Though I still have a long backlog of DSF stories I need to catch up with after my vacation, I did decide to go outside my usual magazines in the hunt for great short stories this week.
Memory Foam by Forrest Brazeal (DSF): This story is by no means a masterpiece, but it shows that if you can get the fundamentals right, then you’ll have a good, entertaining story. It has a good hook for an opening, a mystery to pull us a deeper. There’s a character with both an internal and external struggle to keep us reading, and the sentence level writing is decent.
Mazer in Prison by Orson Scott Card (Intergalactic Medicine Show): The story has a great narrative voice as it’s told by the grumpy, snarky old Mazer. It’s set in the Ender’s Game universe, but I didn’t find not knowing the universe more than superficially a problem. The ending felt a bit flat, as the protagonist reached his extremely big goal with too little effort, but the story was still well worth the read mostly because of the excellent character development throughout.
Tabloid Reporter to the Stars by Eric James Stones (IGMS): Stones is one of my favorite short story writers, and this story really shows why. From the very first sentence there’s not only an interesting and original premise based on a trope as overused as space travel, but we also get a well-developed and original protagonist. He cleverly applies mysteries throughout the story to keep the interest high (there’s surprisingly little in the form of actual conflict). At times, there was a bit too much navel-gazing and long discussions of religions, and the ending felt a bit like a punchline (the afterword revealed that James had tried to keep he wacky ending without making it feel like a punchline), but the story generally was solid entertainment.
And Weep, Like Alexander by Neil Gaiman (Fables of the Fountain/Trigger Warning): Another brilliant story by a brilliant writer. This one is all about the jokes, and it’s funny all the way through without throwing tons of punchlines at the reader. In the end, Gaiman even manages to tie all the jokes to our modern society and one of its minor but very relatable issues.
That’s it for this week. As always, if you have short story recommendations of your own, old as well as new ones, feel free to share them in the comments.