Of Sight, Of Mind, Of Heart is one of those short stories that should come with a warning: don’t read in public; guaranteed to make you cry. Guaranteed to make me cry, anyway, and it’s a pretty solid rule that I do love a story that grabs my heart strings and embarrasses me in public.
“You take a shortcut through the hydroponics bay on your way to work, and notice that the tomato plants are covered in tiny crawling insects that look like miniature beetles.”
WHAT CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
Caroline M Yoachim’s entertaining response wins a Nebula nomination.
Ellie and Zera are best friends from different worlds, separated by a wardrobe door that has closed without warning. Cut off by circumstance and by time streams that flow ever further apart, the friends realise that sometimes you must open your own doors. A Merc Rustad gives us a Nebula-nominated portal fantasy.
1970s Earth. The political situation is fraught, the music scene is humming, and out in space hangs the GCU Arbitrary and its motley crew of humans. Diziet Sma wants to make contact. Linter has gone native and is trying to escape the Arbitrary entirely. And Li wants to blow the place up…
Strange things keep coming out of Nadia’s pockets. Not her things. Not things that might accidentally have found their way into the wrong coat. Not things that should, by rights, physically fit in the space afforded by the pockets in question. But they keep coming out. Pockets is the World Fantasy Award-nominated short story by Amal El-Mohtar.
The tales that trees tell – most of them – are too long, too slow, too uneventful for us to understand. But some stories snake like cold sap through their roots in winter and quicken in summer to race through their thickening foliage. These tales, you see, tell of people, of you and of me.
A group of young people go on holiday, running away from the tawdry disappointments of taking the first steps into their adult lives. They need a few days revelling in their friendship on a warm beach, rekindling old joys. But Punta Silenyo is an empty, haunted resort. Is it the best place to forget their cares?
Vita awakens blind, her onboard AI assuring her there’s no problem with visual feed. Stranded in a ship so damaged it can’t tell where it hurts, can Vita face her own wounds and find her way home?
The men who marry the desert (bad things happen to them)
Two young people try to make the best of their lives in a desert town struggling after the local mine collapsed. But the desert is drowned in secrets and raw with untapped power that threatens to consume them. Alyssa Wong has crafted a superb story that is shrouded in mystery and humming with myth.
Charlotte is dead, sacrificed on the word of a powerful man to buy the safety of her community. Her bones lie uneasily at the bottom of the garden by the river, its quiet lullaby doing nothing to reconcile her to her fate. Lullaby for a Lost World is another haunting short story from Aliette de Bodard.
Agatha is plump, her swelling belly a cause for mockery within her unpleasant family. Agatha is also rich and well-connected; she can buy a new one and sell hers on, jiggles and all. But when she sees her buyer, her desires change… J Y Yang’s Secondhand Bodies takes an unflinching look at toxic relationships and the arrogance of privilege.
This is the last of my posts on award-nominated short fiction for the time being, with the Locus awards almost upon us. Folding Beijing is a scintillating vision from Chinese author Hao Jingfang (translation by Ken Liu): an urban fairy tale in a chillingly recognisable future. In the China of tomorrow, everyone will have a place.
Professor Duy Uyen is dead, her life’s work – to grow food in space and bring food safety to the Dai Viet Empire – unfinished. Aliette de Bodard’s Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight explores the impact of the Professor’s death on the three people closest to her, a melancholy exploration of mourning, reflection and acceptance.
The Best of Apex kicks off with multi-awarding short story Jackalope Wives. When Eva’s brooding boy half-catches himself a jackalope wife, he turns to his Grandma Harken for help. But there’s not much an old lady can do about some mistakes. Or is there?
Bonus bite: Grandma Harken deserves more than one story, so Ursula Vernon wrote her another adventure – The Tomato Thief.
Timmy Wilde has disappeared, but his mom has a pretty good idea of how to find him. God-fearing woman and devoted pastor’s wife she may be, but she’ll do whatever it takes to bring her son home. Some journeys take you to unexpected places.