Sunday, August 14, 2016

Short Fiction: May/June 2016

It’s time for another post about recently-published short fiction! I’ve been falling a bit behind on my short fiction reading, due to the challenges of moving. I’m now finally starting to settle in and catch up on things that have slipped in the past month.  Today’s post is going to include short fiction published in May and June.

First, here are a few of my favorite pieces from that long-ago month of May:

We Have a Cultural Difference, Can I Taste You? By Rebecca Ann Jordan (Short Story): This was a funny and sad story about cultural divides and building bridges between them.  The main character was an amoeba-like alien named Filo/Gee, the last of it’s kind, and its endearingly open and cheerful personality provided a lot of the humor of the story.  I enjoyed the relationship between Filo/Gee and its human roommate, Nina, and watching them try to understand one another more deeply.   

The Pigeon Summer by Brit Mandelo (Short Story):  This one was a ghost story, but not a horror story.  Instead, as in The White Piano, the ghosts serve a story that is fundamentally about coping with grief.  In this case, the supernatural elements are very understated and ambiguous. J. has closed hirself off from the world after the suicide of hir best friend.  In hir apartment, si feels connected only to the ghost that may be haunting the room and to the small nest of baby pigeons that is growing outside the window.

The Jaws that Bite, the Claws that Catch by Seanan McGuire (Short Story): As I’m sure one can guess from the title, this one is a riff on Lewis Carroll, specifically Jabberwocky. The worldbuilding is a neat take on a classic work, and the story has an unusual heroine.  It was a pleasure to read.

Now, here are a couple of favorites published during June:

Lost: Mind by Will McIntosh (Novelette, Asimov’s July 2016*): A story of mind uploading and the pain of losing oneself, this story features a man who has his wife’s mind scanned before she succumbs to Alzheimer’s.  Unfortunately, the pieces of her are stolen and scattered when he attempts to smuggle her into the US, and so he must find a way to put her back together again.  It’s an emotional story that also imagines an interesting near future of illegal mind scans.

Filtered by Leah Cypess (Short Story, Asimov’s July 2016): A terrible thing has happened far away, but filtering algorithms are preventing readers from knowing about it.  A journalist must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice in his attempt to make suffering voices heard.  Filtered is clearly a reflection of the current state of reality, so don’t expect any happy endings.  Of all the stories I read from June, this one hit the closest to home.

*In case you're wondering, Asimov's publishes their month-named issues during the previous month.

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