This past year I’ve been submitting more on the short story front and, as a result, I’ve been reading more, too. It is a whole new world of writing and wording and beautiful worlds and there is a short story for every one out there.
I will try to do this more often, but for now, here are some of the short speculative stories I’ve read last year and have stayed with me.
Ceasura by Healy Stone, in Fireside Fiction
A girl is teaching her AI feelings through poetry, after the murder of her brother. An exploration of grief and identity that will leave you with thoughts and a warm feeling. It is refreshing to see how the typical question about AIs of whether they are sentient, whether they feel, is examined through the filter of poetry.
Hare’s Breath by Maria Haskins, in Shimmer
Oh, this story made me cry. A girl is taken, she comes back but she’s not the same. I will add a spoiler here
Through the 1930s (and until late 2012) Sweden had a compulsory sterilization policy based on eugenics, without the valid consent of the individual. This is a story about a girl victim of this policy, through the eyes of her friend.
Every black tree By Natalia Theodoridou, in Beneath Ceaseless Skies
A man who doesn’t die, a pregnant woman who doesn’t give birth, a forest of black trees and red ribbons. This is a sad story of deciding to give life another try and finding family. It’s short, it’s simple but it’s full of feelings.
These constellations will be yours by Elaine Cuyegkeng, in Strange Horizons
This story reads like a fairy tale in space; a fairy tale about an empire that trains and, then, surgically links people who can foresee the future with spaceships. This story is a tapestry of cruelty and colonialism and change and revolution, all interwoven beautifully with rich world-building and lyrical writing.
This is in no way an exhaustive list of what I read and liked last year, but these stories are the ones that have stayed with me so many months later.
There are wonderful short stories out there. Incredible worlds laced with magical words that can change your day, make you think, make you cry.
Go read some!