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
In a not-so-distant future on a Mars begun to be colonized, two girls get into and out of trouble time and again. Nanoannie is desperate to escape her hab (habitation) and experience life away from her parents, who she sees as domineering and overbearing. While Kapera is struggling to say goodbye to the home she knows because her parents want to take her to Earth in order to get treatment for her leukemia.
Neither of them have met in the flesh, but given that options are limited when on Mars, friendships formed can be strange company. When Kapera rolls up alone in her family’s rover to Nanoannie’s hab, Nanoannie jumps at the chance to investigate whatever might be going down at Kapera’s family pharm.
And when they find out that Kapera’s parents are missing, the girls are off! Stumbling into coups-in-progress, uncovering frozen corpses, being kidnapped, escaping, kidnapped again, and even married off, by friends and enemies and sects within friends and enemies. Confused and, in Kapera’s case, sick, the girls uncover a plot that involves Kapera’s own parents and the research they’d been knee-deep within. A plot that might just take them and most people on Mars on a one-way trip to no man’s land. Continue reading
Both stories this week are related to the past returning. The characters are wildly different: one a very young girl, reaching for a past she’s never had, and the other a woman who has tried to leave her past behind her.
GRAY SKIES, RED WINGS, BLUE LIPS, BLACK HEARTS by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor is a tale set in a society where souls can be eaten or lost, becoming unattached to the person who once owned them, creating soulless. The lead character, Redcap Kestrel, takes up a request to find a missing girl’s soul, but that request leads her through her own history and the people within. Published in Apex.
THE TASTE OF CENTURIES, THE TASTE OF HOME by Jennifer Hudak is a tale about a young girl living in a quiet world where the only humans are her mother and grandmother. Until one day, she sees someone else come through a portal. This leads her to question her grandmother while the two of them bake the bread of her family, wanting to discover all about the world left behind, a world she’s never been to, yet to which she feels connected. Published in khōréō.
The stories for this week are both about possibility. They’re about what might have been or what might be.
SHE’D NEVER HAD A NAME BEFORE by J. R. Dawson is a story about a woman who meets the sister she never had, the two of them from neighboring universes. They discover parallels about themselves and their lives. At its core, this tale delves into what-ifs in a literal sense, touching on what-could-have-beens had things been just a little different. Published in Lightspeed Magazine.
YOUR OWN UNDOING by P. H. Lee is a second person narrative where a familiar takes on different shapes in order to sneak in where their witch is being kept. They tell her a story, the story of her life, pushing her to understand what is real and what is story. This is a dark tale with a beautiful metaphor. Published in Apex Magazine.
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Tagged apex, fantasy, fiction, j r dawson, lightspeed, p h lee, prose, reading, Recommendation, science-fiction, short story
Today’s two story recommendations both deal with characters struggling against their bleak natures. They end in vastly different ways, a comparison of the directions one can take and the costs either paid or resisted.
MR. DEATH by Alix E. Harrow is a story about a reaper who has been recently appointed the position. Still learning his purpose and the reasons and whys of death, he is faced with a representation of a situation that occurred when he’d still been alive that puts him in a position of torment, questioning his very self. Published in Apex Magazine 2021.
A LIFE MEASURED IN MOONS by Alexandra Hill is a mysterious tale set in an historical time when a myth roams the woods. As people go missing and tensions are high, two siblings struggle against the hand the world has dealt them, unsure of their choices. Published in Writer’s Digest 2020.
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Tagged alexandra hill, alix e harrow, apex, fantasy, fiction, prose, reading, science-fiction, short reads, short story, writers digest