At the end of every month, we round up some selections of SFF short fiction from print and webzines around the world.
As usual, this isn’t a complete list as some journals/magazines/webzines don’t publish stories on a monthly basis. Also, as usual, please list any stories you felt we missed, or journals we haven’t highlighted!
Clarkesworld Magazine #54 (edited by Neil Clarke)
“Perfect Lies” by Gwedolyn Clare. A race of highly expressive aliens known as The Mask People enter into some sticky trade negoations with the U.N. Interworld Relations Organization. The primary negotiator is a “man” named Nora, a highly enhanced humaniod with the ability to project a variety of facial expressions to convey just the right amount of trust to The Mask People. With various tendrils, feathers and aspects to their huge elongated faces, The Mask People are masters of nuance. But how much nuance is needed to betray an entire race?
Interzone #233 (edited by Andy Cox)
Stories available in print edition only. “Tell me Everything” by Chris Butler tells a tense SF noir tale:
I shook my head, picked up my towel and wiped a layer of sweat from the back of my neck. Stein police house was packed with people, a coiling mist of spores and voices bubbling up through the hot, stuffy air, telling stories of guilt, regret, and denial.
In “Tethered to the Cold and Dying,” written by Ray Cluley and illustrated by Paul Drummond:
Two-Nine is hilly terrain to cross on foot. It’s tiring work, and treacherous in the dark, but I have to keep going to charge the kin-gen. Without it, if the batteries die I die with them. Even in full outgear. As it is, I’ve got regulated temperature, zero grade rads, and a nav-com that crackles too often but is otherwise fine. I can’t afford to be without any of it.
Lightspeed Magazine (edited by John Joseph Adams)
“Woman Leaves Room” by the Hugo Award-winning Robert Reed presents a story of a lonely, unfinshed computer program as it is propelled on a journey spanning almost 8 billion years. Created primarily for the puposes of being some kind of digital soulmate, the unfinished program experiences no sense of linear time and within a matter of seconds is greeted by generations upon generations of humans; all from the same lineage as his “mother.” This touching tale of isolation questions the very nature of humanity’s right to create and sometimes our tendecy to leave things unfinished....
Strange Horizons (edited by Niall Harrison)
“The Last Sophia” by C.S.E. Cooney is told as an alternating series of narrations and letters from a mysterious woman and her offspring; this tale depicts an uncommon sort of family lineage. What time period and location do these various correspondences take place? Is the narrating mother even a human being? Just what is the last Sophia? It seems some of these children are born fully formed! In any case, the lyrical prose of C.S.E. Cooney will enchant you towards the answers.
Tor.com (edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Liz Gorinsky)
“The Desecrator” by Steven Brust. From the Draegaran Empire comes a tale of the Hawklord Daymar, and of a particular Morganti blade.
“Our Candidate” by Robert Reed. With speeches detailing paranoid plans on how to sustain his state in the event of world calamity and chaos, Morris Hersh doesn’t seem like the right sort of man to be running for governor. His opponent certainly doesn’t think so, but the future may have other plans....
Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com.