Hugo 2020 Reading – May

My writing this last month focused on getting an essay and short story ready for the Mormon Lit Blitz. Neither was fantasy, which is why I did not post about finishing drafts here. I feel more confident with the essay than the story, even though I haven’t written essays since college. So we’ll see how they do.

I do have some big news though – “Tattered Flower” sold to The Arcanist and will likely be published July 12. Hooray! I’ll get an author commentary up that day, and create free e-books soon after.

But now, the stuff I’ve read:

Cold Iron Comfort” by Hayley Stone
a short story published by Apex

I’m not a fan of gritty stories like this one, even though I know the subject matter of escaping abuse matters to some people. I did like the fae aspects, and how the trans experience changed things. The details really felt grounded, and the ending satisfied.

Adrianna in Pomegranate” by Samantha Mills
a short story published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

I like stories that get into nitty gritty of how magic works, and this one did that – showing how materials and tools would affect the writing magic. I was put off at first by the unconventional structure of the story, but it does fit the story well. I wonder if it would have worked better if I had read it instead of listening to it. As it was, it was a bit hard to keep track of the characters until I was half-way through. I did feel touched at the ending though.

“The First Warden” by Kai Wolden
a novelette published in Writers of the Future volume 35

I was thrown out of this story at the beginning. Shae saves Noch because he perceives that Noch would live. But there’s no consideration of the fact that Noch could still infect others with the plague. No quarantine is mentioned, and people who want to stay away from him are disregarded as superstitious. That would make sense after a certain time, but not right away. It was also hard to feel for Shae when his conflict with the council was largely kept nebulous.

(5 stars) “Why I Spared the One Brave Soul Between Me and My Undead Army” by Setsu Uzume
a short story published by Cast of Wonders

This story is absolutely my jam – a fantasy battle between good and evil. I didn’t expect to get so invested in an anti-hero, but though thoroughly evil, Layla had a good sense of honor, a dash of humor, keen intellect, and cool shadow powers. And Regan was awesome in their relentlessness in their pursuit of justice. The story definitely promises a beautiful showdown between the two sometime in the future.

“The Damned Voyage” by John Haas
a novelette published in Writers of the Future volume 35

I have never been interested in Cthulu stories, so this story wasn’t for me. My biggest complaints are in terms of details. I kept wondering what ethnicity the thieves were that Doctor Shaw was pursuing – Indian or English. Also, at one point, he looks around the room, says all is in order, but no mention has been given to what he did with the clothes he took out of the trunk and strew across the bed, or the blood that should be all over the floor from the man he killed. Doctor Shaw was an interesting character at least, and I liked Stephen’s ghost, though he was in the story too briefly.

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