“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
Pretty funny, though a bit generic as sexbot stories go.
“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
(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.
“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)
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.
“Little Trees and Paper Lanterns,” by Robert P. Kaye
Appeared in Jellyfish Review, January 17th, 2018
“One-Way Family,” by Claire Polders
Appeared in (b)OINK, December 12th, 2017
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.”
“Snowplow,” by Jon Methven
Appeared in The Awl, January 16th, 2018
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.
“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.
“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!