Tag: happy endings

Short story: “Loyalty Test”

“Loyalty Test,” by Andrew Gudgel

Featured in Escape Pod 649, October 11th, 2018

2,561 words

An enjoyable yarn. I didn’t see the ending coming—I wonder if I should have? Either way, fun.


Short story: “Mirror Ball”

“Mirror Ball” or “Mirrorball,” by Mary Gaitskill

Appeared in Index (a magazine I can’t seem to track down online); collected in Don’t Cry: Stories (2009, Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc.); featured on the Knopf Doubleday site on April 24th, 2009

7,474 words

Fascinating. There’s so much abstraction, and yet the story comes through as vivid and urgent. Lots of imagery to keep it grounded.

Gaitskill seems to have a remarkable view of sex, and a remarkably dark view of casual sex and sex work. Perhaps she believes sex should be confined to stable relationships because it’s so dangerous emotionally (or rather, according to the worldbuilding of this story, spiritually). Pardon me for speculating about the author, but it’s hard to resist when the theme runs so unmistakably through other stories of hers, like “The Agonized Face.” It’s an attitude that overlaps with the puritanical, though the rawness, frankness, and intensity of her work is far from it.

How strange that this young woman (“girl”) is saved by an encounter with a homeless-looking man and by her rather inappropriate, desperate phone call. How wonderful that this young man (“boy,” thank goodness for gender parity—perhaps they are so called because of their innocent foolishness, their ignorance of the nature of souls) answers his phone when he has good reason not to.

Flash fiction story: “The Golden Key”

“The Golden Key,” by Carlea Holl-Jensen

Appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE #17, Spring 2018, March 20th, 2018; online here March 16th

841 words

An interesting piece with a great ending. Seems to be about an emotionally reserved/deadened man rediscovering a sense of romance (I mean, not eros romance, but the romance of mystery and delight). I like the way the romantic title contrasts with the mundane appearance of the key in the story. Maybe the key and box have to appear mundane in order to break through the main character’s reserve? A more conventionally fairy-tale-ish golden key and beautifully carved wooden box might have provoked his skepticism or cynicism, too fantastic to be real.

Holl-Jensen is the editor of a magazine by the same title.

Edited to add: I think this story does something unusual—introduces a character’s typical state (emotional reserve) while almost simultaneously showing how that typical state breaks down in the face of an unusual event. It works for me, even though the character’s typical state is more told than shown.

Short story: “The Better Part of Drowning”

“The Better Part of Drowning,” by Octavia Cade

Appeared in The Dark, November 2017 issueonline here

5,207 words

A grim story full of mysterious and highly original worldbuilding.

Short story: “Love Like Monkeys”

“Love Like Monkeys,” by Jess Zimmerman

Appeared in Terraform, January 13th, 2017

2822 words

This story raises a bunch of creepy possibilities and refuses to fully resolve them. Not my cup of tea, although I can see it’s well done.

An interesting review: “What I liked about this story is that it’s a ‘gotcha’ story without a moral. It has the form of one of those irritating stories that the coffeehouse nerd in the brown cardigan writes to try to ‘wake people up.’ […] This story is happy to let it lie.”

Short story: “Fandom for Robots”

“Fandom for Robots,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad

Appeared in Uncanny Magazine Issue Eighteen, September 5, 2017

3530 words

This made me laugh out loud. Whatever bad things I’ve said about robots cutely misunderstanding human emotion, I take them back.

Short story: “The Wretched and the Beautiful”

“The Wretched and the Beautiful,” by E. Lily Yu

Appeared in Terraform, February 6th, 2017

2559 words

An elegant story. While I have no doubt about the author’s politics, the story itself makes its point with delicacy, almost ambiguity.

A nice touch: “For this special edition of Terraform, the writer, award-winning E. Lily Yu, artist, Jason Arias, and me, the editor, will be donating our fees to the International Rescue Committee, a group founded at the behest of Albert Einstein, which assists refugees around the world.”

Short story: “The Interruption”

“The Interruption,” by Debbie Urbanski

Appeared in Terraform (on Vice‘s Motherboard), September 22nd, 2017

1915 words

I like this one. Good evocation of the main character’s rather unhappy life and (subtly, towards the end) the sense of freedom she finds in being lost. Wouldn’t feel out of place in a literary fiction publication.

I like how Terraform embraces stories that, while only science fiction in a loose sense if at all, use technology or science in interesting ways.

Short story: “Jonny Appleseed”

“Jonny Appleseed,” by Joshua Whitehead

Appeared in The Malahat Review (PDF), issue #197: Indigenous Perspectives, Winter 2016, guest-edited by Richard Van Camp

5273 words

An interesting look at growing up gay on a reservation. The ending isn’t really the end, of course—the main character is likely to have a lot more problems in his life—but it’s nice: an intimate moment with a boyfriend who accepts him as he is. (I don’t think he ever told Tias about Lucia, but they’re intimate all the same.)

Short story: “George and Elizabeth”

“George and Elizabeth,” by Ben Marcus

Appeared in Granta 133: What Have We Done (online here, behind a paywall), November 18th, 2015

8273 words

The relentless cynicism (detachment? deflection? cruel superficiality?) of the narration is all worth it for that last line.