Skip to main content

What I Read in January 2017


January was a busy month for me, to put it mildly. I attended Arisia 2017 and sat on a terrific panel about short fiction. I received word of two story acceptances (one listed in a previous post and the other forthcoming). There were also all of the distractions of a world veering somewhere between the "Dead Zone" by Stephen King and a cyberpunk dystopia by William Gibson.


And, of course, I read a whole bunch of awesome short stories, including a few I can recommend below.
  • Wooden Boxes Lined With the Tongues of Doves by Claire Humphrey. (Beneath Ceaseless Skies). When considering stories that revolve around magic, I really respond to writers that can somehow conjure what that magic is and how it works within the tight confines of a short story. To me, magic should feel like magic. In other words, waving wands and intoning spells doesn't really cut it. When magic is done in fiction, the result should feel inevitable. Pull a trigger and a bullet flies. I prize magical inevitability. This story's treatment of magic definitely surpasses that mark. A magician takes an apprentice and makes him a servant to his will, clipping from him all of the things that would free him. This reader left the story with a sense of great loss and terrible awe. 
  • "The Twelve Rules of Etiquette at Miss Firebird’s School for Girls" by Gwendolyn Kiste (Mithila Review) Kiste's stories are always a treat - crafted with care and intensity, taking playful swipes at their own concepts. This fun flash piece begins as a list of instructions for students at a very special school for the magically inclined. The story dissolves its own structure by the closing paragraph, ending on a creepy but hopeful note. 
  • Loneliness is in the Blood by Cadwell Turnbull ( Nightmare) My favorite "Nightmare" stories use the trappings of horror and the macabre to tell their own unique tales. Here a vampiric spirit known in the Caribbean as a soucouyant shares moments of its life. The loneliness refers to its own tragic fate, a creature driven to siphon the warmth and life of its victims all the while drifting farther and farther from any connection with the world not purely transactional. 
  • Redcap by Carrie Vaughn (Nightmare) I first read about Redcaps from a giant and grisly book of fairies. Part of the Unseelie Court, Redcaps are notorious for attacking lost travelers, killing them, and dying their eponymous hats with their victim's blood. So from the title and set up of a little shepherd girl wandering afield, I thought I knew where this story was heading. What makes the story worthwhile is how all of these familiar details add up to a very different story by the end. 
  • The Whole Crew Hates Me by Adam-Troy Castro. (Lightspeed) A crewman aboard a ship on a deep space mission awakens to the reality that his responsibility is to be hated and abused by every other crew member. Somehow this simple set up unwinds perfectly over the next 3500 words, never slowing down or losing focus. The scenario is dark but somehow presented with the right note of fatalistic comedy.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

In Defense of Brevity

As a writer of short speculative fiction, I am also a reader. I was a reader first and my love of the genre leads me to want to write short fiction. I think one of the most important things a writer can do is read contemporary's work. If nothing else, you're likely to be entertained - there's a great amount of stupendous short fiction available out there for exactly nothing. But it also tends to helps to develop craft. 
Long-time readers of this blog know I write up recommendations of a few short stories each month I really enjoyed. "Sic Semper, Sic Semper, Sic Semper by Carl Wiens" was my favorite story of the year. The first line of this story pretty much sums it up: "The time traveler set up a studio apartment in Abraham Lincoln’s skull in the frozen moment before Booth’s bullet burst through and rewired history," but I also enjoyed "The Girl Who Escaped from Hell" By Rahul Kanakia and "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies," by Brooke Bol…

What I Watched in 2016

For my second year-end post, I'd like to talk about movies. There are five movies that stuck with me this year, perhaps not the five best movies, but certainly good ones that meant something to me. From my limited perspective as a routine movie-goer the gap between blockbuster movies and "quality films" continues to grow each year. Are these even in the same genre anymore? While certainly the basic technology employed by movies and films is the same (except when it isn't) the point of films seems to be diverging. The point of a movie like Marvel's Captain America: Civil War is to serve as the vehicle for cathartic spectacle while the point of my favorite movie is something closer to communication - the passing on of knowledge to the audience. In principle, I enjoy both modes but I wish they would cross-pollinate a bit more. It is the rare movie, (The Lord of Rings Trilogy, Star Wars, and Interstellar come to mind) that seems to want to do both: to create a grand…

"The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY" is now available!

My new story, "The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY," is now available in the current issue of the Electric Spec magazine. I'm very proud that this story is getting published at Electic Spec for the simple reason I've been reading the magazine for years, dreaming of the day I might get a story published there. Well, it's finally happened.

The story of "Yuru-chara" is pretty simple: a young girl wakes up to discover that her old virtual friend, a seven-foot-tall yellow monster named Tama Bell, has come to life. While navigating through waves of other virtual creatures released through a world-wide hack, the young heroine tries to come to grips with her responsibility to her forgotten friend and the losses inherent to growing up.

I hope that you enjoy my story and that you give the other stories a try. They're awesome!

Thank you for your continued support.