Compelling was off this month and the other twelve prozines produced forty-nine stories of 168K words. Only three of those struck me as especially noteworthy but that was partly offset by several honorable mentions. Tor.com came alive (mostly thanks to Ellen Datlow) when most other zines were below their average. Like Tor, Nightmare was also a little more impressive than usual – and in a month when it had a lot of competition, as many zines seemed to want to include some horror in this spooky month of March.
- “The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)” by Matthew Kressel, Tor.com, short story (rec)
- “Rising Star” by Stephen Graham Jones, Uncanny, short story (rec)
Fantasy (billed that way, anyway)
- “Margot and Rosalind” by Charlie Jane Anders, Tor.com, short story
- “Mr. Singularity” by Norman Spinrad, Nature, short story
- “Things Crumble, Things Break” by Nate Southard, Nightmare, short story
- “Luminaria” by John Hornor Jacobs, Apex, novelette
- “Nightshade” by J.W. Halicks, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, short story
- “You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych” by Kathleen Kayembe, Nightmare, novelette
Both stories from Nightmare and the one from Apex are horror or akin to it. “Triptych,” especially, was close to a rec but an “idiot plot” and other issues hurt it. Similarly, “Nightshade” was an offbeat, enticing, almost Burtonesque tale but ended up being too beholden to incompatible fantasy conventions. Tor.com went on a “Women’s Day” binge of mostly unremarkable mostly flash pieces but a couple stuck out more than the rest, with the “hyperbrain” story “Margot and Rosalind” being my favorite. Another AI short-short, Norman Spinrad’s “Mr. Singularity,” was a bit too much of a straw man and not entirely convincing, but was interesting and idea-centric.