June 2017 SFF Short Fiction Reading Part I

I’ve got an entire folder of bookmarked short stories, but it feels like for everyone I read two more get added! There’s just so many good science fiction and fantasy short stories out there that I never get to as many as I intend. However, I’m certain I’ll be reading more this month. I’m working on a list of queer SFF stories for Queership, and I asked for recommendations on twitter. Before I knew it I had a whole new folder filled to bursting with excellent stories!

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Review of Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho

23837692Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho. ★★★★

Spirits Abroad is a delightful collection of short stories by Zen Cho. I’d previously enjoyed her novel The Sorcerer and the Crown and a couple of her short stories (specifically “Prudence and the Dragon” and “The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Life“). Zen Cho is a Malaysian fantasy author who often combines English fantasy tropes with Malaysian life and folklore. While many of her stories deal with serious topics (such as Angela disconnecting herself from her heritage and repressing her bisexuality in “The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Lives”), they are often humorous at the same time. Zen Cho is an immensely talented writer, and I enjoyed this collection to no end.

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Review of Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages

32073069Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages. ★★★1/2

After reading Ellen Klages’s Passing Strange, I decided to check out more of her work. Wicked Wonders is a collection of her short stories, spanning many different genres. Many of these stories are set in the past, seen from a child’s perspective. Writing from the point of view of children can be tricky, but I think Klages handles it phenomenally.

There’s one story that I could swear I read before, but for the life of me I can’t figure out where – “Education of a Witch.” In this story, a four year old girl sees the then new movie Sleeping Beauty and becomes fascinated with Maleficent. She’s powerful and fashionable. She can turn into a dragon, and she has her own castle. Why be a princess when you can be a witch? The story works on a broader level as a criticism of the limited roles available for girls. Given the narrow categories available for women of the time, there’s an appeal to stepping outside the acceptable and becoming a witch.

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Review of The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories

30753517The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories. ★★★★

This collection of short stories is one of the strongest I’ve seen in a while; definitely the strongest I’ve yet read in 2017.

This collection takes stories by twenty-two authors from all over the world, all dealing in some form with the djinn – the fantastical beings of smoke and fire. I picked up this collection due to some authors who’s work I was already familiar with – Neil Gaiman, Claire North, Amal El-Mohtar, Helene Wecker, and Nnedi Okorafor. Turns out, most of my favorite stories were by authors who were new to me. Oh, and the Neil Gaiman story was an excerpt from American Gods, so don’t pick this collection up based on him.

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