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

Future SF Digest 12/22 Asimov’s 11-12/22

As I wrap up my reading year for 2022, I’m sorry to also be noting the shut­tering, at least for now, of one of my favorite venues. Future Science Fiction Digest, edited by Alex Shvartsman, is going on hiatus as of its 17th issue. It started publishing in 2018 (the same year I started my short fiction column here) with an emphasis on interna­tional ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Assemble Artifacts, and Underland Arcana

Clarkesworld 12/22 Assemble Artifacts Summer ‘22 Underland Arcana Summer ‘22

The last Clarkesworld of the year begins with “Law of Tongue” by Naim Kabir. The nar­rator is managing interspecies negotiations between humans and a pod of orcas near Seattle. The grandmother orca demands help in recovering a grandchild, who has been hunting in Alaska. The whole situation puts the narrator in a bad position, and as the ...Read More

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

Omenana 7/22 Analog 11-12/22 Clarkesworld 11/22

In July Omenana published their 22nd issue, this one in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute titled “Positive Visions of Democracy” featuring a lot of hopepunk and an emphasis on communal decision making. This is part of the same project that inspired Mithila Review’s “Planet Democracy” issue, which I reviewed in November. I’m hugely in favor of anything that nudges speculative fiction to dive ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: The Sunday Morning Transport, Slate Future Tense, and New Edge Sword and Sorcery

The Sunday Morning Transport 10/16 & 11/20/22 Slate Future Tense 9/24/22 New Edge Sword and Sorcery Fall ’22

Catching up with The Sunday Morning Transport in the fall, one of my favorites is “Trinity’s Drag­on” by Holly Lyn Walrath. Trinity is an older woman and space veterinarian, which means she actually has a chance when a sick space dragon wraps itself around her spaceship. Against the advice ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: khōréō and Asimov’s

khōréō 9/22 Asimov’s 9-10/22

The leading story in the latest issue of khōréō is particularly beautiful and im­pactful. In “Unname Me at the Altar” by Ashaye Brown, Bamidele is the child of a grandparent whose name may change every day. Every day she and her father reintroduce themselves over breakfast and find out who the grandparent is that day – old or young, male or female, etc. ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Translunar Traveler’s Lounge, Future SF Digest, and Clarkesworld

Translunar Traveler’s Lounge 8/22 Future SF Digest 9/22 Clarkesworld 10/22

Translunar Traveler’s Lounge starts off its Au­gust issue with a beautiful story, “Raindrop Doughnuts for Women Raining Inside” by Jana Bianchi. Told in second person, you go through life with ghostly (friendly) words ap­pearing in your nonna’s recipe book, offering wise words to help with all manners of life and family situations. The ending has a lovely ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Analog and Mithila Review

Analog 9-10/22 Mithila Review 8/22

Analog for September/October has a novella, “Kingsbury 1944” by Michael Cassutt. It’s an alternate history based on the true fact that E.E. “Doc” Smith of Lensman fame, and Charles O. Finley, later owner of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, worked at the same ordnance plant during WWII. Into this mix add Alfred “Lefty” Kramer, the narrator and injured pitcher recruited by Finley ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Samovar, and Slate Future Tense

Clarkesworld 9/22 Samovar 7/22 Slate Future Tense 6/22, 7/22, 8/22

In September, Clarkesworld leads off with a sweet story from Fiona Moore, “The Slow Deaths of Automobiles”. The narrator is writing the story to their one-time partner, ad­dressed as “you” throughout. They start off as a couple in high school, but the narrator goes away to college and the partner remains, caring for an old, sentient car ...Read More

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

Asimov’s 7/8-22 Future SF Digest 6/22 Clarkesworld 8/22

The July/August Asimov’s starts off with a novelette by Will McIntosh. “Work Minus Eighty” is set in the same universe as his novels Bridesicle and Love Minus Eighty. In this world dead women can be frozen and brought back to life if someone rich enough is interested in marrying them. Aurelia has worked her way up the ranks ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: khōréō and Andromeda Spaceways

khōréō 6/22 Andromeda Spaceways 6/22

khōréō continues to publish strong fiction related to themes of immigration and displacement. My favorite of the Summer issue is one that shades into horror, “Banhus” by M. E. Bronstein. Alice starts dating the Word-Eater who is particularly interested in what she remembers of her grandmother’s Yid­dish. He invites her over to his oddly large house, where she becomes trapped, spiritually bound ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld and Kalicalypse: Subcontinental Science Fiction

Clarkesworld 7/22 Kalicalypse: Subcontinental Science Fiction, Tarun K. Saint, Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay & Francesco Verso, eds. (Future Fiction) June 2022.

The stories in July’s Clarkesworld fall all over the genre map, from war stories to meta cyberpunk. My favorite is ‘‘The Sadness Box’’ by Suzanne Palmer. Fundamentally a boy-and-his-(AI)-dog story, this boy is living in suburbia in the midst of a slow-moving, war-torn apocalypse, shuttling between the ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lackington’s and Analog

Lackington’s Spring ’22 Analog 7-8/22

With its 25th issue, editor Ranylt Richildis has decided that Lacking­ton’s magazine will close its doors for now. It’s going out with some fireworks, as this issue is stuffed to the gills with excellent stories, many of which reach out to lost times and lost civilizations. Many of them put me in mind of the atmosphere of Lord Dunsany’s works. I don’t usually review every ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and The Future Fire

Clarkesworld 6/22 Asimov’s 5-6/22 The Future Fire 4/22

There is so much meaty content in the June Clarkesworld that it’s hard to know where to start. Good thing then, that the open­ing story rolls up its sleeves and gets right to it. “Company Town” by Aimee Ogden features Cass, working for and living in an Amazon-style constant-surveillance dystopia. While Cass is part of a group trying to evade ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Augur, Flash Fiction Online, Lost Colony, and Slate Future Tense

Augur Spring ’22 Flash Fiction Online 5/22 Lost Colony Winter-Spring ’22 Slate Future Tense 5/22

Augur has made it to its fifth year, and its first issue of the year is themed “Joyful Imaginations.” It’s full of lovely stories, definitely more buoyant than average for a genre publication. Two of my favorites are “The Trouble with Time Machines” by Karen Jessica New, and “Love Heart Soup ...Read More

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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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