It's the start of a new month, and that means fresh stories hot off the virtual presses from the monthly magazines. This is also the time of the month when I'll remind you that, though many of the best SFF magazines are online and free to read, they do count on subscription love to continue being awesome. So, subscribe!
Doing so means you can get each month's issue delivered right to you in a format that will work on an eReader, a smartphone, or a tablet. The free online mags often offer extra content to subscribers. Even the print magazines have digital versions you can subscribe to, so you don't have the leave the comfort of your LCD.
Onto this week's picks!
image credit: Galen Dara for Lightspeed
Undermarket Data by An Owomoyela | Lightspeed Magazine
A drink arrived that Culin hadn't ordered.
No one sent drinks to the crowded annex where Culin sat, crammed in with seven other people, all with contagion bands on their sleeves and matching tattoos on their arms. Sending drinks was an affectation Culin didn't see much in the Dead Engine at all.
The bartender who'd brought it over—Nis with the slit nostrils, the only one who'd serve the contages with anything approaching civility—shrugged, pointed to a woman at the counter, and said "Don't ask me."
This cyberpunk-esque story delves right into issues of class without putting an improbably speculative veneer on it. The setting itself is speculative enough, thus Owomoyela doesn't need the patina of parable to get the point across.
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Seven Years from Home by Naomi Novik | Clarkesworld Magazine
Seven days passed for me on my little raft of a ship as I fled Melida; seven years for the rest of the unaccelerated universe. I hoped to be forgotten, a dusty footnote left at the bottom of a page. Instead I came off to trumpets and medals and legal charges, equal doses of acclaim and venom, and I stumbled bewildered through the brassy noise, led first by one and then by another, while my last opportunity to enter any protest against myself escaped.
Now I desire only to correct the worst of the factual inaccuracies bandied about, so far as my imperfect memory will allow, and to make an offering of my own understanding to that smaller and more sophisticate audience who prefer to shape the world's opinion rather than be shaped by it.
This novelette is a reprint but well worth it if you didn't catch it originally in the Warriors 2 anthology. Novik moves just as easy in science fiction as she does is historical fantasy, and that's probably down to the fact that she's excellent at having her characters explore the worlds she creates without it seeming like you're reading someone's D&D campaign notes. This will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with how adept she is at creating characters that feel real almost instantly and grow organically with the story.
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Ten Wretched Things About Influenza Siderius by Rachael K. Jones | Daily Science Fiction
10. Influenza siderius begins as a general malaise. That is always the first symptom. Perhaps you wish to doze on the sofa, but your husband suggests a little fresh air instead.
You do feel better after the walk, but by the next morning the listlessness has returned tenfold. Your husband complains when you order takeout instead of making the pot roast, but you feel too tired to care.
With DSF you do get a story every day, most of them pretty short though not always flash. The daily nature of it means there are lots of stories that go by that you won't like. Then there are some gems that really stick out for being so good. This is one of them.
Tell me what you think of these stories in the comments!