One down side to trying to keep up on my schedule for Agent Shield and Spaceman is I've seen my available time for reading awesome short stories dwindle somewhat. I still read a few stories I think are worth your time, but I didn't get to sift through as many magazines as I normally like to. So be it.
In no particular order, here are some stories I can recommend:
- The Hunt for the Leather Apron by G. Neri. (Nightmare) I liked this story. The challenge imposed by reading a text crafted with purposeful spelling mistakes, the illusion of an authentic document, mostly pays off. It helps that despite the typographical distortions, this is a very immediate and affecting tale. It's interesting that even after many years, Jack the Ripper contains yet enough juice to power genuine terror. In this case, it's the horror of how a violent act corrupts and ruins even the bystanders.
- The Dirty American by Lara Elena Donnelly. Reprint in Nightmare which is something I typically avoid for these columns, but in this case I'm happy to make an exception. Sex, death, and high perfume. While not nearly as scandalous as the premise suggests, "The Dirty American" is certainly intense and fascinating, each smooth perversion stalking closer to the reader, daring him or her to take another step closer.
- Totem Poles by Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling. (Clarkesworld) A crazy drug hazed romp; humanity strains under the pressure to adapt to the coming of living saucer people. The globalist aspect comes from Sterling, but the strange plastic polymorphism is classic Rucker. A pleasure to see new work from both.
- Fall to Her by Alexis A. Hunter. (Apex) I interpreted this as a short retelling of the Siren episode from Odyssey. In this science fiction retelling, the siren is not just alluring but capable of transportation, of escaping the rusty pointless routines of the capitalistic, exploitive system wrapping the narrator like one more layer of artificiality. The song bewitches because it promises something mech and money can't: meaning.
In other news, a new chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman," is now available. Spaceman reaches the heart of the Anti-Cerebrists' operations and sees an unwelcome face. I hope you enjoy!