Sunday, December 30, 2018

Neom, by Lavie Tidhar

[Asimov's]
★★★☆☆ Average

(SF Vignette) Toward the end of the 21st Century, a cleaning woman in a sprawling experimental city in Saudi Arabia struggles to make ends meet. (3,225 words; Time: 10m)


Salting the Mine, by Peter Wood

[Asimov's]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(SF Colony) The Trans-Solar Mining Corporation abandoned the colony on Sosta over 100 years ago, but they just showed up with a ship and are demanding the colonists start mining again. (5,665 words; Time: 18m)


The Gorgon, by Jay O'Connell

[Asimov's]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(SF Thriller) A powerful HR director is willing to do anything to keep a critical software architect from quitting. (5,018 words; Time: 16m)


All The Difference, by Leah Cypess

[Asimov's]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Multiverse) The narrator pays for a brief visit to an alternate timeline to learn how her life might have been had she married a different man. (6,477 words; Time: 21m)


Written in Mud, by William F. Wu

[Asimov's]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Climate SF) When the Gulf of Mexico came up into Missouri, a group of farmers lost their land, but they’re determined to find something to do with rich cropland under a few feet of salt water. (6,664 words; Time: 22m)


Credit to My Nation, by Sandra McDonald

[Asimov's]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Modern Fantasy) Unity returns to Barbados for their grandmother’s funeral and attempts to get their fortune told through a special DNA-based system. (6,792 words; Time: 22m)


Taking Icarus Home, by Suzanne Palmer

[Asimov's]
★★★☆☆ Mixed

(SF Adventure) You find a lifepod with a near-dead young man in it, and you decide to find out where he came from and why. (7,756 words; Time: 25m)


Ventiforms, by Sean Monaghan

[Asimov's]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(SF Adventure; Shilinka Switalla) TailΓ© Anderson comes to Zepheirre to try to help her son, who’s trapped in the equipment he was using to help construct a gigantic art project. (13,099 words; Time: 43m)


The Esteemed, by Robert Reed

[Asimov's]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Time Travel; Veritas) When President Gerald Ford announces the arrival of a time traveler, America changes in lots of ways, and Jason’s family will never be the same. (25,718 words; Time: 1h:25m)

Although this is technically part of a series, the connection with the other stories is limited to the idea: there are no shared characters, no shared events, and no shared settings.

How Sere Looked for a Pair of Boots, by Alexander Jablokov

[Asimov's]
★★★★☆ Intricate Plot in a Complex Setting

(SF Mystery; Sere) Sere takes a case for her niece, who’s sure her boyfriend was wrongly imprisoned for violating security at an alien incubator. (21,887 words; Time: 1h:12m)

Although this follows the previous story, “How Sere Picked up her Laundry,” there’s no strong need to read that story before this one.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Book of Magic, edited by Gardner Dozois

[Anthology]
★★★★☆ A Magical Experience

(Fantasy) Gardner Dozois's last original anthology explores all types of magic in all sorts of settings. (175,649 words; Time: 9h:45m)


The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril, by Scott Lynch

[Anthology]
★★★★☆ A great tale of hubris and redemption

(SF Fantasy) When the wizard has a fatal accident, his house AI tries to run things in his absence. (12,659 words; Time: 42m)


Bloom, by Kate Elliott

[Anthology]
★★★★★ A Rich Setting, A Complex Plot, and Sympathetic Characters

(Alternate History Fantasy; Spiritwalker Trilogy) Autumn House is failing for lack of new magisters, so Titus grudgingly accepts the aid of a young diviner, even if she is a woman. (16,441 words; Time: 54m)


The Devil's Whatever, by Andy Duncan

[Anthology]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Folktale) This is the story of how Petey was cursed to travel among all the places in America named for the Devil and reenact the tales of how they got their names and how Perleen tried to save him. (12,352 words; Time: 41m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘RHorton.r+1 (Q&A)


The Wolf and the Manticore, by Greg van Eekhout

[Anthology]
★★★★★ A Slipstream Thriller in a Dog-Eat-Dog World

(Alternate Reality Dark Fantasy) Agnes works at the La Brea Tar Pits helping the Kingdom of Southern California make magical munitions, but she’s secretly spying for the Northern Californians. Unfortunately, someone has figured this out. (10,430 words; Time: 34m)


Widow Maker, by Lavie Tidhar

[Anthology]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Fantasy Adventure; Gorel of Goliris) Gorel takes a job escorting an expedition to the top of a mountain in search of the legendary “Widow Maker” weapon, which destroyed two advanced civilizations thousands of years ago. (10,442 words; Time: 34m)

Although this is part of a long-running series, there’s no need to read earlier ones first, but if you want to avoid spoilers for the series, you might want to start with “Gorel and the Pot-Bellied God.”

No Work of Mine, by Elizabeth Bear

[Anthology]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Fantasy Adventure; The Eternal Sky) Bijou the Artificer hunts for whoever is making poor-quality animations and passing them off as her work. (7,907 words; Time: 26m)

Although there are several novels and at least one other short story in the series, there’s no need to read any of them to enjoy this story, and it’s unlikely that reading this story first will spoil the rest

The Staff in the Stone, by Garth Nix

[Anthology]
★★★★☆ Nice characters, fun plot

(Fantasy Thriller) The villagers find a wizard’s staff sticking out of an ancient stone obelisk, but only Colrean knows just how dangerous it is and what sort of dangers it may attract. (11,314 words; Time: 37m)

Recommended By: πŸ“™JStrahan+2 πŸ‘RHorton.r+2 πŸ‘RSR+1 (Q&A)


Sungrazer, by Liz Williams

[Anthology]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Modern Fantasy) Professor Fallow, retired astronomer and magician, tries to figure out why a ghost seems to be trying to contact him. (9,802 words; Time: 32m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘RHorton.r+2 (Q&A)


The Governor, by Tim Powers

[Anthology]
★★★★☆ Chilling, with Just the Right Twist

(Modern Fantasy Horror) When the old wizard dies in a car accident, his family gets together in his old house to try to find his talisman so they can have control over him before he reincarnates himself. (8,617 words; Time: 28m)

The Lovecraft book in the story is “The Outsiders and Others,” a 500-page collection of Lovecraft’s stories. It has been called “the beginning of serious specialist publishing of fantastic fiction in America.”

Loft the Sorcerer, by Eleanor Arnason

[Anthology]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Icelandic Folktale Horror) A poor young student at the bishop’s school decides to learn black magic to improve his fortunes. (10,487 words; Time: 34m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘RHorton.r+1 (Q&A)


Song of Fire, by Rachel Pollack

[Anthology]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Modern Fantasy Adventure; Jack Shade) In our world, only Travelers are aware of the supernatural world that exists all around us. Jack Shade is a sort of private investigator for Travelers, and in this story he takes a case for a Djinn, whose people are being starved to death. (14,158 words; Time: 47m)

This story makes reference to previous Jack Shade stories (there are lots of them), but there’s no real need to read any of them first. If you like this story and want to read more about Jack, all of the previous ones have been collected into “The Fissure King: A Novel in Five Stories

The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror: Chapter II: Jumping Jack in Love, by Ysabeau S. Wilce

[Anthology]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(High Fantasy; Republic of Califa) Jack uses his magical jumping boots to make him the most successful thief Califa has ever known. He’s a rich thief, but a lonely young man, and wonders if the boots can help him find love too. (7,194 words; Time: 23m)

Chapter One is available online for free.

The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable, by Matthew Hughes

[Anthology]
★★★★☆ A Different Kind of Magical Contest

(Dark Fantasy Adventure) Masquelayne knows he’s the best magician around, so when he loses a magical contest to an upstart, he’s determined to have his revenge. (10,204 words; Time: 34m)


Flint and Mirror, by John Crowley

[Anthology]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Historical Fantasy) Ten-year-old Hugh O’Neill leaves Ireland for England to get support to overthrow his usurping uncle, but the Sidhe have a parting gift for him. (11,495 words; Time: 38m)

Recommended By: πŸ“™JStrahan+2 πŸ‘RHorton.r+2 (Q&A)

The story begins around 1560, when Hugh O’Neill was ten years old. It will help to read a bit of Hugh’s history in our world before reading this story, although it’s not essential.

Community Service, by Megan Lindholm

[Anthology]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Modern Fantasy) Celtsie doesn’t want to see her ex-friend Farky, an addict who’s stolen from her in the past, but he’s got news about a mutual friend who may be in trouble. (12,029 words; Time: 40m)


The Return of the Pig, by K.J. Parker

[Anthology]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Alternate History Fantasy) A powerful magician has reservations about returning to the home town he hasn’t seen since he was a boy, but he’s definitely not expecting someone to be trying to kill him. (10,118 words; Time: 33m)


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Outstanding SF/F by People of Color 2017

In the spirit of Lightspeed Magazine's famous People of Color Destroy Science Fiction series, here are 59 stories by 47 people of color that had scores of 2+ from RSR's 2017 Best SF/F list. That list contains the 287 most-recommended stories out of 842 covered, so the 59 stories by people of color make up around 21% of the best of 2017.

Some stories not reviewed by RSR are in the Best SF/F list because they were award finalists πŸ†, included in year's best anthologies πŸ“™, or recommended by other prolific reviewers πŸ‘ (see Q&A for SF/F awards, year's best anthologies, and prolific reviewers followed).

Readers asked us to make it easy for them to find good stories written by authors with diverse racial backgrounds, and that’s what this list is meant to accomplish (author identity plays no role in our ratings). This is the second year we've done this list (2015-2016).

Saturday, December 15, 2018

December 2018 Ratings

5★ & 4★ Stories: 3; Time & Words: [1h:25m] πŸ’¬26K
Recommended By Stories: 12; Time & Words: [5h:43m] πŸ’¬103K
Total Stories: 35; Time & Words: [16h] πŸ’¬301K
Read How to Use RSR on the sidebar or this link to use this post.

Friday, December 14, 2018

A Circle of Steel and Bone, by R.K. Duncan

[BCS]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Historical Fantasy) In 13th-Century Prussia, a commander of the Order of the Teutonic Knights hunts for a brutal murderer, who mutilates his victims and seems to target Christian knights. (7,626 words; Time: 25m)


A Martyr's Art, by J.P. Sullivan

[BCS]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Dark Fantasy Adventure) Martyrs can heal wounds and even reverse death, but only by taking injuries and diseases into their own bodies. Chalcedony’s master seems likely to get killed, and she can’t get out of her contract. (9,248 words; Time: 30m)


How Pleasant the Red Bloom, by Lucy Harlow

[Strange Horizons]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Fantasy Horror) In which we read the writings of a former innate in this cell and gradually get an idea of what really goes on in this prison. (1,519 words; Time: 05m)


Friday, December 7, 2018

Captain Midrise, by Jim Marino

[Apex]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Superhero) The Golden Crusader must be getting old or something. He’s not so fast anymore, and he never flies higher than the sixth floor, but he keeps doing super deeds. Or trying to. (5,442 words; Time: 18m)


Girls Who Do Not Drown, by A.C. Buchanan

[Apex]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Fantasy Horror) Everyone knows the glashtyn carry girls to drown in the sea, but Alice is surprised when one approaches her, since no one knows she’s a girl. (2,872 words; Time: 09m)


On the Day You Spend Forever with Your Dog, by Adam R. Shannon

[Apex]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Time Travel) A sad tale of how, unable to bear losing your dog, you travel back in time to visit her again and again. (3,767 words; Time: 12m)


Under the Sea of Stars, by Seanan Mcguire

[Lightspeed]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Historical Fantasy Horror) In Victorian England, a wealthy woman finances a scientific expedition to find out what’s at the bottom of the Bolton Strid, a river whose depths seem to swallow everyone who ventures there. (5,511 words; Time: 18m)


Grandma Novak's Famous Nut Roll, by Shaenon K. Garrity

[Lightspeed]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Horror) The recipes sound tasty, but what is this “hunt” they’re being prepared for? (2,654 words; Time: 08m)


Mouths, by Lizz Huerta

[Lightspeed]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Post-Apocalypse) When Fai falls and breaks her teeth, it’s not easy to find someone who can fix them, and the price is more than mere money. (3,564 words; Time: 11m)


A Love Story Written on Water, by Ashok K. Banker

[Lightspeed]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Indian High Fantasy; Sha’ant) When king Bhi’ash is reincarnated on Earth for having shamelessly ogled the river goddess, Jeel, she follows him down and brings a special curse with her. (12,450 words; Time: 41m)


Master Zhao: The Tale of an Ordinary Time Traveler, by Zhang Ran

[Clarkesworld]
★★★★☆ Well-written and a fun read.

(Time Travel) Master Zhao shares his tale of how he discovered his time-travel ability and what he’s done with it. But why hasn’t he used it to become more successful? (12,833 words; Time: 42m)


The Names and Motions, by Sheldon J. Pacotti

[Clarkesworld]
★★★☆☆ Average

(SF Horror) Cassie’s brain implants fixed the things she lost before birth due to her mom’s drug abuse, but she needs something more to cope with the abuse she gets from her classmates. (7,317 words; Time: 24m)


When We Find Our Voices, by Eleanna Castroianni

[Clarkesworld]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Colony SF) Centuries ago, a human colony lost all of its women. They survived by having sex with local trisexual birds, whose voices they steal for power. But the birds want their freedom and they want their voices back. (10,382 words; Time: 34m)


Bringing Down the Sky, by Alan Bao

[Clarkesworld]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Climate Dystopia) Two American men come to a town on the Tibetan plateau to see how they extract clean air from the high slopes that they can sell to the public. (11,692 words; Time: 38m)


Marshmallows, by D.A. Xiaolin Spires

[Clarkesworld]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Augmented Reality Dystopia) When Chunfei’s little sister uses up her credits, she’s forced to face the real world outside, with rats, cockroaches, and boarded up buildings, not the elves, snow, and gingerbread houses she’s used to. (3,394 words; Time: 11m)


Monday, December 3, 2018

Toothsome Things, by Chimedum Ohaegbu

[Strange Horizons]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Fairy Tale Pastiche) The Big Bad Wolf from “Little Red Riding Hood” tells us how lots of fairy tales happened a little differently from the way we might have learned them as kids. (2,408 words; Time: 08m)


Frozen Meadow, Shining Sun, by Emily McCosh

[BCS]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Fantasy Adventure) Opere’s sister disappeared into the snow, and no one could find her. Opere thinks a fox spirit might lead her there—assuming such a thing can be trusted. (5,496 words; Time: 18m)


Forest Spirits, by Michael J. DeLuca

[BCS]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Fantasy Adventure) Cole and Tethas flee from the law through a dying forest. The magic that supports their civilization is destroying their environment, but the government doesn’t want people to hear it. (5,671 words; Time: 18m)


How the Mighty, by Dan Micklethwaite

[BCS]
★★★☆☆ Average

(Fantasy Sports) In a world with a bloody equivalent of live wrestling, a divorced father takes his little son to watch his hero fight. (4,287 words; Time: 14m)


Feral Attachments at Kulle Bland Bergen, by T.S. Mcadams

[BCS]
★☆☆☆☆ Needs Improvement

(Modern Fantasy) Harald and Solveig have been studying trolls for years, even though lost their son to them a few years back. When they find a feral child living with trolls, they can’t help but wonder if it’s their son. (4,354 words; Time: 14m)


Birnam Platoon, by Natalia Theodoridou

[Interzone]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Military SF) A solider on trial for war crimes explains how the idea of breeding plant soldiers seemed like a great idea to start with and how it all went wrong. (3,323 words; Time: 11m)