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 off from their gods, beseeching some power, any power, to devour those who have devoured them. The story finds a mother whose son has been imprisoned, and through her prayers and through the connections she feels with those all around her, the dispossessed, she waits for a time when they can work together to cut free from the prison they are caught in. Kerkman finds a wrenching and powerful voice in this woman who has lost so much, and still reaches out in hope for a better future.

Worlds of Possibility is new to me, but editor Julia Rios is not, and most of the authors involved will probably be familiar to those who follow short speculative fiction, including Marc A. Criley, whose works ‘‘Fencepost’’ and ‘‘Tree’’ bookend the August issue. Taken together, the very short stories act as a lovely connective force, showing the power of framing and the damage possible when someone tries to force a human will on the natural world. For all that the pieces track a trau­ma, though, the direction they move in is one of healing, of making whole and releasing a prisoner from the hurt of a prison built through language. Criley shows the power of how people refer to the world, either justifying their exploitation of it or recognizing its own needs and value. Megan Baf­foe tells a story of Clara and her friends and the world they are eager to leave behind in ‘‘Water and Glass’’. In their world, mirrors have been outlawed, because when people see themselves they are changed, marked by difference, and no respectable parent wants their child that way. For the children, though, they all have their reasons for seeking out the forbidden, drawn by a need to see themselves in the world, present and alive in whatever form the glass or surface would show them. It’s a strange and haunting piece, but one that glows faintly with the joy that comes from seeing and being seen.

L Chan features in the August GigaNotoSaurus with ‘‘Elsewhere, Elsewhen’’, where Lisbet is a Time Witch who has been dealing with the intricacies of time and the realities of her City, Mainspring, which has been cast outside of time following a great Betrayal. Everything isn’t quite what it seems, though, and as Lisbet fights to stay sane and free, she uncovers some deep and heavy secrets – about her, about Mainspring, and about a person she doesn’t remember forgetting until she’s standing face to face with her again. It’s a well-imagined piece, intricate and tangled as far as time travel stories go, but at its core about jus­tice and redemption, and how those words can be twisted, and how Lisbet is trying to set them right.

Charles Payseur is an avid reader, writer, and reviewer of speculative fiction. His works have appeared in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Lightspeed Magazine, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, among others, and many are included in his debut collection, The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories (Lethe Press 2021). He is the series editor of We’re Here: The Best Queer Speculative Fiction (Neon Hemlock Press) and a multiple-time Hugo and Ignyte Award finalist for his work at Quick Sip Reviews. When not drunkenly discussing Goosebumps, X-Men comic books, and his cats on his Patreon (/quicksipreviews) and Twitter (@ClowderofTwo), he can probably found raising a beer with his husband, Matt, in their home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

This review and more like it in the October 2022 issue of Locus.

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