August 2017 SFF Short Fiction Reading Part Four

Who loves short stories? I do! And I’ve got some goodies for you this week.

“The Heart’s Cartography” by Susan Jane Bigelow

Jade’s a lonesome teenager who spends her time wandering the wood beneath her house. She knows that woods backwards and forwards, and when a family of time travelers moves in next door, she finally finds a friend she can share it with.

 

“Hold-Time Variations” by John Chu

Sometimes a universe needs to be built or repaired. Ellie comes from a family of builders, so when physics start acting irregular, it’s her turn to check the works.

“Further Arguments in Support of Yudah Cohen’s Proposal to Bluma Zilberman” by Rebecca Fraimow

What a delightful story! It’s written as a letter, with Yudah Cohen trying to convince Bluma Zilberman that she should marry him. For whatever reason, it appeals to my sense of humor.

“The King of Ashland County” by Caspian Gray

Tw: sexual assault. Consent and the selkie myth isn’t something I’ve seen explored very often. At it’s heart, the myth of the selkie is coercive, but it tends to be more romanticized than treated as sexual assault. This story doesn’t romanticize it.

“Sea of Strangers” by Micheal M. Jones

High school is normally sucky, but Odd thinks something unusual is going on with hers. Her psychic abilities are letting her see that everyone’s losing their ability to perceive individuality. It’s up to her and her girlfriend Charm to save the day.

“The Book of How to Live” by Rose Lemberg

This is the longest story of the bunch! Maybe novelette length? It may also be the first of Rose Lemberg’s Birdverse stories I’ve ever read. Anyway, it’s about a world divided between the magical and the non-magical (called “simple”). The protagonists are both simple women who are skilled and smart, creating their own inventions that don’t use magic. However, neither of them finds much in the way of acceptance from those with magic who run society.

“Horror Story” by Carmen Maria Machado

This story may be short enough to qualify as flash fiction. Whatever the technical length, it’s plenty creepy. A woman and her wife move into a house, only to find their not the only residents…

“Men of the Ashen Morrow” by Margaret Killjoy

Winter keeps the monsters at bay, but every year, winter must be summoned. Six people must go into the forest and make a sacrifice to a god. Six people usually don’t walk back out.

“Each to Each” by Seanan McGuire

I predicted pretty quickly where this story would wind up, but I enjoyed the journey there. In this sci-fi future, the US navy has started genetically and surgically modifying women to serve as advance scouts and soldiers for underwater habitats. These female soldiers are called “mermaids” by the public.

“Calved” by Sam J. Miller

Damn, this story got to me. I swear I was tearing up! In this dystopic future, a father tries desperately to connect to his son, who he rarely gets to see since he has to spend most of his time working on ice trawlers. A misunderstanding between the two of them has heart wrenching consequences.

“Webs” by Mary Anne Mohanraj

Conflict has been rising between genetically modified and un-modified humans. Anna thinks that it’s not her problem, despite the previous riots on her planet that have slaughtered hundreds of modified people. Her modifications aren’t obvious, and her modified husband has left her. But then the next door neighbors arrive at her doorstep, begging her to hide them from the mobs.

“Dispatches from a Hole in the World” by Sunny Moraine

Tw: suicide. Years before this story is set, teenagers began killing themselves, acts that were recorded and uploaded to social media. It spread wide and fast, and no one knew what was causing it. Now, a graduate student wants to find some answers, so she’s going into the archives.

“The Sound of” by Charles Payseur

In this dystopian future, the government blares the Sound outside to keep people from gathering it. Why is it that some people don’t seem bothered by it?

“Given the Advantage of the Blade” by Genevieve Valentine

Imagine taking all the women of fairy tales, witches, queens, and maidens alike, and locking them in a room for a cage fight.

“Old Domes” by JY Yang

I loved this concept! In this version of the world, many historic sites have guardian spirits. The protagonist of this story is assigned to cull the spirit of Singapore’s historic Courthouse, but he doesn’t want to go.

“Seasons Set in Skin” by Caroline M. Yoachim

The war between the humans and the fae is relentless. To protect themselves from the fae magic, the human soldiers get tattoos made of fae blood and wings, covering their entire bodies. But the protection the tattoos provide has started to fail, and yet again the war turns against humanity. I found this story beautiful and moving, although it’s not a happy tale.

My favorites this week are “Calved” by Sam J. Miller, “Webs” by Mary Anne Mohanraj, and “Seasons Set in Skin” by Caroline M. Yoachim. Are you familiar with any of these stories? Are there any you’d recommend to me?

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