My winter issue of Icarus Magazine arrived a couple of days ago, and I opened it with the intention of quickly skimming through the table of contents and the interview, and then tucking aside the magazine for reading on my upcoming train trip to Toronto. Instead, my eye caught on the first line of Sunny Moraine's "The Shapes of Shadows." Soon, it was time for dinner, my stomach was growling, and I'd read the magazine cover-to-cover.
I've had a real run of good luck with finding incredibly well written and enjoyable short pieces lately - so I thought I'd spread the love.
"The Shapes of Shadows" by Sunny Moraine is an absolutely fantastic short speculative fiction piece done in the highest regard for the oft-done notion of a group of humans trying to decode an alien artifact. Taking that idea and breathing a fresh life into it, and the intelligence and cleverness used in the process, is no small feat. I did not want this story to end - always the highest praise I can give to a piece of short fiction. I could absolutely see this world, and these characters, revisited in another story. Or at least I can hope! You can find this story in the Winter 2010 issue of Icarus Magazine ( http://www.lethepressbooks.com/icarus.htm )
"First Flight" by Mary Robinette Kowal is another speclative fiction short that I bumbled into by accident when I was filling my Kobo with short stories for the upcoming train trip - and I'm aware I have already read it, yes, it's a failing of my ability to say no to a good story. Time travel is another device that has been used so often it loses its shine, but Kowal offers the "quantum leap" limitation - the main character of the tale is over a hundred years old and specially sent because she's the only living person they've got who can go far enough back in time to reach a momentous occasion that history would like to see recorded. The characters are fantastic - in specific, the main narrator's voice is delightful - and I loved the unfolding of the tale. You can find this story at http://www.kobobooks.com - and it's actually a free download.
Third, for those Pratchet and Gaiman lovers out there, I humbly submit "Overtime" by Charles Stross. Another failed attempt at stocking my e-reader prior to the train trip, I have at least learned I can't do this more than a day in advance. Stross presents his Laundry (a kind of organization designed to keep the metaphysical/supernatural/otherworldly issues from ripping apart our own world) during one of the creepiest and darkest times of the year: Christmas. (My role as a retail salesperson might colour my interpretation of that reason for the timing of the story.) Done with a really charming humor that consistently made me think of Pratchet and Gaiman's "Good Omens" this short story got more than a few giggles, and the ending was clever. I need to seek out his Laundry novels. You can also find this story at http://www.kobobooks.com - it's another free download.
Have you bumped into a short you've loved lately? I adore the short fiction form, and would love to be aimed in some new directions.