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: Toxic Hate, Invisible Sadness & Love

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

“Ethical Conduct,” by Ralle. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Examine your feelings this week. Reflect on the wholesome (if obsessive) glow of a mother’s love, the writhing hate of love gone sour and the echoing loneliness of love that is pale and shallow. We’re traveling the whole spectrum – grab some tissues and a comfort object, you’ll need it.

A Review of “Seven Permutations of My Daughter,” by Lina Rather at Lightspeed Magazine

I arrive home in a whirlwind, a mess of broken universal constants and transdimensional flimflam. Somehow my shirt’s torn and my hair tie is missing. It’s a small price.

I stagger out of the portal onto the concrete floor and Dahlia is waiting in the office chair I scavenged during the last departmental remodel. She is wearing my bunny slippers and her hair is as long as it should be.

She does not seem surprised to see me tumble from the six-foot arc of wires and rebar I constructed next to the water heater. Maybe this is marriage—loving someone so well that nothing they do surprises you anymore. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Nevertheless, She Persisted

… and Other Ways Women Rule

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

This week, women are depicted with agency and complexity (surprise!) Be it an ill-advised but wholly satisfying obsession with sex, a monster-slaying talent for badassery or the timely triumph over a rotten-hearted emperor, these ladies are making their own mistakes, choosing their own adventures and slaying their own dragons. Go forth and conquer, all our femme friends; these stories are for you.

A Review of The Stone Lover by Marta Randall at Lightspeed Magazine

The queen’s sexual appetites were well known even when Agathon was still alive. At least, her courtiers whispered, she couldn’t have her stone lover killed when she tired of him. As it happened, he pleased her so much she retired to her private rooms and had her meals delivered to the door, no farther. She barred her personal servants and slaves from her rooms, save for the one girl who kept the fire burning under the statue and made sure the pipes were clear. She filled the lamps and emptied the chamber pot, slept curled inside the statue’s base, and Phyrra soon forgot she existed. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Phantom Limbs, Terrible Neighbors &…

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

From the “Monsters” series by Fortunio Liceti, 1665, public domain

Phantom Limbs, Terrible Neighbors & A Half-hearted Love God

Enjoy variety and freshness in stories that flow along at a quick clip. This Cabinet features a serious contemplation of the fluidity of memory and time, explores the weird inherent in the manufactured perfection of suburbia and ends on a high, humorous note as Cupid tries to get his game back.

A Review of Phantom Pain by Eileen Gunn at Lightspeed Magazine

For no reason Ed could figure out, he was lying in bed, an ordinary bed in a nice house. No jungle, no rain, no library. He smelled ether. A blonde woman was rubbing ether on his left foot. It was icy cold where it hit the skin, and the heavy, sweet smell of it cut into his head. It hurt like hell, or maybe it was his leg in the jungle that hurt like hell. That’s Katie! he thought, looking at the woman. That’s Katie, but she’s blonde. A thin little boy and a round-faced girl were watching silently. He was not in his proper body: He had only one leg. Why is Katie rubbing ether on it, he wondered. What happened to the other one? Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Bad Juju & Good Intentions

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

Die Sunde, by Franz von Stuck, 1893

Bad Juju & Good Intentions

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 weird fiction on the web, 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 weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie


The Sleeping Gypsy, by Henri Rousseau, public domain

Beast, Circus & Song

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.

A Review of See the Unseeable, Know the Unknowable by Maria Dahvana Headley at Lightspeed Magazine

A sword swallower steps through a metal detector and raises his hands in preemptive apology for the blade he’s substituted for his spine. An acrobat climbs through a window and into a museum’s upstairs bathroom looking for something that will fix the ache inside him, an elephant charges a train calling for its mate. Circuses dissolve. Carnivals collapse. Things get broken. Read more »

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

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie


“La tiare d’argent” by Fernand Khnopff, 1911, public domain

Cosmic Jazz, Gender Norms & A Culinary Circus

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.

Read more »

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

Reviews of weird fiction of the web, by Lauren Colie

street art, giraffe, creative commons

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

Buicks, Aliens & Schrödinger’s Cat

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 & Hell

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

Bank, 1911

vintage photo, public domain

Mechanized Mothering, Playground Patrols & Hell

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.


A Review of “Michael Doesn’t Hate His Mother” by Marie Vibbert at Lightspeed Magazine

Michael thinks about telling someone his mother has turned into a malfunctioning machine. The last adult he tried to tell just said, “You are lucky to have a mother who cares about you.” This is about the same thing the school guidance counselor said, too. He wonders what other kids are saying about their mothers that what he says doesn’t sound strange. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Choices


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 »