Short Fiction Sunday: March Highlights

Here are the stories I loved the most in March! You can read all of them online so, if some of them look intriguing to you, give them a try! ūüėČ

 

Clarkesworld #148

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The January issue of Clarkesworld was amazing and it was hard to make a selection of my favorite stories! Since I enjoyed all the stories, I’ll briefly mention the ones that didn’t make “the cut” . Lavie Tidhar’s Venus in Bloom is fantastic little story set in the Central Station universe. It’s beautiful, the prose is elegant and it left me in tears. One’s Burden Again by Natalia Theodoridou is about making hard decisions and how breaking habits can be hard, sad and yet, liberating. It’s weird but I think everyone can relate to it in some ways. Ray Nayler’s Fire in the Bones follows a robot uprising and how the creations can be inspired by their creators.

All the stories were fantastic but here are the four stories that I loved the most!

The Ghosts of Ganymede by Derek Kunsken

Last year, I read and loved Kunsken’s debut novel The Quantum Magician. It’s a heist story set in space, it’s a very clever book that both manages to be a lot of fun and complex! Because of that, I was excited to see he had a story in Clarkesworld, if I’m not mistaken, it’s his first appearance in this magazine.¬†

It follows the exiled survivors of a nuclear conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. They both decided to move to Ganymede to mine helium 3 but, when they land on the planet, they realize that it is already inhabited by strange and alien ghosts. To survive, they’ll have to work past their cultural differences and find ways to build¬†a new life on Ganymede.

It’s a great story, it discussed how wars change our perceptions of each other and how you sometimes have to make hard decisions in order to live and build a new life. I highly recommend this story!

You can read it here

 

Eater of Worlds by Jamie Wahls

An ancient sentient weapon seek to destroy a planet but things don’t go as planned when some parts of the weapon realize that they don’t want to destroy things anymore.

First of all, I never read a story build around a sentient weapon at war with itself and I loved how unique it was. However, what I loved the most about the story was the conclusion! I just wish it had been longer because a few elements could have been developed a bit more but, overall, I really liked the story! 

You can read it here.

 

Left to Take the Lead by Marissa Linguen

After the destruction of her home-world, a young woman decides to work on a farm to pay off her debt. She has been is waiting for her uncle to regain the custody of her siblings for years, however, one day she realizes that if she really wants to see her family again, she should start taking care of things herself.

I loved how it discussed the fact that, a lot of time, we are the solution to our own problems. Holly’s emotional journey throughout the story was fascinating and I could see a lot of myself in her. Holly’s culture was also very interesting, she has a unique sense of family and it was fascinating to see what she thought of Earth.

You can read the story here.

 

They Have All One Breath by Karl Bunker

What would happen if AIs solved all of humanity’s problems?

It started with the end of all wars, and of all of crimes. However, it didn’t stop there, the AIs decided to control who was stable, educated, wealthy enough to be allowed to have children.¬†

This story is about how humans would react to this intervention, would they be able to give up a part of themselves for the greater good? It was very interesting, I especially loved to see what people’s perceptions of the AIs actions changed the more it affected them directly.¬†

You can read the story here.

 

Apex Magazine #116

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The Pulse of Memory by Beth Dawkins 

Set on a generationship, The Pulse of Memory follows a teenager as he completes a strange ritual. He has to eat a fish containing the memories of an elder who passed away. The memory he’ll absorb will define the tasks he’ll have to complete on the ship. However, the protagonist secretly eat more than one fish in the hope of finding the memories of his grandmother. The story follows him as he starts to lose himself in the memories of others.

The writing was superb and I loved how it discussed how some people deal with loss. I would love to read a full length novel set in this world!

You can read this story here.

 

What story sounds the most intriguing to you? Have you read any good short stories this month?¬†ūüėÄ

Mini Review: The Black God’s Drums by P. Dj√®li Clark

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Genre: Fantasy, Alternate History

Publisher: Tor.Com

Length: 110 pages

Format: eARC

Rating: 3.5 stars

Publication Date: August 21th 2018

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

Creeper, a scrappy young teen, is done living on the streets of New Orleans. Instead, she wants to soar, and her sights are set on securing passage aboard the smuggler airship Midnight Robber. Her ticket: earning Captain Ann-Marie’s trust using a secret about a kidnapped Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper keeps another secret close to heart–Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, who speaks inside her head and grants her divine powers. And Oya has her¬†own¬†priorities concerning Creeper and Ann-Marie‚Ķ

 

Book Review

Creeper is a young teenager living by herself on the streets of an alternate steampunk version of New Orleans. However, she doesn’t intend to live this way her entire life: her goal is to get the hell away from the streets and, hopefully from New Orleans altogether. Her opportunity to do so comes up when she hears about the disapperance of a scientist and how it might be linked with the Black God’s Drums, a mysterious weapon that could destroy New Orleans in the blink of an eye.

Creeper intend to use this information to flee the city, however, Oya, the goddess who constantly whispers in her ears have other wishes for her.

I haven’t been reading a lot of fantasy lately and I usually don’t like steampunk books. However, I read a couple of reviews gushing about this little novella (and I have to say that the gorgeousness of the cover may have helped as well), so I decided to request this book anyway since I usually like the range of novellas from Tor.Com.

I’m very glad I read this book because I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. It’s a fast read set in a fascinating city and the main character, Creeper, was an interesting one for sure. She’s young and sometimes a bit stubborn but she’s very clever, ambitious and full of good intentions. She knows what she wants and she isn’t afraid of fighting for it which made her perspective very interesting.

The world, the magic system and the constant presences of gods influencing the characters were all very interesting. I would definitely read other stories set in this world, Clark’s descriptions made it very easy for me to picture how everything looked and worked without ever feeling like too much.

My only issues with it were the fact that I wished the novella was a bit bigger because I found some events a bit rushed¬† towards the end. I also sometimes struggled a bit with the writing. Indeed a lot of characters don’t speak a very good English and, being set in New Orleans, they often use French words that they mispronounce as well and it made it hard for me to understand some of their sentences. It was oddly bothering me even more with the French words than the English ones (if you don’t know, I’m French and English isn’t my first language) . For example, the characters mentionned “Maddi gr√†” a lot and it took me quite a while to get that characters were talking about “Mardi Gras”. It’s not an issue for one word but it happened several times and it was a bit annoying.

Anyway, except for those little things, I quite enjoyed The Black God’s Drums and I would recommend this story. It is a very fun, fast-paced novella set in a fascinating world.

 

Recommended.

 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. My thanks to Tor.Com.

Mini Reviews: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells & The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

As I predicted in my last post, the last couple of weeks were a bit busy, I traveled a lot and I recently went back to college so I read very little. However, now that things have gone back to normal, I shoud have a lot more opportunities to post!

At first, I didn’t think I would review the two Tor.Com novellas featured on this post because I didn’t have a lot of things to say about them. However, I think both of them are worth a read so I figured mini-reviews would be a good way to still recommend them to you.


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Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Tor.com

Length: 158 pages

Format: ebook

Rating: 3.5 stars

Publication Date: May 8th 2018

 

Artificial Condition is the second book in the Murderbot Diaries, a science fiction series of novellas about Murderbot, a security robot who loves watching soap-operas and hate talking to humans because they are 1) stupid and 2) tend to die a bit too easily.

In this installment, Murderbot is looking for clues to a brutal accident that happened while she was working. While traveling to its destination, Murderbot is going to meet ART, a very moody Research Transport vessel,  which may or may not have the same taste in dramas as them and might very well be a useful friend to have in order find the information it needs.

As with All Systems Red, I was a bit underwhelmed by the plot that I find a little predictable, however, I still very much enjoyed this new adventure. I really enjoyed the banter between ART and Murderbot, I thought they made a great team and I really liked their dynamic. Artificial Condition isn’t THE novella of the year but it was a pleasure to read and very fun overall. It’s the type of science fiction popcorn read¬† that I really like to indulge in once in a while and I will definitely be reading Rogue Protocol, the third novella in the series, when I will be needing a fun read!

3.5 stars


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Genre: Science Fiction, Alternate History

Publisher: Tor.com

Length: 96 pages

Format: ebook

Rating: 4.5 stars

Publication Date: January 23rd 2018

 

 

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander is a completely different thing from Artificial Condition. I liked it so much that, at first, I wanted to dedicate a whole post to it just to rave about it. However, when I tried to do so, I found myself incapable to write a coherent review of it. First of all, the plot is so strange that it almost impossible to write a synopsis that makes sense without spoiling everything.

To make it simple, let’s just say that this novella follows a series of interconnected stories and timelines and that it is about radioactive girls, elephants and a new world order. The Only Harmless Great Thing is an alternative history novella with a lot of original and thought-provocking ideas and it manages to do a lot more in 96 pages than most novels.

At first I was a bit thrown off by the writing style and the unusual structure but, after a couple of pages, I found myself completely immersed in the story and I devoured the entire thing in a sitting. It is definitely worth a read for the ideas and sheer originality of both the plot and the structure. One of the best novellas I had the chance to read for sure!

4.5 stars