Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Short Fiction: April

It’s time for more discussion of short fiction! For April, I mostly read work that was available for free online, so I will provide the links for everything below. Looking over the ones I marked as my favorites, I have realized that I picked some extremely sad stories for April. However, I think they each carry at least a little seed of hope or potential for future happiness.

Blood Grains Speak Through Memories by Jason Sanford (Novelette): In this unusual post-apocalyptic story, a class of people (land anchors) are enslaved by nanotechnology (grains) to safeguard particular plots of land. If other humans damage their environment, or even just stick around for too long, the grains will force their human guardians to a homicidal response. The anchor Frere-Jones has lost her husband and her son, and her anger against the grains is likely to eventually cost her life. Trapped within a system she despises, she tries to find a way for her life to have meaning. With its creative setting and deep emotional stakes, this story was my favorite of the month.

This is a Letter to My Son by KJ Kabza (Short Story): In this near-future, a technique has been developed to provide ‘plastic surgery’ on one’s mind. If a person is unhappy with something about their body, they can choose to either change it or simply to change their feelings about it. The story follows a transgender adolescent named Kellsey, who only knows her deceased mother through the many video messages she left behind... for her son. Kellsey faces a frightening choice about her future, one that seems unfair for a child her age to have to contemplate. Kellsey’s story is an exploration of self-perception, grief, and mortality.

That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn (Short Story): There was a long and painful war between two races, one telepathic and one not. Now that it is finally over, a non-telepathic nurse goes to visit a man who was both her former prisoner and captor. As a gesture of peace, they enjoy a game of chess together. In the process, they both remember their roles in the war and slowly come closer to healing. I enjoyed the hopeful perspective of the story, as well as the humor of a middling chess player attempting to play a telepath. In addition, it was very interesting to consider how a war could be waged between telepaths and non-telepaths, and what it would cost each of them.


  1. These are some excellent recommends. I'll have a look at Blood Grains. The premise is intriguing. Thanks for putting the time into the reviews. It's nice picking up some short fiction to try out an author before going whole-hog on a novel. It takes away the fear of bogging down in a novel you might hate, but just feel the need to complete because you'd plopped that hard-earned cash down. I give my first novel away for free so readers can take a look for themselves, but some short fiction might go farther towards bridging that hesitation. Thanks for hitching me along on that train of thought. Time to start writing, I guess.

    1. Yeah, I have found a few favorite authors through first trying their short work! I'm glad the short fiction reviews are helpful.