So, like most of the others, my reading has been bits and pieces from here and there. You can read what I've read here.
Here are the stories in international publications that have left an impression on me so far...
Stories of the Alien Invasion... Manek Mistry (Abyss and Apex #21): A beautiful, gentle story which uses aliens as a means of exploring our own humanity. Simply told, engaging and poignant. One of my favorites of the year so far. Highly recommended.
As You Know, Bob... John G. Hemry (Analog April): Genre satires normally leave me a little cold, but this is the first time I've read a hard SF satire, and Hemry's story is an affectionate parody that I found myself laughing along with. He captures some of the cliches of hard SF brilliantly.
Hope Eternal... Steven Ford (Anotherealm): One that came a bit out of left-field. I'm not sure why this story stayed with me. It's a nice SF premise, of archaelogical analysis of a deceased civilisation, with a personal journey intertwined. There's nothing devastatingly original here, but I thought it was well told and I'm glad I read it.
An Era of Liquid Streets... Carlton Mellick III (Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens #5): The story of a man and his lover made from dripping paint. I've read and enjoyed (and even published) Mellick in the past, and thought I knew what to expect for the first page of this short flash fiction piece. Then it hit me in the guts and took me by surprise and by the end had me in tears. I'm not sure if other people will react the way I did to this piece, but for me it demonstration just what flash fiction can achieve at its best... originality and heart. Highly recommended.
The Third Bear... Jeff Vandermeer (Clarkesworld April) You can read my review of this story at Tangent. I liked it.
The Devil Bats Will Be a Little Late This Year... Ron Goulart (Fantasy & Science Fiction March): A comic story that satirises pulp horror conventions as a B-grade horror author and his ex-wife face a haunted house. It's exactly as trashy as it sounds. The yardstick for this kind of story is whether it makes you laugh. Most don't. This one did.
Magic with Thirteen-Year-Old Boys... Robert Reed (Fantasy & Science Fiction March): An interesting horror story about an apparently ageless seducer. An intriguing, open-ended story that each reader is likely to interpret differently. To me it was an interesting comment on the power dynamics and perpetuation of pornography and exploitation. Don't ask me whether anyone else will get the same thing!
The Master-Miller's Tale... Ian R. Mcleod (Fantasy & Science Fiction May): I had a love-hate relationship with this story. At times I was lost in it. At other times I found it frustratingly meandering and slow. The use of magic is fascinating, as is the social background of the piece. I felt it could have been a bit shorter, but in the end it's a story that stayed with me, hence its place here.
What We Know of the Lost Families of _______ House... Christopher Barzak (Interfictions): An original tale, told with flair. Traces the mysterious and tragic history of a house in a small community. The narrative voice lends the story an intriguing angle.
Post Hoc... Leslie What (Interfictions): I loved this story. A jilted woman tries to win her ex-lover back by mailing herself to him. This is a story about losers, about hard times and about finding family. It's got soul, it's stylish, it's engagingly written from beginning to end, it's compassionate and it's easily the best thing I've read so far this year. Pick up the collection, if for this story alone. Highly recommended.
Okay, that's me for this week. Will probably try to keep up a weekly update from here on in...
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