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In 500 Words or Less: Short Fiction Roundup #2!

Friday, December 28th, 2018 | Posted by Brandon Crilly

Rich-Horton-Years-Best-SF-2017-medium The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2017 Rich Horton-small

To round out the calendar year, I decided it’s high time I wrote up another Short Fiction Roundup. I will freely admit I read way more novels than short fiction, but here are some of my recent reads that I want to spotlight:

The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017 Edition

Yes, I realize we’re at the end of 2018, and yes, this edition means stories from 2016. Best Of anthologies are always hit or miss with me, since critic appeal and mass market appeal don’t always mean the same thing. But I was pleasantly surprised here.

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Dress Rehearsal” starts with a theater troupe escaping a dangerous patronage and takes a wild turn involving devilish creatures given a furlough from Hell. In “All That Robot Shit,” my Ottawa buddy Rich Larson provides a post-apocalyptic Castaway setting featuring robots that’s equal parts touching and hilarious (which is consistent with Rich). And Charlotte Ashley’s story of honor and respect between paired nemeses in “A Fine Balance” is coupled with the thrills of master warriors hunting each other in the streets. (Oh, and check out Charlotte’s Archipelago project, too!). There are a bunch of other engaging stories here, and I’ll be checking out Rich Horton’s 2018 edition for sure.

[Click the images for roundup-sized versions.]

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Timeshift: Tales of Time

Full disclosure: I have a story in this anthology of time travel flash fiction. When I read through the other contributions I was absolutely blown away, which is unsurprising given the wicked ToC editor Eric Fomley was able to score.

Ken Liu’s twist on how time changes our relationship with our parents in “Memories of My Mother” particularly hooked me, as a mother uses general relativity to see her daughter grow up, even if that means only seeing her a handful of times in her life. And Leah Cypess’s “In Defense of the End of the World” is basically a plea for understanding from someone who might have ended the universe to try to end people’s suffering – and how can one argue with that motivation?

Nevertheless (Tesseracts 21)

This year’s edition of Edge’s Tesseracts series was edited by Rhonda Parrish and Greg Bechtel. It focuses on optimistic fiction, which is obviously going to appeal to me as a solarpunk author/enthusiast. Lots of excellent stories in here, but unsurprisingly (if you follow my column) I particularly liked Kate Heartfield’s “A Threadbare Carpet,” combining adventure, rich history and optimism in a tale of a flying carpet cabbie trying to stay on the straight and narrow. But my favorite story was “A Breath for My Daughter” by Jason M. Harley, a short, character-focused piece about parenthood and sacrifice in a world trying to revitalize its environment for human habitation. Seriously, check that one out.

And that’s that! My hope is to keep doing these periodic roundups next year, but before that stay tuned for my first 2019 post, where I’ll count down my Top 5 Reads from 2018. Until then, have a good rest of the holiday season!


An Ottawa teacher by day, Brandon has been published in On SpecPulp Literature, Electric Athenaeum, and elsewhere. Considering nominations for the Nebula Awards? Brandon’s 2018 short story “Moments” from Daily Science Fiction is eligible! Check it out here: https://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/time-travel/brandon-crilly/momentsYou can also follow Brandon at brandoncrilly.wordpress.com or on Twitter: @B_Crilly.

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