“Where Would You Be Now” by Carrie Vaughn

“Where Would You Be Now,” by Carrie Vaughn, is a post-apocolyptic story about a group of medical professionals and amateurs who travel around patching people up and delivering babies while also defending their base of operations and looking for food and supplies. It’s a prequel to Vaughn’s novel “Bannerless.” “Where Would You Be Now” depicts what feels like a pretty accurate post-apocolyptic world. There’s a lot of filthy people banding together, some are opportunists looking to take advantage of others by any (violent) means necessary, there isn’t a lot of food, it’s hard to grow food, people are dying in child birth, and babies don’t tend to live very long because they starve. People also spend time both reminiscing (wow, I sure miss golfing on nicely manicured greens), and regretting (if only things hadn’t gone to hell, I’d be doing X, Y, or Z. What would YOU be doing?). It’s implied that a lot of people were killed (one guy’s concerned with “repopulating the earth”) but there’s enough people to strip stores bare of canned goods and various products. The clinic that the protagonist, Kath, and her partners live and work out of is protected by fences and barbed wire…

“Played Your Eyes,” by Jonathan Carroll
2018 Publication , 4 star , short story , Tor / April 12, 2018

“Played your Eyes,” by Jonathan Carroll, is a short story about a woman who receives an unusual bequest from an abusive ex. The protagonist is minding her own business one day when she gets word from a lawyer that her ex has died and left her something in his will. Curious, she contacts him to find out what she’d inherited. He had money, after all, and he could be generous when not being cruel. To her consternation she finds that he’d left her his lovely, flowing handwriting. She doesn’t believe this at first, but soon finds that it’s literally true. She’s able to swap her own pigeon-footprint (like chicken scratch, but different) handwriting with his. She goes between the two for a while before finally giving in and using his handwriting all the time. But how can you bequeath someone something as personal, and insubstantial, as hand writing? And why? As her life unfolds, the protagonist finds that her life is smoother and calmer than it was with her ex. She finds a man who she loves, and who loves her in return and treats her well. But the handwriting thing continues to be a source of weirdness in her…

The Next to the Last of the Mohegans by Joseph Bruchac

“The Next to the Last of the Mohegans,” by Joseph Bruchac, is an Own Voices story about a young Mohegan man named Billy and his trouble-making mad scientist best friend. Just about every culture has stories about little people, or fairies, or spirits, or small gods, or beings that aren’t quite human. Although a lot of modern culture has spun stories of these beings to be light and cute and benevolent they generally have darker roots. They are the things in the dark that we should be afraid of, should be afraid of crossing. In “The Next to the Last of the Mohegans,” Arlin Sweetwater gets into trouble- again- and Billy has to get him out of trouble – again. It’s a well worn pattern of behavior. If there’s one thing Arlin’s good at, it’s getting himself and Billy into trouble. (Another thing he’s good at, apparently, is exploding labs and also making a working time machine.) Arlin specifically got into trouble this time by spying on the Makiawisug, the Little People. Despite being told not to. Numerous times. Over the course of his life. They closed him up in a tree, and also put his feet on backwards just…

“Big Girl” by Meg Elison

“Big Girl,” by Meg Elison, is a short story in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. The premise is simple: a teen aged girl is found, naked and enormous. Her giant bare body is exposed to the entire world; she cannot find clothing that fits; people stare at her and try to photograph her breasts and genitals to post online as porn; people write erotica about her, her personally, her the real person; people comment on the size and shape of her body; she is treated as dangerous, and a financial drain. Other than her immense size this is pretty much the teen girl experience, quite frankly. You are subject to constant scrutiny and measurement and are somehow inherently dangerous and of course it’s your fault for being so. She manages to escape the attention by, literally, escaping. This teen aged girl has to leave the entire world she knows, and her family, to sequester herself on an island where she lives nude eating raw flesh until she begins shrinking again. When she’s “normal sized” she is able to rejoin society. As she ages, of course, she starts shrinking; vanishing from view, one might…

“Aground, Upon the Sand” by Jennifer R. Donohue

Aground, Upon the Sand, by Jennifer R. Donohue is a short piece that took first place in Syntax & Salt Magazine’s Fall Flash Contest. If this were a longer piece I’d consider this a spoiler, but it’s pretty short so you’ll get there soon… and if you’re a big oceanic mythology person you’ll figure it out a few sentences in. The narrator of the story is a Selkie, who lost her skin during a storm. She was cast ashore among strangers with no way home, even though losing her skin wasn’t her fault. Of course, it could be worse. Her skin could be stolen instead of simply lost. “Aground, Upon the Sand” is a melancholy piece about loss and loneliness and not fitting in and working as waitstaff at a tourist spot, and the kindness of strangers who become friends. But it’s primarily about loss and loneliness and about family. I love the concept, but then I’m a huge sucker for Selkie stories. The writing feels a little rough but the concept is excellent and I’d be interested in reading more. There’s a lot that’s left unsaid– a Selkie exploring the human world isn’t exactly unexplored terrain, but it’s still…