July is the month when I slammed into a wall. Going from 4th Street to driveway maintenance to Readercon to a college reunion pretty much destroyed me, but one thing that kept me sane on the road was all the short fiction I had with me. God bless free public wifi. As always, every piece included in my list is free to read by clicking the link included. If you enjoy a story or article, please let the writer know with a tweet, fan mail, or a handy Patreon donation.
Short Stories and Flash Fiction
"The Journey and the Jewel" by Rebecca Campbell at The Sockdolager
-It's Magical Realist story about a Magical Realist story bleeding into a Magical Realist story! What excellence. The Journey and the Jewel was the last and greatest puzzle-book written by a genius couple, but they died without leaving a solution to the world, and so their daughter Ananda never figured out where its treasure was hidden. Ananda grows up having to deal with what the powerful book may have conjured, like a Shapeshifter whose face is constantly rotating new shapes, and a treasure that might possibly be out there. And it's sewn with lovely lines about the book itself, like, "The Journey and the Jewel’s last page is its most dreadful, the kind of page a kid might fasten shut with paper clips to prevent it opening by accident," which kick the tone in wonderful ways.
"Straight Lines" by Naru Sundar at Mothership Zeta
-“It must have been hard for you, Em.”
“I’m a ship mind. Hard is relative.”
It's that kind of zaniness that leaves you grateful Mothership Zeta exists. It's a very chatty story as the sentient ship tries to work out its relationship with Xiao, the woman who's trying to take it on an adventure. While her motives are interesting, the real strength of the story is in the keen rhythm of the dialogue between the two of them, something that any emerging SciFi writer would do well to study.