A new month means brand new magazines! And this is a great time to remind you that many of the best short stories of the month come from magazines that offer subscriptions on a monthly, semi-monthly, and quarterly basis. And your subscription helps editors pay writers, who in turn write great stories.

So here are the best stories we read this week:

Handiwork by J.A. Gross | Luna Station Quarterly (Subscribe)

I shouldn't have taken as much pleasure in the company man's discomfort as I did but it was hard not to, especially with his burly blonde companion standing a respectful three paces behind him.

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Gran rocked back in her chair, balance steady, before she nodded at Company Man. I kept snapping beans.

"Well?"

Her soft voice had a way of undoing the unsuspecting. The combination of her bulk and broad brown arms scarred from burn marks from her years in the ship yards made it easy to assume she was nothing more than a grease monkey.

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The first time I read this flash piece, I was convinced that Pocket had cut off most of the story. I got to the end and I wanted more. Immediately. In a very short time Gross paints a picture of a world and sketches characters that I want to spend more time with — a lot of time. Flash that gives you a taste of a larger story that could unfold in so many different ways is great and frustrating at once. I hope I get to see more of this world.


Diary of a Pod Person by Emily C. Skaftun | Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
(Subscribe via Google Play, Nook, Kindle, snail mail)

If you've never looked at your own dead body on a slab, nothing I say about it can fully convey the feeling. I looked at the body for a long time without moving, without thinking, without feeling. I refused to think of it as my body.

The body I was in now was printed from the same blueprint as this woman’s, using the same DNA. But there’s identical and there’s identical.

Asimov's fall double issue is full of goodies (so full I'm still working my way through it), but this one jumped out at me right away. In stories like this the cloned individual usually spends all her time having an existential crisis about whether she's really herself. The character here isn't a traditional clone, and maybe this is why the author felt free to sail past that old saw and explore things from a refreshing angle.

Other than the ones already mentioned above, I have a few other suggestions for magazines you should subscribe to in order to get your monthly (or semi-monthly) fiction fix.


Four Steps to the Perfect Smoky Eye By Claire Humphrey | Strange Horizons

Dad bought my safekeeper from the school. The company had some kind of booth at Parent-Teacher Night. He gave me this box tied with a purple ribbon. I opened it and saw the black plastic handcuff, decorated with a row of number keys and a port on the side to charge it.

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"Oh. I thought it was going to be one of those tennis bracelets," I said, trying not to freak. But by the time I got the words out my dad had my wrist wrapped in his big solid hand, and he snapped the safekeeper on and it was too late.

There is so much going on under the surface of this story that it will probably take multiple reads for me to tease it out. On a basic level it's about the many different ways men perpetrate violence against women, ranging from the culturally sanctioned ways to the universal standard, and the ways that women deal with and escape this violence. It's also about the horror of being a teenager — yes, I said horror. And about young women who are not victims, no matter how outside forces want to treat them, and the ways in which they try to avoid being victims.