June 2018 Short Fiction Reading Part I

Long time, no short stories! Well, I’m back at it with short fiction. Mostly because I’ve started trying to go to the gym, and how can I get through exercise without short fiction podcasts?

“Braving the Morrow Candle’s Wane” By J.W. Alden

I listed to the audio version of this story, which was only about sixteen minutes long. Adia is a former solider who has become disillusioned with her country’s continuous holy wars. When an orphan from a different faith arrives at her door, Adia takes her in and hides her from the soldiers seeking her.

“Cake Baby (A Kango and Sharon Adventure)” by Charlie Jane Anders

This story was so weird but also a lot of fun at the same time? Kango and Sharon were both genetically engineered to work on a party planet, Kango as a sex worker and Sharon as a giant blue woman who would eat the guests (apparently futuristic rich people find this thrilling?). One day, over by the buffet table, they get to talking and realize that they both hate their job. So they decide to get out of their, stealing a ship and running off into space, on the start of what is surely a series of wild adventures.

In “Cake Baby,” they’re down on funds and decide to infiltrate a cult. The story is offbeat and a bit bizarre but in a charming way. I get the impression that there’s more Kango and Sharon stories, and I really hope that’s true.

“Are You Afflicted with Dragons?” by Kage Baker

I’d actually read this story in an anthology before, but this is my first time reviewing it.

I love dragons. I do not read nearly enough about them. In this story, dragons are small pests you find near the seaside, a lot like gulls. They sort of remind me of Pratchett’s swamp dragons, if a bit less explosive. Anyway, the protagonist of this story owns a hotel where a bunch of dragons have begun roosting on the roof, causing a nuisance of themselves and trying to steal the wealthy patrons jewelry. Obviously, something has to be done. He might just need to give in and hire a professional exterminator.

From there, the story takes a few twists, with a cunning dragon exterminator who’s willing to work for free before reaching a delightfully fitting ending.

“Three Meetings of the Pregnant Man Support Group” by James Beamon

My first thought on reading this title was, “Ahh, so this is obviously about trans men.” Turns out, it’s about cis men who have been inserted with an alien parasite, which they carry for fourteen months until it can live on its own. The protagonist feels like he agreed to this… but did he really? He had no idea what was involved, especially not the way the developing alien can control his actions. There’s a definite dark side to this story, which brings up issues of consent and bodily autonomy.

“Godmeat” by Martin Cahill

The main character is a chef. He’s also helping to end the world. His clients are ghosts and wannabe gods, who’re having him cook up the godbeasts that anchor reality in place. When they eat of the last one? Armageddon. The protagonist is a rather unpleasant person, but even he begins to have qualms about what he’s doing.

Have you read any short fiction recently?

 

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