April-May 2018 Short Fiction Recs

April and May brought so many stories of strangeness, beauty, love, and darkness. Here's a sampling of just some of what I loved. 

Stories of Beauty, Strangeness, and Love
“Mothers, Watch Over Me,” by Maria Haskins in Mythic Delirium
I confess that I’m not even a dog person, yet this story nearly had me in tears. In a post-apocalyptic world, a dog named Maya gives birth to a sickly pup. Although she has lost puppies before, she knows that this one must live, and she is determined to do all she can to make it so. Maya carries her litter of pups in a basket with her into the Forbidding, on a journey to the towers of God for help. A beautifully written, delicate, and poignant story of love, survival, and determination.  
“Strange Watersby Samantha Mills in Strange Horizons
Another story about a desperate (this time human) mother. Mika is a sailor who is lost at sea. She knows where she is in relation to the coastline and her home city of Maelstrom. But she often doesn’t know when she is.

Quote: Alexander Chee on writing

Alexander Chee on writing:
“All my life I’ve been told that this isn’t important, that it doesn’t matter, that it could never matter. And yet I think it does. I think this is the real reason the people who would take everything from us say this. I think it’s the same reason that when fascists come to power, writers are among the first to go to jail. And that is the point of writing."
--Alexander Chee, from his essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

Review: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

I finished R.F. Kuang’s debut novel, The Poppy War, yesterday and I’m still reeling.
This is a brilliant and devastating book, set in a secondary fantasy world inspired by the events of early twentieth century China and the aesthetics of a much earlier time period. It’s gotten significant buzz for its unflinching portrayal of war’s brutality--“A masterpiece by grimdark’s newest and perhaps darkest daughter” Fantasy BookReview raved —and indeed, it is dark. Drawing heavily from real-world events of the Sino-Japanese wars, how could it not be? Yet though there are grim elements from the beginning, there are also snappy one-liners that had me laughing out loud, a winningly snarky voice, wild magic (with a dash of whimsy) and captivating characters that breathe and grow. It’s an unflinching look at the worst of violence, trauma, and vengeance. And it’s also a coming-of-age story, a story about friendship, and a thrilling, propulsive ride which tore my heart to pieces.
The story is told from…

New story! "The Things That We Will Never Say"

So. . . I have a new story out today at Daily Science Fiction.“The Things That We Will Never Say” is a story about distances, family, and trying to divine the future. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve written yet. I’d be honored if you took a look.

Roundtable discussion on short fiction reading habits at Lady Business

Interested in hearing some smart thoughts on finding and reading short fiction? The website Lady Business hosted a roundtable discussion on short fiction reading habits. I participated, alongside luminaries of the field: reviewers/editors/writers A.C. Wise, Bogi Takacs, Brandon O'Brien and Bridget McKinney (cue up massive imposter syndrome on my part!) You can take a look over here.

Short fiction recs: February and March 2018

It finally feels like spring as I write this, a seemingly endless winter finally behind us and the world moving forward (if late!) into a new season. It’s fitting, then, that so many of the stories in this roundup speak of movement and change, of seasons on both cosmic and personal scales. Here are tales of darkness and tales of warmth and light, of horror and of healing. If it’s still cold where you are, curl up with these stories and a blanket and cup of hot tea. If it’s warm, read them anyway. May they offer you a moment of stillness in this changing season and world.

Short Stories

Cosmic Spring” by Ken Liu at Lightspeed
The universe is in deep winter. This is my conclusion after studying the matter for 6.7 trillion years.
The universe is in winter: the time near the end, as everything winds down toward maximal entropy. During this winter, one last sentience travels through space, harvesting the energy of dying stars. As it travels, it tries to assemble from its memory banks a pictur…

Story Notes for "Traces of Us"

My latest story, “Traces of Us,” is now live at GigaNotoSaurus. It’s a story about sentient spaceships and neuroscientists in love. It’s dear to my heart for a number of reasons, and I’m so gratified by the responses it’s been getting from readers. (Writer and critic Charles Payseur has an absolutely beautiful review--with spoilers!--here)
The story is grounded in some very real science. I'd like to talk a little about that scientific grounding, and the inspirations (both scientific and not) behind this story.

SPOILERS (I’d suggest continuing only after finishing “Traces of Us”)

The story seed
The seed for this story came from a feature article I read in The New York Times back in 2015,“A Dying Young Woman’s Hope in Cryonics and a Future.” It’s a beautifully written story about Kim Suozzi, a young woman who died of brain cancer at the age of 23, but who hoped to have her mind preserved for the future. Alongside a moving and vivid portrayal o…