Speculative Short Stories to Read or Listen to Online

Friday the 13th of March was a dynamic scene at the Central Library, with patrons queuing for help to find good books to read during the library’s closure, and the DVD aisles packed with browsers. I miss assisting patrons in person in finding a great story to read or watch – though do visit my colleagues at I at Your Next Five Books where we continue to advise readers and listeners online. Fortunately, there are many other ways to enjoy stories right now.

If you have internet access, here are some places to find speculative stories – e.g. science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, slipstream, and anything in the realms of the imagination. Because it times like these, we need stories that take us away from our current realities, don’t you agree?

Tor.com is a publisher of books, yes, but they also post full-text short stories, as well as blog posts about books and popular culture weekly. Stories are updated in the carousel at the top of the site. Recent stories stories have been written by the likes of Maria Dahvana Headley, Charlie Jane Anders, Harry Turtledove, Garth Nix, and Neil Gaiman. Continue reading “Speculative Short Stories to Read or Listen to Online”

Top 10 Noteworthy 2019 Speculative Fiction Books Part 2

A continuation of our favorite speculative fiction works this year! So far…

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz. Annalee Newitz just won a Hugo Award for the Our Opinions Are Correct podcast with their partner Charlie Jane Anders and is a writer of both science and science fiction. TFOAT is a fiercely feminist queer punk rock time travel novel that follows Tess, a time traveling geologist and her cohort of time travelers who are orchestrating a fine-tuned fight against a group of men hell-bent on stopping women’s rights from ever advancing. It’s the kind of science fiction that reminds us about how the future is happening right now and it’s up to us to collectively work towards better futures. Continue reading “Top 10 Noteworthy 2019 Speculative Fiction Books Part 2”

Top 10 Noteworthy 2019 Speculative Fiction Books Part 1

Even though it’s only October and there are still two more months left for publishing and reading in 2019 we are already assembling our “best lists”.

Here are some of our favorite speculative fiction works this year (so far):

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders. This is a science fiction novel steeped in the politics and prose of relationships. Humanity has arrived on a cold, tidally-locked planet, January, with searing sun rays on one side and constructed societies of survival in different pockets on the dark side of the planet with different rules and regulations. Sophie and Bianca, and the itinerant Mouth narrate the novel. Sophie is spellbound by Bianca, a beautiful girl from the ruling class with bold ideas about how to change the society they are in, intoxicating with out-sized personality and revolutionary dreams. This is a story of ecological consequences, humanity’s push and pull for control and freedom, our need to have someone to believe in, how our idea of the person we love may be quite different from the person they truly are, and how it is so hard to admit when we have been betrayed by a person we thought worthy of our trust. Continue reading “Top 10 Noteworthy 2019 Speculative Fiction Books Part 1”

Heist Fantasy: Magic, Action & Adventure

I have realized that some of my favorite recent fantasy reads have featured an elaborate heist adventure at the center of the story. Heist fantasies offer the magic, action and adventure that will keep you turning pages while they also feature characters on the margins of society, grifters and scrappy survivors whose struggles and high-stakes schemes and scrapes propel the narrative. While these fantasies offer characters you will root for, they present the thrill and danger of life lived on a knife’s edge. Here are some examples of heist fantasies I enjoyed:

image of book cover for Six of CrowsLeigh Bardugo’s teen fantasy duology Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom introduce a motley cast of characters led by Kaz, a mysterious young man known as Dirtyhands who masterminds a den of thieves in Ketterdam’s Dregs. While the characters are teens, this is a dark fantasy world of deep class distinctions and the youth in Kaz’s crew have all encountered very adult, traumatic events in their lives. Their mistreatment by the world bonds them as they undergo a suicide mission trying to break out a man with valuable secrets from the most heavily guarded stronghold in the land. Continue reading “Heist Fantasy: Magic, Action & Adventure”

John Wyndham’s Work Remains Scary and Thought-provoking

I love discovering authors that were impactful in their era and whose work still holds up today. Wyndham is the kind of writer I truly enjoy–he writes the kind of unfussy, competent prose that is underrated and more supple than it first appears. His writing reminds me of the work of Walter Tevis, Theodore Sturgeon, and James Tiptree, Jr. where the first lines draw you in, and the characters are drawn swiftly in compelling details without overdoing it.

Wyndham wrote short, chilling novels that he called “logical fantasy” and what were alternately and perhaps dismissively called “cosy catastrophes.” He also knew how to draw you in from the first sentence and paragraph.

Here is the first sentence in The Day of the Triffids (1951): “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like a Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” Continue reading “John Wyndham’s Work Remains Scary and Thought-provoking”