Reading, Reviews

Short Story Reviews

TLDR: If one is going to write short stories, I suppose one should read them. I’m going to review some shorts. This and this are my top recommendations.

More reviews can be found here.

I’m going to review some short stories for 3 reasons: 1. as reminders to myself of what the publisher likes. 2. to guide anyone else interested in sci fi shorts to good stories. 3. as a log of what I’ve been reading.

I am very critical of some of these short stories. I’m not saying I could do better. I’m impressed, proud, and pleased that all these authors are out there, writing and publishing.

Rating system:
0 stars – not well written and I didn’t enjoy it.
1 star – very well written, but not my cup of tea.
2 stars – Well written and interested me.
3 stars – Soooo good. I want to re-read and study this story to improve my writing, but the concept or execution or both also excite me on their own.

There are no spoilers in the following reviews. In order from highest rated to lowest rated:

3 stars – I Sing Against the Silent Sun by A. MERC RUSTAD AND ADA HOFFMAN. Published in Lightspeed JUNE 2018 (ISSUE 97) 8890 WORDS
Oh, yes please. Bright images. Flashes of strange futuristic people and technology. Setting is distant future. Imposing great and terrible villain, massive and unfathomable like a lovecraftian horror. “Existence is the mosaic of many small dangers, not a tapestry of peace.” Exquisite!

3 stars – In Panic Town, on the Backward Moon by MICHAEL F. FLYNN Published in Clarkesworld.
Inventive and fun. The author has a Rowlian gift for names and details. This makes me want to learn more about Mars. A story about rough people carving out life on and above Mars.

2 stars – The Carpenter and the Beast of Teeth by MICAH DEAN HICKS. Published in Lightspeed JUNE 2018 (ISSUE 97) 3580 WORDS
Dreamlike. Beautiful images. Painful. Dark. Not something I prefer, usually, but excellent.

2 stars – The Quiltbag by ASHOK K. BANKER. Published in Lightspeed JUNE 2018 (ISSUE 97) 5120 WORDS
Some will call this story heavy handed in its moralizing, but I found it interesting and surprising while being a smooth, fun read.

2 stars – A Green Moon Problem by JANE LINDSKOLD published in Lightspeed MAY 2018 (ISSUE 96) 6100 words
Fascinating story of a wish-granting myth on a strange and wonderful space station. Whimsical.

2 stars – The Steady State by Shannon Fay. Published by Daily Science Fiction.
Nice! Full characters, arcing plot, action. This is great. A nice tight little drama.

1 star – Dimidius by Nick Fink. Published by Daily Science Fiction.
Not interesting to me. No real characters. More of a monologue. Meh.

1 star – The Only One by KM Dailey. Published by Daily Science Fiction.
Hah! This has a neat little ending. There isn’t much too it otherwise. Just a robot becoming sentient. Readers have seen such things before.

1 star – Destiny by Melissa Mead. Published by Daily Science Fiction
A cute little story about the author literally inserting herself into the story in an attempt to get her characters back on track, but things go awry.

1 star – His Artist Wife by John Grant published in Lightspeed MAY 2018 (ISSUE 96) 10040 words
This story is a chilling ghost tale with some twists. Not my style, but well done.

1 star – A Vastness – by BO BALDER. Published in Clarkesworld.
This is a play on Moby Dick. Not the most tightly written story I’ve ever read, but it drew me in. Or at least, I wanted to find out how it ended. I was not that impressed by the ending. Partly I didn’t understand it. Short stories do this to me more often than I’d like.

1 star – The City, Like Time by Stewart C Baker. Published in Kasma.
Well-executed, but otherwise not hooking me. Has full story arc and an ending in which characters change. The present is written in present tense and the flashbacks are written in past tense. Is that common? Interesting in any case.

1 star – One is One by Vaughan Stanger. Published in Kasma.
Cute. Amusing. Weird. Why do short stories leave me less satisfied than novels? Is it so hard to connect with characters over a brief time? I don’t think that is it.

1 star – The Black Watch by William R.A.D. Funk. Published in Ares Magazine
Excellent writing and a willingness to do terrible things to his characters. Unclear how the society, such as it is, provides for its own most basic needs. Exciting, tense, violent.


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