The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin - "Ursula Kroeber was born in Berkeley, in 1929, into a family busy with the reading, recording, telling, and inventing of stories. She grew up listening to her aunt Betsy’s memories of a pioneer childhood and to California Indian legends retold by her father. One legend of the Yurok people says that, far out in the Pacific Ocean but not farther than a canoe can paddle, the rim of the sky makes waves by beating on the surface of the water. On every twelfth upswing, the sky moves a little more slowly, so that a skilled navigator has enough time to slip beneath its rim, reach the outer ocean, and dance all night on the shore of another world."
Martin L. Shoemaker's "Today I Am Paul" and Rich Larson's "Meshed" explore the emotional impact of technological developments within relatively familiar futures, and Caroline M. Yoachim's "Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World" draws on a wide variety of SF motifs to make the future a strange and sometimes poignant allegory for wonders of the past. Each story has been selected for an upcoming year's best SF anthology—either Rich Horton's or Neil Clarke's—and two received mention earlier this year from the unverified @gardnerdozois.
Heather Lindsley's "Werewolf Loves Mermaid," Sunil Patel's "The Merger," and Emil Ostrovski's "Tragic Business" develop humorous situations from SF/F motifs: cryptid romance, intergalactic business negotiations, and the cycle of death and rebirth, respectively. Lincoln Michel's "Dark Air" combines common weird fiction / horror situations with a very dry, very dark sense of humor. Naomi Kritzer's "So Much Cooking" is a serious SF story about a grave possibility, but it brings the matter home via a witty parody of a cooking blog.
"Unconventional Advice for the Discerning Reader" by Sophie Wereley and "The Practical Witch's Guide to Acquiring Real Estate" by A. C. Wise are recent fantasy short stories that offer handy tips from similar perspectives. "Pockets" by Amal El-Mohtar and "The Apartment Dweller's Bestiary" by Kij Johnson (who adds one beast in a comment) are recent stories that blend strangeness into everyday life with poignant results. All via @SpiralGalaxy and @SFFMicroReviews. [more inside]
Locus Magazine has published its 2014 Recommended Reading List. BestSF.net has given its Best SF Short Story Award for 2014. Tables of contents have been announced for The Year's Best Science Fiction, Thirty-Second Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois, Year's Best Weird Fiction, Volume Two edited by Kathe Koja and Michael Kelly, and The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Nine edited by Jonathan Strahan. And several writers have called out their favorite stories of the year too, e.g. Ken Liu, Carmen Maria Machado and Sofia Samatar, Usman Malik, and Fran Wilde, Michael R. Underwood, Tina Connolly, and Beth Cato. Quite a few of these short fiction selections from 2014 have been published online in full. [more inside]
I try to do two things with my style. The first is to pay attention to how the words sound together ... The other thing is to juxtapose odd images.Sometimes ornate, sometimes economical, and always striking, Yoon Ha Lee's short fiction combines motifs from fantasy and science fiction with remarkable fruitfulness: "There are soldiers and scientists, space travel and dragons, leather-bound books, locked doors, and genocidal rampages. Each tale strains at the edges of possibility. No two of Lee's stories are alike, except for a similar pulse powering each word, each juxtaposition, each startling turn of events." Much of Lee's output is available online, including dozens of flash fiction fairy tales and two works of interactive fiction. [more inside]
SF Signal today finished a top 50 countdown of short SF/fantasy podcast fiction: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1. The Parsec Awards for SF podcasts honor many other stories annually, as well as related non-fiction, comedy, and music: 2014 nominees; 2013; 2012; 2011; 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; and 2006. And since 2012, the Hugo Award nominees for Best Fancast have been two-time winner SF Squeecast!, plus The Coode Street Podcast, Galactic Suburbia, SF Signal, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, StarShipSofa, Tea and Jeopardy, Verity!, and The Writer and The Critic with the popular Writing Excuses podcast often appearing in another category. [more inside]
Velma "Velveteen" Martinez is a toy-animating super hero created by Seanan McGuire, a.k.a. Mira Grant. Over the past six years, McGuire's "Velveteen vs." story cycle has been released gradually on LiveJournal, achieving a dedicated following thanks to the story's overall emotional complexity. As fantasy author Tanya Huff has written, "Velveteen is about a young woman who fights crime in a pair of rabbit ears in much the same way Buffy was about a girl who killed vampires. That being, not so much." [more inside]
Friendship is Optimal is not a "My Little Pony" fanfic, but a SF story that starts with a procedurally-generated MLP MMO, and crescendos to what could very well be the Best Possible Outcome if self-optimizing algorithms are given /almost/ the right goals. Some readers are horrified by the implications; some want to move into "Equestria Online" anyway. Whichever camp you fall in, you'll never forget the phrase "satisfy human values through friendship and ponies".
She sat zazen, concentrating on not concentrating, until it was time to prepare for the appointment. Sitting seemed to produce the usual serenity, put everything in perspective. Her hand did not tremble as she applied her make-up; tranquil features looked back at her from the mirror. She was mildly surprised, in fact, at just how calm she was, until she got out of the hotel elevator at the garage level and the mugger made his play. She killed him instead of disabling him. Which was obviously not a measured, balanced action--the official fuss and paperwork could make her late. Annoyed at herself, she stuffed the corpse under a shiny new Westinghouse roadable whose owner she knew to be in Luna, and continued on to her own car. This would have to be squared later, and it would cost. No help for it--she fought to regain at least the semblance of tranquillity as her car emerged from the garage and turned north. Nothing must interfere with this meeting, or with her role in it. "Melancholy Elephants," an enthralling, Hugo Award-winning short story by Spider Robinson about a disciplined operative, a powerful senator, and a crucial mission to preserve humanity's most precious resource. (some spoilers inside) [more inside]
"... That’s the way with epiphanies: You can’t know in advance what they’ll be. Even me. I can see them coming, but I can’t understand something until I understand it.”T he man who can see the future has a date with the woman who can see many possible futures.
The Brazen Android by William Douglas O'Connor, is a 19th century science fiction story based on the myth of the Brazen Head, a steam-powered head that told fortunes. It's available as an audio book from the Internet Archives. (Via)
In 1974 - or 1976, depending who you ask - Armistead Maupin began writing "an extended love letter to a magical San Francisco” in the form of a serialized, fictional drama published originally in the Pacific Sun, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner, originally called "The Serial" which then became collectively known as Tales of The City. It is a suprisingly beautiful, deep, emotional, cosmopolitan and lasting tale about life in San Francisco in the turbulent, heady days of the 1970s and 1980s. Widely credited with and cherished for helping spread a little of the openess, tolerance and acceptance that San Francisco is now famous for. It then became a series of books - Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, Babycakes, Significant Others, Sure of You - and lastly, the spin-off tale of Michael Tolliver Lives. Almost exactly twenty years after first publishing, it then became an excellent miniseries from the United Kingdom's Channel 4, which aired in the United States on PBS, but not without protest or limitations. [more inside]
How To Talk To Girls At Parties by Neil Gaiman. Full text and reading by the author: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.