I, in recovering from a reading slump inflicted by a week of the strep throat from hell, gorged myself a bit in the past week on short fiction. I thought I’d round up the best of those here for you guys today.
The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho – ☆☆☆☆
The Terracotta Bride reads like a fairy tale to me. It tells the story of Siew Tsin, a young woman who is currently living in the 10th circle of hell in the Chinese afterlife. For me it was almost a tale of unexpected love and learning to take big steps, risky steps to perhaps one day gain that something that you need and want.
Zen Cho’s writing enchanted me and I love anything set in the Chinese afterlife so this one was an excellent diversion. If you’ve read and enjoyed The Ghost Bride, then I highly recommend this shorter work.
The Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal – ☆☆☆☆☆
This very unique science fiction kidnapping story was amazing. My only complaint is that I wanted just a tiny bit more. It was so close to perfect but I was left wondering at the end, a wondering that had me wishing for resolution. This tales the story of a woman’s unexplained and untrackable kidnapping in a time when everyone and everything is plugged in. It begs the questions of what are we forgetting, what could we forget with the need to be plugged in? The world that is constructed through this woman’s tale, and her honest speak of ‘remembering’ when things are always recorded just left me thinking for days after reading it. Definitely grab this one.
The Devil You Know by K.J. Parker –☆☆☆☆☆
Of the short fiction I read this was the longest but I think it was one of the most unique experiences for me. I’ve never read Tom Holt\K.J. Parker, but I think I’m beginning to see why he has the following he does.
This is told in conflicting viewpoints of a famous philosopher and the Devil he sells his soul too. Though the one slight twist I saw happen the rest I did not fully pick up. It’s almost a mystery, the story of ‘What is he up too?’. The most infuriating part and really the most rewarding is in the end you’re left going ‘Of course!’, you read half the book from our philosopher friend’s view but you never figure it out.
This one took some mad skills to pull off and I enjoyed every bit of it.
A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong – ☆☆☆☆☆
What can I say about this one. This was the shortest of the fiction I read, coming in at 18 pages. Because of that this one read and felt like a windstorm. It blew in, wrecked me, and blew out. I can’t do a description on this justice so let’s just take the blurb on Goodreads:
“Hannah and Melanie: sisters, apart and together. Weather workers. Time benders. When two people so determined have opposing desires, it’s hard to say who will win–or even what victory might look like. This stunning, haunting short story from rising star Alyssa Wong explores the depth and fierceness of love and the trauma of family”
I’ve read one other Alyssa Wong story, which I didn’t realize at the time but totally makes sense having discovered it, The Fisher Queen. Both of these stories I loved. This one in particular will rip your heart out and stomp on it like an angry child. If you have siblings and enjoy weird fiction that messes with your emotions this is the way to go.