Mondy’s Recommended Reading – May 2012

Here we go with my May recommendations.  No commentary, I’m a bit short on time, but I am curious to know what you thought of these stories and what else you liked in May.

For May I read from the following markets:

  • Apex – May
  • Clarkesworld – May
  • Lightspeed – May
  • Aurealis 50
  • Strange Horizons (the May stories)
  • (the May stories)
  • Asimov’s – July
  • Black Static – April / May
  • (the May story)
  • Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan (Twelfth Planet)

Lightspeed – June

Dale Bailey, The Children of Hamelin

Apex – June

Rachel Swirsky, Decomposition

Asimov’s – July

Megan Lindholm, Old Paint

Allen M Steele, Alive and Well, A Long Way From Anywhere

Strange Horizons

Nghi Vo, Tiger Stripes

Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan.

The whole collection is great, but I really loved Bajazzle.  It’s a bug fuck sort of story in a good way.  (Actually, when is bug fuck not good).

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Mondy’s Recommended Reading – April 2012

Apologies for the hiatus.  My Writer and The Critic duties meant that I didn’t read a single short story for two and a bit months.

For April, I read from:

  • Apex – April
  • Clarkesworld – April
  • Lightspeed – April
  • Aurealis 49
  • Strange Horizons (the April stories)
  • (the April stories)
  • Asimov’s – June
  • Fantasy and Science Fiction (May / June)
  • Interzone – March / April
  • (the April story)
  • One Hundred Stories

Asimov’s – June

Megan Arkenberg, Final Exam – This is the second story from Megan Arkenberg that I’ve recommended this year (the first being this one Megan Arkenberg, How Many Miles to Babylon).  Due to its structure, this story could have been pretentious and forced, but I thought it worked.

Bruce McAllister, Free Range – I just adored this hilarious, but played straight, story about alien owls and chickens.

Fantasy and Science Fiction – May / June

Michael Alexander, The Children’s Crusade – I’m not entirely sure what narrative momentum is other than I know it when I see it.  This story has it in droves.  I’d certainly read a novel or suite of stories set in the same Universe.

Matthew Corradi, City League – I wasn’t that keen on Corradi’s last story for F&SF, but this one did bring a lump in the throat.  It’s about the bond between father and son, but also about what happens when a parent can’t let go.

Interzone – March / April

Suzanne Palmer, Tangerine, Nectarine, Clementine, Apocalypse
Awesome title matched by a very good story and a neat piece of far SF world building.

One Hundred Stories (Rob Shearman)

Lura Poland – Pillow menus!… and Craig Boardman – The best story about circus clowns you’ll read this year.

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Cracklescape, Margo Lanagan

You know what? I haven’t been keeping up. I haven’t read all the regular zines I’ve been meaning to. Not a fraction of them.

But what I have read is Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan. And it’s brilliant!

I’m in an awkward position when it comes to recommending the Twelve Planets series, published by fellow Last Short Storyier Alisa Krasnostein, because not only is she a friend and colleage, but she published my book as part of the series. But this is Margo freaking Lanagan, okay? (also a friend) It’s pretty much destined to be an important book that gets talked about.

So no pressure there. But I was blown away by this little collection of four stories, which feel like the queen of weirding-you-out literary fantasy has levelled up yet again. She’s writing here about ghosts and aliens (or ghostly aliens, or alienating ghosts) but with those lyrical descriptions that make you wonder, actually, if you know what’s going on at all.

And instead of a fantastical OtherPlace as so many of her most well known stories are set, the Cracklescape pieces are firmly lodged in Australia, in modern suburbia or near history, in beach and sand and dust and grit and heat.

I think my favourite story (the one I personally like best and want to be friends with) is The Duchess Dresser, and not just because of the excellent title, and because it’s a suburban sharehouse story about a haunted piece of furniture because, come on. Awesome premise.

By far the best of the four, though, is the emotionally charged, tragic and complex and thoughtful Significant Dust, which is the story that needs a World Fantasy award thank you very much. It’s science fiction by only a few more brush strokes than Karen Joy Fowler’s The Pelican Bar was science fiction, but that hardly matters. People who argue if the story is speculative enough will be arguing about the wrong thing. The question is, is this story better than Singing My Sister Down? I don’t know the answer to that, but I think it’s the closest Margo has ever come, and my response to Significant Dust was to stop and then re-read it again all the way through and I never, ever, ever do that.

The other stories are marvellous too, not lacking in any way. The Isles of the Sun is a painful story of teenagehood and motherhood and loss, and the literal metaphor of children that need to fly far from home. Bajazzle is a cheeky, quirky and slightly wicked tale which takes that middle aged man bored with his marriage literary tradition, and doesn’t just poke fun at the trope, but chucks it off the train and waggles rude signs at it.

And I do really like The Duchess Dresser.

But oh, Significant Dust.

I want to read it again.

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Is it May already then?

How time flies!

I intended to post an update once a month but a couple of months seem to have flown by.

In any case, here are a few of the stories I’ve enjoyed since my last post:


Stiltskin… Samantha Boyette (Electric Spec)

River Bride… Nghi Vo (Expanded Horizons)

Treasure Island… Mike Resnick (Subterranean)

Swift, Brutal Retalliation… Megan McCarron (


How about you?

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Mondy’s Recommended Reading – March 2012

Although I’m recommending 7 stories this month, the same as I did in February, overall I was underwhelmed by the quality of the short fiction published in March.  None of it was actively bad… well maybe one story that I couldn’t finish… with most pieces scoring a 3 (out of 5).  Is it possible I’m already burning out – and it’s only March!

I also think it’s worth noting that I haven’t given Clarkesworld a single 4 this year.  Looking at my stats, the majority of the stories have garnered a 3.5, which means their good without being spectacular.  And I did come close this month to giving a 4 to Margaret Ronald’s Sunlight Society, an interesting take on the superhero story.  But after enjoying Clarkesworld so much last year I’m expecting at least one great piece every month.  I don’t know, maybe I’m being too harsh.  Thoughts anyone?

Anyway, this month I read from:

  • Apex
  • Clarkesworld
  • Lightspeed
  • Aurealis 48
  • Strange Horizons
  • Palencar Project
  • Asimov’s – April / May
  • Black Static – February / March
  • One Hundred Stories
  • Subterranean Winter 2012

Asimov’s – April / May

James Patrick Kelly, The Last Judgement – It’s a hard boiled crime story set on a future Earth where enigmatic aliens have wiped out all the men.  While the crime element isn’t particularly interesting, this is offset by the gender issues explored in the story.  For some, this piece might be Gender 101, but for me it provoked all sorts of interesting thoughts.

Sandra McDonald, Sexy Robot Mom.  Gender issues are also at the core of this story about androids built to carry babies full term for couples who are unable too.  It’s a beautifully written piece that takes an unexpected left turn and had me wanting more.

Black Static February / March

Jacob Ruby, The Little Things –  A traditional feeling horror story done very well.  The last couple of paragraphs are especially strong.

VH Leslie, Family Tree – Less traditional and less horrific, but compelling, funny and unsettling. Palencar Project

James Morrow, Thanatos Beach – The best of the Palencar bunch.  Funny and smart with a lovely ambiguous ending.  I’ve missed reading Morrow.  Towing Jehovah is one of my favourite novels.

One Hundred Stories (Rob Shearman)

Judith Jackson and Raphael Klein – Look… just go and read them.  You won’t regret it.


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Stories I have liked

Well the year is marching on, and as usual the January-March reading started slowly. But I have nevertheless come across a few stories that I would recommend:

Ernesto… Alec Nevala-Lee (Analog March)

Murder Born… Robert Reed (Asimovs February)

The Angry Child… Benjamin Rosenbaum (Daily Science Fiction)

River Bride… Nghi Vo (Expanded Horizons)

Water Can’t Be Nervous… Jonathan Carroll (Subterranean)

If you’re bored over the Easter weekend, why not seek them out? You can read the latter three online, and the first two can be bought in ebook form, so there’s no need to leave the house!


(Music: The Decemberists – We All Raise Our Voices to the AIr)

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Catching up on Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Apex

So here I am, leaping into the short story reviewing fray, just a few months behind everyone else. (actually this is quite early for me to be starting – usually I don’t properly leap into the water until April, May or sometimes an extremely panicked June).

So this week I’ve consumed the last three months worth of Clarkesworld, Apex and Strange Horizons. And wrote lovely, erudite reviews of four stories from those magazines, only for WordPress to COMPLETELY eat them. Which didn’t quite make me cry, but almost.

The stories in question were:

“Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas,” by Alberto Yáñez, Strange Horizons January
Bear in Contradicting Landscape, by David J Schwartz, Apex February
“And the Hollow Space Inside,” by Mari Ness, Clarkesworld February
“Sunlight Society,” by Margaret Ronald, Clarkesworld March

One of them is a surreal, vivid story about a writer who may or may not be controlling reality, one is a sharp and cynical portrayal of superhero special ops, one is a devastating examination of what motherhood means when your daughter has been turned into something close to a machine in order to explore space, and one is a gentle and heart-happy-making story of a young trans boy whose family (and fairy godmother) don’t always say the right thing, but are trying very hard.

I could tell you which story was which, but where would be the fun in that?

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