If you're a fan of genre fiction, of science fiction, of fantasy, or of just good stories, you should really be reading the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
I used to subscribe to the print magazine, and it was an absolute thrill each month to receive those little digest-sized slabs that would transport me to other worlds, other times and places for a few hours. But I Keep Books, and storing them started to become a problem, so I decided to subscribe via the Kindle for $12 a year for six-issues, which is a crazy good deal.
Here's a run-down of the latest issue, I'm just going to give my general thoughts and impressions, no plot synopses or bios:
What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear by Bao Shu
My first impression was that it read a little stilted, maybe even a bit amateurish, and not very science fiction or fantasy at all. As I kept reading, little weirdnesses flickered behind the main narrative and a beautiful pattern of strangeness started to emerge. It's incredibly subtle, very smart, and utterly engaging. It reads like a piece of fiction from an alternate world, where things are very much like our world, until they aren't.
A Residence for Friendless Ladies by Alice Sola Kim
I really liked this story's style and voice and world building. It skews more towards horror than fantasy or science fiction, and has a great almost magical realist feel to it. Of note is the inner turmoil of the main character. I've read stories about conflicted vampires, werewolves, mutants, and superheroes; conflicted supernatural creatures not quite at home in their own skin, but this is the first time I've experienced a character who is tortured by being born into a female body, when she should have been born a male. Excellently told, though I would have liked a little more--which is hardly a criticism.
The Mantis Tattoo by Paul M. Berger
Fun, entertaining, sometimes brutal. It read as both a folk tale, and a commentary on them.
Things Worth Knowing by Jay O'Connell
What if the original Robocop was about the education system? You'd probably end up with something a lot like this story. Set in a future that is recognizable, but exaggerated into near implausibility. Told with enough skill and grim truths to make it feel real.
La Héron by Charlotte Ashley
I loved this story, definitely my favorite of this issue. It had the feel of Guy Davis' The Marquis. Steeped in demons and blades and clever writing.
This is the Way the Universe Ends: with a Bang by Brian Dolton
This was very different. A vast and cosmic, transhuman murder-mystery. Very enjoyable.
Last Transaction by Nik Constantine
I loved this one as well, it's got a fantastic premise with a great pay off.
Little Girls in Bone Museums by Sadie Bruce
Beautiful writing depicting a sad and morbid world, and one that might not be all that different from our own.
A Small Diversion On the Road to Hell by Johnathan L. Howard
Feels a little like a chapter from a much longer work. Clever and lighthearted.
How to Masquerade as a Human Before the Invasion by Jenn Reese
Fun premise and well executed.
A User's Guide to Increments of Time by Kat Howard
Sad and lovely, very well told, and packed with a novel's worth of ideas.
Bilingual by Henry Lien
Brilliant little story told in an innovative fashion.