It’s been too long since I last talked about stories I’ve enjoyed reading, so here are a few memorable ones that recently crossed my eyeballs. And all of them are free to read!
In no particular order…
“Frog/Prince” by Melissa Mead, from Daily Science Fiction. Of all the magazines with “science-fiction” in their names, Daily Science Fiction may be the one that strays most regularly from the traditional boundaries of the genre. This is a fairy tale story, but it is not exactly a retelling of the old Frog Prince tale. Instead it’s something a little bit different and more ambitious.
“Durak” by Anatoly Belilovsky, from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that Anatoly Belilovsky may very well be my favorite living writer. In part, that’s because I never know what foreign objects he’s going to pull into his stories — history, literature, medicine, language, mathematics. This story recounts a card game and a conversation on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, with a healthy dollop of literature.
“The Woods, Their Hearts, My Blood” by Mari Ness, from Jabberwocky 9. Another fairy tale-inspired story, but with a very different tone. Take the first line of this one as a warning of potential disturbing content. (I didn’t find it particularly gory or gratuitous, but consider yourself warned anyway.) This is a really memorable dissection of the human reality behind some of those otherwise-simple fairy tale elisions, such as: “She had seven daughters.”
“The Children of Main Street” by A.C. Wise, from Clarkesworld. The children of colonists on an alien planet learn how to change their genders at will, and nothing is ever the same again. This reminded me a lot of a Ray Bradbury story — a simple but compelling idea wrapped in an understated, relateable story. It’s speculative fiction as pure speculation.
Full disclosure: I have exchanged occasional friendly tweets with most of these writers, and have submitted or intend to submit to all of these markets. I’ve been published by Daily Science Fiction. Despite all that, I still think these are great stories.