Reviews of Short Fiction

In between the main events, allow us to tickle your fancy with curios from around the web. Step right up for reviews of recommended stories and other links to the beautifully strange and wonderfully weird to entertain you on the train ride to work or the ferry to the other side.

Cabinet of Wonders: Bad Juju & Good Intentions

by Lauren Colie

Die Sunde, by Franz von Stuck, 1893

Be careful what you wish for…but we all know that. Yet, we continue to test the waters. Dip a toe in this week for the black magic of a woman scorned, the gleeful wrath of a dark goddess and the triumphant revolt of a girl who shakes off the shackles of normal.

 

A Review of Nine by Kima Jones at Lightspeed Magazine

Flora held the man’s head and snapping jaw in the crook of her arm as Jessie threw every salty thing she could find. The man’s arms and legs flailed about. He snapped his jaw at Jessie’s torso until he melted into the creases of Flora’s black dress, blue and red clumps of him exploding down her front, into her patent heels. The women were so busy they didn’t hear the shot. Didn’t see Glenn’s body slumped at Tanner’s feet or see the blood trickling from his nose and into the wood floor.

“Flora, how’d you know that wasn’t no real man?”

“When I went into the kitchen to get the gun, he was eating Rinny.” Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Organ Sellers, Demon Possession & Night Riders

Reviews of web fiction, by Lauren Colie

War, by Arnold Böcklin, 1896 painting, public domain, See the Elephant

War, by Arnold Böcklin, 1896

Halloween may be over, but the horror marches on. This week’s selection gathers together dark sides of woman and beast alike. Live on the edge; let your base desires revel in the badness. Read on to face the scary around us and the creepy within.

A Review of Natural Skin by Alyssa Wong at Lightspeed Magazine

“I don’t have a goddamn port,” I say, showing him the patch sewn onto my jacket. The government emblem for Natural Status—no bodily modifications, no drugs, the basic requirements for government jobs—is stitched there in silver thread. “You’re barking up the wrong tree, and you’ll be lucky if I don’t report you at the next police station for it.” Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Beast, Circus & Song

Reviews of fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

henri_rousseau_010

The Sleeping Gypsy, by Henri Rousseau, public domain

Open the door this week on a writer whose ideas are wild, blended beasts that strain to be free of the words binding them to the page – lyrical and fantastic. Maria Dahvana Headley returns with a favored topic – see if she can convince you to run off and join the circus.

Follow this with some spooky sorcery and the expressive power of song. You have every chance to know thyself this week – if you’re ready, just step into the spotlight.

Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Cosmic Jazz, Gender Norms & A Culinary Circus

fernand_khnopff_001by Lauren Colie

There’s something in the Cabinet for everyone this week (but be ready to have your reality challenged). Find God in music, find perspective on gender and find yourself in the center ring of a performance good enough to eat. Broaden your mind, broaden your assumptions – heck, broaden your palate.

 

A Review of The Rest is Noise by Nicholas Kaufmann at Nightmare Magazine

He tapped the Play icon and closed his eyes.

As Indigo’s trumpet began to blare in his ears and he drifted away, some renegade part of him wondered how many times he’d listened to the album now. He’d lost count.

He wondered what day of the week it was. He’d lost track.

But most of all, he wondered what those things were that had begun growing out of his back.

These three music-loving musketeers drift apart after college – and Andrew feels like he’s drifted the most. Years of distance separate him from friends Justin and Indigo, until he receives a mysterious email from Justin with Indigo’s newest album. An album that makes his ears bleed.

Is this experience transcendent or tragic? Is it an elevation of consciousness or a trip gone wrong? Decide for yourself if Indigo is channeling the music of God, or something more sinister.

 

Read it HERE

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A Review of Sultana’s Dream by Rokheya Shekhawat Hossein at Strange Horizons Magazine

“We have no hand or voice in the management of our social affairs. In India man is lord and master, he has taken to himself all powers and privileges and shut up the women in the zenana.”

“Why do you allow yourselves to be shut up?”

“Because it cannot be helped as they are stronger than women.”

“A lion is stronger than a man, but it does not enable him to dominate the human race. You have neglected the duty you owe to yourselves and you have lost your natural rights by shutting your eyes to your own interests.”

“But my dear Sister Sara, if we do everything by ourselves, what will the men do then?”

“They should not do anything, excuse me; they are fit for nothing. Only catch them and put them into the zenana.”

Sister Sara pulls no punches when a dreaming Sultana comes to visit. In her society, traditional Indian gender roles are reversed. Men are kept indoors – and, lo, crime ceased and efficiency increased. Men are naturally combative, right? We just want to protect them from their own innate weaknesses.

A healthy dose of sass highlights some of the fundamental flaws in assumptions about gender. Hossein isn’t questioning stereotypes gently – she’s hammering at them with Sister Sara’s words of wisdom. This is a saucy exploration of social norms – mind the sharp edges.

Read it HERE

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A Review of Taste the Singularity at the Food Truck Circus by Jeremiah Tolbert at Lightspeed Magazine

I stared at the pigeon. It “stared” back. Finally, I mustered the courage to rip off its head. Near as I could tell, the entire bird was edible, although the inside was more air than breading. The taste was delicate, like rose petals. It only took a few minutes to consume, and I felt a little guilty afterward. I’d expected to find another note with directions to the next Circus. But nothing.

Step right up for tapeworms that recharge your devices, screaming gummy people and aerosol nostalgia. This gastronomic circus is full of rogue chefs and culinary oddities – all skating under the iron rule of the FDA.

Enjoy the vivid description of palatable – and unpalatable – delicacies. Enjoy the struggle of one accountant fighting his dreams of work with food. Enjoy the whimsy. Tolbert’s packaged a tasty tale for some light refreshment – bon apetit!

Read it HERE

 

Cabinet of Wonders: Buicks, Aliens and Schrödinger’s Cat

street art, giraffe, creative commons

Girafas 7 by Arteen, from Arte en la Calle (licensed under creative commons 2.0)

Web fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

We dip into the weird parts of science fiction for this week’s Cabinet: it’s Schrödinger’s cat in all its glory. Is your girlfriend alive or dead? Does the pond have a bottom or is it a portal to elsewhere? Is the being on the other side of the doorway friend or foe? Unfortunately (or fortunately) we won’t know the outcome until we look (results may vary, of course). Stretch your mind with these quantum fancies, and don’t forget that seeing isn’t always believing…sometimes, believing is seeing.

 

A Review of “The Knobby Giraffe” by Rudy Rucker at Lightspeed Magazine

I focus on dead Shirley Chen. I’m running on automatic, with a chain of syllogisms pouring forth from the monad that is me. That shiny egg I birthed—obviously I should open it. With a single motion of my will, I form a hatchet in my hand. My cosmic, ten-symbol Monadrule is engraved on one side of the blade. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Mechanized Mothering, Playground Patrols, and Hell

Bank, 1911

vintage photo, public domain

web fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

Little kids creep me out. There’s something extra…other…about them. I think they have one foot in this world and one toe still dipped in what lies beyond. These three short stories will help you start to lift the veil on the secrets hidden in our youngest citizens. Plug in your nightlight, lock the doors, and, whatever you do, don’t think about The Shining.

Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Choices

practicalmagician

vintage poster, public domain

Web fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

Choice: escape or remain. Run or rise. In this Cabinet, we take a look at options. Do we stay on the boat, or step out into the sun?

A Review of Not By Wardrobe, Tornado or Looking Glass, by Jeremiah Tolbert at Lightspeed Magazine

Of course, she didn’t say that if her rabbit hole did arrive, she wouldn’t be coming back. She still had to pay rent for the time being, after all.

One of the many great things about being a ravenous bookworm is the immense depth and variety of imagination. So many grand worlds, grand travels, all from your favorite sunny chair. You know all the potential and all the options — there’s no way to choose a favorite. They’re all a smashing good time. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Windows To The Soul

Window from 1742, Kosta, Sweden. Photo: Mogens Engelund (licensed under Creative Commons).

Window from 1742, Kosta, Sweden. Photo: Mogens Engelund

reviews of short fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

This week’s Cabinet is all about the windows to the soul. These authors are challenging us to see more clearly and to look past, through, inside and around all the social constructs we combat daily. Take away some lightheartedness and try to let go of some of the constraints you imagine holding you back. After all, this state is temporary. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Top 5 Short Stories of 2015

woolworth building in cloudsweb fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

It’s that “out with the old, in with the new” time of year, when I resolve to read more, zen more and road rage less. But amidst the well-meaning promises to make 2016 a raucous good time filled with beach-ready bodies, clean eats and festivals galore, I can’t help but cling to several pieces of the past. I’m not yet ready to close the Cabinet door on some of these superb shorts. Find out what stories are frozen in my mind so deep I just can’t let them go. Here it is, your 2015 year in review. Let’s laugh, cry and howl into the night one last time. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Flee into the Woods

Dark_mossy_forest

short fiction reviews by Lauren Colie

 

Feeling small? I know I am. November’s getting gray, I’ve got a birthday coming up (booooo) and the holidays are rushing closer and closer. Sometimes, it just seems so darn tempting to run into the woods and never look back. Take a little trip with this week’s tales–fly free so you can face the rest of your week with head held high. I know I’m waiting on that last one to bring me back to life.

A Review of When We Were Giants, by Helena Bell at Lightspeed Magazine

The worst part of the giant game was coming back. We’d knock down trees and chase deer and pick up wolves with our bare hands and bang logs together, then one of us would hear the first warning bell and call to the others. None of us liked that part, as we trudged back to the edge of the woods, just close enough that our bodies would come back, just far enough that we were still hidden. We’d get smaller and the world wouldn’t. For the rest of the day we’d think about our giant selves, small and caged in our small blouses, our small skins, and we would mourn. Read more »