Short fiction recs! July--August 2020

The world is driving me crazy, but you know what helps? Beautiful fiction, which can offer both escape and catharsis. And putting this list together—that helps, too. There are stories here of gentleness, hope, and magic. And darker stories, but of no less beauty. I hope you find something here that might help you.Stories of Magic, Beauty, Comfort and Hope
“The Ransom of Miss Coraline Connelly” by Alix Harrow at FiresideTo the parents or guardians of Miss Coraline Connelly: Right now you’re thinking, Where is she? because this is what every parent thinks when they find an empty crib and a raven with a scroll in its beak. I have stolen enough children to know.This is so utterly delightful! The Queen of the World-Below finds that a little human girl is far more than she expected to handle (and as anyone who’s parented a toddler through those high-energy years will recognize). But the story also unexpectedly goes beyond humor and fae charm to real poignancy as well, as it explores why a Fa…

Short fiction recs! May-June 2020

Why do so many of us love horror stories? I think that part of it—maybe even the major part—is that horror in fictional form offers a kind of control and catharsis of our fears that we can’t find in real life. When the horrors of the world seem more pressing and overwhelming than ever, some of us are—counterintuitively—drawn even more to dark fiction. The majority of stories in this roundup could be classified as “horror.” But there are stories of hope as well, and even some that manage both.
Dark Tales of Body Horror, Hunger, Secrets, and More
“Sleeping in Metal and Bone” by Kristi Demeester at The Dark
It is summer the first time I dream of hooks at the end of my fingers. The cold metal buried in the soft tissue and then curving outward into a small, delicate point. How I creep through the shadowed damp of our backyard, the odor of soil rich and deep as I hunt through the underbrush you’ve promised for years to clear away, and snare tiny, wriggling creatures before stuffing them into …

New story day! "The Shadow Catchers" at The Future Fire

I have a new story out today! "The Shadow Catchers" is a dark fantasy about a lake full of shadows, and the children who catch them. It marks my fifth appearance in The Future Fire, and this month's lineup is filled with wonderful writers I know. I'm very pleased to appear alongside them.
You can find my story here And the full issue here 

Short fiction recs! February--April 2020

I normally post these short fiction recommendations on a bimonthly basis, but--gestures helplessly at the world around us now--I found my focus a bit lacking earlier this spring, and didn't get as much reading done as usual. Last month was a bit better, and as a bonus you get a longer rec list covering the last three months.

Fantastical worlds and alternate realities in Beneath Ceaseless Skies
“The Ordeal” by M. Bennardo
His father had told him of Alpinia’s trials by ordeal, but he had thought they must have certainly disappeared with so many other superstitious customs in so many other places at the dawning of the rational twentieth century.
In his work, Bennardo has often used fantastical worlds and situations to explore serious philosophical and ethical questions. In this latest story, he spins an alternate-history story of a young American man on his Grand Tour of Europe. While passing through the (fictitious) country of Alpinia to visit his father’s friend, the Grand Duke, young …

Book review: The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg

For a number of years now, R.B. Lemberg has been exploring in stories and poems a magical world known as Birdverse. This is a richly textured world where multiple cultures coexist and interact; it’s a world of deserts and traders, of weavers and scholars and magic-workers. There are flying carpets and fallen stars, assassins and tyrants and powerful sorcerers. There are also people without magic, who are no less important. In this complex world, there are a multitude of family structures and customs and beliefs, yet all are united in their belief in a deity known as Bird.
The Four Profound Weaves is Lemberg’s first printed book in the Birdverse universe. It revisits characters that appear in an earlier novelette, the Nebula Award-nominated “Grandmother-Nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds,” and takes place about a month after the events of that story, but a reader does not need knowledge of that previous story to understand and appreciate The Four Profound Weaves. This is a book that can stand …

New story! "The Breaking" in Mithila Review, and a link to a recipe

I have a new story out today. “The Breaking” appears in Issue 13 of Mithila Review, alongside stories and poems from so many wonderful writers.
“The Breaking”is an apocalypse-story that, yes, feels weirdly resonant in these current times, in ways that I certainly didn’t anticipate when I wrote it a year ago. There is no virus, no plague, in my story. But it’s about people who refuse to see what’s in front of them, about those who won’t hear what is clear to others. It’s about an unbridgeable gap in perceptions, one that I’ve felt since fall 2015 in my country. And “The Breaking” is also about family. It’s about the gap between generations, and the care-taking that occurs within families, and the responsibility a sister feels for her brother.
I also mention food in the story, because I almost always mention food! This story stars two Thai-American siblings and is one of the rare instances in which I’ve explicitly written Thai-American characters. The Thai-style omelet, khai jiao, is feat…

What I've been watching, listening to, and reading in these surreal times

These are strange times, to put it mildly.
Again and again on Twitter I see people posting something along these lines: In these times of social distancing/quarantine/lockdown, so many of us are streaming movies/television, listening to music, and reading books to get though the day. Don’t ever say again that art is useless.
Some of the art I’ve been consuming:
I remain obsessed with the Chinese fantasy drama The Untamed (which I wrote about at the end of my last post here). I am still losing myself in this rapturous, epic love story; still watching fanvids, still swooning over the beauty of this show and grieving over the terrible losses the characters endure. If you want to be swept into another world, into other lives, to feel intensely and cry over problems that are not your own—this is the show for you.
I’d never paid much attention to K-pop, but when BTS released their latest album, Map of the Soul:7, I clicked on the performance music video of their song “On,” out of curi…