Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 2017 Ratings

5 & 4 Stories: 9;  Estimated Time: 4h:46m (86K words)
Recommended By Stories: 27;  Estimated Time: 11h:59m (216K words)
Total Stories: 64;  Estimated Time: 24h:01m (432K words)
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Rating: 5 -> Hugo-worthy


Rating: 4 -> Recommended

A Series of Steaks by Vina Jie-Min Prasad1  Time: 26m (Novelette)  IssueClarkesworld 124
(Chinese SF) A blackmailer forces Helena to make entire fake steaks for him or else he’ll tell the authorities about her business printing fake beef for shady restaurants. She’s never tried to make a whole steak though.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 SFRevu:4
Crimson Birds of Small Miracles by Sean Monaghan  Time: 22m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(SF) C.J. brings his dying daughter to Ariosto to see Crimson Birds, an art installation that includes a vast flock of artificial birds.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 SFRevu:5
Dall's Last Message by Antha Ann Adkins1  Time: 07m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(SF) Dal approaches the end of it's life and wishes to leave a worthy message to posterity--if the waterwraiths will leave it alone long enough.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 SFRevu:4
Necessary Illusions by Tom Greene  Time: 22m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Colony-Planet SF) When Iolus refuses demands that it become part of the empire, the imperial agents are much too smart to destroy the planet, but they’re definitely up to something.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 RHorton:5
Nine-Tenths of the Law by Molly Tanzer  Time: 20m (ShortStory)  IssueLightspeed 80
(SF) Donna’s cold and distant husband has an industrial accident the day she planned to leave him, so she stays to nurse him back to health. After that, he’s different—in ways she likes.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4
The Proving Ground by Alec Nevala-Lee  Time: 57m (Novelette)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Hard SF) Haley hopes the "colony" on Bikini island will let her people survive sea-level rise, but a problem with local birds presents an unexpected threat.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 RHorton:5
The Speed of Belief by Robert Reed  Time: 1h:07m (Novella)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(Far-Future SF; Great Ship) To secure a deal with a world ruled by what appear to be intelligent rivers, the Great Ship sends three representatives on a long, sub-light-speed mission. By the time they get there, things don’t look so rosy.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 SFRevu:4
(Superhero SF; Wild Cards) In New York City, ugly mutants stay in Jokertown, but teenage Rikki and her friends want to do some exploring. It’s not exactly illegal, but it’s not exactly safe either.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4
The Thule Stowaway by Maria Dahvana Headley  Time: 38m (Novelette)  IssueUncanny 14
(Fantasy Horror) Edgar Allan Poe’s writing has brought a creature into this world and it inhabits a young woman who wants to be rid of it. It has its own agenda.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4
Vinegar and Cinnamon by Nina Kiriki Hoffman  Time: 24m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|17
(Rural Fantasy) Sam is a good boy who works hard on the family farm, although he does tease his little sister Maura. She’s not a bad girl, but one time she got mad and turned him into a rat.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [4]  Recommended By: RSR:4 SFRevu:4

Rating: 3 -> Average

A Gathering on Gravity's Shore by Gregor Hartmann  Time: 15m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|17
(Far-Future SF; Franden) When Franden’s upper-class friend asks him to speak at his ascension party, he knows he’ll be out of place, but the opportunity to meet the “Upheld” in their own environment is too good to pass up.
A Human Stain by Kelly Robson  Time: 32m (Novelette)  IssueTor.com 01/04/17
(Horror) Helen comes to Meersee in Germany to be a governess for her friend’s nephew. The child is young and peculiar, the staff are old and peculiar, and more peculiar things turn up by the minute.
After the Harvest, Before the Fall by Scott Edelman  Time: 37m (Novelette)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(SF) Daniel greets new children and prepares his flock for harvest, but his successor is proving a problem.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu:4
Alexandria by Monica Byrne  Time: 15m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|17
(SF) Deep in a Kansas winter, Beth obsesses over the lighthouse of Alexandria, which had had great meaning to her and her late husband.
Blow, Winds, and Crack Your Cheeks by John Alfred Taylor  Time: 13m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(Climate SF) As a hurricane bears down, a retired couple visit their beloved Fire Island cottage for what may be the last time.
Briz by Jay Werkheiser  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Alien SF) When the alien starship has an accident, they have to skip their original target star and find a new one. That turns out to be a hard decision to make.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu:4
Catching Zeus by Tom Jolly  Time: 16m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Hard SF) Red and Churro look for naturally-occuring superconducters in the cold Canadian winter, but the competition is really murder.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu:4
Destination by Jack Skillingstead  Time: 17m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(SF Dystopia) Brad has a cushy job inside the Seattle Exclusive Zone, and he’s not eager to participate in a game where a car takes you to an unknown destination, but the company is making everyone play. But is it even a game?
Drifting Like Leaves, Falling Like Acorns by Marissa Lingen  Time: 10m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Military SF) Bismuth is getting tired of the war--from the modified humans who glide like flying squirrels to the modified frogs whose secretions calm solders down.
Dunnage for the Soul by Robert Reed  Time: 25m (Novelette)  IssueF&SF 01.02|17
(SF) When scientists find a way to test people and animals for what everyone assumes are souls, the narrator feels left out because he’s one of the people without one.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu:4
Fable by Charles Yu  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueThe New Yorker 05/30/16
(Slipstream Metafiction) Once upon a time a man’s therapist asked him to write a story about himself, his family, and the strange world he lived in, with its dragons and lawyers, witches and doctors, and the darkness closing in.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: JStrahan
Homecoming by Rachel Pollack  Time: 1h:15m (Novella)  IssueF&SF 01.02|17
(Urban Fantasy; Jack Shade) Carol has always felt a piece of her was missing, so she hires supernatural investigator Jack Shade, to find it. It seems simple enough, but quickly becomes much more than simple soul retrieval.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu:4
Interchange by Gary Kloster  Time: 39m (Novelette)  IssueClarkesworld 124
(Near-Future SF) Inside a reverse stasis bubble, a work crew can take six months to build a new interchange while no time passes outside. No one’s quite sure what can happen if something goes wrong, though.
(Alternate Reality) As Cole awaits sentencing, his mind visits parallel worlds with very different rules for crime and punishment.
Mag, the Habitat and We by Lia Swope Mitchell  Time: 10m (ShortStory)  IssueApex 92
(Horror) A city inspection in a week creates a crisis for the small creatures who scurry around Mag’s house. They think she’s their mother. She thinks they’re rats, when she thinks about them at all.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu:4
(SF Romance) For medical reasons, Moena lives isolated from the world, although she’s made a microbiome that works for her. Then she falls in love with a man from outside her bubble.
Milla by Lorenzo Crescentini2 and Emanuela Valentini1  Time: 09m (ShortStory)  IssueClarkesworld 124
(SF) As Marek surveys Shiva, the most Earth-like planet yet discovered, he chats with an AI named “Milla,” the sole survivor of a long vanished civilization.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu:4
Next Station, Shibuya by Iori Kusano1  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueApex 92
(Modern Fantasy) Nagiko lives in Tokyo and loves to explore her city. Her city loves her too and has plans for her.
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On the Problem of Replacement Children: Prevention, Coping, and Other Practical Strategies by Debbie Urbanski  Time: 18m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|17
(Fantasy Humor) Changelings have always been a problem, but in the modern world, we have self-help guides for parents whose children have been replaced with things that just look like children.
One Way by Rick Norwood  Time: 26m (Novelette)  IssueF&SF 01.02|17
(Hard SF) Harvey’s theory predicts a one-way filter is possible, letting matter through in only one direction. In practice, there are a few really important safety issues he should have worried about.
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Paradise Regained by Edward M. Lerner  Time: 18m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Colony-Planet SF) An ignorant young man and a stranded space ship race against time to find a way to fix the problems that make the human colony unsuccessful.
Seven Salt Tears by Kat Howard  Time: 08m (ShortStory)  IssueLightspeed 80
(Fantasy) As a girl, Mara learned that you need to cry seven tears into the sea to summon a selkie. She’s always felt more a sea creature than a land creature anyway.
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Soliloquy in a Cheap Dinner Off Route 66 by James Beamon  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueApex 92
(Time Manipulation) Lolonyo keeps rewinding his initial meeting with Aliza, sure he can eventually make it perfect.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu:4
Some Cupids Kill With Arrows by Tansy Rayner Roberts  Time: 08m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 14
(Fantasy Humor) On speed-dating night at the Dog and Biscuit, Meg notices that all the guys seem to be figures from Greek mythology.
Still Life with Abyss by Jim Grimsley  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(Multiverse) A research group mapping possible timelines focuses on one man who appears to be the same in all possible timelines.
Successor, Usurper, Replacement by Alice Sola Kim  Time: 22m (ShortStory)  IssueBuzzfeed 10/25/16
(Horror) Four friends meet for a writer’s critique group, on a stormy night when a dangerous beast is on the loose outside.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: JStrahan
Tagging Bruno by Allen M. Steele  Time: 41m (Novelette)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(Planetary SF; Coyote) A scientific team tagging “boids” in the wilderness on Coyote copes with equipment that’s falling apart, a drunken leader, and the man-eating, flightless birds themselves.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu:4
The Catastrophe Of Cities by Lisa Goldstein  Time: 30m (Novelette)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(Horror) As kids, Lila and Beth had adventures exploring mysterious houses with strange rooms and scary occupants. Forty years later, Beth tries to discover whatever happened to those houses—and to her friend.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [3]  Recommended By: SFRevu:5
The Dark Birds by Ursula Vernon  Time: 25m (Novelette)  IssueApex 92
(Horror) There are always three sisters. When one gets big, Father eats her, and Mother has a new baby. This is the story of how that cycle ended.
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The Iron Tactician by Alastair Reynolds  Time: 1h:36m (Novella)  IssueThe Iron Tactician 2016
(Military SF) Merlin's starship is one of the best, but it needs repairs, and a derelict starship may have what he needs. Or he can try a binary system where an interplanetary war has raged for centuries.
The Last Mayan Aristocrat by Guy Stewart  Time: 23m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Historical SF) In the last days of the last Mayan city, a dying god comes to the last Mayan ruler and makes her an unexpected offer.
The Meiosis of Cells and Exile by Octavia Cade  Time: 35m (Novelette)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(Historical Fantasy) On the train from Moscow to exile in Dzhambul, Lina Stern is visited by three younger versions of herself.
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The Regression Test by Wole Talabi2  Time: 13m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|17
(SF) A society that uses AIs that model great thinkers needs to test them periodically to make sure they haven’t drifted too far from their originals.
(Horror) In life, he loved her from a distance, and in death he still hesitates to look right at her, even though she can’t leave the theatre. Is a half-man’s love stronger than death?
The West Topeka Triangle by Jeremiah Tolbert  Time: 28m (Novelette)  IssueLightspeed 80
(Horror) Jason struggles with a bully in elementary school, a stepdad who hates him, and he thinks the local equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle is causing local kids to disappear.
There Used to Be Olive Trees by Rich Larson  Time: 27m (Novelette)  IssueF&SF 01.02|17
(Post-Apocalypse) Valentin’s implant should let him talk to the machine gods, but he’s failed the test three times, and he decides to run away before facing it again. Of course things outside the town are even worse.
Think Of Winter by Eleanna Castroianni1  Time: 09m (ShortStory)  IssueBCS 216
(High Fantasy) Since the Grey Men took his mother and the rest of the villagers away, Folu has hidden in the ruins of the cathedral. But winter is coming, and he doesn’t know how he’ll feed himself.
Throw Me a Bone by Stanley Schmidt  Time: 03m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Paleontology SF) The Titanosaur bone destroyed Bill’s career because its isolation smacked of fraud. But there had to be another explanation.
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Whending My Way Back Home by Bill Johnson  Time: 42m (Novelette)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Time Travel) Trapped in the past, Martin tries to engineer a change in reality that will let him go home.
Winter Timeshare by Ray Nayler  Time: 23m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(SF) Regina and Ilkay take an annual holiday together in Istanbul, renting “blank” bodies for the occasion.

Rating: 2 -> Not Recommended

Bombyx mori by Kerstin Hall  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueStrange Horizons 01/09/17
(Metafiction) Cynae lives in a house in the woods, where she making a living spinning silk. She has reasons to want to be alone.
Long Haul by Marie DesJardin  Time: 14m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(SF) Her departure from Portran delayed by a few days, Jubrin explores the marketplace and acquires an alien pet.
Monster Girls Don't Cry by A. Merc Rustad  Time: 16m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 14
(Horror) Zaria is a monster girl, but she can pass for a regular girl. Her sister, Phoebe, can’t pass. Problems ensue when Zaria’s boy/girlfriends want to meet her family.
Pieces of Ourselves by Robert R. Chase  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(SF Thriller) Joan survived a terrorist attack, thanks to a security officer’s advice on the radio. A man who kept giving advice fifteen minutes after he was dead.
Split Signal by Joel Richards  Time: 23m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Mind Uploading) Is an uploaded personality a legal person? Is it kidnapping to make a copy? Is it murder if the original hires a hit man to target the copier?
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The Ghost Ship Anastasia by Rich Larson  Time: 27m (Novelette)  IssueClarkesworld 124
(Hard SF) Things look bad for the repair crew, come to fix an unresponsive space ship. Their AI expert is all doped up, mourning his sister who died in transit, and the AI isn’t broken—it’s insane.
The Whole Crew Hates Me by Adam-Troy Castro  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueLightspeed 80
(SF) Two years into a twelve-year voyage, Morgan copes with the fact that the rest of the waking crew despises him and can’t tell him why.

Rating: 1 -> Needs Improvement

Fatherbond by Tom Purdom  Time: 40m (Novelette)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(Planetary SF) After taking fifty years to reach planet Kendavala, colonists are disappointed to find strict regulations on where they can settle. But is anyone actually going to enforce those rules?
Goddess, Worm by Cassandra Khaw  Time: 06m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 14
(Myth) Tired of being a goddess, she wants to return to her earthly form. But she also wants justice.
Orbit of Fire, Orbit of Ice by Andrew Barton  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Hard SF) Chizuru and Layan need to deorbit an old space station before it collides with something. Getting out is harder than getting in, though.
Starphone by Stephen Baxter  Time: 18m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|17
(Climate SF) Keely inherits an advanced robot from her eccentric aunt.
The Invisible Box by J.J. Litke2  Time: 03m (ShortStory)  IssueApex 92
(SF) Viola seeks revenge against the people who mistreated her mother in a rest home.
The Shallowest Waves by Thoraiya Dyer and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro  Time: 24m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Hard SF) Charlotte dreams of seeding Europa with life, if only she can find someone to fund it.
Other Reviews  RSR Mini-Review [1]  Recommended By: SFRevu:4
Twilight’s Captives by Christopher L. Bennett  Time: 33m (Novelette)  IssueAnalog 01.02|17
(Hard SF) When humanity joined the Nocturne League, we never dreamed they might punish a treaty violation by confiscating a colony's children.

Rating: Not Rated

Bodies Stacked Like Firewood by Sam J. Miller  Time: 22m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 14
(Mainstream) Cyd’s suicide brings his friend Kelvin to Albany for his memorial.
The Monkey King Sleeps by Su-Yee Lin  Time: 08m (ShortStory)  IssueStrange Horizons 01/02/17
(Mainstream) Young Kai takes a German couple up one of the Karsts near Guilin, China, to explore one of the caves.
To Budapest, with Love by Theodora Goss  Time: 11m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 14
(Memoir) Born in Budapest but raised in America, the narrator tells of her feelings about assimilation and alienation.
Wetherfell's Reef Runics by Marc Laidlaw  Time: 26m (Novelette)  IssueF&SF 01.02|17
(Mystery) Ambrose runs a bookstore on a remote Hawaiian island. He gets tangled up in the mystery of a visitor who chained himself underwater and drowned.
(Mainstream) William works for his eccentric uncle while other young Canadian men go off to World War I.

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