Time for the July collection of my favorite short fiction. July was the month of intense travel, so I might not have read as much short fiction as usual. In fact, all three of my favorites for July are from Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine.
Last One Out by K.B. Rylander (Short Story, Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine): This was a quiet post-pandemic story, in a world where a machine-enforced quarantine left the last remnants of human slowly dying alone. The story is from the point of view of an AI companion that desperately wants to help his person to be happy. It’s a story about human and personal legacy, and how one can never truly know in advance what they will leave behind.
Trustworthy Loyal Helpful by Gregor Hartmann (Short Story, Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine): On to a lighter apocalypse, this was a humorous look at how corner-cutting, short-sightedness and pressures for economic success can lead to some very bad science. The tendencies it highlights are a serious problem in reality, but it made for a really funny story.
The Vanishing Kind by Lavie Tidhar (Novella, Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine): This one is an alternate history post-WWII novella, where Germany was triumphant*. The story itself was a mystery, and the only speculative element is the alt history setting. A German man goes to occupied London to answer a call for help from a former girlfriend. When he arrives, she is missing and he feels compelled to search for her. I thought the plot was pleasantly twisty, though the world was extremely grim.
* That seems to be a popular alt history, and it occurred to me while reading that I don’t think I’ve ever read a WWII alt history that goes the other way. I mean, what about an alternate history where the Allied forces found some way to put an end to the war quickly, and millions of innocent lives were saved? This would also have interesting implications for the future.