Tag: unhappy endings

Short story: “Carouseling”

“Carouseling,” by Rich Larson

Appeared in Clarkesworld, issue 139, April 2018 (read by Kate Baker on the podcast)

5,279 words

A fine heartstring-tugger.


Short story: “Sparg”

“Sparg,” by Brian Trent

Appeared in Daily Science Fiction in 2013; read by Alasdair Stuart for Escape Pod 614, February 8th, 2018

2,010 words, pretty close to my guess

Oh no.

What a good dog cephalopod critter.

Short story: “Surveillance Fatigue”

“Surveillance Fatigue,” by Jennifer R. Donohue

Read by Diane Severson Mori for Escape Pod 623, April 12th, 2018

2,273 words

Troublingly believable. Great last line.

Short story: “The Hanging Stranger”

“The Hanging Stranger,” by Philip K. Dick

First published in Science Fiction Adventures, December 1953; collected in Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick; available as an ebook from Offworlders here; reprinted by TeknoBooks, June 14th, 2007; online here on americanliterature.com; also on Scribd

5,234 words


I was slightly disappointed by the insect-like beings; I would have liked to see the threat be less specific, more enigmatic, in keeping with the atmosphere of paranoia and uncertainty.

Flash fiction story: “Coda”

“Coda,” by Emily Everett

Appeared in Tin House‘s Flash Friday feature, December 8th, 2017

828 words

In another story, the last paragraph would be a happy ending, but here it means the loss of the main character’s chance at agency, free choice, a life of her own. Elegantly done.

Short story: “The Jamcoi”

“The Jamcoi,” by J. M. McDermott

First appeared in the collection Disintegration Visions (Apex Publications, 2012); reprinted by Apex here, November 26th, 2014; read with gusto by Setsu Uzume in PseudoPod 570, November 23rd, 2017

6,516 words

I enjoy this very much. It makes me think of lobsters, which have to be boiled alive to get the right flavor, and veal calves, which have to be confined in tight pens and deprived of iron—even the scanty iron they could derive from licking their own urine off the floor—to get the right tenderness. And foie gras.

I like that when the husband suggests that the bird really doesn’t feel anything, and really it only feels pleasure at the endorphin rush (he doesn’t seem to notice the contradiction), the wife says, “Don’t ever say that again, David. Please, don’t ever say that to me again.” I like the vision of the imaginary daughter, drinking from her little teacup.

I feel like this story could go further, could do something beyond just the intense descriptions of suffering and the rather literary ending. Not sure what.

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: “When the Lady Speaks”

“When the Lady Speaks,” by Damien Angelica Walters

First appeared in the anthology What Fates Impose, August 15th, 2013, by Alliteration Ink (on Goodreads); subsequently online here in Gamut

3333 words

Cool piece.

I think Marian changes her name to Marina to play her fortune teller role, but later the fortune teller is called Marian too. Probably a copy editor’s error.

Short story: “Pray on the Weak”

“Pray on the Weak,” by Katja L. Kaine

Appeared in Fabula Argentea, October 2nd, 2017

2404 words

Really evokes the main character’s frustration and struggle. I didn’t care for the last line, which seems to raise questions that belong in another, different story.

Short story: “What’s Not There Can’t Hurt You”

“What’s Not There Can’t Hurt You,” by Sara Taylor

Appeared in Granta, October 28th, 2016

1915 words

Creepy. I’m pleased to see Granta publishing something that wouldn’t feel out of place in Nightmare or Pseudopod—they’re genre-flexible when the writing is good.

I can’t decide if I’m satisfied with the ending. The reveal that refuses to resolve anything reminds me of “Suzanne Delage.”