The Best of Glittership

written by David Steffen

GlitterShip is a science fiction and fantasy podcast devoted to publishing audio versions of LGBTQ stories from authors of all backgrounds.  Glittership was originally funded by a Kickstarter campaign in 2015, which blew past its base goal and reached several stretch goals beyond that increased the frequency of episodes as well as funding original episodes to be mixed in with the reprints.

Glittership is published, edited, and produced by Keffy R.M. Kehrli.  If you follow Diabolical Plots and you recognize Keffy’s name, he’s also a writer whose stories have featured multiple times on previous Best Of podcast lists right here.

Glittership features short story authors you are probably already familiar with, and others that might be entirely new to you.  Every story has major characters that are unambiguously within the umbrella of LGBTQ, but that’s not necessarily the focus of the plot of every story (though it might be sometimes).  I’ve really enjoyed the podcast largely because I think that having a podcast with a broad range of story topics and types that include characters from this range of demographics can help normalize stories about these demographics, so that they feel less and less like the “other” and just become accepted as more stories that might be rip-roaring adventures or introspective literary stories or any number of other stories, not just defined by that single characteristic.  Keffy has done a great job picking a variety of types of stories to show the variety of stories that can be called LGBTQ stories, and I am happy to help spread the word.

While Keffy generally doesn’t get into a lot of current politics in the episode commentary, it’s also worth checking out the intro to this episode which aired shortly after the US presidential election in 2016 about why he has decided to keep making the podcast.

This list covers the entire history of Glittership thus far since the first episode went live in April 2015.  49 episodes have been published to date, including a few multiple-story episodes, for a total of 55 stories.  The latest issue has just started.  Each issue is first available as an ebook for purchase, and then all of the stories are published on the podcast over the following several months, so if you want to read ahead, you can take advantage of that.

Every short story that is eligible for Hugo nominations this year which were first published by Glittership are marked with an asterisk (*), novelettes are marked with a double-asterisk.

The List

1.  “Sooner Than Gold” by Cory Skerry
A thief is enslaved by an enchantment to run errands for an unknown master.  They finally get the chance to know to meet their enslaver.

2.  “Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon” by Ken Liu
Legends tell of the daughter of the Emperor of Heaven and her lover separated by the River of Heaven who are reunited for one night a year.  The protagonists of the story are chosen to be lifted up by birds to heaven to meet the legendary lovers.

3.  “The Little Dream” by Robin M. Eames*
Sylvia’s superpowers of a minor variety are nice enough on the days that they work, which are also the days when her body is more cooperative.

4.  “The End of the World in Five Dates” by Claire Humphrey
When you can see the end of the world coming… why take care of yourself?

5.  “The Pond” by Aimee Ogden*
Messages from a lost child appear to his mother on the ice of the pond where he died.

6.  “Into the Nth Dimension” by David D. Levine
The nefarious Dr. Diabolus’s newest invention transports the superhero of our story into the “real” world.

Honorable Mentions

“For She is the Stars and the Sun Revolves Around Her” by Agatha Tan

“And the Blood of Dead Gods Will Mark the Score” by Gary Kloster

“How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps” by A. Merc Rustad

 

 

 

DP FICTION #30A: “For Now, Sideways” by A. Merc Rustad

The text pings her mech’s computer out of nowhere. Victory is ours.

Holst lowers her railguns, steps back from the blown-apart husks of the birdshells. Can’t wipe the cracked viewscreen clean or the streaks of blood dried onto the rivets. Her lungs burn. For years, she’s felt like she’s suffocating—no oxygen left, just smoke and dust. All around her, on the desert’s edge, there’s nothing but sand and corpses. Mech, human, ghost. Metal and flesh and feathers mangled in ugly shapes like bad graffiti on the planet’s skin.

This can’t be it.

She scans the field, hoping she’s in radio contact with whatever remains of her squad—and remembers that she’s the only one left.

*

When the birdshells came, they looked like dusty gray ribbons, the outlines of doves. They were hollow: clouds speckled in uneven feathers dried and brittle. Up close, they had razors in their beaks, hooked claws strong enough to rend flesh to bone, and a soul-rending coo that broadcast from empty eye sockets.

And they came in millions. Swarms led by queens shaped like the ghosts of peacocks dipped in acid. Where they came, they devoured. Settlements disappeared, some swallowed in flameless heat from the phoenix-tanks, some torn into confetti, some just…gone.

Gill was in one of the first camps that fell under the birdshells. Holst got a text—I’ll meet you back at Alpha Base tomorrow—moments before the airwaves went dead. She never found her husband’s body.

*

Holst de-suits at basecamp, tries not to flinch at the screaming. It’s joy, she knows, logically. But it’s still too loud. Not like the insulated thrum of her mech, the grind of hydraulics and the vibration of gunfire. She limps on her cramped bio-leg and the badly-fitted prosthetic.

The bunker smells of old sweat and mold and sour beer. And the birds, always the fucking birds. That dry, cinnamon odor that stains her dreams and wakes her up choking. She drops to her cot, eyes half closed to acclimate to the space. The bunker’s small, like all the camp units along the northern perimeter of Eau Seven, but it feels massive after months in a three-ton cage of weaponry and armor.

“Holst!”

Her head snaps up, her hand on her sidearm.

It’s Burbank, another mech-bod. Burbank lost half her face and both arms; her cybernetics are clunky, metal and plastic scrap fused into bio-tissue. The arms are too big, throwing her balance off, and the face-plate has no articulation. Just a slab of blue against dark skin. In a mech, it doesn’t matter.

“Not gonna join the celebration?” Burbank asks.

Holst spent the last five years fighting. Lived inside her mech almost that whole time. Somewhere out there, she’d find Gill. As long as there was war, she had a reason to fight. To find him. The words victory and won are empty slates. She’s forgotten the dictionary definitions. “Dunno.”

Burbank’s half-smile wavers. “With the swarmqueens dead, Earth will send transports now. We get to go home.”

Holst stares back, blank. “What home?”

*

There’s this quote she remembers, printed in gaudy blue boldface on the inside of her helmet strap: Live to fight another day, motherfucker.

She ran her fingers over the words until they rubbed off on her skin, and she’d refuel and press forward.

Gill used to crash her dreams, fierce smile always fixed, always bright. Hey, babe. You coming to pick me up, yeah?

Yeah, Holst could never say.

But he hasn’t been around in a while. She lost her digital photos when a power-surge ruptured her mem-chip implant and she ripped it free of her scalp before it electrocuted her. Every day she went on the offensive, hunting the birdshells. No retreat. No real plan. Find the nests, torch them. Metal and fire worked on ghosts.

Somewhere out in the ruins of this world, Gill is waiting.

*

Holst can’t sleep. She lies dry-eyed in her bunk, listening to the other soldiers sing or fuck or laugh. It’s suddenly more alien than the birdshells. All she’s done is fight and lose. Lose and fight.

She and Gill left everything behind when they boarded the transport ship to this new world, this promised land free of pollution and disease, this world where they could have their own land, their own house, their own lives. Gill wanted kids, and was willing to find a surrogate. There were plenty of other women who had wombs.

She can’t picture what an Earth transport looks like. What faces unscarred by the war look like. What tomorrow looks like.

There’s never been a tomorrow since the war began.

*

A week drags by. Holst is out of her mech for longer than she’s been in years. Orders trickle in from fractured command posts. Stats. Lists of survivors. Delta Camp risks sending up a satellite to map the terrain; no one’s been airborne since the war.

Longer lists follow. Lists of the identified dead.

Burbank gives her the news: Gill’s found.

His body was identified by dental records in the mass grave covered in birdshell feathers ten miles from where he went missing.

“I’m sorry,” Burbank says, but Holst just rolls over on her cot. She can’t dream if she doesn’t sleep.

*

The bitter ocean laps at Holst’s mech feet. Wet sand sucks down the armor weight. She can walk forward, deeper until the pressure breaks her seals and pops the oxygen tanks like blisters. Just disappear away from air and light and sand.

“Hey, Holst.”

She switches the rearview cameras on. Burbank’s mech is up the beach, a pillar of metal against the gray horizon.

“Going somewhere?” Burbank’s hatch creaks open and she drops from the mech. Her bare feet sink into sand.

“Dunno.” Where is there to go, when the war is done?

Burbank’s buzzed head is sweat-smeared and Holst remembers Burbank used to be damn proud of her hair. Back when they had time for hygiene and Burbank had articulation in her hands. She has a sudden urge to use her sleeve and wipe the grime from Burbank’s skin.

“What are you doing here?” Holst asks.

Burbank sways, her version of a shrug. “Thought you might want some company.”

The chapped leather of her headrest scratches her scalp. “Not now.”

“‘Kay.” Burbank plops down in the sand halfway between her mech and Holst’s. “It’s gonna be at least a year before we see those transport ships anyway.”

Holst licks salt off her lip. It’s stifling in her mech since the AC unit shorted before she left base. She used to be an engineer; she can fix it. Not sure why she should, when the sea is cold.

When she first suited up, it was in the initial panic after the original swarm came. She didn’t run tests, just plugged her neural implants into the mech and grabbed the controls. She needed to find Gill.

“I wonder if my old job’s still open back on Earth,” Burbank says. “I was in accounting. Hell of a transfer from a desk to mech.” She leans on her elbows. “I had this CO who used to tell us, ‘if you can’t go forward, go sideways.’ Back’s never really an option.”

“Your CO make it?” Holst asks.

“She saved my ass when the second swarm hit.”

That wave cost Holst her company. She chugged along the desert for a solid month on her own, hunting nests, so furious she couldn’t see straight. The burn in her lungs started then–that inability to suck in breath, to shunt the pain aside. She’s been suffocating since.

“I lost most of my squad just before the ping caught me that we…won. I–” Burbank slams a heavy hand into the sand. Grit sprays like a bullet impacting a hollow bird. “Fuck. I really want a drink, but I got no one left.”

Holst kills the camera.

She still hears Burbank’s voice.

“Share a drink before you go, Holst?”

*

The canteen’s filled with alcohol distilled from tubers, one of the few plants left after the birdshells chewed up the world. It’s awful, but it gets a body drunk.

“To the ones we lost,” Burbank says. “I’ll say their names every day long as I remember.”

Holst takes another swig. “To Gill,” she says. First time she’s spoken his name aloud since the news. She imagines him toasting her back. I’m fine, he’ll say. Keep on keeping on, babe.

Okay, she’ll say. For a while longer, she’ll try.

Holst’s mech, left in thigh-deep water, topples in slow motion, sucked down with the rising tide. She watches it and doesn’t flinch. Holst’s fingertips brush Burbank’s metal digits as she passes the canteen back.

Burbank nods to the water. “You want me to fish it out?”

“Maybe tomorrow.”

Burbank lifts the canteen in salute.

Holst’s mech disappears under the foam-licked waves.

She breathes.


© 2017 by A. Merc Rustad

 

Author’s Note:  This was inspired by a prompt for a Codex contest (I can’t recall the exact seed for it, alas!) and was further developed by my love for mechs and interest in exploring the aftermath of massive events. I’ve read so many stories that are centered on the conflict (the war, or Plot Event, or whatever) and I always wondered what happens when that plot is over. Who gets to go home and who can’t?

 

merc-headshot_professionalA. Merc Rustad is a non-binary writer who lives in the Midwest United States. Favorite things include: robots, dinosaurs, monsters, and tea. Their stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Apex, Escape Pod, Shimmer, Cicada, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, and Wilde Stories 2016. Merc likes to play video games, watch movies, read comics, and wear awesome hats. You can find Merc on Twitter @Merc_Rustad or their website: http://amercrustad.com.

 

 

 

 


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Announcing the Diabolical Plots Year Three Fiction Lineup!

written by David Steffen

Diabolical Plots was open for its yearly submission window for the month of July. During that time, 803 writers submitted 1070 stories.  This year, the maximum word count was raised from 2000 words to 3500 words, and this year instead of one story per month Diabolical Plots will publish two stories, for a total of 24 stories that will begin running in April 2017 which is when the Year Two stories have all been published.

Thank you to all the writers who submitted.  You made the final choices incredibly difficult, which is a very good problem for an editor to have.  If we had the resources to publish more right now, there would have been plenty of excellent stories to choose from.

OK, without further ado, here is the list of stories and authors and their publishing order!

April 2017

“O Stone, Be Not So” by José Pablo Iriarte

“The Long Pilgrimage of Sister Judith” by Paul Starkey

May 2017

“The Things You Should Have Been” by Andrea G. Stewart

“The Aunties Return the Ocean” by Chris Kuriata

June 2017

“The Existentialist Men” by Gwendolyn Clare

“Regarding the Robot Raccons Attached to the Hull of My Ship” by Rachael K Jones and Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

July 2017

“Monster of the Soup Cans” by Elizabeth Barron

“The Shadow Over His Mouth” by Aidan Doyle

August 2017

“For Now, Sideways” by A. Merc Rustad

“Typical Heroes” by Theo Kogod

September 2017

“Strung” by Xinyi Wang

“The Entropy of a Small Town” by Thomas K. Carpenter

October 2017

“Lightning Dance” by Tamlyn Dreaver

“Three Days of Unnamed Silence” by Daniel Ausema

November 2017

“When One Door Shuts” by Aimee Ogden

“Shoots and Ladders” by Charles Payseur

December 2017

“Hakim Vs. the Sweater Curse” by Rachael K. Jones

“The Leviathans Have Fled the Sea” by Jon Lasser

January 2018

“Six Hundred Universes of Jenny Zars” by Wendy Nikel

“Brooklyn Fantasia” by Marcy Arlin

February 2018

“9 Things Mainstream Media Got Wrong About the Ansaj Incident” by Willem Myra

“Artful Intelligence” by G.H. Finn

March 2018

“What Monsters Prowl Above the Waves” by Jo Miles

“Soft Clay” by Seth Chambers

 

ETA: Note that this list originally include “Smells Like Teen Demon” by Sunil Patel, which was removed from the lineup.  This list has been edited because it is the easiest way to reference which stories are in which year, and I didn’t want this to be a source of confusion.

Daily Science Fiction March Review

written by Frank Dutkiewicz

It has been a very long time since we last appeared. A busy schedule and active life is our excuse. My apologies to Rahul Kanakia for pestering him for an interview, then dropping off the face of the Earth. I recommend that you all visit his blog (very interesting, entertaining, and insightful) and consider reading his latest book.

With much regrets, next month’s review (April) will be our last. I won’t be getting all gushy with you about it now. I’m saving that for my next review (need to fill up some space). But please take a gander of our thoughts of March’s tales, then visit go Daily SF and read them for your own amusement.

 

“Wedding Day” by Brian Trent (debut 3/3 and reviewed by Dustin Adams)

Because this story relies on its secret, a review is impossible without :spoilers:

Men from the future have come back to marry some of the most brilliant women of our time before an asteroid strike. This is a cool idea, but I had trouble with some inconsistencies, like why are they so hungry? And certainly the asteroid didn’t destroy the planet or there would be no future men to travel back.

I did like the story because of the details and the teasing that something unusual was going on, leading us on just enough to get hit with the hammer of the last line.

 

“Love is a Component of This Story” by Liz Argall (debut 3/4 and reviewed by Dustin Adams)

Indeed, the title sums up this story about the customs of a foreign people, and two volunteers being tested/examined with various sexually stimulating scenarios and machines.

Although I couldn’t exactly find a connection between the two concepts, nor a reason for the female character being named Bruce, (a constant distraction) I found the story fun and easy to read. And of course, being a romance, with a most unique path to the characters’ meeting, I felt the aww factor.

 

“Luna City, At Night” by Karl El-Koura (debut 3/5 and reviewed by Dustin Adams)

Hard-edged descriptors give this story its grim feel of a future gone mechanical (automatic, not robotic). A man, a future player if you will, finds and beds women who he assumes are interested in his wealth, (his silver watches, and bulging wallet). He seems to be a working man, yet has money to allow the women to steal, in the night, when he pretends to be asleep.

Interesting concept that he accepts the women’s thievery as payment for getting what he wants, but is he happy in his mundane world of repetition? Only after a woman doesn’t follow through with the expected, does the man begin to see the unexpected.

 

The price for survival is a long outstanding debt. “The Alien Tithe” by Eric Brown (debut 3/6 and reviewed by Frank D) is the tale of colonists who crash landed on their new home. The native aliens saved and healed the survivors of the disaster but have demanded a tithe for their good deed. The story follows along the trek of one the colonists as he leads his children to the aliens to pay for the debt.

“Alien Tithe” is a chilling tale. The gratitude the colonists had to their alien hosts has evolved into a yoke of guilt. I found this short tale to be intriguing and told well.

Recommended

 

Life goes on after the world is dead. “Through Dry Places, Seeking Rest” by Megan Arkenberg (debut 3/7 and reviewed by Frank D). Is the tale of a mute. Civilization has collapsed shortly after angels have appeared. The protagonist’s brother was murdered and now he wanders alone, seeking a running train while he walks the rotting planks and rusting rails that mark their mythical tracks.

The protagonist of this tale is a drifter with no place to go. He has lost the last person who ever meant a thing to him in a world without hope, a metaphor that proves fitting for “Through Dry Places” theme. The story, like the protagonist, simply drifts without much of a purpose.

 

Holes are filled in a popular fairy tale. “All Upon A Time” by Dani Atkinson (debut 3/10 and reviewed by Frank D) is a series of backstory narratives around the Cinderella tale.

Cute.

 

A stop at a coffee house will put you in just the right mood. “Surprise Me” by Andrew Knighton (debut 3/11 and reviewed by Frank D) is the tale of Yan, a counter worker at a coffee house with gift of pouring the emotion you need into your cup. A special girl, a customer who always orders ‘surprise me’ has been the object of his affection. He has brewed himself up some courage for her arrival but needy customers, and the fading effects of coffee, may sap the drink’s powers before he can ask her for a date.

“Surprise Me” is a tale of a boy trying to gather the nerve to express his feelings. It serves as a neat metaphor on the awkwardness of dating.

 

Yeast from the stars stumble upon a horrible world. “We Don’t Believe That They Are Friendly” by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (debut 3/12 and reviewed by Frank D) is a report from a surveying crew of a yeast-based life form on their findings of an isolated world.

Fun piece.

 

“This Doesn’t Appear to Be the Alien I Paid For” by Andrea G. Stewart(debut 3/13 and reviewed by James Hanzelka)

Sir;
When my seven year old daughter asked for a pet I sensed an opportunity to teach her about the universe. After all I’d seen your ads everywhere, at work, watching holo, even while using the urinal. So we ordered the Plum eared Noggin offered in your catalogue. It arrived not in the seven days promised, but in 12; however I chalked this up to the fact that it had to travel half way across the universe. We immediately opened the package to ensure it arrived in good shape and were relieved to see the little heart monitor ticking along in time with the creatures beating heard. When the little fellow didn’t pupate within the two weeks as promised we made the first of our calls to your customer service department. They assured us that the pupation time can vary and we were relieved when a few weeks later the pupa was occupying the terrarium. However when the creature that emerged did not have cute pear shape ears as shown in your catalogue and had a red strip down its back a second call was made to your customer service. Unfortunately it would not be our last.

If you think dealing with earth-bound customer service desks can be trying, imagine dealing with one half ways across the known universe. That is exactly what this author imagined. He did an excellent job at it. This story is infused with a dry humor that really had me chuckling all the way through. Well Done, sir.

 

“The Sentence is Always Death” by Ken Gerber and Brian Hirt (debut 3/14 and reviewed by James Hanzelka)

I’m forty-three, well beyond needing a nanny, but nanny is in the audience like she always is. It’s fitting she should be there since I’m taking the rap for her. There are a few cases ahead of mine. “Case 1201, Miz Gravona,” the Judge says. The alien shuffles up front. “Miz Gravona, given your crime the sentence is death.” Of course it is, the sentence is always death.

This is an involved tale of happenstance, planning and criminality. The author envisions a future where an individual can be “erased”, removed from their own existence; then imagines the possibilities that future presents. It is fairly well written, but could have used some trimming in places. This overwriting tended to detract from the story a bit, but it’s still a piece worth reading.

 

A bulimic girl returns home with a tool to help. “Measures and Countermeasures” by Beth Cato (debut 3/17 and reviewed by Frank D) is the story of Colleen, a young woman whose eating disorder landed her in the hospital. Tonight is her first dinner, but she has smuggled in a piece of technology so she can keep her calorie intake low. If only her mother knew.

“Measures” is a story of trust. Colleen is like many girls with her disease, sure that the people that are trying to help her are against her. Ms Cato demonstrates trust runs deep. The ones truly in need have a small bit still in them that trusts we will do what is best for them.

 

A new god finds his first follower. “Produce 1:1-10″ by Mur Lafferty (debut 3/18 and reviewed by Frank D) is the tale of a lesser god and His flock of one. New gods have been springing up everywhere, spreading their word on things like the merits of exercise at the gym and such. The protagonist is an atheist who stumbles upon the god weeping at her local Piggly Wiggly. The prices of healthy food are too high and the labels are misleading. The new god of supermarkets needs an advocate to bring the truth to the masses.

A light hearted tale.

 

The dead cannot move into the next world while Death morns his loss. “Death and His Lover” by Getty Hesse (debut 3/19 and reviewed by Frank D) is a tale of the dark angel embracing the spirit of his lover. Death alone can open the Gates for the dead to travel beyond, but can’t bear to let his Jerome to leave. The din of the departed grows as they cry out to be released.

“Death” is a tale of closure. The angel knows too well the length of eternity and is unwilling to let his lover go. Touching.

 

The nanobots have come. “Goodnight, Raptor” by A. Merc Rustad (debut 3/20 and reviewed by Frank D) is the story of the end of the world. Little Benny alone survives the destruction tiny nanobots have done to house, town, and family. He managed to rescue his favorite possession, a picture book on dinosaurs. The final few bots have assembled to recreate the image on the books cover, giving Benny the thing he always wanted , his very own raptor friend.

“Goodnight, Raptor” is the tale of a child’s dreams. The enormity of the disaster has not registered in his innocent mind. The last of the destructive bots coalesced to form a talking dinosaur for Benny. The tale would be cute if it wasn’t so sad.

 

What we will do for love. “Because My Heart Is Pure” by Rahul Kanakia (debut 3/21 and reviewed by Frank D) is the story of a man who is perpetuating a lie for the man he loves. Lyle is a gay man who has been pretending to be pure of heart , a genetic mutation that has made them emotionally stagnant individuals. His boyfriend, James – a reckless, passionate, self-absorbed man , is the opposite of an even keeled pure heart. James attends orgies, disappears for stretches of time, but will only shack up with a pure heart. The emotional rift Lyle feels for James he must conceal or he will lose his eccentric lover forever. But can he continue to be something he is not?

“Because My Heart” is a story of sacrifice. The pure-hearted are people who feel neither highs nor lows. Passion is all but gone from their being. They are able to absorb insults and are impassive to feelings of envy and pettiness. The obtuse nature of a pure-heart is just what a selfish free-spirit like James needs. But Lyle isn’t a pure-heart. He forces his feelings down because he knows he will lose the man he loves if they come out.

A warning to readers who haven’t read this piece: heed the warning on adult content. A short segment of this tale could have been cut out of a Penthouse like forum of a gay magazine, very graphic. This story, although well-written, rolls out as a tale of man who is putting himself through needless torment. James is not just a bad-boy of the story, he’s worse. People are just playthings to him, and for a group of people who are as close to automatons as you can get, it is no wonder why he would seek out pure-hearts; all the fun of a superficial relationship with none of the consequences. The tale is a lesson on the hazards of succumbing to your desires. Some things just aren’t worth it.

 

A man recalls why he married his wife in the last moments of their lives. “Till Death” by L.L. Phelps (debut 3/24 and reviewed by Frank D) picks up during an impending disaster. The space station the married couple has lived on has been hit by a missile and is breaking apart as it falls back to Earth. The images of their wedding day fill his head as the reality of the disaster makes it clear that it is all about to end.

“Till Death” is the sweet niche in a sad tragedy. The story takes place during the horrible moments of a terrorist attack. The tale brought back memories of 9/11 for me and thoughts of what must have been going through the minds of the victims when it became clear that their end was near.

A chilling tale.

 

“The Signal” by Spencer Sandoval (debut 3/25 and reviewed by Frank D) is a journal entry written by a worker at a SETI observatory. The protagonist of this tale has simultaneous extraordinary events. News of another civilization very much like their own has been discovered and his first child that is on the way.

“The Signal” is a story I found compelling but not original. The ending has a twist that I have seen before.

 

A bid to overthrow the machine’s human masters can be accomplished for the low price of $99.99. “Robot’s Revenge” by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (debut 3/26 and reviewed by Frank D) is another installment in Ms Wrigley’s Postmark Andromeda series. This one is a tongue-in-cheek look at the evolution of spam into an untapped market base.

Funny. My favorite of the series.

 

A dying boy is given the gift of a full life. “Gnostilgia” by Ronald D Ferguson (debut 3/27 and reviewed by Frank D) is the tale of 14 year old hero, Karl , the boy who helped prevent a massacre in his high school. His heroics have left him a death’s doorstep. His doctors have an experimental dream making machine. With it, they can give him memories of life he deserved.

“Gnostilgia” is a tale where Karl’s handlers struggle with what is ethical, and what is right. They know what they are doing would not be tolerated by Karl’s parents or with the public , implanting false memories into this boy’s head , but they know there is no hope for young Karl. The full they give him is their gratitude for sacrificing his own life.

A thought provoking and sweet work of flash.

 

Reincarnated lovers meet again in the segregated south. “Starcrossed” by M. Bennardo (debut 3/30 and reviewed by Frank D) is the tale of a young black waitress in a wartime navy town. In the back, a lone white man sits by himself. She recognizes him as someone she has met before, a forbidden lover of from a hundred previous lifetimes.

“Starcrossed” is a romance. The two characters are appropriately named Romeo and Juliet. For generations dating back thousands of years, the pair are destined to meet as people on different sides of the tracks. Their romances are always forbidden, customs of the times deeming them unfit to be together, and like Shakespeare’s play, always end in tragic finale.

Growing up, the past lives always seemed like a dream to Juliet, but when her Romeo appears, she can feel the pull of their destiny drawing them together. Unlike before, this time the pair is older, and Juliet has already started a life, with a family if her own. Her tale becomes a struggle; will an ordained desire drag her onto a familiar path? Or does she have an alternative choice.

“Starcrossed” is recreated and reworked look at a familiar trope. I found the story inventive, engaging, and well worth the read.

 

The world outside is falling apart in Light and Ash by Alan Bao (debut 3/31 and reviewed by Frank D), but for two romantic lovers, it might as well be another world. War rages in Asia but for a couple in New York, it is of little consequence. It is Christmas, and it is snowing, or is that ash?

A haunting tale.

 

 

Rahul KanakiaRahul Kanakia

Our short-lived author spotlight of Daily Science Fiction‘s most prolific authors features an artist known for creating flawed protagonists. His much anticipated YA novel ENTER TITLE HERE is a story described as Gossip Girls meets House of Cards. We wanted to know a little more of what made him tick, so we asked him 3 questions that we drew out of a hat.

 

Do you have a favorite author of short fiction? A writer whose work we should sample at least once in our life?

Well, if we’re talking prescriptively, then no. Plenty of famous authors haven’t read Ulysses, and it’s no big deal. You gotta read what resonates with you. However, if we’re just talking about short story writers who’re really good and who I recommend highly, then I’d say that Borges is pretty worthwhile. He writes stories that are completely unlike anyone else’s. No one else could spin a long entirely-plotless story about a library that that contains all human knowledge. However, since most people have probably already heard of Borges then I’ll also note that Maureen McHugh’s After The Apocalypse is one of the best collections I’ve read in the past five years. I get chills even thinking about it. Her stories changed the way that I approach science fiction. Some of them are so beautifully subtle. I’m reminded, for instance, of the story “Useless Things,” which is about a woman living on an isolated ranch who has to deal with the unwanted reputation for kindness that she’s acquired amongst the migrants who’re traveling north in a future United States where life is just ever-so-slightly worse than it is now.

 

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as an author?

Hmm. In a specific way, I think the best story I’ve ever written is forthcoming in a literary magazine called Birkensnake. It’s called “Sexual Cannibalism,” and it’s told in a series of vignettes as a young boy grows into a man and comes to terms with his sexuality while he researches the mating habits of praying mantises in a world that is wracked by and then overcomes the effects of climate change.

In a more general way, I’m not sure I could sum up my writing career that way. I guess the thing I’m most proud of as a writer is just being persistent. I just sold my first novel after writing and submitting for ten years. I’ve had years-long periods where I didn’t sell anything, or where I felt like I’d regressed, career-wise, but I just kept going. At times it didn’t really make sense, but I did anyway, and I owe a lot of gratitude to the version of me who could have quit, but didn’t.

 

Is there a Daily SF story you would like to recommend for us to read? Anything especially memorable?

Out of all the Daily SF stories that I’ve read, I’d say that I like Sarah Pinsker’s “Twenty Ways The Desert Could Kill You.” It’s playful and inventive and chilling work about a mother and a child who suddenly move to the desert in order to escape…something.

 


Rahul Kanakia’s debut novel,
Enter Title Here, will be published by Disney-Hyperion in the fall of 2015. He has sold stories to Clarkesworld, the Intergalactic Medicine Show, Apex, Nature, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars and a B.A. in Economics from Stanford, and he currently live in Oakland, CA. If you want to know more about him then please visit his blog at or follow him on Twitter