Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Short Fiction - March 2016

Short Fiction - March 2016
[public domain clip art obtained from Wikimedia Commons]

Please excuse the slight delay in this post, and the fact that I've managed to include some April 2016 stories in my March 2016 short story reading, which I'm afraid does not actually make me a time traveler. As I've mentioned in previous posts, my "rule" for my short fiction reading project is that I have to read at least one short story for each day in the year, which means if I miss a day (or three), I then have to make those stories up. I record the date I actually read them, but credit the reading to the assigned day. I also don't allow myself to read ahead, meaning that if I read two stories on any given day, it doesn't count towards the reading of any future date.

And wow, I'm just now realizing how anal-retentive this all sounds. But I was a library cataloger. And anal-retentive is what we do.

Anyway, March got away from me due to the fact that all three of my part-time temp jobs are happening right now, and I took a two-week trip right in the middle of the month that left surprisingly little time for reading. But now I've finally caught up for March, and here are my favorites:

"The Blood Tree War" by Daniel Ausema

Length: 1,251 words
Category: Short story (dark fantasy)
Where Published: Diabolical Plots
When Published: 2016-04-01
Link (free)

There's some bloodthirsty (pun intended) yet lovely imagery in this short piece about trees fighting for dominance on a battlefield where many have fallen. I'd call this a very effective and atmospheric mood piece.

"The World as Seen by Angels" by Olivia Berrier

Length: 999 words
Category: Short story (fantasy)
Where Published: Every Day Fiction
When Published: 2015-03-01
Link (free)

Well, this was a complete surprise. I'm an atheist and therefore don't believe in gods or angels, yet I found this to be a lovely, life-affirming story. The metaphors for depression and suicide were particularly fitting. For me, this short piece of flash fiction is the epitome of a fictional religious story -- powerful but not defensive, if that makes sense. Highly recommended.

"P.G. Holyfield’s Magnificent Travelling Spectacular" by K.T. Bryski

Length: unknown
Category: Short story (fantasy)
Where Published: Tales of a Tesla Ranger: A Tribute to PG Holyfield (anthology)
When Published: 2014
Link (available for purchase)

Part of my March trip was for a writing retreat, where I met, among others, the author of this story, K.T. Bryski; one of the anthology's editors, Tee Morris (*); and the writer who lent me this book, Tim Dodge. This book is a tribute to a writer and colleague of theirs, PG Holyfield, who passed away very quickly after an initial cancer diagnosis.

In this particular story, a young woman suffering from anxiety and depression is enchanted when a mysterious circus arrives outside her apartment window, for an engagement lasting only three nights. The ringmaster, PG Holyfield, shows the young woman that possibilities exist that she previously could not have dreamed of.

I'm a sucker for magical circus stories, such as Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and Kij Johnson's "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss", the latter of which I read only recently. This story contained that same sense of magic, and was a lovely tribute to a man I never got to meet, but whom I'm told liked to draw out the potential he saw in others.

(* to whom I'm very grateful for introducing me to Mad Max: Fury Road, which I've since watched again with subtitles so I wouldn't miss a single line!)

"Millepora" by Shannon Peavey

Length: 977 words
Category: Short story (science fiction)
Where Published: Flash Fiction Online
When Published: 2016-03
Link (free)

This short piece is about a slow transformation from being human to becoming something else, and how the affected people -- and the unaffected who must yet witness the transformation -- react to the situation. It reminded me in some ways of one of my all-time favorite short stories, "Waiting for the Rain" by Dirk Strasser.

One last note: although none of the four Ian Fleming stories I listened to was a favorite in terms of story, I can say that Tom Hiddleston is an amazing narrator!

Other stories read in March 2016:

(alphabetical by author)

- "One's Company" by Davian Aw (2016)
- "Sorry Fugu" by T.C. Boyle (original publication 1987; audio CD reprint 2007)
- "The Memory Who Became a Girl" by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks (2016)
- ""The Human is Late to Feed the Cat" by Beth Cato (2016)
- "Happiness is in Your Genes" by Kevin Cheeseman (2016)
- "Let There Be Light" by Qiufan Chen (2016)
- "Eve of Sin City" by Sylvia Day (original 2010; audio reprint 2014)
- "Bolt" by David Elzey (2015)
- "007 in New York" by Ian Fleming (original 1963; audio reprint 2014)
- "The Living Daylights" by Ian Fleming (original 1962; audio reprint 2014)
- "Octopussy" by Ian Fleming (original 1965; audio reprint 2014)
- "The Property of a Lady" by Ian Fleming (original 1963; audio reprint 2014)
- "The Unthreading" by Matt Handle (year unknown)
- "Making the Cut" by Jeffrey Howe (2016)
- "My Blurry Girlfriend" by Michael Jaoui (2016)
- "Meltwater" by Benjamin C. Kinney (2016)
- "When Last We Left" by Andrew Kozma (2016)
- "Earth Hour" by Ken MacLeod (original 2011; audio reprint 2014)
- "Rocket Man" by Lynette Mejia (2016)
- "Degrees of Separation" by Ruth Nestvold (2015)
- "What's in the Blend" by K.C. Norton (2016)
- "The Stories She Tells Herself" by Kelly Sandoval (2016)
- "The President's Brain is Missing" by John Scalzi (original 2010; audio reprint 2014)
- "The Dauphin’s Metaphysics" by Eric Schwitzgebel (2015)
- "Overtime" by Charles Stross (original 2009; audio reprint 2014)
- "Shovelware" by Bogi Tak√°cs (2016)
- "Ajdenia" by Natalia Theodoridou (2016)
- "Semper Fi, Mac" by Tammi J. Truax (2016)
- "Foreign Tongues" by John Wiswell (2016)
- "Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station | Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0" by Caroline M. Yoachim (2016)
- "You Are Not the Hero of This Story" by Caroline M. Yoachim (2016)

List of the sources from which these stories came:

(alphabetical by anthology title, magazine title, website name, etc.)

- Abyss & Apex, 2015 (third quarter)
- Daily Science Fiction, March 2016; Apr 2016
- Diabolical Plots, March 2016
- Fireside Fiction, Apr 2016
- Flash Fiction Online, Apr 2016
- Lightspeed, March 2016
- Mash Stories, March 2016
- Nature, March 2016
- Octopussy and The Living Daylights, and Other Stories (audio collection, Ian Fleming Publications, Ltd. and Blackstone Audio, 2014)
- One Teen Story, Nov 2015; Feb 2016
- Selected Shorts: Food Fictions (audio CD anthology, 2007)
- Strange Horizons, March 2016
- Tales of a Tesla Ranger: A Tribute to PG Holyfield (anthology, PG Holyfield's Childrens Trust, 2014)
- Tor.com: Selected Original Fiction, 2008-2012 (audio collection, Brilliance Audio, 2014)
- Unlikely Story: The Journal of Unlikely Academia, Oct 2015

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