Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Short Fiction Round Up: March and April 2021

Hello readers! I’m back with a short fiction round up spanning two months, as I was absent in March due to a death in the family. So…please enjoy some short stories that helped me grapple with grief.

Deadlock by Aimee Ogden (Fireside Magazine)
Ogden’s prose is always clear, sharp and laser-focused. It is on display at it’s best in this small 800 word flash piece published in Danny Lore’s amazing issue of Fireside. I actually had to stop myself from adding other stories from this issue here, but I highly encourage you to read them all! It’s such an excellent collection! Now, back to Deadlock: Ogden’s apocalyptic piece about climate change leaves a reader breathless as it balances anger, despair, and resignation. But as always, in true Ogden fashion, it ends with a little glitter of hope.  

Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine)
Pinsker’s newest short story is structured to mimic an internet conversation analysing the lyrics of an "old English ballad." Throughout the story, a group of internet users discuss the meaning and origin of the titular "Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather" ballad. Pinsker crafts horror atmospheres slowly– the creeping sense of dread comes from unspooling a mystery masterfully hidden between the lines of her work, until you reach the end, and feel as if you – and the characters – were always going to end up here. I especially loved the touch of adding small "intra-community" forum discussions as part of the story, as I felt it added depth to this already complex and powerful story. 

Things I Learned Today by Kyle Aisteach (Daily Science Fiction)
Aisteach’s hilarious little flash story about toddlers, Zoom, cats, and dark magic is a perfect story for 2021. It begins with the line "Any toddler who manages to pick up a full gasoline can immediately gains the power to run at the speed of light and to pass through walls simply by turning the gas can upside down," and just gets better from there.

Our Nomadic Forest – J. S. Alexander (Hexagon Magazine)
While the whole Spring issue of Hexagon Magazine is a delight, this story really stood out to me with it's originality. The short story follows a romance between two members of different tribes who live in a forest. The story is set during an important historical moment for both communities, namely a moment in which the (nomadic) forest is moving around the village. The romance -- both between the two lovers, and between the characters and their natural environment -- is beautiful, and gives this story amazing weight. 

So your grandmother is a starship now: a quick guide for the bewildered by Marissa Lingen (nature)
Lingen's flash fiction is genuine, multi-layered, and nuanced, even in only a couple of hundred words. Her celebration of women's agency by challenging our assumptions about -- especially older-- female characters is couched in the style of a perfectly crafted brochure, whose comedic questions such as "Can I stop her from becoming a starship?" receive cutting and clear answers ("no"). 


POSTED BY: Elisabeth R Moore is a writer, birder and grad student living in Germany. When she's not writing strange stories about scary plants, or reviewing short fiction, she can be found crocheting, hiking or biking. She tweets at @willowcabins.