Last week, I finished listening to or reading the rest of the short fiction I had earmarked for perusal before end of year in a previous post. I’m very grateful to the podcasts of various SFF magazines that fit perfectly into my daily commute. Many of the authors below are new to me. Only Aliette de Bodard, KJ Parker and Sarah Pinsker have I read previously.
December 16th I listened to “Portrait of the Artist” by KJ Parker (3.5-4 stars) published in a special double-issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. After dinner I read “The Imaginary Palace of the Winter King” by Sarah Tolmie (3.5-4 stars) from the February 2019 edition of Strange Horizons. “Winter King” was also available via a podcast but I felt like reading the ebook edition I receive as a Patreon of that magazine.
Tuesday dawned snowy and foggy, so I felt listening to “The Last Stellar Death Metal Opera” by Elly Bangs (2.5-3 stars) was apropos. This story is an Escape Pod original (episode 697), meaning it appears first on their site and via their podcast. It was a fun listen about a daring plan to die spectacularly in a deathless far-future. Again, apropos, considering the protagonist was seeking the ultimate escape in her spaceship pod.
During lunch and while driving home on December 17th, I listened to “Two Sisters in Exile” by Aliette de Bodard (3.5-4 stars) via the Clarkesworld podcast released on June 30th. This story was original in Solaris Rising 1.5 and was read by Kate Baker. I enjoy reading AdB but I really need to re-read this story. I didn’t give it the attention it deserved.
Wednesday I managed to cram in three short stories across my commutes (morning and afternoon) as well as my lunch. One of the three was published recently (October 2019) and I don’t have the ‘official’ ebook cover because it hasn’t been released yet by Strange Horizons. I listened to “The Sloppy Mathematics of Half-Ghosts” by Charles Payseur (3 stars) and enjoyed it, despite the plethora of cats.
Back to Escape Pod episode 699 for a reissued edition of “A Stretch of Highway Two Miles Long” (2.5-3 stars), originally published in the March/April 2014 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction and first appeared on Escape Pod on episode 497, published June 27, 2015. I usually like Sarah’s work, but the two stories I’ve read this month just haven’t hit the spot for me. It was weird, that’s all I say so I don’t spoil it for you.
For the commute home, I listened to “A Bird, A Song, A Revolution “ by Brooke Bolander (4 stars) which I really enjoyed.
I’ve previously read a story by Brooke, a couple of years ago, with a title I could not resist diving into immediately: “And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead” (also available from Lightspeed, Issue 57, February 2015).
For Thursday the 19th, I only listened to one story, reverting to my ‘normal’ history OTD and tech news podcasts for the return trip home. I did manage to complete three more short fiction stories, though, including another one from Strange Horizons (June 2019 issue) called “Many-Hearted Dog and Heron Who Stepped Past Time” by Alex Yuschik (3.5-4 stars)
I read another story by Aliette de Bodard that I really enjoyed called “The Dragon That Flew Out of the Sun” by Aliette de Bodard (3.5 stars) published as text only in the March/April 2019 issue of Uncanny Magazine. The last story for Thursday disappointed and was called “What Cradles Us But Will Not Set Us Free” by Nin Harris (2 stars) from the April 2019 issue of Strange Horizons. I’m not a huge fan of horror. I like suspense and thrillers in a science fiction or fantasy setting as long as it doesn’t get to gratuitously graphically gory. “What Cradles” was neither or none o fthem. Just not very interesting.
My final story of the week took me back to the first Uncanny magazine issue of the year, for January/February 2019. I’d previously listened to the Fran Wilde story (probably in February) but returned to read another new author’s work entitled “The Willows” by Delilah S. Dawson (2-2.15 stars).
I completed another ten short fiction titles last week and I think I’ve gorged enough on these small story bites. Today and tomorrow I will listen to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and we’ll probably, as a family, return to our tradition of watching A Muppet Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. After Christmas, I’ll return to more normal novel reading as the relatives return to their roosts.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my dash through diverse shorter fiction options. All of the stories I’ve highlighted in this post and my previous post are available online for free in text and frequently audio formats.
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