 for Fantasy. Which suggests a similar hit rate for both as of this week.
“The Book of Phoenix (excerpted from the Great Book),” by Nnedi Okorafor – I found this story difficult to get into in the opening paragraphs because it felt like a very unemotional reporting of events, but as I continued, I was swept up into a very deep, layered science fiction narrative (I thought at first it tended towards the fantasy but on reflection I think it does not). The story deals quite powerfully with the idea of people created artificially for purposes other than life, and while it is presented as a fractured piece of a larger narrative, it is very self-contained and satisfying.
“Whose Face Is This I Do Not Know,” Cat Rambo – an intriguing examination of a creature born from a vat, who can shift not only her shape but also her gender, and the way that humans interact with her. I wasn’t entirely sure that the story answered all of the questions it raised about A.J., but I was interested enough all the way through and the characters is so vivid and real despite her bizarre circumstances.
“Ghost Girl.” Lauren Beukes – a fun, clever story about a teenage boy, the angsty emo ghost girl who haunts him, and architecture. I seem to have seen this story type around the traps a lot lately, but this is a good, character-led example of it and I think the first piece of Beukes’ fiction that I’ve ever read. Looking forward to more now.
“The Sandal-Bride,” Genevieve Valentine – a gentle, amiable story about strangers who become companions on a spice trading cart. An almost-romance, a story about stories people tell, and a brief glimpse into a wider world.
“The Devil in Gaylord’s Creek,” by Sarah Monette – somewhere between Buffy and Dead Like Me, we get a tough-talking, tattooed teenage dead girl with a sword, and some supernatural doings in a small town. I enjoyed the voice and pace of this story a lot – Monette has a talent for snappy, angsty dialogue, and stories that reveal deeper layers the further they go. This one felt a long way from the beautiful prose of the Doctrine of the Labyrinth novels, but I liked it very much.