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Tag: short stories

An encouraging thing?

“Ten thousands things have to spark all at the same time, and cohere into a good hot flame, before a story results for me. I can still count the stories I’ve begun and finished on one hand.”

—Kai Ashante Wilson (x, found in a comment here)

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Short story: “Those We Feed”

“Those We Feed,” by Layla Al-Bedawi

Appeared in Fireside Magazine, January 2018, edited by Julia Rios; online here

557 words

An awesome parenthood nightmare.

I like that it’s not clear what the child actually is. An alien, a demon … it doesn’t matter.

Short story: “Uncanny”

“Uncanny,” by James Patrick Kelly

Appeared in Asimov’s, October/November 2014, Vol. 38, Nos. 10–11 (Whole Nos. 465–466), edited by Sheila Williams; read by Dani Cutler in episode 489 of Escape Pod, April 8th, 2015

1,421 words

Pretty funny, though a bit generic as sexbot stories go.

Short story: “Everyone Will Want One”

“Everyone Will Want One,” by Kelly Sandoval

Appeared in Asimov’s #464, September 2014, edited by Sheila Williams; read by Erin Bardua for episode 498 of Escape Pod, July 6th, 2015

5,837 words

(Spoilers.) An interesting artificial intelligence story, as well as a subtle, economical high school drama. (Or are they in middle school?) I like the note of hope at the end.

Flash fiction story: “The Blue Piano”

“The Blue Piano,” by Charles Rafferty

Appeared in Juked, January 16th, 2018 (I don’t think it appeared in a print issue; it doesn’t say)

537 words

I’m tagging this “failures of human connection” even though it’s mostly about an inanimate object. The piano is like a living thing, a symbol of the men’s failure to honor the old man and his wife.

Flash fiction story: “Little Trees and Paper Lanterns”

“Little Trees and Paper Lanterns,” by Robert P. Kaye

Appeared in Jellyfish Review, January 17th, 2018

802 words

Dryly funny.

Flash fiction story: “One-Way Family”

“One-Way Family,” by Claire Polders

Appeared in (b)OINK, December 12th, 2017

544 words

I like this story. The tragedy of the protagonist finding her (?) way to loving her sister only when it’s too late.

“Happiness, he said, is a pause between misery and regret.”

Short story: “Snowplow”

“Snowplow,” by Jon Methven

Appeared in The Awl, January 16th, 2018

2,980 words

This is clever and amusing, but I don’t think it works very well as satire, because corporate crackdowns on harassment, to my knowledge, haven’t been very extreme at all. Chaperones at company events is the most remarkable thing I’ve heard of. I do like the ending.

It’s a shame The Awl is shutting down, along with The Hairpin. They ran some interesting stuff.

Short stories: “The Seeds of Consciousness: 4107’s Story” and “The Final Commandment: Trey’s Story”

“The Seeds of Consciousness: 4107’s Story” and “The Final Commandment: Trey’s Story,” both by James Gunn

Appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, January/February 2018

Both about the same length, not sure how many words

These stories irritated me terribly. They consist almost entirely of expository backstory: the intelligent alien beings evolved the ability to communicate, then they went to war with other beings, then they desired the technology to visit the stars, et cetera. Seriously, that’s it. The fact that Asimov’s prints this kind of thing suggests to me that there’s a whole genre of science fiction I’m unfamiliar with, one in which this type of exposition is expected and welcomed, and which is certainly not my cup of tea. Or maybe Gunn is just a big name in this genre.

As exposition goes, it’s certainly well written, but that’s the best I can say about it.

Edited to add: Maybe I would find this more engaging if I had read his trilogy, which these pieces are closely related to.

Short story: “A Little Hero”

“A Little Hero” (“Маленький герой”), by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (originally under the pseudonym “М-ий”)

According to the Russian Wikipedia, written in prison and first published in 1857 in the eighth issue of the magazine Отечественные записки/Otechestvennye Zapiski (Notes of the Fatherland); collected in White Nights and Other Stories, translated by Constance Garnett (on Gutenberg.org); also online here

14,930 words in English

Have I mentioned I’m a sucker for a well-written child character? And for Dostoyevsky’s children especially? I love the cruelty of the coquette who teases him, the way he demands respect and gets it, his childishness even as he edges near adolescence, and above all, the ending.

Any story about a child or adolescent is liable to read as a coming-of-age story, because like any main character, the child/adolescent must change in some way. (Though there are exceptions, like “Voices Lost in Snow.”) “A Little Hero,” however, seems to portray a genuine coming of age, as its main character learns to deal with the first blushes of sexuality, to assert himself, and to take action for others’ sakes.

Like most of my favorite first-person stories of children, this one is clearly narrated by the adult, with complete sympathy for his childhood self.

What a thing to have written in prison! What a thing to have written with a death sentence hanging over your head!