Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Black Static, Uncanny, Nightmare, The Dark, and Cemetery Dance

Black Static 7-8/19 Uncanny 7-8/19 Nightmare 8/19, 9/19 The Dark 7/19, 8/19 Cemetery Dance 7/19

An outstanding issue of Black Static (#70) leads off with Ralph Robert Moore‘s novelette “I Write Your Name“. Roger was 14 when he met infant Mia. They meet again when Roger turns out to be 30-year-old Mia’s next-door neighbor – not that they recall their initial encounter. They fall in love and ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories, Edited by Ellen Datlow

Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Saga 978-1-53441-346-7, $32.99, 816pp, hc) August 2019.

Ellen Datlow has delved into ghost story-themed anthologies twice before: the all-original The Dark: New Ghost Stories in 2003 and Hauntings, a reprint compilation, in 2013. This massive (over 200,000 words in 816 pages, 30 stories) tome is one of the best works yet by Datlow – and, considering her stellar ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews This House of Wounds by Georgina Bruce

This House of Wounds, Georgina Bruce (Un­dertow Publications 978-1-988964-09-6, $27.99, 248pp, hc) June 2019. Cover by Catrin Welz-Stein.

Georgina Bruce’s searing debut collection contains 16 superbly written, often surreal stories of misogyny, blood, anger, agony, and abuse. Bruce’s stygian tales are technically ac­complished, but also powered by a profound depth of feeling. They often compel and overwhelm at the same time. Like the cover art by Catrin Welz-Stein, This ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Black Static and Uncanny

Black Static 5-6/19 Uncanny 5-6/19

The usual five original stories in Black Static #69 begin with “Where It Ends, Where It Begins” by Erinn L. Kemper. Old Mac salvages the sea on the west coast of Vancouver Island. For ten years, along with the usual fare, he’s also salvaged decaying body parts that he keeps in a freezer. Now he has collected an entire body’s worth of ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: The Dark, Nightmare, and Apex

The Dark 5/19, 6/19 Nightmare 6/19, 7/19 Apex 5/19

The Dark #48 offers two new stories. In Angela Slatter‘s “The Wilderling“, isolated, bored, childless LP is fascinated with a feral child who visits her yard. One might expect LP to do something other than what she does for or with the savage kid. Mystery grows as LP’s actions defy expectation. Slatter, with perfect pacing and accomplished writing, ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, Black Static, The Dark, Nightmare, and Tor.com

Uncanny 3-4/19 Black Static 3-4/19 The Dark 3/19, 4/19 Nightmare 4/19, 5/19 Tor.com 4/17/19

Uncanny is one of my favorite periodicals because, even if the stories are not always 100% top-notch (no magazine’s content can be!), they are all 100% enjoyable to read and each issue always offers variety. That’s rare and welcome.

Whether intentional or not, the March/April issue has an appropriately springtide theme. Five – maybe all six ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Collision by J.S. Breukelaar

Collision, J.S. Breukelaar (Meerkat Press 978-1-946154-17-0, $16.95, tp, 220pp) March 2019.

You may have encountered a story by J.S. Breukelaar here and there, or even her novels American Monster (2014) or Altheia (2017). Whether her name is familiar or not, her debut collection, Collision: Stories, should be on your “must read” list. Breuke­laar, an American living in Sydney, Australia, writes in a clean, incisive style with razor-sharp opening ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Nightmare, The Dark, Uncanny, and Black Static

Nightmare 2/19, 3/19 The Dark 1/19, 2/19 Uncanny 1-2/19 Black Static 1-2/19

Six weeks into 2019 (as I write) and I’m at the fast dwindling point where I foolishly feel I have a handle on most of the new fiction….

Nightmare #77 offers two original stories: “Quiet the Dead” by Micah Dean Hicks and “58 Rules to Ensure Your Husband Loves You Forever” by Rafeeat Aliyu ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, Shimmer, Nightmare, Apex, and The Dark

Uncanny 11-12/18 Shimmer 11/18 Nightmare 1/19 Apex 11/18, 12/18 The Dark 12/18

Not all of the stories in Uncanny #25 are dark, but – oh well. The standout story for #25 is Naomi Kritzer‘s novelette “The Thing About Ghost Stories“. Leah’s doctoral dissertation is on the meaning of ghost stories. She gains an academic position just as her mother is descending into dementia. After the mother’s death, ...Read More

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Year in Review: 2018 by Paula Guran

These days I don’t read much horror other than short fiction. It’s not what I turn to for pleasure-reading fiction. So my “year-in-review” article does not specifically discuss the dark side. Maybe not surprisingly, though, many of my favorite reads have more than a thin stream of the tenebrous trickling through them. Outside of personal inclination, this may be an indication of what seems to be becoming more of a ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Dark Short Fiction: Shimmer, Black Static, Nightmare, The Dark, and Uncanny

Shimmer 9/18 Black Static 9-10/18 Nightmare 11/18 The Dark 10/18, 11/18 Uncanny 9-10/18

Shimmer #45 is the publication’s penultimate issue, with the last, #46, out in November. The magazine’s goal was to be a “specula­tive magazine that focused on stories that existed in the in-between places. Not quite science-fiction, not quite fantasy, but having threads of both. Also, stories that were not afraid to focus on loss and death and ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Knaves Over Queens, Edited by George R.R. Martin & Melinda M. Snodgrass

Knaves Over Queens, George R.R. Martin & Melinda M. Snodgrass, eds. (HarperVoyager 978-0008283599, £16.99, 550pp, hc) June 2018. (Tor 978-1250168061, $29.99, 560pp, hc) August 2019.

This 27th book in the laudable (but often underestimated) Wild Cards series is the first to focus solely on the British Isles. The cycle’s long history now spans more than three decades (since 1987) in publishing time and more than seventy years in fictional ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Nightmare, Black Static, Shimmer, The Dark, and Uncanny

Nightmare 8/18, 9/18 Black Static 7-8/18 Shimmer 7/18 The Dark 8/18, 9/18 Uncanny 7-8/18

Nightmare #71 (August) has two strong original stories. In “Dead Air” by Nino Cipri, Nita is recording interviews with the people she sleeps with: ethnography, socio­logically-influenced art. No, it’s not a good idea, especially when she meets Maddie, who is more than just another lover passing in the night. Mad­die has secrets. She ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews All the Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma

All the Fabulous Beasts, Priya Sharma (Under­tow 978-1-988964-02-7 $17.99 tp) May 2018.

Despite frequent appearances in “year’s best” compilations and on Locus Rec­ommended Reading Lists, as well as a British Fantasy Award for Short Fiction, Priya Sharma may not yet have come to your attention. This award-worthy debut collection from Sharma, a practicing medical doctor in England, could change that. Sharma’s stories often feature families or the sea, but range ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Nightmare, The Dark, and Dark Discoveries

Nightmare 7/18 The Dark 6/18 Dark Discoveries Spring ’18

Nightmare, issue 70, published, as usual, two originals. In “Kylie Land” by Caspian Gray, Ky­lie Eland lives by “Rules” that help him deal with life, but he doesn’t fit into high school any better than he does anywhere else. He makes friends with Michael Ramage, a shunned new student with a bad reputation, in hopes he can help ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Low Chicago Edited by George R.R. Martin & Melinda M. Snodgrass

Low Chicago, George R.R. Martin & Melinda M. Snodgrass, eds. (Tor 978-0-7653-9056-1, $27.99, hc) June 2018.

John Jos. Miller sets up the premise for this latest Wild Cards mosaic novel in the first part of “A Long Night at the Palmer House”: a high stakes poker game hosted in the present day by an elite gangster at Chicago’s historic and still luxurious Palmer House Hotel. He also introduces the ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Shimmer, Uncanny, and Black Static

Shimmer 5/18 Uncanny 5-6/18 Black Static 5-6/18

The regular venues this column covers had quite a bit to offer as spring turned to sum­mer. Shimmer went spooky with all four stories in their 43rd issue. Katherine Kendig‘s “What the Skeleton Detective Tells You (while you picnic)” is dark “lite”: a cute reworking of a private eye yarn with a living skeleton detec­tive. “You, In Flux...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction: Uncanny, Anathema, Kaleidotrope, The Dark, and Mythic Delirium

Uncanny 1-2/18 Anathema: Spec from the Margins 12/17 Kaleidotrope Winter ’18 The Dark 1/18 Mythic Delirium 1-3/18

Although more concerned with character than plot, Elizabeth Bear‘s “She Still Loves the Dragon” (Uncanny) still tells the love story of a knight-errant and a dragon. (“She still loves the dragon that set her on fire.”) Since love stories often turn dark and end bit­tersweet, I feel justified in praising ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction

Lightspeed 11/17, 12/17 Nightmare 12/17 Tor.com 10/24/17 Clarkesworld 11/17 Uncanny 11-12/17 Shimmer #40 Kaleidotrope Autumn ’17 The Dark 11/17 Black Static 11-12/17

It is already a new year as you read this, but it is not even Thanksgiving as I write. It is also the time of the year when those of my ilk are already considering what fiction was the “best” of the year: a rewarding endeavor, but also ...Read More

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Paula Guran Reviews Short Fiction

Apex 9/17, 8/17 Black Static 9-10/17 Uncanny 9-10/17 The Dark 8/17 Nightmare 10/17 Beneath Ceaseless Skies 8/17

As of September 2017, Apex Magazine has survived for eight years and four months and made it to its hundredth issue – a more remarkable achievement than the average reader might expect. The issue’s three more-or-less originals are all entertaining and dark enough for me to write about.

Kameron Hurley‘s “Tumbledown ...Read More

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Paula Guran reviews Short Fiction: May 2017

Fiyah Winter 2017 Gamut 2/17, 3/17 Apex Magazine 2/17 The Dark 4/17 Tor.com 3/8/17, 3/9/17 Uncanny 3-4/17

 

Fiyah is a new literary magazine dedicated to Black speculative fiction, a spiritual successor to the experimental FIRE!!, an African-American magazine of the Harlem Renaissance that managed only one issue in 1926. (The magazine’s offices burned to the ground shortly after it was published.) The theme of the first issue is, appropriately

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Paula Guran reviews Short Fiction, October 2016

Uncanny Magazine 7-8/16 Nightmare 7/16, 8/16 Black Static 7-8/16 Shimmer 7/16 The Dark 8/16 Apex Magazine 8/16

This month we discover some dark delights, but also encounter fiction bogged down in the end-of-summer doldrums. Of the five original stories in the July/August 2016 issue of recent Hugo-winner Uncanny Magazine, two can be said to be truly dark. The only element of the fantastic in ‘‘El Cantar of Rising Sun’’ by

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