Sunday recs: Fairytales

Three fairytale-tinged recs for you tonight.

First, two tales from Daily Science Fiction, new takes on traditional tales, from points of view forgotten in the originals:

Beans and Lies by Mari Ness: an incisive super-short piece with a proper punch at the end.

Toadwords by Nathaniel Lee: a tale that really made me think about the consequences of words turning into slimy creatures or jewels.

Finally, a story that draws from many fairytales:

Hunting Monsters by S.L. Huang (in The Book Smugglers Publishing): a beautiful, epic tale with relationships between women as its focus.

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Sunday recs: Three stories and a novel

Hi, this is me procrastinating! Soon, soon I will go and finish the zero draft of a story that’s been unreasonably hard to write considering that I know how it ends and all…

Anyway, here’s three stories I read sometime late last year and enjoyed:

Collector’s Item by Daniel McPherson (in Daily Science Fiction): a robot servant.

Sardines in a Tin Can by Wendy Nikel (also in DSF): robot slaves.

Dream Cakes by Kelly Jennings (in Strange Horizons): an awesome meld of SF and magicky things. No robots, though.

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Bonus novel rec: Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred is utterly amazing. It’s been on my to-read list for ages, and I finally started it yesterday morning. Well, I ended up reading it in two breathless, long sittings. It’s been a while since I read a novel in a single day! So worth it. Most other time travel novels suddenly pale in comparison…

Sunday recs: Two stories from DSF

My PhD studies have kept me busy, but I’ve still made time for reading and writing fiction, too. For what is life without writing and reading? No, seriously, I don’t quite understand people who don’t read for fun. It’s just SO AWESOME.

Anyway, here’s two short stories that I’ve enjoyed during the past week, both from Daily Science Fiction:

Thrash by Deborah Walker. I really liked the twist in this flash story. The ending left me hankering for the story to continue, though. Intriguing world.

When it Ends, He Catches Her by Eugie Foster. A haunting, beautiful story with delicious descriptions of dance. (I just found out that Eugie Foster recently passed away. I figure reading her stories is a good way of keeping her memory alive. So do go and read.)

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.

Sunday recs: Two poems, two stories

Long time no Sunday recs. In my defence, the past month or so was intensively filled by doing PhD applications. Last weekend was my first in ages when I was free to do non-academia stuff, so I shamefully neglected my blog. But now! Rec time!

First let’s have an invocation to The God of Lost Things by Neile Graham (in Strange Horizons). The wordcraft here is wonderful, and I can picture the little god so vividly. This poem reminds me of intricate Anglo-Saxon and Celtic miniatures.

Then Hair by Hel Gurney (in Stone Telling). I have long hair – have had, for most of my life – and this poem really resonates with me. Hair holds so much cultural meaning; long hair, in particular, is a marker that no doubt usually gets me read as straight; and yet in the end, I wear my hair long for me. Gurney’s poem manages to catch some of my feelings about my hair (sans the implications of gender dysphoria) – amazing when poetry does that, shows your own self reflected in someone else’s words!

Now for the stories.

As you may know if you’ve read such poems by me as The Understanding, I have a major thing for fiction/poetry that uses the conventions of historical manuscripts and their editing as a literary device. Well, to my delight I discovered that the wonderful Amal El-Mohtar has written a story employing such conceits: The Green Book (in Apex Magazine). There’s a lot of subtle worldbuilding in this story that left me wondering and wanting more set in the story-world. I love how the story unfolds solely as a fragmented document – so well done. Also, I love the marginal notes. Manuscript-studies fiction ♥

My final rec of the day is The Astrologer’s Telling by Therese Arkenberg. This is a poetic apocalypse story with a really intriguing premise and a strong focus on the human experience and the characters despite the cataclysmic events. Astrology in science fiction!

Sunday recs: Mundanity, elephants, opera and a coffee shop

This week’s Sunday Recs presents four very different stories – all of them awesome. (Well, duh, otherwise I’d hardly be recommending that you read them!)

Relentlessly Mundane by Jo Walton. This was published in Strange Horizons 14 years ago, but I only just found it while looking for, like, everything that Jo Walton has written ever. (I’ve enjoyed every novel of hers that I’ve read so far; should read the remaining ones too.) Anyway, ‘Relentlessly Mundane’ is a response to the question I’m sure a lot of us have had after reading the Narnia books: coming back home after saving the other world, how do you go back to ordinary life?

Njàbò by Claude Lalumière, in Expanded Horizons. Intriguing story with a warm strangeness to it. I’m actually not sure about the ending – it didn’t entirely work for me – but I really liked the story otherwise. The atmosphere is really unique, and there are polyamorous relationships that just exist as part of the background of the story, not as anything “edgy”. Refreshing and awesome.

The Suitcase Aria by Marissa Lingen, in Strange Horizons. The setting in this story isn’t something you see in every other specfic: it’s a weird eighteenth-century Berlin opera house. The strangeness in this nix story is nicely subtle.

Today’s final rec is Surprise Me by Andrew Knighton, in Daily Science Fiction. This story about a special sort of coffee shop is just adorable. Read it and feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

Sunday recs: Speculative prose and two issues’-worth of poetry

I was thinking of posting a rant about how difficult writing fiction in Finnish is for me (I was attempting such a thing last night), but I think I’ll go for Sunday recs instead. How my bilingualism comes across in my writing is a topic I want to write a more thoughtful post on.

So, on to other people’s writing:

Prose

Two stories I’ve recently read and enjoyed:

In the Greenwood by Mari Ness at Tor.com. I’ve always liked Robin Hood stories, and this was a nice take on the tale. When a tale is well-known, you can write around its edges. That often makes for intriguing stuff. (Also, the illustration is gorgeous!)

What Is Expected of a Wedding Host by Ken Liu at Daily Science Fiction. I love pieces that play with the forms a story can take – this list of instructions for a person accepting an alien parasite is a great example. Also, it’s quite funny too. Always appreciated. :)

Poetry

As for poetry – I’m going to rec two whole issues, because there was just too much intriguing stuff in them and they work so well as a whole.

February’s Snakeskin was a special issue featuring poetry comics – here. I was going to submit some stuff to it last autumn, but in the end I felt too busy and stressed out to work on anything “new” in terms of form. Sad. Anyway, poetry comics are a form I’m interested in, and it was great to see a whole collection of them in Snakeskin. It’s inspired me to do some of my own and not stress about it so much. The art doesn’t have to be perfect. It should be fun as well. Perhaps poetry comics could be a way of keeping up my old art hobby! (It’s mostly fallen by the wayside due to all the million other things I do.)

Stone Telling’s 10th issue, Body, is all-round amazing. I love the depth of thought that has gone into selecting the poems for this issue. They tie together so well. Read the whole issue! Some poems that especially hit me were The Honey Times by Cathy Bryant
and Trance for Insomniacs by J.C. Runolfson. C.S.E. Cooney’s And I’ll Dance With You Yet, My Darling is a great final poem for the issue.