Over at io9 my list of best short stories from February and March is now live. Those ten stories represent my very top picks, but there are several more I hearted over the past couple of months. I listed them below.
Before we get to that, a couple of things! First, I created a Flipboard magazine recently where I intend to collect all the stories I favorite each month. It’s the same list you’ll see here, so it’s basically another way to see the same info. With a Flipboard magazine you’ll get an update every time I add a new story and won’t have to wait for the end of the month. Plus, the stories will just show up in your regular Flipboard, no need to do anything extra. To subscribe, search for “ktempest” in Flipboard. The magazine is called Fantastic Flippin’ Fiction.
I mentioned in January’s post that I was looking for a venue where I could discuss short stories in depth. Not just the ones I like, but any one worth discussing, including stories I don’t like. To that end, I’m doing some experimenting. I created a Google+ community. I intend for it to be a participatory thing, not just me. Anyone can post links to stories, start a discussion, or make recommendations. If you have a Google account, you can join.
Now, onto the picks!
- Soul Song By Frankie Seymour
I’m always down with a story about animal rights (not to mention cool, futuristic animals). Post-apocalyptic.
- Terrain by Genevieve Valentine
All the classic elements of the good Western are here, inflected with steampunk gadgetry as well as characters you would have found in the real west but aren’t usually the protagonists of the media about the time period.
- Blood Amber by Keyan Bowes
A folk tale-ish story that had me imagining how much I’d love to sail away on a magical boat that provided me with food every day. The ending doesn’t quite stick its landing. The overall story holds together, though.
- A to Z Theory by Toh EnJoe
There are so many ways to make fun of academia, and I’m sure anyone who’s had to deal with journal articles and competing theorems and dramas around such will appreciate this story. However, there’s another group of folks who will as well and i can’t say why without a spoiler. It’s twistier than it seem, trust me.
- Armistice Day by Marissa Lingen
While reading this, I kept getting the feeling that the creatures in the story were inspired by the house elves of Harry Potter. No idea if that’s true. Politics and revolution.
- The Bolt Tightener by Sarena Ulibarri
The old man told him not to skip a bolt. There’s a reason!
- Bakemono, or The Thing That Changes by A.B. Treadwell
Some interesting perspectives on assimilation and betrayal here.
- A Family for Drakes by Margaret Ronald
Though this feels like a setup for a novel starring Netta and Vigil, I have no problem with that. I’d like to see their further adventures given how well crafted their characters are in this piece. Good mix of adventure, mystery, and young girl kicking ass.
- The Rescue by Margrét Helgadóttir
I find it hard to pin down why I like this story as it’s complex, and there are several elements that engaged me on different levels. Characters dealing with solitude and duty, the devastation of discovering the world isn’t the way you’ve been taught, the struggle with self-doubt.
- Built in a Day by Anna Caro
I’m not sure I completely grokked this story entirely. I just like the way it spiraled through my brain and made me think and ponder and try to work it out.
- Eternal Return by Rodolfo Martínez
Even “minor” superpowers have their uses. Fun story of discovery that combines elements of the Groundhog’s Day theme — living a moment over and over until you get it right. From the page: “Eternal Return” was published in Spanish in Porciones individuales (February 2013, Sportula). This is its first publication in English.
- Painted Birds and Shivered Bones by Kat Howard
I’m a big proponent of the connection between the artist and the spiritual or even the magical world, and this story illuminates that connection well.
- PauseTime by Mary Soon Lee
I like that this story deals with issues you don’t often see in science fiction, like child rearing and single parenthood and how difficult it can be to raise a baby and get work done. Also the cruelty of bougie parents who value men over women. This is a story about a society that values men over women and children in a general, and it’s so harmful. Excellent commentary on our own society’s attitudes towards both.
- The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal
This story snuck up on me. I enjoy the alternate history-ness of it as well as the idea of a woman being the poster girl astronaut because the government needed to convince housewives that space travel is safe.
- My Voice is in My Sword by Kate Elliott
Another from the Shakespeare issue. There is so much excellence in this story. It’s for everyone who has ever loved the Scottish play and everyone who has ever had to put up with an insufferable jerk for no good reason and everyone who appreciates just desserts. I love the aliens, not only for their small role in the plot, but for how very alien they are.
- Early Retirement By Kris Herndon
Herndon is trying to do a lot of things with this story, and it works for the most part but doesn’t *quite* get there in the end. However, I have it on this list because, for all the reaching and falling short, the story did engage me with the main character and the setup of the world. Superheroes as corporate drones, executives pondering the nature of power and the drawbacks of such. It’s a nice blend of mundane and fantastic. (The ending I could do without.)
- Gravity by Erzebet YellowBoy
The hook for me is the relationship between the mother and daughter here, though that’s only one aspect of the story that I liked. A small group of people sent on a mission to the sun, hailed as heroes who will save an entire planet. You’d think a story of triumph, right? Nope. The way Yellowboy explores what goes on with these characters is both familiar and fresh.
- The Wanderers by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
The SFnal furniture the author plays with here is the stuff of (what could be) tired old tropes by now. Post-apocalypse, first contact, evil aliens. This story remixes those concepts in a way that’s both fun and also makes the tropes feel fresher, in a way. Punk aliens, even if they are into splatterpunk, rock.
Visit my Favorite Fiction tag to see all the other short stories I’ve liked so far this year.