I had another few weeks of unexpectedly busy life, so I didn’t manage to post all of my recommended short fiction of 2017 before the closing of the Hugo nominations. In any case, I still want to share the short fiction I’ve enjoyed reading, and I hope to get back to a more stable schedule soon. For this set of stories, the themes are heists and trickery. All three authors--Gillian Daniels, Marie Brennan, and J.R. Dawson--are new names to this series of posts.
His Wife and Serpent Mistress by Gillian Daniels (Short Story, Beneath Ceaseless Skies): The Marquis lives with his cruel uncle, and he is in love with a part-serpent woman. He feels trapped in his life, but sees no way out of it. When his uncle asks him to marry another woman for money, many truths about his past and present circumstances begin to become clear. The Marquis was an easily sympathetic character, and I was pleasantly surprised that the story did not pit the two women against each other. This was a fun heist story that comes to a delightfully happy ending.
The Siret Mask by Marie Brennan (Short Story, Beneath Ceaseless Skies): Another heist story, this one involves a legendary thief who has an elaborate scheme to steal the famous Siret Mask during a festival. No plan survives contact with the enemy, though, and this one in particular ends up relying on a lot of dangerous improvisation and changing roles. The story had a lot of energy and fun, and it was also the sort where you feel certain everything will come out alright in the end.
Marley and Marley by J.R. Dawson (Short Story, Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine--Buy Here): Marley is orphaned at a young age, and put in the care of an unusual guardian -- herself from the future. Young Marley is disappointed with what she can see of her future, and the two Marleys do not get along. As Marley grows up, moving towards her inevitable appointment to raise herself, she considers whether she truly has to accept her future and her past. This one is a lovely, emotional story that explores how life changes people, and whether people can change themselves.