July 4, 2018

Stories I Love: June 2018

So, the 2018 is halfway over, how did that happen? Somehow spring always seems to be that way, gone in a flash of lengthening days, a warming sun, and fresh air. I’m well over half way to my goal of reading 365 stories this year and haven’t missed a day yet (thanks to the abundant supply of very short stories being published).

I’ve been thinking about beginnings a lot. Short stories in particular. When a reader starts a new story, particularly from a writer they don’t know well, it’s a delicate thing, like a nervous first date. If the story comes on too strong, get’s too strange too fast, or doesn’t present itself clearly, a lot of readers will get scared off.

It’s a brand new relationship between the story and the reader. It’s a delicate thing, easily spoiled, and best handled with care.

With all this reading, I’ve found a lot of stories that come on way too strong or dive in too deep too fast, and I can’t follow. Or, in many cases, don’t really want to follow, knowing that the story is not the kind of experience I am looking for. In other words, if the first date doesn’t go well, it’s best we say goodnight politely and part ways.

This “good first date” is something I am working on in my own writing. When a reader hits one of my short stories or books, we are complete strangers, best make a good first impression.

On to the June stories!


Stories read in June: 35

Words read in June: about 126,000

Stories read this year, so far: 222

Words read this year, so far: 703,000

OMG I So Love These Stories!

These are what I consider “must read” stories. As in you MUST read them! Now!

The Deeps of the Sky
Elizabeth Bear
Clarkesworld, free, approx 5,500 words
To my point above, the “first date” on this story was a bit rough, but I stuck with it because of the beautiful imagery and Elizabeth Bear is well respected pro. As it turns out, this is a story told from the point of perspective of an Alien, an excellent reason for the difficult start. It this case it paid off in the end, this is a stunning story.

Rules of Biology
Dale Bailey
Asimov’s Science Fiction, July/August 2018, $2.99 per e-issue, approx 5,500 words
This is excellent speculative fiction (the broader term for sci-fi and fantasy) that takes a devastating “what if” involving a man abandoning his daughter and uses fiction to make it visceral and real.

Ian R. MacLeod
Asimov’s Science Fiction, July/August 2018, $2.99 per e-issue, approx 12,000 words
This is the lead story in the July/August 2018 issue for good reason. It’s the story of, KAT, an AI librarian in a far future after humanity has extinguished itself. KAT must face the decision of letting go of the past and the ephemera of humanity she was created to curate or move into a very different future. Just Wow.

Other Stories I Love

I love these stories too, just with a bit less passion. It’s okay, I can love some stories more than others.

Artur Karlov
Daily Science Fiction, free, approx 500 words
This is a dark little vignette that breaks my rules (it’s not quite a story with a beginning middle and end) but it hit me in a dark mood and worked. It’s well written and worth the quick read.

This month’s winner of best publication for Stories I Love is Asimov’s Science Fiction, the July/August 2018 issue. All the stories I read were excellent, even the ones that didn’t make it onto this list.

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Robert J. McCarter is the author of more than ten novels and over a hundred short stories...... learn more

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