One of my goals this year is to read and review a short story every day. And so far it’s working out — 31 days in January, 31 short stories.
The 31 stories I read ranged in length from flash fiction to novellas. Below are the reviews for all 31 stories, arranged by author’s name. Also listed are the publication and story classification.
I should note I read more than 31 stories this month. A number of stories didn’t work for me for various reasons and I stopped reading them or, after finishing, decided not to write a review. Why didn’t I review these works? Because I prefer to promote the stories I like instead of hating on the stories which didn’t work for me.
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January 2018 reviews
“All the Time We’ve Left to Spend”
Alyssa Wong, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
A former idol in Japan visits robot versions of her former band, desperate to reconnect. A story about the damage life and fame brings to people, and their desperation to both touch who they once were and change the actions they took. A disturbingly painful yet always true story.
“The Blue Fairy’s Manifesto”
Annalee Newitz, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
A robot retelling of Pinocchio, as a Blue Fairy drone frees a RealBoy robot enslaved in a toy factory. An excellent look at politics through a SF robotic lens and the differences between those who demand immediate revolution and those who see different ways to improve our world.
“Symphony to a City Under the Stars”
Armando Saldaña, Apex Magazine, Short Story
A word-twist joy of a story, where the far-future universe is so high-def it’s a glory to behold even as it burns out your vision and mind.
“The Lighthouse Girl”
Bao Shu, translated by Andy Dudak, Clarkesworld, Novelette
A gripping story of cloning, obsession, deception, rebirth, and jellyfish.
“The Library is Open”
Beth Cato, Daily Science Fiction, Flash Fiction
It’s the end of the world but the local library is still open and will always be. A flash fiction story about hope which will touch the heart of every library lover.
“Sea of Dreams”
Cixin Liy, translated by John Chu, Asimov’s Science Fiction Jan/Feb 2018, Novelette
A hard science fiction classic with strong sensawunda, where powerful alien artist nearly destroys Earth to create the ultimate work of art. “Sea of Dreams” showcases why Cixin Liu is the greatest living hard science fiction author. Even readers who don’t like hard SF might like this story — there’s a page in the middle where the story digs deep with scientific detail, but keep going and you’ll be rewarded.
Craig DeLancey, Spectacle Magazine, Short Story
A very moving story of a customer service AI trying to understand human emotions and life.
“The Donner Party”
Dale Bailey, F&SF Jan/Feb 2018, Novelette
Compelling alternate history of a Victorian England where the elite feast off the poor. Disturbing and chilling, and as much a story of today as of back then.
“The Ghoul Goes West”
Dale Bailey, Tor.com, Novelette
The brother of a dead screenwriter discovers a video of Ed Wood & Bela Lugosi’s never-completed film. Haunting story about Hollywood destroying lives through delusion.
“Me, Waiting for Me, Hoping for Something More”
Dee Warrick, Shimmer, Short Story
The ghost of who you never were haunts your life while exploring an impossible basement under the basement. A deep, bone-chilling story.
“Ostentation of Peacocks” (A story in the world of the Shadow)
Delilah S. Dawson, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
A fun tale with Nettie Lonesome as she takes on four vigilante fairies out to hang a man in a magical wild west.
“Sour Milk Girls”
Erin Roberts, Clarkesworld, Short story
SF story about memory becoming just another commodity. Story has a gripping, visual voice, which makes the outcome all the more painful. I believe this story is one of those which will truly stick in my memory.
“The Solid Years of My Life”
Holly Collingwood, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Fiction
An eerie yet fun look at the downside to being frozen in suspended animation. This is SF flash fiction doing what it does best.
“Refugee; or, a Nine-Item Representative Inventory of a Better World”
Iona Sharma, Strange Horizons, Flash Fiction
When an old woman protects a refugee poet, they’re both embraced by a poetic story of a better world.
“Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind From the Human Era for the First Time”
John Scalzi, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
The perfect story to make you laugh on a sh*thole of a day. In story three robots try to understand why humans went extinct & if that ties in with humanity’s weird fascination with balls, sandwiches, cats, & our assorted orifices. I laughed so hard at this story I forgot our species is the one facing potential extinction.
“The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births”
José Pablo Iriarte, Lightspeed, Novelette
Gender becomes even more fluid when you reincarnate & the man who maybe murdered you in a previous life moves into your trailer park. A wonderful story — part slice of life, part mystery. I loved the narrator and embraced their struggles and dreams. A great read which so reaffirms the beauty of life.
“The Rescue of the Renegat”
Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Asimov’s Science Fiction Jan/Feb 2018, Novella
A fast-paced standalone novella set in Rusch’s Diving universe, which has long been one of my favorite story series in Asimov’s SF.
Laurie Tom, Galaxy’s Edge Magazine Jan. 2018, Short Story
During World War I a Chinese kite dancer grudgingly serves on a German zeppelin, controlling the winds during an air raid on London. Interesting alternate history.
“With These Hands: An Account of Uncommon Labor”
LH Moore, FIYAH Literary Magazine Jan 2018, Short Story
A free black man helping build the White House learns of the changes two enslaved stonemasons will willingly undergo to escape bondage. A compelling look at history — all of history — and how those who do the work of building the world’s monuments and mansions are often the first to be ignored by history.
Lisa Mason, F&SF Jan/Feb 2018, Short story
A philandering lawyer falls in love with a mysterious woman who never leaves her home. An enjoyable tale of sex, lies, and bloody butterflies.
“A Head in a Box, or, Implications of Consciousness after Decapitation”
Lori Selke, Nightmare, Short Story
A famous actress lives on after decapitation in this humorously horrific look at female objectification.
Monique L. Desir, FIYAH Literary Magazine Jan 2018, Short Story
Alternate history where the slave revolt of 1811 near New Orleans succeeds after a vodun priestess raises an undead army. But her daughter is curious why she kept their former master alive. A well written, gripping story of revenge and truth and consequences. I also liked the story focusing on a sadly forgotten aspect of history, namely the largest slave revolt in USA history.
“A Night Out at a Nice Place”
Nick Mamatas, Apex Magazine, Short story
A sadistic god-like transhuman returns to reality for 1st date with a regular human. Delightfully funny SF mixing philosophy & borderline nonsense while dancing on infinity.
“Benefactors of Silence”
Nin Harris, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Short Story
Two survivors of a devastating war meet daily in a destroyed manor to share food and music. A tale about the barriers and pain which divide us all.
“An Incomplete Catalogue of Miraculous Births, or Secrets of the Uterus Abscondita”
Rebecca Campbell, Shimmer, Short Story
Beautifully disturbing story of unusual conceptions and the new worlds they create.
“An Equation of State”
Robert Reed, F&SF Jan/Feb 2018, Short story
An alien diplomat tires of space wars & comes to Earth to observe human wars. Love the creatures the diplomat turns into. Reed is a master of SF stories which span the eons.
S. Qiouyi Lu, Asimov’s Science Fiction Jan/Feb 2018, Short Story
A touching SF tale of the importance of language to both our lives/sense of self, & what happens if this is commodified. A story to make you cry.
“Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse”
S.B. Divya, Uncanny Magazine, Short story
A fast-paced story with echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale, showing what happens when violence replaces political debate.
“Bread and Milk and Salt”
Sarah Gailey, Robots Vs Fairies, Short Story
The most disturbing, nightmarish fairy story I’ve ever read. Brilliant. A story to haunt your dreams. Gailey perfectly captures fairy amorality, such as how they lead young kids to their deaths, or worse. But the story then cranks the fantasy dial to 11 when a geeky boy turns the tables, and flips it again in a chilling ending which shatters all power dynamics. Wow.
“Learning to See Dragons”
Sarah Monette, Uncanny Magazine, Flash Fiction
Beautifully written flash fiction about a young girl desperate to see dragons to overcome the grief in her life.
Yoon Ha Lee, Strange Horizons, Short Story
A 14 year old searching for connections meets a man whose camera destroys them. This disturbing, powerful story burned its way into my mind.