alclaexman + short.story   89

Toward a New Lexicon of Augury
Black stone lying on a white stone.
I waste a hard-earned chit for public access to chase a clue that turns out to be poetry.
I will die in Paris, on a rainy day … perhaps on a Thursday, as today is Thursday, in autumn.
César Vallejo, the author of the poem “Black stone lying on a white stone,” was a Peruvian writer living in Spain in the 1930s when he succumbed to an infection turned totalitarian. The little I am able to read about him, before the buzzer sounds and the next person in line nudges me out of the public access booth, indicates that the poet’s wife consulted with astrologers and wizards in an effort to cure the ailment that felled him. 
short.story  fantasy  magic 
4 days ago by alclaexman
Speak Easy, Suicide Selkies by E. Catherine Tobler
They say that when you go to the sky-reflected ocean and strip yourself as bare as the day you were born, the water will take you in. It will hurt—don’t fool yourself. The transition between one life and the next is never without pain or grief. When you hit the water, they say your human form will be stripped away. You will be rendered down, but not away. You will become what you always sought to be: free.
short.story  fantasy  melancholy 
6 days ago by alclaexman
You Can Make a Dinosaur, but You Can’t Help Me
Your boyfriend is lying on the bed, flushed, with his shirt unbuttoned and his skirt pushed up over his thighs when he asks, “Do you want to pick, tonight?”

The question knocks you off balance like a strong wind blowing so quickly by, you can’t breathe—and, for a moment, you can’t. Deep yearning lingers in your chest. Not the same kind you feel for him. Not blood-pumping lust. More like the memory of someone you lost or past regrets. Something you wish you had, but don’t.
short.story  scifi  gender 
7 days ago by alclaexman
Memento Mori - Tiah Marie Beautement
Death walked in, taking a seat at the table as the kettle came to a boil. The woman silently wheeled herself over to the drain board to fetch another mug. As she moved, the light danced across fingers, each sporting a silver splint.

“How many sugars?” she asked.

Death held up two fingers.
short.story  fantasy  death 
9 days ago by alclaexman
The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society - Uncanny Magazine
There was a land of elven halls and hollows, of fairy mounds and great cathedrals underground. Hapless mortals went in and danced until their feet gave out, and sometimes they came out again.

But far beyond the merriment and the music and the trapped mortals, there was a campfire, and around it sat a half-dozen men, and a great bull selkie, and a horse the color of night.
short.story  fantasy  love 
13 days ago by alclaexman
By the Storytelling Fire
The fire crackled and cast shadows on the trees. They lay on either side of it, watching the fire, but secretly also each other.
It was not the first time they had traveled together, and not the first time they had parted, but there was something about this time, this moment, that made them loathe to say farewell. They suspected that they were in love.
“This feels like a storytelling fire,” she finally said.
“It does,” he agreed. “Will you tell one?”
“If you will as well.”
“By all means.”
short.story  fantasy  story 
13 days ago by alclaexman
How to Swallow the Moon by Isabel Yap
I want to know the fires your hands bring—”

“Having Been Cast, Eve Implores” by Barbara Jane Reyes

Tonight, as in every night, she smiles when the door opens. Her arms loop over your neck; she leans in and rests her head against your cheek. She looks down at the basket between you. “Is this for me?”

She already knows the answer, but: “Yes, my jewel.”
short.story  fantasy  sacrifice 
16 days ago by alclaexman
The Last Voyage of Skidbladnir
Award-winning author Karin Tidbeck presents a science fiction adventure of a mysterious spaceship on an interstellar voyage in The Last Voyage of Skidbladnir.

Life on the transdimensional ship Skidbladnir is a strange one. The new janitor, Saga, finds herself in the company of an officious steward-bird, a surly and mysterious engineer, and the shadowy Captain. Who the odd passengers are, and according to what plan the ship travels, is unclear.

Just when Saga has begun to understand the inner workings of Skidbladnir, she discovers that something is wrong. Skidbladnir is sick. And it’s up to her and the engineer to fix it.
short.story  scifi  haunting 
21 days ago by alclaexman
I Sing Against the Silent Sun
In the Principality there rule the Seven Suns. Armored gods, they marched through the universe eons ago, wreathed in subjected angels, and left footprints of conquest on galaxies. They dragged beneath them the corpse-heat from a billion burning worlds.

The sixth Sun, the Gray Sun, is a god of silence. There is no voice, no mercy, no music within the Gray Sun.

Beneath the Gray Sun there is only emptiness.
short.story  scifi  belief 
6 weeks ago by alclaexman
We Ragged Few by Kate Alice Marshall
The rot hound struck in the dark hours of the morning. It took one of our horses and left a geld woman bloodied and wild, telling tales of a two-headed wolf with eyes like the last embers of a fire.
short.story  fantasy  death 
8 weeks ago by alclaexman
"If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again," by Zen Cho
If you wanted to be a dragon, dumb perseverance wasn’t enough. You had to have a strategy.
short.story  fantasy  mythology 
9 weeks ago by alclaexman
Monologue by an unnamed mage, recorded at the brink of the end
I wanted to tell you, in case opportunity absents itself forever, that it doesn’t matter. That your magic is algorithmic, that mine is an abstraction of reality. That yours demands cartographic soliloquies, every verse a phrase and a phase of mathematics and momentum, every word you speak a part of the map, and you build the rules as you recite them. That mine is raw sensation, synesthesic, sinewy as sex, worthless with context, worth everything on the ledge at the end of time.


We have to hold the line.
short.story  fantasy  love 
11 weeks ago by alclaexman
The Word of Flesh and Soul
The language of the originators defines reality, every word warping the world to fit its meaning. Its study transforms the mind and body, and is closely guarded by stodgy, paranoid academics. These hidebound men don’t trust many students with their secrets, especially not women, and more especially not “madwomen.” Polymede and her lover Erishti believe they’ve made a discovery that could blow open the field’s unexamined assumptions, and they’re ready to face expulsion to make their mark. Of course, if they’re wrong, the language will make its mark on them instead.
short.story  language  fantasy 
12 weeks ago by alclaexman
Humans Die, Stars Fade
They come to study. Not me. Not really. No, they come for Aerik—what he’s become. What I suppose we both will become when the slow swell of time and gravity finally draw us together wholly. After everything, all the years with only the brush of winds, then this slow draining death, it’s almost something to look forward to. Even if he’s not there anymore.
short.story  scifi  space 
november 2018 by alclaexman
A Taxonomy of Hurts
Penthos var. sturnus vulgaris
I’m in the outer avenues, the ocean-most edge of San Francisco, where the wind drags knives across the skin.
short.story  emotions  fantasy 
november 2018 by alclaexman
The House of Illusionists
Boys always stay up later than they’re told, of course. I walk past their rooms and hear their whispered voices. If I open a door and walk in, I’ll see their shadowed bodies huddled together, and catch the spark and glow of illusions in the dark. If I focus, I might see a pirate ship sailing toward the moon, a silver tree with shining leaves that chime like bells in the wind, or a flight of dragons across a stormy sea. My mouth might water at the scent of a rich stew or meat pie, crisp and bubbling from a non-existent oven. I’ve told the students so many times that food illusions only leave you hungrier, but some never learn. It’s been weeks since any of us have tasted meat.
short.story  fantasy  magic 
november 2018 by alclaexman
Né łe! by Darcie Little Badger
Enamored with promises of red Martian canyons and a hefty pay raise, I ignored the scary part about leaving Earth until I actually had to board a starship. There’s nothing too risky about interplanetary space travel. In fact, it’s rather mundane; passengers relax in stasis for nine months. I just hate speed. Won’t ride a roller coaster. Won’t bungee jump. Won’t even hop off a diving board.

No drop can outrace the ascent outta Earth.
short.story  scifi  dogs 
october 2018 by alclaexman
Untilted | Бес названия By K.A. Teryna, Translated by Alex Shvartsman
Firstly, my name is Marcus.

Grandma sumtimes calls me Marcy. Marcy is a girls name.
short.story  fantasy  loss 
october 2018 by alclaexman
Cutting by Ken Liu – Galli Books
At the top of the mountain, far above the clouds, the monks of the Temple of Xu spend their days cutting words from their holy book.
short.story  religion  memory 
october 2018 by alclaexman
The Frequency of Compassion
Kaityn Falk loves the dark phase of the moon. It’s quiet. Soothing. Insulated in their spacesuit, comm dimmed, Kaityn sits in the rover and watches the sky. Here on Io 7, a newly discovered satellite in retrograde orbit around a dwarf planet the size of Pluto, they are the only living human in several thousand lightyears. They are here to establish research beacons for star-charting, a risky job for how isolated it is—and Kaityn hasn’t loved anything this much in their life. The exhilaration of travel, the calmness of deep space, the possibility of an ever-unfolding universe.
short.story  scifi  gender 
september 2018 by alclaexman
Nine Last Days on Planet Earth
When the seeds rained down from deep space, it may have been the first stage of an alien invasion—or something else entirely. How much time do we have left, and do we even understand what timescale to use? As a slow apocalypse blooms across the Earth, planets and plants, animals and microbes, all live and die and evolve at different scales. Is one human life long enough to unravel the mystery?
short.story  scifi  nature 
september 2018 by alclaexman
The Gods of Reorth By Elizabeth A. Lynn
This is the story of a goddess Who had once been a woman named Jael, and what She did.
short.story  scifi  religion 
september 2018 by alclaexman
On Good Friday the Raven Washes Its Young
“On Good Friday the raven washes its young, as this world curses me with frogs and snaketongue; so this world should tell me face to face, who have I wronged in my life in this place.”
—Hungarian Folk Song
Splosh creak. The docks are rusting apart, the little gangways are slowly devoured by all the alien chemicals in the sea. I slip, cuss. I want to be underwater, I want to be treasured. I want to feel like my body does what it was meant to do. Up here, I trundle, out of my element.
short.story  scifi  gender 
august 2018 by alclaexman
Tide of Shadows by Aidan Moher
My mother's flat palm slammed into my chest, hard enough to send me tumbling backwards, gasping for breath as I hit hard-packed ground. Pain shot up my arm as I came down on my slender wrist, shattering bone.

"Go," she yelled. Her back was turned to me now, and her spear stabbed at darkness, keeping at bay the tide of shadows that rolled over our village. The shadow beasts cried out as she struck out at them, with all the force and precision of a master hunter, but there were so many. Too many.
short.story  scifi  childhood 
august 2018 by alclaexman
Faint Voices, Increasingly Desperate, by Anya Johanna DeNiro
The silk threads of grief and time snap and spin away from the black looms, but all Freia wants to do is go back to Vienna.
short.story  fantasy  mythology 
july 2018 by alclaexman
Now Watch My Rising
“Your purpose is to eat the sun,” says Prophecy, “at the end of all things.”
“And until then?” Wolf asks, sitting patiently among the roots of the forest while dwarves forge unbreakable chains. Wolf does not want their limbs bound or their jaws muzzled, but Prophecy has told them this is also their purpose. “What do I do?”
short.story  fantasy  mythology 
may 2018 by alclaexman
Brightened Star, Ascending Dawn
by A. Merc Rustad

She sees the universe unfold: color light cold music voice heat passion infinity.

It uncurls in waves and song fractals that make up the subatomic fabric of space-time. Melodies of energy sweep her up and spin her into a thousand voices. Colors not yet named and not yet seen paint her mind with joy. The entire universe wraps around her, welcomes her, calls her home.
short.story  scifi  family 
april 2018 by alclaexman
The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom
by Max Gladstone

A stranger claiming knowledge of realms beyond the known world attempts to stop a war.
short.story  fantasy  war 
march 2018 by alclaexman
Three Short Stories – The Fantasist
By Foz Meadows

*Letters Sweet As Honey*
*The Song of Savi*
short.story  scifi  fantasy 
february 2018 by alclaexman
The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington
by Phenderson Djèlí Clark

“By Cash pd Negroes for 9 Teeth on Acct of Dr. Lemoire” –Lund Washington, Mount Vernon plantation, Account Book dated 1784.
short.story  fantasy  history 
february 2018 by alclaexman
Fandom for Robots

Computron feels no emotion towards the animated television show titled Hyperdimension Warp Record (超次元 ワープ レコード). After all, Computron does not have any emotion circuits installed, and is thus constitutionally incapable of experiencing “excitement,” “hatred,” or “frustration.” It is completely impossible for Computron to experience emotions such as “excitement about the seventh episode of HyperWarp,” “hatred of the anime’s short episode length” or “frustration that Friday is so far away.”
short.story  scifi  robot 
february 2018 by alclaexman
She Still Loves the Dragon
She still loves the dragon that set her on fire.
short.story  fantasy  pain 
january 2018 by alclaexman
Whatever Knight Comes by Ryan Row
Some summers, you like to watch the firefly comets through your huge window in the east tower. The scribbled yellow, blue, and red lights crisscross the sky in an obscure dance. A tangle of light and form that you sometimes find very alluring, and that sometimes reminds you of master swordplay. Wild strokes of light, turns and swirls and loops cutting right through the fabric of the hot summer stars. The night sky, it has always seemed to you, is a big fête. Sometimes, you can’t stand to watch, and you push the heavy wardrobe with the broken mirror inside it in front of the window and leave it there for days, months, years.
short.story  fantasy  melancholy 
october 2017 by alclaexman
A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel by Yoon Ha Lee
Among the universe’s civilizations, some conceive of the journey between stars as the sailing of bright ships, and others as tunneling through the crevices of night. Some look upon their far-voyaging as a migratory imperative, and name their vessels after birds or butterflies.
short.story  scifi  space 
october 2017 by alclaexman
Rib by Yukimi Ogawa
How convenient, this loose-fitting thing called a kimono. When the sky was not light enough to see me properly, not dark enough for people to feel too alarmed, that was the time of day I'd walk around among humans. I loved the thrill. Just waiting for the Darkest Hour doing nothing was too boring.
short.story  fantasy  death 
october 2017 by alclaexman
Angel of the Blockade
Nata spends her time zipping through the black in her ugly yet bad-ass spaceship, taking pride in being the best smuggler the Imperial regime has never caught. When she takes on an expensive mystery cargo, however, the risk reaches far beyond her pride.
short.story  scifi  disability 
october 2017 by alclaexman
Beauty, Glory, Thrift by Alison Tam
I am Thrift and I want to leave this place, and see the far ends of the universe, and never spend another moment in stasis ever again. Take my hand and bring me with you…

On a lost planet in the depths of space, goddess-sisters Beauty, Glory and Thrift split their time between stasis and bickering, forever waiting for new visitors to their forgotten temple. Enter a thief, who comes searching for treasure but instead finds Thrift—the least of the goddesses—who offers powers of frugality in exchange for her escape.

And the rest, as they say, is history.
short.story  scifi  quiltbag 
august 2017 by alclaexman
The Tomato Thief
2017 Hugo Award Winner

Grandma Harken lived on the edge of town, in a house with its back to the desert.

Some people said that she lived out there because she liked her privacy, and some said that it was because she did black magic in secret. Some said that she just didn’t care for other people, and they were probably the closest to the truth.
short.story  fantasy  desert 
august 2017 by alclaexman
Seasons of Glass and Iron
Tabitha walks, and thinks of shoes.

She has been thinking about shoes for a very long time: the length of three and a half pairs, to be precise, though it’s hard to reckon in iron. Easier to reckon how many pairs are left: of the seven she set out with, three remain, strapped securely against the outside of the pack she carries, weighing it down. The seasons won’t keep still, slip past her with the landscape, so she can’t say for certain whether a year of walking wears out a sole, but it seems about right. She always means to count the steps, starting with the next pair, but it’s easy to get distracted.
short.story  fantasy  women 
august 2017 by alclaexman
These Constellations Will Be Yours By Elaine Cuyegkeng, Art by Galen Dara
I see you the moment your pale white slipper touches my floor. Silk on white marble, roses at your feet, a sweep of golden bees falling from throat to hip on your white dress—the oraculo’s sign.
short.story  scifi  colonialism 
august 2017 by alclaexman
You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay
When the desert finally lets you go, naked and stumbling, your body humming with raw power and the song of dead things coiled under your tongue, you find Marisol waiting for you at the edge of the bluffs. She’s dressed in long sleeves and a skirt over her boots, her black hair tucked under a hat and a blanket wrapped around her shoulders against the night cold. Madam Lettie’s bony horse whuffs at you in the glow of the lantern as you approach.
short.story  fantasy  desert 
july 2017 by alclaexman
The Fox Head Barks Facing Seaward By Natalia Antonova
In the place I used to be from, people liked to say strange things. The biggest purveyors of strangeness were grandmothers—mostly because they foraged in dark places a lot, and watched state television when they weren’t foraging.
short.story  fantasy 
june 2017 by alclaexman
I never had a name.

My designation was JB6847½, and Specialist Toman called me “Scraps.” But Commander Ziegler—dear Commander Ziegler, primary of my orbit and engine of my trajectory—never addressed me by any name, only delivering orders in that crisp magnificent tenor of his, and so I did not consider myself to have one.
short.story  scifi  war 
may 2017 by alclaexman
[What follows are extracts from the remains of the logbook of the Exodus Project Starship (EPSS) Lindbergh. These logs are archived in the rare books collection of the Landencyte Historical Society. Additional text in brackets where appropriate.]
short.story  scifi  survival 
may 2017 by alclaexman
Losing Heart Among the Tall
A.M. Dellamonica is at it again! The thrilling adventures of Gale Feliachild and Captain Parrish continue in a series of prequel stories that offers to take us deeper into the fascinating world of Stormwrack.

When the crew of the Nightjar find a merman of the fleet wounded and stranded in the ocean, Gale’s sister, Beatrice, is forced to take a back seat while Gale and Parrish work to find out who would assault a member of the nation of Tallon’s intelligence service. They soon discover a plot that could shake the foundations of the fleet and Beatrice might be the key to preventing a catastrophic disaster.
short.story  fantasy  tor 
february 2017 by alclaexman
Applied Cenotaphics in the Long, Long Longitudes
You've said that you consider your work science fiction, but it's always looking at the past, not the future—can you explain?
strange.horizons  short.story  scifi 
january 2017 by alclaexman
Ever since the election, people have been telling me to shut up and go back to Fairyland. Be silent. Be good. Accept. Submit. Stop talking about politics. Stick to fairy tales. (As if fairy tales have ever not been about politics.) Go back to Fairyland. Go back to Fairyland.

So I did. Please enjoy this story set before the events of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
short.story  fantasy  advice 
december 2016 by alclaexman
Favorite Short Fiction of 2016
I recently posted about my favorite novels, anthologies, and collections of 2016. As with my longer form reading, I had the best of intentions of staying caught up with All the Things in short fiction, but the truth is, that was never an achievable goal. We’re in a golden age for short fiction; there’s so much of out there, and so much of it is truly excellent. Of course I’m going to miss stories, and I’ll miss a lot of them. That said, I did read a lot, too. Here are my favorites for the year thus far. Should I manage more catching up by the year’s end, I’ll update the post accordingly.
short.story  scifi  fantasy 
december 2016 by alclaexman
Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies
This is not the story of how he killed me, thank fuck.
short.story  fantasy  mythology 
december 2016 by alclaexman
The Penelope Qingdom
Childhood is a time for escapist fantasies and sweet friendships. Aidan Moher spins a heartwarming tale about magic real and figurative, the kind that brings two kindred spirits together and links them forever.
short.story  fantasy  childhood 
december 2016 by alclaexman
Of Blood and Bronze
King Leonard was in a bad way by the time he finally consented to the marriage. He was seventy, which was already old by the standards of his court, and a long life of drunken carousing and exposure to court magic had not preserved him well. It must have been an incredible disappointment to Eleanor…
fantasy  horror  short.story 
december 2016 by alclaexman
A Glass Kiss for the Little Prince of Pain
His grip tightens. He looks up at me with an honesty reserved for saints and the soon to be executed. "If you do this, it'll ruin you. Please, come back with me to the school, give up this alliance with the Empress, and together we can find a way to save the boy. Armila, please, this kind of murder, to one so young? You can't come back from that kind of corruption."
short.story  fantasy 
december 2016 by alclaexman
First Do No Harm
For twenty-seven thousand years—through kingdoms and republics, through prophets and messiahs, through decay and collapse and rebirth—the city and the medical school had grown around each other. The campus stretched across districts and neighborhoods, spanning parks and rivers, but few buildings belonged to it alone: an operating theater might once have been a workshop, a classroom a factory floor. The basement room where Mutende sat in a circle of his fellow basambilila was an ancient one and had been many things: office, boiler room, refrigerator, storage for diagnostic equipment. Remnants of all its uses were in the walls, the fixtures, and most of all, in memory.
strange.horizons  short.story  fantasy 
december 2016 by alclaexman
The Green Knight’s Wife
The boys arrive with the changing of the weather, ushered in by winter’s cold. Once a year, at the beginning of December, those silly boys who think coming here means they are brave. All of them so eager to test their worth on the edge of my husband’s axe.
fantasy  short.story  green 
december 2016 by alclaexman
Seven Birthdays
The wide lawn spreads out before me almost to the golden surf of the sea, separated by the narrow dark tan band of the beach. The setting sun is bright and warm, the breeze a gentle caress against my arms and face.

“I want to wait a little longer,” I say.

“It’s going to get dark soon,” Dad says.

I chew my bottom lip. “Text her again.”
short.story  scifi  tor 
november 2016 by alclaexman
Night’s Slow Poison by Ann Leckie
The Jewel of Athat was mainly a cargo ship, and most spaces were narrow and cramped. Like the Outer Station, where it was docked, it was austere, its decks and bulkheads scuffed and dingy with age. Inarakhat Kels, armed, and properly masked, had already turned away one passenger, and now he stood in the passageway that led from the station to the ship, awaiting the next.
scifi  short.story 
november 2016 by alclaexman
Dearly Departed by Kelly Stewart
Perdita gripped Grandfather Mandrake’s shotgun and closed in on the slew with a cautious but unfaltering step. Whoever had been caught by it was still struggling, much to Perdita’s admiring surprise. She could see the dark red striae pulsing in its almost-body where it clung to the victim, leeching the lifeblood away in what she knew to be painful sips.
fantasy  short.story 
october 2016 by alclaexman
The Witch's Knives, by Margaret Ronald
It began to rain flowers before she was even halfway down the path, heavy, wet petals that splatted rather than landed and left sticky red smears down her neck. Leah kept her head down and followed the train tracks, stumbling when the rotted ties gave way. I am here to rescue my husband, she rehearsed in her head, trying to ignore how the red sap trickled through her hair and how the railroad ties sank and splintered underfoot. I am here to break your curse.
strange.horizons  short.story  fantasy  melancholy 
october 2016 by alclaexman
Blue is a Darkness Weakened by Light
“Blue is a Darkness Weakened by Light” is about a lonely young woman, recently moved to the big city, who is looking for love. What she finds is a friend and confidante who is much older and wiser than she.
fantasy  short.story  melancholy 
october 2016 by alclaexman
La Corriveau, by K. T. Bryski
Here is a most peculiar object. Come closer, take a good look. See, here it is, laid out in this museum basement. It is a battered iron cage—human-shaped. At the top, there are two bent strips to enclose the head. Down here are thicker bands to surround the rib cage, the pelvic bones. Look, here are iron rings to snap shut around the arms, the legs, the ankles, the wrists.

There are many mirrors here. Turn around. See how they reflect the cage on all sides? We are standing in a hall of cages, you and I, and no two of them are exactly alike.
short.story  strange.horizons  magic 
october 2016 by alclaexman
The Prince Who Gave Up Her Empire
Terasadh arrived in the world with a force so abrupt that the resin womb holding her split in two, cracking as she took her first breath and cried out from the shock of being alive.
short.story  apex.magazine  fantasy 
september 2016 by alclaexman
The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles by Rachael K. Jones
Hester's skin itched all over, and she longed for cool sand sliding against her bare belly. One, two, three eggs into her mouth, one sharp bite, and the clear, viscous glair ran down her throat. The shells were tougher than she expected. They tasted tart, like spoiled goat's milk. She waited for the change, but the sun crawled higher and nothing happened.
short.story  fantasy 
september 2016 by alclaexman
Her Scales Shine Like Music
“Her Scales Shine Like Music” by Rajnar Vajra is a moving science fiction novelette about an encounter and budding relationship between two aliens, one human, who are the only living creatures occupying a planet in deep space. The human is assigned to guard a valuable find, while his colleagues leave, to file a report with the company that hired them.
scifi  tor  short.story 
august 2016 by alclaexman
Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville – masterfully horrific SF
Much contemporary fantasy is quite violent, perhaps in an attempt to win the respect of people who assume fantasy is all fairies and fluff; but I doubt if that’s why so much of China Miéville’s work is so in-your-face gruesome. More likely he is meeting the expectations of a readership used to the infinite kill count of sensational films and electronic games, and is bloody-minded enough to enjoy doing so. But, knowing him as a writer avowedly committed to Marxist principles of social justice, with an intense sensitivity to contemporary moral and emotional complexities and a thoughtful mind that finds expression in lucid, cogent talks and essays, I wonder if he uses the horrific as a brilliant barrage of blanks concealing a subtler, deeper engagement with the dark side.
china.mieville  scifi  fantasy  short.story  review  from instapaper
july 2015 by alclaexman
Waters of Versailles
Waters of Versailles” by Kelly Robson is a charming novella of court intrigue in 1738 Versailles as a clever former soldier makes his fortune by introducing a modern water system (and toilets) to the ladies of the palace. He does this with magical help that he may not be able to control.
tor  fantasy  short.story  from instapaper
june 2015 by alclaexman
They came in boats and airplanes, armed with false documents and holy terror and a cautious wariness of what they would find. They came and breathed sigh after sigh of relief, closed their eyes, and put trembling hands to foreheads. They came and settled into these flashy, suddenly modern digs, cursed at the atrocious weather, renamed streets — forgoing the sharp consonants of English — erected bakeries and memorials and three-star restaurants that reminded them just enough of home to not trigger nightmares.
fantasy  short.story  fireside  from instapaper
april 2015 by alclaexman
The Ways of Walls and Words by Sabrina Vourvoulias
Anica and Bienvenida pass prayers and small comforts through the gaps in the prison walls. Incarcerated by the Inquisition for the faith she won’t surrender, Anica longs for solace for her family and freedom for herself. And Bienvenida, heir to her mother’s Nahua magic, now practiced out of sight of the Spanish religious authorities, will trade a great deal for the fragile chance at friendship and snippets of poetry.
tor  short.story  south.america  from instapaper
april 2015 by alclaexman
Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight
Green tea: green tea is made from steamed or lightly dried tea leaves. The brew is light, with a pleasant, grassy taste. Do not over-steep it, lest it become bitter.
scifi  mourning  short.story  from instapaper
march 2015 by alclaexman
In the Late December, by Greg van Eekhout
Here's a secret of the North Pole: Santa powders his hands with talc before donning his thick red mittens.

It is a small secret, true, but some would give anything to steal even that. A secret is a detail, and here in the late December, a detail is as precious as a true name.
strange.horizons  fantasy  short.story  from instapaper
march 2015 by alclaexman
Marsh Gods, by Ann Leckie
Voud had escaped the house before dawn, climbing up the ladder and onto the roof, across the neighbors' roofs and down to the edge of the water, where she had caught three decent-sized frogs. She had tried but failed to catch a fourth, the bullfrog she'd heard honking hoarsely away somewhere on the bank; her sister-in-law Ytine would be dismayed at her muddy tunic, but there was no help for it. Now, her prey struggling in her bag, she went to ask the gods a question.
strange.horizons  short.story  fantasy  from instapaper
december 2014 by alclaexman
Never the Same, by Polenth Blake
Everyone thinks my brother is nice. He set up a rescue centre for birds, after the terraforming accident poisoned the lake. That's always the image of him, holding a bird covered in sludge. The birds are never the same after they're cleaned, but the gossips never talk about that.

Cleaning birds is a safe way to make people notice you, and my brother likes safe. I jumped off a cliff once. He was all, "You'll die if you jump." I broke most of my bones, but I made it. It's worth trying for the feel of it. Not the bones part, but the rush of something new. It should have been something, falling and surviving. But the gossips only cared about how much it upset my brother.
strange.horizons  short.story  scifi  from instapaper
december 2014 by alclaexman
Strange Horizons Fiction: A Moon for the Unborn, by Indrapramit Das
Every night around 1 a.m. Earth-clock, I'd see the shadows of the camp's dead children on the windows as they walked by in silent single-file. The fiery light of the moon Akir cast them in sharp relief. The children that cast the shadows weren't zombies or vampires. They were nothing more or less than our dead children. They walked with the somber discipline of boarding school students, not the shambling gait of something decaying or the insectile crouch of something malevolent.
strange.horizons  short.story  scifi  from instapaper
december 2014 by alclaexman
In Her Head, In Her Eyes by Yukimi Ogawa
Pot Head, they called her. Heavy-head, they teased her. In a noble house of dye masters, Island-born Hase is an outcast, ridiculed by her fellow servants and employers – all because of the smooth, reflective sphere that covers her head. Little does the household know that Hase has a mission and a purpose, carried behind her pot-covered head, in her impenetrable eyes.
short.story  scifi  fantasy  from instapaper
december 2014 by alclaexman
The Rise and Fall of the Simian Empire, by Lavie Tidhar
Being a Rather Brief Introduction
Things come to us in broken pieces, old records, torn fragile parchments, the task of the historian is beset with difficulties, half-lies and myth, unreliable narrators, invented memories. One of our most persistent stories begins, There were humans in the world in those days…

This is by no means a historical document. It is, rather, a fanciful one, as all such material as dealing with myth must be. It is a record of our species’ subconscious, our mutual fears, and desires, our hopes and our dreams.
short.story  scifi  alt.history  from instapaper
december 2014 by alclaexman
The Faithful Soldier, Prompted
If I die on this piece-of-shit road, Lubna’s chances die with me. Ali leveled his shotgun at the growling tiger. In the name of God, who needs no credit rating, let me live! Even when he’d been a soldier, Ali hadn’t been very religious. But facing death brought the old invocations to mind. The sway of culture, educated Lubna would have called it. If she were here. If she could speak.
saladin.ahmed  short.story  scifi  from instapaper
november 2014 by alclaexman
Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy
“There lies he now with foule dishonour dead, Who whiles he liu’de, was called proud Sans foy, The eldest of three brethren, all three bred Of one bad sire, whose youngest is Sans joy, And twixt them both was borne the bloudy bold Sans loy.”

- The Faerie Queene, Book I
saladin.ahmed  short.story  fantasy  from instapaper
november 2014 by alclaexman
Philip K. Dick. Upon The Dull Earth
Silvia ran laughing through the night brightness, between the roses and cosmos and Shasta daisies, down the gravel path and beyond the heaps of sweet-tasting grass swept from the lawns. Stars, caught in pools of water, glittered everywhere, as she brushed through them to the slope beyond the brick wall. Cedars supported the sky and ignored the slim shape squeezing past, her brown hair flying, her eyes flashing.
short.story  fantasy  from instapaper
november 2014 by alclaexman
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