End of Year Short Fiction Dash

Last week I wrote about my annual reading goal, which got me thinking about all the science fiction and fantasy magazines and podcasts I subscribe to. I support two at Patreon: Uncanny and Strange Horizons. I follow several more via my Podcast Addict app on my phone: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Escape Pod, Lightspeed and Podcastle. My Patreon magazines also have audio podcasts of select stories.

Most of the year, I’m heads down in full length books and novels. Only when I reach December, when my book clubs take a break for the holidays, do I come up for air enough to review any novellas or novelettes published in any of the magazines listed above. So I spent some time earlier this week, scrolling back through my Patreon posts to find all the ebooks I forgot to download for Uncanny and Strange Horizons. Then I scrolled through all the podcast episodes for authors I liked or had heard of for any works at least 40 minutes long (the length of half of my daily commute). I added several to my playlist and downloaded the ebooks to my tablet. My commute and lunch time reading was taken care of for the entire week.

Last Sunday, I read “A Time to Reap” by Elizabeth Bear (published in Issue 29 over the summer) and gave it four stars. At lunch on Monday, I read “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker (published in Issue 31 very recently) and didn’t like it quite as much as Bear’s story, so gave it a 3.5-4 star rating.

I also read a illustrated children’s book by Tolkien entitled Bilbo’s Last Song as well as a Zelazny novelette I’ve been wanting to read for years (and I was NOT disappointed – excellent story): “A Rose for Ecclesiastes”

Skip ahead a couple of days and I listened to two Lightspeed stories to and from work on the 12th. “The Iron Man” by Max Gladstone (3 stars) and “Warhosts” by Yoon Ha Lee (3.5 stars), published in back-to-back issues, number 108 and 109, this past Summer.

I also read during my lunch hour a story by M.K. Hutchins (this is the first time I’ve read anything by her) called “The King’s Mirror” and published on January 21, 2019 at Strange Horizons. I initially gave it a rating of 3.5 stars but upon further reflection, I might edge that up to 4 stars.

By Friday the 13th, I ‘d listened to the short works (less than 45 minutes long) and graduated to ones that would take longer than half my commute. I started that fateful Friday drive with “Marlowe and Harry and the Disinclined Laboratory” by Carrie Vaughn (4 stars). This was a steampunk story I really enjoyed.

Today, while I began cleaning and baby-proofing my house for my grandson‘s unexpected Christmas visit, I listened to a Clarkesworld story published in March of this year, written by Harry Turtledove entitled “The Yorkshire Mammoth” which I liked (3.5 stars). When I ventured into the shopping madness that is Johnson County, Kansas during the Christmas season, I listened to the underwhelming “The Future is Blue” by Catherynne M. Valente (2-2.5 stars). I was expecting better from her but ultimately was disappointed and a bit put off.

That’s ten short fiction works over a week (more like five days because Tuesday and Wednesday I read my print edition library books I need to return next week). I’ve reached the end of my playlist but not the end of my ebook editions so next week I’ll have no trouble finding interesting short fiction to read and perhaps some new authors to give a try as well.

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