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

Clarkesworld 2/21 Lightspeed 2/21 Fiyah Winter ’21

February’s Clarkesworld leads with a great cloning story, “The Failed Dianas” by Monique Laban. A young woman return­ing from a space-based financial internship goes to a high-end restaurant and meets a different version of herself, quite a bit older. It turns out that this is the original Diana who disappointed her parents deeply by refusing to go into finance; by ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 1/21 Lightspeed 1/21 Strange Horizons 1/21 Tor.com 1/6/21, 1/19/21 Mysterion 1-2/21

January’s Clarkesworld kicks off with “Inten­tionalities” by Aimee Ogden, where in the near future Sorrel gets trapped in an all-too-plausible system of debt peonage and ends up “confer­ring” a child to Braxos Corp. She bears the child, Abigail, and is able to raise her to the age of five with resources from the corporation, then ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Constelación, Metaphorosis, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Constelación 1/21 Metaphorosis 1/21, 2/21 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/1/21, 1/14/21

Welcome to 2021! Sure, it might be March or later as you’re reading this, but really my reading “year” runs from the March issue to the February “Year in Review” issue of the following year. I think we’re all look­ing for a better year to come, and the fiction I’ve been reading so far gives me hope.

A genuine newcomer ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Omenana, Strange Horizons, and Samovar

Omenana 12/20 Strange Horizons 11/16/20, 12/1/20 Samovar 10/20

Speaking of speculative fiction from Africa, Omenana‘s 16th issue dropped in December. This one is full of tales of hauntings and other spooky happenings. A very confused ghost nar­rates “A Magician” by Rešoketšwe Manenzhe. In “Drummer Boy in a World of Wise Men” by Tobi Ogundirun, a young boy abandoned by his drummer father knows something ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Future SF Digest and Africanfuturism

Future Science Fiction Digest 12/20 Africanfuturism: An Anthology, Wole Talabi, ed. (Brittle Paper) October 2020.

It’s at least February for those of you reading this column, but just the very end of 2020 as I’m writing it. As usual, I skid into the end of the year having read only a fraction of what’s available in the universe of “short fiction online” – maybe a third if I’m being ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, BCS, and Strange Horizons

Lightspeed 11/20, 12/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 10/8/20, 10/22/20 Strange Horizons 10/5/20, 10/12/20

Lightspeed’s November issue breaks from the usual format to offer a single science fiction nov­elette instead of the usual pair of shorter pieces. “Schrödinger’s Catastrophe” by Gene Doucette is worth it, as special agent Alice is sent to rescue/recover a research vessel that was exploring a to­tally empty quadrant of space. It went silent after sending ...Read More

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2020 by Karen Burnham

I’m sure I won’t be the only person in these pages remark­ing that 2020 was an unusual year, to say the least. The global pandemic caused mas­sive overnight disruptions but has also lasted long enough to yield something that’s like a new (horrible) “normal.” Given the relatively quick turnaround times for short fiction, it’s not surprising that the crisis that started early in 2020 started showing up in short fiction ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 10/20, 11/20 Breathe Fiyah 10/19/20 Tor.com 10/21, 10/28, 11/11, 11/18/20

While many of Locus‘s reviewers are deeply entrenched in 2021, I’ll be spending this month and the next wrap­ping up everything I can from 2020. The joy of online publication is the ease of getting content quickly, but it means I rarely get to see issues in advance. So please enjoy these last hurrahs of an otherwise insane year, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Creative Surgery by Clelia Farris

Creative Surgery, Clelia Farris (Rosarium Pub­lishing) September 2020.

Creative Surgery is Italian author Clelia Far­ris‘s debut collection (with translations by Rachel Cordasco and Jennifer Delare), and it’s a great start. The first story, “A Day to Remember” is an extended meditation on living in a world that feels much smaller when circumscribed by cli­mate change. We follow an artist in a post-flood Italy as she tours ...Read More

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

Samovar 7/20 Tor.com 8/26, 9/16, 9/23, 10/14/20 Strange Horizons 9/20

In July Strange Horizon‘s sister publication dedi­cated to translations, Samovar, published a duet of stories. “The Curtain Falls, The Show Must End” by Julie Nováková (translated from Czech by the author) is a historical drama set at the eve of WWII. Two backstage workers in a theater in Prague conjure up ghosts, which proceed to haunt and torment ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS and Omenana

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 9/24/20 Omenana 8/20

Beneath Ceaseless Skies has so many ex­cuses to celebrate! There are the big round number celebrations, like issue number 300 back in March, as well as September’s cal­endar anniversary. All the more opportunity to appreciate a venue that has steadfastly brought us excellent fiction from a broad range of writers, always expanding the remit of “literary adventure fantasy” in secondary world settings. September brings ...Read More

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

Strange Horizons 8/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 8/27/20 Clarkesworld 9/20 Lightspeed 10/20

At the end of August Strange Horizons celebrated its 20th anniversary. It con­tinues to be a stand-out in the online fiction world, having survived many evolutions over time. Be sure to check out the editor’s choice stories featured on August 31, showcasing 20 years of history with just a few selections. Elsewhere in August it features “My Love, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Future SF, Diabolical Plots, Cosmic Roots, Daily SF, and Bunkerpunk

Future SF Digest 6/20 Diabolical Plots 9/20 Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores 8/20 Daily SF 9/20 Bunkerpunk, Thea Boodhoo, ed. (Sudowrit­ers) July 2020

Future SF Digest continues to provide great fiction from all over the world. “Cousin En­tropy” by Michele Laframboise (translated by N.R.M. Roshak) has a wonderfully Stapledonian scope. There are the Unattached (extremely post-human) and the Attached (still vaguely biological), and stars, galaxies, and black ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 8/20 Fiyah Spring ’20 Tor.com 7/29/20, 8/12/20, 8/19/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/30/20, 8/13/20

My favorite story in August’s Clarkes­world is “The Immolation of Kev Magee” by L.X. Beckett. Set in a near future of eco-collapse, it centers on Breeze, a very attractive but somehow naive refugee from Detroit. Breeze is trying to get ahead via the equivalent of vlogging in a commune set up near the ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, Future Tense, Apparition, Kasma, and Luna Station Quarterly

Strange Horizons 7/13/20 Slate Future Tense 7/20 Apparition 7/20 Kasma 8/20 Luna Station Quarterly 6/20

I appreciated “The LEAP Test” by Alex Jennings in July’s Strange Horizons. A young boy comes into a school counselor’s office, apparently because he has behavioral issues and needs to take a standardized assessment. It quickly becomes clear that he has lived an entirely different life in a fantasy realm, á la Narnia, ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Night Roll by Michael J. DeLuca

Night Roll, Michael J. DeLuca (Stelliform Press) November 2020.

Michael J. DeLuca is known for his work with Small Beer Press and as the editor of Reckoning, an outlet for creative writing on environmental justice. He is also a consistent writer of short fiction and now has a stand-alone novella com­ing out. Night Roll is the most Detroit story I have read since Alexander Irvine’s The Nar­rows (2005), which ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 7/20 Lightspeed 8/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/2/20, 7/16/20

July’s Clarkesworld starts with a straightfor­wardly science fictional Michael Swanwick story. In “Artificial People” Raphael is an android turned on and off repeatedly as an entrepreneurial roboticist struggles to come up with a commercially successful product. Raphael loves, loses, goes to war, gets rich, and has to make some interesting decisions with the power that his later days have ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, and Deep Magic

Tor.com 6/24, 7/1, 7/8, 7/15, 7/22/20 Strange Horizons 6/29/20 Abyss & Apex 2nd Quarter ’20 Deep Magic Spring ’20

As usual, Tor.com‘s stories range far and wide, across and over and through genres as it suits them and their team of editors. “The Night Soil Sal­vagers” by Gregory Norman Bossert describes the creatures who help maintain a city by hauling away its waste; we get a taste of ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS, Strange Horizons, Samovar, and Mithila Review

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/18/20 Strange Horizons 6/2/20, 6/8/20 Samovar 4/20 Mithila Review #14

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #306 opens with ”Kill the Witchman” by William Broom. A man is drugged and brainwashed with a mission to kill the witchman and his son. As he hunts them he lives in an almost eternal present with no idea of the past and little conception of the future. When he finds ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 6/20 Lightspeed 7/20 Tor.com 6/10/20, 6/17/20

June’s Clarkesworld leads off with ”The Iridescent Lake” from regular D.A. Xiaolin Spires. Yunhe, who is dealing with the death of her son, works as a security guard at an ice skating rink where the ice has truly fantastic properties. Scientists have been studying it, but there are many active smuggling attempts that she must guard against… and ...Read More

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

Strange Horizons 4/6/20, 4/13/20, 5/11/20, 5/19/20 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 4/23/20, 5/7/20, 5/21/20, 6/4/20 Lightspeed 5/20, 6/20 Clarkesworld 5/20 Tor.com 4/29/20, 5/13/20, 5/20/20

Strange Horizons leads off in April with a fascinating tale centered on abstract philosophy and its intersection with life. ”The Pride of Salinkari” by Elizabeth Crowe imagines a world where philosophy is central ...Read More

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

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/26/20 Clarkesworld 4/20 Tor.com 4/8/20, 4/22/20, 4/28/20

Beneath Ceaseless Skies has had a heck of spring. After a pair of double issues for their biennial science fantasy run, they wrapped up March with a major milestone, issue #300. This is another oversized collection, including two bonus novelettes and a bonus novella. My favorite story of the issue was the first, ”The Hummingbird Temple” by C.C. ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, Terraform, and Avatars Inc

Strange Horizons 3/2/20, 3/16/20, 3/30/20 Lightspeed 4/20 Terraform 3/6/20 Avatars Inc, Ann VanderMeer, ed. (XPRIZE) January 2020.

Strange  Horizon‘s  first  March  story  ”Rat  and Finch Are  Friends” by  Innocent  Chizaram Ilo is an homage to the classic Frog and Toad children’s  books  by Arnold  Lobel.  Finch  is  a young man in trouble on two fronts: because he is a shapeshifter who can turn into a finch ...Read More

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