Long List Anthology Volume 3 Kickstarter

written by David Steffen

The Kickstarter for the Long List Anthology Volume 3 is launched as of this morning!  This is the third in a series of anthologies collecting works from the longer list of works that got a lot of Hugo Award nomination votes from the fans.

The art this year is a lovely piece by Amanda Makepeace.


The stories lined up are:

Short Stories (base goal)

  • “Lullaby for a Lost World” by Aliette de Bodard
  • “A Salvaging of Ghosts” by Aliette de Bodard
  • “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands” by Seanan McGuire
  • “Things With Beards” by Sam J. Miller
  • “Red in Tooth and Cog” by Cat Rambo
  • “Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar
  • “Razorback” by Ursula Vernon
  • “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station | Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0” by Caroline M. Yoachim

Novelettes (stretch goal)  

  • “A Dead Djinn in Cairo” by P. Djèlí Clark
  • “Red as Blood and White as Bone” by Theodora Goss
  • “The Venus Effect” by Joseph Allen Hill
  • “Foxfire, Foxfire” by Yoon Ha Lee
  • “The Visitor From Taured” by Ian R. MacLeod
  • “Sooner or Later, Everything Falls Into the Sea” by Sarah Pinsker
  • “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories” by Jason Sanford

Novellas (stretch goal) 

  • “Runtime” by S.B. Divya
  • “Chimera” by Gu Shi, translated by S. Qiouyi Lu and Ken Liu
  • “Forest of Memory” by Mary Robinette Kowal


I hope you are as excited as I am!  Thank you for your support!


Hugo Novelette Review 2014

written by David Steffen

Now that the Hugo packet is finally out, I can finish my reading of the Hugo nominees.


1. “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
This is told as two seemingly separate stories, taking place in a world that will be familiar to her fans, as she has told stories from this world before. One story is about Lan Nhen and her sister Cuc as they go to rescue a damaged mindship that contains the mind of a relative. They come from the Dai Viet culture where ships are controlled by human minds, birthed as mechanical objects from human wombs. The other story follows Catherine, who has been “rescued” from Dai Viet culture by the empire which has tried to give her a new life in the imperial way.

Aliette’s stories have a great deal to say about how cultures interact with each other, not in the war that is often the subject of SF stories, but more in regards to cultural assimilation, imperialism, and the motivations of individuals who are just trying to survive in the boundaries where wildly disparate cultures intersect. She has a real gift for exploring this topic. This is a very good story. It did take me most of the story to guess how the two tales are related to each other, but it was done well.


2. “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
A very interesting story on the subject of memory. The main part of the story is written from the POV of a journalist documenting his trial of the new memory enhancement product called Remem. Lifelogs that record everything that you see and hear have been available for quite some time, but the process of finding a particular memory in the huge set of data that any person builds up is time consuming enough that it’s generally only used for special occasions or for court cases where a team can be paid to look through the evidence. But that has all changed now with the Remem product that can find any memory in just a moment, by only giving it a vague explanation. Our protagonist is very concerned about what this will do to the way people think and remember when they no longer need to do the remembering for themselves. And in particular that it will lead people to constantly recall each other’s faults instead of letting them fall into the vagueness of memory.

There is a parallel story about a man named Jijingi who is a member of a tribe that has not developed a written language, and their visit from missionaries. A missionary named Moseby offers to teach Jijingi to write and Jijingi accepts, but is soon alarmed to find how much he is changed by the process–writing is a technology like any other, and one can’t use it without being changed by it.

Both stories were compelling and heartfelt. The journalist’s more so than Jijingi because I share some of his concerns about how modern technology is affecting people’s mental abilities, and I felt for the trials that he went through–who hasn’t thought they remember something completely different from another person, but in real life there’s generally no way to prove it.


3. “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com/Tor.com, 09-2013)
An aging woman astronaut is offered another chance to go into space, to visit an extrasolar planet, but her husband Nathaniel is nearing the end of his life and he might not last the three years the mission will take. She has yearned for another opportunity to relive the missions of her younger days. Should she stay or should she go?

This story and the people in it felt exceptionally real. This story is an apt metaphor for the kind of difficult life decision that we may come across from time to time, and by using the speculative element to reinforce it, it only becomes stronger, more understandable. How could you not relate to that?

My only qualm with the story was that it had an obvious reference to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz right in the first paragraph, referring to Dorothy who was raised by her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em in Kansas. While Dorothy played an important role in the story, as far as I could tell the story had nothing to do with L. Frank Baum’s Oz stories. This left me disappointed at the namedrop that apparently went nowhere.


4. “The Exchange Officers”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
This is the story of Chopper and Chesty, both members of the Orbital Defense Initiative Station, run by the United States military forces to protect the USA’s interests in space. It flashes back and forth between the past as Chopper and Chesty begin their training for the ODIS, and the present as Chopper and Chesty are the only remaining defenders of the ODIS against an attack by Chinese agents. Chopper and Chesty are Operating their robotic avatars remotely.

This story was okay. Kind of a Golden Age SF, the kind that has action but not a lot of deep thought, and you can enjoy it if you just watch the stuff happening but don’t expect much else out of it. The codename Chesty for the protagonist’s female colleague just made me cringe whenever I heard it–even though it was apparently a reference to Marine Chesty Puller and very fitting as the character is rare Marine in the organization. I had no idea who it was referencing while I read the story and it just seemed like a needless sexual reference of the only major female character–just a bit more explanation of where the nickname would’ve gone a long way toward reducing the cringe factor. Overall, not a bad story, but it doesn’t fit my idea of award-nominated material. I need something more than this.


5. “Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
This is the story of an elf that asks to stay in a monastery, offering to make illuminated manuscripts during his long stay in exchange for answers on the subject of religion from the abbot. A demon follows in the elf’s footsteps, demanding the elf leaves with it.

I just found this story dull from start to finish. I didn’t care what happened, or about the fate of any of the characters.

I feel that I should mention that this story has been involved in some of this year’s drama (there’s always SOME drama during award season). Vox Day is the pseudonym of Theodore Beale, who blogs about various topics such as the supposed unsustainability of feminism. He has publicly posted this last year that he aimed to get himself on the ballot and implied that he would be willing to bankroll WorldCon memberships of people who support his views. All this to piss people off and prove a point that he’ll get voted off because the Hugo voting population is voting based on what they think of author’s personal views rather than story quality. I won’t link to his blog. You can find it easily enough with a websearch if you feel inclined.

If you feel that you should vote against Vox Day because of his personal views, I have no problem with that. You should make whatever vote you know you won’t regret and I certainly understand wanting to automatically vote against someone whose views you see as poisonous.

My heart tells me that I should vote based entirely on story quality. The Hugo Award for Best Novelette is not meant to be a contest of the popularity or rationality of the author. It’s meant to be about the quality of the story. If Vox Day wrote an amazing story that topped all the others, then I would vote for it. And if someone buys their way onto the ballot, I figure that quality will out itself.

I had heard about the controversy of someone buying their way onto the ballot before I knew which author it was that was at the center of it, but to avoid biasing my views I intentionally avoided finding out which author until I’d read all the stories in that category. I ranked all of the stories after I’d read them, and without taking into account his personal views, I still voted him at the bottom, under where I will vote for No Award, meaning that I would rather no one at all walk home with the trophy than for this story to win it.

Assuming he did buy his way onto the ballot, the real shame is that some other story, some worthy story actually chosen by the Hugo voters as a whole, was bumped from the ballot for this. We don’t know whose story that was at this stage, though we will be able to determine that later after the Hugo awards release their voting numbers.

The Best of Escape Pod 2011


written by David Steffen

And here is the final of my “Best of” lists covering the year 2011. Escape Pod published steadily over the year, publishing 59 short stories. Among their usual fare, they also published winners and runners-up from their 2010 Flash Contest, whose winners were decided by forumite polling.

Recently they’ve announced that Nathaniel Lee (of Mirrorshards fame) has been given the position of Assistant Editor. I am very happy to hear this. He has already whipped the Drabblecast slushpile into shape, and he has done an admirable job with the Escape Pod slush as well. So if anyone had been frustrated at slow response times or lack of response to queries when trying to contact Escape Pod, you should give them another try.

And on to the list!


1. Rejiggering the Thingamajig by Eric James Stone
read by Kij Johnson
An intelligent spacefaring vegetarian Buddhist Tyrannosaurus Rex, a trigger-happy smartgun that talks like Yosemite Sam, and an ill-defined quest with an incomprehensible talisman at the end of it. Awesome.

2. For Want of a Nail by Mary Robinette Kowal
read by Mur Lafferty
Social and maintenance problems on a generation ship. The title doesn’t tie into the story all that well, but very good stuff.

3. Movement by Nancy Fulda
read by Marguerite Kenner
The protagonist in this story has what her society has labeled as temporal autism (which as even she points out may not have much relation to autism but such are public buzzwords). A very compelling story in a world not quite like our own and told by a very interesting POV.

4. Honor Killing by Ray Tabler
read by Mur Lafferty
This rather reminded my of Tobias Buckell’s Anakoinosis, with fuzzy little aliens demanding to be oppressed. In that case, it was slavery, in this case, murder.

5. Captain Max Stone Versus DESTRUCTOBOT by Angela Lee
read by Josh McNichols
One of the great entries to the flash fiction contest, overall this has a great feel of old-timey radio fiction, pulpy and fun and worth some great laughs.

6. London Iron by William R. Halliar
read by Andrew Richardson
Another entry from the flash contest. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s an action-packed flash story.


Honorable Mentions

Wheels of Blue Stilton by Nicholas J. Carter
read by Christian Brady

Marking Time on the Far Side of Forever by DK Latta
read by Josh Roseman
A robot protagonist who is an incarnation of temporal culture clash.

Many Mistakes, All Out of Order by M.C. Wagner
read by Wilson Fowlie

The Best of Drabblecast 2011

written by David Steffen

And, here’s the list for one of my favorite publications–the Drabblecast. It’s great for my weekly fix of weird. They’ve been of consistently high quality, and I look forward especially to Lovecraft Month in which they solicit original cosmic horror from recent popular authors.

I’ve gotten more involved in the Drabblecast in this last year as well. A few months ago Norm asked me if I’d be interested in reading slush for the Drabblecast (due to the time spent commenting on their story forum, I suppose). Also, their art director Bo Kaier organized the Drabble Art Reclamation Project (DARP) in which fans could volunteer to produce art for past episodes before Drabblecast had art. If you want to hear more, check out the link to this page, where I showed each artwork that I finished, step by step. And check out Drabblecast’s new website.

Okay, on to the list. This covers all the episodes published in 2011. This covers episodes 194-229. Many of those were Trifects and Doubleheaders, so the total number of stories is about 47.

Without further ado, the list:

1. The Wish of the Demon Achtromagk by Eugie Foster
This was one of Drabblecast’s commissioned stories for what is now the traditional Lovecraft month. The demon Achtromagk crosses over into our world from its own dimension and takes the fearsome form of… a little girl’s teddy bear.

2. Death Comes But Twice by Mary Robinette Kowal
A classic style of writing reiminiscent of H.G. Wells. A classically told yarn, masterfully narrated by Larry Santoro, in which a scientist discovers an elixir of immortality, but there’s a catch.

3. In the Octopus’s Garden by James S. Dorr
This one bothers me a bit in that I had already written a story with a very similar premise (though it went in a very different direction). You are what you eat, or in this case, what eats you is you.

4. The Last Question by Isaac Asimov
Classic science fiction story that has aged surprisingly well. Which is especially surprising, since it contains humor, and it’s very hard to write humor that works across decades. In the tradition of golden age SF, it is built much more around the science fictional idea than around characters, but that’s okay–the idea is enough to carry it.

5. The Heroics of Interior Design by Elise R. Hopkins
Have you noticed that all of the “empowered” beings in superhero comic books, those powers are always useful in some way? This is incredibly improbable, considering most of them got their abilities by freak mutations, caused by radiation or other causes. Where are the people with the less useful abilities? Well, here is one such, a “super” who can turn blue things yellow, and what they choose to do with their power. I found this one fun for the things it pointed out, and found it very relatable.

Honorable Mentions:

At the End of the Hall by Nick Mamatas

Broken by Steven Saus
This one was particularly exciting for me in a unique way. Since I’ve been taken on as a slushreader, I’ve voted up a few stories for Norm to take a look at. This is the first one that ended up being published, so I was very excited to see it appear.

ÂKillipedes by Jens Rushing


Review: Daily Science Fiction – Sept 1, 2010 to Sept 30, 2010

written by Frank Dutkiewicz

Daily Science Fiction is the ambitious project of Clarion alumni and Writers of the Future author, Jonathan Laden, and King Arthur fanatic, Michele Barasso. The duo jumped feet first into the growing SF & F industry with an idea that is innovative and ideal with the ever-changing information age. The pair have dedicated getting the best of what today’s writers have to offer, and bringing it right into the laps of the most devote readers of speculative fiction, delivering it as easy (daily email) and as cheap (free) as a lover of fantasy and science fiction could hope for. To insure they’ll have only the best for the cliental, they have offered an attractive pay rate (8 cents a word) to entice the best authors out there.

Why have they embarked on this crazy idea, you may ask?

Our kids refuse to let us read them Harry Potter, so we needed another outlet for our love of SF” is the answer they offer. Whether their real reason is noble or they really are greedy to read new and fresh fiction before anyone else has a chance to view it, publishing good speculative fiction requires more than a nice pay rate as bait. They need to be able to pick out gems that will make readers want to come back for more. Do Jon and Michele have the ability make DSF a success? I read the first month to find out for myself.

The Stories

“An Adventure in the Antiquities Trade” (debut 9/1/10) by Jeff Hecht is the perfect themed piece to open a mass email project like Daily Science Fiction. The story involves two collectors, and is set in the mid to late 21st century. The protagonist presents a correspondence to a Mr. James, one written on an old manual typewriter in the mid 20th century, when such things were still done on paper. The correspondence tells the tale of a clerk in Nigeria that has uncovered a scheme by the trading company he is working for. The company is bilking the Nigerian government and hiding the profits in a Swiss bank account. The clerk has asked a random American for his bank account so he can transfer 43 million, and promises a 10% kick back as a reward (sound familiar?).

I found “An Adventure in the Antiquities Trade” to be a clever and crisp story. Although it was a bit short, and the twist ending predictable, it was fitting as a debut story for a science fiction magazine looking for a unique way to stand out.

“Mark and ,S-h-e-l-l-y-‘-s-“ (debut 9/2/10) by Steven R Stewart is a story of a pizza shop owner named Mark and his one time romantic interest and former partner, Shelly. Shelly suddenly appears at the spaceport stand, not looking a day older, after a ten-year absence. The sign out front is still the same but her name has been crossed out. The bitter Mark feels cheated, abandoned, and is not interested in any excuse his former partner has to offer. Shelly regrets leaving in a huff all those years ago and admits in making a wrong turn, a turn that may have cost her everything but her youth.

“Mark and ,S-h-e-l-l-y-‘-s-” is a science fiction twist on the old ‘bitter lovers reuniting’ premise. The story is Mr. Stewart’s first publication (nice catch). I found the brief tale to be a cute idea but the present tense narration was a big negative for me. It was unnecessary and lent to a disconnection with the characters and plot.

Butterfly gets her first tattoo on her 13th birthday and receives a gift she didn’t ask for in “Butterfly and the Blight at the Heart of the World” (debut 09/03/10) by Lavie Tidhar. The young granddaughter of the Head of the Council can hear the Rogon, long dead aliens cocooned in the trees of the forest. At first, the incomprehensible murmurs are nothing more than idle chit-chat in Butterfly’s ears, than one day their tone changes. Butterfly believes they are calling her, and they need her help.

At over 9000 words, “Butterfly and the Blight at the Heart of the World” is one of the longest stories you’ll find in Daily Science Fiction. I couldn’t help thinking while reading it that it didn’t need to be so. An awful lot was thrown into the story that had little to do with the overall plot. Much was made about Butterfly’s relationships with other characters when they had little to do with the solution to the story. All the extra material slowed the pacing to a crawl. Another problem I had was the age of the cocoons. The aliens were supposed to be dead for a quarter of a million years, wouldn’t they be fossils by now? What I did like was the unexpected reveal of the nature of the voices Butterfly hears. Unfortunately you had to get through two-thirds of the story to get to it.

“Butterfly and the Blight at the Heart of the World” would make a nice sci-fi mystery if it were shorter. The author took great pains to show Butterfly as a normal girl with a unique problem. Lavie Tidhar made the story mundane in the process.

“Fiddle” (debut 09/06/10) by Tim Pratt opens with a small history lesson on the Roman Emperor Nero, told by a mysterious guide. The guide speaks of the legend of Nero playing a fiddle while Rome burned in the first century AD and offers a unique explanation of how it may have come to life.

“Fiddle” is more like a tease than a story. Its short size limits what I can say about it without ruining it for the reader. Hard for me to recommend it. I found it not attractive enough to call it cute, but I did like that last line.

In “Ezra’s Prophecy” (debut 09/07/10) by Debs Walker, Ezra is a hermit living in a cave. She studies the book of God’s Prophesies with only a weekly visit from a young village woman to look forward to. Then one day the Gods grace her with a vision. Ezra is eager to write her own book of prophesy but takes advantage of her brief gift of premonition to see what effect her holy book will have in the future.

I had two different impressions of “Ezra’s Prophecy”. The first two thirds I found slow and I worried that the plot was headed nowhere. The last third, however, was a making of a classic tale. I found it deep,an outstanding concept on religion and of the people who founded it. Ezra is granted a great gift from the God’s and makes a choice that proves to be an even greater one to her people.

The first half of “Ezra’s Prophecy” is dull, but the end made the pay off worth it.

The protagonist in “Hobo Signs” (debut 09/08/10) by Ree Young is an elderly lady who finds a hobo on her porch. The man has alcohol on his breath and a tale of aliens on his mind.

“Hobo Signs” is almost cute. The story is told from an old woman’s perspective and done well, but I wanted to scream ‘get on with it!’ at her at one point. The story doesn’t have much to it, at least not enough to satisfy me.

“Tag, You’re It” by Melissa Mead (debut 09/09/10) is a tale of a lost soul and a devil playing a childhood game with the playing field Earth. The hider hides as an ordinary person (and other things) while the seeking player hunts them down.

If character growth defines what makes a good story for you than “Tag, You’re It” is your kind of piece. The devil learns much about life as he takes on a trio of different personalities in the game. I rather liked the story. I found the ending fitting. A well done work of flash fiction.

“Seek Nothing” (debut 09/10/10) by Cat Rambo is the story of Sean Marksman, a clone psychologist who specializes in scent alterations. Sean is eager to escape his religious, puritan home. The planet he has escaped to is in need of a specialist like him, but his fellow humans are suspicious of his fundamentalist background. Sean has been raised to believe clones are beings without a soul. His fellow workers treat them as if they are machines , machines that can be abused. As time drags on, Sean begins to identify with the clones plight.

“Seek Nothing” is not a story for everyone. The plot drags and the protagonist is a hard one to like. The supporting characters are portrayed as unsympathetic and aloof , or worse – and the clones are nothing more than living mannequins. However, by the end of the story a realization of the depth of this masterpiece fell on me like a ton of bricks.

This story is one of repression. Sean tires of his purist early life and wants to be a normal man, one free of the guilt of sin his father weighed on him. However, young Sean hooks up with people that are anything but normal and as degenerate as could be imagined. He is like an Amish boy whose first experience with the outside world is with exiled men alone in the Arctic. Added to this jaded experience, details of Sean’s own past surfaces as the story progresses. What we witness in this tale is the disassembling of a man to the point where he feels on par with soulless machines. RECOMMENDED.

“Chameleon” (debut 09/13/10) by Colin Harvey is set in an America under attack by a race of aliens called Dragons and their Chinese allies. The Dragons have the ability to mimic humans, and have gotten good enough at it to make them indistinguishable from the person they are imitating. Major Emily Sparrow has been brought into the ruins of the Pentagon to help determine if her husband is really an alien in disguise.

“Chameleon” is an excellent example on how intriguing and thorough a short story can be. Mr. Harvey opened up a big world and introduced wonderful characters in a handful of words. The story was extra special for me because of its ending. I knew there was a twist coming yet was still caught off guard when the reveal hit me; so subtle and unexpected. It was the whipped cream on top of delicious sci-fi work of art. RECOMMENDED.

“On the Sweetness of Children” (debut 09/14/10) by Michelle Muenzler opens when the Green Fairy falls dead in the middle of blessing the infant princess. She drops at the word ‘hunger’ and the princess becomes a glutton as a result. The round royal is sensitive about her weight, and isn’t above devouring her critics, which isn’t good for her public image. But when you have a bottomless pit for a stomach, public image becomes secondary.

“On the Sweetness of Children” is a very cute story. It is a birth of a fairy tale, which I always find neat. Enjoyable but not “finger licking good.”

Dain talks the crew of the ‘Maidens Crescent’ into stopping at every satellite while traveling through the Sol System in “Mercury in Hand” (debut 09/15/10) by Amanda M Hayes. The Zero-rank magician wants a piece of every planet for a wealthy client to take with him.

I would like to delve deeper into the point of the story but it was completely lost on me. The who, what, and why of the tale is a mystery to me. I didn’t get it and still don’t after I read it three times in an attempt to understand it.

In “Azencer” (debut 09/16/10) by Rigel Ailur, two sisters with the gift of telekinesis battle for the right to be queen.

At a hundred words, Azencer is as short as a complete tale can get. The author did well with so few words.

“American Changeling” (debut 09/17/10) by Mary Robinette Kowal takes place in a quiet Oregon town on a planet called Earth. Kim is the daughter of two faerie changelings. She has been raised for the day to open the gate between the Faerie world and Earth. The key to unlock the gate has been hidden in iron (deadly to faeries) and protected by Catholic magic. Kim is the only one that can resist both, but the enemies to the queen are aware of her and are ready for the great event.

“American Changeling” is an adventure story. It is one of the longest stories in DSF but it reads quick. The characters stand out and the action is well done. The story is done quite well but the general plot is very familiar. Nevertheless, the reading experience is very enjoyable but I would expect nothing less from a pro like Ms. Kowal.

“Flint’s Folly” (debut 09/20/10) by J Chant is a story about a Nobel Prize winning scientist’s, Professor Flint, greatest discovery. His most trusted assistant, Mattius, attends the press conference where Antarctica’s most respected scientist unveils his faster-than-light machine. The demonstration is a success, making the already famous scientist a giant on the world stage. As a close associate, Mattius basks in the professor’s glory, but soon discovers it only takes one mistake to erase a legacy.

“Flint’s Folly” is my kind of story. The author introduced a complete world and set of circumstances that I could buy into. The premise of the story is one I could see happening one day, and circumstances of our not-too-distant past have proved this type of mistake has been made before. Mattius is successfully presented as a loyal comrade. He believes in his mentor and is proud of his past accomplishments. You can feel the validation he feels when the rest of the world cheers for the professor’s breakthrough discovery. Telling the story from his viewpoint was genius with the direction the author decided to take. At the risk of revealing too much, I particularly enjoyed Professor Flint’s attempt to salvage pride at the end, emotionally well done.

This story was great. RECOMMENDED.

Young Revka is ten and has yet to discover her talent in “Picture in Sand” (debut 09/21/10) by Susan A Shepherd. Her mother discovered her woodcarving gift right away, while her father had to search through all nine talents before finding his own. It can be a lot of work before your talent is discovered, or if you’re lucky, your talent may discover you.

Ms Shepherd put a lot of thought into creating her magical world in this story. Impressive considering she didit in so few words. Unfortunately I think the story needed more for it to work. This heartwarming piece came off as flat to me.

“The Man who said Good Morning” (debut 09/22/10) by Ralph Gamelli is set in a future where everyone reads minds and talking is considered taboo. That doesn’t stop Louis McKalty. He first works his voice on his wife, chasing her as if he were holding a dead mouse. He then proceeds to greet the world with his rediscovered gift of speech. The world isn’t prepared to listen to his primitive mode of communication, and if he doesn’t listen to reason, society will send his brand of ‘getting to know each other’ the way of the Neanderthal.

“The Man who said Good Morning” is a fun story about a man who is having some innocent fun. Louis is rediscovering himself and that makes others uncomfortable. I liked how Mr. Gamelli decided to introduce a society where only silent, psychic interaction is allowed. Nice story that could have used some expanding.

Annalisa begs her father to take her to an unsavory fair in “The Jug Game” (debut 09/23/10) by Jennifer Moore. While her father disappears in a beer tent, Annalisa is encouraged to play a jug game. The prize is she gets to keep the soul inside if she wins.

“The Jug Game” puzzles me. The stories ending left me unsatisfied and I wondered if I read the complete version.

“The Fosterling” (debut 09/24/10) by Therese Arkenberg starts off in a shack of a house that is the home of the future king, Hepastian IV. It has been seven years the young prince has lived in the slums and it is Jain Harley’s duty to retrieve the boy and take him to New Geneva to reunite him with his father the king. The foster mother is not ready to give up her ‘Jacky’ and the boy isn’t eager to leave the only home he has known. Jain is chosen for this duty because she does it well, even when crushing migraines afflict her without mercy.

“The Fosterling” is a good story that is written very well. Jain Harley is convincing as a duty bound Captain of the Guard who has a job that simply sucks. All the past kings have spent their first seven years living in the slums so they will learn compassion. Jain is mystified on why Jacky doesn’t want to leave the ghetto he was raised in and wonders at one point “Didn’t all kids dream of being princes?” Coupled with the stress of tearing a young child from the only home he knows, a recurring migraine inflicts Jain.

I could find little fault with this piece. Therese Arkenberg is a very skilled writer. The story is solid and quick but is thin with content. Nevertheless I enjoyed reading it very much.

“Long Pig” (debut 09/27/10) by Matthew Johnson, is the name of a new restaurant featuring a popular chef. The menu is unique and the food is delicious thanks to a chef with a unique past and a commitment to put all he has into his creations.

It wasn’t too difficult to figure out what “Long Pig” was all about. Too many clues made it obvious early on. The chef’s willingness to share his past to his customers made him more creepy than interesting to me.

The restaurant’s customers may have found “Long Pig” appetizing but it didn’t satisfy me.

“Sparks” (debut 09/28/10) by Mari Ness is about a man who has replaced his hands with wands. The protagonist is drawn to the mysterious man and the lovely sparks his wands create. She takes great effort to not stare at his wands and wants to learn why he would make such a trade.

“Sparks” is a story of desire. The protagonist clearly has fallen for the stranger. I however was not drawn into his spell and fail to see the appeal he has over her. The appeal didn’t translate to me.

Unlike the protagonist, I failed to fall under “Sparks” ‘spell.

Jack and Sarah share tea in their home, drinking it out of their favorite cup, just as they always did in “Small Differences” (debut 09/29/10) by Tim Patterson. The only problem is this is the first time they met.

“Small Differences” is a story set in a world where alternate universes have intersected. People are switched into a new one that is very similar to the one they originated in. Slight changes make it different. Sarah and Jack shared a life with their alternate selves and their not-quite-the-same past makes their meeting painful and hopeful.

Not a bad story but one that was too brief for me to enjoy. Not that it needs expanding. I think the author got as much as he could from the idea.

George Washington is about to attend his inaugural in “A Little-Known Historical Fact” (debut 09/30/10) by Tim McDaniel. He talks with his aide Billy and tells him what his mother said he could accomplished if he applied himself.

This short story is just plain silly. The premise relies on GW’s mother knowledge of a term that I believe didn’t exist in her era.


I asked an editor of a leading review outlet on why DSF is ignored. The answer I got back was there was too much to review and the editors must be nuts if they think they can keep up throwing so many stories, at the rate they pay, for essentially free. Maybe Mr. Laden and Ms Barasso have deep pockets, maybe they have a business model other publications should emulate. I don’t know. I do know, word count wise, they publish as much as Analog, F & SF, and Asimov do each month. Sure they’re putting out 20 plus new stories a month, but 80% are under 2000 words and most are flash fiction size; an easy to get through length if you’re looking for a daily outlet. The question is, does the quality match up to what other pro-rated magazines have to offer. The answer is yes.

I found almost all the stories of a high quality. Because they were so high, my standards for recommendation were raised. If Jon and Michele can continue to publish such thoughtful, creative, and outstanding fiction, I see no reason why Daily Science Fiction won’t be the next big thing in publishing today.

My personal favorite of the month was “Chameleon” by Colin Harvey. I just simply loved it.

I recommend that you all sign up to receive a daily hand-delivered story from Daily Science Fiction. You can sign up for them, and read these stories and other ones here.

Frank is lurking back around in Diabolical Plots again. Other places have throw him out on his ear but Dave is a sucker for people that have worn out their welcome elsewhere. So Dave has Frank review to keep him out of his hair.