I’ve been meaning to do a series of short fiction recommendation posts for a couple of years now but never got around to it. I’m beginning now with this post. Some of these have been in my micro-review series which I’ve hashtagged #NinShortFicPicks2019. These are all arbitrary and based on my personal preference and should therefore not be taken as any kind of recommendations for awards and is not composed to be construed as any kind of slate. Mainly, I am a literary scholar who has done a lot of work on the short story as a form both in my literary analysis and in my work as a short story author myself. I therefore have very specific tastes. I hope you enjoy these tales as much as I have!
Blood, Bone, Seed, Spark by Aimee Ogden (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #271).
Powerful, heartbreaking, featuring some unsettling bio-punk which adds weight, heft and pathos to a story set on a secondary world but with resonances of very old struggles in this one. Breathtaking!
Poems Written While by Natalia Theodoridou (Uncanny Magazine #26)
This story had me utterly gobsmacked. I had to read it out loud to myself. It’s so heartrendingly beautiful and perfect I didn’t want the story to end, and was almost furious when it did end!
The Last Eagle by Natalia Theodoridou (Clarkesworld #2019)
A masterful tale with such an evocative sense of place, such unforgettable characters and Natalia’s trademark turn of phrase, so crisp you could slice hard bread clean with it.
Do Not Look Back, My Lion by Alix E. Harrow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #270)
A strong narrative that builds the tension towards a shattering ending. Unforgettable characters etched in stark lines. Breathtaking characterization/worldbuilding!
For Whatever We Lose by Jennifer R. Donohue (Luna Station Quarterly #037)
This story is completely heartbreaking and contains the kernel of all that we love about SFF, and how it contains our hopes, heartbreaks and particular wishes. I think this is strongly amongst Jennifer’s best works.
Green is for Wishes and Apples by Kathryn McMahon
Lyrical, eerie and lush, I loved this witch narrative to bits. #037 seems a particularly strong issue of Luna Station Quarterly and I was utterly delighted by this tale.
Undercurrents by Charles Payseur (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #274)
This is the second story in Payseur’s vivid world featuring rivers like you’ve never read them before. The prose is compelling, the world vividly drawn and lush enough I’d happily read a novel set in this world. The characters are instantly relatable and this was a read that had me cheering at the end of the story. Brava!
Fury at The Crossroads by Troy L. Wiggins (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #276)
Strong, sharp and lyrical narrative prose, a fantasy with solidly Gothic underpinnings. This is a very powerful story, Wiggins’s envision of New Molen is good fantasy but is also deeply literary, enough that I could see a book set in this world firmly in a shelf of great American literature.
Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island by Nibedita Sen (Lightspeed #80)
I rather enjoyed the embedded, academic effect of this experimental piece, which does a lot to unpack the colonial underpinnings of fantasy narratives.
Who Has Never Loved a Gentle House? by Osahon Ize-Iyamu (Strange Horizons, May 2019)
A haunted house tale with talking crows. Magic realism meets horror. Thoroughly enjoyable, beautifully written.
Road: A Fairytale by Shalini Srinivasan (Strange Horizons, May 2019)
A story about a road. This story is haunted, urban, at turns savage and gentle, and it captures something about cities that succeeds where many other narratives fail. Vital and vibrant, this is one of my favourite short story reads of 2019.
Revival by Lisa M. Bradley (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #279)
An exhilarating yet quietly unsettling story with poetic prose and a dreamlike narration that is solid enough to make the reader feel deeply for the protagonist. I really enjoyed this!