Summation of Online Fiction: December 2017

Thinking about this month’s noted stories, I’m reminded of the rational Isaac Asimov’s comments on how numerology “works” because you can find patterns in anything. In this 12th month (1+2=3), threes and twos (and thus ones) are a recurring motif. This month, I recommend three SF stories (two of which come from Compelling – though the one from Nature really can’t be missed) and three fantasy stories (two of which come from Grievous Angel) and honorably mention three fantasy stories (two of which come from Uncanny). Which is, again, three sets: two of recommendations and just one of honorable mentions. Meaningless, but I’ll admit it is a weird coincidence. These nine tales were chosen, not from 32 stories of 123K words, but from forty December webzine stories of 162K words.

As this year ends, before getting to the list I’ll mention (as I’ve mentioned earlier) that 2018 will bring changes to Featured Futures, which include broader coverage and a different review method. Change has actually already begun, since I’ve reviewed the January/February F&SF (a print zine) and that and all December reviews were an experiment in full Tangent-style reviews for everything. However, as I suspected I would,  I’ve decided to move to a happy medium between the original bare “recs” method and the December method. I’ll feel my way towards the precise details over time.

Continuing the theme, a change to note in the webzine world is that Compelling is unfortunately moving from bi-monthly to semi-annual with this month’s issue (but for good reasons rather than bad: the editor and his wife are having a baby).

Now, on with the list.


Science Fiction

  • Fifteen Minutes” by Alex Shvartsman, Nature, December 13, 2017, short story
  • Museum Piece” by J. D. Popham, Compelling #10, Winter 2017, short story
  • Redo” by Larry Hodges, Compelling #10, Winter 2017, short story


Note: “The Wind’s Departure” is a conditional recommendation, as I say in the relevant Wrap-Up, because it’s part of a series and, in my opinion, doesn’t entirely stand on its own. I do recommend this if you’ve already read some of the series but don’t recommend starting here.

Also, both of the Grievous Angel stories’ links go to the same post so just pick’n’click the title you like best or something. 😉

Honorable Mentions:


Reviews of the Above:

(Since I’ve done complete reviews this month, there’s no need to discuss honorable mentions here as I’ve done before, or to link to the recommendations individually, so there are just links to the reviews which discuss the good stuff.)


Links (2017-12-30)

It hasn’t been too long since I posted one of these (and very popular they are, too ;)) but the links, partly aided by year-end-ness have really piled up, so here’s another installment.


Here’s a trio from Scientific American. (There are actually multiple images in each post but they’re variations on three themes.)

Here’s a trio from The first is just neat and reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

There will certainly be no lack of human pioneers when we have mastered the art of flight… Let us create vessels and sails adjusted to the heavenly ether, and there will be plenty of people unafraid of the empty wastes. In the meantime, we shall prepare for the brave sky-travelers maps of the celestial bodies. I shall do it for the moon, you Galileo, for Jupiter.

— Letter from Kepler to Galileo, 1610

On the second, it’s not good news for the US that its Russia doing it (and not good news for Angola either). Still, to reference another quote, William Gibson may have said, “The future has arrived – it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” This shows that the distribution continues, at least. (They actually lost communication with it soon after launch, but it’s been restored.) The third link is a pretty good summary of the year.

And to end the science part on the right note:

Now for some nature photography. (I think I got this from the Chrons.) I wonder what it says that animals sometimes seem at their most human when they’re at their goofiest.

Science Fiction gives us not just a year, but a decade, in review. (The list is actually an all-time list.) His list is not what my list would be, but it’s got some excellent stuff and I respect the reading and effort that went into it. Speaking of respect, James Cambias soulfully argues that Disney lacks respect for Star Wars and its fans. I recently posted some comments on The Last Jedi which skipped over all the plotholes entirely because I felt like I had bigger fish to fry, but Cambias takes an interesting bird’s-eye approach to them which gives them their proper due without getting bogged down in details.


I don’t talk sports here much (don’t know that there’d be even as much interest as there is in the other stuff) but I have to note the bowl victory that ends the Wolfpack’s football season.

At one point, State led their division and looked ready to challenge Clemson and perhaps become a national team (and we did play them tough) but it didn’t work out. Still, finishing as a ranked team with a 9-4 record and a big bowl victory is a nice season.

While I’m at it, I also wanted to comment on Navy’s bowl victory (which I wasn’t able to see at all, alas). That, ladies and gentlemen, is football. I watched the Army-Navy game in early December and that was hands-down my favorite game of the season and really of the last many, many years. I loved both Army and Navy this year. Passes? We don’t need no stinkin’ passes!


CBS News tells how the GOP tax bill makes Powerball winner even richer. (I can feel the warm trickle coming down already.)

John Shirley says, “I’m a Supporter of Transgender Rights–Who Can’t Stand the Term Cisgender.”

Morey Amsterdam died years ago, Mary Tyler Moore died at the start of this year and 2017 has also seen fit to take Rose Marie at the end, leaving only the eponymous actor of the core four still with us. There aren’t many sitcoms of the black & white era that entertain me but this was a great show with a stellar cast and Buddy and Sally were a major part of it.

Rose Marie, Sally Rogers on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” dead at 94


While Rose Marie could be seen as yet another musician who died in 2017, I think of her as a multi-talented comic actress. However, there are some dedicated musicians who left us in 2017 that I may have memorialized elsewhere on the web but don’t seem to have paid my respects to here on Featured Futures. I’ll do that now.

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