Of course, I was also sick half the month and missed a bunch of days. That’s okay! I read a lot and I decided only to tweet about the stories I liked. I read more than I shared, and the stories that didn’t work for me, for whatever reason, I simply noted the info on my spreadsheet, and moved on. There’s no point, for me, in spreading negativity. Reading tastes are personal. But the things I did love? I will happily squee about them, and then I thought, “You know what, let’s do a monthly round-up so there are easily accessible records!” Twitter goes by so fast. Blogs are more languidly paced.
So, with that in mind, here are the stories I enjoyed most in January! They are listed alphabetically by title.
A List of Forty-Nine Lies by Steven Fischer (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2018 issue)
Flash fiction that brilliantly uses negative construction to tell a story—you see how it unfolds by the lies the narrator tells, and in that negative space unfolds a heart-wrenching, fierce, vicious story about loss and rebellion and fighting against tyranny. It’s phenomenal.
Alarm Will Sound by Christopher Shultz (Psuedopod)
A fantastic, slow-burn story that builds up to unnerving horror. (It’s fabulous in both text and audio!) The mysterious artist Alarm Will Sound is haunting a small town, and by the time you get to the final few lines, when the full horror hits, you will never look at graffiti tags the same way. Brilliant and disturbing.
Black Fanged Thing by Sam Rebelein (Shimmer)
A deliciously haunting and lyrical horror story about the suffocation of small-town life and a mysterious creature that takes away dreams…even if, in a way, it is the complacency and acceptance of the townsfolk who let this happen. There are many layers going on in here; with its unsettling themes and gorgeous prose, this story is one that will linger in the back of your mind for a long time.
Rachael Unerased by Kaely Horton (Flash Fiction Online)
This is a charming, warm, compassionate story about a woman who finally decides to stop hiding who she is. It has cute lesbians!
Say It Low, then Loud by Osahon Ize-Iyamu (Clarkesworld)
Science, math, and trauma twine together in a brilliant and subversive tale about war and names and family. Osahon is a fantastic upcoming author, and you’ll want to read his work, which is complex and facinating and has feels.
The Court Magician by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
A masterful use of POV, which subtly layers in elements of the story until the full impact of wht is happening slams into you at the end. This story explores themes of magic, cost, complicity, and it’s a fantastic read.
The Eyes of the Flood by Susan Jane Bigelow (Lightspeed)
This is so gorgeous, so full of beauty and hope, and made me happy-cry at the end. The voice, the story unfolding, the connection in the end. Exactly the kind of uplifting, wondrous story I needed to read.
The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (Tor)
In her debut novella, Bolander proves once again she is a master of blistering, vicious prose that will peel open your brainmeats and dig down into your heart. An alt history story that combines the Radium Girls and Topsy the elephant, The Only Harmless Great Thing is a brutal, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant story about the oppression and how people resist. There is hope for the future, even with so bloody a past as we all have.
The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births by José Pablo Iriarte (Lightspeed)
Jamie is a non-binary kid who remembers their past lives, and is trying once again to navigate through their present, and the microaggressions and genderfeels and questions that have always been with them. It’s a lovely, quiet, personal story, and the choices Jamie makes when they encounter trauma from their past life, is deeply hopeful and uplifting.
Those We Feed by Layla Al-Bedawi (Fireside Fiction)
The perfect blend of motherhood and cannibalism! This twisted little story is a delight, as the narrator struggles with, and finally accepts, her child…including the child-thing’s hunger.
Two Years Dead by Kathryn Kania (Fireside Fiction)
This is an adorable story about a ghost and the girl she works up the courage to date, and it has a happy ending and cute lesbians and it’s so PURE AND GOOD. ❤
Wasps Make Honey by Penelope Evans (Escape Pod)
Do you like stories that will give you ALL THE HAPPY FEELS? Do you like robots? Do you like robot love stories? “Wasps Make Honey” is a beautiful, hilarious, wonderful tale about two scrappers who live by salvaging what they can, until a new robot comes into their lives. This is all about family and friendship and community, and it’s marvelous and will leave you with a wide, happy grin and a full heart by the end.
Big shout-out to these awesome authors and their excellent stories! ❤ January was a lovely month for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @Merc_Rustad for insta-recs when I like things, or check back at this blog at the end of February for a recap of the month!