Short fiction recs #2
I’d love to go somewhere, anywhere *not this apartment* for a few days. But alas, my travel bug has to be satisfied elsewhere for the time being, and reading is the second-best thing. If you, too, feel bugged to explore, try these four pieces of short fiction. They’re bound to take you to far-away times and places, I promise!
“I Would” by Benjamin C. Kinney in Fantasy Magazine is a many-layered story about the plights of a seer, about betrayal, attraction, and a luxurious desert queendom of injustice in need of righting. A nifty variation of flashes back and forth, a progression of what-ifs and not-so-straight guidance by the stars. Make sure to let your reading caravan stop by!
“The Sweetest Skill” by Tony Pi in Beneath Ceaseless Skies focusses on Chinese zodiac magic in a charming, city-wide adventure full of memorable characters, both human and supernatural, in historic Chengdu.
This story is also part of a whole story cycle (look for Strange Events of the Song Dynasty here; some of them are featuring confectioner-magician Ao like this one. I’m going to catch them all! And if you’re interested in the sculptures, here’s a blown sugar tiger, maybe similar to the one in the story.
“I’m Feeling Lucky” by Leonid Kaganov (translated from Russian by Alex Shvartsman) in Clarkesworld is a wild ride! The first part features the most interesting SF concept I’ve encountered in a while, in a beautiful tale of loss and false hope. There are some flashy surprises later, but I feel the first part with its family story and its strong what-if-game played out in an intimate setting will be something that stays with me.
“The Red Mother” by Elizabeth Bear at Tor.com is like a visit to Iceland. It’s a saga of bargains and beasts, vikings and volcanoes, and in the end it all comes down to horses, naturally. Everyone (including four-legged creatures and their surroundings) is full of character, and if you ever were lucky enough to visit, you’ll be drawn right back to the greens and blacks and stark moonscapes high up in the North.
Happy weekend reading!