Monday, May 2, 2016

Short Fiction - April 2016

[April ... March Madness = the Frozen Four!]

Short Fiction - April 2016

Well, April certainly went by in a blur! There was a film festival, some opera, the symphony, a national college hockey championship (did I mention that my beloved University of North Dakota won the men's Division I championship game at the Frozen Four, and I was on hand to see it?!), and, of course, short story reading. Here are my favorites for the month:

"Mika Model" by Paolo Bacigalupi

Length: 4,375 words
Category: Short story (science fiction)
Where Published: Slate
When Published: 2016-04-26
Link (free)

I loved the writing in this story about a sex/pleasure robot who asks a police detective for a lawyer after confessing to killing her owner, or lessee, actually. The page on which the story appears states that:

This short story was commissioned and edited jointly by Future Tense—a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate—and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. It is the first in Future Tense Fiction, a series of short stories from Future Tense and CSI about how technology and science will change our lives.

There's also a response by an attorney regarding the legal implications in the story, which I found interesting. As to the story itself, upon first read I felt as though the story didn't end, that it left me hanging. But then I realized that just because it didn't have the ending I instinctively wanted didn't mean that it didn't end. In any case, this is definitely worth checking out.

"Memories of My Mother" by Ken Liu

Length: 997 words
Category: Short story (science fiction)
Where Published: Daily Science Fiction
When Published: 2012-03-19
Link (free)

So that film festival I mentioned? I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of my favorite SF short films at this year's Worldfest-Houston was based on a Ken Liu story, which I immediately went and found online. This is a terrific example of someone taking a short story, one that is less than a thousand words long, and turning it into an emotionally gripping short film by both staying true to the original source material and filling in where necessary. To compare the beautifully spare prose version with the visually compelling film version is like comparing apples and oranges; I highly recommend that you experience both formats, in either order.

I suppose I should mention what it's actually about, though, shouldn't I? A terminally ill woman with a young daughter decides to spend the last two years of her life traveling away from Earth and back via relativistic speeds. This gives her the ability to spend a single day/night with her daughter once every seven years, thus allowing her to see her daughter grow into adulthood. The trade-off, of course, is that her daughter has to grieve the loss of her mother after each visit, which denies her closure but gives her something else in return.

My review of the short film is here. (I have to say, the addition of the nightclub scene to the film was quite brilliant, in my opinion.)

"Puff Piece" by Becky Robison

Length: 813 words
Category: Short story (mainstream)
Where Published: Pinball
When Published: 2016
Link (free)

I'm not entirely sure why this little piece of mainstream flash delighted me so much, but it really, truly did. It's about unrequited same-sex love against the backdrop of a middle school class election. It was funny, biting, and poignant, all at the same time. I look forward to checking out more stories from Pinball, which is new to me.

Other stories read in April 2016:

(alphabetical by author)

- "Party Smart Card" by Barrington J. Bayley (original 2006; reprint 2007)
- "RAM SHIFT PHASE 2" by Greg Bear (original 2005; reprint 2007)
- "Bear-bear Speaks" by Beth Cato (2016)
- "How I Lost Eleven Stone and Found Love" by Ian Creasey (2016)
- "The Parasite and the Widow" by Jeremy M. Gottwig (2016)
- "Speak, Geek" by Eileen Gunn (original 2006; reprint 2007)
- "Heartwired" by Joe Haldeman (original 2005; reprint 2007)
- "We Have a Cultural Difference, Can I Taste You?" by Rebecca Ann Jordan (2016)
- "This Is a Letter to My Son" by KJ Kabza (2016)
- "The Effigies of Tamber Square" by Jon Michael Kelley (2016)
- "Scatter" by Rosalie Kempthorne (2016)
- "I Remember Angels" by Mark Kreighbaum (1996)
- "Undead Again" by Ken MacLeod (original 2005; reprint 2007)
- "Cut the Blue Wire" by Patrick Mahon (2016)
- "Don't Mention the 'F' Word" by Neil Mathur (original 2005; reprint 2007)
- "The Treasures of Fred" by Sandra McDonald and Stephen D. Covey (2016)
- "The Sudden and Mysterious Disappearance of The Pretty Good Gatsbys" by Timothy Mudie (2016)
- "Still Life" by Jonathan H. Randall (2016)
- "I miss the Before" by Robert Reed (2016)
- "Firstborn" by Brandon Sanderson (original 2008; audio reprint 2014)
- "Let Me Hear From You Urgently" by Eliot Schrefer (2016)
- "Light of Other Days" by Bob Shaw (original 1966; reprint 2006)
- "Down on the Farm" by Charles Stross (original 2008; audio reprint 2014)
- "The Dead" by Michael Swanwick (1996)
- "A Serenade of Strings" by K.L. Townsend (2016)
- "A Bead of Jasper, Four Small Stones" by Genevieve Valentine (original 2012; reprint 2015)
- "Space Travel Loses its Allure When You’ve Lost Your Moon Cup" by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (2014)
- "Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return Helpline" by Caroline M. Yoachim (2016)
- "Sister Emily's Lightship" by Jane Yolen (1996)

List of the sources from which these stories came:

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

- Abyss & Apex, 2016 (1st quarter)
- Clarkesworld Year Seven (anthology), edited by Neil Clarke & Sean Wallace, Wyrm, 2015
- Crossed Genres, July 2014
- Daily Science Fiction, March 2012; Apr 2016
- Every Day Fiction, Apr 2016
- Fantasy Scroll Mag, Feb 2016
- Futures from Nature (anthology), edited by Henry Gee, 2007
- Jim Baen's Universe v.1, no.1, 2006
- Liquid Imagination, Feb 2016
- Nature, Apr 2016
- One Teen Story, March 2016
- Pinball, 2016
- Slate, Apr 2016
- Space Squid, 2016
- Starlight 1 (anthology), edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 1996
- Strange Horizons, Apr 2016
- Selected Original Fiction, 2008-2012 (audio collection, Brilliance Audio, 2014)
- Trigger Warning: Short Fiction with Pictures, March 2016

Read more!