Tag Archives: short stories

Her Hips Do Lie by Maura Yzmore

Things have been so crazy around here, I completely forgot I usually post a review of short fiction on Mondays. I did read a piece of short fiction, though, so I’m going to review it today. This was brought to my attention by Annorlunda Books who is also attempting to read at least one piece of short fiction a week. This was her pick from last week. I was tempted to read it because of the title. Go ahead and follow the link – it’s extra short so it won’t take you too long to read it.

Published: March, 2018 on Jellyfish Review (read it online for free at that link)

Genre: short fiction

Setting: a generic location, present day

Summary: Our narrator is Jen. She was an active child, but then puberty hit and her hips changed. Those wide hips drew lots of male attention and made it difficult to be as active. She let herself sink into a soft shell of herself and become that quiet mom who never speaks up. One day she had enough. One day, she decided she’d had enough and started walking. From walking, she moved into kickboxing. Now, she may still look soft on the outside, but a look in her eyes will let you know that she will no longer be pushed around.

Final thoughts: I found this to be a powerful and moving story. Jen, like so many girls, feels betrayed by her body. For a while, she accepts those changes and stops being active. Eventually, though, she’s tired of being tired and sore all the time and she starts moving again. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s worth it and her body becomes stronger. As her body becomes stronger, she takes a stronger stance in her life. People are no longer able to walk all over her, regardless of how soft she looks. A good message to take to heart – you can be more than your appearance. There’s no fat shaming in this story. In fact, all indications are that Jen still has lots of curves even after she starts to exercise. Instead, the focus is on being able to do the activities and not feel pain that is important.

Title comes from: It’s a play on the phrase “These lips do lie” (or something like that). In this case, Jen’s hips say she’s a soft, gentle mom that you can push around. But they are a lie, because she will no longer be pushed around.


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The Peralta Protocol by Daniel Arthur Smith

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: March 2016 in The Doomsday Chronicles

Genre: apocalyptic science fiction

Setting: a generic city, near future

Summary: The Earth has become so contaminated with nanoparticles that human reproduction has ceased. Scientists have come up with a stronger, synthetic womb and the first child carried to term in ten years is about to be born. Just before the birthing process begins, the hospital is attacked and the baby is stolen. The parents go with the military officer in charge of recovering the baby before it’s oxygen run out. They think she’s been taken by a religious group who thinks she is the returning Messiah. Turns out that she was taken by Syns, synthetic humanoids created to replace the aging human workforce. The Syns hacked the protocol to create a Syn baby, capable of reproduction.

Final thoughts: This story took a surprising turn. It’s definitely apocalyptic fiction. Humanity has polluted Earth to the point that we can’t even reproduce any more. There’s a timeline ticking to reverse the problem, and perhaps a synthetic womb is the way to go. You don’t even realize the baby that’s being born isn’t carried by Leana until about a third of the way through the story. The author keeps the tension of the impending birth so strong, I thought for sure Leana was pregnant. When the baby was kidnapped, the flavor of the story changed. It was no longer about the crazy religious people vs. scientists and should humanity stop having babies and turned into an action story. Then, it changed again when we discovered who took the baby. Turns out, it was a story about robots taking over the world. It did find it interesting that the Syns were all blond-haired and blue-eyed. Why that particular choice for complexion? Maybe so the blue eyes can glow in the darkness and creep everyone out.

Title comes from: The name of the scientist who developed the protocol to allow for the development of a baby in a synthetic womb.

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Mobius by Christoph Weber

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: May, 2016 in Writers of the Future Vol 32

Genre: science fiction

Setting: a near future city on Earth

Summary: Liz is a detective with GeneCrime, looking for illegal gene-tweakers. She’s found a lab that seems a bit more sophisticated than usual. She’s attacked by what she thought was a corpse on a table within the lab. She wakes up four days later under the care of her father, a physician. Turns out, he’s figured out how to repair a person’s DNA to a pristine state, which can also return them from the dead. She has the last remaining sample of Mobius and must decide whether to destroy it, killing several people (including herself and her previously thought dead mother) because they won’t have access to Mobius, or allow the illegal virus to be used.

Final thoughts: Weber leaves the resolution of the story completely up in the air. He sets up a world where gene-tweaking is easy and just as often deadly as helpful. Liz is dead-set against all gene-tweakers, since that was how her mother was killed. Come to find out, it’s her father’s lab she’s raiding. He’s cured death with his special, gene-tweaked virus – isn’t it awesome! Liz isn’t convinced. So, he lays on the guilt. If you destroy the sample, you’ll kill his colleague. Not enough? You’ll kill yourself, since you’re infected with the same lethal virus he’s got. Not enough? You’ll kill your mother, that you didn’t realize I’d raised from the dead. And then the reader is left to wonder if that’s enough or she’ll just destroy it. If she wipes out the sample of Mobius, her father’s just going to create more, perhaps not in enough time to save the three people who’s lives are on the line, but he’s still got all his research.

Title comes from: Liz’s father named his virus Mobius, after the Mobius strip and the possibility of living forever.

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Das Steingeschopf by G. V. Anderson

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer. This story also won the World Fantasy Award in 2017.

Published: December 2016 in Strange Horizons (read it free online at the link)

Genre: fantastical historical fiction

Setting: Germany, just before the start of WWII

Summary: Out narrator is a journeyman Schopfer – he trained to carve and repair Steingeschopfe (animated statues carved from Queckstein). He is sent to his first commission and discovers it is repair work on a Steingeschopfe originally carved by one of the 17th century masters. Our narrator agrees to do the work, which involves pouring some of his energy and memories into the statue as he works.

Final thoughts: This story managed to pack quite a bit into a small plot – someone comes to fix a statue. However, we get the rise of racism against Jews in Germany, a bit of a love story between our narrator and one of his fellow apprentices, the conflict between art and practicality, and the specter of death hanging over it all. Not bad for a short story!

Title comes from: It’s the German name of the animate statues that our narrator works on


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White Dust by Nathan Hillstrom

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: January, 2016 in Asimov’s Science Fiction (read it for free at that link)

Genre: science fiction

Length: 10 pages

Setting: Earth, nearish future

Summary: Margery is in charge of a secret operation – she supervises a soldier who is copied to an alien ship where he is responsible for setting up shielding material against some hard radiation. The operation has been going well, but suddenly the clone isn’t focusing and using his time most effectively. Margery decides to clone herself into the ship to see if that will give her any insight into the operation. Her clone forces Margery to acknowledge why she enjoys running the operation so much (because she enjoys the power and control over someone else) and then replaces Margery with a copy of herself. She decides to just copy the clone of the soldier back home to improve results.

Final thoughts: This one got surprisingly dark. There’s just enough backstory to know the government is involved in researching some alien ship that currently has lethal doses of radiation onboard. The real story is with the cloning. Margery is working with alien technology that allows anyone to get cloned from one table to another. There’s a failsafe built into the table so only one copy can exist in each location at a time. When Margery decides to clone herself, she also discovers the cloning tables work in both directions. The original Margery is replaced by a clone of the clone. That clone decides it would be much more efficient to keep sending the soldier clones back and forth from the alien ship. Talk about an existential mindtrip – which version of yourself should have the right to exist? What happens when the original is replaced with an exact copy – is it really the same? If you keep making copies of copies, is there degradation of the signal? Not that Margery cares. She’s just figured out how to get more power and control.

Title comes from: When a clone is sent to the other table, the previous clone is destroyed and turned into a white dust that covers everything in the immediate area.


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The Sky, Falling by Anton Rose

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: at Motherboard (follow the link to read it online for free – go ahead, it’s short)

Genre: climate change science fiction short story

Setting: near future, somewhere generic on Earth

Summary: Suref is heading up to his job as a sky engineer. As he walks up the mountain, he reminisces about his life. As he’s working on the platform, an accident happens. Suref falls off the platform and his parachute does not deploy. Again, he thinks about his life as he’s falling.

Final thoughts: A competent story that is only marginally science fictionish. Suref’s job seems to be monitoring the geoengineering of the atmosphere that humans have set up, most likely to minimize climate change without having to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Because of his job, he had a long way (40,000 feet) to fall when he fell off the platform, which gives you lots of time to come to terms with your life, I guess.

Title comes from: Suref works up in the sky, and spends half the story falling out of it to his death.


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Twiceborn by C. L. Kagmi

Now that I’ve finally written up all of my 2017 books, I’m back to my usual schedule. I’ll get a post about my 2018 reading goals up soon, but Monday means short fiction. I’m still working my way through Event Horizon 2017, so this is the next short story in the collection highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: September, 2016 in Compelling Science Fiction Issue 2

Genre: science fiction

Setting: the exoplanet Bharata, far future Continue reading

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