Monday, February 4, 2019

Short Fiction read in January 2019

Short Fiction read in January 2019

Image from used under a CC license

New year, new re-start of the Great Short Fiction Reading Project!

Here's what's different this time around: In addition to picking stories of various lengths from different sources, I plan to read every story published this year by Daily Science Fiction (five days a week), Every Day Fiction (seven days a week), and Nature's "Futures" section (once a week). Those are all flash (except for the occasional DSF story that tiptoes past the 1,000 word mark), so it should be manageable. I'm also going to post monthly stats, which I'll put way down at the bottom of the post so nobody has to see them if they don't want to.

Here's what's staying the same: each month I'll blog about my favorites from that month's reading, and list all the remaining stories I've read and the collective sources they came from.

These are my four favorites of the 85 stories I read during January (alphabetical by author):

"Terra Forms" by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks and Justin Adams

Length: 5,230 words
Category: Science fiction - hard (short story)
Where Published: Perihelion
When Published: 2018-04
Link (free to readers)

This is hard SF with emotions, some neat technologies I haven't seen elsewhere in fiction, and themes of terraforming and colony ships. And it's well-written. In other words, there was no way I was not going to love this story. There's one plot "conflict" element at the end that I wasn't initially sure I liked, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it adds a layer to a story that otherwise might have been too "tidy."

"Bitter is the Sea, and Bright" by Michelle Muenzler

Length: 957 words
Category: Horror (flash fiction)
Where Published: Daily Science Fiction
When Published: 2018-11-14
Link (free to readers)

I generally don't seek out horror fiction, but I make an exception for this author. I was lucky enough to hear her read this story aloud, and then I read it myself online. It's a short, gorgeous piece about sea creatures who demand a high price from the villagers who live along their shores. In addition to the story's "mood," I love the name of the creatures, who are known as the Isperfell.

"Carnival Nine" by Caroline M. Yoachim

Length: 7,222 words
Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy (short story)
Where Published: Beneath Ceaseless Skies
When Published: 2017-05-11
Link (free to readers)

This story by Caroline M. Yoachim was a finalist for both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for best short story, and deservedly so. I once used the phrase "fearless world-building" to describe Jessica Reisman's story "The Demon of Russet Street", and I think the same phrase can be used for "Carnival Nine". By this, I mean that the author seems absolutely confident that readers won't question how the world works, because it's constructed and described so beautifully, without any self-consciousness or excessive explanation.

As for the story itself, it's told in first person by a wind-up girl named Zee, who is lucky to get more turns each night from the maker than most others do. Zee craves new experiences, and finds both adventure and a partner by joining a traveling carnival. But when Zee and Vale decide to start a family by building their own child, Zee is forced to contemplate priorities and mortality. This is a lovely story that does not overdo the sentimentality. I couldn't make up my mind whether it was fantasy or science fiction, but of course that doesn't actually matter.

Photo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash. Used with permission.

"Midnight at the Fountains of Bellagio" by Caroline M. Yoachim

Length: 859 words
Category: Fantasy - urban (flash fiction)
Where Published: Daily Science Fiction
When Published: 2018-10-23
Link (free to readers)

And here is another story by Caroline, a flash piece about a half-naiad, half-human woman whose mother lives in the last bit of the water in the now-defunct fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It's both sad and delightful. I'm pretty sure Caroline can create a story out of anything.

Complete list of stories read in January 2019:

(alphabetical by author)
  1. "A Small World" by Morris Alexander (2019)
  2. "VTE" by S.R. Algernon (2019)
  3. "Lizard Brain" by Brandon Arvesen (2019)
  4. "A True Utopia" by Avery Barker (2019)
  5. "The Familiar Monsters" by James Beamon (2019)
  6. "The Wait" by Lovelyn Bettison (2019)
  7. "This is What I Know" by Haley Biermann (2019)
  8. "Complicity" by Claire Bourke (2019)
  9. "World War 2.8.41 Release Notes" by Forrest Brazeal (2019)
  10. "Between Two Voices Talking" by Laurence Raphael Brothers (2018)
  11. "Cold Memories" by Laurence Raphael Brothers (2019)
  12. "Irrefutable" by Rex Caleval (2019)
  13. "Terra Forms" by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks and Justin Adams (2018)
  14. "The Last Jar of Mayo at the H&P" by Jeff Crook (2011)
  15. "A Magical Misfire" by Emily Dorffer (2019)
  16. "Absolution" by Aaron Emmel (2019)
  17. "Daughter Dance" by Chana Feinstein (2019)
  18. "The Plan" by Mary Sophie Filicetti (2019)
  19. "Leeching for Good" by Eric S. Fomley (2019)
  20. "The Reckoning of Gifts" by James Alan Gardner (1993)
  21. "Acronyms" by Curtis J. Graham (2019)
  22. "Alexander's Theory of Special Relativity" by Shane Halbach (2017)
  23. "Love Blood" by Traci Halesvass (2019)
  24. "On Trial" by Rachelle Harp (2014)
  25. "Important Information from the City of Los Angeles" by Ted Hayden (2019)
  26. "The Look in Her Eyes" by Kevlin Henney (2019)
  27. "Who Only Stand and Wait" by Jonathan L. Howard (2019)
  28. "Adventures in Agoraphobia" by Deb Jannerson (2019)
  29. "The Alien in 36B" by Jennifer Stephan Kapral (2019)
  30. "Concepts of Home" by Rosalie Kempthorne (2019)
  31. "First Class" by Barbara Krasnoff (2007)
  32. "The Ghosts of Ganymede" by Derek Künsken (2019)
  33. "The Spider's Garden" by Jamie Lackey (2019)
  34. "My Lord's Man" by Margo Lanagan (2004)
  35. "Outsider's Chance" by Geoffrey A. Landis (1998)
  36. "Snow" by Geoffrey A. Landis (1998)
  37. "What We Really Do Here at NASA" by Geoffrey A. Landis (1994)
  38. "For the Last Time, It’s Not a Ray Gun" by Anaea Lay (2018)
  39. "The True Story of Merganther's Run" by David D. Levine (2011)
  40. "I Am Thinking of You in the Spaces Between" by Shira Lipkin (2011)
  41. "Never Chose This Way" by Shira Lipkin (2015)
  42. "To Live Again" by Clint Lowe (2019)
  43. "Man and Boy" by Joy Manné (2019)
  44. "Cookies for Ghost" by Emily McCosh (2019)
  45. "Moonskin" by Melissa Mead (2019)
  46. "Alien at Home" by Brooks C. Mendell (2019)
  47. "In Which Liz Builds a Robot with Unexpected Results" by Grayson Bray Morris (2018)
  48. "Bitter is the Sea, and Bright" by Michelle Muenzler (2018)
  49. "9 Things the Mainstream Media Got Wrong About the Ansaj Incident" by Willem Myra (2018)
  50. "Diabolo Hawk and the Dragon" by Ruth Nestvold (2019)
  51. "Fruité" by Ruth Nestvold (2019)
  52. "A Line in the Sand" by Ruth Nestvold (2019)
  53. "Norita" by Ruth Nestvold (2019)
  54. "Swan Lake" by Ruth Nestvold (2019)
  55. "Daddy Long-Legs" by Vina Nguyen (2019)
  56. "A Gift for His Beloved, Post-Apocalypse" by Wendy Nikel (2018)
  57. "Marie's Lovely Picture" by Robert Norton (2019)
  58. "The Envoy" by Al Onia (2013)
  59. "Letters from Goodyear" by Kat Otis (2019)
  60. "Eight Characters" by Anya Ow (2019)
  61. "The Garbage Flotilla in the Pacific Ocean Is Not Your Problem" by Isaac Pickle (2019)
  62. "Outport" by Garfield Reeves-Stevens (1992)
  63. "When the Ice Goes Out" by Jessica Reisman (2008)
  64. "Faux Vinyl" by Neal Reynolds (2019)
  65. "The Quantum Womb" by Rachel Rodman (2019)
  66. "Another Day at the Job" by Wayne Scheer (2019)
  67. "The Clean-Up Man" by Max Shephard (undated)
  68. "My Friend from Mobile" by Allison Tema Sloan (2019)
  69. "Sleep Consultant" by Robin Sloan (2019)
  70. "Happy (Re)Birthday" by Michael Snyder (2019)
  71. "The Eye Patch Protocol" by Vaughn Stanger (2011)
  72. "Godfall" by Alexander Stanmyer (2019)
  73. "The Wishing Tree" by Lucy Stone (2019)
  74. "Mexico Bonito" by Robert Joe Stout (2019)
  75. "The Human Spirit" by Tori Stubbs (2019)
  76. "Mommy vs the World" by Leanne A. Styles (2019)
  77. "Tomorrow, the Sunset Will Be Blue" by Jeremy Szal (2019)
  78. "Elementary School" by J.D. Trye (2019)
  79. "Home By the Sea" by Élisabeth Vonarburg (1985)
  80. "The Day Our Ships Came In" by Ginger Weil (2019)
  81. "Distant Signals" by Andrew Weiner (1983)
  82. "Ballads in 3/4 Time" by Robert Charles Wilson (1987)
  83. "Carnival Nine" by Caroline M. Yoachim (2017)
  84. "Midnight at the Fountains of Bellagio" by Caroline M. Yoachim (2018)
  85. "Master Zhao: The Tale of an Ordinary Time Traveler" by Zhang Ran; translated from the Chinese by Andy Dudak (English publication 2018)

List of the sources from which these stories came:

(alphabetical by anthology title, magazine title, website name, etc.)
  • Analog
  • Apex
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Black Juice (collection, Margo Lanagan, 2005)
  • Clarkesworld
  • Curious Fictions (fiction reprint website)
  • Daily Science Fiction
  • Diabolical Plots
  • End of an Aeon (anthology, 2011)
  • Escape Velocity
  • Every Day Fiction
  • Galaxy's Edge
  • Grievous Angel
  • Havok
  • Impact Parameters and Other Quantum Realities (collection by Geoffrey A. Landis, 2001)
  • Nature
  • Northern Stars (anthology, 1994)
  • Perihelion
  • Starlight 2 (anthology, 1998)
  • Trigger Warning: Short Fiction with Pictures
  • Warrior Wisewoman 3 (anthology, 2013)
  • Year of the Meteor

Stats - January:
  • Stories read: 85
  • Words of short fiction read: 161,479 (see note 1)
  • Categories:
    • Novelettes (7,501-17,500) words: 4
    • Short stories (1,001-7,500 words): 27
    • Flash stories (501-1000 words): 46
    • Micro stories (1-500 words): 8
  • Known or apparent author gender:
    • Female: 41
    • Male: 40
    • Unknown: 3
  • Favorite Jan 2019 DSF story: "The Spider's Garden" by Jamie Lackey
  • Favorite Jan 2019 EDF story (see note 2): "This is What I Know" by Haley Biermann
  • Favorite Jan 2019 Nature "Futures" story: "Cold Memories" by Laurence Raphael Brothers

Note 1: I obtain each story's word count in one of these ways: 1) I go by the publisher's stated word count; 2) I copy and paste the text into Word and run the word count function; or 3) I estimate the word count, (usually for print books) by counting the words on two randomly chosen sample pages in the book and applying their average to the story's page count.

Note 2: Because there are so many stories published by DSF and EDF, there are always likely to be ties for my highest rated stories. (I use LibraryThing's 0-5 stars scale, which allows half-stars as well.) So my entirely subjective way of choosing one favorite is to look back at my notes for all the tied stories, and decide which of the stories I would most like to re-read.

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