Daily Science Fiction: September 2012 Review

written by Frank Dutkiewicz

We would like to share an announcement for the opening of the third year of Daily Science Fiction. The very successful publication has been running on the sheer determination of two editors. Well, the weight of responsibilities of putting out a fresh story five days a week, and the reading of the enormous pile of submissions, has been much to bear for Jon and Michele. So they did what any wise and overworked editors would do, accept help.

Daily SF‘s crew has become a bit larger. 5 new editors have arrived to help the dynamic duo. Who are they? Sure, I’ll introduce them, but first this month’s reviewsâ€


In “The Gifter” by Torrey Podmajersky (debut 9/3 and reviewed by Anonymous), a young person, a gifter, is being interviewed by her senior at work. Her role is to give people things, things that will help them, and she has been selecting some rather odd gifts of late. She gave chickenpox to a child so that he could have a play-date with another child who also had chickenpox. She gave two cases of gonorrhea to a woman and her husband so that the woman would have the proof of her husband’s infidelities.

The gifter is, of course, a faery and her faery boss frowns on her style of ‘gifts’, preferring the sort of happy gift he used to give before his promotion to management. She is suspended, but she still has a final gift to give.

I loved this short story and thought it nicely done. My writer’s eye caught the twist before it happened, but it still worked beautifully for me. The ‘gifts’ were great and wonderfully selected. Six out seven rocket dragons.



A curator of a library receives his first visitor in five millennia in “Summer Reading” by Ken Liu (debut 9/4 and reviewed by Frank D). CN-344315 was designed to watch over the collective knowledge of mankind’s existence while on Earth. The human race had left for the stars long ago. What had once been a museum world that attracted pilgrims to see man’s cradle of civilization, is now a forgotten planet. The data files, no longer viewed, have been recycled as scrap. He now is relegated to take care of brittle books. All that is left of a form of information reviewing long dead before the library was built, is a few hundred books. They are precious and priceless and his lone purpose in life. Then the unimaginable happens, a visitor in the form of a little girl , and she would like to read one of the books.

Summer Reading” is set in a fascinating future. The protagonist of this tale is a nostalgic robot. He has taken great care of preserving the deteriorating pages of the last books known to exist. The thought of allowing this small girl to hold one appalls him but he is forced to recognize what the purposes of the books once were. What happens next is magical.

I have read a lot of Ken Liu over the past couple of years. He rarely disappoints me. The timing of this tale coincides the day after he received a Hugo. The theme of it is fitting. “Summer Reading” is a story any writer can appreciate and any parent who has read to a child can love. I have much more to say about it but I would hate to ruin the reading experience for you.



Brietta would like a change in “Third Time’s a Charm” by Melanie Rees (debut 9/5 and reviewed by Frank D). She is bored and embarrassed. Her mother has dragged the teenager to the carnival. She feels like she is being treated like a kid and so much wants to be like the blonde girl surrounded by cute boys. There is something familiar about the girl as she stares enviously at her. A woman selling trinkets has an amulet that will grant Brietta her wish, once again.

Third Time” is a ‘grass is greener’ story. Brietta is a girl who isn’t sure what she wants but knows whatever she has now isn’t it. The story is heavy on set up. The majority of the piece examines Brietta’s teenager feelings. It made the tale slow but teed up a very good twist. I did wonder how far we were into an endless loop but the question is probably irrelevant anyway.


Joel reaches out to an abused android in “The Touch of Love” by Day Al-Mohamed (debut 9/6 and reviewed by Frank D). The Loveland Companion model 6739 (Honey) has been severely damaged by its owner and husband. The android companion has been sent to be repaired and captures the mechanic’s sympathy and affection. Joel professes his love for her. Honey returns her love, the only way she knows how.

The warning the editors post at the beginning of the story is one readers should heed. “The Touch” is a strong commentary on abuse. I found the tale strongly written with a unique poetic justice conclusion, but the events of the piece are indeed disturbing. If you are easily offended, avoid.


There is a ghost living in Jeremy’s closet, in “A Silly Love Story” by Nicole Cipri (debut 9/7 and reviewed by Frank D), and that isn’t the oddest thing in his life. The ghost is harmless to all but Jeremy’s clothes, turning his t-shirts inside out and steadily unraveling the fabric of his only suit. Jeremy tells his close friend, cupcake connoisseur Merion, of his strange haunting. The two friends devise a plan to reach out to the thing hidden in Jeremy’s closet.

A Silly Love Story” is a fitting title to this tale. It is a weird story of two odd friends shielding their feelings from each other. Merion is bi-gendered, her/his sex changes from day-to-day. Merion and Jeremy hang together as awkward friends. Their conversations are hypothetical ‘what if?’ scenario’s. The tale is told from Jeremy’s perspective. He is in love with Merion. The reader can sense the feelings are mutual but Jeremy values their friendship too much to risk damaging it by telling Merion so.

This odd tale intrigued me to want to know more about the author so I paid a visit to her blog. I learned “A Silly Love Story” is an autobiographical work of fiction. A question posed to Nicole, that 99.999% of the population would find insulting, was the inspiration for this tale. It made me appreciate this story more. Despite the very odd circumstances in this premise, the Jeremy and Merion story is a relationship most of us have seen before, close friends who hide their true feelings from each other. It can be sad and sweet at the same time.

A Silly Love Story” is not for everyone. Reading about Merion and Jeremy might tell you a bit about yourself. Prejudices run very deep within us. An involuntary reaction in your soul, as you absorb the vision of Merion, and Jeremy’s feelings toward him/her, is natural. When you feel it, give Nicole Cipri’s blog a visit.


Erin needs help with a stitch in “Falling, Rising” by Leah Thomas (debut 9/10 and reviewed by Frank D). Erin is just like her mother, dead. She died in a car accident but rose from the coroner’s table (a common occurrence). The living girls her age don’t take kindly to the undead, and do their best to make her know it. The dead don’t feel pain, but even so, mothers are always there to make things better.

Falling, Rising” is a tale where the dead live a second life. They will attempt to carry on where they left off but must deal with a prejudice from the living. The tale was too brief for me. I would have liked to adjust to the characters a bit more.


Simon cannot say goodbye in “Mortless” by Henry Szabranski (debut 9/11 and reviewed by Frank D). His wife has died in a plane crash. His money, and clone technology, can bring her back just as she was before. But he wants her back the way he prefers.

Mortless” is a tale of man used to getting his way. Simon refuses to let go and the story slides into a spoiled temper tantrum. He is a selfish protagonist and any sympathy for him goes out the window halfway through the short tale.


James and Fredrick have come to the Dragon’s Lair in search of gold in “Fool’s Gold” by Frank Dutkiewicz (debut 9/12 and reviewed by James Hanzelka). Seeking escape from their menial lives they are willing to risk in exchange. Their quest appears to be successful as they relish the pile of gold and jewels they have found, until James wonders aloud what a dragon needs with a pile of gold and jewels.

Nicely set up little tale, and I liked the ending. I did have an issue with some of the choices, such as, “…his expression matching the farmer’s they crossed when they admitted they were headed for Cirole’s cave.” That phrasing seemed a little odd. Overall though it was well written.


“Old Friends” by Shane Wilwand (debut 9/13 and reviewed by Frank D). The protagonist is a blue robot. His master is dissecting his friend, robot J1-A. His master says J1-A will be improved. Since it is that easyâ€

Old Friends” is a reversal Frankenstein tale. Short and cute.


An imprisoned princess has a voice in her head in “Said the Princess” by Dani Atkinson (debut 9/14 and reviewed by Frank D), and it is out to help her anyway it can. Princess Andrienna is being held in an ivory tower. She is the prisoner of a jealous witch, information provided to the reader by an ominous third-person narrator. Andrienna can hear every word the strange voice says in his fairy tale-esque narration. Where he came from, Andrienna doesn’t know, but a third person narrator has a perspective that proves beneficial.

Said the Princess” is an idea I wished I thought of. A voice that described every action you made would drive most people crazy, but the resourceful Princess uses it to her advantage. The villain of the tale is a crafty sorceress – an excellent antagonist for a brilliant, funny, and delightful tale.

I know enough about humorous stories set in a speculative fiction genre to say not everyone will like this tale, but I honestly don’t know how you couldn’t like it. One of the funniest stories (this is coming from a guy who read slush for a pro-level humor anthology, and judged a humor contest) I have read this year.



A politician is looking for an edge in “The Whisper” by Douglas Sterling (debut 9/17 and reviewed by Frank D). The protagonist is a Senator. He is about to download the latest in information technology; the Whisper. Whisper is twitter for your subconscious. It lets you know of events as they happen. With Whisper, information is instantaneous. But beware of Spamâ€

The Whisper” is a tale that gives you a taste of what may come. It comes with a moral that everything has a price, and nothing is for free. Interesting but an idea like this deserved a storyline that was less ominous.


A conqueror’s guide to global dominance is the theme of “Triumph” by Robert Reed (debut 9/18 and reviewed by Frank D). The narrator of this tale instructs the path to achieving conquest. It starts as a simple survey, a feeler to see if the natives know how to execute the plan. Then details on how to shove humanity into chaos, making them do the heavy lifting. It will work, it always does.

Triumph” is†different. The story is written as a guide, but unravels as if the task has already been accomplished. The details are hazy but presented as if the answer was obvious. As a patriotic Earthling, I refuse to believe our world is that fragile or the plan could be that simple. In short, I had trouble buying into the premise.


Two professors compete to be the one who makes the greatest discovery ever in “Professor Jennifer Magda-Chichester’s Time Machine” by Julian Mortimer Smith (debut 9/19 and reviewed by Frank D), and will do anything to make it.

This humorous tale has two characters that are willing to change history in order to achieve fame. The protagonist brings new meaning to the term ‘going too far’. I found the story to be delightful.


Strict adherence to religious doctrine is for dinosaurs in “Intolerance” by VG Campen (debut 9/20 and reviewed by Frank D). Why pay attention to the small and furry preaching that the end is near?

You can’t miss the metaphor of this flash. Clever.


Missing something important to you? Penelope can find it for you. “Where You End and the World Begins” by Sam Ferree (debut 9/21 and reviewed by Frank D) is the story of a woman who can find whatever has eluded you. An odd talent for a girl who is herself lost. It took her a week to realize the bearded man sitting her couch pontificating about the meaning of life was her roommate. Her newest client has a challenging request, she can’t find her shadow.

The storyline to “Where You End” is very much like the characters in this story, drifting without a direction to go. Penelope’s talent first became apparent when her mother lost her wedding ring. It was then she discovered missing items had a way of finding her. Penelope is a girl who has lost her home. Her parents divorced and moved away. Penelope lost her phone shortly after and her only means of contacting her parents.

I found Penelope to be intriguing. She interviews her clients, searching for the reasons why the objects they lost have left them. Often the reasons are metaphorical, as is the case with her current client.

On the author’s notes for this tale, he admits that he was a bit lost while writing it. The fact “Where You End” lacks a clear direction fits with how this tale turned out. I found the ending to be fantastic and I suspected it found the story instead of the author finding it. I can imagine a few readers wondering ‘what was that about?’ when they read “Where You End” but it is just the type of story that explains a lot without a question ever being asked.

This story is not for everyone but it was for me. Not a full recommendation but nevertheless, I liked it a lot.


A starship’s children have been promised a new home in “From the Divide” by Nathan Tavares (debut 9/24 and reviewed by Frank D), but they will have to leave the only home they’ve ever known to move there.

From the Divide” is a story told from the perspective of children raised aboard the sterile confines of a starship. The tale focuses on how change is not always embraced.


Even the undead need a hobby. In “Blood Oranges” by K C Shaw (debut 9/25 and reviewed by Frank D), Friedrich prefers cooking. Vampires have little use for tasty treats, however. But Friedrich is eager to impress his love, Nikolita. If only there was a way to get her to want and try a bite.

Blood Oranges” is dark. Vampires are the dominant species, keeping humans to follow them around like poodles on a leash. Friedrich is a talented chef. Nikolita could care less for the parfait he made but her young human thrall’s mouth waters when she gets a glimpse at it.

Blood Oranges” is meant to be disturbing. I think the author accomplished her task. The dishes in this story is would be fitting for a ghoulish ‘Food Channel’ in an alternative reality.


The last two members of humanity approach a new star system in “Last” by Rich Larson (debut 9/26 and reviewed by Frank D). The last man has abducted the last woman to join him on a new world. He is out to save mankind. Some things aren’t worth saving.

Last” is a brief tale that took me a second read to completely grasp what happened. I liked the ending.


“Lyria” by Miah Sonnel (debut 9/27 and reviewed by Dustin Adams). In the future, we have the technology through cybernetics to create stand-ins for the criminally minded. They are called drones.

In this story, someone who would be registered as a sex offender is due to be given a gender and age appropriate drone. His chance of relapse is high. The drone will help him reintegrate into society. So says his therapist–and the court. Guilt ridden and trapped by law is the programmer, the “father” of the drone. As he installs her finishing touches; his creation, understanding her future, speaks to him, and begs not to be powered down on her final night of freedom.


The protagonist is the ultimate infiltration unit in “My Mask, My Humanity” by D. Thomas Minton (debut 9/28 and reviewed by Frank D). He is a mimic , a man with the ability steal another’s DNA and memories to assume their identity. He is the property of a tyrant governing the Saturn moons. She has been winning a war to put down a rebellion. Her rival, Timothy Marcus, leads the rebellion. It is his job to find him and kill him. But to do this he must murder a man who was Marcus’s right hand lieutenant former lover and assume his memories. The job will bring out feelings that are not his, but he’s been trained to overlook them for his hard master.

My Mask” is a layered tale. The story evolves from a cold-hearted killer’s tale to a conflicted man’s dilemma. The protagonist’s master warns her tool ‘not to underestimate Marcus’. The first visual of the rebellion’s leader contradicts her warning but she proves to be far more prophetic than even she could know.

I found this tale’s premise to be remarkably similar to a twist of one of Mike Resnick’s popular novels. I like the set up to a twist I should have seen coming, but didn’t. A lengthy story , for DSF , but a solid science fiction tale in the classic definition of the term.



Daily SF’s Superfriendsâ€

Elektra Hammond: Elektra Hammond emulates her multisided idol Buckaroo Banzai by going in several directions at once. She’s been involved in the copyediting and proofreading end of publishing since the 1990s for presses small and large and nowadays concocts anthologies, is an editor and reviewer at buzzymag.com, reviews books for the TICA Trend, and is acquisitions editor for the Dark Quest Books imprint Sparkito Press. Her steampunk story “AThe Case of the Duchess=s Dog@” appears in the anthology In An Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk. Elektra lives in Delaware with her husband, Mike, and the cat herd of BlueBlaze/Benegesserit catteries. When not freelancing or appearing at science fiction conventions she travels the world judging cat shows. Find Elektra’s website at http://www.untilmidnight.com.

Rachel McDonald: Rachel McDonald started reading short stories regularly a few years ago when she started a real job and needed something shorter to read during her lunch break. Before that she mostly read novels of the huge epic fantasy variety (but with a hefty sprinkling of other forms of speculative fiction). The dream is to use her MA in Professional Writing and Editing to edit SFF novels; her current day job entails editing college criminal justice textbooks and their supplements while trying to get college professors to adhere to their project deadlines and follow directions. Rachel also works as a theater tech in her spare time and has discovered that the Tarzan and Oz novels make great backstage reading.

Sarah Overall: Sarah Overall is the head of the editorial department at UysFaber, a Toronto-based indie comics publisher. Since UysFaber is quite a small company, this means that she is the editorial department. She’s never been a department before, and rather likes it. When she isn’t beating errant commas and hyphens into submission, Sarah spends her time reading, gaming, and embroidering TARDISes.

Manuel Royal: Manuel Royal was born, like Tristram Shandy, with a broken nose. He will die. In between, he lives and writes in Atlanta.

Brian White: Brian White is the editor of Fireside Magazine, a multigenre fiction and comics magazine. His day job–well, it’s actually a night job–is on a newspaper copy desk. He lives near Boston with his wife, who is a theatrical lighting technician, and their two cats. You can find him online at his blog, Talk Wordy to Me, at talkwordy.com.


The new editors of Daily SF have assured Jon and Michele that they have plenty of experience editing. Their methodology is dated but their results are tried and true. They’re a little bit behind the technological eight ball but they are updating in an effort to get with the times. In fact, their clay mold typesetter is almost ready for production. Next week, Jon plans on introducing them to the wonders of electricity.