Our Favourite Short Fiction – September 2016

By Matt Cavanagh

Hello readers! So if you’re looking for a short trip into the land of SF&F here are five stories we would like to recommend to you from September:

Aphrodite’s Blood by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/campbell-hicks_09_16

Clarkesworld 120

From Clarkesworld Issue #120

This is a short but very sweet tale of two AIs left behind in the aftermath of an environmental disaster. It tells the story of the AI that used to distil wine for humans. It set an interesting scene of how technology can be both a blessing and a curse for us. I loved how in a few paragraphs the emotional state of the AI comes out as a character in their own right and its decision to try and get the people back to its factory and its consequences are heart-warming (not something I associate with an apocalypse!).

Mama Tulu by Jessica Guess

Luna Station Quarterly Issue 27

From Luna Station Quarterly Issue #27

If however you’re looking more for your blood to be chilled this story may be worth a look. Our narrator tells us two stories about Mama Tulu in her Caribbean town, who is both respected and feared in equal measure. Two tales of cruel men come together in a rather unusual and unsettling way. The final couple of paragraphs as you realise what has happened will make you look over your shoulder. A great sense of place comes across this tale which adds freshness to it.

Little Widow by Maria Dahvana Headley

Little Widow Nightmare 48

From Nightmare Magazine Issue #48

The common links between dinosaurs and cults is often overlooked in fantasy and this story rectifies this imbalance at last. It tells the tale of a group of women who have survived a doomsday cult. You are never too sure where the tale is going (something I always enjoy). It skirts on the edge of being a dark tale of how women are viewed and how they survive the sexism of men and then bounces into a carnival that brings with it dinosaurs and possibly some overdue retribution.

The City Born Great by N. K. Jemisin

From Tor.com

Urban fantasy can these days be felt to be limited to the wisecracking PI investigating magical crimes but here Jemisin reminds us that cities can be a lot more than a crime scene. Our narrator is a homeless black man who is being told he has to be the midwife…for New York City. Themes of police mistrust, being an outcast and a slight touch of romance are mixed with a unique chase scene and a beautifully epic finale; the story really captures the uniqueness and variety of New York.

Emergency Management Protocol by C.C.S. Ryan

Fireside 36

From Fireside Fiction Issue #36

Last but no means least is a story that starts with a break-up. Zory has moved to a new planet with her girlfriend who spends most of her time away; in a job where she feels lost and a neighbourhood she doesn’t know it is time to move on. However an earthquake then takes place that requires Zory to step outside of her apartment and face the world and start to trust others. The story of how we find our way through life is mixed with an off-world environment and in these rather dark times there is a reminder that people can also do some wonderful things under pressure.

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