One of my goals this year is to read and review a short story every day. And here we go with the second month of the year — 31 days in March, 31 short stories read and reviewed.
Below are the reviews for all 31 stories, arranged by author's name. Also listed are the publication and story classification.
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March 2018 Reviews
A. T. Greenblatt, Uncanny Magazine, Short Story
A theoretical physicist tries to determine if haunted houses are merely doorways to parallel versions of your life. A moving & emotional look at the choices we make. And I so love the story's opening line: "Only idiots go back to the haunted houses of their childhood. And yet."
Alexandra Renwick, Asimov's Science Fiction, Mar/Apr 2018, Short Story
Two future teenagers love historic punk rock but unfriend each other when one leaves to help settle Mars. A funny and insightful story about how cultural trends come and go but truth remains.
Alexandra Renwick, Interzone 274, Short Story
Zeke hates his life, but every time he almost drowns at sea the world changes. Maybe he can learn to change it for the better. A hypnotic story which dances like an ocean current.
"Four-Point Affective Calibration"
Bogi Takács, Lightspeed Magazine, Flash
An insightful story about how human conformity and neurotypical thoughts/emotions can hinder attempts to communicate with aliens. As the story shows, human communications are always tied in with emotions & cultural contexts. But humanity's neurodiversity also means there's a range of amazing ways to see, experience & communicate about our world. I wish more people understood that.
"A Priest of Vast and Distant Places"
Cassandra Khaw, Apex Magazine, Short Story
Airplanes are actually gods and you are their priest in this emotional tribute to the joys and pains of both home and travel.
"Five Tangibles and One"
D.A. Xiaolin Spires, Vice Motherboard, Short Story
A sexbot helping humans with marital counseling falls for a fellow bot. Or is their love merely a virus? A touching, insightful tale. And I absolutely love how @spireswriter created a world where bots are addicted to smoking kudzu leaves! This is a perfect example of how small, creative details in world building can make a story click into the deeper consciousness of readers.
"The No-One Girl and the Flower of the Farther Shore"
E. Lily Yu, Clarkesworld, Short Story
A girl abandoned by her village learns the truth known by the flowers of the farthest shore, which is that no one is ever truly alone.
"All the Time in the Sky"
H. L. Fullerton, Daily Science Fiction, Flash
The sun splits in two, as seen through the relationship of two people among the billions watching this cosmic mystery. A moving flash story about how every historic or cosmic change is witnessed and felt on a very personal level. Even if we don't understand why it happened.
"Your Damnation Will Be Infinite"
Hadeer Elsbai, The Dark, Short Story
A young woman in Cairo kills her abusive husband as part of a strange ceremony. But now she wonders about what she may have unleashed. A lush, darkly troubling story which presents no easy answers.
Helen French, Flash Fiction Online, Flash
When a family's dragon dies, the dragon's meat isn't to be wasted. A short, deep tale about the painful results when those we love are degraded by being a mere possession.
"Unplaces: An Atlas of Non-existence"
Izzy Wasserstein, Clarkesworld, Short Story
A woman hiding from a fascist militia writes her story in a book describing imaginary and lost places. This story is fascinating and well told, and a painful look at how any place or ideal can vanish — just as the America in the main character's time likewise becomes a dream which no longer exists.
"Braving the Morrow Candle’s Wane"
J.W. Alden, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Short Story
An old woman who lost her religious faith in the foolish wars of her youth has learned to believe in something far better — other people.
"Bury Me with Broken Love Light Bulbs, Bury Me in Shattered Glass"
Jack Westlake, Black Static 62, Short Story
A man addicted to alcohol becomes friends with a man addicted to eating glass. A disturbing and horrifying look at addiction and loneliness.
"Beautiful Quiet of the Roaring Freeway"
James Sallis, Interzone 274, Flash
What does the freedom of the road mean when only self-driving vehicles travel on the freeways? A short, lyrical look at our dreams of driving away.
“A Very Large Number of Moons”
Kai Stewart, Strange Horizons, Flash
A collector of moons shows how much of life is illuminated by moonlight. A touching, beautifully moonlit slice of flash fiction.
Ken Liu, Lightspeed Magazine, Short Story
A sailor steers an island-ship through the heat death of the universe while trying to remember all that was. "Cosmic Spring" is a beautiful story of eternity, memory & spending time with friends as the universe ends. The sense of wonder in this story — wow. One of the year's best. And so many great lines like "It’s not home, but at least we don’t have to die alone."
Kij Johnson, Clarkesworld, Short Story
The many different versions of the life of a girl with tentacles. In this story as in life, truth is a colorful, many limbed thing, just like an octopus. A beautiful, subtle story which moved me even as it flits beyond simple explanations or narratives. One of the best stories I've read this year.
The Mansion of Endless Rooms"
L. Chan, Syntax and Salt, Flash
A man carries his dead father to a mansion outside time, where his father's memories can live forever. a beautiful merger of truth & words, reaching deeper into sorrow and pain than stories a hundred times the length. A must read tale & one of the year's best.
Lilliam Rivera, Nightmare Magazine, Short Story
To stop a monster from feeding on people, families gift her food. But one starving girl hates being part of this. A moving, disturbing story on the horror of mistreating women.
Madeline Ashby, Slate, Short Story
An HR manager at a future workplace counsels a domestic violence victim to keep her performing like any good employee. Or is the manager really counseling herself? A subtle, eye-opening story which demonstrates how abusers can and will use technology to maintain control and hurt people. A must-read story of a troubling future.
"A Swim and a Crawl"
Marc Laidlaw, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Mar/Apr. 2018, Short Story
A man allows himself to be swept away to sea but eventually he swims back to shore and the cliff leading to safety. But what is that voice he hears? A disturbing little horror story.
"The Ghost In Angelica’s Room"
Maria Haskins, Flash Fiction Online, Flash
A young woman's ghostly father visits her every evening and asks how her day went. a painful scream of a story, begging us to remember that everyone lives alongside the ghosts of those who were as scared as we are. And that living can be far harder than dying.
"Never the Twain"
Michael Reid, Interzone 274, Short Story
A person living simultaneous lives in the present & far future faces the death of one self, even if their future half knows how to save them. A touching time paradox story.
"Child of Snow"
Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Daily Science Fiction, Short Story
A young man born of snow goes out into the world with his father, who aims to do him harm.
"In Event of Moon Disaster"
Rich Larson, Asimov's Science Fiction, Mar/Apr 2018, Short Story
After a strange asteroid hits the moon, a 2-person spaceship finds person after person knocking on their airlock door. Echoes of "The Cold Equations" in this story.
“The Triumphant Ward of the Railroad and the Sea”
Sara Saab, Shimmer, Short Story
A competitive eater travels endlessly by train along a coastal sea. A chillingly beautiful slipstream story of loneliness and the hunger which eating can never fill. And I love Saab's writing: "Loneliness is not the consistency of coal — it is not dry or porous or easy to palm. It is a fish, a thing of the ocean, slapping forever in the chest, eroding a space in the heart shaped like its own body."
"Do As I Do, Sing As I Sing"
Sarah Pinsker, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Novelette
A young cropsinger is determined to aid her village despite her brother's jealousy. I love Pinsker's storytelling as I fell in love with the main character & setting. And the story showcases how envy and anger are bad reasons to aim to change the world, even if they're behind so many of our world's technological advances.
"Occasionally in the Night, a Vague Craving Arose"
Sean Ennis, Tin House, Short Story
Benny the Therapist & everyone in an extended rehab decide candy helps them fight their addictions. A quirky, insightful look at how so much of life is addiction.
"Opium for Ezra"
T.R. Napper, Interzone 274, Short Story
The commander of a nearly indestructible tank has survived for 9 months on a devastated battlefield. Now he battles a new enemy along with reality. A powerful, gritty and painful SF war story, with a hell of a plot twist at the end.
"A Dog of Wu"
Ted Rabinowitz, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Mar/Apr 2018, Novelette
In a far future where families of genetic clones control Earth, a culler searches for those who have gone against the pre-ordained way. An excellent story, mixing Brave New World w modern ideas.
"Traces of Us"
Vanessa Fogg, GigaNotoSaurus, Short Story
A beautiful, touching science fiction story of two people embracing each other across eternity. This is me crying over this joyous song of a love story.