Search Results for: Stories That Work

Stories That Work: “Beyond the Tattered Veil of Stars” by Mercurio D. Rivera, and “The Million-Mile Sniper” by SL Huang

The March/April 2020 issues of Asimov’s Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Covers by John Picacio and Mondolithic Studios I’ve always liked big-idea fiction. That’s the stuff whose premise is so mind-boggling that even if I forget the characters and plot, I keep thinking about the story’s implications. H.P. Lovecraft struck me that way. I started reading him in my 20s, and once I got past the prose (I used to think of him as Edgar…

Read More Read More

Stories That Work: Short Story Collections

Normally I look at a couple short stories that have caught my eye since my last article, and then dive into them for a closer look. But in these stay-at-home times I realized how important short stories are in my reading life, and how short story collections are often my favorite pastime. Like many of you, I became a recreational reader early on. My school desk always had science fiction tucked inside that I would sneak peeks at every chance…

Read More Read More

Stories That Work: “The Valley of the Speaking Flames” by B. Pladek, and “Where a Good Town May Take Us” by Andi C. Buchanan, in Abyss & Apex

Eccentric stories stick with me better than classifiable ones. Robert Heinlein’s great time travel piece, “All You Zombies,” for example, was eccentric within the category of time travel stories, so much so that it felt like an outlier. It didn’t fit. Even now, where time travel as a premise is way more prevalent, “All You Zombies” startles. I like teaching that story to high schoolers. It’s a great in-class science fiction IQ piece. I have them read it silently. The…

Read More Read More

Stories That Work: “Log Entry” by Kevin J. Anderson, and “Sweetly the Dragon Dreams” by David Farland

Space-based science fiction drew me into reading hard when I started. The fact that my dad was an aeronautical engineer who worked at Martin Marietta, designing the first rockets in America’s space program, probably helped. Copies of Sky and Telescope were scattered about the house, and Dad’s amateur astronomy often became a part of dinner conversation. He ground his own mirror for a reflecting telescope he built and mounted in the backyard, and several times he invited my class at…

Read More Read More

Stories That Work: “The Backstitched Heart of Katharine Wright” by Alison Wilgus, and “For the Wicked, Only Weeds Will Grow” by G.V. Anderson

Interzone 279, January-February 2019; cover by Richard Wagner When I was young, books addicted me. I read incessantly, imprudently, and in an unhealthy manner. My mother used to come into my room to check on me after bedtime by putting her hand on my reading light to see if it was warm (what she never knew was that I could read by my closet light that she didn’t check). I finished novels in uninterrupted binges, starting one when I came…

Read More Read More

Stories That Work: “Selfless” by James Patrick Kelly, and “I Met a Traveler In an Antique Land” by Connie Willis

Covers by Eldar Zakirov and Donato Giancola Do you remember a German pop band called Nena and their single big song, “99 Luftballons”? No? Well, they were a one-hit wonder. How amazing is it, to be a one-hit wonder? Think of all the bands, playing in garages, trying their hardest to line up gigs, who never make the charts, whose songs are never heard by anyone other than family and friends. What do you think the ratio of unheard bands…

Read More Read More

Stories That Work: “The Story of a True Artist” by Dominica Phetteplace, and “An Awfully Big Adventure” by Barbara Krasnoff

Someone told me once, “Life is short but art is forever,” which I took to mean that art has no “sell by” date on it. If the art is beautifully rendered, it will always be beautiful and universal, but that’s not true, I’m afraid. Art can have a “sell by” date on it because time changes the window through which we view art. Time’s cruelty demonstrated itself to me recently when I rewatched the classic Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire…

Read More Read More

Stories That Work: “Toppers” by Jason Sanford, and “Strange Waters” by Samantha Mills, from The New Voices of Science Fiction

Cover by Matt Dixon If I consider types of stories as a Venn diagram, two of the circles are “entertaining stories” and “moving stories.” They overlap but a large number of stories are one but not the other. By “entertaining,” I mean that the situation, characters, events and writing are sufficiently distracting that I fall into the story and forget I’m reading. When I get to the end I feel my time was well-spent, but I’m not particularly changed by…

Read More Read More

Stories That Work: “It Never Snows in Snowtown” by Rebecca Zahabi, and “Dust” by Edward Ashton

F&SF cover art by Bob Eggleton Ray Bradbury caused the ruckus first with The Martian Chronicles, but I also blame Eric Frank Russell’s Men, Martians and Machines, and Anthony Boucher’s A Treasury of Great Science Fiction. Before those three books, I only read novels — short ones to be sure — like Tom Swift and Tom Corbett and anything that the Weekly Reader Book Club featured in their regular catalogs. After reading Bradbury, Russell and Boucher, short stories hooked me. They…

Read More Read More

Nerve Gas, Neighborhood Witches, and Forbidden Forests:The Year’s Best Horror Stories Series XI, edited by Karl Edward Wagner

The Year’s Best Horror Stories Series XI (DAW, November 1983). Cover by Michael Whelan The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series XI was the fourth volume in this series edited by horror author and editor Karl Edward Wagner (1945–1994). It was copyrighted and printed in 1983 and was the eleventh volume in DAW’s Year’s Best Horror Stories. (We’re half way through the 22-year series!) Michael Whelan’s (1950–) artwork appears for a ninth time in a row. Whelan’s horror art is always…

Read More Read More