Friday, November 25, 2016

Short Fiction: August & September 2016

It’s time for a look at a few of my favorites out of the science fiction and fantasy short fiction works that have been recently published.  I rely on Rocket Stack Rank to provide me with a monthly list of stories to read, and I also have a subscription with the Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine.  This is my first year keeping a close look at short fiction, so I’m hoping to branch out to subscriptions with additional magazines (such as Asimov’s or Analog) in the future.

Today, I will discuss stories published in August and September of this year.  As usual, I will provide links for the stories that are available for free online.     

Taste the Singularity at the Food Truck Circus by Jeremiah Tolbert (Novelette, Lightspeed): This is the story of a clandestine food truck gathering of chefs that explore bizarre experimental cooking.  The creativity of the foods were a highlight of the story, and it was interesting how each dish danced along the line between delicious and disturbing.  I, like the main character, really enjoy imaginative food, so I had a lot of fun reading this speculative foodie fiction.

The Voice in the Cornfield, The Word Made Flesh by Desirina Boskovich (Short Story, Fantasy & Science Fiction): This one was a quiet, emotional story about an alien that crash-lands near a Mennonite community.  Few people notice the alien’s silent pain as it lies there, slowly dying, except for several women who are also suffering.  Boskovich writes from her experience of living in a Mennonite community, and she shows the cruelty and suffering that can lie just below a peaceful surface.  
The Further Adventures of Mr. Costello by David Gerrold (Novella, Fantasy & Science Fiction): This is a sequel to Theodore Sturgeon’s “Mr. Costello, Hero”, which I have not read.  However, “The Further Adventures of Mr. Costello” still stands alone as a very entertaining novella.  The story is from the perspective of a protagonist with a dark past who has joined a farming/ranching family on an alien planet.  One day, a smooth-talking fellow shows up and claims to have a plan to turn a certain violent, unruly local animal into livestock.  This sort of thing has cost many idiots their lives in the past, but what would it mean for their world if he succeeds?  I love Gerrold’s writing style, and how vividly he describes this world, the local ecosystem, and the human society that thrives there.   

A Deeper Green by Samantha Murray (Novelette, Beyond Ceaseless Skies): In this story of a struggling human colony on an alien planet, Juvianna has the ability to enter and alter people’s minds.  In her community, her skill is traditionally used to eradicate the memories of a crime and the feelings that led to it.  In this way, the community does not lose criminals as useful members of society.  With such a powerful gift, some people inevitably have different ideas of how it should be used.  Juvianna must balance her responsibility to her community and loved ones with her own sense of morality. Her gift was a very interesting concept, and I appreciated how the story explored its possibilities for personal and communal help and harm.

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