Welcome to Short Fiction Friday! Usually, this is the part of the week where I highlight a specific short story, novelette, or flash fic. Today, however, gets a special feature. I had started a feature series of all the Nebula Award finalists, but haven’t quiiiiite had a chance to complete it. Given that, I’m taking some time to highlight all of them in a smaller way here!
“Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse”, Rae Carson (Uncanny 1-2/20)
This story is available online for free at: Uncanny Magazine. Click through to read!
My labor pangs are mild at first. They’re intense, sure, but it’s mostly warmth and pressure like my abdomen is hugging itself. I’ve got time. Hours maybe, before I have to flee the enclave and get myself to the birthing hideout.
In the meantime, I’m in our makeshift infirmary, trying to get water past old Eileen’s tight-pressed lips because we ran out of IV and NG intubation supplies a long time ago. She reluctantly takes one sip, two, and that’s all she can handle before she grunts, whips her grayed head to the side, spraying water all over the chalkboard.
This short story is exactly what it says on the tin: it’s about badass moms who are in the zombie apocalypse, and let me tell you – it’s accurate. These are some women who have been placed into impossible situations and are doing what’s necessary to move through it.
“Advanced Word Problems in Portal Math”, Aimee Picchi (Daily Science Fiction 1/3/20)
This story is available online for free at: Daily Science Fiction – Click through to read!
It is 7 p.m. on a snowy January evening, and Penny is a 13-year-old who likes fruity lip balms, wears leggings, and notices everything, like how she’s expected to wash the dishes but her older brother is excused to finish his homework.
Penny wants nothing more than to escape to a new world. She dreams of finding a portal to a world that needs her, like has happened to her friends. Instead, she finds herself fighting mundane battles and giving up her dreams at each turn. She must rely on her own resilience to make it through each day even as the odds are stacked against her.
“A Guide for Working Breeds”, Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order)
This story is available online for free at: Tor.com – Click through to read!
Default Name (K.g1-09030)
hey i’m new here
thanks for being my mentor
although i guess it’s randomly assigned
anyway do you know how to make my vision dog free?
Look, I’m not even sure what to say other than that I love everything about this. Robots! Dogs! Possum named Ol’ Chonkster! Murder robot! Unionizing and fighting back against unbridled capitalism and workplace discrimination!
“The Eight-Thousanders”, Jason Sanford (Asimov’s 9/10-20)
This story is available online for free at: Apex Magazine – Click through to read!
He spoke once, the words whispered by frozen lips on a face so frostbitten he looked like a porcelain doll. I found him below the summit as our expedition bottlenecked before the Hillary Step on our final ascent of Mount Everest.
And above the bottleneck, more climbers. Dozens of people snaking to the top in their insulated red and orange and bright-color parkas and boots and backpacks.
As if the mountain bled a trickle of rainbow-neon blood.
If I had to describe this story in a single word, it would be “gripping.” Sanford grabs the audience and doesn’t let go. Everything about The Eight-Thousanders creates a sense of bleak tension, defining the plodding, emotionless journey from life to death. Death is inevitable – it waits for you. It doesn’t matter what you feel along the way.
“My Country Is a Ghost”, Eugenia Triantafyllou (Uncanny 1-2/20)
This story is available online for free at: Uncanny Magazine – Click through to read!
When Niovi tried to smuggle her mother’s ghost into the new country, she found herself being passed from one security officer to another, detailing her mother’s place and date of death over and over again.
“Are you carrying a ghost with you, ma’am?” asked the woman in the security vest. Her nametag read Stella. Her lips were pressed in a tight line as she pointed at the ghost during the screening, tucked inside a necklace. She took away Niovi’s necklace and left only her phone.
Too often, we take for granted the way our community reinforces our self of self and cultural identity. The people around us remind us of who we are: how we cook, what we value, the way we act. When we are displaced from our home, that external reminder isn’t there any more. We feel adrift, lacking an anchor. In My Country Is a Ghost, Niovi experiences this first-hand in a very real way when the ever-present ghost of her mother is taken from her at customs.
“Open House on Haunted Hill”, John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20)
This story is available online for free at: Diabolical Plots – Click through to read!
133 Poisonwood Avenue would be stronger if it was a killer house. There is an estate at 35 Silver Street that annihilated a family back in the 1800s and its roof has never sprung a leak since. In 2007 it still had the power to trap a bickering couple in an endless hedge maze that was physically only three hundred square feet. 35 Silver Street is a show-off.
A common theme in Wiswell’s writing is parenthood, and this story is no exception. A widower and his young daughter are looking to buy a new home, and he faces everything from a refusal to wear a coat to a lost locket while trying to view 133 Poisonwood Avenue. His responses to her crises and the house’s subtle interventions were utterly endearing. My heart grew at least three sizes while reading this story.