Continuing the monthly summaries of what I’ve been reading and writing.
To keep my numbers consistent with what I have listed on Goodreads, I count completed magazine issues and stand-alone short stories in e-book format as “books.” I read or listened to 11 books in May: 4 in print, 2 in e-book format, and 5 in audio. They were:
1. Lightspeed Magazine #108 (May 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual fine assortment of sf and fantasy short stories and novellas. This month’s favorites for me were Rati Mehrotra’s “This Way to Paradise,” Nancy Kress’s “Cocoons,” Matthew Kressel’s “Trust is Like the Sun,” Kathleen Kayembe’s “The Ocean That Fades into Sky,” and Sofia Samatar’s “Fallow.”
2. Lady Susan by Jane Austen. I’ll admit I’ve read precious little Austen, despite having been an English Lit major. This was a fun, and apparently lesser-known, work of hers. I really enjoy epistolary stories when done right – meaning that parts of the story are left for the reader to “fill in the blanks” between what the characters are and are not saying to each other.
3. In Re: Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures of Solar Pons (Solar Pons Book 1), by August Derleth, narrated by Steve White. I’ve been meaning, since I finished reading the full official Sherlock Holmes canon, to move on to his Praed Street successor, created by August Derleth. This is a good start to what was a pretty long run of stories and novels. Steve White’s narration is solid as well, although there were a few points where the voices he was doing didn’t seem to quite match the descriptions of the characters. I posted a lengthier review HERE.
4. Two Todd Tales, by Joseph Pittman, narrated by Benjamin Seay. This was a re-read/re-listen of two great short stories featuring Pittman’s con-man Todd Gleason, one of which features a character named after me, so I might be a bit partial. Benjamin Seay’s narration captures all of Todd’s, and the unnamed narrator’s snark.
5. Upon A Burning Throne (The Burnt Empire, Book 1) by Ashok K. Banker. As I said in my longer review HERE, I’ve pretty much burned out on “doorstop/encyclopedia-length” epic fantasy. But Ashok K. Banker’s short stories in Lightspeed magazine in recent months really whet my appetite for this, and I’m glad I read it right away. Great character development and world-building.
6. The Hidden Witch (The Witch Boy, Book 2) by Molly Knox Ostertag. I have a longer review of this coming on Strange Horizons in a few weeks, so all I’ll say here is this is a wonderful second installment in Ostertag’s graphic novel series about a boy who bucks family convention to be a witch instead of a shapeshifter.
7. Fool For Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane, narrated by Roman M. Wagar. Most of the sixteen stories in this romance collection worked for me. Some are sweet, some are brutally funny, some are painful. My favorites include ‘Nathan Burgoine’s “Heart,” Greg Herren’s “Everyone Says I’ll Forget in Time,” David Puterbaugh’s “Thai Angel,” and Rob Williams’ “Party Planning.” Roman M. Wagar’s narration is wonderfully varied, voices crafted to fit each individual story.
8. Black Crow, White Snow by Michael Livingston, narrated by Janina Edwards. I am completely unfamiliar with Michael Livingston’s writing, and picked this up honestly because it was an Audible Original free book. I’m glad I did. The mix of Caribbean and post-apocalyptic world-building is wonderful. And Janina Edwards’ narration is warm and smooth and full of character.
9. Under the Sunset by Bram Stoker. One of my “To Be Read” Challenge titles for 2019, so there’ll be a longer review upcoming. But I have to say right out: as much as I love Bram Stoker in general, I struggled with this fairy tale story collection. It felt like he was trying to write in someone else’s voice, and it just didn’t work most of the time.
10. Acres of Perhaps: Stories and Episodes by Will Ludwigsen, narrated by John Fleming. “Acres of Perhaps,” about the sudden dissolution of a television writing team in the 60s, is easily one of my favorite novellas of the past few years, and the rest of the stories in this collection, which I intend to post a longer review of soon, are equally engaging and thought-provoking. John Fleming’s narration fits the dark, not-quite-noir-but-close, tone of the author.
11. Algorithmic Shapeshifting: Poems (Conversation Pieces Book 68) by Bogi Takács. As I say in the longer review posted HERE, I am not a poetry reader overall and asked for an ARC of this accidentally. And I loved it. Recommended, especially to fans of poetry with speculative fiction elements.
I have a goal of reading 365 short stories (1 per day, essentially, although it doesn’t always work out that way) each year. Here’s what I did read and where you can find them if you’re interested in reading them too (with some short notes for stories that really stood out to me). If no source is noted, the story is from the same magazine or book as the story(ies) that precede(s) it:
1. “The Iron Man” by Max Gladstone, from Lightspeed Magazine #108 (May 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.
2. “This Way To Paradise” by Rati Mehrotra
3. “Cocoons” by Nancy Kress
4. “Trust is Like the Sun” by Matthew Kressel
5. “The Ocean That Fades Into Sky” by Kathleen Kayembe
6. “The Portal” by Debbie Urbanski
7. “The Minor Superhero, At Home After His Series Ends” by Adam-Troy Castro
8. “The Convexity of Our Youth” by Kurt Fawver
9. “Fallow” by Sofia Samatar
10. “Vegetables and Vaccines” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.
11. “The Church Fire and Redemption” by T.M. Morgan from Lamplight Vol 7 #2, edited by Jacob Haddon
12. “Marrow” by E. Catherine Tobler, from Black Static #65
13. “Silencer Head Like A Hole Remix” by E. Catherine Tobler, from Interzone #259
14. “Notes Upon the Diadem Club” by Lyndsay Faye, from The Strand October 2015, edited by Lamia Gulli
15. “It’s All Right – He Only Died” by Raymond Chandler, from The Strand October 2017
16. “An Actual Treasure” by David Marcum, from The Strand October 2018
17. “Tonight, My Love” by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane, from The Strand October 2018
18. “Lady Hilda Revealed” by Bonnie MacBird, from The Strand October 2018
19. “A Word from Doctor Lyndon Parker” by August Derleth, from In Re: Sherlock Holmes (Solar Pons, Book 1), edited by David Marcum
20. “The Adventure of the Frightened Baronet” by August Derleth
21. “The Adventure of the Late Mr. Faversham” by August Derleth
22. “The Adventure of the Black Narcissus” by August Derleth
23. “The Adventure of the Norcross Riddle” by August Derleth
24. “The Adventure of the Retired Novelist” by August Derleth
25. “The Adventure of the Three Red Dwarfs” by August Derleth
26. “The Adventure of the Sotheby Salesman” by August Derleth
27. “The Adventure of the Purloined Periapt” by August Derleth
28. “The Adventure of the Limping Man” by August Derleth
29. “The Adventure of the Seven Passengers” by August Derleth
30. “The Adventure of the Lost Holiday” by August Derleth
31. “The Adventure of the Man with the Broken Face” by August Derleth
32. “The Antics of Anton Ardno” by Joseph Pittman, from Two Todd Tales
33. “The Perils of Penelope Pittston” by Joseph Pittman
34. “Thai Angel” by David Puterbaugh, from Fool For Love: New Gay Fiction, edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane
35. “Love Taps” by Mark G. Harris
36. “Matchmaker” by Sean Aniston
37. “A View” by Brandon M. Long
38. “Gratitude” by Felice Picano
39. “Happy Hour At Café Jones” by Rob Burns
40. “Trunk” by Trebor Healey
41. “De-Anima” by Joel Derfner
42. “Like No-One’s Watching” by Josh Helmin
43. “At The End of the Leash” by Jeffrey Ricker
44. “Two Tales” by Paul Lisicky
45. “Heart” by ‘Nathan Burgoine
46. “Party Planning” by Rob Williams
47. “Two Kinds of Rapture” by Andrew Holleran
48. “Everyone Says I’ll Forget in Time” by Greg Herren
49. “Angels What You Must Hear On High” by John H. Rausch
50. “Under The Sunset” by Bram Stoker, from Under The Sunset
51. “The Rose Prince” by Bram Stoker
52. “The Invisible Giant” by Bram Stoker
53. “The Shadow Builder” by Bram Stoker
54. “How 7 Went Mad” by Bram Stoker
55. “Lies and Lilies” by Bram Stoker
56. “The Castle of the King” by Bram Stoker
57. “The Wondrous Child” by Bram Stoker
58. “Acres of Perhaps” by Will Ludwigsen, from Acres of Perhaps: Stories and Episodes, edited by Steve Berman
59. “Season 1, Episode 2: Ourselves and Immortality” by Will Ludwigsen
60. “The Zodiac Walks On The Moon” by Will Ludwigsen
61. “Season 1, Episode 5: Singing Each to Each” by Will Ludwigsen
62. “The Leaning Lincoln” by Will Ludwigsen
63. “Season 1, Episode 10: Guess What’s Coming To Dinner” by Will Ludwigsen
64. “Night Fever” by Will Ludwigsen
65. “Season 2, Episode 2: Dark Horse Candidate” by Will Ludwigsen
66. “Poe At Gettysburg” by Will Ludwigsen
67. “Season 2, Episode 8: Unable Are The Loved To Die” by Will Ludwigsen
68. “On Stony Ground” by Cynthia Ward, from Analog May-June 2019, edited by Trevor Quachri
69. “Repairs at the Beijing West Space Elevator” by Alex Shvartsman
70. “Painting the Massive Planet” by Marissa Lingen
So that’s 70 short stories in May, putting me now way ahead for the year so far. (May 31st was the 151st day of 2019.)
Summary of Reading Challenges:
“To Be Read” Challenge: This month: 1 read; YTD: 3 of 14 read.
365 Short Stories Challenge: This month: 70 read; YTD: 200 of 365 read.
Graphic Novels Challenge: This month: 1 read; YTD: 15 of 52 read.
Goodreads Challenge: This month: 11 read; YTD: 61 of 125 read.
Non-Fiction Challenge: This month: 0; YTD: 4 of 24 read.
Read the Book / Watch the Movie Challenge: This month: 0; YTD: 0 of 10 read/watched.
Complete the Series Challenge: This month: 0 books read; YTD: 0 of 16 read.
Series fully completed: 0 of 3 planned
Monthly Special Challenge: I may not do something like this every month, but I set an May goal to try to read primarily short story collections and anthologies, since May was Short Story Month, and also to read some non-fiction about Asia and/or the Pacific Islands and/or about the Jewish Diaspora, since May was also Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Jewish-American Heritage Month.
I blew it on the Asia, Pacific Islands, and Jewish Diaspora mini-challenges – only Bogi Takacs’ poetry collection really counts toward the last of those three, although at the end of May I started Barbara Krasnoff’s The History of Soul 2065, which would also count towards the Jewish Diaspora challenge had I finished it in May (it was the first book finished in June, though!)
I was more successful on the Short Stories challenge, reading 70 stories, the bulk of that coming from 5 of the books and 1 magazine read in May.
June is Pride Month, so my mini-challenge is to read mostly books and stories by or about people who identify somewhere on the Queer (QUILTBAG+) rainbow.