Short fiction is delightful! I love being able to read an entire story in one sitting. Here’s some of the science fiction and fantasy short stories I’ve been reading lately.
“Lullaby for a Lost World” by Aliette de Bodard
Charlotte was sacrificed, “for the good of the house,” and now lays buried at the bottom of the garden. This was probably the most macabre take on unicorns I’ve ever seen.
“The Sound of Salt and Sea” by Kat Howard
Every year, the dead come back to visit their relatives on the island. But some dead are unwilling to go, and they must be round up with the Bone Horses, who must have a living rider. Otherwise, the Bone Horses will turn on the residents of the island. What a lovely story! It’s haunting and sure to give a chill to anyone who reads it.
“The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles” by Rachel K. Jones
Hester sells eggs at the night market to women who wish to escape their skins and become reptiles, free to roam the desert. Hester wants nothing more than to become a reptile herself, but none of the eggs she swallows ever give her the change she desires. This was a strange story to be sure, but it had some interesting concepts at the center of it. What are the women of this story willing to do to achieve freedom?
“Midnight Hour” by Mary Robinette Kowal
To save their country from a plague, the king and queen make a deal with a witch. In return for her aid, they have to pay a price. The queen becomes nameless, and the king looses all lucidity except for at the hour of midnight. This story had a great concept and execution! I’d actually love to read more related work, be it a connected short story or a novella.
“The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon
“Grandma Harken thought of herself as an old lady, because she was one. That she was tougher than tree roots and barbed wire did not matter. You did not steal an old lady’s tomatoes. It was rude, and also, she would destroy you.”
In this novelette, Ursula Vernon returns to Grandma Harken, the protagonist of “Jackalope Wives.” In “The Tomato Thief,” someone starts stealing Grandma Harken’s tomatoes and has no idea what they’re about to get in for. I loved “Jackalope Wives,” so I was thrilled to return to this world and character. I adore ornery older heroines, and Grandma Harken is just about perfect.
“The Oiran’s Song” by Isabel Yap
Trigger warning: sexual assault. Akira was sold to a group of soldiers when he was twelve – his older brother couldn’t save him, and he couldn’t save his brother. When the soldiers purchase a concubine, Akira begins to find a friend. “The Orian’s Song” was not easy to read by any means, but I am glad I read it. It’s an intense and moving story.
All of these stories are excellent, but if I had to choose a favorite, it’d be “Midnight Hour” or “The Tomato Thief.” What short stories have you read recently?