Vote for your favorite short fiction of April, May, and June here. The deadline is Monday, August 17 — which means that if you would like to catch up with issues of zines you missed, you’ve still got a bit of time to do it! And while my ability to write up monthly story roundups is on (hopefully temporary) hiatus, here’s a quarterly roundup of some personal favorites in case you need a place to start looking.
Perhaps the funniest story I’ve read this year is Sunil Patel’s “The Merger: A Romantic Comedy of Intergalactic Business Negotiations, Indecipherable Emotions, and Pizza” (Book Smugglers’ Publishing 6/23/2015), which in addition to having hilarious dialogue is a clever and funny spin on the traditional literary meaning of “comedy.” Also hilarious and featuring great friendships is “Ginga” by Daniel Older (Tor.com 5/20/2015), urban fantasy that brings Brooklyn alive as a setting.
Several unabashedly feminist stories that I’ve enjoyed were published this last spring. “The Warriors, the Mothers, the Drowned” by Kay Chronister (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #174) is Latin American fantasy, set in the underworld, and about maternal love. A surreal folk tale, “Ambergris, or the Sea-Sacrifice” by Rhonda Eikamp (Lackington’s #6) can be read, if it wasn’t intended as such, as a subversive feminist retelling of “The Little Mermaid.” Lisa Bolekaja’s “Three Voices” (Uncanny #4), which lives in the interstices between fantasy and horror, brings feminine power to the exploration of the dangers of the creative unconscious — through music. And using architecture in a complex relationship with a dystopic near future is “In the Rustle of Pages” by Cassandra Khaw (Shimmer #25).
Three stories capture a similar emotional tenor, about the cyclical nature of life, death, and rebirth, and of belonging to something greater than yourself. “A Short History of Migration in Five Fragments of You” by Wole Talabi (Omenana, #3) presents five generational snapshots of life from the 18th century to the near future, showing the love in painful histories. Kat Howard’s “The Universe, Sung in Stars” (Lightspeed #15) is from the perspective of the guardian of a tiny, dying star. Ian Muneshwar’s debut story “Ossuary” (Clarkesworld #104) is a far future in which an A.I. begins to receive incoming transmissions, not knowing who, where, or when they come from but feeling a kinship across space and time:
<the high heavy sun burns bright across the shallows as our young pull themselves out of the sand, out of the sea; the domes of their backs break the surface as they crawl for the first time on the black stone beaches. the planes of their hardening shells shine in the light and it is there, in the salt-cooled air, that they will learn to take to the sky>
These three stories combine imagery, character, and movement in a manner that conveys both sorrow and joy, and manage to do so in only a couple of thousand poetic words.
My absolute favorite story of this spring is “A Song for You” by Jennifer Brissett (Terraform 5/11/2015), which explores the relationship between history and the real people that lived in the past, and the mythologies and narratives we create about the people in those pasts. It demonstrates something that should have been obvious to me, but wasn’t: that colonist science fiction and apocalyptic fiction are two perspectives of the same story. And Ted Chiang’s “The Great Silence” (e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale) shows how we, too often, neglect what’s in front of us in our pursuit of the stars.