Recommended Reading – Short Fiction

Not that I’ve had all that much time for reading what with real life getting in the way of everything, but it’s probably a good idea to keep track of and share the work I loved reading lately, so here it is. Note: This list is woefully short and limited because of my sparse reading habits, so I’ve probably missed a library full of good fiction.

An Inventory of Ghosts by Natalia Theodoridou – Strange Horizons

This story is beautiful and well composed. I loved this piece and the language in it. On the note of ghosts and inventories, I’ve almost titled several pieces similarly, but they never came together. I always think it’s interesting to see how similar themes can result in such different end products between artists, writers, etc. I’m very interested in this idea of a history of ghosts, the origins of ghosts. And not the classical sense of ghosts, not the two dimensional supernatural myth. The word ghost has begun to mean something else, more reflective, more of self than of others. A ghost is less about the ones lost and more about the ones left behind, what imprints remain afterwards.

I also recommend The Ravens’ Sister in The Kenyon Review and The Eleven Holy Numbers of the Mechanical Soul in Clarkesworld and actually, you should probably read all of her work.

Continue? Y/N by Kendra Fortmeyer – The Toast

I always love to see more video game fiction being published, and this was a wonderful short in that vein. As far as NPC’s go, I think there’s a lot of room to explore them in fiction (for more examples, see The Immersive Experience by Jacob Euteneuer in Cartridge Lit), but this was a very complete piece that reflected on both gaming culture, game mods, the real life people behind/in front of the game, and also the nature of existing within the confines of a intricately crafted world. Exploring, and breaking, the invisible walls of video games through fiction has always been very interesting to me, and this story addresses that idea in a way that feels complete, gives closure but is also very compelling.

The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado – Granta

Well, what is there left to say about this story? I probably have my thoughts scattered all around the internet by now. The use of narrative asides and guidance and their effect on your reading, the intermingling of urban legends to build this mythology in such a real and contemporary setting, the slow build and the suspense of gradually approaching the inevitable end. I just loved the placement of the unusual within a story that briskly moves along as if otherwise. Not much to say about this other than you should really read it if you haven’t yet.

Slow by Lia Swope Mitchell – Apex

I loved the leisurely pacing of this story, the way the narration is tactile, and sensory, and lingers on description, mimicking the slow progress of the act of sculpting. It also helps to establish a clear sense of setting and imagery that made this story very vivid and memorable. I also enjoyed the intermittent use of Greek mythology to build towards its ending. I loved that, for an inanimate object, I could still empathize with “Dan”. I’m quite fond of the parallel of how much we put into art, and how much it takes out of us, and the use of ambiguity. There is no clear evil, no malicious intent, it just is.

Ishq by Usman T. Malik in Nightmare Magazine

Haunting and vivid. I love the detailed storytelling, the rich setting and fable or fairy tale-like nature of this story. The story is told across generations and is steeped in family history and deals with themes like guilt, loss, and fear. The story is a mix of realism, fable, and the supernatural/slightly uncanny, that in addition to its vivide setting, makes for a really memorable read.  I also recommend you read everything by Usman, including “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” in Tor, and “Resurrection Points” in Strange Horizons.

Recommended Flash Fiction

Recommended Twine Games

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