What were the summer’s best short stories? The ones you read and couldn’t stop thinking about, long after you closed the tab or turned the page? I have a few ideas about that...
Every week, I boost my favorites in the io9 Newsstand column, but I am just one humble reader and reviewer. So once every quarter, I invite other reviewers of short fiction to share their absolute favorite short stories, novelettes, and novellas. This month we’re joined by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Charles Payseur, and Terry Weyna.
I want to hear from you, too! Once you’ve seen our favorites, scroll down to the comments and share your own.
Best stories of the year so far according to Tempest:
Werewolf Loves Mermaid by Heather Lindsley | Lightspeed Magazine [My Review]
Ghosts of Home by Sam J. Miller | Lightspeed Magazine [My Review]
Duller’s Peace by Jason Sanford | Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine September 2015 [My Review]
Artist: Sam J. Miller for The Ghosts of Home
Charles Payseur runs Quick Sip Reviews, a home for his wayward thoughts on short speculative fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. His work has appeared or is forthcoming at Unlikely Story, Nightmare Magazine, and in Lightspeed’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction. You can find him on Twitter as @ClowderofTwo.
Photo Credit: josef.stuefer on Flickr
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam writes and reviews fiction as a freelancer. Her reviews have appeared in venues such as Publishers Weekly, SF Signal, and most recently in Mothership Zeta. She also curates visual art, poetry, and short fiction for the annual Art & Words Show in Fort Worth, Texas. You can visit her on Twitter @BonnieJoStuffle or at her website.
Three Small Slices of Pumpkin Pie by Wendy N. Wagner | Farrago’s Wainscot
In Wagner’s slightly-altered world, every woman of child-bearing age is burdened with a pumpkin attached to them at their bellybutton. The unsettling concept mimics the uncomfortable way men and women both engage with these pumpkins. Wagner’s visceral metaphor is squirm-inducing and powerful.
When Your Child Strays From God by Sam J. Miller | Clarkesworld Magazine
When writing about prejudiced people, it’s easy to demonize them, ignoring the gray area of a character’s humanity. Sam J. Miller doesn’t do that in this story portraying the mother as both overbearing and fierce, oblivious and empathetic.
(+1 from Tempest on this one)
The Star Maiden by Roshani Chokshi | Shimmer Magazine
Chokshi’s lyrical story stings in its portrayal of adolescent self-consciousness and the way it blinds the main character to her selfishness and harms the main character’s grandmother. Written in the style of the best fairy tales, The Star Maiden is a poignant rumination on guilt and maturity.
Terry Weyna is a reviewer for Fantasy Literature. In her Magazine Monday series she writes about science fiction, fantasy and horror magazines with a focus on short fiction.
The Oiran’s Song by Isabel Yap ǀ Uncanny Magazine
A tale told in the second person by a boy used in every way by the soldiers who have purchased him during a time of war, and the woman, also purchased, who may have another agenda than living out her life as a prostitute. Brutal and bloody, this story hit me hard.
Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma ǀ Tor.com
Eliza and Tallula are cousins born to teenage mothers being raised together when their mothers’ brother gets out of prison. It is fortunate for them that they have a special relationship to snakes, a relationship that both fascinated and repelled me. Thanks to Kate Lechler of Fantasy Literature for leading me to this one.
(+1 from Tempest on this one)
Evangelist by Adam-Troy Castro ǀ Analog
A discussion of faith and brain chemistry, this story really hit me hard with the last sentence. If I say much more, I’ll give it away, so just go read it. Castro says this is part of his AIsource Infection future history, but it stands alone just fine.
Season of the Ants in a Timeless Land by Frank Wu ǀ Analog
Lots of hard science in this story of ants cooperating, and how humans react to the ants’ project. Set in Australia, where everything is always trying to kill humans, and combined with some harsh lessons about how the aborigines there have been treated, this story just blew me away.
Ten Stamps Viewed Under Water by Marissa Lingen ǀ Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
The story of a world troubled by a plague that even the sorcerers can’t cure, built around a particular sorcerer’s new hobby of stamp-collecting. I loved the way the stamps worked in this story, each one telling a portion of the tale on its own.
Artist: Jeffrey Alan Love for Fabulous Beasts
Your turn, io9 readers: which stories did you read in July, August, and September that completely blew you away and, should you have the ability to nominate them for major awards, you would do so without hesitation? The comments section is yours!