Category: reading

“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” by Ken Liu

Just a quick post on an otherwise busy day to mention that yesterday, I read Ken Liu‘s novella “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary.” What a phenomenal read! I don’t know how I missed it when it first came out, but man oh man is this fantastic. I’d easily put it in the top ten novellas that I ever read.

If you haven’t had a chance to read it, go seek it out.

I’ve added it to my Nebula ballot.

Short fiction I read in January 2012

Here is the short fiction I read in January. For a second time, I made my goal of averaging 1 story/day, although the spread isn’t particularly even. As always, bold titles are recommended.

  1. Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Malcolm Jameson (as by Colin Keith) (Astounding December 1941). [1/2/2012]
  2. Bullard Refeclts by Malcolm Jameson (Astounding December 1941). [1/3/2012]
  3. Joe Steel by Harry Turtledove (Year’s Best Science Fiction, 21st Annual Edition). [1/4/2012]
  4. Action Comics #5: “Rocket Song”. [1/5/2012]
  5. Operation Successful by Robert Arthur (Astounding December 1941). [1/6/2012]
  6. Homo Saps by Webster Craig (Astounding December 1941). [1/7/2012]
  7. Defense Line by Vic Phillips (Astounding December 1941). [1/8/2012]
  8. Breakdown by Jack Williamson (Astounding January 1942). [1/10/2012]
  9. Soup King by Colin Keith (Astounding January 1942). [1/11/2012]
  10. Ernesto by Alec Nevala-Lee (Analog, 3/12). [1/12/2012]
  11. Beauty in the Night by Robert Silverberg (Year’s Best Science Fiction,15th Annual Edition). [1/15/2012]
  12. Marrow by Robert Reed (Year’s Best Science Fiction,15th Annual Edition). [1/16/2012]
  13. Dumb as Dirt by Garth Upshaw (Daily SF, 1/17/2012). [1/17/2012]
  14. Georgia On My Mind by Charles Sheffield (Georgia On My Mind and Other Places).  [1/17/2012]
  15. The People of Pele by Ken Liu (Asimov’s 2/12). [1/17/2012]
  16. How Many Miles to Babylon? by Megan Arkenberg (Lightspeed, 1/12). [1/17/2012]
  17. My Father’s Singularity by Brenda Cooper (Year’s Best Science Fiction, 28th Annual Edition). [1/17/2012]
  18. A Delicate Balance by Kevin J. Anderson (Analog, 4/12). [1/18/2012]
  19. Blood Music by Greg Bear (Year’s Best Science Fiction, 1st Annual Edition). [1/18/2012]
  20. Even the Queen by Connie Willis (Year’s Best Science Fiction, 10th Annual Edition). [1/18/2012]
  21. Mechanistria by Eric Frank Russell (Astounding 1/42). [1/18/2012]
  22. The Mountain to Mohammed by Nancy Kress (Year’s Best Science Fiction, 10th Annual Edition). [1/19/2012]
  23. A Long Night’s Vigil in the Temple by Robert Silverberg (Year’s Best Science Fiction, 10th Annual Edition). [1/19/2012]
  24. Graves by Joe Haldeman (Year’s Best Science Fiction, 10th Annual Edition). [1/19/2012]
  25. Birth Day by Robert Reed (Year’s Best Science Fiction, 10th Annual Edition). [1/19/2012]
  26. The Invaders by L. Ron Hubbard (Astounding, January 1942). [1/22/2012]
  27. Fugitive From Vangard by Norman L. Knight (Astounding, January 1942). [1/22/2012]
  28. Visiting Planet Earth by Eric Brown (Daily SF, 1/30/12). [1/30/2012]
  29. Five Elements of the Heart Mind by Ken Liu (Lightspeed, January 2012). [1/30/2012]
  30. The Long Con by Megan R. Engelhardt (Daily SF, 1/31/2012). [1/31/2012]
  31. There Shall Be Darkness by C. L. Moore (Astounding February 1942). [1/31/2012]
  32. The Sorcerer of Rhiannon by Leigh Brackett (Astounding February 1942). [1/31/2012]

As you can see, I’ve been working my way through stories I’ve missed in the 80s and 90s by going through Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best volumes and picking and choosing stories that I think I should have read (but until now, hadn’t). Of the old stuff, Jack Williamson’s “Breakdown” was the best, a real surprise and a terrific story. Moving into the 80s and 90s, it’s a tougher call but I’ll give the edge to Robert Silverberg’s “Beauty in the Night” over Robert Reed’s “Marrow.” For stuff published in 2012 dated issues, I give the nod to Ken Liu’s “Five Elements of the Heart Mind” in the January Lightspeed. Great story that pushes most of my science fiction buttons.

And as always, if you are looking for inexpensive entertainment, a subscription to one of the many terrific science fiction and fantasy magazines out there is cheaper than an evening out at the movies.

My “to-read” story list

Many people I know have lists (or stacks) of books that they intend to read. I used to have something similar. But since shifting my focus to short fiction, and trying to read a lot more short fiction, I’ve discovered that despite doing a pretty good job at keeping up with 1 story/day, there are still tons of stories out there that I want to read. As much as I have read within the genre, there are vast parts of the science fiction landscape which I have barely touched. So I’ve started keeping a list of stories that I’d eventually like to read and I pull out this list whenever I am stuck for what to read next.

Whenever possible, the items on the list are available in my collection, and moreover, in electronic form. That is not true for all of them, but for many of them. As of today, the list contains 62 stories. I suspect that the list won’t ever get much shorter than that, but in any case, I’ll report on the state of the list on my monthly short fiction reading posts beginning at the end of this month.

1 piece of short fiction a day is not hard. My Vacation in the Golden Age virtually guarantees a story a day. But I usually try and pick something outside that as well, and sometimes, I am reading two or three pieces in a day, depending on how long they are. I’ve already gone through most of the stories that interest me in the Jan/Feb and March issues of Analog, and the February issue of Asimov’s. There are a few more stories I want to read in the January F&SF, Clarkesworld and Lightspeed, but I’ll have those read by the end of the month. At present, I’m filling in the gaps with a selection of stories from Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best anthologies, going all the way back to the very first. It is my hope that I can make up some of what I’ve missed and fill in some gaps in that landscape.

Indeed, I find it both startling and amusing when I “discover” a phenomenal story that is decades or more old. This happened a few years back with my “discovery” of Nancy Kress’s “Beggars In Spain.” It happened again this weekend with my “discovery” of Robert Silverberg’s “Beauty In the Night.”

What story am I reading at the moment? Charles Sheffield’s “Georgia On My Mind.” And yes, it’s the first time I’ve ever read it.

Don’t judge.

Short fiction I read in December 2011

Here is the short fiction I read in December. Finally, for the first time, I beat my goal of reading 1 story/day. I read 38 this month, most of them while I was on vacation, but hey, I’ll take it. As always, bold titles are recommended.

  1. Found in the Wreckage by Marge Simon (Daily SF, 12/1/2011).  [12/1/2011]
  2. Action Comics #4. “Superman and the Men of Steel.”  [12/8/2011]
  3. Going Home by Bruce McAllister and Barry Malzberg (Asimov’s 2/12). [12/18/2011].
  4. You Can’t Win by Malcolm Jameson (Astounding, November 1941).  [12/18/2011]
  5. Murder Born by Robert Reed (Asimov’s 2/12). [12/19/2011]
  6. Finity by E. A. Grosser (Astounding 11/41). [12/19/11]
  7. Sirius by Ben Peek (Clarkesworld 12/11). [12/19/11]
  8. In Which Faster-Than-Light Travel Solves All of Our Problems by Chris Stabback. (Clarkesworld 12/11). [12/19/2011]
  9. The Sighted Watchmaker by Vylar Kaftan (Lightspeed 12/11). [12/19/11]
  10. Direct Action by John Hawkins (Astounding, November 1941). [12/22/2011]
  11. The Door by Oliver Saari (Astounding, November 1941). [12/22/2011]
  12. The Hammer of God by Arthur C. Clarke (Lightspeed, December 2011). [12/22/2011]
  13. Stock Photos by Robert Reed (F&SF, May/June 2011). [12/22/2011]
  14. The Road Ahead by Robert Reed (F&SF, May/June 2011). [12/22/2011]
  15. Fine Green Dust by Don Webb (F&SF, May/June 2011). [12/22/2011]
  16. Twelves by Leah Cypess. (Asimov’s, July 2011). [12/22/2011]
  17. The Messenger by Bruce McAllister (Asimov’s, July 2011). [12/22/2011]
  18. Seat of Oblivion by Eric Frank Russell (Astounding, November 1941). [12/23/2011]
  19. The Ants of Flanders by Robert Reed (F&SF, July 2011). [12/23/2011]
  20. Semiramis by Genevieve Valentine (Clarkesworld, June 2011). [12/23/2011]
  21. Therapeutic Mathematics and the Physics of Curveballs by Gray Rinehart (Analog, Septmber 2011). [12/23/2011]
  22. Beyond All Weapons by Nat Schachner (Astounding, November 1941). [12/24/2011]
  23. The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s, November 2011). [12/25/2011]
  24. Beyond the Aquila Rift by Alastair Reynolds (Year’s Best 23rd). [12/25/2011]
  25. Triceratops Summer by Michael Swanwick (Year’s Best 23rd). [12/25/2011]
  26. Strong Medicine by William Shunn (Year’s Best 21st). [12/25/2011]
  27. It’s All True by John Kessel (Year’s Best 21st). [12/26/2011]
  28. 10^16 to 1 by James Patrick Kelly (Year’s Best 17th). [12/26/2011]
  29. How We Lost the Moon, a True Story by Frank W. Allen by Paul McAuley. (Year’s Best 17th). [12/26/2011]
  30. People Came From Earth by Stephen Baxter (Year’s Best 17th). [12/26/2011]
  31. Scherzo with Tyrannosaur by Michael Swanwick (Year’s Best 17th). [12/27/2011]
  32. Lists by Annie Bellet (Daily SF, 12/28/2011). [12/28/2011]
  33. Ten Seconds by Scott W. Baker (Daily SF, 12/26/2011). [12/28/2011]
  34. Camouflage by Robert Reed (Year’s Best 23rd). [12/28/2011]
  35. Cold Cuts by Don Norum (Daily SF, 12/29/2011). [12/29/2011]
  36. Superman #4: “Mind for the Taking”. [12/29/2011]
  37. Hero of the Empire by Robert Silverberg (Year’s Best 17th). [12/31/2011]
  38. The Great Goodbye by Robert Charles Wilson. (Year’s Best 19th). [12/31/2011)
And a New Year’s reminder: reading more short fiction in 2012 is a great way to entertain yourself. And inexpensive, too. For less than a night out at the movies, you can have a year long subscription to a great SF/F magazine. As always, I list a bunch of my favorites below. Happy New Year!

Addendum to my short fiction post for 2011

In Wednesday’s post, I listed some of my favorite short fiction that I read this year, some of it published in 2011, and some published earlier.

I thought it important to mention that in all of the short fiction I read in 2011 (excluding the stories from Astounding), while there were some definite standout stories, I can’t think of a single story that I didn’t like. I think this says something about the quality of the stories being published today.

I can’t say the same for Astounding. But in the cases where I didn’t like a story in Astounding (as, for example, the most recent Episode), it is often because the story is too dated and I can’t make myself feel like a contemporary reader of the times.

In any case, kudos to everyone who published short fiction this year. I think you’re doing a great job.

4 items of writerly/readerly interest

Some items of interest to SF/F writers and readers to round out your year:

1. Juliette Wade writes about writing for Analog

Go check out Juliette’s post. She has good advice for anyone trying to crack the Analog market. Everything she says there is spot-on.

2. Michael Burstein talks about re-reading Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land

Over on the Apex Blog, my good friend Michael A. Burstein talks about re-reading Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land on the fiftieth anniversary of its publication. Stranger is the only Heinlein novel that I never liked. It took me 3 tries to get through it. That was more than a decade ago. Michael’s post has me considering the possibility of reading the novel again.

3. Z. S. Adani’s collection of science fiction stories is on sale!

Sophy is a talented writer–someone with whom I went through James Gunn’s online science fiction writing workshop and who has since become one of my trusted beta readers. You can check out her writing for yourself. The e-book version of her collection of short stories, The Last Outpost and Other Tales is on sale at Amazon for only $2.99. The book is also available in hardcover and paperback. I just picked up a copy for myself.

4. 40k Books is having a $0.99 e-book New Year’s sale!

10 of 40k Books best titles–including, as it turns out, my story “If By Reason of Strengthwill be on sale for $0.99 through January 3. This is a great opportunity to catch up on some short fiction by folks like Paul Di Filippo, Mike Ressnick, Kaaron Warren, and Graham Edwards. It looks like the e-books are available via Amazon and the iBookstore. You can find all of the details here.

Now go forth and read.

Year in review – 2011: Short fiction reading

I have said that we are in a golden age for short science fiction and fantasy. There is so much good short fiction out there it is difficult to keep up with it all. I had no specific goals for short fiction reading at the beginning of 2011. Reading short science fiction is probably my favorite type of reading. And yet I never seem to be able to find the time to read enough of it to keep up with all of the good stuff out there.

This year was a little different. Because of my Vacation in the Golden Age, I ended up reading a lot of short fiction. In fact, to date, I’ve read 192 stories in the years spanning 1939-1941 in Astounding. This has proven valuable in more ways than I could have imagined:

  1. It has allowed me to fill in vast gaps in my reading from a period of time that I enjoy. I get the good and the bad, but it is all valuable.
  2. It has taught me how to read short stories with a more critical eye. In my Vacation posts, I try to remark in some detail on each story and that means thinking about the story as I read it, how it relates to other stories and the genre as a whole.
  3. It has helped me as writer in numerous ways: from teaching me what works well in a story, to what doesn’t work, as well as what tropes have been overused from the dawn of modern science fiction (and therefore, what to avoid, or approach in a new light.)

Read more

Short fiction I read in November 2011

Here is this month’s list for short fiction I managed to read. Still aiming for that allusive 1 story/day, 30 stories/month, but this month was a particularly busy one for me. That said, I think I did on okay job. As always, bold titles are recommended.

  1. Call Center Blues by Carrie Cuinn (Daily SF, 11/2/11).  [11/2/2011]
  2. Nightfall by Isaac Asimov (Astounding, September 1941).  [11/2/2011]
  3. Action Comics #3: “World Against Superman“.  [11/2/2011]
  4. Time to Go by Erin M. Hartshorn (Daily SF, 11/3/11).  [11/3/2011]
  5. Adam and No Eve by Alfred Bester (Astounding, September 1941).  [11/3/2011]
  6. Listen Up, Nitwits by Jack McDevitt (Analog, Jan/Feb 2012).  [11/4/2011]
  7. Short-Circuited Probability by Norman L. Knight (Astounding, September 1941). [11/8/2011]
  8. Mission by M. Krulfeld (Astounding, September 1941). [11/9/2011]
  9. Maiden Voyage by Jack McDevitt (Asimov’s, Jan 2012). [11/9/2011]
  10. Test of the Gods by Raymond F. Jones (Astounding, September 1941).  [11/10/2011]
  11. Elsewhere by Caleb Saunders (Astounding, September 1941). [11/12/2011]
  12. Methuselah’s Children, Part 3 by Robert Heinlein (Astounding, September 1941). [11/13/2011]
  13. By His Bootstraps by Anson MacDonald (Astounding, October 1941). [11/18/2011]
  14. Not Final! by Isaac Asimov (Astounding, October 1941). [11/19/2011]
  15. Safe Empathy by Ken Liu (Daily SF, 11/21/11). [11/21/2011]
  16. Manic Perverse by Winston K. Marks (Astounding, October 1941). [11/22/2011]
  17. Two Percent Inspiration by Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding, October 1941). [11/23/2011]
  18. Superman #3: “A Cold Day in Hell”. [11/24/2011]
  19. Recovering Apollo 8 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. [11/25/2011]
  20. Common Sense by Robert Heinlein. (Astounding, October 1941). [11/27/2011]
  21. An Interstellar Incident by Catherine Schaffer (Analog, Jan/Feb 2012). [11/29/2011]
  22. Bruce Springsteen by Paul McAuley (Asimov’s January 2012). [11/30/2011]
  23. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes by Michael Bishop (, 7/11/2011). [11/30/2011]**

In the 3 months that I’ve been keeping this list I’ve read a total of 73 stories, spread over most of the major SF/F magazines and a few of the smaller ones as well. I would have liked to have read around 90 at this point, but life gets in the way. Still, 73 stories every 3 months amounts to 288 pieces of short fiction a year. The fact that I can read 292 pieces of short fiction a year and still not keep up with all of the good short fiction out there is yet another piece of evidence that we are living in a Golden Age of short science fiction.

** ETA: Added after initial post

Short fiction I read in October 2011

Here is this month’s list of short fiction that I managed to read. I’ve been aiming for one story a day from a variety of magazines. I think I did a pretty good job this month. Just like last month, the bold titles are, in my opinion, particularly worth reading.

  1. Old Fireball by Nat Schachner (Astounding, June 1941) [10/2/2011]
  2. To Fight Another Day by Robert Moore Williams (Astounding, June 1941) [10/2/2011]
  3. The Purple Light by E. Waldo Hunter (Astounding, June 1941) [10/2/2011]
  4. Superman #1: “What Price Tomorrow”. [10/2/2011]
  5. Staying Behind by Ken Liu (Clarkesworld, October 2011).  [10/3/2011]
  6. Wider and Deeper by Carma Lynn Park (Daily SF, 10/3/11).  [10/3/2011]
  7. F&SF Mailbag by David Gerrold (F&SF, 9/10).  [10/4/2011]
  8. Action Comics #2: “In Chains”. (DC Comics, 10/5/11).  [10/5/2011]
  9. Methuselah’s Children, Part 1 by Robert Heinlein (Astounding, July 1941).  [10/6/2011]
  10. All About Emily by Connie Willis (Asimov’s, 12/11).  [10/7/2011]
  11. Spaceship in a Flask by Clifford D. Simak (Astounding, July 1941). [10/10/11]
  12. The Seesaw by A. E. van Vogt (Astounding, July 1941).  [10/10/11]
  13. The Probable Man by Alfred Bester (Astounding, July 1941). [10/13/2011]
  14. The Geometrics of Johnny Day by Nelson S. Bond (Astounding, July 1941) [10/15/2011]
  15. “–We Also Walk Dogs” by Anson MacDonald (Astounding, July 1941). [10/16/2011]
  16. Brown by Frank Belknap Long (Astounding, July 1941). [10/16/2011]
  17. Jurisdiction by Nat Schachner (Astounding, August 1941). [10/17/2011]
  18. Spidersong by Alex Shvartsman  (Daily SF, 10/17/11). [10/17/11]
  19. The Countable by Ken Liu (Asimov’s, 12/11). [10/17/11]
  20. Her Husband’s Hands by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed, 10/11). [10/17/11]
  21. Meteor Legacy by Raymond Z. Gallun (Astounding, August 1941). [10/18/2011]
  22. Grace Immaculate by Gregory Benford (, 10/19/2011). [10/19/2011]
  23. Like Origami In Water by Damien Walters Grintalis (Daily SF, 10/25/11). [10/25/2011]
  24. Apologue by James Morrow (, 10/24/11).  [10/25/2011]
  25. Methuselah’s Children, Part 2 by Robert Heinlein (Astounding, August 1941). [10/24/2011]
  26. Biddiver by Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding, August 1941).  [10/26/2011]
  27. Backlash by Jack Williamson (Astounding, August 1941). [10/26/2011]
  28. Superman #2: “Flying Blind”. [10/29/2011]
It is hard to keep up with everything that is out there. I think that is a good thing. Keeping in mind that I am more of science fiction than fantasy fan (but I’m always willing to read good fantasy): is there anything good that I missed?

Short fiction I read in September 2011

While there are still a few hours left in September, I doubt I’ll get any more short fiction read this month, especially since the Yankees open the division playoffs tonight at 8:30. You know where I’ll be. But since I wrote a while back about at least trying to read a piece of short fiction every day, I thought I’d start posting the lists of the short fiction I read each month here on the blog.  Titles, authors and the magazine or book in which I read it is listed. The date at the end of each line is the date on which I read the stories. Bold stories are ones which I particularly enjoyed.

  1. “The Observation Post” by Allen Steele (Asimov’s, September 2011) [9/2/11]
  2. “Stalker” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s, September 2011) [9/2/11]
  3. “Jay Score” by Eric Frank Russell (Astounding, May 1941) [9/2/11]
  4. “Fish Story” by Vic Phillips and Scott Roberts (Astounding, May 1941) [9/3/11]
  5. “Subcruiser” by Harry Walton (Astounding, May 1941) [9/3/11]
  6. “The Stolen Dormouse, Part 2” by L. Sprague de Camp (Astounding, May 1941) [9/4/11]
  7. “Sleeping Dogs” by Joe Haldeman (Year’s Best Science Fiction 28th Annual Edition) [9/5/2011]
  8. “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen Steele (Year’s Best Science Fiction 28th Annual Edition) [9/6/11]
  9. “Bubbles” by David Brin (Lightspeed, September 2011) [9/9/11]
  10. “Dig Site” by Jack McDevitt (Analog, November 2011) [9/10/11]
  11. “Ian, Isaac and John” by Paul Levinson (Analog, November 2011) [9/10/11]
  12. “Overtaken” by Karl Bunker (F&SF, September 2011) [9/11/11]
  13. “A Hundred Hundred Daisies” by Nancy Kress (Asimov’s, November 2011) [9/11/11]
  14. “Again and Again and Again” by Rachel Swirsky (Year’s Beset Science Fiction 28th Annual Edition) [9/11/11]
  15. “Pack” by Robert Reed (Clarkesworld, September 2011) [9/11/11]
  16. “Signals in the Deep” by Greg Mellor (Clarkesworld, September 2011) [9/11/11]
  17. “Time Wants a Skeleton” by Ross Rocklynne (Astounding, June 1941) [9/11/11]
  18. “The Lycanthropic Principle” by Carl Frederick (Analog, October 2011) [9/11/11]
  19. “Hetero3” by Robert Reed (Daily Science Fiction, 9/12/11) [9/12/11]
  20. “Artnan Process” by Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding, June 2011) [9/17/2011]
  21. “Exit Stage Life” by Cate Gardner (Daily Science Fiction, 9/22/11) [9/22/11]
  22. “Devil’s Powder” by Malcolm Jameson (Astounding, June 1941) [9/26/2011]

So, not exactly a story each day, but I’ll get there. And it should give you some insight into how I try to keep up with the various science fiction venues that are out there.

What short fiction did you read in September?