Monday, January 31, 2022

Short Fiction read in January 2022

cover image of Clarkesworld magazine issue 178
Short Fiction read in January 2022
Image by Alex Myers on Pixabay; used with permission

I've restarted my short-story-a-day reading, and am excited to share a few of the excellent stories I've read this month. Basically, my goal is to read at least one story for every day of the year, but I often read more than one, especially when it comes to flash fiction. This month, I read 47 stories (including 22 flash stories, 23 short stories, and 2 novelettes) for a total of 105,669 words. When you think about it, it's really not that much, because lots of novels are 100K words and I can certainly read more than a novel a month! Anyway, here are my four favorite stories from my January reading -- and there were lots more that came very close.

"The Falling" by M.V. Melcer
cover of Clarkesworld 178

Length: 4,780 words (short story)
Category: Science fiction
Where Published: Clarkesworld #178
When Published: July 2021
Read here

This story makes me want to point and shout, "This! This is why I read science fiction!" M.V. Melcer's "The Falling" begins with the main character as a seven-year-old, living with their parents and twin sister on a space colony made of rings that is just barely escaping the ... something that has consumed the sun and Earth and is making its way through the rest of our solar system. It's wholly original, but on some subconscious level it remidned me a little of Ted Chiang's work, in that it's based in hard science that shapes the characters' lives and at the same time acts as a metaphor. The world-building is wonderful, the characters are fully realized, and it packs an emotional wallop.

"I Wear My Spiders in Remembrance of Myself" by Kel Coleman

Length: 4,671 words (short story)
Category: Fantasy - magic realism
Where Published: Apparition Literary Magazine When Published: August 5, 2021
Read or listen here

This is a gorgeous story about trauma, relationships, vulnerability, the cumulative effects of racism.... Obviously spiders are involved, but other than that I don't even want to summarize the plot, because people need to read this story, not have it described to them. Suffice it to say that I gave a five-star rating (out of five) to all four of these favorites, including this one, and there's a reason for it.

"The Last Civilian" by R.F. Sand
cover image of Clarkesworld magazine issue 172

Length: 7,590 words (novelette)
Category: Science fiction
Where Published: Clarkesworld #172
When Published: January 2021
Read or listen here

In this novelette, a decanted infantry soldier designated as Zeta73 meets the higher-ranking Eta1, who is being groomed as the legendary General Volantius's replacement. Their friendship, while not forbidden, is highly irregular, not just because of rank but because decanted soldiers generally don't engage in superfilous pursuits, especially when they are at war with the alien planet's native species, the Uilai. This is a rich, inventive story that I highly recommend.

"Can You Tell Me How to Get to Paprika Place?" by Michael R. Underwood

Length: est. 5,500 words (short story)
Category: Science fiction
Where Published: Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling (anthology)
When Published: 2016

I can't imagine how someone managed to come up with such a bizarre, wonderful idea, let alone actually pull it off. Two former children's show characters, repurposed into weapons for a war that led to a post-apocalyptic America, wearily try to get their fallen comrades back to Paprika Place, and yes, it is what you're thinking. Beautifully done. I don't think this story is available individually, but the anthology e-book is only $4.99, and this story alone is worth it. I've read two other stories in the book so far, and based on their quality, I'm eager to check out the rest.

Complete list of stories read in January 2022:
(alphabetical by author)
  1. "A Stirring of Wings" by Ken Altabef (2022)
  2. "God 47" by Laila Amado (2022)
  3. "The Future History of Your Body" by Davian Aw (2022)
  4. "Teleportitus" by Mark S. Bailen (2022)
  5. "A Telephone Call for Genevieve Snow" by Carmel Bird (1995)
  6. "Mind the Meniscus" by Jason P. Burnham (2022)
  7. "Werewolf" by U.M. Celovska (2022)
  8. "Ootheca" by Mário Coelho (2021)
  9. "I Wear My Spiders in Remembrance of Myself" by Kel Coleman (2021)
  10. "Binaries" by S.B. Divya (2016)
  11. "Help Her Fit In" by Tamlyn Dreaver (2022)
  12. "The Last Dangerous Vision" by Glen Engel-Cox (2021)
  13. "Doomsday Derby" by micah epstein
  14. "Flesh of my Fin" by Shannon Fay (2022)
  15. "Burning Bright" by Shanna Germain (2016)
  16. "Counterparts" by Andrew Hansen (2022)
  17. "The Devil You Don't Know" by Dave Henrickson (2022)
  18. "Reigning Cats and Human Doggies: How Humans Learned to Heel" by Alicia Hilton (2021)
  19. "Shattered Petals of Celadon" by M.K. Hutchins (2022)
  20. "Moon-Boy" by Jess Hyslop (2021)
  21. "Bride, Knife, Flaming Horse" by M.L. Krishnan (2021)
  22. "The Last Caricature of Jean Moulin" by Andrea Kriz (2021)
  23. "Resistance in a Drop of DNA" by Andrea Kriz (2021)
  24. "Ascend, Exalt, Love, Propagate, Rise!" by Sarah Kumari (2021)
  25. "Invasion" by Candice R. Lisle (2022)
  26. "Commuting" by S.A. McKenzie (2022)
  27. "The Falling" by M.V. Melcer (2021)
  28. "My Dreams Have Been Weird Since the Magpies Arrived" by Wendy Nikel (2021)
  29. "Dissent: A Five-Course Meal (With Suggested Pairings)" by Aimee Ogden (2022)
  30. "Last Flight" by Bret Parent (2022)
  31. "Little Lila" by Susannah Rand (2021)
  32. "The Shape of Wings and Feathers" by Jenny Rae Rappaport (2021)
  33. "Leader of the Pack" by Alter S. Reiss (2022)
  34. "Cures for Hiccups" by Rachel Rodman (2022)
  35. "Tevye From Fiddler on the Roof, Now a Rich Man, Receives a Letter From His" by Stephen Ruddy (2022)
  36. "The Last Civilian" by R.P. Sand (2021)
  37. "The Future Library" by Peng Shepherd (2021)
  38. "No One at the Dock" by Gu Shi (orig. 2020; English translation 2022)
  39. "The Ansible Light" by Chloe Smith (2022)
  40. "Tourists" by Marlan K. Smith (2022)
  41. "The Tangled Web" by Ferrett Steinmetz (2016)
  42. "Portuguese Essay" by George Tom (2021)
  43. "The Last Library" by Brian Trent (2021)
  44. "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Paprika Place?" by Michael R. Underwood (2016)
  45. "2021" by Sean Vivier (2022)
  46. "Turning the Tide" by Dawn Vogel (2022)
  47. "The President's Advisor" by Barry Yedvobnick (2021)

List of the sources from which these stories came: (alphabetical by anthology title, magazine title, website name, etc.)
  • Apparition Literary Magazine
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Clarkesworld
  • Daily Science Fiction
  • Departure Mirror Quarterly
  • Escape Pod
  • Every Day Fiction
  • Lightspeed
  • Metastellar
  • McSweeney's
  • Nature
  • ParSec
  • Riddled with Arrows
  • Solarpunk
  • Strange Fruit (anthology, Penguin Australia, 1995)
  • Strange Horizons
  • Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling (anthology, Apex, 2016)

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