Because sometimes I like to be nice, I give you the delicious swag of short fiction that has been accumulating in my browser tabs over the past couple of months:
“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal which just won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story.
“The Wolves of Brooklyn” by Catherynne M. Valente over at Fantasy magazine. While you’re at it, check out the rest of the free fiction that Fantasy showcases on their site. A new short story goes up each week, along with some tasty nonfiction. (And if you like the work they’re publishing, you can buy each complete issue in ePub format for a very reasonable US$2.99.)
“26 Monkeys, Also The Abyss” by Kij Johnson, who is currently a beloved literary crush of mine. Also, because you can never have too much Kij — no, seriously, you simply can not — here is her Hugo-nominated “Ponies”. It’s a horrible, beautiful, crawl-under-your-skin kind of story. You might feel the need to shower afterwards.
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky, which was on the Hugo ballot this year for Best Novella, and The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang, which took out the gong in that category. Need I say more?
Those last two links came from Subterranean Press Magazine, which has been publishing free online fiction, reviews and articles since 2007 — with all the back issues archived on their site for your reading pleasure. Nom nom nom. Allow me to point you towards their recent Special YA Issue as a starting point. All the stories are seriously good, but I particularly loved “Younger Women” by Karen Joy Fowler and “Valley of the Girls” by Kelly Link.
And finally, Robert Shearman has just published a new short story collection called Everyone’s Just So So Special. No, it’s not available for free. But — and this is a massive, insane, mind-boggling BUT — Rob has undertaken to write a personal, fictional history for every single one of the hundred people who purchased a copy of the leatherbound limited edition of the collection. Yes, that’s right. One hundred new stories, penned at a rate of one every few days or so. And we’re not talking 200-word throwaway vignettes here; some of these babies are thousands upon thousands of words of fully fledged fiction. Madness. Sweet, wonderful, absurdly talented madness. Sadly, the limited editions of Everyone’s Just So So Special have sold out already, so your opportunity to star in your own Shearman history — would that be a “Shearstory”? — has passed. But they are all going to be posted here for all of us to read and marvel at. Now that’s accountability. And madness. Did I mention the madness?
So, once you’ve done reading and marvelling, perhaps you might like to wander over to wherever you satisfy your bibliographic tendencies and consider purchasing a (non-limited-bound-in-leather-written-in-blood-and-the-tears-of-mad-writers) copy of Everyone’s Just So So Special. Or another of Rob Shearman’s amazing, poignant and so so brilliant collections, Tiny Deaths or Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical. Because he’s a truly astonishing writer. And because this latest project might just render him a gibbering mess, fingers worn down to stumps, incapable of producing another word beyond redrum redrum redrum. Actually, in Rob’s case, that would more likely be aetfopuc aetfopuc aetfopuc.
Robert Shearman: genteel to the bitter, bloody-fingered end.
Shoo now. Sally forth and read!