Nebula weekend (which is amazing) has disrupted my well-meant plans to post a short story every day, though I will say that this is an incredible year for short fiction at the Nebulas.
If you have not read “Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell, you absolutely must. It is lovely and a little heartbreaking, but ends on a warm note. It is amazing how much Wiswell has packed into such a short space. I was told this weekend, prior to his winning the award, that he was someone I should follow and read given my personal writing goals. I absolutely agree. If I someday make someone feel half as much as I felt reading that story, I would be thrilled.
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.”
To challenge myself during the summer, my plan is to read more short stories and blog something that I liked about them. It’s easy to accidentally spoil shorter works, but I’ll try not to do that. Feel free, however, to discuss in the comments.
Today’s story was “Our Fate, Told in Photons” by K.W. Colyard. As a child, oral traditions surrounding the Pleiades constellation always fascinated me, particularly those that centered on the sisters in the stars. Colyard does a beautiful job of meshing the often-aching dynamics of sisterhood against the question of a legacy that is an accident of birth.
Quote I particularly liked: “But the idea of immortality, the drive toward it, is part of the human experience. When someone tells you that your blood, your bone and grit and stardust, has the chance to live past the end of forever? You either latch onto that, or you run screaming from it.”
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.