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It's the end of the year as we know it. And just in case you're need a little help feeling fine, I thought I would point you to some fun SFF stories that might perk up the dark days.

I often find it really difficult to find SFF short fiction that I can point to and recommend as "fun". To many people, my definition of fun (and maybe SFF's idea of fun in general) would seem kind of screwed up. It encompases stories where massive explosions rip through spaceships, stories where people die, even stories where people break up. So, I've read plenty of entertaining stories this year about flu viruses, body jumpers, and the instability of universes - stories that were lovely and largely fun for me to read. I also laughed along with a piece of fairytale noir that was pure snark gold. However, because these stories also contain some dark themes and heavy emotions, when it comes to recommending these stories as pure fun I find myself feeling like I need to throw out caveats whether I really need to or not.

Below are five stories that I think I can safely call pure fun. They're smart, funny and (a complete non-spoiler) nobody dies in these stories. I hope you enjoy them knowing that while there are still surprises in store, at the end of the day, everything is going to be fine.

"Werewolf Loves Mermaid" by Heather Lindsley - A surreal little story about the long term romance between a werewolf (who turns back into a man named Dave after the full-moon) and a mermaid. 'Dave obviously wasn’t into mermaids, and Mermaid wasn’t into Dave.' but when Dave becomes Werewolf again the two get in touch and become a couple.

The two main characters are just such charming weirdos. She's a pot smoking Mermaid who works a catering job and steals the seafood canapes. He's the best man at the wedding of a vampire and a teenager. And the story pulls odd snippets from their life together, under snarkily subtitled headings, to show why the two fit so well despite being separated so often throughout their lives. My favourite section has to be 'So This is Christmas' which details all the strange presents the couple get each other. The story's out of the ordinary approach to mixing the supernatural with non-traditional everyday life reminded me a lot of Martin Millar, the Cat Fox Wolf comic and, bizarrely, The Bloggess (I think it's the reference to taxidermy that brought her to mind). This was the most fun SFF story I read all year. Thanks to whoever rec'd it on the Hugo Awards (2015 - 2016) sheet!

"Postcards from Monster Island" by Emily Devenport - I keep wanting to recommend this story, about giant monsters which disrupt an entire city, to everyone who loved Pacific Rim but I don't want to set up false expectations. It's more about community co-operation and making a life in a land of monsters than it is about explosive battles. Also, at no point does Idris Elba make an appearance. However, I still think SFF fans who like a mixture of domestic life and monsters in their stories will have a good time with it.

The narrator is sick with The Martian Death Flu when her city is invaded by two supernatural beings that the media calls Cloud Squid and Behemoth. Over the course of the story she meets a group of neighbours who all have their reasons for staying in what the same media now dubs The Danger Zone. They meet to discuss the animals, end up discovering more otherworldly creatures, and try to keep their city from being blown up by the "helpful" military.

It was so nice to see a different spin on the 'oddball community bands together in the face of monsters and destruction' storyline. However, while I appreciated seeing an empathetic spin on a big monster story, I really got into "Postcards from Monster Island" because of how much attention Devenport pays to creating the ordinary backdrop to her science fiction scenario. The world's understanding has been drastically altered by the appearance of the creatures, and the city the narrator lives in is largely deserted. Yet, Devonport keeps the first section tightly focused on how, even when you're so sick it feels like you're dying, a single person, with three jobs and dogs, has to keep going about their regular business. Starting the story with a narrator who is sick, and so unable to fully engage with the life changing events around them, was a smart way of keeping up the suspense at the beginning of the story. And of course, I liked this choice because it allowed the story to stay so 'real' even as a giant squid was flying overhead.

"Tomorrow is Waiting" by Holli Mitzer - This story is so cute; you are just going to drown in its sugarey embrace. Renay and I have been hoping to write about Mitzer's story so I don't want to say too much about it. Still, I couldn't resist adding it to this final Short Business post of the year because it is legitimately adorable. It's got Muppets, singing self-aware robots and a great amount of free, creative good done by people captivated by a project. I also liked that it showed science (so often the unfortunate hostage of cat stroking villains in SFF) being used for good. An adorable and lovely story that brings out some of the wonder we all feel when we see science used to bring joy.

"In the House of Seven Librarians" by Ellen Klages - Klage's story is an indulgent treat for people who love books and value libraries. It's kind of a spin on the 'it takes a village to raise a child' idea but with a library, a nod to Snow White, and literary version of the Seven Sisters. There are bookish references, pernickety details about old library systems, and a journey through the character quirks of all the female librarians. Ultimately, it's a story about knowledge and the desire for adventure that is stirring in a young girl. A good story for reading when it's dark outside, and you'd like nothing better than to sit close to a roaring fire with a story indebted to an old school love of books.

"A Dozen Frogs, a Bakery, and a Thing that Didn't Happen" by Laura Pearlman - And let's finish off with a fun fairytale/revenge fantasy. The narrator gets a job in Goody Good Goodies, a bakery that makes unicorn cakes, 'smells like chocolate and cinnamon and honey and apples', and has an aquarium full of frogs. Pearlman structures this story as a set of diary entries written by a woman who is clearly concealing the truth about her asshole boyfriend from herself. After hearing the name of the bakery, reader, you will no doubt be eyeing that tank of frogs with some suspicion. And you would be right to wonder what the ultimate fate of Steve, the narrator's awful boyfriend, may be. I'm not usually a fan of magical revenge stories which trap and transform men (see Alyssa Wong's "The Fisher King"). I prefer a clean fictional kill. But I still enjoyed this story, probably because the diary structure shows the narrator to be so full of pep and denial that it adds an interesting extra layer to the story.

Other Fun Stories Lady Business Has Recommended in 2015

"Toad Words" by Ursula Vernon
"Cat Pictures Please" by Naomi Kritzer
"Pockets" by Amal El-Mohtar
"To Whatever" by Shaenon Garrity


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