helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Guest Columnist underneath. (guest column)
[personal profile] helloladies
Hey friends.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been finding the world a very stressful place recently. That can make it really hard for me to focus. So I thought I’d put together a list of comforting stories. Because sometime I just need to read something that reminds me of the good in the world. I learned from talking about hopeful stories that some of the stories I found bleak others found hopeful, so I suspect that not everyone will be comforted by these stories. There’s a lot family in these stories: both blood family and found family; a fair bit of food; and plenty of people being nice to each other and trying their best. Those are the things I try and hold on to when things are hard. I hope they bring you some comfort. Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Guest Columnist underneath. (guest column)
[personal profile] helloladies
Lois McMaster Bujold once said that SFF is a "fantasy of political agency". I think about this frequently even though she said it ten years ago in her Worldcon guest of honor speech. She meant that SFF is about people who have the power to change their worlds. (This explains the popularity of monarchies which we see as allowing an individual more power.) That is less true of short fiction, because shorts have to be smaller in scope. Plus, I love domestic stories about everyday life so I tend to read a lot stories that focus on those.

However, the prevalence of a certain kind of "political agency" story—you know, the one where the dude with the sword is the only one who can save the kingdom—in fiction can make it feel like one has to be a long lost heir or chosen one to change society. To help counter that narrative, and also because it gives me hope in these troubled times, I’ve put together a list of stories about ordinary people who are trying to fix their worlds or resisting oppressive governments/societies. Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Guest Columnist underneath. (guest column)
[personal profile] helloladies
One thing I’ve learned from talking to people about short fiction is that there are many different styles of reading short fiction. There are people like me who read one story (generally online) and then stop and do something else. There are people who sit down with a print or ebook magazine and read the whole thing cover to cover. There are people who only listen to short fiction in podcast form. So I was thinking about the different ways people read short SFF, and I wanted to find out more about these differences. I also thought that since lots of people have different short fiction reading habits, people who want to try short fiction might find that different pieces of advice are helpful to different people. So I’ve invited several guests to the column to talk about their short fiction reading habits and to share advice for people new to short fiction.

This roundtable features prolific short fiction readers, so they have a lot of great ideas for where to find short fiction, but I know it can be a little intimidating when there's so much to choose from and people who read so much! I hope this roundtable gives readers a taste of how many ways there are to read short fiction and how many entry points there are, and that there's no wrong way to read, including how much you read or at what point in life you start reading short fiction.

My guests are A.C. Wise, Bogi Takács, Brandon O’Brien, Vanessa Fogg, and Bridget McKinney. While we were working on this roundtable, the 2018 Hugo Awards finalist were announced, and I'm very pleased that two of my guests, Bogi Takács and Bridget McKinney, are on that list! Congratulations to both of them! And now without further ado I’ll let my guests introduce themselves. Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Guest Columnist underneath. (guest column)
[personal profile] helloladies
Well, 2017 was a shitty year in a lot of ways, but in terms of short fiction it was pretty good for me. I read many excellent fiction of all lengths. There are still more short stories being published than novelettes and novellas, but the latter two are catching up, especially with the Book Smugglers novella line debuting this year and Tor.com continuing to put out a ton of novellas. I’m also seeing online magazines being more and more willing and able to print longer works.

As always, I didn’t read anything close to all the short fiction published this year. But I did come up with a scheme to help keep myself from getting too behind. In the past I’ve tried to read a short story a day and I’ve never been able to keep that up. Instead, starting in 2017 I’ve been setting myself a monthly goal to read at least 12 pieces of short fiction. This is a lot less than a story a day but a lot more do-able and helps me keep up with what I’ve bookmarked to read rather than letting everything pile up until it's overwhelming. I’ve also been working on not finishing stories that I’m not enjoying and not reading things that are too grim for my tastes. I think I’ve improved on both of those counts.

I’ve noticed some themes and trends in the short fiction I’ve been reading. My personal tastes tend towards domestic short fiction. I love stories with cooking, farming, and just plain daily living, so you’ll find stories with those themes in this list. These types of stories seemed easier to find this year, but maybe I’ve just gotten really good at honing in on them.

Another theme I’m seeing a lot is robots and AI, especially fiction from the viewpoint of an AI character. I’ve been seeing this trend in more longer works, too, and I think it's great; I love seeing so many takes on what being a robot might be like.

Another great trend I’m seeing is more marginalized characters and greater diversity of such. Short fiction has always been one of the more diverse corners of SFF and that diversity has only gotten wider and deeper over time. This year's list features stories about non-binary characters, characters with a variety of disabilities, queer characters, and characters of many ethnicities. Many of these are #ownvoices stories.

And now on to my favorite stories of 2017! I’ve listed these by Hugo Award categories for the convenience of nominating for the awards.

Short Stories )

Novelettes )

Novellas )

That’s everything! I hope this list is helpful and that you find something here that you love. How was your 2017 short fiction reading? Did you love anything I didn’t include? Please share recommendations in the comments.
[personal profile] forestofglory is a fan, crafter, and an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy short fiction. You can find her on Dreamwidth and on Twitter at [twitter.com profile] forestofglory.
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Guest Columnist underneath. (guest column)
[personal profile] helloladies
I often come across online discussions about the state of short SFF. In some ways it's a golden age for short SFF right now. Yet people still wonder why there aren't more short SFF reviews, framing the question as if reviews are how most, or at least more, people can find excellent short SFF to read and love. While many readers do find short SFF through reviews, this framing and these conversations ignore what I consider to be a critical part of the short SFF conversation: people who write about short SFF but not in a review format. Read more... )
helloladies: Horseshoe icon with the words Guest Columnist underneath. (guest column)
[personal profile] helloladies
Marissa Lingen is a fabulous author whose work I adore. She has written many things that I love to pieces. I try to check out her new work as soon as it is released. I squee excitedly when I see her name on a publication. I love her writing because it satisfies both my desire to feel all the feelings and my desire for the details to be done right. Yet, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of her because she writes primarily short form and has never published a novel. But her work is awesome and should be more widely known.

Lingen’s stories are all over the SFF spectrum, from domestic fantasy to alternate history with frequent stops in science fictional territory. Wherever she takes her readers, she always pays close attention to the details that matter most to me, like what people eat, who washes the dishes and other aspects of daily living. These kind of domestic details may be considered women’s work by some but to me are what make a story feel real and lived in. (Besides women live in real worlds.) Her characters are not lone heros but people with families and friends. Lingen does excellent cross generational relationships including grandparent-grandchild relationships and big families. She has a background in physics so given her attention to detail the physics of her stories are probably correct (it's not something I care about —now ecology details on the other hand...), but they aren’t the focus, which instead remains on the characters.

Here is sampling of her work for you to try: Read more... )
helloladies: Gray icon with a horseshoe open side facing down with pink text underneath that says Guest Post (guest post)
[personal profile] helloladies
We're thrilled to share the first post in the Short & Sweet column written by [personal profile] forestofglory. Short & Sweet is an ongoing short fiction column full of recs and short fiction goodness, and [personal profile] forestofglory will drop in each quarter to share what she's been reading and what short fiction she's excited about. We're so happy to have her; please give her a warm welcome (and read her recs!).


Animal Brides


Here are six stories featuring animal brides, a trope about animals who turn into women and marry humans. Sometimes they have choice about this and sometimes the human forces them. This trope can take a lot different forms and the worlds in these stories are varied. Animal brides allow authors to explore ways women are viewed and desired. The trope lets the authors examine a variety of animals and animal archetypes.These stories deal with entitlement and freedom. They frequently draw on fairy tales and myths. This collection hits a lot different themes and moods from cute to creepy. Overall this list a bit darker then what I really generally rec but I love all of these stories.

"The Contemporary Foxwife" by Yoon Ha Lee (4,763 words) — So this is probably one of my favorite stories ever, it's so cute and sweet. It's a bit of an outlier here being the happiest story and also the only story to feature a male animal bride, and the only story with science fictional elements – it’s set on a space station.

"The Animal Women" by Alix E. Harrow (8,534 words) — Content note: race in America, violence, attempted sexual assault. I got really sucked into this story set in the US south about how women’s voices are repressed. It is pretty dark in places but had an ending I found hopeful. While the women in this story aren’t brides, their animal affinities are important, and the story shares many themes with other animal bride stories.

"The Fox Bride" by Mari Ness (1,308 words) — This one really plays on the animal nature of the animal bride and also the way stories have of taking over reality. It's extremely unromantic about animals and what they are like.

"Dragon Brides" by Nghi Vo (3,620 words) — Rather than a story about dragons who marry men, this a story about women who marry dragons. Or rather about a princess who was once captured by a dragon. But it feels thematically of a piece with the rest.

"Jackalope Wives" by Ursula Vernon (5,000 words) — I love how the author uses the desert myths and legends here. Between that and her depiction of desert fauna and flora she really brings the desert to life. I also really enjoy Grandma Harken–it’s nice to see an old woman be the hero of a story and I enjoy her no nonsense attitude.

"Foxwife" by Hiromi Goto in The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm ed. Ellen Datlow and Terrie Windling — This story gives us a glimpse of such an interesting world I always wish the author would write something else set there. I also really like how Goto uses aspects of Japanese myths.

These stories are about many types of animals and multiple genders, but they've all stuck with me, and changed how I think about women and desire. Looking at women and marriage through the lens of animals let me understand some of the ways women are objectified and treated as less than human. Particularity the way the fox (and the prince) are treated in Mari Ness' story where they aren't given a choice about their marriage. Though other stories have aspects of this too: for example, the careless way Grandma Harken's grandson treats the Jackalope wife. But the trope can also explore the ways women have power even in situations where they seem powerless. "Animal women" makes this point especially well. Ultimately, animal brides is a varied trope which is why there are so many great, but very different, stories featuring them. I hope you will take time to read some of these.

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