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Short fiction recs! March-April 2021

  I thought that I didn’t get much reading done last month, but I present to you seventeen short story recs today, and there is still more amazing fiction that I didn’t have time to list here. I know we often say this on repeat, but it’s true: we’re living in a golden age of short stories.   Khōréō Magazine Issue 1.1 Khōréō is a new quarterly magazine, dedicated to “elevating the voices of immigrant and diaspora authors.”  The editors are particularly interested in fiction that explores themes of migration, and this shows clearly in their debut issue. The stories here brim with themes of family, diaspora, generational loss and change; with belonging and reclamation and what it means to make a home. These are fresh and surprising stories, that have innovative forms and put new twists on old tropes. I wanted to share each of the stories in this issue, because they are all worth reading, and this is a magazine that is worth watching.   “The Impossible Weight of Han” by Maria Do

Book thoughts and quote: Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

  I’ve finished reading Jung Chang’s  Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China , the classic memoir of one family’s experiences in China through Japanese occupation, the start of the Communist revolution, the utter madness of the Cultural Revolution, and beyond. Nearly every page provokes horror and outrage and incredulity, although there are also stories of stunning courage and human kindness. I started this book because I wanted to better understand how a nation gives into a charismatic dictator and slides into madness. I still don’t understand, no more than I understand certain events and movements of our present time.   There are so many passages that I underlined while reading this book. Passages relevant to our current time, passages depicting mass delusion and hysteria, a fevered cult of personality, zealotry, scapegoating, political cowardice, and the use of politics to grift and settle petty personal feuds.   Of the many passages I’ve underlined, I think of this one now, whi

Book review: Lagoonfire by Francesca Forrest

  This is a follow-up to Forrest’s first novelette from Annorlunda Books, An Inconvenient God. Both books star Decommissioner Thirty-Seven, known as “Sweeting” to her friends. However, both books can be read independently; I loved An Inconvenient God (here’s my capsule review  at the end of this post!), but you do not need to read it first to enjoy Lagoonfire ! But if you did enjoy the first book, you will love the follow-up, which deepens our understanding of Sweeting, her past, and her world. Sweeting is a decommissioner at the Ministry of Divinities; her job is to officially retire, or “decommission” gods who are fading away due to a lack of human worshippers. Years ago, Sweeting had decommissioned Laloran-morna, god of the warm ocean waves of Sweet Harbor. She successfully retired Laloran-morna into mortal form, but something went wrong: even as a mortal, he retains aspects of his old divinity. Now flooding has disrupted the commercial development of an estuary in Sweet Harbor,

New story! "A Vial of Electric Blue" is now out at Fusion Fragment Magazine

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I have a new story out today! “A Vial of Electric Blue” appears in Issue #5 of Fusion Fragment Magazine, a lovely new journal that publishes science fiction and science fiction-tinged stories, often with a surreal bent. My story is most definitely on the strange and surreal side. It’s about isolation and imprisonment, the rage of women and girls, and strange lakes of electric-blue fire. The accompanying illustration is by KiTT St. Joans, and they’ve done a stunning job; I’m in love with their art. You can see more of ST. Joans’ art here .    And by following the link on my story title above, you can download the entire issue to read (for free, or pay what you like).   Fusion Fragment is unusual among new SFF journals in that it offers print copies of their magazine as well as digital! I got my contributor’s copy last week, and it’s the first time I’ve ever held a print journal with my work in it! And I’ve already read and loved some of the stories in this issue, which explore int

Short fiction recs! Jan-Feb 2021

  It’s March. As people have been saying online, it feels as though it’s always been March. A year since the pandemic truly hit American shores. Time has been distorted since then, and the last few months here in America have felt particularly surreal, twisting and pulling time out of all recognition.   But after a bitterly cold freeze, it’s warming out now where I live, and Spring hesitantly steps near. And some amazing fiction has been published in the last few months—dark, angry, strange, beautiful, and lit with hope. Here’s some of what I’ve loved.   Stories in Strange Horizons "The Karyobinga Sings to Jiro" by Ryu Ando Are we truly all the same person?  he said aloud to the darkness.  Is my pain everyone’s pain? A just-over-flash-length-piece of grief and mystery. Jiro is an elderly widower in a dying small town, grieving the loss of his wife. He lives alone, and his son is trying to get him to move. And then one day a mysterious bird appears in the night,

New story! "Fanfiction for a Grimdark Universe" in Translunar Travelers Lounge

  (Note: updated on 3/07/2021) "Fanfiction for a Grimdark Universe" is my latest story, now out at the wonderful Translunar Travelers Lounge . This story is about exactly what the title says, and it came about in early 2020 when I was spending too much time on the fanfiction site, Archive of Our Own. As I read fanfics in the early days of our global pandemic, I thought about how the grimmest, darkest of media have the fluffiest, cutest, softest of fanfics. I thought of how we consume and process dark stories. Of how some fans rewrite endings and scenarios, placing their beloved characters into more lighthearted worlds, while others lean into the darkness.   As I wrote this story, it also became about other things. About stories in general, about we look to stories to tell the meaning of our lives, of how we find inspiration—and perhaps even courage--in stories. A reader, the writer Rajiv Mote, on Twitter actually describes my story more eloquently than I ever could. As h

Short fiction recs! Nov-Dec 2020

  Do you need an escape? I think most of us do. Here are some short stories I read and loved in late 2020; perhaps you’ll find escape in one of them.  “You Do What You’re Told” by J.A.W. McCarthy in Apparition Lit The woman who comes to Diana’s window is an improvement, or at least a bit more accurate this time around: light brown eyes, wide forehead, even the little patches of flaky skin where her earlobes meet her jaw. The woman stares through the glass, searching for Diana on the other side of her own reflection. She knows she doesn’t have to knock.    A strange, surreal tale of a woman being stalked, of an unknown man repeatedly creating his own image of who she is—of who he thinks she is. It’s a disturbing tale, quietly nightmarish. But the ending is also deeply satisfying. A tale that quietly digs in, and doesn’t let go.     “Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise” by Lauren Ring in Apparition Lit Every day, it goes like this: I wake to golden light, with the surface of a star ju