It's probably worth revisiting why I do these short fiction call-outs. For more than a year and a half now I've been making note of particular stories I've found online. It's never been with the intent of doing a formal review, though. Rather, it's always been with the intent of a signal boost--these are (generally) free-to-read, online magazines, most of them pro-level. So I figure one way to support them is to talk about their stories and hopefully get other people to go read them. It's not necessarily a discussion here that I'm after...but I'm certainly willing to discuss them more, if there's any interest.
So this week I have three stories to mention. The first is from Daily Science Fiction, "Our Drunken Tjeng" by Nicky Drayden. Because of how DSF's subscription works, I was emailed the story and read it last week already, but it wasn't available online until this week. It is fiercely visceral and wildly imagination, a story of a people who live inside a huge human and take care of their host. Their drunken and aging host, which is seemingly also a spaceship, is not doing well, and the job of the caretakers (slicing away tumors, clearing arteries, making sure he doesn't thoughtlessly reproduce too often) is increasingly difficult. The ending is gut-wrenching and stone-heartedly pitch perfect.
Both stories in the most recent Beneath Ceaseless Skies stood out for me as well. "Bone Diamond" by Michael John Grist is a dark story of an ancient Egyptian who discovers a diamond in a crocodile skeleton, and of his logical and horrifying fall into cruelty.
"My Father's Wounds" by Ferret Steinmetz at first didn't draw me in as much as these other two. But after finishing it, it seems to keep drawing me back. It's the story of a woman who is expected to master the healing of her father, a form of healing he claims derives from a goddess, though she suspects it might be an inner ability...and fears it's one she lacks. The tension of faith and doubt, or the healers wishing to help and lamenting that they can't help everyone is just very well handled and memorable.