Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, The Sunday Morning Transport, and Future Tense

Clarkesworld 5/22 The Sunday Morning Transport 5/22 Future Tense 4/22

Two of my favorite stories in Clarkesworld for May are translated. “The Possibly Brief Life of Guang Hansheng” by Liang Qingsan (translated by Andy Dudak) features a rather melancholy narrator who becomes obsessed with an early science fiction author, Guang Hansheng, after seeing a snippet of his work in a museum. He begins a course of obsessive research, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Omenana, Samovar, and Analog

Omenana 4/22 Samovar 4/22 Analog 5-6/22

In its 21st issue, Omenana continues to bring a fascinating mix of fantasy, science fiction, and horror from African writers. “Madam Aisirhiowen’s Greatest Invention” by Amadin Ogbewe is an interesting story of a woman who transformed herself into a cyborg ruler. When we meet her she is deposed and staying with her great-granddaughter, build­ing something with her minions. It’s pretty ominous, but ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: khōréō, Luna Station Quarterly, and Shoreline of Infinity

khōréō 3/22 Luna Station Quarterly 3/22 Shoreline of Infinity 3/22

Starting in on its second year, khōréō has another strong issue with five original stories. ‘‘Phoenix Tile’’ by Guan Un is a fun story about Ah Lok, a trickster demigod starting to fade out in Chinatown. He cons his way to the East Wind’s hangout, and mayhem ensues – possibly enough chaos to get him back on track. ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Solarpunk, The Sunday Morning Transport, and Clarkesworld

Solarpunk Magazine 1-2/22, 3-4/22 The Sunday Morning Transport 3/6, 3/27, 4/3/22 Clarkesworld 4/22

I was sent the debut issue of Solarpunk Maga­zine, and I liked it so much I followed up with the second issue. While I tend to be skeptical of using “punk” as a suffix denoting various subgenres of speculative fiction, I’m more sympa­thetic to its use here. There’s so much news and so much of it is ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Future SF Digest, Clarkesworld, and Asimov’s

Future SF Digest 3/22 Clarkesworld 3/22 Asimov’s 3-4/22

Now more than ever I’d like to put the work of Future Science Fiction Digest front and center. Since 2018 it has been unusually strong in bringing voices from around the world to readers, both in English and in translation. As I write this the war in Ukraine is a few weeks old, and editor Alex Shvarts­man writes movingly in the Foreword ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Slate Future Tense, Translunar Travelers Lounge, and The Sunday Morning Transport

Slate Future Tense 1/22 Translunar Traveler’s Lounge 2/22 The Sunday Morning Transport 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/27/22

The January story in Slate Future Tense is “If We Make It Through This Alive” by A.T. Greenblatt. It’s a really cool story about three friends who enter a road race to try to make it across America, Pennsylvania to California, in a post-collapse future. Crumbled infrastructure is only the start ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Clarkesworld, Analog, and The Sunday Morning Transport

Clarkesworld 2/22 Analog 3-4/2022 The Sunday Morning Transport 1/23/2022

The first three stories in February’s Clarkes­world all feature an aspect of human life that I’ve long felt gets short shrift in science fiction in particular, but also in fan­tasy – parenting. I was complaining once (after I became a parent myself, naturally) that I just did not see many folks with kids in these stories, and someone (childless, I believe) ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Metaphorosis, Apparition Lit, and Mysterion

Metaphorosis 2/2022 Apparition Lit 1/2022 Mysterion 1-2/2022

I’ve enjoyed every issue of Metaphorosis Magazine that I’ve picked up, and I always regret not getting to all of them. The February issue features two debuts, starting with “Freely Given” by Connor Mellegers. In Jean and Ev’s society, giving larger gifts grants you vastly increased social status, while laboring for wages is looked down upon. Joan sets up Ev ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Clarkesworld, Abyss & Apex and The Sunday Morning Transport

Clarkesworld 1/22 Abyss & Apex Q1 ’22 The Sunday Morning Transport 1/9/22, 1/16/22

Back in my usual haunts, January’s Clarkesworld opens with a story of grief, love, and food in “The Uncurling of Samsara” by Koji A. Dae. The narra­tor is part of a family that has historically provided food engineering for their generation starship, a very important job that keeps the population healthy and uplifts morale. ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Analog and Asimov’s

Analog 1-2/22 Asimov’s 1-2/22

When I took over part of the Locus short fiction reviewing duties after Gardner Dozois’ sad passing in 2018, I figured I’d be sharing this space with Rich Horton for many years to come. But as he announced in Janu­ary, he has retired from his column and is turning his attention elsewhere – especially to adorable grandchildren! So I find myself starting on this verso page ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Tor.com

Strange Horizons 11/8/21, 11/29/21, 12/6/21, 12/13/21 Clarkesworld 12/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 12/2/21, 12/16/21 Tor.com 12/1/21

This month I’m able to say goodbye to 2021; you can find my year-end wrap up elsewhere, but I’ll say that 2021 was pretty wild, but in ways I hope end up being more positive than 2020 was. As always, I was only able to read a fraction of all the short fiction out there, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Speculative North, Electric Spec, Daily SF, and Etherea

Speculative North 2/2021 Electric Spec 11/21 Daily SF 12/3/21 Etherea 11/21

Speculative North started in May 2020 and I picked it up with its fourth issue, which might be its only one in 2021. Although it’s published from Canada it seemed to have a broad swath of authors from Eu­rope and North America. Among the variety there’s “The Cat’s Tale” by C.J. Carter-Stephenson, a fun Arthurian tale ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Karen Burnham

2021 was a tumultuous year for me personally, but I’m ending it in a much better place than I began (psychologically speaking). I fervently wish the same for all of you, and I think we all hope that 2022 might, some­how, be less tumultuous than the last few years. Through it all I’m always amazed and impressed by the writers who keep writing and the editors who keep editing, through ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Fiyah, Clarkesworld, Apex Magazine, and Strange Horizons

Fiyah Fall ’21 Clarkesworld 11/21 Apex Magazine 10/21 Strange Horizons 10/21

While you, the reader, embark upon 2022 with whatever the world has to offer you, I, the reviewer, will spend this month and the next finishing up the stories of 2021. The 20th issue of Fiyah – “Love, Death, and Androids” – shows how our interactions with robots say much more about us than about them. “The First ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Future Science Fiction, Lightspeed, and Tor.com

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 10/21, 11/4, 11/18/21 Future Science Fiction Digest 9/21 Lightspeed 12/21 Tor.com 11/10/21

Chris Willrich returns to the pages of Be­neath Ceaseless Skies in issue #341 with “A Manslaughter of Crows”, a new story about Shadowdrop the cat. This long story brings Shad­owdrop’s city to an election period, with all sorts of shenanigans being perpetrated, some of which require our feline hero to team up with ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Tor.com and Strange Horizons

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 10/7/21 Clarkesworld 10/21 Tor.com 9/8, 9/15, 9/29, 10/13, 10/20/21 Strange Horizons 9/13/21

Beneath Ceaseless Skies is a strong, high-quality venue, week in and week out, but on anniversaries and big milestones editor Scott Andrews pulls out the stops. For the 13th Anniversary we get a double issue filled with magic. First up is “The Burning Girl” by Carrie Vaughn, an alternate history in which ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, Mithila Review, Common Tongues, and Bards & Sages

Lightspeed 10/21 Mithila Review 3/21 Common Tongue 8/21 Bards & Sages 10/21

October’s Lightspeed has plenty of stories with chewy premises to enjoy. “Stowaways” by Andrew Dana Hudson is a flash piece told in the form of a museum sign explaining an art piece. This dangerous piece of art can “install” itself in viewers’ brains whenever enough “infected” people gather nearby. Its main effect is to generate companion ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Hexagon

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 9/9, 9/23/21

Clarkesworld 9/21

Strange Horizons 8/21

Lightspeed 10/21

Hexagon Fall ’21

While Beneath Ceaseless Skies doesn’t typically do theme issues, the fact that each features a pair of stories lets us find synchronous themes pretty often. Issue #338 features two young people facing very different coming-of-age trials. In “The Shape of Wings and Feathers” by Jenny Rae Rappaport, Bryce is a young girl ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, Futures, Abyss & Apex, Lackington’s, and Speculative City

Lightspeed 10/21 Nature: Futures 9/17/21 Abyss & Apex Summer ’21 Lackington’s Spring ’21 Speculative City Spring ’21

The fantasy side of the October issue of Light­speed brings us a novelette by PH Lee & Rachel Swirsky, continuing their Dusty Boots series of fairytale-style stories. ‘‘The Ash-Girl and the Salmon Prince’’ blends Cinderella tropes with The Fisherman and His Wife and a hint of Blue­beard. The ash-girl is ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, Fiyah, and Clarkesworld, and

Tor.com 8/4/21, 8/18/21, 8/25/21 Fiyah Summer ’21 Clarkesworld 8/21

To start off this month, I’d like to highlight two stories that use abstract mathematics in interesting ways. The August Clarkesworld features “The Serpentine Band” by Congyun ‘Mu Ming’ Gu (translated by Tian Huang) which tips over into novella territory at 18,500 words. It is a beautiful story of a bureaucrat in historical China. We learn about the life ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed, and Strange Horizons

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/15/21, 7/29/21, 8/12/21, 8/26/21 Lightspeed 8/21, 9/21 Strange Horizons 7/21

I had fallen behind on Beneath Ceaseless Skies since reading two issues a month is not quite enough to keep up with a once-every-two weeks publishing schedule. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with this particular magazine, since you never know quite where it will take you. Issue #334 has two stories of people displaced from ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed, and Future Science Fiction Digest

Clarkesworld 7/21 Tor.com 7/7, 7/21/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/17, 7/1/21 Lightspeed 7/21 Future Science Fiction Digest 6/21

July’s Clarkesworld has seven stories that range far and wide across the genre spaces. We begin with “Promises We Made Under A Brick-Dark Sky” by Karen Osborne, which uses the permeability of “evaporating genres” (as fellow Locus columnist Gary Wolfe has termed it) to set up and subvert our expectations ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, The Deadlands, khōréō, and The Economist

Strange Horizons 5/31 The Deadlands 6/21 khōréō 6/21 The Economist 6/25/21

At the end of May Strange Horizons put out a special issue dealing with transgender themes. Along with nine poems and three non-fiction ar­ticles are three original short stories. My favorite is ‘‘Women Want Me, Fish Fear Me’’ by Paris Green. In this future, genemods based on different animals are fairly common, and the narrator’s are ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, Omenana, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com

Lightspeed 6/21 Omenana 4/21 Strange Horizons 6/21/21 Tor.com 6/9/21, 6/16/21, 6/23/21

June’s Lightspeed features some interesting scenar­ios in both the science fiction and fantasy sections. Timothy Mudie‘s “Different People” imagines that an unmarried man is contacted by the woman who was his wife in the parallel universe she had to flee from. She finds him and they start a relationship; when she starts to dive back into ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Anathema, and BCS

Clarkesworld 6/21 Anathema 5/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 5/20/21, 6/3/21

The June Clarkesworld leads off with “Little Animals” by Nancy Kress. Elena is our point-of-view character, a woman who is “borderline depressive.” She’s part of a research team that is using quantum effects to be able to “receive” the mental impressions of people who lived in the past. This is as much an art as a science, and ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and BCS

Clarkesworld 5/21 Lightspeed 5/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 4/22/21, 5/6/21

In May Clarkesworld starts off with a new David D. Levine story, always a treat. “Best Laid Plans” is a charming story about a mod­est space station run by a small university. Dr. Chelle Yan is studying how genetically modified mice (not allowed on Earth) transmit knowledge, but all that’s interrupted when the station starts leaking air, no one ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Future SF, Fiyah, Diabolical Plots, and Arsenika

Tor.com 5/5/21 Strange Horizons 5/21 Future SF Digest #10 Fiyah Spring ’21 Diabolical Plots 3/1/21, 3/15/21, 4/16/21 Arsenika Spring ’21

Of the stories I spotted in Tor.com this month, “The Lay of Lilyfinger” by G.V. Anderson was by far my favorite. It draws out a complex world with many different factions and races. Saaba-niszak is a long-lived being from far away; she has taken in Pom as an ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS, Tor.com, The Future Fire, Lightspeed, and Escape Artists

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/25/21, 4/8/21 Tor.com 4/20/21 The Future Fire 1/21 Lightspeed 4/21 Escape Artists 3/2/21, 3/5/21

Beneath Ceaseless Skies continues going strong this spring with stories such as Cat Rambo‘s “Every Breath a Question, Every Heartbeat an Answer“, set in her Tabat universe. Lady Callynahdra is a centaur who rejected her default fate as a noble and instead earned the rank of sergeant in the military. ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons and Clarkesworld

Strange Horizons 3/29/21, 4/21 Clarkesworld 4/21

At the end of March Strange Horizons published a special issue featuring Pales­tinian speculative fiction. It includes art, poetry, four stories, and an introductory essay, and features creators from across the Palestinian diaspora. “Wills” by Wadih Haddad is very short and very Weird, starting with a man in a sort of consumer hypnotic state coming awake with the statement “I want,” then ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Giganotosaurus, Departure Mirror, and Flash Fiction Online

Tor.com 3/3/21, 3/24/21 Strange Horizons 3/1/21, 3/15/21 Giganotosaurus 2/21, 3/21 Departure Mirror Quarterly Winter ’21 Flash Fiction Online 3/21

Tor.com had two stories in March. A new Usman T. Malik story is always a treat. “#Spring Love, #Pichal Pairi” is his latest take on the pandemic, where the narrator is a reporter in Lahore who in­terviews a particularly woke, feminist pichal pairi. The pichal pairi of folklore is ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, BCS, and Lightspeed

Clarkesworld 3/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 2/25/21, 3/11/21 Lightspeed 3/21

My two favorite stories in Clarkesworld in March are “Homecoming is Just An­other Word for the Sublimation of the Self” by Isabel J. Kim and “The Orbiting Guan Erye” by Wang Zhenzhen (translated by Carmen Yiling Yan). Kim’s story features an amazingly appropriate use of second-person perspective as “you” are a first-generation Korean immigrant to the US ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, BCS, Strange Horizons, Aurealis, and Fantasy

Tor.com 1/27/21, 2/3/21, 2/10/21, 2/24/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/28/21, 2/11/21 Strange Horizons 2/8/21, 2/15/21 Aurealis #137 Fantasy Magazine 2/21

The stories in Tor.com I read this month leaned heavily toward horror, with three edited by El­len Datlow and the fourth a vampire story edited by Jonathan Strahan. “Shards” by Ian Rogers is a cabin-in-the-woods story in which four friends violently murder the fifth friend, due to a demonic ...Read More

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