A Short Summer #2

Today’s short read was “St. Juju” by Rivers Solomon. I discovered their work earlier this year (or maybe last….pandemic time is funny that way) when I read An Unkindness of Ghosts. Since then, when I see Rivers’ name on something, it goes right onto my to-read list. Perhaps at some point I’ll write about Unkindness… it deserves a lot of mention.

“St. Juju” is part of a series of science fiction stories produced by the Verge called “Better Worlds,” all of which are accompanied by videos like the one above. I like the concept but will say that I ended up stopping the video so that I could read and savor Solomon’s language, picturing all these characters for myself. The worldbuilding was intriguing and having just read Solomon’s Sorrowland, I wonder if this world has any connection to that.

There are a lot of small moments in the description that say a lot in a short space. Here’s a quote I particularly liked: “Enid grabs my hand and squeezes tight, enough to hurt, but the pressure reins me in. It reminds me that my body exists. I don’t know why she bothers with a thing as untogether as me.”

Short Stories for the Week Ahead

I’ve been reading short stories lately, some familiar, some not, for both enjoyment and to think about what makes a good short story work. It’s not a universal formula, but I do find that I gravitate to stories that typically have a strong central character or a premise that speaks to me, either because it’s fantastical or because I can relate to it in some way personally.

In no particular order, here’s three stories that struck me this week. No spoilers. The stories are short enough that you should really go read them yourself.

The Mathematics of Fairyland, Phoebe Barton – The language in this story is just lovely. It’s a wonderous blend of space and fantasy in most unexpected ways.

All the Flavors: A Tale of Guan Yu, the Chinese God of War, in America, Ken Liu – The painful history of Asian discrimination in the West is the basis for this story. Liu is one of my favorite short story authors (I recommend “The Paper Menagerie” frequently to non-SF readers as a way to try and lure them toward speculative fiction).

Proof by Induction, Jose Pablo Iriarte – I won’t at all be surprised if this story about the dynamic between a father and son before and after death wins awards this year. It’s just that good.