Rachel Swirsky: A Brief Short Story Recommendation

I’ve got a couple writing and reading assignments that have me busy right now, but I’ll be doing a post on the first few months of Asimovs and F&SF in 2012 as soon as I can get to it.

In the meantime, I wanted to post a quick short story recommendation.

I’ve been following Matthew Herreshoff for several years now, ever since I stumbled onto one of his stories on the Online Writing Workshop. I invited him to join a private workshop after that where I enjoyed more of his stories. It had long mystified me why he wasn’t published. In my more outre moments, I imagined that he was in fact an industry professional who was working under a sly psuedonym. I mean, he’s just fucking good.

Anyway! He has at last broken that publication boundary. His first published short story came out in Pedestal Magazine a couple of months ago. It’s strange, post-apocalyptic fiction, which I always think of as sort of his ballywick. (He’s got a wonderful story about cockroaches which had better find publication one of these days.) He writes about industry, and post-industrial societies, and decay, and that sense of eerieness those things bring when they’re rusting and empty. Sort of Ballardian in the way that he interacts with the mechanical in the post-human world.

This story is a more human-centered post-apocalypse.

Peace by Matthew Herreshoff:

We were bunkered-up in the old cold-storage plant when they brought the Mary in. “Look what we found,” Baby Bird said, all smiley and proud of hisself.

You never knew what you’d find when you went out foraging. We’d found canned goods, even chocolate, a storeroom full of Pampers, a cache of iodized salt. But this was the first time we’d found a live person. And a Mary! I hadn’t seen a Mary since before the draft-man came. She was bone-thin and wore coveralls, torn and streaked with dirt. And she clutched a bundle in her arms. A baby!

About Rachel Swirsky

Hi, I'm Rachel! I write science fiction and fantasy short stories. I've won the Nebula Award twice, and been nominated for the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, and some other things. My seventy or so short stories are available around the internet as well as in print, and many of them are in my latest collection, How the World Became Quiet. I have a masters degree in fiction from the University of Iowa. I have five cats. I like my cats, but strongly suggest one stops at three. Or two. Excuse me, I have to go take care of cats.
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