Finding a short and excellent SFF can often feel like looking for a buried treasure. Sometimes a guide is needed to help fill in the map, which will connect readers to fantastic fiction and show where X marks the story – a monthly column by Charles Pfizer.
April is dead. Long live May! X-cept, well, before we turn entirely to May’s promise and its bright flowers, let’s look back a minute at what April had to offer. Because while the rainiest month may seem a bit gloomy, a bit gloomy, the stories offered from April are all but out, bringing raw defiance and energy to the season. Like rain again and invigorating, the stories bring life back to a landscape left narrow by winter, only recovering with the touch of spring. These stories are strong and powerful, presenting people who come to something than, something warm, something beautiful. So make sure you pack your poncho and boots and follow me on an adventure to map out some X-cellent short SFF!
“The White Road; Or how a raven carried death over a river“By Marika Bailey (Fairy No. 18)
What is: Broadfeather is a crow that lives on a small island – one split by a river that separates life and death. And on this island the custom is that crows are given names by a first raven that suits them, that reflect something they did. And Broadfire wants a great name, one that will shine. So she sets out to earn it with an adventure, one that takes her to the bottom of the sea, and to the depths of the dark space, and even to the door of a lowly person responsible for much pain and suffering. The story is easily accessible and enjoyable even while dealing with issues of slavery, death and justice. It jumps with Broadfire’s desire for it and its clear sense of right and wrong, balanced in its willingness to act, even in the face of danger and difficulty.
Why I like it: I admire and am very impressed with the way this story takes on some very gloomy subjects and yet maintains a kind of positive energy, serious tone and feeling full of hope. It has this myth in it, stemming from the way the title resonates with a legend and the way it opens in the traditional “long time”. It evolves as a spoken work, at a perfect pace for reading aloud, and Broadfeather’s journey for a better name is something on the face of which he is innocent enough, neutral enough. However, what she finds is everything but, and I love how the story builds it, a series of simple steps in which Broadfire finds this injustice and works to undo it. Which is not simple at all. But what is simple is that it needs to be done, that work is essential, even when it means crossing the boundaries between life and death with an army of zombies to bring justice to a place where it has been greatly missed. And it’s really amazing.
“Ugly research“By H. Pueyo (The Dark # 71)
What is: When she is discovered in a religious school run by nuns, Basilia is a bit of a disappointment. For school. For her family. To a classmate who refuses to acknowledge what they are doing in the dark together. Until a new student arrives, one that everyone thinks has been there all along. guild. And the guild seems to have a different set of values than everyone else. And does not see basilia as ugly. And maybe you can show her a world where she can really belong. The story is gloomy, Basilia’s condition is sad, lonely, and Gilda is a strange shadow cast on her life. But it is also a liberating story about rejecting inappropriate cultural values, acting as chains and bars and not as something approving or empowering.
Why I like it: I love what this story does with expectations and reflections. Basilia does not match traditional beauty models. She is tall and cute. Aggressive and unwilling to take shit. Strange as hell. Where is she, all this stuff is ugly coded. Worthless. defective. And that puts her at risk. From the teachers and her parents. Of the other students, even those who secretly admire her, who secretly want her. Basilia’s problem is that she has no real use for secrets. Her life is a fading click and what she needs is a find. And here comes a guild, to show her a world where the values are different. Where everything that makes her ugly in this world, it makes them beautiful there. It makes them desirable. And I like that the piece shows how important it can be, that if Basilia had one person who was willing to show her a desire, to say they wanted her, then it could have been different. As it is, for me the story is not tragic, does not include defeat. It’s a free pull, and the end is wonderful, sharp and lively so well worth a look!
“A house is not a house“By L. Chan (Clarkesworld # 175)
What is: The house just seems to be going through things. Food preparation. Cleaning the floors. Does her best to keep things normal despite the fact that the usual shattered when the authoritarian government sent forces home to silence her family. Which the house could not prevent. Some house might even have helped happen. As a result, it may be the guilt that Home feels that causes her to perform her tasks. But it could also be something else. The story is short, especially about the publication, but it packs a lot, and creates an emotionally resonant and touching story that looks at the family, the trauma and the horror of living in an authoritarian country.
Why I like it: Uncertainty is the name of the game in this story, and the author uses it destructively. Although brief, the piece builds this painful portrait of what happened, the home partly responsible for the destruction of her family, the deaths of those who made her feel whole. The reference to the follow-up culture is chilling and profound, when she looks at the ways in which she has been violated, she has had to hurt those she cares about. And she knows it to the core, a haunting reminder that may be the reason behind her apparent shock, the cycle of trauma in which she found herself. by herself. blank. Just … the story leaves only the window most exposed to something else, something like hope, and that so says how much I strive for it, how hard Home holds on to it too, seemingly broken but maybe just covering up the fact that she refuses to take advantage again to hurt those she is Love. And it’s beautiful and tragic at once.
“Squid, or maybe a mighty squid“By CSE Connie and Carlos Hernandez (Mermaid Month No. 4)
What is: In a non-historical country, perhaps even a Mariposian fantasy of a second world, two women who have very little connection to each other find their destiny getting closer and closer. Damiana Cardosa i Fuentes is a doctor of natural philosophy and something like a rebel in science, chasing huge underwater sirens – creatures known only because of the bodies that are occasionally found in the deep oceans. Meanwhile Estrella Santaez y Perreta is a self-proclaimed executioner and empress of Al Astenka, the prison where debtors become fish to serve their sentence. Despite the differences between them, they both have to deal with the role that money plays in their professional lives, and how it turns their work into something they can not feel completely comfortable with. The work may not deal directly with mermaids, but it does examine the lines between humans and the natural world, and presents humans who have changed to different types of marine life.
Why I like it: The split narrative works so well here, blending (or, I dare say, a fishtail) into a wonderfully defiant look at the philosophy of nature, biology, and in fact the position of science in relation to authority. Also not just the alternative historical authority of the crown, even if I like the voice and the amount of time the story evokes and captures, the personalities of the two women while hurting the injustices they are pressured to participate in. , What I like most is that the work reveals that this kind of binding of scientific discovery and environmental ethics continues to this day, with the crown being the money that funds science. The money that decides what the value of science is while objectively demanding, when money is rarely without strings, without an agenda that supports capitalism and corrupt power, traps people in debt and in an ankle system where escape is reserved for those who can. pay. The piece is not shy but also fun, and the end comes as a release, a celebration even though it is also a warning.
Looking for some X-tra recommendations? So good news, because here are some more great stories for the X-plore!
Let’s start with an unexpected pleasure, “Mysterious Visochary“By and translated by Rio Johan (Samovar), which includes a series of bizarre occurrences and the rise of some really cunning fruits. In the meantime, in the publication of Samovar’s sister, Strange Horizons,”The center of the universe”Is a much gloomier reading, but one that is razor sharp, disturbing and so good.
Moving on to some shorter works, “Orsus” by Ada Hoffman (Elegies for a million years) Is a brilliant song in a fantastic speculative poetry collection that complicates the past, present and future through an X-cavating act of ancient and contemporary animals. “Robber, Ripper, yours“By Jen Brown (Baffling Magazine), meanwhile, is a tense and thirsty story (let’s admit it) about two women who have approached passionately and may be willing to throw away their relative confidence to be together and cause problems on purpose. “This is not my adventure“By Carlo Jager Rodriguez (Cast of Wonders) imagines a person experiencing something from a mid-life crisis getting help from some old friends. It’s hot and just lovely.
And let’s close on a pair of stories that move in some very gloomy spaces, but cling tightly to hope and love and approval. “Women at the end of the world“By Evra Margariti (Future Fire) may develop into post-apocalyptic waste, but that does not mean the characters can not enjoy a triumphant tour of their relationship, remembering why they are still in love and together. And isolation and loneliness collide in”Jenny will go up to the well”By AC Wise (PodCastle), in which a young woman copes with her desires, finds the power that comes from understanding that she is not alone, that she should not hide or destroy herself. So good!
And that’s all for this month. Join me again ne-Xt time, fearless travelers, for more adventures in quote X in speculative fiction!