Today I’m reviewing the 7 short stories I read this week. Last month I realized I haven’t been reading enough short stories and I wanted to change that (also, exams = no time for novels, but I want to feel like I’m reading something).
I haven’t chosen these because of some actual criteria: sometimes I liked the title, sometimes I knew the author, some I found via book twitter, sometimes I liked the cover art and I’m shallow. They’re all free online, if you want to read them too.
Né łe by Darcie Little Badger – ★★★½
A reprint from Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An LGBT and two-spirit sci-fi anthology. I chose this one because I’ve heard of this author’s short fiction before, and it is about Native (Lipan Apache and Navajo) lesbians in space – one of them is a veterinarian, the other is a pilot – who are traveling to Mars in a spaceship full of dogs.
I really liked Dottie and Cora as a couple, enough that I’d love to read how’s their life like in Orbiter Diné after the end of the story. Really cute.
In Blue Lily’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard – ★★★★¼
Uncanny Magazine, Issue 22, a reprint from the Meeting Infinity anthology.
In Blue Lily’s Wake is a story set in the Xuya universe, the same universe of one of my new favorite novellas, The Tea Master and the Detective. It’s about the survivors of a mysterious, maybe magical plague, a dead mindship and the weight of past actions. I loved the writing and the worldbuilding never ceases to surprise me, it has so many layers (also: it’s Vietnamese-inspired space opera and you should read it).
The only thing I didn’t love were the em dashes, there were too many of them, but it’s a small thing.
Into the Gray by Margaret Killjoy – ★★★★¾
A Tor.com original.
I’ve recently read The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by this author and found it slightly disappointing, but I loved this. Into the Gray is the story of Laria, trans woman in a medieval-like fantasy village who brings terrible men to the Lady of the Waking Waters – the immortal, man-eating mermaid who is Laria’s lover. Also, Laria would want to become a mermaid, but magic like that always has a price.
There are witches, mermaids and magic, the writing is lovely, and you can’t not love that premise.
The Hydraulic Emperor by Arkady Martine – ★★
From Uncanny Magazine, Issue 20.
I just didn’t care. The main character’s only motivation is her mysterious male ex (whom she wants to best). And yes, she’s also a film hunter and there is an alien auction, but just when you think the story is taking an interesting turn, she’s obsessing over her ex again (you know that kind of person who says they are ~totally over~ their ex but can’t stop talking about them? Just that way) and then it ends. The writing was fine, but this was underwhelming in every aspect. I don’t want to judge Martine because of a short story that didn’t work for me, but now I’m not sure I want to read her sci-fi novel A Memory Called Empire (out in 2019).
A Cup of Salt Tears by Isabel Yap – ★★★★¼
A Tor.com original I’ve been meaning to get to for a while.
Makino’s husband is dying, and she is grieving. One evening she meets a Kappa in the onsen, someone she may have met before.
This one made me want to read more by Isabel Yap – the writing was beautiful, with an attention to details that I love in short fiction. The ending was the best possible ending, and also sad. I love pain and I love stories about monsters, so of course this was perfect for me.
Blessings by Naomi Novik – ★★★
From Uncanny Magazine, Issue 22.
A fairy feast to welcome a newborn, during which the fairies bless the baby. The results are unexpected.
I like Naomi Novik’s writing, but I’ve also read many stories about faeries, and this didn’t look like anything new to me. I don’t think that every single story should be groundbreaking, but there wasn’t anything about this one that stood out. Not bad, just mostly forgettable.
Sucks (To Be You) by Katharine Duckett – ★★★★¼
From Uncanny Magazine, Issue 22. I had never read a story about succubi before, much less a modern take on them, but this was really interesting. It’s about a succubus who uses social media to feed – people become obsessed with her and can’t stop checking her profiles.
The problem is, it goes both ways: during the story the succubus realizes she can’t stop thinking about one of her lovers, a woman called Eiko.
The thing I liked the most about this story apart from the premise was the writing: it has an energy, and it portrays the main character’s voice perfectly.
Have you read any of these? What are your favorite short stories?