Summation: May 2018

This month’s baker’s dozen of noted stories (four recommended) comes from the pool of ninety (of 440 Kwds) published between April 30 and May 28. The print zines were individually strongest with Analog and F&SF each contributing multiple tales but the web combined to contribute seven.

While not applicable to the monthly recommendations, I did review a collection this month which had eight reprints (three recommended) that I especially liked.

Two bits of site news: I’ve once again updated Expanded Collated Contents of the Year’s Bests (2017 Stories, Links), this time with The Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF, Volume 4, and I’m modifying what’s included in these “Summations.” Previously, I’d linked only to those reviews which discussed the noted stories but I’ve decided to link to all reviews of magazines (and books, if any), as well as various “news” articles, making this serve as an essentially complete retroactive “table of contents” of the activity for the month.

Noted Stories

Recommended

Science Fiction

  • Fleeing Oslyge” by Sally Gwylan, Clarkesworld #140, May 2018 (novelette)
  • Grace’s Family” by James Patrick Kelly, Tor.com, May 16, 2018 (novelette)
  • “The Last Biker Gang” by Wil McCarthy, Analog, May/June 2018 (novella)

Fantasy

  • Bride Before You” by Stephanie Malia Morris, Nightmare #68, May 2018 (horror short story)

Honorable Mentions

Science Fiction

  • “Crash-Site” by Brian Trent, F&SF, May/June 2018 (novelette)
  • Discard the Sun, for It Has Failed Us” by Marina J. Lostetter, Uncanny #22, May/June 2018 (short story)
  • “Inquisitive” by Pip Coen, F&SF, May/June 2018 (novelette)
  • “Life from the Sky” by Sue Burke, Asimov’s, May/June 2018 (novelette)
  • “While You Sleep, Computer Mice™ Earn Their Keep” by Buzz Dixon, Analog, May/June 2018 (short story)

Fantasy

Reviews

Magazines

Book

News

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Summation: April 2018

Ten of this month’s eleven noted stories (five recommended) come from the 58 (of about 240,000 words) that I’ve read with a publication date between April 1 and April 30. Nature and Terraform had a good month with a recommended story and an honorable mention each. Some venues appeared for just the first or second time this year (Grievous Angel, On Spec (reviewed for Tangent), and Strange Horizons (with an especially strong story)), though some of the usual suspects (BCS, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed) also pitched in. Aside from unusual venues, this month’s wombat is a relatively large number of SF (and no fantasy) honorable mentions.

The eleventh noted story is another first-time appearance. It comes from Slate‘s “Future Tense Fiction” department and coverage of that is one of three changes in Featured Futures to report. The latest “Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up” caught up on the stories already released this year and future stories will be continue to be covered there. Meanwhile, Lightspeed and Nightmare have been covered in the “Wrap-Ups” but will be covered as monthly issues beginning in May. Lastly, Featured Futures is going to the final frontier: coverage of short fiction in books. So far, there are a couple of collections and maybe an anthology I’ll see about covering in May.

Oh, and I also extended and (hopefully) improved the menus just under the banner.

Recommended:

Science Fiction

Fantasy

  • “Death and Natalie, Natalie and Death” by Jordan Taylor, On Spec #107, [April] 2018 (short story)
  • Strange Waters” by Samantha Mills, Strange Horizons, April 2, 2018 (short story)
  • The Thought That Counts” by K.J. Parker, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #250, April 26, 2018 (novelette)

Honorable Mentions:

Science Fiction

  • Carouseling” by Rich Larson, Clarkesworld #139, April 2018 (short story)
  • Domestic Violence” by Madeline Ashby, Slate, March 26, 2018 (short story)
  • Moonshot” by Andrew W. McCollough, Grievous Angel, April 18, 2018 (science fantasy short story)
  • A Most Elegant Solution” by M. Darusha Wehm, Terraform, April 27, 2018 (short story)
  • Requiem” by Christine Lucas, Nature, April 4, 2018 (short story)
  • What Is Eve?” by Will McIntosh, Lightspeed #95, April 2018 (novelette)

Reviews of the Above:

Edit (2018-05-01): Updated after reviewing Pulphouse #2 for Tangent on April 30.

Summation: March 2018

The fifteen noted stories (nine recommended) come from the 112 (of about 560,000 words) that I’ve read with a publication date between February 26 and March 31. The printzines were decent, with Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF and Interzone (the latter reviewed for Tangent) being represented by more than one story from their bi-monthly issues. On the web, Lightspeed has two from just this month while Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Flash Fiction Online, and Nature also make appearances.

Recommended:

Science Fiction

  • “The Camel’s Tail” by Tom Jolly, Analog, March/April 2018 (novelette)
  • “In Event of Moon Disaster” by Rich Larson , Asimov’s, March/April 2018 (short story)
  • The Independence Patch” by Bryan Camp, Lightspeed #94, March 2018 (short story)
  • “Likho” by Andy Stewart, F&SF, March/April 2018 (science fantasy novella)
  • “Never the Twain” by Michael Reid, Interzone #274, March/April 2018 (science fantasy short story)
  • This Big” by John Cooper Hamilton, Nature, March 21, 2018 (“science fiction” short story)

Fantasy

Honorable Mentions:

Science Fiction

  • “Bury Me in the Rainbow” by Bill Johnson, Asimov’s, March/April 2018 (novella)
  • Cosmic Spring” by Ken Liu, Lightspeed #94, March, 2018 (short story)
  • “The Harmonic Resonance of Ejiro Anaborhi” by Wole Talabi, F&SF, March/April 2018 (science fantasy short story)
  • “Physics Tomorrow” by Gregory Benford, Analog, March/April 2018 (fictional science article)
  • “Sicko” by Jerry Oltion, Analog, March/April 2018 (non-SF/F short story)

Fantasy

  • “baleen, baleen” by Alexandra Renwick, Interzone #274, March/April 2018 (short story)

Reviews of the Above:

 

Summation: February 2018

Demonstrating my usual quick wit, some time after posting the last “Summation of Online Fiction” which happily proclaimed my new coverage of print zines, I realized the title no longer applied. I could change it to “Summation of Short Fiction” but shorter’s better and I hopefully won’t ever have to change the one-word title again.

With that fixed, it’s the “February” subtitle that’s the problem this time. I’ve ironically read more March stories than February in February (47 vs. 38/171Kwds, not to mention the four late-January stories that were covered in the first “Weekly Webzine Wrap-Up” of February). I’ll hang on to the March stories until that “Summation,” so this post covers everything from January 27-February 25. This was a below-average month in the quantity of noted stories but they’re of especially high quality.

Risking a bit of lese majeste, I’ve also read and reviewed some of the stories selected for the various “year’s bests” that I’d missed or which weren’t previously available on the web and have listed the ones I liked below the usual lists.

Recommended:

Science Fiction

  • Umbernight” by Carolyn Ives Gilman, Clarkesworld #137, February 2018, novella

Fantasy

Honorable Mentions:

Science Fiction

  • Penitents” by Rich Larson, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #245, February 15, 2018, science fantasy short story
  • The Starship and the Temple Cat” by Yoon Ha Lee, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #244, February 1, 2018, science fantasy short story

Fantasy

  • I Don’t Bite” by Nicole Tanquary, Grievous Angel, February 6, 2018, short story

Reviews of the Above:


Belated 2017 Recommendations:

Belated 2017 Honorable Mentions:

Reviews of the Above:

Summation of Online Fiction: January 2018

Covering January short fiction was exciting (and busy), as Featured Futures added Analog, Ares, Asimov’s, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, F&SF, and Galaxy’s Edge to its roster, resulting in significantly more stories read than usual (86 of 455K words) and a similarly larger than usual recommended/mentioned list. In webzine news, and speaking of Galaxy’s Edge, I was going to add coverage of it as a print zine but, coincidentally, it returned to webzine status, once again making all its fiction available on the web. The categorized “List of Professional SF/F/H Magazines” (which doubles as a list of the markets Featured Futures covers as well as being a sort of index of reviews) has been updated to reflect this.

(By the way, this January summation actually covers just January 1-28 since weekly (sub-monthly/irregular) fiction is now covered in “Weekly Webzine Wrap-ups” and this week runs into February and will be covered in that month. The plan is to cover all future months/weeks the same way, without further comment.)

Recommended:

Science Fiction

  • “Galatea in Utopia” by Nick Wolven, F&SF, January/February 2018, novelette
  • The Hydraulic Emperor” by Arkady Martine, Uncanny #20, January/February 2018, short story
  • Sour Milk Girls” by Erin Roberts, Clarkesworld #136, January 2018, short story
  • “Ten and Ten” by Alan Dean Foster, Analog, January/February 2018, short story

Fantasy

Honorable Mentions:

Science Fiction

  • “Assassin in the Clouds” by Robert R. Chase, Asimov’s, January/February 2018, novelette
  • “In the Lost City of Leng” by Paul Di Filippo & Rudy Rucker, Asimov’s, January/February 2018, science fantasy novella
  • “A List of Forty-Nine Lies” by Steven Fischer, F&SF, January/February 2018, short story
  • “Margin of Error” by Paul Carlson, Analog, January/February 2018, short story
  • A Night Out at a Nice Place” Nick Mamatas, Apex #104, January 2018, short story

Fantasy

Reviews of the Above:

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.

Recommended:

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

Fantasy

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:

Fantasy

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.)

Summation of Online Fiction: November 2017

As I mention in the relevant recommendation, I belatedly discovered that the SFWA had added the flash zine Grievous Angel to its list of pro markets, so I caught up on it. Even with its intermittent microfiction help, this was a light month in which I read about 135K words from thirty-five of thirty-seven November stories. This month’s recommendations and honorable mentions, especially for science fiction, are also fairly light. There were still several good stories, though, and the 238th number of Beneath Ceaseless Skies was especially noteworthy.

Recommended:

Science Fiction

  • Odd Hours” by Tony Pisculli, Grievous Angel, SF/F short story (rec)

Fantasy

Honorable Mentions:

Science Fiction

Fantasy

From the backlog of Grievous Angel stories, “Candont” stuck out, which I discussed in the “Odd Hours” rec. I don’t ordinarily read reprints but Flash Fiction Online had the Lina Rather, who’s impressed me before and it was a quick flash from 2017, so I gave it a try and it’s worth a mention. (She also had a story published in The Arcanist which was fine, too, but a shade below “Night.”) “Night” is about a starship survey mission becoming a colonization mission when Earth wipes itself out but they don’t have much of a chance until an astronomical coincidence occurs. This story works on a symbolic level much more than a literal one but is evocative. “Fire” is an “if this goes on” which takes us to the ultimate conclusion of asteroid mining and is nicely bittersweet. “Arsia Mons” starts with the spectacularly unpromising premise of battlebots on Mars and makes a story of it which reads very quickly despite its length.

“Faerie” is the second Kayembe story I’ve read this year which is very good in many ways yet has a very damaging hole in it. The protagonist calls on supernatural aid but what ultimately occurs could have been done more cheaply without it. As a horror story, it’s also better suited for Nightmare than Lightspeed. All that said, it has compelling characters and situations and is well-written, much like her earlier “idiot-plot” “You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych” (which was published in Nightmare). This one also deals with a family: a little girl, her parents, her sister, and the sister’s very disturbing new husband. As “The Siret Mask,” recommended from the same BCS issue, had thievery and identity revelations, so “Serpent” has scam artists and revelations of motivation. The characters aren’t as appealing, the plot is somewhat simpler, and the style is a bit more Victorian but it’s a solid read.

(Postscript: Tor.com would have ordinarily released a story today but apparently ended its year, if not its life, about three weeks ago. Terraform may release a story tomorrow but hasn’t for a couple of weeks, so I’m not holding my breath, or this post.)

Edit (2017-12-01): update number/word count of stories read to reflect that Terraform did release that story.