I am including my favorite stories out of the Bundoran Anthology, Second Contacts, that includes my story “This Beautiful Creature.” I’ll probably do something similar next month with the Game Fiction Volume 1. I think both collections contained some killer stories and it’s my pleasure to talk up them and their authors.
Okay, on to the picks for September 2015:
- The Oiran’s Song by Isabel Yap (Uncanny Magazine) A beautiful and terrible meditation on war and the thirst for violence and death. An oni daughter infiltrates an Imperial Japanese army unit and begins to feed upon them. Her tent mate is a boy neutered by his anguish and loss, slowly sliding into being an accomplice.
- The Peace of Worlds by Jaime Babb (Second contacts) So everyone knows what happened when the Martians invaded before. For all of their overwhelming fire-power and technology in the end the smallest of earthly life-forms, bacteria, laid waste to them all. In this clever alt history tale the Martians try again with applied economics. As any student of history knows, soft-power can succeed where overt uses of force often fail.
- Get the Message by Peter Wendt (Second contacts) Nifty story revolving around that most plausible of all impossible technologies - the ansible. Although Wendt uses a different term to describe this instantaneous communications device with alien races, what he is describing is an ansible. The pleasure here is that because the aliens are simply another voice (?) on the phone he can introduce a great number of different species in a very short story. Also enjoyable is the twists and turns of the plot as Earthlings cast desperately about for extraterrestrial assistance in the face of an alien invasion.
- Ten Things to Know about the Ten Questions by Gwendolyn Kiste. (Nightmare) This is my favorite Kiste story since the last Kiste story I read. She gets better and better as a writer, here weaving a Leftovers-like scenario into psychological test. I found myself gripped by a nameless extential dread, the fear the worst thing imaginable was about to happen. Another masterful story from my favorite new writer.
- Cremulator by Robert Reed. (Clarkesworld) A haunting story about the mysteries of love and death. Poignant and scientific and yet very magical. I’m thinking about writing a post about the few recent stories I’ve run across doing this sort of thing well - this ongoing project to incorporate fairy tales and magical realism tropes into solid science fiction.
- The Springwood Center for Genetically Modified Animals, by Verity Lane (Crossed Genres) One of the best science fiction stories I’ve read on CG. Easily one of my favorites this month. This poignant, uber creepy story follows a human orphan looking for a job in an animal shelter for GMO pets. A slow steady burn through a sad, sad future.