Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Curiosities, Cossmass Infinities, On Spec, Analog, and Asimov’s

Curiosities Winter ’20 Cossmass Infinities 9/20 On Spec #115 Analog 3-4/21 Asimov’s 3-4/21

It is always a surprise – unfairly so – to find a small new magazine and realize that it’s re­ally quite good! I had that experience with the previous issue of Curiosities, and now I see the Winter issue, and it does not disappoint.

Konstantine Paradias offers “And the Faces Screamed in the Galleries” – ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Driftwood by Marie Brennan

Driftwood, Marie Brennan (Tachyon 978-1616963460, $15.95, 224pp, tp) August 2020.

Way back in 2008 and 2009 I saw a couple of stories by a writer fairly new to me, Marie Bren­nan, set in an extremely original setting called Driftwood. I liked those stories (“A Heretic by Degrees” and “Drift­wood”) quite a bit. Over time, Brennan added three more stories in this setting, and by-the-by established a reputation as a ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Galaxy’s Edge, Fusion Fragment, and The OK End of Funny Town

Galaxy’s Edge 1/21 Fusion Fragment 1/21 The OK End of Funny Town, Mark Polanzak (BOA Editions) May 2020.

Galaxy’s Edge for January has a nice story from Elise Stephens, “Drowned Prison“. A lumanar named Hallis comes to Kardag Prison, where the dangerous “Banner Lords” are held. These are experts in a sort of painting called lumastration, in which the painter magically infuses their art with emotions, ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF and Analog

F&SF 3-4/21 Analog 1-2/21

The March-April issue of F&SF is a sig­nificant one, the first put together by new editor Sheree Renée Thomas. Based on the evidence in front of me, she’s got off to an outstanding start, though we need to wait a few issues before we begin to understand Thomas’s editorial vision.

The issue features a strong Madeleine Robins story, “Mannikin“, about a boy who is ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, and The Book of Dragons

F&SF 1-2/21 Uncanny 1-2/21 The Book of Dragons, Jonathan Strahan ed. (Harper Voyager) July 2020.

F&SF opens the year with a remarkable no­vella from John Kessel. “The Dark Side” concerns Leon Czolgosz, the murderer of President McKinley. The story runs on two tracks, one detailing Czolgosz’s actions leading up to his crime, plus some backstory, and also the aftermath as he is tried and executed. The ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction from Asimov’s

Asimov’s 1-2/21

The January-February Asimov’s includes the longest story Ray Nayler has yet published, “A Rocket for Dimitrios“. This is another Sylvia Aldstatt story, set in an alternate history where the course of WWII was radically changed by the US discovery of an alien spacecraft and their adoption of its technology. One of the strangest pieces of alien tech allows Sylvia to experience the memories of a recently ...Read More

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SF in a Plague Year by Rich Horton

As I write, distribution of two separate COVID-19 vaccines is in progress in the United States. A new Presi­dent has been elected and will soon be inaugurated. And on a personal note, I have welcomed my first grandchild into the world. A time of optimism, right?

At the same time, COVID cases are at or near their highest rate of incidence in the US (and indeed, in many countries). The ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Bourbon Penn, and Conjunctions

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 11/20 Bourbon Penn 11/20 Conjunctions Spring ’20

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet has been one of my favorite magazines for a long time, always publishing work unlike anything you’ll read else­where. The November issue is largely given over to a novella from Sarah Langan, “You Have the Prettiest Mask“. It’s either a timely story or a weirdly untimely story! It’s told by Cathy Lerner, ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, and Interzone

Asimov’s 11-12/20 Analog 11-12/20 Interzone 11-12/20

I’ll start with a story from the November-December Asimov’s that doesn’t really qualify as SF or fantasy, but that will appeal to many of our readers. This is Connie Willis‘s latest Christmas story, “Take a Look at the Five and Ten“. Ori is telling about her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with her ex-stepfather, who has a habit of inviting almost everyone ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: London Centric, Uncanny, On Spec, Pulp Literature, and The New Yorker

London Centric, Ian Whates, ed. (NewCon Press) March 2020. Uncanny 11-12/20 On Spec #114 Pulp Literature Summer ’20 The New Yorker 11/9/20

Here’s an intriguing new anthology from Eng­land’s NewCon Press, London Centric: Tales of Future London, edited by Ian Whates. The anthology is mostly exactly what it says, a collec­tion of looks at a future London, but one of the very best stories is mostly set in ...Read More

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Maya C. James and Rich Horton Review Entanglements, Edited by Sheila Williams

Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Fami­lies, and Friends, Sheila Williams, ed. (MIT Press 978-0-26253-925-8, 240pp, $19.95, tp) September 2020.

Artificial intelligence, genome tampering (eugenics), sex bots, and other forms of technology descend upon the middle class in Entanglements, an anthology from Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov’s. Originally launched in 2011 by MIT Technology Review, Twelve Tomorrows is an annual anthology se­ries that explores the role of technology in near and ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews The House of Styx by Derek Künsken

The House of Styx, Derek Künsken (Solaris 978-1786183200, $8.99, eb,) August 2020. (Solaris 978-1781088050, 608pp, $27.99, hc) April 2021.

One of the most notable aspects of Derek Künsken’s short work to date has been a fascination with rigorous worldbuilding, of­ten featuring the extreme, and the politics that often result from adaptation to said environments. These aspects are central to his new novel, The House of Styx, first in ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny and F&SF

Uncanny 9-10/20 F&SF 11-12/20

The final issue of Uncanny’s sixth year is a particularly strong and SF-oriented one. In Samantha Mills‘s “Anchorage” a medical spaceship stops at an “anchorage” – an isolated pod where a woman lives a hermit-like existence. The story is told by Geneva, the AI running the medical ship, which allows us to slowly learn the backstory of the crewmembers, of dead Earth, and ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, Cynthia Ward, Emily C. Skaftun, and James Van Pelt

Interzone 9-10/20 Galaxy’s Edge 9/20 The Adventure of the Naked Guide, Cynthia Ward (Aqueduct Press) March 2020. Living Forever & Other Terrible Ideas, Emily C. Skaftun (Fairwood Press) November 2020. The Best of James Van Pelt, James Van Pelt (Fairwood Press) November 2020.

I was very excited to see Alexander Glass‘s return to Interzone in the September-October is­sue. He appeared there (and in Interzone‘s sister magazine ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, Uncanny, Curiosities, and Flyaway

Asimov’s 9-10/20 Analog 9-10/20 Uncanny 7-8/20 Curiosities #7 Flyaway, Kathleen Jennings (Tor.com Publish­ing) July 2020.

Asimov’s September-October issue is, as usual, “slightly spooky.” Among the “spooky” stories I particularly liked were Michael Libling‘s “Robyn in Her Shiny Blue Coffin” and Gregory Frost‘s “Traveling On“. In both cases the protagonists are missing some­one important to them and hoping for a message from “beyond.” In ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Asimov’s, Analog, LCRW, and Galaxy’s Edge

F&SF 9-10/20 Asimov’s 7-8/20 Analog 7-8/20 Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 6/20 Galaxy’s Edge 7/20

Leah Cypess returns with another strong fairy tale-derived story in the latest F&SF. Like her previous F&SF story, “Stepsister”, “Of Them All” is sharply focused on the moral effects of fairy magic – or, rather, on human choices that may or may not be at­tributable to fairy gifts. The protagonist’s gift is that she ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Pulp Literature, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, and Reckoning

Pulp Literature Spring ’20 Interzone 5-6/20 Galaxy’s Edge 5/20 Reckoning 4

The latest issue of the increasingly interesting Canadian ‘zine Pulp Literature features an engaging story from Matthew Hughes, ”The Bicolour Spiral”, one of his stories about Erm Kaslo, an ”op” (private detective) in Hughes’ Jack Vance-derived science fantasy far-future setting. Kaslo is engaged by a woman to investigate her uncle’s murder because she is going to ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews A Sinister Quartet and Aftermath of an Industrial Accident

A Sinister Quartet, Mike Allen, C.S.E. Cooney, Amanda J. McGee & Jessica P. Wick, eds. (Mythic Delirium Books) July 2020. Aftermath of an Industrial Accident, Mike Allen (Mythic Delirium Books) July 2020.

Mike Allen’s Mythic Delirium is one of the smaller presses which sustains our field by publishing original anthologies and story collections. He has put out A Sinister Quartet, an anthology of four novellas (well, three ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Analog, Asimov’s, Uncanny, and Anthems Outside Time by Kenneth Schneyer

F&SF 7-8/20 Analog 5-6/20 Asimov’s 5-6/20 Uncanny 5-6/20 Anthems Outside Time and Other Strange Voices, Kenneth Schneyer (Fairwood Press) July 2020.

The new F&SF features a delightful piece by Madeleine Robins, ”‘Omunculus”, a retelling of My Fair Lady set in a steam-punkish alternate history with the role of Eliza taken by a robot. It’s very funny as it reimagines Eliza and Higgins in this permutation and ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Made to Order, Edited by Jonathan Strahan, and Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine

Made to Order, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris) March 2020. Anthropocene Rag, Alex Irvine (Tor.com Publishing) March 2020.

I don’t think there can be any doubt that the best currently working original anthologist of science fiction is Jonathan Strahan. (Ellen Datlow probably retains that title for fantasy and certainly for horror.) Strahan’s new anthology is Made to Order, on the subject of robots and mostly their desire for ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Universal Love by Alexander Weinstein, Not One of Us, and Past Tense, Edited by John Benson

Universal Love, Alexander Weinstein (Henry Holt) January 2020. Not One of Us 4/20 Past Tense, John Benson, ed. (Not One of Us) January 2020.

I loved Alexander Weinstein’s first story collection,  Children  of  the  New  World.  Universal Love, his second, is another proof SF  has  taken  up  permanent  residence  in the mainstream world. Weinstein writes almost exclusively SF but is praised everywhere, and yet the only ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe & Rich Horton Review Avatars Inc, Edited by Ann VanderMeer

Avatars Inc, Ann VanderMeer, ed. (XPRIZE, free, eb) March 2020. [Download from <www.avatars.inc>]

All well-made anthologies offer something like a conversation between the stories included, and in some cases (such as Jonathan Strahan’s recent Made to Order: Robots and Revolution) that conversation is more focused than usual, since the stories all revolve around a classic SF theme. With Ann VanderMeer’s Avatars Inc: A Sci-Fi Anthology, now available ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, Bourbon Penn, and The New Yorker

F&SF 5-6/20 Interzone 3-4/20 Galaxy’s Edge 3/20 Bourbon Penn 3/20 The New Yorker 3/16/20 Prosper’s Demon, K.J. Parker (Tor.com Publish­ing) January 2020. Truer Love and Other Lies, Edd Vick (Fairwood Press) November 2019.

What matters most? Plot? Character? Prose? Something else? The answer is all of the above, I think, and, more im­portantly, each ideally reinforces the other. These thoughts are prompted by an exceptional novelette in the ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Analog, Asimov’s, Pulp Literature, and Uncanny

Analog 3-4/20 Asimov’s 3-4/20 Pulp Literature Winter ’20 Uncanny 3-4/20

Analog offers several impressive stories in its March-April issue. Andy Dudak can be counted on for wild ideas, and “Midstrathe Exploding” delivers on that account. Ciaran is a pickpocket in Midstrathe City, which seems mainly known for the weirdly time-shifted explosion that engulfed it 200 years before and is still expanding with its victims frozen inside it. He ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews City of a Thousand Feelings by Anya Johanna DeNiro and The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald

City of a Thousand Feelings, Anya Johanna DeNiro (Aqueduct) February 2020.

Another entry in Aqueduct Press’s long and always challenging Conversation Pieces series. This is a novelette, City of a Thousand Feelings by Anya Johanna DeNiro, a trans woman whose work I’ve long liked and have missed. This story doesn’t quite work for me, but it’s fascinating and well written, with some spectacular imagery. It’s opens with two ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Galaxy’s Edge, Interzone, and Conjunctions

F&SF 3-4/20 Uncanny 1/20 Galaxy’s Edge 1/20 Interzone 1-2/20 Conjunctions 73

F&SF offers a wide range of impressive stories this issue. Two fine pieces come from an anthology Gardner Dozois was working on prior to his death, The Book of Legends. Matthew Hughes‘s “The Last Legend” is about a young man who had hoped for a respectable career before his uncle spent his inheritance and apprenticed ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, LCRW, and On Spec

Asimov’s 1-2/20 Analog 1-2/20 Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 11/19 On Spec #112

The first 2020 issue of Asimov’s is anchored by two novellas – the latest episode of Allen M. Steele‘s series about a human colony on a planet of Tau Ceti and the colonists’ interaction with the doglike intelligent species that controls the planet, “The Palace of Danc­ing Dogs” – these are enjoyable somewhat old-fashioned adventures ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Interzone, Neo-Opsis, Bourbon Penn, and Galaxy’s Edge

F&SF 1-2/20 Uncanny 11-12/19 Interzone 11-12/19 Neo-Opsis #30 Bourbon Penn 11/19 Galaxy’s Edge 11/19

Michael Cassutt‘s rare short fiction is always welcome, and “Banshee”, from the first 2020 issue of F&SF, is a good example. Nik Salida is a NASA administrator. His latest project, Skin Walker, is an exotic shapeshift­ing spaceship, led by the brilliant and troublesome Togo Blaine. But the latest flight test has just failed, and Salida ...Read More

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Short Fiction in Print, 2019 by Rich Horton

My remit here at Locus is primarily to cover short fiction from print sources, and thus I thought to build my year end summary around just that. But don’t forget – there is a great deal of excellent work that appears first online. To that I will add my usual plea – don’t ignore the print work just because it’s harder to find.

I’ll begin with two collections that got ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: The New Yorker, Hexarchate Stories, And Go Like This

The New Yorker 9/30/19 Hexarchate Stories, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris) June 2019. And Go Like This, John Crowley (Small Beer Press) November 2019.

I’m catching up slightly late with one of the New Yorker‘s occasional fantastical stories, this one quite lightly fantastical, though, I am told, set in Cross River, a city in which the author (Rion Amilcar Scott) has written other stories, all with somewhat ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: Asimov’s, Analog, On Spec, and Stray Bats

Asimov’s 11-12/19 Analog 11-12/19 On Spec #110 Popshot Quarterly Summer ’19 Stray Bats, Margo Lanagan (Small Beer Press) November 2019.

I found that I enjoyed several stories in the last issue of Asimov’s for 2019 by, well, men of roughly my age, let’s just say. “Escape from Sanctuary” is Allen M. Steele‘s latest tale of the human settlement on the planet Tawcety and its fraught relationship ...Read More

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Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction: F&SF, Uncanny, Interzone, Galaxy’s Edge, Not One of Us, and Others

F&SF 11-12/19 Uncanny 9-10/19 Interzone 9-10/19 Galaxy’s Edge 9/19 Not One of Us 10/19

If This Goes On, Cat Rambo, ed. (Parvus Press) March 2019 Tomorrow Girl and Other Stories, Robert Zoltan (Dream Tower) October 2019. Exhalation, Ted Chiang (Knopf) May 2019.

I was very glad to see two stories in F&SF this month from long-time contributors whom we haven’t seen enough from lately. M. Rickert‘s ...Read More

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