- “Cat and Mouse” by L.C. Brown, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, May 30, 2018 (fantasy)
- “Boxes” by J. Overton, Grievous Angel, May 30, 2018 (surreal)
- “Masques” by Mike Adamson, Nature, May 30, 2018 (science fiction)
- “Black Friday” by Alex Irvine, Tor.com, May 30, 2018 (science fiction)
- “Tank!” by John Wiswell, Diabolical Plots #40A, June 1, 2018 (fantasy)
All stories are short; the DP, GA, and Nature are flash. All are in forms of present tense, the GA least consistently so. (Terraform is doing a two-parter so that’ll be covered next week.)
Of the week’s flash, “Boxes,” is bit of surrealism about a guy who collects suggestions from The Suggestion Box, “Tank!” is about a “non-binary” tank (I’m not kidding) being awkward at a science fiction convention, and “Masques” is a tale about a victim of a doctor who’d taken kickbacks to prematurely scrap injured bodies in order to upload their consciousnesses into artificial ones. The latter has some incorrect word choices and suffers from “‘hydraulic power hidden beneath svelte, ebon arms’ on the mantelpiece” but is otherwise not bad.
“Cat and Mouse” is an odd case of synchronicity in that, despite differing (favorably) in almost every detail, this very short story is a lot like this month’s “I Sing Against the Silent Sun” in some core ways. In this, the authorities are again bent on silencing everything and the protagonist is again fighting back, but this is about a woman in New Orleans who makes magic trumpet music and has some of that vivid whimsy and narrative prowess I was talking about with the Ellison story.
I ain’t proud of what I do next, because my Momma, she taught me never to raise a hand in anger. But this ain’t no hand, it’s a trumpet case, and I whack him upside the head with it hard as I can swing. He goes cross-eyed and staggers like some kinda drunk, and now he really look at home on Bourbon Street.
That quote is worth a recommendation, though the story as a whole was perhaps a notch below that.
The week’s sole long short story (so to speak) tells the tale of a future family/”team” going shopping on “Black Friday“—which means being on mass media while shopping fully armed and ready to kill or be killed. A social satire much like Robert Sheckley’s “The Prize of Peril” (1958) or other “blood sport reality show” stories, movies, etc. In this case, the primary thrust seems to be a satire against supporters of the Second Amendment (presumably due to recent events), though consumerist culture and the violence that occurs on current major shopping days is another major focus. The satirical slant may cause an overreaction to the otherwise unremarkable tale either positively or negatively but, that aside, it’s competently done in terms of characterization and plot.