December 2017 SFF Short Fiction Reading IV

More short stories! I’m trying to get through some of my 2017 bookmarks to have a more expanse list of recommendations for the year. Let’s see how it goes. I mean, there’s no way I’ll ever be able to read all of the short genre fiction published in 2017.

“Welcome to Astuna” by Pip Coen

Having a protagonist wake up with amnesia is a pretty common trope, but this story gives it new life. The protagonist wakes up in a hotel room in Astuna, an island city where people come to gamble with their memories. She’s lost over a decade, and she has no idea how she came to be there. It’s a fantastic story with a great twist.

“Through She Be But Little” by C. S. E. Cooney

What a strange story! It’s  definitely the weirdest in this round up. Something happen and reality… twisted? Emma Anne used to be an elderly widow, but now she’s a little girl with two talking stuffed animals. She knows that a child eating monster called the Loping Man is after her, and she’s basically on her own. It’s a premise I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

“The Lightning Bird” by Kristi DeMeester

When Gable’s mother dies, she takes her place as the local witch.

“Next Station, Shibuya” by Iori Kusano

The narrator of this story is a city, and the city’s become obsessed with one particular woman. It’s not my favorite of the round up, but I do like the unusual narrator.

“Maiden, Mother, Crone” by Ann Leckie and Rachel Swirsky

Oh, this story gave me feels. It takes the old idea of a trio of maiden, mother, crone and bases the story around it. In this world, some women are born with marks. When marked women are with their mothers or daughters, they can work magic. Except, a new religion is persecuting these women, and being discovered with a mark means death. Marjan is marked, and she knows her unborn daughter will be too.

“Out of the Woods” by Marissa Lingen

Robin Hood! Or, well, something similar. Lovis and her fellow rebels have been hiding out in the woods, waiting for the return of the good King Harald. Then Harald’s brother kills him and retains his grip on power. What are the rebels to do now? I love how this story centers women and their resistance.

“Red Bark and Ambergris” by Kate Marshall

Another excellent story. Sarai is trapped on a prison island, where magically gifted craftspeople are forced to make luxuries for the nobility. The only way off the island is to become a poisoner, but Sarai’s gifts lean towards scent-making.

“Bodies Stacked Like Firewood” by Sam J Miller

Definitely not my favorite short story by Miller. The narrator’s going to the funeral of a dead friend, who has this out there theory that The Great Gatsby was written based off of psychic glimpses of the Holocaust.

“The Martian Obelisk” by Linda Nagata

This is more like it! In “The Martian Obelisk,” an elderly architect designs a memorial on Mars to last past the end of the human race, as civilization steadily declines. But is she right to have given up hope for the future?

“Narrative Disorder” by Malka Older

In third grade, Mishima is diagnosed as having Narrative Disorder. She’s addicted to stories and sees stories in everything. When she finds herself getting lost in content, she decides to make her own life into an adventure, eventually becoming a spy.

“A Human Stain” by Kelly Robinson

Helen is down on her luck. With few options left, she takes a job as a governess for an orphaned boy (even though she knows very little about caring for children). When she arrives at the house, she finds it’s isolated in the Swiss mountains, and there’s something strange going on… This horror novelette is an eerie read.

“The House at the End of the Lane is Dreaming” by A. Merc Rustad

Wow, this story is creepy. It’s a very unusual structure and takes some twists and turns I didn’t see coming.

“Your name is Alex and you live in a small town at the edge of the sea. You have a sister and two parents and no pets.

In your town, everyone follows their destiny: They cross the street, cook endless meals, stand in the same room, deliver the same mail every day. You can’t remember most of their names. It’s the way it’s always been.

You’re different.”

“Nine-Tenths of the Law” by Molly Tanzer

When Donna’s husband suffers a “work place accident,” something is… different about him. In one particular area of their married life. Note, there’s some fairly explicit sex scenes here.

“The Slow Ones” by JY Yang

In “The Slow Ones,” aliens have blanketed the entire sky, devouring all water vapor. One woman deals with the possible end of the world. It’s not a bad story, but it doesn’t compare to JY Yang’s best work.

“Welcome to Astuna” is probably my favorite short story this round up. Have you read any good short fiction lately?


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