Hugo nominations season is upon us, and I have not yet read all the short fiction that I intended! As a recap on these series of posts, it was the Hugo Awards that initially prompted me to dive more deeply into the world of short fiction. The low nomination rate for short fiction (relative to novel nominations) leaves their categories vulnerable to gaming. I figured that for my part, the best thing I could do is to read more short fiction and nominate the stories I like. These posts grew out of that, simply from a desire to share stories that I personally thought were especially enjoyable. The amount of short fiction I’m able to read in time varies from post to post, but I try to continue reading until I’ve found a few that I’d like to share.
This batch of stories is more towards the fantasy side of SFF, with a new d-space novella from Jeremiah Tolbert, a divine match-making story from Jordan Ifueko, and a quiet alien contact tale from Dennis Danvers. Tolbert is the only recurring author from previous posts, and I have recommended previous stories of his here and here. All the stories are available to read at the listed links.
The Dragon of Dread Peak by Jeremiah Tolbert (Novella, Lightspeed): Since this is a sequel, I would recommend reading “The Cavern of the Screaming Eyes” first. If for some reason you don’t want to, it is still perfectly possible to understand this story without having read the first. The basic premise is that space-time portals to d-space (essentially ‘dungeons’ or ‘instances’ in MMORPG parlance) have begun to pop up, and only teenagers have the ability to enter and resolve them. This might sound a little silly, but the emotional authenticity of the characters grounds the story in reality. The main character Ivan’s brother went missing in one of these instances, and he is keeping his fledgling (and somewhat inept) d-space team a secret from his still-grieving mother. Overall, it is a fun story about teamwork, leadership, and trying to outwit a dangerous dragon. The novella is complete in itself, but it also furthers the ongoing plot of Ivan’s search for his brother.
Oshun, Inc. by Jordan Ifueko (Short Story, Strange Horizons): This one was a fun story about the immortal employees of a Nigerian goddess, Oshun. The main character works out of the LA office, seeing to the prayers of Nigerian-Americans. She uses her divine tricks for match-making, and she’s determined at the beginning of the story to impress Oshun by matching two particular lonely people. However, matches are not always as good in practice as they might sound in theory. This was a pretty upbeat and humorous story overall, but I would note that the main character exposes some racist and misogynistic attitudes along the way.