March turned out to be a busy month and I fell behind, way behind, on reading short stories. Having caught up, I’m putting down my thoughts on a selection of stories that really grabbed me last month.
- Once Lost, Gone Forever by Gwendolyne Kiste (Electric Spec). Good creepy story about two friends able to disappear people they meet. The theme here is ancient - the ends don’t justify the means - but the horror comes from how thoroughly the casually amoral behavior of the protagonists seeps into the fiber of the story.
- Dogs by Bruce McAllister (Tor.com) Excellently creepy tale of the death dogs of Mexico. Far and away my favorite work from last month. The atmosphere of this story, a visceral and relentless dread, really worked for me. One of those stories that makes other writers very, very jealous.
- Cassandra by Ken Liu. (Clarkesworld) Ken Liu is on fire. I put him on my top five last year for short fiction with "Clockwork Soldier" and here he finds a way of making superhero fiction really resonate. Liu paints a picture of an alternate Superman (Showboat) as he would appear to a precog super villain. What works in this story is how even as the reader comes to understand the villain’s motivation that doesn’t really make her any less of a villain. Loved this story.
- Universe, Sung in Stars by Kat Howard (Lightspeed) A soft sci fi story from Lightspeed about an artist working in miniature universes. She is attempting to find a new home for one tiny white dwarf, and so the conflict I suppose is whether or not she can find a suitable universe for that star. Very strange but beautiful all the same.
- The Museum and the Music Box by Noah Keller (Tor.com) Beautiful slipstream piece about two lovers obsessed with a decaying museum of improbable relics. What I liked about it was how it compared the thrill of discovery embedded in love with the slow destruction that museums represent. With every warehoused treasure there is a a chance for destruction and loss.
- All Original Brightness by Mike Buckley (Clarkesworld) Military cyber-punk centered on injured Marines attempting to carry on their life hooked up to ‘immersos’ or VR rigs that allowing their shattered bodies to still interact. Some aspects of the story felt vague to me and the ending while evocative was a bit abrupt. Still, the bleak and weary tone of the story punched through.