THE WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY
The Winternight Trilogy, which includes The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and The Winter of the Witch, is one of those rare beasts where each installment is as glorious as the last.
The story revolves around Vasilisa, or Vasya, who is born as the youngest child of a lord in Russia during a time when the old traditions of honoring the spirits have begun to fade in favor of Christianity. Yet, she is one who can still see the spirits, who understands the need to continue offerings to them in order to retain their protection and support in times of strife.
The Bear and the Nightingale is told in a beautiful, sedate style, traveling through Vasya’s youth, her encounters with the spirits and her struggles with a newly-come priest who begins to hear a voice that he thinks of as the voice of God. She is also introduced to Morozko, the demon of Frost and Death, who has unknown goals of his own for interacting with her, and threatened by the coming of the Bear, another of the great demon spirits who thrives in chaos and life. Continue reading
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Tagged book, fantasy, fiction, historical, historical fiction, katherine arden, mythology, novel, reading, russia, slavic, trilogy
My two recommended stories this week are serious in tone, centering on a woman who has been subjugated by a system and the men who run it.
COTTONMOUTH by Joelle Wellington is one of those powerful stories that have you on the edge of your seat, waiting, waiting for what’s to come. It tells the tale of a young man named Grant who finds a chained-up young women in the attic of the house he shares with his grandfather. Truly though, this tale isn’t about Grant at all, but rather all the men throughout the years like him and his grandfather, who had kept Black women in their power. Published in Apex Magazine.
PROPHECY GIRLS by Sydney Paige Guerrero is a story about Sen, the twenty-third girl to be the Chosen One of her world. Only, this time around, unlike all the previous Chosen Ones, she does not die. And in not dying, she begins to discover the truth about the system in place that demands a Chosen One’s sacrifice. A wonderful tale about a woman who faces down the cyclical nature of her subjugation. Published in Translunar Travelers Lounge.
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Tagged apex, apex magazine, fantasy, joelle wellington, magazine, sci-fi, science-fiction, short fiction, spec fic, sydney paige guerrero, translunar travelers lounge
Two stories about finding a perfect fit, one with a transformation into a fish and the other about finding new homes for a dying people.
A MINNOW, OR PERHAPS A COLOSSAL SQUID by Carlos Hernandez & C S E Cooney is written in a partially experimental style, alternating between excerpts and letters in the perspective of one person who has been researching sirens, and a more traditional point of view of another who holds the job of apprentice to an executioner. This world is wondrous, with those who break the law being turned into a fish by the executioner until they’ve paid their dues. But what they are turned into depends on the person. Published in Mermaids Monthly.
A STRANGER GOES ASHORE by Adam R Shannon follows the story of Alain as he searches for a new island home for his people. Yet, with his people’s island crumbling and dying while ships are sent out over and over desperately hoping to find a new home, Alain has discovered something incredibly important about what they have been searching for all this time. Published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
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Tagged adam r shannon, bcs, beneath ceaseless skies, c s e cooney, carlos hernandez, fantasy, literary, mermaids monthly, sci-fi, science-fiction, short fiction, short reads, spec fic, speculative fiction
These two stories both center on difficult choices that can’t be undone.
THE FALLING by M V Melcer is a science-fiction tale about a girl living on ringed spaceship where people live on specific numbered rings depending on their usefulness and capability. This story documents her life as she discovers her passion, her calling, and the impossible decisions that come with all that she attains. Incredibly emotional and exceptionally beautiful even in its darkest moments. Published in Clarkesworld.
TIL HUMAN VOICES WAKE US by Jennifer Hudak is a lighter tale, about a girl who lives near the shore who discovers a secret about her own mother and grandmother. There is another difficult decision at play in this story, but one that leaves the reader with only minor heartache and a warm hug that will leave you smiling. Published in Mermaids Monthly.
by Martha Wells
Murderbot graces my recommendations yet again! Fugitive Telemetry is the sixth installment and fifth novella featuring Murderbot, an android with a penchant for vid dramas who would really rather be doing anything other than work.
In this story, taking place before the novel Network Effect, but after the other four novellas, Murderbot faces an actual murder mystery for the first time, on Preservation Station. It doesn’t actually want to solve the mystery, yet can’t help but feel concerned for the humans who have become its family.
Besides, it might be good to discover something it can do to be considered an equal, providing citizen within Preservation Station.
The mystery takes Murderbot through dealing with humans completely and utterly incapable of doing their own jobs, forces it to prove itself trustworthy to those still concerned with having it running free within their civilization, and has it comparing itself to the service bots who have a symbiotic relationship with the people of Preservation.
I recommend Fugitive Telemetry for anyone already a fan of Murderbot or of Wells in general. For those new to either, I recommend the novellas to anyone who loves more character-focused science-fiction, a dab of humor in the voices they read, and, for this story in particular, who enjoys a fun murder mystery.