Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Short Fiction Tuesday

There are some great online magazines of free fiction, so my hope is to write a bit every Tuesday about some story I've come across. I'll be focusing mainly on the four zines that are my favorites: Strange Horizons (every Monday), Clarkesworld (1st of every month), Fantasy (every Monday and sometimes one more during the week), and Beneath Ceaseless Skies (every other Thursday). There are probably a half dozen others I periodically read, so I might pull something from one of those sources, but mostly it'll be a story from here.

These are not going to be reviews. More recommendations...but even that is less what I have in mind than the idea that short fiction ought to be discussed. The more conversations going on in scattered points of the web, the better for all these excellent zines (and the better for all the writers appearing in them and aspiring to).

With that into out of the way, the first thing that jumped to mind when I opened up these magazines the other day was that one writer had stories in two of them--Megan Arkenberg's "All the King's Monsters" in Clarkesworld and "Four Lies from the Mouth of God" in Strange Horizons. That's a pretty sweet 1-2 punch for any writer, so without being really familiar with her writing, I decided to check these stories out first.

Both are well worth reading. Readers of my blog are likely well familiar with how much an evocative setting often influences my opinions on stories, and in this sense the Clarkesworld story stands out more, but I enjoyed both. "Monsters" has cool mechanical constructs and intrigue while "Four Lies" has a censored book that frightens those in power and both have political resistance movements.

One thing that strikes me with each of these is that the main characters are drawn in because of their relation to a figure in the resistance--it isn't so much their own actions (initially at least) as the fact that the enemy knows of their relationship with someone important, someone who might have been the hero or protagonist in a different kind of story. There's a sense of realizing that the "hero's" actions and stance against tyranny or whatever has other effects for those around them. I remember another Strange Horizons story last year that played on that fact as well...something about "Salt's Father"? I'll have to look through their archives. I remember really enjoying that aspect of the story.

Anyway, that's all I have time for tonight, if I want to get this out while it's still Tuesday. Take a look at these stories, if you get a chance. Or, if you've stumbled on some other story that's worth my notice, let me know.

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