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Short fiction recs! July and August 2022

  I find myself finishing this bimonthly round-up of fiction late, slipping it in just hours before September ends. It’s alternately gray and drizzly or bright and crisp here where I write in the Midwest. Both perfect types of weather for curling up with a good story.   “You, Me, Her, You, Her, I” by Isabel J. Kim in Strange Horizons You are wearing Valentine’s clothes. You are wearing her body. You are everything that makes Valentine Manning herself, except for the throbbing electric lump that should sit in her cranial cavity. Her new brain is currently stored in a little closet in the Resurrection Clinic, bathed in goo and bombarded with targeted electrons. It will take two months to rearrange the freshly printed organ into the shape that she left it in before she died, all memories restored.   Valentine Manning is an art student who died. She can be “resurrected”—her memories and mind downloaded into a newly grown brain. Her new body is ready before her brain, however, and he

Quote: from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion

  Fëanor was a master of words, and his tongue had great power over hearts when he would use it; and that night he made a speech before the Noldor which they ever remembered. Fierce and few were his words, and filled with anger and pride; and hearing them the Noldor were stirred to madness. --from The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Quote: Banana Yoshimoto, from her short story "Lizard"

  "Lizard remained silent, her face still pressed against my chest. Through the quiet, I could hear her heart beating wildly and feel the tension in her body. I was reminded of her separateness, a being with different organs, bundled in a different sheath of skin, who has dreams at night that are nothing like my own." --Banana Yoshimoto, from her short story, "Lizard."

Short fiction recs! May-June 2022

A selection of short stories I’ve loved from May and June: stories that are dark and brutal, funny and light, and warm and moving and lovely.    “The Eternal Cocktail Party of the Damned” by Fonda Lee in Uncanny Magazine As the demons move unhurriedly through the crowd, dozens of giant screens suspended from the ceiling flicker in a rapid-fire onslaught of sound and images. Everything that’s happening in every corner of the boundless and constant underworld party is being recorded and replayed, far too fast for humans to keep up with, which is why infernal caretakers manipulate the screens, keeping the party mood going like DJs spinning dance tracks.   An utterly brilliant story. As the title says, it’s a depiction of the eternal cocktail party of the damned, overseen by the demons Bayzoth and Asphos. And it’s a party that’s all too familiar with anyone who’s spent much time online. The party of the damned is Twitter. It’s social media. It’s all of us online seeking attention, dog

New story! "The Bones Beneath" is now out at Podcastle

  I have a new story out this week!  “The Bones Beneath” is now up at the wonderful Podcastle , and you can either read it there or listen to Tatiana Grey’s beautiful narration. It's perhaps the darkest thing I’ve published yet. I also think it’s one of my best. This story grew out of a lot of things. A slushy, dreary Midwestern spring, and a sudden image of glowing bones. A cloud of swirling thoughts and ideas from the last several years, struggling to find form. There are a number of real-world historical inspirations for the fictional world and history in my story. The Chinese Cultural Revolution is the heaviest and most obvious inspiration. But there are a number of others, from different countries and societies, and from different time periods stretching up to the modern day. And from all sides of the political spectrum.   For me, one of the key passages in my own story is this one, where the young protagonist is struggling to make sense of her world:   She didn’t un

Book review: Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste

 (Note: This book is based on an advance reader's copy provided by the author) Gwendolyn Kiste’s work has been characterized by its focus on women characters and women’s rage in a world that would seek to constrain them; by depictions of strong female friendships; by audacious and sometimes surreal premises; and by absolutely gorgeous prose, strong emotion, and narrators with intimate voices that pull you in and grip you until the end. Her newest novel, Reluctant Immortals , fulfils every expectation set up by her previous work, and then some.   This is the story of two often disregarded characters from classic literature: Lucy Westnera (from Bram Stoker’s Dracula ) and Bertha Mason, the so-called “mad woman” in the attic imprisoned by Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre . In Kiste’s re-imagining, Lucy survives Dracula’s bite and becomes immortal herself.* Bertha (called “Bee” in this book) survives the fire she set and also becomes immortal. Now they’re living togeth

Interview with the Horror Writers Association! (Asian Heritage in Horror series)

I had an interview with the Horror Writers Association (HWA) this month, as part of their Asian Heritage in Horror interview series. I hadn’t really thought of myself as a horror writer before, even though I have indeed written some dark stories, including a ghost story . HWA thought otherwise, and I’m so pleased to be part of their interview series. There’s a great lineup of authors participating, with wonderful insight and wisdom, and I’d suggest anyone interested in this genre to check out the entire series here . Note that HWA is also running a great interview series on Jewish Heritage in Horror this month, so check that out here on the HWA website, too!