Alas, life intrudes again. I was able to read a number of excellent stories this month but I haven't been able to read nearly enough to justify a full short story review page for this month. So I'll name a few that I liked and try to wrap in a few more for my end of the year list.
- So Much Cooking by Naomi Kritzer. (Clarkesworld) Clarkesword can be such a deadly serious journal most months, it's great to encounter a story like Kritzer able to have a little fun with the end of the world. This was one of my favorites because it suggested that a possibly apocalyptic event, a global superflu epidemic dealt with in the same way all of life's travails are: lots of cooking. Like Contagion but filled with people you actually care about.
- If on a Winter's Night A Traveler by Xia Jia (translated by Ken Liu for Clarkesworld). My favorite story so far this month. I struggle to call this science fiction or fantasy but it certainly has an otherworldly Borgesian aspect to it. A librarian becomes obsessed with the mysterious author of a poetry chapbook, discovering a small coterie of similar admirers preserving not just the copies of the work but its essential mystery. I will have a chance to be on the same panel as Mr. Liu this January at Arisia 2016's "Genre Fiction in Translation" panel. Stories like this are the reason I'm so excited by that opportunity.
- Way Down East by Tim Sullivan (Clarkesworld) A profoundly sad and moving story , beautiful in its parochial matter-of-factness and the slow masterful unwinding of its tension. Maine lobsterman rent out their boat to an alien and its minders. A story about empathy and the irreducible distance between all sentient beings.
- Self, contained by Kristen McDermott (The Dark) A small jagged shard of ill-intent. I loved the shear bloody minded weirdness of this story, the infectious rage and helplessness of the protagonist. Story quickly sketches the details of a werecat terrorizing a neighborhood, before turning its focus to one lonely woman left to consider choices.