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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Zooscape, Anathema: Spec from the Margins, and Black Cat Weekly

Zooscape 8/22 Anathema: Spec from the Margins 8/22 Black Cat Weekly 8/13/22

Zooscape’s August issue continues the mission of showcasing furry speculative fiction, and pulls no emotional punches with its opening story, “The Best Way to Pro­cure Breakfast” by Dana Vickerson. In it, a cat named Pho is hard at work trying to get his human to stick to the script of feeding him. Something is wrong, ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Samovar, Strange Horizons, Drabblecast, and Diabolical Plots

Samovar 7/25/22 Strange Horizons 7/18/22, 8/1/22. 8/8/22 Drabblecast 7/22, 8/22 Diabolical Plots 8/22

The end of July also brought an issue of the specu­lative translation publication Samovar. In it, Chen Chuncheng (translated by Jack Hargreaves) presents a strange and almost bucolic story of a person who manicures clouds so that they always appear fluffy and appealing in “A Cloudcutter’s Diary”. The titular cloudcutter is in something of ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fantasy, Lightspeed, and F&SF

Fantasy 8/22, 9/22 Lightspeed 8/22, 9/22 F&SF 9-10/22

August’s Fantasy brought a number of works dealing with the power of stories and narratives, including the complex “The Tails that Make You” by Eliza Chan. Written in second person, you are a woman with tails, a huli jing, and though for some it can be a mark of pride and power, for you it is clouded with shame, ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Flash Fiction Online, Worlds of Possibility, and GigaNotoSaurus

Flash Fiction Online 7/22 Worlds of Possibility 8/22 GigaNotoSaurus 7/22

August brings some editorial additions to Flash Fiction Online, where publisher Anna Yeatts joins Emma Munro as co-editor-in-chief. As for the fiction itself, it’s a strong issue, including Adam Piñon Kerkman’s ‘‘Moon Eater & Housekeep­ing’’, a deep and beautiful piece that looks at the hidden people of the world, those who don’t have power and are cut ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews PseudoPod, Nightmare, The Dark, and The Deadlands

PseudoPod 7/27/22 Nightmare 8/22, 9/22 The Dark 7/22, 8/22 The Deadlands 7/22, 8/22

There are numerous worthy re-published stories and a single recent original at its supposedly darker sister PseudoPod. In PseudoPod #821’s “Celestial Shores” by Sarah Day & Tim Pratt, a troubled couple visit a vacation rental and wind up somewhere quite terrifyingly unexpected.

Nightmare #119 has two original short stories and a flash piece. Climate change ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Tor.com, and PodCastle

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 7/22 Tor.com 8/10/2022 PodCastle 6/7/22, 6/14/22, 6/21/22, 6/28/22

If you enjoy truly original fiction, you’ll ap­preciate Lady Churchill’sa Rosebud Wristlet #45. Anna O’Connor’s “The Rattling Seed” features a young man who meets a stranger and accompanies him to a strange ritual in the woods. The protagonist of “This World Will Be True” by Ellen Rhudy is struggling to hold onto the ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Baffling, Fusion Fragment, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Cast of Wonders

Baffling 7/22 Fusion Fragment 7/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/28/22, 8/11/22, 8/25/22 Cast of Wonders 7-8/22

I’m starting this month with July’s Baffling, which features seven stories with LGBTQIA+ elements. The issue opens with a mix of messy fun and danger with Fruzsina Pittner’s “The Serpent Crouches in the Heart of the Unravelling”. Written in second person, you are cast as a kind of dimensional fixer, a witch

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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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Paula Guran Reviews Uncanny, Apex, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye

Uncanny 7-8/22 Apex #132 Three-Lobed Burning Eye #36

Uncanny #47 is not themed, but each specu­lative story ultimately deals with common human problems. Marie Brennan’s “Fate, Hope, Friendship, Foe” mixes Greek mythology into a great little story set in a decayed American Midwest of the near-future. Even godlings must make choices. It’s only negative is that it is far too short. “Family Cooking” by AnaMaria ...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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fiyah, Fireside, and GigaNotoSaurus

Fiyah 7/22 Fireside 7/22 GigaNotoSaurus 7/22

Magazines this year must have gotten the memo that I really like food-centered speculative fiction, because Fiyah’s latest issue is food and cuisine themed. In Lina Munroe’s “The Usual Way”, Danae wants to recreate a recipe of her mother’s in order to capture some of the magic her mother wielded before she died. As she works with her aunt to perfect ...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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Diabolical Plots, Flash Fiction Online, and Kaleidotrope

Diabolical Plots 7/22 Flash Fiction Online 7/22 Kaleidotrope 7/22

July’s Diabolical Plots had a strong pair of sto­ries, including Andrew K Hoe’s “Heart of a Plesiosaur”, which finds two orphaned siblings practicing bringing inanimate representations of animals to life, if only for brief amounts of time, and competing against others to see whose animations are most impressive. The magic in the piece is fascinating, limited to children ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Escape Pod, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Escape Pod 6/23/22 Strange Horizons 6/9/22, 6/13/22, 6/20/22, 6/27/22, 7/4/22, 7/11/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/30/22, 7/14/22

Moving over to Escape Pod, June saw the release of “Love and Supervillains” by Caroline Diorio, which finds in Rosalind a narrator who was mostly just trying to enjoy her life through personal independence and lots of casual sex until the guy she hooked up with turned out to be a ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Trepass, Decoded Pride and Cast of Wonders

Trespass (Amazon Original Stories) February 2022. Decoded Pride 6/22 Cast of Wonders 6/18/22

I’m starting off today reaching back to Febru­ary, when Amazon.com released a set of origi­nal stories under the theme of “Trespass.” As a whole, the project looks at the intersections of the human world and a wild, non-human world – not necessarily a natural world, but one that is decidedly outside human influence and, at times, understanding. ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Fantasy, Lightspeed, and F&SF

Fantasy 7/22 Lightspeed 7/22 F&SF 7-8/22

Moving into July, Fantasy features a number of works that border on science fiction. Stories of stars crafting solar systems and futures where government authori­tarianism leads to water riots, mass deportations, and interments. For all the science fictional touches, though, Fantasy finds ways to focus on fantasy, as in Sabrina Vourvoulias’s “The Memory of Chemis­try”, which follows the life of a ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: GigaNotoSaurus, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod

GigaNotoSaurus 6/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/2/22, 6/16/22 Escape Pod 6/22

June’s GigaNotoSaurus explores complicity and empire in Sid Jain’s “To Revolt is to be Undone.” The story finds Mythili becoming aware of the atrocities authored by her country and its ruling party. Here ignorance of the terrible truth is not a passive act, and she must decide how much of her own safety to risk as she uncovers more ...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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, Hexagon, and Diabolical Plots

Strange Horizons 5/16/22, 5/23/22, 5/30/22, 6/6/22 Hexagon Summer ’22 Diabolical Plots 6/22

Finding a poem by R.B. Lemberg is always rea­son to celebrate, so I was cheering when I came across their latest in May’s Strange Horizons. “The broken hill and the breath” is a power­ful piece about long cycles of harm and healing, about a grove of fruit trees and a fragile peace unfolding around disaster and ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Black Cat Weekly, Fusion Fragment, and Cast of Wonders

Black Cat Weekly 4/9/22, 4/15/22 Fusion Fragment 5/22 Cast of Wonders 5/22

I’m starting out this month reaching all the way back to April with two issues of Black Cat Weekly. Though primarily a reprint publica­tion, there are occasional originals as well from editor Cynthia Ward. Of the two in these issues, I was a bit more taken by “It Gazes Back” by Jayme Lynn Blaschke & Don ...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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Anathema, Lightspeed, Fantasy, and Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa

Anathema 5/22 Lightspeed 6/22 Fantasy 6/22 Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa, Rachel Zadok, Karina M. Szczurek & Jason Mykl Snyman, eds. (Catalyst 978-1946395573, $16.95, 260pp, tp) September 2021.

Anathema officially enters 2022 with their May issue, which opens with Choo Yi Feng’s strange and haunting “Plastic Bag Girl”. In it, said girl recycles trash along the shore and turns it into animated animals to entertain ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: GigaNotoSaurus, Cast of Wonders, and Flash Fiction Online

GigaNotoSaurus 5/22 Cast of Wonders 5/22 Flash Fiction Online 5/22

May’s GigaNotoSaurus story is “In the Time of the Telperi Flower” by David-Christopher Galhea, which on one level follows the harrowing story of an expedition to see a strange, time-bend­ing flower. The story is framed, however, as an annotated account of that expedition as told by its guide, embellished and published posthumously by an unscrupulous publicist, and ...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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Samovar, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Samovar 4/22 Strange Horizons 4/18/22, 5/2/22, 5/9/22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 5/5/22, 5/19/22

April also saw the release of a new issue of Samo­var, the sibling publication to Strange Horizons that specializes in speculative stories and poetry in translation. Among the works in the issue, Azrin Fauzi (translated by Ali Aiman Mazwin) captures a weird and compelling journey of three people on the island of Malaysia in “Panorama People ...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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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Kaleidotrope, Zooscape, Escape Pod, and Drabblecast

Kaleidotrope 4/22 Zooscape 4/22 Escape Pod 4/22 Drabblecast 4/22

I’ll start off with the Spring Kaleidotrope, which does a good job keeping to a few the­matic threads throughout the issue. Though the publication often leans into horror, there’s more of a focus on grief and loss with this group of stories and poems, with recurring ideas of alternate dimensions/universes and sacrifices of various kinds. Aimee Ogden opens the issue with ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Baffling, Fireside, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Baffling Spring ’22 Fireside Spring ’22 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 4/7/22, 4/21/22

Baffling released a new issue in April, with seven flash-length works of queer speculative fiction. Ruth Joffre’s “A Girl Predicts the Future” kicked things off by offering Xochitl a choice, a menu of sorts for seeing into the future. The mercenary nature of the offerings is an interest­ing complication, something that prevents the aid offered from ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: The Dark and Nightmare

The Dark 3/22, 4/22 Nightmare 3/22, 4/22, 5/22

There’s quite a variety in the four originals of The Dark #83. In “Knotlings” by Aliya Whiteley, the narrator accepts her pain as a good thing. She rejoices when her son experiences the same affliction and, like her, vomits up “knotlings.” The mother teaches her son how to cope, but as he matures, he develops his own way of ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Flash Fiction Online, Fiyah, and GigaNotoSaurus

Flash Fiction Online 3/22, 4/22 Fiyah 3/22 GigaNotoSaurus 4/22

March’s Flash Fiction Online saw a return to John Guzlowski’s mini-novel series with “The Last Man on Earth Looks for a Friend – A Mini-Novel”. As with the first two stories in the series, this one focuses on life and death, on loneliness and grief. It’s an experimental, rather poetic story, and beautifully told. It was also the ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, Uncanny, and The Deadlands

Tor.com 3/9/22, 3/16/22, 3/23/22, 4/13/22, 4/20/22, 4/27/22, 5/4/22, 5/11/22, 5/18/22 Uncanny 3-4/22 The Deadlands 3/22, 4/22

Near novella-length “Hearts of Stone” by Emma Newman (Tor.com 5/18/22) is a Wild Cards story about 18-year-old Kerry – who can turn living creatures into stone with a touch – joining up with Great Britain’s Sil­ver Helix as Stonemaiden. It’s great for those into George R.R. Martin’s shared universe, especially if they’ve kept up ...Read More

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