I know I’ve been away for some time, but I want you to know that I never forgot any of you.
Anyway, now that we’re zooming toward the end of the year, I thought I’d snap out of my stupor and start posting some of my short story recs.
I’ve begun with Clarkesworld because I really rate it as a venue for smart, well written short stories written by a diverse range of writers – both gender and race.
When I’d last reviewed Clarkesworld in January and April this year I’d been really impressed by the quality of the stories. Of the four shorts I’d read I’d given three of them a four out of five. Not a bad strike rate.
Of course this did raise my expectations a tad. So I’ve been a little disappointed that in reading the next twelve stories (covering March to August), I’ve only given two of them a mark above 4. That doesn’t mean that the other pieces were dreadful – for example there’s a Nnedi Okorafor story in March’s issue, The Book of Phoenix (Excerpted from The Great Book), which came very close to getting a 4 – but overall I wasn’t wowed by the bulk of what Clarkesworld had on offer.
Still, I absolutely fell in love with E. Lily Yu’s The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees, which featured in April’s issue. From it’s opening line,
For longer than anyone could remember, the village of Yiwei had worn, in its orchards and under its eaves, clay-colored globes of paper that hissed and fizzed with wasps…
this politically charged story about imperial wasps, submissive bees and the anarchists that hide amongst the ranks has a wonderful fable-like momentum about it. If you’re going to read one talking insect story this year, make sure it’s this one.
My second 4/5 of story was Frozen Voice by An Owomoyela which featured in the July edition. On the surface the story has a whiff of the cliche about it; the idea of using aliens invading Earth as a metaphor for cultural impearlism and loss of identity. But the alieness of the aliens – they’re frightened by the written word and have banned all books – in conjunction with the plight of the young female protagonist and her brother looking for their mom, adds another layer to this compelling piece.