Sunday recs: Fairytale, memory loss, alien chess

Three awesome stories for you this Sunday.

How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain With the Crooked One by C.S.E. Cooney (in Giganotosaurus). Gaaaah, this story made me have all the feelings. It’s long, but it’s SO worth it – what a treat to sink into a world like this. (Incidentally, it’s a sequel of sorts to The Last Sophia, which I believe I’ve recced here previously.) A gorgeous, detailed fairytale retelling with cool worldbuilding, a great first-person narrator, and gorgeous language. And rhymes! Basically: everything about this story is amazing.

Icarus Falls by Alex Shvartsman (in Daily Science Fiction). An aging protagonist suffering from memory loss – this story of space travel and a mother-daughter relationship is sad but in a very beautiful way.

Zugzwang by Curtis C. Chen (also in DSF). A middle-aged woman is challenged to a game of alien chess to save the crew of a spaceship. This story could’ve been bleak, but instead it made me happy and hopeful.

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Sunday recs: Strange stuff

Three strange stories for you this Sunday.

Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land by Ruthanna Emrys (at Tor.com). A haunting, weird story about a magic land that exists in the interstices of life, and the people who live in it. Gorgeous illustrations too.

Speaking to Skull Kings by Emily B. Cataneo (at Betwixt Magazine). The world of this story is bleak and bizarre but fascinating, with strange skull kings rattling in a forest.

Observations About Eggs from the Man Sitting Next to Me on a Flight from Chicago, Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa by Carmen Maria Machado (at Lightspeed). Eggs and parallel universes. Weird but intriguing.

Sunday recs: Two poems

Two poems for this sun-warm Sunday.

‘Song for an Ancient City’ by Amal El-Mohtar (in Mythic Delirium): gorgeous, makes me feel the sand and spices, the heat of the sun.

‘The Sea King’s Second Bride’ by C.S.E. Cooney (in a 2010 issue of Goblin Fruit). For me, the poem works more magic as a performance: here is a video where Claire Cooney brings it to life with such vigour, such amazing acting-magic. I was totally bowled over by her performance – I was just watching and listening with my mouth open. Do watch. It’s breathtaking.

Sunday recs: Happy-making stuff

It’s still Sunday even though it’s past midnight, since I haven’t gone to bed yet, right?

Here’s three recs that I hope will make you feel as fuzzy inside as they made me:

Turnover by Jo Walton (at Lightspeed Magazine): beautiful, optimistic SF set in a spaceship called Speranza (the name isn’t subtle and I don’t even care).

Witch, Beast, Saint: an Erotic Fairy Tale by C.S.E. Cooney (at Strange Horizons): a strange and beautiful love story with a great narrator. (Note: it is indeed erotica and thus fairly explicit.)

Freyja by Nina Pelaez (at Goblin Fruit – vintage GF from 2011): a golden poem filled with summer-happiness.