Short Story Per Day in 2015

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Short Story Per Day in 2015

1amysisson
Editado: Jan 6, 2015, 6:00 pm

My plan is to read a Short Story Per Day in 2015, so at least 365 short stories. Apologies for starting on January 2nd; in my defense, we had a big New Year's party on Dec. 31 and didn't get to bed until 5 a.m. on January 1, and we still have a house guest. So January 2 hit me before I knew it! Anyway, here's the list. I may or may not comment on any given story that I read.

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2amysisson
Editado: Jun 30, 2015, 7:59 pm

JANUARY 2015

1. - January 1, 2015 - "The Cleverest Man in the World" by Tony Ballantyne. Published in Nature, December 2010. (Read 01-02-15)
2. - January 2, 2015 - "The Lady Who Entertained" by Dazai Osaum. Published in The Mother of Dreams: Portrayals of Women in Modern Japanese Fiction. (Read 01-03-15)
3. - January 3, 2015 - "Doing Emily" by Joe Haldeman. Published in F&SF, May/June 2013. (Read 01-03-15)
4. - January 4, 2015 - "Food Man" by Lisa Tuttle. Published in Flying Cups and Saucers: Gender Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Read 01-04-15)
5. - January 5, 2015 - "It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown" by Stephanie Perkins. Published in My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. (Read 01-05-15)
6. - January 6, 2015 - "The Sweet Life" by Aidan Doyle. Published online in Every Day Fiction, September 2014. (Read 01-06-15)
7. - January 7, 2015 - "This Chance Planet" by Elizabeth Bear. Published online at Tor.com, October 22, 2014. (Read 01-08-15)
8. - January 8, 2015 - "Maximize Revenue" by Chris Limb. Published in Daily Science Fiction, January 8, 2015. (Read 01-08-15)
9. - January 9, 2015 - "The Bomb-Thing" by KJ Kabza. Published in F&SF, November/December 2014. (Read 01-09-15)
10. - January 10, 2015 - "The Snow Bride" by Kate Bernheimer. Published in Faerie Magazine 29/Winter. (Read 01-10-15)
11. - January 10, 2015 (second story) - "Nuclear Family" by Alex Shvartsman. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 01-10-15)
12. - January 11, 2015 - "The Box That Eats Memories" by Ken Liu. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 01-12-15)
13. - January 12, 2015 - "Bee Futures" by Vaughan Stanger. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 01-12-15)
14. - January 13, 2015 - "The Total Devotion Machine" by Rosaleen Love. (Read 01-13-15)
15. - January 13, 2015 (second story) - "Here at Profile" by Katie Lewis. (Read 01-13-15)
16. - January 14, 2015 - "Dichotomous key to "animals" discovered by the first settlers on Quintana: Kepler-186F" by Melanie Rees. (Read 01-14-15)
17. - January 15, 2015 - "The Executioner's Gaze" by Li B.Y. Ralph. Published online in Every Day Fiction, January 2015. (Read 01-17-15)
18. - January 16, 2015 - "The Readers" by Mardra Sikora. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 01-17-15)
19. - January 17, 2015 - "The Last Seed" by Ken Liu. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 01-19-15)
20. - January 18, 2015 - "Valley of the Girls" by Kelly Link. Published in Get in Trouble (collection) by Kelly Link. (Read 01-19-15)
21. - January 19, 2015 - "My Avatar Has an Avatar" by Robert Bagnall. Published in Daily Science Fiction, June 18, 2014. (Read 01-19-15)
22. - January 20, 2015 - "In the Days of the Comet" by John M. Ford. Published in Heat of Fusion and Other Stories (collection) by John M. Ford. (Read 01-20-15)
23. - January 20, 2015 (second story) - "The Raven's Brocade" by Eugie Foster. Published in Returning My Sister's Face (collection) by Eugie Foster. (Read 01-20-15)
24. - January 21, 2015 - "A Million Oysters For Chiyoko" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, January 21, 2015. (Read 01-21-15).
25. - January 22, 2015 - "The Kindness of Bones" by Leslie Jane Anderson. Published in Daily Science Fiction, January 22, 2015. (Read 01-22-15).
26. - January 22, 2015 (second story) - "Taedium Vitae" by KM Zafari. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 01-22-15)
27. - January 22, 2015 (third story) - "Will You Be an Astronaut?" by Greg Van Eekhout. Published in New Skies. (Read 01-22-15)
28. - January 23, 2015 - "Teddy Bears and Tea Parties" by S. Boyd Taylor. Published in Chiaroscuro Magazine, July 2009. (Read 01-23-15)
29. - January 23, 2015 (second story) - "A Clockwork Break" by Shawn Scarber. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 01-23-15).
30. - January 24, 2015 - "Tortoiseshell Cats are Not Refundable" by Cat Rambo. Published in Clarkesworld, February 2014. (Read 01-24-15)
31. - January 25, 2015 - "A Letter from the Clearys" by Connie Willis. Published in New Skies. (Read 01-25-15)
32. - January 25, 2015 (second story) - "Observations About Eggs from the Man Sitting Next to Me on a Flight from Chicago, Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa" by Cammen Maria Machado. Published in Lightspeed, April 2014. (Read 01-25-15)
33. - January 26, 2015 - "Snowman Suicide" by Caroline Hall. Published online in Every Day Fiction, April 2014. (Read 01-26-15)
34. - January 27, 2015 - "The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling" by Ted Chiang. Published in Subterranean Press Magazine, Fall 2013. (Read 01-27-15)
35. - January 27, 2015 (second story) - "Practical College Majors in a Robot-Dominated Society" by Nicky Drayden. Published in Daily Science Fiction, May 14, 2014. (Read 01-27-15).
36. - January 28, 2015 - "Mom and Dad at the Home Front" by Sherwood Smith. Published in New Magics. (Read 01-28-15)
37. - January 28, 2015 (second story) - "Voyage into the Heart" by Patricia A. McKillip. Published in Harrowing the Dragon (collection) by Patricia A. McKillip. (Read 01-28-15)
38. - January 29, 2015 - "The Circle of Life" by Gerri Leen. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 01-29-15)
39. - January 29, 2015 (second story) - "Real Plastic Trees" by Erica L. Satifka. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 01-29-15)
40. - January 30, 2015 - "'I'm lonely': Immune to Apraxia, Toronto doctor refuses to give up on a cure" by Kate Heartfield. Published in Daily Science Fiction, January 28, 2015. (Read 01-30-15.)
41. - January 31, 2015 - "Shared Memories in High Definition" by Carin Marais. Published in Every Day Fiction, December 2014. Read online 01-31-15.



FEBRUARY 2015

42. (1 in Feb) - February 1, 2015 - "Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points" by J.Y. Yang. Published in Clarkesworld, September 2014. (Read 02-01-15)
43. (2 in Feb) - February 2, 2015 - "Damage" by David D. Levine. Published on Tor.com, January 21, 2015. (Read 02-01-15)
44. (3 in Feb) - February 3, 2015 - "It Takes Two" by Nicola Griffith. Published in Clarkesworld, February 2015. (Read 02-03-15)
45. (4 in Feb) - February 4, 2015 - "Meat that Grows on Trees" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 4, 2015. (Read 02-04-15).
46. (5 in Feb) - February 4, 2015 (second story) - "Tick Tock Girl" by Cat Rambo. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 02-04-15)
47. (6 in Feb) - February 5, 2015 - "A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide" - Sarah Pinsker. Published in F&SF, March/April 2014. (Read 02-05-15)
48. (7 in Feb) - February 6, 2015 - "Third-Degree Burns" by Andrew J. Wilson. Published in Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction. (Read 02-07-15)
49. (8 in Feb) - February 7, 2015 - "The Heart of a Tree" by Pam L. Wallace. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 6, 2015. (Read 02-07-15).
50. (9 in Feb) - February 8, 2015 - "The Bennie and the Bonobo" by Neil Williamson. Published in Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction. (Read 02-08-15)
51. (10 in Feb) - February 8, 2015 (second story) - "Variations" by Cristina Iuliana Burlacu. Published in Every Day Fiction, February 8, 2015. (Read 02-08-15)
52. (11 in Feb) - February 9, 2015 - "Reality Check" by David Brin. Published as a Kindle short; originally published in Nature, 2000. (Read 02-09-15)
53. (12 in Feb) - February 9, 2015 (second story) - "The Sky Didn't Load Today" by Rich Larson. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 9, 2015. (Read 02-09-15)
54. (13 in Feb) - February 10, 2015 - "Alan Bean Plus Four" by Tom Hanks. Published in The New Yorker, October 27, 2014. (Read 02-10-15)
55. (14 in Feb) - February 11, 2015 - "Chocolate Chip Cookies for the Apocalypse" by Claire Spaulding. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 10, 2015. (Read 02-12-15)
56. (15 in Feb) - February 12, 2015 - "A Necessary Being" by Octavia Butler. Published in Unexpected Stories (collection) by Octavia Butler, 2014. (Read 02-12-15)
57. (16 in Feb) - February 12, 2015 (second story) - "A Letter from an Unhappy Customer" by Jennifer Mitchell. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 02-12-15)
58. (17 in Feb) - February 13, 2015 - "The Alien Invasion as Seen in the Twitter Stream of @dweebless" by Jake Kerr. Published in Unidentified Funny Objects. (Read 02-13-15)
59. (18 in Feb) - February 13, 2015 (second story) - "'Pride and Prejudice' in the Club" by Colin Stokes. Published in The New Yorker, February 12, 2015. (Read 02-13-15)
60. (19 in Feb) - February 14, 2015 - "Starfish and Apples" by Henry Szabranski. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 02-14-15)
61. (20 in Feb) - February 15, 2015 - "Limestone, Lye, and the Buzzing of Flies" by Kate Heartfield. Published in Strange Horizons, February 16, 2015. (Read 02-16-15)
62. (21 in Feb) - February 16, 2015 - "Coin Flips" by Tina Connolly and Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 17, 2015. (Read 02-17-15)
63. (22 in Feb) - February 17, 2015 - "When a Bunch of People, Including Raymond, Got Superpowers" by Luc Reid. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 16, 2015. (Read 02-17-15)
64. (23 in Feb) - February 17, 2015 (second story) - "The Ascension of Thin Skin" by Amy Albany. Published in Tin House, Summer 2005 (V.5 n.4). (Read 02-17-15)
65. (24 in Feb) - February 18, 2015 - "The Great Goodbye" by Robert Charles Wilson. Published in New Skies. (Read 02-18-15)
66. (25 in Feb) - February 19, 2015 - "Marking Time" by Stephanie Burgis. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 20, 2015. (Read 02-20-15)
67. (26 in Feb) - February 20, 2015 - "You Bet" by Alex Shvartsman. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 02-21-15)
68. (27 in Feb) - February 21, 2015 - "When It Ends, He Catches Her" by Eugie Foster. Published in Daily Science Fiction, September 26, 2014. (Read 02-22-15)
69. (28 in Feb) - February 22, 2015 - "Four Movie Reviews from after the Zombie Apocalypse" by Michael Haynes. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 23, 2015. (Read 02-23-15)
70. (29 in Feb) - February 23, 2015 - "Seasons of Friendship" by Jamie Lackey. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 02-24-15)
71. (30 in Feb) - February 24, 2015 - "About Fairies" by Pat Murphy. Published on Tor.com, May 9, 2012. (Read 02-24-15)
72. (31 in Feb) - February 25, 2015 - "Stella at the Winter Palace" by Amber Dermont. Published in Tin House, Summer 2005 (V.5 n.4). (Read 02-25-15)
73. (32 in Feb) - February 25, 2015 (second story) -"The Mandelbrot Bet" by Dirk Strasser. Published in Carbide Tipped Pens. (Read 02-25-15)
74. (33 in Feb) - February 26, 2015 - "Icarus Falls" by Alex Shvartsman. Published in Daily Science Fiction, September 23, 2014. (Read 02-26-15)
75. (34 in Feb) - February 27, 2015 - "A Moon for the Unborn" by Indrapramit Das. Published in Strange Horizons, November 10, 2014. (Read 02-27-15)
76. (35 in Feb) - February 28, 2015 - "Repairs" by Maureen Tanafon. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 26, 2015. (Read 02-28-15)



MARCH 2015

77. (1 in March) - March 1, 2015 - "The van der Rohe Forgery" by Raymund Eich. Published as a Kindle short, 2012. (Read 03-01-15)
78. (2 in March) - March 1, 2015 (second story) - "They are Legion. They are Pigeon." by Lynda Clark. Published in Every Day Fiction, February 28, 2015. (Read 03-01-15)
79. (3 in March) - March 2, 2015 - "Stealing Arturo" by William Ledbetter. Published online by Baen, 2014. (Read 03-02-15)
80. (4 in March) - March 2, 2015 (second story) - "Even the Mountains are Not Forever" by Laurie Tom. Published in Strange Horizons, March 2, 2015. (Read 03-02-15)
81. (5 in March) - March 3, 2015 - "Jackalope Wives" by Ursula Vernon. Published in Apex Magazine, January 2014. (Read 03-03-15).
82. (6 in March) - March 4, 2015 - "The Hair Club for Fairytale Princesses" by Heather Morris. Published in Every Day Fiction, March 4, 2015. (Read 03-05-15)
83. (7 in March) - March 5, 2015 - "Gallery" by KJ Kabza. Published in Daily Science Fiction, March 5, 2015. (Read 03-05-15).
84. (8 in March) - March 5, 2015 (second story) - "Welcome to Argentia" by Sandra McDonald. Published in The Dark Magazine, February 2015. (Read 03-05-15)
85. (9 in March) - March 6, 2015 - "A Death" by Stephen King. Published in The New Yorker, March 9, 2015. (Read 03-06-15)
86. (10 in March) - March 6, 2015 (second story) - "Five Stages of Grief After the Alien Invasion" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Clarkesworld, August 2014. (Read 03-06-15)
87. (11 in March) - March 6, 2015 (third story) - "Toad Words" by Ursula Vernon. Published on the author's blog. (Read 03-06-15)
88. (12 in March) - March 7, 2015 - "Makeisha in Time" by Rachael K. Jones. Published in Crossed Genres Magazine, August 2014. (Read 03-07-15)
89. (13 in March) - March 8, 2015 - "Drones Don't Kill People" by Annalee Newitz. Published in Lightspeed, November 2014. (Read 03-08-15)
90. (14 in March) - March 8, 2015 (second story) - "The Clockwork Soldier" by Ken Lui. Published in Clarkesworld, January 2014. (Read 03-08-15)
91. (15 in March) - March 8, 2015 (third story) - "Bronze-Art, the Ferret Master, and the Auspicious Events at Swift Creek Farm" by Adrian Simmons. Published in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, February 2015. (Read 03-08-15).
92. (16 in March) - March 9, 2015 - "The Magician and Laplace's Demon" by Tom Crosshill. Published in Clarkesworld, December 2014. (Read 03-09-15)
93. (17 in March) - March 9, 2015 (second story) - "The Husband Stitch" by Carmen Maria Machado. Published in Granta, October 2014. (Read 03-09-15).
94. (18 in March) - March 10, 2015 - "The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye" by Matthew Kressel. Published in Clarkesworld, May 2014. (Read 03-10-15)
95. (19 in March) - March 11, 2015 - "We Call Her Mama" by Natalia Theodoridou. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 03-11-15)
96. (20 in March) - March 11, 2015 (second story) - "The Egg" by S.B. Divya. Published in Nature, March 2015. (Read 03-11-15)
97. (21 in March) - March 12, 2015 - "Sugar Showpiece Universe" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, March 4, 2015. (Read 03-12-15).
98. (22 in March) - March 13, 2015 - "Everything's Unlikely" by James Van Pelt. Published in Daily Science Fiction, March 13, 2015. (Read 03-13-15)
99. (23 in March) - March 13, 2015 (second story) - "In the Forests of the Night" by Jay Lake. Published in METAtropolis, 2008. (Read/listened 03-13-15)
100. (24 in March) - March 14, 2015 - "How Earth Narrowly Escaped an Invasion From Space" by Alex Shvartsman. Published in Daily Science Fiction, April 15, 2014, and on QuarterReads. (Read 03-14-15)
101. (25 in March) - March 15, 2015 - "Communion" by Mary Anne Mohanraj. Published in Clarkesworld, June 2014. (Read 03-16-15)
102. (26 in March) - March 16, 2015 - "Goat Milk Cheese, Three Trillion Miles From Earth" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 18, 2015. (Read 03-16-15).
103. (27 in March) - March 16, 2015 (second story) - "Until They Come" by Trina Marie Phillips. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 03-16-15)
104. (28 in March) - March 17, 2015 - "Final Corrections, Pittsburgh Times-Dispatch" by M. Bennardo. Published in Daily Science Fiction, January 3, 2013. (Read 03-17-15).
105. (29 in March) - March 18, 2015 - "The Tides" by Ken Liu. Published in Daily Science Fiction, November 1, 2012. (Read 03-18-15).
106. (30 in March) - March 19, 2015 - "America, Etc." by Michael Kardos. Published in One Teen Story, December 2014. (Read 03-20-15)
107. (31 in March) - March 20, 2015 - "City of Salt" by Arkady Martine. Published in Strange Horizons, March 16, 2015. (Read 03-20-15)
108. (32 in March) - March 20, 2015 (second story) - "Pioneer Possessions" by Lee Budar-Danoff. Published in Every Day Fiction, March 20, 2015. (Read 03-20-15)
109. (33 in March) - March 21, 2015 - "The Mirror in the Bathroom" by Melon Wedick. Published in Every Day Fiction, March 21, 2015. (Read 03-21-15)
110. (34 in March) - March 22, 2015 - "Amplexus" by Jonathan Penner. Published in One Teen Story, February 2015. (Read 03-22-15)
111. (35 in March) - March 22, 2015 (second story) - "Night of the Living Poet" by Michael Landau. Published in One Teen Story, January 2015. (Read 03-22-15)
112. (36 in March) - March 23, 2015 - "Bit Player" by Cat Rambo. Published in Daily Science Fiction, March 23, 2015. (Read 03-23-15).
113. (37 in March) - March 23, 2015 (second story) - "The Saving Breath" by Michael Seese. Published in Every Day Fiction, March 23, 2015. (Read 03-23-15)
114. (38 in March) - March 24, 2015 - "This is the Story That Devours Itself" by Michelle Muenzler. Published in Daily Science Fiction, March 24, 2015. (Read 03-24-15)
115. (39 in March) - March 24, 2015 (second story) - "Ice" by Patrice E. Sarath. Published in Tales from the Secret City, 2007. (Read 03-24-15)
116. (40 in March) - March 24, 2015 (third story) - "The Play's the Thing" by Fred Stanton. Published in Tales from the Secret City, 2007. (Read 03-24-15)
117. (41 in March) - March 25, 2015 - "Time Debt" by D. Thomas Minton. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 03-25-15)
118. (42 in March) - March 26, 2015 - "The Fisher Queen" by Alyssa Wong. Published in F&SF, May/June 2014. (Read 03-26-15)
119. (43 in March) - March 27, 2015 - "The Conquest of Gliese 518-5B" by Gary Cuba. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 03-27-15)
120. (44 in March) - March 27, 2015 (second story) - "Machine Washable" by by Keffy R.M. Kehrli. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 03-27-15)
121. (45 in March) - March 28, 2015 - "The Breath of War" by Aliette de Bodard. Published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, March 6, 2014. (Read 03-28-15)
122. (46 in March) - March 28, 2015 (second story) - "The Story of His Life" by David W. Goldman. Published in Writers of the Future XXI, 2005. (Read 03-28-15).
123. (47 in March) - March 29, 2015 - "The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family" by Usman T. Malik. Published in Qualia Nous, 2014. (Read 03-29-15)
124. (48 in March) - March 30, 2015 - "Hokkaido Green" by Aidan Doyle. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 03-30-15)
125. (49 in March) - March 30, 2015 (second story) - "The Fattest Dog in the World" by Cathy S. Ulrich. Published in Every Day Fiction, March 30, 2015. (Read 03-30-15)
126. (50 in March) - March 31, 2015 - "Practical Hats" by Cheryce Clayton. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 03-31-15)



APRIL 2015

127. (1 in April) - April 1, 2015 - "Bread Babies" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, January 7, 2015. (Read 04-01-15)
128. (2 in April) - April 1, 2015 (second story) - "Taste the Whip" by Andy Dudak. Published in Diabolical Plots, March 2, 2015. (Read 04-01-15)
129. (3 in April) - April 2, 2015 - "Veil of Ignorance" by David Barr Kirtley. Published in All the Rage This Year, 2004. (Read 04-02-2015)
130. (4 in April) - April 3, 2015 - "A Midnight Carnival at Sunset" by Terra LeMay. Published in Unidentified Funny Objects, 2013. (Read 04-03-15)
131. (5 in April) - April 4, 2015 - "The Man Who Murdered Himself" by Nancy Fulda. Published in All the Rage This Year, 2004. (Read 04-04-2015)
132. (6 in April) - April 4, 2015 (second story) - "Earl Billings and the Angels of the Lord" by James Maxey. Published in All the Rage This Year, 2004. (Read 04-02-2015)
133. (7 in April) - April 5, 2015 - "Grinpa" by Brian K. Lowe. Published on QuarterReads (first published in Daily Science Fiction, 2010). (Read 04-05-15)
134. (8 in April) - April 6, 2015 - "Things that Matter" by Amanda C. Davis. Published on QuarterReads (first published in 10Flash. (Read 04-06-15)
135. (9 in April) - April 7, 2015 - "The Serial Killer's Astronaut Daughter" by Damien Angelica Walters. Published in Strange Horizons, January 6, 2014. (Read 04-07-15)
136. (10 in April) - April 8, 2015 - "She Just Looks That Way" by Eric Choi. Published in Carbide Tipped Pens. (Read 04-08-15)
137. (11 in April) - April 9, 2015 - "Lures, Hooks and Tails" by Alan Colston. Published in Daily Science Fiction, December 13, 2011. (Read 04-11-15)
138. (12 in April) - April 10, 2015 - "The Old Beauty" by Willa Cather. Published in The Old Beauty and Others. (Read 04-13-15)
139. (13 in April) - April 11, 2015 - "Just Behind the Ear" by Owen Rapine. Published in Every Day Fiction, April 12, 2015. (Read 04-13-15)
140. (14 in April) - April 12, 2015 - "Don't Answer" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Published in Daily Science Fiction, April 13, 2015. (Read 04-14-15)
141. (15 in April) - April 13, 2015 - "Before Breakfast" by Willa Cather. Published in The Old Beauty and Others. (Read 04-14-15)
142. (16 in April) - April 14, 2015 - "The Best Years" by Willa Cather. Published in The Old Beauty and Others. (Read 04-15-15)
143. (17 in April) - April 15, 2015 - "The Plague" by Ken Liu. Published in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection. (Read 04-15-15)
144. (18 in April) - April 15, 2015 (second story) - "Fleet" by Sandra McDonald. Published in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection. (Read 04-15-15)
145. (19 in April) - April 16, 2015 - "The Best We Can" by Carrie Vaughn. Published in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection. (Read 04-16-15)
146. (20 in April) - April 16, 2015 (second story) - "Cat Got Your Tongue?" by Jason J. Nugent. Published in Every Day Fiction, April 16, 2015. (Read 04-16-15)
147. (21 in April) - April 17, 2015 - "Options" by Jack Cooper. Published in Every Day Fiction, April 7, 2015. (Read 04-17-15)
148. (22 in April) - April 17, 2015 (second story) - "The Last Summer" by Ken Liu. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 04-17-15)
149. (23 in April) - April 18, 2015 - "A Heap of Broken Images" by Sunny Moraine. Published in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection. (Read 04-20-15)
150. (24 in April) - April 19, 2015 - "Gray Wings" by Karl Bunker. Published in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection. (Read 04-20-15)
151. (25 in April) - April 20, 2015 - "Far" by Dean E.S. Richard. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 04-20-15)
152. (26 in April) - April 21, 2015 - "Blue Sand" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, October 8, 2012. (Read 04-22-15)
153. (27 in April) - April 22, 2015 - "N is for Nevermore Nevermore Land" by Tim Pratt, Jenn Reese, Heather Shaw, and Greg van Eekhout. Published in Daily Science Fiction, April 6, 2011. (Read 04-22-15)
154. (28 in April) - April 23, 2015 - "Loud as a Murder" by Sarah L. Johnson. Published in Crossed Genres Magazine, April 2015. (Read 04-24-15)
155. (29 in April) - April 24, 2015 - "Nine Thousand Hours" by Iona Sharma. Published in Strange Horizons, April 20, 2015. (Read 04-24-15)
156. (30 in April) - April 25, 2015 - "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Published in Fitzgerald: Novels and Stories 1920-1922. (Read 04-25-15)
157. (31 in April) - April 26, 2015 - "Wolfchild" by Steve Zipp. Published in Prairie Fire: A Canadian Magazine of New Writing, Summer 1994. (Read 04-26-15)
158. (32 in April) - April 26, 2015 (second story) - "Exit Strategies" by Amy Blakemore. Published in PANK Magazine, March/April 2015. (Read 04-26-15)
159. (33 in April) - April 26, 2015 (third story) - "Out Shopping in Hyperspace" by Michelle Ann King. Published in Every Day Fiction, January 11, 2013. (Read 04-26-15)
160. (34 in April) - April 27, 2015 - "Boneshadow" by Jessica Reisman. Published on Toasted Cake Podcasts, April 19, 2015. (Listened 04-27-15)
161. (35 in April) - April 27, 2015 (second story) - "Listening to It Rain"by Sandra Odell. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 04-27-15)
162. (36 in April) - April 28, 2015 - "Clean Space" by Stephen Myers. Published in Prairie Fire: A Canadian Magazine of New Writing, Summer 1994. (Read 04-28-15)
163. (37 in April) - April 28, 2015 (second story) - "Report on the Testing of PK563217M" by Martin Owton. Published in Kraxon Magazine. (Read 04-28-15)
164. (38 in April) - April 29, 2015 - "Robo-rotica" by Sarina Dorie. Published in Daily Science Fiction, April 29, 2015. (Read 04-29-15)
165. (39 in April) - April 30, 2015 - "The Velveteen Golem" by David Sklar. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 04-30-15)



MAY 2015

166. (1 in May) - May 1, 2015 - "H" by Jeff Xilon. Published in Daily Science Fiction, April 30, 2015. (Read 05-01-15)
167. (2 in May) - May 1, 2015 (second story) - "When Push Comes to Shove" (Star Trek: Voyager) by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories, 2002. (Read 05-01-15)
168. (3 in May) - May 2, 2015 - "Bedside Matters" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Greg Cox. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories, 2002. (Read 05-02-15)
169. (4 in May) - May 3, 2015 - "Last Words" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by A.C. Crispin. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories, 2002. (Read 05-03-15)
170. (5 in May) - May 4, 2015 - "On the Scent of Trouble" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by John Gregory Betancourt. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories, 2002. (Read 05-04-15)
171. (6 in May) - May 5, 2015 - "Mars Won" by Stephen V. Ramey. Published in Daily Science Fiction, May 6, 2015. (Read 05-06-15)
172. (7 in May) - May 6, 2015 - "Life Itself is Reason Enough" by M. Shayne Bell. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories, 2002. (Read 05-06-15)
173. (8 in May) - May 6, 2015 (second story) - "A Night at Sandrine's" (Star Trek: Voyager) by Christie Golden. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories, 2002. (Read 05-06-15)
174. (9 in May) - May 6, 2015 (third story) - "The Space Vortex of Doom" (Star Trek: Voyager) by D.W. "Prof" Smith (Dean Wesley Smith). Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories, 2002. (Read 05-06-15)
175. (10 in May) - May 7, 2015 - "Spit" by Michelle Hart. Published in One Teen Story, April 2015. (Read 05-07-15)
176. (11 in May) - May 7, 2015 (second story) - "Late Nights at the Cape and Cane" by Max Gladstone. Published in Uncanny, November 2014. (Read 05-07-15)
177. (12 in May) - May 8, 2015 - "Restore the Heart into Love" by John Chu. Published in Uncanny, May 2015. (Read 05-08-15)
178. (13 in May) - May 8, 2015 (second story) - "The Corpsman’s Tale" by Iain Ishbel. Published in Crossed Genres Magazine, May 2015. (Read 05-08-15)
179. (14 in May) - May 9, 2015 - "Let Down, Set Free" by Nino Cipri. Published in Crossed Genres Magazine, May 2015. (Read 05-10-15)
180. (15 in May) - May 10, 2015 - "The Tragically Dead Girlfriend" by Kate Marshall. Published in Crossed Genres Magazine, May 2015. (Read 05-11-15)
181. (16 in May) - May 11, 2015 - "With Paper Armour and Wooden Sword" by Tracie McBride. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 05-12-15)
182. (17 in May) - May 12, 2015 - "Extra Credit" by Carlos Bueno. Published in Daily Science Fiction, May 13, 2015. (Read 05-13-15)
183. (18 in May) - May 13, 2015 - "That's Marriage" by Edna Ferber. Published in One Basket (collection), 1947. (Read 05-13-15)
184. (19 in May) - May 14, 2015 - "Farmer in the Dell" by Edna Ferber. Published in One Basket (collection), 1947. (Read 05-14-15)
185. (20 in May) - May 15, 2015 - "Ships in the Night" by S.B. Divya. Published in Daily Science Fiction, May 19, 2015. (Read 05-19-15)
186. (21 in May) - May 16, 2015 - "Jacob Gayne, Vice President" by Aaron Emmel. Published online in Every Day Fiction, May 18, 2015. (Read 05-19-15)
187. (22 in May) - May 17, 2015 - "Hate at First Sight" by Kathy Lette. Published in 10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year, 2009. (Read 05-19-15)
188. (23 in May) - May 18, 2015 - "Ol' Soapy's Revenge" by Marina J. Lostetter. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 05-20-15)
189. (24 in May) - May 19, 2015 - "You Can Change Your Life" by Toni Jordan. Published in 10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year, 2009. (Read 05-19-15)
190. (25 in May) - May 20, 2015 - "Out of All Them Bright Stars" by Nancy Kress. Published in New Skies. (Read 05-21-15)
191. (26 in May) - May 21, 2015 - "The Alien Mind" by Philip K. Dick. Published in New Skies. (Read 05-21-15)
192. (27 in May) - May 22, 2015 - "Hero" (Star Trek: Enterprise) by Lorraine Anderson. Published in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 8, 2005. (Read 05-26-15)
193. (28 in May) - May 23, 2015 - "Morning Bells are Ringing" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Kevin G. Summers. Published in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 8, 2005. (Read 05-26-15)
194. (29 in May) - May 24, 2015 - "Four Horns" by Anthony Morgan-Clark. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 05-26-15)
195. (30 in May) - May 25, 2015 - "The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate" by A.C. Wise. Published in Uncanny, May 2015. (Read 05-08-15)
196. (31 in May) - May 26, 2015 - "The Rapid Advance of Sorrow" by Theodora Goss. Published in The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. (Read 05-26-15)
197. (32 in May) - May 27, 2015 - "Music Lessons" by Douglas Lain. Published in The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. (Read 05-27-15)
198. (33 in May) - May 27, 2015 (second story) - "Norma the Wal-Mart Greeter Meets the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" by Renee Carter Hall. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 05-27-15)
199. (34 in May) - May 27, 2015 (third story) - "In Memoriam" by Rachel Reddick. Published in Diabolical Plots, May 1, 2015. (Read 05-27-15)
200. (35 in May) - May 27, 2015 (fourth story) - "Pretending" by Ray Vukcevich. Published in The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. (Read 05-27-15)
201. (36 in May) - May 28, 2015 - "A Eulogy for Pretzel" by Lily Dodd. Published in One Teen Story, May 2015. (Read 05-29-15)
202. (37 in May) - May 29, 2015 - "Letter from a Drunk to a Long Gone Wife" by Jack Marx. Published in 10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year, 2009. (Read 05-29-15)
203. (38 in May) - May 30, 2015 - "Suicide is Not Your Friend" by Sara Jacobelli. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 05-30-15)
204. (39 in May) - May 31, 2015 - "White Poplar" by Shannon Peavey. Published in Daily Science Fiction, May 29, 2015. (Read 05-31-15)



JUNE 2015

205. (1 in June) - June 1, 2015 -"RedChip BlueChip" by Effie Seiberg. Published in Crossed Genres, June 2015. (Read 06-01-15)
206. (2 in June) - June 2, 2015 - "An Apocalypse of Her Own, One Day" by Alex Kane. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 06-02-15)
207. (3 in June) - June 3, 2015 - "I Regret to Inform You That My Wedding to Captain von Trapp has been Canceled" by Melinda Taub. Published in McSweeney's, May 2011. (Read 06-03-15)
208. (4 in June) - June 3, 2015 (second story) - "An Update on the Prolbem of Maria" by Matthew Belinkie. Published in McSweeney's, April 2007. (Read 06-03-15)
209. (5 in June) - June 4, 2015 - "Anniversary Project" by Joe Haldeman. Published in The Furthest Horizon, 2000. (Read 06-04-15)
210. (6 in June) - June 5, 2015 - "The Dollmaker's Rage" by Mari Ness. Published in Daily Science Fiction, June 5, 2014. (Read 06-05-15)
211. (7 in June) - June 6, 2015 - "Carry On" by Amy Morris-Jones. Published in Every Day Fiction, June 7, 2015. (Read 06-08-15)
212. (8 in June) - June 7, 2015 - "Who Else Would Make a World Like This" by Stephen S. Power. Published in Flapperhouse, May 8, 2015. (Read 06-08-15)
213. (9 in June) - June 8, 2015 - "Dinosaurs" by Walter Jon Williams. Published in The Furthest Horizon, 2000. (Read 06-09-15)
214. (10 in June) - June 9, 2015 - "Bursk's Cutting Board" by Scott Cheshire. Published in One Story, May 2015. (Read 06-10-15)
215. (11 in June) - June 10, 2105 - "The Tear Collector" by Justin C. Key. Published in Crossed Genres, June 2015. (Read 06-12-15)
216. (12 in June) - June 11, 2015 - "Amaryllis" by Carrie Vaughn. Published in Lightspeed, June 2010. (Read 06-14-15)
217. (13 in June) - June 12, 2015 - "Seated Woman with Child" by Rosemary Clement-Moore. Published in Strange Afterlives, 2015. (Read 06-14-15)
218. (14 in June) - June 13, 2015 - "I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno" by Vylar Kaftan. Published in Lightspeed, June 2010. (Read 06-14-15)
219. (15 in June) - June 14, 2015 - "The Adjunct" by Patricia S. Bowne. Published in Fantasy Scroll Mag, June 2015. (Read 06-16-15)
220. (16 in June) - June 15, 2015 - "All the Animals and Me" by Dan Malakin. Published in Every Day Fiction, June 16, 2015. (Read 06-16-15)
221. (17 in June) - June 16, 2015 - "An Undercover Haunting" by Kristi Hutson. Published Published in Strange Afterlives, 2015. (Read 06-16-15)
222. (18 in June) - June 17, 2015 - "End Game" by Nancy Kress. Published in Fountain of Age: Stories (collection) by Nancy Kress. (Read 06-18-15)
223. (19 in June) - June 18, 2015 - "Touring Test" by Holly Schofield. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 06-15-18)
224. (20 in June) - June 19, 2015 - "Hellhound, Free to Good Home" by Gerri Leen. Published in Daily Science Fiction, June 22, 2015. (Read 06-22-15)
225. (21 in June) - June 20, 2015 - "The Reflection in Her Eye" by Shawn Scarber. Published in Black Denim Lit, May 2015. (Read 06-22-15)
226. (22 in June) - June 21, 2015 - "First Reports on Tardive Dyskinesia Patients in Time Displacement" by Fabio Fernandes. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 06-22-18)
227. (23 in June) - June 22, 2015 - "Voidrunner" by Rachael K. Jones. Published in Daily Science Fiction, June 23, 2015. (Read 06-23-15)
228. (24 in June) - June 23, 2015 - "We Fly" by K.B. Rylander. Published on Baen.com (contest winner), 2015. (Read 06-24-15)
229. (25 in June) - June 24, 2015 - "Crown of May" by Jaine Fenn. Published on QuarterReads. (Read 06-24-15)
230. (26 in June) - June 24, 2015 (second story) - "Superiority" by Arthur C. Clarke. Published in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow: Science Fiction War Stories, 1987. (Read 06-24-15)
231. (27 in June) - June 24, 2015 (third story) - "Ten Wretched Things About Influenza Siderius" by Rachael K. Jones. Published in Daily Science Fiction, July 29, 2014. (Read 06-24-15)
232. (28 in June) - June 25, 2015 - "Parable Lost" by Jo Walton. Published in Lone Star Stories, June 2009. (Read 06-25-15)
233. (29 in June) - June 26, 2015 - "Breaking the 3 Laws" by Trevor Doyle. Published in Perihelion, March 2015. (Read 06-26-15)
234. (30 in June) - June 26, 2015 (second story) - "Athena's Children" by Travis Heermann. Published in Perihelion, April 2015. (Read 06-26-15)
235. (31 in June) - June 27, 2015 - "Muzak for Prozak" by Jack Gantos. Published in On the Fringe (anthology), 2001. (Read 06-28-15)
236. (32 in June) - June 28, 2015 - "Dreams to Dust" by Jamie Lackey. Published in Perihelion, June 2015. (Read 06-28-15)
237. (33 in June) - June 29, 2015 - "Cool" by Becky Hagenston. Published in One Teen Story, June 2015. (Read 06-2-15)
238. (34 in June) - June 29, 2015 (second story) - "Saving Time" by John Hegenberger. Published in Perihelion, June 2015. (Read 06-28-15)
239. (35 in June) - June 30, 2015 - "Flash" by Lavid Tidhar. Published in Daily Science Fiction, June 29, 2015. (Read 06-30-15)



The second half of 2015 will be listed here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/192712

3amysisson
Editado: Jan 4, 2015, 2:17 pm

Story #1. "The Cleverest Man in the World" by Tony Ballantyne. Published in Nature, December 2010. Read online 01-02-15.

This is flash fiction, part of Nature's feature titled "Futures." A cute story about a man on a call-line who charges £10,000 to answer a question in 10 seconds. It wasn't quite all I wanted it to be, but still fun.

Permalink: http://www.concatenation.org/futures/ballantyne_cleverest_man.pdf

4amysisson
Editado: Jan 4, 2015, 11:42 pm

Story #2. "The Lady Who Entertained" by Dazai Osaum. Published in The Mother of Dreams: Portrayals of Women in Modern Japanese Fiction, edited by Makoto Ueda. Originally published ca. 1948. Read in print book 01-03-15.

This short story is written from the point of view of a housemaid in a Tokyo suburb shortly after the war, who witnesses the lady of the house, a probable widow as her husband went missing in action, allowing herself to be taken advantage of by men who use her house for late-night partying, to the eventual detriment of her own health. Just as the maid finally convinces her mistress to go take a rest-cure among her own family, the family friend arrives again, demanding that he and his friends be entertained. Since the lady cannot say no, the reader concludes that she probably does not have long to live.

Interestingly, the introduction to this story notes that the author, Dazai Osaum (1909-48), "attempted suicide several times -- and finally succeeded -- during his eventful life, each time accompanied by a different woman who was willing to die with him." It's odd that a man writing about a woman so kind that she allows herself to be worn out to death rather than refuse a request for hospitality -- i.e. he recognizes that kindness can be taken advantage of -- apparently was able to talk more than one woman into suicide attempts.

5amysisson
Editado: Fev 21, 2015, 11:33 am

Story #3. "Doing Emily" by Joe Haldeman. Published in F&SF, May/June 2013. Read in PDF form 01-03-15.

A male English professor chooses to become Emily Dickinson via virtual reality at MIT. Something, it's not clear what, causes him to think he really is her, even when brought back to modern-day Cambridge. Or maybe he really is her.

6aulsmith
Jan 4, 2015, 9:48 am

5: "Doing Emily" does make you think about how much reality you want in your virtual experience. Rather like the creative anachronisms of SCA. I still want my flush toilet.

I'm following along. Good luck keeping up!

7amysisson
Editado: Jan 4, 2015, 11:46 pm

Story #4. "Food Man" by Lisa Tuttle. Published in Flying Cups and Saucers: Gender Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Debbie Notkin and the Secret Feminist Cabal. Published November 1998. Read in print galley 01-04-15.

This story is about a girl with anorexia who hides food under her bed to avoid eating it. The rotted food comes to life in the shape of a man with whom she has sex; she goes through several iterations of eating, not eating, etc. until she ultimately eats the man and (presumably) becomes a monster who is about to go eat her sleeping parents and brother too.

I felt this was well-written, but I wanted to like it a lot better than I did. It did do a nice job of exploring the relationship between food, eating disorders, power, and sex.

I was partway through the story when I realized a page was missing, but fortunately it turned out that a page was repeated, and the "missing" page then appeared. Whew!

8amysisson
Jan 5, 2015, 3:52 pm

Story #5. "It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown" by Stephanie Perkins. Published in My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, edited by Stephanie Perkins. Published 2014. Read in print book from library 01-05-15.

I started reading stories in this collection before Christmas and only got up through this one, which has been my favorite of the book so far. Marigold, who has an unusual family situation, hopes to eventually escape by working in computer animation and movie-making. She has a YouTube channel and is trying to work up the nerve to ask a young man who works at the local Christmas tree lot if she can "borrow" his voice for her next project. When he insists on helping her bring the tree to her apartment, he learns more about her than she has shown anyone else, with surprising (to her) results.

I won't go into detail, but will only say that this was a very moving story, with lots of warmth and humor. Since the holidays are now past, I'm going to return this book to the library and buy my own copy(*), and read it next December, all the way through. The quality of the stories has been very high so far.

(* - proof that authors are helped by libraries lending their books -- which most authors recognize, I think!)

9amysisson
Editado: Jan 8, 2015, 6:23 pm

Story #6. "The Sweet Life" by Aidan Doyle. Published in Every Day Fiction on September 8, 2014. Read online 01-06-15.

This is a flash fiction piece about middle-aged Japanese man who starts seeing his co-workers replaced by bears. It's cute but the prose is clunky in a few places (repeated words, ambiguous pronouns, etc.).

Permalink: http://www.everydayfiction.com/the-sweet-life-by-aidan-doyle/

10amysisson
Editado: Fev 2, 2015, 9:46 am

Story #7. "This Chance Planet" by Elizabeth Bear. Published on Tor.com on October 22, 2014. Read online 01-08-15.

I'm afraid I thought this was incredibly clunky. A young woman in Russia encounters a stray dog on a Metro train in Russia, that leads her to discover that her boyfriend is not only selfish and self-centered, he's also cheating on her. Some dialogue wasn't adequately attributed, and the thoughts and sentences seemed very random at times. And I can't imagine someone actually saying "Argh." I would have stopped reading it, but I was a day behind on my short story reading and didn't want to have wasted the time I already invested.

11amysisson
Editado: Jan 8, 2015, 7:02 pm

Story #8. "Maximize Revenue" by Chris Limb. Published in Daily Science Fiction on January 8, 2015. Read online 01-08-15.

Alas, another slightly clunky story -- for something so short, I felt I had to work a little too hard as a reader to parse some of the sentences. I like the idea behind the story but felt it was a little simplistic (but it is flash fiction, to be fair). This was about a woman who deliberately gets the authorities to put surveillance on her, because she'll get revenue for the ads placed on the surveillance stream.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/future-societies/chris-limb/maxim...

12aulsmith
Jan 9, 2015, 9:44 am

>10 amysisson:: i've seen that dialog problem in Bear in her longer works as well. I do actually say "argh" from time to time, though.

13amysisson
Editado: Jan 10, 2015, 1:36 pm

Story #9. "The Bomb-Thing" by KJ Kabza. Published in F&SF, November/December 2014. Read in PDF form 01-09-15.

This is a time travel story connecting the years 2014 and 1968. A young man hero-worships his brilliant-slacker-janitor friend Mason, who spends his time talking about girls' "bombs" and being an asshole in general. Things get interesting when Mason offers to show a gorgeous visiting young woman around the building after hours. I didn't care for this too much. Mason was too much of a jerk to enjoy reading about him, Blaine (the narrator) wasn't too bright about things, and I didn't believe that Mason would allow Blaine to tag along while he was trying to make time with Phyllis, who also wasn't that sympathetic.

14aulsmith
Jan 10, 2015, 9:47 am

>13 amysisson: Touchstone fairy KJ Kabza

15amysisson
Jan 10, 2015, 1:36 pm

>14 aulsmith:

Ack! I touchstoned it but failed to notice I switched the "b" and the "z" again..... Fixing now!

16amysisson
Jan 10, 2015, 2:03 pm

Story #10. "The Snow Bride" by Kate Bernheimer. Published in Faerie Magazine 29/Winter. Read in print 01-10-15.

I guess it's just bad luck, but clunky, clunky, clunky seems to be the short story style of the week!

I came across Faerie Magazine in a bookstore the other day, having never seen it before. It's an uncommonly beautiful magazine, full of short stories and essays and fantastical photo spreads. This quite short story is about teenage twins who encounter a mysterious "winter man" one day, who threatens to kill them if they ever reveal what happened (which isn't much). There is awkward repetition of phrases (of the sort that doesn't seem intentional-for-effect), there is confusing attribution, and the story is just somewhat silly and pointless. I would also put forth that starting the last paragraph with the words "Now, I know this is not a very good story" likely will not make the reader pause and chuckle and say "How clever! I guess it was a good story after all!"

Sigh.... I feel as though I'm inordinately hard to please, but man, the last several stories have been bad!

17elenchus
Jan 10, 2015, 3:00 pm

You need a go-to author or collection to get you back on track. Buy that copy of My True Love Gave To Me quick!

18amysisson
Jan 10, 2015, 3:29 pm

>17 elenchus:

You said it! (And I did order the book a few days ago -- it shipped today!)

Also, I did just discover something today called QuarterReads, where you purchase $5 worth of credit, and then choose what stories you want to read (all under 2,000 words) based on short excerpts, at 25 cents per read. One of my go-to short story authors, Ken Liu, has lots on there, so I plan on utilizing it quite a bit!

I'm intrigued by the QuarterReads concept: they are aiming for something between no-gatekeeping-self-publishing, and too-much-gatekeeping-traditional-publishing. That is, they have minimum standards -- stories will be rejected for bad spelling, grammar, etc. -- but otherwise they're pretty open. And of that 25 cents, the author gets 22 cents each time one of their stories is read/purchased. And the reader/buyer gets to keep that story in their account's "library."

I plan to utilize this as both a reader and a writer, and see how it goes!

19amysisson
Jan 10, 2015, 3:42 pm

Story #11. "Nuclear Family" by Alex Shvartsman. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 01-10-15.

I'm killing a bit of time while waiting to leave for a hockey game, and this story is free on QuarterReads at the moment so I read it as a second story of the day. It's very short, only 512 words, and quite a nice little story, told from the point of view of a child who doesn't quite understand all the realities of the post-nuclear world in which he or she is living. Nicely told. I think this author writes a lot of flash fiction and is able to get a lot of story into a short space.

20elenchus
Jan 10, 2015, 4:01 pm

Just realised something I particularly enjoy about this format (quick comments on short fiction) is your incorporation of observations from both a writerly and a readerly perspective. Not sure you intend or even agree with that take, but it's very much present for me. A great example of what I'd hoped to get when clicking into a Hobnob thread.

21amysisson
Jan 10, 2015, 4:05 pm

>20 elenchus:

My thoughts in reading a story a day were definitely fueled by a hope that I would learn something about the craft of short-story writing. I don't know how much I'm consciously learning, but hopefully some things are getting absorbed!

What threads do you have going for your reading/writing this year?

22elenchus
Jan 10, 2015, 5:10 pm

Only one LT reading thread for me: the Deep Ones quarterly short story read in The Weird Tradition group. I encourage you to check it out if you haven't already, best book club I've ever been involved in, bar none.

Beyond that, no personal threads. My commitment is only to review (on LT) every book I read, as a rule no short stories unless I read the full collection. I've also resolved to being very picky about what I request from Early Reviewers, in an effort to read more from my TBR piles. I'm jealous of my infrequent opportunities for reading, and realised almost a third of my annual reading has been from LTER, despite many of the titles being of less interest than titles I already own.

That's the extent of my writing, too: the reviews. For now, it's plenty!

23amysisson
Editado: Jan 13, 2015, 9:21 pm

Story #12. "The Box That Eats Memories" by Ken Liu. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 01-12-15.

This 1,004-word short was well-written, certainly, but I think I've read a few too many stories (including genre ones) about domestic violence/abuse, so I wasn't terribly interested in this one. I also found the ending quite predictable.

24amysisson
Editado: Jan 13, 2015, 9:47 pm

Story #13. "Bee Futures" by Vaughan Stanger. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 01-12-15.

This was originally published as one of Nature's "Futures" stories. It's written from the POV of a farmer who has to defend his GMO crops and modified pollinators from anti-GMO protestors, until he finally gives up on farming food altogether. I thought it was well done, if a little ... extreme in its conclusions. But I find that is often the case with the "Futures" stories, which often seem to try pretty darn hard to make a point.

25amysisson
Editado: Fev 21, 2015, 11:36 am

Story #14. "The Total Devotion Machine" by Rosaleen Love. Published in Centaurus: The Best of Australian Science Fiction, edited by David G. Harwell and Damien Broderick. Read in print book 01-13-15.

This is described in the intro to the story as an SF "fable"; it's about a woman who jaunts off to Mars, leaving her teen and her baby (called "Baby") in the care of a Total Devotion Machine. The machine turns out to be pretty smart, finding ways to make the children's respective fathers abide by the contractual parenting agreements. It's not a bad story but seemed a little too ... (I've been trying to find the phrase I want for ten minutes now) maybe "on the nose" for my taste? I have to wonder if when it was written, the author was trying to criticize parents who actually do want lives as people and not just parents. I don't know; I'm probably reading too much into it.

I don't consider a 2 1/2 star rating "bad," by the way: for me, that means a story is exactly average, neither good nor bad.

26amysisson
Editado: Jan 14, 2015, 3:40 pm

Story #15. "Here at Profile" by Katie Lewis. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 01-13-15.

This story is just under 1100 words, and to be honest I felt it went on longer than necessary to make its point. Funnily enough, like the Rosaleen Love story I read just before this, this one was also a little on the nose, but I liked it a bit better. The story is a sort of "testimonial" by the founder and CEO of Profile, a company that matches you with a "Connector" who looks at your significant other's online profiles and updates (think Facebook and Twitter) to gauge their mood and tell you how to get along better with them from day to day. The founder's own words, written directly to his potential customers, are interspersed with endorsements by satisfied customers.

To be sure, online social media has changed our lives tremendously in the last few years. I don't think it has changed by relationship with my husband much as he's not on social media at all, but it has changed how we find out information -- births, deaths, engagements, broken engagements -- and I'm sure there are many younger couples for whom social media has always been a prescence in their relationships. So I feel this story is both timely and clever. Where it broke down a tiny bit for me was in the inherent contradiction I found in the CEO saying "we're here to help you find lifelong, satisfying love" and "we understand you may want booty on the side." I think the author was trying to be ironic there, but actually, it might have been more effective for me as a story if the program could actually make the would-be philanderers fall more in love with their partners such that they wouldn't cheat. Of course, I recognize that that's not the story the author wanted to write, and that's 100% valid. I also recognize that the juxtaposition in having read this minutes after reading the Rosaleen Love story has probably colored my thoughts in that regard.

Overall, fun and a good effort.

27elenchus
Jan 13, 2015, 10:10 pm

Was it serendipity that sequenced those last two stories, one after the other, or did you select them purposefully?

I like it when two "unrelated" narratives happen to comment on one another, across the boundaries of the text so to speak. It's happened with stories in an anthology, though that's less surprising unless the selection was completely non-thematic (by publication date, say). One of the more memorable for me was a poetry collection, in which a poem mentioned another poem (different poet) and was published directly after it.

28amysisson
Jan 13, 2015, 10:14 pm

>27 elenchus:

Complete serendipity. I wanted to choose a slightly longer short story than many of the ones I've been reading online (and make some progress in reading my own print books), so I just went upstairs to my bookcases where the anthologies are and chose that story in the Australian SF anthology almost at random. Now I'm waiting to (finally) watch the Peggy Carter series pilot with my husband, and had a few minutes so went on to QuarterReads, and that was their free story today! I gather they do one free story a week. I did subscribe, though, so I have lots of stories I can yet access. :-)

Yes, I love finding connections, even when I know some of them are random things only I might notice. I find that reading one thing often reminds me of the "feel" of reading another more than anything tangible they actually have in common.

29amysisson
Editado: Jan 14, 2015, 3:42 pm

Story #16. "Dichotomous key to "animals" discovered by the first settlers on Quintana: Kepler-186F" by Melanie Rees. Published in Daily Science Fiction on January 14, 2015. Read online 01-14-15.

This is a short little hypertext story, in two ways. It reads as a flow chart, i.e. does the species have two legs or four? Go to step X..... So you jump around in it, but there are also hyperlinked footnotes to some of those choices, and one of the footnotes even refers back to another. I think this was quite well done and amusing, although I think since the text was so short, using the link-jumps only moved you slightly on the page and it wasn't always immediately clear to me where my eyes should go. I wonder if this might have worked better if those footnotes opened little pop-up bubble windows instead, but of course that requires more complex html coding, plus it may or may not have worked within people's e-mails. Actually, I just realized it does not work within my e-mail, or my gmail anyway -- I had to go to the site to make the links work, but I prefer going to the site if I'm going to read the whole story anyway.

Fun stuff. We still haven't explored many of the storytelling opportunities that computers and hypertext and the online environment provide. This story hints at a little of it, and it's fun. I could also totally see this piece in the former Eggplant Literary Production's galactic "library" of little snippets and interesting things.

Permalink to story: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/other-worlds-sf/melanie-rees/dich...

30amysisson
Jan 15, 2015, 10:50 am

I'm leaving the husband in charge at home while I head off to a long-weekend writing retreat. My plan is to take an anthology, continue to read a story per day, and either post while there (if internet access is good) or post them all after the fact when I get home. Happy weekend, everyone!

31amysisson
Jan 17, 2015, 11:21 am

I'm at a writing retreat this weekend, and was on the road Thursday night to get here. So I'm a little behind on my short story reading but plan to catch up today (although I plan to read pretty short stories). My strategy for this goal is that when I read an extra story in a day, I don't get "credit" ahead. But if I miss a day, I do have to make it up!

Last night the writers all read from their works, and some were complete short stories. So I have "read" (heard) several stories, but I don't feel free to comment on their work here because some of these stories are not yet published, so I'm not counting these at all.

Back to the salt mines!

32amysisson
Editado: Jan 17, 2015, 11:46 am

Story #17. "The Executioner's Gaze" by Li B.Y. Ralph. Published in Every Day Fiction on January 17, 2015. Read online 01-17-15.

I appreciate the intent and sentiment in this story about an executioner (beheading by sword those deemed criminals and heretics by the priests), but it's not a terribly original concept, and the prose lacked the professional polish.

For instance:

"Fleetingly, Antonio glowered at the priests, but snapped into silence then." Well, he was actually already silent (also confirmed by the preceding sentences).

"...but what frightened him most was what the mob would do to him if he didn’t do what he was commanded to do." The word "do" is repeated three times in just this part of the sentence, and it doesn't appear that it's being deliberately repeated for effect.

"Next, Antonio was unsheathing his steel with shaking hands." I can't see any reason to suddenly change to the weaker "was unsheathing" instead of simply saying "Next, Antonio unsheathed his steel...."

The site mentions that the writer is from China. If English is not the author's first language, I have to commend him/her for how well he/she does write in English. But I feel that the editors might have polished up those little things without changing any content whatsoever. Isn't that what editors are supposed to do? Isn't it in their interests to have the stories they published appear as well-written as possible while still maintaining the author's story?

Permalink: http://www.everydayfiction.com/the-executioners-gaze-by-li-b-y-ralph/

33amysisson
Editado: Jan 17, 2015, 3:04 pm

Story #18. "The Readers" by Mardra Sikora. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 01-17-15.

This is a heartfelt and well-written flash piece told from the POV of a lifelong reader's book collection (one book in particular). I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't consider it remarkable.

34amysisson
Editado: Jan 27, 2015, 12:12 pm

Story #19. "The Last Seed" by Ken Liu. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 01-19-15.

This is a lovely little piece about a young woman who has dreamed of going into space from her childhood, even in a world that always has too many other concerns to spend much time and effort on really ambitious exploration. The story is just under 1,000 words so there's not much to say about it that wouldn't pretty much give away the whole thing, not that it's a surprise ending or anything but still.... I do really enjoy this author's writing.

35amysisson
Editado: Jan 20, 2015, 12:16 am

Story #20. "Valley of the Girls" by Kelly Link. Published in Get in Trouble by Kelly Link (collection). Story originally published in 2011 (Subterranean Online); collection published 2015. Read in print book 01-19-15.

Oh, I could have loved this story if only I had a better idea what was going on! I'm going to put this all behind a spoiler tag because the premise, which you don't find out about very quickly, is what is most interesting. Rich kids are hidden away from the world and have "Faces," or "nobodies" who are hired to pretend to be them and to act like good kids so that when they get older, they won't have an embarrassing online record of trashy behavior. The rich kids also have implants that keep them from drinking and doing drugs, which they have found ways to get around. There's also a lot more to it that I don't understand, such as the kids having pyramids built for them -- literal, physical pyramids, I think, but I don't understand why. In addition, the kids often sleep with their friends' Faces, which means by definition they're going out into the real world, doesn't it?

I think the main character, who calls himself a guy, is actually a girl and that's meant to be a twist. But I can't figure out who he or she loves. The other main character locks herself in a pyramid chamber and kills herself by snakebite, leaving the main character likely to die locked in there with her, but I don't really understand why.


So much richness here, but (for me) lost in too much obscurity. I wonder if I can find a review of this story somewhere that might explain some of it to me.

36amysisson
Editado: Jan 20, 2015, 12:43 am

Story #21. "My Avatar Has an Avatar" by Robert Bagnall. Published in Daily Science Fiction on June 18, 2014. Read online 01-19-15.

And with this story I'm caught up again -- I was traveling from Thursday to late Sunday and got a little behind.

I think the title pretty much says it all. This is a cute story about a middle-aged man who has created a female avatar in Second Earth who is tall, large-breasted, and tough-talking. It's a cute story and I enjoyed it, although I thought it could use a tiny bit of polishing on the line level.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/virtual-reality/robert-bagnall/my...

37amysisson
Editado: Jan 20, 2015, 8:48 pm

Story #22. "In the Days of the Comet" by John M. Ford. Published in Heat of Fusion and Other Stories by John M. Ford (collection). Story originally published in 2001 (Nature); collection published in 2004. Read in print book 01-20-15.

In this quite-short story (I presume it appeared in Nature's "Futures" feature), a spacecraft surveying the Oort cloud loses one of its crew to a prion, in a way that leads to speculation about the origin of life in the solar system. I thought this was a neat story, and I liked the casual mention of organics, whatever the narrator was, and "Neumänner," but for me this story was difficult to experience emotionally -- I just didn't feel it.

As a side note, this was very similar in theme to Ken Liu's "The Last Seed", which I just read. Liu came at the subject emotionally, while Ford came at it more scientifically and speculatively.

38elenchus
Jan 20, 2015, 10:06 pm

Another coincidence-driven / synchronicity read: nice!

39amysisson
Jan 21, 2015, 12:46 am

Story #23. "The Raven's Brocade" by Eugie Foster. Published in Returning My Sister's Face by Eugie Foster (collection). Story originally published in 2007 (Cricket); collection published in 2009. Read in print book 01-20-15.

According to the author's notes, this is a retelling of a Japanese folktale called "The Crane's Gratitude". It's essentially a fable, and as such, it has a traditional ending that is not necessarily how I want things to turn out for the characters, but it's right for the story, if that makes sense. There are some gorgeous sentences in the book, and an image regarding the raven that will stay with me.

40amysisson
Editado: Jan 21, 2015, 1:48 pm

Story #24. "A Million Oysters For Chiyoko" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction on January 21, 2015. Read online 01-21-15.

My first five-star story of the month! This is a lovely tale, about a woman searching for her daughter's remains while diving for what little seafood remains in an acidic ocean. The language is lovely and the length is just right. I can't think of a thing I would change about this story.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/tasting-menu/caroline-m-yoachim/a-...

41amysisson
Editado: Jan 28, 2015, 10:59 am

Story #25. "The Kindness of Bones" by Leslie Jane Anderson. Published in Daily Science Fiction on January 22, 2015. Read online 01-22-15.

Such an interesting premise! People regularly resurrect skeletons that are sometimes cobbled together from different animals, treating them almost as pets. The narrator appears to be a terminally ill child.

But then it goes nowhere -- it's not so much a story but a vignette of an idea. Too bad, because I was intrigued.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/modern-fantasy/leslie-jane-anderson/the-k...

42AnnieMod
Jan 22, 2015, 1:45 pm

>41 amysisson: It's hard to develop stories in DSF though - because of the length considerations... I rarely expect more than an idea there...

43amysisson
Jan 22, 2015, 1:52 pm

>42 AnnieMod:

That's true! And now I'm abashed to admit that some of my own flash stories are really just vignettes too. In this case, I think I was just disappointed because the idea was so COOL, I wanted more than a flash piece.

44amysisson
Jan 22, 2015, 1:52 pm

P.S. Going to read something longer today for a second story. In a challenge like this, it will be only too easy to keep resorting to just flash fiction because I'm in a hurry.

45AnnieMod
Jan 22, 2015, 2:01 pm

>43 amysisson: Some of the authors use that as a base and build a longer story later... some do not :)

46amysisson
Editado: Jan 22, 2015, 2:20 pm

Story #26. "Taedium Vitae" by KM Zafari. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 01-22-15.

OK, I am still going to read a longer short story today, but I got an e-mail that this one was free on QuarterReads so I just popped over and before I knew it I had read it.

This is a cute, mildly humorous story about death.

47amysisson
Editado: Fev 18, 2015, 2:23 pm

Story #27. "Will You Be an Astronaut?" by Greg Van Eekhout. Published in New Skies, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Anthology published 2003; story originally published in F&SF, September 2002. Read in print book 01-22-15.

Woot! Another 5-star story. This one starts at as a "children's book," explaining very simply what astronauts do and asking if YOU want to be an astronaut. Then the story goes in totally unexpected directions. This isn't quite a plot spoiler, but I think the story is very sophisticated, especially in the way it comments on brainwashing in more ways than one.

I read a couple of stories in this anthology many years ago, and remember the plots of both of them. For me, if I like something, I'm much more inclined to remember it. So this anthology is three out of three hits for me so far. Maybe I'll just make my way through this one over the next several days of story reading. :-)

48amysisson
Editado: Jan 23, 2015, 2:15 pm

Story #28. "Teddy Bears and Tea Parties" by S. Boyd Taylor. Published as standalone Kindle e-book in 2011; originally published in Chiaroscuro Magazine, July 2009. Read in Kindle for the Cloud 01-23-15.

I'm very glad I read this story early in the day rather than right before bedtime, because it's a deeply atmospheric horror story. I don't normally read horror much, but I'm glad I read this because there are some haunting images, and the last few lines of the story in particular will stay with me. The premise is that magic has come back to the world, so that everything needs to eat, even formerly inanimate objects. Which means that food has run out quickly....

I was slightly reminded of some of the imagery in the movie Pan's Labyrinth, not in specifics, but in the horrible yet fascinating grotesque images. The Kindle edition was also beautifully illustrated by Jorge Rodas.

49amysisson
Editado: Jan 24, 2015, 1:36 pm

Story #29. "A Clockwork Break" by Shawn Scarber. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 01-23-15.

This is a nice story about a woman toiling away in the old garment districts in Lowell, Massachusetts, when something lovely and unexpected happens. What I liked best about this is that it had just the right amount of "story," if that makes sense.

50amysisson
Editado: Jan 24, 2015, 1:38 pm

Story #30. "Tortoiseshell Cats are Not Refundable" by Cat Rambo. Published in Clarkesworld, February 2014. Read online 01-24-15.

This is a nicely written story about grief and cloning. I love the title and enjoyed reading this, but I didn't feel like it gave me anything new. I do still consider 3 1/2 stars a good rating (2 1/2 would be average, 3 is above average, so....) but I wanted a little more from this.

Permalink: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/rambo_02_14/

51amysisson
Jan 25, 2015, 7:04 pm

Story #31. "A Letter from the Clearys" by Connie Willis. Published in New Skies, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Anthology published 2003; story originally published in Asimov's, July 1982. Read in print book 01-25-15.

This story won the Nebula award in 1982. It's about a teenage girl who finds a letter at the post office, a letter that has been there for some time, since before some kind of nuclear disaster has isolated the girl and some surviving family members and neighbors in a sheltered Colorado valley. There are odd undercurrents of paranoia, and the family seems to think the girl has had the letter all along and is bringing it up now to be nasty and remind them of life before whatever triggered the nuclear war.

To be honest, I don't find this story original or moving enough to win such a major award. I read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction and I often do find it moving, but this seemed a little odd to me. I suspect some of this has to do with timing -- if I'd read this story in 1982 when it came out, perhaps I would have found it utterly compelling. It's a bit like classic Star Trek is for me; I can intellectually appreciate that it was groundbreaking at the time and why people reacted so positively to it, but since I didn't watch it until after Next Generation and I was already college-age by then, I will never be able to experience the original show with the same emotional response I would have had much earlier in life.

52amysisson
Editado: Jan 26, 2015, 1:30 am

Story #32. "Observations About Eggs from the Man Sitting Next to Me on a Flight from Chicago, Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa" by Carmen Maria Machado. Published in Lightspeed, April 2014. Read online 01-25-15.

This is easily one of the oddest stories I've ever read, and it was fascinating. And funny. Just a pleasure to read. The title is self-explanatory. ;-)

Permalink: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/observations-about-eggs-from-the-man-s...

53AnnieMod
Editado: Jan 26, 2015, 12:50 am

>51 amysisson:

It is the timing I suspect. It is kinda the blueprint for a lot of stories after that. Read today it has the same problem a lot of the classic SF does - a lot of authors had used the same ideas since then and added more and more things to them so the original remains almost as a bad imitation. Plus in the last 10 years or so everyone and their cat is writing about post-nuclear, post-apocalyptic, post-whatever world. :)

PS: I kinda like the story for what it is - although it is weak by today's standard - not the writing really, but the topic is so overused that it feels like a 8th grader trying to imitate something they watched.

54elenchus
Jan 26, 2015, 10:07 am

>52 amysisson:

You inspired me, along with that incomparable title. "I think, in a way, we are all one thousand chickens."

I wonder how much is taken from an actual plane flight, and how much she riffed on the idea. Great story.

55amysisson
Editado: Jan 26, 2015, 11:26 am

>54 elenchus:

Yes, wasn't it something? I've never read anything quite like that before!

I read her interview (there's a link there somewhere) and the plane flight was invented completely, but she did find herself staring down into the water-vinegar vortex, and that got it started.

56amysisson
Editado: Jan 27, 2015, 9:35 am

Story #33. "Snowman Suicide" by Caroline Hall. Published online in Every Day Fiction on April 8, 2014. Read online 01-26-15.

This is micro fiction, under 250 (so I'll definitely be reading a longer story today). This was a winner in the Flash Fiction Chronicles "String-of-10 Contest," which "challenges writers to choose at least four out of ten prompt words and use them in a story of 250 or fewer words, and an aphorism is provided for inspiration but does not need to be used in the story."

I quite liked this little story. Two patients get out of the psych ward the same day and build a snowman in the courtyard to cheer up the other residents.

Permaklink: http://www.everydayfiction.com/snowman-suicide-by-caroline-hall/

57elenchus
Editado: Jan 26, 2015, 12:20 pm

>56 amysisson:

You've got me on a roll (perhaps I'm just procrastinating today): also very much liked that story.

Unlike some of the comments posted below the story, I don't think the title is off-base. Thinking of the snowman as a stand-in for the patients (collectively, as well as individually), and assuming a patient was responsible for that final act of destruction, it can be read as suicide more than homicide. Another way the author packs a lot of meaning into a very short story. Impressive.

58Jargoneer
Jan 26, 2015, 11:53 am

Great idea. I tried it for a point last year and managed about OK for a while then sadly fell off the wagon. It did increase my reading of short stories significantly which is a good thing.

>51 amysisson: - The success of Willis baffles me but she is member of that coterie of SF writers who seem to get nominated for everything they do.

>52 amysisson: - if you like odd have you tried this one from Lightspeed -

59amysisson
Jan 26, 2015, 12:42 pm

>58 Jargoneer:

What one from Lightspeed? It looks like your message got truncated!

60amysisson
Jan 27, 2015, 9:42 am

Story #34. "The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling" by Ted Chiang. Published online in Subterranean Press Magazine, Fall 2013. Read in PDF form (Hugo voters packet) 01-27-15.

I actually started reading this novelette yesterday and intended to finish it yesterday, but we're dealing with a couple of sick kitties, plus to be honest the story wasn't holding my attention, which is shocking for a Ted Chiang story. (Poor guy; his amazing track record with short fiction means that many readers, myself included, place unreasonable expectations on him.) In this story, a man is researching about something called Remem to write an article about it. Remem is a technology that instantly calls up video recordings of any moment in your life (most people are recording 24 hour lifelogs). So if I were to think "didn't I eat at this restaurant a few years ago?", Remem would show me the video of it. The narrator questions what this change from organic, imperfect memory will mean, and learns a lot about his relationship with his daughter. Interspersed throughout this is a story about a West African people named the Tiv, and what happens when one of them learns to write, so that he is then able to record events rather than relying on cultural memory.

As always with a Ted Chiang story, this was thoughtful and asked big questions, but it felt more think-y and less story-like than usual. It reminded me of the one Ted Chiang story I've ever disliked, which was "Liking What You See: A Documentary." I don't think "The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling" was worthy of a Hugo award nomination, unfortunately.

Permalink: http://subterraneanpress.com/magazine/fall_2013/the_truth_of_fact_the_truth_of_f...

61amysisson
Jan 27, 2015, 11:34 am

62Jargoneer
Jan 28, 2015, 9:22 am

61 - exactly my feelings. Chiang often runs a thin line between essay and story but that one just had too much of the latter.

The link I meant to post was - http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-thing-about-shapes-to-come/

63amysisson
Jan 28, 2015, 11:01 am

Story #35. "Practical College Majors in a Robot-Dominated Society" by Nicky Drayden. Published in Daily Science Fiction on May 14, 2014. Read online 01-27-15.

This is a cute story told from the POV of the robot overlords, who pretend to give the smarter humans a chance at a career, but really only want to keep them busy. And the super-smart humans ... well, the robots don't like the competition so much.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/the-future-of-future-planning/nick...

64amysisson
Jan 28, 2015, 12:45 pm

Story #36. "Mom and Dad at the Home Front" by Sherwood Smith. Published in New Magics, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Anthology published 2004; story originally published in Realms of Fantasy, August 2000. Read in print book 01-28-15.

This is a nicely written story about how far parents should and shouldn't go to protect their children.

65amysisson
Editado: Jan 28, 2015, 5:35 pm

Story #37. "Voyage into the Heart" by Patricia A. McKillip. Published in Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia A. McKillip (collection). Story originally published in 1999 (Voyages: The 25th World Fantasy Collection); this collection published 2005. Read in print book 01-28-15.

This is a short, fairly simplistic fantasy story about a mage who is required by his prince to find virgins to lure the unicorn to its death, because he wants the horn's antidote properties for his upcoming wedding. As always, McKillip's language is beautiful. I felt inclined to give it the "average" score of 2 1/2 stars, because the concept did not feel all that terribly original, and because I didn't like what happened in the story -- although I recognize that that's just a matter of personal taste. But because of the language, I raised it to three stars. McKillip's writing really is lovely.

66amysisson
Jan 28, 2015, 9:24 pm

Wasn't expecting this; my first "stopped reading" short work: 1/72nd Scale by Ian R. MacLeod, in his collection Voyages by Starlight. Some years ago I read and adored his story The Chop Girl so I just assumed I'd like this, but it just went on and on. I kept flipping forward to see how many pages were left and I stopped at about halfway through. The premise is that some tragedy appears to have happened to an older, beloved son; the father gives the younger son a complicated airplane model to build, one that the older son had aspired to. The younger son tries and tries but it's incredibly difficult. I think it was heading towards a horror story of some kind (possession, insanity, etc.) but it was page after page of how difficult painting and gluing the tiny pieces was.

67amysisson
Editado: Jan 29, 2015, 3:41 pm

Story #38. "The Circle of Life" by Gerri Leen. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 01-29-15.

This is quite a short flash piece at 678 words, and it's general fiction rather than my usual genre. It's a quite effective little piece about a man whose wife has died from a lingering illness.

68amysisson
Jan 29, 2015, 3:43 pm

Story #39. "Real Plastic Trees" by Erica L. Satifka. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 01-29-15.

This flash story, at just under 1K words, is from the POV of an elderly woman, on whom the New Woman in the building checks up every day. The "New Woman" does not, alas, simply mean "new resident." I thought this was nicely written and touching.

69amysisson
Editado: Fev 3, 2015, 3:48 pm

Story #40. "'I'm lonely': Immune to Apraxia, Toronto doctor refuses to give up on a cure" by Kate Heartfield. Published in Daily Science Fiction on January 28, 2015. Read online 01-30-15.

This is a nicely done story written as an online news article, complete with indications where there would be links, infographics, and a related video. It gets the tone of the article absolutely spot-on, not surprising considering the author is a journalist. The premise is that 97% of humanity has been suddenly hit with Apraxia, which makes it impossible for them to speak, although they obtain the ability to read, write, and understand spoken words. The article's main "interviewee" is a doctor who intends to work on a cure, against arguments that say resources should be spent on adaptation. I was very impressed with the "article's" balance between the factual information and the human interest angle.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/future-societies/kate-heartfield/...

70amysisson
Jan 31, 2015, 12:35 pm

Story #41. "Shared Memories in High Definition" by Carin Marais. Published in Every Day Fiction on December 20, 2014. Read online 01-31-15.

This short flash piece is about memory, and the way we now record and share every moment, even ones we shouldn't, via social media. (Interesting juxtaposition with the Ted Chiang story read this month, in terms of society recording everything.) This was done reasonably well, and I really liked the way the man's system kept asking him questions (Play again? Yes/No .... Like this page? Yes/No). But it ultimately fell a little over the "disjointed" line for me, so it wasn't as effective as it otherwise might have been.

Permalink: http://www.everydayfiction.com/shared-memories-in-high-definition-by-carin-marai...

71amysisson
Editado: Jan 31, 2015, 12:40 pm

JANUARY ROUND-UP

41 stories read. Tagging them so I can find all stories and sort them by rating so I can see which were the top ones, which will come in handy for award nominations, and also for writing a monthly blog round-up post. January's post is on my blog here: http://amysreviews.blogspot.com/2015/01/short-fiction-january-2015.html

I'm keeping the summary post focused on the positive stories. An editor I respect once told me that the point of reviews is to tell the good and bad things about basically good works.

72amysisson
Fev 1, 2015, 5:59 pm

Story #42 (1 in February). "Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points" by J.Y. Yang. Published in Clarkesworld, September 2014. Read online 02-01-15.

I found this story based on someone's online recommended reading list for award nominations. It's about an artificial intelligence created by the "Left," that seeks revenge when agents (human or AI or both) on the "Right" instigate a political assassination that also kills of its two human mothers. I liked this a lot, but I don't feel that it completely fulfilled its potential. There were a few places in that had either typos or deliberate choices that were confusing, so that I had to read the same sentence over several times to figure out the meaning.

73Jargoneer
Fev 2, 2015, 5:15 am

>72 amysisson: - I wasn't as keen on the story as you were, it struck me as a little too Hollywood with these secret organisations that are almost omnipotent and calling the two parties the 'left' and the 'right' a little too simplistic. I also couldn't decide whether the confusion was partly down to the writers loss of control, insomuch as she had created a level of complexity that proved problematic for her.

74amysisson
Fev 2, 2015, 9:11 am

>73 Jargoneer:

Funny, I also felt like their might be a writer's loss of control, but I was thinking more about the line level -- I wondered if the occasional ambiguous pronoun and odd word choice was because English may not have been the author's first language. I don't feel that's an assumption I should make, but to me it did not read as though written by someone whose first language was English.

Interesting thought about control/lack thereof of complexity on the larger scale....

75amysisson
Editado: Fev 21, 2015, 11:43 am

Story #43 (2 in February). "Damage" by David D. Levine. Published on Tor.com on January 21, 2015. Read online 02-02-15.

Wow, only my second day into February and I've already read one that I consider a 5-star story! "Damage" is told from the POV of a fighter spaceship in the asteroid belt, fighting against the Earth Alliance. Only this ship is not in its original form; it's been cobbled together from the remains of two other ships, and remembers both of their deaths. It has to balance the programmed love it feels for its pilot with its own feelings of fear and grief. Lovely story, very well told.

76amysisson
Editado: Fev 3, 2015, 3:32 pm

Story #44 (3 in February). "It Takes Two" by Nicola Griffith. Originally published in Eclipse 3, edited by Jonathan Strahan; published here in Clarkesworld, February 2015. Read online 02-03-15.

This story is about a venture capitalist trying to land a big contract. Her buddy offers to help her get the contract, and asks for her medical records. She lands the big contract, by being the bidder who manages to pick up a female stripper in a bar -- they just "connect" instantly. She's devastated to find out that her "friend" dosed both her and the stripper well in advance with some experimental drug so they would instantly feel like they knew each other, and would know what would please the other one during sex.

I had some issues with this story. First, I didn't find a single likeable character in it. Second, it depended on the big CEO being such a completely predictable asshole that he would award the contract based solely on how the bidders behaved in a strip club. I do believe that some corporate assholes do behave badly, and that some might be capable of taking that kind of BS into account. But this assumes either that the CEO either weighs that very heavily in his awarding of a jillion-dollar contract, or that it's only a tie-breaker, which means that (conveniently) all else was equal between Cody's bid and her competition's bid.

77amysisson
Fev 4, 2015, 1:35 am

Story #45 (4 in February). "Meat that Grows on Trees" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction on February 4, 2015. Read online 02-04-15.

This is part of an ongoing series of food-related flash fiction on Daily Science Fiction. The author is quickly becoming one of my favorite flash fiction writers, and I did enjoy this story about a witch with a business degree that decides to grow meat on trees, now that talking animal spells means eating large animals is forbidden, but this didn't really move me. It was fun and well-written, but not memorable for me.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/biotech/caroline-m-yoachim/meat-t...

78amysisson
Fev 4, 2015, 2:56 pm

Story #46 (5 in February). "Tick Tock Girl" by Cat Rambo. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 02-04-15.

This is a nice story, told from the POV of a mechanical woman who has marched with her Suffragette creator and apprehended dangerous criminals that had eluded the authories, yet she is packed away in a crate when her creator dies and nobody knows what to do with her. On the one hand, I liked the way the story was told in moments, by ticks of the mechanical woman's internal gears. But the disjointedness, which I believe was deliberate, did actually make it hard for me to understand what happened when and why.

79amysisson
Editado: Fev 5, 2015, 11:36 am

Story #47 (6 in February). "A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide" by Sarah Pinsker. Published in F&SF, March/April 2014. Read in PDF form 02-05-15.

This short story is about a young man who loses his arm in a farming and wakes to find his parents have authorized him to receive the newest in prosthetic technology, a metal arm that communicates with a chip implanted in his head. For some reason, though, even though he lives in Saskatchewan, his new arm thinks it is a 97-kilometer long stretch of road in Colorado. Later, his chip is replaced when it becomes infected and the arm no longer acts strangely; he is both relieved and saddened by this. This story has quite nice writing on the prose level, but the plot feels completely random to me, almost as though the author dreamed it one night, then decided to turn it into a story even though it doesn't really make sense. I mean, why would a computer chip think an arm is a stretch of road, as opposed to a blender or a toaster or something technological? What would have happened if the main character left his farm and went to Colorado to the road -- would the arm be happy if the farmer just stood there looking at the road the arm thought it was? I wanted to like this story more, but I lost patience with the unexplained randomness. I don't think I want everything in every story explained, but this lost me.

80elenchus
Fev 5, 2015, 12:08 pm

>79 amysisson:

Haven't read the story but it immediately strikes me as commenting on the infamous Internet of Things, and some unintended consequences when the inevitable errors stop popping up. I wonder if the question as to why a road "as opposed to a blender or a toaster or something technological?" is part of the point! When we start linking every little thing together, on a societal scale, what should we expect?

Anyway, your reaction to the story got me thinking of that, and it's an interesting point regardless of whether the story supports it nor not.

81amysisson
Fev 5, 2015, 1:12 pm

>80 elenchus:

That's an interesting way of looking at it!

I guess it felt off to me because the chip is a bit of thinking technology, and it believes it's not only an inanimate object but one that doesn't have easily defined boundaries as an object. It felt as random as an apple deciding one day that it really is a particular area of the sky, or that it's thoughtfulness, or something else that is abstract.

On the other hand, I'm thinking about the story.... you know the saying "all publicity is good publicity"? Sometimes I think that all time spent thinking about a story or a piece of art is time well spent, at least from the POV of its creator.

82elenchus
Fev 5, 2015, 1:45 pm

Oh, yeah! My small experience of that is with reviews here on LT, or reactions to a post. But the dynamic is much the same: I may not get all praise and admiration, but whatever response I provoke is almost always better than silence.

83amysisson
Editado: Fev 7, 2015, 7:28 pm

Story #48 (7 in February). "Third-Degree Burns" by Andrew J. Wilson. Published in Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction, edited by Neil Williamson and Andrew J. Wilson. Anthology published 2005. Read in print book 02-07-15.

Unfortunately, this story didn't work for me at all. The premise is that a man with a questionable past leaves Scotland for the New World, where he assumes an identity. He makes more mistakes, and changes identity again, moving further west. After a few more changes, he finally lives out his life in peace, only to be gunned down in his old age by a "youth on a killing spree," whom the narrator notes was likely Jack the Ripper under an assumed identity. I don't know if the narrator makes this leap based on the man's face shown on the "Wanted" poster, or if it's due to a bit of poetry scrawled on the back -- but if he's basing it on the poetry, there's no reason to assume the killer himself wrote that poetry on the back of the poster, so I completely don't get how this is "proof." I understand the "third degree" of the title, but the story is either based on speculation the author made up, or information that the reader very well may not have. It's also an extremely short story, so I found it a little gimmicky.

84amysisson
Fev 7, 2015, 9:54 pm

Story #49 (8 in February). "The Heart of a Tree" by Pam L. Wallace. Published in Daily Science Fiction on February 6, 2015. Read online 02-07-15.

This is a nicely written story about a woman, who happened to be the first human born on this particular alien planet, who is suffering from dementia towards the end of her life. She feels that she has a unique connection with the planet, and with a particular tree, that her concerned family doesn't understand.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/other-worlds-sf/pam-l-wallace/the...

85amysisson
Fev 8, 2015, 9:00 pm

Story #50 (9 in February). "The Bennie and the Bonobo" by Neil Williamson. Published in Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction, edited by Neil Williamson and Andrew J. Wilson. Anthology published 2005. Read in print book 02-08-15.

This story is about a Scottish man in 1930 who has just successfully demonstrated his prototype rail plane to investors. He is astonished when a bonobo named Mrs. Blanchflower, dressed as a human woman would be, tells him that he will die broken-hearted in 1957, his rail plane a forgotten folly in the face of the next great war. The bonobo is from a future in which the rail plane succeeds, and claims that it cut off all other innovation; she strands him in that future so that she has a better chance of succeeding with her invention in hers.

I felt like the logic of the branching futures was extremely fuzzy, and that I could try to understand it all day, but I'd be frustrated no matter what. Mrs. Blanchflower claims that in most of the timelines she's visited, the rail plane never succeeds, yet she is determined to stop it from succeeding in this one -- but apparently someone else has been successful with the same concept? I'm not sure. The fact that she's a fourth-generation genetically engineered bonobo also seems tacked on. And if his rail plane stifles all innovation, how would we get to the point where we could genetically engineer bonobos to that extent anyway?


Overall I was left feeling dissatisfied.

86amysisson
Editado: Fev 8, 2015, 9:49 pm

Story #51 (10 in February). "Variations" by Cristina Iuliana Burlacu. Published in Every Day Fiction on February 8, 2015. Read online 02-08-15.

This story is told in second person, by a woman remembering when she was a very young, aspiring writer. She is reflecting on the fact that her much older male editor (or publisher) inappropriately tried to kiss her, permanently tainting her once pure writing dreams.

Another example of juxtaposition that I suspect is coloring my perception of this story: I just finished reading Scott Westerfeld's Afterworlds (about an 18-year-old who just got handed a very lucrative publishing contract) and I'm a bit impatient with writers who take themselves so very seriously. I do understand that writing is a calling about which people feel passionately, but I have come across a few too many writers who think they are so, so precious. (For instance, I've seen writers with very few publications already discussing to which university library they should bequeath their "papers.")

I'm not saying the author of this piece is necessarily one of those people! I don't know a thing about this author. But I think this was just the wrong time for me to read this story.

87amysisson
Editado: Mar 11, 2015, 10:53 pm

Story #52 (11 in February). "Reality Check" by David Brin. Originally published in Nature, 2000; published here as a Kindle short. Read as Kindle e-book 02-09-15.

This short felt a little like it was trying too hard to be clever. The premise is that humans have used up all potential, so our immortal god-like descendants are incredibly bored and spend most of their time immersed in simulations of our times, brainwashed to not know who or what they are so that the experience will be more authentic.

88amysisson
Fev 9, 2015, 10:47 pm

Story #53 (12 in February). "The Sky Didn't Load Today" by Rich Larson. Published in Daily Science Fiction on February 9, 2015. Read online 02-09-15.

I feel like I keep using the phrase "this is a nicely written story," but it's true once again. In this short-short, a little girl notices a glitch in the sky that nobody else seems to carry about. I would have liked more, but I appreciate the vignette-ness of this piece.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/virtual-reality/rich-larson/the-s...

89amysisson
Editado: Fev 10, 2015, 11:33 am

Story #54 (13 in February). "Alan Bean Plus Four" by Tom Hanks. Published in The New Yorker, October 27, 2014. Read online 02-10-15.

I don't normally read The New Yorker and might easily have missed this little gem if I hadn't been looking at reading recommendations posted by SFWA members for the purpose of Nebula Award nominations. And yes, this is that Tom Hanks. And this story about a quickie little trip around the Moon with friends is charming, sweet, and funny. Recommended.

Permalink: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/27/alan-bean-plus-four

90amysisson
Fev 12, 2015, 9:44 am

Story #55 (14 in February). "Chocolate Chip Cookies for the Apocalypse" by Claire Spaulding. Published in Daily Science Fiction on February 10, 2015. Read online 02-12-15.

This is a sweet story about sad but calm reactions in the face of an impending apocalypse. While I don't really believe that most people would act that calmly, somehow it's lovely to witness when they do.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/disaster-apocalypse/claire-spauld...

91amysisson
Editado: Fev 12, 2015, 11:08 am

Story #56 (15 in February). "A Necessary Being" by Octavia Butler. Published in Unexpected Stories by Octavia Butler, 2014. Read as Kindle e-book 02-12-15.

This novelette is one of two works included in an e-book "collection" of previously unpublished Butler work that came out last year. It's about a species that is divided into castes based on the color of each individual's fur, and how much blue it contains. Purely blue individuals are called Hao and are sought as rulers. Because they are rare, tribes sometimes have to steal Hao from each other, then cripple them so they cannot run away. A female Hao of a desert tribe is chagrined when a young male Hao enters their territory; she longs for his company as she has not seen another Hao since her own father died, but regrets that her duty compels her to capture him so that he can be maimed.

Octavia Butler is one of my favorite writers and her work is always thoughtful and thought-provoking. I look forward to reading the one other story in this volume.

92amysisson
Fev 12, 2015, 12:58 pm

Story #57 (16 in February). "A Letter from an Unhappy Customer" by Jennifer Mitchell. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 02-12-15.

This is very short, under 600 words, and consists of a letter from a parent who gave her son a "Flight Chew" in his lunch with different results than usual. It was cute, but made me want to ask why the kid hadn't starved to death yet."

93amysisson
Editado: Abr 3, 2015, 10:41 am

Story #58 (17 in February). "The Alien Invasion as Seen in the Twitter Stream of @dweebless" by Jake Kerr. Published in Unidentified Funny Objects, edited by Alex Shvartsman. Anthology published 2013. Read online 02-13-15.

This is a funny story. The title is self explanatory!

Link: http://www.ufopub.com/twitter/

94amysisson
Editado: Fev 13, 2015, 7:09 pm

Story #59 (18 in February). "'Pride and Prejudice' in the Club" by Colin Stokes. Published in The New Yorker, February 12, 2015. Read online 02-13-15.

Again, I don't normally read The New Yorker but I posted on Facebook about the Tom Hanks story from the other day, and someone posted back and mentioned this little Pride and Prejudice -related humor piece. It was cute, but more just a novelty than anything else.

Link: http://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/pride-prejudice-club

95amysisson
Editado: Fev 17, 2015, 1:42 am

Story #60 (19 in February). "Starfish and Apples" by Henry Szabranski. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 02-14-15.

This story (free this week on QuarterReads) is told by an adult addressing schoolchildren in a world where plant life has become aggressive and taken over almost all of the planet, in part by colonizing humans. The POV is first person, with the narrator occasionally interrupting herself (I think it's a her) to address the children directly. It's exactly the right length for the story, and has a clever play on the "an apple for the teacher" cliche.

This is my favorite of the stories I've read on QuarterReads so far. It was originally published in Nine: A Journal Of Imaginative Fiction.

96amysisson
Editado: Fev 17, 2015, 6:01 pm

Story #61 (20 in February). "Limestone, Lye, and the Buzzing of Flies" by Kate Heartfield. Published in Strange Horizons, February 16, 2015. Read online 02-16-15.

This story is about a girl who gets a job at historical Lower Fort Garry in Manitoba, Canada, playing one of the reenactment roles for the tourists. Soon she finds that rhymes come to her from strange sources, and that people who repeat them after her then do her bidding.

The story was well-written, and because my husband is from rural Manitoba, that was of especial interest to me. I did find it a bit confusing as to whether her childhood friend was possessed in the same way, or kept his own personality the whole time but still had the power to remove the witch's spirit from her. Somehow the story was just not as clean or clear as I wanted it to be.

Link: http://strangehorizons.com/2015/20150216/limestone-f.shtml

97amysisson
Editado: Fev 17, 2015, 6:03 pm

Story #62 (21 in February). "Coin Flips" by Tina Connolly and Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction on February 17, 2015. Read online 02-17-15.

In this story, a man is contemplating heading off to a colony world where the equivalent of a gold rush is taking place; he flips a coin that has had his love's consciousness transmuted in it to make some relevant decisions. I started out thinking this was a man whose wife was in a tragic accident and that he was nobly trying to save her for the future in the only way he could, but it turns out that she had left him, and was rendered unconscious when he hired someone to bring her back. I think the reader is supposed to go through this change in understanding, but it's still quite confusing. For instance, the narrator says that Randall, the guy he hired to bring her back, wouldn't face charges for knocking her unconscious (I assume this went badly and her life was in danger) because of how "high up" he is, but that implies Randall is some kind of untouchable bigwig -- hardly the type to take this kind of work for hire.

Also, the coin, in its flips, can only answer the questions that the narrator poses. It's not clear to me how he got to the point of talking about giving her his body and uploading himself to the computer. In fact, that question (or more than one) is missing between the attempts to get her account password, and the point where he decides the coin is saying she wants his body.


Interesting, but a lot of this was unclear to me, unfortunately. (I actually had trouble explaining my confusion, which makes me even more confused!)

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/science-fiction/tina-connolly-and...

98amysisson
Fev 17, 2015, 5:59 pm

Story #63 (22 in February). "When a Bunch of People, Including Raymond, Got Superpowers" by Luc Reid. Published in Daily Science Fiction on February 16, 2015. Read online 02-17-15.

In this tongue-in-cheek story, Raymond chooses what people think is a silly superpower, the ability to make delicious food that's also good for you. The people who chose more obvious superpowers, such as Laser Eyes, eventually regret their choices. I though this was okay, but even Raymond's superpower didn't turn out that great, since the little girl he and his partner raise never leaves the house because she won't eat anyone else's food. The story also breaks the fourth wall once or twice, which was mildly amusing but also mildly annoying. I'm sure many readers' mileage will vary, though, because this is largely a matter of personal (no pun intended) taste.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/superhero/luc-reid/when-a-bunch-o...

99amysisson
Fev 17, 2015, 7:28 pm

Story #64 (23 in February). "The Ascension of Thin Skin" by Amy Albany. Published in Tin House, Summer 2005 (V.5. n.4). Read in print 02-17-15.

This is a perfectly serviceable but (to me) seemingly pointless story about a 12-year-old boy living alone in an abandoned apartment. A woman, presumably his mother although he views her with suspicion, leaves $30 in the apartment for him every week. He collects paperback books with lurid covers that he doesn't actually care to read. And that's about it -- nothing really happens.

100amysisson
Editado: Fev 18, 2015, 2:24 pm

Story #65 (24 in February). "The Great Goodbye" by Robert Charles Wilson. Published in New Skies, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Anthology published 2003; story originally published in Nature, September 2000. Read in print book 02-18-15.

This is the second 5-star story from this same anthology. Major spoilers: A boy and his grandfather prepare to say goodbye, because one is a "Stock Person" (or naturally evolved human) while the other is a "New Person," or one who is integrated with machines. There's definitely a post-Singularity feel to the story -- they call it the "post-evolutionary divide" -- and the "great goodbye" is because the New People are mostly leaving for the stars. Due to the distances and relativistic time effects, New People are uniquely suited to interstellar travel.

As a story that was originally published in Nature, this is super short, possibly even flash (although I don't have a word count to confirm that). And I should have, absolutely should have seen the ending coming, but I didn't and it just delighted me. The boy is the Stock Person and the grandfather is the New Person.


I absolutely loved it. I'm not surprised, because Robert Charles Wilson is the author of one of my favorite science fiction books, The Chronoliths.

101elenchus
Fev 18, 2015, 3:06 pm

>100 amysisson:

I read your spoilers since I'm not going to be reading the story, and the ending also made me smile. Really brought me back to reading Golden Age stories, I associate those humanist / poignant aspects of SF with stories by Asimov, Bradbury, Leiber. I'm thinking specifically of a story, I think by Asimov, perhaps titled "The Neanderthal Boy" which demonstrates our heartstrings can be pulled in a future-based / high-tech setting in much the same way as in a contemporary story.

Now I think of it, Flowers for Algernon is another example. Fun.

102amysisson
Editado: Fev 2, 2022, 12:53 pm

>101 elenchus:

I just loved it! The more you read, the harder it is for an author to surprise you, and yet it completely caught me off guard. And it's one of those that if you go back and re-read, you can see the author was honest throughout.... no tricks! The reader just makes false assumptions. :-)

I think the Asimov story might have been called "The Ugly Little Boy", and yes, what you said!

I loved Flowers for Algernon. I've only read it once, in 7th grade, I think, and it blew my mind.

103amysisson
Editado: Fev 20, 2015, 4:36 pm

Story #66 (25 in February). "Marking Time" by Stephanie Burgis. Published in Daily Science Fiction on February 20, 2015. Read online 02-20-15.

This is a mostly mainstream story, although the argument could be made that there's the possibility of magic in it. A woman reflects on the bad choices she made by trusting her future to a man who took everything and gave very little in return. It's told in second person, and there's a reasonable justification for it being told that way, but it didn't quite click for me. I think perhaps I wasn't in the right frame of mind for this today. While I wanted to be sympathetic to the main character, and can certainly understand that she followed her heart, I wasn't convinced that it had to be such an all or nothing situation. For instance, she ignores her three MFA program acceptances to follow him across the country so he can go to his dream grad school, but it's not clear to me why she didn't apply to any programs near there, either beforehand in case that's where he got into, or after they moved there -- even if that new location didn't have the perfect program for her, they might have had something that would have allowed her to pursue her artistic dreams in some way. I think perhaps I've just read too many stories about women making bad choices, and many of the stories feel to me like they're trying a little too hard.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/magic-realism/stephanie-burgis/mar...

104amysisson
Editado: Fev 26, 2015, 11:02 am

Story #67 (26 in February). "You Bet" by Alex Shvartsman. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 02-21-15.

This is a humorous story about a guy named Joe who shows up at an otherworldly poker game with a robot, vampire, fairy, witch, and some aliens, with no idea of who he is or what he's doing there. It turns out they're all story tropes, and they come into existence or fade away depending on how popular they are in people's minds, or cultures, at any given time.

I liked the snappy dialogue in this story.

105elenchus
Fev 21, 2015, 3:19 pm

>104 amysisson:

That one sounds fun. Subscription only? I'd have followed up a link had you provided one, I'm guessing it's behind a paywall.

106amysisson
Fev 21, 2015, 3:44 pm

>105 elenchus:

Yes, it's pay, but kind of a neat concept. A reader pays $5 upfront (via Paypal) and gets a virtual stack of quarters. Then you can browse stories by author, genre, tag, etc. and read a short preview. If you want to continue, you drop a quarter in -- and the author gets 22 cents of that quarter. If you love a story and are so inclined, you can tip the author an extra quarter or two, and they get 100% of that money. Stories will all be under 2,000 words (this keeps the pay rate per word at an acceptable level, and provides some consistency so readers know what to expect).

They also do a free story each week, but I haven't been able to locate this week's story for some reason.

107amysisson
Fev 21, 2015, 7:45 pm

>105 elenchus:
>106 amysisson:

Here's QuarterReads free story this week: https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=113

I had an e-mail exchange with the site's creator about making the free story more visible each week. He said he's working on it. He's been making constant improvements to the site!

108elenchus
Fev 21, 2015, 10:11 pm

>106 amysisson: >107 amysisson:

Ah, so that's the sense of QuarterReads! I was somehow thinking along the lines of a quarterly, though I seem to recall now you'd mentioned that before (probably upthread).

109amysisson
Editado: Fev 22, 2015, 7:39 pm

Story #68 (27 in February). "When It Ends, He Catches Her" by Eugie Foster. Published in Daily Science Fiction on September 26, 2014. Read online 02-22-15.

I'd been planning to read this anyway, because I'd heard good things about it, and then it made the Nebula ballot. This is the story of a ballerina in a plague-ravished world, who has found an abandoned theater in which to dance to the music in her head, but she still misses her partner, who always caught her. Her partner shows up, himself a victim of the death-plague; at this point, the reader knows that it's a zombie apocolypse. The real surprise, however, is when we find out that she is one as well.

This story is beautifully written, although occasionally I think there are a few too many adjectives, especially in the dialogue, since people don't usually talk in such flowery language. Even with the build-up of the story's reputation and the Nebula nomination, though, it still managed to surprise me, in a good way. I have to read the other stories in the short story category before I vote, but this is a pretty strong contender.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/fairy-tales/eugie-foster/when-it-ends-he-...

110amysisson
Fev 23, 2015, 11:14 am

Story #69 (28 in February). "Four Movie Reviews from after the Zombie Apocalypse" by Michael Haynes. Published in Daily Science Fiction on February 23, 2015. Read online 02-23-15.

Once again, a self-explanatory title. This is a fun, cute story consisting of four movie reviews that take place well after a zombie outbreak that has led to rights-for-the-undead movements, and lots of representation in cinematic offerings.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/Monsters/michael-haynes/four-movie-review...

111amysisson
Fev 24, 2015, 10:02 am

Story #70 (29 in February). "Seasons of Friendship" by Jamie Lackey. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 02-24-15.

This is a free story this week on QuarterReads (https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=379). It's an extremely simple story about a fairy who needs flowers to survive. I loved its sweetness and simplicity.

112amysisson
Fev 24, 2015, 11:42 am

Story #71 (30 in February). "About Fairies" by Pat Murphy. Published on Tor.com on May 9, 2012. Read online02-24-15.

This time, it wasn't serendipity but rather deliberate -- I was looking for another story to read today and saw that this one was about fairies, like the one I just read on QuarterReads. In this story, a young woman named Jennifer works for a toy company and has been asked to come up with ideas for an online fairy environment where kids who buy the fairy dolls can go to play with their doll's virtual equivalent (and spend money). Jennifer muses on the Disneyfying of Peter Pan and fairies in general and on her father's Alzheimer's and impending death.

I liked this story and thought it was well-written, but I would have liked it a whole lot more if it had anything resembling an ending.

Link: http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/05/about-fairies

113amysisson
Editado: Fev 25, 2015, 6:30 pm

Story #72 (31 in February). "Stella at the Winter Palace" by Amber Dermont. Published in Tin House, Summer 2005 (V.5. n.4). Read in print 02-25-15.

This mainstream literary short story had interesting potential that unfortunately wasn't fulfilled. The main character is a former professional dancer and a young widow, who works as a paid traveling companion to much older ladies. When the story starts, the cruise ship is adrift in the North Sea due to sewage flooding in the lower levels. (I'm not entirely sure why that would put the ship out of commission; I'd have thought the engine room would have some levels of protection.) The narrator hasn't seen her elderly charge in a few days and is worried she got left behind at the last port.

There are some gorgeous sentences in this story, such as this description of a child: "She is a confection of blond, disheveled pigtails, pink satin, lace ruffles, and tulle. Two jagged seams on the back of her gown mark a place where, recently, wings have been removed."

I liked the descriptions, I liked the details of the ship (I sailed on the Queen Mary 2 from New York to England this past summer, and I was mentally picturing the ship in every detail), and I was intrigued by the narrator's life. But as with the other Tin House story I read this month, it didn't go anywhere for me. It's unknown whether the ship gets rescued (although seriously, with modern communication, how could it not? there's no actual hole in the ship so it's not sinking), and whether the narrator caused the problem herself when she flushed her client's wig down the toilet in their cabin after accidentally dropping it in. It's unknown whether Stella is on the ship or got left behind in Oslo. Also, the main character just isn't that nice. I think we're meant to interpret her irrational actions (not telling Stella about accidentally dropping the wig in the toilet; leaving Stella alone inappropriately) as her way of grieving her own husband's death, but..... Let's just say I like stories to be a little more definite. Also, this one employed a few too many flashbacks.

114amysisson
Editado: Fev 26, 2015, 9:59 am

Story #73 (32 in February). "The Mandelbrot Bet" by Dirk Strasser. Published in Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction, edited by Ben Bova and Eric Choi. Anthology published 2014. Read in print book 02-25-15.

This hard SF tale just missed a 4 star rating for me. I love the way it incorporates fractals, specifically the Mandelbrot Set, into time travel and quantum physics. I like the main character, who is a bit of a Sheldon-esque (from Big Bang Theory) literal-minded physicist who also has multiple sclerosis and requires full-time medical care. The reason the story just missed for me is that I'm unsure whether we're supposed to conclude that the woman writing about Daniel in an article? book? about him titled "The loner in physics" is also supposed to be Helen, his caregiver. If not, then the formatting of the book's section breaks are very confusing. I just feel like the author could have taken a little more care to make very clear who is speaking when. But I loved the idea overall, and most of the execution.

115amysisson
Editado: Fev 26, 2015, 11:11 am

Story #74 (33 in February). "Icarus Falls" by Alex Shvartsman. Published in Daily Science Fiction on September 23, 2014. Read online 02-26-15.

This story is about a woman with dementia whose adult daughter visits and reminisces with her about her full life, as one of the team that made interstellar travel possible, and as the pilot of the first interstellar craft. The story is intriguing, in that we find out that not everything the daughter tells her is true. The author set himself a challenge by writing from the POV of a character with faulty memory. However, I was disturbed by two things: first, that the woman lied many years ago to her daughter about her father. That's a stupid thing to do, because the child will eventually find out the truth and feel betrayed. Second, I'm not sure it made sense to me that the woman aged naturally during her forty years in a cryopod. I think I'd have been more prepared to accept it if it were made clear that the cryopod malfunctioned enough to damage her and barely keep her alive, but the only malfunction specified is that it doesn't wake her up on schedule so she stays in it for forty years. Somehow, just the prolonged stay -- presumably operating normally, since it does not say otherwise -- was enough to cause the dementia. Perhaps I'm irrationally swayed by all the science fiction I've read, but I thought that a person in cryogenic sleep could be sustained, including brain function, indefinitely. Or don't we know that yet?

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/space-travel/alex-shvartsman/icar...

116amysisson
Editado: Fev 27, 2015, 9:45 am

Story #75 (34 in February). "A Moon for the Unborn" by Indrapramit Das. Published in Strange Horizons, November 10, 2014. Read online 02-27-15.

In this story, humans on an alien planet leave after discovering that all human pregnancies there have resulted in stillborn children, and the ghosts of the those children appear to walk the planet by moonlight. This touches on abortion, stillborn children, transgendered individuals, grief, guilt, and so on. I found it a little ponderous in trying to cover too much, but I think that's just personal taste. I also was put off by affected punctuation in dialogue, such as:

"I'm. You don't know how relieved I am to hear that."

"I. Don't know."

"I'll do that, sweetheart. I might need some time, but."

"Is carrying a child something you want to do."

I'm not sure if that last one is a typo, or if it's deliberate to try and indicate inflection. (And those periods -- William Shatner! -- is just annoying. Although people start and stop when talking, the use of a period in written dialogue makes me feel like the speaker intends those to be separate sentences. To me, trailing off, or stumbling over words, would be more natural, and indicated by commas or ellipses.

Link: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2014/20141110/unborn-f.shtml

117elenchus
Fev 27, 2015, 9:45 am

Interesting comments about how to render dialogue. I like to think I'm open to different approaches, though my instincts are very similar to yours, but agree the examples you provide strike me as wrong-footed. I'd also prefer ellipses and hyphens and such.

You've made me realise that when it works, I think it has as much to do with the ear for dialogue, and the author's convincing presentation of a style of conversation, as it does with the punctuation used. I've read several readers / reviewers who were bothered by James Ellroy's curt, clipped style of writing, which leans heavily on dialogue. Ellroy doesn't play with punctuation much, as I recall, but to my ear he nails the dialogue and conversational styles, complete with contradictory / start-stop sentences, incomplete or run-on sentences, and so forth. So it works for me, even if sometimes I have to voice it aloud, and try not to be distracted by the words on the page so much as the rhythm when rendered into speech.

But as ever, the words on the page (and the way they're punctuated) need to be in service of the story or the dialogue imagined between characters. If the words aren't persuasive, then attention is called to any unorthodox punctuation, which isn't helpful.

118amysisson
Fev 27, 2015, 10:21 am

>117 elenchus:

I haven't read James Ellroy; will have to look into that.

In writing fiction, I find dialogue to be the easiest part. But having been a member of several critique groups over the years, I know that's not the case for many writers. I guess we all have our strengths and weaknesses! (My biggest weakness is plot, I think ....)

119aulsmith
Editado: Fev 27, 2015, 10:52 am

>116 amysisson: Just a technical grammar point. You can also use an em-dash for interrupted thinking. Here's what the Chicago Manual of Style says:

"Authors and editors are not always consistent in the way they use ellipses and dashes in interrupted speech, but an attempt should be made to establish a distinction. Ellipsis points suggest faltering or fragmented speech accompanied by confusion, insecurity, distress, or uncertainty, and they should be reserved for that purpose. The dash, on the other hand, suggests some decisiveness and should be reserved for interruptions, abrupt changes in thought, or impatient fractures in grammar."

So, I would write:

"I'm-- You don't know how relieved I am to hear that."

"I . . . don't know."

Of course, one of the prices we pay for reading things for free online is this kind of basic editing.

Edited: had the wrong post #

120amysisson
Fev 27, 2015, 11:55 am

>119 aulsmith:

Useful info, thank you!

As a venue, though, Strange Horizons edits pretty rigorously, or it has done in the past, although they usually will allow the author to prevail if he/she has a strong preference or reasons for wanting something out of the ordinary. In this case, I wonder if this might be a cultural preference as the author is not in the U.S.

121amysisson
Fev 27, 2015, 11:56 am

>119 aulsmith:

P.S. I agree with how you would do it. In my head, I hear a distinct difference between "I'm. You don't know how relieved I am to hear that." and "I'm-- You don't know how relieved I am to hear that." The em-dash totally wins for me! :-)

122amysisson
Fev 28, 2015, 1:16 am

Story #76 (35 in February). "Repairs" by Maureen Tanafon. Published in Daily Science Fiction on February 26, 2015. Read online 02-28-15.

This is a very short flash piece about a damaged robot that is found and repaired by a scientist in some kind of catastrophe situation. The story was edging towards something for me, but there wasn't enough there to deliver whatever it was I thought I was looking for. Still, it was well written and I particularly liked the use of the plural pronoun for the robot.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/robots-and-computers/maureen-tana...

123amysisson
Fev 28, 2015, 1:43 am

************************************

FEBRUARY ROUND-UP

This month I read 35 stories, and rated six of them with either 5 or 4 1/2 stars. Summary post on my blog here: http://amysreviews.blogspot.com/2015/02/short-fiction-february-2015.html

On to March!

************************************

124amysisson
Mar 1, 2015, 12:47 am

Story #77 (1 in March). "The van der Rohe Forgery" by Raymund Eich. Published as standalone Kindle short story in 2012. Read in Kindle/Cloud 03-01-15.

In this story, a man living on (or probably in) as asteroid is devastated to find that the antique chairs from Earth he's just purchased are forgeries, but he finds a way to make lemonade from lemons. I loved the athenas (small companion robots) and the way the forget left his "signature," by using the first 50 digits of pi and other mathematical constants. I did have a little trouble figuring out the relationships between different locations/asteroids and their politics, and I was disconcerted by the adult way in which a child that "toddled" into the room spoke, and had opinions about furniture design. I think that has something to do with the AI assistants everyone seems to have implanted in their heads, but it wasn't clarified and I'm not sure if it added anything.

125amysisson
Mar 1, 2015, 1:48 am

Story #78 (2 in March). "They are Legion. They are Pigeon." by Lynda Clark. Published in Every Day Fiction, February 28, 2015. Read online 03-01-15.

This is a quite short flash piece about pigeons taking over people with mind control. It was okay, but not memorable for me.

Link: http://www.everydayfiction.com/they-are-legion-they-are-pigeon-by-lynda-clark/

126amysisson
Mar 2, 2015, 3:44 pm

Story #79 (3 in March). "Stealing Arturo" by William Ledbetter. Published online by Baen, 2014. Read 03-02-15.

This is a well-written, hard SF novelette (just under 10K words) about a man trying to escape what is essentially indentured servitude on an asteroid factory/station. He's been setting his plans in motion for ages, but doesn't count on suddenly being befriended by a 9-year-old girl. The characters were nicely developed and the situation suspenseful. Recommended.

Link: http://www.baen.com/StealingArturo.asp

127elenchus
Mar 2, 2015, 4:28 pm

>126 amysisson:

You persuaded me: you're right, a good story, and well written despite a few typos. I like that the title is deliberately misleading, by the time I figured out what Arturo was, I'd forgotten the "stealing" and so didn't see the twist coming. But I'm never any good at figuring out endings.

Probably shouldn't have read it at work, though!

128amysisson
Mar 2, 2015, 7:09 pm

>127 elenchus:

Yes, I noticed a few spots where two- or three-word phrases seemed to be missing.

I thought the little girl's character was very well done.

I remembered the title, but thought it referred to just taking the station over, not actually re-locating it!

129amysisson
Mar 2, 2015, 7:10 pm

>127 elenchus:

P.S. If you have a few favorite SF or fantasy stories, I'd love your recommendations and I'll add them to my "to read" list.

130amysisson
Mar 2, 2015, 11:50 pm

Story #80 (4 in March). "Even the Mountains Are Not Forever" by Laurie Tom. Published in Strange Horizons, March 2, 2015. Read online 03-02-15.

Wow, two great stories read today!

This one hit all my "like" buttons: years of study in a monastic setting, personal sacrifice for the sake of knowledge and the greater good, an alien (but not too alien) setting.... I would have given it five stars except for a misuse and one or two non-uses of semi-colons where I felt they belonged, and a little bit less grace and clarity in one or two places. But these are extremely minor quibbles -- I really liked this story! It's about the Kunchen, who sleeps in a cryo-chamber and is woken every ten years to check on and advise her people.

Link: http://strangehorizons.com/2015/20150302/mountains-f.shtml

131elenchus
Mar 3, 2015, 9:28 am

>129 amysisson:

Now that is an interesting question. I've not read short stories regularly for a long time, let alone SF/F, so I'll have to think about it. I have a few collections at home and now could be a good time to pull them out and remind myself of what I have!

132amysisson
Editado: Mar 5, 2015, 1:24 pm

Story #81 (5 in March). "Jackalope Wives" by Ursula Vernon. Published in Apex Magazine, January 2014. Read online 03-03-15.

March is certainly starting off strong. This story is on the current Nebula ballot, and I resisted because I don't generally like stories about shapeshifters, or trickster tales (this isn't that, exactly). I just knew going in that I wouldn't like this story.

But. It's done exactly right: tone, length, style, unexpected elements.... Even after all that, I was only going to rate it 4 1/2 stars, but then I realized that I couldn't find a single thing wrong with it. Not a word out of place.

Link: http://www.apex-magazine.com/jackalope-wives/

133elenchus
Editado: Mar 3, 2015, 11:34 am

>131 elenchus:

Actually, I can think of two recent favourites, not SF but more Fantasy with a side of psychological ghost story:

Emily Carroll's new collection Through the Woods, especially the last story, "The Nesting Place". Reading the previous stories will enhance it, I think, and it's a graphic novel so the entire book of 5 stories can be read in an hour. My bet is if you read the last one, you'll find it difficult to return the book to the library without reading the others!

Angela Carter's omnibus Burning Your Boats, I liked all the stories originally published as Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces, but to point to just one, perhaps I'll name "In the Heart of the Forest" if for no other reason than the link to the Carroll collection.

134amysisson
Mar 3, 2015, 12:32 pm

>133 elenchus:

Just requested the Emily Carroll from the library! They didn't have the Angela Carter in either form, though.

135elenchus
Mar 3, 2015, 3:48 pm

Another recommendation, this one available online and pretty short: Clark Ashton Smith's "The Last Incantation".

http://www.librarything.com/topic/186975

The thread is part of the DEEP ONES quarterly reading group, but the first post provides the link and other references for the story and author. This selection fits into Fantasy, not all of them do.

>134 amysisson:
I'm curious to read what you think of the Carroll!

136amysisson
Editado: Mar 5, 2015, 1:35 pm

Story #82 (6 in March). "The Hair Club for Fairytale Princesses" by Heather Morris. Published in Every Day Fiction, March 4, 2015. Read online 03-05-15.

To be honest, I didn't find this overly original -- we have lots of stories about fairytale endings not being the "happily ever after" we expect. And I felt like this was trying a little too hard with the descriptions.

Permalink: http://www.everydayfiction.com/the-hair-club-for-fairytale-princesses-by-heather...

137amysisson
Editado: Mar 5, 2015, 1:35 pm

Story #83 (7 in March). "Gallery" by KJ Kabza. Published in Daily Science Fiction on March 5, 2015. Read online 03-05-15.

What a terrific idea, that a person wakes up every day to find photos from their dreams on the cell phones. But unfortunately, it wasn't turned into a story, it's just (to me) an idea for a story. I'm not sure if we're meant to conclude that the person's lover died because he/she looked at the photos, or if the dreamer simply can't bear the photos anymore because the lover died.... There's not necessarily any connection for me between the dream photos idea and the fact that the dreamer lost his/her lover, so to me this is barely even a vignette.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/modern-fantasy/kj-kabza/gallery

138amysisson
Mar 5, 2015, 6:53 pm

Story #84 (8 in March). "Welcome to Argentia" by Sandra McDonald. Published in The Dark Magazine, February 2015. Read online 03-05-15.

This story is about the ghosts that cling to an abandoned military complex in Argentia, Newfoundland. I was intrigued by the idea of the place, but did not find this to be enough "story" to satisfy me, and the descriptions seemed a little heavy for my taste.

Link: http://thedarkmagazine.com/welcome-argentia/

139amysisson
Editado: Mar 6, 2015, 2:26 pm

Story #85 (9 in March). "A Death" by Stephen King. Published in The New Yorker, March 9, 2015. Read online 03-06-15.

This story, about a man accused of murdering a little girl in a pre-statehood Western town and the townspeople who want to see him hanged, was well-written but seemed kind of pointless, and a little bit like it was going for a gross factor. It also occurs to me that the silver dollar proves nothing. There is more than one silver dollar in the world, and the undertaker could have planted the evidence (which would imply he was the killer).

Link: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/03/09/a-death-stephen-king

140elenchus
Editado: Mar 6, 2015, 3:28 pm

My last post (?) in the way of recommendations, as you suggested in >129 amysisson:

Have you ever read James Branch Cabell? I adore him. Not sure how his stuff will come across when reading a story in isolation from any others, but I s'pose that's as good a vantage to judge his work as any. (Presuming you've not read his work already.) There might be stuff on Gutenberg, otherwise perhaps a library option again. I'd suggest starting with The Silver Stallion (any of the stories), but only 'cos I know those are standalone.

Because all my suggestions have been more F than SF, I feel compelled to note I recently re-read William Gibson's "Johnny Mnemonic" and thought it held up pretty well. But I love Gibson, and like cyberpunk (without feeling the need to read widely in the subgenre).

But it seems you don't really need much in the way of suggestions, the variety of styles and sources and authors you've already listed here testify to that.

141amysisson
Mar 6, 2015, 3:33 pm

>140 elenchus:

Suggestions are always welcome, though! :-)

I haven't read James Branch Cabell. I'll have to see what I can find!

Just realize that Hugo nomations close on March 10 .... so for the next few days I'll frantically be reading only genre works published in 2014. Must.... read.... faster !!!

142amysisson
Editado: Mar 6, 2015, 6:03 pm

Story #86 (10 in March). "Five Stages of Grief After the Alien Invasion" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Clarkesworld, August 2014. Read online 03-06-15.

The author has indicated elsewhere that this was originally intended to be a series of pieces of flash fiction, but that it coalesced on her into a single story. You can still see the original structure, as it corresponds to the five stages of grief. I think it's just beautifully put together, and it had more closure than I expected. Absolutely lovely.

143amysisson
Mar 6, 2015, 7:24 pm

Story #87 (11 in March). "Toad Words" by Ursula Vernon. Published on the author's blog. Read online 03-06-15.

This is a stunning little piece of flash fiction about the sister whose curse, or gift, is to have frogs or toads come from her mouth when she speaks, unlike her sister, who spills gold and jewels.

It's amazing what the author does with this concept.

Link: http://ursulavernon.tumblr.com/post/89980094313/toad-words

144elenchus
Mar 6, 2015, 10:49 pm

>143 amysisson:

O my goodness, "stunning" is absolutely right. Loved it: tone, concept, humour, the entirety of the little narrative arc. All beautiful.

145amysisson
Mar 7, 2015, 4:01 am

146amysisson
Mar 7, 2015, 1:29 pm

Story #88 (12 in March). “Makeisha in Time” by Rachael K. Jones. Published in Crossed Genres Magazine, August 2014.

This is a neat story about a girl, and later woman, who has always jumped through time into the past, where she lives out her life. When she dies in that time, she returns to the moment she left "the present," always disoriented at having to pick up her "real" life where she left off. She faces a lot of dangers in the past, but also does some great things; eventually she is disturbed to learn that those of her actions that are remembered are almost always attributed to men, and she looks for ways to take control of not only her destiny but also her legacy.

Link: http://crossedgenres.com/magazine/020-makeisha-in-time/

147amysisson
Mar 8, 2015, 5:00 pm

Story #89 (13 in March). "Drones Don't Kill People" by Annalee Newitz. Published in Lightspeed, November 2014. Read online 03-08-15.

I read this story because someone mentioned it as being on his Hugo nomination list -- nominations are due in two days, so I'll be doing a lot of reading between now and then. He mentioned the story as being one of the few to provide a plausible explanation for the development of computers becoming sentient. I enjoyed the story a lot, and agree that the details were beautifully worked out. For me, however, the story simply stopped too soon, and didn't feel complete. That might be unfair of me, because in real life, things rarely end one way or the other, but are rather in a constant state of evolution. But I don't always want fiction to be that way.

Link: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/drones-dont-kill-people/

148amysisson
Mar 8, 2015, 9:43 pm

Story #90 (14 in March). "The Clockwork Soldier" by Ken Lui Published in Clarkesworld, January 2014. Read online 03-08-15.

Ken Liu's stories are almost always a pleasure to read, and this was no exception. It begins as a female bounty hunter named Alex releases her bounty-hunted captive, Ryder, on a planet where he can remain free of his father, a politically powerful man. It then flashes back to Alex and Ryder's time in hyperspace, much of which time Alex spends playing a text-based interactive game written by Ryder. The game involves a princess and her clockwork soldier, and has to do with the illegality of creating sentient androids.

I loved the interactive game within the story, but as with the Newitz story I read earlier today, this didn't quite go far enough for me. I assume the reader is meant to conclude that Ryder is an android created to replace the man's original son, but I'm not completely sure. I think I'm okay with that level of ambiguity, but the beginning, in which Alex says to Ryder, "I'm letting you go because I believe you," suggests that Alex reached some definite conclusion (even though she and Riley discuss that she is taking some things on faith) based on the same information that the reader got. And since I don't know what conclusion she reached, I'm dissatisfied. I don't mind knowing that what she believes may or may not be true, but I need to at least know what she believes.

Link: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/liu_01_14/

149amysisson
Editado: Mar 9, 2015, 11:52 am

Story #91 (15 in March). "Bronze-Art, the Ferret Master, and the Auspicious Events at Swift Creek Farm" by Adrian Simmons. Published in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, February 2015. Read online 03-08-15.

This is a fantasy novelette about a polecat, a goddess, a girl, and a dragon. Upon seeking favors from the goddess, the polecat quickly gains intelligence, and his new strategies for getting what he wants set some nasty events in motion. I thought the author did a good job portraying the POV of the polecat as it became smarter, but I felt like there was a bit too much crammed in the story, and (this is just a matter of personal taste) I don't personally enjoy treasure-hording dragons as a plot element.

Link: http://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.com/?p=1761

150amysisson
Mar 9, 2015, 3:18 pm

Story #92 (16 in March). "The Magician and Laplace's Demon" by Tom Crosshill. Published in Clarkesworld, December 2014. Read online 03-09-15.

This novelette is yet another tale of artificial intelligence -- obviously a popular topic for those who nominate for awards. This one is unique in that it also involves magic, and the nature of proof and belief -- it's not often an AI has to cross swords (not literally) with a magician. I thought this was very well written, and it gave the reader a sense of suspense that made the story seem shorter than it was.

Link: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/crosshill_12_14/

151amysisson
Mar 9, 2015, 3:29 pm

Story #93 (17 in March). "The Husband Stitch" by Carmen Maria Machado. Published in Granta, October 2014. Read online 03-09-15.

This novelette is about a woman life's, from late girlhood through motherhood to her own son's adulthood. She wears a ribbon around her neck, which is the only thing she has asked her husband not to touch. The little episodes of the woman's own life are interspersed with her telling stories, many of them versions of urban legends we all know (the murderer with the hook for a hand, when two teenagers go parking, etc.), others versions of fairy tales.

While there was nothing wrong with the prose at the line level, and in fact there were many turns of phrase that I quite liked, I felt this story tried way too hard and was too self-consciously about storytelling. It was actually shorter than the novelette by Tom Crosshill that I just read, yet seemed twice as long, and certainly could have been cut by a third. Finally, I have to admit I'm fairly tired of stories all about men's selfishness and how they take, take, take from women. That's not to say such stories aren't valid, but they rarely seem original to me, and too often seem heavy-handed.

Link: http://www.granta.com/New-Writing/The-Husband-Stitch

152elenchus
Mar 9, 2015, 4:31 pm

>151 amysisson:

I might take a look at that one, to see how well the author wove in the various myths / legends / tropes into a single tale. The ribbon around her neck reminds me of an old ghost story, I always forget the author & title, but perhaps one of Washington Irving's? It's a memorable tale from reading when I was perhaps a preteen, and I have a soft spot for myths. But not simply retelling them, somehow bringing something new. I'm not confident based on your review that Machado manages to do that.

153amysisson
Mar 9, 2015, 6:35 pm

>152 elenchus:

Now that you mention it, I remember a story from long ago about the ribbon round the neck! I'd completely forgotten until you mentioned it.

She does pull from a lot of sources and weaves things together nicely, but it was just too much (too long, too much dwelling on men taking advantage of women) for me.

154AnnieMod
Mar 9, 2015, 6:37 pm

>141 amysisson:

I gave up on nominating this year outside of the novel category - I am up to nowhere with the reading :(

155amysisson
Mar 9, 2015, 6:40 pm

>154 AnnieMod:

I know just what you mean! Even having read almost 100 stories in 2015 so far, I've read no novellas and maybe a half dozen novelettes. Short stories are the only category for which I have more I would be willing to nominate than allowed, so I'll have to make a decision there. I've got only 2 novels and 2 movies to nominate. If you're interested in my list so far (no worries if not), it's here:

http://amysreviews.blogspot.com/2015/03/hugo-nominations.html

156AnnieMod
Mar 9, 2015, 6:49 pm

>155 amysisson:
I am always interested in seeing what people nominate :)
Once the ballot is out I will make my best effort to read all so I can vote but just now... it is just not happening.

And even for a novel, I am nominating only because I really liked a novel - Nina Allan's "The Race"... which is not even close to being able to say if it is better than the rest but I really would love to see it on the ballot so...

Now I have a somewhat different decision to make - do I try to catch up with the last year books and stories or do I read 2015 works (and especially stories) so I am not in the same boat next year... decisions, decisions :)

I enjoy your writeups on stories here - even when I do not comment - I had not read a single short story this year (which is highly unusual for me) and when I am back to it I think I am going to post about them again (did it a couple of years ago).

157amysisson
Mar 10, 2015, 1:57 am

>156 AnnieMod:

The minute the Hugo ballot is out, I'll make sure I read any story on it that I haven't already read (well, not sure I will definitely read all the novels, but I will if they sound interesting to me). And make sure I've caught up on the Nebula ballot. After that, it will be 2015 stories alternating with anything I feel like reading on any given day. But I won't be concentrating on 2014 stories any more at that point.

I'm curious about Nina Allan's The Race -- had not heard of it until your mention. Will look into it!

158AnnieMod
Mar 10, 2015, 3:01 am

>157 amysisson: Strange Horizons have a review out on it but it is spoiling some of the surprises -- it is inevitable if you want to discuss the novel intelligently. My review here is non-spoilery but does not say a lot...

Oh yes - I will catch up with the ballots - but there is a lot of other good fiction out there that cannot make it into them (Locus and their recommended list is the death of me) that sometimes I wonder. I suspect I will do something similar to what you are doing - concentrate on 2015, read the year's best anthologies for last year and see how it looks like next year. I love it that we live in a time when so many stories are published. And at the same time I hate it :)

159amysisson
Mar 10, 2015, 5:39 pm

>158 AnnieMod:

You said it!

I used to work at Locus years and years ago, by the way. :-)

160AnnieMod
Mar 10, 2015, 6:07 pm

>159 amysisson:

Ha. Now I did not see that coming but people need to work there I guess :) Now I need to stop highjacking your thread and go read some stories ;)

161amysisson
Editado: Mar 11, 2015, 1:44 pm

Story #94 (18 in March). "The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye" by Matthew Kressel. Published in Clarkesworld, May 2014. Read online 03-10-15.

In this story, two companions, a Meeker and an All-Seeing Eye, travel the universe looking for stars, of which there aren't many left at this late stage of creation, to bring back to the Eye's body, the Corpus. They're also on the lookout for anything new that they haven't encountered before, since such occurrences have become so rare. They find a crystalline entity that contains the blueprints for an organic creature, who is of course human. The woman, whom they call "the Beth," is ill and dies, so the Eye resurrects her over and over, trying to glean out of her what information she might have about life and the universe.

I think this story was ambitious (in a good way), but it didn't resonate with me. The scale is so large that I lost emotional connection to it, and I also had a problem with the fact that Beth's wife Sloan preserved her body in a cryogenic-like manner without Beth's consent. To be honest, that seems to me to be a kind of violation, and it therefore surprises me that this story is on the final Nebula ballot.

It occurs to me that the story I read the other day, "The Magician and Laplace's Demon", also went quite large-scale in terms of the universe, but it kept it on a level I could relate to.

Link: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/kressel_05_14/

162amysisson
Mar 11, 2015, 1:46 pm

Story #95 (19 in March). "We Call Her Mama" by Natalia Theodoridou. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 03-11-15.

This was this week's free story on QuarterReads. It's a 1200-word or so short story narrated by an immortal male who wishes to die, and who finds temporary comfort in a drug called "dust" given by someone called Mama to all the immortals seeking humanity, pain, and death. I'm pretty certain the narrator is meant to be Jesus. I'm not offended in the slightest, but I found the story a bit boring and definitely too abstract for me.

163amysisson
Mar 12, 2015, 12:01 am

Story #96 (20 in March). "The Egg" by S.B. Divya. Published in Nature, March 2015. Read online 03-11-15.

This was just published today as a Nature Futures flash fiction story. It's a about a couple expecting their first child by an artificial womb called "the egg" that sits in their living room. Unfortunately, the woman is in the last stages of cancer and will not live to see the child's birth. It was a moving little story, and I enjoyed following the link to the author's notes regarding how the story came about.

Link: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v519/n7542/full/519256a.html

164amysisson
Editado: Mar 12, 2015, 7:50 pm

Story #97 (21 in March). "Sugar Showpiece Universe" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, March 4, 2015. Read online 03-12-15.

This story is part of a thematic series, a "Tasting Menu" of flash fiction pieces all having to do with food. This author is quickly becoming one of my favorite flash fiction writers. In this one, a future descendant of Earth participates in the Intergalactic Pastry Competition, which happens only once every 200 years.

Pretty story. I crave sugar now, though.... and I normally don't have much of a sweet tooth! My only quibble, and this is mostly my fault, is that I got confused because I didn't realize the tasting dessert was different than the showpiece dessert. I should have known, because 1) I watched two seasons of Top Chef: Just Desserts, and 2) the author actually says it, but it is easy to miss. Minor thing, though.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/tasting-menu/caroline-m-yoachim/su...

165amysisson
Mar 13, 2015, 11:15 am

Story #98 (22 in March). "Everything's Unlikely" by James Van Pelt. Published in Daily Science Fiction, March 13, 2015. Read onlinen 03-13-15.

This is a sweet little story about probability and romance. I love that it appeared on Friday the 13th.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/slipstream/james-van-pelt/everythi...

166amysisson
Editado: Mar 14, 2015, 12:10 pm

Story #99 (23 in March). "In the Forests of the Night" by Jay Lake. Published in METAtropolis, edited by John Scalzi. Audio anthology published 2008. (Read/listened 03-13-15)

This is a short work, I'm assuming of novella length, published with four others in a shared universe concept. The audio version was published first, followed by a later limited print edition and then an open print edition. I love the idea of stories in a shared world, but (as you can see by my rating) I disliked this story quite a bit. After listening to it, I went online and read several reviews of the anthology as a whole, and it seems pretty clear that I won't like the rest of the stories much better, so I don't plan on going further.

This particular story is set in Cascadiopolis, a "city" in the Cascadia / Pacific Northwest region of the United States, perhaps halfway through this century (2050 or so). I think Cascadiopolis was an unfortunate choice of name, because I couldn't take it seriously. But my problems with this story were much larger than that; I feel mean-spirited saying this, but the writing, particularly the descriptions, seemed extremely self-indulgent and bloated to me. For instance, the phrase "the basalt bones of the mountains" was used at least three times. The story was also filled with huge chunks of expository "lectures" in the form of excerpts from a sort of a future economic and environmental history (named the Bacigalupi documents or Bacigalupi lectures -- this also induced a little eye-rolling from me since this is obviously a nod to the author's friend/fellow author Paolo Bacigalupi).

Style aside, it's also not clear what actually happened in the story. A bunch of "green freaks" (as outsiders describe them) carefully guard their "city," supposedly shooting anyone who comes near the permeter -- except they don't: two people get through with no problem, so the story rather contradicts its own set-up. One of these people is a messiah figure named Tygre Tygre, who comes in, charms everyone, and gets killed, although I'm not sure by whom or why or what his intentions were in the first place. Tygre appears to have almost mystical qualities that are jarring in this science fictional setting. I can accept that some people are said to have exceptional charisma, but he also (for instance) shrugs off restraints as though by magic. I was also annoyed because we're told that two women are interrogating him, and they've been "working him over" for an hour, and we're told several times how scary and awful this is and many people don't emerge from these interrogations, but at the same time we're told that they're not actually physically harming their subjects; they simply hook up a lot of bio-readers to measure their reactions to questions. So, it sounds like a sophisticated lie detector test and that's it.

The other person to walk right into the city is a female operative sent in by some outside corporate capitalist to ... do something, I'm also not sure what. I think she's the one who kills Tygre, but since I don't think Tygre was there when she started her assignment, it's not clear what her original objective was. I know the capitalist wants to stop the city from releasing patent-free sophisticated technology into the world, but how she was going to do that, I don't know. The story also implies that this woman, plus the "soldiers" guarding the perimeter, live these constantly endangered lives, but we don't really see evidence of that.


Each of the five stories in the audiobook are narrated by a different actor, this one by Michael Hogan, who played Saul Tigh on the new Battlestar Galactica. He had a grizzly voice that worked well for one of the characters (a soldier/security guy), and did a credible job with Tygre's calm Zen-like utterings, but I didn't care for his reading of the female voices.

On a personal note for me, when I bought this a couple of years ago I was looking at the back of the audiobook and was shocked to find that my brother-in-law was one of the voice directors -- for this particular story, in fact. My brother-in-law is a screen and voice actor in Vancouver, British Columbia, and also does some voice directing. For this anthology, each segment was directed by a different person. Three of the five readers are actors from Battlestar Galactica, which is obviously not a coincidence -- I think the sequel is narrated primarily by Star Trek actors. Again, love the concept, but this world is just not a place in which I want to spend any more time.

167amysisson
Mar 14, 2015, 1:06 pm

Story #100 (24 in March). "How Earth Narrowly Escaped an Invasion From Space" by Alex Shvartsman. Published in Daily Science Fiction, April 15, 2014, and on QuarterReads. Read online 03-14-15.

This is a humorous short story about cats in space, and cats on social media. Expect a lot of puns and Facebook in-jokes.

I read this on QuarterReads, but it's also available free on Daily Science Fiction here: http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/humor/alex-shvartsman/how-earth-na...

168elenchus
Mar 14, 2015, 3:24 pm

>166 amysisson:

If nothing else, you found the connection to your brother-in-law, which is perhaps reason enough to have read / listened to it.

169amysisson
Mar 14, 2015, 3:52 pm

>168 elenchus:

Yes, if I'd known, I'd have bought and listened to it just for that!

It's funny, it just didn't occur to him that we'd be interested in this in particular. He often forgets to tell us when he's in things. I once was flipping channels and came across an episode of The Dead Zone TV series, and had to yell into the other room to my husband to come see his brother....

Most fun for us was when he was on an episode of Stargate: SG-1. And in a very bad Sci-Fi Channel movie called Snakehead Terror. In that one, he gets his head chewed off by a mutant snakefish....

:-)

170Hagelstein
Mar 14, 2015, 10:27 pm

I'm starting late. I've read a ton of short stories this year but this is my first post. "Bug a Boo" by John McManus in Oxford American, Spring 2015.

A rock climber grows increasingly paranoid while out of his element in the extreme flatness of South Florida after moving there with a girl. It's a nuanced story that hangs around for a while after I've read it.

171amysisson
Mar 15, 2015, 1:42 am

>170 Hagelstein:

Thanks for the recommendation -- I'll try and take a look at it!

172Hagelstein
Mar 15, 2015, 5:55 pm

Sorry. Just realized I busted in on your thread. Last one of these I remember a year or two ago there were a few people involved. You're reading some pretty good stories.

173amysisson
Editado: Mar 15, 2015, 11:20 pm

>172 Hagelstein:

No worries, the more the merrier! ;-)

Plus I realize I should have named the thread better -- not that I mind company, but that it could be confusing to people.

174amysisson
Mar 16, 2015, 11:17 am

Story #101 (25 in March). "Communion" by Mary Anne Mohanraj. Published in Clarkesworld, June 2014. Read online 03-16-15.

In this story, an alien who is saurian in nature comes to the planet Kriti to collect the remains of his brother, who died protecting civilians, including humans, from some sort of attack. A woman who was present at the attack and her partner, the medical doctor who has possession of the remains, end up discussing their plans to have a child and their potential disagreement over how much to have the child genetically modified -- the doctor is a genetically modified beautiful woman who never gets sick, while Amara is unmodified and therefore feels ugly in comparison.

There's a lot in the story I liked, but it felt a little as though too much background and too many issues were crammed in at the expense of actual story.

Link: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/mohanraj_06_14/

175amysisson
Mar 16, 2015, 11:29 am

Story #102 (26 in March). "Goat Milk Cheese, Three Trillion Miles From Earth" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, February 18, 2015. Read online 03-16-15.

Part of the author's "Tasting Menu" of food-related genre flash fiction, this story is about a man on a ship where the younger generations are transcending to join the mindnet. He uses the milk from the ship's goat herd to make cheese, but fears even that will change due to the herd's illness.

This author's writing is always enjoyable, but this did not quite come together for me. It felt a little like it didn't settle on what story it wanted to tell, and there were a few ambiguities for me.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/tasting-menu/caroline-m-yoachim/go...

176amysisson
Mar 16, 2015, 7:45 pm

Story #103 (27 in March). "Until They Come" by Trina Marie Phillips. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 03-16-15.

This story is about two robots/AIs who are left behind in orbit around a post-environmental disaster Earth, guarding a dormant "seed bank" of remaining life forms until humans return with the technology to fix the planet.

I like the idea, and much of the execution, but it wasn't as sharp as I wanted it to be. There were a few points where I stopped and had to back up a few lines to make sure I understood things correctly, and as a reader I'd rather not have to do that.

This was the free story on QuarterReads this week.

177amysisson
Editado: Mar 17, 2015, 9:34 pm

Story #104 (28 in March). "Final Corrections, Pittsburgh Times-Dispatch" by M. Bennardo. Published in Daily Science Fiction, January 3, 2013. Read online 03-17-15.

This is a humorous flash fiction piece told in the style of a series of corrections published in a newspaper following an alien invasion. Cleverly done.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/disaster-apocalypse/m-bennardo/fi...

178elenchus
Mar 17, 2015, 10:02 pm

I often peruse corrections in hopes of getting a "wider story", unsurprisingly enough the real thing never reaches the glories of this piece! The last line was pretty good, I have to say.

179amysisson
Editado: Abr 25, 2015, 12:27 am

Story #105 (29 in March). "The Tides" by Ken Liu. Published in Daily Science Fiction, November 1, 2012. Read online 03-18-15.

Time is short for me today, so I knew I wanted a flash fiction story. Daily Science Fiction has a feature where you can ask it to choose a random story for you, but you can also have it limited only to their top-rated stories. It gave me this one, which I liked, but for which I keep wanting to envision a 5-star version that comes together better for me.

In this tale, a young woman lives with her father on Earth, building a tower to support their house so that it won't be washed away by the ever-rising tides, which are caused not by polar ice melt, but rather by the moon coming closer and closer to Earth and causing civilization-threatening high tides. I loved the idea of the tower, even though it isn't realistic the way it's described, but then it went too far when the elderly father has secretly been turning part of the house into a rocket so he can send his daughter away to safety. I suppose I could just call this story science fantasy and leave it at that, but as I mentioned, I feel sure that a perfect version of this story exists for me in some alternate universe.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/disaster-apocalypse/ken-liu/the-t...

180amysisson
Mar 20, 2015, 2:23 pm

Story #106 (30 in March). "America, Etc." by Michael Kardos. Published in One Teen Story, December 2014. Read in print 03-20-15.

One Teen Story is a neat little fiction "magazine" consisting of one short story published each month, in a nifty little print chapbook. Until recently, 11 of their 12 stories per year were by adult authors writing for young adults, with the 12th representing the winner of their teen writing contest. Recently, though, they've announced that they will publish 4 stories per year written by actual teens.

This story, "America, Etc.", is about a teenage boy whose father works as a military drone pilot. Unlike his friend's father, who is "boots on the ground" in Afghanistan, Jeremy's dad is like a nine-to-five office guy, coming home to have dinner with the family and coach Jeremy's basketball team, except that he is still bombing places, and possibly people, for a living. The story is well-written, and is mainly about the ways in which family members fail to communicate with each other. Jeremy is a thoughtful protagonist, comparing the vintage videos games he and his dad play (such as Missile Command, depicted on the story's cover) to real life.

I love the idea of this little magazine. I did a three-month trial subscription, and if the other two stories are as decent as this one, I'm definitely going to invest in a full-year subscription.

181amysisson
Mar 20, 2015, 5:50 pm

Story #107 (31 in March). "City of Salt" by Arkady Martine. Published in Strange Horizons, March 16, 2015. Read online 03-20-15.

In this story, the ghost of a king's illusionist presides over a dead desert city of salt and kudzu. A former ... lover? comes back to try and rescue what's left of her, and she fights him.

I felt this story tried too hard, and ultimately obscured any meaning I might have found in it. I don't have a clear sense of what the King had done or how the city and the illusionist had ended up the way they had. I like the use of semi-colons and em-dashes as much as the next writer, but did not think they were used well in this story, and colons were used incorrectly. I think there's some imagery in the story I would have enjoyed more had it not become so muddled.

Link: http://strangehorizons.com/2015/20150316/CityofSalt-f.shtml

182AnnieMod
Editado: Mar 20, 2015, 6:03 pm

>180 amysisson:

This magazine sounds very similar to One Story (a story in a booklet every few weeks - way back when it was only printed; now it has also e-book version) that had been going for over a decade... :) Never heard of that one though so maybe should check it :)

*edit* and of course as soon as I got around to look at their site (I rarely do - booklets are just coming), they call One Teen Story a sister publication :)

183amysisson
Mar 20, 2015, 6:05 pm

>182 AnnieMod:

I think I knew about One Story, but forgot the connection....

184amysisson
Mar 20, 2015, 6:10 pm

Story #108 (32 in March). "Pioneer Possessions" by Lee Budar-Danoff. Published in Every Day Fiction, March 20, 2015. Read online 03-20-15.

This is a piece of flash fiction about a newly orphaned pioneer girl/witch trying to save her brother from the wendigo demon that has possessed him. It's not badly written, but to me it felt a little choppy, as though the author had to work too hard to get that much plot into a story with a 1,000-word limit.

Link: http://www.everydayfiction.com/pioneer-possessions-by-lee-budar-danoff/

185amysisson
Mar 21, 2015, 2:01 pm

Story #109 (33 in March). "The Mirror in the Bathroom" by Melon Wedick. Published in Every Day Fiction, March 21, 2015. Read online 03-21-15.

This flash piece has a terrific narrative voice, from the point of view of a child (presumably) that doesn't quite know what's going on. Actually, I was about to say that I don't think I know what happened, but now I think that the narrator is probably Peter, the one who burned the house down -- it would explain the mirror. Hmmm, so maybe split personality or selective amnesia? The thing about the animal teeth is a little scary; does that mean Peter (or the narrator if different) has mutilated animals?

I probably should re-read this one to see if I get the same impression again of what I think happened.

Link: http://www.everydayfiction.com/mirror-in-the-bathroom-by-melon-wedick/

186jldarden
Mar 21, 2015, 6:27 pm

That story gives a slightly creepy feeling.

187amysisson
Mar 22, 2015, 6:23 pm

Story #110 (34 in March). "Amplexus" by Jonathan Penner. Published in One Teen Story, February 2015. Read in print 03-22-15.

This is the second piece from One Teen Story that I've read, and if the two stories are any indication, this little publication puts out some solid writing. This story is narrated by Christopher, looking back at his first love and the loss of his virginity. I loved all the little details. My only quibble was that I thought that Pure's mother caught on a little quickly. Teenagers can look guilty without it having to mean they've just had sex.

188amysisson
Mar 22, 2015, 7:52 pm

Story #111 (35 in March). "Night of the Living Poet" by Michael Landau. Published in One Teen Story, January 2015. Read in print 03-22-15.

This was my third trial issue from One Teen Story. Alas, it didn't work as well for me as the other ones. This one is about

a high school senior named Andy who goes on an after-school field trip to a poetry reading, along with a girl named Crystal, for whom Andy has conflicted feelings. I didn't like Andy, who was a little too much like Holden Caulfield for my taste. Crystal is perhaps the most likeable character in the story, but everyone else seems to hang out with people and then call them names behind their backs.

Even though I didn't like this issue as much as the other two, overall I was impressed with this little magazine, and I've gone ahead and subscribed for a full year. A review of the three issues together appears on my reviews blog here: http://amysreviews.blogspot.com/2015/03/one-teen-story.html

189amysisson
Editado: Mar 23, 2015, 2:48 am

Story #112 (36 in March). "Bit Player" by Cat Rambo. Published in Daily Science Fiction, March 23, 2015. Read online 03-23-18.

This piece of flash fiction was well written, but reminded me a little too much of the movie The Truman Show, so that I wasn't as engaged as I otherwise might have been.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/virtual-reality/cat-rambo/bit-pla...

190elenchus
Mar 23, 2015, 9:48 am

I haven't read it, but with a name like Cat Rambo, I think going in there's a demerit against it for me.

191amysisson
Mar 23, 2015, 10:44 am

>190 elenchus:

LOL!

She's likely to become the President of SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) this year. She's pretty cool, but I haven't found a story of hers yet that really grabs me.

192amysisson
Mar 23, 2015, 11:04 am

Story #113 (37 in March). "The Saving Breath" by Michael Seese. Published in Every Day Fiction, March 22, 2015. Read online 03-23-15.

This very short flash story (148 words!) is surprisingly good. I mean, it won't change anybody's world, but I'm impressed by what the author managed in so short a space.

Link: http://www.everydayfiction.com/the-saving-breath-by-michael-seese/

193amysisson
Mar 24, 2015, 9:12 am

Story #114 (38 in March). "This is the Story That Devours Itself" by Michelle Muenzler. Published in Daily Science Fiction, March 24, 2015. Read online 03-24-15.

This is an amusing piece of recursive flash fiction. It's very Michelle, if I may be allowed to describe it so. I can hear her reading it at a convention.

http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/slipstream/michelle-muenzler/this-...

194amysisson
Editado: Mar 24, 2015, 9:22 pm

Story #115 (39 in March). "Ice" by Patrice Sarath. Published in Tales from the Secret City. Anthology published 2007; story originally appeared in Realms of Fantasy. Read in print 03-24-15.

In this story, professional hockey player Delacour is stuck for extra days in a hotel with his team due to a snowstorm, chagrined at being forced to spend extra time with a younger teammate, Albrecht. When the group goes to a bar, they encounter a strange woman who invites Delacour to the ballet; he attends without knowing why, and gets sucked into the story of Giselle.

I enjoyed reading this, in part because hockey and ballet are literally my two favorite spectator pastimes. I was confused in a few places as to what was actually happening, but found this to be an interesting combination.

On the cover, the book is labeled as "A Cryptopolis Anthology". A blurb on the back indicates that it's a chapbook produced by for convention ArmadilloCon, which takes place in Austin, Texas each year.

195amysisson
Editado: Mar 24, 2015, 11:01 pm

Story #116 (40 in March). "The Play's the Thing" by Fred Stanton. Published in Tales from the Secret City. Anthology published 2007. Read in print 03-24-15.

I'm afraid that I found this story, from the same anthology as the one listed directly above, to be somewhat amateurish in both concept and execution. Regan, a woman in a small community theater group is lured by a competitor putting on a mysteriously compelling play, but has a feeling of dread about it. The mysterious new play director, Redmund, tells Regan that she will literally become immortal if she takes on the role in his play, but how this mechanism works, and what happens to the other people that Redmund enticed is never revealed. Regan defeats him merely by speaking lines from a different play instead of the ones he wants her to say.

Among the smaller scale problems I had with this story, the author, through lack of correct pronoun usage, describes the wrong play at one point -- and since the entire story is about these two plays, it's actually a big deal. A few exotic word choices feel out of place with the rest of the narrative tone. And Regan wakes up in a hospital and recognizes which hospital she's in by the layout of the room, because her sister had been there the month before. First, almost all hospital rooms look similar, and second, it feels as though the author tacked on the detail of the sister having had a recent stay there as a complete afterthought.

Unlike the other story I read in the anthology, this story does not have previous publication information. I feel as though this story probably did not go through an editing process, considering that this is an anthology by a writing group with no named editor.

196amysisson
Mar 26, 2015, 12:32 am

Story #117 (41 in March). "Time Debt" by D. Thomas Minton. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 03-25-15.

I'm a sucker for stories involving relativistic time effects, ever since I fell in love with Poul Anderson's Tau Zero when I was eighteen. This short story, originally published in Electric Spec, is about an old man confronting his much-younger-in-real-years father, and finding out the past wasn't quite what he thought.

The only real flaw I saw in the story is that the dialog in the first few (short) paragraphs is confusing. Character 1 has been asked a question and responds with a question. Character 2 says nothing, then Character 1 answers the original question. I had to read it over at least three times before I figured that out. If Character 2 had said "either," or maybe even just shrugged, I don't think I'd have been quite as confused.

But I still really liked the story.

197amysisson
Editado: Mar 26, 2015, 6:50 pm

Story #118 (42 in March). "The Fisher Queen" by Alyssa Wong. Published in F&SF, May/June 2014. Read as PDF 03-26-15.

This is one of the Nebula award finalists for short stories this year. It's about Lily, young woman who goes out to sea with her father and a crew, fishing for many species but mainly for the highly prized mermaids that are considered a delicacy. Lily's father has always told his three daughters that their mother was a fish, but as Lily grew up she began to dismiss the story as nothing more than a tale to entertain motherless children. When Lily comes upon one of the fishermen raping a mermaid in the hold where they're kept, she wonders whether her mother actually could be a mermaid, especially because the most human-like mermaid among this catch speaks and calls her "daughter." This mermaid offers Lily a boon in exchange for a bite of Lily's own flesh, and Lily uses the wish to deal with the men who treat females, whether mermaid or human, so badly.

I don't think it's fair of me to judge the story harshly just because I'm tired of stories about how awful men are, so I'm trying to be more objective. The story is well written, I think, but my biggest problem is that the father's motivations make little sense to me. First, while he might enjoy raping mermaids, why would he want them to bear mixed-species children when he presumably could have married a human woman and just done his raping on the side? Deliberately having these daughters (because he could have killed the pregnant mermaids at any time, without repercussions) and ensuring they could attend school, which we're specifically told is expensive, does not seem like something a cruel rapist would do.

Second, why would he tell his daughters that their mother was a fish when in reality this is a dirty secret he wants kept from them? Why plant the seed in their minds?

Third, why does he let Lily join an apparently all male crew where she's likely to stumble upon the fact that they rape mermaids on a regular basis? I also was annoyed that we find out late in the story that Lily's sister Iris was raped in a supply closet at school. I think we're meant to view this as Lily being in denial about men's cruelty until her new knowledge forces her to confront something she'd already known, but I found it a bit much.

198AnnieMod
Mar 26, 2015, 6:03 pm

>197 amysisson: And yet this is exactly the kind of story that will get some awards and nomination - regardless of how thin the plot is or how big the holes (I am in agreement with you on that one - if anything, I disliked it even more than you.)

199amysisson
Mar 27, 2015, 11:20 am

Story #119 (43 in March). "The Conquest of Gliese 518-5B" by Gary Cuba. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 03-27-15.

This short story, which is just over 1,000 words, is meant to be humorous. It's about a military officer sent to conquer an alien planet with odd little tentacled aliens on it. I didn't find it that funny, but I recognize that humor is just about the most subjective thing there is.

I read this on QuarterReads, but it was originally published in Grand Science Fiction.

200amysisson
Editado: Mar 27, 2015, 11:31 am

Story #120 (44 in March). "Machine Washable" by Keffy R.M. Kehrli. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 03-27-15.

Another humor piece on QuarterReads, this one about a zombie in the washing machine. Cute.

201amysisson
Mar 28, 2015, 3:58 pm

Story #121 (45 in March). "The Breath of War" by Aliette de Bodard. Published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, March 6, 2014. Read in PDF form 03-28-15.

This story just missed being four and half stars for me, and to be honest, I'm still not sure whether I might change my mind later and give it that extra half star. (Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things; but in all this short story reading, I'm considering any 4 1/2 or 5 star for awards if eligible, and writing about them on my review blog.)

In this story, an alien woman who is very near to term seeks her breath-sibling, or the living being she carved out of rock upon reaching her sixteenth year, a creature that will return some of the breath given to it in order to quicken the baby's breath at birth. Unlike the others of her species, Rechan did not carve a companion that would be with her always, but rather carved a living stone spaceship, due to her frustration and desire to escape her war-torn planet.

While reading this story, I thought of Ted Chiang's Exhalation, even though de Bodard uses the phrase "exhalation" differently, and I thought of some of Octavia Butler's work, in which reproduction is not merely a two-parent endeavor. I loved the set-up, loved the fact that Rechan carved a ship instead of a creature in her own image. But the story is a little too short to give enough world-building to satisfy -- I had to work pretty hard to figure things out. That's fine, but it's not as fine if I feel unconfident in my conclusions (as opposed to the author trying for deliberate ambiguity so I can ponder between possible outcomes).

In addition, this wasn't the ending I wanted. Rechan is fortunate to find her ship still waiting, because her birth is starting and the baby will be born dead without Rechan's breath-sibling there, even in the form of a ship. But once again the ship, infused with Rechan's youthful longing to travel and explore, asks Rechan to leave with him, and she refuses. She is obviously attached to a big family, but she's also filled with a yearning for more. Why not leave with the ship and her daughter, and come back if she wants to be inseminated again?

It's possible the author's intention was to show that the youthful ardor burned out somewhat, so that what Rechan carved at an earlier age no longer suits her. But I would have liked the adventurous ending. I shouldn't penalize the author for writing the story she wanted instead of the one I want to read, but my other issues with the world-building, combined with my dissatisfaction with the ending, are what kept me from rating the story higher. It still was very good, and definitely far more original than "Jackalope Wives", so I may yet change my mind -- but I have to vote on the Nebulas in the next two days.

202amysisson
Mar 28, 2015, 4:41 pm

Story #122 (46 in March). "The Story of His Life" by David W. Goldman. Published in Writers of the Future XXI, 2005. Read online 03-28-15.

I read this story because the author mentioned it in the context of a discussion in an online writing group I belong to. At first I was entertained and intrigued by the idea of people who go around living in AI-generated scenarios with clichéd novel plotlines, but I felt the story was at least twice as long as it needed to be, and it tried to be a little too clever. I confess to skimming towards the end. On the prose level, the writing was fine.

The story was first published in one of the Writers of the Future contest anthologies, but the author has subsequently posted the story on his own website here: http://www.davidwgoldman.com/The_Story_of_His_Life.html

203amysisson
Mar 29, 2015, 6:14 pm

Story #123 (47 in March). "The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family" by Usman T. Malik. Published in Qualia Nous, edited by Michael Bailey. Anthology published 2014. Read as PDF (Nebular voter packet) 03-29-15.

I think it's fair to say that I have little idea what went on in this story. A young Pakistani widow grieves further when her brother leaves the family to seek revenge on his own wife's death. Both the woman, Tara, and her brother have a gift or a supernatural ability of some kind. In her case, her blood runs hot enough to start fires, and she has an insatiable desire to learn -- but this latter part, which in my mind had the potential to be the most interesting part of the story, was not much explored. She goes to find her brother, and the story ends. The narrative is interspersed with little mini-physics lessons at the beginning of each section, that I believe are meant to be intensely relevant to the story, if only I could tell how.

This was the last short story on the Nebula ballot that I hadn't yet read.

204amysisson
Editado: Mar 30, 2015, 5:11 pm

Story #124 (48 in March). "Hokkaido Green" by Aidan Doyle. Published on QuarterReads; originally published in Strange Horizons, 2010. Read online 03-30-15.

Funny juxtaposition here: recently I reviewed a movie called Ramen Girl starring Brittany Murphy, about a young American woman whose boyfriend dumps her in Tokyo. Miserable, she only finds a little comfort in a tiny ramen noodle restaurant nearby, and decides she wants to learn to cook ramen, even though she speaks no Japanese and her new sensei speaks no English.

Today I read this story, "Hokkaido Green", because it's the free story on QuarterReads this week. A Japanese man, who no longer has any family left, decides to leave his cubicle job at a digital camera company to make a pilgrimmage to Hokkaido. There, he meets a bear who can't talk, but who can spell out text messages on the man's phone. The bear agrees to come up with the ramen recipe that died with the man's father, but in return the man has to give up all the photographs he's ever taken, and he won't be able to take more -- cameras will never work for him again.

This is a strange but mostly pleasing little story. And I probably wouldn't have nitpicked about how just having the recipe is not going to make the man a good ramen chef, as it apparently takes a lot of training, or so the movie I just watched would have me believe.

Even stranger, I realized a little ways into the story that it seemed familiar, but I didn't know if that was because I'd recently read another story about bears in Japan, or because I'd watched this movie. But when cameras and photographs were mentioned, I realized I must have read this story years ago when it was first published on Strange Horizons.

Link on Strange Horizons: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2010/20101101/hokkaido-f.shtml

205amysisson
Editado: Mar 30, 2015, 6:54 pm

(LT is fussy today -- I ended up with duplicate posts)

206amysisson
Mar 30, 2015, 6:53 pm

Story #125 (49 in March). "The Fattest Dog in the World" by Cathy S. Ulrich. Published in Every Day Fiction, March 30, 2015. Read online 03-30-15.

This is a non-genre flash piece, told in second person present tense, about a recent widower with an enormously fat dog. I mostly liked it while reading it, but in thinking on it, I can't seem to specify what I liked. I wasn't crazy about the ending, but I can't say it particularly bothered or annoyed me either.

Link: http://www.everydayfiction.com/the-fattest-dog-in-the-world-by-cathy-s-ulrich/

207amysisson
Mar 31, 2015, 4:18 am

Story #126 (50 in March). "Practical Hats" by Cheryce Clayton. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 03-31-15.

This story has an adorable, fun premise, but it falls down in the execution. A hat shop's "shop elves," called "hobs," have diligently toiled for years, or even decades or centuries, even when the shop is closed and civilization seems to be in peril. They're persevered through the Spanish flu and the Bubonic plague.... The optimistic ones believe that the shop will re-open once this latest plague is over, and plan to make hats they think will be most suitable for whatever comes next.

Only guess what kind of plague this one is?

I have to say, I'm not generally a fan of zombie stories, but this premise was so cute. And the writing starts out fine, but it becomes ... messy. It's hard to follow what some of the hobs are saying and why. It kind of jumps all over the place. Unlike most stories on QuarterReads, there is no mention that this was previously published elsewhere. I think it would have benefited from a more rigorous editing process.


I would give it 3 1/2 or 4 stars for the premise, but the writing would be 2 stars, so I've settled at 2 1/2.

208amysisson
Mar 31, 2015, 4:26 am

************************************

MARCH ROUND-UP

This month I read 50 stories, six of which I rated at 4 1/2 or 5 stars. My summary is here: http://amysreviews.blogspot.com/2015/03/short-fiction-march-2015.html

************************************

209elenchus
Mar 31, 2015, 9:07 am

>208 amysisson:

That's a nice harvest, I'd say, both in quality and quantity. Well on track for your minimum of 1 story per day! Are you surprised at the level of 4 1/2 to 5 star stories you've read, or did you have any benchmark for that?

210amysisson
Mar 31, 2015, 10:31 am

>209 elenchus:

I didn't have a benchmark going in, but I'm beginning to think that four to six 4 1/2-star or 5-star stories might be average. On the other hand, I worry that once I have that many stories in those categories, perhaps I'm then judging more harshly. But I try to be as objective as I can!

I also hope I don't fill up my brain beyond capacity. I'm astounded how quickly I forget the details of the stories. Rule of thumb is that the more I like it, the better I remember it. Thank goodness for my notes!

211elenchus
Mar 31, 2015, 10:39 am

Given that we don't pick reading material randomly, our resulting ratings can't be expected to fit a Bell curve. I see that in rating my books, with very few 1 and 2-star ratings but quite a few 4-star ratings. But I've never tried ratings at the level of stories. Closest comparison for me is using iTunes to rate individual songs / tracks rather than albums or artists, which is eye opening when compared to what I expected an album or artist to get.

Completely agree about reading notes: that is, I think, the single most valuable aspect of LT for me. Clearly I could keep notes without LT, and it seems many LTers kept notebooks or PC files for years, but I didn't. I get so much more out of my reading now that I write a review of everything I read, no question about it.

212amysisson
Mar 31, 2015, 10:47 am

>211 elenchus:

Looking for that "like" button .... have to remember I'm not on Facebook at the moment! ;-)

213jennybhatt
Abr 1, 2015, 8:17 am

amysisson: I just stumbled onto your thread today after returning to LT from a rather long hiatus. While I hadn't made a goal or 1+ short story a day, I had made a personal goal of reading more short story collections this year. So, I'm enjoying reading through some of your posts here and have made note of a few that I'd like to get to in time too.

Thanks for starting this thread. I'll check in from time to time.

Right now, I'm reading The Best American Short Stories 2004 and am halfway through. Some of the stories are as long as novellas. And, they're a bit of a mixed bag for me. But, I'm enjoying them as I might never have read them otherwise.

214amysisson
Abr 1, 2015, 1:42 pm

>213 jennybhatt:

Hi Jenny,

I feel like I should be dipping more into my print anthologies and collections, and it wouldn't hurt me to read a few more stories that are not science fiction and fantasy. I'm tempted to count the number of print anthologies and collections I have and rough out an estimate of how many short stories are currently sitting somewhere in my house waiting to be read. I'd think a couple of years worth, even at the rate of one per day!

I have trouble reading anthologies and collections straight through, though. I feel, perhaps irrationally, that the individual stories would run together too much in my head. Did you see my thread on keeping track of anthology reading? It's a way for me to see what I've read in an anthology (well, starting with January -- it's not retroactive):

http://www.librarything.com/topic/185922

Do you have a thread for your reading?

-- Amy

215amysisson
Abr 2, 2015, 12:41 am

Story #127 (1 in April). "Bread Babies" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, January 7, 2015. Read online 04-01-15.

This was the last of the Tasting Menu flash fiction stories by this author that I hadn't yet read. A woman bakes "bread babies" to trick the fairies who come to take newborns, leaving their own changelings behind. I enjoyed this but it didn't grab me the way some of the other stories in this series have.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/tasting-menu/caroline-m-yoachim/br...

216amysisson
Editado: Abr 2, 2015, 1:00 am

Story #128 (2 in April). "Taste the Whip" by Andy Dudak. Published in Diabolical Plots, March 2, 2015. Read online 04-01-15.

I found this story to be unexpectedly intriguing. Vast sentient spaceships roam the universe, and come to pod gatherings every so often (over the course of millenia). They allow human "systems" to grow inside them, populations that do not know they are living inside spaceships. One such ship, Parvati, has a revelator among her human population, or a person who has discovered the nature of its "universe." She is supposed to destroy the population, or at least abandon them on a planet somewhere, but instead she longs to submit to them.

http://www.diabolicalplots.com/dp-fiction-1-taste-the-whip-by-andy-dudak/

217jennybhatt
Abr 2, 2015, 2:39 am

>214 amysisson: amysisson:

I hadn't seen the other thread you linked to. Thanks. And, wow!

I don't know that I have that many short story anthologies as I was more of a novel person till recently. I think I got my short story fixes mostly from literary magazines/journals. But, it's an interesting thing to try to estimate how many short story collections one does have. I'll have to do that sometime too.

No... no thread as yet for my reading. I've just keep a list by year so I know where I am. I used to write reviews from time to time as well. I might get back to that one of these days.

Thanks again. I'll keep checking back in.

218elenchus
Abr 2, 2015, 8:56 am

>216 amysisson:

The sentient ship idea intrigues me, like so many fans I adore Iain Banks' AI in his Culture series, especially the sentient ships. Assuming you've read some in the Culture, how would you compare them?

219amysisson
Abr 2, 2015, 2:44 pm

>218 elenchus:

I haven't read any of Banks' Culture books. I keep thinking I have, then realize I'm thinking of Peter F. Hamilton. (I will never read another Peter F. Hamilton book again, by the way. I once had to review a book of his, and then found out it was the second book, so I read the first book, which ended on a literal cliffhanger -- seriously, with a character hanging off a cliff! The two books together, which in my mind comprised a single novel due to that ridiculous cliffhanger, were 1100 pages.

All with poor punctuation.

Never again.....

:-)

220elenchus
Editado: Abr 2, 2015, 3:38 pm

I may have to read the story myself, then. I'm blocked here at work, though, sadly enough.

ETA I've just looked up Peter F. Hamilton, and haven't read any of his work. After that description, I'm not particularly motivated to change that any time soon!

221AnnieMod
Editado: Abr 2, 2015, 3:40 pm

>219 amysisson:

:) Hamilton is an acquired taste and yes - his duologies and trilogies are essentially single novels split for timing and publishing considerations.
I love his style - as long as you know what you are expecting, he is pretty good.

222amysisson
Abr 2, 2015, 4:22 pm

>221 AnnieMod:

I'll definitely concede that he's good at universe-building!

223amysisson
Editado: Abr 2, 2015, 4:39 pm

Story #129 (3 in April). "Veil of Ignorance" by David Barr Kirtley. Published in All the Rage This Year, edited by Keith Olexa. Published 2004. Read in print book 04-02-2015.

This is the lead-off story in the third Phobos anthology that was titled All the Rage This Year. This is a fun tale of what happens when five young adults take a drug that links them telepathically, to the point that they keep shifting from one perspective to another, and don't know which person they actually are. It's based on the real-life theory by John Rawls, that says that obscuring people from which side they would actually be on in a moral issue allows them to fairly decide that moral issue; for instance, nobody will think slavery is fair if you have an equal chance of being the master or the slave. The author did a very nice job managing the shifting points of view.

Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry on the "veil of ignorance" concept: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veil_of_ignorance

And the author has since conveniently put the story up online: http://www.davidbarrkirtley.com/veilofignorancebydavidbarrkirtley.html

224elenchus
Abr 2, 2015, 4:46 pm

>223 amysisson:

I have to read that one! Read a bit of Rawls as part of my dissertation, this sounds like a really fun take on that position.

225amysisson
Editado: Abr 3, 2015, 10:41 am

Story #130 (4 in April). "A Midnight Carnival at Sunset" by Terra LeMay. Published in Unidentified Funny Objects, edited by Alex Shvartsman. Anthology published 2013. Read online 04-03-15.

I read this as a bit of market research, trying to understand what people (well, editors) consider "funny." This story, about an unnamed character who visits a bizarre mini-zoo for mythical creatures (vampires, werewolves, basilisks, selkies, etc.), is told in second person present tense. It's well-written on the prose level, but I felt there was no pay-off, and it wasn't what I would call "funny." Amusing, maybe, but I feel it would have been more so with a more determinate ending.

Link: http://www.ufopub.com/2013/02/01/a-midnight-carnival-at-sunset-by-terra-lemay/

226elenchus
Abr 3, 2015, 11:11 am

>225 amysisson:

As you say, it's well written. I actually thought it was great, I'm far more skeptical of "funny" than of "amusing" and this one was firmly and cleverly in the latter camp. My only niggling complaint is that she should have not been explicit about the last sign not including the "God Bless" part, she undermined her own subtlety. Though I guess she gains Irony Points given the refrain about how subtle things were or weren't throughout the narrative.

227amysisson
Editado: Abr 5, 2015, 4:02 am

Story #131 (5 in April). "The Man Who Murdered Himself" by Nancy Fulda. Published in All the Rage This Year, edited by Keith Olexa. Published 2004. Read in print 04-04-2015.

In this story, a man with neurofibromatosis agrees to an illegal molecular replication treatment.

Decently written, but between the title and the set-up, the story was completely predictable.

228amysisson
Editado: Abr 5, 2015, 4:03 am

Story #132 (6 in April). "Earl Billings and the Angels of the Lord" by James Maxey. Published in All the Rage This Year, edited by Keith Olexa. Published 2004. Read in print 04-04-2015.

In this story, a would-be domestic terrorist is sent down a different path by "angels" who are actually time travelers. What I didn't buy was the man's motivation for becoming a terrorist in the first place: "And then little Earlene brought home her fifth-grade social-studies textbook with the Incan monkey god on the cover." I felt this was way too cliched. The time travel element with the changing outcome was somewhat interesting, but overall this isn't a story that will stay with me.

229amysisson
Editado: Abr 5, 2015, 8:51 pm

Story #133 (7 in April). "Grinpa" by Brian K. Lowe. Published on QuarterReads; first published in Daily Science Fiction, 2010. Read online 04-05-15.

This story is about a boy whose grandfather dies the same day aliens first land on the Earth. It's touchingly written and I think it does exactly what the author set out to do, but the ending was too interdeterminate for my taste -- I really need to know if the aliens were hostile or benevolent. But the author's intention was clearly to show that the aliens weren't the important thing about that day to the boy.

Daily Science Fiction link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/aliens/brian-k-lowe/grinpa

QuarterReads link: https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=172

230amysisson
Abr 6, 2015, 5:51 pm

Story #134 (8 in April). "Things that Matter" by Amanda C. Davis. Published on QuarterReads; first published in 10Flash. Read online 04-06-15.

This flash piece is set in some kind of post-apocalyptic world. The narrator and his/her brother live in a cave in the mountains, and the brother, who was alive longer before the "New Winter" started, vaguely remembers a bunch of things that are supposed to be done when it snows. I'm fairly certain this refers to the Christmas and Hanukkah traditions of the Christmas tree and the menorah; for the tree, he clears away the brush and then sets an entire tree on fire, and for the menorah he burns bird bones. He also cuts his finger and licks the blood; I'm not sure what that's meant to represent. He also comes across as a little mentally unstable.

This didn't quite work for me. Not knowing the narrator's gender or either character's relative age left me feeling somewhat ungrounded, and not knowing what the cutting his finger was supposed to be a substitute for left me unsatisfied as a reader. There just wasn't enough here to engage me.


Link on QuarterReads (free this week): https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=590

231amysisson
Editado: Abr 7, 2015, 12:21 pm

Story #135 (9 in April). "The Serial Killer's Astronaut Daughter" by Damien Angelica Walters. Published in Strange Horizons, January 6, 2014. Read online 04-07-15.

I really liked this story. It's about a female astronaut on a commercial space station, who's unwillingly thrust into the spotlight when her birth father, whom she has never met, turns out to be a notorious serial killer. The astronaut just wants to do her job, but suddenly her next contract is in jeopardy because of this negative attention. There are many references to the movie Aliens and its kick-ass heroine.

While I often complain when something isn't spelled out in a story, in this case I was fine with not knowing what the astronaut planned to say in her broadcast.

Link: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2014/20140106/Astronaut-f.shtml

232elenchus
Abr 7, 2015, 12:42 pm

>231 amysisson:

Nice touch that the title is "Serial Killer's Astronaut Daughter" and not "The Astronaut's Serial Killer Father", right? Emblematic of the central problem.

233amysisson
Abr 7, 2015, 5:32 pm

234amysisson
Abr 8, 2015, 1:30 pm

Story #136 (10 in April). "She Just Looks That Way" by Eric Choi. Published in Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction, edited by Ben Bova and Eric Choi. Anthology published 2014. Read in print book 04-08-15.

Oh dear, this story quite annoyed me, and in my mind is the perfect example of why editors should not put their own stories in anthologies, because I don't feel it would have been chosen by an impartial editor. A man hears about a treatment to help people with a medical condition that makes them think they're ugly, and wants to get it done in order to stop thinking that an apparently crazy ex-girlfriend is beautiful. So you (the reader) spend half the story thinking that no medical professional who doesn't want to be banned from the profession would ever screw with someone's brain for such a stupid reason, when you find out that they fake the treatment just to convince the guy that it's not just about beauty. And la, everything turns out happily after that -- his ultimate frisbee team even wins and warms up to him! And of course the woman who has been nice to him throughout the whole story turns out to be interested in him, and now he can "see" it. I just thought this was clumsy as anything, and had very little to do with science fiction for a story in a hard, hard, hard science fiction anthology. Sigh.....

235amysisson
Abr 11, 2015, 2:19 pm

Story #137 (11 in April). "Lures, Hooks and Tails" by Alan Colston. Published in Daily Science Fiction, December 13, 2011. Read online 04-11-15.

This is a tidy little story that ultimately turns out to be mild horror. (Well, probably pretty darn horrible for the main character, but mild for the reader.) A young man traveling on a train is fascinated by an attractive woman who claims she sees things in windows that others don't see. Windows turn out to be a portal to the seas to which she, a mermaid turned human after being caught in a net, can never return. Through the windows, she can call her kin to come and feed on what she has brought them.

I debated between rating this at 4 or 4 1/2 stars. On the one hand, stories of these particular creatures have been done many times before. On the other hand, I did not at all expect the turns that this very short story took, so it sort of delighted me. In the end, I gave it 4 1/2 stars for that reason, and because I think the author did not hit any false notes. It's a lovely example of how well very short fiction can work.

Permalink: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/Monsters/adam-colston/lures-hooks-and-tai...

236amysisson
Editado: Abr 13, 2015, 2:17 pm

Story #138 (12 in April). "The Old Beauty" by Willa Cather. Published in The Old Beauty and Others. Read in print book 04-13-15.

And now for something completely different . . . .

Last week I flew to Boston for the NCAA Frozen Four -- it's the "Final Four" except ice hockey instead of basketball. Although I've been to Boston before for the World Science Fiction Convention, this is the first time I've actually walked around the city a bit, because at Worldcon we're lucky to leave the hotel and convention center. I stopped in three bookstores while there this trip: Brattle Books, and two Commonwealth Books stores. I picked up this Willa Cather collection of three stories, and just finished the first one today.

In "The Old Beauty", a man named Mr. Seabury is intrigued by a dignified older lady at the out-of-the-way French hotel where he is staying, and soon learns she is the former Lady Gabrielle Longstreet, whom he knew many years before. The pair renew their acquaintance, and spend many pleasant hours together, along with Gabrielle's friend and companion, Mrs. Allison. Gabrielle (she doesn't care to go by her former title) seems to regret that she didn't appreciate her older friends back before the war, and misses the way of life that ended with the global conflict.

Willa Cather's writing always pulls me along. It's somehow just a pleasure to read, even in a quiet story such as this. I'm afraid the last paragraph left me completely befuddled, though. I think the intended audience of the day would have understood absolutely what is meant by it, but I haven't a clue, and even after looking up the translation of the French phrase, I'm at a complete loss. It didn't ruin the story for me, but I did not feel as satisfied as I would have liked, because instead of reflecting on a quiet ending, I'm left wondering what it is I'm missing.

ETA: Oh cripes, I've actually just figured it out. It's saying where she bought her cemetery plot. Okay, at least now I know. But it doesn't add to the story, the way it's worded.

237amysisson
Abr 13, 2015, 2:35 pm

139. (13 in April) - April 11, 2015 - "Just Behind the Ear" by Owen Rapine. Published in Every Day Fiction, April 12, 2015. (Read 04-13-15)

This flash piece didn't work for me, I'm afraid. A thief who's addicted to the thrill of the heist goes after a proboscidean Mastodon femur, and the fact that he grabs it during the full moon and has some Inuit heritage in his background rouses an extinct creature that wants the bone for itself. What I didn't like was that the first reader assumption might be that the actual fossilized creature might have been what came to life, but that's a mastodon. So then I thought it was a big cat, since the author describes but does name it for ages ... and then I found out it was a hound. If the author weren't trying so hard with descriptions, I would have been able to follow the story without having to backtrack a couple of times to see what I'd misunderstood.

I also didn't like some overwrought language, such as this: "...its slavering, outsized fangs gated an unfathomable maw that issued a primeval growl of warning he felt in his breastbone."

Link: http://www.everydayfiction.com/just-behind-the-ear-by-owen-rapine/

238amysisson
Abr 14, 2015, 10:17 am

Story #140 (14 in April). "Don't Answer" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Published in Daily Science Fiction, April 13, 2015. Read online 04-14-15.

For me, this short story had a lot of promise that was ruined by slight sloppiness -- not in the prose, but in the internal logic of the story. Every year, it seems, people must turn off their lights and lock their houses against creatures who try to get in, pretending to be their dead loved ones. Sort of a "night of the dead" (I'm reminded of that Babylon 5 episode written by Neil Gaiman.) This year, Abida's parents decides she's old enough to stay up with them in the living room, rather than locked upstairs as usual with her younger sister, India.

Here are my problems with this story:

- Why leave India alone, which has to be quite scary?
- We find out halfway through the story that Abida's twin brother, Kevin, died less than a year ago and she misses him terribly. So why let this be the first year she stays downstairs to hear the creatures knocking on the door and scrabbling at the walls, when she's going to be most susceptible to trickery due to her grief?
- Abida seriously gets to the door and unlocks and opens it before her parents can react? Would they not have been prepared for this?

This actually annoyed me a little, because it all could have been addressed enough to satisfy the reader without a major overhaul.

http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/Monsters/nina-kiriki-hoffman/dont-answer

239amysisson
Abr 15, 2015, 12:48 am

Story #141 (15 in April). "Before Breakfast" by Willa Cather. Published in The Old Beauty and Others. Read in print book 04-14-15.

This is another of the three stories in this old collection by Cather. I didn't like it nearly as well as the other one I've read so far. In this one, a businessman takes his customary holiday in a cabin on a small, unmapped island off the coast of New England. His peace is disturbed by memories of a conversation with a man on the boat ride over, and by the sight of Venus the morning star, but his peace then seems restored when he glimpses the daughter of the man from the boat having a chilly, early morning swim. I have no idea why his mood kept changing; it seemed to have little relation to the things he was seeing and to which he was reacting. Then it just ends.

The prose was good, though.

240amysisson
Abr 15, 2015, 4:40 pm

Story #142 (16 in April). "The Best Years" by Willa Cather. Published in The Old Beauty and Others. Read in print book 04-15-15.

And this is the last story in the collection. It started out so well, with a female school superintendent in Nebraska riding around (via horse and carriage, of course) to visit the little schoolrooms in her district. She is a mentor to one of the younger teachers, and it's very charming. But then the story goes all over the place, and ultimately doesn't really have much of an ending. It seems the story's "purpose" is to allow the mother of that teacher to talk about people's "best years" being the ones when they're simply working hard, rather than the years when they may have achieved some success but lost some of the simple pleasures.

I think these were Cather's last three published stories, so I would have thought by then that she would have a better idea of "story," but maybe she was meant to be a novelist and short works just weren't her strong point?

241amysisson
Abr 15, 2015, 5:59 pm

Story #143 (17 in April). "The Plague" by Ken Liu. Published in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois. Anthology published 2014; story originally published in Nature, May 2013. Read in print book 04-15-15.

This flash piece is about two groups on an alien planet: the ones who adapted and became changed from their original human state, and the ones who've holed up in domes, and view the changed people as pathetic wretches who must be helped or cured.

I like the idea, but felt it tried to shoehorn too much into such a short piece (I believe submissions to Nature fiction department, "Futures", must fall between 850 and 950 words).

242amysisson
Editado: Abr 16, 2015, 3:15 am

Story #144 (18 in April). "Fleet" by Sandra McDonald. Published in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois. Anthology published 2014; story originally published in We See a Different Frontier: A Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology, edited by Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad, 2013. Read in print book 04-15-15.

In this story, a transgendered woman named Isa leaves her village (?) to go dig in a landfill; a certain number of villagers must go each year, but this woman, as the "Bridge", goes every year. Their traveling group meets an injured Russian whom Isa kills, then they meet the Russian's companion, whom Isa tricks into accompanying them to the Guahan Militia, where they electrically (?) rip information out of his head, and electrically (?) implant more into Isa's head. At some point we learn that the Silence occurred in the past, when solar activity apparently caused all electrical devices in the world to go haywire.

I found this story quite confusing. It isn't about being a transgendered woman -- which is fine: not every story with a transgendered character needs to be about that aspect of his or her life. But it also isn't obviously about the Silence. I'm not clear on why Isa knows seven thousand taotaomo'na, which are names that the Militia plant in her head, more each time she brings them someone from "Fleet", which I think means the outside world. Isa says the taotaomo'na are ancestors who perished here in the After Silence, so presumably just people who were killed in the chaotic days following the event. But why is it important for her to know these names? What's the point of that procedure? It's not clear why outsiders are called "Fleet." Isa is called the Bridge, meaning a bridge between the past and present, but why? What's her purpose? What does a bridge do?

243amysisson
Editado: Abr 16, 2015, 5:57 pm

Story #144 (19 in April). "The Best We Can" by Carrie Vaughn. Published in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois. Anthology published 2014; story originally published on Tor.com, July 2013. Read in print book 04-15-15.

This is a quiet story about one planetary scientist's frustration at humanity's lack of action when an inert extraterrestrial artifact is discovered out around Jupiter's orbit. On the one hand, maybe it is realistic that humanity is too bureaucratic to accomplish anything, especially if it would require cooperation between multiple governments. On the other hand.... Also, while I understood the scientist's frustration, I didn't actually like her.

Link: http://www.tor.com/stories/2013/07/the-best-we-can

244amysisson
Abr 17, 2015, 12:29 pm

Story #146 (20 in April). "Cat Got Your Tongue?" by Jason J. Nugent. Published in Every Day Fiction, April 16, 2015. Read online 04-16-15.

This is a bit of a horror story, about a woman predator in a nightclub who is freaked out when a cat starts speaking telepathically to her. I didn't think it came together well as a story.

Link: http://www.everydayfiction.com/cat-got-your-tongue-by-jason-j-nugent/

245amysisson
Abr 17, 2015, 12:51 pm

Story #147 (21 in April). "Options" by Jack Cooper. Published in Every Day Fiction, April 7, 2015. Read online 04-17-15.

I read this because it was the first place winner in the String-of-10 contest, in which the writers had to write very short flash pieces (250 words) using at least four of ten given words. The words were:

SCRAGGLY-PECAN-ROUTE-SUCCINCT-ACCUMULATE-HANDLE-BIAS-EXIST-COAST-HANDKERCHIEF

It looks like the author used all ten words, and I think he did so very creatively, but at least one of them was a stretch (his shoes gave him "a succinct feeling of being a dancer"? "distinct" works there, but "succinct" not so much), and for me it wasn't much of a story.

http://www.everydayfiction.com/options-by-jack-cooper/

246amysisson
Abr 18, 2015, 11:29 am

Story #148 (22 in April). "The Last Summer" by Ken Liu. Published on QuarterReads. Originally published in 10 Flash. (Read 04-17-15)

This is the free story this week on QuarterReads. I was surprised upon reading it to see that they've labeled it fantasy, when I would call is mainstream. I read it as the two kids using their imaginations as they fire the Roman candles at the "monster" in the sea. A nice story, but not memorable for me.

Link: https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=413

247amysisson
Editado: Abr 20, 2015, 10:40 pm

Story #149 (23 in April). "A Heap of Broken Images" by Sunny Moraine. Published in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois. Anthology published 2014; story originally published in We See a Different Frontier: A Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology, edited by Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad, 2013. Read in print book 04-20-15.

This story is about an alien whose "job" (it's really more of a way of life) it is to make guests welcome. Currently, Shairoven is showing two humans around the sites where a human massacre of the alien species took place years or even decades earlier. Shairoven's training is such that it cannot show displeasure towards guests -- the hospitality instinct is that ingrained. But it (I don't know if it's a he or she; possibly neither) does not understand what the humans hope to accomplish in studying and documenting the massacre. To show any anger would betray Shairoven's training, but to say nothing perhaps betrays something at least as important.

A thoughtful story.

248amysisson
Editado: Abr 20, 2015, 10:51 pm

Story #150 (24 in April). "Gray Wings" by Karl Bunker. Published in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois. Anthology published 2014; story originally published in Asimov's, April/May 2013. Read in print book 04-20-15.

This was a nice story about a woman taking part in a winged flight race, courtesy of nanotechnology, who crashes into a barn in a remote area of an unnamed Third World country. The barn's owner helps her, and she learns that the poverty she always knew about in theory is actually real.

It sounds simplistic and preachy when I put it that way, but the beauty is in the way the story is told. I found it to be a fresh take.

249amysisson
Abr 20, 2015, 11:19 pm

Story #151 (25 in April). "Far" by Dean E.S. Richard. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 04-20-15.

At first I was interested in this story of a captain who drowns at sea, yet makes his way home, not quite dead but certainly not alive, because he feels compelled to see his wife one more time. But it got a little bogged down and "thinky," plus it overdid the semi-colons a bit and had a couple of sentences that made me work way harder than should have been necessary.

Example: I knew then, intimately even, yet, at once, I was quite sure I had never been here before.

Huh?

Free on QuarterReads for the next week here: https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=933

250amysisson
Abr 22, 2015, 7:59 pm

Story #152 (26 in April). "Blue Sand" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Published in Daily Science Fiction, October 8, 2012. Read online 04-22-15.

This is a flash story about creatures who take their dead loved ones to the sea, where their blue carapaces break up into the blue sand that makes up the beach. They then can visit and talk with their ancestors' ghosts, but things change when humans do not realize the significant of the blue sand.

This author is becoming one of my favorite short story writers.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/aliens/caroline-m-yoachim/blue-sa...

251amysisson
Abr 23, 2015, 10:59 pm

Story #153 (27 in April). "N is for Nevermore Nevermore Land" by Tim Pratt, Jenn Reese, Heather Shaw, and Greg van Eekhout. Published in Daily Science Fiction, April 6, 2011. (Read 04-22-15)

I had trouble believing four people wrote this 400-word flash fiction piece together. It's cute, but to me it feels like it tries a little too hard to be cute. I was surprised when DSF chose this one for me when I asked for a random but top-rated story.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/alphabet-quartet/tim-pratt-jenn-re...

252amysisson
Editado: Abr 25, 2015, 11:04 am

Story #154 (28 in April). "Loud as a Murder" by Sarah L. Johnson. Published in Crossed Genres Magazine, April 2015. Read online 04-24-15.

Crossed Genres Magazine publishes monthly themed issues with only 3 or so stories apiece. The theme for this issue was "silent communications," and I must say, this story really nailed it. An autistic gay man who works at home as a proofreader has a crush on the UPS man who delivers and picks up his manuscripts every Tuesday.

Rarely have I seen a story convey a theme so perfectly, yet in a way that completely surprised me.

Link: http://crossedgenres.com/magazine/028-loud-as-a-murder/

253elenchus
Editado: Abr 24, 2015, 12:59 pm

Another grateful recommendation!

Loved this line:
Dev smiles, but it’s a sad smile. No, not sad. Worried, maybe? Confused? Weirded out…people have too many damn facial expressions. There should be three, or four, no more than four. That would make things easier.

I was inspired both by your comments and the fact the URL is loud as a murder (as in, murder of crows?), while the title is "Loud as a Crow".

ETA And I even tried to puzzle out a coded message in that paragraph with the capital letters, and dismissed it as not being one, only to have it thrown in my face at the end! Arrgh!

But such a good story.

254amysisson
Abr 24, 2015, 1:13 pm

>253 elenchus:

Glad you liked it! I had the identical experience .... I was sure something was going on with the message, and I kept looking, and didn't see it....

There were a lot of lines like the one you mentioned that just worked so well for me.

And what's funny is that I did not consciously realize that the URL was "loud as a murder," but when I manually cataloged the story, I entered the story title that way. And then had to go back and fix it, and didn't realize why I'd made the error in the first place!

255amysisson
Abr 24, 2015, 1:36 pm

Story #155 (29 in April). "Nine Thousand Hours" by Iona Sharma. Published in Strange Horizons, April 20, 2015. Read online 04-24-15.

I liked the premise of this story, which is that some kind of magical mishap has erased all written words -- in books, on signs and storefronts, on tombstones.... But I spent most of the story mistakenly thinking the main character was male and then finding out she was female, and there was never quite enough information about the world for me to feel confident I really understood what was going on. I don't know what the lighthouse had to do with anything, and I didn't feel I knew specifically what relationships the characters had with one another.

But it was still kind of fresh and original, and I liked the accompanying artwork although it did not seem to illustrate anything specific from the story.

Link: http://strangehorizons.com/2015/20150420/hours-f.shtml

256amysisson
Abr 25, 2015, 10:54 am

>253 elenchus:

Looks like the title has been changed on the website to "Loud as a Murder" after all!

257amysisson
Abr 25, 2015, 8:10 pm

Story #156 (30 in April). "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Published in Fitzgerald: Novels and Stories 1920-1922. Anthology published 2000; story originally published in Saturday Evening Post, 1920. Read in print book 04-25-15.

Today at the library I can across a DVD of this story starring Shelley Duvall, and though it would be fun to read the story first. I mostly liked it, but I was hoping for a more triumphant ending. It will be interested to see what the DVD is like; it runs about 49 minutes.

258amysisson
Editado: Abr 26, 2015, 3:48 pm

^257

I did watch the DVD and it was a very faithful translation of the story, using a lot of the dialog word for word.

259amysisson
Editado: Abr 28, 2015, 3:04 pm

Story #157 (31 in April). "Wolfchild" by Steve Zipp. Published in Prairie Fire: A Canadian Magazine of New Writing, Summer 1994. Read in print magazine 04-26-15.

This was an odd story about a wolf pup raised by humans who goes on to become a professor that studies wolf behavior. I didn't like the story myself, but that's not to say it's badly written -- it's just not to my taste. I generally dislike talking animal stories, and stories with a "fable" feel to them.

260amysisson
Abr 26, 2015, 4:14 pm

Story #158 (32 in April). "Exit Strategies" by Amy Blakemore. Published in PANK Magazine, March/April 2015. Read online 04-26-15.

Yeah, maybe today is not my day for short stories.... I have to imagine this is meant to be something about eating disorders. A woman's body parts vanish into thin air upon occasion, and usually turn back up eventually, but this time it looks like she may be losing everything for good.

Nobody should have to read prose like this:

“It’s the most honest.” An ingrown hair on her knee takes precedence as she talks. “This guy at a bar came onto me a few weeks ago."

What the hell is that middle sentence supposed to mean?

http://pankmagazine.com/piece/exit-strategies/

261elenchus
Abr 26, 2015, 5:03 pm

>259 amysisson:

The premise is reminiscent of Kafka's "Letter to the Academy", though that story features an ape which adapts human mannerisms (including speech) in order to survive captivity. From your statement about not particularly liking fables, I'd guess you don't like Kafka much either.

262amysisson
Abr 26, 2015, 5:05 pm

>260 amysisson:

I've only read "The Metamorphosis", and no, I didn't like it. Of course, I certainly wasn't of an age to appreciate it. But I still don't think I'd like it today. ;-)

263amysisson
Abr 26, 2015, 5:08 pm

Story #159 (33 in April). "Out Shopping in Hyperspace" by Michelle Ann King. Published in Every Day Fiction, January 11, 2013. Read online 04-26-15.

This story is about a little girl who wants to play an imaginary game with her brother in which they need to track down their genius inventor father, who has disguised a transporter device of some kind as a flowerpot. The older brother wants nothing to do with her game, and lashes out saying that their father simply abandoned them and isn't coming back. The story then hints that there really is something odd about the flowerpot. It didn't quite work for me, because it implies that reality just happens to coincide perfectly with the particular story the girl made up off the top of her head.

Link: http://www.everydayfiction.com/out-shopping-in-hyperspace-by-michelle-ann-king/

264amysisson
Abr 27, 2015, 3:33 pm

Story #160 (34 in April). "Boneshadow" by Jessica Reisman. Published on Toasted Cake Podcasts, April 19, 2015; originally published in Phantom Drift 2: Valuable Estrangements. Listened online 04-27-15.

I had to listen to this story twice because I have difficulty with comprehension sometimes when I hear something being read, and this story has some quite complex sentences. But it's fairly short so I listened to it a second time, and I'm glad that I did because there truly is some lovely language. I would be hard-pressed to explain exactly what this story is about, but I guess I would describe it as a story of a young girl who sees magic, some lovely and some menacing, in the city all around her.

http://toastedcake.com/2015/04/toasted-cake-145-boneshadow-by-jessica-reisman-re...

265amysisson
Abr 27, 2015, 5:23 pm

Story #161 (35 in April). "Listening to It Rain"by Sandra Odell. Published on QuarterReads; originally published in Fireside Magazine and The Drabblecast. Read online 04-27-15.

This was the free story on QuarterReads this week and I thought it was lovely. A boy named Ben waits at his favorite fishing spot for his more-than-a-friend Alan to join him, but everything is not what it seems. It turns out that Ben has once again left his grave, discontent to stay buried in the ground while Alan lives on.

This isn't a ghost story, since Ben is moving his physical corpse. It's also not a a zombie story. It's a sad love story, and quite powerful for one that's just over 1,000 words. I also like that the title takes on significance as you reach the end of the story.


Link (free this week): https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=791

266amysisson
Editado: Abr 28, 2015, 10:18 pm

Story #162 (36 in April). "Clean Space" by Stephen Myers. Published in Prairie Fire: A Canadian Magazine of New Writing, Summer 1994. Read in print magazine 04-28-15.

What might have been a decent story if better written was unfortunately obscured in a bunch of clunky, repetitive sentences. In addition, the author was either deliberately trying to be vague, or was not able to tell that his story was confusing to a detrimental degree. The premise here (I think) is that an entity, possibly a man, possibly a program, has the job of wiping out viruses from (I think) other programs.

267amysisson
Abr 28, 2015, 10:17 pm

Story #163 (37 in April). "Report on the Testing of PK563217M" by Martin Owton. Published in Kraxon Magazine. Read online 04-28-15.

This is a semi-cute, humorous piece of flash that reports the reactions of ten test subjects to an experimental drug. It was alright but not memorable, and it fell out of voice once, addressing the reader as "you."

Link: http://www.kraxon.com/report-on-the-testing-of-pk563217m/

268amysisson
Abr 29, 2015, 6:27 pm

Story #164 (38 in April). "Robo-rotica" by Sarina Dorie. Published in Daily Science Fiction, April 29, 2015. Read online 04-29-15.

Semi-cute flash about a house robot that gets frisky with what is essentially a Roomba. No, I'm not kidding. Cute but not memorable.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/robots-and-computers/sarina-dorie...

269amysisson
Abr 30, 2015, 11:56 am

Story #165 (39 in April). "The Velveteen Golem" by David Sklar. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 04-30-15.

Originally published in one of the Unidentified Funny Objects anthologies, this story also appeared on QuarterReads, which is where I found it. It appealed to me because I'd like to learn more about writing humor, as in what works and what doesn't. I didn't really learn anything, though; I just didn't find this story particularly funny. Humor is difficult, sometimes on both the writing and reading fronts.

Link (behind QuarterReads pay wall): https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=167

270amysisson
Editado: Maio 2, 2015, 12:13 am

************************************

APRIL ROUND-UP

This month I read 39 stories, six of which I rated at 4 1/2 or 5 stars. My summary is here: http://amysreviews.blogspot.com/2015/04/short-fiction-april-2015.html

************************************

271amysisson
Editado: Maio 29, 2015, 11:55 pm

Story #166 (1 in May). "H" by Jeff Xilon. Published in Daily Science Fiction, April 29, 2015. Read online 04-29-15.

I'm having difficulty deciding whether to rate this 4 or 4 1/2 stars. It's an extremely short piece, and the premise is not really new (I'm thinking of Joe Haldeman's Forever Peace), but I thought this was a good treatment of the concept.

It's so short I'll just come back and re-read it at a later date and decide then. :-)

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/aliens/jeff-xilon/h

(Edited to add: rated at 4 1/2 stars)

272amysisson
Editado: Maio 2, 2015, 7:29 pm

Story #167 (2 in May). "When Push Comes to Shove" (Star Trek: Voyager) by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories. Anthology published 2002; story originally published in the Amazing Stories magazine sometime between 1998 and 2000. Read in print book 05-01-15.

In this Star Trek: Voyager story, Captain Janeway and the crew rescue a group of aliens who are wandering entertainers. Among them is a little girl with unusual abilities.

There was nothing wrong with this story, but I'm afraid I didn't find it very memorable.

273amysisson
Maio 2, 2015, 7:29 pm

Story #168 (3 in May). "Bedside Mastters" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Greg Cox. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories. Anthology published 2002; story originally published in the Amazing Stories magazine sometime between 1998 and 2000. Read in print book 05-02-15.

This Next Gen story is primarily based on Beverly Crusher, Data, and Spot, with a fun guest appearance by the EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram) from Voyager -- although this version doesn't have the Voyager EMH's experience or memories, of course.

This was a fun story, and just what I was in the mood for.

274amysisson
Maio 3, 2015, 7:27 pm

Story #169 (4 in May). "Last Words" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by A.C. Crispin. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories. Anthology published 2002; story originally published in the Amazing Stories magazine sometime between 1998 and 2000. Read in print book 05-03-15.

This Next Gen story is about Picard traveling to Vulcan to attend Sarek's funeral. Unbeknownst to Picard, when he mind-melded with Spock to share his memories of his mind-meld with Sarek, Spock implanted a message for Picard to deliver: Spock's words about Sarek for Sarek's funeral.

Alas, this was somehow both convoluted and a little boring. Part of it is my own bias; I understand that for many or even most die-hard Trek fans, Spock is the character. Not so for me, as I started watching with Next Gen. Having Picard meld with Sarek, and then Spock, and then having these words of Spock's be so meaningful just didn't work for me. It also annoyed me that "Picard realized that the crowd was hearing him speak in Spock's voice." I think we're meant to take that literally, meant to picture this as though Leonard Nimoy's voice is literally coming out of Patrick Stewart's mouth. But voice is in large part physiological, so no.

275amysisson
Maio 4, 2015, 6:34 pm

Story #170 (5 in May). "On the Scent of Trouble" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by John Gregory Betancourt. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories. Anthology published 2002; story originally published in the Amazing Stories magazine sometime between 1998 and 2000. Read in print book 05-04-15.

If there were a lot of stories left in this anthology I'd be tempted to stop now, as most are not working for me, but they're short and there aren't that many, so I'll probably get through the rest and hopefully find a gem in there. In this first contact story, aliens who communicate by telepathy and smell have a strange effect on the Next Gen crew. It's not a terribly memorable story, but I would have given it a slightly higher rating except I found some parts a little clunky, such as:

Beside Picard, Deanna suddenly sat rigidly upright. "I am sensing something!" she said.

That exclamation point and lack of contraction seemed very unnatural to me.

276amysisson
Maio 6, 2015, 1:34 am

Story #171 (6 in May). "Mars Won" by Stephen V. Ramey. Published in Daily Science Fiction, May 6, 2015. Read online 05-06-15.

This story caught my eye in my inbox (I get stories e-mailed from both Every Day Fiction and Daily Science Fiction). It's about a couple that chooses to be among the first colonists of Mars, via an initiative similar to Mars One (and hey, it took until now for me to get the title's word play on that!). This was okay, but I disliked the use of "Stardates" -- which I think is meant simply to be a playful habit of the narrator -- and I think both the second person tense and the use of some phrases made it seem like the author was trying too hard. ("Your legs are endless, your breasts peek with white-glimpse deference.")

I also don't like that there seemed to be no lasting consequences for the narrator having cheated on this woman he supposedly loves so much.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/space-travel/stephen-v-ramey/mars...

277amysisson
Editado: Maio 6, 2015, 4:07 pm

Story #172 (7 in May). "Life Itself is Reason Enough" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by M. Shayne Bell. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories. Anthology published 2002; story originally published in the Amazing Stories magazine sometime between 1998 and 2000. Read in print book 05-06-15.

This story annoyed the heck out of me. I am putting everything that follows behind a spoiler tag, for two reasons: 1) for me, this ties in to the Rabid/Sad Puppies Hugo controversy, and 2) I'll be discussing one of my own stories in relation to this one. I hope this doesn't constitute author spam; I wouldn't drop into someone else's thread and talk about my own work, and I'm not trying to promote my work, just point out similarities and differences.

In this story, the Enterprise and a few other ships must try to save as many of the 80,000 people living on an Arctic planet as possible, because a strange ion dust storm is blocking the sun's light to the planet and the atmosphere is going to freeze out. Deanna has completed some shuttle pilot training on the holodeck, so she fills in as Worf's co-pilot on one of the shuttles. The story takes place in the series continuity when Worf and Deanna are just beginning to realize their feelings for one another. Their shuttle crash lands, and Worf rescues Deanna, and rescues Deanna, and rescues Deanna yet again.

Now, I am not one of the more vocal feminists in the field. I certainly do consider myself a feminist, but I'm not one to demand that every woman character be portrayed in a certain way. But this? The number of times Worf takes Deanna in his arms, and reflects on how small and beautiful she is, and how her strength is not physical in nature but still there.... It made me want to gag.

I know I am not unbiased, but I have also written a Deanna Troi story. It appears in The Sky's the Limit, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In my story, Deanna is in command of her first away mission; this takes place after the episode in which she passes a bridge command test. Deanna is with Data and a Vulcan named Taurik on this away mission. Do Data and Taurik save Deanna? No! Deanna makes decisions, including one in which she puts Data at risk, and saves herself and the others.

So while I was reading "On the Scent of Trouble", I realized that it has a lot of the qualities that the Puppy slates say they admire. Strong men. Hero-types. Women who are "strong" and smart in addition to being beautiful. (Because the beautiful part is apparently a requirement.) For instance, here is a quote from Brad Torgersen's blog:

- As a fan, I prefer that my heroes be manly and courageous.

- As a fan, I prefer that my heroines be strong as well as beautiful.


See how there's no mention of how the man must look?

And then I realized the author of this particular Star Trek story, well, his name sounded vaguely familiar -- not in relation to the slates specifically, but I thought I could recall that this particular author belongs to the same (in-my-view) extreme religious group as Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia. So I looked at M. Shayne Bell's author page here on LibraryThing, and noticed something related to Brigham Young University. And .... yup. A little Google-searching reveals that Bell is indeed also a Mormon.

On the one hand, I don't think I should take an entire group of people and condemn them for their beliefs. On the other hand, this is a religion into which sexism is so deeply ingrained that it makes me queasy. And it is no coincidence that two of the three puppy ringleaders belong to it. Not all the puppies are Mormon, certainly. John C. Wright seems to be some kind of born-again Catholic. Who the heck knows what Vox Day is? But they are all ultra-religious in religions that place women far, far below men in the social heirarchy. And they all condemn homosexuality. And they're writing stories like this one.

I wish I'd never read this story.

278amysisson
Maio 6, 2015, 4:11 pm

Story #173 (8 in May). "A Night at Sandrine's" (Star Trek: Voyager) by Christie Golden. Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories. Anthology published 2002; story originally published in the Amazing Stories magazine sometime between 1998 and 2000. Read in print book 05-06-15.

OK, this is more like it. Tom Paris hosts a party on the holodeck, set at a Parisian bar called "Sandrine's" (we saw this on the show a few times, I think). Some of his holodeck characters are acting strangely. I was worried this was going to turn into another holodeck misadventure, but there was more to it than that -- a lot more character development, and an explanation that had nothing to do with the holodeck just going weird. (I swear, if holodecks did strange stuff as often as they did on the show, they'd be banned in no time!)

Voyager wasn't my favorite Trek series by any means, but there were things I liked about it, and Tom and B'Elanna were one of them.

279AnnieMod
Maio 6, 2015, 5:20 pm

>277 amysisson: Loved your comments on this story :)

280amysisson
Maio 6, 2015, 6:41 pm

>279 AnnieMod:

Thank you -- that means a lot to me. I was really feeling uneasy about it, and wasn't sure whether to post those comments, but this is pretty much where I'm keeping my reading record these days, so it would seem strange not to.

281amysisson
Maio 6, 2015, 6:49 pm

Story #174 (9 in May). "The Space Vortex of Doom" (Star Trek: Voyager) by D.W. "Prof" Smith (Dean Wesley Smith). Published in Star Trek: The Amazing Stories. Anthology published 2002; story originally published in the Amazing Stories magazine sometime between 1998 and 2000. Read in print book 05-06-15.

This was the last story in this slim anthology, and is told entirely as a Flash Gordon-pastiche starring Captain Proton, who appeared on the holodecks of Voyager a couple of times. It was amusing ("Constance Goodheart screamed!") but not memorable. I can see where it might have been fun having this pop up in Amazing Stories, and in fact I think I might have first read it there years ago because I can vaguely picture an illustration.... But since I can't even remember if I've read it before, well, that confirms the "not memorable" part of my assessment!

I'm done with the anthology and I can't say I'm sorry as it wasn't overly strong. I gave two stories four stars, but just based on bookshelf space I won't be keeping this one. I have tons more Star Trek books and stories I haven't read yet. But for now I'll be glad to get back to some non-tie-in short stories.

282AnnieMod
Maio 6, 2015, 7:21 pm

>280 amysisson: - your thread, your rules. :) Plus you are absolutely right - if there is one woman in that part of the franchise that does not need the constant saving, that will be her. It sounds more like bad fanfiction than awful tie-in... :)

I am reading all the notes you are posting even if I rarely post - so keep it up (while mentally preparing to actually read the Hugo nominees - my head just does not allow me not to... and get back into reading stories - the whole last month almost made me not even touch a story for a while). Anyway. :)

283amysisson
Maio 7, 2015, 11:59 am

Story #175 (10 in May). "Spit" by Michelle Hart. Published in One Teen Story, April 2015. Read in print 05-07-15.

This is straightforward adult/young adult mainstream fiction; Mallory, who is about to begin her senior year of high school, dreads the fact that her best friend, Olivia, is about to leave for college. This is a sweet, well-written piece, but it didn't have quite enough "story" for me -- I was expecting the two to at least have a serious conversation, but they really didn't. I still liked the writing enough to give it four stars, though. So far I've been quite impressed with this publication.

284amysisson
Editado: Maio 8, 2015, 12:41 am

Story #176 (11 in May). "Late Nights at the Cape and Cane" by Max Gladstone. Published in Uncanny, November 2014. Read online 05-07-15.

This is a cute story about supervillains who meet up at a sort of interdimensional bar. The narrator, Stella, has to deal with a drunk Doc Sinister who may have made a mistake that will doom all the bad guys. I enjoyed this, but Stella read like a male character so I spent too much time mentally flipping that switch (it wasn't helped by when she goes into the men's room with Doc Sinister), and the idea is really not all that original. I was reminded of the Deep Space Nine episode in which Dr. Bashir gets stuck in a James Bond story on the holodeck. Captain Sisko ends up as the Bond villain, and there was a certain similar vibe. There's also Joss Whedon's mini-web series, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which I adore.

Link: http://uncannymagazine.com/article/late-nights-cape-cane/

285amysisson
Maio 8, 2015, 10:55 am

Story #177 (12 in May). "Restore the Heart into Love" by John Chu. Published in Uncanny, May 2015. Read online 05-08-15.

Normally a story about huge archives would be a shoe-in for me, but I felt this story tried a little too hard, and was a little too obvious in the way it interspersed sections taking place on the archival spaceship with sections about the character's relationship with his mother back on Earth. And while I loved the idea of sending the spaceship out so that knowledge would be preserved in the event of World War III, the way things kept breaking down did not feel authentic to me.

Link: http://uncannymagazine.com/article/restore-the-heart-into-love-2/

286amysisson
Maio 8, 2015, 12:38 pm

Story #178 (13 in May). "The Corpsman’s Tale" by Iain Ishbel. Published in Crossed Genres Magazine, May 2015. Read online 05-08-15.

Over the next day or two, I plan to read all three of the stories appearing in the May 2015 issue of Crossed Genres Magazine. Some folks in an online forum I participate in plan to read and discuss these and other stories. Crossed Genres does theme issues, one per month, and this month's theme is "failure."

This story did not work for me, alas (and yes, I'm aware of the irony of that statement, because in not working for me, it succeeded at failure). Two corpsman are guarding Flanders Field from time travel adjustments; they live in a peaceful future, and need to ensure that nobody tries to change the Christmas Truce that ended the conflicts once and for all.

I have two issues with the story. First, I don't think it's terribly unique, and second, it was extremely confusing. If I read it over a couple of more times, I might be able to work out who succeeded and who failed at what, but I'm still not sure why the time "terrorists" appeared in different uniforms at different times, and why certain changes were significant, etc. But I don't care about the story enough to want to have to work that hard at it.

Link: http://crossedgenres.com/magazine/029-the-corpsmans-tale/

287amysisson
Editado: Maio 10, 2015, 10:31 pm

Story #179 (14 in May). "Let Down, Set Free" by Nino Cipri. Published in Crossed Genres Magazine, May 2015. Read online 05-10-15.

This was the second story in the May 2015 issue of Crossed Genres Magazine. It's written as a letter from Melissa to her recently-ex-husband Bobby. Melissa now lives on alone on the Kentucky farm that she was given in the divorce, and is preoccupied with her own loneliness until one of the large floating trees that have been reported in the news lands on her neighbor's farm.

I won't say more than that about the plot, just that it did set a sad, lovely tone. The story wasn't perfect; I'm still not sure whether I think there was enough resolution to satisfy me. And I'm not sure I thought the story fit the issue's stated theme of "failure" aside from the fact that the protagonist had had a failed marriage some time before the story begins. In the end, though, what matters is that I'll likely remember this story, or at least the tone of it.

I was a little annoyed by the three typos I noticed.

Link: http://crossedgenres.com/magazine/029-let-down-set-free/

288amysisson
Maio 11, 2015, 6:09 pm

Story #180 (15 in May). "The Tragically Dead Girlfriend" by Kate Marshall. Published in Crossed Genres Magazine, May 2015. Read online 05-10-15.

This was the third and last story in the May 2015 issue of Crossed Genres Magazine, and I'm afraid this one didn't work for me at all. A man vows revenge on the car bombers who killed his girlfriend. After he gets it, her ghost comes back to stay with him. I have no idea why anything in this story happened, including why the car bombers killed her in the first place. I also found the writing style grating, with excessive use of semi-colons and short sentences meant to sound gritty.

Link: http://crossedgenres.com/magazine/029-the-tragically-dead-girlfriend/

289amysisson
Maio 12, 2015, 8:27 pm

Story #181 (16 in May). "With Paper Armour and Wooden Sword" by Tracie McBride. Published on QuarterReads; originally published in Bleed (anthology) and Dark Moon Digest. Read online 05-12-15.

I absolutely loved the concept of this story, but felt the writing was overdone. I definitely could have lived without the second-person tense. In any case, the story is about a generic (deliberately), peaceful walled fantasy city; one day a "Foe" arrives and demands that the children be sent out to battle him. Naturally the parents refuse at first, but the demon, or whatever he is, gets his way. One aspect I really liked was that the children seemed to accept the inevitability before the adults did, and they touchingly arm themselves with pots and pans and toy weapons. On the battlefield, these things transform into real armor and weapons, except for brief flashes when they revert. That's a great image. If this story idea were done is a slightly different style, I think I would have loved it.

Free this week: https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=1107

290amysisson
Editado: Maio 20, 2015, 12:21 pm

Story #182 (17 in May). "Extra Credit" by Carlos Bueno. Published in Daily Science Fiction, May 13, 2015. Read online 05-13-15.

This is a clever piece of flash (I use that phrase a lot, I've just realized) about a newly sentient computer intelligence and its plans for Earth. I thought it had a little bit of a new twist on the topic. Also, unlike the story I read yesterday ("With Paper Armour and Wooden Sword"), this one actually had a specific and obvious reason for using second person tense -- because the narrator was addressing a specific individual.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/robots-and-computers/carlos-bueno...

291amysisson
Editado: Maio 14, 2015, 11:44 pm

Story #183 (18 in May). "That's Marriage" by Edna Ferber. Published in One Basket: Thirty-One Short Stories (collection). Story originally published in The Metropolitan Magazine in 1918; collection published 1947. Read in print book 05-13-15.

This was a nice change of pace. I picked up this story collection at Half Price Books yesterday for two bucks, somewhat drawn by the fact that the author wrote Show Boat, although I haven't seen the movie and I didn't care for it when the Houston Grand Opera put it on.

In this particular story, Terry Platt thinks she will go crazy if her husband does that one annoying habit one more time; he does and she flips out and leaves their small Wisconsin town for Chicago. She's offered a piano-playing gig and has to decide if leaving her husband over such a little thing was the right move.

I liked this story. It reminded me a little of Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie, due to the Chicago setting and the music hall vibe. The story wasn't perfect -- I had trouble telling the singers and music hall bosses and audience members apart -- but I still liked it.

292amysisson
Maio 14, 2015, 11:48 pm

Story #184 (19 in May). "Farmer in the Dell" by Edna Ferber. Published in One Basket: Thirty-One Short Stories (collection). Story originally published by Crowell Publishing Co. in 1919; collection published 1947. Read in print book 05-14-15..

This story wasn't quite as pleasing as the first one I read in the collection. Ben Westerveld has allowed his shrewish wife to talk him into retiring from their extensive farm to Chicago; there he seems to shrink by day in size, strength, and self-esteem, until a chance encounter with an old flame turns him around. The story is well written but overly wordy; there are paragraphs upon paragraphs bemoaning how Ben was used to activity and now doesn't know what to do with himself. The author definitely has themes: being content with your lot in life, the allure but emptiness of the big city, seeing the light before it's too late.... She notes in her intro to this story that a certain scene in this was also the seed for her novel titled So Big.

293amysisson
Maio 19, 2015, 10:16 am

Story #185 (20 in May) - "Ships in the Night" by S.B. Divya. Published in Daily Science Fiction, May 19, 2015. Read online 05-19-15.

In this flash piece, Kuni can see but cannot change the future, so she knows her all-too-brief romance with Isra is already doomed. This reminded me of Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life" but it didn't go very deep. It can't go that deep as flash, but I felt it was incomplete. I also was confused that Kuni says for once life surprised her a bit, but then I remembered there was a line that said all she saw were silent movies -- so she wouldn't have heard in advance the reason their relationship was doomed. I'm not sure I quite believe that explanation works, though.

Nicely written, in any case.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/hither-and-yon/slipstream/s-b-divya/ships-in-the-...

294amysisson
Editado: Maio 19, 2015, 10:28 am

Story #186 (21 in May). "Jacob Gayne, Vice President" by Aaron Emmel. Published online in Every Day Fiction, May 18, 2015. (Read 05-19-15)

This is a humorous flash fiction piece mocking corporate bureaucracy and the fine art of bullshitting. It made me smile.

http://www.everydayfiction.com/jacob-gayne-vice-president-by-aaron-emmel/

295amysisson
Maio 19, 2015, 11:40 pm

Story #187 (22 in May). "Hate at First Sight" by Kathy Lette. Published in 10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year, 2009. Read in print book 05-19-15.

OK, I'm about to list all the things I didn't like about this story . . . but I still liked it. This is another non-genre story, by the way, from a collection of Australian short stories.

Sisters Louise and Jane have always been at each other's throats, in part due to the vast dichotomy between their looks: Jane is a plain jane, and Louise is all sophisticated polish. The story starts when Jane decides to move from Sydney to an Australian outback town for which the mayor has advertised the 10-to-1 male-to-female ratio, in the hopes of luring the plain janes of Australia out there for the marriage prospects. Jane promptly gets engaged, and when Louise visits to check out this man who might be taking advantage of her sister, she is forced to take a new look at her own life.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Things I didn't like:

1) completely predictable

2) all four of the main characters have the exact same sense of humor, as though there's a hidden camera and they're in a competition to come up with the wittiest quotes. ("Bloody hell. I've got so many Rampant Rabbit vibrators they need their own warren.")

3) the author could use a little more editing. "Jacko gave her a polite but sullen look." What the hell is a polite but sullen look?!

4) sister Louise comes around a little too quickly to be believable

5) the car accident? seriously, station hands/owners in the outback rarely crash their utilities because a kangaroo has jumped in front of them.

Things I liked:

1) the right people come to the right conclusions and get the happy endings (or at least not the unhappy endings) they deserve

2) it's Australia! it's the Outback! I've been there, and have a soft spot for it

3) seriously, I don't know what else I liked, but I just liked it.

I can't give it too high a rating because it is full of flaws. But since I enjoyed it, I'm giving it 3 1/2 stars.

296elenchus
Maio 20, 2015, 12:50 am

I find these exercises interesting, when I know I liked something, but when attempting to put into words an argument for it, I actually come up with reasons against it far more readily. And yet, as you appear to have done here, still know that overall I liked it. I think the test for me is to recognise I might let analysis get the better of myself, or perhaps fall prey to the idea something is too sentimental / predictable / etc and I "shouldn't" like it, and that's ridiculous. I like what you appear to have done: run through the exercise, but then stick with the impression you had after reading, which was simply that you liked it.

297amysisson
Maio 20, 2015, 1:12 am

>296 elenchus:

Thanks! I think a big part of this for me was the sentimentality for the Outback. I spent a semester in college in Sydney; coincidentally, the five months I was there was the exact five months Qantas airlines had it's one and only airline strike in history. Because I couldn't fly anywhere, I took a bus from Sydney to Perth. I have quite an appreciation for the Outback now -- the beauty and the desolation and the sheer size of it. This story didn't really capture that, but it still worked on my nostalgia.

298AnnieMod
Maio 20, 2015, 1:52 am

>295 amysisson:

Well - apparently it also had a kangaroo - this should also be added to the plus side :)

Some stories just work - even if when you list everything about it, it should be clunky and bad, the sum of it all somehow ties properly together. I've stopped trying to analyze those to death - if I start writing and it sounds negative but I still like it, I just call it -"one of those stories that should not have worked but somehow did" and leave it alone.

299amysisson
Maio 20, 2015, 12:23 pm

Story #188 (23 in May). "Ol' Soapy's Revenge" by Marina J. Lostetter. Published on QuarterReads; originally published in Penumbra E-Mag. Read online 05-20-15.

This is the free story on QuarterReads this week. It's a cute story about time travel, and I didn't see the twist coming, so that's a plus. I thought the author overused the em-dashes a bit for asides.

Link (free this week): https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=197

300amysisson
Maio 21, 2015, 12:25 am

Story #189 (24 in May). "You Can Change Your Life" by Toni Jordan. Published in 10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year, 2009. Read in print book 05-20-15.

This was a run-of-the-mill chick lit short story (don't get me wrong; I enjoy good chick lit, so I don't mean that in a derogatory fashion). Kylie is at a self-help weekend seminar, the kind where the "star" guru is so popular it's held in a stadium. As she tries to sneak out and is put on the spot by the guru, a handsome good Samaritan comes to her aid.

There was nothing specific wrong with this story, but I have the feeling I will forget it fairly quickly.

301amysisson
Maio 21, 2015, 9:37 pm

Story #190 (25 in May). "Out of All Them Bright Stars" by Nancy Kress. Published in New Skies, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Anthology published 2003; story originally published in F&SF, March 1985. Read in print book 05-21-15.

I felt like I've been relying a little too much on flash fiction and non-genre short stories lately, so was hoping to find a really good science fiction story -- May has not been one of the stronger months for my short story reading so far. This story was okay, but perhaps a little too uneventful and a little too subtle for an anthology that I feel (rightly or wrongly) is intended to excite younger readers about the field. I don't think I would have chosen this 1985 story for a 2003 anthology titled New Skies.

In any case, an alien walks into a diner, presumably somewhere in the south or southwest. The point-of-view character is a waitress named Sally, who is curious about the alien, having seen them on the news since their arrival on Earth. She intends to serve the alien like any other customer, but her misogynist, racist, abusive boss is furious that the alien dared to come into his establishment. Government officials arrive before any violence occurs, and the story just ends. It's thoughtful, but I just didn't think enough happened.

302amysisson
Editado: Maio 21, 2015, 9:54 pm

Story #191 (26 in May). "The Alien Mind" by Philip K. Dick. Published in New Skies, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Anthology published 2003; story originally published in The Yuba City High Times, February 20, 1981. Read in print book 05-21-15.

This is another story I wouldn't have chosen to include in an anthology titled New Skies as it seemed a bit dated and tired to me. I also didn't like it, mainly due to a personal bias of mine; I simply don't want to read stories in which an animal is mistreated. In this case, an astronaut kills the cat companion that has been sent along with him. The aliens to whom he delivers a vaccine demand to know where the cat is, and exact revenge on the man by destroying his theta sleep generator, taking away all forms on entertainment for the two-year return flight, and leaving him only cat food to eat.

It occurs to me that this may be the first Philip K. Dick work I've read. I think his stories can make for interesting, if often mishandled, movies, but I guess I've had the vague idea I wouldn't really like reading his fiction. But I always thought it would be too stream-of-conscious, whereas this story was actually very straightforward. To me, though, this story had the same symptoms of a lot of Asimov and Clarke stories -- it's a run-of-the-mill idea, but in the early days of the field they were new run-of-the-mill ideas and so got published easily. I can't imagine this story being published today in any kind of professional venue.

I should also mention that I think the anthology editor's intention was probably to find a good mix of classic and newer work. But I have so far found all three of the "classic" stories to be pretty boring.

303amysisson
Editado: Maio 21, 2015, 9:59 pm

Came back to add -- I just realized the subtitle of the New Skies anthology is "An Anthology of Today's Science Fiction. I disagree. An awful lot of these stories were published in the 1980s!

304amysisson
Maio 26, 2015, 4:46 pm

Story #192 (27 in May). "Hero" (Star Trek: Enterprise) by Lorraine Anderson. Published in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 8. Anthology published 2005, edited by Dean Wesley Smith. Read in print book 05-26-15.

There's a good chance I read this story some years ago but I did not specifically remember doing so, and am therefore counting it as a new story to me. This is quite short, only about four pages, told from the point of view of a developmentally disabled janitor aboard the original Enterprise with Captain Archer. I thought the POV was handled nicely. I don't know that I recall there ever being menial workers aboard any of the ships -- the closest I remember seeing onscreen was a waiter or two in Ten Forward in some Next Gen episodes (Guinan the bartender was a special case). I have the idea that on board a submarine, for instance, the people doing janitorial work and cleaning the bathrooms would still be enlisted and therefore would not be developmentally disabled in any way, and I've always assumed it would be the same on Federation starships -- officers, plus enlisted folks doing more of the grunt work.

That said, there's no reason it couldn't be this way, and the story itself was touching.

305amysisson
Maio 26, 2015, 4:47 pm

As a side note, I'm a little behind on my story-a-day. We spent almost the entire weekend at Comicpalooza, which is Houston's version of ComicCon. And by weekend, I mean starting Friday morning through Monday late afternoon! And the weekend before, we had four days in Dallas/Ft. Worth for a wedding. So my reading has fallen a little behind, but I expect to be caught up in a day or two.

306amysisson
Maio 26, 2015, 5:04 pm

Story #193 (28 in May). "Morning Bells are Ringing" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Kevin G. Summers. Published in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 8. Anthology published 2005, edited by Dean Wesley Smith. Read in print book 05-26-15.

In this story, the same little girl who got stuck in the elevator with Captain Picard and some other children during a particular episode now writes to him when the ship she's on experiences a problem. The story is nicely told with some extra emotional development in there that I liked.

307amysisson
Maio 26, 2015, 6:33 pm

Story #194 (29 in May). "Four Horns" by Anthony Morgan-Clark. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 05-26-15.

This piece, at about 1500 words, is about two demons looking for people they can nudge into committing sins; their job has gotten more difficult in these complicated times. I found this a little bit cute but somewhat forgettable.

Free this week on QuarterReads: https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=792

308amysisson
Maio 26, 2015, 6:48 pm

Story #195 (30 in May). "The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate" by A.C. Wise. Published in Uncanny, May 2015. Read online 05-26-15.

This humorous piece is about exactly what the title would indicate. A charming story, perhaps longer than it needs to be.

Link: http://uncannymagazine.com/article/the-practical-witchs-guide-to-acquiring-real-...

309amysisson
Maio 27, 2015, 1:18 am

Story #196 (31 in May). "The Rapid Advance of Sorrow" by Theodora Goss. Published in The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. Anthology published 2007; story originally published in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet no. 11, 2002.

This was a definite change of pace from the other stories I've read today; this is literary speculative fiction from a magazine known for that. Alas, this one was a little too literary for me, to the extent that I didn't really understand what was going on. A man named Péter, who I think is a graduate student in Budapest, is at first condescendingly affectionate to a young woman named Ilona, whom he considers to be a country bumpkin. She joins some kind of revolution in which everything turns white, I think literally. But I don't understand what the movement's purpose (if anything) is, or what happens physically, or what the end result is.

I liked the writing, but didn't like Péter, and didn't like not having much idea what was happening.

310amysisson
Editado: Maio 27, 2015, 12:54 pm

Story #197 (32 in May). "Music Lessons" by Douglas Lain. Published in The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. Anthology published 2007; story originally published in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet no. 14, 2004.

This story started out with a lot of promise; it almost felt like a more sinister version of Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life". But I quickly got lost due to random elements that were continually thrown in, and to just not knowing what was happening. I think the randomness was part of the point of the story, actually, but if I finish the story and don't really know what's going on or who's talking to whom, the point is pretty much lost on me. I wish more authors would understand that the line between subtlety and indecipherableness is perhaps thinner than they think.

311amysisson
Maio 27, 2015, 3:08 pm

Story #198 (33 in May). "Norma the Wal-Mart Greeter Meets the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" by Renee Carter Hall. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 05-27-15.

At only 548 words, this flash piece isn't laugh-out-loud funny, but it's funny in a kind of sweet way. This was the first story shown to me when I clicked on QuarterReads new random story shuffler. As with all QR stories (aside from the weekly freebie), it showed me only the beginning of the story, and I went ahead and paid my quarter to read the rest. I'm glad I did.

312amysisson
Maio 27, 2015, 3:26 pm

Story #199 (34 in May). "In Memoriam" by Rachel Reddick. Published in Diabolical Plots, May 1, 2015. Read online 05-27-15.

This is flash fiction at under 1,000 words, but it feels like more (in a good way!). This is the first story this month that I've given a story a 4 1/2 star rating without question -- there's another story that I read early in the month for which I wavered between 4 and 4 1/2 stars and haven't yet rated. (It's super short, so I'm going to re-read it at the end of the month and decide then.)

Anyway, this story is a simple, first-person narration by a person living on a generational starship -- a person who was born on the ship and will die on it. What would it be like, never setting foot on a planet?

Link: http://www.diabolicalplots.com/dp-fiction-3-in-memoriam-by-rachel-reddick/

313amysisson
Maio 28, 2015, 12:08 am

200. (35 in May) - May 27, 2015 (fourth story) - "Pretending" by Ray Vukcevich. Published in The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. Anthology published 2007; story originally published in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet no. 8, 2001.

I think this anthology is not for me. In this story, a group of childfree forty-somethings gather for Christmas in a rented former nuclear missile silo. For the evening's entertainment, one of the five is chosen to be a "ghost" and the others' task is to try as hard as they can to believe she's a ghost. The characters are entirely too full of themselves.

Sigh....

314amysisson
Editado: Maio 29, 2015, 6:49 pm

Story #201 (36 in May). "A Eulogy for Pretzel" by Lily Dodd. Published in One Teen Story, May 2015. Read in print magazine 05-29-15.

As seems to be typical for One Teen Story, this piece is more young-adult-slice-of-life than anything else. I've been impressed with this magazine overall, and I'm impressed that this story was written by a sixteen-year-old (they plan to publish four teen-written stories per year, I think), but this one didn't work for me as well as some of the others I've read. I almost didn't read it at all, because I knew it had a trigger issue for me, which is that the narrator is essentially confessing to having killed her then-best-friend's hamster years before by deliberately dropping it on its head. I can't stand cruelty-to-animal scenes. Fortunately, that was a smaller part of the story than expected.

What I did have issue with, though, was 1) the story is written in second person, from the narrator to her former best friend, and the author didn't manage to drop their names in the story early, so that I was often confused as to who the author was talking about; 2) there was an overly long text-message conversation related in the middle of the story; and 3) in this story as in much of YA fiction, the female protagonist has a male best friend, conveniently creating romantic tension. Maybe it's that way in real life now, but when I was in middle and high school, the genders segregated quite a bit more when it came to best-friendship-ness. You didn't have girls advising their guy friends on which hot chick to pick up and vice versa.

315amysisson
Editado: Maio 29, 2015, 11:39 pm

202. (37 in May) - May 29, 2015 - "Letter from a Drunk to a Long Gone Wife" by Jack Marx. Published in 10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year, 2009. Read in print book 05-29-15.

This is easily one of the most disturbing stories I've ever read. It's written from an older alcoholic to the beautiful young woman who was unfortunate enough to marry him. As the story begins, it's easy for the reader to assume it will simply be a lament from a man who knows he's ruined his life. It's far more than that, though. It's the sick way in which an addict tries to justify his behavior, beginning with a "harmless" lie the first time the two meet, to increasingly abusive but always well-disguised behavior. At one point early on, I was concerned that the author was trying to show how the protagonist wasn't really a bad guy, but now I'm convinced the author's intentions were in fact just the opposite -- he wanted to show us what a horrific person this was, and that the only "justification" was entirely invented and irrational.

I don't recommend reading this story if alcoholism, addiction, and almost unimaginable abuse will bother you. I'm glad I read it, but it has left me feeling quite unsettled. I'm giving it such a high rating because I think the author crafted this brilliantly, to take me along the exact mental path I traveled from beginning to end.

316amysisson
Maio 30, 2015, 11:23 am

Story #203 (38 in May). "Suicide is Not Your Friend" by Sara Jacobelli. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 05-30-15.

I probably should have known better than to choose this story to read, as I've read too many non-genre stories this month already, and I was a little put off by the author's bio. This was irrational on my part, I know; the author says that she "dropped out of high school and left home to hitch-hike around the country as a teenager," ended up in New Orleans working at bars and strip clubs, and "writes fiction and nonfiction about the streets and the characters she has met along the way." Because I have known a very self-centered writer who went around bragging that she "collected people and stories" but actually couldn't ever be bothered to ask anyone anything about themselves, I now have a bias against people who talk about being Writers in this way.

So the poor author... I was pre-disposed to dislike this story going in. Then, while reading it, I kept making assumptions that the author is essentially the main character, since she's working in a bar in New Orleans. The story consists primarily of a telephone conversation with her mother, and it's revealed that the main character is an alcoholic (working in a bar) who has lost custody of her children to her ex, even though he's been in jail. Her mother is now a widow who has elevated her deceased husband into sainthood now that he's dead, even though it appears he was a gambling addict and probably an alcoholic as well.

And I think I'm less tolerant of these flawed characters than I would be if I hadn't just read "Letter fro ma Drunk to a Long Gone Wife", which affected me so much.

So why did I choose to read this story in the first place? The first line of the story is "The only club my mother ever joined was a Suicide Club." I've written a story titled "Suicide Club" and I wanted to see if we had any similarities in theme. Pretty much not.

Link to story preview (remainder of story behind QuarterReads' pay wall): https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=565

317amysisson
Maio 31, 2015, 1:32 am

Story #204 (39 in May). "White Poplar" by Shannon Peavey. Published in Daily Science Fiction, May 29, 2015. Read online 05-31-15.

This is an atmospheric story about a girl who has been in the place where people go after death. I like the tone of the story, but I would have liked a little more clarity about the whens and wheres. For instance, I don't know if the girl could always see these things, or if she died too, and how she got back if she did die.... I don't think she died, but then I don't see how she managed to bring her sister back. I also don't understand why this means they're now apparently banished from that place. If they were able to subvert the "rules," the place wasn't set up very well. Two children are to be blamed for that?

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/religious/shannon-peavey/white-poplar

318amysisson
Maio 31, 2015, 1:40 am

************************************

MAY ROUND-UP

This month I read another 39 stories. I rated only three of them at 4 1/2 stars, and none at 5 stars. My summary is here: http://amysreviews.blogspot.com/2015/05/short-fiction-may-2015.html

************************************

319aulsmith
Maio 31, 2015, 10:44 am

>301 amysisson: Kress is being really sneaky here. The action is the alien's and it's all off stage. How did he escape his handlers? Why? What happens to him now that he did? What did the human race loss by not letting the waitress serve him?

320amysisson
Maio 31, 2015, 3:28 pm

>319 aulsmith:

You make a good point. What you said made me reflect on the fact that perhaps life is often like this, i.e. the "big" things don't always happen.

321elenchus
Maio 31, 2015, 8:30 pm

You did a great job of not only catching up on reading missed due to travel, but also the reviews here. I'm the opposite: not having as much time to read for various changes of routine, and then not making it up. And yet, somewhat a contradiction, I'm also behind in my reviews, not finding any time to make up those even though I'm not reading.

It's true I don't read & review short stories, but that's my choice. Anyway, kudos to you for keeping on track!

322aulsmith
Jun 1, 2015, 12:02 pm

>320 amysisson: Also, from the angle of story construction (which I think is part of why you're doing all this reading) this one is totally out of the box. Which obviously didn't work for you, but you can see by the fact that Patrick Nielson Hayden is still anthologizing it decades later that it really catches an editors eye (and the theme is still relevant in the post-9/11 extraordinary rendition world.

323amysisson
Editado: Jun 1, 2015, 4:40 pm

Story #205 (1 in June). "RedChip BlueChip" by Effie Seiberg. Published in Crossed Genres, June 2015. Read online 06-01-15.

This story is about compulsory chips being implanted in teenager's heads when they turn fifteen, that will guide their preferences towards one brand of a food or service over another. The story isn't badly written, but it didn't work for me for two major reasons.

The first is that I in no way could suspend disbelief. Not just chips in teenagers' heads, but mandatory chips in teenagers' heads, for advertising purposes. At first I assumed that mercenary parents were just selling their kids' heads to advertisers, but no, it was legally mandated and illegal to tamper with or remove the chips.

Now, I do agree that aggressive marketing is a major pain in the butt, but at the same time, in real-life right now there are serious consumer-related campaigns to reduce marketing to children. Some real progress has been made in the breakfast cereal, tobacco, and fast-food industries in this regard. Also, the logistics of this set-up didn't make sense to me. Every product has only two choices, like Jif and Skippy peanut butter, one that goes with the red chip and one with the blue. Perhaps the point was meant to be that corporate takeovers, especially in the grocery industry, are so ubiquitous that it actually usually does only come down to only two choices, but the openly red versus blue set-up, up to and including separate color-coded lines in the school cafeteria, was just too silly for me.

(Sorry, I'm getting wordy here.) This reminded me quite a bit of the one Ted Chiang story I've ever read that I actively disliked: "Liking What You See: A Documentary". Even Ted Chiang didn't like it; he declined award nominations for that story. In it, parents can elect to have chips put in their kids' heads that makes it impossible for them to distinguish between who is and isn't physically attractive. Alas, I can't get past "chips in kids' heads." It would take an amazing author to make me believe that our society could get from here to that point. On the flip side, while I assumed that I would never swallow the set-up of the Hunger Games trilogy, I completely bought that -- the author somehow made me believe we could get from here to a ridiculous future in which kids are sent by the government to fight each other to the death for entertainment.

But back to the story at hand, my second problem was that I didn't like the main character. I can sympathize with the insecurities of high school students, but Mikila seemed to think that she had two options in life: desperately try to fit in with a couple of kids she had decided were cool, or literally eat lunch by herself locked in a stall in the girls' bathroom. There really is some middle ground there, and even an insecure teenager knows that. Mikila's logic also escaped me in other ways; when one of the cool kids reveals that there is an underground network where unbranded products are sold, Mikila's thoughts are not about the implications of this so much but rather about how her friend's cleverness in finding the network will make it even harder for her to do something cool enough to stay in with the cool kids. Possibly these are realistic teenage thought processes, but I'm not entirely convinced.

There was one little plot twist that I liked which I won't reveal here, and I do think the author succeeded in a bit of nice irony. Mikila is so concered about not becoming a color-coded chip sheep that she completely misses the fact that she already is a sheep, because she cares only about wanting to be with the cool kids. But these more positive aspects didn't make up for the things I had problems with in the story.

Link: http://crossedgenres.com/magazine/030-redchip-bluechip/

324AnnieMod
Jun 2, 2015, 6:40 pm

>323 amysisson:

Chips in people's heads that run advertisements and what's not are not such a new concept though. Sounds like the execution was not very well done though

PS: I am going to steal your idea and start my own thread for my 2015 SFF stories reading :) Unless if you really mind of course.

325amysisson
Jun 2, 2015, 7:29 pm

>324 AnnieMod:

Oh, I would love if you had a thread too! I bet we end up trading a lot of story recs that way. :-)

You're right; I've seen several stories where characters are walking past stores, and programs key in on who they are and display or emit audio or holographic or viewed-in-the-person's-internal-interface or even olfactory advertisements. I think in this case, it bothered me because the kids didn't want the chips, yet the parents didn't seem to mind that their kids were literally being mutilated. (To be fair, the main character's parent is in advertising and so is biased, but surely the vast majority of parents would pitch a fit!)

326AnnieMod
Jun 2, 2015, 8:08 pm

>325 amysisson:

2 threads most likely - one for 2015 stories (aka reading for next year's Hugos) and one for non-genre or older genre stories. :) Planning to set them up later this week. And yeah - considering how you send me to read one of the ones you are talking about often, we will end up getting recommendations cross threads :)

It still sounds like an old idea that is badly executed. Their site seems to be a bit overwhelmed now but I will read that one and probably will be back with some comments.

327amysisson
Jun 2, 2015, 10:30 pm

>326 AnnieMod:

Two threads sounds like a good idea -- I might try that next year, if I'm not tired of reading so many short stories. But we're more than 5 months in and it hasn't gotten old yet!

328AnnieMod
Editado: Jun 3, 2015, 3:11 am

>327 amysisson:

No - does not seem to be getting old :) Plus noone says that you need to read a story per day to have a thread. :) I already know that I am not starting my non-2015 thread with the Hugo stuff from this year that I read last week (the faster I can forget these, the happier I will be). Oh well - time to go catch up with the 2015 stories - somehow it is already June and I had not read a single story from this year (a few flash ones but nothing longer). Which is very unusual for me - just a weird year I guess.

PS: http://www.librarything.com/topic/191692 for the 2015 thread if you are interested

329amysisson
Editado: Jun 3, 2015, 7:53 pm

Story #206 (2 in June). "An Apocalypse of Her Own, One Day" by Alex Kane. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 06-02-15.

I actually read this yesterday but didn't get a chance to log it properly until now. This is QuarterReads free story this week, about a man who is finally about to upload his consciousness so he can join his virtual love, when the bombs begin to fall. It's a nice enough story, but I thought perhaps the author tried a little too hard to go for the feeling of the ultimate, universe-spanning love. It also reminded me of another story that I'm pretty sure I read this year, but I can't place it -- I just did a search for the word "love" throughout this thread and came up short. (It doesn't help that I often use the word "lovely" to describe the stories I enjoy!) Maybe I should search on apocalypse instead.... Nope, that didn't work either.

Anyway, this was a little too familiar to be a stand-out for me.

Free this week here: https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=408

330amysisson
Editado: Jun 4, 2015, 1:07 am

Story #207 (3 in June). "I Regret to Inform You That My Wedding to Captain von Trapp has been Canceled" by Melinda Taub. Published in McSweeney's, 2011. Read online 06-03-15.

A letter from the Baroness Elsa Schraeder! I almost (but not quite) feel guilty considering this as a story in my daily challenge; it's really a fluffy little piece of humor, written as a letter. But hey, it's fictitious, and it's short, so technically it's a short story, right? I give it a rating of four stars because in my opinion it does exactly what it's intended to do, and I enjoyed it.

I have to admit, I wondered for a moment about copyright, but I have to imagine this falls under parody and so is allowed that way.

Link: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/i-regret-to-inform-you-that-my-wedding-to-cap...

331amysisson
Jun 4, 2015, 1:11 am

Story #208 (4 in June). "An Update on the Prolbem of Maria" by Matthew Belinkie. Published in McSweeney's, April 2007. Read online 06-03-15.

Oh Facebook, you are actually useful sometimes! A friend posted about the McSweeney's story consisting on a letter from the Baroness in The Sound of Music, and then it showed me "similar stories" and I found this one written by the Reverend Mother. Every comment I made about the first story applies to the second. Lots of fun.

Link: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/an-update-on-the-problem-of-maria

332amysisson
Jun 5, 2015, 1:04 am

Story #209 (5 in June). "Anniversary Project" by Joe Haldeman. Published in The Furthest Horizon: SF Adventures to the Far Future, edited by Gardner Dozois. Anthology published 2000; story originally published in Analog, October 1975. Read in print book 06-04-15.

This is a strange story, and I wasn't sure how much I did or didn't like it while reading it, but once I was finished, even though it still felt "odd" to me, I wanted to give it four stars. Something about it pleased me, although I'm not sure what, and it's not the most cheerful story in the world. It's about telepathic humans a million years in the future, who bear little resemblance to our current form. One of them has been tasked to learn to read, since reading and speaking and sex just don't happen any more. To celebrate the millionth anniversary of the written word, they kidnap, or "borrow," two humans from the 1950s, to ask them to read so that they themselves can experience what reading is like.

The story was ambitious in trying to convey the way these descendents of humanity might communicate with each other when they're completely non-verbal. I think maybe that's what I liked about it. It says a lot about an author when I can read, for the first time, a story that is 40 years old and still have it "speak" to me (no pun intended).

333aulsmith
Jun 5, 2015, 8:57 am

Thanks for the two Sound of Music fanfic stories. I always enjoy seeing fanfic in literary magazines.

334amysisson
Editado: Jun 5, 2015, 10:30 am

Story #210 (6 in June). "The Dollmaker's Rage" by Mari Ness. Published in Daily Science Fiction, June 5, 2014. Read online 06-05-15.

This was an interesting story, especially stylistically, about a dollmaker ordered to make a doll, only her dolls take months to make and are very life-like -- they can pass for human. The dollmaker does not want to obey her most recent customer, but does so because her life is threatened. This is very like a fairy tale, and I enjoyed it, but I did have trouble with a few small ambiguities, including a "he" that I think was meant to be a "she" but I'm not sure. Overall, I liked it but wanted to know a bit more about what had happened and why.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/fairy-tales/mari-ness/the-dollmakers-rage

335amysisson
Jun 8, 2015, 10:10 am

Story #211 (7 in June). "Carry On" by Amy Morris-Jones. Published in Every Day Fiction, June 7, 2015. Read online 06-08-15.

This is a simple story about a man who regrets that he and his wife never got around to a road trip along the Lake Superior shoreline that they talked about for years. It's very predictable, but it's also about a universal theme everyone can relate to, and it's nicely written.

Link: http://www.everydayfiction.com/carry-on-by-amy-morris-jones/

336amysisson
Jun 8, 2015, 12:05 pm

Story #212 (8 in June) - June 7, 2015 - "Who Else Would Make a World Like This" by Stephen S. Power. Published in Flapperhouse, May 8, 2015. (Read 06-08-15)

This flash story is a humorous account of four friends trying to watch the Game of Thrones series finale, and who are continuously stymied. It was cute, but I think it will work better for folks more familiar with the show than I am.

Link: http://flapperhouse.com/2015/06/08/who-else-would-make-a-world-like-this-fiction...

337amysisson
Editado: Jun 10, 2015, 12:28 am

Story #213 (9 in June). "Dinosaurs" by Walter Jon Williams. Published in The Furthest Horizon: SF Adventures to the Far Future, edited by Gardner Dozois. Anthology published 2000; story originally published in Asimov's, June 1987. Read in print book 06-09-15.

This story was about a single human, somewhat evolved beyond what we might recognize, who lands on a planet of intelligent creatures akin to dinosaurs in an attempt to negotiate peace. His efforts are stymied by his complete lack of empathy for what he considers as primitive, emotional, unevolved creatures. While I found the writing style a little dated and a little overwrought in places, I enjoyed reading this story. I thought the story was imaginative, except perhaps for the Shars having a political landscape rather similar to ours.

I also like the concept of this anthology, which contains stories set in the far, far future. I would have liked to see a few stories written by women -- there's only one, by James Tiptree Jr. -- but this is a reprint anthology published in 2000, and the stories are quite a bit older than that in many cases. And hard sci-fi set in the very far future is rather a specialized niche.

338AnnieMod
Jun 10, 2015, 8:03 pm

>337 amysisson: I would have liked to see a few stories written by women

Not too many women writing this kind of stories that far back... I wish there were more but I am at a point where I am surprised when I find a story like that at all.

339amysisson
Editado: Jun 11, 2015, 10:34 am

Story #214 (10 in June). "Bursk's Cutting Board" by Scott Cheshire. Published in One Story, May 2015. Read in print magazine.

As with One Teen Story, the original One Story is a little chapbook magazine that publishes one story each issue. I've had pretty good luck with the stories appearing in the teen version, so I thought I'd try the one intended for adults.

In this story, Bursk is a former chef and restaurateur reflecting on his marriage as he lays dying of cancer and his wife keeps trying to get him to eat. He no longer wants to eat but doesn't want to hurt his wife's feelings so he tries to think of ways to get rid of the food without her knowing, with little success.

I felt this story was . . . muddy. I felt the emotions seemed genuine, but the story meanders from thought to thought (will his long-time assistant put the moves on his wife once he's gone, and open up another restaurant in his name?), which is perhaps the way of someone who lays dying, and it sometimes gets bogged down in convoluted and overwrought prose.

340amysisson
Jun 12, 2015, 7:02 pm

Story #215 (11 in June). "The Tear Collector" by Justin C. Key. Published in Crossed Genres, June 2015. (Read 06-12-15)

This is the second of three stories in the "Success" theme of this month's Crossed Genres online magazine. I'm afraid this one didn't work for me either. It's about "collectors" of tears, rage, screams, yawns, etc. who are having a tough time satisfying with the gods with their offerings. The "modern fable" feeling to this didn't appeal to me, and I had a hard time getting through the story, which seemed on the long side to me for the type of story it was.

http://crossedgenres.com/magazine/030-the-tear-collector/

341amysisson
Editado: Jun 14, 2015, 9:10 pm

Story #216 (12 in June). "Amaryllis" by Carrie Vaughn. Published in Lightspeed, June 2010. (Read 06-14-15)

This is the best story I've read this month so far; it pushed all the right buttons for me. It's science fiction, with world-building that I love, yet it's more about the characters: standing up for oneself, paying for the sins of the parents, trust, and so on. The basic premise is that the woman captain of a fishing boat in a post-environmental collapse is being treated unfairly because she herself was born in violation of population controls.

As dorky as this sounds, I felt like I could practically smell the salt air. If I could ever achieve this kind of subtle world-building, I'd be very happy indeed.

Link: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/amaryllis/

342amysisson
Jun 14, 2015, 6:51 pm

Story #217 (13 in June). "Seated Woman with Child" by Rosemary Clement-Moore. Published in Strange Afterlives, edited by A. Lee Martinez. Anthology and stories published in 2015. Read in Kindle e-book 06-14-15.

I was assuming this was a re-telling of Snow White, but now I'm wondering if it's not meant to be that specific. A woman who is carefully stitching a tapestry of a seated woman with a child seems to be preventing a royal heir from bearing any offspring, but I'm afraid I got a little confused about the specifics, and I'm not sure what significance the tapestry will have in the life of the modern-day woman who finds it. I think it means she too will have miscarriages, but I'm not sure.

343amysisson
Jun 14, 2015, 9:10 pm

Story #218 (14 in June). "I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno" by Vylar Kaftan. Published in Lightspeed, June 2010. (Read 06-14-15)

This story is about love and relativity, or relativity and love. The narrator is a woman who has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the boy next door for years, decades even, although time gets all interesting when relativistic time effects come into play.

I liked a lot about this story -- I adore relativity stories. Much of the time, the metaphors for the relationship worked for me, but other times I felt they maybe tried a little too hard. I also sometimes find it hard to be sympathetic to drama relationships, and their on-again, off-again nature.

Link: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/im-alive-i-love-you/

344amysisson
Jun 16, 2015, 2:49 pm

Story #219 (15 in June). "The Adjunct" by Patricia S. Bowne. Published in Fantasy Scroll Mag, June 2015. Read online 06-16-15.

This is a slightly humorous, slightly dark story about an adjunct professor who takes a questionable job teaching an Anatomy and Physiology lecture section for demons. At first I thought the story would be just OK, because there are a lot of aspiring writers who are stuck teaching as adjuncts to make ends meet, and there's more than one story out there lamenting the unfairness of the way colleges and universities take advantage of them. (And I agree completely, by the way.) But this story is more smarter and more clever than I expected, and a lot of fun to read. I wondered too about the use of second-person narration, which I think tends to be overused these days, but I completely forgot about it by the time I got to the end of the story, which is no mean feat.

Link: http://fantasyscrollmag.com/article/the-adjunct-patricia-s-bowne/

345amysisson
Jun 16, 2015, 7:40 pm

Story #220 (16 in June). "All the Animals and Me" by Dan Malakin. Published in Every Day Fiction, June 16, 2015. Read online 06-16-15.

This story doesn't work if you try to take it as literally happening, but I liked it enough that I decided I didn't need to take it literally. It's a nice piece of flash fiction about animals providing companionship during a man's grieving period.

http://www.everydayfiction.com/all-the-animals-and-me-by-dan-malakin/#disqus_thr...

346amysisson
Editado: Jun 17, 2015, 12:42 am

Story #221 (17 in June). "An Undercover Haunting" by Kristi Hutson. Published in Strange Afterlives, edited by A. Lee Martinez. Anthology and stories published in 2015. Read in Kindle e-book 06-14-15.

In this short story, three college students try to explain to a police officer that one of them really was possessed by an old woman that day. Fun story.

347elenchus
Jun 16, 2015, 11:01 pm

And yet ... no star rating! Truly undercover, apparently.

348amysisson
Jun 17, 2015, 12:42 am

>347 elenchus:

Oops! Fixed now. :-)

349amysisson
Editado: Jun 18, 2015, 11:13 pm

Story #222 (18 in June). "End Game" by Nancy Kress. Published in Fountain of Age: Stories (collection) by Nancy Kress. Story originally published in Asimov's, April 2007; collection published 2012. Read in print book 06-18-15.

In this story, a man who is something of a genius is working on a drug that will let people focus without what he calls the "static" of thoughts unrelated to the task at hand. It works too well, however, and his test subject becomes unable to do anything except play chess -- and it turns out that he, impatient with the FDA approval process, had also injected himself. And then the condition starts spreading, with people each becoming obsessed with a single pursuit.

This is perhaps a little bit heavy-handed, but I did enjoy it quite a bit.

350amysisson
Jun 19, 2015, 12:22 am

Story #223 (19 in June). "Touring Test" by Holly Schofield. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 06-15-18.

This is the free story on QuarterReads this week. It's flash fiction (just over 700 words), and I thought the writing itself was quite good. The story didn't quite work for me, though. A driver picks up a hitchhiker and drops him off on what is supposedly his Saskatchewan farm. The driver says he's a graduate student researching Ukrainian descendants in that region. Not one of them but both of them turn out to be aliens, and it was the fourth alien hitchhiker the alien driver had picked up that day. I think what I don't quite get is why the aliens are hitchhiking all the time -- are they just there for a few hours, or are they actually impersonating farmers? In which case why aren't they just driving their own pickup trucks? Also, for me, the last paragraph was a little too obviously a punchline.

I'll still be happy to read more from this author, though, since I did like the writing so much.

Link (free this week): https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=276

351elenchus
Jun 19, 2015, 9:22 am

Ah, I liked that a lot: inspired to read it since it was flash fiction and by your question about not getting why so many hitchers are there.

My first thought was the title indicated it was part of the student's university dissertation orals -- that is, a practical test of his knowledge (aka the Turing Test). But that doesn't seem to be it, the farmers are genuine hitchers, so I'm not sure why so many are there, either. I think now the thesis title is not only a joke, but a literal explanation: they're researching grain strains.

352amysisson
Editado: Jun 26, 2015, 2:56 am

Story #224 (20 in June). "Hellhound, Free to Good Home" by Gerri Leen. Published in Daily Science Fiction, June 22, 2015. Read online 06-22-05.

Very nice piece of flash fiction, from the POV of a hellhound befuddled by an animal rescue worker trying to pick him up.

http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/modern-fantasy/gerri-leen/hellhound-free-...

353amysisson
Jun 22, 2015, 12:13 pm

Story #225 (21 in June). "The Reflection in Her Eye" by Shawn Scarber. Published in Black Denim Lit, May 2015. Read online 06-22-15.

I'm not sure of the actual length of this story, because I couldn't copy and paste the text into Word to do a word count. I'd guess it's a 4,000-word or so story. It's a beautifully written piece -- the author has a real knack for visuals and description. It's about a paranormal researcher testing a new recording device that he hopes will allow him to communicate with his dead wife, but in the meantime he has to contend with an old friend who has her own purposes for the machine.

While I loved the writing itself (hence the high rating), I find it hard to become emotionally invested in stories about contacting ghosts and spirits, especially when one of the characters' grief is the primary motivation. There was a nice twist to this, but I also wasn't quite sure of the "mechanics" of how ghosts and spirits (two different things in this story) are summoned and bound.

Link: http://www.bdlit.com/the-reflection-in-her-eye.html

354amysisson
Jun 22, 2015, 1:19 pm

Story #226 (22 in June). "First Reports on Tardive Dyskinesia Patients in Time Displacement" by Fabio Fernandes. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 06-22-18.

I'm afraid this flash piece didn't work for me. When "Subject Zero" exhibited jerking movements, including uncontrollable chewing motions, of course I thought "zombies," and I think that actually is where the story went, but I can't be sure, and I think it's too much work to re-read it and try and figure it out. The premise here is that this is happening to a woman doing callibrations on an experiment related to time displacement. It's possible that the jerking motions are due to different versions of her being "smeared" across time, in a way, but I'm not sure.

Behind the QuarterReads pay wall here: https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=840

355amysisson
Editado: Jun 28, 2015, 11:15 pm

Story #227 (23 in June). "Voidrunner" by Rachael K. Jones. Published in Daily Science Fiction, June 23, 2015. Read online 06-23-15.

I liked the atmospheric tone of this piece and the writing overall, but I didn't completely buy in, emotionally speaking. Well, maybe I did to a degree -- the regret over lost friends was meaningful to me. I think my reading of this story may be unfairly colored by the fact that minutes before reading it, I watched an online PSA about texting while driving. While that's not what happened in this story -- the main character (not the narrator) was driving too fast rather than texting when she hit a mini-van with a family in it -- I still associate the "driving too fast" with a disregard for others, the same way I associate texting while driving with that disregard. So I think because I think this character did a pretty bad thing kind of ruins the rest of it for me. Which isn't fair to the story, in a way, because this is narrated by someone else, and that person witnessed his friend's suffering over what she'd done.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/space-travel/rachael-k-jones/void...

356amysisson
Editado: Jun 24, 2015, 2:30 pm

Story #228 (24 in June). "We Fly" by K.B. Rylander. Published on Baen.com (contest winner), 2015. Read online 06-24-15.

This is my favorite kind of story, I think. It's hard SF with a real emotional impact. In this story, a spacecraft probe managed by the uploaded consciousness of a woman named Natasha is malfunctioning and doesn't know why. Big spoiler here for the ending: She learns that before she was launched, one of the program scientists also uploaded the consciousness of his terminally ill son into the same probe, resulting in two separate minds occupying the same space. It sounds too simplistic written out like that; I'm not conveying how nicely done this was.

There was a little hand-waving to explain the lack of time-delay in communications back with Earth, but it was necessary for the story, and at least the author did the hand-waving, as opposed to pretending that it wasn't an issue in the first place.

This story won this year's Jim Baen Memorial Short Story contest, which seeks near-future stories that portray human expansion into space in a positive manner.

Link: http://www.baen.com/WeFly.asp

357amysisson
Jun 24, 2015, 2:58 pm

Story #229 (25 in June). "Crown of May" by Jaine Fenn. Published on QuarterReads. Read online 06-24-15.

This 1400-word short story didn't quite work for me, in part because I think it could have been condensed into a 1,000-word flash piece without losing much. A young woman helps her twin sister prepare for her death by ritual sacrifice, and harbors a secret of her own. There's nothing wrong with the writing here, and I liked some aspects of the plot, but it felt a little heavy-handed to me. But I've probably written some heavy-handed stuff too, which goes to show how relative this all is.

Link (free this week): https://quarterreads.com/story.php?id=1041

358amysisson
Editado: Jun 24, 2015, 11:19 pm

Story #230 (26 in June). "Superiority" by Arthur C. Clarke. Published in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow: Science Fiction War Stories, edited by Charles G. Waugh and Martin H. Greenberg. Anthology published 1987; story originally published 1951. Read in print book 06-24-15.

Oh boy, this was pretty bad. I'm trying to keep in mind that "datedness" is not just about subject matter, but also writing style. This story is told by a now incarcerated, former Supreme Commander, who is explaining why his side lost the war (presumably against aliens). Since it is a first person account, it's all tell, tell, tell, and it's all very clinical. But the part I truly couldn't forgive was the cutesy-ass little "twist" at the end, which is both ludicrous and not actually funny. I don't think a story like this could or would get published today, unless it was by a Very Big Name, as this one is.

Disappointing, as Clarke was one of my early science fiction loves.

359amysisson
Editado: Jun 25, 2015, 1:03 am

Story #231 (27 in June). "Ten Wretched Things About Influenza Siderius" by Rachael K. Jones. Published in Daily Science Fiction, July 29, 2014. (Read 06-24-15)

This short piece is told as a second-person narrative, which is not my preferred choice, but when it's done well I'm able to let it become transparent. And it was done well here. This is also told as a list of ten things. A housewife becomes ill, and when she goes to the doctor, she's in for quite a shock. (I definitely don't want to spoil this one for people.)

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/robots-and-computers/rachael-k-jo...

360elenchus
Jun 25, 2015, 12:26 am

>359 amysisson:

So excellent. Didn't see it coming (but then I never do, and I like it that way). Gave it 7 rocket dragons!

361amysisson
Jun 25, 2015, 1:04 am

>360 elenchus:

I often don't see "it" coming -- and like it that way too! I went in to the movie The Sixth Sense knowing it had a huge surprise, and I still didn't get it!

362amysisson
Jun 26, 2015, 12:28 am

Story #232 (28 in June). "Parable Lost" by Jo Walton. Published in Lone Star Stories, June 2009. Read online 06-25-15.

I'm afraid this story didn't work for me on any level. I don't want to sound mean, but it came across to me as very self-indulgent. I'm surprised, because I adore this author's book My Real Children.

In any case, this is about the futility of a man trying to save jellyfish by throwing them back into the sea. In addition to my issues with it as a story, there were some sentences that were confusing, and I haven't the slightest idea what a JCB is -- some sort of vehicle, I imagine, but is that recognizable to the average American reader? That's not to say everything must be tailored to American readers, but this was published in an online magazine based in Texas, so it seems odd not to put in something that the majority of readers could recognize.

Or maybe I'm in the minority there!

Link: http://literary.erictmarin.com/lost.htm

363elenchus
Editado: Jun 26, 2015, 12:44 am

Had to look it up, here's a picture.

Evidently jargon, but I can see a certain class of folk in Texas using it commonly. Totally foreign to me, but that's typical despite living in Texas three of my young years.

364amysisson
Jun 26, 2015, 2:18 am

>363 elenchus:

Holy cow, I assumed it was an SUV!

365amysisson
Jun 26, 2015, 12:11 pm

Story #233 (29 in June). "Breaking the 3 Laws" by Trevor Doyle. Published in Perihelion, March 2015. Read online 06-26-15.

This is an amusing story that starts with a news report of a former rap star's death, with the possible involvement of a robot. It's basically satire about celebrities, reality television, and the glut of information on the internet. I liked the story's structure, and smiled at the end in particular.

Link: http://www.perihelionsf.com/1503/fiction_11.htm

366elenchus
Editado: Jun 26, 2015, 12:44 pm

Referring to Asimov's 3 Laws, presumably? Might follow up on that one.

ETA I did read it, well done and yes, amusing. I found particularly interesting the idea of Dr Golonokiewicz claiming the public had a moral duty to communicate with the learning AI-Nines, via social media. Presumably this was to sway their decision-making and get them to stop their violence? Though it appears not to have worked, given the eventual use of AI-Twelves, who may have had the relevant changes hard-coded rather than learned.

Also interesting that the robots went from AI-Nines to AI-Twelves, skipping -Tens and -Elevens. A wink at Windows 10!

367amysisson
Jun 26, 2015, 3:39 pm

Story #234 (30 in June). "Athena's Children" by Travis Heermann. Published in Perihelion, April 2015. (Read 06-26-15)

A female soldier on a far future colony planet recuperates from a devastating injury while the enemy advances. I thought the military science fiction aspects of this story were outstanding, and I enjoyed the way the colony's history was interspersed with the action. However, even though I agree completely with the sentiments being expressed, this message was a little more heavy than I prefer in fiction. Basically this is an all-female quantity that has won a stable life on this planet through much hard work and adaptation. However, an ark ship arrives at their planet, its inhabitants near starving, somewhat mutated from radiation, and very hairy -- in fact, the enemy are called "the Hairies." The colony is willing to share food and help the newcomers adapt, but the newcomers start a war because they want their way of life preserved, which means mating with the original colonists against their will. So this is mainly a story about reproductive rights.

Again, I agree completely, but it just wasn't subtle enough for me. There's far more good than bad in this story, but I'm left wishing for something else. I do plan to seek out more from this author, though, especially if he's written more military SF.

Link: http://www.perihelionsf.com/1504/fiction_6.htm

368amysisson
Editado: Jun 28, 2015, 11:26 pm

Story #235 (31 in June). "Muzak for Prozac" by Jack Gantos. Published in On the Fringe, edited by Donald R. Gallo. Anthology and stories published in 2001. Read in print book 06-28-15.

In this story, a young man has a daily routine in which he goes to the grocery store, takes his daily Prozac, and tries to find the courage to speak to a young woman working there as a cashier. He's not interested in asking her on a date, however; he wants to apologize to her for outing her same-sex relationship as a way of drawing attention to himself back in high school. The merciless harassment by the girls' schoolmates then resulted in a suicide pact in which one died and the other -- the cashier -- did not.

I didn't know when I began reading the story that it would be about this; it's interesting timing consider the Supreme Court decision of two days ago. Considering all the news articles I've read in the past few years about students taking same-sex dates to proms, I think things have improved -- but there are still a lot of LGBT teens out there who commit suicide because they're made to feel as those they will be harassed every day of their lives, or that their families will never accept them. I'm glad things are getting better, but we have a long way to go.

Anyway, back to this story, which is mainstream YA . . . . What didn't work for me was that the story went on for paragraph after paragraph of metaphors about how Prozac works and feels, and while it may be realistic that someone taking it might indeed reflect on the feeling for so long, it doesn't work in a story. My other problem was that I could not believe this young man had not actually been banned from the grocery store already, considering that he'd once taken all the rubber bands off the lobster claws in the tank (how would someone not have stopped him immediately?), and another time opened all the potato chip bags and covered the entire aisle floor with chips. Yeah, they'd be watching for him the moment he came in the door by this point.

369amysisson
Editado: Jul 6, 2015, 9:48 am

Story #236 (32 in June). "Dreams to Dust" by Jamie Lackey. Published in Perihelion, June 2015. Read online 06-28-15.

I made a reader error at the beginning of this story, which made it difficult for me to recover and read it as originally intended. A dancer named Marie-Élise works hard, and is both relieved and scared when she's chosen to meet with clients, something she's been hoping for because it may secure her financial independence. She's also referred to as a "street rat" once. So I mistakenly thought she was a ballet dancer, because I've read a few fictionalized accounts of the Paris Opera ballerinas, including the girl, Marie, who was the model for Degas' "Little Dancer" sculpture. I think the corps dancers were referred to as "little rats" or "ballet rats." Anyway, there was really no reason for me to make these assumptions, but my mind just went there automatically.

In actuality, Marie-Élise appears to be an exotic dancer and aspiring prostitute. She's offered $500,000 for one night of "anything goes" with a pair of clients. She's not prepared that the two men have tied another woman up, and expect Marie-Élise to beat that woman to death with a golf club. Anyway, while it's not fair for me to hold my initial mistake against the story, even if I hadn't made that mistake, I'm not sure I can envision the set-up that allows that kind of "anything goes." I know prostitutes are sometimes abused and murdered, but it didn't appear that the establishment provided the victim to the men, so I have to wonder how they got her there in the first place. I know it could possibly happen like this, but I didn't find it believable that it would happen.

The story is meant to have a uplifting ending, in a way; Marie-Élise sacrifices the money and perhaps her future and her very life to save the woman. But I found the whole thing distasteful, without the elusive element that would make me glad I read it in spite of that feeling.


Link: http://www.perihelionsf.com/1506/fiction_9.htm

370amysisson
Jun 29, 2015, 2:49 pm

Story #237 (33 in June). "Cool" by Becky Hagenston. Published in One Teen Story, June 2015. Read in print magazine 06-2-15.

Another mainstream YA story, "Cool" is written from the POV of a fifteen-year-old girl whose mother has gone into rehab. I like the structure of the story, in terms of where it starts chronologically and where it flashes back, and the story is nicely written, but I become annoyed by stories that use injured or the injuring of animals as a metaphor for what is happening in people's lives.

371amysisson
Jun 29, 2015, 5:23 pm

Story #238 (34 in June). "Saving Time" by John Hegenberger. Published in Perihelion, June 2015. Read online 06-29-15.

In this time travel story, a man who invents time travel finds that it has aged him prematurely. I liked the idea behind how time travel became possible, but am not entirely sold on it having the effect it did.

Link: http://www.perihelionsf.com/1506/fiction_7.htm

372amysisson
Jun 30, 2015, 2:29 pm

Story #239 (35 in June). "Flash" by Lavid Tidhar. Published in Daily Science Fiction, June 29, 2015. Read online 06-30-15.

This is a fun piece of humor flash fiction, at around 500 words. It's about Flash Gordon from a slightly different perspective.... I felt it was very clever and it made me smile, but there's one sentence standing by itself in the middle of the story that didn't make sense to me.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/other-worlds-fantasy/lavie-tidhar/flash-s...

373amysisson
Jun 30, 2015, 2:28 pm

Story #239 (35 in June). "Flash" by Lavid Tidhar. Published in Daily Science Fiction, June 29, 2015. Read online 06-30-15.

This is a fun piece of humor flash fiction, at around 500 words. It's about Flash Gordon from a slightly different perspective.... I felt it was very clever and it made me smile, but there's one sentence standing by itself in the middle of the story that didn't make sense to me.

Link: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/other-worlds-fantasy/lavie-tidhar/flash-s...