“Carouseling,” by Rich Larson
Appeared in Clarkesworld, issue 139, April 2018 (read by Kate Baker on the podcast)
A fine heartstring-tugger.
“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
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.
“Coda,” by Emily Everett
Appeared in Tin House‘s Flash Friday feature, December 8th, 2017
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.
“The Jamcoi,” by J. M. McDermott
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.
“The Wretched and the Beautiful,” by E. Lily Yu
Appeared in Terraform, February 6th, 2017
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.”
“When the Lady Speaks,” by Damien Angelica Walters
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.
“What’s Not There Can’t Hurt You,” by Sara Taylor
Appeared in Granta, October 28th, 2016
I can’t decide if I’m satisfied with the ending. The reveal that refuses to resolve anything reminds me of “Suzanne Delage.”