I have a few short speculative stories to recommend from the past month. Particularly this year I find myself drawn to stories that promise one of two things: gloomy, restless undead or enormous 16-wheel tractor trailers, flames painted down the side, horns blaring, riding down the venal and corrupt and flattening them into road-kill on the side of the road. I have three of the former listed and one of the latter.
|Parallax by Morgan Crooks (2017)|
- Her Hands Like Ice by KT Bryski. (Bracken) This was very good. The central of the mystery of the story - what haunts the narrator - is spun out convincingly, mesmerizingly until the final line. The reader's ache to UNDERSTAND this mystery echoes the cold need of the narrator to keep ahold of her dead sister. Not so much a revision or reaction to the classic vampire set-up as a clever misdirection.
- Infinite Love Engine by Joseph Allen Hill (Lightspeed). A great rollicking funny-as-hell, deranged, explosion of Afrofutrist space opera. It reminds me of a great many things without ever slipping away from its own depraved inevitability. This is fiction where the story is the story and the voice is the voice and if you're not down with that, then there are plenty of other things to read. My favorite story so far this year and one that got me thinking about how one might start classifying stories like this and Brooke Bolander's. Is it too early to start talking about Cosmic Weirdness as a genre? Read the following stories and let me know if you see commonalities:
- Sic Semper, Sic Semper, Sic Semper, by Douglas F. Warrick
- Fixer by Paul McAuly
- Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander
- Red Hood by Eric Schaller ( Nightmare) This is a zombie apocalypse retelling of certain fairy tale involving capes, dark paths, grandmothers, and wolves. Inventive and darkly playful. Somehow finds a way of being inside its source story and outside of it at the same time.
- The Language of Endings by Kristi DeMeester (The Dark) Goddamn. This is a fine story. It's twisted, which befits a story appearing in The Dark, but also spare and relatively straight-forward considering the subject matter. A ghost haunts a former teacher, a man who grooms his students as lovers, already manipulating another girl into his bed. The ghost carefully twists the story around from being about lament and tragedy to be about something else. Despite the disability of death, the ghost retains the power of words, coaxing them into meaning what she needs them to mean. This is not a story about victimhood but ownership and survival.