January Highlights | Short Fiction Sunday 2021

One of my goals in 2021 is to read more short fiction – I have a ton of magazines and anthologies on my Kindle and I want to read as many of them as possible this year! Back in 2019, I used to review the stories enjoyed the best in a monthly recap post and I would like to do the same this year. Hopefully, I will read short stories often enough that I will be able to post monthly the entire year! πŸ™‚

In January, I read 38 stories from 5 different magazines: Interzone, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Apex and Fiyah. None of the stories were published in 2021 since I am trying to read a lot of my backlist issues.

Here are my six favorite stories of January:

Interzone #280 (March – April 2019)

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‘Scapes Made Diamond by Shauna O’Meara β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†

Two former lovers meet again after 27 years in order to say goodbye to an alien creature they had to guard years ago.

I don’t want to say too much about this story because it has a lot of hidden layers but it was an emotional ride. The ending was a bit predictable but it doesn’t take anything away from this sad and beautiful story about love and grief.

Interzone #281 (May – June 2019)

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Scolex by Matt Thompson β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†

A drug mule is smuggling a new kind of drug that may impact the future of humanity. However, he soon realizes that he might be working for someone who betrayed him years ago.

This story kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time and I thought the writing style really suited how the character was experiencing the world. The pacing was perfect and the ending suited the tone of the story very well.

Harmony by Andy Dudak β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

In a future where people can be controlled by songs, a spy has to infiltrate a city. But will he be able to leave or will the song get to him first?

I have read several of Dudak ‘s stories but this one is by far my favorite. I really liked the idea of using songs to control a population and it was fascinating to read about how it affected people in different ways. The world was fascinating, I loved the writing and the ending really suited the story.

Lightspeed #121 (July 2020)

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What I Assume You Shall Assume by Ken Liu β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Set during the gold rush in the U.S., this story follows a Chinese woman and an American man helping each other in time of need. It’s a story about trust, revolution and the power of stories.

Ken Liu is incapable of writing a bad story so I knew I was going to enjoy this one but wow, it really was amazing. It’s without a doubt my favorite story of January!

You can read this story for free on the Lightspeed Magazine website.

Clarkesworld #166 (July 2020)

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Power to Yield by Bogi TakΓ‘cs β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜† (TW // violence, torture)

A young woman chooses to study the life of a man who led her planet to freedom. She slowly becomes obsessed with him and decides to meet him to understand him better. Once she does, she realizes that he’s very different from her expectations and her obsession only grows, even when she realizes being around him may kill her.

This story was weird, confusing and it left me with a number of questions yet, I was fascinated by it. It’s a very interesting take on why you should not meet your heroes. It’s violent, confusing and hard to read but I still really liked it. And the ending gave me shivers. It’s not for everyone (and based on the synopsis alone, I didn’t think it would be for me either) but it’s definitely one of the best stories I have read last month!

You can read this story for free on the Clarkesworld Magazine website.

Fiyah #1: Rebirth (Winter 2017)

Rebirth issue cover

Chesirah by L.D. Lewis β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†

A fenox, a beautiful magical creature able to rise again from ashes, tries to escape from a human who is obsessed with her. She is sick of being trapped in cages: she wants to be free. However, in order to be truly free, she will have to find a ship that will take her to a new planet. It’s not easy for a fenox to escape their fate, especially when they are alone. Will she be able to put her past behind or will she be trapped in a golden cage forever?

This story suited the theme of issue – Rebirth – extremely well. I can’t say that it was the most original story I have ever read but everything from the plot, to the writing and worldbuilding, clicked very well and I had great time reading that one!

I read a lot of very good stories in January and it was hard to narrow down my selection to only six stories! If you have read any good short stories last month, let me know about it in the comment, I always want to discover new stories! πŸ˜€

17 thoughts on “January Highlights | Short Fiction Sunday 2021

    1. I have been reading short fiction for more than 5 years now so I’m not a newbie but thanks anyway for the warm welcome! πŸ˜‰
      I still haven’t! I usually prefer reading short fiction magazines to collections by a single author because I like having a variety in the stories I read but I will read Hidden Girl at some point since I really liked Kiu’s previous collection (The Paper Menagerie & Other Stories). πŸ˜€

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  1. These all sound very good. You’ve inspired me to read more short fiction this year, too. Thanks, Maryam. I remember you writing mothly recap posts of your favourite short stories. It is a great idea to start doing them again. πŸ™‚

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    1. I’m always happy to inspire other fellow bloggers to read more short fiction!! I saw that you recommended me a story on Goodreads, I’ll give it a read this month. πŸ˜€
      Oooh you have a good memory, I think the last one I posted was in March or April 2019, I hope this time I will be able to do more than just 3 or 4 recap posts! πŸ˜‚

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      1. I hear you! It probably takes a while to put one of those recap post together, right? When I’ve written short-story anthology reviews, they’ve often taken me the longest to finish. I’m still impressed with how much you manage to read, books and genre magazines! I’m making a real effort to read more this year. We’ll see how it goes. πŸ˜…

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      2. It does take a while to review short stories! This year I have a whole spreadsheet dedicated to short stories with mini reviews of every story I read and it makes it way easier for me to keep a track of everything! ^^
        I currently have a lot of free time on my hands so I’m doing my best to read quite a bit but I’m pretty certain I won’t be able to read as much in the coming months because I will be working full time. Read as much as you want/can but don’t put too much pressure on yourself! πŸ™‚

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      3. Yeah, I’ve just started using a spreadsheet to keep a record of the short stories I read this year. But I haven’t written any mini reviews yet. I’m planning to review only a few new stories that really stand out for me. Also mix them with some older short stories. πŸ˜€ As you say, pressure-free reading is the way to go.

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  2. It’s been some time since I visited sites like Clarkesworld and Lightspeed Magazine, and I miss reading short stories, an activity I reserved to my lunch break at work. I will have to resume that nice habit and see what good stories I missed, so thank you for reminding me πŸ™‚

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    1. It’s a great habit to have! πŸ˜€ I usually read short stories before bed or when I need a quick break, the format makes it easy to squeeze one or two stories in a day. I am trying to make it an habit again, I used to read a lot of stories but, like you, I kind of lost the habit in the last few years.

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