Short Fiction Sunday Highlight posts are my way of showcasing some of my favorite short stories of the past month. In February I read 35 stories from six different outlets: Clarkesworld Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, Speculative City, Apex Magazine, Tor.com and Friday Black, a collection of short stories written by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyat. February was great month for short fiction reading, my average rating was 3,6 which was higher than in January.
Here are my six favorite stories of the month!
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyat
I had heard amazing things about this collection of short stories and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that it was hard to narrow down my favorite stories. I will probably write a separate review about the collection later this month to discuss more stories. My favorites stories from this collection are also my two favorites of the month.
The Finkelstein 5 by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyat – ★★★★★
After the murder of five black children in front of a library in America, black people decide that it is time to fight back as loudly and violently as possible. Finkelstein 5 is the first story in the collection and it was a fantastic opening. However, I couldn’t help but to think that this story could happen at any moment. The trial about the murder of the five black children was frightening and made me sick to my stomach. The tension in this story was perfect and I wouldn’t change a single word in this story.
Zimmer land Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyat – ★★★★★
A black man works in an amusement park that allows people to live out their worst fantasies. His job is to be beaten up by white people who dream of attacking black people. The actors wear protections and are not injured during their work so the park is seen as a safe place that allows people to be monsters without actually killing anyone. Some people even thinks that the park can be used to educate people and wants to open new activities that will allow children to “play along” with their parents but some workers are trying to prevent that from happening. The concept behind this story is very scary to me because I could see people trying to create something similar in the future and it would be absolutely horrifying. Thinking that white children would learn that killing black people is fun and allowed is the stuff of nightmares really. This story is not for the faint of heart but it’s brilliant. The writing, the ideas, the pacing and the commentary are perfect. Again, I wouldn’t change a single word in this story.
Lightspeed #122 (August 2020)
The Swallows of the Storm by Ray Nayler – ★★★★☆
A young girl finds a dead crow in the woods killed in a strange way: something seems to have put a hole in the bird in a way that couldn’t be done using instruments from Earth. Years later, the girl is now a scientist and she is determined to find what it causing the strange deaths of animals and humans all around the world.
I really liked the structure and the writing of this story but what I loved about it was how Nayler discussed how humans can be passive and very slow to act when comes to environmental issues. Great story.
Great Gerta and the Mermaid by Mari Ness – ★★★★☆
The Great Greta is a pirate working for Captain Hook in Neverland. She loves rum, gorgeous mermaids and most of all, she loves terrifying the annoying Lost Boys she encounters.
I usually tend to like emotional and dark stories but this particular story was a ton of fun and very different from what I usually read. The authorial voice in this story was amazing and I loved how meta it was. Some parts of the story are told in different ways and the narrator openly says that some parts of the story are probably wrong or completely invented and I found it playful and delightfully quirky. It could have been messy if it had been written by a different writer but Mari Ness did a fantastic job with this story, I had a great time reading it and it made me want to read Peter Pan asap!
Clarkesworld #167 (August 2020)
The Plague by Yan Leisheng (translated by Andy Dudak) – ★★★★★
This story is the translation of a Chinese story about a pandemic, how humans are reacting to it and the repercussions it has on the world as we know it. At first, I thought that this story was written recently and I thought it was a bit too on the nose seeing our current situation. However, this story was written almost twenty years ago and was only recently translated from Chinese. It’s dreadfully accurate which is both brilliant and creepy. If you want to read a good pandemic story you can pick up the newspaper or read this one, I guess… 😅
Speculative City #10: Afrofuturism (December 2020)
Those Who Remembered by Lush Horizon – ★★★★☆
In a future where the sea levels have risen so much that humans can’t live on solid ground anymore, a family has created a network of arks to save the remnant of humanity and some people are trying to destroy it.
It’s not always easy for a climate fiction story to be so hopeful but this story left me with a lot of hope and a feeling of calmness. It had a very unique rhythm and some parts read almost like poetry.
February was a great month for short fiction and it was very hard to select the stories I wanted to discuss because I read a lot of amazing ones! 😀 I am not going to read a lot of short stories in March (if any) so I will probably post a SFS Highlight for March and April at the beginning of May.