#JasonReadsShortStories for February 2018

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 — 28 days in February, 28 short stories read and reviewed.

Below are the reviews for all 28 stories, arranged by author's name. Also listed are the publication and story classification.

For the January reviews, go here. And if you like my reviews, consider supporting my Patreon.

February 2018 Reviews

"Dances With Snoglafanians"
Aimee Ogden, Daily Science Fiction, Flash
Forget everything you know about the white savior narrative in film b/c this is how Avatar and Dances with Wolves should have gone. A funny and truth-telling satire.

"Granny Death & the Drag King of London"
AJ Fitzwater, GlitterShip, Short Story
Lacey mourns for Freddie Mercury and her life at the height of the AIDs epidemic while being recruited by a grandmother of death. An excellent story which made me want to read more tales about these characters.

"Ten and Ten"
Alan Dean Foster, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Short Story
A researcher tries to communicate with a Pacific cuttlefish but time is running out. A good "slice of life plus science" SF story.

"A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies"
Alix E. Harrow, Apex Magazine, Short Story
Because all true librarians are witches who help readers connect with the book they need most. I love this story!

"Birth of the Ant Rights Movement"
Annalee Newitz, Spectacle Magazine, Short Story
A historic examination of the mutual discovery by ants and humans that the other species is sentient and can communicate. A quirky, thought-provoking story.

The Goddess Has Many Faces"
Ashok K. Banker, Lightspeed, Short Story
An assassin aims to kill the leader of an all-female breakaway region of India. This is a disturbing and violent yet ultimately insightful story showcasing the lengths some people will go to stop women from challenging the world's status quo. But as always, the soul of a movement is hard to kill.

"Where the Anchor Lies"
Benjamin C. Kinney, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Short Story
An aged general treks to the graveyard of her former warship/lover while contemplating how politicians use the military to manipulate citizens.

Carolyn Ives Gilman, Clarkesworld, Novella
An exciting hard SF tale of colonists on an alien world with tons of sensawunda, danger, and insight. Once I started reading this story I couldn't put it down. "Umbernight" merges Golden Age SF excitement with modern sensibilities as this world's new generation of colonists pay for their parents' sins. Also a great look at the clash between the rationalists & dreamers in every society & how both are needed. Highly recommended.

"Where Would You Be Now?"
Carrie Vaughn, Tor.com, Short Story
It's the end of the world and a group of doctors sets up an armed outpost to treat people in a Mad Max style USA. What I particularly like about Vaughn's story is it covers issues many male-focused post-apocalyptic tales ignore, including how without modern medical care both child birth and high infant mortality will kill a great many people.

"The Quiet Like a Homecoming"
Cassandra Khaw, Lightspeed, Short Story
A cat wife travels to Scandinavia to revisit places seen before. Beautifully written and hypnotic. There are lines in @casskhaw's story which grabbed my mind and made me pause. "...the color is absolute as a rich man’s confidence." and "Animal wives are performative, performances, a menagerie of curated expression and long-lashed silences." Wow!

"A Lumberjack’s Guide to Dryad Spotting"
Charles Payseur, Flash Fiction Online, Flash
A bittersweet yet beautiful slice of life about a lumberjack who will do anything to keep his dream of life and love. I don't read many stories twice in one hour, but I did with this great flash fiction story.

"Endless City"
David Gerrold, Jan/Feb 2018 Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Novelette
A hard-boiled detective is hired to investigate a client's murder moments before it happens in this merging of cyberspace & reality, where performance is everything & nothing. This novelette is hypnotic and dazzling, with something to insult everyone in a world where privacy might be the only unobtainable dream.

"The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington"
Henderson Djèlí Clark, Fireside Fiction, Short Story
A moving story melding ghosts and magic and humanity into something far truer than either fantasy or history. "The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington" proves that Clark is a writer to both watch and read. I wouldn't be surprised if this story earns award nominations and reprints in various year's best anthologies.

"Early Morning Service"
Irette Y. Patterson, Strange Horizons, Short Story
An immortal church usher lives off the faith and love of her dwindling congregation. A sad, touching, yet ultimately hopeful story.

"Deep Down in the Cloud"
Julie Novakova, Clarkesworld, Short Story
A hard SF scuba diving hacker story (yes, you read that correctly). A fast paced, exciting story. I'm particularly intrigued by the idea of putting server farms underwater to protect against a large increase in solar activity, which would damage all our modern tech.

"Just Another Love Song"
Kat Howard, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
A busking banshee takes on a jerk of a bro-culture fairy who forces people to fall in love with him. A fun, sweet story.

"Fairyless Tales"
Kyle Kirrin, Daily Science Fiction, Flash
Funny and sacrilegious takes on fables, as if Monty Python channeled the spirits of the Brothers Grimm.

"On the Occasion of a Burial of Ernest Zach Ulrich"
Mary Kuryla, Strange Horizons, Short Story
A powerful, language-twisting story which is also disturbing as hell (be sure to read the content warnings). To sumarize the story is near impossible, except to say it involves a shape-changing bear, an abandoned girl, and a man who needs to pay the local tax collector. The story left me shuddering in despair by the end.

"El is a Spaceship Melody"
Maurice Broaddus, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Novelette
Forget space opera, this story is pure space jazz as the starship Arkestra and her captain discover the human spirit is as limitless as the cosmos. For optimum enjoyment of Maurice Broaddus' jazz creation, I suggest playing Sun Ra while reading this story.

"He Dies Where I Die"
Michael Harris Cohen, The Dark, Short Story
A zama zamas miner goes too deep in the illegal search for gold. A disturbingly excellent horror story of both claustrophobia & darkness.

“Mother of Invention”
Nnedi Okorafor, Slate.com, Short Story
An excellent science fiction story looking at the future of truly smart homes, and how technology doesn't stop people from still hurting other people.

Ogbewe Amadin, Fireside Fiction, Short Story
A young girl explores why her mother said all witches are evil instead of calling out the people actually doing wrong in their village.This appears to be one of the first published stories by Ogbewe Amadin. Definitely a writer I'll make a point of reading again, and I look forward to seeing more stories from him.

"A Coward's Death"
Rahul Kanakia, Lightspeed, Short Story
The emperor orders first sons into slavery, but one man objects. Is his objection moral or merely selfish? A disturbing philosophical tale about taking a stand. While I disagree with the theory behind the story and its ultimate outcome and theory, reading it still made me reflect on what it means to stand up for your beliefs.  

Rich Larson, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Short Story
A black cube dances human survivors across a devastated and destroyed Earth. This is Sci-Fi Strange at it's best, almost a dark-mirror reverse of Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

"The Court Magician"
Sarah Pinsker, Lightspeed, Short Story
A young man learns the price of going from sleight of hand tricks to true magic. And the worst trick? That those in power never pay the same price. This story accomplishes more in 3000 words than many novel-length tales, and showcases how at its best fantasy can touch on deeper issues than much of what passes these days for "realistic" or "literary" mainstream fiction.

"Your Slaughterhouse, Your Killing Floor"
Sunny Moraine, Uncanny Magazine, Short Story
A young woman who is a living bomb represses her anger until she falls in love with another woman with explosive powers. The sparks literally fly in this story. And I love these lines: "She’s saying that fear is its own form of control and it’s immensely powerful. If you’re different—and they can tell, they can always tell—they’ll punish you for it."

"The Starship and the Temple Cat"
Yoon Ha Lee, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Short Story
The ghost of a temple cat and a sentient starship meet above the ruins of a dead city. A fun, witty story with lots of sensawunda. And SPACE CATS!