February was a bit busy. I attempted to finish reading the collection my story, "Killing the First Gods," appeared in "A Book of Blasphemous Words." At nearly thirty stories, I'm afraid I didn't quite finish the book in time but what I read gave me quite a few more names to follow.
- A Sack Race to the River by Chris Kuriata. (The Book of Blasphemous Words) This one left a mark. The story of a father who is attempting to save his sons from some awful apocalyptic fate by stuffing them in a burlap sack reminded me of that Bill Paxton movie, "Fraility," but the payoff here is a bit more epic and weird.
- Youth Will be Served by Andrew Fox. (Nightmare) In Florida, a leviathan offers youth in exchange for the lives of a few sacrificial elderly. Wrapped up in this is the desire to help those in pain and the inevitability of decline and death. What really came through in this story is the sense of unspoken menace, the constant peril of altruism.
- If We Survive The Night by Carlie St. George (The Dark). What if all of the victims of slasher flicks got sent down to purgatory to live out their failings in a quest for redemption. After the initial set up this story sets a deliberate ferocious tone. There are echoes here of Brooke Bolander's "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies" and of course "Cabin in the Woods." However, by examining the harsh calculations that drive modern horror films it reaches towards a fuller depiction of human forgiveness. Fun read.
- Assassins by Jack Skillingstead and Burt Courtier. (Clarkesworld) Intriguing look at augmented reality entertainment where popular virtual friends can be assassinated by any random heart-broken troll. One of a few stories I've read in recent years attempting to grapple with a world where fantasy, fandom, and human fragility collide in virtual reality.