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Everyone thinks my brother is nice. He set up a rescue centre for birds, after the terraforming accident poisoned the lake. That's always the image of him, holding a bird covered in sludge. The birds are never the same after they're cleaned, but the gossips never talk about that.

Polenth Blake's "Never the Same" is a strange, dark story that shows the importance of shaking up well used SFF narratives and introducing radically new fictional voices. It's also a story that left me wondering if I could trust anything that I'd read, and yet still weirdly satisfied by what I'd read.

A little like "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" it's difficult to analyse "Never the Same" without giving away all the story's secrets, so consider this your spoiler warning.

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Today, Memory - the lady that comics built - explains the mysteries of the Hugo's Best Graphic Story category, and reveals ten award eligible comics she loves.

My name is Memory and I'm a vocal comics-lover.

This being the case, Jodie invited me to come by this week and talk to y’all about the Best Graphic Story category at the Hugo Awards. I want to say a bit about what qualifies for the award, how you (yes, you!) can nominate your favourite comics, and which 2014 releases I particularly recommend you check out.

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Still waiting for an invite to the short fiction party? Well let us dispense with the formalities, sweep you inside and get you the beverage of your choice!

Today, Short Business features blogger and short fiction enthusiast forestofglory who's keen to tell you all about her favourite short fiction of 2014. Whether you're planning to nominate short work for the Hugo Awards or just looking for a great story to read, let this post guide you through a variety of excellent options.

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One of the best things about my participation in the Hugo Awards is that it has lead me to realize how much awesome SFF short fiction is being published. As I’ve become more aware of SFF short fiction as the number of authors and online magazines I follow has increased. I am now much more aware of new things that I want to read. This year I’ve read an impressive amount of short fiction. I’ve read about 85 works online and 4 anthologies, plus collections which included original work. Of course I still haven’t read anything like all the of short SFF work published this year. There is just so much!

Anyways, based on what I’ve read here are my favorite short works from 2014. I’ve divided them by length based on Hugo categories. If you have nominating privileges this year I hope you’ll consider nominating some of these stories. And even if you aren’t a World Con member I hope you’ll read and enjoy some of these works.

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How to tell your fake boyfriend you would like to become a robot:

1. Tell him, "I would like to be a robot." You can also say, "I am really a robot, not a female-bodied biological machine," because that is closer to the truth.

2. Do not tell him anything. If you do, you will also have to admit that you think about ways to hurt yourself so you have an excuse to replace body parts with machine parts.

3. Besides, insurance is unlikely to cover your transition into a robot.

A. Merc Rustad's "How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps" reminded me strongly of last year's Hugo contender "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love". Charming, quirky, artfully secretive, and with a similar melancholic emotional pull to Rachel Swirsky's story, "How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps" is for everyone who enjoys literature, robots, and crying in inappropriate places.

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"How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps" is available for free at Sciegentasy magazine.

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Susan Hated Literature
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Once, upon a lime, there was a frog.

This frog was the most handsome in all the land, the only frog able to balance his thin green body upon the fat round fruits that fell from Salima Sultan Begum's handsome lime trees. He pressed his candy-yellow toes firmly into the green skins and rolled to and fro and fro and to, all the while chirruping, because the empress also loved the sounds of her garden. This he knew as he was a gentleman frog, and it was important to know the likes and dislikes of one's empress. He, being the only frog, put on a certain show.

Here we are - only the second Short Business post of 2015 - and I've already got to talk about I don't quite get a short story. I've read E. Catherine Tobler's "Once, Upon a Lime" twice now, and I'm still not really clear what it means to give to the reader and what it expects back. Oh well, I suppose there's nothing for it but to forge on and hope someone pops up in the comments with a bit more knowledge than me.

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Once, Upon a Lime is available for free at Strange Horizons.

Supplementary Materials
Podcast: "Once, Upon a Lime" read by Anaea Lay

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Tangent Online
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A new year and a new crop of SFF short stories are eligible for The Hugo Awards! Three months before nominations close, hundreds of eligible stories… Yep that's definitely excitement you can sense, not panic.

Last year, I started our Short Business feature because I wanted to learn more about short SFF fiction in the run up to the Hugo voting period. I've always wanted to spend more time reading short fiction, but like Renay, I find short fiction difficult to navigate alone. I wanted to see if blogging about short stories could motivate me to push through the confusing parts and help me get a better grasp on the short form. And it started to work - after starting the feature I found I could read a confusing short story without falling into a swirling vortex of personal doubt and I could make some sort of sense of what I was reading.

More and more short fiction is being published online, and I have access to a gigantic amount of stories that tweak my interests. It's a little overwhelming, but I'm going to continue trying to work short fiction out with my words. So, before Hugo nominations close in March, I plan to read some of the stories our friends and readers have added to our Hugo spreadsheet.

I'm starting with Marie Brennan's "Daughter of Necessity" - a retelling of Penelope's quest to vanquish her unwanted suitors. I love retellings of Ancient Greek stories so "Daughter of Necessity" seemed like the perfect way to kick off Short Business in the New Year, especially as Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons is on my (long) list of highly anticipated novels.

By day she crafts; by night she unmakes. Surely somewhere, in all the myriad crossings of the threads, there is a future in which all will be well. Marie Brennan offers an intriguing new spin on a classic tale.

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"Daughter of Necessity" is available for free at

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Susan Hated Literature


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