Monday, January 15, 2018

January 2018 Ratings

5 & 4 Stories: 14;  Estimated Time: 8h:32m (154K words)
Recommended By Stories: 34;  Estimated Time: 16h:20m (294K words)
Total Stories: 58;  Estimated Time: 23h:34m (424K words)
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Rating: 5 -> Hugo-worthy

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire  Time: 2h:10m (Novella)  IssueTor Novella 01/09/18
(Portal Fantasy; Wayward Children) Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children caters to children who went to a portal world, came back, and can’t cope. No one planned on the arrival of a child born in a portal world, much less one asking for help—from a dea
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Sour Milk Girls by Erin Roberts2  Time: 21m (ShortStory)  IssueClarkesworld 136
(Near-Future SF) Fourteen-year-old Ghost gave up on finding a foster family a long time ago. She’s just waiting until she turns 18 and can leave “the Agency.” Then a new girl turns up—one who can actually remember her life before she was sent there.

Rating: 4 -> Recommended

A List of Forty-Nine Lies by Steven Fisher2  Time: 01m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|18
(Dystopia) Levi is not telling this story. He is not a freedom fighter—the world is so perfect no one needs to be a freedom fighter. Secrets don’t exist anymore.
Air Gap by Eric Cline  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(Near-Future SF) You travel to visit an AI so powerful that it has to be isolated from all possible contact with modern technology.
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An Aria for the Bloodlords by Hannah Strom-Martin  Time: 33m (Novelette)  IssueBCS 242
(High Fantasy) As a composer, D’Isle  knows that the Bloodlords tightly control music because it can attract demons from the forest. He’s alarmed when his new prima donna starts improvising illegally.
Assassin in the Clouds by Robert R. Chase  Time: 33m (Novelette)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|18
(Near-Future SF Adventure) The narrator boards an aerostat for a leisurely aerial cruise, but his job is to protect the life of a scientist, and he has no idea why anyone wants to kill him.
Big Mother by Anya Ow  Time: 16m (ShortStory)  IssueStrange Horizons 01/01/18
(Modern Fantasy) The narrator and her friends go fishing for snakehead in a stream in Singapore, but the biggest one is something more than just a fish.
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(Dystopia) In a near-future ruled by conservatives, an organization called “Love and Dignity for Everyone,” kidnaps Rachael in order to “fix” her. But she doesn’t want to be “fixed.”
Home on the Free Range by Holly Schofield  Time: 24m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(Colony SF) On planet Skale, the seasons are three years long, and as winter ends, Jadey finds that spring brings real challenges to the ranch she works on.
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In the Lost City of Leng by Rudy Rucker and Paul Di Filippo  Time: 1h:11m (Novella)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|18
(Lovecraft Pastiche) In 1933, Doug quits his job to go on an expedition to Antarctica to kill the Great Shoggoth and retrieve the priceless treasures of the lost city of Leng.
Jewel of the Heart by Matthew Hughes  Time: 1h:15m (Novella)  IssueF&SF 01.02|18
(Fantasy Adventure; Baldemar) Baldemar is just a young henchman for the mage Thelerion, but he’s the only one who can wear the Helm of Sagacity, and right at the moment, they’re doomed without its help. But that help comes at a price.
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Mother Tongues by S. Qiouyi Lu  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|18
(Near-Future SF) A Chinese woman living in the Bay Area needs to raise money to get her daughter into Stanford. She tries to sell her English-language proficiency, but even after fifteen years, it’s not good enough. But her native fluency in Mandarin is w
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The Donner Party by Dale Bailey  Time: 34m (Novelette)  IssueF&SF 01.02|18
(Alternate History Horror) In this version of 19th-Century England, only the upper classes are entitled to eat human flesh once a year in a special ceremony.
The Equationist by J.D. Moyer  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|18
(Math Fantasy) Niall had a powerful gift for math, starting as a child. So powerful he can identify people with equations and predict their futures.
(Modern Fantasy) Jamie’s a non-binary teenager in a small town, but they remember at least a dozen past lives, one of which relates to a forty-year-old murder.

Rating: 3 -> Average

A Cigarette Burn In Your Memory by Bo Balder  Time: 14m (ShortStory)  IssueClarkesworld 136
(Apocalypse) After memory-loss plague strikes the world, Gouda helps clients track missing family members they can barely remember—even though she can’t even remember her own last name.
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A Feather in Her Cap by Mary Robinette Kowal  Time: 15m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|18
(Mannerpunk) Biantera doesn’t make enough in her hat business, so she moonlights as an assassin. A customer has stiffed her, so she decides to teach him a lesson.
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A World to Die For by Tobias S. Buckell  Time: 32m (Novelette)  IssueClarkesworld 136
(Multiverse) Chenra is a gunner for a Mad Max-like cluster of fighters in a world devastated by climate change. She’s surprised when strangers come looking for her. Strangers driving equipment that looks like it was made recently—not decades ago.
An Equation of State by Robert Reed  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|18
(SF) The army wakes in the new solar system and prepares to face enemy attack. But the enemy doesn’t show up. While they wait, one of them decides to study one of the inner planets.
Asylum of Cuckoos by Lila Bowen  Time: 20m (ShortStory)  IssueApex 104
(Alternate History Fantasy Adventure) In a wild West with magic, Rhett and his crew of rangers run into trouble in a town where the local sheriff thinks Rhett is an escaped horse thief.
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Aurelia by Lisa Mason  Time: 24m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|18
(Horror) Robert meets Aurelia when she comes to his firm for legal help, and he falls in love with her at once. She’s beautiful, sweet, absent minded, and reclusive, but there’s something troubling about her workroom, which is usually off-limits.
Blurred Lives by Adam-Troy Castro  Time: 1h:14m (Novella)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(SF Adventure; Andrea Cort) Draiken and Thorne seek out a torturer they once knew in hopes he can lead them to surviving leaders of the organizations they once worked for but are now sworn to destroy.
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Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse by S.B. Divya  Time: 13m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 20
(Dystopia) A non-binary disabled woman flees with her infant and toddler from the Arizona Christian secret police who’ve learned they and their wife were running an illegal abortion clinic.
Endless City by David Gerrold  Time: 32m (Novelette)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(SF Mystery) The hard-boiled narrator runs investigations in cyberspace and reality. This time they’ve got a murder to solve, and it’s proving a challenge—even though they saw it happen.
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Galatea in Utopia by Nick Wolven  Time: 35m (Novelette)  IssueF&SF 01.02|18
(SF) On a whim, Rick decides to make himself 100% female for a night out with friends, but he meets a special guy who falls in love with “her” and he’s not sure he wants to be female for him all the time.
Hobson's Choices by Mary A. Turzillo  Time: 16m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(Dystopia) Jerry and Charlize consider moving their family into “Goodenough Village,” where people try to be “satisficers, not maximizers.”
Lines of Growth, Lines of Passage by Marissa Lingen  Time: 13m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 20
(Fantasy Adventure) A wizard merges with a cherry tree and finds that that gives her a whole new perspective on things—a perspective that might hold the key to solving some age-old problems.
Neanderthals by Gardner Dozois  Time: 07m (ShortStory)  IssueF&SF 01.02|18
(Near-Future SF) The narrator is a cyborg hitman, but the target is guarded by two Neanderthals, either of whom would be a challenge to defeat.
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Sea of Dreams by Cixin Liu  Time: 38m (Novelette)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|18
(Epic SF) The Low-Temperature Artist arrives from outer space, with plans for a fantastic work of art made of ice. He won’t talk to any Earth people but ice sculptor Yan Dong, who struggles to get the alien not to use up all the water for his sculpture.
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She Still Loves the Dragon by Elizabeth Bear  Time: 10m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 20
(Fantasy Allegory) How a knight errant sought a dragon, they fell in love, and she loves it still, despite the fact it set her on fire once.
Sidewalks by Maureen F. McHugh  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueOmni 2017 Winter
(SF) Dr. Rosni Gupta examines Malni, a woman who’s institutionalized because she speaks gibberish. She’s sure it’s just another language, but what could it be?
Solicited Discordance by Matthew Hughes  Time: 28m (Novelette)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|18
(SF Adventure) A rich aristocrat hires Kaslo to track down her young heir, who has gone off to a wild, dangerous continent with an off-world woman he barely knows.
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Suite for Accompanied Cello by Tamara Vardomskaya  Time: 19m (ShortStory)  IssueBCS 242
(Clockwork Fantasy) Rielle accepts an offer from her husband’s rival to play accompaniment for his daughter in a competition. They need the money, but there’s something too perfect about this daughter.
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Ten and Ten by Alan Dean Foster  Time: 09m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(Hard SF) Claire is sure she can teach sign language to cuttlefish, but progress has been slow and her grant is running out.
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The Best Friend We Never Had by Nisi Shawl  Time: 22m (ShortStory)  IssueApex 104
(SF Adventure) Josie goes back to the Mizar 5 station where she grew up to try to recruit her old friends into a project her new bosses have. Things have changed a lot since she left, though.
(Apocalypse) A plague has turned almost everyone in the world into birds, but Maria is determined to make her way home and find her husband.
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The Court Magician by Sarah Pinsker  Time: 10m (ShortStory)  IssueLightspeed 92
(High Fantasy) In which we learn how the new court magician was recruited and find out how even a “market rat” can qualify. We learn that there is real magic, but it comes with a price.
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The Date by R.K. Kalaw1  Time: 03m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 20
(Horror) The narrator goes on a date with what seems to be a giant praying mantis.
The Dissonant Note by Jeremiah Tolbert  Time: 17m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(SF Adventure) On a starship crewed by electronic minds, Cee seeks help to fight her sister Dee, even though it might put the whole mission at risk.
The Emperor and the Maula by Robert Silverberg  Time: 1h:49m (Novella)  IssueThe Emperor and the Maula 2017
(Space Opera) Laylah comes to the Ansaar homeworld to convince the emperor that conquered Earth deserves better treatment. But it’s death for a barbarian to even set foot there, much less beg an audience with the Lord of the Universe.
The Equalizers by Ian Creasey  Time: 16m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|18
(Near-Future SF) To reduce discrimination , Pamela’s office is trying out “Equalizers,” special glasses that make everyone look and sound the same. She wonders if they could improve her love life too.
The Eyes of the Flood by Susan Jane Bigelow  Time: 06m (ShortStory)  IssueLightspeed 92
(Post-Apocalypse) After a long time, the river floods again, and the water is clean, not contaminated, so you take the opportunity to row your canoe south and scout things out.
The Hunger After You're Fed by James S.A. Corey  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueWired 01|17
(Near-Future SF) In a world where everyone has basic income, a secretive writer speaks to a generation that struggles to make their comfortable lives meaningful.
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The Hydraulic Emperor by Arkady Martine  Time: 22m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 20
(SF Adventure) Mallory Iheji would do anything to watch her favorite artist’s lost movie, “The Hydraulic Emperor.” But what would she really sacrifice for it?
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The Journeyman: Through Madness Gap by Michael F. Flynn  Time: 49m (Novelette)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(SF Adventure; The Journeyman) Teo has command of some forces for the invasion of Yavalprawns, but they’re only half-trained, so he and Sammi look for a way to sneak through a forgotten pass and take the enemy by surprise.
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The Rescue of the Renegat by Kristine Kathryn Rusch  Time: 1h:13m (Novella)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|18
(SF Adventure; Diving Universe) A badly-damaged Fleet ship of long-obsolete design appears out of foldspace. There seem to be 200 people on board, but they’re not trying to communicate. Captain Dauber has to try to rescue them, even though it may be a tra
The Utmost Bound by Vivian Shaw2  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 20
(SF Adventure) From a high Venus orbit, McBride and Artanian manage a rover on the surface. Today they’re supposed to inspect an anomaly that seems to be made of metal.
Two Point Three Children by Marissa Lingen  Time: 05m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(Legal SF) Judge Diane Bui hears a custody case involving a couple’s adopted child, but in this case, the “child” is an AI they were training together.
When the Aliens Stop to Bottle by Ian Watson  Time: 09m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(Alien Invasion) After defeating all the world’s militaries, the aliens roam around grabbing random individuals for unknown purposes. Jen and Toby hope that being in a commuter train will keep them safe.

Rating: 2 -> Not Recommended

A Night Out at a Nice Place by Nick Mamatas  Time: 09m (ShortStory)  IssueApex 104
(Surreal SF) A godlike being descended from human uploads downloads into a “limbsuit” and goes slumming with real human beings aka has a date.
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Barren Isle by Allen M. Steele  Time: 36m (Novelette)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|18
(Colony SF) A couple of children are lost on the dangerous Barren Isle, which still has the original flora and fauna of Coyote. The search and rescue team will have their hands full.
Margin of Error by Paul Carlson  Time: 02m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(SF) James and Dick would do anything to get their candidate elected. Well, almost anything.
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One to Watch by Andrew Barton  Time: 04m (ShortStory)  IssueAnalog 01.02|18
(SF Exploration) The narrator wonders if they should hide evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence found on Saturn’s moon, Mimas.
Say it Low, then Loud by Osahon Ize-Iyamu2  Time: 17m (ShortStory)  IssueClarkesworld 136
(Military SF) Efosa feels he can’t be complete until he absorbs more of his family culture, but they’ve cut him off ever since he went off to the war.
The Heaven-Moving Way by Chi Hui  Time: 14m (ShortStory)  IssueApex 104
(Hard SF Adventure) Zhang Xuan steals a starship to go hunt for her brother Kai, who went off to look for living alien civilizations in the galactic core and never came back.
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The Lighthouse Girl by Bao Shu  Time: 27m (Novelette)  IssueClarkesworld 136
(Uncanny SF) Rourou is a Chinese little girl who loves her papa but wonders what happened to her momma. And why she can’t remember anything before age 5. And why she speaks fluent English.
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The Streets of Babel by Adam-Troy Castro  Time: 22m (ShortStory)  IssueLightspeed 92
(Allegory) A man in the countryside is scooped up by one of the “living cities” which immediately impresses him into its workforce.
(SF Horror) Meshee is one of eight pregnant women whose babies are being auctioned off against their will.
Widdam by Vandana Singh  Time: 44m (Novelette)  IssueF&SF 01.02|18
(Dystopia) Five vignettes showing how three people get by in a horribly polluted world ravaged by climate change where giant, intelligent mining machines chew up the landscape in search of metals and oil.
Your Slaughterhouse, Your Killing Floor by Sunny Moraine  Time: 17m (ShortStory)  IssueUncanny 20
(Horror) A girl walks into a bar, gets into a fight with another girl, and discovers they share a dark secret and a terrible power.

Rating: 1 -> Needs Improvement

Consciousness: 4107's Story by James Gunn  Time: 14m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|18
(SF Background) In which we learn the history of the intelligent plants of planet Flora and how 4107 came to travel to planet Terminal.
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Symphony to a city under the stars by Armando Saldaña1  Time: 08m (ShortStory)  IssueApex 104
(Surreal SF) Nadia loves Sinclair, even though he’s going blind from too much space travel, but she wants to do her own travelling before she’ll consider settling down.
The Final Commandment: Trey's Story by James Gunn  Time: 12m (ShortStory)  IssueAsimov's 01.02|18
(SF Background) In which we learn the backstory of Trey, the intelligent machine whose quest on behalf of the frozen remains of the last survivors of its creators takes it to planet Terminal.

Rating: Not Rated

4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. We deleted a comment because we don't allow people to promote their work here. We didn't mark it "spam" because we recognized the poster and we do welcome his/her comments on stories.

  2. Hmmm... both of Gunn's older "short stories" (fulls chapters of his novel, part 1 of 3) are marked "Needs Improvement." Makes no sense to me.

    1. It means I found them both unpleasant to read for reasons described in the reviews. Did you like these stories? What appealed to you about them?

    2. Stories were excellent -- the two you didn't like are merely chapters of the first novel. The two stories added GREAT depth to the characters described.