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

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 10/24/19, 11/21/19 Strange Horizons 10/19, 11/19 Mysterion 11-12/19

Beneath Ceaseless Skies opens issue #289 with Norse fiction from Rich Larson in “The Star Plague“. Larson ratchets up the tension master­fully as we learn of Bragi, a Viking rescued from some traumatic event by British monks. Bragi is entirely disaffected, which isn’t helped by a lan­guage barrier, as some force starts stealing corpses and he is ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 11/19 Fiyah Autumn ’19 Omenana 10/19

Welcome to the winter of 2020, in which I’ll spend January and February trying desperately to review all the things that I don’t want to miss from 2019 before finally letting go and allowing myself to embrace 2020 wholeheartedly. Months from now I’ll still be kicking myself for missing so much great stuff, but for now 2019 continues to deliver short fic­tional gems ...Read More

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SF Across the Spectrums by Karen Burnham

In 2019 I really learned about drinking from the firehose that is the amount of speculative short fiction available in electronic/online venues. As far as I can tell I read about 530 stories from at least 35 different outlets, and I know that there’s an immense amount of excellent work that I missed. The variety that’s available is fantastic, and I’m also very pleased by the overall quality that I’ve ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Capricious SF, Strange Horizons, and Current Futures

Capricious SF 7/19 Strange Horizons 9/30/19 Current Futures: A Sci-Fi Ocean Anthology, Ann VanderMeer, ed. (XPRIZE) June 2019.

I wanted to make sure to catch up with Capri­cious as, according to editor A.C. Buchanan, the magazine will be taking a hiatus through at least the summer of 2020. I feel that Capricious has been putting out some wonderfully innovative short fiction recently, and I’m happy to say that issue ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, New Myths, Factor Four, and Transcendent 4

Lightspeed 11/19 New Myths 9/19 Factor Four 7/19 Transcendent 4, Bogi Takács, ed. (Lethe Press) October 2019.

Dominica Phetteplace returns to Robot Coun­try, an area near the US/Mexico border that robots have claimed and essentially shut off to outsiders and surveillance, in “Her Appetite, His Heart” in November’s Lightspeed. Javi is on a romantic quest to find his ex-girlfriend Isla, whom we met in the previous story ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Tor.com, and Clarkesworld

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 9/26/19, 10/10/19 Tor.com 9/25/19, 10/23/19 Clarkesworld 10/19

Beneath Ceaseless Skies reached its 11th anniversary with issue #287, which editor Scott Andrews released as a double-length special. The lead story is “Portrait of the Artist” by K.J. Parker, an amazing story of a woman who has learned to paint well enough and precisely enough to capture some people’s souls for resale. She is incredibly smart ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, BCS, Lightspeed, Tor.com, The Future Fire, and Cosmic Roots

Clarkesworld 9/19 Strange Horizons 9/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 8/29/19 Lightspeed 10/19 Tor.com 9/11/19, 9/18/19 The Future Fire 8/19 Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores 8/19, 9/19

In September, Clarkesworld takes us all over the future and then back to the past. In the near future we have a trio of stories in various flavors of anomie and alienation. The most flat-out fun is “Dave’s Head” by Suzanne Palmer. ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 8/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies #284 Lightspeed 9/19 Strange Horizons 8/19 Augur #2.1 Future Science Fiction Digest 6/19

August’s Clarkesworld leads off with “En­tangled” by Beston Barnett, a relative newcomer, if the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (<isfdb.org>) is correct. The nar­rator is the first-ever alien citizen of Earth, a Lem. Since birth, they have used quantum entangled FTL communications to project their conscious­ness into an xuit, and ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, BCS, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Bards and Sages, and Daily SF

Tor.com 6/19/19, 7/10/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 7/4/19; 7/18/19 Strange Horizons 7/19 Lightspeed 8/19 Bards and Sages Quarterly 4/19 Daily SF 7/4/19, 7/5/19, 7/8/19

Tor.com in June features a new Michael Swan­wick story in his Mongolian Wizard series. It will come as no surprise that “The New Prometheus” draws from the Frankenstein corpus when pro­tagonist Ritter pursues a being that clearly isn’t human across the Arctic wastes. In this ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Apex, Clarkesworld, and Lackington’s

Apex 5/19 Clarkesworld 7/19 Lackington’s Spring ’19

Issue #120 marks the passing of Apex Maga­zine. After a major health concern, editor Jason Sizemore has put the magazine on indefinite hiatus, but the final issue goes out in style with guest editor Maurice Broaddus elaborating on the theme of Afrofuturism with a mixture of original and reprint stories and essays. The three original stories cast a very wide net, starting with ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, New York Times, Tor.com, Big Echo, and Terraform

Lightspeed 7/19 New York Times 5/27/19 Tor.com 6/5/19 Big Echo 1/19 Terraform 5/13/19

The science fiction stories in July’s Lightspeed catch characters at very different phases of their lives. “The Null Space Conundrum” by Violet Allen is an over-the-top story of Aria, a supercool (and very self-conscious about that coolness) cosmic cyborg entity helping the liv­ing song entity Kantikle on a mission to save the Universe from a ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 6/19 Fiyah Spring ’19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/6/19, 6/20/19

Clarkesworld starts its June issue with a gut punch of a story, “The Painter of Trees” by Suzanne Palmer. Colonizers of an alien world have a society with very strict protocols. As their terraforming efforts kill off the last of the indigenous population, one colo­nizing individual maintains contact with the last representative, Tski, hoping to gain insight ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 5/19 Lightspeed 6/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies #277, #278

May’s Clarkesworld is a treasure trove, with five original stories that bring us both the rich and the bizarre, some­times all at once. It starts with “Tick-Tock” by Xia Jia (translated by Emily Jin), a tale of a dreamer and those who construct his dreams, (which can be made to order). There’s a very effective repetitive leit motif that ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, Samovar, Constellary Tales, and Deep Magic

Strange Horizons 4/19, 5/19 Samovar 3/19 Constellary Tales #2 Deep Magic Spring ’19

At the end of April Strange Horizons set aside an issue to focus on Nigerian science fiction and fantasy that featured two original stories: “The Storm Painter” by Avodele Olofintuade and “Where the Rain Mothers Are” by Rafeeat Aliyu. Both happen to hit on themes of return­ing. Olofintuade’s story features an artist, ...Read More

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

Tor.com 4/3/19 Lightspeed 5/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 4/11/19 Strange Horizons 4/19

Kathleen Ann Goonan‘s story at Tor.com, “One/Zero” is a fascinating peek three-minutes-into-the-future. It’s told from two viewpoints: Vida is a teenager in Kurdistan, and the story begins in media res as her neighborhood is bombed and most of her family killed, sending her and her little brother on the road as refugees. An AV bus picks ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Apex, Capricious, Apparition, and Aurealis

Clarkesworld 4/19 Apex 3/19 Capricious SF #11 Apparition #5 Aurealis #119

April’s Clarkesworld brings us the first in a planned run of stories translated from Korean, starting with “The Flowering” by Soyeon Jong (translated by Jihyun Park & Gord Sellar). This is a sly story told in interview style, with the sister of a known subversive who’s been working to literally ‘plant’ organic biotech routers to get ...Read More

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

Lightspeed 4/19 Clarkesworld 3/19 Strange Horizons 3/19 Tor.com 2/19, 3/19

The strongest story in April’s Lightspeed magazine is Caroline M. Yoachim‘s “The Archronology of Love“. In the space of a short novelette, Yoachim does three things and does them very well: introduce a complicated new concept, develop a mystery plot, and portray a woman almost broken by grief over the death of her partner. The new concept ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: BCS, Mithila, Diabolical Plots, and Mad Scientist Journal

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #273, #274 Mithila Review #10 Diabolical Plots #47, #48 Mad Scientist Journal Winter 2019

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #273 brings us two coming-of-age stories, although they’re very different. “Through the Doorways, Whiskey Chile” by S.H. Mansouri is told in a twisted landscape of weirdo magic and a moonshiner Whiskey King. Brady Nokes is the king’s son; his Momma died when he was young and his father ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Fiyah, Lightspeed, Future Tense, Abyss & Apex, and Cosmic Roots

Fiyah Winter ’19 Lightspeed 3/19 Future Tense 1/19 Abyss & Apex 1st Quarter ’19 Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores 1/19

Fiyah has its first unthemed issue with #9, which also marks a transition as founding editor Justina Ireland moves on and DaVaun Sanders joins Troy L. Wiggins on the editorial team. The stories here are all over the genre landscape, from fantasy to SF with more than a little surrealism ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Clarkesworld

Tor.com 1/23/19, 1/30/19, 1/31/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 2/14/19, 2/28/19 Clarkesworld 2/19

Tor.com continues its strong January with stories from Mimi Mondal, JY Yang, and Elizabeth Bear. Mondal’s story “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” tells of a circus traveling in India. Binu is a trapeze master deeply in love with a jinni, Shehzad Marid. When they perform at a lavish wedding, a devidasi (a woman ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Lightspeed, See the Elephant, and Future Science Fiction

Lightspeed 1/19, 2/19 See the Elephant #4 Future Science Fiction Digest #1

January’s Lightspeed opens with a mythic science fictional novelette by A. Merc Rustad, “With Teeth Unmake the Sun“. It features war between immortal godlike beings, one of whom commands a wolf who can unmake planets, stars, and solar systems. While it is an agent of destruction, it has its own yearnings (and its own very ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Tor.com 1/14/19, 1/16/19 Clarkesworld 1/19 Strange Horizons 1/19, 2/19 Beneath Ceaseless Skies #270

After a hiatus in December, Tor.com returns in strength with a pair of stories by two great authors. “The Last Voyage of Skidbladnir” by Karin Tidbeck (her first new story in a while) gives us living starships who inhabit skyscrapers like hermit-crab shells. Saga is a crewmember on the ship Skidbladnir when it needs to ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Strange Horizons 12/18 Clarkesworld 12/18 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 12/6/18, 12/20/18, 1/3/19, 1/17/19

Strange Horizons starts December with a unique tale of imprisonment. In “How Pleasant the Red Bloom” by Lucy Har­low, the narrative literally wars with itself, as a well-mannered voice that writes in complete and elaborate sentences is edited and interrupted by a voice that seems deranged. It becomes clear that the first speaker is incarcerated ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Fiyah, Deep Magic, Daily SF, Tor.com, and Abyss & Apex

Fiyah Autumn ’18 Deep Magic Fall ’18 Daily SF 11/28/18, 12/12/18, 12/14/18 Tor.com 10/24/18, 11/14/18 Abyss & Apex 4th Quarter 2018

The theme for the eighth issue of Fiyah is Pil­grimage, which is expressed in several different ways. “BULLET” by Stephen Kearse gives us the pilot of a weapon traveling across space for hundreds of days, giving her plenty of time to think about her mission and about ...Read More

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

Shimmer 11/18 Clarkesworld 11/18 Lightspeed 12/18

As we say goodbye to 2018 we also bid a fond farewell to Shimmer, as their 46th issue is their last. After 13 years of pub­lication they go out in style with a 12-story triple issue that showcases the wide range of genre fic­tion that found a home between their covers over the years. It starts strongly with “Rotkäppchen” by Emily McCosh ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Strange Horizons, Samovar, Giganotosaurus, Big Echo, Liminal, and Red Sun

Strange Horizons 10/18 Samovar 9/18 Giganotosaurus 11/18 Big Echo 8/18 Liminal Stories 8/18 Red Sun #3

Fall brings expanded coverage from Strange Ho­rizons as their successful annual fundraiser “un­locked” extra stories in October. “The Fortunate Death of Jonathan Sandelson” by Margaret Killjoy is one such story, a cyber-punkish tale of left wing activists using doxxing/IT/hacking tools to go after abusive corporate and government powers. Jeje has been following ...Read More

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Half a Year Online by Karen Burnham

At the beginning of 2018 I had no idea that I would end up reading so much short fiction from so many different venues that I would need a spreadsheet to keep track of it. Since I started reviewing online short fiction for Locus in the August issue (after the sad passing of Gardner Dozois – I very much wish I could read his 2018 year-end column this year) I’ve ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 9/18 Lightspeed 11/18 Omenana #12 8/18 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 11/8/18, 11/22/18 Fireside 10/18 Apex 9/18, 10/18 Terraform 9/14/18, 9/23/18 e-flux 9/18 Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores 9/18

Clarkesworld brings us five original stories for the month of September, of which the strongest is “When We Were Starless” by newcomer Simone Heller. Starting out with an alien tribe eking out a subsistence living in a blasted wasteland, ...Read More

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

Clarkesworld 9/18 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 10/11/18, 10/25/18 Strange Horizons 9/18, 10/18 Giganotosaurus 9/18 Tor.com 9/19/18

Clarkesworld has a strong issue in Sep­tember, leading off with Kelly Robson‘s story “A Study in Oils“. Written after Robson traveled to China on an arts grant, the story focuses on Zhang Lei, a Lunar hockey player running away from the consequences of a crime he committed on the ice. Lying low ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Future Tense, Lightspeed, Apex, and Future Fire

Future Tense 8/18 Lightspeed 10/18 Apex Magazine 8/18 Future Fire 8/18

Slate’s Future Tense short story for August, “When We Were Patched” by Deji Bryce Olukotun, finishes their series looking at the future of sport. The narrator is a particularly officious AI, and never has a character had more rationale for having a stuffy tone: this AI is an augmented refereeing as­sistant for a particularly awesome kind ...Read More

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Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Fiyah, Future Tense, Abyss & Apex, Fireside, and GigaNotoSaurus

Clarkesworld 8/18 Fiyah Summer ’18 Future Tense 7/23/18 Abyss & Apex 7/18 Fireside Magazine 8/18 GigaNotoSaurus 8/18

Clarkesworld in August starts out with a story that’s an entrant in that evergreen subgenre: “unfathomable alien technology.” In “The Veilonaut’s Dream” by Henry Szabranski, the veilonauts are those willing to risk darting through the Discontinuity, randomly occurring portals into other times/places/universes with no way home if the portal closes ...Read More

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

Lightspeed 8/18, 9/18 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 9/18 Tor.com 7/19/18, 8/1/18 Cascadia Subduction Zone, Vol 8, No. 3

Lightspeed has reached its 100th issue! A proud milestone for any magazine, they celebrate in style this September with a more-than-double issue: ten stories plus extra reprints and interviews. It leads with a mythic SF story, “Her Monster, Whom She Loved” by Vylar Kaftan. In this story a goddess births ...Read More

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